Saturday, February 8, 2014

S&W in the Southern Reaches: Session 3 - Clerics in the Dark

Friday night was the third session of the Southern Reaches B-Team. We spent a fair amount of time just chatting before we got underway, not the least of which is characters had to be scrounged up, rules to be remembered, and because we hadn't gamed since 12/22 so there was the inevitable chattiness that comes with intermittent play. I expect much the same in tomorrow's DF game, as well.

Mirado the Bloody, Human Fighter (lvl 2) (me)
Irban - Half-Elf M-U/Thief (lvl 2/2?) (Jason)
Rul Scararm, Human Fighter (lvl 1) (Douglas Cole)
Starlander Bek, Elf M-U (level 4?) (Joe D)

All of our characters awoke with a dream of a skeletal armor crushing a village, and trampling the sign reading "Aberton" underfoot. Being adventurers, we totally failed to realize that "Keep Out" doesn't mean "Free Money and Beer" and decided to investigate. Eddie Murphy's comment about Amityville came to mind. A vision of a glowing magical sword didn't hurt - although Mirado immediately realized that we'd be tracking it down for Rul, whose total lack of a magical sword is a shame to one and all.

It was a few days' ride to Aberton, so Mirado sprang for horses for everyone because he has more cash than things to spend it on. Mirado's horse is named Melyngrab.

We rode to the town, and found it was marked up as a plague center. So we bravely decided to follow a trail we found nearby and avoid the town completely. Along the trail we found a zombie caught in brambles - and shot it to death with arrows. It had been dead a long time, long enough for its clothes to rot.

We followed a rough trail to a collapsed mine. We checked around to avoid getting jumped from behind - and were attacked by skeletons who rose from the dirt to attack us. They didn't last.

Once they dropped, we dug. Mirado pitched even after claiming fighters should supervise, and clunked himself with falling rocks for 2 HP damage. Sigh. The stench of death from inside was strong, but only Irban was affected.

We pushed inside, and found a bunch of zombies in tattered uniforms (from a nearby monastery.) We put them down pretty quickly, and moved further into the dungeon, keeping to the left mostly because it seemed most likely to secure our rear than going right would.

Next up was a bigger room, with a plate-armored skeleton with a glowing sword, and some glowing spots on the ground that inevitably sprouted more skeletons. We fought, and some web spells (lit up by Starlander), a few sweet cleaves, and some general brawling put them all down. Mirado took out a few pretty quickly, but once Bek backed off to let the fighters handle it the rolls went south. He waded back in with a 20 and put things to right. Mirado isn't much of a finisher without mages in melee to keep his enthusiasm up. Rul went down, seriously injured (negative HP) and we had to close in around him to kill the enemy before any of them did any PC-like thing such as finishing the wounded.

Once they were down, Mirado was granted the plate armor (which, despite my concerns about his movement rate and mobility, he took, mostly because it was funny.* Rul took the sword, which turned out to be +1, +3 vs. undead, and glows blue when drawn.

Next we found a bunch of goblins up on a dead-end rise. We negotiated by identifying the one that could speak Common, and Bek casting Sleep on the rest (who looked sickly). While the goblin (later named Brak) told us tales of being inflicted with diseases by some evil dude(s), we tossed oil on the sleeping goblins and lit them up. Mirado's oil, actually, which just goes to show how much of a callous person he is.

Further exploration revealed a wide open coal mine area with prompted Loretta Lynne/Sissy Spacek comments under the place went all Harryhausen on us and ranked skeletons with matching weapons and shields rose up from the ground. Awesome.

We backed off to narrow, higher ground, and held them off. They attacked, but we basically trashed them although injury was incurred and we ended up needing to break out potions again.

From there, we continued to explore, aided by Skylander's extremely useful undead-detecting wand. We found a collapsed area we chose to leave for the moment. We next found a cul-de-sac with a shadow in it. It didn't last, because stating with Bek we opened up on it with everything and hit it hard. It went down without hitting any of us.

