Actual Date: May 17th, 2020
Game Dates: May 17th-18th, 2020
Weather: Cool and cloudy near Felltower, sweltering and rainy in the Lost City of D'Abo, then beautiful and clear.
Aldwyn Hale, human knight (297 points)
Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (145 points)
"Mild Bruce" McTavish, Jr., human barbarian (267 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (294 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (456 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (374 points)
2 Skeletons (~35 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (306 points)
Quenton Mudbourne, goblin druid (317 points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (293 points)
We started out in Stericksburg, with the PCs gathering rumors. Amusingly, Crogar, Varmus, and Gerry all heard the same rumor. Clearly, they were all at the same bar. One rumor Wyatt picked up was that a dwarf wizard and his companions came down from Felltower . . . and they'd been there a year. He couldn't find them to talk to them personally.
Ulf did some Panhandling after giving a big speech and took in about 12 sp in donations.
They gathered a lot of Strengthen Will spellstones and Paut and headed out. They made their way up to the dungeon and made spellstones and Gerry created a Skull Spirit, and noted he was running low on skulls. Wyatt took specifics of what he needed (sapient creature skulls.)
The headed through the trapdoor, which was unlocked. They made their way to the next level, to the stairs down, and to the gate. Even in their brief time on the "gate level" Aldwyn suffered from the thin air. Again, they remarked they needed to "do something" about the air.
The gate was open, and they headed through. As usual for winter/spring, rain was sheeting down in the Lost City. They settled in for the rest of the day, waiting out th weather with Galen and Wyatt and Quenton outside in a Weather Dome and the others inside. In the evening the rain slacked off, so they set pairs of guards, each with two one-hour shifts, and waited for morning.
Overnight Varmus spotted some blueish/white lights flashing in the southeast, but Aldwyn wasn't able to see them. No one else saw anything in their shift, but heard a lot - bugs, rockfalls, splashes, slitherings, scraping, and other less pleasant noises.
In the morning they headed to the vegepygmy fort, taking the long way around to avoid the shielded temple. They made it to the vegepygmies over the flooded path, and sent Quenton in via Levitation. He brought up their offer to help find Rangol Grot and they agreed to do so right away. Their chief designated one druid and six others and two thorn hounds to go with them. They left by the north "gate" which just opened and closed itself for them. They made their way across town, picking up more vegepygmies as they went.
Eventually they reached the switchback path that Gerry and Quenton and a previous group had used to come down into the lost city, where they fought vegepgymies.
There they picked up a last batch of vegepygmies - given them an escort of 34 vegepygmies including 4 druids plus 6 thorn hounds. They trekked off a few miles, stopping once on the way. The vegepgymies tried to give them an idea of distance but couldn't get it across; they'd end up going about 5 miles. A mile out from Rangol Grot's place they stopped to eat on the tight trail. They wanted the vegepygmies to scout ahead, but not if they couldn't assure they'd be undetected. They said they could go but couldn't assure they wouldn't be sensed. So they spelled-up Galen and sent him, including Invisibility and No Smell.
Galen moved off and found the came, right at a three-way path intersection. The path was guarded with two covered pits, with only a narrow path in between. There were five small one-man tents, and a cave mouth. Walking around were two gnolls with bows, and Galen spotted an orc in one tent, clearly sleeping. There was a firepit that had been used frequently, set up for the smoke to dissipate against the canopy before escaping to the sky. Galen scouted around and determined there were three orcs, three gnolls (another showed up with a large monkey on its shoulder, which the gnolls began to butcher), and two tents with unknown occupants. Galen tried to check the cave but a heavy curtain was set up inside to block all light.
He headed back, after briefly considering just killing them all.
Once back, he told the others and they geared up and headed out. They left the vegepygmies behind after they said they'd done what was asked showing the group where to go. Galen was given a 30 second lead, and then they followed - all as stealthily as possible. Galen watched the camp and saw the gnolls had posed themselves to guard better - two of them, anyway, one was missing - and the orcs were awake. They'd clearly heard his friends. He moved into the camp and lined up a shot at the curtain, waiting for something to emerge. Wyatt was also invisible, and was also to go and wait near the curtain to kill Rangol Grot as soon as he came out.
The PCs advanced and engaged the waiting orcs and gnolls. The orcs took up stations behind the concealed pits, but Galen's directions were explicit and no one walked into them.
