Sunday, December 8, 2013

DF Game Session 37, Felltower 28 - Ropers, Hydra, and Scary Doors

December 8th, 2013

Weather: Cold, slightly snowy.

Characters: (approximate net point total)
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
     Lerg, orc warrior (?? points, NPC)
Galen Longtread, human scout (327 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (383 points)
     Father Hans, human cleric (130 points, NPC)
     Shieldbearer Jon, human guard (62 points, NPC)

* Joining later:
Dryst, halfling wizard (313 points)

Still in town:
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (297 points)

We opened in the city of Stericksburg, as usual. Borriz, after an eight-month stint resting his arm after a particularly hard crowbar throw, returned to plunder Felltower with his buddies.

The group gathered rumors, including one about how no one ever made it through the front doors of Felltower, paid their upkeep, and headed into the dungeon. Raggi came because I rolled well. No volunteers did, though, because they're around a 15 or less and I rolled a 16.

They paid the orcs their pre-agreed toll, took on Lerg, an orc warrior, and headed into the dungeon. They headed left, past the gargoyles and into the temple they'd fought in once before. They wanted to see what was in the alcoves to either side of the altar.

The did this by sending Vryce to run in, run into the room on the left, and see what he could see. He saw some dressing dummies, badly scorched by fire, with ruined robes on them. He gabbed one and ran back . . . suffering 22 HP of damage in the process. All they got out of it was a burned robe (which, when eventually repaired, turned out to be nothing special. Oh well.)

They eventually decided not to check the next alcove, and headed further into the dungeon to - you guessed - try to link up some areas on their map. This turned out to be a little more fruitful than might have been expected.

They found one room with a barred-off alcove, with a pedestal with an empty depression on the top . . . and four metal-lined nozzles pointing out. They looped rope around the bars and pulled to either side. But all that did was set off a room-filling spray of poison gas, which slightly hurt Vryce and Borriz - those too slow to get out unscathed. They decided to stop setting off trapped rooms without treasure, and moved on.

They found their way back to the big library room from last time, but instead scouted out the surrounding corridors. Around the "back" of the room they found a corridor, and a barred room. Borriz made short work of that with his excellent Forced Entry skill and crowbar. Beyond it they found a pink slime monster on the ceiling when they looked up. They made long but easy work of it with a torch after backing off, lighting one up, and letting Borriz get to it. They found some ceramic buttons and a corroded belt buckle, but no other sign of whomever barred himself in the room.

The next room they explored was full of pink slimes - and had been crudely barred from outside. Once the door was open and they saw the slimes, they realized why and just slammed the door and moved on. At this point, Borriz started to complain heavily that level one was just slimes and rats, and they needed to move on.

More exploration found them a series of doors . . . and one open one. They went in, and rolled a 1 on initiative. So Galen was bit by surprise by an acid spider lurking just inside (and above!) the door. He backed off firing his bow, Borriz clubbed it with his torch, and then Vryce rolled in and attacked. They made short work of the spider and then killed another in the room.

I'm a little annoyed because Galen took 1 hp of corrosion damage for the first second of spider venom, but I forgot until over an hour later that I never resolved the remaining 9 seconds of damage. Gah. I need a way to mark it . . . maybe roll it all and then check it off as applied? I ruled after the fact it must have had a very weak venom after all.

They looted the room found a few gems and what would later turn out to be a mildly magical elven longbow, along with a spectral ring sized for a Chuck Morris-sized guy. (Nothing special, just a cosmetic magical effect on the ring.)

At this point, Chuck's player's phone rang - kid issues! Sensing their chance to stop trying to complete the map, the group rushed back to the library, and went down the trap door to level 2. No, I'm not kidding. They then hurried to level 3 after Chuck's player returned and tried to neaten up his map - no way, down to the level from last session!

They made it down to the room where they'd fought the hobgoblins and siege beasts. They explored around the area, meandering back and forth between areas. They found a secret door, but couldn't find a way to open it. Borriz found a seam and stuck in his crowbar but got zapped for 6d toxic damage (ignoring his DR.) So they moved on after a further check revealed no obvious was in.

