Sunday, June 30, 2024

What next in Felltower?

Our next game in Felltower will be a month-ish from now. The PCs are enjoying the spoils of their trip to Olympus.

I took a bunch of orders for special order armor - 1d+1 weeks and then enchantment time - on the day after. Lots of nice stuff was purchased.

Of course, they're already finding out that big scores divided six ways mean that your dream armor and dream weapons are still a little bit out of reach. So it goes.

It always seems hardest on the knights, but let's face facts, here - knights also want magical epic plate over magical mail on all locations so they can have DR 12+, more like 14+ with Armor Mastery and at least a little Fortify. And that's costly given my house rules requiring a cost-positive non-size prefix. It's a gear-intensive template, but that gear helps make it what it is.


With a gate down, I'm curious what's next for the Felltower crew. Will it be another gate? I suspect not, not yet.

So it's probably delving deeper. They're as-yet unwilling to face the cave-dwelling stone bull and chimera from outside, and unwilling as-yet to go through the crushrooms first to attack from inside the cave. They're likely to be too fragile for the city at the bottom of the stairs, given that it gets more dangerous as it gets deeper and even 2-3 levels above that is a little tough on them.

I see a lot to do from my side of the screen, but as always, nothing that comes with low-risk and high-reward. It's all medium to high risk and uncertain award.

I think we'll have 2-4 delves of regular megadungeoneering before another gate. I could be wrong . . . but we'll see when we're back on schedule in a few weeks.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Random Thoughts & Links for 6/28/2024

- The Iron Llama is painting Car Wars 3d printed minis.

And painting them in horrifying interesting ways.

- I don't think I'd be a good GM for it, but rewatching The Wild Bunch recently made me really have an interest in running an "Old West" campaign set way, way too late to be the Old West. Like Mexico 1913. But while I'd mechanically be good at it I don't think I'd run a particularly interesting campaign. I just like the idea of it.

- Next game is in late July.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

No more Hide GM Rolls?

We played our most recent session of Felltower with the latest version of Foundry . . . but unfortunately, the excellent Hide GM Rolls module didn't work.

So we couldn't roll Blind or GM rolls. Everything was visible. I ended up rolling dice on my desk and manually inputting the numbers.

Anyone have a suggested replacement?

Monday, June 24, 2024

DF Session 195, Felltower 131 - Olympus Gate II, Part III

Click here for rest of the delve:

Part I

Part II

Date: June 23rd, 2024
Game Date: May 19th, 2024

Weather: Sunny, warm.

Chop, human cleric (301 points)
Duncan Tesadic, human wizard (300 points)
Hannari Ironhand, dwarf martial artist (316 points)
Persistance Montgomery, human knight (300 points)
Thor Halfskepna, human knight (306 points)
Vladimir Luchnick, dwarf martial artist (266 points)

We picked up where we left off, the PCs having slept the night a distance away from the Swamp of Sorrows.

The PCs hiked their way to the coast and lovely beaches, and could see distant sails. They saw no people, nor any sign that the ships came closer. The whole land seemed well-maintained but empty.

Eventually they reached the cliffs near what was labelled "The Cove." Standing there, near a copse of trees, was a beautiful young man with a golden sword in his belt, and a winged horse. They exchanged names - the horse, Pegasus, and the man, his brother Chrysaor. After Vlad said they sought to gain the island of the Maze of Minos to fight the minotaur, Chrysaor said he and his brother could carry them there, but not back - it was a one-way flight. They agreed.

Pegasus shimmered, and in its place stood seven pegasides. Percy groaned because they were all identical and there wasn't a black one for him.* Chrysaor mounted his brother, and the others each had a single winged horse come to them. They climbed up and on, careful to be respectful of the horses.

They were flown to the island. To the far west was a small workshop and a house - not sized for the giant cyclops they were expecting. To the east, the ruins of a long-dead city and an enourmous, miles-wide palace collapsed and burned, yet on a solid, unbroken foundation. Then, one by one, they were dropped off near the middle of the island. They thanked Chrysaor and Pegasus as they flew off; the duplicates merely faded.

