January 10th, 2016 (but played on 1/24/2016)
Weather: Light but steady rain.
Characters (approximate net point total)
Angus "Mithrilbraid" McSwashy, dwarf swashbuckler (261 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (287 points)
Hasdrubul Stormcaller, human wizard (267 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (269 points)
Brother Ike, human initiate (135 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (271 points)
Kenner Baumfellen, wood elf scout (250 points)
Quenton Gale, human druid (252 points)
We picked up where we left off last session.
The PCs headed out from the Mowgli "temple" and directly up a couple of main streets to the "Gargoyle Dome Temple." They didn't make it all the way, though, before they were caught a little off-guard by a giant slug oozing out of a ruined building. It spat at Hasdrubel, who had just heard something and started to turn its way. He hit the dirt and it missed, instead gobbing a skeleton's hand with acid (in seconds, that took care of the hand and its axe.) The party sprung into action even as the slug rushed them. Even before they saw how fast it was, they decided to fight. ("We can't outrun slugs." - Gerry)
The slug tried to slam and smash down its foes, but the PCs pretty much surrounded it and piled on, moving out of its way. It was huge - maybe 6' tall and 40-50 feet long. The two zombie pentanthers and the skeletons charged, but their attacks did almost nothing to its rubbery hide. Hjalmar tried to cut off its antenna but it retracted them under the attacks. Mo's flail was useless against it, so he used his silver demon-slaying sword instead. The slug just spat when it could and bit when it couldn't, chomping on one of the pentanthers and holding on as it in turn was grappled.
They hit upon the strategy of cutting open a wound, then aiming for that gap (-10, halves DR). That worked pretty well, and eventually they wounded it gravely. It began to move slowly, piping madly and keening with pain and alarm. That attracted some visitors, though - giant beetles. They PCs quickly ran away from it, now sure they could escape without being pursued. They ran - towards their objective - and left the beetles to catch up and finish off the slug. That they did, as the PCs stood on the street and gasped for breath.
At this point, it started to rain. So they ducked into the "H" building and watched the temple. The rain bounced off the magical dome. They went out after they rested and stood in front and Hasdrubel rang the Golden Bell of D'Abo. Inside the dome, the doors on the odd-shaped structure inside shimmered and flickered and went dark. The dome? Nothing happened.
They decided they needed to ring the bell at the obelisk plaza. They went in, rang the bell - nothing, although its tone was lower, which they decided meant they were further away. Their watch, Mo, did spot some distant humanoid figures coming their way and rush in to meet them. They decided the plaza was not defensible - three easy ways in and the walls were too low. They went to Rangol Grot's mansion, instead, again to the front door.
They rang the bell outside the mansion and the illusion covering it went translucent. They tried to pry open the door, but again, there wasn't even the slightest give. A second time they rang the bell, and this time Angus climbed the wall next to the gate and then swung in behind it. The wall top was narrow, slick, and wet, making it tricky, but he was able to navigate it (with is "natural dwarven agility" IIRC).
When he dropped behind the gate, however, the grass grabbed at his feet, rooting him down! It took a few tries, but eventually he was able to rip one foot out, then quickly put it down and rip out the other and then leap to a pathstone and safety. From there, he tried to lift a nearly 20' long bar that held the doors. He couldn't, and summoned aid. Mo came over and helped, as well, and the party came in.
There was a pathway to another gate, but any step off the path was grappled by the tanglegrass. To either side was a black metal fence - to one side, an overgrown garden, and to the other, an overgrown park with a pond. Ahead, another gate. They arranged themselves as best they could, but fearing attack from behind they had the skeletons close the gate behind them and bar it. Meanwhile, Mo had hopped the other gate and then hung from its spikes on top, trying to bend them. Two did bend, but, as he hung there facing away from the house inside the grounds . . . THWAP!
A crossbow bolt slammed into his back. It was poisoned, but his size kept him from feeling that. Luckily, he wasn't stunned (or nailed to the door), and he dropped and turned. He saw on the house, but then two apes charged him from the right, waving bones. As they did, a pair of blowgun darts hit him! Harmless thanks to his Shirtless Savage DR, but the venom bit in. A second later, he took damage from it.
The apes attacked Mo, who quickly readied his shield and morningstar and started to move to meet them. He killed one almost immediately with a crushing head blow.
