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.


  1. In GURPS Magic it says that Loyal Weapon renders Dancing Weapon all but useless -- only capable of attacking while flying back to its owner. I assume Agar's Wand ignores this?

    1. To be blunt, GURPS Magic - and its predecessors - are pretty f-ing stupid on this. Two very powerful enchantments react by cancelling one of them out? That's silly. In actual play, Dancing Weapon would almost never, ever get used at all in this way.

      I ignore it completely. It Dances, and because it's intelligent and free-willed, it can and will fly back it is owner when it matters.

      One ruling I do use is in DFRPG Magic Items, where a critical miss causes a Dancing Weapon to stop fighting. That came up this session. Agar's Wand didn't fly back as Loyal because I feel like critical misses should have consequences for at least a while.


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