Monday, June 6, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, Session 171, Felltower 121 - Second GFS - Part III

Actual Date: 6/6/2022
Game Date: 4/10/2022

Aldwyn, human knight (360 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice (180 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (420 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
     1 tough skeleton (105 points)
"Mild" Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (349 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (375 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (379 points)

We started off in combat, with the PCs facing out with a swarm of norkers and some unarmed norkers with hunched posture, green-grey splotchy skin, and softer hide.

Right away, the PCs were looking to get out of the fight. They backed off, carefully, holding a tight line with Bruce as a bulge in it, as Ulf began to call on the Good God for help, spending 5 character points to boost his roll by +5.

And it came! Ulf made his roll by 3, asking for the Good God to put the fear of the Good God into the norkers.

It worked. For three seconds, the norkers and norker-alikes backed off and away from the PCs, unwilling or unable to attack. They made sounds of consternation and confusion.

The PCs made it back to the mouth of the hallway behind them, just inside the room, and formed four across - Crogar, the skeleton, Bruce, and Wyatt.

The spellcasters had continued to back off slowly, Varmus creating a fireball to tote with him as he went.

Then after a few seconds, the norkers and norker-alikes charged them. They ended up in a brawl in close combat, with a rank of norkers behind them. At that point, Ulf ran to the levers for the door and grabbed the left and middle ones. He then threw the middle one down. The door shut . . . partway, and then swooshed back up. With all of the melee in the way, it couldn't close.

So they fought a few more seconds, and layed down Stench and Blackout (Gerry) and two layers of Create Fire (Varmus). That plus some shoves drove the enemy back . . . and Ulf threw the switch and the door closed. He collapsed unconcious just as he did it. (Dramatic, eh?)

The foe left behind an axe that Wyatt had kick-disarmed out of the hands of a norker. Gerry Apportated it over to himself and then handed it to Crogar.


We stayed in combat time as the PCs set up for an attack. Wyatt ran around to a wall looking for the levers - but they were gone! Turns out, he'd remembered the wrong wall (see below.) Ulf tried to throw another lever, and got fried with black fire . . . and was stuck to the lever!

He yelled in pain and Wyatt ran over and tried the third switch. No effect. So he tackled Ulf aside with a Flying Tackle, yet couldn't get him free of the lever. Another yank and he was free. Varmus, meanwhile, found the six levers on another wall. So he threw the only one that was down, up, and then threw the rightmost one from up to down. He was fried by black fire. Wyatt ran over and slammed him, hurting him but freeing him from the handle.

They milled around for another 10-20 seconds or so . . . checking walls for levers and doors . . . before the door opened again.

Beyond was a single downed norker, but then a rush of norkers and norker-alikes swamped into the room. The PCs left the flaming hexes undefended, and the enemy rushed right through - the chitinous hide of the norkers made the fire not much of an issue for a partial-second exposure. The others clearly didn't like it but ran through it anyway. The others didn't seem bothered by stench, either.

The fight broke down into two knots. Bruce and Wyatt to the PC's right, trying not to get surrounded, and quickly backed by Varmus. Crogar and the skeleton to the left, surrounded by foes. Crogar cut one unarmed type down, unclear if it's dead, but then tried to jump over a norker crouching to pick up an axe dropped with a critical failure. He failed. He tried to evade again, but still failed.

The PCs continued to fight, with Wyatt dodging around and having a hard time inflicting solid damage on either kind of norker, Varmus throwing a few ineffectual Fireball spells, and Bruce kept trying groin punches to no effect as the norkers dodged most of his attacks. Wyatt kept slashing at random and trying disarms.

This is where we had to call the session.



- Quote of the day, from Ulf's player, "Felltower is all about safety."

- We had a lot of weird VTT issues today. One especially irksome one was that whenever I, the GM, did anything, I did it as the last person to do anything before me. You rolled and then I roll a die to see what happens? Shows up as you did it.

