Monday, January 4, 2021

GURPS DF Session 145, Felltower 111 - Yeth Hounds

Sunday was the latest game in our DF Felltower game. For more notes and summaries, check the DF Felltower campaign page.

Date: January 3rd, 2021
Weather: Cold, snowy.

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)
Sir Bunny Wigglesworth, human holy warrior (291 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (306 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (326 points)

We started in Stericksburg, with the PCs gathering rumors and replacing some of the consumables they used up fighting the Lord of Spite. They gathered some rumors. Amusingly, one told them there was a "holy well" in Felltower you could drink from to remove curses, but another said nothing in Felltower is safe to drink. Crogar (coincidentally) heard that someone wants to buy the "axe that banished the Lord of Spite" for 750 gold (15,000). He didn't take it.

The PCs headed into the dungeon through the trap down, and right down to the Orichalcum doors. Varmus (and one other?) suffered from the bad air on the "gate level." They puzzled at the doors, and the key they believe matches it, for a few minutes before they moved on.

A little further down they hustled into a rooom that seals with a Force Dome; they were all trapped when it formed up. Gerry cast Dispel Magic on part of it, and they continued on. They tried to force the door at the end of the hallway but Heyden failed - but Crogar was able to step up and pry it open. Beyond it was a rectangular room with a broken 8" or so purple hemisphere on the ceiling. They couldn't determine what it was but surmised it's the same as the (larger) black hemispheres they've found and broken elsewhere. The room had three other doors. They decided one must go to the Lord of Spite's caves, but didn't check for sure.

They chose the one opposite that and Ulf cast Sense Life (his newest spell) beyond it. He sensed life beyond it - but something not-quite-living but not undead . . . maybe some kind of elder thing.

So they yanked the door open. Beyond it was a long, elliptical room, with nine shadowy, translucent black dogs. They loosed a terrifying series of howls as they instantly leaped forward and through the door, attacking the front rank.

(Oddly, none of the PCs were Waiting, or really ready for anything. Someone asked after combat started, but you can't retroactively declare prep in my games. I know my lack of "Standard Operating Procedure" bugs some people - although seemingly not my players, but it's that kind of game - you aren't assumed to be taking actions you don't say you're taking. I guess the delvers had a momentary lapse - it happens to everyone. Besides, they're used to gaining the initiative and going first.)

The howl was a bowel-churning mix of cold fear and dispiriting inability - Crogar and Aldwyn both failed their Will rolls and were at -5 to all rolls for the fight.

The hounds were upon them, biting as they closed into close combat. They landed a couple of blows - and their teeth (and bodies) ignored parrying blades and bit right through armor like it wasn't there, slashing open throats and holding on for a grapple.

The PCs swung back - but Crogar couldn't land a hit (grappled, -5, -3 for curse, in close combat) and Aldwyn and Heyden weren't able to harm them with their blades. They tried a few swings but while they could ward them off with shields, they couldn't hit them otherwise - everything passed right through. Gerry used Evaluate and identified them (with Hidden Lore (Spirit Lore) and a very good roll) as Yeth Hounds - dog-shaped elder things said to come from the moon on moonless nights to hunt in the darkest woods. He'd heard there were only slayable with magic, so Varmus created a Fireball.

Ulf quickly sprung into action, and cast Sunlight, hoping to weaken or destroy the shadowy things. But it didn't harm them at all. So he switched to Rebuke Evil on the ones in combat with his friends and those just beyond. That worked - it harmed them and drove them all back. (He made his roll by only 1, but they literally each failed both of their rolls outright.) The PCs quickly slammed the door shut, just after Varmus threw his Fireball ineffectively through one of them.

The door safetly shut, the PCs took a "quick" break - which turned into ~35 minutes of deciding them needed to open the door because Wyatt was unwilling to leave active foes behind them as they explored the other doors.

Theorizing that woooden weapons would work (shield blocks did, after all), or holy water, or magic weapons, they put Wyatt (magic sword), Heyden (magic sword and backup wooden sword), and Aldwyn (wooden swords) in the front rank. Sir Bunny was ready with holy water.

