2019-07-16

DF Whiterock Session 56: Spider Temple

Date:

2019-07-12



Weather:

None, session entirely underground



Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 320 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 393 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 388 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 376 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 407 points

Significant NPCs:

Logan, summoned Wolverine
Drow Martial Artist / Torturer
Drow Warrior
2 Drow Rogues
2 Phase Spiders
Drow Priestess
3 Spider Swarms


We resumed in mid-battle, inside a hidden drow fortress in a giant stalactite, inside the Immense Cavern, under Castle Whiterock.

Zaber, still Invisible, flew silently behind a drow rogue, preparing to backstab.  The drow torturer, annoyed by Logan's attempts to bite her, punted him brutally.  She achieved a critical hit and knocked him back into a wall, but didn't knock him out.  Polly went for a flying rapid strike on the torturer, but she backflipped away from it.

Garreth re-readied his katana (which he had dropped and his lanyard had caught) and then used Kiai on the drow warrior with the hammer.  The target used Luck to resist it, and called Garreth a "muddy surfacer" in Undercommon.  Then he tried to smash Seépravir with his hammer, but Garreth sacrificially parried it.

A phase spider tried to bite Elias, but Elias blocked it with his shield.  Then another, not yet seen, phase spider phased in and tried to bite Polly.  Luckily for Polly, it was a side not rear attack, so she saw it coming and got to dodge at -2, and her dodge succeeded.  The drow rogue tried to run up and stab Polly, but missed.

Elias activated his Heroic Grace and Heroic Strength, and glowed with the holy green of Elyr.  Seépravir tried Rapier Wit on the torturer, but she just ignored it, and asked if surface elves were using mental defectives as wizards now.  Seépravir then tried Great Hasting herself, but critically failed, causing a bad smell of brimstone and rotten eggs.

Logan overconfidently tried to bite the torturer on the backside.  The torturer parried the blow with her foot and sent Logan flying into the wall, knocking him out.  She then threw the potion that she'd been holding at Polly.  Polly parried the potion, but this just caused it to break on her katana, still inflicting the freezing grenade attack on Polly's hex.  Polly took some freezerburn damage, but not enough to slow her down or inflict a stun check.

Polly retaliated with rapid strikes against the torturer, despite the shock penalty.  The torturer, not realizing Zaber was at shoulder level in the hex behind her, tried a retreating dodge into that hex.  Because it's not legal to retreat into an opponent's hex, I gave Zaber the option of staying low and blocking her retreat, or staying high and letting her under him.  He stayed high and she dodged.  Polly followed up with two more attacks, but she dodged those too.

Garreth went after the hammer warrior with drunken deceptive overhead attacks.  He blocked the first one, but since he'd Committed Attacked he couldn't parry, so he could only dodge, and that failed.  Garreth smashed through his scale armor for a major wound.  Garreth then landed a second blow, badly injuring the drow.  Realzing he was doomed, the drow went for an All Out Attack (Double) on Garreth's face, but Garreth parried the first blow, and the second one missed.

One phase spider tried biting Elias again, but Elias blocked it.  The other spider tried biting Polly, but she parried.  The drow rogue tried to stab Seépravir, but she retreated and dodged the rapier.  Elias, with extra DX from Heroic Grace, tried to Rapid Strike flail a phase spider in the skull twice.  It Phased away from one blow, but failed to dodge the other, and took huge amounts of damage.  Somehow it didn't pass out.

Seépravir used Rapier Wit on the drow rogue, causing her to pause for a second and reflect on her life choices.  Then she Great Hasted herself.  Zaber, a bit upset that the torturer had punted his wolverine, Invisibly backstabbed her in the eye.  (Technically a frontstab, but Invisibility allowed the kind of total surprise needed to get backstabbing bonus damage.)  The knife did enough damage to destroy the eye and penetrate into the brain, and the torturer missed her stun check by enough to be knocked out.

Polly went after the stunned rogue with a skull hit, and knocked her out.  She then went after a phase spider with a skull hit, and knocked it out too.  Garreth went for eye stabs against the drow warrior who had foolishly All-Out Attacked him, managed to hit once, and knocked him out with a badly failed stun check.  He didn't let his opponent's unconscious status deter him from attacking again, and stabbed him in the other eye, rolling a critical hit.

The surviving phase spider tried to bite Elias again.  Elias rolled a critical block, causing the spider to stumble.  Elias then smashed the spider in the skull with his flail, and killed it.  Its body disappeared.

With the fight over, Zaber grabbed the wineskin of healing potions to revive Logan.  Elias cast Stop Bleeding on Seépravir and Polly, and followed up with Major Healing on Seépravir and another on Logan.  Logan, once revived, marked his territory on the body of the torturer than had punted him.  

Polly noticed the torturer's backpack was magic.  Seépravir cast Seek Magic and found something near but not quite in the backpack.  Zaber looked inside and found a potion, a lot of little knives, and some thumbscrews.  Seépravir noticed that the drow warrior's hammer was also magic.  Garreth tried throwing it, but it didn't do anything noticably special.

After resting a bit, Zaber and Polly and Logan went down the stairs on the south end of the room.  They spiraled around and ended in a landing with a door.  Zaber tried listening to the door, triggering a trap he had failed to detect.  A blindingly bright light came out of the door, followed by the magical essence of acid.  Fortunately all three managed to dive back and only took half damage.  Unfortunately half damage was still a lot.  It was enough to knock Logan unconscious and leave Zaber and Polly in bad shape, and all three still blind.  After some yelling, Garreth came down the stairs with the wineskin of healing potions, and started passing it around.  After awaking, Logan blindly attacked the nearest wall.  (Fortunately for him, it wasn't the trapped door.)

A few minutes and several healing potions later, Polly and Zaber got their vision back.  Everyone except Zaber went up to the top of the stairs, and Zaber disabled the trap on the door.  Then he opened the door.  Behind it was a large room featuring two female drow and something drow-sized wearing scary spider armor (including huge fangs) looking right at the door.  Behind them was a large statue of some kind of drow-spider hybrid.

Zaber put the Ring of Invisibility back on, flew back upstairs, and grabbed Logan and shoved him back in his magic bag.  A taunt came from below, in Undercommon, "Come back, cowards!"  Garreth, who spoke Undercommon, yelled something back.

