Sunday, June 28, 2015

DF Game Session 65, Cold Fens 7 - Traps & Lizard Men

June 28th, 2015

Weather: Varied (mix of clear and some rain)

Characters (approximate net point total)

Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (302 points)
     Koric, human guard (~70 points)
     Orrie, human guard (~70 points)
Bjorn Felmanson, human barbarian (279 points)
El Murik, dwarven cleric (274 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (275 points)
Hannibal the Flammable, human wizard (264 points)

In Swampsedge:
Dave, human knight (252 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Rahtnar the Vegan, dwarven martial artist (270 points)

We started in Swampsedge, where they players vacuumed up only a couple of rumors - not much to tell them, anymore, since no one is going into or out of the swamp. The church did tell them the hidey-hole they found surely would decrease in safety the longer they stayed in it, so they could use it as a bolt-hole and rest area but not depend on it long term at a single go. It's a good safe base, but not a wight-proof fortress or endless sanctuary.

The rolled for potions and Hannibal used Luck to ensure there was Paut (3 doses) and Minor Healing (5 doses) available. Looks like Bjorn was able to "sweet talk" Old Crone Hazel into making some for sure this week. Meanwhile Hannibal did some inquiries in town and was satisfied that no one was spying for the bandits - they were all outsiders with no connections, which is odd in an of itself. Gerry read the book they'd saved from a few trips back, and thanks to Gift of Letters from El Murik read it. It was a history of the construction of the tomb of the Great Sakatha, for when he chose to depart the mortal plane they would need a repository for his remains. Enough in it made it clear the tomb was that triangular structure they found.

Originally, the plan was to go straight in and after the lizard men. But Dave didn't make the trip. With only 1.5 fighters (Bjorn, plus Asher - who lacks Weapon Master or TBAM) they tried to think of something else to do. Nothing seemed like a reasonable trip so they headed to the island.

The trip in took four days, and featured a lot of hassles - tainted water damaged everyone after a critically failed survival roll, leaping leaches swarmed Gerry after his Invisibility spell critically failed (and then he rolled an 18 on his next roll, too), and they only barely managed to get out of the line of sight of the dragon as it flew to the northeast. They got rained on and got wet and their sleep was bothered by croaking of giant frogs nearby. They arrived at the island a bit bedraggled.

They bypassed the nymphs and sprung the trap door with a coin. They made it to the "mimic room" and got ready.

They headed down to the cavern and immediately popped off a 1-hex Sunlight spell to see how the bats felt about it. Not good - the bats fled the sunlight, and the ripple effect of those flying set off more and more, until the cavern started to come alive with them. The PCs fled upstairs for the better part of an hour.

Next, they came down and tried to dig up the second mound on the stair side of the cavern. They did - Bjorn did while everyone stood guard and made "Why is Sakatha's dirt in Sakatha's mound?" jokes until they decided it didn't contain anything. Bjorn left the shovel standing in the earth.

They headed back up again. They built a fire and summoned a fire elemental. As usual, Hannibal had a bad reaction and it wasn't impressed by his offer to burn things. He explained it would get to "burn a god to ashes." It liked the sound of that, and his next reaction roll was better. Meanwhile Gerry put Affect Spirits - proven effective against the semi-corporeal wights - on almost everyone's main weapons.

They went down again and across the "water" of the mysterious river of not-water. The elemental went through fine, which just showed more how not-water the river is. Once across, about a dozen wights swarmed in. The PCs formed a circle and Asher turned undead. Not very successfully, it turned out - they swarmed in, seemed to accept the mild penalty he inflicted.

El Murik and Hannibal threw spells, hurting one wight. The others moved in. A short, sharp, close-in fight resulted. El was attacked by two wights, Bjorn hacked three down before another got in close with him and frustrated his attacks and slashed him repeatedly.

Asher was mobbed by two and forced back, unable to concentrate to re-try turning them. Korric and Orrie were hit and paralyzed. El was hit repeatedly, and while his Resistance to Evil Supernatural Powers made a joke of the wight's paralysis, they drained so much FP from him he could barely stand (he was negative FP) and Hannibal had to lend him FP. Hannibal also narrowly missed hitting his friends when he tossed a 5d Fireball into El Murik's melee. The "mage" wight appeared, and Hannibal sicc'ed his fire elemental on it. It ran once the elemental hit it and burned it a little, but the elemental was under Fast Fire and easily ran it down.

What turned the fight was a sudden 3 by Asher when trying to keep concentrating on his turning - I let him re-roll the contest as he regroup mentally and re-focused on his faith. He rolled a solid margin (something like 10+) and the wights barely managed theirs. Now their penalty was no longer -1 or -2, but more like -7, and they couldn't fight effectively any more they fled.

