Sunday, December 29, 2019

GURPS DF Session 124, Felltower 96 - Draugr I

Date: Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Weather: Moderately cold, rainy.

Aldwyn Hale, human knight (278 points)
Astrid Cook, human barbarian (250 points)
Crogar the Lucky, human barbarian (268 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (370 points)
     5 Skeletons (~35 points)
Hayden the Ebon Page, human knight (307 points)
Hernando Velazquez, human knight (250 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (285 points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (286 points)

The group gathered in Stericksburg, and pooled their rumors and stocked up on magical goods (or took delivery of orders.) Aldwyn brought along Astrid, a scythe-and-harpoon armed and short barbarian warrior who was friends with Mild Bruce and thus was introduced to the group.

They spent a considerable amount of time and money getting ready and then headed out.

Once they reached the castle, they went in the front entrance. Aldwyn tried the trap door but it proved to be locked shut, so he was zapped (for 3 FP and 1 HP) by the "black energy." They had to take the main entrance instead.

But then they realized no one had made lightstones. So they sat down for an hour to make them.

About 30 minutes in, Crogar (who was on guard) spotted a dinner-plate sized spider moving up behind Wyatt. He yelled a warning and ran up and All-Out Attacked it, cutting it in half with his new everything-on-it axe. Otherwise, it went without incident. Hayden sharpened his swords with the special whetstone, and the others just rested.

That done, they sent Gerry down, with Invisibility, Levitation, and Dark Vision for a look. He saw it was unguarded and summoned the group down. Wyatt leaped across and nailed in spikes to string ropes for a walkway. They crossed that without incident.

They forced one of the doors open and then had to bash open two doors into (and out of) the noisy room, creating a lot of noise. Nothing came of that, though. They later found a trail of blood off one of the side passages. They ignored it and moved on, and went down the stairs in the "ogre room," and into the "apetrium." They decided they needed to plan their attack on the draugr. Instead of staying in the apetrium, they headed into an attached room that once was the sleeping area of the ape shaman. They set up and began to plan.

As they did, four reeks dropped from the ceiling - one each onto two of the skeletons, Ulf, and Astrid. Gerry ordered his skeletons to attack the reeks with their axes. Astrid tried to pull hers off of her shoulder, and did, but it stuck to her hand instead. Ulf scraped at his with his small knife, inflicting harmful but mild cuts on the reek. Astrid threw hers down, glove and all, and Aldwyn proceeded to beat it to death with a wooden longsword he carries.

Ulf's helmet was rapidly disintegrating, but he got it off and onto the floor. Hayden stepped up and cut at it . . . and rolled an 18. He slammed his broadsword into the floor and snapped it off near the hilt, breaking it beyond use. The skeletons finished off their reeks and then killed that one.

All the excitement over, the PCs gathered up their gear - and Ulf and a skeleton swapped helmets as Ulf's was badly trashed.

Then then planned their attack. Basically, it was use a scroll of Mystic Mist to cover as much of the room as possible, excluding the sarcophagi, and then get the draugr to come and defeat them while the PCs had the advantage. If that didn't work, they had alternative plans with other ways to get the foe at a disadvantage, including taunting them with Sterick's death to get them to go berserk.

The PCs moved rapidly to the draugr, bypassing everything else along the way except for a brief check into the "chimera room" to ensure nothing was lurking back there.

Once they reached the illusionary wall (detected by Hayden's hands), they had Gerry poke through and cast Purify Air on the smoke beyond. As it reformed, Ulf wanted to look for ways to stop up any holes that pumped in the smoke, but he was disuaded by no one else wanting to join in. The PCs began to down potions, wanting to maximize the time they had their effects, and then readied various spellstones they'd stocked up on.

They reached the draugr tomb at the end of the purple-and-black colored corridor. They saw some of the white-painted sarcophagi, all closed up. So Gerry began to cast Mystic Mist. After less than a minute, though, the tomb lids opened and out climbed the draugr. They formed up quickly into three ranks of 10 backed by 3 "loose" in the back, several yards between the ranks. This was at the order of someone who called out to "form up and attack."

The PCs stood in a four-man wall, with Crogar, Astrid, Aldwyn, and Hernando from left to right. Beyond stood the others. Gerry kept casting, just in case they'd leave them alone for another 9 1/2 minutes to finish the spell. They did not. The threw spears - five each at the two shieldless fighters.

Astrid took four or five spears right away, and staggered back making multiple death checks. Aldwyn, too, was severely wounded by several spears. Ulf sprang into action with Faith Healing and Hayden moved up to the front as more spears came in and hit the two wounded fighters again.

The group formed up a better front rank, and Aldwyn dropped one of his swords and readied his shield. Ulf threw a 3d Sunbolt but it was casually blocked by one of the draugr. Hernando taunted the draugr with Sterick's death, but they clearly didn't believe him, and mocked him in turn. Ulf tried to appeal that "We only want the ancestor of Verrick!" but probably didn't think through how that sounded. He couldn't spot which one was the guy they needed the grave good off of.

