Today was session III of a multi-session attempt to destroy the Lord of Spite.
Date: December 20th, 2020
Game Date: November 22nd, 2020
Weather: Cool, cloudy, dark.
Ahenobarbus Barca, human swashbuckler (286 points)
Aldwyn Hale, human knight (313 points)
Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (145 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (326 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (430 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (408 points)
3 skeletons (~35 points)
Heyden, human knight (307 points)
"Mild" Bruce, human barbarian (315 points)
Sir Bunny Wigglesworth, human holy warrior (286 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (306 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (321 points)
We picked up where we left off last time - with the Lord of Spite about to take his next turn, moving up towards Ulf, who was far out in the lead of the PCs. The others were mostly exploring another area of cave. The PCs were a mess:
- Sir Bunny basically limbless, with three crippled or amputated limbs and an amputated foot.
- Wyatt fighting thanks to Levitate, but with a missing leg and a crippled arm.
- Heyden too exhausted to continue fighting, thanks to Great Haste piled onto his encumbrance.
- Bruce missing a hand and fighting one-handed with his default Broadsword skill.
- Ahenobarbus was 1 FP away from half move and dodge.
- the casters were down pretty far on FP and Gerry also on HP, since he regularly casts off of HP.
Durak kept a steady move up toward Ulf, who'd seen and heard him and came running back, yelling for help. Everyone basically turned and ran back - the deaf were within sight of those who could hear, so no one lost much time heading into the fray. Galen moved quickly and began to shoot at the Lord of Spite, crit-fishing to bypass Missile Shield. Bruce ran up to engage.
Ulf managed to get past Bruce just as the Lord of Spite made it up to near Bruce. They began to fight as more PCs arrived - Ahenobarbus, then Crogar, the Wyatt, and Gerry and his skeletons moved up as well.
The fight was basically a steady brawl. Ahenobarbus danced around trying to get shots in on skulls. Wyatt moved along the edge and tried the same. Crogar stalked the Lord of Spite looking for an opportunity to strike. Durak took a run at Bruce, who dodged aside - allowing Durak to take a swing at Ulf, but he missed. The PCs and one skeleton swarmed in. There was a close-in brawl that moved along as the Lord of Spite attacked and the PCs retreated, basically allowing him a lot of freedom of movement. The PCs kept taking shots at him. Feints didn't work very well against him - he's high skilled and was rolling well - but the did allow a few hits to get through. When he exposed his back Crogar managed a big hit followed by two leg chops, and Wyatt sliced his foot twice. He couldn't retailiate effectively except with a critical hit - the buffed defenses of everyone meant they generally had 16+ on all of their defenses, even with Deceptive Attack, and skills too high to usefully Feint against (not that Durak has done that.) He managed one critical defense (against Wyatt) and two important critical hits (one wounding Bruce IIRC, and a second against Wyatt.)
That was enough to paste Wyatt, though, who took a critical hit to the skull and went down, barely alive, moments after destroying the last of Durak's new necklace of skulls. The Lord of Spite was quite angered by this, and put two additional shots into Wyatt's prone form, crippling Wyatt's other leg. He turned to fight the others. Ulf "helped" by casting Awaken on Wyatt, waking him up!
Wyatt sat himself up and then stood using Levitate, but didn't have his swords ready. Durak turned on him and hit him again, crushing him back down. He made his death check, but was out of the fight with no working limbs.
The Lord of Spite took more hits, then, from Bruce and Crogar. Galen launched arrows into the fray, crit-fishing, but instead a shot hit Ahenobarbus . . .for maximum damage in the arm. Ahenobarbus used Luck to re-roll the damage and his bracers got in the way and deflectedit aside. Durak finally took a huge shot from Bruce followed by another from Crogar - who was routinely doing 30 cutting damage on most of his hits - and he began to fragment and break up! He let out a loud roar, and everyone nearby had to resist against a noxious evil power.
Crogar and Ahenobarbus failed (Crogar despite Luck - and Ahenobarbus's Luck had averted Galen's accidental hit.) Both suffered from an immediate Curse spell at -3!
In moments, the Lord of Spite was a bubbling puddle of noxious black . . . something . . . on the ground. All heared a gravely voice - in their ears and heads - promising to remember them and be back for revenge.
Bruce spat on the bubbling pile - and was getting ready to urinate on it when it boiled away, leaving a black mark on the ground. Durak's wooden club was gone with him, but the stactite club he'd brought was still there.
The PCs quickly put up Galen as a guard, and dragged over the bodies of their dead and wounded friends, and some of them rested. The warrior types like Crogar and Bruce began to pick up coins one by one.
Once they got people sufficiently healed and rested to not be dying - including using Stop Bleeding to stabilize Aldwyn - they gathered up as a group and investigated. There were coins and stones - some semi-precious, some just attractive-looking junk - spread around everywhere. They found a number of piles of skulls - just the top half, no jawbones, and any tusks removed or broken off. They were of animals, from mouse sized to bear sized, and humanoids of all races. There was a big one in the area where they'd seen him charging out of for his rush on Ulf. There were others, elsewhere.
They came across a nest of centipedes in one corner - and Galen spotted a large leg. He recognized it as a gargantuan centipede - roughly 15-20' long, extremely venomous. And like all centipedes, fast. But he spotted it far off enough that it wasn't disturbed yet, and he and Ulf - the only two in the lead - backed off (both with very successful Stealth rolls.) They explored more and found where the mawbörg stay, where the Lord of Spite does his pacing, and a large broken pentagram scratched into the rock. In one area, though, lined with either with a little copper ore or "fool's copper," a careful search by Galen revealed an iron strongbox. He dragged it out of the rocks it was wedged into. It had a lock and was crusted over with a thin layer of stone. They took it with them, able to hear something moving about within it, and it was heavy as well.