They opened the door, and the dogs rushed in to the waiting PCs. None of their attacks worked - wooden swords went right through, as did magic weapons. Sir Bunny never managed to land any holy water on the dogs, trying to splash it out (I ruled that's still Throwing) onto one. The PCs got fairly mauled - Heyden especially. Wyatt managed to hold off one . . . but another ran onto the air in front of him and into close combat, biting him! A second piled onto Heyden, too. Gale shot an arrow into the fray but it didn't harm them, either.

Ulf kept them alive with repeated castings of Rebuke Evil, some small and some large, alternating 2d and 3d castings. Gerry used Lend Energy to keep him going, and Gerry used Great Haste on himself to speed up casting. Aldwyn, meanwhile, charged up his Bracers of Shock and punched one, hitting it. His fist made contact, but did little (if any damage) - and his shock fizzled, doing nearly minimum damage (4; it have been 7 but he forgot it's 3d+3, not 3d). "Fists work!" he yelled. So they tried punching and kicking them. Sir Bunny amusingly kicked Heyden once, as Heyden and Wyatt kept trying to break free. Meanwhile Varmus had created an Explosive Fireball and tossed that into the mass of them, but missed just by a little - a yard short. It lit the front two ranks (including himself) on fire, and burned everyone at least a little bit. The flames didn't harm the yeth at all, passing right through them. Many of the PCs ended up patting out flames as Varmus cast Resist Fire on people one after another to put out the flames.

The Rebuke Evil spells harmed them greatly, and often forced them to break off attacks and run away, preventing them from really ganging up on the PCs. Eventually, Aldwyn landed a few more shots (and two more Shocking Touch attacks) and finally destroyed (or banished?) one. Rebuke Evil accounted for another two. The PCs managed to close the door again, with leaving on yeth hound on their side.

That was had been tackled by still-flaming Sir Bunny as it tried to grapple Heyden. He got a good grip on it - 11 CP in two consecutive turns during which it tried to bite him once - but then it quickly knocked that back down to 2 CP. It was stronger than Sir Bunny (ST 13) so Galen dove in and grappled it, too. A final Rebuke Evil destroyed it just as Aldwyn was ready to stab it with his silvered long knife, hoping to test silver against it.

The PCs decided that leaving the five remaining yeth in their rear while they explored elsewhere was, clearly, the correct and proper move.

They headed to the "north door" next, after healing up. Sense Life revealed nothing. They forced it open, and revealed a long room with a gate.

The gate sparked and flickered now and then, but didn't show anything like an "open" gate.

Inside the room were a pair of tiny humanoid corpses in two corners far from one another. One with a bent wand-like item near it, and another near a sword. Galen promptly shot both twice, to ensure they were really corpses.

They were. They also disintegrated into dust.

The group searched the room thoroughly, with Sense Evil, Mage Sight, Sense Life (before entering), See Secrets, and simple sight. They tried Summon Spirit on the two corpses, but both castings failed to summon a spirit (failure? resistance? Gerry couldn't know.)

The sword turned out to be a halfling-sized greatsword made of green, probably meteoric iron. Useable as a broadsword by a human-sized weilder, for sure, but sized for a halfling-sized being's grip. The wand was bent, as if struck and bent. It was of an oddly light silvery metal, with a ribbed "grip" with a tiny thumb-depression and a knobbed end. The far end taped just a little. Sir Bunny took that and poked the gate with it . . . and the gate dissolved the end into dust without a sound. He held up his hand to stop the others - "Bad gates."

Scry Gate failed to get any useful information on the gate - it was clearly dead, or dying (or one-way, someone noted, which might be true, too.)

Taking their sword, they headed up to the surface. The Force Dome didn't enclose them this time, which was contrary to their notes about the area. But they moved on.

Before leaving, the went to the temple area on the first level so Ulf could try his dash-and-Dismissive Wave. It failed - he took 7 injury, but his Exorcism didn't do anything. Next time, he vowed, he'll use Strengthen Will first.


- Crogar was tempted by that 750 gold ($15,000) but in the end just kept his axe. He could have bought a new identical axe and had change, but lost 1 xp spent on Weapon Bond. Basically, trade his weapon and 1 xp for a replacement weapon plus about 7000. Like I said, though, he was tempted. He also refused to spend any of the $22K or so he has on a better shield. Maybe he needs Miserliness instead of Easy to Read, although he's clearly that, too.

