Monday, December 31, 2018

Beholder

Here is a shot of the beholder from yesterday's game session:



It's a Kenzer & Company Hackmaster beholder mini.

I traded some bat swarms for that flying base, too, because I didn't like the one the mini came with. I also remember putting the base in and then realizing was a mistake, so I had to remove it and drill a new hole.

The top and bottom halves didn't fit together, either. So I had to make a greenstuff connection, sculpt that into armor plates like the rest of the figure, and make sure it glued together well.

Remember way back when I was groaning about frosted minis?

This mini was one of the ones that frosted up, although it actually frosted up a year before that complaint - the beholder might have been the first one I had frost due to humidity. It took a major recovery job, and lots of re-painting, to get it back to this state.

This guy will see the tabletop again, but maybe not for a while. It took a horrible toll on the PCs, who were channeled into a killing zone where it could play its anti-magic ray and various eye rays on the party without retribution. Notice its order of attack, too - scouts first, then using its charmed ally to kill the cleric (who wasn't affected by the anti-magic ray), and then the wizard (so it could focus its attention elsewhere.) It was a spherical, hovering TPK.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

GURPS DF Session 112, Felltower 84 - A Dragon, Behold

December 30th, 2018

Weather: Mildly cool, cloudy.

Characters:
Alaric, human scout (303 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (389 points)
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (284 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (381 points)
Jaspar, human swashbuckler (260 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (374 points)
Monseigneur Morgan, human cleric (250 points)
Rolan Liadon, wood elf scout (262 points)
Vryce, human knight (534 points)

We started off in town, with the PCs completing a long list of purchases to be ready to fight the dragon. They gathered rumors as well, learning that some dragons are undead and breathe a zombie-creating gas, and that a live dragon is worth a fortune! Hjalmarr disbelieved in both.

Once they've fully equipped, they headed out and met up with their trio of scouts, who had all camped out in the woods. Rolan had managed to assemble a dragon-dismembering kit during his last brief stint in town, and had that with him. Mo smashed the horse on the broken statue of Sterick, and Rolan added on top of that by urinating on it ("It pissed me off!" he told a mildly annoyed Vryce.)

They made it up to the castle and penetrated into the depths in the same fashion as the other times - down the trap door entrance, down the hallways, and so on. They stopped briefly at an area of High Sanctity to allow Monseigneur Morgan (aka Mo Mo) to check it out. He cast Bravery on Hjalmarr, to render him immune to fear in case the dragon caused any. Mo asked for it as well, so Mo Mo cast it on him . . . and critically failed, putting him into a Panic. Mo ran. Vryce chased him down and brought back a chagrined Mo. They ended up frittering away 30 minutes resting and getting back in order, and then headed deeper.

Eventually they reached the GFS, and opened the door and headed down, carefully checking for traps. At the bottom they headed out and, again, down the exact same path to the pit as before. Despite a face mask made of sack cloth for Gwynneth, she still suffered from the close and unvital air of the dungeon level and was soon nauseous (a failure, then a 17). Jaspar felt it a bit but shrugged it off (with Luck after his own 17.)

They made it to the pit down to the next level. Worried about the loss of their lightstones, they put the majority of them into a sack and had Gwynneth put Apportation on it and hold it over the open pit, a bit below the floor level. The plan was some variation of "get them down below so they can be recovered for when we fight the dragon."

With that, they headed to the hot hallway and the glowing rift, and hung up a bag with even more lightstones and glow vials in it near the exit. They moved off to the natural staircase and their non-chemical lights winked out. They made it to the cave where the ravening eyes had been fought and set up a grapnel and rope and climbed down - well, Vryce climbed down, Mo climbed down carrying Gwynneth, and the rest jumped with Acrobatics or dropped from the hang. They sent Galen around exploring, and noted three ways out - one to the "right" (mostly straight) that rose up and then dropped down, through a narrow crevice (perhaps 4' wide) and two to the left. The left had a larger straight passage and a smaller side passage. hey spent 10 minutes there having Cure Disease cast on their wizard, but it didn't help her nausea and fatigue.

Galen and some of the others heard what could be breathing to the "right" so they headed that way. They moved through the narrow corridor and set up in the widening passage behind. They started to put on Resist Fire and other spells to deal with the dragon's breath. Soon enough, the more alert heard the sound of something big trying to sneak - but not so well that their keen ears couldn't detect it.

They had Gwynneth drop her Apportation spell around now, but didn't hear the bag fall. Soon enough, spells were up for maintenance . . . and the dragon (which Galen could see with Dark Vision) was moving up. Soon it flapped up once and glided in closer. The PCs moved swiftly back, realizing they were in a dangerous funnel. They wanted to draw back and perhaps ambush the dragon as it stuck its head through the narrow portion as it looked too big to get its body through. Indecision eventually got them backed away from the entrance, and running down the side small passage to avoid the dragon.

They found the same net strung across that Rolan had found a couple delves back, but the net was covered with bones set as noisemakers. They didn't want to set it off or spend the time disarming it. So they sent Hjalmarr and Galen out to circle around and see if the dragon had stuck its head through the hole.

It did not, but it did clearly spot them - and growled and then roared its disapproval of their disappearance.

They hurried down the big passage in the other direction, hoping to come around the dragon and attack it from a better position.

They reached a large carven, with a 30' high and 30' wide plateau in front of them. Galen had heard scratching and rock noises. He also saw a gap up to the left side of the entrance. They decided that with its 60-80' ceiling this must be where the giant "floor monster" is from a previous delve. Perhaps even on top of the plateau, although they couldn't see a hole in the ceiling.

They dilly-dallied around here, and the dragon again voiced some rage. As it did, gargoyles flew from the plateau and the gap to the upper left and flapped around non-threateningly. The PCs tried to decide what to do, where they were going, etc.

As they did, they heard a chuckling noise. Some of them decided it came from behind them (I'm not sure why, I never specified a direction.) They hunkered down in the passage and waited. Suddenly, all their magical light sources - and other spells - ceased. They were in a No Mana Zone. They moved the scouts up a bit, and began to fire at where they saw the gargoyles. This was prompted by Alaric, who hates gargoyles and wanted to kill one. Rolan managed to hit one (with a 3) but otherwise they fired blindly. Mo yelled, "Where did that laugh come from, in front or behind?" He tossed an alchemist's fire behind the group to narrow the passage and impede anything that changed them. Half of the group turned, sure something had flanked them, or the dragon had pushed through to the "stairs room."

A deep voice answered, "From behind!" - but it was clearly deeper in the cavern. Then strange rays came out of the dark and bathed a few of the PCs in strange colors. Galen was struck with Panic and ran.

In seconds, Rolan was paralyzed, Hjalmarr injured by some ray that couldn't be stopped, and Vryce forced to resist petrifaction. From what? "A beholder" announced Monseigneur Morgan, whose players loves beholders and recognized what it must be. (Meta, but fine with me.)

Vryce moved up to wait and protect Hjalmarr, who put his axe away and grabbed Rolan to drag him to safety.

As that happened, a beholder floated up to just within their radius of light - clearly on purpose. It began to (randomly) fire its eye rays at the PCs. They mostly resisted, but only due to strong resistance rolls. Even so, as Mo moved up he was struck with a black ray, failed to resist, and fell stricken with a heart attack. "Elizabeth, I'm coming!" he said as he clutched his chest and fell, unconscious.

"Elizabeth?" cried a distraught Gwynneth.

The battle, if you can call it that, disintegrated totally. Vryce and Gwynneth both tried magic but it wouldn't work. The eye rays rained down, and Alaric was charmed even as he ran. In a moment, the beholder ordered him in Common to "kill the priest." He turned on Morgan and shot him point blank in the eye with a snake arrow. But Morgan dodged, despite needing a 7! Alaric continued to shoot him point blank, and Morgan blocked and blocked and dodge arrows. Jaspar turned and tried to strike Alaric in the arm to break it, and managed to hit him only once and just missed breaking the arm due to the owlbear cloak that Alaric wears. He tried more, but Alaric kept dodging - Jaspar was having a very tough time of it. Gwynneth tried to tack Alaric but missed.

Even as this happened, Hjalmarr threw a throwing axe at the beholder even as gargoyles closed in and Vryce moved to the side to get out of the beholder's front arc. The beholder disintegrated the axe out of the air (it has some interesting/destructive parry options with its eyes.) Vryce managed to get out of its arc and his sword lit back up. He intended to use Walk on Air be before he could rush the beholder it turned on him, got him in its anti-magic gaze, and hit him with its sleep ray. Vryce failed his roll - he'd burned luck avoiding several other fight-ending effects - and fell asleep.

Hjalmarr moved up and meleed a couple of gargoyles, as the beholder hovered out of reach, and managed to drop Shieldslayer when he was critically parried. Then he was hit with Panic and tried to flee. The gargoyles grabbed him but he managed keep breaking free and fled . . . only to be hit with a toxic ray and then hit with Paralysis.

(Editing later: around this time, Hjalmarr started to yell, "We're here to fight the dragon!" and "We just want to fight the dragon" or something like that. The beholder didn't respond.)

Galen by now was long gone. The melee in the back continued as Alaric finally got an arrow into Morgan's face and knocked him out. He stepped up and put two more arrows into the cleric and left him mortally wounded. Jaspar broke Alaric's right arm. But then as he moved away from the fray, he was charmed by a beholder ray. The beholder ordered Jaspar and Alaric to kill the wizard and then each other. They tried to attack Gwynneth but in moments she was struck by the black ray of the beholder and dropped, like her beau, with a heart attack.

Alaric and Jaspar fought briefly - Jaspar managed to crack Alaric's skull and drop him, unconscious, before the beholder grew bored with that and hit him with the petrifaction ray. Jaspar turned into a statue.

With that, everyone except Galen was down.

Galen kept running, in the dark, feeling his way along the walls and fleeing by rote thanks to Absolute Direction. He made it to the GFS, but couldn't get the door open.

Once he recovered, he headed back.

