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.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Felltower Pre-Summary

We played Felltower today. The summary should be up tomorrow.

Here are some highlights:

- seven players today and eight PCs/NPCs

- the PCs delved down to the 4th level, as they call it.

- a short and nasty fight with a pudding

- a new gate (?) was discovered, one that looked nothing like the others and which had a number of unusual characteristics

- a natural staircase down to the next level was found

- a brutal fight with five Ravening Eyes

- several casualties, one messily final

- a showdown with the werewolves

- "one more room" nearly leads to disaster at the hands of iron men that breathe poison gas

It was a good session overall, if it had some very bad in-game stuff interlaced with the fun.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Felltower tomorrow

Tomorrow is a delve into Felltower, after more than two months.

The A-Team (more or less) last delved on September 2nd . . . or at least that's when they returned.

The B-Team last delved on August 19th.

There are so many things to do I expect that, despite a lot of pre-game discussion, that we'll spend part of the pre-game time figuring out what people would like to do during the game.

We expect a moderate sized group - maybe 8 people? - and I remember when 8 would have been a big group. Now, that's a few significant regulars short of the whole group. Only double digits seems like a large group now.

I'm looking forward to GMing GURPS after such a long break.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Croc-man

I'm calling this guy done:



I'm not sure what I'll ever do with him, but he's ready whenever that is. He's probably more Gamma World than Felltower, but we'll see.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What do sages know in DF Felltower?

"Sages, books, and rumors are all going to be of varying degrees of accuracy. Mostly degrees of inaccuracy, with some being flat-out wrong and others being mildly wrong or just misleading. Generally what they hear at least has some in-game value, in that they're hearing what some other people believe to be true. It's information that I as the GM am willing to cop to, to hand out, to hand to you to see what you do with it. It's information in play, out on the table, and not something that may or may not even exist."
- Internal vs. Extrernal Sources of In-Game Information

What is the role of sages in DF Felltower?


Sages are a way to let me, the GM, pass on information that might be difficult or impossible to reasonably get by adventuring to the PCs.

This could be the cultural background of part of the game world, or information about a general adventuring area ("Felltower" or "the Lost City of D'Abo"), or about a magical item you found.

Sages are also a way to develop a knowledge base of general, broad knowledge about the game world focused on a topic you're interested in. Want to know more about dragons? Hire a sage. Want to know more about orcs? Hire a sage. Want to know the history of the weird magic dingus you found? Hire a sage.


What isn't the role of sages in DF Felltower?

Sages aren't sources of rumors. They aren't sources of recent information. Generally, if you can find it out by going and doing in some kind of reasonably adventurous fashion, don't hire a sage to find it out. Go find it out.

Sages can't rattle off a list of "lost magic items of Felltower" for you so you know what you might find later.

They can't tell you recent news about a subject.

In short, "hire a sage" isn't a way to get out of scouting, traveling, and risk-taking. It's a way to get at information that you couldn't find out even if you did that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Accumulated Injury and Partial Injuries

Evileeyore asked me a question by email about Accumulated Injuries and the Partial Injury rules on p. 136 of GURPS Martial Arts.

Can you use them together? Sure.

How would that work? It would make it easy to get to higher levels of injury. Instead of using the worst result, you'd effectively just be accumulated injury and moving up those thresholds until you reached crippling.

I haven't tried this - if I recall correctly, Sean Punch wrote those rules. I've never actually used them in play . . . although I have used a few of the other rules in that chapter in my games. Everyone loves double dismemberment!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Random Links for 11/6

No time to sit down and write today, but I did get a chance to do a bit of reading:

The second mini in this post is pretty awesome. I could use a bunch of those for creepy weirdo evil dudes in any kind of campaign.

Joe the Lawyer is keeping up the podcasting.

Some has tried an optional rules set of Doug's in actual play. You don't know how huge that is as an author. We rarely get feedback, nevermind actual play feedback.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Joe the Lawyer's Podcast

I just wanted to bring this up.

Joe the Lawyer has a Podcast.

Joethelawyer's Not-So-Wondrous Imaginings Episode 1


Joe was a regular "B-Team" player along with me, Tim Shorts, and Douglas Cole.

This episode is a bit light on content, but I miss hanging out with Joe so I really enjoyed this.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Felltower November 2018

Next weekend we'll be back to Felltower.

What's going on there?

The last two delves - the A-Team and the B-Team - were months back.

So what happened since then?

New Priest!

Father Not Named in this Blog was replaced by a new pastor, Father Galstone. He's tall, we know that much.

Flooding

We had some serious flooding due to heavy, heavy rains.

Monster Alert!

Activists, clearly, have been doing PSAs to get the monsters to react to their neighbors being slaughtered. We'll see if they respect the message.


Next week we'll have some actual session damage to report. There is the usual scattered talk about gates, exploring tag ends of hallways, and not trusting elves . . . I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

More Thought on Cryptic Alliance States

Back in 2015, I wrote a bit about Cryptic Alliances as states in Gamma World.

I had some more thoughts about that.

States Aren't Cryptic

This is certainly true, on at least one level - states aren't secret. They can certainly be hard to understand or mysterious to outsiders, which makes even more sense.

One issue with defining the CA as secret societies is some just don't make any sense as secret societies. While you might get secret members in areas they don't control, secret Red Death members, secret Healers, and secret Bonapartists just seem odd.

I figure the Knights of Genetic Purity fly their racist flag like Ed Norton in American History X. They don't seem like they'd be shy about it (or see a profit in being shy about it).

At the same time, secret members make sense. Those out in the uncontrolled hinterlands, those in mixed societies too powerful to control for the CA (because of power, distance, proximity to another CA, or some combination of the above), those on special missions - those members should be secret. Secret signs and whatnot make sense. Give the secret sign, know the other person is familiar with your CA and knows the rituals.

Some Alliances Don't Make Sense as Secret

Broadly speaking, some alliances do make sense as secretive groups that wander the world. Others, though, don't. The Red Death, for example, or Ranks of the Fit don't make too much sense as secret. They make sense as small wandering groups up to large nomadic tribes or armies, but secret? It just seems to lump the ones that do make sense as secret groups with ones that don't.

***

Overall I like the idea of some groups controlling large areas and acting like states. I think it fits Gamma World well. It fits Jim Ward's original conception (even if he waited until The Dragon and not the rulebook to get that out there.) And I think it makes those cryptic alliances seem more threatening. A local spy for a large, violent, and nearby belief state is a bigger threat than a spy for a spread-out society. And even if a large secret conspiracy is undermining some neutral town or state, what happens when they take over? They remain secret? There isn't much reason why, anymore.

Take advantage of the weirdness that are these groups and make them both overt large threats and individuals who may be tied to those states or something else entirely. I think that's a very effective and interesting way to set up a campaign.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Father Galstone of Stericksburg

Thanks to this picture:




. . . the head of the main church of the Good God in Stericksburg is Father Galstone.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

GURPS writing update

Quick update - I signed and sent back in my contract for my latest GURPS writing project. That's going to be a 2019 release, so don't get too excited. And as always, my players have little to get excited about because they experience what I write before I assemble it for publication.

I also started to put together notes for another proposal, which will inevitably be further out.
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