Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Rot Grubs

so, Erik Tenkar hates Rot Grubs.

Which is funny, because he's not opposed to sticking nests of giant centipedes in barricades, oh no.

I obviously use rot grubs, because I'm an evil GM.

Ask Hjalmarr.

Generally the thing about rot grubs is, they're a trap with a cure. Instead of rolling a resistance roll, and on a failure taking damage, you get attacked by burrowing grubs and either cure them (no damage), burn them out (take damage), or do nothing (and die.) It's just a trap with a different special effect. I can't get too upset about them. They're just a gross way to get attacked, like anything involved grubs, maggots, or flesh-eating worms (regular, or rotworms.) They're not more unfair that "save for half damage" types of attacks, where some nastiness occurs 100% of the time. In this case, it's just grub-based.

I'm fine with that.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Saltmash is here

This arrived today:

it would be at the very top of my reading list, except I picked up Glen Cook's "The Swordbearer" to find a specific quote and starting re-reading it instead. But this will be read, soon. I do miss having the time to post reviews, perhaps I can do one for this one since I'm such a big fan of U1-3.

Monday, May 20, 2019

GURPS DF Session 116, Felltower 88 - In the Orc Hole II

After about 16 months, the PCs decided to raid the orcs again. Less than half of those delvers still live.

We had a good-sized group but two players the group felt they needed for a deep delve - the players of Dryst and Heyden the Ebon Page - couldn't make it Sunday. So the orcs were chosen as a thing that needed doing. Plus Galen wanted to.

Date: Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Weather: Warm-to-hot, clear, sunny.

Bruce "the Mild" McTavish, Jr., human barbarian (267 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (254 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (250 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (409 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (332 points)
     5 Skeletons (~25 points)
     Skull Spirit (?? points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (255 points)
Orcish Bob, not-orcish orc brute (approximately 125 points, NPC)

The group gathered in town, where Galen had stayed to recover from his multiple crippling injuries from his last delve. They quickly settled on raiding the orcs. They gathered rumors - including some about the lost weapons of the nomad champion Atregex being in Felltower, rumors of another big staircase, psychic puddings, and one about delvers stashing some loot near water in Felltower. "That was us," said Galen. Apparently they stashed it inside of an armored shark.

They gathered up supplies - including picks, shovels, rope, a mallet, iron spikes, etc. - since there is no Dryst to make them when needed. From there they headed up to the dragon cave entrance.

Ulf remembered that there was a rumor of an entrance to Felltower from the slums. He wanted to ask around, but it was very early in the morning. He decided to ask on the way home.

The group made their way into the dungeon, and up to the second level. They made a detour to touch the altar. Ulf prayed sincerely to the Good God before his touch, and gained +1 to all stats for a day. Wyatt suddenly felt a lot more pious, and prayed before he touched. With the help of a prayer - and luck - he was able to get 81 sp turned into 81 gp (so $81 into $1620.) That was nearly loot threshold for everyone right there. Orcish Bob mentioned that he'd touched that twice in the past, and it wasn't a good idea.

But they decided to give a skeleton some silver and have it touch. That wasn't a good idea - it was zapped by cosmic lightning and damaged badly. They reasoned the skeleton was clearly of someone who touched the altar before when alive, but decided to move on.

They sent Galen, solo, past one of the rotating statue rooms and toward the orc hole, buffed with Dark Vision and Invisibility. He slipped ahead and around the orc hole and spotted two orcs behind a low barricade, watching toward the hole. Waiting and hearing nor seeing no other orcs, he aimed at both and shot them in the skull, killing them both outright. He snuck back to the group and brought them along.

They looted the orcs and waited for Gerry to cast Zombie on both of them. As they did so, they put Invisibility on Galen again and sent him down into the orc hole to scout.

At the bottom he found a cave with a pond, and an exit some 30' off the ground on the far side. He sat and watched for a bit, hearing orcs talking in low voices and hearing animal sounds as well, and then returned. He came back with Gerry, both Invisible and with Dark Vision and Gerry used Levitate (and See Invisible) to move Galen up to scout. He spotted two orcs, but signs of more, two devil wolves, and a lot of clay pots, droppable rocks, throwable rocks, and at least two fishing nets.

About this time Bruce and Wyatt downed Agility potions they'd each spent 700sp on back in town. Wyatt rolled a 5, and Bruce a 6. That put them to 21 DX and 19 DX, respectively, and dramatically improved their weapon skills.

With their new "allies" the party used Silence while they hammered in an iron spike and lowered a rope down the steepest past of the orc hole.

They climbed down single file. At the bottom, they had a plan to eliminate the orcs without raising the alarm. They'd use Levitate to move Galen and up to the top, so Galen could snipe the orcs as Ulf used Silence to cover the area.

Galen, from above, could see two pits along the right wall that they were warned about by Gerry, but there weren't in a path anyone intended to take.

Unfortunately, they chose to put Galen pretty much point-blank on the orcs - just a couple yards away. The devil wolves either smelled or heard him, however, and began to bay and howl. The orcs jumped up, three with bows and two with clubs. Waited. The PCs kept on with the plan, but the Move 3 of their chosen spell meant it would take at least 7-8 seconds to get Ulf within range. The orcs with clubs moved to a now-visible drum.

Galen shot them both down. The bow-armed orcs shot at him, two hitting him and injuring him (but he shrugged off the monster drool they dip their arrows in.) He shot down the two orcs that hit him, putting them both down. The remaining orc yelled to the devil wolves to "go back," presumably for help. Galen shot down two of the devil wolves but the other two were down the tunnel and our of view before he could loose more arrows. He killed the remaining orc instead.

The alarm drum wasn't hit, but it was clear the orcs had to be alerted. So they began to ferry people up. Wyatt climbed as fast as he could, and had to use Luck to avoid a fall but made it to the top. Others followed. As Wyatt reached the top, four screaming goblins rushed up carrying Molotovian Cocktails. They were screaming in a mix of terror and just plain old yelling. Galen shot two of them down. One fell and caught on fire. The other just fell. The other two flung their cocktails. One hit the far wall of the ledge area harmlessly. The other landed near Wyatt and invisible Gerry, splattering them with a little bit of oil.

Galen killed the two the next second.

Then the clay pots near the ledge began to cook off as their igniters (alchemist's matches) went off. Large sections of the ledge were on fire.

Gerry started to drop spells in preparation for casting Mass Zombie, so they put out the fire on the orcs and two of the goblins with some water and by rolling them over.

They brought up the entire crew except for the skeletons. Orcish Bob, IIRC, fell trying to climb up but wasn't really hurt and made it up the second try.

They waited there, hearing orc drums and horns nearby and further on, and lots of orc noises. They formed up and waited.

Gerry cast Mass Zombie but failed. He cancelled more spells and tried again. This time, he succeeded.

By now, they'd been on the ledge for about 7 minutes.

They sent Galen to scout, and found the big cave they'd fought the orcs in last time, but it was empty except for bedding and dormant cooking pits.

Once they had the orcs (and two devil wolves, and two goblins) zombied, they armed the goblins with clubs, ordered the orcs to use bows, and headed out in formation.

The cave was still empty, so they decided to check the three exists that Galen described.

Past the first one was a larder, with barrels of sour orc wine (they like it sour), and hanging meat - deer, mostly, but also rats, pheasant, and a couple of humans. They briefly discussed Mass Zombie on them but didn't do so.

They moved into the next cave, attached. They found sixteen dispirited captives - slaves, as they called them from then on. Twelve humans (trappers, hunters, etc. who disappeared over the past years), three goblins, and a dwarf. They were sitting around, not shackled or anything, with shovels and picks. They were glad to see Ulf once he explained that despite his appearance, he's an ordained priest of the Good God. Wyatt spoke to the dwarf, Vlad Gloinman. He tried to recruit him to fight the orcs with them, but did poorly (a 7 Reaction Roll). Vlad shared that he was captured "up north" by the orcs, while prospecting for gold and gems with a map. The orcs took the map and took him, years back. They brought him down a 3+ mile tunnel from the north into this cave area. They wanted more, easier water supplies and were convinced the prisoners could dig and find one. Vlad wasn't so sure, but they dug. They also found out there were "14 head of ogre" - seven two-headed ogres - in the next cave.

After these exchanged, Vlad took off, not even bothering to hear Wyatt's warning about the pits. It wouldn't matter - the pits are arranged to disrupt people sneaking along the sides.

They headed toward the ogres, wanting to kill them off and then escape with their loot.

Naturally, though, the ogres hadn't stayed when the orcs apparently retreated. They searched and found bedding for two big ogres, one huge one, and two others in bigger niches. They tossed the bedding looking for loot but didn't find any. But they found a silver-coated balanced lance leaning up against the side nice of one. They took it.

They moved up the tunnel Vlad Gloinmen said led to the surface north of here. They followed it for several minutes, still hearing distance orc voices, horns, and drums.

At a turn in the tunnel, they ran into some orcs - big, orc brutes. Gerry ordered his zombie orcs to fire and they advanced. The devil wolves and goblins charged and both wolves and one goblin went down. Gerry ordered his zombies aside to let the party through.

Basically it was a steady, three-on-three brawl. The PCs advanced cautiously, as did the orcs, who tried to stay around the corner and engage the lead fighters without allowing them support. Galen closed in and shot past everyone, nailing orc after orc after orc, putting two arrows into the Vitals of each one he could. Since the orcs were big and tough, this was a good way to ensure they didn't last if they failed to defend. Ulf buffed Bruce and Wyatt with Flaming Weapon. Meanwhile, Crogar, Bruce, and Wyatt cut down any wounded or stunned ones. Crogar was immensely frustrated that the orcs fought well and had solid defenses, so he rarely managed to hit any of them solidly. Bruce and Wyatt, thanks to their investment in Agility potions (and Wyatt's large number of attacks) made it much easier on them to inflict harm. And Galen shot down orcs as steadily as a drum cadence. Wyatt fought one orc and rolled a lot of critical failures in a row, breaking one of his swords. He snatched up the orc's scimitar after killing him with his off-hand sword and used that as a parrying tool (despite its cumulative -4). Crogar defended himself well, but Bruce was critically hit several times and badly wounded, needing Ulf to heal him.

