Date: October 25th, 2020
Weather: Cool, clear, eventually light rain.
Aldwyn Hale, human knight (313 points)
Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (155 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (317 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (408 points)
3 skeletons (~35 points)
Heyden, human knight (307 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (306 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (321 points)
We started off in Sterickburg. The group purchased some potions, spell stones, and so on.
They decided on a plan of befriending the giant with the beer they bought for the same purpose last week. They wheeled the wheelbarrow up the mountain with the 5-gallon beer barrel on it and headed to the cave.
At the cave, it was clear the giant was in - there was a faint smell of smoke from a doused fire and the sounds of wolves. Standing a good 30 yards out, where the mountain begins to slope away a little more steeply, they lined up, weapons away, with Gerry Invisible. Ulf called out to the giant, asking him to come out, they had a gift for him.
The wolves came to the entrance, as did a 20' tall giant wearing furs and carrying a rock ready to throw and a giant greataxe. He told the "puny men" to go away. Ulf offered up beer in return for passage into the caves.
Long story short, they negotiated. Crogle, the giant called himself, wanted gold. Ulf said he had five gold. Crogle said, okay, a hand of gold and a barrel of beer for each person. (The reaction roll was a base 9, which is "Poor" at best - he wanted more than they'd offered.) Wyatt whispered that this was a terrible deal - it was the orcs all over again, with a toll they can't pay. Ulf said he could give him the barrel and a hand of gold, but then they'd give him "more" gold when they came back. Some of the loot, if they found any. Crogle wasn't convinced. He wanted more beer and more gold now, not later, not maybe. Or, they could leave some puny men for him to eat. They dickered a bit more but Crogle wasn't willing to let them into the cave in return for a little beer and a maybe, and wouldn't budge on either more beer, more gold, some people to eat, or some combination of all of them.
They told him they'd be back in 14 moons ("Moons?" said Heyden) with more beer and more gold. They left him the barrel of beer as a gift.
After backing off, they sat down for lunch out of sight of the cave. They decided they needed to go back and kill Crogle. The plan was, give him enough time to drink the beer. Then, they'd offer him all of their food and wineskins and claim it was more beer. Meanwhile, Wyatt would sneak up onto the top of the cave with Invisibility and No-Smell, and, when the giant came out for the "gift," he'd use a Walk on Air spellstone to move up in front of him and stab him in the eyes. The casters would have Missile Shield on everyone and use Walk on Air to avoid the dire wolves.
They returned and called out to Crogle. Crogle was much less receptive to talking this time. (They'd later find he drank the beer, and he's not a friendly type when drinking.) He angrily threw a rock at the wheelbarrow and knocked it over, demanding more beer and that the puny men go away. So Ulf started to scold him. Crodle laughed at some of his threats and threw a rock at him. He threw a few more as Ulf kept taunting him, and told him he wasn't good at throwing rocks. Finally, Crogle yelled "KILL!" and charged, along with his wolves. The PCs were a little off guard - they readied weapons, but Wyatt was stuck behind the wave of wolves and giant.
The giant was fast - he only got a few yards in the first second, but hit move 15 a second later thanks to his very long stride. The PCs were totally unprepared for that. Wyatt was left behind, and had to get up and use his Walk on Air spellstone. The wolves and giant reached the grop in a few seconds. Crogle swung his axe and Ulf dodged. The wolves swarmed the PCs, and quickly surrounded them.
In a messy melee, the wolves surrounded the group and started to bit and hold on to the fighers from front and back, after losing a few wolves to the waiting knights and barbarian. Varmus chucked a fireball at one, and Ulf readied a Sunbolt. But then Crodle rolled a 4 and critically hit Ulf . . . and hit for 39 cutting damage. Ulf flew back a few yards - unstunned, conscious, and not fatally injured - but in grave threat of the latter two. Varmus was neaby, and the fighters were mobbed by wolves . . . so Crogle swung at Varmus (I rolled a 50/50 tossup). Varmus failed to dodge, and took 37 cutting damage . . . and was cut nearly in half. He fell, dead.
A second later Ulf tried to stand, but fell unconscious.