Gerry meanwhile ordered his pentanther zombies to jump the gate, but they couldn't - they'd pull their paws free of the grass and move slowly, but to jump they needed to coil up. That split second was enough to let the grass re-grab. They had to settle for slowly walking. The skeletons had the same issue. The PCs were largely on the path, though, so Gerry pushed forward (just behind Angus and Hjalmarr) and used Apportation to lift the bar. Lucky for him it's not a locking bar, so it went up and Hjalmarr and Angus could push it open and move in. Gerry quickly ripped off Great Haste on Hjalmarr (he'd later fail on Angus a few seconds after.)
Beyond the gate was the rain-slicked muddy grass of a courtyard ("think Kurosawa fight scene") and a house. Coming out of the house onto the covered porch were some men and one woman dressed as southern pirates (tattoos, bright colors, bare feet, revealing tops).
Mo kept fighting the ape, finally killing it a moment after Gerry's skull spirit attacked it from behind and wounded it.
The PCs moved in, wondering why the pirates didn't rush them and keep them penned in to the entrance. That became clear seconds later. A troll charged out from the door, down the stairs, and out into the yard. The PCs sent their skull spirit and pentanthers in followed by their main fighters. As the undead attacked, and as the PCs closed in, Angus was hit with two poison blowgun darts. He shrugged it off ("Dwarves are acrobatic and good against poison").
The pentanthers jumped the troll, which slashed and wounded one badly before it, too, was hit - and disappeared! (There was some argument here about if it was invisible, or an illusion.) They shifted to the waiting pirates. Mo ran up but slid on the grass and went legs-first up to the edge of the porch - and a gigantic spider lunged out and bit him on the leg, wounding and poisoning him.
The PCs closed in and tripped up some Waits - Hjalmarr by a spear-toting pirate, the jumping pentanthers by sword-armed pirates. But they and the skull spirit disrupted the defense and the pirates never really regained any initiative.
Still, Gerry (now using See Invisible, not that it helped too much) spotted two short guys lurking under the porch (horde pygmies, in a rare non-horde appearance), and a giant rat and a basilisk rushed out from under there as well. Angus ran the rat through the eye after a Feint, only to find he'd killed a rust monster under some kind of Illusion Disguise. Oops. His sword went from "fine" to "good but rusty" in a split second, and only was saved from complete destruction by his epic reflexes flicking off the rust monster fluid (it's Signature Gear, after all.) The "basilisk" turned out to be the same, but was torn apart by a rust-proof zombie pentanther.
The fight seemed to be going fairly well - the pirates started to get mowed down, and Mo started to get up. A pentanther jumped the spider that kept grabbing Mo and started to maul it.
A saber-toothed tiger ran out of the house and charged Hasdrubel, who nailed it point-blank with a Lightning spell he'd charged up and been building it. Zaaaaaaap. It disappeared - another unreal creature, either illusion or a more-deadly Phantom. The pirates were getting butchered around now, but very slightly chivalrous (and chest-obsessed) Hjalmarr only shield-based the female pirate in the face and then double-cracked her with the back of his axe head. You know, not to kill her. It worked, sort-of (she was well below -1xHP but didn't die). One pentanther went down from pirate swipes (the badly damaged one) but the other was up.
At this point, with the illusions not doing so well, and his minions getting torn up, Rangol Grot made an appearance, backed by two sallow hunchbacks armed with clubs (and one also with an axe). Two of Gerry's skeletons attacked, as the next two (one more still being stuck in the grass) followed the pygmies, who fled. The skeletons ran up to the waiting hunchbacks, who smashed each one into a scatter of bones with a single swipe.
As Hjalmarr ran up to attack, though, Rangol cast Charm on him and he failed to resist. He ordered him to protect him. Hjalmarr turned and attacked his friends, starting with Angus, who was close by.
Angus and Hjalmarr fought. Hjalmarr wasn't able to hit Angus before Angus used a Kiai and stunned him, then tried to disarm (twice in two sessions!), but failed (DX-based sword vs. ST-based axe = wasn't even close, especially when Hjalmarr rolled a 4.) Hjalmarr recovered, but was re-stunned a second later, and one of the pentanthers jumped him, as did the skull spirit. "Hold him down!" yelled Gerry. The pentanther did, biting him five times (two critically) and inflicting 37 HP of damage and 37 CP. With ST below 0, he was helpless, basically.
