Monday, February 6, 2023

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 180, Brotherhood Complex 3, Part II

Date: 2/6/2023
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)

We picked up where we left off - in close combat between a dozen or so cone-hatted cultists and the PCs.

The usual confused brawl resulted.

The cone-hatted cultists pinned all except Desmond up agains the corner point of the intersection. Desmond was a half-dozen yards away confronted by two cultists, one wounded and one unharmed. Kaylee, with a crippled arm, brawled with Brother Cedric (flail) and Brother Alester (knife, after losing his halberd when his arm was crippled) along with another cultist. Durinn stood next to him, facing one cultist. Lenny next to him, at the point of the corner, facing 2-3 cultists while trailing a halberd out of his vitals. Belmek was facing three cultists, all lightly wounded.

(I'll deal with the fight in sections to make the summary readable and writeable.)

Desmond fought with his cultist foes, desperately parrying and retreating, trying to cast spells to take them out - he used Tanglefoot on one, but couldn't take advantage from the man going down to get further away. He used Terror later, to try and scare them, but didn't make the roll by much and they resisted. He managed to strike one in the groin during the fight, but not hard enough to really matter. Meanwhile, they used All-Out Attack (Double) to pound on him. His Magescale deflected most of the blows, but not all - and a few Blink spells off of HP - leaving him wounded. Eventually, one (the unwounded one) got a shot in and rolled "hand." Desmond doesn't have much DR there, and - whack! - his hand was severed. He lost the ability to use his staff effectively. Even after that, though, it took a number of seconds to run him down and strike him down. They managed to crippled both of his feet and cut him more, sending him to below -1xHP. He rolled a death check and failed by 2. Mortally wounded! One hit him a few more times before his buddy noted that Desmond was a goner. (I had them roll Per - one rolled a 17. The other made it.)

His foes ran back to the fight - one quickly, the other slowly.

In the center brawl, Kaylee was steadily getting beating down. Prone, and unarmed, she scabbled for a potion and then for a knife. This took time, as she was underfoot of Brother Cedric with his flail. Meanwhile, Brother Alester kept kicking at her, mostly ineffectually but every once in a while doing 1 injury through her armor. The other cultist just banged away with his sword, hitting Kaylee over and over, sometimes getting through armor and sometimes not. He switched to All-Out Attack (Double) and then later (Strong) to bang through her armor while she was unable to strike him effectively. Kaylee tried to get up but fell a couple of times from critically missed Dodges. It got ugly, quickly. Soon her right hand was also crippled, too.

Durinn fended off the cultist on him while getting off healing spells . . . sometimes. He managed to heal up Lenny a lot, Belmek (I think), and Kaylee once as well. But he was low on power and getting hurt. The cultist on him managed to land a blow and cripple his right arm - his shield arm. His defenses compromised, he still managed to parry (!) and dodge Brother Cedric's flail. But then another blow came through and hit one of his legs - cutting it clean off. His HP were negative and he was rolling each turn to stay awake. In desperation, he prayed for help from the Good God, sacrificing 1 xp to get a +1 . . . a net 8 or less. He prayed and asked for any aid from the Good God, especially for Kaylee to get back into the action (more or less.) He rolled an 8! The Good God bathed Kaylee in light, and she was fully healed, and her crippling injuries were gone!

Lenny, meanwhile, anchoring Durinn's side, was hampered badly by the halberd in him. He fought well, and eventually managed to cut down one of the two cultists facing him, wounding him enough that he eventually dropped unconscious. The other kept him busy most of the rest of the fight, but he made sure no one could double up on Durinn or get to Belmek's flank.

Belmek kept fighting with three foes. He systematically worked them over with Rapid Strike, often Deceptive -1, and eventually managed to cut them down, one by one. It took a while - they defended well, and often, and mostly stayed up while wounded. One kept standing and fighting while heavily negative until he finally just dropped unconscious after desperately trying to kill Belmek with a gaping chest wound from an axe.

Around now, the healed Kaylee was - unfortunately - beaten right back down to negative HP. Brother Alester started to slash away with his knife, wounding her little by little. The sword-armed cultists hammered at her as she got up. Brother Cedric pounded her back down with his flail. She managed to fall on her back, and reach over with All-Out Attack (Long) and grapple Brother Cedric's left leg. She kept trying to improve her grip - first 7 CP, and then 14 CP! Despite repeated strikes - one on the neck from a sword and a big gash in her back - she held on. Durinn passed out around now, and Lenny started to take shot at Cedric, who parried with his flail. Belmek started to come around to help. Brother Cedric tried to break free, but couldn't.

Kaylee passed out soon after, letting Cedric go. Brother Alester moved over to engage the rushing Belmek, slamming him but failing to knock him down. Belmek cut him down in a short exchange of blows - a knife doesn't match an axe. Lenny and Belmek managed to cut down Brother Cedric next. As this happened, one of the two cultists who defeated Desmond. The other said, "Hold them off, I'll get the others!" and ran off.

About 5-6 seconds later, Belmek and Lenny cut down the last of the enemy. Lenny had Belmek pull out the halberd, and then went around stabbing everyone not a party member in an eye with his sword. Lenny asked if they should chase the guy running away. Belmek said no.

Belmek grabbed Desmond and Kaylee and put the flail and knife in his backpack - the flail chain-first with the handle sticking out. Lenny grabbed Durinn and his leg, and the dueling halberd. They hiked north, collecting the crowbar they dropped earlier.

Then they blundered into an evil runes trap - Lenny and Durinn were able to resist the effects, however, thanks to a poor roll on behalf of the runes (made it by 0 vs. HT.) They backed out and went around another way. They hauled out the map, saw where they were, and headed out.

