Date: April 5th, 2020
Weather: Cool 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)
3 Skeletons (~35 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (285 points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (286 points)
The PCs gathered in Stericksburg. They gathered rumors, bought a few items - notably, some "ear plugs" of wax and cotton - and headed out, gathering up their wilderness dwelling companions Bruce and Galen on the way. They stopped outside of town for Gerry to make a Skull Spirit. Ulf put Hide Thoughts on their fighter-types.
They found the trapdoor locked, again. One of the skeletons trying to open it got zapped for 1 HP of injury.
Instead they went down the main entrance, taking the usual precaution of sending Galen to scout, and then Wyatt across to tie off the rope (despite his default Knot Tying, he managed.)
They cross with a mix of climbing and Levitate spells and made it around to the noisy room. Mild Bruce shouldered the door open before Ulf could remember to cast Silence. They noisily passed the room but didn't seem to attract much attention - the first level seems largely unpopulated at this point.
They wound their way to the second floor and then to the GFS. As they headed that way, they head a metal clanging noise. Several of the party - including especially Gerry and Galen - wanted to check it out. So they did. They sent Galen down the wide corridor to the right, off of which is the "draugr area."
Long story short, Galen saw two double doors open to the room where way back (112 sessions ago) when they'd found Krug the hobgoblin petrified. He approached and peered in with Dark Vision and saw only familiar old wreckage.
The party approached and sent Wyatt and Galen in. They advanced. They startled . . . something . . . that Wyatt saw and Galen heard. Galen saw a corpse. They tossed a lightstone and further alarmed a giant grey rat . . . for the second it lived. Galen put two arrows into it, killing it. He put in another to make sure.
They moved around search the room - Wyatt checked the corpse after circling to ensure no more rats were around. He found it had its face and ear chewed up, and the right hand had two fingers gnawed off. The clang was an axe falling from a turned-over table, and it had nicked the floor as it fell.
He flipped the orc with his boot after prodding it with a chair leg. It had its face chewed up and its eyes eating out, and had been disembowled and its throat repeatedly stabbed. He had no loot - or boots - and clearly someone had cut his purse strings, taken his weapons, pulled off his boots, and left him here after cutting out his belly and stabbing him about six or seven times in the throat.
They decided to summon its spirit after Wyatt check it for loot, and Mild Bruce checked out the "closet" - a toilet, which he then used to relieve himself. Door open, of course.
They summoned the dead orc, and managed despite their lack of information on him. They questions him about his name, what killed him (his friend gacked him for a sword they'd found, stabbing him in the throat), the size of orc patrols (4-12), how many orcs they had (many dozen patrols), and some other information of probably minor use. They asked questions about the sword - it was clear they thought it might be Gram, but it was just some thrusting broadsword. Eventually they gave up and let the dead orc's spirit go.
They took its armor and put it on an underequipped skeleton, and the axe went to Aldwyn.
They headed back to the GFS.
Carefully proceeding, they made it into the stairs and down to the "apartment level." There they carefully moved along with Galen on point until they reach the gate to the Lost City of D'Abo.
Which wasn't a shimmering pane of nothingness between the two pillars. It just was nothing. They tried tossing a light stone through. No, it just passed between the stones and nothing happened. Wyatt tried passing through, and nothing.
The gate was closed. They set up a short camp and had rations and rested while they figured out what to do next. They had a long conference behind a Silence spell while keeping out Galen as a guard.
They discussed many options but settled, at Gerry's suggestion, with the "jungle gate." His argument was they were ask ready for such a gate as for the jungle-surrounded Lost City of D'Abo. They decided he was correct and planned on that.
Basically, they headed there, carefully advanced with Galen in advance a short distance. They eventually reached the stairs and climbed up to the "Jungle gate." Not without difficulty - there is a spot that's barely wide enough for a normal person. Mild Bruce was too thick for it. He tried a few times and found that if he went up, he could squeeze through better. Still, it was tight.
They climbed the stairs and found the cave with the "jungle gate." Gerry used a scroll with Scry Gate to check it out. It showed them what they saw when Dryst did it last time - a jungle clearing.
They went through, headed up by Wyatt, who insisted they just pile through, no caution this time. They did, and quickly looked around. It was just a clear, about 12-15 yards across, with a pair of columns in the center with a gate between them. Wyatt carefully searched the treeline, checked for ashes from campfires, asked after details of all sorts - he didn't want to miss some damn staff against a tree like other gate travelers had in other places.