From there we found the BBEG. A cleric with a magical lantern and skeletal guards, and an alter with an otyugh all cut up on it to generate whatever disease magic he was working. What followed was a messy fight. Hold Person paralyzed Irban, and the cleric and skeletons swarmed in to attack Skylander. He tried to Magic Missile the lantern out of the guy's hand but didn't manage it, and took some hammering back from the cleric for his trouble. Mirado, who'd been holding back in the darkness, waded in swinging. A mix of misses and bad misses leeched away a few HP (I forgot to ask Erik how it manifests, actually), but eventually Mirado started to tee off with 19s and 20s as Rul got in hits, too. Rul had his sword, and Mirado just sucked up a -4 to hit in the darkness. We eventually got the cleric down and were able to feed potions to Bek and get him back up and going. Mirado took the cleric's head as proof we killed him, but that never turned out to be needed.

We looted the guy, finding magical armor and a magical mace (given to Irban, because he lacks a magic weapon), and eventually some cash and what turned out to be crappy gems.

We did some miscellaneous looting and exploring, but it mostly ended there. We did great on magical loot and general slaying, and got a bit of coin, too.

* Actually, Doug offered me the plate, and I said "Okay." Almost immediately he suggested as a lower-HP fighter he might benefit more, so I just snapped out "I already said OK." Everyone burst out laughing . . . . which is mainly why I did it. Still cost me some better armor later - same AC, lower weight. Oh well.


We explored the dungeon out in exact room order, 1-8.

As discussed last time, we needed better fight coordination. We got it in spades today. Shots were aimed at damaged foes trying to set up cleave results (generally; once I nailed a full-HP skeleton because I thought killing it was more important than scoring a cleave . . . lucky me I got it anyway). Downed PCs were rescued but first we secured them from damage. PCs stuck close to benefit from area-effect powers (Mirado's ring, for one) and so they could aid each other. It was much more solid teamwork and it showed in the way we generally plowed through the opposition and survived what could have been death.

Once again, Mirado's quick claiming of some mundane gear cost him better mundane gear later. Last time, it was a longbow that cost him a longbow +2. This time, it was old plate armor that cost him banded armor +1. Hopefully we'll find something magical in the future and I can leverage my lack of magic armor into claiming that! I'm not so comfortable with armor that D&D-style game systems feels is clumsy and heavy. I'd rather take a few hits than drown or sink or clank. But for now, I'll keep it.

Mirado's Ring of Protection (10' radius, saves only) has been really useful. I'm glad I traded for it, it makes me a real close-in asset.

Woundlicker cost me 2 (might have been 3 - I erased instead of crossed out, it's hard to tell now) thanks to 1s, and got me 2 back (thanks to hits on the cleric.) Its inability to suck HP from undead makes it risky against them, because it's risking HP loss just to get a +1 to hit and damage. But screw it, Mirado isn't carrying a spare sword just for undead. Might have to take the axe out next time though.

Mirado's ogre head has been interesting. Ever since I got it and started dual-wielding it, I've been rolling generally better. I got off a few 2-3 foe cleaves this session, and at least one of those hits (two, perhaps) were by the +1 for dual-wielding. It's a damn lucky head. I marked off some money to cover getting it preserved and weighted so I can keep bashing folks with it. It would be funny to turn it into a helmet and then turn the cleric's head into my "new" weapon. Heh. Nah. The ogre head is cooler.

I love playing S&W, but it's hard not to get the idea out of my head that my armor should be protecting me from damage, not hits, and that when I get hit and hurt that I'm not really reduced in combat ability. It's not a system complaint, it's just that going on 30 years of GURPS/Man-to-Man play means its concepts and concerns are deeply embedded in my reactions.

Doug blogged about this sooner and better than me.


  1. Longer, not better.

    One thing I note about S&W is just how much loot seems just tailor-made for fighters. Bows, swords, heavy armor, shields, magical maces (that would be a good cleric score, of course), even good mundane stuff like your plate armor and some of the swords we didn't collect and sell (eight longswords and eight shields, IIRC?) really piles up.

    1. The first session we found some magical rings, but also a spellbook. I think we found a spellbook or scroll the next trip, too, and definitely found a magic cloak, too - and those wands clearly came from somewhere.

      But you're not wrong. Fighters have a limited selection, really, but it's also a fairly deep selection. There is always a lot of stuff.

      It's weird coming from GURPS were most magic items are mage-only, though, that's for sure.


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