Seépravir started handing out Great Haste spells.  First Zaber, then Garreth, then Polly.  There was a bit of confusion, then everyone started flying down the stairs to attack the drow.  Zaber was first, but he didn't want to charge in alone, so he Invisibly flew off to the side of the room while All-Out Defending just in case.  Polly flew into the room, and fired a bodkin at the nearest drow rogue's vitals.  She failed to dodge, took a major wound, rolled terribly on the stun check, and was knocked out.  The drow in spider armor said "Foolish weakling, learn to dodge!"

Polly fired another arrow at the other drow rogue, but this one had Reverse Missiles up!  Then arrow turned around and came back at Polly, who dodged it.  She fired another arrow at the one in spider armor.  That one came back too, but she dodged it as well.  Polly gave up on arrows and fast drew a long knife.

Garreth flew into the room, fast-drew his katana, and chose to All-Out Defend.  The drow with the rapier nearby also All-Out Defended.  Elias flew into the room, before Seépravir could Great Haste him, so she followed him into the room.

The drow in spider armor cast a spell at Invisible Zaber, at rather long range.  Somehow it worked despite the range penalty, and caused him to start glowing, rendering his Invisibility ineffective.  He took the ring off, as he flew forward.  Polly flew forward and swung at the spider armored drow's skull, but missed.  She then feinted, and followed up with a body blow, that was acrobatically dodged, then with another stab at the other drow, which was parried.

Garreth, abusing Great Haste, went for an All-Out Attack (Double) for his first maneuver, with one of the attacks being a Rapid Strike, then a regular Attack on his second maneuver so he could defend. This resulted in an unreasonable number of attacks on the spider-armored cleric.  The first was blocked, the second was parried, the third was dodged, and the fourth penetrated her heavy armor and drew blood.  The drow called him an insolent half-breed in Elvish (which he didn't speak), and instructed the rogue to kill him.  The rogue then tried to drab Garreth in the face, but he critically succeeded on a parry, causing her to drop her rapier.  But she had a lanyard, so it didn't go far.  

A phase spider appeared right behind Elias, and backbit him with surprise.  Unfortunately for the spider, its bite failed to penetrate his heavy armor.  A second phase spider appeared beside Elias, and tried to find chinks in his armor, but he blocked its fangs with his shield.  Elias responded with a couple of rapid flail strikes at the spider's torso.  He had to use Luck to avoid a critical miss, and achieved two hits.  It failed to phase, then failed to dodge, but avoided getting stunned.

Seépravir used Rapier Wit on the nearby rogue, in Undercommon, mocking her inability to hold onto her weapon.  She failed to resist and stood there with her mouth hanging open, trying to think of a good comeback.  The cleric cast a spell, and 3 spider swarms appeared.  Unfortunately for them, they were ground-based and not very tall, and all 5 PCs had Flight on, so they couldn't do much unless someone was dumb enough to land.  Zaber flew around the drow, landed on their statue, and tried to break it with a kick.  This failed to do anything, as it was heavy stone.

Polly stabbed the stunned drow rogue in the skull, and she failed to dodge, then failed her stun roll by a lot and passed out.  She then feinted at the cleric, then stabbed her several times, penetrating her heavy armor twice.  Garreth smacked her a couple more times with his katana, drawing more blood.

The cleric started praying to Tororthun to smite all the unworthy surfacer invaders.  Her divine intervention attempt fell on deaf ears.  Seépravir tried Rapier Wit on the cleric but she just ignored it.  Zaber went for a flying tackle on the cleric, grabbed on, and then used a Judo takedown to knock her prone.  

Now the cleric was slowed by her wounds, prone, and grappled, for a total defense penalty of lots.  Polly threw a whole lot of attacks at her, causing a lot more blood, but somehow she stayed conscious.  Until the last one, which finally took her to -5 * HP, instant death.  The fight was over, but we were out of time, so the PCs stayed to loot the stalactite next week.

GM's Comments:


Some of the drow were pretty tough, but there weren't enough of them in one room, and 5 PCs with Great Haste were too much for them.  Reverse Missiles is a good trick, but the cleric only cast two of them, rather than three, for some reason.  And Polly is pretty good in melee now, so it doesn't completely stop her.  The phase spiders are pretty good at sneaking up behind people, but bad at penetrating heavy armor, so Elias was a poor target to pick.

Some of the enemies had Luck and Bless, using some of the the PCs' favorite defenses against them, but this only slowed down the outcome of the fight rather than changing it.

The nasty blinding acid trap fooled Zaber, but didn't manage to kill anyone, and the drow in the temple stayed in there rather than charging out to kill those affected, so it really only burned some healing potions.

2019-07-03

DF Whiterock Session 55: Drow Ambush

Date:

2019-06-28



Weather:

Hot, scattered thunderstorms


Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 316 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 389 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 384 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 372 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 404 points

Significant NPCs:

Hugin, Human Mercenary
Alrux, Dwarf Armorer
Quintus, Human Alchemist and Wizard
Logan, summoned Wolverine
2 Drow Spider Riders
2 Humongous Spiders
1 Drow Rogue
2 Drow Fighters
1 Drow Martial Artist
1 Phase Spider


The PCs started in Cillamar.  Zaber went looking for rumors about Lord Flitwick, and heard that he had left town after the death of his bodyguard Mord.  Zaber also heard that Hugin has lost an arm.  Garreth checked with Alrux to see if he could make armor out of giant turtle shell, and found out that Alrux had no experience with that.  Garreth went looking for teamsters to haul the giant turtle shell back to town, but didn't find anyone with a large enough team willing to do the job.

Seépravir cast Seeker on her wand-in-construction up in Mystenmere, and saw the wand looking finished.  Seépravir then cast Seeker to find Lord Flitwick, and saw him, dressed like a commoner, in an unknown inn somewhere.  Seépravir and Zaber then spread rumors that Flitwick was in hiding, disguised as a commoner.

Seépravir got Quintus to cast Staff on the giant beetle staff, so that she could use it to reduce spellcasting range.  She also researched the drow wizard's spellbook, and found a new spell called Acid Blood, and a few other spells related to blood.  The other books found in the drow wizard's room were in Draconic and Undercommon, which nobody in the party could read without magical help, so they saved them for later.

Zaber found out where Hugin lived, and the whole group went to visit him.  He had indeed lost one arm when guarding a merchant caravan that was attacked by druids.  He'd paid for a Regeneration spell at the Temple of Elyr, but the arm would take a month to regrow, so he was out of work for a while.  Polly brought him some hard carrot juice to cheer him up, and the group gave him some money.

