Sunday, October 27, 2013

DF Game, Session 35 - Trigers, Wizard, and the Wardrobe

October 27th, 2013

Weather: Clear, cool (mid-50s, cooler on the mountain top)

Characters: (approximate net point total)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (274 points)
     Glarg, orc warrior (?? points, NPC)
     Brak, goblin (?? points, NPC)
Dryst, halfling wizard (313 points)
     Father Hans, human cleric (130 points, NPC)
     Shieldbearer Zed, human guard (62 points, NPC)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (373 points)
     Gort of the Shining Force, veteran dwarf adventurer (?? points, NPC)

Still in town:

Borriz, dwarven knight (310 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (318 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (297 points)

We opened in the city of Stericksburg, as usual. The PCs spent their XP and sorted out their gear - buying a few potions, some meteoric iron sling bullets, and discussing a climbing chain. They also picked up some rumors, and Raggi yet again found a cryptic note - this one read "Eat next damn talking mushroom we meet!!!" They also heard a rumor about big metal spiders and even bigger metal scorpions in the dungeon, which they believe since a) they've fought bronze spiders in the dungeon and b) they know I have scorpion minis.

They gathered up the only volunteer handy - Gort of the Shining Force - and trekked up the mountain to the ruins of Felltower. They were just getting ready to enter the dungeon via the bugbear tunnels when they decided it was time to deal with the orcs. And, if possible, the cone-headed cultists.

So they walked to the ruins, right out in the open, weapons sheathed. Dryst put Gift of Tongues on Chuck Morris, who'd declared himself their chief negotiator. They reached the ruined wall and found the orcs had repaired it sufficiently to put in a short (5' tall) wooden gate. They knocked on the door and got some attention from the orcs. They looked out, and then shoved out a hapless goblin to talk to the PCs. Chuck told him they wanted to make a deal, and to send out their leader. They did. Maybe foolish, but you don't get to be chief orc by backing down from danger, so he came out.

Chuck made them an offer for a deal*. Basically, the PCs pay a lump sum now, and the orcs give them safe passage. Some dickering later, and they struck a deal whereby:

- the group paid a lump sum now for safe passage.
- the group will pay a per-trip fee.
- the orcs will get a bounty for each bloody cone-hatted cultist hood they turn over (blood required.)
- the orcs provide one orc warrior to accompany them on their trip. Safety not assured, no bounty if he dies, but if he lives they'll cut him in for 1/10th of the take.
- Chuck Morris gets the goblin as part of the deal.

The PCs turned down the initial demand to turn over Dryst so they orcs could eat him, although Chuck did seem a little tempted. In the end money and potential loot was sufficient.

The orc leader swore on it (by cutting his thumb, sucking in the blood and spitting it out.) Chuck mimicked him and the deal was done.

The orcs escorted them down into the dungeon via the main entrance, which they'd fortified rather a lot, against attacks from both directions. The orcs let them use a crude bridge across the pit, while keeping an eye on them from the pillboxes and the back. But the PCs just ignored them and headed in. One of the orcs went with them - Glarg.

They went through the gargoyle room - and as usual the gargoyles fled. The PCs rapidly marched to the headless statue room, and started using Seeker to trace the locations of the missing statue heads. They found a few, including one right down below them. They Traced that one and went right after it.

Down the nearby stairs to the right were some metal-clad nearly-motionless guardians with shields and swords. They immediately pegged them as golems, partly since they'd fought some corpse-golems in that same room before. (This took some brain-wracking, though, as the only player to be there when that happened was out sick today, but their characters were there.) They headed left, leaving them unmolested, especially after Glarg showed them through sign that it was bad to go there.

This is where their orc deal really paid off - the statue head was in orc territory. Orc guards confronted them, but Glarg spoke to them and they let them by. Glarg told them (once they threw Gift of Tongues again) it was their territory, and which places were "off limits" for the PCs. They had no problem with that. The found the head in a room that had been an ogre's room before he got killed off (by the PCs a bunch of sessions ago, actually). They took it - a one-eyed bearded face of incredible detail - and went back upstairs.

In the statue room, Dryst heaved it up onto the appropriate bust. It merged with it with a flash, and they received a mental message that was basically:

"Free us all.
Find the other heads."
and just a strong feeling of tenacious resolve, and the word "Nemesis."

They decided this was a terrible, terrible idea, and thus that they absolutely had to keep finding heads. They managed to locate another - same depth as before, but in an area they couldn't pin down on their map - in a place they couldn't seem to get to. But trying would mean going right, towards the golems.

