Monday, October 12, 2020

Session 139, Felltower 107 - Green Gemstone Zombies again

Date: October 12th, 2020
Weather: Cool, clear.


Aldwyn Hale, human knight (313 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (155 points)
     Orcish Bob, "orc" squire (125 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (461 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (306 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (321 points)

We started off in Sterickburg. The PCs spent a long, long time planning out the goals for the session. Lacking a large group, they eventually settled on a "scouting" expedition.

They gathered rumors, which mostly didn't affect their plans, and purchased a barrel of ale, a wheelbarrow to carry it in, and headed out to the old "dragon cave." Their intention was to meet the giant that's there, and either befriend him with a gift of ale, or kill him if that didn't work.

They reached the cave and sent Galen in to scout. The giant wasn't home, and hadn't left a lootable bag of stuff around this time. The PCs went in and stashed the wheelbarrow and ale nearby, but "out of reach" of the giant (based on their estimation of his size, which is based on very little evidence.)

From there they headed to the "High Sanctity Area" and partook of some mushrooms (Wyatt) and water (Wyatt, Aldwyn) and rested.

They went up the stairs and reached the white-tiled room. Next, they made their way toward the green gemstone zombie room, checked a door or two along the way. They hurried past a room with double doors beyond which was marked "child statue" and in front of which was a "Hiroshima shadow" from a blast-burned crouching person.

They noted a "new" corridor - at least one that wasn't on their map. It dead-ended out after 15'.

Once they reached the weird truncated J-shaped sloping corridor, they spiked in a rope and used that to reach the metal door at the end. Wyatt picked the lock, taking extra time to be sure of success.

They moved inside the room and found 11 zombies along the walls - a mix of orcs and hobgoblins, mostly, but also two humans - each a green gemstone in its forehead. In the middle of the room was a green glow centered, seemingly, on a point about 8' off of the ground.

The zombies attacked with clubs and saw-toothed curved blades. They died quickly - the melee fighters waited for them to close and decapitated them (although Orcish Bob lopped off one's leg and then chopped his torso before Aldwyn decapitated it), while Galen shot three arrows in their vitals. They dodged a few blows but only ever landed a single one - a grab of Orcish Bob's ankle before they killed it. The casters helped with Sunbolt and Fireball.

The killing done, they extracted the gems with Cleansing, and took them as loot. Wyatt snapped all of the blades and clubs by placing them against the wall and stomping them. Then he took one of the clubs and touched the glowing light.

He was immediately paralyzed, and took 6 injury, then 4 more a second later. So Ulf healed him 10 with Faith Healing, then realized he was still taking damage as Wyatt took another 1 injury. They dragged him off of the glow.

They then tried to destroy the glow - Dismissive Wave failed, as did shooting it with a Sunbolt (which just caused a green glow in the room and 1 injury to everyone), throwing a club at it (passed through, hitting nothing), and casting Sunlight, too. The last one failed spectacularly as Ulf took 7 injury as he tried to run away, only to find the green glow "beat" or "absorbed" the Sunlight.

They rested a bit and healed up, and then explored the "hydra room" - nothing but old bones and acid corrision marks on the floor.

After that, they found the stairs up and headed up. They made it up to "level 2" and into the orc area. There was a lot of old wood and tools inthe first room, but no orcs. And no barricades. They headed around toward the "orc hole" and reached a room. No orcs. They noted a stone button on the floor in an alcove, and their map claimed there was a trap door either in the floor or the ceiling, they weren't sure which or where it goes (actually, the map says so clearly.)

So, naturally, they checked for trap doors and found the one in the ceiling. They set guards and used See Secrets to search for a button to release it, but found none. Next they decided to check the floor button. They backed off and set up guard position, then Wyatt pressed the button.

The floor dropped away from underneath him, 20' down to spikes below. He grabbed the edge and kept from falling in. The floor banged against the sides as it released beneath him, as did Wyatt's Mythic Corselet and epic plate leg protection.

As Wyatt pulled himself back up, with some help, they heard voices and booted feet - orcs!

Their sneaky recon was about to be compromised. So they ran, lights mostly covered.

The fled down the stairs to the next level. At the landing, Wyatt suggested they split into two groups. One to keep "fleeing" to draw pursuit, and the others to wait in ambush in the dark. Ulf, Aldwyn, and Wyatt briefly argued about if they should kill all pursuers so the orcs wouldn't know who'd come, or just running, but ambush won out . . .

. . . until Galen said, "You know they can see in the dark, right?"

They decided to just keep running. They did so, but then carefully took the winding stairs down. They saw and heard no immediate pursuit.

At the bottom of the stairs, headed toward the "behir" and the gargoyles, hoping to kill them and take their stuff.

Instead, they ran into a big batch of beetles - horshoe-crab-sized beetles - about four to six dozen of them. Acting quickly, Varmus put down a 3-area Create Fire to block them off. The beetles were too big to climb the walls, so they were stuck. Wyatt tossed three Alchemist Fire flasks behind them to pen them in. Varmus added an Explosive Fireball at 1d but it killed on and harmed one or two others. Sunbolt didn't do much. (They were clearly low-HP but had a solid bit of DR.) Galen started shooting them, as they discussed ways to roast or destroy them all to get rid of this parade of beetles.

As that happened, though, some of them felt a bit . . . fuzzy. They lost some Will, IQ, and DX. They couldn't figure out what it was, so they retreated back to the "High Sanctity Room." Galen heard leathery wings flap, briefly, but then nothing. They made it to the room safely.