He opened a glow vial and snuck back to the level below, concealing the light. He snuck back to the scene of the fight. Alaric had been bashed to death, his head caved in, his money gone and his bow and boots missing. Gwynneth was missing. Monseigneur Morgan was still alive, but too far gone - and his potions all gone but his grenades intact, and his surgical kit and esoteric medicine kit scattered. His holy symbol and necklace were gone, too. The others were all missing, and Galen was too cautious to move too close to the still-lit (by broken glow vials) mouth of the passage.

He took Alaric's owlbear cloak, his snake arrows, and his Cornucopia Quiver, and cut off both of his hands. He took the loot he could from Mo Mo and headed back.

Using the hands of Alaric, he could open the door to the GFS and climbed up to the mostly-silent levels. The only real threat on the levels above were the orcs, and the orcs are flat-out unwilling to come within line of sight of Galen.

In the end, only Galen escaped. Eight others were dead, petrified, dying, or paralyzed/asleep and carted off by gargoyles (or, perhaps, the beholder.) The fate of the living-but-left is unknown, but bleak - there isn't any reason to suspect they still live.

Notes:

So, that ended badly. One of my players opined that the group immediately split between "the only way out is attack!' and "the only way out is to run!" and couldn't either win or escape with that. That may be true. It's definitely true that the PCs were not set up well for dealing with the beholder - when you're outnumbered but have magical superiority/magical supremacy narrow corridors and tight formations are helpful. When your opponent has superior power, especially area or cone based attacks, narrow corridors and tight formations are a deathtrap. Such was this, ultimately.

Beholders aren't fair. They aren't remotely fair, and my version thumbs the scale down on the unfair side - a selective anti-magic cone with dangerous maledictions that aren't reduced in effect by range = nasty. I based mine entirely on the 1st edition AD&D version and the Tom Wham illustration. While I did like the "beholder as evil genius manipulator" thing in the Forgotten Realms, the really old-school AD&D feel where they'd just be wandering monsters in D1-2 and run into in dungeons and fought is the feel I like better. That's what we have here. The PCs literally got one attack off at it, and a handful at some gargoyles.

I was excited to use the beholder, but I was really looking forward to the dragon fight. Oh well. I wore my Trogdor shirt and everything! One of my players has never fought a dragon in any RPG despite playing for about 30 years at this point. Well, he still hasn't. And Hjalmarr never did get to fight a dragon . . .

Usually I run fear effects as a penalty if you do anything except run. However, I specifically made an exception for the beholder, and turned it into a mental compulsion to run away at all costs. It essentially is turning the basic, standard effect of fear-type magic into a powerful upgrade for monsters that should be able to compel fleeing, just as it can compel obedience. That was, in retrospect, probably a bit too much on top of all of the other things it can do. But hey, it's what kept Galen alive!

One of the players was musing about another side area to explore until replacement characters are higher point. I said that I simply don't have time for that - and it's true. I work a lot more hours than I used to, so I really don't have time to prep another adventure area. They'll have to make do with what's around now, as lethal (the depths of the megadungeon), picked-over (the Caves of Chaos), or undesirable (delving against the orcs) as those may be.

What was the fate of Vryce, Hjalmarr, and Rolan? Unknown. I had them roll on the Reaction Roll Table to see what result could come - perhaps they were robbed and left, the gargoyles killed them, the beholder disintegrated them, who knows. The best roll was a paltry 13 from Rolan, which was "Good" but not that great. Hjalmarr's player used Luck (I allowed it, why not) and got 11 three times. Vryce's player used Luck as well and got 5 at worst and a 9 at best. So it's unlikely they live, but possible they still might be recoverable in some way if an expedition can recover their bodies. Or perhaps not. There are almost none left who could brave where they fell.

MVP was Galen, because he lived, and he earned 2 xp total. I probably should give Mo a posthumous 1 xp for his "Elizabeth!" line. Nothing like having your beloved PC killed outright and go right to humor without missing a beat. That is what gaming is all about.

We'll see what happens next. Next game session should be Gamma Terra.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Choose Your Own Adventures, analyzed

Thanks to Paul over at Paul's Gameblog for this one. He mentioned and linked to a site that analyzed a number of Choose Your Own Adventure books. I liked those books, and I had a few of them - I think I still have Mystery of the Maya around here somewhere.

Here is the analysis:

One Book, Many Readings

The D&D ones were a lot of fun, too, but I gave them away when I was cleaning out my book collection. I believe Dryst's player has them now, as when I brought my pile of books to be claimed, he claimed them all. I may have to try to get them back - I really enjoyed them and they influenced my games heavily when I was a tween. Whatever. The analysis of choice in these kinds of adventures is something I think about whenever I play an adventure written in this style, whether it is a CYOA book, a GURPS Conan adventure, Convoy, or an old D&D solo adventure.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Big Black Tree Minis sale

I post about these when they come around - there is a 41% off (but only 25% off on fantasy) minis sale over at Black Tree Minis:



The Hundred Years War minis make excellent troops for a fantasy game - it can be hard to get good infantry with bills and voulges and crossbows.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Expanded Polearms

I just have to highlight the expanded polearm list here:

Equipment of Alnwich: Polearms

I'm responsible for a lot of the Low-Tech stuff referenced there, but I love the expanded list. I don't have much call for polearm variety in my games, but hey, I grew up speaking Gygaxese. Polearms are supposed to come in a massive, bewildering, and hair-splitting variety!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Dungeon of the Mad Mage - First Impressions

I've begin reading through Dungeon of the Mad Mage


So far, here are my impressions and comments:


Great:

- Maps are black and white and highly readable. Also, they aren't poster-sized.

- levels come with a preamble telling you what you'll find - and good ones, at that! Very useful for OPM.

- room descriptions are minimal, just enough to work with.

- maps that include levels with multi-level structures on them, and many connection points.

Good:

- pages 5-12 are intro, adventure seeds, necessary prelims, etc. and then it gets right to the dungeon.

- play supports PCs getting in over the heads, and moving "ahead" of their level-appropriate challenges (and back-sweeping, as well.) Nice.


- lots of adventure seeds to give you reasons to keep going down - and have focused exploration - besides just "we need to get some XP and gold!"

- more monsters, including the creepy lava children from the Fiend Folio!

Ugh:

- "Each dungeon level contains enough monster XP to ensure that characters who clear out the level can advance to the point where they're ready to take on the challenges of the next level down." I have very definite feelings about megadungeons as ones you don't go around clearing level by level. You can, I think, but basically want to in order to make it through? Ugh.

- I personally still have an issue with the whole "pit to the dungeon in the middle of the Yawning Portal tavern." Really? You let people go down and stir up dangerous monsters in a big hole in the middle of the floor? You bet on their success and failure and let them die screaming below because they don't have the money to come back up? In my book that isn't "Neutral," that's flat-out Evil. Evil stands by and watches you die because you can't cough up a coin right now. Even Roman gladiatorial games seem less cruel.



So far, I generally like it, and while I won't run a D&D5 game, I will use some of what I like from this in my own GURPS game.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas loot

I looted well this Christmas!



Ork! The Roleplaying Game 2nd edition - I ran a memorable game of Ork! first edition during some Christmas gaming many years back.

Kobolds & Cobblestones - a minis skirmish game from Osprey.

Dungeons of the Mad Mage - a 5th edition D&D Megadungeon, and I was pleased to note that Greg's friend James Introcaso was credited in it.

Pretty exciting stuff. As a megadungeon GM, Ork fan, and minis painter, this is a great haul.

I also got some other very nice stuff that wasn't gaming related, but that's so off topic.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

May your loot be untrapped and copious, and sufficient to reach your loot threshold, bring you to 1 xp shy of 2 levels above your current level, or be cool gaming material. Or all three.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

DF Felltower: Where are the hirelings at?

Recent play in Felltower hasn't featured many hirelings.

The last Ally featured was Brother Ike, who was chewed into a shower of gore and gobbets of flesh by a ravening eye. The last non-Ally NPC to delve was Raggi, who hasn't been actively sought after once it was clear that the dungeon's lethality has exceeded his ability to survive.



Some of this is the struggle of players to recognize what lower-point NPCs are good for.

But mostly, it's a feature of three things:


1) Too many PCs.


We're usually running at above 6 players per session. 8-9 isn't uncommon anymore. Because of that, the game just doesn't feature a lot of NPCs. The PCs don't seek them out, the offered potential loot is lower.


2) Too little GM time.


I don't have a lot of spare time. I don't sit around writing up NPCs. I specifically don't want to avail myself of the free time of my players to have them make up guys who just happen to be standing around town, waiting to get hired. The abuses in that are so obvious that spelling them out seems insulting to my audience and wasteful of the rest of my time.

But because of that, I don't have NPCs ready to go at the last minute. This means the players need to decide long in advance they want, say, a wizard or an archer or an acolyte. They usually want a loyal, cheap, highly effective healing priest. They'vew gotten 100% of them killed beyond Resurrection, though, so that's a tough call. Plus the group tends to maximize loot thresholds over fighting evil, which means the church isn't going to give them a bonus to the roll to encourage a priest to join them for certain eventual death.


3) Too dangerous.


For the same reason you haven't seen much of Raggi, you won't see much of 62-point hirelings and unknown point volunteers. It's very, very dangerous on the levels of Felltower the party is going to. Promised rewards haven't increased, but lethality has. In fact, actual rewards taken home by the NPCs has generally dropped. More of them have died, mostly permanently, and few of them have received anything like substantial rewards for the risk. Plus too many of the PCs have reputations for either attempting to murder the NPCs (the Barca family, for example) or short-shrifting NPCs who don't turn out to be decisively useful. A couple of PCs have positive modifiers thanks to Reputation, but net/net most of them have minuses.

So, much more risk of death for less reward than there was for less risk.


All in all, though, as much as I love hirelings, there isn't a lot of reason why they're going to show up. Unless the players and their PCs make a much more certain effort to attract them and retain them, it's likely to be a PC-only party for a while.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

ALL - Denty, update

Yesterday I complained about my arrived-dented Advanced Labyrinth Lord book.

I contacted DriveThru RPG about this, and they've put in a replacement order for me.

So, hurrah! That was prompt and makes me happy. Hopefully the next one will come with the same cover and no dents.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Advanced Labyrinth Lord arrived - denty

(Update!)