The draugr broke ranks and moved back as the second rank stepped through and threw spears, again in two waves. These hit a couple of the PCs but mostly they were blocked or missed as Gerry got Missile Shield off on a few of the defenders. The wounded frantically drank potions. Wyatt calmly stood in the back, breaking spellstone after spellstone to buff with - Bladeturning, Walk on Air, Blur 5, Haste 2, and Shield.

After the second rank threw spears, the draugr rushed up to the PCs with swords and axes. They brawled it out with the PCs. The fight took a couple of real-world hours, but it's easily summed up like this:

Crogar got into it with one draugr and they slogged it out with each other, both fending off each other's attacks. Ulf used his Wand of Paralyzation five or six times, and managed to paralyze one draugr (who then was beaten to death over four-five seconds by Hernando), but mostly couldn't roll well enough to paralyze them. Hayden fought with his golden bone falchion and crippled one draugr and eventually killed him. Astrid threw first her harpoon and then her knife from the back. Wyatt walked around on the air and stabbed at eyes, blinding several of the draugr. Crogar and Aldwyn fought as well, with Aldwyn managing to hurt more of the draugr than Crogar could. The draugr hit the PCs a few times, and critical hits in both directions made for some bad wounds. Ulf healed the PCs with Faith Healing and Gerry started to systematically Great Haste the group. Even blinded, the draugr were very resilient (HT 15+),

The first clash ended with several draugr blinded and moved into the back, most of the draugr having thrown their spears, and eight draugr down - several decapitated, one with a smashed skull, and several just down with crippled limbs and numerous injuries who are either "unconscious" or dead.

The PCs are in much better shape, but have used healing several times and a lot of paut, and Great Haste rapidly winding down. The FP loss from Great Haste is going to tell soon, and it will be difficult to keep it gone.

We had to end it mid-fight because of real-world time concerns. We'll pick up next time with Draugr II.


The PCs finally went after the draugr in a big way. They expected Hamilcar and Galen today, but neither could make it due to other concerns. Hamilcar probably had Wizard Court jury duty, and Galen had a sick dryad-in-law in his family to visit. Those two would have made a big difference.

Crogar bought Lucky, so now he's Crogar the Lucky.

Astrid is a guest player. She plays in Aldwyn's own DF game where he lives. His game draws a lot of inspiration from mine but mine ratchets up the difficulty a lot and the margin of error down. So what do you do with a guest who might only have a brief time with the group? Stick her in the back rank for the entire fight. She did her best, though, and very actively sought out things to do and did them.

The PCs made a few tactical errors, by their own description. Putting non-shield carrying fighters in the front rank - especially ones not exceptionally good at parrying - was a bad idea. They knew the draugr had spears, but no one ever gave it enough mind. That didn't kill anyone - although it came very close for both Aldwyn and Astrid - and it cost the PCs a lot of resources to heal them up.

The PCs also made a rookie error of going into a "cleared" room without checking if it stayed cleared. Sadly, it had four reeks in it that I placed there who even knows when, and which I'd marked as waiting dormant there. It could have been a trivial slaughter of the reeks except a) no one looked at the ceiling and b) everyone wants to just scrape oozes off like they're green slime. Almost everyone - Gerry ordered his skeletons to do full-bore attacks regardless of the consequences. Rookie error, for sure. Check the ceiling and check corners and scout before you move in should just a thing by now, but it was forgotten.

Mystic Mist is an interesting spell, but rarely helps in my games. It's so nasty few foes will enter it unless absolutely compelled to, or if they're immune. And it takes so long it's hard to use even in those cases. The PCs have a second scroll of it, which they'll use if the draugr back off, but again, it's 10 minutes to cast that way.


  1. "Gerry kept casting, just in case they'd leave them alone for another 9 1/2 minutes to finish the spell."

    Mystic Mist takes 5 minutes... not that it would have made much difference.

    They should contemplate Wall of Silence, even if they have to buy a scroll of it. Sneak up, Wall of Silence. Spend five minutes casting Mystic Mist everywhere but the sarcophagi. Then have unrestrained murdertown on the draugr.

    If they have a follow up mission or don't succeed through sheer force of will in Draugr Part 2: Draugr Boogaloo.

    1. That's assuming it's listening based, and that the draugr detected their quiet casting through heavy stone barriers with their keen ears.

    2. Also, it was a scroll, which I've edited the post to reflect. So, 10 minutes.

  2. Help a non-GURPS guy out, what does Mystic Mist do, if you can pull of the very long casting time?

  3. It's a pretty potent camp defense spell, which is why it's a long casting time. But like all potent spells, despite this one not being geared toward combat use, it often finds itself in a combat Wizard's arsenal.

    It creates an area of thick mist. Anyone in the mist when it is conjured is immune to the mist. Anyone entering it is under the following effects: Cannot see more than 2 yards away*, anyone time they try to move to a new hex they have to roll IQ or be disorientated and go the wrong way†, natives to the mist have +1 to their defenses vs interlopers and interlopers have -1 to defense versus natives. When an interloper first enter the mist they have to make a Fright Check to even enter it, and must make a new Fright Check every 5 minutes they're in the mist.

    † If an interloper has mage Sight active, they ignore this effect.

    So, as you can see, it's a very potent camp defense tool. And you can also see why despite it's very long casting time, it's often a Wizard's preferred way to set up an ambush.


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