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.


  1. MVP: We seem to - happily - rarely give most valuable player status to folks for doing their standard job standardly. Thor and Percy's job is to do massive piles of damage; this is now aided for "only damaged by magical weapons" foes by Percy having Agar's Wand; Thor has the flaming longsword. So we seem to be not awful about recognizing fulcrum moments in the battle(s), and yeah - that Awaken spell was the difference between "we're starting at a TPK, maybe" and "we keep hitting him really hard in the hit points."

  2. "He was very interested, carefully selecting undamaged feathers and tossing them away."

    Wait... did Daedalus throw away the good feathers? I think I might see where some of the flaws in his work may come from... :P

    "The foundation, once perfect,"

    Had it's sentence truncated by a copypasta error.

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


    I live for the silent seething. As long as they're having fun and coming back to the table, also getting those little moments of "I'm so mad right now" are great!

    1. There was almost certainly a bit of, "Why do I do this to myself on Sundays instead of anything else?" in there. It felt like it.

  3. It is amazing (more so in GURPS, but this can happen in any dice-based RPG) how often battles can go one way or another based on a single die roll. If our Cleric didn't resist that shout/roar, we probably would have all been hosed, and it could *easily* have been a TPK (at least from the player side of the screen). It was a lot of fun, though. It's somewhat rare in GURPS where a single bad guy can potentially take on a group of skilled delvers (usually the numbers are the problem), but he could have. Persistence thankfully made his death checks, so that was good (meaning we could get him back in the fight), the deployment of the Dragon Tooth warriors worked well (if only to make them targets instead of the delvers), and notwithstanding some bad luck with armor, Thor did a lot of damage. Duncan even got in quite a bit on the action (with the killing blow). It was unfortunately a case where Vlad's positioning meant he really couldn't do anything effective, but them's the breaks somtimes.

    1. The dragonstooth warriors, to me, seemed to be a poor fit to the fight. You guys had numbers, but they prevented you from deploying them. Minos knew they couldn't harm him, so he didn't bother with them except while briefly enraged, or when there wasn't anything better to do and killing one might be useful. They choked you guys off more than they choked him off. They seemed more self-imposed obstacle than fight-turner. Maybe I'm wrong, but the glut of them - half of who never got in a single swing - seemed more like it let it be Minos vs. Percy and Agar's Wand and then Thor and Agar's Wand and not Minos vs. Thor, Percy, Agar's Wand, and clear lines of fire for Vlad and Duncan.

      I think they'd have been more useful when you need numbers to counter numbers. But they're your resource to use . . . and you have six left, basically for the rest of the campaign. :)

  4. Also, I should note: Daedalus was played really, really well. He was appropriately amusing, bemusing, and frustrating, but I really enjoyed it. I didn't know if he was going to give us a spool of thread like Theseus, but that wouldn't have worked anyway given the rotation of the passages and such.

    1. He wouldn't have, but I was a little surprised no one asked. Princesses in love with heroes have thread, though, not old guys with half-finished construction projects.


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