The orcs threw javelins but Crogar and Aldwyn deflected those. The PCs moved ahead, slowly so Wyatt could move past as the fighters moved up. Gerry immediately began a cycle of Great Haste spells on himself and on the fighters. The orcs were quickly slain, lasting only a few seconds as Aldwyn and Crogar moved into them. Aldwyn took a shot from a gnoll concealed out of immediate line of sight - and it rolled a 4. The arrow hit his mail and didn't penetrate.
The PCs moved into the camp, and as they did so Mild Bruce took a blowgun dart in the face. As he ran to attack the tiny many who'd stepped out of a tent to shoot him, another dart hit him from another angle. He raced after the first horde pygmy, who fled. Bruce followed, only to be shot and wounded by a gnoll archer waiting down a side path. He slammed the pygmy down and for good measure tried to run down the gnoll. That didn't work and the gnoll dodged, and bit him on the shoulder as he went by; Mild Bruce critically failed his Dodge and fell. Crogar ran up and right over a concealed pit!
Lucky for him, he had Levitation on from Gerry, who wanted it as a way to neutralize him if he was charmed. Crogar didn't fall in the pit but he was stuck. He managed to wound the gnoll but was stuck. Gerry paused and dragged him back to "land." Crogar moved off to deal with new prey.
Meanwhile the curtain parted about halfway. A shadowy form was glimpsed behind it - Galen took three shots. All three should have hit, but narrowly missed. Missile Shield! Out from behind the curtain swarmed 5 hexes worth of black bats! They came right out and attacked invisible Wyatt, who was next to the cave mouth. He took some cuts on his exposed skin from bat bites (and would later need a HT roll.) Gerry saw this as he advanced and changed up an Explosive Skull Missile. A moment later he threw it in the midst of the swarms. It blew up, wounding Aldwyn and Crogar, and Wyatt, but demolished all but the bats swarming Wyatt. Those would go down a few seconds later from cumulative attacks and another Explosive Skull Missile.
By this time, Galen had gotten bored and engaged the two gnolls, killing one and wounding the other. A moment later the other was slain, too, by a combination of attacks. He also shot down the other horde pygmy he'd seen hit Bruce, firing through the tent slit to kill him.
Aldwyn rushed the curtain and cut it down. Beyond was a cave floored with rugs, and he glimpsed booted feet beyond.
Meanwhile, as Bruce and the gnoll fought - and eventually both ended up prone thanks to critical failures. Bruce jumped down and mounted the gnoll and tried to punch him, as the gnoll tried to bite back. They ended up rolling around on the ground for a while, before eventually Crogar came back and took a few swings into the fight and hit and wounded the gnoll. Bruce disengaged and Crogar finished the gnoll off.
At the cave, Gerry put Great Haste on Wyatt and Aldwyn. Wyatt threw in a visibility dust grenade but didn't reveal anything. They sent in the skull spirit and it attacked a man standing off to the side. Wary for pits, Aldwyn pushed his sword into the doorway and found one. Galen shot into the cave and killed the man standing there, being attacked by the skull spirit. The figure dropped. Aldwyn jumped in after probing for a safe spot, and then Wyatt followed shortly after. They shrugged off charm spells thanks to Hide Thoughts, but then Wyatt was put down with a Sleep spell. He dropped. A mahogany-skinned woman wearing nothing but a leather bikini bottom, a cape, and thigh-high boots grabbed sleeping Wyatt and lifted him one-handed and brought a black knife to his neck and said, "Hold or I'll stab your friend." Aldwyn attacked immediately, slashing her arm twice. She parried one but the other hit, and slashed her arm nicely . . . but the cut healed instantly on the other side of it.
As this happened, a loud voice echoed around the room saying, "Let's talk! We want to negotiate."
Gerry sent the skull spirit to attack the woman but it missed and hit grappled Wyatt, instead, waking him up! He immediately (see notes) broke free thanks to two turns of Great Haste. The woman stabbed him but he defended. They ended up in a three-way fight. Aldwyn was put back to sleep, and the woman grabbed him and pulled him into close combat. Wyatt drew his wooden sword and tried that as well as his magical sword. The magic sword did nothing, but the wooden sword made contact and left a mark. So he kept battering away with the wooden longsword, wounding her a bit. Aldwyn was woken up by the skull spirit attacking him, but the woman was faster. She bit Aldwyn on the neck and started drinking his blood. She also stabbed him as Wyatt kept hitting him. Aldwyn tried to break free but kept failing, and she kept stabbing him and draining 3 HP per second from his neck. Soon he was making rolls against death. Ulf cast Sunlight, wounding the vampire. Its effect was immediate, but slow - she'd hold on for a while.