Seépravir cast Flight on everyone, and Drunkenness on Garreth, and they all flew to Castle Whiterock, except Garreth who drunkenly pushed the wheelbarrow.  They reached the castle without incident, and then Seépravir critically failed casting See Secrets on Zaber, resulting in a horrible rotten stench that took time and a No-Smell spell to eliminate.  The group looked for additional signs of intruders in the upper levels of the dungeon, but didn't find any.  Then they went down the elevator to the underground river level.  Seépravir stopped maintainining Drunkenness so that Garreth could more effectively row a skiff, and he managed to avoid crashing while rowing the party and the wheelbarrow to the other side of the level.

Then the group started working on a plan.  What if they could magically dig a hole under the river to the stalactite, and undermine or erode the drow lair?  Seépravir started flying around trying to figure out where the river was relative to the stalactite, but the stalactite was pretty far west of the river, so it would take quite a bit of tunneling to get the water there.  She cast a Wizard Eye and sent it down the whirlpool to see where it went.  The Wizard Eye took 110 HP of crushing damage and went away.  She made another Wizard Eye, cast Ethereal Body on this one, and sent it down the whirlpool in the Ethereal Plane.  This time, it managed to survive going down hundreds of feet in the churning water, before hitting a no mana zone and winking out of existence.  Time for another plan.

Everyone flew (or pushed a wheelbarrow) to the Immense Cavern, then went south then west until they were under the giant stalactite where they'd met the drow.  Then Seépravir cast Invisibility on everyone, and they flew up.  Not wanting to go back into the portcullis on the southeast side of the stalactite, they flew around to the arrow slits on the west side.  Zaber peeked in, and didn't see anything.  Seépravir tried Shape Earth to enlarge an arrow slit into an entrance, but with so many spells maintained, she had a hard time casting it.  When she finally managed to cast it, the rock resisted: someone had some anti-tunneling enchantments on the stalactite.

Trying another tactic, Seépravir cast Hush on both Garreth and Polly so they could dig silently, then Garreth started smashing with a pickaxe.  On a good swing, he could do enough damage to nick the rock, even through the anti-tunneling magic.  After several minutes of chipping away, he managed to enlarge an arrow slit into a window.   Zaber and Polly slipped inside and started looking around.

They were in a room with two staircases up, and a door on the east wall.  This was where they had ambushed the singing drow and phase spiders on the previous delve.  The bodies had been cleaned up.  Polly walked toward the door, and yanked on the twine to tell Zaber where she was going.  Zaber listened at the door, heard nothing, tried opening the door, found it was locked, and picked the lock.  

Polly opened the door, and was face-to-face with a female drow with a rapier, who was looking at the door that had just swung open for no visible reason.  Zaber flew up to the ceiling.  Polly fired a bodkin (with Continual Light on it to signal the others) at the drow's eye.  With both Invisibility and Hush, the drow had no chance to dodge Polly's first arrow until it went through her eye into her brain, and then she was unconscious and unable to do much of anything.  However, as Polly stepped into the room she noticed two more drow to her south, riding humongous spiders and aiming hand crossbows at the door.  And, as her attack made her visible, they noticed her too and fired crossbow bolts at her.  The first shot was accurate, but Polly dodged it.  The second shot was a critical failure resulting in a dropped crossbow.  Resuming her turn that had been so rudely interrupted, Polly fired another arrow into a spider's skull, stunning it.

Garreth, Elias, and Seépravir flew toward the battle.  The unwounded spider, with a drow warrior on its back, charged at Polly and tried to bite her, but missed.  Its passenger fast-drew a rapier and slashed Polly, but she dodged.  The other spider fell unconscious, while its rider nimbly hopped off while drawing his rapier.

Zaber, still Invisible, waited for enemy to come closer.  Polly shot the other spider in the skull and stunned it.  She shot it in the skull again, but it (somehow!) dodged while stunned, and the arrow didn't hit the other targets behind the spider.  Garreth flew up more and threw his spear at a drow.  He missed the drow, missed its spider, then hit Polly, but she dodged it.  He fast-drew his katana.

The remaining spider remained stunned.  The drow within stabbing range of Garreth tried stabbing him in the face, but missed.  The other drow tried stabbing Polly, but she dodged.  This got him within range of Zaber, who went for a flying Invisible backstab from above, and inflicted a major (but not that major) wound.  The injured drow started yelling out details of the attackers in Undercommon for an unknown audience.

Elias flew up into close combat with a drow, still Invisible, and did not attack.  Seépravir used Rapier Wit to stun one of the drow.  Zaber tried stabbing him in the eye, but he managed to parry.  Polly shot the spider in the skull again, and this time knocked it out.  Then she put her second arrow into a drow's skull, and knocked him out too.  Garreth went after the last drow, not knowing Elias was in his hex.  The swing accidentally went for Elias first.  Elias blocked it with his shield.  Now knowing that Elias was there, Garreth held his remaining attacks.  

The doomed and surrounded drow could do nothing but recover from mental stun.  Elias smashed him in the skull with his flail, knocking him out.  Garreth then made sure all the drow and spiders were dead, while Zaber searched them for treasure.  Zaber waited until his Ring of Invisibility was ready to make him Invisible again, then stuck his head down the ladder exiting the room.  There were no enemies visible below, so he went down, then drew Logan the Wolverine from his Bag of Wolverine, and let him go exploring.  Seépravir cast Invisibility on herself, Polly, and Logan.

There were two doors out of the hallway.  Zaber listened to both, then opened the one to the north, where they had previously killed the drow wizard.  There were no enemies there, and the bodies were gone.  He then opened the door to the south, which was a storeroom containing furniture, rope, training dummies, and some wooden training rapiers.  Zaber searched carefully, and found a fine large knife under a table.  Garreth added the knife to his collection.

Zaber's See Secrets let him see a secret door in the hallway, heading west.  He listened, then opened it.  Beyond was a dusty secret passage, full of cobwebs.  Zaber and Logan searched the passage.  Logan found a door, around a corner to the north.  Behind the door were stairs leading up and down.  Logan went down.  Zaber (with See Invisible) followed him.  At the bottom of the stairs was another door.

Zaber opened the door and found a circular room, featuring a naked and horribly wounded female drow hanging from the ceiling, and three other drow.  One with robes and a bloodstained hook, one with a warhammer, and one with a rapier.  When the door opened, the one with a hook dropped her hook and drew a potion.  Polly flew up and tried to shoot her at point-blank range (twice), but she parried the bow (twice).  Garreth used the spear's magic to Great Haste himself.  The other two drow ran toward Polly.  Seépravir used Rapier Wit to stun the drow with the hammer.  Logan tried biting the torturer, but she kicked him away.  