- I was impressed how effective Crogar was with a global -3. It hampered him in a lot of situations (especially combat), but it didn't cripple him overall. DF guys have very high basic rolls. It did make it impossible for him to resist the baying of the yeth, which did keep him from the combat.

- the PCs tried the kitchen sink on the yeth - magic weapons, non-magic weapons, wooden weapons (good guess, because block was warding them off), etc. What ended up working was flesh - and spells conducted by such - and Rebuke Evil. They wanted to try silver, but didn't get a chance. They tried Affect Spirits but it failed; clearly, they're insubstantial towards some things but aren't actually ghostly. I'm not sure why Aldwyn's player (running Varmus) decided that if Fireball was useless, Explosive Fireball would work - I suspect it's conflating insubstantial with Diffuse. Odd, because he's a GM of his own game . . . or maybe he just thought that they worked differently from one another in my game? I'm not sure. Suffice it to say they haven't found an easy way to kill the yeth, and for all that flesh seemed to work, they only "killed" four with Rebuke Evil and Shocking Touch.

- the sword was sold to make some loot. Someone asked about keeping it, but then tossing in the 1800 to the loot pile to divide up so people can reach their loot threshold. I shot it down. I found multiple loopholes that could be exploited easily to reach "loot threshold" for everyone while keeping 100% of the found saleable loot even when that's the only loot. So no. Kept means kept, and already-held cash can't be swapped for it to make up for it being taken out. Gerry kept the wand, broken as it is, but can't Repair it (with what material?)

- XP was 5 for most - just enough loot and exploring two new areas. Gerry received 3 (not enough loot) and Galen 1 (barely any loot.) MVP for the session was Sir Bunny for grappling a yeth hound, and for his player making a few choice funny comments - "Bad Gates." Lots of contenders this session.


  1. As a DM I've never liked Yeth Hounds. At least not the arbitrary and weird way they were handled in AD&D mechanics. I don't know what you are doing mechanically with them but it is certainly different than AD&D and was fun to read the players struggling to figure it out too. I'm wondering why they didn't try silver earlier. Coming from D&D, silver seems like a good choice for strange monsters (as does cold iron, being the only other useful special material non-magical weapons come in in that game).

    1. It was fun watching them puzzle it out. Also, watching them set themselves on fire.

      I always wondered what "cold iron" really was, anyway. It is something that just started showing up in monster descriptions. The first time I remember seeing it was some monsters in the AD&D module S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, in the insert. But what exactly "cold-forged, iron weapons" were, how much they cost, or any other stats . . . I guess they didn't want to do too much of our imagining for us by, oh, giving rules for how the rules worked. Heh.

    2. In gwythaint's long running DF megadungeon/city game, 'cold iron' is meteoric iron (not sure if it always was before he ran the game using DF rules, but it is now) as being "anti-magic" means it can harm Fae, and it's "iron that came from the cold of the void". As he's mentioned, it's broken of bits of Elder Things that forged into iron as it fell to Yrth.

  2. As a side note, I'd love someday to see your write up of some of these old D&D monsters. Once your PCs have faced them enough that you're not spoiling the game of course.

    Maybe a DF Monsters # Felltower Inhabitants

    1. Some of the purely D&D monsters will take some doing to get published, but maybe I can just do that here. The yeth aren't a conversion, really. The name seems to be D&D in origin based on my cursory web searching, but they could easily be renamed as Black Shuck or a barghest or something like that. Evil shadowy dogs are a thing, I think, beyond just D&D.

      Still, I'll find a way to publish as many of the monsters as I can.

    2. Yes, 'black hounds' are an old legend.

  3. In BECMI they were called Yowlers but otherwise were the same as the AD&D Yeth Hounds. It could be a similarly pronounced but differently spelled usage of Yith, a planet in another star system in H.P. Lovecraft's mythos, to avoid another lawsuit with Chaosium that reneged on their agreement for the Cthulhu mythos in Deities & Demigods. They do not seem to be related to the Hounds of Tindalos, however, as that is better fit to the Spectral Hounds (D&D Companion). Another creature very similar to your Yeth Hound, since you mention the connection to shadow, is the Vorr (AD&D2 Planescape MC2).


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