The fighting continued, and in two seconds Mo charged Grot, as did Angus, just after he was Great Hasted by Gerry. Grot managed another Charm, this time on Angus, who totally blew his resistance. Two friends, now! "Kill them all!" Grot yelled.
Mo tried to All-Out Attack a hunchback, not realizing he was Waiting. Oops. He took a massive club hit - those guys were amazingly strong - and was knocked back. He never got to complete his attack. A second later, the hunchback stepped up and cracked Mo again and knocked him out.
At this point, the fight had totally turned. Mo down, Hjalmarr and Angus both on the enemy's side. No one with any magic to help.
Gerry immediately spent a second (and 1 FP) to cancel the spell on Angus. (We ruled Angus suffered the usual FP loss, pro-rated - 1 FP in this case.)
Angus ran over to the pentanther. Gerry ordered it to kill them all. It didn't manage, though. Angus stabbed it a couple times, then realized he was stabbing an undead. Oops. A second later, though, he carved it up by cutting a few of its skulls open. It dropped, truly dead now.
Hasdrubel tossed a lightning spell he had been building up, hitting close to one of the hunchbacks with a 1d Explosive Lightning. It did basically nothing, but it freed up his hands. He started to ready the Golden Bell of D'Abo.
He rang the bell, asking for it to free his friends. It sort-of did - it allowed Angus and Hjalmarr to re-roll their resistance rolls. Angus rolled well this time, Hjalmarr poorly. Angus turned back to the PC's side!
(I cautioned the PCs that ringing the bell again, had, in their experimentation, never done anything until the first effect faded.)
Hjalmarr started to get up, with the skull spirit still after him. Gerry tried to levitate him. It failed. Next up, he used Animate Shadow. This did better - it kept Hjalmarr busy, and eventually he was knocked out and the shadow ran him through for good measure. It looked bad for a second, as it appeared and attacked, and Hjalmarr blocked and then hit it for maximum damage! Good thing it had his HP, too, and took less damage from physical blows.
Hasdrubel threw a 3d Explosive Lightning spell and missed the hunchback, but hit the wall, catching him and Grot in the blast. He rolled maximum damage - 15, so 5 each in the third ring. Both got hurt, neither got stunned. A second later, though, Angus was able to engage the hunchback and get him down and then kill him with an eye stab and some body slashes. A second later, he put the other down with a stab to the eyes. ("Enemies with eyes are my natural enemies!")
He ran after Grot, though, who fled back into the house and closed the door. He tried to bash it open, breaking the latch but not getting it open. A second later he kicked it open and ran in. He saw Grot running away, faster than he could run. He pursued for a second or two, and then gave up and came back. Hasdrubel arrived, though, about 4-5 seconds later, and came in and wanted to pursue. They followed where Angus saw Grot run, after putting on Mage Sight on Hasdrubel.
They moved somewhat slowly, cautious of traps. They found Grot's office, which he'd run into about 20-30 second ago already.
There was a desk inside, complete with a glass dome covering - the other Golden Bell of D'Abo! No Grot, though, and while there was a cot, there was nothing else (not even spare clothing, actually). Hasdrubel rang the bell again, and it revealed the other bell was nothing more than a glass dome over a curled-up snake.
Still no Grot. They took their time and searched the house, finding a storeroom, living areas for the hunchbacks and pirates, and some minor loot. Still no Grot.
(By this point, it was clear Grot had fled - and ringing the bell didn't have the low tone anymore - it was back to its normal pitch.)
They looted the house, finding a book on illusion magic in Elvish, some notes in Elvish, many sketches of the "temple" from all angles, and not much else. Eventually, though, they found a secret hallway with a scroll on the floor and a slightly-open outer door . . . and a niche with a pillow with a bell-shaped depression on it with no bell. Hasdrubel grabbed the scroll, and found it was just a one-shot Fascinate spell which failed to work on him (he was able to resist.)
The pursuing foes from outside didn't make an appearance, although the rain did pick up a little. The PCs policed up the area and got to work healing and bandaging (mostly Brother Ike's job.)
