Monday, November 29, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 161, Felltower 116 - Level 7? (Part II)

We picked up mid-fight from last time.

Game Date: 11/7/21

Characters:
Aldwyn, human knight (345 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice (170 points)
Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (340 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (350 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (498 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (420 points)
     2 skeletons (~25 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (378 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)

We restarted in combat.

The six-fingered foes continued to back off in the line they'd formed, as did the golden swordsmen, skirmishing with the PCs as they backed off. The goldcat backed away as well. The sword-armed six-fingered types threw more smoke nageteppo. Gerry countered with Purify Air to keep line of sight open.

The PCs kept to their line, with Wyatt spending a few seconds re-readying his sword off his lanyard. The next seconds basically consisted of the enemy backing off, repeatedly throwing nageteppo, and the PCs backing off. Galen shot the golden cat a few times but only managed to wound it a little further.

At this point, reinforcements showed up. Goblin-sized bipedal rats streamed out of the hallway next to where the axemen stood. Three kinds appeared - ratmen studded with chunks of crystal, ratmen crackling with bluish electricity carrying crude kukri-like blades, and shifty, crackling ratmen who didn't really seem all there or all the way in the same phase as the rest of them. They ran out at full tilt, reaching just short of the PCs.
Phase Ratman

Electric Ratman

Crystal Ratman

Aldwyn sprang into action, stepping up and stabbing a "blue one" three times. ZAAAAAAP. He killed it, but also shocked himself badly. He attacked a crystal one and wounded that one, and no shock. Galen shot three each with one arrow in the body, but that wasn't sufficient to kill any (I think he intended to shoot them in the vitals, but said body initially, and didn't take a -3 for vitals, so it was body.)

Gerry immediately cast an 8-area (15 yard diameter) Stench spell over the entire room, carving out the hexes his friends were in plus the corridor they defended. Ulf put Resist Lightning on Aldwyn.

The six-fingered foes kept to their side formation, throwing another smoke nageteppo to block the vision of the PCs. Gerry couldn't clear that without clearing the stench, too. Aldwyn was in the middle, surrounded by ratmen. He took some blind shots but immediately critically failed and dropped his sword. He'd drop the other, too, on another critical failure. Galen critically missed while in the smoke, too, while trying to sword a rat to death in close combat. The PCs decided the smoke was cursed.

The ratmen were in trouble - they didn't have time to hold their breath, and so were suffocating. So they charged the PCs at a full run, flowing through the open formation the PCs were in and filling the corridor. The PCs killed a few as they came, but otherwise they managed to overrun the PCs. The electric ones shocked a few people but most of the PCs were resistant (although one skeleton was nearly trashed fighting one ratman one-on-one in close combat for the whole fight.) The crystal ones scratched up a few PCs, and their crystals gave them enough DR to hold on. The phase ratmen were exactly that - they shifted in and out of phase, their hisses and sounds muffling to silence each time they moved out, giving them an irregular sound. They easily dodged most attacks but eventually got taken down by flank shots, critical hits, and massed attacks.

Wyatt and Bruce engaged the golden swordsmen as they backed off. Bruce broke one's sword when it tried to parry his giant greatsword, but it managed to back off. The goldcat roared and hurt Wyatt and one of the ratmen, but the swordsmen backed out of the stench.

The casters in the back got mobbed - Gerry managed to stay out of it, floating above and with his skeletons (and later Varmus) providing a screen. He threw a Flash spell behind Ulf to blind the mob of incoming ratmen. The smoke blocked most of them, but he got the lead ones, largely giving them a -3 to DX for a minute.

Varmus managed to fend off a ratman briefly, Ulf was mobbed up against the door and got a bit mauled, as Crogar and the skeletons were tied up with ratmen. Bruce, meanwhile, had long since rushed out to the fight and ended up brawling with ratmen in close. He punched one in the skull and knocked it cold, while another poked Bruce's right eye out with a crystal-clawed fingertip. He managed to eventually kill that ratman.

Wyatt faced off with the swordsmen - three of them now, down the hallway, blocking the cat - and threw a demon's brew, then a cloud of fire, and then missed a fast-draw for a second demon's brew. The swordsman came forward from the cloud, with sparks coming off of the one hit, but then ran through it while Wyatt finished readying his grenade (a muffed multi-fast-draw costs you not only the rest of that turn, but turns the next to a ready . . . be careful with those.)

Wyatt ran back to deal with rats.

The six-fingered foes backed out of the room, seemingly the way the rats came. They dragged away one fallen axeman, but not another one much closer to the PCs.