The robed drow tried to kick Polly in the face, but she dodged.  Polly fast-drew her rapier and went for a feint and attack, but the drow dodged.  Garreth flew up to the drow with the warhammer and tried to hit him with his katana, but the drow critically parried (despite stun) and caused Garreth to drop his katana.  (Fortunately he had a lanyard so it didn't fall that far.)  Garreth then fast-drew a sai and tried throwing it at the drow, but he parried it.  (Despite being stunned.)  The male drow then came out of stun.

Surprise!  A phase spider appeared behind Seépravir and bit her in the back.  It rolled a critical hit, so she used Luck to make it reroll, and it only got a regular hit.  The bite inflicted a major but not grievous wound.  Seépravir made her stun check and resisted the poison, but was slowed by her wounds.

The drow with the rapier went after Polly with a Move and Attack, and hit, but Polly parried it.  Elias went after the phase spider with his flail, but it dodged.  Logan tried to bite the drow in robes again, but missed.  And we paused there in mid-battle.

GM's Comments:

I found the PC scheme to flood the stalactite amusing.  The underground river's not actually anywhere near right above it, so it would have required a ridiculous number of Shape Earth spells to dig a long diagonal shaft, and various other kinds of rolls to perfectly direct the shaft, while avoiding drowning from working in a flooded shaft, and whatever wandering water monsters may have come along.  Not really workable in this case, but amusing.

Sending a Wizard Eye down the whirlpool was also a neat idea.  Of course it was crushed by all the water, but making it Ethereal worked great, until it hit a no mana zone.

The idea of digging into the back side of the stalactite worked better than I expected.  The stalactite was enchanted against Shape Earth spells (this is very common, as earth wizards are the bane of every castle wall), and Seépravir was casting at a huge penalty thanks to tons of spells on so had very little chance of winning the contest.  But its DR wasn't quite enough to stop Garreth's pickaxe.  (He has a lot of ST, and the Forced Entry skill for bonus damage.)  And the Hush spell means that the manual digging didn't make any noise, so Garreth basically had as much time as he needed, unless he broke his pickaxe before he finished.   And starting next to an arrow slit minimized the amount of digging that had to be done.  So, this plan actually worked.

Invisibility and Hush are pretty good.  You probably knew that.  In DFRPG, Invisibility only lasts until you attack, so it's merely good not great, but sometimes that first attack is a one-shot knockout.

The first few drow the PCs fought went down pretty easy, but the ones in the fight in progress seem a bit tougher.  We'll see how it ends, next time.

2019-06-25

DF Whiterock Session 54: Slaying the Stalactite

Date:

2019-06-21


Weather:

Cool, partly cloudy


Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 312 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 385 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 380 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 368 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 401 points

Significant NPCs:

3 Drow Warriors
4 Phase Spiders
Drow Wizard
Shield Golem
Dire Bat Familiar


The PCs started in the entry room of the giant stalactite within the Immense Cavern, having just won a battle against a gargoyle archer, a couple of human crossbowmen, and several large to humongous spiders.  All of the opponents were dead, except Azzik the gargoyle archer, who was unconscious.  Garreth asked if anyone wanted to spare the gargoyle.  Nobody did, so Garreth cut his head off.

The two humongous spiders were wearing saddles.  The archer had a nice composite bow, arrows, leather armor, a potion, some coins, and some stinky cheese.  (Zaber threw the cheese out the portcullis.)  The crossbowmen had pistol crossbows, bolts, mail, rapiers, bucklers, long knives, and hats.  One had a potion and the other had a pouch full of dust.

Zaber removed a hat from one of the crossbowmen, and the corpse changed from an ugly human to a drow male.  He then put on the hat, and looked like that ugly human.  The other hat had the same effect on Polly, but she removed it because she didn't want to look like an ugly human male.

Zaber flew up to a balcony and listened to the door behind it, and heard faint singing.  He managed to avoid opening the door and investigating further until everyone was rested and Seépravir had cast Dark Vision on Zaber and Invisibility on Polly.  Then he snuck in (using the Ring of Invisibility) and snuck down a flight of stairs, with Polly close behind covering him with her bow.  The stairs led to a large room, which contained two female drow and a huge spider.  One of the drow was singing the song, and the other was playing with the spider.

Polly and Zaber went back up the steps to rejoin the others, and then held a brief discussion on whether to try to use the hats to disguise themselves and talk to the drow, or just kill them.  Seépravir's argument of "they're drow, just kill them" prevailed.  Seépravir turned Elias Invisible too to keep the light from his Flaming flail from giving them away.  (She rolled badly and had to use Luck to avoid a critical failure.)  Then she made Garreth Invisible for completeness.

Zaber snuck up into backstabbing position, and wasn't noticed.  Polly snuck up into back-shooting position and wasn't noticed either.  Then Garreth snuck up, but the spider heard him and reared up.  At that point Zaber stepped up and stabbed one of the drow in the back of the skull, knocking her unconscious.  Polly shot the other drow in the eye, rolled massive damage, and got a one-shot kill.  She fired her other arrow at the spider, wounding it badly enough to slow it.  Garreth fast-drew his katana and hit the spider twice, hurting it badly but not knocking it out.  All three PCs who attacked became visible.

And then the spider disappeared.

Elias, still on the stairs, ran toward where the battle had just been.  Seépravir yelled out advice for Polly.  Zaber listened for anything, but heard nothing.  Polly fired two arrows where the spider had just been, but they sailed past that area and hit the wall.  Garreth spun around and waited for an enemy to appear.  And the spider did just that, reappearing behind Garreth and biting him.  Fortunately for Garreth, his heavy armor completely stopped the spider's teeth.  Garreth tried a Rapid Strike double Wild Swing at the spider behind him, but missed both times.

Two more spiders appeared.  One attacked Zaber, but he saw it coming and did a Judo parry.  The other tried to run up and bite Garreth's face, but missed.

Elias kept running Invisibly toward the fight, and Seépravir shouted advice to Garreth.  Zaber grappled a spider.  Polly shot the spider that Zaber had grappled, from behind.  It got to dodge anyway because it had eyes on the back of its head, but it failed to dodge and was slowed by the arrow wound.  Polly put a second arrow into the spider, but didn't knock it out.  Garreth drunkenly flew over another spider, deceptively rapid striking it from above, but somehow it dodged both attacks.