They soon found - in the direction they think the goblin said was dangerous - a glyph-and-rune covered door flanked by alcoves containing pedestals just like the ones the various flail-toting stone golems they've fought have been on. Father Hans knew very little of the runes (he's a healer, not an exorcist/inquisitor like Inquisitor Marco was) but knew enough to say a) they're a curse and b) they're linked to these here magical glyphs in some way. They decided to move on and check a rough-hewn side passage they'd found last time.

They worked their way in, and found the passage wended its way in the same direction as the glyph-marked door. However, it opened into a big cave with a 50' cliff drop-off to a lower cave. As they poked around the edge, two ropers attacked! They were on either side of the party, and used their stretchy tentacles to grab the nearest targets they could most easily flank - Shieldbearer Jon and Chuck Morris. With six tentacles, flank shots, and steep Deceptive Attacks, they grabbed them.

The party launched into action, attacking both. Borriz and Lerg the Orc went for one with their maces; Galen, Raggi, and Vryce went to work on the one grabbing Chuck. Borriz and Lerg found out that the rubbery ropers were really unimpressed by crushing attacks, while Galen pumped arrows to only moderate effect into the eye of the other. Vryce and Raggi cut off tentacles, though, and Chuck (slightly weaker from the toxic touch of the ropers) managed to free an arm and Lethal Strike the roper for some damage. Shieldbearer Jon was gnawed on a bit and then dropped, and then Borriz grabbed. But by then the injured roper was down, and everyone turned and piled up on the one on Borriz. It went down shortly after.

About this time Dryst's player (and technically, our host, since we play at his house) showed up. So I ruled Dryst showed up - just followed them into the dungeon, encountered no difficulty and had no problems tracking them down, and there he was. That's the way it goes. It's just a game after all and it's more fun if he has his own guy to run.

They looked down the cliff and used Apportation to send a Continual Light stone down there.

Armed with a wizard with Hidden Lore (Magical Writings) they went back to the door. Dryst couldn't puzzle them out, except to say it was a mix of holy and magical writings and had runes about fire on the door. Despite Chuck's insistence that the map made a big freaking arrow pointing at the door (it sort of does), they couldn't convince Dryst they should batter it down or have servants try to open it.

They searched further, hearing some growling/roaring noises in the distance, too. They eventually found a room full of cages with big (1-2') scorpions in it, with vials of some sort atop casks in the center of the room. They shot the scorpions dead from the doorway, and then sent in a servant to get a vial. It was a gourd with an animal skin (intestine or bladder, probably) with tiny holes in it stretched across the top. Ah, a milking room for scorpion venom. Galen took a gourd with him, and they moved on. They found some dead ends, and used Seek Earth to find out that there was some silver about 50' or so straight down (roughly, that is). They decided that didn't help. They found the quarters for the slain siege beasts, and some dead ends that were long unfinished sections of the dungeon (budget cuts, they joked.)

Further exploration found them more rooms. All that turned up was a black hat they forced a servant to wear, and then a trapped room (which spelled poison gas doom for a servant), then yet another temple.

This one had black tiled floor and ceiling, and purple-veined black walls and four pillars. A servant walking between the first pillars was zapped with black fire and died. This started was turned into an (hours in game) experiment with the room.

They found there were two pairs of pillars. The first shot black flame at anyone passing between (but not around) the pillars. The second pair shot lightning. There was also a 3' deep, 10' wide, 4' tall altar of grey stone stained with blood. Behind the altar was a painting of humans(?) cavorting with seven nebulous demon-shapes, which Demon Lore expert Dryst couldn't recognize. Anything (meaning, any servant) that touched the altar was blasted by all four pillars and died. Rope around the altar - still died. Push the altar from behind - still died. Tried to whack the pillars - died. The altar has something underneath - seemingly a depressing or egress down under it, spotted with See Secrets.

They eventually sent up one servant with the black hat on to touch the altar - dead . . . but amusingly the "hat" turned out to be a black jellyfish-like creature in some kind of disguise, which equally got roasted by the lightning and fire (and pincushioned by Galen when it didn't die fast enough.)

After expending something like a dozen servants in experiments, and determining the altar was set to move away from the door, they gave up. They just didn't have any clever ideas that weren't just "push hard and have lots of HP" and didn't have a lot of profit yet, and it was getting late.

