Monday, January 30, 2023

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 179, Brotherhood Complex 3, Part I

Date: 1/29/2023
Game Date: 1/29/2023 left Stericksburg, delved on 2/1/2023.

Ambassador Durinn, dwarf cleric (264 points)
Belmek Battlebeard, dwarf barbarian (255 points)
Desmond MacDougall, human wizard (285 points)
Kaylee, half-elf knight (250 points)
Lenjamin Gundry of Cornwood, human knight (250 points)

The PCs gathered in Stericksburg and headed out to the brotherhood complex, aka the Unopenable Doors.

Low-Key was sidelined with the Dwarven Sprue, a respiratory condition endemic to the area during the winter months. The others headed out to try to plunder the Brotherhood Complex. There weren't any rumors as the area between Stericksburg and the complex is relatively safe, and the immediate area around the complex is very low traffic. There just isn't anything to hear.

The PCs carefully inspected the cave and tunnel as they went through, wound their way into the complex, and came to the doors. Desmond stood before them and proclaimed, "I am of the Brotherhoood. By the Brotherhood, let us pass." Nothing happened. "Me" not "we," pointed out Durinn. Desmond repeated it correctly and they headed in. They carefully went through the illusionary wall, sending Belmek first. He felt around carefully with his booted foot for a tripwire or bear trap, but nothing was found.

Once down the stairs, they moved into the wide hallway where they'd had battles on two previous occasions. They moved forward, debating going "south" (down on the visual of the map, not actually south) or towards the barracks, "just to make sure."
Almost immediately, they were jumped by cone-hatted cultists on both sides. These guys were in full cult regalia - cone hats with face veils, burgundy and black robes, black shoes. Two had crossbows, the rest clubs and shields. They rushed in and attacked as Belmek, Lenjamin, and Kaylee formed a line.

Desmond quickly cast Panic on a small area with three of them. He critically succeeded, forcing all three to run. Before one could turn and run, Lenjamin attacked him . . . but critically missed and dropped his warhammer. The three fled into the darkness. The fight quickly turned on the cultists, who fought hard, with no quarter asked, until the remaining seven were down. Three of them went down in one series of swings - Kaylee was swamped with foes and decided to cut her way out. (Kaylee's player was groaning about how Cleaving Strike would be helpful - so I said you can just AOA without it.) Kaylee swung at three of them (AOA Double, splitting one into a Rapid Strike) and cut one's leg off, the top of the second's skull off, and the third's arm. The last survivors went down a second or two later; one was cold-cocked with a solid hit from Desmond's staff - from behind, of course. It was a quick fight - about 10 seconds - but loud, as the cultists yelled and called out "For the Brotherhood!" as they struck.

The PCs debated looting the bodies, chasing the cultists, or going "south." They did so for a couple minutes, while Durinn checked the bodies for easy loot. He found nothing he could easily grab aside from helmets, but taking out a sack, filling it, and then tying it off was more time than they wanted to spent. The elected to go "south."

They headed around a pool of still water and headed to the nearest door. Belmek pried it open, and then wound their way around a long corridor. At the end was a door; they forced it open and found a room lined with clothes pegs with robes and hoods. Durinn cast See Secrets and they began to pull robes and hoods off the walls and toss them on the floor. As they did, this lunged out from behind a robe that Desmond pulled off the wall:

A spectre! It clawed at Desmond, who, despite being occupied with pulling robes off, simply used Blink and defended against it. The spectre followed up and struck him several more times, wounding him with its life-draining touch for 10 injury. It then concentrated on a spell as Belmek ran in and hit it - to no effect! Durinn successfully turned it, but only 1 yard's worth. It cast Death Vision on Desmond . . . but rolled a 17 and failed! As it tried again, Durinn put Affect Spirits on Belmek's axe. Belmek hit it and wounded it, and a second later it vanished with a little "whoosh" noise.

They healed up Desmond and finished their task - they checked for secret doors and found nothing.

The group moved back to the wide corridor and headed "south." Down the long corridor they went, bypassing a door spotted off on a side offshoot. Suddenly they found themselves faced with a dead end, after seemingly having much corridor ahead of them. They were just suddenly at the end. So they turned around and headed back . . . and found themselves suddenly at the dead end again. A teleport trap!