They spent a bit of time decided what they had to trade, and what kind of weapons or armor they needed to ask for. Mo had, they heard, gotten a special flail made for him, but they leaned towards armor for Thor - I think they'd mathed out some possibilities for orichalcum epic plate.

But when they reached the house, it wasn't for a cyclops at a giant volcano forge. It was a house with a well, a veggie garden, a large herb garden, and a few chickens and goats. The workshop was ahead, the door ajar, so they knocked and enteed. It was a tinker's workshop, not a weapon in site, and dozens of half-finished projects all around. This guy sat in the middle of the disorganized - yet clean - workshop, puttering away at some odd mix of metal slats and wooden rods:

He was startled by their appearance on the island.

He introduced himself as Daedalus. He was bemused but friendly enough. He told them he lived alone, since his son died while they tried to leave the island. He explained he'd made wings, and his son Icarus ignored his instructions to fly low and flew high . . . and the wax he'd used as a mounted failed, leaving his son to plummet. But you knew that, right?

He came back to the island, seeing no reason to fly away without his son.

He showed them some of his projects, but nothing was a weapon - nor armor, nor shields - those are weapons, aren't they, he said. They told him they'd come to kill the Minotaur, and he warned them others had tried but hadn't returned . . . and that you can't leave the labyrinth once you enter, until Minos was defeated. "Dead, or defeated?" Can't do one without the other. He refused to explain how to kill Minos, or discuss the way the labyrinth works. Not how it's done, he said. He identified their lyre as the Lyre of Clio, and the teeth as able to summon a dragonstooth warrior like they fought - for a time, at least. He brought up a little here and there that

They showed him the stymphalian bird remnants. He was very interested, carefully selecting undamaged feathers and tossing the rest away. He told them he could make them wings - a set for each - to fly off the island with. But only for those who came back alive from the labyrinth.

They headed west. It took a few hours to reach the rubble of the outskirts, and then an hour to reach the palace ruins, and then an hour to reach the middle of the palace. It was all clearly shaken over and over by earthquakes - many of them, some pretty recent, if stone shifts and fractures were any sign.

Once in the palace, they could see the concrete foundation was fine - raised a few yards about the surrounding ground, but totally intact. The building on top had been much taller but crashed from the quakes.

They explored to the middle, finding mosaics depicting a bull-headed man with a bardiche surrounded by people and animals. Another depicted the same bull-headed man with a crown holding a small ceremonial hatchet and a small shield. Others depicted bull-fighting, bull-dancing, and a wealthy civilization with a lot of bull motifs.

In the central hall they found a staircase down. They spelled up and climbed down . . . and with a grinding noise, the ground shifted beneath them and the stairs behind them were gone. Only a wall remained. They started to mark intersections with glow vial drops in a set pattern, so they could see if they'd been to an intersection even with a wall shift.

They began to explore. As they did, occasionally the ground shifted for 10 seconds or so, and when it stopped . . . they found that sometimes what they could see was changed. Marks were cut off, or sometimes wholly gone. As they moved deeper, a shift occured . . . and the second it stopped, masked by the noise, came Minos, goring Percy from behind with his horns, injuring him severely. He was a wide, tall, bull-headed man with a giant axe and a girdle, plus a helmet covering his groin. No crown.

They turned and attacked. They threw down four of the dragon's teeth, followed in short order by another one, and later by a sixth. Each produced a dragonstooth warrior, armed as they'd been when the PCs fought them - shortsword and shield. Vlad put an arrow into Minos and it did little besides scratch him. He switched to bodkin, but I'm not sure he ever got a clear shot to use it.

Minor ignored the warriors and concentrated on attacking Percy, who Chop healed as soon as he could. In response, Percy let loose Agar's Wand. He then stood and tied to parry a slash from Minos's giant axe, but it blew right past his "light" 8# flail and hammered Percy in the groin. His flail shook but nothing happened . . . but his outer layer of armor shivvered into pieces!