Another is that if you target a foe, it tells you their name. And you can see who is in the initiative order . . . even guys you never saw in the fight. So I, as the GM, can't put everyone into the fight and then dramatically reveal them. Nope. They show up, by name, on the list, and you know when they get to go. "Hey, there is a leader type . . . and he's going this turn." Great. Another reason to prefer tabletop.

- At some point, in the player's minds, there were some tiny lightswitch-like "switches" and big-ass "levers." There never were such. There were just panels of three or six 4-5" long bronze-like metal levers. Not easy to see in dim light, but not that big. Either way, it's a Ready to grab a lever/switch (I use the terms interchangeably) and a Ready to throw it. You can do two at a time if the setup is reasonable.

- I don't often ask for guidance on the prayer option, but Ulf spent 5 points on the roll and I wanted to have some idea what he wanted other than "miracle us out of here!" or "miracle them out of here!", both of which require criticals. He made the roll by 3 and asked for the Good God to make the foe flee with fear. So what the hell, I gave them three seconds of backing off and being unable (or feeling unwilling) to attack.

Unfortunately, the PCs didn't take very good advantage of either opportunity. With the three-second window, they backed off and formed a line at the door, which was good, and layed down Stench and later Blackout and Create Fire. But they really backed off slowly. I understand the caution, but the spellcasters also mostly backed off slowly, taking All-Out Defend (Dodge) and refusing to turn away. An out-and-out run for the switches could potentially have closed the door before they needed those spells to seal the deal and let them close the door.

After that, it was just a case of throwing switches . . . and not remembering which switches to throw. Or choosing to throw different combos. Either way, they didn't throw any combos that would "move the room" as they now feel it is doing. I thought they'd figured it out last time, so I was a little amused when they showed it was just lucky random actions and no one remembered what they were. To be honest, I couldn't tell them what they threw. I didn't keep track of all of the combes they went through in order, because I didn't need to, so I can't even have given someone an IQ roll to remember where the switches were. The fact that multiple people threw switches at different times is as good an explanation for that as any.

There was also an issue of Wyatt going to the wrong wall to throw switches. I didn't correct him, and he's sure the switches were described as being there. It must have been a miscommunication last time, and cost them a little time.

So now they're in a really bad spot. Only two PCs are armed - Wyatt with an axe, and Crogar with an axe - and they cannot seem to make any headway against the norkers and their soft-shelled buddies. They've put one down probably and one down maybe, and it cost them Aldwyn, all of their FP, Ulf, and heavy damage to Bruce, Varmus, and moderate damage to Crogar and the skeleton. They lost any tactical cohesion on the second attack, as it took them slight out of position. We played all of the turns in combat time, so this wasn't the GM declaring they were out of order. They were where they wanted to be. Their own fire prevented them from blocking the doorway with three, and they only had three guys for four hexes and left two mostly open except for fire.

So now the question is, what to do?

The players are legitimately considering options including surrender, just declaring everyone dead instead of spending the time on it or surrendering and hoping for the best (certainly they all won't just be killed outright, I'm willing to vouch for that out-of-game, too.) We'll have to game that out as Gerry will try to escape, since he's floating around invisibly. So that's a game session no matter what, I think. But it's clear they feel pretty defeated. I get why - they have two sub-optimal weapons against foes with enough native DR to make most of their attacks only somewhat effectual, and no supernatural help, and no one to spare to play with levers until they've downed a good 17-18 foes.

So we'll see.

MVP was Ulf for his dramatic actions, prayer, and quote.


  1. Isn't axes what Crogar normally uses?

    1. Yes, but DFers are spoiled. This is just an axe. $40, 4 lbs, Parry 0U. They're used to Fine, Balanced, Dwarven axes, often enchanted, usually Weapon Bonded, etc. etc. So it's a drop of a few points of damage, you can't parry on the turns when you attack, etc. I think they're really feeling what their equipment adds to their characters, and the lack thereof.

    2. This is why I don't make axe weilders unless they are tough enough to forgo defenses... and I'm betting Crogar isn't quite tough enough to skip defending against these guys.