The PCs kept brawling with the rats. Varmus catch Itch as often as he could, Gerry Strike Blind, to disrupt the ratmen's attacks. They managed to keep a few of the ratmen from fighting effectively.

With the retreat of the swordsmen and axemen, the PCs converged on their casters and cleared out the ratmen, hacking them down.

They had little time to rest - they had maybe 4 1/2 minutes with the Stench up, and those with hearing heard whistles and a groaning, grinding noise. They didn't want to take their chances. Over Wyatt's strenuous objections, they gestured to each other to grab stuff and leave. They grabbed their dropped weapons and shields, Adlwyn grabbed the axeman, Crogar and Bruce each a golden swordsman, and they fled.

They made it up the stairs, fronted by Galen. This took a few minutes. They heard the clomp of obsidian on stone and scraping of ratman claws on stone, too - they'd managed to get past the upper level doors without an issue. They forced the Will Wall - it took a few tries for some of them - but eventually made it through. Luckily, they made it through the "gate level" without encounters (I rolled, nothing came), and eventually made it out of the dungeon.

They made it back to town with three corpses, the gear they wore - Magescale, some magical boots and a magic cloak, two pairs of Bracers of Force, and two ratman blades (which proved valueless - cheap steel, poorly done, with the Crude prefix.)
Notes:

- to clarify, quick-readying off of a lanyard requires a flat DX roll; doing so quickly requires a Fast-Draw roll - which is penalized at -3 to -5 (default -4) for the size of the dangling weapon. A failure on a Fast-Draw in this fashion is a normal Ready. A failure on the DX roll means a failed attempt to draw at all. If the other hand is free to grasp the dangling weapon, this takes one Ready maneuver but doesn't require a roll - and can't be done with Fast-Draw. "Fast draw" techniques assume a sheath, not just the weapon.

- Alaric fumbled around the the dark for his swords, and found them over a couple of turns. Then he parried with them right away. I didn't notice this until right after - the player clearly assumed he found them and grasped them by the handle, at ready. I was assuming he'd just found the weapon, and didn't assume it was grabbed by the handle in a ready to fight position. So he was able to defend without any issue even though he should have had one.

- Blame Matt Riggsby for the ratmen. They were perfect, and made a good swap-in for something else I'd vaguely intended to use that didn't make as much sense. All I did was make them SM-1, because I like them smaller. But still, I basically look at monsters that Sean Punch and Matt write, say to myself, "That seems a bit excessive, who would write a monster that does that?" and then I use them as written or slightly upgunned. So I think I'm about 1% to blame, here. But it's mostly Matt's fault.

- For a long time, the PCs heard about the "six fingered vampires." Eventually, they fought one . . . and sold the body to the orcs. Since then, though, they mostly have referred to them incorrectly as the "cone-hatted cultists." This is despite a lot of clues - different descriptions, different heights, different numbers of fingers, different equipment (cone-helmed magescale, ornate axes, very slim swords and maces vs. cone hoods over normal headgear, red and black mail and cloth, normal human weapons done up to look more attractive) . . . I even used different minis entirely, and made it clear that what you saw was accurate. They had the same colors and same-shaped headgear, but clearly some of the earlier ones (and the ones in town) are humans apeing some others, and the others themselves.

Now that they have a body I took pains to tell them they are different. The PCs should know, even if the players keep getting them mixed up. They are clearly not human - six fingered hands with an extra joint on their long fingers, slender builds, extra-long incisors and fine teeth, very palid skin, no blood, jet black hair . . . and this one had its eyes poked out so they don't know how those differ. They're looking at getting it examined, and also want to preserve the hands to open doors. We'll see how that works. They preserved Alaric's hands to do that, and we'll see how this works.

- Now that the PCs realize on a deeper level that magescale doesn't includes hands and feet, I think we can safely assume they'll want to target the hands and feet of their cone-helmed foes. A -4 for a marginal target isn't a showstopped for 20+ skill guys, although most of them either have Slayer Training or Ultimate Slayer Training for much better locations. Still, I'd bet money on increased targeting of feet.

- the Bracers of Force aren't exactly the same as the ones in DF6. I'll post them sometime soon. They specifically do not layer with Shirtless Savage DR, and they replace it if you wear both. No if, ands, or buts about it. If not, you'll end up with a very munchkinny approach of claiming or arguing for force field DR for the eyes (excluded from Shirtless Savage DR), DR 9 on the arms on 1-3 and shirtless savage DR on a 4-6, and the force field DR whenever the force field is a better choice. No. either wear it and get DR 3 (9 on the arms on a 1-3 in 6) or don't wear it at all.