Bjorn chased and killed one, and then slammed another (and narrowly avoided getting paralyzed.) The wight fell from getting back-slammed, and as it tried to stand Bjorn cut it apart.

The other wights hid in the river or behind mounds. The PCs gathered the dead and used Essential Flame to burn them, coupled with Fast Fire. The elemental came back, reporting it had burned the wight.

They headed there and found it indeed had. It was dead, face down, from burning, halfway up one of the open burial mounds. They took its badly burned and cracked skull-topped staff (not magical, if it ever was) and torched the body.

From there, they decided to skirt the building and see what the rest of the cavern was like. They got close to one of the blue fires they noted. They kept getting closer, half-convincing themselves this was an army of anti-Sakatha guardians they could treat with. They decided to get within about 6 yards and talk. They didn't. They got to about ten yards and the 10 lizard men around the ghostly blue fire stood up and came toward them. Bjorn (or maybe Hannibal) said, "Hail Sakatha!" but the lizard men just attacked, hurling javelins they suddenly had in hand. The lizard men were clearly undead, and their javelins were corporeal but appeared from nowhere and disappeared after striking. New weapons appeared when they mimicked drawing them.

Hannibal told his elemental ("Burnie II") to attack. They also launched some spells, but the lizard men defended easily and threw more javelins. Hannibal hit the dirt to avoid one and it slammed into Orrie's back as he watched the rear. Luckily it was at half damage range and that was enough to caught it to bounce off of Orrie's new mail hauberk.

Asher turned undead, and crushed it. The lizard men began to back off. They threw more javelins, and more come up from the other fires. Ten per fire, between six and eight fires (depending on if some are ones seen from another angle before), means 60-80 undead lizard men with ghostly javelins. Yikes. So Hannibal lay down a gigantic Smoke spell and Gerry put Missile Shield on himself and Asher. Once it was clear the lizard men would pursue, but couldn't close quickly, they ran around to the entrance.

They hailed Sakatha again, and went in.

They set a fire and summoned another elemental. Hannibal used Luck on the reaction roll, and got a solid reaction, especially when he upped the ante to "burn an Elder God to ashes!"

They decided to check the side doors instead of going straight in to the feast hall and down. They checked carefully for traps, and Bjorn, in the lead, spotted one. A pressure plate, looking just like the one from the spear trap triggered last time. He edged around it . . . and set off a pit trap on the far side of it. He jumped back as the floor split in two and fell open to the sides. He barely landed clear of the pressure plate.

The group all started talking at once - go forward, go back, how deep is this pit, maybe this, maybe that. I counted a few seconds and announced they heard a stone grinding noise. They began to back up slowly.


A 10' x 10' x 20' tall block of stone slid down from the ceiling above and dropped behind the pressure plate, with less than a yard of clearance. Bjorn was on one side, the party on the other. Asher and El Murik were each in a hex clipped in half by the stone's fall. They tried to Dodge. Asher made his, but El Murik failed (he had a 6 or less.) As did Bjorn, also in the path to get clipped. It fell for 16d-3 crushing damage, halved for guys who failed to Dodge (being halfway out, they'd have to dive under to get hit more) and nothing for the success. I rolled 51 damage, halved to 25, to a random location. Bjorn rolled Left Leg, and it was smashed but (thanks to a good HT roll) not broken but just dislocated and crippled. El Murik rolled Neck. He burned his boon from the Good God (from torching the evil book) and re-rolled it. Right arm, or right foot. Ouch. He chose foot. Either way, it would have been ugly. It slammed down on his right foot and took it clean off, doing well more than the damage to dismember.

He fell back screaming, but they quickly tied it off and got him healed.

Bjorn, though, was stuck on the far side of a 100+ ton stone block. They could talk, because the block didn't quite meet the side walls (it cleared by an inch or so in parts.)

Basically, for about an hour, they futzed around and tried to figure out what to do. Bjorn tried hitting the pressure plate after they decided it might reset the trap. No - it fired 10 poisoned spears, like the one in the previous session. After a minute or so, the spears faded away. How about the pit? Bjorn pulled himself to the edge, and found it was about 30' deep and spiked. There was a lever in the down position on his side, about 10' off the group. The door was still there. Bjorn shot it with an arrow, just in case. Thunk. Nothing - just a door.

He sliced up all of his clothing and lanyards and potion belt and so on to make a rope with a loop, and lowered it around the handle, and with great effort pulled it up. It closed the pit.