Eventually they whittled down most of the dozen or so orcs that attacked them, and two half-orcs (orc/ogre mixes) attacked, both Great Hasted and with Missile Shield, cast clearly by a gigantic two-headed ogre. Galen couldn't hit him, either, as he had Missile Shield on as well. Gerry moved up and sicc'ed his skull spirit on one, and put Great Haste on himself and then on Wyatt. The half-ogres managed to close in and attack, even after Wyatt blinded one with an eye stab. The orge smashed Wyatt with a morningstar, wounding him only lightly with a terrible damage roll. By "lightly" I mean to negative HP; better damage could have killed him outright. But Ulf healed him, and as he fell back Orcish Bob moved in to engage.

The knocked down one half-ogre and Orcish Bob slashed him, as did Crogar. And Ulf pulled out his Wand of Holding and zapped the other. That paralyzed him. They slew the fallen half-ogre. As they debated keeping the paralyzed one helpless so Gerry could use Steal Energy, Wyatt killed him with multiple eye stabs.

Wyatt ran ahead to see what was coming. He found nothing but a stone wall. The orcs could be heard past it, proving it thin enough but solid enough to slow down the PCs.

Realizing they couldn't press the fight until the orcs were ready, they looted and left. They gathered coins and weapons, and some armor for Gerry's skeletons, and moved back.

In the interest of out-of-game time considerations, I allowed them to retreat to the surface without issue.

On the way back, Ulf did remember to ask about dungeon entrances in the slums. But he was persuaded not to - it's a bad idea to ask questions in that kind of area, as an outsider. And especially along a river, where it's possible smugglers, thieves, etc. hide out. No one wants to be asked about hidden tunnels and such beneath their houses. He'll get back to it, but armed with money and assistance to "research" such topics.

Back in town, they payed for Analyze Magic on the lance and found it was Puissance +2. They sold it, as no one really needed a lance, no matter how good.


The PCs demonstrated how ineffective the orcs are against well-supported delvers . . . and against Galen. Lacking some kind of Mass Missile Shield the orcs can't handle him. He has an Acc 4 bow doing 2d+5 impaling, Bow-28, Enhanced Tracking, and Double Shot coupled with a pair of Cornucopia Quivers. Unfortunately, though, they couldn't press their advantage. Some of it was real-world time constraints, but also it's a painful slog to fight up a long tunnel. And if Vlad Gloinman is right, it's a good three miles or more! Galen's experience scouting the orcs and their camp suggests he's probably correct.

Galen was amusingly better than everyone. He has the highest DR, the best Stealth (by 6-8 points), best Per (same), best weapon skill (even after those Agility potion rolls), etc. etc. He should, he's over 400 points and only Gerry was close. Oh, and he upped his Basic Move again to 11.

I love the confusion that Orcish Bob causes. Ulf only calls him Bob. Crogar keeps double-checking with the others if they're sure he's not an orc. "His skin is green, right?" "He looks like an orc, right?" Gerry doesn't help by saying that Bob says he's not an Orc. Orcish Bob will cheerfully tell everyone about touching the altar twice. He wasn't game to touch it again this time.

Mild Bruce likes Orcish Bob, and is considering taking him as an Ally. The group assumed this would mean Bruce would pay him a salary, instead of Bob getting a share. I nixed that - Bruce can certainly spend points to say Bob's his buddy, they'll adventure together and Bob will be loyal to Bruce. But he's not downgrading to a low salary. He's generally done well on hauls of loot so why give that up for steady, lower pay? We'll see if Mild Bruce does this or not.

Good solid delve, with a haul of roughly 1700 each. MVP was Wyatt for lots of exciting eye stabs. And presumably for risking the front line with a DR 0, HP 11 swashbuckler. He does have Extra Attack 2, Enhanced Parry 2, and Two-Weapon Fighting, so he's not too badly off, but he doesn't even have the DR the Good God gave a padded doublet so when criticals come too close together . . . he's in trouble.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Felltower pre-summary

We had a good session of Felltower today.

The PCs led a raid on the orcs. We had:

- the return of Orcish Bob

- Galen demonstrating that anything with vitals and lacking Missile Shield is basically dead

- A foray into the orc hole

- a plan gone awry

- a lot of zombies

- rescued prisoners

- and a nice big brawl

Full summary tomorrow!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Tomorrow: Felltower

Tomorrow is Felltower.

I did not do a lot of prep today.

Saturday is a day when I do some last-minute prep, but honestly I never get a lot done the night before. What's ready Friday is 95%+ of what gets run on Sunday. Saturday just isn't a day that's very productive for me thanks to the amount of other things that go on - it's a busy work day for me, for starters, and a training day.

That said, I did get a lot of minis repaired (old, fragile ones) - in case they use the Forest Gate.

I piled up some minis prepped for the depths of Felltower, in case the PCs delve deeper instead of wider.

And I did set up more orcs, in case I need to deploy my new ones to guard the Orc's areas from hostile delvers.

I'm busy hassling the group to make a decision, so I don't have to pack all three - it's tricky to bring all of this. I do really need to establish my own playing place so I can just keep everything stored safely and to-hand at all times.

Friday, May 17, 2019

On the minis workbench - orc sword-to-flail conversion

These guys aren't so much WIP as they are workbench projects:

These are Black Tree Design orcs. They originally held swords, but I've cut off the blades and have been boring out grips to fit some morningstars I cut apart from Warhammer Chaos Marauders (or maybe Chaos Warriors, I can't tell them apart offhand.)

I needed more sword-armed orcs not at all - but I could always use more flail-armed orcs since it's a very effective weapon in GURPS.

They've been a slow project as I find it hard to drill out the grips, but they're slowly getting done.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

We go to the lands of the ice and snow: DF Cold Weather Gear notes

Last session in Felltower, the group found what's been dubbed the "Icy Gate." Mostly because it leads to a land of ice and snow, it's ice-bound, in a freezing room, and beyond big metal doors that are themselves frost-limned.

So you can see why it picked up the name.

If the PCs go beyond it, what is around for icy weather gear?

It's getting on Summer in Stericksburg, but it's been a cold, wet spring full of owlbear attacks, so it's reasonable to expect you can still go right out and get some cold-weather gear.


Sleeping Furs (p. 23) are required for camping successfully.

Tents (p. 23) are also a great idea, even if Weather Dome is available.


Arctic Clothing (p. 16) This is a must-have. The old "Dryst will use Create Object to make us some!" is a risky choice. It beats plain-old Winter Clothing (p. 16) with a stick; it might be overdoing it but it might not be.

Camouflage Clothing (p. 16) is also a good choice.

Yurts (p. 18) would be a solid upgrade from tents, but they're heavy and special-order.

Skates, Skis, and Snowshoes (p. 18) are worth looking at. Snowshoes would probably be the best choice for the area just past the gate.

DFD Barbarians

Polar Beer would be a an interesting choice, to reduce damage from friendly-fire flame attacks. However it's not commonly sold in Stericksburg. So that's two strikes right there.

Beyond these sources, magical support would be very important - Resist Cold, Warmth, fire spells (for offense and fire-starting), Water Vision, and Weather Dome can be delve makers or delve breakers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Yet another DF book update

I just turned around my playtest/peer review comments yesterday, and already Nikki Vrtis turned around an updated copy.

What now?

- checking, again, for any issues or errors. If they exist I doubt I'll see them, it's hard to see your own writing with fresh eyes when you've seen it day after day for weeks.

- quotes! Time to find pull quotes from the text, and external quotes that match the material. I have some gems, I think, and I'm perusing some Vance, Zelazny, Gygax, Cook (Glen and Hughes, not related), Leiber, Pehov, Moorcock, and others for possible additional quotes. I'll see if I can't work in some cool song lyrics, too, but the material makes that a bit harder.

- dealing with "Special Thanks." I run a big campaign - I don't want to miss anyone who played a formative role!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Painted Goat Men

"Give us the Horse!"

Ah, yes, some Doralissians seeking the legendary Horse of Shadows.

Or some generic beastmen. Me, I like the Alexy Pehov "Chronicles of Siala" books enough to see these guys as the doltish but persistent Doralissians. They came out tabletop quality, and I hope to find a reason to deploy them.

They won't last, because they have eyes, and PCs desperate to hit Dodge-happy monsters tend to stack up their offense to unstoppable levels, but regardless . . . they'll be fun to use.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Final Playtest Feedback Collected

Today I received what's looking like the last feedback/peer review notes of my latest GURPS Dungeon Fantasy volume.

I've begun collecting it all into a document to submit to my editor.

I'm not sure of the release date, but this puts the book one step closer to completion. It's been a while since I had a book released - the last was DFM3 - so this feels really nice.

Plus it's Felltower related, so for everyone who's asked me about "publishing Felltower," well, at least this is a partial installment along those lines.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Neural Network Sage answers all about Felltower and Gamma Terra!

Over at Blood of Prokopius there is an excellent post where he puts Jeff Reints's 20 Questions to a Neural Network Web Toy.

It's one of the funniest posts I've read.

So I decided to "help" my players by asking the Neural Network Web Sage some questions that have been nagging the PCs. I edited down to just the paragraphs I liked, but the words are all from the toy.

"What is beyond the Jester Gate?"


As a matter of fact, here is what is beyond the Jester Gate – a complete new experience where you feel like you are being transported back to some past time, a time long forgotten and now suddenly alive again.

Here, we will go into the realm and visit various places and see what is happening inside the realm.

The journey begins by crossing the gate at the end of the "Gated Passage" (the "Gate") and you get to the second "realm" – which is not "inside the gate" but closer to the real "realm" – as you take the path right outside of the gate. You will go past some "vigilant guards" of various faiths who will offer to help you by helping you to the way of the spirit world (or as they describe, the place of the "Witches", just outside the gate), to make a connection with spirits from the previous "realm", who will guide you through the labyrinthine labyrinthine paths.