The clearing had only one easy way out, which had been traveled heavily but not recently. They headed out that way, past the swaying trees of the jungle, blue lizards, multi-colored snakes, big butterflies, multi-colored birds someone recognized as parrots, big red cardinals (smaller than the ones in the "forest gate"), and other fauna. They traveled down a path that widened out from 3 yards to eventually 10 yards or so wide over the course of 1 mile. Near the mile point, as they approached a ridge about 0.25 miles away, they decided they needed to send Galen to scout it and Gerry made him Invisible. As they did so, they heard noises - it sounded like apes.
And it was - six flesh-eating apes charged from each side of the trail. They were a bit mangy, but otherwise healthy looking, and toted thighbone clubs. They rushed the party at full speed.
They didn't last more than about 5 seconds. Galen immediately broke his Invisibility spell to shoot one ape twice in the vitals, killing it outright. The others wait for the onslaught. Wyatt blinded and killed one ape with two stabs to each eye from his two blades. Aldwyn decapitated one. Mild Bruce wounded one, then fending off a club swing, wounded another, and then turned back to the first and disembowled it. The skeletons fended off a couple for a few seconds but then one skeleton was hit in the skull and utterly destroyed by one of the apes, as the other dropped it axe with a critical failure. Ulf was savagely clubbed down to the ground by one. Galen shot down an ape menacing Wyatt, who was freed to spin and go stabble-stabble on the ape trying to finish Ulf, and then spun and chased a running ape and cut off its left hand and crippled its right leg. Galen shot down a pair, splitting arrows between the vitals of two of them. They dropped, but not satisfied he spent another second putting an arrow into each as they lay there, unmoving.
A couple of apes broke off and tried to run. The first made to the jungle and jumped into the trees, but Galen shot that one down. Another fled on the other side of the fight, and Galen shot him down, too. Mild Bruce finished the ape he was fighting as the skull spirit and one of the skeletons finished their foe, too.
Gerry had cast Great Haste on himself, and used that and some extra time after to get a Zombie spell off on one of them. They zombie ape dragged the others off to the side to clear the path for other travellers. The PCs searched the corpses but found nothing - they were just apes with clubs.
The moved up to the ridge, and saw down into a bowl of a valley, with a city in it, with jungle trees growing up all over it. It was clearly in active use.
They hit the dirt and looked down.
They watched for a bit and observed a pair of giant watchtowers with a rope walkway between, but no gate. And no walls - just obelisks every 6 feet or so in a semicircle in the jungle to either side. They saw humanoid figures - which Galen said were apes. Clothed, and some armed, apes. The city was spread out, with cyclopean tan stone block buildings eventually given way to columned white buildings in the distance. They could also hear a distant roar and clapping from an oval shaped building (it seemed.)
Eventually they decided to stash the zombie ape in the jungle (Gerry, "Play dead.") They then headed down to the gates in plain site. They were seen right away; a half-dozen 10' tall apes in blue uniforms and metal armor came out and stood blocking the entrance at rigid attention.
The PCs closed in and Ulf spoke to them.
One clearly outranked the rest, and barked something in a hooting, grunting tongue. Ulf tried Common again. Exasperated, the gorilla tried again, louder. Still, Ulf wasn't able to understand. At his wits end with this helpless foreigners, the gorilla called over to a nearby monkey (who Wyatt had noted and decided was clearly the leader-type.) It barked at the moneky, who bowed and scraped and ran into the city at a great pace.
They stood around a good 20 minutes in the sun. The gorillas stood at attention, eyes above the PCs.
Evetually, a well-dressed ape with a staff, man-sized (but beefier than most of the party) came up, accompanied by a brown-furred monkey and accompanied by four massive red-garbed apes.
(left to right - messenger, blue-garbed guard, red-garbed guard, Praetus Lucius)
It tried to speak to them, and eventually tried Goblinian. Galen translated as best he could. It asked something like "trade," "slaves," and "money?" Ulf tried Common again, and told Galen tell them they came in peace. Galen said a few words (he speaks Broken Goblinian) and the ape responded with something like "Who you?" After another exchange, it got annoyed and opened up a scroll and read it. Then it spoke in perfect Common, "Who are you? Where do you come from?"
"We're travellers from a far-off land."
"You come from Grak Yorl?"
Luckily, Ulf does his homework. Bruce said, "What does Grak Yorl mean?" "The Boneyards." "Oh," said Bruce, pleased.