Wyatt finally caught him around now, and took four swings at Crogle at a full fly but missed. Crogle turned and swung at him, but Wyatt dodged and stabbed him three times in the eyes. Crogle fell screaming, blinded. The wolves kept biting at the PCs but they couldn't inflict any real harm. Gerry tossed in Great Haste on Aldwyn and Heyden after putting it on himself. They broke free one by one, or killed the wolves despite being in close combat with long weapons while grappled, and eventually cut them down.
Wyatt stabbed Crogle twice more, and he fell still. The wolves eventually got chopped down, including one who lept at Wyatt, trying to kill him in revenge for the attack on Crogle - Aldwyn ran up and finished it off.
After that, they spent some time in place - Wyatt used Walk on Air to make sure nothing was sneaking up on them. Crogar began to skin wolves. Gerry used Steal Energy to get FP back from the unconscious wolves, before using Zombie on one of them. The others fed minor healing potions to Ulf - a total of 10 of them in the end. Along with First Aid Ulf was healed to positive HP. He woke up after 15 minutes and healed himself - first critically failing with Minor Healing and harming himself 3 injury, and then using Major Healing to heal his last injury and the new one from his previous failure. "Thanks, God" he said, somewhat petulantly sounding, but claimed it was sincere.
They bundled up the slain Varmus in the wheelbarrow after collecting their food from where it had been scattered, took the giant's axe and searched him for valuables (none), and then searched his cave. They found the remains of his cookfire, gnawed bones, and a bag full of mostly junk - an axehead turned into a handheld scraper, a collection of teeth, moldy cheese (Ulf ate some after cutting the moldy bits off), some horse-sized caltrops, and a few other things. Nothing of actual value. Turns out he hadn't gotten any more money since Galen had burgled him a while back - which is probably one reason he never left his bag behind again. He also had a club, but it wasn't valuable.
From there, they moved to the "High Sanctity Area" and rested, having a few mushrooms and water, and leaving Varmus there. Ulf baptized his corpse, basically, before they left.
They headed to the behir, but also wanted to figure out that weird "fuzzy" feeling they felt last time.
They had it happen again, with everyone getting a little fuzzy. They moved into a cave and Ulf spotted movement with Dark Vision - a cloak-like monster. He used Sunlight to light it up. It fled, and they gave chase, but couldn't keep up. They decided to stalk it, and did so, not willing to have it attack from behind while they were killing the "behir." Ulf cast Seeker and had a vision of it in the cave they'd just come from, it clearly having circled back.
Basically they sent Wyatt (Invisible) and Ulf (carrying a 6d Sunbolt) to find it, and then the others would rush up to help. The two ran into the cloak fiend in the room, and it immediately fuzzed them up further. Ulf hit it with a Sunbolt a second after it paralyzed Wyatt by reducing his muscles to limp unresponsiveness. It was scorched badly, and he smelled a burning chemical smell. It retreated, and Ulf cast Protection from Evil and critically failed, making himself susceptible to evil at -5. He cast again to cancel it out with a successful casting.
From there, the others caught up after ~20 seconds, with Crogar arriving in half that time.
They stalked it further, trying to track it by its smell, but only had any smell of burning a short distance away.
They kept after it, and carefully searched rooms and corridors as they went, carefully looking for it. They found a room with a (dead) beetle in it, but decided it might have been paralyzed by the cloak fiend (or was the cloak fiend, in disguise) so they sent Aldwyn to chop it up. He broke it into pieces. Ulf decided that maybe it had been killed by the cloak fiend and its insides sucked out somehow. Wyatt berated him for making up random powers to assign to monsters.
They used a scroll of Seeker to try to find it again - this time Gerry casting - but it failed. They decided to check on the gargoyles, also where the cloak fiend might have gone. Long story short, they arrived, used Levitate to check, and found no cloak fiend and no gargoyles. They heard flapping from the "behir" cave, but decided to avoid it, not wanting to fight either stirges (if that was what it was - sounded reasonably like that) or the "behir." So instead they decided to check on the sinkhole room.