The original spider, that had bit Garreth in the back and gotten nothing but a mouthful of armor for its troubles, decided to go after a softer target, Zaber.  He dodged its bite.  The one that Zaber was grappling also tried to bite him, but missed because of the -4 DX penalty for being grappled.  The one under Garreth tried biting his face, but missed by 1, hitting the torso instead.  Garreth parried critically, causing the spider to fumble, trip, and fall down.  Finally, a fourth spider appeared out of the ether behind Zaber, and bit him from behind.  It rolled poor damage, though, causing only 2 HP of injury after DR, plus some poison.  Zaber made his HT check and the poison didn't affect him.

Elias finally reached the fight, and Invisibly flailed a spider.  It didn't hear him coming and didn't get a defense roll.  He pounded it hard enough to cause a major wound, and the spider failed its knockdown and stun check, as Elias appeared.  Seépravir also Invisibly flew closer to the battle, but didn't attack.  Zaber, with more spiders next to him than he liked, released the grappled spider and did an All-Out Defense (Dodge), and flew straight up away from the spiders.  Polly fired two more arrows at a spider; it dodged one.  Garreth spun and rapidly struck the badly wounded spider behind him, killing it.  The dead spider disappeared into the ether.  Then he hit the prone spider in front of Elias.  It rolled a 17 on its stun check, knocking it unconscious.

The spider that could no longer reach Zaber tried to eat Polly, and rolled a critical hit.  She used Luck to make it reroll, turning it into a regular hit, which she acrobatically dodged.  A spider tried to bite Elias, but he dodged it.  Seépravir cast Death Vision on a spider, causing it to see a vision of Elias smashing its head in with a flail, and stunning it.  Elias tried a Death From Above move and attack on a spider, but missed.  Polly fast-drew her rapier with her right hand while keeping her bow in her left, then used Rapid Strike to cut a spider twice.  The first was a critical hit to the skull, which stunned the spider.  The second killed it.  Then she dropped her rapier and used her Extra Attack to shoot another spider, wounding and stunning it.

Garreth attacked one of the stunned spiders multiple times, killing it.  Everyone swarmed the last stunned spider and finished it off.  All of the dead spiders disappeared, leaving no trace.  But the two drow had rapiers, black mail, potions, a wand, an amulet, and a vial of poison.

While Seépravir rested, Zaber checked out the room.  It had arrow slits along the outer wall, showing a view of other stalactites near the top of the Immense Cavern, none of them very interesting.  Garreth took both stripped drow corpses upstairs and threw them out the portcullis.  Polly flew down to the wheelbarrow and replaced 4 arrows.  Seépravir cast Seek Magic to figure out which way to go, and found magic to the southeast.

Zaber spotted an iron door on the east wall, and opened it.  It led into a room, which contained bas-relief spiderweb patterns and various humans and demi-humans stuck in the web.  The room also had a door to the southwest, and a ladder leading down.  Zaber listened at the door, heard nothing, and opened the door.  This revealed another empty room, curving around to the south, with another iron door.  Zaber went to listen to that one, and a trap (that he failed to detect) went off.  Blindingly bright red light shot out the door, and set Zaber on fire.  He dodged some of the damage, but still took 10, 8 after DR, and was temporarily blinded by the light.  The Hat of Disguise survived the fire, but sadly the twine that Polly used to keep track of where Zaber was when he was Invisible did not.  Zaber called for a cleric, then took off the Ring of Invisibility so the cleric could find him.  Elias cast Stop Bleeding and rolled a critical success, healing the burn fully and also restoring Zaber's vision.

Elias, with Resist Fire on, decided to play with the door.  Everyone else got out of the area.  Then Elias touched the door, but this time, it was bright green light instead of bright red light.  Elias was temporarily blinded, and had to Resist HT versus poison.  Fortunately, he made his roll.  Unfortunately, even having resisted, he was still down 1 HT until he could get that fixed at the temple.  Polly and Garreth, who had backed up but not gotten completely out of line of sight of the door, were also blinded.

After a few minutes, the blinded PCs were able to see spots again, then their vision gradually got better.  Zaber went to look at the trap, being careful not to touch it.  He saw a string in the latch, which he thought he could cut to disarm the trap.  As Garreth backed away, Zaber disarmed the trap.  It led to stairs up, back to the portcullis room.  After checking the stairs, Zaber came back down, and everyone walked over to the ladder.

Seépravir cast Invisibility on everyone (except Zaber who put on the Ring instead) and then the whole group flew down the ladder shaft.  This revealed a room with doors north and south, and walls with carvings of drow and spiders torturing and enslaving gnomes and surface elves, depicted with simpleton features.  

Zaber listened to both doors.  Behind the north door he heard speech in Undercommon: someone monologuing about death and blood and research.  Behind the south door, nothing.  The group came up with a plan: have Seépravir cast Great Haste on everyone, then open the door and charge in and alpha strike the presumed drow spellcaster in there.  However, Seépravir was already maintaining Flight and Dark Vision and Invisibility on everyone, so the cumulative penalties to her Great Haste rolls were prohibitive.  She got Garreth Great Hasted, then failed a couple times in a row on Polly, and the group decided to just go rather than waiting for more spells.

Elias pushed up to the front and flailed the door.  It flew open.  The room contained a drow male in robes, a drow female in black mail, and a golem.  Zaber flew behind the female.  Polly fired two arrows at the male, but the golem somehow arm-parried both of them.  Garreth flew in and tried to rapidly chop the wizard.  The golem parried the first blow, but failed to parry the second.  But for the second blow, Garreth was visible, and the drow wizard was able to parry it for himself using Iron Arm.  Garreth noticed a little stone orbiting around the wizard's head.

The female drow appeared to not notice Zaber behind her, and attacked Garreth with her rapier.  He parried it.  The golem cast a spell on the wizard.  Elias flew up and shield rushed the drow warrior, but she dodged.  The wizard cast a spell on the drow warrior.

Zaber snuck up behind the female drow and stabbed her in the skull, through chinks in her coif.  He had to use Luck to reroll his attack to hit, but she got no defense as she had no idea he was there, and he did 8 points cutting to the skull.  This inflicted a stun check at -10, which she failed by more than 5, so she was knocked out.  Some of her blood spurted out and was acidic, burning both Zaber and Garreth for 1 HP (despite their armor).