So they rested, loaded up, and went after the golems. Glarg told them a wizard lived there, and the orcs who went that way died. Their leaders had a deal with the wizard to leave him alone. But that didn't bother the PCs. On the way they lose a servant to one of the rotating statue rooms when they futzed around with a (false?) door, but otherwise didn't delay.

They moved in to take a look, but as soon as they got close the golems moved on them. Leading the charge were four plate-armored golems with swords and shields. Well, not plate-armored as much as armor-plated. Behind them were six corpse-golems. What followed was a bit of a slog of a fight. Vryce and Raggi stepped up, and Chuck charged and jump kicked a golem (with no effect.) Then the PCs arrayed themselves shoulder to shoulder in a 10' wide corridor and just worked over the golems. Vryce was Great Hasted by Dryst, and then given Might +5 when it was clear his blows were barely injuring the extremely well-armored golems. Vryce stood in the center alternating All-Out Attacks (turn one of Great Haste) and All-Out Defend (Increased Parry) so he could parry for everyone. They managed to slow beat the golems down, using a combination of attacks to Armor Chinks and sheer brute force. It was tough, though - a Great Hasted Red Raggi hit one four times in a row to the neck with his massive two-handed axe and didn't even scratch it once. Eventually a lucky shot from one carved a gash in Raggi, and another crippled Chuck's right leg with a critical hit. Chuck crawled over to Father Hans for healing, and Glarg the orc stepped up to melee. By this point some of the golems had been knocked down and gotten back up, and a couple more had gone berserk. It didn't help them any - they couldn't get past the greatsword parries of Vryce, and Vryce and Raggi started to drop them more quickly with some better damage rolls (and help from a Might spell.)

Once the golem-armor swordsmen were down, the corpse-golems went down as fast as it takes to read this sentence. They couldn't roll a defense to save their lives, and that mean Raggi could decapitate them at one or two a second, and Vryce (now doing 4d+13 thanks to Might) could kill them just as quickly. Glarg hurt one, too, before Raggi pounded it down.

It's about now they realized Brak had run off. Chuck was disappointed.

They quickly decided that they needed to press their advantage and rush forward. They bashed the downed golems all a few more shots each to fully decapitate all of them. Then they moved on. They saw a small empty room, bypassed it, and headed down a corridor - which annoyingly was heading away from where Trace said the head was. Nonetheless, they moved on - and then got attacked from behind by three trigers! They pounced on the PCs, who in their haste hadn't replaced their rear-guard servant. The trigers knocked Raggi down (and pinned him), bit Shieldbearer Zed and bore him down (and right down to -16 HP, and a failed HT roll on his death check), and rushed in on Vryce. The PCs whirled and counter-attacked. Vryce chopped up the third before it could reach him, Raggi got chewed on, and the one on Zed kept coming after Father Hans and bit him on the throat. He was gravely wounded, but Chuck Morris diced up the triger pretty quickly. They pounced on the last one, but a critical fumble by Vryce (after a critical Dodge by the triger) caused him to drop his sword. Gort sliced the triger, Raggi complained as it kept tearing him up, and then Vryce got his spare greatsword out** and killed it.

All three faded away after getting chopped up - summoned or created creatures!

They decided that they needed to press ahead. Father Hans drank a healing potion, Raggi down a couple, too.

Father Hans tried to use Faith Healing to stabilize the mortal wound on Zed. I ruled it would be IQ-6, since nothing says otherwise, and that you couldn't just feed him healing potions to get him healthy (otherwise missing your HT roll by 1-2 would be meaningless). I rolled a 1, 1, and . . . a 5. Everyone groaned.

Shieldbearer Zed was dead, baby. Zed was dead.

They left him where he lay, although Father Hans insisted they come back for him as he was a Good God-fearing member of the church. So they agreed.

Then they moved after the wizard. They rushed ahead into a chamber. As they started across it, though, the lead guys got zapped. A loud cackling laugh errupted, and the servant, Chuck, Vryce, and Gort all took 5d damage (bypassing DR). Ouch! Chuck and Vryce too 18 and 20 respectively, and somehow Gort took 11 (on 5d6, what the hell). They retreated as the cackling continued. They drank more potions, and Father Hans helped heal Gort and Chuck enough to get them to full move.

Dryst whipped up some servants and sent them ahead, and the PCs continued. They were damaged but wanted to deal with this wizard if they could.

At the end of the hallway was another room. In it were two doors out, and a pair of wardrobes. Some servant-led searches of the wardrobes found no secret doors or panels, just some rusty metal-mesh gloves and white robes. Chuck angrily pulled down one of the wardrobes (which was latched to the wall) but there was nothing behind it. Even See Secrets revealed nothing.