I love how it gets just as pedantic as I can sometimes.

Where in the Lost City is Rangol Grot?

To travel around here, take the main path to the right. You're just on the opposite side of the room from the room with the gate. Go towards the doorway, where you see two crates inside. Open one of them, then go on and find Rangol Grot himself in one of the crates. When you get close enough, he will open his eyes and say "What are you? You're the last living member of a forgotten tribe of humans!"

You are allowed to pick up this weapon to continue, but it might be best to keep it if you want to take Rangol Grot along with you. When you're ready, head up the stairs. At the top of the stairs is Rangol Grot, who will be waiting for you. Now, as you were previously told, you can pick up Rangol Grot from him. To do this, go down and pick up the Key.

Yeah, but which box is he in?

How do we get past the repelling doors?

Is it because we're too busy? It can't be done.

Nice - philosophical backhand followed by a gnomic hint.

And here is one for Hillbilly in Gamma Terra. Presumably he's asking a Think Tank that's a bit on the fritz:

Where can we find a functional black ray gun?

You cannot find a functional black ray gun in China. What are the black raksma in China? A black rakma in China is probably in the shape of a ball. Does the ball shoot bullets? It is true — there is a black ball in China. Are there black balls? Not at all. Why? Because it is not there at all. There are no black bullets in China. Where is the black rakma? No, not there. Where is the ball in China? It is everywhere. If the ball were to fire bullets there, it would not be a ball but a black ball… It is a black ball. People will say you can't shoot a black ball in China… But this is because you are not in China. The reason to say that is, in China, no black balls are in any shape at all. People are allowed to believe whatever they want as long as they don't destroy the universe, so they must be true.

So, we shouldn't look in China, that's for sure. Or should we? I'm not looking forward to finding out what a Chinese black rakmsa is. It's ball shaped . . . or it's not there. Who can tell?

I love that last line. As long as I don't destroy the universe, I'm pretty much okay to believe stuff. Roger that!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Goblin minis Kickstarter

I love the names on these goblins:

I'll wait until these guys are up in packs on the Black Tree Designs store, but I highly approve of minis by people who know all five of the Marx Brothers and who name goblins after them.

Plus these guys are appropriately comically lethal-looking for my current game.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Upcoming GURPS book notes

No, not just my upcoming GURPS book, although it comes up in Sean Punch's latest post.

There is a lot of upcoming GURPS stuff I really like:

GURPS Template Toolkit 2: Races sounds neat.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting also sounds interesting. I have one - one that's not really suited for people not-me, I think, but I have one. Still, I like seeing what other people do so I can use bits in my own game.

The Dungeon Fantasy Pyramid Collection should be interesting. I don't have anything in it - I didn't have a lot of pre-DF material that was easy to update to 4e and DF. But I'd like to see what comes along.

So I'm really pleased to see more GURPS books that I can potentially use in my own game coming along.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Notes from DFD Barbarians: Movie Barbarians

Before DFD: Barbarians was a book, it was a planned Pyramid article.

Here is what became the Shirtless Savage:

The Movie Barbarian

Jehnna: I suppose nothing hurts you.
Conan: Only pain.
- Conan the Destroyer

Barbarian warriors in the movies fit a common type – muscled, tanned skin, and scantily clad, whether male or female. They lack armor – for cinematic, eye-candy reasons. This lens trades off armor for natural toughness. DR with the Tough Skin limitation means you might get cut, a little, and perhaps even bleed a superficial trickle of blood, but you’re not really hurt.
This lens is usually combined with Combat Barbarian, above.

- Change Advantages to Appearance (Attractive) [4]; DR 2 (Tough Skin, -40%; Accessibility, Doesn’t Stack with Armor DR, -40%) [4]; High Pain Threshold [10]; Nonprotective clothing [1]; and Outdoorsman 4 [40]. • A further 21 points among . . . ” Improve Appearance (Attractive) to Appearance (Handsome) [8]; DR 3-5 (Tough Skin, -40%; Accessibility, Doesn’t Stack with Armor DR, -40%) [2/level]; or from among the standard barbarian advantages.

Nonprotective clothing: See GURPS Supers, p. 30. This allows the barbarian to wear clothing without negating his own DR, such as the very popular leather bracers, boots, and fur loincloth. At the GM’s option, this can allow you to wear mostly cosmetic armor like horned helms, chainmail bikinis, and big leather belts, but this only fits in very cinematic or silly games.

Does Not Stack with Armor is similar to the Cannot Wear Armor limitation (p. B00), except that it merely doesn't stack with armor. A barbarian could choose to wear armor, but this won't add to it, even if it is higher than the DR of the armor worn.
This matters by hit location, so a barbarian could wear a magic helmet (Pot Helm, Fortify +2) and take its superior DR, but similarly would lose his native DR on the locations covered by that armor. This helps justify the occasional bits of armor a movie barbarian might find and wear during epic fights.

Designers Notes: Since barbarians are Size Modifier +1, armor is double cost and weight. The natural DR of this lens allows the barbarian to shrug off damage and stay mobile, but isn't so much that it overtops an armored barbarian or a knight. The natural DR of this approach plus the regular DR a barbarian can buy (see Dungeon Fantasy 3, pg. 38) allows up to 7 DR, 9 vs. crushing damage only. The Tough Skin limitation makes him vulnerable to touch attacks and poisons, so take a good look at Resistant to Poison!


As you can see, I did somewhat different things with it in the end. But that's what it started out as.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My latest DF book is in playtest

My latest DF draft is in playtest at the moment. It's only open to SJG freelancers, but I've already had a few pairs of eyes going over the content.

It's in a preliminary layout format, too, so it's a bit past the usual "check this first draft ms" stage.

A lot of little issues have been picked up, of course - things that seem obvious once you see it in a new format or with another's eyes.

So my book is getting that much closer to publishing!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Crogar WIP

I did a little more work on Crogar, who is taking a lot more time than I'd expected or hoped.

I did some work on his flesh.

I base-coated his axe.

I base-coated his shield - a red bird on white. I'll gloss it over with orange and red ink when I'm near the end.

I base coated most of the rest of the mini - only his horns and loincloth need real work.

I'll get him done by the next game session, for sure.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Updates to the Felltower Files

I made a few updates this morning as part of my blog bookkeeping for Felltower:

- I added the Lesser Flame Lords to the Monsters Encountered page. I did not add the giant fire elementals (I don't sort them on size, just type) or the killer sphere, since it wasn't encountered in any real detail-discerning way.

- I edited the Known Gates page to reflect the results of the last session, including discovery of a new gate and scrying of several mis-identified gates. Also, of realizing that one "gate" was in fact not a gate at all. It behooves delvers to check thoroughly - plans to deal with the "water gate" were useless because it's a magical pool, not a gate.

There are a lot of "tag end" areas the PCs can explore, now. Just off the top of my head:

- Beyond the repelling doors near the crystal lenses;

- the tunnels down the "Orc Hole;"

- the door beyond the iron golems;

- the chained double doors;

- the orichalcum doors;

- the door beyond the black reaver;

- doors and tunnels near the Lord of Spite's "apartments;"

- eight open gates (Olympia, Forest, Icy, Fire, Jester, Air, Lost City, Jungle);

- the new GFS down;

- the "beholder level" - accessible by sinkhole, pit, and stairs.

They have varying levels of challenges - certainly fighting orcs isn't as dangerous as fighting a beholder - but there is a lot to do.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Adding to my dungeon ape collection

For no reason except for the fact that I like killer apes, especially killer apes in dungeons, I ended up with a bunch of killer ape minis.

My Bones IV collection came with a trio of apes, two of which I got right down to painting. They're not hardly done, but I had to get started on these guys as soon as I could:

I guess they'll make good Juggernaut or Determined apes. They're certainly a bit oversized. I figure by the time I'm an old man "Heroic 28mm" will be life-sized. ;)

Friday, May 3, 2019

Misc Notes for 5/3

Tough week for business, but I got some stuff done and things to chat about.

- I'm mostly sorted through Bones IV. I have a couple of maybes. Some of my players want some of the minis, so I'll just give them along if they want them. Gauth might be one of them. Still, I'd be happy to trade for any of the monsters - ogres, trolls, apes, griffons (if that's what that is), owlbears, etc. and I have a lot of assorted stuff to get rid of to do that. Some Bones III leftovers, too.

- I've got several Bones IV minis painted or partly painted already. I work quickly when minis are needed for game. Yet I'm so lazy that Crogar isn't finished yet.

- I handed in some requested text for my book. I am looking forward to a playtest-ready document soon. And a playtest. Hopefully I won't have to use the "but it's supposed to be stuff from my game, and that is how it is in my game" bludgeon too often. Heh.

- I think Joe wants his book.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

GURPS 101: Monday morning quarterbacking the Session 115 fights

We had a few fights in Session 115 of Felltower.

Generally, I just adjudicate fights. You're doing well, you're struggling, whatever, I just say what happens and have the NPCs fight as hard as they can. Or as hard as is appropriate, more accurately. I do my level best to kill the PCs, maim the PCs, dissuade the PCs, or escape the PCs - depending on the nature of the foe. And if sensible (or morale-limited) foes falter, I have them do that, too.

I don't give advice to the players. I expect you to learn the rules, because doing so makes you a better player and also a better co-player to those who'll pick up the slack if you don't.

That said, I saw a lot of "opportunities" in the past session.

Several times, Dryst used Lightning to injure - but mostly to stun - some of the flame lords.

Those stunned flame lords had flanked Mild Bruce and Crogar. Both Mild Bruce and Crogar were in easy position to step back out of their surrounded positions, attain a better defensive position, and strike their Stunned foes.

Stunned is a condition in GURPS that gives -4 to Active Defenses and doesn't allow you to Retreat. In addition, recovery from Stunning is done at the end of a turn - so any foes attacked in this fashion couldn't strike back.