Gerry used Hidden Lore (Undead) to try to figure out vampire weaknesses.
The voice kept yelling, "Parlay, dammit, let's negotiate!"
Eventually even with her on him he freed up a Great Healing potion and drank it (lots of DX rolls), putting him to positive HP again. The vampire woman, still getting battered by Wyatt, tried to cut Aldwyn's throat. It took three tries but she finally cut him through his armor and wounding him terribly. He managed to escape from her grasp. Wyatt had kept hitting her and trying to Disarm, but her ST-based Knife skill well outdid his DX-based Broadsword skill.
Galen came into the cave at this point, and started looking around. He spotted a shallow grave that had skins and cloths tossed aside from it, like it was an unmade bed.
The voice kept demanding a parlay, and calling them murderers for not listening to his pleas to talk.
Galen looked around more. Eventually Gerry decided Rangol Grot must be behind an illusion, not Invisible, since Galen's See Invisible didn't help any. So he sent the skull spirit around bumping into walls. That eventually broke an illusion of a cabinet, which hid Rangol Grot. Wyatt immediately broke off and ran over and attacked him, cutting off one of his legs and then stabbing him four times in his one good eye. That killed him outright.
They went back to work on the vampire. Aldwyn got out a wooden stake. Galen ran over to Ulf's calls and caught one that Ulf tossed him. They ran over. Aldwyn managed to stab her with the stake and left it in. She was wounded but not dead, and slashed him in the neck. He rolled a 17 on his death check . . . and despite HT 13 and Hard to Kill 2 he was still mortally wounded.
The PCs piled on the vampire. Bruce ran in and slammed her, took a lot of damage, and fell down. Wyatt splashed her with holy water and injured her. Galen moved up. As Aldwyn went down, Galen stepped up and stabbed at her twice. One hit . . . for 1 damage / 3 injury. That was just enough to put her to a death check, and she dropped.
They poured holy water on her face, damaging it a bit further. Then Bruce punched the stakes in deeper. Then they stripped her naked and Entombed her after using Shape Earth to destroy her resting place.
That done, they used the Bell of D'Abo and searched. They found an orichalcum key with an orange tassel on it (magical), her knife - a black piece of obsidian (magical), and the other bell. They gathered up the weapons, the cash on the gnolls and orcs, and the heads of everyone intelligent (minute the pygmies, who Bruce stomped on the head for poisoning him), and then dragged out of there.
They found at this point that the "mage" that Galen had shot down was a dressing dummy that had been covered with Illusion Shell.
Wyatt made a HT roll after the fight not to catch disease from the bats.
Bruce later made his HT roll not to catch GNOLLVID-20, too.
The PCs made it back to the gate, escorted by the vegepygmies. They camped out there, healed everyone up, and returned to Felltower and from there to Stericksburg.
Back in town they sold off the salvaged gear, got the orichalcum key and knife analyzed, and eventually sold off the knife and divided up the loot.
The weather was terrible again in the Lost City - I rolled 15+ on the weather table most of their recent delves. The second day I rolled a 5, though, for perfect weather, so that probably made up for it. They had to hike ~5 miles from start to finish to Rangol Grot's place. In even usual rain that would have been a slog.
The PCs had no interest in parlaying with Rangol Grot. Wyatt scoffed at Galen's interest in Rangol's call for negotiation, as if Galen was the only one the guy was talking to. In the end, they killed him. It got me thinking, though - are there any disadvantages that essentially make you talk to civilized foes who ask to? I can't think of any in DF. Pacifism, maybe, but you're not likely to be fighting in the first place and it's not a PC disadvantage in DF. Someone, I can't recall who, suggested that Rangol Grot had a lot of nerve asking to parley after trying to kill first Gerry back in the day. You know, the first time the PCs barged onto his property and started killing everyone. Delver logic is actually among the most painful forms of spurious logic.
Also gamer logic, there was some discussion about how the vegepygmies promised to help them fight Rangol Grot, and that the plantfolk need the shielded temple dealt with to purify their city. The vegepygmies said they'd show their druid friend where the one-eyed elf is. They never mentioned the temple.