I received my brand-new copy of Advanced Labyrinth Lord, hurrah!

But it arrived with dented corners. GRRR.

I'm going to complain to DriveThruRPG about this. This should not be acceptable - a print-on-demand book with dented corners? It's not even brand new and mint condition when it's printed out for me?



Bleh.

That leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. I don't mind dented books, if either I dented them or I bought them used. I expected new, here.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The End of Pyramid

Matt "I wrote like 10,000 articles" Riggsby has a few things to say about the end of the third iteration of Pyramid magazine.

I wrote a number of articles for Pyramid, both in its second and third iterations. I submitted an article for its first iteration, the paper one, but it was rejected and sent back for revision. I revised it and sent it in, but somehow the revision got lost . . . but the next editor, Steven Marsh, picked it up as originally written for the 2nd edition. So clearly it wasn't that bad; maybe just Scott Haring didn't like it as much as Steven did. Either way, I wrote some articles for the weekly online version of Pyramid.

It transitioned eventually to the PDF version. I started writing for that soon after that happened, getting my first article in the new edition with issue 3/03 and "Deathball."

It's sad to see it gone. The PDFs will always be out there, which is probably part of the good and bad of it. The good, because you can always get a back issue. The bad, because it was easy to just ignore it and go back later when you needed a piece. The long tail is nice, but it's rough on the publisher in a lot of ways. The lack of push to get the new issue now, while you can, has to be part of that. Sales almost certainly didn't match the needs. So it ends.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Amazon.com code GIFTBOOK18

Amazon.com (that's my affiliate link) has a code going for $5 in promotional credit if you buy $20+ of books.

Just put GIFTBOOK18 in the Gift Cards or Codes box during checkout.

Tenkar has a list of D&D books up that are covered by this, but it'll apply to many, many books. Don't miss it - I almost overlooked it myself while Christmas shopping.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Old school gaming with new school rules

Over on Back to the Dungeon, Eldrad wrote about old-school gaming style with the newest of the D&D rules, 5th edition.

Old School 5E Without Changing the Rules

I would sum that up as, it's not as much the the rules, as it is how you play them.

My own GURPS game is an example of this.

It's hard to die in GURPS, even though combat is potentially lethal.

It's easy to spam out magic and rest and recover from injury - so much so that the rules have their own special cases to limit that.

It's a skill-based system with non-random character generation, something that dates back to prior to much of the old school games but yet is mostly associated with newer school games.

Given all that, you should really need to house rule the hell out of GURPS to make it play lethally, right?

Not really. The campaign graveyard is full to bursting.

The PCs risk death every delve.

They can't rely on rests any more than Eldrad's PCs can rely on a short rest when it's convenient.

Rules have a heavy influence on how the game runs, but you can run a game in a style that changes that.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Enchantment Speed in Felltower, Take 2

PCs have been able to buy custom magic items since the start of my DF Felltower campaign.

Here are the rules for enchantment speed: Enchantment Speed in my DF Game

The upside of that method is that it's very rules consistent with enchantment in GURPS in general.

The downside is that I need to know the energy cost of a magic item, then figure from that. Not a big step, or a complex one, but it is a extra step.

I've replaced it with a new approach:

Felltower Enchantment Speed

Divide the $ cost of all enchantments by 100. This is the number of days before the magic item is complete. Minimum is one day.


This is slower - a lot slower for very big items. But it does make things really, really simple. Instead of a 500 energy item costing $10,000 and taking 500/6 = 83.33 days, it's $10,000 / 100 = 100 days. Done.

It also pushes more in the direction I've been leaning more and more the whole game - find it, don't buy it. We also play a little less often thanks to my schedule and some unfortunate placements of holidays, plus occasional forays into Gamma Terra and AD&D. Net/net, it makes my life easier and that of the players, also, at a relatively minor cost to the characters. And really, if you absolutely need a magic item to be done now, there is always the option of a trip to Black Jans, a quick in-town based reaction roll*, and payment of double cost.



* So guys who don't hang around in town, or piled up a bunch of "free" disadvantages like Intolerance (Urbanites), Overconfidence, Odious Personal Habit, etc. don't have as much access to this as others do. And those who invested points in Reputation, Charisma, etc. or spend extra money in town get another benefit for doing so.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Pagoda of Worlds, briefly

I picked up, and finally read, the Pagoda of Worlds.

Brief review: It's cool, and I want to see what I can use from it.

You'll have to wait for a longer one for when I have some free time to put words down this week!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Mini LJN Half-Orc Assassin?

Anyone know the origin of this guy?

I don't even know where I found him / bought him / was given him from:



I think he's the half-orc assassin from the LJN toy line, but I don't know for sure.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Lethwei in real life & in GURPS Martial Arts

Back in 2005 or so, I did the style writeups for Kachin Bando and Lethwei for GURPS Martial Arts. Those two writeups hold a special place in my heart, as I learned Kachin Bando from Phil Dunlap in Mahwah, NJ as a result of discovering him while researching the book. That led to my full-contact MMA matches, and those were very important in my life.

In any case, there is a big Lethwei rematch coming up, between Myanmar's Tun Tun Min and Canada's Dave Leduc. I watched both of their previous matches because, a) it's Lethwei, and b) it's easy for me to root for a rangy North American.

Tun Tun Min vs. Dave Leduc 1

Tun Tun Min vs. Dave Leduc 2

Here is some of what I observed in these fights from a GURPS perspective:

- a strong emphasis on attacks that are Committed Attacks and All-Out Attacks - all of which look more like (Strong) than anything else. This is strongly advised as a way to play a character with the style in the writeup for Kachin Bando (p. 152).

- I didn't see much that looked like a Feint, which is something that my Muay Thai instructor in Japan taught me to use, but didn't show up in my Kachin Bando instruction at all. Even the spinning elbows look more like AOA (Strong) than the combination feint-attack that they are statted up as. About the only thing that might qualify is Dave Leduc's low-high changeup kick.

- You clearly need extra FP and HP for these fights, and Fit, and Damage Resistance (Tough Skin) wouldn't hurt, either. Hard to Subdue seems useful, and likely - both fighters take some hits that could floor a fighter and they shrug them off short-term. The whole list of advantages in Kachin Bando is a good buy, and seem like good in-game choices to reflect the fighters.

- clearly some of the rules have changed from the Lethwei writeup (p. 186) with a 5-round championship and purely timed rounds.

- similarly, it's win-lose-draw, and it's not decided by judges, scorecards, or anything else but in-ring violence. Submit or incapacitate your opponent if you want to win. and yes, they'll revive you after you go down and see if you want to continue. like here.

- the fights have a lot of short spurts of action, much like any other competitive fight. The rules for Tournament Combat (p. 134) would represent this well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Megadungeon Best Practices XIX

Yesterday's Megadungeon "best practices" prompted a comment from Darnizhaan that was worth expansion into a blog post:


Use Multi-Level Structures

It's a megadungeon, so put in some mega structures that impinge upon multiple levels, such as:

- chasms

- waterways (and waterfalls between such)

- giant staircases

- huge caverns (top is effectively on one level, bottom on another)

- rooms with mezzanines and multi-level access

- towers, pyramids, and ziggurats within large caverns/rooms/etc.

Embrace the size of the dungeon and show it off with multi-level structures.


This is where your side view and top-down view both come in handy for placement.

However:

Corollary: Don't accidentally impinge

Make sure you aren't accidentally having pits impinge on open areas on a lower level, staircases that bypass a level but are blocked (or opened to) by an intervening level, and so on. Using large structures and multi-level connections, and pits down to deeper levels, is a great way to take advantage of the megadungeon . . . but do it on purpose rather than by unhappy, oops-my-map-is-wrong mistake.


Thanks again to Darnizhaan for bringing these up!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Megadungeon Best Practices XVIII

It's been a while since I put up some megadungeon "best practices." I've discovered a few more in the process of designing, running, and maintaining my megadungeon, Felltower.

Avoid Useless Choices

Providing alternative ways to get around a dungeon is great.

Providing distractions and false paths adds to the dungeon experience.

But, in general, avoid too many useless choices. That is, a choice between A and B when A and B end up the same way. Two hallways leading to the same area is generally okay, but two doors to the same room, from the same other room? Useless. It just kills the most valuable resource - real world playing time. Provide alternatives without providing an excess of choices that don't actually make a real difference.

Avoiding this is as simple as asking yourself - is this an alternative, or a choice that won't matter in actual play?

Understand the Space Between Your Places

Players are resourceful, and some game systems - GURPS is one of them - provide them with a lot of resources for making their own passages in a dungeon - Shape Earth - or determining where to go - Pathfinder, Seek Earth. The depth between levels, the relative angle of passages, the nearest source of X from area Y - you'll need to know these. It's worthwhile to note this on your GM master maps so you don't get stuck when the PCs need to know how far down stairs go, the depth of a shaft, the thickness of a floor, etc.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Starter Traveller - Free

This is the version of Traveller I started with:



It's available for free, right now (and that's Tenjar's affiliate link, because Tenkar pointed this out today.)

I had some issues with the set, mostly because the expansions assumed you had the three-book Deluxe Traveller boxed set. I paid $12 for the Starter set because $20 was crazy expensive for me. Even $12 was pocketbook breaking at the time, and cost me a lot of allowance. So I felt really burned when I'd get later books and they'd reference different books . . .

Still, it's a nice little set and it did get me going on Traveller. While it's free, just grab it.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Felltower status

We're going to play one more game in Felltower on 12/30, to end out the old year with one of three probable outcomes:

- a partial TPK

- a dead dragon

- or both!

Me, I'm hoping for both a successful and fun delve.

One thing about such a delve, though, is that the PCs still don't entirely know how to handle dragons.

They've heard about needing dragon-slaying swords, or an arrow to a vulnerable spot (but not just any arrow, one particular arrow) but don't know if that's true.

They've heard you can capture dragons and sell them . . . but don't know if that is true.

They do know that a plethora of spells seem useful against dragons:

Resist Poison
Resist Fire
Resist Acid
Shield
Armor
Walk on Air
Flight

and more.

They are stockpiling spellstones with such spells, plus healing, plus mundane tools to carve up a dead dragon, plus potions, plus anything else they can think of.

