Sunday, March 7, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy - Session 149, Felltower 115 - Staring at Doors

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

Date: March 7th, 2021
Weather: Cold and windy.

Aldwyn Hale, human knight (340 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (170 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (336 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (490 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
Heyden, human knight (308 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (343 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)

The group started off in town and gathered rumors. One has Black Jans seeking to buy the orichalcum key off of them.

Basically, nothing happened. The group headed to the big orichalcum doors. They set down in front of them. They made rolls against the stale air. And they tried an endless variety of ways to get through the door.

- they pressed on pictographs
- searched nearby rooms for keyholes
- searched the ceiling for keyholes
- spoke lots of words on the keys
- threw the key at the door
- looked through the webbing at the triangle and the door to see patterns
- tried a lot of mathematical sequences and touched pictographs for those in order
- tried speaking potential passphrases
- scraped the white triangle off in case it was a magic lock on the door (despite Mage Sight not showing it was magical.)

This took hours, during which I rolled lots of wandering monster rolls and rolled above the number needed over and over again, so nothing bothered them.

After many hours, including more spent resting in a Sanctuary, they gave up. They briefly debated going after the orcs but saw no real benefit to doing so; same with going after the cloakers. They decided to try the second big staircase and scout it out, but gave that up as too late in the (real-world) day to try.

They returned to town and sat around talking about plans to defeat the draugr.


MVP was Heyden, for his player's useful illustration of the door. 0 xp for everyone else, 1 for him.

Still fun to play, but nothing happened.


  1. Yup, I've had sessions like this. I hate 'em.

    1. I don't hate them when I know it's coming. I left myself some game prep work to do while they tried stuff.

      I realize now I should have created an image of the door with all of its dimensions, but honestly, from this side of the screen the puzzle didn't seem as complex as it does from the other side.

    2. If the Players are having fun banging their heads against a brick wall, sure...

      But as a GM I've found Players get frustrated after a few hours of bloodying their foreheads and will give up, move on, and never return to the puzzle (unless they get some radical new insights about it). So I know that that's it, if the Players are done messing with a puzzle, that's just 'puzzle locked' that section of the game away and I have to figure out how to get them back on it, or just abandon it.

      As a Player? 30 minutes.

      If we haven't 'cracked' a puzzle within 30 minutes I mentally tune it out and start thinking about other things so I don't get terminally frustrated by it. Maybe an hour if someone else is sure they've got it, they just need "to work through all the angles". Now, if it's a complex puzzle with multiple stages and we're making head way in small chunks? That's different. That's //making headway//. I have a lot of patience when we're clearly making small amounts of headway //and// we have a destination in sight. Also if the solution if foregone, but it's just going to take time, I may grumble, but it's not frustrating in the way that failure is. Like I sat and patiently entered sequence after sequence in Myst once because I knew eventually I could brute force a combination lock (four digits is only 10,000 possible combinations after all... eh heh... ugh).

      But half a session of being puzzle locked out of an area? I'd write it off henceforth until solid new leads were uncovered. But your Players seem to be made of sterner, more determined, stuff than me and mine.


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