Instead, both Mild Bruce and Crogar attempted to attack fully aware, active combatants.

I understand the feeling - keep the active fighters engaged. Don't throw away a good position for a chance to finish a wounded foe. All too often we've seen someone break formation to "finish" a foe but cost a the party's integrity and position.

But in this case, it would have just been applying a combination of two factors:

- local superiority

- superior position.

By local superiority, I mean the concentration of force against a weakened foe. Dryst stuns it, another PCs steps in and finishes off the wounded foe. If not finishes off, instead of needing to use a Feint, or a steep Deceptive Attack, or both, the attacking PC would benefit from a -4 to defenses from the defender. Gang up on a weakened foe - don't stun a foe so you can swing away at a strong foe without risk, stune a foe so you can end that foe as a threat and then move on to the next one.

By superior position, I mean giving up a flank attack against yourself to foe the enemy to fight down a narrow channel towards you. This can be a deathtrap if your foe is capable of filling said channel with area attacks. If the foe is weakened to only using low-damage, high-risk attacks, then you want to force them to minimize their numbers while you maximize yours.

Instead, the PCs chose to just "divide and conquer" - you know, divide up, and hope to conquer. But "divide and conquer" as a strategy is to divide the foe and focus local superiority of numbers and position onto each one of them in turn, allowing a defeat in detail.

So I took the time after the session to speak to Mild Bruce's player (an adult, if a young one) and Crogar's dad's player (an adult, since Crogar's player is quite young). Mild Bruce will keep in mind what he missed through myopic focus on a particularly annoying foe. Crogar's player's dad is thinking of just gaming out some fights.

Learning game skill is helpful. Learing to see a tactical situation and discern how to take it apart to your advantage - that's gold in and out of game.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Ulf the Not Yet Martyred, Cleric

Asked and done.

Ulf Sigurdson is a human cleric, from the same northern seafaring clans that produced martyrs like Bjorn Felmanson, Hjalmarr Holgerson, and presumably still-living "Red Raggi" Ragnarson, as well.

His highlight traits:

- Faith Healing

- He wields an axe (but his ranged weapon is Sunbolt because that's too good not to have.)

- Divine Grace gives him +1d DX for 3d seconds for combat actions once per day (delve.)

- He's very lightly armored, choosing mobility over protection.

- He's Selfless, Overconfident . . . and Honest. Since looking in the dungeon is legal, that's fine, but it could cause problems in other circumstances. Can? Will. It's a disadvantage.

So far he's been interesting, and managed to kick a Flame Lord to death, which is a unique accomplishment. With Faith Healing he's got a tool that isn't SM restricted for healing, to match with his spells. If he survives long enough, he should become an interesting cleric.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Misc Late Night Notes for 4/30

Quick update, since I was out all day and it's late here:

- I have to provide a little more writing to my current GURPS writing project, which I'll get onto soon.

- I'm in a very interesting GURPS playtest. I don't have that much time, but I can get in comments here and there. It's been a while.

- I need to review some tactical options with a couple of the players. I don't like to actively kibitz during a game, but I did notice two of the newer players overlooked a chance to hit something. And I need to check the numbers - one PC missed a foe on a back shot, which leads me to think the player miscalculated because a standard character built on that template has over skill 16, so the only misses should be 17s and 18s in that case.

Maybe I'll even have time to get in the additional game notes that are swimming around in my brain.

Monday, April 29, 2019

GURPS DF Session 115, Felltower 87 - Flame Foes & New Stairs

April 28th, 2019

Weather: Cold, rainy.

Bruce "the Mild" McTavish, Jr., human barbarian (259 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (254 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (462 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (250 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (332 points)
     5 Skeletons (~25 points)
Heyden the Ebon Page, human knight (301 points)

We started off in town, with Gerry having purchased five new skeletons and enchanted them up as his new buddies. Heyden, meanwhile, showed up with a 200 sp tattoo of the "ebony death goddess" and a new name, as he's dubbed himself the Ebon Page and a representative of the "ebony death goddess" in the world. (Mild Bruce would show up later with a 500 sp back tattoo.)

The group gathered rumors, and left some lightstones and notes for Mild Bruce, who was expected to join the expedition once he got back from a shift at work. They sought out Orcish Bob and Raggi and others, but found none of them.

The plan was to explore past the destroyed obsidian golems. They gathered up the group and headed to the "dragon cave" and made their way in.

Nothing molested them, all the way to the giant staircase. The dungeon was surprisingly quiet and empty, and no new barricades or construction was up - although, once again, the partly torn-down blockages had been filled back up.

Once at the stairs Heyden opened them up. They headed down, a Created Servant in the lead to "detect" traps. Luckily for all, there were none.

At the bottom, the PCs found nothing waiting for them. They did hear a sucking, oozing slopping noise to the right. They headed left. As they made their way to the obsidian golems just past Phase Snake Junction. As they did, they all managed to make their HT rolls and avoid the debilitating effects of the "close air" of this level.

The group made it to the obsidian golem hallway. They sent a scout ahead - Dryst, who used a Wizard Eye and Dark Vision to ensure the golems hadn't "respawned" or been replaced. They had not. Dryst put on Acute Vision 4 and See Secrets just to be really sure. They were not there.

The door at the end was a sturdy door, but not one of the side-sliding doors. It was marked with a red handprint. Heyden decided to give it a shoulder instead of a hand, and smashed it open. It yielded, but he was zapped with . . . something for 1 HP of injury. Beyond was a hex-shaped room with an identical door on the far side, also with a hand print.

The right wall appeared to be solid, but Dryst's magically enhanced senses revealed it was not. It actually was an illusion covering a hallway that appeared to be just like all of the others.

They went right for that, forcing their way through the illusion - and passing into the hallway required a Will roll. They all made it.

The hallway past the illusionary wall wasn't like the 12' tall arched ceiling hallways of this level. It was, instead, 10 x 10 x 10, smooth sided and unsupported by arches or pillars. As far as Dryst could see with his Dark Vision, it extended for hundreds of yards.

"Finally, we're back to exploring new stuff!" exclaimed Crogar, who never seemed interested in not-killing-stuff before.

They cautiously headed down, preceded by a servant. After a couple dozen yards, they came to a wide passage extending to the right that led to an open landing at the top of a giant spiral staircase winding down around a central open shaft. Another GFS! (Giant Fantastic Staircase). The short but wide hallway to it was covered, walls and ceiling alike, with depictions of six-fingered cone-hatted masked figures, done in excellent skill and unease-inducing style ("Let me be the judge of that!" said Heyden, who roll an 8 on his Artist skill and announced this was, in fact, true.) It was all colored in the colors of evil (according to Ulf) - black, red, and purple. Many sigils and marks and symbols were intertwined and around the figures, along with swirls of color and strange patterns. Not a one chose to examine them closely.

They approached the stairs with great caution, and sent Dryst's Wizard Eye down and around to examine them. It made its way around a few loops and found a landing, and then approached another past that - and down the central shaft it went very, very deep indeed. At this point, however, a yard-wide metal sphere with two bladed arms emerging from it zipped up at the eye. Dryst willed it to flee, but in a second it was overtaken and destroyed.

They party set up and waited for the sphere to come after them. They heard clicking and whirring below, but after a while it died off.

They decided to avoid the stairs.

They continued down the corridor. As they did, though, with the servant in the lead, a pit opened up below Crogar and Heyden in the second rank! Crogar rolled a 3 on his DX roll and leaped back to safety, but Heyden fell in and the pit lids snapped shut over him.

They tried to find a way out, with the usual "Have someone with Levitate on stand over the pit and push it" and other variations of that theme. After a lot of experimentation they realized the far side of the pit was a pressure trigger, designed to catch trailers, not leaders, in the pit. With that in mind they triggered it and put in a 2 x 4' that Dryst made with Create Object. That alone took two tries - the first one Crogar dropped, causing it to disappear. The second he put in and held onto long enough for Heyden to be brought back up with Levitate.

They made it past the pit by jumping over the trigger. Almost immediately, though, the servant in the lead walked into a wall. They examined the hallway and found it was actually a cunningly done piece of art, supernaturally well done - much like the "continuation" of the GFS landing on this level.

With the other way blocked, they turned and headed back through the (illusionary) wall.

"Finally, back to finding things to kill!" exclaimed Crogar.

Heyden tried to shoulder the other door open and failed, so he tried his hand and that opened the door. He was zapped in the process both times.

Beyond the door was a hallway that turned and was blocked with a tight portcullis. Beyond it was a short hallway with a pair of alcoves, with a brass brazier in each one filled with cold coals. Just past them was another portcullis. They couldn't scout past as the portcullises were too tight to allow a Wizard Eye. So Dryst used Create Servant to create a servant past the first gate. They he created a torch for him, on the theory that lighting the coal-filled braziers would open the portcullises. It lit them, and sure enough, the portcullises smoothly slide up into the ceiling!

A moment later, though, there was a woooosh of flame and two gigantic fire elementals appeared - ones that stood hunched over in the 12' corridors and filled several yards across. The servant burned to a crisp and died. The elementals attacked.

One rushed into melee while the other hurled 4d firebolts at the group. One hit Crogar and lit his loincloth and hair on fire, burning him badly. Dryst quickly got off Resist Fire on several of the PCs, and Gerry put Great Haste on Dryst to speed it up. Crogar was the first, rendering him immune to his own burning hair. Ulf healed him right away.

The group quickly melee'd the fire elementals, and struggled to hurt them because they were diffuse. But Dryst rolled a 3 on a Water Jet and ended up with a free 6d Water Jet. It didn't take long for him to blast the two elementals to "death" with it.

Crogar griped that the fight was boring, as no one was really in any danger and it wasn't tough. He's a hard to guy to please! No one was sympathetic.

Past the elementals they found a room with a high ceiling and a pair of gigantic doors, all frosted over and ice-cold to the touch. Crogar and Heyden forced the doors open with great effort. The doors groaned and shrieked and ice crackled and popped. Beyond it was a large room with a silver shimmering gate between two ice-clad pillars.