They've making their lists and checking them twice, as the season requires.

Me, I've long ago made up that dragon . . . and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Lost Hall of Tyr, 2nd edition

Douglas Cole is running a Kickstarter to fund a new, revised, expanded version of his Lost Hall of Tyr adventure:



I will admit this right out - I am out on this one. I have the original version, and I really don't need an expanded version . . . nevermind something I can't just use directly with GURPS. I'm saving my funds for the Dragon Heresy full set hardcopy. But if you like Vikings, and run either D&D 5th edition or Swords & Wizardry, take a look - Doug produces high-quality gaming supplements.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Gaming Toys for Tots?

A couple years back I bought some game sets to drop off for Toys for Tots.

If you're interested in doing the same, here are some low-cost but potentially good introductory options:

Munchkin Christmas Lite - starter set



D&D Starter Sets - around $12 on Amazon.com



Fluxx



Any other good potential gaming options to give away?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

New Release: GURPS Monster Hunters 6

I just received my copy of GURPS Monster Hunters 6:



I was a peer reviewer for it, so I received a complimentary copy. It came out pretty neat based on my first glance-through. It seems like I should have a bit to potentially plunder for another game since MH isn't really my type of game to run.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Plastic Golems

A session or so back, the PCs were menaced by some golems.

Here's one of them, with a weapon head swap (since the original broke off long ago):



These guys are actually some plastic knights from some random bag of plastic men - knights in this case - that I had when I was a kid. Few survived, but those that did have become golems. All I did was spray-prime them, cover them with metallic paint, and then either just magic wash them or give them a rust-orange wash and then magic wash them. Simple, cheap, fun, and just the right size to be SM +1 menaces.

That guy also got a carpet staple in his chest, somehow, which I pried out. It just makes him look battle-damaged. Aim for the hole at -8, you can see how well that worked out for the delver who put that hole there!

Monday, December 3, 2018

So you want to follow the jokes at the gaming table . . .

The understand the humor at our game table, it's critically important to be familiar with the following source material (particularly common references are quoted in parenthesis.)

Critical

Gauntlet ("Wizard is about to die!" and "Warrior needs food, badly!")

Yellowbeard ("Killing plants!" and the general attitude of the whole game.)

The Three Amigos ("Are you the singing bush?" and "You don't want to die with a sissy gun like that, you want to die with a man's gun." And a dozen others. "Paco, hold out your hat!")

Futurama ("Murder isn't working and it's all we're good at!" and any comments about "damned Neutrals!")

Important

If you want to understand the rest of the humor, it's worth being closely familiar with:

Strange Brew ("You came to me with a mouse in the bottle. Now you are the mouse." "Perhaps one of these will change your mind, eh?" And too, too many others to count, eh?)

Kelly's Heroes ("Make a deal" and "I've been thinking nothing but positive thoughts about that goddamned bridge!")

The Blues Brothers (full version, for "I'm going to be a priest!")

Samurai Cat (for "not even the glyphs."

Passingly Useful

It's sometimes helpful to be familiar with:

The Princess Bridge (only for "Fezzik, tear his arms off" and the inventory scene)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (just because.)

You'd think those would come up more often, but they really don't. Something like half of the stupid stuff we say at the table is The Three Amigos . . .

How about you guys?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Shades of Grey, Pure Good/Pure Evil, and Felltower

I was listening to Joe the Lawyer's podcast this morning, and he talks about two things I really like:

- the PCs are the ones who solve problems

and

- there is no pure good and pure evil, but lots of shades of grey.

That's how I generally run my games.

But not Felltower.

Pure Good

There is absolutely pure good in Felltower. Not just good-hearted people who do good things, but there is the Good God. The Good God is pure good. He might smite things, but generally smites things of Evil or which will lead to Evil.

There are artifacts of Good. There are places of Good, too, that cause harm to those of evil and discomfort to those who stray too close to Evil.

PCs can push heavily towards Good, but won't necessarily reach pure good. They can try, and they can be an instrument of pure good.

Good is heavily tied towards order, sacrifice, and civilized behavior, and bravery. Nature has much to do with Good, too.

Pure Good is generally outnumbered by evil, but, contrary to the belief of most, it's more powerful than evil. Partly this is because of the raw power of good, and the powers of good, but also because Evil's power largely comes from deceit, giving in to temptations and weaknesses, and fear. Good can rely on trust, friendship, and redemption.

Pure Evil

There is absolutely pure Evil in Felltower, too. Demonic/diabolical beings, The Enemy, and folks who perpetrate deeply evil behavior are Evil.

Evil is heavily tied towards chaos, selfishness, uncivilized behavior, and atrocity. It's not necessarily cowardly, but fear (both causing and feeling it) are core values of Evil. Evil's inherent weakness is that while Good can cooperate, Evil ultimately can't trust other Evil. Evil talks a good game about rewards, but you can't trust Evil to come through on anything that isn't self-serving to the being or force making the offer. It's a shortcut to power, and like all such shortcuts, contains the seeds of its own corruption.

Some beings, like Elder Things, may not be evil, but for all intents and purposes are Chaos personified. And Chaos is tied to Evil by behavior, no matter what its inscrutable purpose really is.

Everything Else

Between are those neither Good nor Evil. There are many of them. They mostly are shades of grey. But they are bracketed either side by Good and Evil. Chaos is a close cousin to Evil, as noted above. Nature is a close cousin to Good, as well. There isn't really a "True

It's that kind of game.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Advanced Labyrinth Lord PDF

So backers got the Advanced Labyrinth Lord PDF today. Well, maybe before today, but I got it today.

For the hardback, I went with this cover:



I felt that was the most clearly awesome one.

It's nice to have LL and the Advanced Edition Companion in one volume. I am not sure I will ever run the game, but I do like it and I like browsing it.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Special Order requirements

One of my new-ish to DF Felltower players was asking about special orders.

Special Orders

Takes 1d weeks to arrive, minimum two. Any non-custom item. Cost is as listed. Quantity is effectively unlimited (and they all arrive at once.)

To do this, the PC must stay in town and pay upkeep, to represent the time spent getting to the shops, getting the shopkeeper to do it, etc.

Cost is paid at the time of ordering.

Custom Orders

Takes 2d weeks to arrive. PC must stay in town and pay upkeep to get an order in.

Cost is paid at the time of ordering.

All rolls are made on the day the order is placed - retroactive, "Can I have ordered this last session?" type orders are not allowed to save the GM's sanity, especially since 1 real world day = 1 game day.


Basically, pay in advance, and tell the GM in advance, it comes based on the day you ask for it, and time is random.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Very expensive magic / cheaper mundane for DF?

A good chunk of the income from delving in my DF game goes to magical enhancements. The PCs have spent a majority of the loot they've hauled out of Felltower on magic items, magical consumables, and clerical Resurrection and healing of injuries.

So much is needed for magic, it made me wonder . . . what if the mundane was a much better deal? A good henchman costs more than a healing potion.

Also, big piles of loot are fun. Not "fun" in the 7000 gp weighing 700 pounds kind of fun, but enough gold and silver that it's not literally pocket change.

How?

Here is one idea I had for doing that:

Use book-standard GURPS prices for everything, except:

- multiply the costs of all magical items by 10.

- multiply the mundane loot handed out by 10.

- multiply the cost for magical healing by 10.

- keep upkeep, mundane gear, etc. at the book prices.

In other words, magic costs 10x as much, but you get 10x as much money. Even a simple minor healing potion will cost $1,200. But even a simple orc might be carrying $10 x 2d in coins, not $2d in coins.

With a loot-based experience system, I'd simply multiple that by 10, too. You don't suddenly get maximal loot xp bonus with a piddling of cash off of a single orc.


Why?

In theory, this would do a few things:

- make mundane gear a more attractive choice.

- make hirelings a more attractive choice.

- give people a reason to spray money around in town - living above your standard of living is expensive, but only a fraction of the cost of a couple of potions. It may cost $150,000 not $15,000 to bring back a dead buddy, but you can live it up in town for less than the cost of the weakest of potions, hire a bunch of hirelings to secure your six or carry loot, and so on.

I think it would make a nice alternative to GURPS's "money is valuable and light" type approach and AD&D's "money is low-value but big and heavy." You'd get the inflation effect of needing (and spending!) a lot of money, but wouldn't actually have less buying power. This is functionally akin to dividing the price of non-magic items by 10, but with the fun of bigger piles of loot.

That would have been a fun thing to try.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Comment moderation & conversations

I had to put comments on moderation for a while.

The sheer amount of spam comments is getting pretty overwhelming - I keep logging in to clear the spam.

I will turn moderation back off after a while - I really like popping up a post and coming back hours later to find a series of comments bouncing back and forth ideas. But until SEO optimizers and people promising real magic spells and posting links to whatever go away, or Google makes them do so, I can't just leave things up and open. Sorry about that! I will endeavor to get online to approve comments during the day to keep things going.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sleeping Dragon

This was our last session, only more distant from the sleeping dragon:




I've never been a big fan of bright red dragons, though. I prefer, if they're red, a deeper, darker red if they're going to be red.

Next session is 12/30, and the plan is to wake up that dragon . . .

Monday, November 26, 2018

Combat Coordinator, first try

Last session we tried a new player role - combat coordinator.

I've found that in large, long combats I have a hard time keeping track of who is up next. I've been known to skip people, skip ahead when a Wait is triggered, and otherwise muck with the turn order due to distraction. That is only exacerbated by large parties and by players who don't really pay close attention to combat until it's the start of their action.

One of our players tried his hand last session at being Combat Coordinator.

The job has two basic responsibilities:

- keep track of who is up now and up next;

- track the passage of time overall for the combat.


We've had all of one combat so far, but here is what I noticed:

- overall, it's a positive. Off-loading the mental load of tracking everything related to combat - the enemies, the actions of PCs, the interaction of everything, and keep track of who is next is a great benefit to me.

- we had some trouble sorting out the role of the Combat Coordinator. All I really needed the CC to do was alert the next person to get ready and ensure we went in order. Our CC often asked what the character was doing, which isn't really necessary or helpful. That tapered off once that became clear.

