Monday, September 13, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 157, Cold Fens 14 - Sakatha's Lair Do-or-Die (Part II)

Game Date: 8/31/21

Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (336 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (350 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
     Rahtnar the Skeleton (~125 points)
Heyden, human knight (308 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (362 points)

We picked up where we left off last session, with the PCs just outside the door to where a near-TPK had ended a previous attempt to destroy the evil in the Cold Fens.

Wyatt, first thing, downed a DX potion, getting +4 DX.

Faced with the heavy black (stone?) doors, the PCs had tried calling out "Hail Sakatha!" but they did not open. Next, they sprinkled the rest of the unholy water on the doors and tried to walk though - nope. Nothing happened. They tried "Hail Sakatha," but again, nothing. Bruce tried to force the doors open but failed. So then he and Crogar both tried, each on one door. That did it - the door swung open, slowly.

Beyond was a darkened T-shaped hall. The PCs rushed in, planning to fight in a hook-shaped formation against the right wall with their casters invisible and shielded.

The rush in was disjointed - Bruce ran forward and Wyatt called him to go to the right more. Crogar drifted too far out. Bruce then almost ran down invisible Ulf. But they made it to the wall and up along to the second pillar. The lizardmen guards Gerry found last time were there, their numbers replenished from their losses, and some staff-armed lizardmen in the back. All had tortise-shell armor covering their bodies.

The PCs formed up around a pillar and fought the incoming lizardmen. They advanced silently, swinging sickles or picks, while the ones in the back kept up a low chant. The PCs waited, and the clash began. They slowly but steadily hacked at the incoming undead lizardmen, who swung back but couldn't penetrate the very high defenses of the PCs.

The lizardman clerics in the back finished their chanting, and one ran up and cast a Poison Cloud on the group. They ignored it with their Resist Poison spells, except for Bruce, who "didn't need" that spell and relied on his Resistant to Poison. It's not resisted, so he straight-up took damage. Meanwhile, a smudgy cloud moved up from the darkness - a toxifier. It hovered near-ish to Bruce, the only one showing any effect of the poison gas cloud. Bruce resisted its gasses, however, and Gerry cleared up most of the gas and annoyed the toxifier with a big Purify Air after putting Great Haste on himself so he could get spells off quickly.

The PCs steadily whittled down the lizardmen, who managed to bungle a few attacks with critical misses - two in the same hex dropped weapons trying to attack Wyatt - and weren't able to land any attacks. They eventually went down to a man. Wyatt and Bruce, freed up from the attack after killing the foes they faced, moved out. Wyatt took three slashes at the toxifier but being Diffuse it didn't get hurt much. Wyatt had a clear shot at the clerics - all three of whom moved up to try to touch people with their staves over their front-line fighters - but turned to help Crogar whittle away the ones in front of him. Ulf saw the toxifier and put Affect Spirits on Bruce's sword. Gerry put Great Haste on Heyden, but it took him a while to cut down his foes. (It turned out later that Marshall, who was running Heyden for his absent player, didn't think Heyden had Weapon Master and so didn't use Rapid Strike basically at all.) Heyden managed to whack himself in the leg for 50% damage - luckily, because he was able to avoid crippling himself. It wasn't his day.

Bruce rushed the toxifier and swung at it, but it dodged. So naturally he immediately dropped his sword and tried to grapple one of the clerics who had tried to attack him. The cleric parried by enought to inflict damage on Bruce, and put the 3d Deathtouch it was trying to deliver into Bruce. It did only 7 damage (!) but still kept Bruce off of him.

The clerics kept trying to fight off the PCs, but Wyatt killed two of them. The third fought Heyden and Crogar and then Wyatt, but was hard to kill - not only having Shield but also an Armor spell up - but eventually they wounded him badly. He cast Curse on Heyden just before dying, giving Heyden a standing -1 until it is removed or goes off.

Gerry, meanwhile, threw an Explosive Skull Missile at the toxifier and clipped it with it, damaging it. So, naturally, all of the PCs charged it as Gerry threw in another, larger Explosive Skull Missile to finish it off. They all suffered a good bit of damage in the process, and the toxifier was badly wounded. Bruce finally recovered his sword and cut it down.

The PCs decided to "quickly" police up the area and get rolling.

Naturally, this took ~30 minutes.

Ulf spotted two secret doors and three tiny (2"?) bronze levers at the back of the blood-soaked altar. He also saw two secret doors, one behind the altar and one on a side wall. They had no visible mechanisms.