Shivering in the cold room, they had Dryst use Scry Gate. Beyond the gate was a snowy, icy landscape. The gate was clearly on a high point, as ahead the was a valley of some sort and beyond it a range of mountains. Ulf - and now Mild Bruce, who came wandering up late - saw a glinting. It was a tower or towers, seemingly of metal - perhaps a city or a fortress.

They decided to back off and come back once they had real cold-weather gear, so they could fight yetis, abominable snowmen, and wompas. Several people argued for going right now, but depending solely on one wizard to provide all cold resistance - magical and mundane - seemed foolish, so they decided to explore elsewhere.

With Dryst around, the plan was to go and scry all of the unknown gates. First up, the "dead gate" and the water gate.

They made their way to the "dead gate" but encountered a phase snake along the way. Hayden tossed a javelin at it and it phased, and then it ended up in melee with Heyeden and Crogar. Crogar was bitten by the snake, but unharmed by the poison. (Actually, I remembered his 1-second delay for being SM+1, and never remembered to make him roll against the virulent poison. So I guess he made the roll.)

They checked the dead gate, but couldn't scry it. So Dryst used History to scan 1000 years of its history. The gate has been closed for hundreds of years, with no clue what it was before.

Next, the "water gate." They made their way down the sigil-covered hallway. Their scholars - Dryst, Gerry, and Heyden - couldn't really discern anything of interest except that it's aspected to Water magic in the area, and against Fire. Also, the hundreds of symbols were all in different sizes, designs, etc. - no duplicates. They also found notes about the blue water ahead - a mix of warnings about being delicious, making someone fly, and killing a couple of drinkers. Those were graffiti in common done in paint, scratches, or chalk.

The pool turned out to not be a gate after all. Mild Bruce drank from it - and gained 4 points of ST (temporarily - a day, it eventually turned out.) All of them save Gerry drank from it. Even Dryst drank, and get 1 point of ST, raising him to a towering 8! Gerry couldn't be bothered.

Now much stronger, the group headed out to the "earth gate." They passed the corridor that led to the nymphs and reached the gate, squeezing down the tight stairs.

Dryst's spell revealed it wasn't an "earth gate" after all, but a gate to a sub-tropical jungle clearing, with a trail leading away from it. Probably less tropical than the towering canopied rainforest that surrounds the Lost City of D'Abo, so perhaps closer to Stericksburg yet still far. It was bright day so no stars could be discerned to determine where it was.

Determined to get some loot, Dryst cast Seek Earth on gold, and located some right where the nymphs should be.

So he put Improved Magic Resistance on himself, had folks tie a rope to himself, and used Walk on Air to go into the cave. When the nymphs inevitably appeared, his improved resistance let him shrug off the magical charms of the "leader." He zapped it with Dehydrate using Wild Talent. He rolled a crit and 19 HP of injury. The nymph disappeared. The other two ducked away as he concentrated on another casting.

Having scared them off, he scanned the water with Water Vision and saw some gold and silver below. So he proceeded to cast three large Destroy Water spells to drain the pool nearly dry, leaving only a little water trickling out a draining crack below and more water trickling in from above. Heyden came in and joined him, and looted the pool while Dryst buffed him with Magic Resistance just in case.

In the pool they found an elf-sized (and therefore Heyden-sized) shirt of elven heavy mail, 600 sp, and a gold necklace worth 2000. Eventually they'd find the armor was Fortify +2, once they returned to town.

The close air of the dungeon was getting to them, though, and several PCs suffered from it (including Mild Bruce, who critically failed his HT roll and went down -2 DX and HT).

That all done, they headed to the "jester gate." They encountered another phase snake on the way, close to where the other was killed. Heyden killed it outright with a critical javelin throw, and Gerry happily Zombied it.

They smelled sulfur as they approached, as they had before. They headed to the gate.

Waiting for them were seven flame-sheathed humanoids. Flame lords! They hurled fireballs at Crogar and Mild Bruce. The PCs backed off as the flame lords pelted the visible PCs. In a few seconds, though, the PCs were mostly under Resist Fire and moved in to engage. Mild Bruce quickly slew one with a greatsword swing, proving Dryst's warning that flame lords are tough to kill wrong. In a short but nasty fight, the PCs killed all seven, but at the cost of a lot of FP on resistance spells and FP lost to Great Haste.

As soon as the last was slain, though, seven slightly larger, darker red, and more brightly flaming flame lords stepped out. These turned out to be "normal" flame lords, not the lesser ones that the PCs had destroyed.

The PCs took care of them, but it took a long slog of a fight. Heyden charged two and engaged them, slowly whittling them down to -10xHP and killing them, but not without some mishaps - including slashing himself in the leg and (luckily for him) rolling abysmal damage and narrowly avoiding cutting his own leg off with his new-found ST 26 (thanks to the pool.) Crogar and Mild Bruce held the line, fighting surrounded most of the time. Their natural DR and Resist Fire kept them from taking more than occasional 1 HP hits. Heyden wandered around the fight, killing flame lord after flame lord as he was repeatedly Great Hasted.

Even Ulf got into the act, with his ST 16 from the pool and a lucky roll on his Diving Grace to give him DX 17 for 11 seconds.

Dryst hit a couple with Lightning from his Wand of Electricity, and from his own power. His wand belted one with an 18d spell that did - seriously - only about 20 damage. He did manage to stun several of them, which Ulf and Gerry attempted to engage.

Gerry got into the act, using Deathtouch on one, which nearly incinerated his staff. Oops. Dryst was forced to cast Resist Fire on him to bail him out, warning him that true wizards don't touch things with their staves. Gerry did it again anyway.

Eventually they whittled them all down, with Crogar destroying one, Ulf another (with a kick!), and Heyden most of the rest.

The flame lords destroyed, they policed up the valuable ashes while Dryst scryed the gate.

Beyond it was a flame-licked cave with a terrace with a empty stone throne on it. There was no sign of anything else, or a clear clue of what this place was.

With that, they carefully backtracked their way out of the dungeon and headed up once more into the light.


This was a productive session. The loot wasn't what could be hoped for, but there was enough to take care of expenses, and a lot of new and interesting places were discovered.

The "earth gate" turned out to be a "jungle gate," the "water gate" turned out to be a magical pool, not a gate, they found a gate to a frosty world ("cold gate"?), and they managed to finally scry the "jester gate." Perhaps more significantly than that - and worth +1 xp to the PCs who were there at the time - they discovered another giant staircase down. How far down? At least a couple of levels.

On top of that, they had a few interesting fights - a brief encounter with some metal flying spheres, gigantic fire elementals, lesser flame lords, and regular flame lords. As usual with fire creatures, their weakness is obvious (water or cold, sometimes both) and the counter is obvious and perfectly effective. The total lack of cold attacks for the PCs meant the flame lords were a bit of a slog. The phase snakes weren't new, though, but do seem to come up right around the well-named Phase Snake Junction, causing that corridor to be named Phase Snake Way.

Heyden is basically a heretic at this point, as is Mild Bruce. We'll see how that plays out - they're worshipping a magic item.

What next? That depends on the group, but they have a number of gates to investigate and a way down to another level or two. That's guarded, clearly, but eventually they'll need to overcome the guards and proceed down.

XP was 4 xp for loot and 1 xp for exploration and 1 xp for the staircase for all except Dryst and Mild Bruce. Dryst received 0 for loot but 3 xp total for exploration, the staircase, and being MVP; Mild Bruce received 5 total for loot and exploration. He wasn't there to discover the staircase, so no bonus.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Felltower pre-summary for 4/28/19

We played Felltower today. I'll write the summary tomorrow when I have some time.

The PCs did a lot.

It featured:

- six players (five and then a later add-on)

- delving past the obsidian golems

- a hidden hallway

- another giant staircase

- fire elementals

- an icy gate

- scrying the "earth gate"

- confronting the nymphs

- battling lesser flame lords and flame lords

- scrying the "jester gate."

It was an excellent session.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Random Notes for 4/27

Oddly, I wrote this post yesterday, but I guess I never hit "Publish." Weird. Well, I changed the title, added a little more, and here it is now, one day late.

- I applied for (check that - was accepted to) the playtest for GURPS Social Engineering: Keeping in Contact. It's been a while since I had time to playtest, as I've generally been way too busy with work. I've changed my hours and I have a bit of free time, so why not?

- I'm working on some more material for my submitted GURPS book. I need to run some things past my players before I submit them. The long story short is layout dictates a change, and I may have additional material for the book. Or I may not. We'll see.

- Sunday is Felltower, and we've got a mid-sized crew. A few players are taking a break from the game for a variety of reasons, but even a short crew is the size of a "normal" gaming group at this point. Our "short crew" is probably six players. I expect, mostly, to see the crew try to delve past the obsidian golems they wiped out last time at the cost of a foolish cleric who thought he'd beat the odds. Spoiler alert! He didn't.

- I've started painting the "easy" minis from my Bones IV set. I'll post a sale/trade list this week, I promise. I kept a lot more than I thought I would based on perusing the images from the Kickstarter.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Leiber in GURPS DF

It's probably not a big secret that I really like the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser books by Fritz Leiber. I didn't initially like them very much, but I grew to like them over the years. They've influenced my games and my approach to gaming.

And thus, they've influenced Dungeon Fantasy. Here are a couple of things I helped get inserted into DF as homages to Fritz Leiber's duo.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians contains a Leiber quote. But it also features the Civilized Savage lens. Want to make a smarter barbarian smitten with the charms of civlization? Perhaps a tall, red-headed one with a long sword, a large knife, and a rougish companion? The Civilized Savage was created to allow for a better modeling of Fafhrd using DF Templates.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Swashbucklers is one of Sean Punch's excellent books. I was allowed to review it. The expanded versions of Weapon Bond were there . . . but what about rougish types who steal replacement blades and then wield them like extensions of their own arms? The duo do exactly that - they always steal replacements for their weapons. Weapon Bond (Rougish) is meant to model that, but with a "found as loot" twist to make it better fit to dungeon delving and the slay-and-loot style of play that DF explicitly espouses.