Polly loosed two more arrows at the wizard's skull.  The golem parried the first, but failed to parry the second.  The wizard cast Deflect to parry the second.  A Dire Bat, which had been hanging around perched on a podium, swooped to its master's defense, attacking Garreth's face, but he parried it.  Garreth, noticing that the wizard had just used his blocking spell for the turn and its bodyguard golem had just tried two parries, ran up and tried to rapid strike the wizard to death.  The golem failed to parry his first swing, but the wizard managed a retreating dodge.  The golem failed to parry his second swing, and the wizard failed to dodge it.  Garreth rolled 26 cutting damage, and, unfortunately for the wizard, he had no armor and not a lot of HP, so 39 injury was 3 death checks.  He didn't have much HT either, and failed the second one.  Garreth used his remaining attacks on the dire bat, and killed it too.

The golem, angry that its master was dead, tried to get revenge on Garreth by backing up and them slamming him.  Garreth foolishly parried, and this resulted in a broken katana.  Garreth was injured and knocked down.  Elias smashed the golem in the head with his flail, and this caused it to fall over with a Clank!

With Garreth's katana broken, the group decided to (finally, after 3 sessions) go back to Cillamar.  They fired looted the two drow of some mail, a rapier, a magic robe, an ioun stone, and a magic amulet.


GM's Comments:

One of the female drow warriors that Garreth threw out the portcullis was actually only unconscious, not dead.  Until the 400 foot fall, anyway.  The 9d+1 falling damage, on top of the stab to the skull she'd taken before, inflicted 3 death checks, and she failed the third one.   

The drow wizard was totally unable to take a katana hit.  This is why he had a bodyguard golem, and blocking spells.  But once he ran out of active defenses, he went down with one solid katana attack.  Wizards really should wear armor.  (Granted, he was in his lair, in a hidden fortress in a stalactite 400 feet above a giant cave hundreds of feet underground.  Should be a pretty safe place to not wear armor.  But, still, clearly not safe enough.)

Never parry an slam from a large monster with any weapon you care about, unless that weapon is utterly indestructible.  Garreth learned that lesson the hard way.  Fortunately, he had Signature Gear on that katana, so he'll be able to get it fixed or find another one just like it.

2019-06-17

DF Whiterock Session 53: Mother Stirge and the Stalactite

Date:

2019-06-14


Weather:

None; session entirely underground.


Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 310 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 381 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 376 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 364 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 398 points

Significant NPCs:

Many stirges
Many stirge swarms
Stirge Brood Mother
3 Big Spiders
2 Humongous Spiders
2 Warriors with Crossbows
Azzik, Gargoyle Archer


We started in the stirge lair, off of the Immense Cavern, where the PCs had just defeated several groups of stirges.  Their Great Hastes had just expired making the recipients quite fatigued, and Seépravir had just cast Create Fire.  With two unexplored passages ahead, Seépravir used Shape Fire to move the fire up to block one of them, and then started casting Lend Energy to help people recover FP.

Eventually, Zaber saw some stirges come around the unblocked corner to the southeast.  Polly loosed arrows at them.  Zaber and Garreth waited for a target to come within range.  A swarm of stirges came at Elias, and Garreth reduced their numbers with his katana.  Another swarm got Polly, doing a bit of cutting damage.  Another went after Zaber, who chopped them up a bit with his knife, took a minor wound, then chopped them up some more, eliminating one swarm.  Meanwhile, Seépravir moved the fire onto the stirges to inflict a bit of damage.

A couple of larger (SM-1) stirges moved up behind the swarms of little ones.  Elias smashed one twice with his Flaming flail, it critically failed its first dodge and failed its second, and the combination of crushing and fire and anti-evil damage eradicated it.  Two remaining swarms got Garreth, reducing him to below 0 HP, but he stayed conscious.  Another one did solid damage to Zaber, slowing him.  Garreth managed to finish the first one off.

The last 3 larger stirges attacked Zaber, Garreth, and Elias, all going for deceptive face grapples.  Zaber parried.  Garreth managed to critically parry, causing the strix to lose balance and take -2 to defenses, but needed to use Luck.  Elias blocked, then wrecked a strix with his flail.  Zaber all-out defended.  Polly carefully lined up a shot so that if one strix dodged another might get hit, and managed to hit one, killing it and knocking its body into the fire.  Garreth hit the last one and inflicted multiple death checks, but it survived for a second, until Elias finished it off.

Another battle against stirges was won, but both Garreth and Zaber were badly hurt.  Elias cast a couple of Stop Bleedings and Major Healings and they got better.  Foolishly, the remaining stirges out of line of sight gave them time to do this.

The party pressed forward again, behind a wall of fire, and eventually reached a large cavern containing several more stirge swarms and one huge (SM+2) strix, the Brood Mother.  (Think Jabba the Hutt, but much dumber, and cannibalistic, and with the flight ability of a chicken.)  Polly shot through the fire, missed one swarm, but hit the one behind it.  Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  All the PCs moved up and waited behind the fire for a bit, but then Polly mentioned that it didn't do much damage (1d-3, with armor protecting), and ran right through it.

The brood mother flew (kind of) at Polly and attacked with her huge proboscis, but missed because it was a Move and Attack and she rolled a 10.  Garreth charged through the fire and went for a Drunken Fighting (+2 to DX) heavily deceptive All-Out Attack (Double) with Rapid Strike on the brood mother, for three total attacks.  She failed to dodge the first with the deceptive attack penalty, and was hurt badly enough to slow her to half move and dodge, causing her to have little chance to dodge the others.  The total damage was a stun and three death checks, which she passed.

A couple of the swarms took revenge on Garreth, pecking at his face, but they rolled poor damage.  Polly shot the stunned Brood Mother in the eye, which finished her.  At that point all the PCs counter-swarmed the two remaining stirge swarms, with a little help from fire damage, and finished them off.

Looting commenced.  Seépravir cast Seek Magic and detected something magical in a refuse heap in the north end of the room.  Zaber checked it out, and found a white metal bastard sword with some Elvish writing on the blade.  His broken Elvish was enough to see that it read "Damarel," probably a name.  He tried saying it, to no effect.  Garreth came running up excitedly and took the sword, then started swinging it around and declared it a high quality weapon, though there was no time to figure out exactly what the magic did.

