Sunday, February 9, 2014

DF Game Session 40, Felltower 31 - Heads & Head-Gems

February 9th, 2014

Weather: Cold, heavy accumulated snow and ice, later snow.

Characters: (approximate net point total)
Dryst, halfling wizard (325 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (327 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (302 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (401 points)
     6 human halberdiers, (various points, NPC)
     Jon "Bort" Blackbart, human swordsman (?? points, NPC)

Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)

We started the session, as usual, in Stericksburg. The group gathered rumors, bought some gear (mostly healing potions and strength potions), and headed out. They heard rumors, including a few thematically good ones. They heard about treasure under a statue near a big staircase (or under a staircase near a big statue, one of those), two about dragons (see below), one about how pink slimes reproduce (by converting you into textured meat product too), and how there is a giant staircase so deep you can't see the bottom . . . or even reach the bottom.

So apparently, dwarves hate dragons because they steal dwarven gold . . . and dragons are magical creatures who are the living embodiment of greed ("Hey, like us - we must be dragons" - paraphrasing a bit). Interesting, if true.

The group hired on some hirelings for this trip. They wanted some quality halberdiers to come with them, not the usual bargain henchmen. I countered with a company - a sergeant and his five fellow halberdiers. They weren't all 125-point guys, but they weren't all 62s, either, and they offered to come for 240 sp for all six for a one-day trip. The PCs took them. Jon "Bort" Blackbart came too, as a volunteer.

The PCs headed out to Felltower, but the ice and snow made it hard going and they took until mid afternoon to get up their. After a rest and some scouting, they moved into the castle. The orcs had fortified it further. They put up a stronger gate on the fallen section, and mostly blocked the main gate with a wagon loaded with fallen timber and broken stones. Then, they'd iced the walls down with water and iced over their barricades, too, making them both slick and solid. The PCs were allowed in after their bribe, but no one wanted to take an orc with them. They headed down the well, which took a lot of digging by some servants and then a bit by Raggi and Honus. Some thoughts about the coming need to exterminate the orcs came up. They've certainly been spending the winter expanding their control in the dungeon and their control of the surface.

They headed down, moving directly for the curved metal "airlock" door where they first fought the Lord of Spite. They set up to fight him, putting in earplugs made of cotton ($2/pair, unknown actual value) and banging on the door with their battering ram and trying to activate the six-fingered hand panel with a servant and with the thumb from a six-fingered guy. They are really regretting selling their possibly-living six-fingered body to the orcs.

As they banged away, orcs approached from the old hobgoblin-controlled area, and tried to dissuade them from banging on the door. Honus pointed out that you know you're crazy when the dungeon monsters come to tell you to stop what you're doing. They live in a tunnel complex full of traps and monsters and think trying to get the Lord of Spite to come up was a terrible idea. Channeling George Thurogood we joked the orcs would tell them that "wife kind of funny, she said you can't come in dungeon any more, you know how it is" as an excuse to keep them out.

He didn't show, possibly out of spite, they figured, which just goes to show he's really well named.

They took the opportunity to check a nearby area to ensure their map was correct and that their wasn't any secret room they'd missed. A Seek Earth spell on gold revealed some downward, so since Borriz and Chuck hadn't made it, they decided to skip trying to smash the draugr and instead to head down a level.

They bashed a couple doors - one to pieces with the ram, another pried open with a crowbar. The orcs were pretty seriously blocked easy passage into their new area. They didn't have patrols or guards, probably out of fear of the noise the party was making attracting the Lord of Spite.

The group made it down to the next level, passing up the six-fingered statue on the landing and quickly heading to the trapped secret door. It blasted down a pair of servants who touched it, and Identify Spell showed it to be a 6d deathtouch. So they moved on, and then bashed down the newly contructed wall they found on a previous trip.

Beyond that wall was a hallway and a room. In the room was a statue of a beatiful nude woman, arms outstretched and mouth open just right, head tilted back. Galoob, lecherous goblin that he was, ran up to "investigate" and do a careful hands-on search. He did, and as he grabbed the statue by its breasts, it began to sing, letting out a low, bell-clear moaning note. Immediately a wave of ecstasy washed over them. Most of the NPCs succumbed, but all of the PCs resisted. Honus stepped up and smashed the statue's head off with a massive swing of the Flail of the Gales, taking its head off. Galoob moaned in despair, but the song stopped and the head shattered. A hissing noise revealed a hidden vent was pumping in some kind of gas. The group pulled back out, dragging noodle-limp allies with them. Honus then went back in (he's huge, he's heavily poison resistant, and he's got a solid HT score) and found the gas was poisonous but also low-lying. He hoisted Dryst up and brought him in to magically investigate. They found the vent for the poison, but also found their was a heart-shaped red stone in the statue's head. They took it.