Once out, they kept hoofing it. They got to their camp. They fed Durinn potions until he woke up. Then the group policed it up as best they could, and then hiked off even further so Durinn could heal Kaylee and then use Suspended Animation on Desmond.

After some further patching up, they headed still further out, and then home. They weren't hassled by any cultists, but it's not clear if the cultists couldn't, or didn't, or their caution getting away was the difference.

They made it back to town. Their loot was the knife (normal), a dwarven duelling halberd, and a flail. None magical or with other prefixes.


- I expected this fight to take 1-2 hours of real time, get finished off, and then they'd delve more. Nope. Despite a lot of Critical Failures by the NPCs early on, the PCs just couldn't get on top of the fight. It turned into a slog.

- We went with 1 CP per # of weapon weight. I said, for simplicity that's -5 for offensive, -3 for defense. My players said, okay, perfect, so that's -3 on this one defense because a -5 to an odd-numbered skill is only -2, but -3 on this other one because you have an even numbered skill. You know, we'll just use -3 for simplicity = no one actually listens. Next time I'm saying -1 per 2# of weapon weight, rounded up, halved penalty to defense, rounded up. For ST 20+ halve the penalties first.
- Rolls vs. Stunning & Knockdown are pretty reliably nothing. Most of the time, even a crippled limb doesn't stun anyone. All of the PCs are HT 12+, with 13-14 net HT rolls, plus HPT for the fighter-types. NPCs are usually 10-12, often 11-12, so less than 1 in 3 cripples or major wounds result in stunning. And most of the stunned just miss one second. We play without the automatic knockdown off of it, and automatic weapon dropping (mostly because of player preference back in the day), so it's not a big deal most of the time. Probably should be more so.

- Prayers came up again. They're intentionally vague, which makes it harder for the players, but specifics are too transactional. Durinn prayed for help, especially for Kaylee. He made it, and, having been accused of a lack of generosity on prayers in the past, I fully healed up Kaylee. It didn't turn out to be that useful. Kaylee was on her way out of the fight. She ended up staying in the fight longer, but only absorbed some blows that might have gone elsewhere. I opined after the fight that I gave them what they asked for but probably making Lenny fully combat effective would have been more useful - healing him or just getting that halberd out of him. It's always a quandary for PCs, though - do you bail out failure, or reinforce success? Which makes more sense? Which makes more sense given that you don't want your friend's paper man to die? But, prayers - I'll do a post on them soon.

- We had the usual see-saw flow from "These guys are going to murder us!" vs. "These guy suck." I should point out, in fairness, that Belmek's player (who also ran Gerry and Vryce) is pretty even keel. It's everyone else, mostly, who cringes when someone hits a PC but then smack-talks on critical failures by NPCs. Heh.

- I still hate Retreat. I still hate all of the "is this a hex I can Retreat to?" questions. If I was following Marie Kondo's advice I would chuck out Retreat for not bringing me joy.

- Situation awareness in RPGs got called out in the comments on my turn-based post. Deservedly so. When Belmek wiped out his last opponent, Desmond yelled to him to come help. I said, "You can't see him." Desmond's player pointed out that yes, on the battle map, he could ju-u-u-u-st see the edge of Belmek's icon. Nevermind Desmond was in constant frantic combat for his life, with two adult males in front of him intent on, and attemping to commit the act of, murder. Yet he could see well enough to know Belmek was clear of foes and could run over and help him? Also, people would ask, "Is this the guy . . . ?" Answer: I don't know. You probably can't keep track realistically and I sure can't without making a lot of paper notes to match the in-VTT tracking.

- The PCs managed to get a little bit of loot out thanks to those three weapons. Only the halberd - a $600 weapon - was really worth the trouble, but they need every penny - it took like 6-7 Major Healing potions to get Durinn up. I think some of the players wanted the conscious guys to drag away the plate-armored guys, or strip off some of their armor, or grab swords or something, but I routinely ask people who are unconscious to let the conscious guys decide. Nothing breaks my suspension of disbelief more than the players of dead and knocked out PCs planning, helping, and opining on what to do. I mean, c'mon. I know it's a game, but why not let the conscious guys have to decide what to do without knocked-out people suddenly providing advice or requests or suggestions of who to check and which potions to feed to who in which order? Everyone went along with it, quickly, but I wanted to explain why I do it that way.

- XP was 2 xp for loot ($59 each is more than 20% of loot threshold for 250-299 point guys), 1 xp exploration. MVP was Belmek. Kaylee got some votes for keeping folks occupied and then grappling Brother Cedric, but ultimately Belmek cleaning up his end of the fight and then cleaning up the rest of the fight was the vote-getter.


  1. So, will there be a resurrection of Desmond?
    Full price or at a "discount"?
    At 285 points it has to be better to try instead of making a new guy.

    1. He was mortally wounded but didn't die, thanks to Suspended Animation and, later, Stop Bleeding. He was dying, but sufficiently powerful magic helped.

      Now, he's probably wishing he died, after he had to come home to face Mrs. MacDougall* with a missing hand, claiming it was a "gardening accident" from his Sunday day out with the boys that totally doesn't involve dungeons of any kind.

      * Some of the players claim she's like a 500+ point character, and probably adventures on the side while Desmond is away. Maybe. Unlikely, if they ever want her to show up in play. I'm personally more amused by the idea she's not, and just is sharp-tongued enough to scare Desmond. Or maybe she's a total sweetheart and Desmond is a completely unreliable witness.


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