They forced the door ahead, but beyond it was a big, dusty room. They decided the wizard wasn't that way. Their servant checked the next room's door, and when it touched it, a loud screaming started up. So Vryce forced the door.

Beyond it was a 20' wide, 20' tall corridor that opened out into a larger area to the left. Ahead was a strange sight, even for Felltower - an 8' tower with a 4' diameter crystal lens on it. They ducked to safety and sent in a servant to point it elsewhere. It did, and came back, reporting the job done. So then Dryst, Vryce, and the servant went in. They saw more of those lenses - all pointed in seemingly random directions. Amongst them were six big flesh golems - each one looking like if you took Vryce's muscle and bolted it onto Chuck's frame. The PCs backed up, hoping to draw them into a choke point. But they golems wouldn't follow. Dryst decided to lure them in with fire - and threw Lightning at them. His bolt curved, however, into a lens, which shot it back at him. He managed to block it with his shield. The golems then moved aside to prevent anyone else from shooting them from a safe location.

Vryce then decided to shoot the lens. He loaded up with a meteoric iron sling bullet and shot on - critical hit! Near to dead center. But it pinged off without damaging it.

At that, a Force Dome started to form in from of the door, around Vryce. He ran out of the room.

They decided that enough was enough - they didn't have what it took to beat the golems and the wizard, and didn't know what the crystal lenses would do. So they left.

They ran back, stopping to grab the mesh gloves and strangely heavy cloth robes. They also grabbed Zed, and then got to the golem-fight room. Some orcs were looting the corpses. Chuck tried to Intimidate them, but failed. So then he went with the true master's method - he Kiai'd one, stunning him. The other looked surprised, and they simply just pushed the orcs aside and gathered up the shields and swords of the golem-armor swordsmen. They also hacked off the sickles, since they wanted to make it harder for the wizard to re-animate more golems, or at least harder to arm them.

They headed back to the surface, stopping to pick up the statue they'd stashed last session. As they passed the otyugh's lair, Glarg told them they could bribe the "friendly monster" with Zed's corpse. Dryst said no, it was Zed's religion that he needed to be returned to the surface, so his god's monsters could eat his corpse. Glarg seemed to think that was reasonable.

On the way out, they handed Glarg a sword as his tip for the trip.

Once back in town, though, they sorely regretted that. They didn't really give the swords a second look until then . . . but each was a fine, balanced broadsword - 4800 sp base value each! They'd handed Glarg a 1920 sp bonus as his share. Oh well. But they sold the statue, the sickles, the swords, and the four Dwarven shields from the golems and netted enough to pay the bills. Probably a loss considering the potions they'd burned, but they felt it was a solid enough trip once you considered that. They also sold the metal gloves, but kept one of the robes - which had ablative DR against fire (from some strange fibers) and electricity (from metal wires embedded in them). Dryst plans to get it sized down to him, somehow.

They decided their next plan involves spreading rumors in town against the cone-hatted cultists, to deny them the city's resources, and to hire a sage to research the lenses.

That's where we ended.

* Crapgame: "So make a deal."
Big Joe: "What kind of a deal?"
Crapgame: "A deal deal. Maybe the guy's a Republican."

** Yes, he has two. And a broadsword. And plate. Excessive, perhaps, but he's got ST 17 - he's more than 2.5 as strong as a normal man, so this doesn't bother him any. He's a light encumbrance with all of this, and two swords strapped together on his back can't be harder to deal with than one, really.


Does no GURPS book have cost and weight for lengths of chain? There is an orichalcum climbing chain in DF8, but I couldn't find chain in any other book. Weird. I only looked for a little bit while the PCs were busy sorting out their own logistics, and I didn't end up needing it, but . . . weird. I could have sworn it was somewhere.

So the oft-suggested plan of "hire the orcs to guard the dungeon for us" has come to pass. I now have toll-taking orcs, which amuses me greatly. I've been told it's a stupid idea, but here we are. Helps that the PCs could kill the orcs, but it's less productive to kill them off than to pay them off.

I forgot, briefly, that you can't use cutting against Armor Chinks. Which is how Vryce took one down in a few short blows. I realized it immediately after, but it was too late - so I said we'd call those lucky blows and move on. Been a while since any of the fighters even cared about the DR of their targets.

Amusingly the fight was a front rank of two-hex-reach weapons, backed by two guys with one-hex reach weapons. Oh well. But the front rank guys in this group as mostly long-reach weapon users, and they really want the lower-rent NPCs to guard flanks and rear areas, not get chopped up in front.