They spoke to the ape more. Ulf tried to negotiate a way into the city. The ape wanted to know if they were friends with the goblins. Ulf said they had a goblin friend. It seems the goblins bought slaves - savages (meaning wild, flesh-eating apes) in return for coined money. ("Now the Apetrium makes perfect sense.") The apes traded only savages back to them. The ape was noncomittal, and unimpressed when he asked if the party had anything to offer and Bruce offered their services as warriors, motioning to his 10' tall apes armed with swords the size of most men. They mutually pried, but no one got much. Ulf questioned him about the obelisks - are they a magical barrier? The ape changed the subject.
Eventually, it asked about "fellow learned ones." They revealed Gerry, who turned visible. The ape bowed to Gerry and called him a "fellow of true knowledge."
After a lot of time talking, they eventually convinced the apes that despite being heavily armed, stinking of blood and death, they came in peace. Saying they slew a dozen "savages" did seem to help.
They wanted to trade, they said.
Depends what you have, they said, fishing.
(The PCs were at a bit of a disadvantage - the ape spoke Common, and they all had to use it to speak to each other.)
The ape eventually relented and said they could come trade . . . if.
The ape asked Ulf to swear, on behalf of himself and his party, to follow the laws of the city. Ulf asked that they were. The ape was exasperated, and said, "Are you not civilized? Do you not know the laws of civilization?" Ulf tried to beg off about making cultural errors, and the ape said that wasn't an issue, as they couldn't speak well enough to accidentally upset anyway. As this went on, Wyatt put his weapons away (but was keenly evaluating the ape warriors). Bruce dropped his weapons. Ulf agreed and so swore [and in so many words, unlike the usual PC "I agree to the thing you think I just swore to but didn't" approach.]
They were allowed in, and had to put their weapons to the side.
They put their weapons in a guard house - one of the tan houses. They were told to stay there, and that speaking their tongue made the ape tired. He left, and soon enough a number of monkees came - they appeared to be females. They came with food - cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, bananas, jackfruit, pineapple, dragon fruit, papayas, and some roasted mammal that was probably capybara. They ate. Ulf was deeply concerned about making a good impression, so he did his best not to overeat and didn't stuff extra food in his pockets.
Eventually some merchant-types came. They had their own messenger monkeys, and carts brought by mangy slave-apes like the "savages" in the jungle.
One of them spoke accented Common and helped lead the negotiations. They displayed a lot of wares - leather goods (all too big for humans, even the big guys like Bruce), spices, raw gemstones, and slaves. The PCs honed in on the gems and spices. There was lapis lazuli, agates of various kinds, turquoises, and some weird pink stones like looked like river rocks. The spices included white tea, green tea, black tea, black pepper, red pepper, white pepper, and whole nutmegs. After a lot of discussion, pooling of cash, and haggling (and a Merchant roll by Gerry, made exactly thanks to Luck), they decided on buying some pepper - two pounds each of white and black, which they could get for 55 and 45 silver per pound if they bought a lot (a pound plus was enough.)
They also bought a bunch of the pink stones. Why? Someone asked what they do. Mild Bruce, IIIC. The ape got a bare-toothed look and made obscene gestures and size increase gestures. That's all it took for them to purchase. The bigger the stone, the bigger the tree, as they say here in the ape city. They invested in some stones.
After they bought those, the slave barked something out. The translator (who Wyatt eventually found out was named Gaius) told them the slaver wanted to sell them slaves "cheap." They PCs refused - Ulf because it's illegal in Stericksburg, Wyatt because he didn't have a buyer for apes right at the moment, and the others because no one cared. The price was good - the somewhat starved-looking apes pulling the merchant wagons would go for 200 sp each. No? Really? That's a low price. . . okay, fine. Mild Bruce asked about the games - it was Arena Day, they found out. [Kind of; the players named it that.] The games included races, wrestling, and fighting. Bruce told them he definitely wants in. They mostly ignored him.
Ulf gave the ape some of his Elven rations to try. Gaius was impressed for some reason, and gave Ulf a gold coin with weird writing on one side and a scales on the other side. "My coin," he said. "It shows you deal with me." Wyatt also gave him a Dwarven ration (that he'd found with Scrounging) but for some reason the ape wasn't as impressed and just nodded.
Eventually the PCs were visited by the first ape again. Bruce tried to ask after the games and was ignored again. They did find out his name - Praetus Lucius.
The PCs gathered their things, and were escorted to the watchtowers. Praetus Lucius told them they'd have an escort. He sent along four of the big blue-clad apes to guide them.
As they left, Wyatt continued to carefully evaluate them. They seem strong and potentially skilled, so he decided they'd need a Feint before an attack.
The apes were pretty rigid, but relaxed a bit after they saw the carnage of the dead "savage" apes. Were they more at ease because the threat was lower, or because the PCs had killed the savage apes? It wasn't clear.