Next up was the chain-sealed room with the blast-shadow on the wall. Long story short, the group set up with a servant in front, two squads to either side, and after Galoob unlocked the door's locked, they looped rope on and had Bort pull it open.

Out charged a loose formation of little green-grey big-eared shark-toothed guys with big knives, all laughing and cheering and giggling like dementedly happy children. Doomchildren, represented by Pathfinder Goblin pre-paints. Immediately realizing what knife-armed mini demons could mean ("Stygian Dolls"), the PCs tried to engage them at a distance with Wait and long reach and arrows. They did to a degree, shooting up some as they charged, triggered explosions as the fragile little demons exploded after a single solid hit (especially since the least damage anyone was doing usually put them well past -1xHP). The doomchildren got in amongst the group, though, as after the initial wave more came, first in small groups and then one by one. The explosions hurt several of the halberdiers badly, wounded Honus and even bothered Vryce when fratricidal explosions set off one that had closed with a foot of him, and set a couple people on fire. Raggi even grabbed one and ran away from the halberdiers to shield them, only to have the little demon chop him in the leg and drop him, crippled! Raggi went berserk. Galen kept shooting down the doomchildren, though, and after the ones that had been closed in had all been detonated before they could kill anyone with direct attacks, he was able to systematically keep back the steady reinforcements that showed up.

They group got everyone safely extinguished (with magic and Galoob patting one guy down), healed Raggi after he calmed down, and then advanced into the room. At the far end of the room beyond they found a statue of a "man" with four legs ending in stumps surrounded by a fringe of snakes, four arms ending in six-fingered claws, and topped with the head of a pretty young boy. It would bring two of its arms together and then apart, and a doomchild would appear in mid-air and drop down, ready to fight. More charged, and a short brawl took out the doomchildren. Great Haste on Vryce let him run the length of the room and hack the arms off the statue, stopping it from summoning more. After some debate, they let Honus chisel the head off the statue, and realized it was a head to one of the busts up on a level above. They put it in a pack after using Ancient History to determine it had been installed on the statue body by the cone-hatted cultists a long, long time ago.

Next up the group investigate the hydra's lair again, to ensure nothing else had moved in. Nothing had. They moved on past its area, and found a bizarre corridor and room.

First, a corridor led off in a long, smooth J-shape, 30 degrees down, with slick (but not ice-slick) floors. A servant went down, falling all the time, and told them a metal door awaited. So Dyst walked down with Walk on Air and Galoob just did so with his 16 DX, and they checked it out. A locked door with recessed hinges was there. Galoob checked for traps and found none, then popped the door open with ease.

Beyond it was a big trapezoidal room, 70' on a side, with the door at the end of one side near a point. Near each wall stood 5 "zombies" with a green gemstone in each of their foreheads, armed with clubs or bent cleaver-like blades. Tempted by the loot, they decided to go for it. So they went back (and the door closed itself), and used Create Object to make enough rope to climb up the slope without issues. They left the NPCs behind to guard the rear and hold the rope, and then went down. Vryce used a Blur spellstone, Galoob popped the lock (it took a while, this time), and then Dryst Great Hasted Vryce. They went in. What followed with a relatively one-sided fight. This was mostly because the players decided instantly that they either needed to decapitate the zombies to take them out, or destroy the green gems. They tried both. Vryce determined his undead-slaying tassel sword wasn't helping against these oddly non-undead undead, and sheathed it and went with his normal sword. He chopped off a head, and chopped through one gemstone to put one down. Raggi went to chop heads. Galen (after an amusing 18) recovered his bow and then started shooting gemstones (at -8 to hit). They found that if they fully sawed off a head, though massive damage, the zombies wouldn't get back up. Any solid damage to a gemstone also killed the zombies; well, the least done was 9 by Galen, so maybe "any" damage is a bit generous.

While the fight raged Galoob held the door to keep it from locking shut on everyone. Raggi suffered some damage when he ran in using All-Out Attack, and Honus was grabbed and held by a zombie and was unable to score a break free, but allies with ridiculous skill were handy to take out zombies with a hold or a threatening position. In short order 9 had their gems destroyed, and 11 were decapitated. It was in this fight someone pointed out the whole session was about heads, and heads with gems in them, and magic heads in general. It would have been more so if the hydra had been dealt with this time, too!

The PCs pried out the stones (which turned out to be magical within the room, not later once removed), and headed back to town.

