Monday, March 2, 2020

GURPS DF Session 128, Felltower 99 - Lost City 8

Date: Sunday, March 1st, 2020

Weather: Cold and clear near Felltower

Aldwyn Hale, human knight (278 points)
Bruce "the Mild" McTavish, Jr., human barbarian (267 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (431 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (370 points)
     5 Skeletons (~35 points)
Quenton Mudborne, goblin druid (317 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (285 points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (286 points)

We started in Stericksburg, buying lots of odd gear and gathering rumors. The PCs - Wyatt, in particular - had concocted a plan to defend against the slimes in the shattered tetrahedron in the Lost City. They'd basically bring lumber, nails, leather straps, hammers, saws, etc. sufficient to make two doors with overlapping layers, each with two leather carrying straps. The plan was to assemble them with default Carpenter and then use them to deflect slimes by creating a "roof" over the searchers/looters below. So, much time was spent getting this all together. Gerry had in the meantime gotten a replacement skeleton and had a total of three equipped.

Once the PCs sorted this all out, they headed out to the dungeon. They made it up to the top in the cold weather, and found the trapdoor entrance closed - it zapped a skeleton and injured it. So they went to the main entrance, scouted it out with Wizard Eye, and then crossed the pit with two ropes nailed to the right wall.

From there they headed down to the GFS, using Silence on doors as they went. Nothing bothered them - the upper levels seem largely deserted except for rats and spiders and other small critters. Once they reached the GFS, Aldwyn and Mild Bruce rushed to be the first to open it. Mild Bruce touched it first. They sent in the Wizard Eye to check for slimes, puddings, etc. Nothing was spotted. They headed downstairs. They scouted ahead with the eye all the way to the Lost City gate. There, they debated scrying because Quenton said he wouldn't go through if they saw any golems. So they just moved their best fighters through and then dragged Quenton after them. There were no golems waiting for them. They found the floor they'd shaped aside wasn't shaped aside anymore, though, so they couldn't easily climb down to the level below. Also, it was pouring rain out. Not the worst possible, but close. Impatient to find out how long it would rain, Wyatt pushed Quenton to figure it out. He created a 1-hex Weather Dome outside the east door and stepped into it. He spent 30 minutes watching the weather until his Weather Sense told him it should probably thin out in a matter of a couple of hours, tops. They ate and rested and waited.

When the rain became merely heavy, but not sheeting down, they climbed down outside and headed toward the tetrahedron, navigating by the broad "main" streets they knew. Nothing hassled them, and they eventually made it to the tetrahedron, with the rain tapering off and moving east. When they arrived it was no longer raining on the tetrahedron.

They used Levitation to get Invisible Ulf and Wyatt up, and Silence to quiet hammering nails into the stone to hang a portable ladder. They secured it most of the way down the side and then let a pre-tied rope dangle the rest of the way. They then assembled the doors in a nearby building after partly exploring it. Aldwyn climbed up the ladder, where Wyatt had him extend an arm and put the door on him. He was tied with a rope, which was drapped over a nailed-in piece of leather to soften sharp edges, and lowered by Mild Bruce way down at the ground.

He held the shield to cover his upper body and face, but a slime dropped on his legs. It quickly seeped through his DR and started to poison him. They hauled him out. Ulf pulled his cloth leggings and boots off. They tossed them aside. Some of the slime was on his legs, but using the brooms they brought didn't help. Neither did scraping - it didn't want to let go. Eventually they got it off by using Ethereal Body on him. Quenton used Lightning to zap the slime, and seemed to injure it. Another Lightning seemed to kill it. He did the same to the bits remaining from Aldwyn. The PCs knew burning wouldn't do, but lightning seems fine.

The plan then changed to "put Resist Acid and Resist Poison on Aldwyn and send him in nude." They gave him a cut-off board so the slimes wouldn't corrode his good weapons, lowered him in, and had him try to catch slimes so they could haul him out. Then, they'd have him jump in a put shaped by Quenton, cast Ethereal Body on him, then bury the slimes. This is what they did. It was complicated by the fact that some slimes weren't toxic, but flesh-eating. Because it was corrosion-type damage, they hoped Resist Acid would help, but it did not. Aldwyn took a lot of damage, but eventually got the remaining slimes stuck to him, then buried, and then healed. Once missed him and fell into the dry floor below with a smack, but the rest were taken care of - buried under at least 3' of earth. They may escape somehow, but not on a timescale the PCs care about.

They then sent in Galen to loot. His lightstones and Dark Vision didn't last in the slowly draining no mana zone below, and the gloom dimmed his glow vial. But he was able to turn up a potion, a couple of necklaces of two snakes facing each other, a couple of those creepy "soapstone" half-man half-snake statuettes, and found the big chest of coins. He hauled some up. The miasma of death forced him out, badly injured, after several minutes. But they healed him up and then sent Wyatt in to loot the chest, which was marked with a length of twine up to the opening. He took out the rest of the coins. Then Galen went back and and searched until he felt it was a dry hole - finding a couple more of the statuettes and necklaces and then nothing more.