- the PCs probably had the ability to move on - but were very low on FP, the casters had largely drained their power items, and were running low on paut. Big combats - and they're all big when a "small" group has 10 PCs/NPCs - take a while. Huge combats - like this one, with about 50 combatants - take at least a full session. Fights won't get smaller.

The PCs had to leave basically because of FP. The FP issue is tough - the PCs need to win quickly, because they can't fight everything at once - and PCs need to conserve FP, which means they can't use as many FP-costing spells and abilities to speed up the fight. They can't safely rest for 15-30 minutes after each fight to heal up. If they can't move to the next fight without a break, they can't really do anything but try to win the dungen by attrition.

- My players did well on the deafness thing. Credit where credit is due. I'm still not sure about the whole "how many HP do you need me to heal?" question in combat, though. Do clerics have the ability to instantly diagnose damage levels at a glance at a friend? "He looks to be down 11 HP." I think this is all part of that "maximize every second in combat" approach - everyone wants every action to be the best, most efficient, and most correct use of resources for everyone, every turn . . . so assuming you can identify the exact level of wounds is just a way to make that happen.

- Roll20 isn't made for close combat. It slowed us down a lot as I clicked and dragged and clicked and dragged trying to get to see who is in what hex.

- Loot was around $3K each. They sold the Magescale (estimated value is $55,000) and one pair of Bracers of Force. Varmus took the other pair. They wanted to give the new magescale to Gerry and then pass the damaged set to Varmus, but Varmus wasn't keen on that . . . he preferred the bracers as they're lighter and unobtrusive. So he'll be blamed for any damage he takes that would have been stopped by the damaged armor.

- MVP was Gerry for the Stench spell followed up by an effective Flash and Strike Blind spends. He clearly broke the attack. XP was 5 each (3 for Galen). Gerry made his loot threshold and Galen 20% of his by Ulf giving up a portion of his loot. Poor Wyatt's player does the bookkeeping, and it took him many iterations to make this work. He'll be my firmest ally if we ever change to XP not being based on unequal distributions.

8 comments:

  1. I read “ratmen” as “ramen.” That would make for a totally different fight.

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    Replies
    1. Sure, instead of Crystal, Phase, and Electric, you'd have Shoyu, Shio, Miso, and Tonkotsu.

      You can add chashu or spicy on as additional prefixes, and omori if you don't like them SM-1.

      And gyoza on the side, obviously.

      Hmm. I feel hungry, all of a sudden. Weird.

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    2. Spicy Shrimp Ramen, fiery tiny cups of delicious pain that swamp PCs through wave tactics...

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  2. "the Bracers of Force aren't exactly the same as the ones in DF6. I'll post them sometime soon. They specifically do not layer with Shirtless Savage DR, and they replace it if you wear both."

    If you both what? Both Bracers?

    And is this how you roll with Ironskin Amulets as well, or just the Bracers that actually have "armor" on the forearms?

    I hope my GM doesn't read this and get ideas... I'm aiming to pick an Ironskin Amulet for my Shirtless Savage Ogress Barbarian/Wrestler (mostly for eye protection honestly) and I'd hate to lose 5 DR everywhere else just to get 3DR on the eyes...


    "I'm still not sure about the whole "how many HP do you need me to heal?" question in combat, though."

    I like to allow a Concentrate Maneuver and a Physician roll to answer that question. I know, I know, "inefficient", but man it's only spending 1 second glancing someone over...


    "They sold the Magescale..."

    I wouldn't mind seeing your write up for your "Magescale".

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    Replies
    1. - Both meaning two sources of DR.

      - Doesn't Stack with Armor is on Barbarians p. 14, and will allow "forcefield" DR to stack. I do things differently. Even the "unarmored" guys in my game have DR 3+, and DR 9+ is so common that 1d+2 damage foes are harmless except on maximum damage versus a handful of PCs or Gerry's skeletons. I don't really want to make "force field" types of armor exist, and therefore have all of the Shirtless Savage barbarians have DR 10/12 (DR 2 with tough skin, DR 5 with doesn't stack, DR 2 vs. crushing only) plus 3 on the eyes, 1-3 chance of 11/13 on the arms. It was either that ruling, or maybe I don't go the "cool!" route and give the golden swordsmen the bracers and just give them an innate force field so the PCs can't just give themselves +3 DR on top of everything. The rules as written would work better in a game where the PCs didn't find Bracers of Force in quantities.


      Magescale is in DFT3 Artifacts of Felltower.