The next score, after sending Galoob to find some especially interested parties for that very useful ecstasy stone willing to pay 10,000 sp, was 2200 sp each after giving some to the NPCs.

MVP was Galen, for turning what could have been a horrid slog through exploding Doomchildren into two rushes and a series of distant "boom" noises.


We expected Borriz and Chuck today, but neither showed, which was odd. It's rare to have no-shows after they say they can make it. No worries, but it was odd. Because of this, the plans changed - the plan was, lure the Lord of Spite out and kick his butt, and if not, go for the Draugr.

Fully 50% of the group today lived and worked in Japan at some point (the GM, Honus-san's player, and Galoob-kun's player), which is kind of interesting. I think we were northern, central, and southern Japan, too, ranging from me in Niigata all the way down to Galoob's player Kyushu. Counting visits to Japan, maybe only one of the players hadn't been. Just an odd travel note.

Plans to deal with the draugr continue. At this point, the concern is generating enough firepower to kill them and being able to minimize the effect of their high-damage strikes and reduce the odds and effects of the inevitable critical hits. Still, 33 of the guys dealing above 4d damage with real tactical intelligence in their reactions means it won't be easy no matter how loaded for bear the PCs come. Blur spellstones all around seems to be part of the thinking, though. Probably worth it - the druagr are loaded, and spending a few thousand to get extra boost to fight them makes total economic sense.

The NPCs got a 30-odd sp bonus from each player, working out to a nice little bonus for all and enough to make Bort happy he came (although not delighted, obviously). Raggi also took them all out drinking, because he has money to burn. So he says - the running joke is that either Raggi drinks all of his wealth between sessions, or that he says that but he's going to suddenly announce he has been saving it in a diversified portfolio of investments and settle down.

Dryst was thinking of keeping that stone. 3x a day, for free, 6 area, on ecstasy . . . not bad as a weapon. But it was specially 6 area, no exclusions, user too. Better for "those kind of parties" than for fighting, and worth a lot!

I usually don't reveal these kinds of things, but yes, had the gemstones not been destroyed or zombies decapitated, they'd have kept coming. There were other tricks but the PCs didn't fall for any of it.

Also, we did some grappling using bits of Technical Grappling. I like CP a lot better than binary on/off grapples. More people need better Wrestling, though. Only Raggi and Vryce had enough Wrestling to really take advantage.

Good session, lots of fun. Had the Lord of Spite come out (I rolled, and while I won't say what I rolled I will say it meant he wasn't going to come up and out) it would have been a very different but equally amusing session. It's still an open question, will earplugs help against his shout? How tough is he, really? We'll find out another time . . .


  1. Dealing with Dragur....

    Fire lots of fire. Protection from fire and plans (water buckets?) in case that is cancelled out. Pour it in and control how many can get onto you without sitting in a hex on fire. Also flaming arrows and explosions that (only) do fire damage. Pour it on.

    1. Oh, sure, but there is a strong economic argument against fire - the draugr's stuff. They have golen necklaces (the gold will be valuable post-melting, but not as valuable as intact jewelry), their weapons and armor (may be damaged by fire), any magic items they have might break and thus lose their enchantment, etc. Killing them might be easier with fire, but make the whole enterprise much less profitable! Since profit is the true motive for putting them down, it's a real concern.

    2. Considering that we went into the zombie room somewhat against the (somewhat weak) hesitations of Vryce's player precisely because we wanted more profit, I think that Peter has a good point. Now that you've got me thinking about it without the use of fire though, the puzzle gets a lot more complex.

    3. It's the "nuke it from orbit" problem - sure, it will work, but it's placing "victory" ahead of "the reason we want victory." Fire will help, but there is a reason the solution hasn't been just to buy lots of oil, a pump, and cast Create Fire.

    4. What you just described was what I had been trying to game out in my head. Looks like it's back to the drawing board. I do like puzzles, though.

    5. This might take a small fortune in paut, spell stones, and power items, but it's pretty straightforward:

      Everyone goes into the room with 2-3 minutes worth of Walk on Air. The wizard(s) cast as large an area of Grease as they can as far away as they can, and everyone goes in above the Grease and starts murdering slippery draugr. If necessary, do a hit and run raid by killing a half dozen of them and retreating.

      Grease is a great spell, especially if the PCs are mostly immune to it. The draugr's tendency to be tactically clever might be something of advantage, because they may try to retreat off the Grease area and not all of them will make it, leaving vulnerable stragglers.

    6. It might be prohibitively expensive to do, because of the size of the room (and the draugr have some ranged weapons, too). Their main concern is 33 elite fighters = lots of critical hits from guys doing DF PC-level damage. Minimizing and recovering from the inevitable 3s that take out PCs or lop off limbs is the real issue that concerns them, according to Dryst and Vryce's players.

