Sunday, September 19, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 158, Cold Fens 14 - Sakatha's Lar Do-or-Die (Part III)

Brief summary today. I just don't feel like doing a blow-by-blow of a largely boring fight. But you'll get the basic flow.

Game Date: 8/31/21

Characters:
Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (336 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (350 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 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, with the PCs pressuring Sakatha. Wyatt was running him down, and the other PCs were wading into the fray.

They continued to push him back, with Wyatt and Bruce and Crogar following him as he backed off, plying his trident and step to keep distance. He managed a few good strikes early, forcing Wyatt and Crogar to use up their Luck (which resets between sessions, per our usual Luck table rules.) They fought back, slicing away at his torso, mostly. Bruce was wounded nearly to death when he was stabbed twice. Crogar was wounded and stunned from a vitals hit himself.

Ulf followed along, healing as he could, and Gerry supporting with Shield and Great Haste (on himself and Wyatt).

Eventually they forced him back, badly wounded, to his marble throne - a big gargoyle-carved thing with a crystal ball next to it within easy grasp. He backed up to it and sat down. Wyatt attacked . . . and his weapons bounced off of an invisible shield. His sword is magical, so they decided it couldn't be Force Dome, but maybe Utter Dome. Either way, he couldn't be reached. Crogar and Bruce rushed up. They tried and failed as well. Meanwhile, Sakatha's wounds began to heal at a prodigeous rate (ah, HP multipliers FTW.)

Wyatt swapped his wooden longsword for his meteoric long knife and attacked with that. It passed through the shield and hurt Sakatha - he aimed for his neck.

By the time they attacked again, the screen was back up. Sakatha charged up a 9d Explosive Lightning spell and threw it. Wyatt dove and blocked it, as he has Resist Lightning on. Still, Crogar and Bruce were hurt but Ulf was spared the blast. The damage was pathetic - 9d-9 = 18 damage. Ugh.

So then Bruce tried Laccodel's Rune and successfully cancelled the spell! But sadly Wyatt wasn't poised to take advantage and Crogar had just dropped his weapon and stepped back with a potion to drink to heal his serious wounds.

They tried again, this time with Bruce dispelling the screen as Sakatha created an Explosive Fireball. Wyatt waited for Bruce's attempt and struck Sakatha. He dropped the fireball as his arm was crippled, and it went off. It was only 3d but did 17 damage. Bruce was set briefly on fire; Wyatt had Resist Fire on.

They managed to crippled Sakatha's right arm and smash his shield. But then Wyatt critically failed (or was critically defended against, I don't recall) and rolled a 15, suffered Hjalmarr's Shoulder, crippled his meteoric long knife hand. This really stopped him from doing much. His sword was lanyarded to his left hand, and his right was crippled. He had no way to get the lanyard off or break it.

Sakatha, meanwhile, attacked Bruce and hit him . . . and killed him outright with a pair of vitals shots (Wyatt stopped one, but the other slew Bruce.)

They repeated crippled Sakatha's arms and hands, forcing him to keep dropping his trident. They stabbed his vitals (best guess where they'd be based on other lizardmen), tried to cut his head off, tried to break his skull ("Hit to the Brain" people still say, a 3e-ism), etc. Eventually they decided to take his trident, clearly the source of his invulnerablity. But even without working arms he just put a foot down on it as Ulf ran up to take it. So Ulf yelled to Crogar to, "Get his trident!"

Crogar broke it, making into more of frog gig, and ruining its enchantment.

Eventually Wyatt gave up and decided to try getting to the altar. He slapped at both the marble throne and marble throne but neither provoked a reaction from Sakatha.

Sakatha stood up at this point and ran out to grab a pick from a dead lizardmen, furious that they broke his "Trident of Office." That's when Ulf decided they needed to kill him with his own weapon, I think. Crogar attacked Sakatha a few more times and crippled his limbs again . . . and they didn't heal away from the throne.

