Tuesday, November 14, 2017

DF Felltower, Session 94, Felltower 67 - Golden Swordsmen

We played our latest session of Felltower on Sunday. For general links and previous sessions, please the DF Campaign page.

November 12th, 2017

Weather: Cold.

Characters:
Ahenobarbus the Lacerator, human swashbuckler (255 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (302 points)
     5 skeletons (~25 points)
Hayden the Unnamed Knight, human knight (255 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (330 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (143 points)
     Antonios, Demitrios, and Leonidas of Meepos, human spearmen (125 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (352 points)
Raggi Ragnarsson, human berserker (?? points)

We started in Stericksburg as usual. The plan was to move down to the bottom of the giant spiral staircase and explore "the nicer area" ("Not that area with the noisy neighbor." - aka the Lord of Spite). The group was able to locate the Meeposian brothers for the delve, as well as Raggi to bulk out their ranks.

The PCs dragged the bridge up to the castle and stashed it outside with their winter clothes, and climbed the walls and went down through the metal trap door. They wound their way around the first level and found their chosen way to the stairs down blocked by spidewebs. There was a clear tunnel in it. Mo tried to shoot an arrow into the web tunnel to get the spider to come out. It wouldn't. So they advanced with Hayden holding a torch to set the webs on fire. A humongous spider rushed out and was quickly slain by Mo and Hjalmarr and Hayden. As they burned up the webs Gerry cast Zombie on the spider and added him to his trail of undead. Mo collected an egg sac and plotted using it to plant near the orcs so they'd have to deal with a lot of spiders.

They headed down to the next level, hurrying past the stirge-choked hallway and to the stairs. They dropped the egg sac just around a corner near the stairs and opened up the door.

Beyond it was an ooze!

The ooze rushed out and snapped a stinging pseudopod out at Hjalmarr. Mo rushed up to hit it. So did Hayden. Ahenobarbus started to get out an alchemist's fire a moment later. The ooze kept attacking, moving in close, sizzling away armor, and dodging attack after attack. The PCs hit it fairly often, but couldn't seem to make much headway - weapons passed through it with little effect (aside from taking corrosion damage!). Mo was hit once or twice and resisted its poison but had his skin scaled by its corrosion attack. Ahenobarbus hit it with alchemist's fire, almost - it dodged and got caught in the splash damage. (The original plan was "stick in it and Mo will hit it" which showed I didn't describe the ooze well, everyone assumed it was like a giant enveloping slime, which is more gelatinous.) The ooze burned with the fire a little bit, but easily moved out of the burning area. It was eventually hit with more alchemist's fire and hit a lot, and quivered . . . and split into two!

The two smaller oozes fled, one down the stairs and the other up the wall and away. Ike tried a Sunbolt but missed.

The PCs took stock of their damage and wiped the ooze's slimy gunk off of their weapons and armor. They needed to go down, and the ooze was going to be there.

They moved down the stairs, single file, and watched for the ooze. It eventually rushed them out of the darkness. Mo slammed an alchemist's fire near it (on it, but it dodged) and the stairs were afire. They kept hacking at it and it kept Dodging when it could and stinging back.

Gerry Levitated a skeleton out into the air, and found it wasn't a NMZ. So he did the same to himself and while Invisible moved up to the ooze. He tried to hit it with his staff with Deathtouch but it dodged. He tried again and hit. That seemed to do it - the ooze broke up and dribbled away. Was it the blow, or the spell? It seemed like it was the spell, but they're not sure. They'll need to experiment more.

They finally got to the bottom, weapons and armor seriously damaged by the ooze, and knowing another was on the loose elsewhere. Someone remarked it would have been better to open the door and find the Lord of Spite waiting.

Once at the bottom they carefully headed to the "apartment complex" where they'd found colored doors and a golden statue on a trapped pedestal.

This time they investigated the door with a face on it. They could see a handle in the mouth, and a keyhole. The door wouldn't budged when pushed, so they had Gerry cast Lockmaster on it. It clicked, unlocked. One of Gerry's skeletons tried the door - and it bit off its fingers!

