Monday, April 9, 2018

GURPS DF Session 101, Felltower 73, Lost City 6

Today marks the first crossover session between multiple "game areas" in my campaign - the PCs were in both Felltower and the Lost City of D'Abo today.

Date: 4/8/18

Weather: Clear, cold (Felltower); Hot, mildly rainy (Lost City of D'Abo)

Characters:
Ahenobarbus the Lacerator, human swashbuckler (262 points)
Dave the Crippler, human knight (262 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (318 points)
     5 skeletons (~25 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (336 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (143 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (363 points)
Quenton Mudborne, goblin druid (292 points)

We started off in Stericksburg. The group quickly determined it was either a) kill the norkers or b) go to the Lost City and see if Rangol Grot was back at his house. They decided on the latter. This meant no Raggi, as he's not interested in going to some hot city in the jungle when there is perfectly good loot in Felltower.

They gathered rumors, and heard some good ones - like that there are dozens of dragons buried under Felltower. "We have to go to Felltower instead!" said Hjalmarr, but no one backed him on that. Not even Hjalmarr, in the end.

The geared up, bought rations, and stocked up on spellstones of Strengthen Will and Magic Resistance for the second confrontation with Rangol Grot - known user of Mind Control and Illusion & Creation spells. They also mostly stripped down their armor - Hjalmarr went with leather and cloth, Dave with leather, and the rest of the party was already lightly armored. Well, not Gerry, with his six-fingered vampire armor, but at least everything was lighter.

They headed out and up to the castle. They made lightstones and Gerry grabbed up one his spare skulls (he has a few, actually) and created a Skull Spirit. The castle seemed deserted, and they climbed the walls. Dave had to choose between climbing himself, and risking a fall, or being hauled up and made fun of for being hauled up. He went with climbing himself - and fell, but managed to break his own fall on the rope. He tried again, and critically failed, falling to the bottom. He was uninjured thanks to some armor and some luck on the damage roll, but his pride was dinged. He was hauled up in a sling like the lesser climbers. The group really needs to knock a permanent hole in the wall or destroy the gate.

They made their way down into the dungeon and to the giant staircase, and went down. They put Keen Vision on Mo and partnered him up with high-Per solid-Traps Quenton Mudborne. They spotted a trap - caltrops, carefully placed on the stairs. They checked the stairs before that - sure enough, and angled wire pinned to the outside of the stairs lead to a plastered section of wall. Some careful disarming later and they nullified but didn't identify the tripwire trap, then gathered the (naturally poisoned) caltrops and put them in a bag.

At the bottom, they wanted to figure out this "click" they keep hearing, and sent Quenton forward to figure it out. He carefully moved forward, examining everywhere for tripwires, pressure plates, etc. Eventually, while stopped near the first room, he heard a low thud and the click. They looked around more but couldn't figure it out.

They moved toward the gate to the Lost City. On the way they were a weird suction and squishing noise down one of the corridors, and Ike felt a little woozy (they eventually figured it was lack of vital air.) They found tripwires set up near it, but didn't identify what they were connected to - they just stepped over the first after ensuring it was not backed with yet another trap. "We need to hire this gnome" was pretty much the consensus of half the party around this point.

Dave was the first through the gate - he simply rushed through. Mo (carrying Quenton under his arm) and then Hjalmarr stepped through. As they did, Dave and Mo were struck by some kind of magical attack. Dave was briefly paralyzed but shrugged it off - Mo was paralyzed. Hjalmarr and Dave's full-face protection meant they had no peripheral vision, and couldn't see what hit them. A moment later Hjlmarr and Mo were grappled about the head and neck and had their necks wrenched. Hjlmarr took fairly horrific damage (he went straight to negatives despite HP in the 20s) and Mo was badly wounded as well. Dave turned and saw two obsidian golems - just like the ones he'd faced his first delve - grappling the two fighters.

Meanwhile Ike and Ahenobarbus came through the gate into this extremely close-in brawl. Hjlamarr was neck-snapped again and went negative, but Dave smashed the golem in the chest, and then smashed off the arm of the golem, and then a moment later smashed its leg off, too. Ahenobarbus chopped at the other one and damaged it, and then acrobatically rolled between Mo's legs to safety. Hjlmarr, naturally, fainted away as soon as he was no longer grappled. Ike healed him and moved away. Ahenobarbus chopped up the remaining golem a few more times and then Quenton, from his odd perch under Mo's paralyzed arm, cast Lightning and zapped the golem, reducing it to rubble.