- As the fight went on, even the CC started to lose track of who was next. I briefly had to step in to re-assert the order. And even the CC got confused when an enemy attacked and the PC defended, and then asked the next player - after the defender - what he was going to do.


Even with a CC, we're really hampered by players who get distracted and don't keep close attention on the fight. I get why - fights can be long. But I also don't get why - I am one of those people who can't wait for his turn, is on the edge of his seat the whole fight, and doesn't have enough time to get everything done. I've yet to wander off because I'm two people down the chain of combatants. Seeing that it's not just me slowing things down makes me think we need a "you aren't ready, you Do Nothing" or more generously "You All-Out Defend, +2 to Dodge" default for people who aren't ready.


All of that said, I like the off-load. When a small group is six players, it's helpful if it's my job to resolve things but not to manage people's attention and turn order.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

GURPS DF Session 111, Felltower 83 - Aimless Session

The title of this summary was suggested before we even started, by Hjalmarr's player, based on the mishmash of plans they had discussed. It turned out to be a very accurate description.

Date: 11/25/18
Weather: Mildly warm, damp.

Characters:
Alaric, human scout (303 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (389 points)
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (280 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (381 points)
Jaspar, human swashbuckler (260 points)
Vryce, human knight (534 points)

We started out in Stericksburg. The group debated what to do, going through a lot of potential options before settling, finally, on two things:

- check out one of the ways down to the "next level" - the stairs, or one of holes - a pit and a sinkhole.

- otherwise check out Five Ooze Corner and clear it out and see what's behind it.

That settled, they found Vryce, who isn't otherwise interested in the other options (find the heads of the Saints of Felltower, deal with the orcs, try out the crystals, or any other of a half-dozen unfinished and unexplained elements of Felltower. He's down for delving deeper.

Vryce did find out about his cursed aura, however, and how to get rid of it. More about that another post.

They gathered some rumors, purchased spell stones and potions, and headed out of town.

At the slums they stopped and made lightstones, having forgotten until then. They climbed up the mountain to the castle at the top, and tried the trapdoor entrance. It zapped Hjalmarr (1 HP injury and 6 FP!) He needed to rest an hour to overcome that, but chose to rest part of that while they prepared to move into the dungeon.

They used the main entrance, sending in Vryce backed by Galen and Alaric, all with Dark Vision and Vryce Invisible. The arrow slits on the pillboxes were opened but abandoned. They made their way across - ferried by Vryce with his boots of Walk on Air.

From there they moved steadily down to the next level, to the giant staircase, and down.

Alaric asked the door on the middle landing to let him by. It didn't.

They found no traps, despite checking carefully, but they found dried blood drops (maybe a week old?) that increased in volume and frequency as they went down. It seemed like something either got wounded and lost more blood as it went down, or - most likely - something got hurt and bled less and less as it came up.

The bottom of the stairs had more blood, some smeared by the closed door.

They got ready and opened up the door. They found even more dried blood splattered all over, and signs something was dragged up to the door through it and then the drag marks ended.

They moved out and to the right, checking the flanks as they went, both scouts in the lead and using Dark Vision. They moved steadily through the level, in the close and "bad" air. Jasper nearly felt weak (but used Luck); Gwynneth did feel weak (-1 DX and HT.) It got worse soon, as they moved along through the corridors, and she was soon at -2 and -2.

Once the group made it to the pit, they took a look down. They could see cave floor below, but weren't sure how deep. They dropped a lightstone and estimated around 100' total depth - but mostly dropped it to assure Vryce he wouldn't be using Walk on Air into a No Mana Zone. With a 100' drop, if that's the same level the stairs took them too last session, then clearly the cave they were in was higher up than the rest, but it would match with the sinkhole they found earlier.

Vryce put Walk on Air on himself and walked down. He got part of the way down, spiraling his way down, and looked around as he did. He saw the cave opened out to the "rear" (facing the pit) but was he was near the wall facing towards the pit. To the upper left was a cave branch, and to the upper right as well. Behind was a big cave area. Maybe 100' or so way was a lump on the floor that was moving rhythmically. He stopped and took a long look [and rolled a 4 on Per] and realized it was a dragon. About the same size as the last one he fought, too.

He immediately came right back up and told the group, wanting to get that lightstone but not wanting to risk it.

They immediately hustled to the room with the trapped chest they'd looted a few sessions back, closed the door, set up Galen to guard, and got to plotting.

It came down to two things - go for the dragon right now, or go for it later. Hjalmarr wanted to go for it later. They had 90' of rope ladder, but he wanted to get scrolls or spellstones of Resist Fire (they couldn't be sure of the color, but they suspect it uses flame), numerous other magical enhancements (I wasn't paying attention to the list). Vryce was bemused that Hjalmarr wasn't constantly readily to fight dragons. Alaric was pretty harshly critical of Hjalmarr. "Doesn't the proverb say, fortune favors the prepared?" said Hjalmarr. After a lot of discussion, to the dismay of Alaric and Jasper, they decided not to go after the dragon. The inability to easily recover valuable bits off the corpse or carry away loot - or even to get to the dragon en masse while it was sleeping - didn't help persuade the reluctant. Hjalmarr is obsessed with slaying dragons, though, and he wanted to find another way down to reach it. The "natural staircase" was an option, but it would cancel their light sources.

They decided to try the chained giant double doors. [I believed there was discussion about they leading to the dragon, or another dragon, but I'm not sure why. I don't always listen.] They headed there.

After some examination, they decided they didn't have an easy way to open the doors. The chains had links as thick as a strong man's arm, and two chains ran through four staples (two in the doors, two in the walls) without locks or obvious weak points. All were Magic Resistance -10. They decided to move on.

Next up was Five Ooze Corner.

They passed through the room with the gunk on the floor. They used Create Earth to cover it, but an 18 on that caused the gunk to spread out 30' or so in each hallway instead. They re-tried and got it covered enough to walk on.


They'd learned their lesson from the last ooze fight . . . sort of. They opened with everyone ready to fight, and a 12d Explosive Fireball that did 45 damage to the Ooze Pond. It wasn't nearly enough, even though it damaged it badly. It responded by breaking off oozes, one per second, for the next six seconds. Those rushed the PCs at Move 8. The PCs held their ground, and Vryce crushed a Resist Acid spellstone. They sliced into the ooze as it rushed them, and Gwynneth threw another Explosive Fireball. She hit but it dodged, and the fireball explosed between the first two slimes harmlessly.

The slimes kept coming, and came along the walls, floor, and ceiling, and closed with and partly overran the PCs. Soon Gwynneth was down - she dove prone to dodge a stinging swat but was hit in the face anyway and hurt badly. She wasn't out, but was hurt. Not so badly that she risked losing an eye, but enough to keep her worried. Hjalmarr was hit several times and his armor corroded. Jasper lost his staff hitting one twice only to have his weapon disintegrate into half of a staff. Arrows and strikes hurt the oozes but didn't do that much.

They managed to slay one with an Explosive Fireball, but then another one was split into two with blows. Meanwhile, they could see that in a matter of a handful of seconds the ooze pond had fully healed!

Gwynneth put up a wall of earth with Create Earth and then turned it to stone a moment later with Earth to Stone. That cut off the pond and two oozes.

They started to move back, and another ooze was split in two. Alaric was hurt by one of them that lashed him in the skull, but he managed to stay up.

At this point, they ran. Almost none of them could escape the oozes. Alaric took off, confident he only had to outrun his "friends," not the oozes. Soon after the rest of the party followed. Vryce basically ordered Jasper to run, and he did so reluctantly. Gwynneth managed to cast Flight and took off after the group.

Vryce and Hjalmarr fought a rear guard. Then Vryce moved off to shield Jasper, leaving only Hjalmarr, who was slowest and needed to be last man out.

Almost 20 seconds after the fight began the PCs were in full flight. Most of them mostly remembered how to get out. Gwynneth lost track and had to stop and get out her map, but then saw Alaric and Jasper run by and followed them.

Hjalmarr dumped his pouch of rations, spilling salted cod and pickled herring all over the floor. The oozes went for it, and he turned and fled.

They managed to make it back to the stairs. Exhausted, they dragged themselves up to the middle landing and rested a short time, and the longer at the top.

They decided to make a go at the alter, hoping for a lucky conversion of silver into gold. They moved their behind the scouting of Galen, eventually reaching a rubble-choked corridor. They moved up to the next room, and there was a barricade off to the side. Figuring it was unsafe to dig with a barricade nearby the orcs could shoot through, they backed off to the first corridor and started to clear it.

They cleared a few yards before Gwynneth critically failed Shape Earth again and accidentally turned the rubble into a solid stone plug . . . worked, effectively, and too expensive to shape. As they backed off, though, Galen and Alaric took arrow fire. Galen spotted them and dodged one but another hit him in the chest. It bounced off of his enchanted mail. Alaric took one into his chest and fell, stunned. Galen reacted by putting two arrows into two arrows slits in a clearly moved barricade. They orcs had moved up, silently - Wall of Silence perhaps? He saw two orcs disappear, and kept up two shots per second for a few seconds as he marched forward. He didn't bother to tell anyone what he saw, but they saw Alaric fall. Hjalmarr charged, backed by Jasper, as Vryce casually moved to guard their flank.

Hjalmarr rushed the barricade and slammed it down. As he smashed through he took arrows, three of which hit and wounded him. Jasper came around his flank. He turned and rushed the next barricade.

As he did, Galen ran up and around the corner and shot, twice, loosing again through 8" loopholes, on the run, at a target he couldn't see until a split second before he loosed. He hit with both, hearing yells of pain. The orcs yelled, and Galen understood them to say, "It's him!" and "Get him!" (Galen speak Common, Elven, Orcish, and a bit of Goblin.) Flattered, he ducked back as they launched arrows at him and ignored the immediate threat of Jasper and Hjalmarr. He ducked around the corner, and then leaned back and wounded two more orcs.

Hjalmarr hit the barricade and put it down on two wounded orcs and run up it, along with Jasper. Two orcs fled pell-mell away from them. Galen shot them both in the back, in the vitals, and killed them both outright. Orc voiced in the distance suddenly muffled a bit.