Spell question - can someone with Levitate fall, if the spell is on them but the wizard hasn't actually moved them around yet? It hadn't come up until Crogar knocked the cover off of that pit. We went with no. But that also means a person with Levitate can't jump down (and probably shouldn't be able to jump across, something I forgot later.) Part of why I ruled this was is that in Bard's Tale you used a levitation spell to avoid pits. I did rule that Walk on Air would be different - a fall breaks the spell, so falling would happen and the spell would be broken. They used the old "run one inch off the ground" thing, which I figure is playing it way too fine, but whatever.
I rolled a lot of criticals with the gnolls - lots of 4s and 17s, specifically. I rolled none with any other NPC. Lucky for the PCs - a single 4 by Rangol Grot would have meant a charmed PC or someone sleeping until the fight was over (or longer), no resistance.
The usual "oops" moments. One was the gnoll shooting Aldwyn in the chest. He went vitals because they're all in leather armor, right? I rolled a 4. Sweet! Except Aldwyn says, "Good thing I have my full armor on!" He does? He did. I didn't ask. The gnoll wouldn't have put a broadhead through mail; he'd have gone for the less-protected face. Sigh. What should have been the shot of a lifetime bounced off of the DR. Annoying, but I'd already called the shot. More annoying still was the PCs "discovered" the way to deal with Sleep is with the skull spirit just hitting the sleeping PC to get a HT roll and wake up. That happened by accident with Wyatt, who immediately sprang into action and did 4 Break Free actions a split-second later, followed by 3 more on the second turn of Great Haste. I forgot that - and the players who looked up the spell didn't note that - you are mentally stunned. Oh sure, Wyatt would have recovered with his 16 or less (IQ 10 or 11 plus Combat Reflexes) but it gain him a full turn of successful CP depletion that foiled the vampire's next move and got him away a full second earlier than would have otherwise. So yeah, that was a big deal error. I should give out XP rewards to people who inflict the full extent of the rules on their own characters. It would just make my life easier.
I'm still of the opinion that 17-18 is a critical failure and death on a death check unless you have 16+ on your roll. But I let it go.
The vampire was fun; I've used that mini before (as the vampire of the Evil Stone Head island in my last campaign.) She could have made some better decisions but her disadvantages limited her options a lot once triggered. Spoiler alert - I use a few different kinds of vampires, with overlapping traits but not identical curses. I was surprised they didn't immediately deploy weapons suited for vampires, though - Sunlight, holy water, garlic, and wooden stakes seemed pretty obvious choices, especially since they carry these items and took that spell to deal with vampires. It's like running into werewolves and trying to beat them to death with normal weapons while your silver dagger is in your belt sheath. Even more strangely, they didn't deploy some of these until after Gerry rolled Hidden Lore to remember what he could about killing vampires. Wasn't staking a vampire kind of an obvious choice? Wyatt had nothing better than his blunt wooden sword, but they really frittered away a lot of time before helping him with specifics. I know the players will say they didn't think of vampires, but geez, bat swarms! Sunlight-proof cave! Fangs!
They took Rangol Grot's head to use for Summon Spirit. We'll resolve that email (or more likely, the beginning of the next session because folks are too busy to get to it before then.)
They also salvaged the orc and gnoll heads for Skull Spirit spells, took every weapon (not the armor, it wasn't in great condition), and everything salable or portable - such as the vampire's thigh-high boots, leather bikini bottom, and cloak. They'd have brought her, too, if they thought they could sell her (Wyatt suggested her fangs were loot.) Just goes to show with delvers in general, and especially with a necromancer in the group, everything is loot down to the bodies themselves. I'm glad I've been so strick with Repair spells or every single thing the PCs find needs full dimensions, weight, price as-is, price new, and materials needed to repair. And I'm not even kidding.
They're not sure what to do with the key. It summons something, but they need a command word (at least.)
The knife was obsidian, but fine quality and both Puissance +1 and Shatterproofed - value $15,000. They spent a good 5 minutes or more debating the knife. Bruce wanted it until Aldwyn pointed out that his ST exceeded the maximum of a "normal" large knife. They sold it, in the end, because they needed the cash for loot and no one needs a knife especially much. They got $6,000.
XP was 4 each for loot, 1 xp for exploration - 2 and 1 for Galen who only took home $800 not the $4K he needs. MVP was Wyatt for keeping the vampire busy.
(Speaking of "needs" I really shouldn't have gone with my hybrid loot levels system; I did that to quiet complaints about sudden rises in loot needed back in the day. I think the smoothed, heavier progression is actually more logical and more fair risk-to-reward. In other words, I'd do Method 2, not Method 3, from this page.)