No one could fit a gloved hand inside, so they had Mo try it. It bit his fingers but the door opened, and he was able to pull his fingers out of the mouth bloody but not seriously injured (he has a lot of DR from being a Shirtless Savage.) Inside they found a pedestal with a red leather book with a face on it, just like on the door. Gerry moved up to investigate it and it leaped up and bit him, biting off his three middle fingers on the right hand! They managed to rip the book off and pin it to the floor. Mo decided it needed to be his shield mount, so he and Hjalmarr started to pin the book to his shield with a hammer and iron spikes nailed into a rough frame. They banged away, enough to keep them from hearing the approach of booted feet!

They were rushed from behind by six gold-skinned swordsmen holding weird, thick clubs/swords with razor edges. The Meeposian brothers held the line and the swordsmen advanced . . . and revealed a giant scaled cat-like critter. It roared at the group, a road that turned into a deafening BOOOOOOOOOM. It coughed a sonic attack that hurt anything that could hear (I ruled, though, the spider counted but not the skeletons) and deafened and stunned most of the group. The swordsmen attacked.

The PCs fought back, uncoordinated due to stunned fighters, close quarters, and being deaf so they couldn't talk to one another. As quickly as they could, Hjalmarr and Mo got up and moved to the fray. Hayden and Ahenobarbus beat them there. Gerry put Great Haste on himself and then began to methodically put it on everyone else, starting with Ahenobarbus. As one of the Meeposian brothers dropped, Ahenobarbus stepped up and cut down his attacker. Moments later he was cut down and knocked unconscious by a blow from a weird golden falchion. Raggi moved up and eventually found his way forward even as the big golden cat-like thing roared a second time and stunned him and more of the PCs. The tight corridor made the roar dangerous to everyone and unavoidable, and the PCs had trouble moving up past their friends.

Eventually the PCs were able to force their way through, especially since their foes kept using space to Retreat and step back up, allowing the PCs to follow. They did, moving around the Meeposian brothers - one down, one stunned, and one wounded - and engaging their foes. Hjalmarr went for the big cat but was held off by the swordsmen.

Soon, though, the PCs pushed the swordsmen back. Mo smashed one down with his morninstar, Hjalmarr wounded one with his axe, and the cat-thing roared again. This time Gerry was stunned, too. The golden swordsmen kept getting forced back, and another went down a few seconds after Mo injured it.

Then problems struck the golden swordsmen backed down three different corridors. Hjalmarr went around the party's left to reach the cat, and it bit him and held on after he crippled his own arm with a Critical Miss on a parry. He desperately tried to wrench free but didn't make much headway. Hayden and one of his foes both cut themselves with critical failures around this time. And Raggi followed a cagey fighter with a DBZ haircut who kept parrying his attacks and then slashing the now-berserk axeman twice a second.

Then as another swordsman went down, Hjlamarr suddenly felt a strike into his back - for once, he didn't check his flank (and his spiffy new greathelm, a loaner from Vryce, wouldn't have helped him here). It turned out that six more swordsmen were rushing in. Hjalmarr kept announcing that "I'm not left handed!" but they didn't seem to care (later examination showed them to likely be deaf, and definitely mute.)

From there the fight turned into a slugfest. Hayden took out the cat with a massive skull chop. Mo charged out and attacked the new wave of attackers even as Hjalmarr spun, fought briefly and then dropped unconscious (missed by 1 due to a -1 thanks to Unfit, acquired as part of his partly-funded Resurrection). Mo began to clean up, however. Even as he was chopped over and over, Mo managed to Dodge attacks, rolled a few timely 3s and another critical hit on skull blows, and kept smashing golden swordsmen headless. Hayden fought off three but mistakenly stayed a little too close and was enagaged simultaneously by two and wounded badly. He'd drop unconscious his next turn.