Wyatt suggested they put the dead clerics on the altar to let their blood drain out. Ulf seconded this and said they'd do it "later." (These are the two most devout PCs in the group. Not sure what they're going for here . . . )

They checked the dead and found nothing of value. Gerry identified the dead clerics as not-undead, but actually demons . . . so they gathered up 7-8 pints of their ichor using Hazardous Materials, using tools from Ulf's surgical kit and empty paut bottles from the fight.

They eventually started to plan on how to arrange themselves to flip the levers, trying to figure out how to throw them all together - three clerics, three levers. Heyden shut that down with, "Let's just try the simple thing - one lever." They threw the left lever, and the door to their right (facing the entrance) opened up. They went through to a hallway.

Beyond that they found a door . . . forced that open, and saw a circular room with four low sarcophagi in it, as well as another door. They were all partly open, and smelled of old death. Wyatt went clockwise around the room, stabbing the lizardman corpses within. As he did the second, though, out from the one to the right of the door popped a grey-skinned lizardman. She - it sounded clearly feminine - screamed a terrible, terrible scream and clawed at Bruce, who stood next to it, guarding the others still outside the room. He failed his fight check, barely, and was stunned for a second. That was all it took for him to get clawed and paralyzed - he rolled an 18 on the resistance roll. The greater lizardman wight kept clawing and biting him. It dealt a huge amount of damage to him, including taking him down to -1xFP, before it could be slain. It didn't help that Wyatt kept hacking into combat and hit Bruce a couple of times as well as the wight. Crogar stepped up with his axe and finished the wight. Wyatt quickly went and stabbed the other corpse to ensure it was dead.

They had to stop for 10 or 15 minutes or so more to heal up Bruce, trade around FP, and recover more by resting. They needed to maintain their Resist Poison spells and search, of course - finding nothing.

They forced the other door and then turned left at an intersection, convinced it was the way deeper into the complex. They forced another door, and saw a room with four lizardmen, a giant turtle, a big lizardman with a trident, and two shimmering blue hounds. The were immediately rushed by this group. The leader started to mock them in a hissing tone - as they told Crogar to hold the doorway, not by name, it said, "Yes, hold the door Crogar. You can do it!" It would later mock Ulf and Wyatt by name, too. Ulf was more than a little alarmed by this.

The PCs tried to hold the door, but it didn't work well. The two blue hounds shimmered and popped behind Crogar and attacked Wyatt and Rahtnar. Ulf and Wyatt had guessed that based on their appearance and crackling they'd use lightning, so they put Resist Lightning on themselves.

Meanwhile Sakatha - the leader - told Heyden to surrender to him. Heyden blew his Will roll and narrowly missed resisting. He joined Sakatha! Heyden tried a desultory attack on Bruce and failed, and then tried in earnest.

Meanwhile Rahtnar got bit by one hound and destroyed, taking just enough damage to finish him. (It's how his player would want to go - slain by a GM-made new monster!) Wyatt hacked down the two hounds in short order - but each exploded for 3d lighting damage and injured most of the group, and stunned Heyden.

Crogar kept fighting the lizardmen at the door, before eventually getting forced back after dropping one of them. They weren't any more sturdy, but slightly more skilled, then the ones they'd fought before. Sakatha jabbed at Crogar with his trident and wounded him, and then his turtle, Gamera, rushed the group. Crogar gave ground to dodge, and the turtle plowed into the midst of the group.

A confused melee went from there. Ulf tried to Sunbolt the turtle and missed everyone. Gerry had created a big, big, big explosive spell after using Great Haste on himself but found the hallway too choked for a successful throw, and had to just keep aiming.

Gerry eventually let loose his spell and wounded two lizardmen and Sakatha with the big blast. Crogar meleed Gamera, who kept trying to slam people after pulling its head in defensively after someone tried to take its head off. Wyatt slashed its legs and it went berserk, but wasn't ever able to land a slam. Crogar kept hacking it. Eventually he got it down, despite its extremely high body DR (mid teens maybe?)

Eventually the next-to-last lizardman went down. Bruce tried to smash Heyden's face in to knock him out, but even stunned Heyden was too good. He recovered, and Gerry put two Animate Shadow spells on him. He eventually critically missed and hacked himself in the leg, and crippled it, knocking himself down. The shadows moved in, and scored the occasional hit, but even prone, one-legged Heyden, unable to use his shield DB, could parry most attacks. Eventually he was negative on FP and unable to make much of an offensive threat.

Wyatt fought Sakatha at this point, who stabbed at him. Wyatt parried. Next turn, Sakatha used Beat, and then a Disarm against the same sword and flung it aside. Wyatt drew his spare. He'd lose that, too, from a critical failure, a bit later. He'd draw a wooden sword to replace that (he carries four longswords.) Sakatha managed to stab him in the leg - his DR doubled against the trident and become 20 . . . but Sakatha does 3d+12! I rolled a 16 (2+1+1+12 . . . thanks Roll20).