The apes eventually escorted them to about 1/4 mile from the clearing and then stood aide rigidly and let them go.
They returned and went right back through the gate.
One the other side they headed back. Unlike the first time, though, someone failed a HT roll from the "close air." Gerry did, with an 18, ironically 2 minutes shy of Luck being ready to use again. Hah. He vomited up bananes, cashews, capybara, and other nuts and fruits. Bleh. All over the place in a stinking pile. They put him closer to Bruce to keep an eye on him. They made it back to the GFS.
The delvers reached the top of the GFS and opened the door. As they slunk out carefully, they heard a distant scrape-thump, scrape-Thump, scrape-THUMP getting louder the whole time. They ran for it, headed past the formally webbed-up room instead of the intersection they usually pass, and kept running. They heard the sounds coming from behind, closing in. Bruce grabbed Gerry to carry him, and they all sped up a little bit and kept moving.
They fled all the way back up to the first level. They headed to the trapdoor and went out that way. They retrieved their rope from the main entrance and headed back to town.
They, they sold their pepper for 150 and 188 an ounce base, 40% for their connections (Wealth) level, and made a fair profit. They also sold the axe and the leather armor as that proved key to making enough loot for their trip. They paid back Bruce the cash he fronted for the pepper.
The pink stones, sadly, didn't impress anyone in town. They got offers of 1-3 sp on 30-100 sp stones. Turns out the city folk don't thinky they turn batons into oversized knobbed clubs after all . . .
I wrote recently about disadvantages. Wyatt has Overconfidence, if you haven't noticed. Galen has Bloodlust, which is why he makes sure to overkill everything. He's tactically better off splitting his shots, but only does that when he's assured of another second to put extra arrows into the fallen. He's also the #1 killer of fleeing opponents, because he likes everything dead. Gerry has Curious and Clueless, and plays those well. Mild Bruce, surprisingly perhaps, has Bad Temper. That's why he's so keen to attack not the most tactically appropriate foe but the one who just did the best to mess with him. I figure a disadvantage fits the PC when you'd know he had it from the way he's played.
Some gates - maybe all gates - are not always open. So it's not always possible to cross into a specific location. Unfortunately for the PCs, they were armed and ready to attack the snakemen in the Lost City and unfortunately the gate wasn't open. This is a good example of the idea of a world approach where the PCs react to the world and the world doesn't always take "game convenience" into account. It would have been more convenient for them and for me if the gate was just open. But the dungeon as designed had the gate closed today (I won't say if it was random, on a cycle, or something else) and so the PCs hit me with the curve ball of another gate. They did ask, flat out, if that was okay, since gates take some prep. Sure. Playing from home meant I have everything I needed around me. It would have been messier otherwise. But that's a big of a digression - the setting said the gate was closed on Sunday, so it was closed even though the PCs planned on going there.
Ulf is their spokeman, as demonstrated by his lack of any skills to back up his needs. Typical delver approach. Broadsword-22 and Extra Attack 2? I'm helpless in combat! Default social skills and only some reaction penalties? Face character!
I'm not sure why the PCs never brought up the gold coin with Gorillicus the Great on it. Probably for the better - none of them have it, and none of the PCs who had anything to do with it are still alive and in the group. Galen missed it; he was off at the Troll Wars during that time. Dryst has the coin, but the Wizard's Guild has declared him essential workforce so he's unavailable for the duration. It was purchased in town for 2 gp back in 2015, which is around session 54/55.
The apes/monekys never mentioned the skull spirit or skeletons. Not one of them ever took any notice. Gerry would have been pleased except he's Clueless [-10] and doesn't actually notice how people generally react when he brings skeletons to church with him, or talks to them, or anything like that. But some of the others noted this attitude.
I'll have a entire post about trading tomorrow, and link to it here once it's up. Suffice to say this won't become a trading game, and the PCs would have done a lot better if they had Merchant and even more so if they had a real Thief or Bard with Merchant.
XP was 2 each for loot for Galen and Gerry (20% of loot threshold), 4 xp for the others. Everyone received 1 xp for exploration, 1 xp for peaceful contact with the simian civilization, and MVP was Ulf for all of his talking.
Fun, fun session. I purchased these minis back in 2003 or earlier. I remember getting some while I was playing my last GURPS game. I purposely built them into the dungeon, and had them as an excuse (and an in-game reason) for using all of my ape minis in the dungeon. Why dungeon apes? Some folks were buying them on the cheap and using them as shock troops! Heh. All it took was 130 sessions of play to get to these guys.