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.


  1. How does Galen avoid most if his shots being dodged especially by shield folks?

    Does Wyatt have a vow against armor, or just no encumbrance to spare?

    1. Galen uses Predictive Shot to reduce Dodge. Block is usually still effective but he tends to shoot into melee against foes who already blocked attacks from his companions.

      Wyatt doesn't have a vow, he just doesn't have any armor.

    2. You think Prediction Shot works well in DF? It didn't make it to DFRPG

    3. Yes, it's really important to keeping Scouts relevant. I'm a big fan . . . not just because I'm partly responsible for it existing, either.

  2. Also Dryst is listed but Galen isn't

  3. Re: Galen vs anything with vitals. This has been my experience with my groups scout and swashbuckler too. Both templates are high skill focused characters, and after a certain point total, it really starts to tell. Both the swash and scout in the party I DM for have picked up Slayer: Eyes. So now anything with eyes and/or a brain is doomed.

    You don't allow meteoric arrows if I recall correctly, my player's scout has a whole quiver full of them. AND quivers of magic arrows he uses for especially tough foes. It takes a few shots before he realizes the mage has Missile Shield up and he's not just dodging real well, so Missile Shield isn't a total waste. I wince at what some of these fights would have been like if they hadn't had meteoric arrows though. Good reason to have a high skill sling user I suppose, in Felltower.

    Honestly, in DF, I think a scout or someone else with that kind of ranged threat is as necessary as a mage used to be in the holy quad of D&D. One of the key mistakes I see Holy Warriors and Knights make is neglecting their ranged options. Of course, having someone up front who can block, block again (WM Shield), parry, parry, parry, dodge, and then fall back on 15+ DR really helps the scout do his job, so its not like everyone should be a scout...

    Though a party of scouts that branched out a bit (elf scout as substitute mage, dwarf scout for some melee when needed, half-ogre sling scout for absurd damage, etc) would be pretty interesting.

    1. You do recall correctly - no meteoric arrows unless someone finds a way to get all-metal ones. It keeps wizards from being just dead if they're within line of sight of a sufficiently good archer. They're vulnerable enough as it is!

    2. Full face helmets still give 1/2 DR over the eyes.

      That can be enough for high HP foes.

    3. Aye, but 1/2 DR vs 2d+8(2) doesnt help as much as I'd like sometimes. Giants can keep from being blinded. Barbarian Ogres with 50 HPs still struggle to keep eyes and brains intact with DR 10 plate helmets.

      The one counter Ive found to actually be effective is Parry Missile Weapons. Predictive shot does not penalize Parry, so certain marquee monsters have picked that up. And shields of course, which Ive started giving to mages: their cheap, the small ones are light enough, the block spell buffs them... its a good skill to keep a spellcaster alive with. But mostly I just let the bodies hit the floor. There are always more monsters!


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