Seépravir cast Seek Magic again and found more magic in another pile of junk.  Zaber dug through that one too, and found a small metal shield, with the partial bony remains of an arm still through the straps.  There was a picture of a spider painted on the shield, which Elias identified as evil and in need of painting over.  A third Seek Magic didn't find anything else in the immediate vicinity, so Zaber resorted to manual searching, and found an axe, which Seépravir (who isn't much of a warrior but knows a bit about everything) thought was decent quality and probably worth something.

After a bit of healing and resting, a discussion ensued on whether it was worth using Shape Earth to try to close up the cave and keep any remaining stirges in, or whether they should just leave.  Eventually they just left, after Seépravir re-cast some Flight spells that she had allowed to expire.

The group flew back to the fungus forest, under the huge stalactite.  The plan was for Zaber (Invisible, via ring) and Polly (visible) to scout the behir's lair for treasure.  Seépravir decided to turn herself Invisible and tag along.  Garreth and Elias stayed at ground level, with Garreth meditating.  Zaber started checking out the shelf where the behir had been spotted, but then Polly got too close to the big stalactite, and a crossbow bolt flew out, aimed at her back!  Fortunately, she was lucky and it missed.  At that point the scouts stopped checking out the behir lair and focused on whoever was shooting at them from inside the huge stalactite.  Zaber saw there was a large portcullis on the previously-unseen southeast face of the stalactite.

Polly started shooting into the stalactite, using free arrows from her Cornucopia quiver.  Someone in there was yelling "Azzik!" and then some other words in Undercommon.  (Seépravir spoke enough Undercommon to recognize that Azzik needed to wake up and shoot the surface-dwelling archer outside.)  As Polly moved closer she could see inside, where there were two humans with crossbows using the portcullis for cover.  She shot one of them, and then both of them got out of her line of sight.

Azzik, who turned out to be a gargoyle with a composite bow, eventually did that, popping out from behind a the edge of the portcullis.  I ruled this was an Old West-style contest of Fast-Draw (arrow).  Polly won the contest, with a critical success, so I ruled she got her whole turn (two shots) before Azzik got to shoot back.  Her first shot was a critical hit.  Her second shot was also accurate, but the gargoyle dodged it, and returned fire.  Polly critically succeeded on her Acrobatics roll, succeeded on her Dodge, and then Azzik rolled a 17 to miss his second shot, and then stepped back out of line of sight.

Zaber, still Invisible, flew up to the portcullis to see what was inside.  He saw the gargoyle archer and two crossbowmen off to the left, away from where Polly could shoot them.  He also saw some huge spiders walking around.  Finally, he saw a large lever to the right of the portcullis, out of reach.  He immediately squeezed between the bars (this required an Escape-6 roll, which he made by a lot) and then flew over to hit the lever, causing the portcullis to start rising.

Garreth and Elias were still on the ground far below, so Polly fired an arrow with Continual Light into their vicinity to get their attention.  Garreth was too busy meditating to notice, but Elias saw it, grabbed Garreth, and both started flying up to help out.

Polly moved up into Azzik's line of sight, and he fired two arrows at her.  She dodged both, though the first needed Luck.  Both crossbow guys fired at her too, but both missed.  Polly shot at Azzik, first lining up so that he had both a crossbowman and a spider behind him as secondary targets.  The gargoyle dodged, but the arrow achieved a lucky critical hit on the crossbowman.  (Not his day.)

The humongous (horse-sized) spiders were smart enough to go check out the vicinity of the lever that had moved all by itself and caused the portcullis to raise.  One took a wild swing at Invisible Zaber, but missed.  Seépravir cast Great Haste on Polly.  Polly fired at the gargoyle's hand, he dodged, but then she hit the crossbowman behind him (again!) and achieved an accidental kill.  Then Polly shot his hand again, he failed to dodge, and he had a crippled hand, rendering him incapable of using a bow.

Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  Zaber flew back away from the humongous spiders, pulled a coin out of his pouch, and threw it to the back of the room to distract them.  It worked, and they started chasing the coin.  Polly loosed several more arrows at Azzik, one hit, and he critically failed his stun check and fell unconscious.

The remaining crossbow guy fired at Polly, predictably missing, just as Garreth arrived.  Seépravir cast Death Vision on the crossbow guy, stunning him with a vision of a half-orc chopping him to bits.  Garreth flew up and unleashed an All-Out Attack (Double) plus Rapid Strike for three attacks, inflicting enough damage on the stunned guard to kill him without needing to roll the death checks.  

At that point all that was left was the spiders.  Zaber flew back outside the portcullis and tried to trick the humongous spiders into following him off the edge and falling, but they weren't quite that dumb.  Polly shot a spider and rolled yet another critical hit, stunning it and preventing it from attacking the defenseless (well, except for the armor and lots of HP) Garreth.  She then shot another little spider and achieved another critical hit.

There were two spiders left, but they couldn't reach the PCs as fast as Polly could fill them with arrows, and they died.  We stopped there, with the PCs remaining in the stalactite to press on with the possible benefit of surprise, rather than going back to town.

GM's Comments:


Polly got three hits in this session where she lined up multiple targets, the one in front was missed or managed to dodge, but then the one behind got hit.  The odds of this happening on any given shot are never great (hitting the wrong target is never more likely than 9 or less on 3d6), but if you fire enough arrows and are careful to line up multiple targets whenever possible, sometimes it will work out.

The Polly vs. Azzik archery war should have been interesting, but Polly rolled crazy well (something like 5 critical successes in a short period) and Azzik rolled horribly, so it ended with him unconscious with a crippled hand without ever achieving a hit.  The crossbowmen were pretty useless -- lots of time spent reloading, then lots of missing.

We'll see what's in the stalactite next time.

2019-06-09

DF Whiterock Session 52: Against the Stirges

Date:

2019-06-07



Weather:

Warm, a few clouds


Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 306 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 377 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 372 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 360 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 394 points

Significant NPCs:

Lord Flitwick: Noble, artist
Vulgaris, Minyad druid and mushroom farmer
Many stirges
Many stirge swarms


The group started in town, except for Garreth, who had spent the week in the dungeon trying to learn Underground Survival.

Zaber heard a rumor that Cillamar is warmer than is used to be, because of red dragons.  When casing Flitwick's town house, he found an envelope tacked to the door.  He stole it when nobody was looking.  The envelope contained a summons to the Lord's Gate Citadel to answer questions about Gord's death.  Seépravir cast Repair on the envelope and Zaber put it back.