So they headed off.

They found another room that had been (recently) nailed shut. They broke that door down and found it had markings of a campfire, two big double doors to one side, another way out opposite the way in, and a "Hiroshima shadow" on the wall opposite the doors. The big double doors were heavy, iron-bound, and opened into this room - but also had a heavy lock on the door and were spiked shut from this side. Deciding not to mess with it for now, they headed into the direction the growling had come from.

They found out what it was soon enough - a few rooms down the next direction there was a strong reptilian stink. Then they found a side room and heard growling and scraping of claws - and a 5-headed hydra attacked them. They fired missile weapons (Galen's bow, basically) as it closed and then melee'd it. It was a potentially nasty fight, because they quickly found that slaying its heads caused them to drop off and two to take its place. Not only that, but its blood was toxic, and splattered everywhere as it fought. Plus, while it seemed a bit ungainly, it Dodged well and its heads even better. It snapped at everyone, and once scored two critical hits on Raggi (a 3, for max damage, and a 5, and just hit him) but didn't score anything truly telling blows. In the end, though, they slew it. It had 8 heads (and another growing) when they stopped it by sheer massive damage to its body. A few of them got splashed with poison, but Lerg the orcs was largely immune, Borriz (with HT 13 and Resistance to Poison +8) almost totally immune, and Chuck only moderately bothered (lots of good HT rolls), so they weathered the splash damage. They used Create Fire to torch the entire creature and keep it torched for the 3 minutes it took the fuel-less fire to reduce the hydra to char (180 seconds of direct fire damage is a lot.)

They followed its path to its lair, and found quite a lot - something around 20K or so in coins, gems, and a piece of gold jewelry.

It was late, and they were profitable, so they headed out. On the way out Borriz noted some new construction blocking off a side passage, so they marked it and moved on.

They paid off Lerg near the surface, and headed home in the cold, dark, and light snowfall. They had to stay outside the city until dawn, but weren't bothered. They went in when it was morning, and sold off their gems, etc. for a tidy profit.


Very focused session today, all things considered.

I just realized I'd been listing Borriz as 310 points on the blog since February, but he's been 300 the whole time. He showed up and immediately spent 8 points to get Axe/Mace-28, which if you've played GURPS you know is approaching a silly level of skill. Combined with his "Borriz's Tricky Double Tap" trademark move and Slayer Training and a Balanced mace gives him two -4 Deceptive Attack strikes to the Skull at a net skill 16 on each strike.

Finally, someone rolled a 17 on the damn d30 and got the one rumor that's stubbornly sat on the rumor table since the first session of Felltower.

Vryce's played was debating Very Fit or HT 15, but then decided to max out his HP (at 25). It was a 4-HP jump. I think 25 HP is more than any PC has had in my games that I can remember.

Pink slime would have been funnier when the news reports about commercial beef aka pink slime were more current. Oh well.

The ropers, with their extreme grappling ability (6 arms, +2 per extra arm on grapples, and good Wrestling skill) and high grappling ST made me really unhappy with the binary grappled/not grappled basic rules after using the extremely excellent Technical Grappling rules. I need to implement them in some fashion in my DF game. The ropes pretty much grappled you and you die unless someone helps you (which happened) because Break Free is largely useless even for a ST 15+ Judo monster of a martial artist. You can't win the contest, and that's that. This would also not be true with TG - Chuck would have been basically screwed, but also able to systematically work on the grapple in a way that would make the roper need to spend effort to keep him (and reinforce its holds). I need to implement TG in some way in my DF game. Time to chat with Doug again . . .

Why do people put continual light on stones, and then bore holes in them to loop them on necklaces, etc? I don't know. Amulets, twigs, or beads aren't the style. I wonder about this sometimes.

I was personally hoping the hydra would do more, but I wasn't expecting it to be a truly terrible fight. Still, the PCs did well against and immediately recognized the need to shift tactics and just suck up the risk of poison splash damage. Raggi did get lucky, though - a different hit location (say, face instead of body) on that max-damage critical could have ended him.