They waited there for a bit, but then decided it was gone. They checked out Sterick's Tomb on the way, and the "nest." It was clearly a man-sized creature, maybe a bit smaller, making a big nest of sticks held together by mud. They found nothing of value, so they left. The didn't encounter the giant on the way out, ether

They made it back to town, and despite the late hour all but Ulf headed to the tower of Jans the Black . . . but it wasn't there. The alley that should lead to it dead-ended, instead, and there wasn't any way to get to the plaza . . . and there was no tower there, anyway. So they ended up just selling their green gems on the open market for 250 each.


One rumor they heard was that the cone-hatted cultists have a real church in the capital city, now, so be careful killing them in Felltower.

Equipment notes for my players: Always check DF1 and DF8 before Low-Tech. They are authoritative. Low-Tech just provides coverage for items not in those boos, and what's listed there may or may not be available. The PCs looked up prices for barrels in LT, ale in LT, etc. but those aren't the prices for this game.

So it's much faster making decisions with a "small" group. It didn't take long to sort through any in-dungeon decisions about actions. One decisive yes, or 2-3 "that sounds worth trying" reponses, was all that was needed.

And yes, four is a very small group these days. We'd expected seven but had two last-minute situations, and one was a family function for one pair of gamers. So a "smallish" seven became a small four. They had less capabilities and overlap of such. It's funny but they see one scout, one wizard, one cleric, and two front-line fighters with heavy armor as lacking in appropriate firepower and magical support. Usually they have so many front line fighters that they can sort out a "front rank" with shields and a "second rank" of shield-less fighters and put NPC hired support in the back to keep the casters safe from flank or rear attack.

They wanted Raggi but he's basically retired. Finding him will take an actual search, not a random "Is Raggi around?" roll. He hasn't delved with the group since sometime around 2018.

I was actually looking forward to them talking to Jans the Black, aka Black Jans - well, at least to (his?) servant(s), the Kio. But the dice said no. It happens.

Overall, a fun session. The PCs had a few goals - try to parlay with (or barring that, kill) the giant and its wolves, find an alternate path up to the orcs, kill the "behir," kill the gargoyles in the caves, and investigate the green gemstone zombies. They managed two of those, which isn't that bad - two of them got nixed by the odd encounter at the end, and one by the giant just not being there when they were there. Not bad, really. They managed a bit of loot, too, although I'm not sure if they have a clear idea of what to do next.

XP was 4 each for loot (only 2 xp for Galen). MVP was Galen for "You know they can see in the dark, right?" That spared them a failed ambush attempt as they used darkness for concealment. Infravision is a difficult thing to counter sometimes.


  1. Why did Wyatt break the blades instead of trying to loot?

  2. And I do hope they try to bring back old friends like Raggi and Larry!

  3. I 'LOLed' at 'It's funny but they see one scout, one wizard, one cleric, and two front-line fighters with heavy armor as lacking in appropriate firepower and magical support."

    But then you've //normally// got a larger group than I've personally seen in awhile. So "well-rounded party of one person covering each role" just sounds fine to me. Granted they didn't have a proper Wizard or Thief, but they had Galen and Wyatt and between them it looks like they can cover the thiefly duties (sneaking, spotting, lockpicking... and falling into traps).

    1. Given parties twice there size have gotten whipped before I can understand misgivings

    2. True, but parties this size have gotten rich, too. Party size hasn't been a good determiner of success or failure of delves.

    3. Interestingly, I think what happens is that when we have large parties, we go after bigger targets. Draugr, the dragon on the Gate level [sigh], various gates, etc. With smaller parties, we're a bit more focused. Reminds me a little bit of the Hjalmarr/Quenton/Alaric delve where they had Brother Ike, Raggi, and Melchior the Malevolent. Three PCs, one ally, two recruited NPCs. Or the delve with Hjalmarr, Mo, and Vryce when they found the golden bust on the gate level. Smaller groups have to be more careful (perhaps the bigger groups should also be this careful!).

      There definitely is a difference in efficiency, to be sure. There's less of a need for a "leader" when there's only four people voting on what to do; democracy works. When there are eight or nine players, which is also a ton of fun and has made for some really fun delves, democracy is rough.

    4. I think what Wyatt's player said was also important. I can't remember his pithy way of putting it, but delving in dungeons to take loot from the inhabitants is dangerous. There is no way to do that without danger; you can account for it but not avoid it. Sometimes I find that with a large group, people will sometimes feel like it's safety in numbers, plus you get the "everyone gets a veto and everyone gets a vote" effect of less stuff done. Oddly, this can lead to a large group taking less risks, because the group crosses off all of the vetoed options and is left with a consensus poor idea. Add that to a feeling of assured victory because you have so many powerful delvers and you can end up with a messy TPK.

      Also, in large groups you get the "I'm bored, I'll do something" effect in and out of combat . . . that happens less often in small groups as people are generally doing three hand's worth of work with two hands. But sometimes people do touch green glowing things no matter what the group size.

  4. "But sometimes people do touch green glowing things no matter what the group size." Indeed!

    But that's right--delving is inherently dangerous. Sometimes the group (perhaps me worst of all) tries too hard to minimize risk.

    1. It's fair to try to minimize the risk - you don't want to lose all of the hard work you put into your character, and all of the experience and powers and equipment he's accumulated.

      It's just when "minimize risk" is held up about "explore the dungeon" or "get loot" that it becomes an issue, because you can't do either of the latter two if you make risk-avoidance the number one priority.


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