Agar's Wand attacked Minos and hurt him. Thor advanced, wounding Minos, but was then cut off from his target by the dragonstooth warriors aggressively advancing - and there weren't being friendly in allowing the PCs to Evade them, either. They were on the PC's side but not under their control or direction. The dragonstooth warriors proved very, very skilled, but their blades could only inflict very minor cuts. They did block Minos from advancing, but not much else.

Minos let out a terrifying bellow, inflicting a Fright Check at -10; +5 for combat and +2 for Combat Reflexes helped but not enough - IIRC only Chop made it. The others were stunned, Thor stunned and fatigued, and Percy passed out. Chop immediately cast a large Awaken spell and got them all unstunned and Percy back awake.

Minos trashed a dragonstooth warrior as Agar's Wand continued to cut him, sometimes scoring a solid hit, sometimes dodged by Minos. Minos clearly knew they couldn't harm him, and he only smashed them when it was his only option, preferring to try to kill the fleshy PCs.

The fight was a close-quarters brawl. Percy, re-armed and standing, clocked Minos twice on the skull. Neither did more than make him flinch a little from the force of the blow. One hit - I think from Thor with his magical blade - sent Minos berserk. He smashed up a dragonstooth warrior before recovering. He then backed off and forced the PCs to close with him. They did. Hannari boxed him in with a sixth dragonstooth warrior, Thor and Agar's Wand pressed him, and Duncan hit him twice with 6d Lightning spells. The second of those did for him, dropping Minos.

The PCs sprang into action. Thor cut his head off, after Percy told Agar's Wand to do that and Agar's Wand did not. They quickly took off his axe and tried to get off his belt . . . but all of it, body and all, wisped away in black smoke. As it did, they heard a voice in their heads, bull-like, saying, "I will remember you all."

They started to patch people up. And the labyrinth began to shake. They ran.

Long story short, they desperately ran but didn't get out of the maze in time - their glow drops weren't helping, as the labyrinth had shifted so often. Eventually, the whole place collapsed on them. Little remained overhead, however, so they didn't suffer too much damage. Afterward, they realized they could have had their Earth College mage shore up the walls around them as safe spot, but either way, they survived. The foundation, once perfect, was shattered end to end.

They dug themselves out and searched the palace for loot - there was a golden hoard, right?

They found a large stone chest cemented to the floor where one hadn't been before. In it, they found 66,666 cp, 33,333 sp, and 1,111 gp. And 6 necklaces of gold with a snow-white ivory bull’s head image on it.

They loaded up all of the coins, after determining they had just enough bags and pockets and purses and sacks to haul it all, slowly, back to Daedalus.

Once back, Daedalus expressed amazement and pleasure that they'd survived. He let them stay the night while he'd stay up and make their wings. They offered the copper, hoping to trade it for more portable wealth. He didn't have any, and he didn't need the copper for anything. He offered food - he had a cornucopia of infinite food! It spilled out fruits, cheeses, nuts, olives . . . but they all tasted exactly the same - like dirt. "It, uh, has a few issues. Help yourself to the herbs. The dill and the oregano help the most, I find." Only Vlad ate that, on top of his Elven ration. The rest just ate their own and bedded down, while Vlad and D stayed up having mead for a bit before Vlad went to sleep.

The next morning, they were given cloaks, each which could turn into wings on their arms. If they flapped, they could fly at Move 10 . . . adjusted for encumbrance. Maximum medium encumbrance. Oh, and vulnerable to fire. Not to sunlight, but flames . . . yeah, avoid flames. Oh, and water. Don't get them wet. And they tire you out (1 FP per 5 minutes or fraction thereof, of flight.) He brought this stuff up as he remembered, bit by bit.

The PCs thanked Daedalus and set to planning how to get their loot home. Daedalus went into his workshop as they tried out the wings. They worked.

