Thursday, September 22, 2022

GURPS Conan: Beyond Thunder River playthrough session 4

I will play through GURPS Conan: Beyond Thunder River in short sessions until I've completed it. Again, here is another 30-odd minute block of gaming. It's not that long, but there is a lot of page flipping if you haven't copied any stats or maps ahead of time.

I will run Conan of Cimmeria as written up in that supplement, as a 40-year old, 521-point character. I am using the 1st edition GURPS rules from my original boxed set, as written.

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3

Plot Words:

I pick up where I finished - we'd just killed three Turtle clan Pict braves. Having won the fight, I can decide if I want to return to the fort, or continue the scouting mission. I choose the latter.

We've determined the Picts are massing to take out the fort . . . and so I can either go back to the fort immediately, risking a daytime crossing, or wait until dusk (630 pm).


Two issues here - one, it's around midnight already on Thursday, so immediately isn't a daylight crossing. Two, we didn't even take a crack at Zogar Sog and I'm not allowed to do so. Sigh. Make it three - we need to swim. Didn't we conceal boats like, I dunno, in this same hex?

The only option that actually makes sense here is "Wait until dusk" and use those parameters for the crossing. So I do that - we swim (actually, it doesn't say anything about "we" - maybe this series of numbers assumes I'd lost my scouts . . . and the errata says nothing on this.

Swimming is at +3 (intentionally entered the water) and minus twice encumbrance (Conan's is Light, so -1 x 2 = -2). Net roll is 15. 11, made it by 4. The scouts have a 14, +3, and no encumbrance. So six rolls turn up as 10, 12, 11, 6, 5, 10. We all make it. We add +1 hour to the current time, making it 1 am.

Ironically, the next decision point will let me swim the river back and try for Gwawela village and Zogar Sog. I'll put a pin in this . . . might be a fun "alternate ending" attempt. But I start for the fort.

Lots of page flips later, it's 3 am and I need to roll for a random encounter. 6 or higher gets it, -2 for plot for Valorous, so I literally can't have an encounter. I roll a 4-2 = 2.

Another travel entry - now it's 5 am and we're adjacent to the fort, with no encounter (1 -2 = -1, encounter on a 6+). We enter.

The entry is a "if you're written your letter home, and blah blah blah put your clothes on the lower peg" one. It's 5 am Friday morning and I have no relevant plot words. I'm conducted to Valannus, the fort commander. He asks if Zogar Sog is alive. I say yes, because for some reason I didn't take a shot at him because "continue the mission" wasn't on the list. Valannus concludes Zogar Sog's magic is too powerful, the fort is doomed. I need to make an IQ roll. Conan has a 12, and I roll a 10.

. . . and proceed to explain to Valannus stuff I saw in Gwawela, including a traitor!

EXCEPT I didn't even get there, because the entries didn't let me. So that's kind of b.s.

I make an executive decision to go with the "failed" IQ roll entry because the success assumes I did something I did not.

Valannus offers me a chance to leave the fort and take word to Velitrium. I reject it and stay to fight, because I'm playing Conan the Cimmerian, not Harry Flashman.* I get put in charge of the blockhouse and reserve troops. The Picts come at sundown, and get repelled . . . at least initially. One of my plot words dictates the name entry.

I'm confident we'll win . . . but is Julian alive? I don't know, so I flip to the appropriate page. The east wall collapses, and Picts rush in!

I lead the counterattack, and have to roll Tactics, with a -2 due to one of my plot words. Conan has a 13, -2, for an 11. I roll an 11.

We retake the lost positions, but more Picts surge in and manage to kill Valannus, who dies "beneath a torrent of Picts." That's not good. I can launch another attack, or flee the fort. Conan is no dummy - time to flee the fort. Especially because the entry for "launch another attack" is the same as failing that Tactics roll . . . so why choose to have failed the previous roll, effectively?

I bust out from the Picts easily, since they're too busy killing the wounded and burning the fort. I roll and escape with 9 Gundermen and 1 Bossonian archer. Each is down 1d HT (but none will be below 1/2 HT.) I'll make those 10 rolls if it matters. It's 8 pm.

We hurry down the road, cross Scalp Creek, and start to warn everyone the Picts are coming. The Picts burn farms as they advance, spreading the warning of their own advance.

The Picts make it to Velitrium, but they're repelled in hard fighting. Canojohara is lost. Conan gets to make the "whim of circumstance" speech.

I get XP:

I never reached Gwawela, so I get 1 xp. Seems like that's it. Conan got 4 xp in the original story.


* Not for nothing, but playing this with a Flashman like character would be pretty funny, especially if you deliberately made the cowardly choices but steered your guy to maximum danger each time. Ol' Flashy would need a decision path that leads to fighting a companion who discovers his cowardice, and get to seduce a fierce and beautiful Pictish woman!

Had I failed that Tactics roll, Conan would die in a fruitless counterattack against the Picts, no further rolls. Success lets you win enough to escape. Save or die, right there from back in '88!

I'm disappointed at the issues with the options - being literally unable to get to Gwawela due to a random encounter, and then being able to reveal a traitor I didn't know about, is a problem. I've played this before and didn't have that occur. This is actually the first time I've lost the fort in any playthrough - it's about time!

I'm well set up for Moon of Blood, which I believe is the battle of Velitrium. But I think I will do that "alternate ending" and just skip to the map-maneuvering section and go to Gwawela. It feels like a big miss, never seeing the Pict fort or Zogar Sog. So that before Moon of Blood.

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