So not only my games, but also those of people who use those books, have a Leiber influence on them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

DCC Lankhmar Poster Map

This is the Lankhmar wall map I always wanted:

So when this comes out, I may have to see about getting a copy of that map somehow. I don't need a cloth one, really, paper will do.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Rescued from Recycling: Military History Magazines

Lucky find, here:

Someone asked my mom to recycle those, but she pulled them from the pile and gave them to me. There is a nice article on armor "clumsiness" (or lack thereof) by John Clements. I'll read these and then, likely, recycle them, but a few articles might get pulled out or scanned for keeping.

Monday, April 22, 2019

David Trampier's birthday

Today would have been David Trampier's birthday.

Here is one of many images of his that I particularly like - the manticore and its treasure from the Monster & Treasure Assortment:

I've also added the Wormy Archive to my non-GURPS game resources list on the side of the blog, too.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

What I'm Prepping for Felltower

These days, I don't have the free time to spend working on Felltower that I did before.

So when the players approach new areas, if they're merely tag-ends left for future development, or planned areas that require a lot of game prep (assembling minis, possibly painting the same, planning, reviewing, etc.) I ask for word ahead.

Much like in our Gamma Terra game, where we can't just hop in our Warbot, Softie, and fly off to Ottawa or over to Boomtown to see things are going or go fly up and strafe some Purist encampment. It's not possible for the GM to keep everything ready to go at once.

With that in mind, here are some things I'm prepping for Felltower:

- the Forest Gate area. Eventually, they'll go in. Right now Quenton Mudborne's player wants to run his other PC, so without a druid the PCs don't wish to try a "forest" area. They'll need to scry it, first, or Quenton won't even try to go. Still, this keeps coming up on the list.

- the "area beyond the golems." Now that the obsidian golems up near Phase Snake Junction have been destroyed, there is at least one door the PCs haven't been past. That's high up on the to-do list, so it's high on my list of places to be ready for.

- the area past the other golems, in case the PCs dare them again.

- and I'm doing general detailing on areas much deeper, since eventually they'll get there.

All of this takes time, but I may have more of that in the future thanks to some schedule re-arrangement. My goal each game is to prep enough for the game, plus some extra so Felltower keeps getting filled ahead.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

New Release: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 20: Slayers

I missed this until late last night:

This is the newest addition to the DF line. It adds templates for Demon-slayers, Mage-slayers, and Undead-slayers to DF.

I'm intrigued although unlikely to just add them to Felltower. It's a very specific type of campaign, really, and I'm wary of disrupting its, ahem, "balance." But I will get this and read this because Sean Punch.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Some Bones IV I already don't need

I'm just beginning my sort of my Bones IV Core Set.

Minis are in bags within bags, so it's slow going - I don't want to open up the ones I won't ever use, but I don't want to miss any either. Lots of staring through plastic to decide to slit it or not is going on right now.

But I'm sure I don't need a few:

- the kobolds are going to go.

- the Chibi adventurers, too. I hate that stuff.

- some or most of the peasants

A few things are on the maybe list:

- Gauth, the giant dragon. I had Gauth in metal, and sold it because I eventually realized I didn't want it. I've got a big dragon mini already, do I need another in a pose I don't love? I'm not sure. Being made of bonsium it's probably a handy mini to have. But . . . I'm not sure.

- the ghost pirates. I like ghosts, I like pirates, I'm not sure I need ghost pirates.

- the goblins. I love them, I really do. But there are a lot of them - lots of painting, for something I have in spades already (painted goblins!) and use so rarely.

Pretty much all of the monsters - giants, ogres, killer animals, apes, snake-people, etc. - are going to stay. I can always find a use for them.

But the sorting continues!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Tentative Cleric Variation List for DFD

So, in a putative DFD Clerics, what kind of things would you need?

Fighting Cleric - essentially, a bridge between the spellcasting of the Cleric and the fighting of the Holy Warrior. Not quite so dedicated to fighting a single type of creature - save that for Holy Warriors and a spellcasting-oriented Holy Warrior - but still more dedicated to combat. You'd want to give them access to more of the advantages that really cause the have/have not split of DF - Extra Attack, possibly Weapon Master (I'd lean to no, but still, it's possible), Combat Reflexes, Enhanced Block, Enhanced Dodge, and Enhanced Parry.

You'd still want significant spellcasting, or you're just a Holy Warrior.

Holy Caster - a cleric that even further de-emphasizes physical combat. Lower ST, DX and HT unchanged, and higher IQ, with extra points available for spells and holy abilities.

Holy Might Cleric - not every cleric needs a lot of spells. This variant would reduce the points in spells and increase those in Holy Might. A minimum investment in Holy Might skills - probably 20 points - would go a long way to making them distinctive.

A lens wouldn't be out of place, either:

Hammer of God - add Higher Purpose and foe-specific skills to a cleric lens, allowing for anti-undead, anti-demon, and anti-evil cleric focused clerics.

I think this might be a hard sell, given DF7. But still, there is a lot that DF7 did not cover that the DFD series did. Lessons learned and all of that - it's why DFD: Swashbucklers covers more ground than DFD: Barbarians. Sean leaned from what I did well and what in retrospect I could have included but did not. So it's possible a DFD: Clerics could work. If Pyramid was still around, it would be a fun article.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Reaper Bones IV

So this arrived last night:

I'll spend a bit of time looking at them later, and figure out what I need to keep and what goes up for sale & trade.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Helping Clerics Survive Felltower

Given that Felltower is a grave of clerics, how do you improve their ability to survive?

With the caveat that this is conjecture, given that I don't personally play any clerics and all the ones I've GMed for have died (or played but once), here are some ideas:

For the Good God's Sake, Buy Luck. It's on the template. Buy it. Use it when you need it.

Avoid Combat. It's hard to avoid combat entirely as a group. But as a cleric, stay as far away from combat as possible. Yes, yes, I know. You need to stay close. You're guarding a flank. You really need to get just a bit closer to cast that buff.

In my experience, that's where clerics get killed. It's better to fail at the spell or not be there to fill in the gap then to be dead. You just aren't survivable against threats that can kill knights, barbarians, etc. of equal point value to you.

Extra HP - to be fair, Extra HP are not listed in DF or the DFRPG on the Cleric template. But generally characters can purchase up to 30% of their ST in extra HP. Clerics start with ST 12, which means 12 x .3 = 3.6 = 3 extra HP. That's 6 points, and leaves you with 15 HP. If you go for ST 13 (see below), this means 16 total HP. 3-4 extra HP might not seem like much but it means 18-24 extra HP needed to automatically kill your PC.

Resistances - A DF cleric can spend 5 on Resistance to Evil Supernatural Powers (+3) or 7 or (+5). Give that a hard think. Up your Will. Up your HT. Be able to resist non-combat supernatural effects. Your goal is to stay up and use your spells and holy might.

Get a shield - Use a shield and a weapon that will let you parry. Get the biggest shield you can carry. DB is your friend, and no amount of DR you can reasonably expect to purchase and wear is enough so maximize not getting hit.

Buff Yourself - If you do expect to get into a fight, or close to one, buff yourself. Shield is critical - learn it and use it. But still, your best bet is to be further than an All-Out-Attack away from the nearest foe.

Get Stronger - If you do intend to use physical attacks, get ST 13. That puts you from 1d+2 swing to 2d-1 swing, which is a major difference in damage. It's +1 average damage for swing, but it increases your max. A small mace is 1d+4 (5/7.5/9) with ST 12, 2d (2/7/12) with ST 13. You'll do less on average, but fight a foe with DR 9 and you'll be happier. Plus, +1 HP and more carrying capacity.

Those are my suggestions - what are your additions based on what you're read (or played, for my players) of Felltower?

Monday, April 15, 2019

Gene Wolfe, Thanks for the Writing

We lost an amazing author yesterday - someone whose work I discovered thanks to GURPS.

Gene Wolfe

"Read This Each Day

I write of what has just occurred. The healer came into the this tent at dawn and asked whether I recalled him. When I said that I did not, he explained. He gave me this scroll, with this stylus of the slingstone metal, which marks it as though it was wax.
My name is
Latro. I must not forget. The healer said that I forget very quickly, and this is because of a wound I suffered in a battle. [. . . ] He said I must learn to write down as much as I can, so I can read it when I have forgotten."

- Gene Wolfe, Latro in the Mist

I recommend Latro in the Mist and Soldier of Sidon, and the New Sun books. They're not easy to read, but they're a delight to read at the same time. I'm sad there won't be more.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Appalling Survival Rate of Clerics in Felltower

It's no secret that Felltower is a meatgrinder. It's a tough megadungeon, it gets more and more lethal as you delve deeper, and all too often PCs have delved too deeply or chosen poorly while doing so and suffered casualties for it.

The fatality rate of clerics - and acolytes - has been especially so. From Inquisitor Marco early on to Felix Aurelius most recently, clerics and acolytes have rarely survived long in Felltower.


Here are what I think are some possible reasons.

Acolytes aren't full-fledged delvers. Let's just get that out of the way right way. An acolyte is a 125-point character. Felltower is routinely lethal to 250 point characters. So NPC "clerics" hired or brought on as Allies are likely to die much more quickly when bad things happen. They can't survive as much as a cleric can.

This has spelled doom for all of the acolytes - eventually, they get into combat and die, or caught in an area effect and die, or breathe something and die, etc.

Inherent weakness of the cleric template to damage. Clerics have only ST 12, and HP 12, and HT 12, to start with. That limits their ability to rack up a lot of high-DR armor or take punishment that's routine for knights and barbarians (HP 14 and 22, respectively, and both are usually higher - HP 20 is all but standard on knights in my game.) They end up slow (lower Move, lower Dodge), relatively fragile, and

People think of wizards are fragile - and they are, once you actually can hit them. They don't have as low of a Dodge score, add a shield and their defenses are pretty good, and it's unusual to have a wizard without an effective broad-use Blocking spell like Phase or Blink. They're at first glance more vulnerable than clerics but in practical terms they're harder to just clip with a good attack and take out of the fight.