Then went and asked him how far it was to shore. 50 miles. Oh, with a small islet about halfway. So two 25-mile jumps. They did math for a while, and argued. They couldn't make it work - even with no encumbrance, they'd never have the FP to make it. They argued about how to carry the CP. They looked around for materials to make a raft. They eventually decided on Walk on Air to walk home, and just put Vlad out front to detect any potential NMZs.

Before they did, though, Vlad eventually said goodbye to Daedalus and told him thanks, but we'll use magic and walk. "Eh, what's wrong with the wings?" "We'll get tired and can't make such a long flight." "You're not tired, are you? You ate the food."

He said, "Yes, it tastes bad but you won't feel fatigue for a day. How do you think I worked all night making these wings?"

You could hear at least some of the players being silently mad at me, I think.

Eventually the PCs scarfed down the ill-tasting miraculous food, and then flew to the mainland as far as north as they could, and then walked to the underworld cave, hoping it was the way home.

Once there, they headed in and found darkness. Dark Vision didn't help. Eventually, a three-headed snake-maned dog stalked out to warn them off. Vlad plucked the lyre and sang a lullaby. Cerberus got a little fiercer. He tried more, and the dog got a little more riled up. So he stopped.

Next he tried tossing three elven rations, one to each head. They were snapped up. They threw three more and then three more. They were all eaten. They ended up throwing some more, another 6 or so, as they edged around the now-laying-down guardian.

Once past, they found a river. They called for a boatman, who appeared. They asked to go home, paying each a Gold Eagle ($100 gold coin) that Vlad carried with him. Thor was extremely specific about where he wanted to go - the others just said home. They were brought along as the other delvers had been, and dropped off a cave, They saw a shimmering and went through.

The PCs popped back out of the gate in Felltower. They quickly made their way the stairs and surface, only to find their little 4-5 day trip took them from morning of 5/19/24 until the evening of 6/23/24.

* The black pegasus was some other winged horse, on some other adventure. You don't pick your colors.


- I had a lot of fun running Daedalus. He had a short character sheet - maxed IQ, Quick Gadgeteer, Absent-Mindedness, Quirk-level Stubborness, a belief in the Fates. And Code of Honor (Professiona). So he wasn't about to tell people how to escape his labyrinth, because that was part of his agreement when making it. And you weren't going to shift him from "you go and be heroes" as his general answer. That said, he was intended to be helpful, and provides a massive reward. I made sure it was clear he was old, not really focused on one thing at a time, and didn't really sweat the details. And that everything he made was amazing but flawed.

I was expecting Minos to do a bit more damage, but that's how it goes sometimes. He totally lucked out on the HT rolls people made for gear - 5 rolls, 3 failures, against a 12. Otherwise, he could have, almost did, and that's enough for me from him.

- The PCs were all ready for the Minos fight - knock that crown off his head, and that'll be how you either kill him or make him vulnerable to death. Or, in the event, it was just a depiction of him with a crown because that showed he was in charge, and that he didn't have a crown. One in the treasure would have been a nice touch, though, I'll admit that.

- Sometimes, you get the game you want. My players, in general, want to do math, examine the details, and figure out how to maximize their loot. So that's the game I run. If we all played a little more handwavy, video-gamey, you get the wings and fly back and no one asked how many coins they can stuff in their pockets and still fly or what the actual distance is. Once you're min-maxing and going with reality ("I can totally carry two backpacks and hang a sack from rope from my belt while flapping my arms!") you get the min-maxing and reality back. I'm not saying that to be a jerk, just that you get both sides of the coin.

I suppose I could have stepped in further, but the demonstrably forgetful Daedalus had told them his three things and went inside while they argued about FP, distance of flight, the need to make a raft, etc. It took a while before anyone thought to ask him.