They headed back to town then - it was quite late. (Out of game - it was my cutoff time, so I told them they had to stop searching and just leave.) They gathered up Varmus and went home. They managed to sell the wolf skins for a small amount and the axe for ~20% of its list value (they tried the usual "It's a great and special curio someone will pay top coin for!" but that wasn't true.) Having sold everything, they then gathered up Varmus's money from his room and spent almost all of it, plus donations from Ulf and Aldwyn, to bring him back.
Aldwyn's player made the roll, and it succeeded. He gifted Varmus with a "I Died in Felltower" T-Shirt and Ulf welcomed him to the club of people slain in Felltower. Varmus wasn't impressed.
It was a good attempt to negotiate with Crogle the Giant. It failed mostly because they don't have anyone with any really positive ways to improve reaction bonuses, and the reaction to Ulf was low - a 9. It's hard to dig out of poor with a relatively small bribe and a promise of things to come later, depending on such a poor reaction roll. It would have been arguably smarter for Crogle to let them go in, and then demand a reward on the way out - they'd be in much worse shape to argue back in that case. But Crogle wasn't a terribly smart giant.
Amusingly Ulf spent a lot of time complaining that Crogle didn't need gold anyway, he couldn't go spend it in town. If he wanted stuff, he should hire them to go buy it for him. With what? Not gold, clearly, he doesn't need any - back to the first complaint. Heh. Adventurers. They want to fight monsters with gold but don't understand why monsters want gold. Meanwhile, they want quests where monsters pay them. They really, really, really want people to pay them to do tasks. They've basically decided the giant dragon under Felltower is too big to reasonably fight, so they need to find a way to get it to hire them to do a quest for it. The orcs can't seem to accomplish their goal, so they should hire the PCs to do it. The hope the civilized apes will have a quest for them. Boy, video games have had a serious effect on the way people perceive PC-NPC interactions in games, haven't they? An economy based on buying loot and giving armed wanderers money to do errands.
The fight went much worse than anyone expected - on both sides. The plan was for Wyatt to "front stab" him in the eyes while he was getting food. He didn't want the food, and all the taunting (which was well done, for once!) just got him mad. I guess they didn't expect he'd come out quickly, but rather would stand just outside the cave. Nope, he ran right into melee. He couldn't seem to hit, and they angered him, so in he went. It was a costly fight - $5K and points for Varmus, ~10 healing potions, use of a bunch of spellstones (at least two Walk on Air stones), and earned an axe they sold for $225.
I'll explain how I rule on Allies using cut-rate resurrection works later this week.
I assumed 1d6 x $10 each for dire wolf hides; since DF calls out when something is even worth $10 as a special value body part, it stands to reason that things that aren't called out are worth less for the most part. I halved the value since these wolves were hacked apart with swords and axes, and often were decapitated. And one was turned into a zombie and then skinned later (presumably - they said they took 15 hides, and one zombie, out of 15 wolves.) So they ended up with ~$245 worth of hides salable at 40%.
As always, a fun game, but it was mostly the PCs having one big fight and doing some cleanup in the caves. That they still managed to get some XP just shows how generous my loot-based XP rules are on the low end. I did have to put my foot down during loot distribution when they talked about dividing the loot without Varmus. When a PC dies and is Resurrected, they still give that PC a full share. So when an NPC dies he forfits his share? They were also a little surprised that Varmus had "so little" - about $2500 in cash. Well, he bought new armor, new weapons, upgraded his power item, etc. and kept more than enough for upkeep. The latter part is very unlike a PC, actually - plenty of people have needed to borrow money for upkeep after a huge haul because they spent every penny maximally upgrading their gear. But then an NPC elicits groans for not having kept all of his loot to encure enough to fully pay for necessary magical healing in town?
Again, it's fairly typical - players, including mine, see a fundamental gulf between "us" - PCs - and "them" - NPCs of any kind - and expect the world to treat them differently. I do my best to make the world treat them all the same, and have NPCs resent the automatic assumption of superiority if it's displayed.
XP was 2 each for 20% of their loot threshold, and MVP was Ulf for all of his roleplaying of negotiations even though they turned out poorly.