Jasper slew the two arrow-wounded orcs stuck under the flimsy barricades (how flimsy? 3 for $8.88 at Orc-Mart flimsy.) Hjalmarr took a position near the next room. As Jasper bashed skulls, Galen ran by (he's at No Encumbrance and Move 10.) They saw a stone wall - clearly the orcish Dirt Mage had put up a wall and converted it to stone.

They looted the orc bodies of their bows and axes and cash and headed back out, giving up on the altar until next time.

They made their way to the trap door. Hjalmarr opened it . . . and the latch had been rigged with a primitive striker and coated with flammables. It blasted him in the face for 5 burning damage. His remaining eyebrows were gone, and he was annoyed. He patted out him burning clothes and they headed home.

They managed to get a modicum of loot for the three newbies (Alaric, Gwynneth, Jasper) but otherwise lost out badly.


Notes:

Having Hjalmarr's player as our Combat Coordinator worked well, although it broke down as he got a little tired and distracted (see?). I'll post separately about this.

Hjalmarr has Obsession (Kill dragons). Should he have been compelled to attack it right away? He felt no. Alaric felt yes. I stayed neutral on this. Hjalmarr is a naturally cautious type - and being slain and brought back multiple times hasn't made him any more bold. He intends to come back, but wanted to spend the rest of the session doing other things and coming back. Vryce was a bit bemused, since he had everything he'd want to go fight a dragon on him - the idea that you'd need to go back to town for spell stones and scrolls and whatnot to fight it, not just pull from your ready stores, is alien to him.

We do need to make a Hjalmarr the Cautious Viking book of proverbs, though. "Look both ways before you cross the sea." "One does not just hop in a longship and go raiding." (One does, apparently, if one is fighting unprepared fellow humans, otherwise, no.) "Fortune favors the prepared." And so on.

So this was try #2 at the Ooze Pool at Five Ooze Corner. It was a better try, but not enough. Even a 12d fireball doing 45 damage is only enough to force a single death check on a 22 HP creature, and that's less than the ooze pool had. With the ooze that was slain, but the two that were split, they ended up killing one of 6 oozes and splitting two others into 4, for a net +3 oozes. The ooze pool is stronger than before they attacked it.

Three things saved the party - 1) Gwynneth's player didn't realized that "half Move and Dodge" is also tied to injury. She should have been at Move 5, not Move 10, and 2) I forgot to check corrosion's effect on the Skull. Alaric should have taken 8 injury, not 2, which would have changed his situation. Oh well, I guess this one just grazed him somehow. My mistake. 3) was a lucky roll when Hjalmarr dropped his pickled herring and salted cod - I gave it a 9 or less to distract 1+ oozes and rolled an 8. Then I rolled a 5, meaning all of the nearby oozes went for it.

Scouts are fun, and Galen is especially fun. He took on those orcs behind the barricade at a -18 or so to hit - a bit more than 20 yards range, pop-up shooting on the move (so no Acc), -6 to shoot through the narrow slits, etc. He missed twice - one critical failure (a 17) caused him to drop his bow, and one miss that hit the barricade. The rest went through the slits. Many of them were wasted shots through empty slits, but if orcs had tried to take shots they'd have eaten arrows. Out of six orcs he killed four and wounded two badly.

Galen is why the orcs stopped using hit-and-run harassing fire a while back, and his absence is why they tried again. They were not pleased that he was back. More than anyone, including Vryce, he's got to have a rep with the orcs. He's wrecked them whenever they've gotten within line of sight of him.

Everyone got 1 xp for new exploration even though only Vryce went. Seems like the way to do it. 2xp to the three weakest for enough loot for 20% of their threshold. MVP was Gwynneth because they felt she was very useful and needed the point. Jasper's player, as always, voted for himself, but he's like 10, that's probably to be expected. Galen was out of the running because routine shots at -18 are what we does, he's a skill 27 Heroic Archer with a powerful magical bow . . . that is routine for him.

Fun enough session, but still not enough kill for oozes.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Felltower tomorrow

Tomorrow is either the last or next to last Felltower session of the year. Thanks to the way the holidays fall, my own class schedule, and an early Christmas party, it seems likely we'll get in between 0 and 1 sessions before the end of the year.

So tomorrow is a big deal.

The plan seems to be one of:

- explore the "gate" level

- go through one of a couple of gates

- fight the obsidian golems

- fight the orcs

- fight the draugr (no, just kidding, no one really wants to do that.)

I'm furiously prepping the bits I need done for tomorrow, on top of other actual work, so we'll see what they choose and make sure I'm ready for it.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The fate of Hjalmarr's Ally advantage points

In our last session, Hjalmarr's ally, Brother Ike, was torn to shreds (to past -10xHP) by a Ravening Eye aka Eye Beast, one of the known eye monsters of Felltower.*

How does this affect Hjalmarr, and why?

How?

Hjalmarr had 8 points invested in Brother Ike - he was an always appearing NPC on 50% of his point total.

Those points are gone. Ike is dead beyond Resurrection and the PCs have no access to the kind of magic (for example, a wish) that would be able to bring him back or make him subject to Resurrection.

Why?

But wait, doesn't the Basic Set (p. B37) say, "If your Ally dies through no fault of yours, your GM will not penalize you. You may put the points spent on the deceased Ally toward a new Ally"?

Yes, yes it does.

But I feel like losing the points here is warranted.

First, is taking your ally in a megadungeon, leaving him in the back rank, and making some poor organizational and scouting decisions followed by poor tactical decisions "no fault of yours"?

I'm going to go with no. It sounds like a lot of the reason Ike is eyeburger is because of Hjalmarr.

Second, I feel like death in the course of normal adventuring is a reasonable way to lose points. You can permanently lose a limb, gain a disadvantage, pick up a new quirk (or many), get cursed, etc. So if you can lose points in this way, why not when your Ally gets eaten?

Third, if getting your Ally killed with bad choices and bad luck means you get the points back, why not risk your ally freely? It's essentially a way to cost-free swap one out. Don't deliberately get it killed, but put it where it gets killed, then pick a new and different one with a spell loadout/advantage list/whatever that suits you. It's actually a risk-free way to get a lot of points.

Speaking of which, fourth, Ally is a large power multiplier for the points you put in it. What you get for 4 or 8 character points is worth a lot more - 125+ points - than a +1 or +2 to a skill, +2 or +4 HP, not even +1 ST, etc. If that means you get more than you put in and normal misadventure or bad playing just means you get them back again or get another Ally, I think that's an unreasonable extra benefit.

Finally, some allies are deliberately set up to be disposable. I think it cheapens the upsides of them if non-disposable allies are effectively just persistent, not permanent.



Now, I know this isn't the RAW - and DF5 even allows for keeping the points if you deliberately get an Ally killed - but I think it suits the "GURPS DF on hard mode" style of my game.


* Along with the Eye of Death, Sphere of Madness, and rumored others!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Giving Thanks for DF Bestiary news

Over on the DFRPG Kickstarter, update #102 has some interesting and exciting news:

A Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game Bestiary?

"In the office, we're exploring ideas for new support for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game, including a possible reprint of the box set. One option, and the one that's looking like our top candidate at the moment, is a Dungeon Fantasy Bestiary."

I'm in for a copy or two of that. Plus there are sample monsters. Warning to my players - I may or may not use those versions. You guys already know I have stats for giants, chimeras, and stirges. But hey, maybe I'll switch over.

So, hurrah for that!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Black Tree Designs minis 41% off

I'm not partaking in more minis for a bit, but I wanted to pass this on because I love this company's minis:

Black Tree Design (US site)

Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

GURPS Sale - 23% off

SJG / Warehouse 23 is having a sale on some GURPS items:

23% Off Sale Items

It's not everything, but it does include some good ones:

GURPS Banestorm: Abydos

GURPS Conan

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Ninja (by Y.T.)

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians (ditto) and Swashbucklers

DFM1, 2, and 3.

Check it out, please!

Monday, November 19, 2018

How to describe caves, caverns and irregular tunnels?

One thing I struggle with as a GM is my vocabulary of dungeon description. This is especially true when it comes to irregular areas.

Take a cavern area like this:



How do I describe that? (And those circles with dots in the middle are columns - floor to ceiling pillars of stone.

Try it from A, B, or C. Or all three.

When I do, what the players put down on the map - or how they describe their placement on the eventual hexmap for a fight - is at best kind-of close. Most of the time it's way, way off. Yet for actual delvers in those situations, it should be much clearer what they see even if the size and orientation to other areas is not.

My own style comes with two inherent complications:

No Compass Directions. I use relative orientation - "it opens out to your left" or "it's a dozen feet or so ahead of you as you face in from the cave mouth" - and not "North" or "Southeast."

Rough sizes - I give sizes in rough sizes, not specific. Not "ten feet" or "30 feet" but more like "3-4 yards" or "about 10 yards." And how far "about" is depends - I don't always count, I'll eyeball and estimate. A hallway 110' long might be 35 yards, 40 yards, or "a bit more than yards" depending on how I eyeball the map and choose my words.

Neither of those make it easier. But given linear hallways and flat-sized rooms, the players tend to nail the map pretty closely (or close enough to navigate from reliably.)

So I realize I do this poorly. Yet maps-are-life kind of gamers back in the day used to deal with this. How? What was the vocabulary and style used to explain caverns in a way that made it clear what you really see?

Folks who play online, with fog-of-war and maps in a VTT, I don't think you can help me here. You don't have to do what I'm struggling to do. But I'm not discouraging you from commenting . . . just know "show the players the map!" means a lot of maintaining multiple copies of the map and having to have them ready to show piecemeal to the players. It's easier to share snacks and harder to share maps face-to-face, I have found.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Crafting in Felltower

One of my players asked about in-play use of the Getting Stuff Cheap rules (Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, p. 3-4) - specifically crafting. By extension, this should cover brewing, as well.

Those rules are meant for starting gear. They can get you a very steep discount on an easy skill roll in play. However, it's reasonable to allow PCs some access to them in game. Let's rule on how to do that:

Crafting works as listed. Appropriate Armoury specializations can be used to craft weapons and armor without prefixes. Crafting a weapon requires access to the appropriate tools and takes one month. Additionally, critical failure doubles the cost, and an 18 destroys the raw materials entirely.