Could Walk on Air all the way home worked? Maybe. But it would be a risk, because any failure of the spell could kill someone, and while there were no arial encounters to be fought, it's not clear there weren't sea encounters. In the end, the answer was as simple as asking the guy who made the originals and the new ones how to do it. After all, he had said - quite distinctly - that he and Icarus were flying and only Icarus's error in flying too high doomed him . . . and that he then decided to fly back because there was no point to being elsewhere without his only son. I figured people would ask him how he managed it if the numbers didn't work. Actually, I was expecting them to ask even before they did the numbers. Instead, they got tied up in the numbers and got frustrated and angry over being trapped on an island with loot they couldn't keep and so on.

I suppose I could have just had Daedalus step in earlier, but a) that's not my style, b) he has Absent-Mindedness and needed to be prodded for details and I made that clear, and c) his gifts are always flawed, and you have to find a way around the flaws, because he didn't. It was a forest-for-the-trees situation, where being so close to the details made it hard to see the whole picture.

The copper was likely treasure they couldn't carry with them, but I didn't care. I just liked how the numbers worked out when I did the loot placement and left it at that. You can't always extract every coin from every situation. I don't see that as a flaw.

- So I don't allow Reach 2 weapons to attack through friendly hexes unless it's a two-handed 2+ reach pole weapon. Even then, I actually think it's bogus, at least without Teamwork and being formed up, but I'll leave it as pole weapons need more love. I didn't realize Thor's player hadn't run into it in play before. I've been running it that way since 2011 so it's hard to remember who hasn't run into it.

- MVP was Vlad for remembering that feeding Cerberus was an option. XP was 4 for loot, 1 for exploration, and 1 for defeating Minos. Actual battle MVP might have been Chop because he made his Fright Check roll and then used Awaken to negate most of its effects. That was critical, as well.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Felltower Pre-Summary

In today's session, the PCs:

- met Crysaor and Pegsus

- flew to the island and met the artificer, Daedalus

- fought the minotaur-demon Minos in his labyrinth

- argued a lot over weight and flight-fatigue costs

- and more!

Summary tomorrow.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Random Thoughts & Links for 6/21/2024

End of a busy week . . . here is some gaming stuff that had my attention this week.

- You can do the Metamorphosis Alpha Bundle of Holding again.

- There is a Bundle of Holding for Operation: Unfathomable - that's the Roll 1d12 guy, Jason Sholtis.

- This is clearly the work of above-ground delvers - some thieves despoiled a church and looted their copper for the metal value. Oh, and the sound system.

- Speaking of delvers, the next game of Felltower is Sunday. It'll be the last for a while as I'll be unavailable on Sundays for a bit.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Felltower & Swarms

I noted the other day that I don't exactly run swarms as written. That's very true. Here is what I do with them.

- You must roll "to hit" a swarm. They're treated as SM+0, so no bonus to hit. They (generally) do not defend, so Telegraphic Attack is useful for the +4 to hit.

- Swarms have a HP score for dissolution as an effective threat; however, they also have a HT score - generally HT 10, although HT 11 or 12 is possible. Once they reach 0 HP or below, they must make a HT roll to stay cohesive as a swarm. A failure removes that hex worth of the swarm.

- Swarms in general are mooks, and auto-fail HT rolls at -1xHP. In general doesn't mean always.

- You don't get "free" attacks against a swarm. You use your normal complement of attacks. Again, they usually don't defend, and they automatically hit, and you don't get to defend . . . so TG and All-Out Attack are useful to multiply your effectiveness.

Overall, this makes swarms more effective, but also a little more random when it comes to their ability to sustain damage. This removes some of the mechanistic "and I can auto-kill one swarm per second" that I dislike, but also allows fighters with more attacks to take advantage of them.

You could see this with the very nasty Stymphalian Bird Swarms from beyond the Olympus Gate.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Felltower - Minor Updates

I did some minor work on Felltower today - just reviewing some material for behind another gate.

Also, I updated the GURPS and Foundry modules on the VTT.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Alexander the Great in GURPS and History

I recently read a pair of posts over on ACOUP about Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great.