So Bjorn pulled up against the stone, as did El Murik, who cured him, sight unseen, with a -9 to his roll. He complained about the cost. After all, the spooky hallway meant no one could rest, so mana was at a premium. But Bjorn was walking again.

Bjorn re-opened the pit by putting some weight on it but being ready he didn't have a chance to fall in. He tossed his light stone down to see if there was a door or something - no. He activated his glow vial and used that for light.

Should he jump the pit onto the narrow ledge (DX-1 to land safely) and try the door, and see what was beyond?

Or, should Gerry put Ethereal Body on himself, get FP back immediately from another caster, and then zip over and put Ethereal Body on Bjorn at double cost and with a -5 for casting from a Low Mana Zone?

In the end, they opted for that. Gerry did his thing and then zipped back. Bjorn did, after trying to run through another wall and confirming he could get into the "feast room" - which was self-lit. Then he came back to the rest of the group.

The new fire elemental faded, having been around for an hour with nothing to burn. There will be some penalties next time - one elemental killed, one disappointed.

They basically retreated to the surface after this, being stalked by wights who clearly didn't know they'd let Affect Spirits expired to rescue Bjorn. They made it across and up.

Once back on the surface, Hannibal tried an experiment - he charged up a 15d Explosive Fireball and slammed it into the surface of the water of a pool right next to a nymph, and used Luck on the damage roll. FWOOOOOSH. 63 damage in the center hex, out to 21 on the fringes. The nymph exploded into steam.

Hurrah! Yes! 63 damage! She's gone! Is there treasure?

Oh, wait, within 10 seconds she re-formed out of the mist and steam.

Disappointed, they skirted around and went back to the boats. Bad Boating rolls meant it took almost a week to get back to Swampsedge.


No Dave today. Dave's player was there, being the young son of Gerry's players, but he decided he needed some time to play by himself today - can't say no to that. Ironically he loves combat, and there was substantial combat today, and had he chosen to play there would have been still more. Still, he's welcome to come and go.

Trap spotting is either easy (you have a Thief or a Scout), or kind of hard. Traps defaults to Per-5, which means even Per 14 El Murik rolls a 9 to spot them. I do give bonuses for time and careful examination, but even so, you don't always see everything. Knowing you're in a mine field and spotting all the mines are two different things. This was a case where even an excess of caution was countered with solidly built and concealed traps in combination and just a lack of skill in spotting them.

Why the lever in the pit? Either to re-set the pit (via a slimjim) or a cruel trick for people stuck inside ("Hey, now it's closed.)

Speaking of resetting, how does the block go back up? It's not clear yet if it does. That's a lot of stone to move up and down.

Low XP today, too - no loot, lost gear, lost extremity, answers to some minor questions ("Are the side doors trapped too?" and "What are the odds the hulking figures by the blue fires in a swamp are on our side?") at best. So I gave out 2 points, +1 for Gerry, the MVP (for rescuing Bjorn, and other things as well.) 2 was kind of generous for an inconsequential fight a lot of cost in gear, a lopped off foot, and no progress made toward anything except checking stuff off the "let's not do that again" list.


  1. How's morale among the players? Cold Fens seems to be a harsh environment, even for the minor leagues. Does that affect how you distribute points at the end of sessions?

    1. I'll let them speak to morale. I don't give points on a curve, so only success, not difficulty, matters. If they can find easy loot, it's easy points.

  2. 1. Asher's spent over twenty points before this session. How close is he to finishing that Cleric lens?
    2. If it is going to a be a session or two before El Murik regrows his foot, they may want to hold off on exorcising missions like the bonfires for after they fight the lizardmen. The bonfires seem like they could be related to the watery murder nymphs.
    3. The upper fortress isn't defended, perhaps bringing a scout, an artificer, or something with supernatural deduction instead would reveal a ton of loot, a hidden idol, or some other secret. Though maybe the secret involves key fragments hidden in puddings in different parts of the swamp.
    4. Maybe they should map the swamp. If you bring in a small army, and brainwash locals to supplement, you probably have something in mind to do with it. There is likely more loot and infrastructure somewhere besides the temple.
    5. Likewise, if someone foreign is supplying the cult with fighters, it is possible they may send replacements.
    6. El Murik is not that much over 250. Perhaps his uncle, Ol Murik, cousin Ul Murik, or the black sheep of the family, Evil Cleric Il Murik are in town.

    1. It's a month plus until the next session - we won't play again until mid August or so. A month downtime regenerating is a non-issue.

      Asher stopped putting points towards cleric and started in on more immediately useful traits since there a PC cleric in the group.


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