Ammunition can be crafted in batches - 5 for arrows, bolts, or sling bullets - and takes a day per 5.

Brewing works as listed. However, one dose of a given elixir, concoction, etc. can be made per week; each additional dose attempted at the same time is a cumulative -1 to the roll. Additionally, critical failure doubles the cost, and an 18 destroys the raw materials entirely.

Characters who want a bonus for extra time or a penalty for getting it done more quickly can use the usual rules for time (Campaigns, p. 346).


With either of these, they take up the time you'd spend shopping for items that require an availability roll, gathering rumors, etc. So you couldn't, say, learn multiple spells in a week and brew up some potions. That should effectively cap this being a 98.1% chance of a discount for potions, for example.

As usual, I don't allow Luck on rolls that reflect a serious of cumulative actions.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Sad news: Jeff Wilson

I just heard from Doug Cole that Jeff Wilson passed away on November 15th.

Jeff Wilson was very active in the online GURPS community, and was a regular playtester and lead playtester. Jeff was lead playtester on GURPS Martial Arts, and helped immensely in getting my first-ever book ready for publication. A lot of other GURPS authors will be able to back me on his level of organization, skill, and appropriate moderation.

He'll be missed. Thanks for everything, Jeff. Well, not for the rules arguments we had, but for everything else.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Dead by Template

How many PC deaths by template in my DF game?

I'm counting each time slain, regardless of whether it's permanent or was reversed, as once.

Out of 23 PC deaths:

Barbarian: 2
Cleric: 3
Druid: 1
Holy Warrior: 2 (both Asher)
Knight: 5 (3 of which were Hjalmarr)
Martial Artist: 1
Scout: 1
Swashbuckler: 1
Thief: 1
Wizard: 6

If you count NPCs, it gets messier. Much messier, as many aren't built off of templates. We lost 3 acolytes, for example, but many more generic fighter-types, squires, skirmishers, etc. and a couple more "wizards." Barbarian gets 2 more if you count Raggi, but he's not built off of the template. He's not a PC.

So clerics have been rough - 4 played, 3 killed. But wizards have been rougher - 7 played, 6 killed. Several have come back - which hasn't happened for clerics - but they've died more often.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Vryce and his aura

Last session, Vryce had his aura checked. He suspected the deal he made with Pasha Tewfik may have left a mark, especially since he had bargained in bad faith and didn't honor his end.

Clerics and wizards checked him out.

Sure enough he has a bad aura. He shows as an oathbreaker. No one could remove it, but they were sure it could be removed somehow.

Next step is Vryce getting a sage to research such oaths. He put some money down to find out what needs to be done. We will resolve that next game . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

DF Clerical Turning, again

A circular reference here:

I wrote an article about True Faith with Turning, explaining my house rules from DF Felltower.

Years later, Douglas Cole writes an article about True Faith with Turning.

I commented on his article and linked to my post.

And this is just me tell you guys all of that.

I can vouch for the fact that the house rules I came up with a long time ago have worked just fine in play. They make True Faith a Win Button against mindless undead, but not against willful undead . . . yet it's still well worth the points for all that it's been a bit weakened.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

More thoughts on Session 110

Here are more thoughts on Session 110 of my DF Campaign.

One More Room is Dangerous

The PCs barely made it away from the golems/automatons they found in that final room. Had those things moved at Move 3, they wouldn't have made it. Move 4, and they'd have been overrun. "Look and see" is a risky strategy when your party move is 2-3. Had that one sword blow that hit landed somewhere critical - like Skull - it could have killed a PC. Had it hit someone vulnerable - foot or leg - it could have forced a "stand and fight" situation where the PCs had the worst chance to stand and fight. With a party in rough shape, like this one was, it could easily have been a TPK.

You really can't just "check" a room unless you've got some solid move, and can't do it with impunity unless you have dominant Move.

That's worth keeping in mind - slow movers can't refuse combat unless they run into really sluggish foes. Maybe not even then.

Magic is Weird

In that magic creates a lot of weird effects. Missile Shield would be easier to adjudicate if hits just bounced off. Maybe not in the sense of getting out of missile "to hit" rolls, but for Hitting the Wrong Target? Yes, by a lot.

Darkness is weirdly worded and requires Blackout to make it do what you'd think Darkness would do.

Index Woes

I'm not sure why, but in DFRPG Exploits, you can't find "Last Ditch" by name in the index. Aargh. I don't always remember what section it's in. Aggravating. It's on page 90 if that helps. Even if it listed it by "prayer" or something it would help.



Monday, November 12, 2018

GURPS DF Session 110, Felltower 82 - Ravening Eyes & Werewolves

Date: 11/11/18
Weather: Cold, mildly windy

Characters:
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (262 points)
Hamilcar Barca, human wizard (255 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (380 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
Jaspar, human swashbuckler (260 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (374 points)
Rolan Liadon, wood elf scout (262 points)
Vryce, human knight (534 points)

We started out in Stericksburg. The PCs gathered a group for a general delve into Felltower to explore some areas of the "Apartment Level," also known as Level 3 or Level 4, depending on who and when you ask.

They considered finding Raggi, but Vryce put the kibosh on that. "I don't think he's worth a share anymore." Hamilcar retorted, "Some of us are still Raggi's friend, Vryce." Still, they didn't look for Raggi.

After gathering rumors and stocking up on potions, gems of healing, and so on, they headed out.

They made their way through the ruined gate, down the trapdoor entrance, and into the dungeon. As usual when Rolan is around, they advanced in stages. Rolan would advance ahead using Dark Vision and then signal back with light and they'd catch up. They made slower progress through the upper levels (mostly because it's hard for me, the GM, to track two groups.)

They made their way down to the second level, avoiding the stirges they clearly heard down the hallway. They made it to a long hallway lined with doors. There they found two sets of double doors and four single doors, but their map clearly shows four sets of double doors (including a disappearing pair.) They spent a bit of time arguing over the map, here, and what was what.

The group made it to the stairs down, and with Rolan checking for traps climbed down to the bottom of the giant staircase. Hjalmarr checked the door for a fake hand, but it didn't have one. He opened it up and they moved out.

Almost immediately they started to deal with the air being close and stifling. A couple of the party felt weaker as a result.

They stood around waiting for the door to close, arranged with their scout out in the lead. They spent a good 10-15 minutes here, figuring out where to go, in what order, when to get spells off, what spells to use, etc. Something sensed them and came looking - a nearly-black "skinned" pudding inchwormed its way out of the darkness and slammed into Rolan! He barely heard it in time over the racket - they're stealthy in any case - and couldn't get out of the way. It smashed his left leg into a broken mess and moved on top of him to digest him. Mo tried to grab and pull Rolan out, as Vryce, Hjalmarr, and Jaspar hit it. Gwynneth put a Stone Missile into it. It only took a short time to hack it to death. They shoved it off of Rolan and pulled him out. Hamilcar hit it with a Fireball he'd built up, not wanting to waste it.

They started to tend Rolan before they realized they were in an open space. They moved back into the stairwell and had Ike work on the break. Rolan had taken enough damage for dismemberment, but since it was crushing from a pudding I ruled it was merely a penalized HT roll for duration. It turned out to be a real break, and it would take 2 months to heal. Ike splinted it with a spare staff they cut down to size.

Their scout no longer stealthy or fast, they had to move as a unit.

They moved out again once they'd spent a good chunk of time on recovery. When they did, the pudding was gone. They're not sure what happened to it after they left it. Hamilcar claims his fire burnt it to ashes, but there weren't any ashes.

They made their way to the area "behind" the stairs, past the "golden swordsman apartments" and the bricked up hallway and the sprayers. The close air got to a couple of the PCs again.

They moved into a corridor they'd never went down before. They found two 10' x 10' "alcoves" with raised floors like the ones they Obsidian Golems were found in previously. They spent some extra time searching them but found nothing of interest.

Further up they found a T intersection with a door in the center. They focused exclusively on the door after a quick look left and right. The door was pretty difficult to open, so it took a couple of hard tries to open it. It slammed open, revealing a corridor that was quite stuffy and hot.

By the time they reached the end of the corridor, some 100' or so, it was in the high 80s/low 90s. Their lead characters' eyes were watery and burning from a thin smoke in the air, and there was a clear smell of sulfur. They could see glowing ahead in a cave that seemed to connect oddly to the corridor, like the worked walls had been overtaken by cavern.

They scouted ahead carefully, with Mo in the lead followed briefly by Hjalmarr and Jaspar before they backed off. He found a weird gash-like crevice in the ground that pulsated irregularly from glowing deep yellow-orange to a hot red and back. It was surrounded by a line of silver on the group - the metal itself, or something like it, it was hard to tell. Mo tossed a silver coin through into the crevice (he couldn't find a loose rock) and it glimmered as it passed over the silver rim and disappeared without a sound into the crevice.

He came back and described what he saw. The wizards needed to take a look. So he walked in Gwynneth and Hamilcar. They rounded the silver field and decided it was some kind of Pentagram, aimed at either keeping something in or out - it's hard to tell as they always do both. They found their holy lightstones - well, Mo's - went out in there. Ike told them there it was a No Sanctity area.

They explored the rest of the cave area. There were natural pillars in the area but it was dry as a bone, and around those pillared areas all magical light sources dimmed and went out. Poking around in the corners with torches and glow vials found nothing, though.

They did find in the left hand "horn" of the cave a natural staircase going down. They left their magical light sources and climbed down.

The staircase following along one wall of a cave, with the cavern opening out to the right and front. The stairs ended some 15' off the floor. As they reached the end, four things silently flew out of the darkness at them - four ravening eyes! The fight was messy - packed up against the wall with only a small area to move, vs. flying and fast opponents with lethal bites and terrible gazes, it was tough for the PCs to make any headway.

The eyes swooped in, using their fascinating gaze to lock gazes with Mo and Jaspar. An albino (yellow) one tried to put a spell on Ike, but failed. But one managed to grapple Ike and one on Mo. Vryce quickly drew and crushed a spellstone of Magic Resistance 8 as Hjalmarr pitched an axe at one and missed. Their many eyes made it hard to take them unaware of an attack.