The had to decide - take what they had and leave, or stay in the city?
They decided to question a prisoner. The first plan was to take up the female pirate, torture her and interrogate her. They eventually discarded that, once they had a real idea of its likelihood of success - default Interrogation, and all the magic they had to help was "I can use (spell X) to make her feel pain or (spell Y) to scare her!" Still, not good odds. Besides, she was still under a permanent spell - likely Enslave. Plus, they'd need healing potions - Brother Ike wasn't willing to heal her or wake her up to torture her.
Instead the PCs selected one of the hunchbacks and questioned his spirit with Summon Spirit (pretty cheap on the site of death, over the body - base 5/3 instead of 20/10). They found out a few snippets of information:
- the bell was found "in the pyramid." What pyramid? No one asked. I suspect they thought I meant the tetrahedron, which people have casually called "the pyramid."
- Rangol Grot had a secret way out, but didn't share its location.
- he didn't know any other place, they only stayed in the mansion.
- the pirate woman's name is Kian.
They asked a number of additional questions, although I can't now recall the answers. Some of them were zooming in on details of the secret escape from his house, and so on, but nothing I remember being particularly earth-shattering reveals.
They took some time to rest, since it was clear they weren't under immediate attack, and dealt with the casualties. The PCs were healed, the female pirate stabilized (she was well under -1 x HP), the wounded drained of FP and HP by Gerry, and one hunchback and a few pirates zombied (maybe others, as well - it was late).
The plan, as of now, is to stay in the city, and move around with the bell and use it to locate Rangol Grot. Or perhaps get him to work with them long enough to get inside, and then kill each other. It's still in its planning stages. But they chose to stay and press their luck.
That's where we ended for the session.
XP: None this session, as it's per-delve not per-session. The PCs have enough to go home with a profitable session with no casualties thanks to the previous session's loot, and possibly they've added to it here. They still believe they can get the second bell, and go open the temple, and they elected to stay instead of cutting and going back to civilization. Basically they doubled-down and then doubled-down again, since the best they can expect is a bonus point or two, but are risking the penalties of casualties and loss of what they've got.
MVP was Hasdrubel, for all those correct choices with the bell and the spells.
A 6th trip to the lost city will be hard - a harder trip to the city, and a very long trip back. Essentially, the town is packing up and the pilgrims are leaving, and the last of them will depart in a week or so. A sixth trip would have to depart from the launching point (further from the Lost City), and the PCs would need to travel overland to the nearest permanent civilized port. I've promised them it will be rough, even with a druid with Weather Dome.
The slug? From GURPS Conan.
The house? I used this map, re-purposed from being a Japanese house with pseudo-Japanese named occupants.
The PCs generally used very good tactics, and made sound decisions in combat, but even with a +3 Will from the magic ring Hjalmarr couldn't buy a good Will roll. And Charm is a nasty spell. 3 seconds feels long, but if it works, it's a fight-changer. Lucky they realized the bell's anti-illusion powers and anti-magic powers might have some effect here. I wasn't sure they'd try at all, and also thought they might try it early (to dispel illusionary monsters and disguises) and then be unable to bust it out later. It worked out very well and earned Hasdrubel that MVP.
Rangol Grot isn't a Gort joke. The name actually originated with one of my students. His English pronunciation isn't very clear, and he mangled "I have language arts" into something I repeated back as "You have rangol grot?" I told him that sounded like a bad guy wizard from a fantasy novel. He started to draw "Rangol Grot" - an elf-wizard-dragon-monster on the board every class, complete with Infinite Hearts. I told him I was using Rangol Grot in a game, but I don't think he believes me. Not sure if I told this story before. It probably sounds mean, but like I said, every class he shows up and Rangol Grot gets more and more horrible. Future GM or video game boss monster designer, there.
Charm? I let the PCs run themselves. They're fine with doing the most horribly effective things to their friends and groaning when it works. "Please fail my HT roll!" "Come on, 18! Aaaah, I hit." Heh.
Fun session. Ran late, but started late, as we all needed to dig out, then the people with a reasonable shot at ever getting parking picked up the rest of us.
Pictures later - I've got a dozen to get through, edit, upload, etc. and no time now. It'll make the fight clearer. Editing later: Here are the pictures.