The PCs moved in and finished off the last lizardman, and began to fight Sakatha.

Wyatt ran in and used his high Move and Run and Hit power-up to stab Sakatha in what he hoped was the vitals. That didn't take him down, although they hit, and he tried to run around and slash him. The cuts hurt, clearly, but Sakatha seemed unphased. He managed to get a critical hit against Wyatt, who'd used Luck earlier, and hit his unarmored face. Wyatt was very badly wounded but not killed - although he needed a death check - but he was stunned and knocked down. He mananged to become unstunned as the others ran up to join the fray.

We cut it there as it was late (~75 minutes past our usual end time) and it was clearly not going to end quickly.


- "Can I see anything special about these guys?" - very common question. Usually at the end of a full Move to previously unseen foes. Heh. Next question? Does their armor cover their hands and feet? Ironically, low-HP foes have weak hands and feet but people don't target those (thank goodness, it rarely makes the fight easier for them and always makes for more bookkeeping), and high-HP foes have strong hands and feet so people target those and rarely cripple them. The guys who most easily could generally go for killing shots anyway.

- Not to take anything away from good tactics and coordination, but what a difference ~100 points per PC makes. The previous group that tried the first fight in this dungeon was destroyed almost to the man. These guys were 308-418 points, averaging just under 355 points . . . compared to 265-302 points and averaging 278.5 points. This group would be a lot more if Galen showed up, or Heyden had spent his 52 saved points. The tactics and coordination really, really helped. But the enemy was so overmatched that the majority of damage suffered was caused by Gerry using Explosive Skull Missile too close to friends. In his defense, the second time he case it on the toxifier all of the PCs ran right up to it. Ulf claimed that he couldn't possibly have known Gerry's plan. You know, like using an explosive spell against a diffuse foes just like he did a handful of seconds before in clear view of Ulf. Other than that, there was no warning at all!

The other damage inflicted was from the Poison Cloud spell - one of my creations passed on to Alex for the Toxic College - and from Bruce thinking it was a good idea to drop his sword and grapple the staff-armed caster who was clearly so intent on touching him with the staff. Sigh.

- Canonically, parries don't complete the ritual for Melee spells. We don't play it canonically. If you parry with a staff with the Staff spell on it or unarmed while you have a charged Melee spell, you inflict that on the target if its possible to do so. Because, why not?

- the PCs couldn't identify the various forms of undead . . . despite Gerry being IQ 16 and having Close to Death 2, he flubbed the roll. Oh well. They did determine the lizard men "clerics" were demonic, however, and not undead.

- Heyden sure gets charmed a lot. Hey, you have to know the big armored guys are generally not high-Will targets. He wasn't effective at all, but that was mostly bad luck.

- The flash hounds didn't last too long, but they were fun. They'll show up sometime when I have enough monsters for a Monsters of Felltower collection. The turtle, same. It was fun but it was just a distracting pet. So many foes with Fragile (Unliving) this time that it the PCs were able to take them out in relatively short order.

- We'll finish the fight next time. It's looking very good for the PCs. The mooks did their job as best they could - inflicting casualties, costing resources, and tying up offensive power while the boss did his thing. With something less than crappy rolls (16 damage on 3d+12!) it might have worked out better. It might still - a crit to the face of Wyatt slowed him down for a second. He'll almost certainly be healed back to full by Ulf within 1-2 seconds.

- I did some terrible rolling via Roll20. A couple of critical hits - I think 3 - largely negated by Luck. A lot of 17s causing dropped weapons and "Lose your balance!" - my own personal hell. The damage also applied to the shadows of Heyden - the last strike doing 2 FP on 2d6-1 is a case in point. 3 FP would have put him down. It wasn't a good day bad guy rolling.


  1. Is Gamera undead? If not, I think the guys should have a big cookout to celebrate their win after the next session... after all...

    ♪♫ Gamera! ♫♪
    ♪♫ Gamera! ♫♪
    ♪♫ Gamera is really neat. ♫♪
    ♪♫ Gamera is filled with meat. ♫♪
    ♪♫ We all love you, Gamera. ♫♪

    1. Sadly, like almost everything else encountered so far, he was undead. Gamera, rest again in peace, little buddy.

    2. Then he was aged and dried! Gamera jerky for everyone!

      ♪♫ Gamera! ♫♪
      ♪♫ Gamera! ♫♪
      ♪♫ Gamera is really...


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