Lerg the orc was clearly disappointed with just getting a pile of copper coins. Good value, but he saw a lot of gold and silver and didn't get a coin of either. No one in the party cared, though.

Good game, overall - and Borriz's players constant push to get them to go deeper was shown to be a good idea. The risk on the lower level was higher, but so was the reward.

We forgot to vote for MVP before everyone left. By email, then.

Next game is - if we can swing it - just after Christmas. If not, in the new year!


  1. The ideal vessel for Continual Light IMO is something like a pocketwatch case -- so that you can hinge it shut when you want to sneak up on someone.

  2. Over the last few play reports it seems that the PCs have been able to pretty easily handle most of the stuff thrown at them.

    Is this just a few lucky combats, good planning on the part of the players, a less challenging area of the dungeon, or me miss reading the reports?

    Do the players feel challenged?

    Do you feel like the players are bulldozing everything you throw at them?

    1. Some of it has been lucky breaks, but there has been some bulldozing going on too. There are more challenging threats out there, but they haven't hit many recently.

      A good part of that is that they've spent some time recently on the upper levels (despite the weakest PC being more than 50 points over campaign start, and one closing in on 150 points over campaign start), and some relatively weak encounters.

      The ropers didn't do as well as I'd hoped, nor did the hydra, but a good part of that is everyone taking them seriously. The spiders are good, but the group is melee focused and the spiders were forced to fight them in close.

      They have also assiduously avoided the fights they think are tough - they talk about attacking the Lord of Spite but have mostly been avoiding him, have been avoiding the draugr and the wizard that repelled them a few sessions back, etc.

      GURPS really does have swingy fights, though - as I said, one different hit location roll by Raggi and he could have been killed, and had a smaller group his the ropers, it would have been very bad for the group.

    2. I can't wait to see them go up against the Lord of Spite. He's got to have the best treasure, right? If they bring Lucky Pete I'm sure they'll prevail no problem.

  3. Good read as usual. DF really seems to be ultra power fantasy (ie: superheroes) but I like how the PCs are very careful and meticulous overall.

    For the poison, I'd say "put a pin in it" somehow. I also tend to forget about on-going effects so now I just make it ULTRA obvious and in your face to everyone, so that even players can remind me about it.

    The magical servant do pose a real challenge for a GM though. Can't really have every single little trap out there be servant proof but on the other hand, if it's logical for every mage to end up using it, special traps, especially magical, would be somewhat servant proof. That'd make total sense.
    Maybe start using that anti magic mineral for special traps? Or maybe some kind of "feedback" effect when the servant is affected that would affect the summoner?

    1. It doesn't hurt that Vryce and Dryst are played by guys who played hundreds of hours of Diablo II on Hardcore mode. They take as few risks as possible on the reasonable assumption that if when they have 25 HP and skill 26-28 and I say "Yeah, whatever" that the challenges must really keep scaling up . . .

      The servants are interesting. Some mages will certainly have traps that won't be so easily tripped, triggered, foiled, or fooled by magical servants. But it's fine with me that it works so well. What's amusing is how much time I need to spend thinking about it as my players systematically experiment with live-body testing of traps and tricks.

      The feedback effect would make a great effect from a critical failure . . . servant shows up, sure, but the mana link to you stays all too live and not just one way . . .
      Won't affect Dryst, though, as he's spent a large amount of points on Magical Stability so he can re-roll critical failures to try to avert them to mere failures. :)

  4. I am guessing that the ropers have Injury Tolerance (Diffuse).

    1. No, it's hard to be a tentacles grapple-monster with diffuse. They had Homogenous, amongst other traits.

    2. Oops I meant Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous) Did you y I've the rollers DR as well?

  5. Any chance of posting the players' map?

    1. I'll ask about snapping a picture next time. They have a huge series of maps, but I'm not sure they'll want to share or not. I don't keep a copy. Navigating without getting lost is their problem, after all. ;)

    2. I would think they'd have taken the whole thing down to Staples and laminated it at this point! I would be interested in checking out their map too.

    3. It's pretty big, plus, if laminated they couldn't go back and erase each other's sections when they find out someone was wrong, wrong, wrong about that one room's precise dimensions. ;)


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