    7. Fair enough re fire. Though I'm probably of the opinion that an explosive fireball or two isn't hot enough to melt gold let alone steel. Never dealt too much into the rules for how long heat takes to build up in GURPS.

      In terms of mitigating damage.... Clerics lots of clerics?

    8. I think Galoob was the last chance for us to have a PC cleric until somebody else dies. With Father Hans gone, I don't think there is much chance of us getting a replacement any time in the near future. Cleric would be great, though.

    9. Unachimba, explosive fireball has to be pretty hot to get through metal armor. And in any case, we're talking "Create Fire" more than "Fireball" - these are armored guys with piles of HP. They may take extra damage from fire, but it must bust through their armor first, and they are equipped like the elite guards they were in life. So that would mean a lot of fireballs, of very high dice, very often, to get rid of 33 of them.

      qpop - A cleric would be nice. It's expensive to get True Faith with Turning, though, and we're using a variant of the "they must run away" rules for powerful undead. These guys might have been forced back by Inquisitor Marco, or they might have just suffered some penalties to hit for his True Faith use. It's not a win button against all undead . . . so don't worry.

    10. Gotcha. Well I feel less bad about rolling up a thief, then. Although that Necromancer idea I was rolling around might have been interesting, if they have any kind of "control" abilities on undead. I thought it wise not to have my first GURPS character be a magic-user though, baby steps and all.

    11. Necromancers as we're running them (wizard with appropriate spells, plus the Necro power-ups instead of wizard ones) don't get any special ability to control undead. There are ways to wrest control of a zombie, and to get better reactions from intelligent undead, but not a general ability to make undead obey you.

    12. So is the necromancer template more of a combat / spell hybrid? That was the gist that I got but I might be reading too much into the abilities and description. Was it just too "weird" for you to allow it? I remember reading somewhere that you preferred either weird characters, or a weird campaign setup, but not both.

    13. Hmm totally destroying one or two mightbe worth it to cut their numbers down before a fight. Better to lose some good gear than lose by two undead warriors. So long as they arent the ones with the awesome gear.

      I suspect dragur are smart enough to run through fire, but not sure of what tactics they would choose if they can only stand in a fire hex or retreat (thereby splitting them up). A real human or PC would almost never do that (even if it was exactly the right thing to do), but a cold thinking monster perhaps.

  2. I am also of the "kill it! Kill it with fire" school, but True Faith would help if you could get it, and if the Dragur had any sort of dread, that would be useful.

    1. True Faith sounds like a great idea, would just need a cleric to last long enough to make it that far. RIP Father Hans, Inquisitor Marco.

  3. I'm glad that Galoob's disadvantages are coming in to play in such potentially lethal ways so quickly. Oops? Still fun, still totally worth it.

    1. There are no free points in the game. Who knew being a lecherous greedy coward would make your life dangerous? :)

    2. Who wants free points? The fact that it's dangerous makes it fun! I should note that technically Galoob made his lecherousness check, it was just more fun to RP it straight through.

    3. I tend to encourage people not to make checks, and just play it as it seems like it would go. Checks are mostly useful to me, the GM, when I need to know if you can't resist even when it's a terrible idea. If you always try self-control rolls, you're basically telling me you don't want to have your disads affect you.

    4. That makes sense. If it makes you feel better about the roll, I didn't roll it until after I'd already announced what he was doing. I was more curious to see if it would have mattered. I would not feel bad if my character died from a fun RP decision, but I would feel awful if I made anyone else's character die. I guess Sense of Duty could help me balance that out.

    5. This has come up in forums and a book or pyramid article or two.

      If for example the beautiful succubus offers you whatever you want to turn against your own party its not much fun to say 'ok I do that'.

      It just makes all sorts of disadvantages forbiden cause they destroy the fun of the game.

      One option is to take a penalty on your rolls.... for example, ok i am tempted by her offer so my rolls to hit are going to take a penalty or I am going to be a bit more susceptible to her mind control magic. This is no worse than taking a vulnerability, physical disadvantage etc, but you get to roleplay it in all the non game destroying situations.

    6. That's pretty much how we run them - same as fear. You try, and fail, to resist your disad when it matters, and the margin of failure is your penalty to act against it. You suffer no penalties when following it and lots when you don't. I generally don't penalize people for trying to fight despite Cowardice, say (since Galoob Jah has it), if they make their rolls or not, but you're generally going to be severely hosed on the actual skill rolls you need to make.


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