A number of clerics have died because they just couldn't handle a single hit.

They aren't backup fighters. Clerics start with a 14 or 15 in weapon skills. This is just enough to get in the door as a potential combatant. But fodder monsters often have skill 14-15 - even the "attack in swarms and die in batches" dinomen have 14s. ST is 12, which is good for 1d damage. They can't do much more than usually hit and maybe cause damage. With ST 12 and a mace (sw+3) damage is 1d+5. That's 6-11 damage, average 8.5. A broadsword would be 1d+3 - 4-9, average 6.5). That means 2-3 blows in most cases to take out a HP 12, DR 3-4 foe. Compare this to, say, a Knight with skill 18+, ST 14 (so 2d+1 with that sword, doing 3-13 av. 8) without even dipping into more ST, Weapon Master (both are common), and who may have higher skill and Extra Attack.

In a pinch, yes, a cleric can fight. But they don't do it well. Buff spells and Heroic Feats (allowed in DF, not in DFRPG for what it's worth) are a good way to briefly allow a cleric to bring himself up to fighting spec . . . but they rely on time, random rolls (for effect or to cast), last a brief time, and cost points that draw away from other priestly roles. They're probably better for emergencies than for making your cleric into a combatant.

They just lack the skill, ST, DX, and HT of a front-line fighter, plus lack the special abilities (Extra Attack, Weapon Master, Trained By A Master, Enhanced Defenses, Combat Reflexes) that augment and multiply the effect of those stats.

I think D&D and AD&D rather permanently ingrained the idea of the "fighting cleric" or of the cleric as a "get in there and mix it up" class. You're a cleric, you cast some healing here or there, smite some things with your holy powers, and turn undead - and when you're not doing those everyone should fear your mace or hammer.

In GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, you can do all that . . . if you're around 400 points. And you won't do the fighting nearly as well as a 250-point dedicated fighter-type. You just won't.

In Felltower, this "not a backup fighter" reality has clashed with "clerics mix it up with Evil!" feeling. In our very first play of DF, playtesting Mirror of the Fire Demon, a cleric was killed by an ogre when he thought he was good enough for front-line combat. The clerics who have fought have found that their contribution is helpful but relatively paltry, or that they can't hang and die. Sometimes both.

I think those are some of the reasons why clerics, especially, have ended up dead all over the place in Felltower.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The long, slow learning process of War in the East

As I mentioned, I picked up War in the East (and War in the West).

Learning to play is . . . a process.

The manual for WitE is very clearly written. But it's almost 300 pages. It's dense. The detail is immense.

A quick trial of the Minsk scenario quickly put me in my place - the manual must be read before I get anywhere. Got it.

WitW isn't any easier. I fired up Operation Husky - the invasion of Sicily - and it was even harder to get started on.

Both of the games are beautiful. The detail is excellent. The music is good (although I turn it off ASAP - a personal preference.) The graphics are clear. I feel like I need a gigantic monitor just so I can step back and see the frontage more clearly and get a feel for the whole battle area. I probably don't, but it gives that feeling.

My plan is to go back to War in the East after I finished reading this manual, watch a video or two of gameplay, and then try again. It doesn't matter how well I do, just that I learn to play. From there I can try to win the game, and try bigger and bigger scenarios. This is probably time I don't have a lot of, but I can do it in chunks and don't have to worry about jostling the map.

Still, having this game project to work on makes me happy. This is the detailed game I always wanted, on the massive scale I'd always dreamed of. I just can't say no.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Friday Random Notes 4/12 - James Smith memorial edition

First off, I just want to note the passing of James Smith of Dreams of Mythic Fantasy. His blog was a great source of news about retro-clone materials and was long a reader of it. I'm sorry to hear he died, especially so young.

On to happier things:

- Oh what a giveaway, Take 2.

- I love this post with Trampier's Tomb of Horrors and a modern recreation that both honors and adds onto the original.

- I had a nice talk about D&D monsters with a massage therapist at a PT clinic this week. Her favorite? Gibbering Mouther. She thought I was evil when I mentioned I have mine explode with razor-sharp armor-piercing tooth as shrapnel. What? Hard mode.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Writing Update

Quick update today on my book:

- I turned in the draft last week.

- SJG turned around comments on the draft very quickly; I've read them over in a preliminary fashion.

- Next step is to read those comments again in-depth.

- Final step in the current turnaround is to apply those comments for a revised draft and re-submit.

Once that's done, I wait on the next portion. I should have time this weekend to make this all happen, which will mean writing instead of running Felltower. But it was a scheduled off-week in any case.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Bones IV shipped!

I received my shipping notice . . . my Bones IV minis should arrive next Tuesday.


I'm not sure which ones I want yet . . . I'll decide quickly and put up a sale/trade list.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Jocks & Dragons - it all turns around eventually.

When I was in school, gaming, fantasy books, and anything related was not a hobby that got any respect. It generally got you looked down upon.

That figures into this story.

So Monday I was at the gym, doing my program with my trainer, Mike. It's a small group setting, so each person has their own workout and we do our own thing. Who else trains mid-morning on a Monday? Mostly pro athletes, and this time of year it's the football guys. So most Mondays it's me and anywhere from 3-5 pro football guys plus a couple of other athletes - and an older amateur athlete similar to myself as well, to be fair.

The conversation go around to reading, and then to ragging on Harry Potter books, and then suddenly it was all "Game of Thrones." A couple of the guys really love it. They binge watch it, they read up on it, they're all about it. I just sat there listening for a while. One of them especially was so into it. He was so excited to be talking about dragons and who killed this other guy and how awesome is this other guys and then more about the dragons.

Then I finished my set, and I walked over and told him that when I was in high school, playing role-playing games and reading books about dragons, the jocks - really mostly the football guys - would make fun of people who did those things. So I said it was very gratifying to me that here is this Super Bowl champion getting all excited and saying, "Hey, do you guys watch that show with the dragons?"

I said, "Give it enough time" and we said together "it all turns around eventually."

Funny stuff.

I mean seriously. The guys who peaked in high school football decades back held me in contempt because, hey, I like stories with swords and dragons. And now here's a guy with a championship ring or two all into the same stuff.


That made me really happy. You just have to be patient sometimes.

I suppose I could invite him to game, but he works on Sundays.

Monday, April 8, 2019

GURPS DF Session 114, Felltower 86 - Ebony Death Goddess & Obsidian Golems

April 7th, 2019

Weather: Warm, sunny, windy.

Aldwyn, human knight (264 points)
Bruce "the Mild" McTavish, Jr., human barbarian (250 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (254 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (462 points)
Felix Aurelius, human cleric (250 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (389 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (332 points)
     5 Skeletons (~25 points)
Hayden the Unnamed, human knight (295 points)

We started off in town, with Gerry having purchased a new skeleton and enchanted up as his new buddy. They gathered rumors, mostly about the evil of eye monsters and occasional flashes of something on the moon during certain times of the year, and headed off to the dungeon.

The plan was to get up into the "crystal ball room" and scry around the dungeon using Dryst's Crystal Gazing spell. With that in mind they climbed up Felltower's mountain and went around to the "dragon cave." They paused while Gerry used one of the many skulls of intelligent beings he has collected to make a Skull Spirit. Then they went in.

Nothing molested them in the caves, although at Felix Aurelius's insistence they checked out the pool-and-mushroom room that he'd heard about. He found it very restful and peaceful. They ate some of the brown mushrooms for food, drank some of the Essential Water, and moved on - collecting the Skull Spirit on the way out.

They climbed the stairs up, dismayed that there was harmless phosphorescent slime on the walls and floors - and Aldwyn took the time to bother Bruce with descriptions of yellow slime learning to navigate mazes.

At the top of the stairs they moved quickly to the staircase up and checked it - not blocked, no guards.

So they found and opened the crystal ball room and set to work.

Dryst's first scry was how to open the repelling doors on level 2. He got a vision of the doors, but only of four of the crystals and they didn't seem to be in a pattern. The vision held there for a minute and then stopped.

He tried to scry the location of one of the statue heads - and got nothing, just a failed attempt.

An attempt at the giant orichalcum doors had the same effect - just failure.

Finally he scryed the door that won't open on the middle level, asking to see what hand they had to touch to open it. It showed the red hand in the mummy's room. Questioning the spirit of one of the Brotherhood members told them they needed to touch only one hand, and swear an oath to the Brotherhood in some way.

They decided to go there and have some people who had touched no hands touch that hand.

On the way, the did some map-updating exploration around the level with the crystal ball, finding nothing of interest except some dead scorpions in cages that had been shot to death with arrows. Possibly by Galen - he couldn't recall, he's killed a lot of things.

Next, the group did a quick tour of the level above. Galen moved ahead and scouted, and didn't find much of anything - the orcs clearly aren't contesting the way up to the level. Several blockages and blockades still clog the halls. The PCs moved to the first blockage and dug a path through it with picks and shovels, with a Silence spell to keep the noise to zero. Crogar wasn't happy with all of this stealth, he wanted to fight something so he wanted noise to attract monsters. But he wasn't able to sway anyone.

There was a short side-trip to the "stone bird room." There was discussion of if it was a statue that killed things, or an actual cockatrice. But the map said there were two secret doors in the room. They checked it thoroughly and found nothing. So they brought Galen off of rear guard and had him check, and he was sure there weren't any secret doors. Why are they on the map? They're not sure.

From there they headed to the altar, and had the new guys touch it. Felix gained some unknown effect (which never actually came up in the game, anyway), Bruce had some of his silver turned to gold, and Hayden gained +1 to all stats for the day. Gerry touched it, and received a magical boon that would mean all hostile magic had minimum rolled effects on him, all beneficial maximal. That, sadly, also didn't come up.