      Are you allowing the expanded Maneuvers from Martial Arts? I can never remember if you are, but Defensive Attack would allow a Parry with those axes.

    3. They're literally naked, and armed with only the two axes they recovered from foes. If Crogar was expert at a non-axe weapon he wouldn't be better off.

      We're using the expanded Maneuvers but I don't think anyone ever considered Defensive Attack. I don't go to any effort to teach people to run their guys better. That's probably not my best feature as a GM, but here we are.

    4. I don't really do the 'best' job teaching either, I just provide my Players with a set of "quickie" pages listing out stuff, like the Maneuvers, what skills are best used for what, and then if they use the info, great. If they're a complete newby I will coach them for a few sessions, until they get the swing of the gem under their belt.

      Hopefully Crogar (or one of the other Players will pop in here and be reminded of Defensive Attack, though it has drawbacks, especially in this situation).

  2. "- I don't often ask for guidance on the prayer option, but Ulf spent 5 points on the roll..."

    I know, your game, your ways but I like to reward point expenditures.

    I'd have given at least five full seconds of fear, one for each point spent (probably more like five seconds of the norks backing away, some scrambling back if they failed morale tests, then five seconds of defensive-fearful advances/attacks, then a return to normal nork aggression levels, On a crit, the norks would have just routed for five seconds, then yada-yada). And even on a failure, I'd give them something, like a weak 'fear' effect, maybe five seconds of the norks defensively probing instead of all out assaulting. Only on Crit Fails do I disregard the impact of "Character Points spent" (and admittedly even then I don't disregard it, the Patron would give them something, but the anger/disappointment at the request would be made manifest - either in the lackluster showing, FP/HP charged for the effect, a direct "Why did you dare disturb me when I was watching my shows?", something...).

    Otherwise I find I get Players not wanting to spend the points on Hail Marys until it's //too// late.

    Of course I've also been using Impulse Points lately (like what the last decade or so, 'lately, geeze) so my Players have gotten used to some small measure of Narrative input via points and have gotten better about spending things for good effect earlier rather than later.

    "I thought they'd figured it out last time, so I was a little amused when they showed it was just lucky random actions and no one remembered what they were. To be honest, I couldn't tell them what they threw. I didn't keep track of all of the combes they went through in order, because I didn't need to, so I can't even have given someone an IQ roll to remember where the switches were."

    And this is why as a Player (and as a GM) I always take notes on this sort of stuff. Because as a GM I know they are going to forget and ask next time, and I want to be able to have them roll and give the one guy with Eidetic/Photographic Memory their points worth... and as a Player because I know I'll forget and it'll be important in the future (and of course I'm usually playing "the guy with Eidetic/Photographic memory", so it's become second nature to just take really good notes).

    1. I just play it as written. The PCs use it a lot, and if they want to spend character points for a +1, they get what they paid for. I won't through in additional benefits to double-reward the payment . . . you don't get +1, plus any success is expanded by the spending, and you get built-in minimal success for spending points. That's too much, IMO, and for my game.

      I take okay notes, but I only note what I need to know, not what PCs might decide is important later. If they suddenly "need" to know which switches they hit in which order, and I don't need to know that . . . then no dice rolls would be warranted here to help out. No one has Eidetic Memory, either.

    2. I do it because as a Player I always felt the Points For Bonuses was a bit too parsimonious, you can spend four on a permanent +1 to a skill (or often less than four, even just onr point) or spend one point for a +1?

      Flesh Wounds always 'felt right', for one point you can 'ignore' frankly insane things, like crippled limbs/eyes, potential death dealing hits, etc. So I kinda base the rest on that level of "Points For Success/Survival" spending.

    3. Sure, but that's 4 points for a +1 to a skill in between delves unless you have special dispensation (Knights and combat skills, for example) . . . or 4 points for a +4 to a roll you need to succeed right now when you're all out of other or better options. Not everyone will make that choice, but my players clearly feel like it's worth it when you need it, even if they didn't take advantage of what it got them.


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