The fight over, they realized the golems stood guard "behind" the gate, which only really exists from the other direction. Their lead fighters were lightly armored but lacked peripheral vision, so they weren't able to sense the silent golems waiting for them.

The gate itself was flickering on/off and didn't seem wholly there. No one wanted to risk a trip back.

They healed up, woke up Hjlmarr and removed the paralysis on Mo. Without even looking around, they started to make plans - they gathered the choicest bits of gemstone and obsidian as loot and piled it up with Quenton's armor, which he shucked to avoid dealing with heat.

They were within a domed building near the West side of the city, near the cliff. They set Quenton on the hot roof to observe the city and everyone else healed and got ready. Again, no one searched (or even asked, "What does the room look like?" - Heh.) They found themselves on the second floor with no way down, so they climbed down the side of the roof and started across town.

Dave was very impatient about the slow progress at this point, so they put him in charge. Suddenly it went from "Let's DO something!" to "Wait, what are our options? Should we do that? What if we do this other thing?" Leadership has its downsides.

Dave eventually settled on going straight to Rangol Grot's house, scouting it, and then assaulting it. They headed off. The only issues they had were some giant ants that came out of a building near them right as they went by. The 8-10 workers kept working, but four soldier ants clacked mandibles at them in warning. They backed off, and circled around and past the ants - who took that as non-hostile action (I rolled either a 15 or 16 on the Reaction Roll, putting them well about the "Neutral" result that would allow passing them.)

The sunny and hot weather turned to a steady rain. The reached Rangol Grot's house. It looked ruined and deserted. Hjlmarr tried to climb the wall but it was slick and difficult, with no easy purchase for a grappling hook, either. Eventually they Levitated him up.

Getting over the wall was tricky, so they just had Quenton Shape Earth to make a crawl-hole and they all crawled through. Once inside, they spelled up and began to explore the house. They found nothing except a ransacked house (with a locked but corroded main door), windows with broken or missing shutters and torn paper (it's an East Asian-looking house), and a clear kill site from some beast tearing apart another beast in the main room. Otherwise, it had been thoroughly looted. It was getting late, though, and they were very fatigued (some more than others, thanks to failed HT rolls against the oppressive heat and humidity.)

They stayed overnight, all but Mo and Quenton sleeping inside (and those sleeping in the yard, under a Weather Dome, and resumed exploring the city on game-date 4/9/18.

The next morning they headed out to the Path of Kings. On the way, they rounded a corner just as a group of eight apes, two snakemen archers, and sword-armed snakeman rounded the corner. Both sides backed off. The PCs backed up and set up where they couldn't be flanked and waited as they hear hoots and howls for a short time.

The foe didn't come, though, but a 18' foot snake did emerge from a nearby house, about 100' or so away. Mo tried to shoot it with an arrow and missed, and it slinked over the wall to the garden in Grot's house. They decided it was what killed its prey there.

After a few minutes, the snakemen and apes did not turn up, so they moved north down an "alley" to find their own flanking situation. They eventually moved out to the Path of Kings and found no enemy waiting, so they went wide around and down a diagonal street they named Diagon Alley and eventually came to the headless statues of the kings.

Dave the Crippler called out, "Hello" and asked to speak with them. Voiced began to speak to them - mostly one at a time, in various timbers, but occasionally a cacophony of voices. According to the Kings:

- Rangol Grot was still around.

- they wanted to know how the PCs were doing on the whole "find him and kill him and get the second bell" thing. Ahenobarbus claimed that it wasn't that long, time moves differently for them. (It's been two years)

- they seemed surprised when the PCs mentioned a gate to Felltower (which the PCs decided was the origin of the curse)

- they said that Rangol Grot is still around and is with his allies - the harpies ("bird-women") or the vegepgymies ("plant-men").

- they asked where the bell was, and Hjlamarr said, "I don't have it." They asked where it was, and Hjalmarr didn't answer that.

- there will be a reward for freeing the city from the curse. Someone (I think Mo) asked for the Princess Olivia as his reward, and they Kings said, "Yes, of course!" So Mo has that going for him.

- the PCs accused the kings of lying at some point (I can't recall exactly why). The kings claimed they never lie.

After a while, the PCs headed out, deciding they'd check out the vegepygmy fort.

They made it up to the edge of the swampy parts, where the swamp is steadily but slowly consuming the city, road by road and building by building. They couldn't edge around the fallen buildings, so they went around to a ruined "courtyard" made up of a destroyed building and fallen rubble. The plan was to set up near the north path, ring the Bell of D'Abo, and when the vegepygmies and Rangol Grot came to attack them with a scroll of Wither Plant and some other attack spells and sic the Skull-Spirit on Grot.