Queue the usual solutons - looking for pressure plates, debating if Mage Sight would tell them how it worked (it doesn't do that, but it's always suggested), trying to go "along the walls" or "up the middle," stepping one by one up hexes and chalking the spots to see where it triggers, Levitating low and then high - nothing worked.

Eventually they decided to try Dispel Magic - and then sent Belmek through. It worked! So they moved out . . . and found themselves, sans Belmek, at the dead end.

Aargh. They rested a bit, and then did it again - but this time everyone ran up the hallway. Out of the trap!

They turned left down a side corridor and moved along it. Durinn and Desmond rushed ahead, with Belmek, and they blundered into an evil runes trap. Durinn was injured but the other resisted the Dehydrate attack. They backed off and went the other way.

They headed to the door they'd passed earlier. As they tried to force, it, though, crossbow bolts came out of the dark. Two missed, but one hit Belmek. It came from the "south." He ran that way, the others following as fast as they could. He was hit with crossbow bolts the whole way, blocking a few as well, but his native DR kept most from hurting him too badly. At the end of the hallway was a semicircle of foes at a bent intersection. Most had swords out, three clubs, and two had two-handed weapons and plate peeking out from their sleeves.

Belmek halted and waited for the others to arrive. Lenjamin arrived first, and they stepped up together, backs to the corner wall. The cultists rushed them. In a brawl marred by critical failures, the cultists started with a few. One ran at Belmek who knocked him down. Another ran up and fell while trying to attack. Another dropped his weapon. Belmek and Lenjamin attacked those around them - Belmek concentrating on the ones who'd fallen, trying to finish them. The cultists moved to cut them off from the oncoming friends. Durrin ran next to Lenjamin and put his back to the wall. The two armored cultists - revealed by the combat tracker to be Brother Cedric and Brother Alester, of whom they'd been warned - attacked Lenjamin. Alester attacked with his dueling halberd. Cedric ran up with his two-handed mace to engage from another angle.

Kaylee ran up to the fight. As she did, though, Cedric moved to engage her - as was their plan. Another cultist ran up and slammed down Desmond, standing over him. Kaylee tried to parry someone and critically failed, flinging her sword into the wall behind her. Cedric attacked; she tried to Dodge his flail strike but her left arm was crippled by the hit. More cultists ran through the gap to cut off the PCs from Desmond and from Kaylee's sword.

Desmond threw up a few Mental Stun spells at his foe, succeeding each time - critically the first. But his foe just kept recovering immediately or just about so. He was unable to do more than just lay there trying to get breathing space.

Belmek and Lenjamin layed about them, putting down a few of the cone-hatted swordsmen. Belmek critically missed and unreadied his axe; he simply dropped it the next turn, fast-drew a replacement, and attacked. Lenjamin exchanged ineffective blows with another cultist. Then Brother Alester spiked him in the vitals with the backspike of his halberd. Lenjamin was badly injured, and stuck! Belmek attacked Alester and crippled his arm. B.A. dropped his halberd and rush off toward Kaylee. Lenjamin kept fighting on against the cultist facing him. Durinn defended and cast healing spells on Belmek, Lenjamin (with the halberd still in), and Kaylee. Kaylee drew her knife and rushed into close combat with B.C., who promptly head-butted her. She parried that, and tried to cut him back. She cut and dodged and moved but was soon penned in on all sides by cultists. Meanwhile, Lenjamin critically failed an attack and tossed his hammer over his head - past Belmek, and it landed on the skull of a cultist fighting Belmek! It did 7 damage (15/2 round down) which became 4 injury . . . but the cultist made his HT roll and stayed up.

We ended it there - Belmek up, wounded badly. Lenjamin needing a new weapon, Durinn penned in next to them. Kaylee mobbed. Desmond still on his back trying to Mental Stun his way to safety. And a good number of cultists down - but an even larger number still up and fighting fanatically against them.


- Ah, the door pass phrase. Desmond's player said, "I got it wrong but Desmond would have gotten it right." Nope, that's not how it works in DF Felltower.