Raggi kept swinging, but basically needed a critical to get past the defenses of his foe and couldn't get one. He hit -5xHP from a tough series of blows and dropped, dead.

Mo turned the tide, however, smashing down swordsman after swordsman. His morninstar was tough for them to Parry and he made it tough to Dodge and eventually wore them down. Ahenobarbus was fed potions by Gerry, by now invisibly up in the front, and healed by Ike and then hit with Awaken until he got up. He wasn't able to get back in the fight. The final swordsman dropped - even as it had attacked one on many.

But Mo didn't snap out of being berserk. He turned and had a choice - a Meeposian brother or a skeleton. He hit the skeleton, since Mo loves smashing skulls. He shattered it. Gerry cancelled his Great Haste as Mo went after Leonidas. Mo was blcoked. He went to kill again but finally snapped out of it.

With the foes dead, the PCs quickly woke up Hayden and set him to guard (with some funny pantomime by the PCs, who are really getting into roleplaying deafness). Ahenobarbus was furious at getting knocked out, so he went around stabbing. He noted they seemed to have some protective skin or shield while awake, but were perfectly normally fleshy while unconscious. The PCs looted the bodies, and then carefully checked and looted the nearby rooms with colored, but open, doors. They took a necklace festooned with tiny golden heads like this:



along with a map, jewelry from the bodies (all gold, hard to spot against their gold skin), an odd whetstone (which turned out to be for the weird swords), and some healing potions. One was wearing bracelets which turned out to be Bracers of Force, claimed by Ahenobarbus.

They got out of there after Gerry cast Zombie on the big cat-thing (he has Huge Subjects 2 on Zombie) to help haul bodies. They took a golden corpse with them, as well, to find out more about them.

They returned to town. Raggi didn't have any more money saved up, or at least handy, so Raggi's magical axe was sold to raise money to pay for his successful Resurrection.

***

So this is the second time in two delves that Raggi was slain. This time it cost him his fine dwarven enchanted greataxe, sold to raise the cash to Resurrect him. It's not clear what's next - he can downgrade to a normal axe (and will), but he does show his limits a bit. He pretty much needed to critically hit a foe or wildly change his tactics - neither happened, and he was diced up by a single golden swordsman. He's still a viable character, but he'll be much weaker (skill 13 on his Trademark Move, at least 3 damage less on each swipe) and no better equipped to deal with defensively-strong foes while berserk. And he's totally broke beyond the net proceeds of selling his main weapon and getting raised. He can probably afford a pretty good axe, but that's it.

The ooze fights were both pretty painful. The only weapons the PCs had that aren't nerfed against Diffuse creatures were vials of alchemist's fire. I described them later as a $100 bandaid for not having Explosive or Area spells. Beating oozes to death is possible but unlikely, and they can split - like the one did above. The fight was long, too - more than 90 minutes of slogging, swinging, planning, discussion of how they probably can't regenerate from fire, trying to set the ooze on fire with a torch . . . Diffuse creatures are murder if you don't have the weapons to deal with them. Good thing there was one - if I'd rolled more on my Wandering Monster chart, it could have been a TPK. The PCs still don't know if Deathtouch or Sunbolt even did the job or just were the last bits of damage needed. It seemed like it for the former, but the latter, who knows?

The golden swordsman encounter wasn't painful. This was a fun two-threat encounter for me as a GM. The twin threat of a cone attack (impossible to avoid in a narrow corridor) and dangerous melee fighters made for a tough fight. The players liked it, too - the foes were a clear and lethal threat, but they were vulnerable to normal attacks if you executed them well, PCs were able to use their carefully-cultivated attacks, and they yielded reasonable loot.

Fun session. 5 xp all around with the loot, MVP was Mo.

13 comments:

  1. How did Mo function going Berserk while Raggi didnt?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Mo is a PC. Mo has skills.

      Raggi will (as noted) have a mere 13 on his Trademark Move (which is Hit Location Neck), so his skill is what? 17? At their level?