As they crossed the rubble, led by Ahenobarbus and Mo, a 20' eel-like critter with four legs and menacing teeth raced out of a hole next to them. It grabbed Ahenobarbus around both legs with its tail. It bit him and mostly bounced off of Aheno's bracers of force (literally off the bracers.) He struck back and wounded it lightly, Mo smacked it with his mornginstar and wounded it. It clawed Ahenobarbus more - again bouncing off the bracers - and crushed him with its tail. But then Hjlamarr and Dave ran up. Hjalmarr readed its head and decapitated it with a single swing.

Once it was dead, they looked in the hole - Mo tossed in a lightstone. He saw glinting below. He stripped down even further but couldn't fit in the hole. None of the rest wanted to go in, so he tried to Fast-Talk Quenton. Quenton basically fast-talked himself into going, and climbed down the hole. At the bottom he found a lair, tunnels off to other ambush points, and lots of shiney things.

In the end, the shiny things were gems, jewelry, obsidian bits, a big chunk of raw emerald, a silver dagger, a gold-edged mirror, and some assorted coins - and lots of shiny junk. He took it all, after using Shape Earth to seal the other exits. He headed to the surface.

They decided that they had enough for now (good loot, and late real-world time) and returned to the gate.

This time they went in the ground floor. They found an entrance hallway with murals - very old, faded ones - of the city's history. Later painters had put six-fingered red hands all over everything that held some other symbol. The PCs spent a long time - maybe 45 minutes? - going over them all and trying to touch them, see if any matched the prints in Felltower, any where pressure plates, etc. Nope, just later changes to the art.

They explored the rest of the building, and in the center found a large room with spiral stairs up to nothing. It turned out there was a way up to the second floor and someone sealed it. Quenton used Shape Earth to open the hole, they climbed up, and theyn sealed it again.

There, they found the gate no longer flickering. They also searched the room, finally.

In it they found art depicting a squat, large black fortress where now stands Felltower Castle. They also found a painted map that they matched up to their own - it showed the way to the staircase from the destination of the gate. It was also clearly a later painting, and bits were missing or wore off due to weather.

The examined the stars very, very carefully. They checked them for celestial drift (based on defaulting from Seamanship and Navigation), which wasn't terribly successful. They confirmed the stars were mostly accurate, or at least accurate within the margin of error for being painted on a curved ceiling by someone in the wrong area of the planet. It clearly depicted the skies above Felltower, not above this city. None of the stars were gemstones (they checked), or buttons, or especially large or small, etc. etc. Very thorough. Gerry confirmed that making the area around a gate like the area you connect to could potentially shift the success of a gate spell in the area by a little bit, since in magic like seeks like or like matches like.

In the end, they went back through the gate. They made their way to the stairs, but dilly-dallied too long looking for the "click" source and heard two doors open quietly. Norkers charged them out of the darkness. Mo was trying to place the caltrops but had to dump the bag and run to avoid a full-out rush.

They booked up the stairs with norkers in hot pursuit. Ahenobarbus threw an alchemist's fire (Mo complained it's useless). Gerry put down a large area of Darkness which Quenton backed by filling it with a Pollen Cloud. That slowed down the norker's upstairs rush long enough for the PCs to get away. They made it up the stairs, made their way out of the dungeon, and climbing down the castle walls and back to town.

Notes:

- It's been a while since I got the name Rangol Grot from student's difficulty pronouncing "Language Arts." That kid is probably finished junior high school now. I wonder if he tried to explain the "I have Rangol Grot homework!" joke to his new teachers? Probably not.

- I really do enjoy the conversations with the headless statues of the kings. They're fun to roleplay.

- that "eel-like critter" is just a variation of wyrm in my game, but the stats are of the Academy Worm from DF10.

- I'll have to get those obsidian golems published at some point. They're really good for DF - glass cannons - literally glass, even - and dangerous. They'd wipe the floor with a weaker group, but against 2d-3d+lots and multiple attacks they're not quite as lethal. Fun, though.

- Quenton is a really good scout, although he's a coward (a goblin racial trait) and weak. He has Per 15 and solid skills to back it up. Sending fighter types with vision-restricting helms on didn't work so well.

- XP was 4 for loot, 1 for exploring new areas. MVP was Dave the Crippler for crippling the arms on the obsidian golem that was very likely going to finish off Hjalmarr. Only Quenton - for finding loot - was in thew running with him. Dave's player was a little disappointed in the session, as he really only likes the fighting aspect. But everyone else was overjoyed with a profitable delve, lots of XP, and information gathered.

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