- Of course, the PCs mocked the guys who fell victim to a critically successful Panic spell as cowards. It's a group with a strong Bully streak in it.

- Looting bodies isn't as quick as PCs would like. They'd generally like to have people with purses on their belts, within easy grab. I assume a quick search of a person takes one minute, including checking for and in purses, pockets, around the neck, etc. A full search - to thoroughly loot someone - takes longer. So you can't just have the bodies hit the floor at second 10, loot the bodies in seconds 11-20, and then run, say.

- Desmond blinked to get away from the spectre. I probably shouldn't have allowed him to try. He's out of combat, no Combat Reflexes, and grabbing robes off the walls and throwing them to the floor. As he does, a spectre behind one reaches out and attacks him. He Blinks and then defends. Seems iffy, right? GURPS is, by default, very generous on the defense. I get the whole, "A kid with a pointed stick can kill you" thing about GURPS, but in reality, it's much more often, "A spectre attacking at point blank by surprise while you're occupied doing something else in a big rush can be defended against without much problem." Players like this, as they're rarely in the position of attacking by surprise. I've complained about this before - and it's kind of annoying. It's too easy for PCs to get one or more very high likelihood of success rolls to get out of the bad effects of poor decisions. I need to use the surprise rules more vigorously, and ignore the complains of people who rationalize that "we're in a dungeon, so how can we be surprised by danger?"

- I made some spell rulings - they'll have to wait until tomorrow or Thursday, though. Stop Bleeding, Panic, healing spells and crippling injuries, and Mage Sight, for a few.

- Charging the ambush worked, mostly because Belmek has like 6 natural DR and the crossbowmen didn't have any bodkin points. It wasn't the best way to deal with ranged fire. Several good Per rolls allowed some blocks, too.

- I say this many times, but I'll have to do something about it - I need rules for a weapon staying stuck in you. It's unreasonable and damages suspension of disbelief when Lenjamin has a 7' halberd stuck point-first in his vitals, dragging on the ground, and he fights with no penalties to block, swing, move, etc. And he's had the wound mostly healed around the impale, which is just bizarre. There needs to be some kind of reasonable penalty. I'll come up with ideas and post them later this week.

- MVP was Kaylee for her "triple murder" stroke. I decided after the session to give an Awesome Bonus - +1 to all PCs - for the really fun brawls they got into. They certainly aren't trying to back off and fight later. The first was a walkover with some unfortunate rolls. The second is a chaotic disaster as the PCs try to fight as a team against foes equally fighting as a team . . . but it's awesome. Plus, everyone was on target, there was little unhelpful helping, and lots of interesting combat moves. I give those rarely but this feels like a session that earned it. So, 2 xp to Kaylee, 1 xp to everyone else.

- Overall, great session. It was a lot of fun. I wish we had time to finish the fight but it was late. I hate to end during a fight, but we'll play next week and finish out the session. May they all be this loaded with enjoyment, if not more!


  1. "I need to use the surprise rules more vigorously, and ignore the complains of people who rationalize that "we're in a dungeon, so how can we be surprised by danger?""

    Yup. Vigorously apply the surprise rules directly to the PC's forehead.

    "I need rules for a weapon staying stuck in you."

    Something from grappling might work. Since you use TG, I'm sure something about ST needed to wield the weapon could be applied as "being grappled by [ST Needed] ST".

    1. I'm going to do that. Not because I want to TPK people, really, but because if you're rummaging quickly through some hanging robes, trying to get them all on the floor ASAP, and one of them happens to have a spectre hiding behind it doing a stealthy Wait and Attack, and your Per vs. its Stealth failed . . . you shouldn't just get to Blink away like it was any other normal attack. I fault myself for not insisting on using surprise here, and enforcing it vigorously.

      I'm on the same line of thought with you for grappling, but not quite the same execution. I'll post more about it tomorrow or Thursday!

  2. Is the guy standing over Desmond the guy who took a 12 damage acid ball to the chest, or is he elsewhere? It’s a little hard to tell who’s hurt and who’s not without the “reeling” automatically kicking in/displayed. But I can understand not having that displayed for a variety of reasons.


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