In GURPS Who's Who 1, Kenneth Hite wrote Alexander III of Macedon, aka Alexander the Great, and gave him Strategy-22. By the stat/skill level approach we used, this is pretty much "greatest in history." The appendix in WW1 says 20-24 is that range, with 24 being the top end of realistic. With that in mind, you can make a case for 22 being a tad conservative.

For comparison, Julius Caeser (who I wrote up) has Strategy-17, and Julius Caeser pretty much beat everyone he faced hollow, even when in disadvantageous conditions. Oliver Cromwell got an 18. No one else exceeds about a 15, including Tokugawa Ieyasu and Cyrus the Great.

I feel like it was justified. His success rate in battles is stunning - he wins his battles and sieges, large and small, usually as a blowout. That's despite numbers and terrain. You could say he wasn't good, his foes were bad, but it's hard to square "his foes just sucked" and Alexander's ability to apply exactly the right solution to the problems in front of him even as the calculus changed on the fly. The Pedant makes a good, readable case for this here, especially in Part I. If there is a best choice avaiable in a changing situation in battle, Alexander chooses it. That's quite persuasive.

Alexander III of Macedon - Part I

Alexander III of Macedon - Part II

That's the usual argument, by the way - so-and-so wasn't good, just better than these others who sucked. How do you know they sucked? They lost to so-and-so. But if you presume that the baseline of competent is around a 11-12, then it takes a similar score or slightly higher + superior mass combat advantages to win. Start to look at the foes that the folks your chosen character has beaten, look at what their armies should roughly look like in GURPS Mass Combat, and compare away.

Doug and I frequently have discussions about this - I'm not a stat maximizer, or a stat normalizer . . . but I tend to think your successes shouldn't all be chalked up to rolling a 3. Whatever you consistently do well should be reflected in a high chance to do it consistently well. For Alexander the Great, that's sure a can be Strategy-20-24. I can live with a 22.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Agar's Wand, Loyal Weapon, and Dancing Sword

Agar's Wand is a unique weapon in DF Felltower. It has both Loyal Weapon and Dancing Sword, and is a Defending Weapon +3, on top of that.

How do these interact?

Since Agar's Wand is an intelligent, willful weapon, interaction between them isn't formulaic. Like the description says, "It sometimes uses its Loyal Sword and Dancing abilities on its own, without the command of its owner." It has a goal, and it's stubborn about its choices.

Dancing Weapon allows the wielder to set Agar's Wand dancing, fighting on its own on the wielder's behalf. I don't let the player run the sword - it's an NPC. The PCs are welcome to tell it whatever they like, but Agar's Wand decides what to do based on Agar's Wand's goals. They don't always match the wielder's.

It does tend to defend for the owner, interposing itself between enemies and the wielder, and/or parrying attacks coming at the wielder if that's possible and it seems like the thing to do. With a base Parry of 16, it's pretty good at this so long as only an attack or two comes through.

It will Dance, and if it critically fails, it will fall per DFRPG Magic Items, p. 7.

Otherwise, Loyal Weapon allows it to return to its wielder when called for (and obeyed - remember, willfull weapon that's an independent actor, not a servant) or after it's done Dancing, or if dropped by accident (or Critical Failure) and the sword doesn't just Dance, instead.

It's a good weapon, and it chooses well based on the circumstances, but it's unwise to bet on a particular outcome. It's going to do its best by its wielder subject to its traits, not necessarily what a min-max look at the situation would suggest. With that in mind, asking me, the GM, what could or might happen isn't really much more than a waste of time . . . Agar's Wand will do what Agar's Wand will do. Remember, it's old and intelligent, with a goal that might not be your goal . . . although to wield it, you did swear an oath to do the same things it wants to accomplish.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Random Links & Thoughts for 6/7/2024

Just two quick notes for today:

- There is a review on Periapt Games of Dungeon Fantasy Monster Seeds.

Thanks for the review - reviews are always welcome!

- Next game is 6/23.