This was the first time the PCs faced golem-armor swordsmen in DF. They fought them in my old campaign, and didn't do so well against them - they weren't willing to slug it out with them, and ended up turning all 9 of them to stone in a series of magical commando raids. In this one, well, they chose to go for it and managed to beat them down with only two wounds to show for the effort.

I need to make some triger minis. Or counters, at least. And some corpse-golem counters.

Do those rotating mirrors sound familiar? They might. I copied them and the room they are in from someone else's megadungeon. Which one? Well, I don't want to say yet, but as the players learn more it'll become obvious to those who have read it.

Also, I took some pictures but my camera is being strange. I may need to edit them a bit to make them look correct, or not - it's hard to tell if it's the camera display or the picture.


  1. You bastard! You killed Zed!


    Sounds like you're having a good time with it!

    1. We were all pretty disappointed at that 5. A 4 or less and he'd have lived, and that would have been pretty cool.

  2. I love reading the play reports, but I'm actually pleased that you had trouble with your camera this week. When I view your blog on my iPad (nice for longer posts), the pictures stretch out several times while I scroll, and sometimes make it impossible to read the post. I don't know if it is due to linking pictures from a host elsewhere or what, but it only seems to happen on Dungeon Fantastic.

    I like the toll-charging orcs. I fear if I tried it in my own game, the PCs would just attack. When I introduced a Merchant Guild with a bank, the players briefly discussed whether they could rob the bank, decided they could, and refused to set up an account.

    1. I'll see if I can't change how I link pictures and see if that helps.

      I think if the orcs demanded a toll, the PCs would kill them out of hand. This is working because the PCs actually want the orcs there, just not bothering them when they come and go. I also think that if Galen was there, they'd probably have just marched in and killed them all, since a Scout vs. Orcs = piles of dead orcs.

  3. Sorry if you've perhaps already posted about this before, but I'm curious as to how you stat up NPCs for your games. I notice that for points values some of the henchmen have "??" listed, whereas others have actual totals--what determines the difference? What do your NPC stat blocks look like, generally?

    1. The ?? is there because the players don't actually know how good or bad the character is. They just have no idea. The ones with points are generally specific hires, and they know the probable point total. They may be wrong - it doesn't take into account rolls on the Random Hireling Traits table in DF15.

      My stat blocks look just like the ones in my posts with example DF NPCs. It's identical to the short monster block. Like here:

      One exception is Hans, who has a full GURPS Character Assistant writeup, because that was easier for me since he's a spellcaster who might add spells, add stats, etc. if he gets more skilled.

      Does that answer your question, or did I miss anything you'd like to know?

    2. That definitely answers my question, thanks! I'm always curious to see how GURPS GMs stat up their NPCs; I thought maybe the question marks maybe denoted characters that hadn't been formally statted up--I'm pretty sure I've read about GMs who hand-wave all their NPCs and monsters and leave the Ad/Disad system to the PCs, basically just jotting down abilities and skill levels.

      Also, I've got a player in my group who is very interested in GURPS, but she's also a newbie (though a very quick study)--she just started gaming this year. I wanted to be able to show her how NPCs don't have to be fully built out like PCs, and how one could format a compact stat block, so thanks for the excellent example!

    3. Glad to help. I do handwave some of them - especially the freebie guys - but I also have the advantage of a lot of experience with them. So I can handwave and still end up right around the overall mark I need. Some of the guys are also off templates I've made up, as well. Hans is that way - I statted him out later when it was clear he was sticking around. Gort, too.

      Otherwise, close enough is good enough! That's been a fundamental principle of GURPS NPCs since the 1st edition boxed set days. :)

  4. For some reason chain is under survival (DF8:24), not with the ropes. Chain, Steel. $5, 2 lbs. Supports up to 2,000 lbs. Cost and weight are per foot. Roll 2d+4 for length

    1. I knew it was somewhere! Thanks.

      GURPS DF really needs a big one-PDF book of equipment so I can look in one place. I doubt I could see SJG on it, and most of the comments on books like Loadouts seems to be "You chose the wrong stuff, and I can't believe your charging me for re-treading material." Nevermind how much time that takes, and how much time it saves . . .

  5. If the PCs had just split the orc chief in two and gone to town things might have been amusing.

    1. It's true. Of course, that was only an orc chief, not the orc chief, so it's not like there was a decapitation strike waiting to happen in there. But the whole campaign might be in a very different place had they ended up starting a war with the orcs right then and there.


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