A final trot around with See Secrets on Galen revealed nothing extra. They moved out, as best they could, with skeletons carrying the wounded and limbs.
On the way out, Bruce touched the red six-fingered handprint with his right hand, taking 1 HP of injury and losing 5 FP, so he can use that hand to open the doors, too.
Back in town, they counted up a few hundred gold pieces, about 200 semi-precious stones worth 10 sp each, and 10,001 sp. They managed to pry open the strongbox and found it had a quarter-pound lump of gold, a copper bracelet (which turned out to be Laccodel's Rune, a powerful magic item), a bunch of gems, and an electrum bracelet. They sold the lot, except for the Rune, and divvied up the loot. They got everyone healed and Varmus resurrected, and Aldwyn gave him a second "I died in Felltower" shirt.
Well, Durak is down for 666 days, and the PCs got some nice loot off of him. Not that much divided 11 ways including folks chipping in to get Varmus brought back from the dead. They're pretty sure they got most of the coins, but there might be some here and there - it's a rough cave floor, and there wasn't sufficient light or time to meticuloisly search. Turns out that only two party members have Search - the cleric and the scout. No one else shows any sign of learning it, either, but I do use it to determine how fast and how effectively you search areas and gather things within them.
- The Curse of Durak is pretty nasty. It was a Will-5 roll, and mostly people passed the roll. Crogar wanted to use Luck to force Durak to re-roll, but it wasn't a contest. His own re-rolls went 8, 9, 10 - he wasn't any better off. In any case, I'm always leery of allowing one person with Luck to force a re-roll on a group-affecting event. Sometimes Luck might not feel that Lucky, but you can't always choose where to apply your game-mechanical breaks. The curse itself is very harsh, and the breaking condition is also so - deliberately. I didn't want this to be a "plunk down $100 and undo the curse" event. The retributive curses of Demon Lords should be more than a casual healing away.
- Speaking of healing, one thing GURPS doesn't really make clear is length of recovery from some debilitating conditions, such as horrendous amounts of injury. So we routinely have people taken to negative HP - often a high multiple - and then, still conscious, act as if they're fine. Barbarian is at -92 HP? Load him up to Extra Heavy Encumbrance with treasure and fallen PCs and he's able to fight one-handed. Recovered from a heart attack thanks to Stop Bleeding stabilizing your mortal condition? Heck, just use Lend Energy and healing potions, get to full, and you're right as rain, no time to recover. But a broken arm takes a month if you use Restoration. It just breaks versimilitude for me. It doesn't have the seeming of truth. I'd do a formal ruling on it. I don't mind the fast recovery, but sometimes it feels like there are just three combat results: Totally fine, totally fine except for a missing limb, dead. There is nothing in between.
- In the end, it was a costly fight, but the Lord of Spite didn't have much except brute force once he'd used a few spells and his Unspeakable Utterance, and brute force was of limited use. He landed not a single blow that wasn't either a critical hit, or made against a semi-helpless foe (Bruce, in the earlier parts of the fight.) $22,000 worth of buffs and healing went into defeating him, on top of 11 characters plus three skeletons, with characters ranging from 268 points to 470. He mostly was attacking at a 16-17 skill to crit-fish, because the PCs were routinely defending at 16+ even with his usual Deceptive Attack. I'm not saying this is unfair, just saying it's what it is - it's impossible except by the luck of the dice to defeat a magically-buffed skilled party.
Now, had the Lord of Spite had a different attitude about combat - had he gone for lethal blows and fought to efficiently kill instead of randomly whacking whoever seemed like a useful target at the time - he could have easily killed a few PCs - Sir Bunny, Bruce, and Wyatt all for sure. He had them set up for a coup-de-grace and didn't deliver it. I'm sure my players will have objections to that statement, but they're wrong - all three had at least one second where Durak had a chance to full-power hit them twice while they couldn't defend . . . and he's too good to miss the Skull or Neck with both shots. If he had done so, he may have been able to turn to tide or cause the player's morale to break. But except for a bit at the end, he never adjusted his approach. I know why, but I'll leave it for others to think over. Will he take the same approach in 666 days? We'll find out in October of 2022.
- Laccodel's Rune is in DFT3 as the "Antimagical Bracelet." In my particular game, its magic resistance does not stack. If it did, Gerry might have wanted it more. I think Bruce got it, in the end. It's sized for SM 0 but it's a copper bracelet with an open loop, so it can be sized for him, and he's most likely to touch stuff to dispel things. Okay, to touch stuff for any reason possible.
- MVP was Gerry after a long debate over it, for lots of effective spellcasting I think. I actually don't care who gets MVP, or why, but the discussion did start to descend into a formal discussion along the lines of "the following criteria shouldn't be used for MVP." I reminded them we once gave Aldwyn's player MVP for making an apple pie, and it's better if really is a totally open set of criteria. XP was 4 each for loot, 1 each for exploration, and 1 bonus for finally "killing" the Lord of Spite.
- Ulf learned Regeneration and did all of the regenerating of lost limbs. That saved a fortune for the group. I do need to check prior rulings about the date - do I date it from the following day (Ulf learned the spell overnight, not instantly) or from the actual real-world day? Equipment is definitely the latter but I'll have to dig and see if healing is the former. For some reason, people are mostly keeping their lopped off hands and whatnot, if only because people now want to get hands cut off to use as keys for the six-fingered doors.