Monday, June 3, 2024

DF Session 194, Felltower 131 - Olympus Gate II, Part II

Date: June 2nd, 2024
Game Date: May 19th, 2024

Weather: Sunny, warm.

Chop, human cleric (301 points)
Duncan Tesadic, human wizard (300 points)
Hannari Ironhand, dwarf martial artist (316 points)
Persistance Montgomery, human knight (300 points)
Thor Halfskepna, human knight (306 points)
Vladimir Luchnick, dwarf martial artist (266 points)

The PCs had just watched the Guardian of the Wand spear down Thor, their chosen champion. They sent in Persistence, next, after first buffing Percy - and thus the Guardian - with Blur -6. Percy also spent 8 saved points to raise his Flail skill to 25 and stripped off his armor to improve his Dodge.

Percy walked up the temple steps, announced his challenge to the guardian, and she came on guard. They moved carefully, he with his reach 2 flail, she with a reach 1 spear. She used Wait to strike him as he came in; he defended and then feinted and attacked to disarm her. It failed due to her excellent Parry despite a large marin of victory for Percy. They fell to normal fighting after that. It was a brief fight - she stabbed Percey several times, wounding him badly. Fighting to stay conscious, he wounded her back. She hit him again and he was rolling to avoid death. But he managed a 3 on his consciousness roll, so I usually rule he didn't need to roll again until hurt again. He managed to strike her again, take her past -1xHP, and at that point she declared him the victor.

The wounds of both were healed immdiately - not Thor, though, languishing defeated.

The Guardian said, "You have earned to right to approach Agar's Wand."

She disappeared and reappeared near the goddess statue in the temple. Percy went to snatch the sword out of the air, but it moved away.

The statue spoke - aloud, from everywhere, but it was clearly the statue - and said, "You must swear to do only good to wield Agar's Wand." Before anyone else could say anything, Percy - who has Compulsive Vowing! - took a knee and so swore. He gained Vow (Do Only Good) [-10] and Agar's Wand.

Agar's Wand is oddly much more suited to a spellcaster than a frontline fighter, so Percy is thinking about getting a caster lens.

They left the temple and rested for an hour or so and then headed to the Swamp of Sorrow. Their scouting showed bronze-and-black-and-white birds swooping and flying, which immediately was interpreted as "circling something." No, just flying. But they did glint and glitter - more glint than glitter - in the sun. Interesting. They could hear snippets of sad, sad singing.

Having been warned of sirens, they plugged their ears with beeswax from a candle Hannari had thoughtfully brought along. That made it impossible to usefully communicate, but they'd planned a bit ahead of time.

Once in the swamp they headed to the center, where they could see something on a pedastal. As they closed in on it and the raised islet it was on, they saw three incredibly beautiful bird creatures - sirens, with the torso and head of a human and the body of a bird. Those bronze birds flew around here and there above them.

Vlad released an arrow at the closest siren, which Dodged, and birds swarmed in from behind. As they rushed forward, they couldn't hear 24 Stymphalian Bird Swarms fly in from behind and attack.

The swarms auto-hit, did 1d+1(5) cutting, and took a bit of killing thanks to being (as a swarm) Diffuse. Thor ran ahead to get to the sirens, as did Hannari - who turned back once birds attacked him, trying to get back to and protect the casters. The PCs quickly found that only folks who attacked the swarms - or the sirens - drew the wratch of the birds. Chop wisely didn't do anything but heal, Vlad jumped into the water and hid underneath for HT seconds (seriously), Duncan stayed invisible, and the others fought.

The birds looped and swooped around, unable to just hover in place, the PCs got sliced up a treat. Chop healed and healed and healed. Thor fought a half dozen swarms, Hannari maybe more, and Percy - after drawing Agar's Wand and letting it dance - attacked anything he could. Hannari used his Potion Ring to activate a Potion of Fire Resistance and dumped Alchemist's Fire on himself . . . which unfortunately didn't seem to disuade (or hurt) the birds. Duncan dispersed a missile spell he'd been carrying, put Resist Lightning on Hannari, and readed Explosive Lightning.