From here the fight devolved into, basically, Sakatha following Crogar around trying to bite him. Ulf tried Sunlight on him - which seemed to work, but clearly needs minutes, not seconds, of exposure to hurt him. Gerry tried Deathtouch and it didn't seem to hurt him. Repeated blows to legs and feet didn't cripple him any further.

Finally Wyatt tried to stand on the throne, but nothing. They smashed holy water vials on the altar and throne. Nothing. They moved his broken trident around and then Ulf dropped it. Finally Ulf tried to stab Sakatha in the back with a wooden stake in the heart, but didn't do enough damage to penetrate the DR. Crogar was facing Sakatha but backed off . . . and Wyatt closed in but didn't have anything to try.

We left it there - Sakatha horrifically damaged but clearly unable to be usefully damaged further. Ulf probably about to get torn apart by a vengeful Sakatha. Crogar and Wyatt unable to hack him down, and Gerry out of ideas.

Notes:

- 3/4 length session today, more or less. I thought we had only a little bit to go last time, so we planned to play 11-3 with no lunch break instead of our usual 11-8 with an hour off. Instead we played 11-4:30 with no breaks, or 5 1/2 hours instead of the usual 8.

- We ran out of time. I think we'd have had enough if either this was a full session and the players had figured out what to do, or if they'd figured out what to do early and then just won the thing.

- I ruled that you can't power Faith Healing off of a Power Item. Good God knows how long Ulf has been doing that, but it calls for "FP" not "energy" and allowable sources of energy are often pretty clearly spelled out. If Faith Healing costs FP but can use a Power Item, then it's nonsensical that Power Blow, say, can't . . . yet we know the latter can't, so the former shouldn't, either.

- Certain traits, like Unkillable and Supernatural Durability, I run a little differently than by the book, if only to prevent the old "break the feet and then pile on damage until we come up with a real plan." I won't reveal what Sakatha has, just saying, if this looks "off" by the book, it very well might be. The PCs started with the default "use up his HP" and then went to plan B ("pile on damage faster than he can heal and hope we find a solution") after that.

- Pretty much all of my boss fights are puzzle monsters. If they aren't, they just get hacked apart by massive, continuous large amounts of damage. If sufficient damage will solve a problem it's not really a problem, just a speedbump.

- A lot of the PC's plans hinged on Sakatha giving the game away by revealing what would kill him (if anything), so they did the usual delver things - smashed his weapon, talked about killing him with his own weapon (after breaking it and ruining the enchantment), hit the altar, hit the throne, sat on the throne, stood on the altar, threw holy water on both altar and throne, tried Dismissive Wave (even after I specifically noted it wasn't the tool for the job and would fail), asked the Good God for help (and got some), suggested cutting the straps on his armor off in case that's keeping him alive, etc. etc. They attacked literally every hit location on his body at least once. The only reason they didn't smash his crystal ball was because I said "IT'S NOT THE CRYSTAL BALL!" I mean really. Who makes the external focus for their immortality/invulnerability a glass ball they leave in the open? Not my bad guys.

- I won't say what will end this . . . but I did tell the players I was sure that the original group could have, if they knew what to do, kill Sakatha. So that means it doesn't require obscene skill (like the cut-the-armor-off suggestion) or unique ability (like Dismissive Wave to do a 3-hour Exorcism in 1 second) or a high-margin success roll, or otherwise. I might have mis-gauged, but I don't think so, and I think that will eventually become clear when they finally figure this out. I don't think they have sufficient clues to have come in knowing what to do, but I do know I planted a bunch of clues but they were very often bypassed or missed. I'm not great at giving clues, I'll admit, but the knowledge and clues to complete the job exist and aren't just a few Hidden Lore rolls.

- the fight has lasted long enough that FP loss will start to occur mid-fight starting next time.

- No MVP, by universal agreement.

- I always have fun gaming, but this was a frustrating session for the group. Hopefully they'll figure something out. It's less of a puzzle than they think, which is always what causes the most trouble.

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