From there they investigated the black hand print on the floor - and found there map misplaced that in another room. Oh well. Felix using Walk on Air triggered the trap, and the floor disappeared. Below was a cylindrical chamber with a coating of some stinking, rotting soup of stuff. They tried Seek Earth to look for gold (nothing turned up) and silver - and detected silver off to the left somewhere. They decided to investigate that - and for good measure, see what was in a room labeled with a $ on the map, and possibly pry off a meteoric iron door they'd seen listed on the map notes as well.

They went down the spiral staircase and found they couldn't force open the door to the big temple, it was swollen shut. A crowbar was created and used, but still, no effect. Crogar stepped up and smashed the door with his axe, but couldn't make a scratch in the iron-bound heavy wooden door. So Dryst used Destroy Water to dry the door out, and then it was forced by Hayden.

In the temple they found some offerings to the desecrated statue - some lizardman-made fetishes of bone and leather (that Felix ground under his heel), some silver and copper coins (11 and 22, respectively), a silver ring (ultimately worth 100 sp), and some colored glass "gems." They took the valuable bits and left the rest.

Meanwhile Aldwyn investigated the "meteoric iron door." That turned out to be a small stone cabinet door for some kind of religious relic, that had meteoric lock pins in it. It wasn't clear if the pins had been removed but he was no expert on locks. Disappointed, they moved out.

They checked the whetstone found all the way back in Total Party Teleport II, and determined it wasn't any better than a normal dwarven whetstone, so they sharpened a pair of blades and then moved on.

By this point they'd spent hours in the dungeon, so they took an extra rest.

Then they headed to the mummy's crypt. They went back to digging and cleared the blockage, only to find that the tough, brown mold had infiltrated the blockage, as well. Bruce was sickened by it, but Felix was able to heal him with Cure Disease.

Getting to the mummy was simple from there, but risky - so they boosted up with HT of Bruce and Aldwyn and sent them in, backed by Dryst. They found the crypt, bypassed the bas relief faces that didn't fire at anyone, and went into the mummy's chamber. They found the detritus of the previous fight, but no mummy (and no one could recall if they'd closed the doors, or destroyed the mummy's corpse.) Bruce and Aldwyn touched the hand and lost 5 FP each (ouch) and suffered 5 hours of reduced stats. Both swore oaths while they did so.

They moved back to the group, using Cure Disease to clean up the spores that they picked up on their trip. One thing they did note, though, was the mold stopped at the edge of the statue room with knife-edge sharpness.

All of the upper floor exploration done, they headed to the GFS and down.

They reached the middle landing, and tried the new "only touch one hand" approach. It didn't have any real effect. They tried it while saying an oath, while saying various Brotherhood related phrases, while having both touch it with a total of six fingers (five and one), and even tried it while pushing it. Only the last revealed anything - it seems to be blocked from the other side. So they gave up and headed down.

At the bottom of the stairs Galen went ahead first - and unfortunately failed to spot the incoming danger - a pair of bronze spiders jumped in from the ceiling down the hallway. One landed nearby, and one landed on Galen, smashing him to the ground, breaking his right arm and biting him. The second spider then leaped at Crogar and hung on him, biting him. They managed to smash the spiders in only a few seconds, especially thanks to a hellacious smash by Hayden, but they did their damage - Galen could scout, but couldn't use his bow. Also before his smash, Hayden had thrown a javelin and missed his target, hitting Crogar in the groin. Oops. They carried the spiders back a few yards to the staircase and left them there, healed Galen, and moved on - now with Galen armed with a sword.

They made their way toward "Phase Snake Junction," intent on dealing with the obsidian golems they'd encountered there. On the way they found that one of the black crystal hemispheres they'd smashed was intact - so they quickly backed off, and destroyed it with a Stone Missile.

At the "golem hallway" they investigated, first by sending servants down a little bit, but it didn't trigger the golems. So they sent a servant and a Wizard Eye down a bit, and then Dryst used magic to create an earth wall and then turn it to stone. The servant proceeded as previously ordered to the end of the hallway and found a door with a handprint on it. It passed a total of four pairs of alcoves, and thus eight golems.

Dryst couldn't order it around, so he shaped a hole in the wall and called through it. The servant touched the door and was destroyed.

He made another servant, and they gave it one of Alaric's preserved hands, which Galen carries around with him. That one made it to the door. It touched the hand to the door, which opened, but the servant was destroyed. Dryst hurried his Wizard Eye in and found an octagonal room with another door on the far side. Eventually, the door closed.

They shaped a hole in the wall and moved past it, deciding to set off the trap and fight the golems in the middle, with two cut off and slowed by the wall. They set up with Bruce and Hayden in the back - Bruce with the Ebony Death Goddess statuette ready - and Crogar and Aldwyn in the front, the skeletons, spellcasters, and Galen in the middle. All of the spellcasters were invisible.

The golems did indeed trigger when they passed, but past the third pair, not the second. They stepped out, attacking immediately. The two in the front used their paralysis rays on Crogar and Aldwyn at short range, paralyzing them both after a waiting Aldwyn got in some slightly-effect stabs. Hayden and Bruce suffered the same a second later, but Bruce managed to toss down the Ebony Death Goddess statuette and tell it to protect the party members. The middle golems smashed a skeleton each.

The EDG quickly enagaged, and in short order destroyed, one of the golems. The other dodged back into the force wall and then came back out, destroying another skeleton, and then another, after the EDG attacked the golems in the back. Gerry put Great Haste on himself and then the EDG, while telling his skull-spirit to attack the golems. It did, harmlessly. It couldn't even usefully run interference.

The skeletons were quickly destroyed, and Galen was smashed down with a broken leg after whacking a golem and injuring it. Felix meanwhile moved up and tried Stop Paralysis, a central part of the plan. But it didn't work - the (very strong) paralytic ray effect resisted and nullified his casting. Meanwhile, the golems on the front end both grappled their opponents - Aldwyn and Crogar - around the neck, preparatory to Neck Snapping them.

It was quickly obvious that the golems couldn't see the invisible spellcasters. But a new threat could - as invisible Felix backed up, he was menaced by a floating metal robed figure - an iron spectre. It could see, and launched paralytic and fear rays at the spellcasters. Somehow Felix managed to un-paralyze Crogar, but in short order Crogar and Aldwyn had their heads twists badly, suffered severe neck damage, and dropped unconscious. They managed to survived two additional seconds of attempted neck snaps before the golems dropped them to move on to new foes.

The melee degenerated a bit, here. Galen fought from seated, keeping an Obsidian Golem off-balance most of the fight - yes, a scout fighting left-handed from seated. Galen's good.

Meanwhile the EDG chopped off the limbs of several of the incoming golems, eventually facing four of them at once. Gerry put Shield on it to maximize its defenses, which helped. Its armor-slicing swords did good work against the golems. (As a GM note, I let Felix's player control it as he had the stats handy. He kept having it slice for limbs, which often resulted in damaged but functional golems - when he finally chose to just hit body, its many attacks just chopped them into chunks and destroyed them. Don't waste damage when fighting constructs.) Felix zapped the Iron Spectre with a small Sunbolt and damaged it, but not seriously. Then, one of the golems let got of (presumably sufficiently demolished) Aldwyn and grabbed Felix. It neck-snapped him and wounded him badly, and he passed out. It went for one more and put him to -59 HP, 1 less than automatic death. Then Felix failed a death check, badly, and expired.

The EDG finished off seven of the golems, eventually, including kill-stealing from Galen the one he'd been whittling down from his seated position. The Iron Spectre managed to put fear into Dryst, putting him at -8 (!) for anything not fleeing - and his terrified charge and attack on it did little. An obsidian golem, though, punched him in the hand and mildly wounded him. Thanks to all of the HP spent on casting spells, Dryst went negative, rolled an 18, and passed out. The Iron Spectre tried to slice up Felix but failed, and then as it turned to deal with another threat Gerry hit it from behind with a fully-charged Skull Missile and destroyed it. He also did the same for a golem, turning himself invisible before charging up another and destroying the remaining golem.

The party was a mess - paralyzed fighters, a dead cleric, unconscious wizard, etc. But they had a buffed EDG to guard them and Gerry still up.

It was late, so I ruled that if they could get people mobile and get enough people to carry loot, I'd handwave it all home. They managed to wake people up with a single Awaken spellstone, wait out some paralysis, and Dryst used Create Servant to make enough brutes to carry things. Guarded by the Ebony Death Goddess.

Their loot worked out to be ~1000 sp or so each.


Poor Crogar - there were two big fights, and he was basically taken out in both of them. A lot of it was unavoidable - he's a 254 point guy delving well below where the dungeon was stocked with, say, 250 point guys in mind. Also, he's a shirtless savage barbarian, which is a great template but also maximized around combat, not Perception and resistance . . . and it was Perception and resistance that really mattered.

Once again, the Skull Spirit proved mostly useless. It's a nice addition in certain circumstances, but the PCs encountered not one living foe this session. Toxic damage isn't helpful against non-living constructs. It's certain, though, that there will come a delve when one matters.

It's amusing to me when the PCs visit places that they've been to years ago, especially on faulty information - witness the attempt to salvage the "meteoric iron door" in the demonic temple, the "black hand" on the floor, etc. Some of the group is new, but half-understand shorthand leads to a lot of repeat visits.

The obsidian golems remain a challenge. I designed those well. The Iron Spectre is not quite as lethal, but it's a tough foe combined with the right allies. I wasn't sure the Ebony Death Goddess would be that useful, but in fact it was decisive. The lack of serious magic resistance by the front-line fighters is why; you can't be strong against everything and it's especially tough to be strong against magic. And yes, the Ebony Death Goddess will see print at some point.

Since Gerry's skeletons are all destroyed, it's probably worth taking the time to see what kind of improved undead servitors he is due.

Bruce and Hayden were very impressed by the Ebony Death Goddess. They now worship her and want to get tattoos of her. Thus are heresies launched.

XP was 5 for everyone except Dryst, who received 3 xp. Galen was MVP because of his left-handed casually badassery. Gerry probably earned it, but Galen was just being awesome. That's worth a point.
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