The Explosive Lightning took about 5-6 swarms but made Duncan visible, and birds attacked him, next. He managed to get off Blackout in a couple of tries and hid there, where the birds couldn't see. Convinced the sirens were directing the bird attacks, Hannari lobbed a flash nageteppo over into the sirens, but they all made their HT rolls and it was ineffective.

After a lot of melee and a lot of damage, they managed to eventually whittle most of the swarms down. Vlad came up for air and was badly slashed on the arm, and hid back under again. Thor and Hannari rushed the sirens, as Duncan threw a heavy Stone Missile out and killed one outright. Thor ran up and butchered her - he didn't know she was dead, just saw her go down - and Hannari threw an axe and missed another. They flew away as the birds were being finished off.

They took their prize - an ornate, highly magical lyre. They also beheaded as many bird as they could for their bronze beaks, and gathered all of the metal-edged feathers they could - 36 pounds of metal and 36 pounds of bird bits, as yet inseperable.

They camped for the night on dry land near, but outside, the Swamp of Sorrows. The Plains of Pensiveness, perhaps.

We ended it there for the night.


- I'm pretty sure I have had Persistance down as a barbarian the whole time, but he's always been a knight and I just didn't notice my error. Either that or he's a barbarian with a full set of knightly advantages and stats. I don't actually keep any character records anymore, so I have less idea about the PC stats than you might suppose I would.

- The sirens are from the Odyssey, the stymphalian birds from Hercules's 5th labor. I combined them because seperately they're not as challenging for a party of DFers. And that's ultimately all that matters - a fun experience, not one with fidelity to one particular telling of Greek myth.

- The Stymphalian Bird Swarms are a bit different than swarms as usually done. They have actual HP, not a dispersal HP - so they made HT rolls to stay "concious." When they failed, they'd break up. So when the PCs figured out that 4 hits would kill a swarm, they were kinda right. 4 could; it didn't always do so. I also force to hit rolls against swarms. They can't defend, but you can swing ineffectively. Yes, I'm mean.

- The players were very, very good about being effectively deaf. They had Protected Hearing, but a -3 to hear, and the background noise of the metallic clanking of the birds and the lamenting dirges of the sirens were just fuzzed out white noise. They never did any plotting and planning, or "you move here so I can do XYZ" stuff. They fought individually, but with remarkably good team tactics.

- XP was 4; 1 xp exploration, 1 xp for defeating the Guardiand, 1 xp for defeated the birds, 1 xp loot. MVP was Chop because without his healing no one would have won anything.

- They're already starting to think about how to "transfer" Agar's Wand to, say, their sword-wielding wizard. That's originally the type of character it was meant for, actually, when I wrote it up for my 3e campaign back in the late 90s as we got underway. We'll see how they do it. Percy has the Vow, and that's that, but can he hand over the sword? They're thinking of ways to convince it, but are hampered by the fact that it is intelligent and self-willed but doesn't communicate. We'll see. It might have been easier to just decide that first but here we are. The things folks will do for a 40 point power item Dancing Weapon.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Felltower pre-summary

Full summary tomorrow.


- Persistance fought the Guardian of the Wand, and won!

- They retrieved Agar's Wand (DFT3)

- they fought some birds and sirens

- and made it out of the Swamps of Sorrow.

Details tomorrow.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Knocking off helmets in DF Felltower

Faced with an amazon warrior with a spear and magic helmet, one of my players asked about knocking off helmets.

Short answer . . . you can't. Helmets are designed to stay on, so you can't just tip one off.

You can grapple a foe and get their helmet off . . . but it'll take work. You need to take off straps, unbuckle buckles, and/or untie ties. Effectively, this can be done on a foe that is immobolized.

In other words, to defeat the guardian by taking off her helmet, you'll need to defeat the guardian by gappling and immobilizing her, and then take her helmet off. Not worth much unless the only way to finish the deal is taking off that helmet.
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