Mo was quickly getting chewed up by an eye. Rolan shot one with an arrow but even a hit into the big main eye was useless - his arrow bounced off. A pair of bodkins landed one hit which did some damage but nothing of significance that he could see. Rolan shot the one on Ike using All-Out Attack for the +1 to hit, safely out of range of a melee attack - but the yellow one hit him with Lightning Stare and shocked him. He was terribly wounded but passed a HT-6 roll vs. stunning and stayed up and fighting.

Meanwhile Mo was torn up, too. Hamilcar threw a Fireball that was dodged, but managed to hit another one with another. Gwynneth put Darkness down on Mo and the hexes around him. This broke the gaze, but the too-large Darkness severely impeded everyone's ability to help Ike. Mo fought in the darkness, but his foe could see despite it. Mo kept breaking free of grapples but couldn't fend off every bite and the corrosive weeping of the eyes on the tentacles scorched his skin (and his natural DR) off.

Ike was quickly torn to shreds. In a matter of 4-5 seconds he was grappled, his Sunbolt went off in his hand and injured him greatly, and then the eye started to eat him. He died in seconds, taken to -5 x HP without losing consciousness. He died screaming horribly, and in only a few more moments he was reduced to -10 x HP.

Vryce put Walk on Air on himself and went after one along with Jaspar, who had Walk on Air put on him by Hamilcar (with a 3, for an especially durable version of it.) Even so, he was caught and fascinated by one of the eyes. Vryce had to step in to distract it. Gwynneth managed to attract the attention of one and get mangled, herself. They managed to kill the one on her but she was splashed with corrosive chaos as it dissolved into a coruscating puddle of changing colors. Some of it poisoned her a moment later as fell mortally wounded, and Hjalmarr pulled her out of the pool.

The albino one had moved into the fray, taking damage from Vryce's stabs and Rolan's arrows and more, before Jaspar hit it hard enough to slay it. It exploded for 41 damage (not bad for 12d.) Jaspar used luck on the explosion (a marginally allowable use, but it fit here as he'd triggered it) and I rolled 32 and then 30. That made a huge difference, as Rolan and Hamilcar were in the blast radius and took 1 HP short of death checks thanks to the reduced damage.

Mo eventually was gobbled on by the one that had eaten Ike, and used his strength to force it out into light, guessing right about where to step (I made him roll.) Vryce and Hjalmarr quickly slew that one, and it dissolved into a puddle. They destroyed the last one a moment or two later.

The toll was horrific - Ike dead, Gwynneth dying, and everyone wounded. Before his Dark Vision spell ran out, Rolan crawled to the edge and took a look over - he saw what might be coins scattered below.

They checked Ike's gear - many of his potions survived, but the map was destroyed (it was in bloody shreds) as was his armor. His holy symbol was recovered, along with his head and arms (most of one arm, anyway) and his legs . . . which were barely help together by skin. His torso from collarbone to pelvis was torn into pieces and spewed all over by the ravening maw of the eye beast. They grabbed what they could and headed out - especially as they heard a deep rumbling roar further into the open cave. Echoing, as if around a bend or behind walls.

They moved up to the "crevice" room and to the door beyond it. They set up there and began to work on Gwynneth.

Suddenly, though, the werewolves kicked the door open and charged in, howling! The PCs had unwittingly passed their new lair, and they knew their best chance when they smelled it. Seven of them charged in. Vryce stood guard, and dodged the first attack as he snapped the lanyard on his longsword. Mo charged up as Rolan fired silver arrows. Hjalmarr dropped Shieldslayer and drew his silvered axe. By the time Vryce had his silvered greatsword out two were down, dead. Mo smashed one's skull as Vryce danced back and wounded one badly and killed another. Hjalmarr decapitated one. The leader was critically hit in the skull by Mo and killed. And an Explosive Fireball went off from Hamilcar. That singed a couple but as it wasn't silver their natural defenses stood up to it. Two living ones fled, howling in fear. Vryce caught one and ran it through with a wild stab, and killed it outright. Mo chased the other into the hallway, swinging wildly. But on his third swing he connected - to the skull. He crushed its head. Meanwhile the wounded one had been decapitated by Hjalmarr.

He dragged the body back and they went back to work on Gwynneth. Their best hope was Esoteric Medicine by default, using Ike's gear (which I'm not sure included the kit.) That took an hour, and he had an 8. Mo gave a prayer over Gwynneth, saying if the Good God helped, Mo would quest for him, even though he'd never served a man or a god. Mo rolled a 10, but needed something like a 0 or less. The Good God was unmoved. Gwennyth held on through the first part of the ritual, but died during the second part, ten minutes or so before they'd complete it.

They sadly looted the werewolves, finding some copper bangles, a gold necklace, a talisman, and a magic pouch (which they didn't open or search.) They took them all and checked where the werewolf had fled to - it was a very long but shallow room. They found were they slept and defecated (either opposite end of the room) but that's about it. No more loot.

Next they sent a buffed up Rolan to hobble back to the caves where the eye beasts were under Dark Vision ointment and a Walk on Air spell. He went. The "staircase" was still covered with bits of Ike and blood, and rats and insects had shown up to feast.

He searched the cave for almost the full hour, and found no coins, no thrown axes from Mo or Hjalmarr, nothing. No tracks, either. He did hear rumbling he decided was snoring, maybe from a dragon they decided later. He checked the exists. One exit had a small, tight side corridor. He checked that and found that around a bend it was blocked with a net with a few bats caught in it.

He had to give up and head back.

Deciding to push it a bit further because they had "no loot," they checked a snaking corridor on the other side of the T. They found a heavy iron-bound door. They eventually forced it open with Power Blow and looked into the room. They saw a small room with another door, and four oversized suits of armor - golems?

As they pondered, the golems moved toward them. They decided to fight in the hallway, many on one. But the first one stopped just short of the doorway and breathed out a cloud of poisonous gas. All three of their front rankers made their HT rolls but all were hurt anyway. Rolan shot the golem but it blocked on shot with a shield and the other pinged off of it seemingly harmlessly. They started to move back out of the cloud. The golems pursued, slowly - at first at Move 1, then Move 2. Vryce hit one twice but despite inflicting some minor harm it didn't seem too fazed, and he nearly bent his sword hitting it!

They decided to run, barely getting Ike's corpse bits (floating along thanks to Apportation) and Gwynneth's body. Hamilcar used Levitate to get it up and Mo stopped to grab her. He was slashed for a terrific amount of damage by one's sword. They ran. Lucky for them, they had just enough space and just enough Move to pace or outpace the golems. But the golems pursued them at least to the "T" before stopping.

The PCs worked their way out of the dungeon after that.

Back in town they eventually discovered the purse held 200 gp and 10 gems worth another 2000 sp, and was a Bottomless Purse. The necklace was valuable as well, and the talisman was vs. Sleep. They sold off the gems and talisman and distributed the loot, and then ponied up cash to get Gwynneth raised. Ike's Final Rest wasn't resolved but I think Hjalmarr will pay for that.

Notes:

Very chatty group today - more than one encounter was triggered by the group generally being noisy and talkative, especially while in high-traffic areas. A few wandering monster checks came up blank or there would have been more fighting.

The pudding went down a lot faster than previous ones they'd encountered, but they reacted quickly and appropriately. It pretty much showed up because the players sat around loudly talking for about 10 minutes after reaching the bottom of the stairs.

Rolan got a crippled leg, the kind Brother Ike learned Restoration to fix between sessions as a cash saver. It was not to be.

Brother Iklwa Juma Deswayo N'Zinga aka Brother Ike was killed beyond resurrection - he was taken to past -10xHP by a Ravening Eye. One of their traits is that they will tear and rip their victims apart to "eat" them even though they lack throats, stomach, etc. They spew the torn up bits all over the place. It was a horrible way to go - Ike was conscious all the way down to -5xHP. Hjalmarr still received XP for the session since that's based on loot and exploration, but he permanently lost the character points spent on his Ally.

Mo made a really good prayer over mortally wounded Gwynneth but rolled poorly on his prayer roll. He technically swore an oath, here, but it was one of those "If you do this for me I'll do this for you, God" kind of oaths. Had he, say, just take the oath - added a new disadvantage, say - I'd just have counted those as permanently sacrificed xp and worth a bonus.

In any case, I'm not sure they even had an Esoteric Medicine kit. I need to be more careful to check that. I think the fact that a full First Aid kit gives a +1 implies to everyone that gear gives a bonus, but you don't need it. You do. You get a penalty for no gear (or can 't even try), a 0 for minimal gear (bandages, a full kit for Surgery or Esoteric Medicine), and a bonus for a better kit with more doodads.

We need to figure out how to better run scouting. When Rolan scouts ahead, then stops and signals back, but the group is trailing to keep in sight, it's tough for me to do a few things:

- track two parties, and what's around them
- how far apart they are
- how much time is passing

I've got a solid if clunky way to track time, but if I'm expected to also follow contingency plans it's tough. Like, "At any long corridor, Rolan will advance down and they'll wait, and then he'll signal and move to the next corner, and they'll catch up to where he way after a short delay." That's really tough - I'm also managing the entire dungeon and all of the results of everyone's actions, besides having to make judgment calls. We may need to find a less scouty way of doing this that's easier all around, like when Galen used to just stay 40' ahead of the group and wait at corners for them to catch up before advancing. Or when a long scout is done, have the PCs sit and wait while the scout moves.

XP was 5 each for everyone except Vryce, who only got enough loot for 3 xp. MVP was Jaspar for using Luck on that explosion.

Good game, although the Ravening Eye fight was very, very slow. Even the person who wanted a fight the most - Jaspar's player - wasn't good about being ready for his turn. We had a lot of advice, second guessing, and discussion on each turn, too, which kept it slow. Too bad, it could have been tense as well as lethal. Ironically the PCs set up well for a corridor fight, but not a side-on fight, which left their flank and rear a bit exposed. The Ravening Eyes didn't display tactics, merely chaotic target hunting, but it worked out as if they'd planned out their swoop-in from the start.
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