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    2. I think the best way for Ulf to handle in-combat healing is to determine if the person is slightly wounded, wounded, or badly wounded and just put in 2/4/6 energy as appropriate as a standard go-to. He *usually* only heals folks when they are badly wounded anyway. Post combat healing is easier that way--I guess he can take a second or two to evaluate the situation, although it's still very meta. Not sure of the best way around that.

      One alternative rule could be a variable energy expenditure where one says, "I heal him as much as I can," and it expends energy up to the point that the person needs (maxed out on Power Investiture). So if one person is down to 6/12 hp, and Ulf goes to "top them up," they only need 3 energy on major healing, whereas if Bruce is down to -8/40 hp, it would be a major healing that would be a base cost of 6 fp (doubled to 12 due to SM+1), and it would heal him 48 hp (2 per point of base cost, quadrupled due to 48 hp).* Out of combat, Faith Healing is the way to go so long as Ulf has *fatigue* (as opposed to energy from energy reserve or a power item), because it doesn't double for large subjects, so 6 fp heals Bruce 48 hp.

      *Candidly I realize in retrospect that I screwed that up in-game when I said it healed Bruce only 24 hp when he was at -5 and Ulf spent a net 11 energy from his power item on that...those numbers would have been correct for a *minor* heal, not a major heal. Alas. It all worked out.

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    3. /nods in sympathy

      Yes, I know my GM has 'issues' with my Barbarian Ogress Wrestler* and her naked DR 10/12 (DR 3 Tough Skin from Ogre; DR 2 Tough Skin from Barbarian; DR 2 Tough Skin, Crushing Only from Barbarian; DR 5 Tough Skin, Cannot Stack With Armor from Shirtless Savage†) making her nigh immune to the foes he throws at us, so I roll her as 'generally inefficient' in combat. She's a big ole playful wrastler, so instead of lashing out with a 5d cutting/cr handaxe/mace, she punches, kicks, squeezes, and torques on foes for 3d cr. Or runs amok slamming when there are large clumps or spread out groups (being SM +2 has it's advantages - and I really need to buy "Run and Hit"), she easily knocks enemies over with a slam, and that Slam+Trample is enough to soften whatever she leaves in her wake for the rest of the party (which are mostly not Front Line types, being a Wizard, Druid, 2 Clerics, 125ish point Killer, his camp follower, and the Wizard's golem Meatshield).

      So basically she either runs about just knocking foes down, or she grabs one things and spends several rounds slowly choking or beating it to death, she doesn't "spread the love" or deal with things efficiently... that way the other PCs have something to do in combat that doesn't require we get swarmed by 20+ enemies to make it 'interesting'. It does mean if there is one really dangerous foe (like a Flame Lord, Dire Triger, etc), my Barbarian grabs it and then locks it down in a grappling and slowly deals with it. The only things that get "the big iron wedge" (crude SM +2 handaxe/mace†) are things best not touched, like wights, oozes, etc, but those make for good "dangerous to everyone" monsters, so at that point it's 'time to get serious'.


      .* I seem to have a thing for Barbarian Wrestler Ogre/Half-Ogres... I've played two of them now, Jednesa, the full Ogress Wrestler Shirtless Savage, and Smorgash the Blue, Two-handed Axe wielding SM +0 tough as nails (DR 4/6 Tough Skin/Tough Skin Crushing before armor, 30+ HP at the end) Half-Ogre who wasn't intended to be a wrestler, but ended up disarmed or in Close Combat so often I just steadily upped his Wrestling and picked up Wrestling Master... he was a rude boi going mano a mano in full plate...

      .† No, I don't need to list out all that for you, you wrote some of the rules, but I figure anyone else wanderin in might wonder from where the Ogre Barbarians are hitting the magical number of DR "More Then Full Plate", or as I like to call it, "DR Immune to Fire"... because even if she catches on fire, unless you have fire do ablative/corrosive damage to Tough Skin - which it should - DR 10 means she's immune to bonfires, most fireballs, and can //safely// hand to hand a Flame Lord (to it's chagrin and eventual death)... her clothes can't handle it, but that's why she has the Odious Personal Habit (Underdressed Savage)...

      .‡ Also why I didn't arm her with a two-handed weapon or give her Weapon Master (Axe/Mace), her damage output would be in the insta-gib region instead of the "generally removes one weak-medium enemy per round". Really tough foes take 5+ rounds, or longer in the case of beating a Flame Lord to death with her bare hands.


      "Magescale is in DFT3 Artifacts of Felltower."

      Aha! Thanks, I never check that for "generic" items, I always forget there are a few 'less specific' goodies in there.

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  3. Varmus getting better defenses will hamper his ability to become Graveyard King

    How many points has Galen gotten to now?

    Does Gerry plan to get replacement skeletons?

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