      Raggi just can't compete anymore. Sure, he's probably more competent than the other tag-alongs they hire (the Meeposians, etc), but he's not quite up to PC snuff.

      Delete
    2. Simply put - Mo has Berserk (Enraged), and Raggi has Berserk. Mo can defend to a limited extent while enraged and he's maximized his ability to do that.

      Delete
  2. Raggi is an absolute monster against Goblins, Orcs, etc. Basicaly, stuff that generally doesn’t inflict a ton of damage each shot—he can take damage and kill them because they won’t parry everything he throws at them. Going up against guys that did 11 damage MINIMUM (2d+9) on two attacks per round when he was berserk and couldn’t defend—once he got separated from the group, he was toast if he didn’t get a lucky shot in, because these high skill guys could parry almost every time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pretty much. It's worth noting that one of them cut him down but had he rolled a critical at any time, he would likely just have killed his foe outright - his minimum damage on a neck strike was like 10 or 11 cutting. But he's less well equipped to deal with single, skilled, defensively-capable foes and I make him stubborn and fairly simple in his tactics.

      And it's not like he was an outlier - Ahenobarbus went right down. Hayden did better than Raggi but the moment it went one-on-two he was horribly wounded and passed out a second later. Mo did well but as his player has pointed out, he's built to be hell on folks who Parry as their main defenses (these guys), who have brains to be pulverized (these guys), and who can't one-shot cripple or kill him (these guys.) Rolling multiple 3s and critical hits helped a lot - I'm still surprised he face a wave of golden swordsmen and not only survived but killed several before being forced back towards the group.

      Also worth noting - Raggi was the only fighter that wasn't Great Hasted, and was quickly left on his own. The enemy drew him out, and he had to follow. It one the reason Berserk is a disadvantage.

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  3. Even while teaching and trying to write my thesis I love reading these play reports. In the abstract it seems weird to be so entertained by, essentially, "party fought off an ooze and beat some warriors and their big cat monster in order to take home some treasure"... I think the magic ingredient is how much personality comes through in the details.

    One comment on the post itself: I'm not seeing the necklace "like this:" - was there an image that you forgot to upload?

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    Replies
    1. Fixed!

      And I'm glad you're enjoying them. They are time consuming to write, but they're useful to us and it's gratifying that they're entertaining to people outside of the group.

      Delete
  4. Hopefully Raggi will do better in the future and get more awesome. Did the Meeposians accomplish stuff or just get stubbed?

    Without Has around I hope to see Larry's Triumphant return sometime!

    It's cool to see the party be awesome even without Dryst and Vryce!

    Is Hayden a new player? I notice he is still being played after the rescue mission

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They basically got injured but they briefly (and critically) held off the enemy so the party didn't get overrun. Worth a share, according to the PCs.

      Hayden is run by the same guy who runs Quenton, but he's enjoying running a front-line fighter as a change of pace.

      Delete
  5. It's why I bought off Berserk:Battle Fury to Enraged and Bloodlust-15 (I wasn't playing it properly, and running into combat at this level is suicide). Mo has a 14 dodge and hits the skull with Deceptive -2 on a 10. With committed attack (determined) and Great Haste he was rolling against 12, 12, 12 for 2xDeceptive -1 swings then a -2. Like Peter said, we haven't fought armed bad guys with brains for a long time... meaning non-demons. The orcs are leaving us mostly alone.
    If we fight the ogres & slorn or gnolls & wargs he will shine. But against Sterik, Durak (Lord of Spite), or undead with claws like Wights he is less effective and needs to up his skill to have a better Deceptive modifier to reduce their dodge. And I need better tactics, to go against foes who can't retreat. Enraged also limits that, he has to attack the nearest foe.

    This was a blast. I'm sorry Raggi died. Great Haste might have helped. We definitely need more area attack spells. Do we still have Quenton's Fireball Necklace? It's good in a pinch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quenton has it, it's Quenton's necklace now, after all.

      Delete

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