Once the place was "done," they hauled their loot back to the gate building. On the way, they spotted three giant beetles come down "Fishhouse Road" and ducked into a nearby building. They stayed and waited while the beetles foraged. Bruce and Gerry headed upstairs and found a table with four stone chairs around it. The table had six oval grooves running one sides the other, marked with staggered hashmarks on each side. In the middle was a raised area with a depression with broken wooden pieces meant to create square holes. It was marked in Elder Tongue with 6 basic characters that correspond to colors, and each had a number next to it. The same was repeated in the opposite fashion on the other end, as if to be read from both sides. In front of each seat was a single long depression and three smaller, circular ones.

Assuming it was for divination or sacrifice, they tried putting wine in the tracks (then sopped it up with Bruce's kilt), then some of Bruce's blood. Nothing happened. They eventually came downstairs. The beetles got distracted by something edible and the PCs slipped off the other way.

They made it to the armoury and then they spotted some vegepygmies, but they were too far for Quenton to "talk" to with his chest-thumping. So they finished hauling their bags of money, tied them together and had Quenton use Entombment to bury it. Wyatt nailed a board into the floor to mark it. They they headed out to follow the path the vegepygmies took. They stopped at an intact-seeming building. (I'm not sure if they thought Rangol Grot, who has now become "Rangelgrot," was in there or not.) They spend some time exploring it but finding nothing of real interest besides some tables along a wall they decided were sacrificial - six tables with long depressions, old stains in cracks, and signs of being used to sharped knives - and some blue stones and red stones in a crossed path in a courtyard in the middle.

They made it, eventually, to the swampy edges of town and they headed out single-file on a causeway to the vegepygmies. They got close, and with Quenton on Mild Bruce's shoulders, he thumped out a hello on his tambourine, muffled to be more like a drum. He could only do very basic speech (vegepygmy isn't merely an aural tongue) but demonstrated his powers with a Rain and then Wind spell. They approached the vegepygmies.

Quenton spoke to them a bit and asked if they could approach - they could. But the death blossoms, vampire thorns, and octopus blossoms around the fort wouldn't stand down even for "friendly" animals, so they ended up using Levitation to send Quenton over. (Quenton has a net +11 reaction roll from the vegepygmies, offset by a -5 for past conflict . . . and managed to get a positive reaction.)

Long story short, they traded stories. He told them of the Garden of Trent Oakheart, and they told him of their coming to the city after the humans had left. They are patiently living there as the water and plants reclaim the city, which will be theirs. Quenton got the impression that they are either very long-lived, or see themselves in terms of generations not individuals. They want only vegetable rights and peace. Quenton explained about the bell, which they cautiously wouldn't show them (they have the one - carried by Gerry) but left it to him to describe. They didn't really seem to know what he meant but they understood the chime noise and said it hadn't been heard recently.

The vegepygmies have no care for anything, except that which kills plants. So they ward off beetles and slugs, ignore snakes and spiders and crocs (including a "steam croc" that the PCs decided is a dragon turtle), and have to fight off encounters with snakes with arms accompanied by black hulking things that tear them apart (apes, Quenton is pretty sure.) They vie for control with them, but they are patient. The PCs got directions for the steam croc and the apes and snakemen. They also told them were Rangol Grot is to the found - out in the jungle to the West. They can take them. Also, they would be pleased if the snakemen and apes were defeated. They have nothing to offer, though. Quenton asked about glass, metals, etc. that they'd happily take. The vegepygmies have none, but told them of places to find such (all of which the PCs already knew.) The PCs really didn't have anything to trade. The "sky energy" from Quenton isn't useful to vegepygmies outdoors - they get plenty on their own. So right now it's just friendly gesture for friendly gesture.

This done, they brought back Quenton and returned for their loot. They gathered that and headed back to Felltower. They hurried out to the sounds of a distant drag-stomp, drag-stomp, drag-stomp . . . but made it out.


First loot in a while. Amusingly, the plan was to "quickly" get loot with a "simple" plan. That took a few hours of real play to figure out the materials, get to the location, assemble the "doors," and start in one the plan. Which failed almost immediately, and was replaced with an even simpler but vastly more ridiculous plan, which worked. They ended up with ~700 or so each, once they converted the 42,500 copper into 4,250 silver and then sold off the statuettes and necklaces.

I actually needed to leave the game session . . . for no reason. I had put all of the "Rangol Grot" minis into a single tray. I then forgot that tray at home. Sure I'd need it, I left the players planning and made the 30-minute round trip back home to grab it. That amused my spouse to no end, who stood watching me search through mini trays looking for it, asking if I needed this one or that one. And then the PCs never even came close to going after him. Sigh. I could have saved some fuel. I didn't cost any time, as they were still dealing with lumber . . .

My players usually force me to figure out odd equipment requests. The vast majority of them are last minute stuff. Today it was nails and 2x4x8 pine boards. I don't recall ruling on the cost of the boards, so I have no idea what they paid. We went with 10 nails to the $1, which was probably a bit cheap but whatever. The internet is helpful with weights, but TL3 pre-industrial costs for items that are machine mass-produced in a post-industrial TL8 society aren't helpful. I need to compile these. I also need the players to decide this ahead of time, because it's always time consuming. "Just make up a price and a number and go!" sounds great until you actually do that. You say something like "they'd be 15 pounds each" and then you get pushback until eventually you search, do math, argue, do more math, and then end up with 12.5 pounds each. Because this all takes so much time, I'm debating just advancing in-game time by the time it takes to discuss it, price it out, etc. All of it. Spend 2 hours pre-session? Then you head out later and arrive at the dungeon at 2 pm. In other words, the time you enter the dungeon is when I start the day's game clock. This can mean more rations consumed, more rest needed, less time available before night hits in the Lost City, etc.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures has some great rules for heat, etc. Two things, though - the daily roll can be avoided with Resist Fire (geez, costs 2/1, and it does fire and heat and generally discomfort from both) but it doesn't say how long you need it on. Always? Part of the time? I'm going with continuously or you don't benefit. Second, how long does this reduction in FP last? The day, sure, but can you rest and get it back (2 minutes per point for most casters, 10 minutes for folks lacking Fit?) I allowed the PCs to reduce it by half with an hour's rest. I may need to figure out rules for this so it's not just a trivial delay - IOW fail this roll, say 10 minutes pass, penalty is over.

XP was 4 each for loot, 1 xp for exploration (they hit a few new places), and MVP was Aldwyn for spending bit chunks of the session naked and covered in slimes.


  1. Very fun session. The naked knight intentionally getting slimed was pretty amusing. The conversations with the Vegepygmies are always a lot of fun.

    Interesting thing about Resist Fire v. Coolness. As best I can determine, Coolness is *great* if you have Skill 14 or lower for this purpose -- it lasts an hour and is 1 to maintain, so if you have Energy Reserve 1, you're golden, as opposed to Resist Fire -- that only lasts a minute. However, once you get to Skill 15, Coolness is *basically* obsolete, since both are now free to maintain, Resist Fire does the same thing (arguably better--hard to tell from the description), and *also* protects you from fire. I suppose there's an edge case where Coolness could be better, insofar as it will let you remain cool and comfortable for some period of time, up to almost an hour, after your caster either goes to sleep or croaks, so that might be good when keeping watch--caster gives the guy on watch Coolness, goes to sleep, and the guard will be comfortable for an hour. Otherwise...Resist Fire is better. Not sure if that was intentional on the designers' part or not.

    1. It was a very fun session.

      And I'm generally not a fan of spells (and skills) that get made obsolete by later spells in a chain. So I may need to think about how to specifically implement this.

  2. "I'm going with continuously or you don't benefit."

    My ruling was "get the benefit equal to time protected. IE, have it half the time, get a 50% reduction of the FP loss.

    "Second, how long does this reduction in FP last?"

    I implemented AtE's Long Term Fatigue for this very reason. So LFP lost to heat stroke, starvation, dehydration, lack of sleep, etc, require a full day of not suffering from anything that causes LFP before you can recover those lost points. LFP recovers (in my game) at a rate equal to HP for Natural Recovery. Advantages that boost FP or HP recovery boost LFP recovery and having 20 FP means you get back 2 per day. Healing spells can heal LFP instead of HP , casters choice, but still counts as a heal for the day.

    1. The latter is probably the way to go for such things, you're right.

  3. The question of things like 2x4 boards is rough, because of the "not really a medieval economy" thing. There basically wasn't a standard for such. The first sawmill seems to be around the 3rd century, but didn't see much use in medieval EUROPE (but Spain, the Islamic world, and north Africa saw plenty of 'em) until 1200 or after.

    But before that? you want a board, you cut down a damn tree and have at it with an axe, or manually cut them down to size with a saw.

    It's one of the reasons that a shield - in viking price lists alluded to by my instructor - cost nearly as much as a sword. There was a LOT of work involved. Also why ships, which required both of the labor-intensive things (wood planks AND lots of rivets and bolts and other iron/copper pieces) were basically highly mobile treasure.

    You probably knew all this already. :-)

    1. Not shields being as costly as swords, for sure, that I hadn't heard anywhere before.

      The idea of boards being custom-cut I knew, but honestly, I got worn out after about an hour of "here is how we defeat slimes with homemade doors" and just let them buy them. But I agree, it's not a pre-fab, duplicate-item economy. It's amusing that it didn't even remotely work, like most plans that involve modern-day PCs using their real-world engineering knowledge with characters operating by default to solve a problem not sufficiently understood.

    2. The shields-and-swords thing might be an artifact of the locale. The next time I bump into Arthur I'll ask.

  4. Quenton was in party to? He isn't in the roster


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