Elias researched holy artifacts and heard of the lost Basin of Cleansing, which can create holy water, heal wounds, and even (if enough gems were inserted) raise the dead.  He spent $500 to have the holy symbol of Elyr expertly painted on his shield, making his shield Ornate.

Seépravir cast Flight on everyone, and they flew to Castle Whiterock.  Except for Polly, who pushed the wheelbarrow in Garreth's absence.  Upon arrival at the castle, Zaber noticed signs of disturbance on the top two levels.  It appeared a small group of man-sized humanoids had visited, but had not found the secret doors to the elevator or the next level down.  After a bit of tracking, the group headed down the elevator to the underground river level.

Meanwhile, Garreth rolled to see how well he learned Underground Survival from Vulgaris.  He initially rolled a 13, but used Luck and rolled a 5, so he mostly ate the correct mushrooms.  He also helped move a lot of dirt and fertilizer around.  After reuniting wtith Garreth, Zaber immediately tried to get him to show him which mushrooms were the most fun.

Everyone piled into a skiff and Garreth started rowing toward the immense cavern.  Unfortunately, he rolled a 17 on a Boating check, and rammed some rocks near the giant clams.  Elias was the only one who missed his DX check and fell in, but he dodged the sharp rocks (with the help of his shield) and then used Flight to get out of the water.  Seépravir almost fell in, but used Luck to reroll.  Garreth managed to row the rest of the way to the northern dock without further drama.

Everyone got out of the boat and walked through the tunnel and then south through the immense cavern, past the black pyramid, to where Zaber had seen stirges flying.  Past the stalagmites where the ettin and their wolf lived was a field full of large lizards.  Zaber looked for brands on the lizards, and didn't see any, but saw a large puncture wound on one.  Eventually some stirges appeared and started feeding on some lizards.  Polly and Elias wanted to shoot the stirges, but Zaber was more interested in following them back to their lair.  Eventually one flew back into the cave and Zaber was about to pinpoint its exact location, on the south wall of the immense cavern, about 40' up.

Some more stirges flew out and attacked a lizard, but Polly shot them until they flew away.  A discussion on whether it was really worth killing stirges ensued.  Zaber said he would prefer something with loot.  Seépravir cast Seek Earth for gold, and didn't find any nearby.  She then cast Seek Magic and found some, in the direction of the stirges' lair.  That settled that debate: if they had magic items, they definitely needed to die.

Seépravir cast Drunkenness on Garreth for -4, but this appeared to be *too* drunk for his Drunken Fighting perk, and just gave him -4 to IQ and DX.  She cancelled it, and tried again at -2, giving Garreth -2 IQ, -2 DX outside of combat, but (somehow) +2 DX in combat against a real opponent.  (This is of course the famous Naburu Peak.)  Then Seépravir cast Concussion and grew it to 7d, and was ready to stun some stirges.

Seépravir rested.  Garreth tried autohypnosis to improve his Will, but failed the first attempt and rolled a 17 on the second, lowering his Will instead.  (If the stirges had mind control, he was in trouble.)  When everyone was ready to go, Zaber started sneaking along the side of the immense cavern, then led everyone up to the stirges' cave.  The opening was stinky and slippery with bird droppings, but no stirges where there.  Zaber scouted forward, until he spotted stirges.

The plan was for everyone to hang back until Seépravir threw her Concussion, but the plan failed to survive contact with the enemy.  Polly fired a couple of arrows, then ran back.  Elias ran forward.  Seépravir threw her Concussion toward some stirges far away from the PCs, intending to stun, forgetting that she put 7d into it and really wanted to target more precisely and kill something with it.  She missed her target hex, but got lucky with scatter rolls, and the blast scored a near-direct hit on one swarm of stirges, dissipating it.  The other stirges within 10 yards of the blast all had to make stun checks, and most were stunned.

With the opening spell off, everyone was free to engage.  Zaber tried fast-drawing a strength potion, but failed with a 17, and slow-readied it instead.  Polly shot arrows at stirges, but they were crazy good at dodging.  Seépravir cast Great Haste on Garreth.  Garreth ran up and chopped at a stirge with his katana but rolled a 17 for a fumble, and used Luck to avoid it.  Once he managed to hit a stirge, it died horribly: they were good at dodging but forgot to bring any DR or HP in case their dodges failed.  Elias flailed away at a stirge swarm.  Seépravir cast Great Haste on Polly too.

Polly kept shooting stirges and stirge swarms.  A swarm bit Elias for a bit of damage.  Zaber decided to go with an agility potion instead of a strength potion, since high ST appeared unnecessary to kill stirges.  Garreth helped Elias finish off the swarm, and the group was out of stirges.  But, not wanting to waste their Great Haste spells, Garreth and Polly charged ahead looking for more stirges.

Seépravir caught up to Zaber and gave him a Great Haste too.  Garreth rounded a corner in the cave and was face to face with a bunch of stirges, which he immediately starting stabbing.  Polly, right behind him, shot a couple then switched to her rapier for deceptive attacks versus their high dodges.  Elias, sadly without Great Haste, and Zaber, who had stopped to wait for a spell, took a few turns longer to reach the battle.  By the time they got there the stirge mass had been thinned a bit, but there were plenty for everyone.  Zaber got in several rapid stabs with his knife and took down a large stirge.  Elias womped on a swarm with flail and shield.

While Polly was circling around some stirges looking for a back attack, she noticed another group of stirges to the north, who saw her and came to join the battle.  It took a lot of die rolls, but eventually all the stirges in both groups were killed, at the cost of a few minor wounds to Garreth and Elias from swarms to the face.  Seépravir had cast Create Fire and was just about to start pushing it forward into stirge-filled hexes with Shape Fire, when they ran out of targets.  Everyone's Great Hastes were just about to expire as well.

We paused at that point.  We were out of time for the evening, but the players all wanted to keep pressing forward rather than going back to town.  Will they finish off the stirges?  Tune in next week.

GM's Comments:

The Drunken Fighting perk and the Drunkenness spell are a great combo.  It would be quite expensive to get Garreth drunk the old-fashioned way, since he's a huge half-orc with Resistance to Poison, but he can voluntarily decline to resist the spell.  Seépravir casts the spell with a one-second duration and maintains it every second, which means that if Garreth suddenly needs to be less drunk, she can just stop maintaining the spell and have him sober almost instantly, for free.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG Monsters 2 PDF just came out this week (for Kickstarter backers who paid for the PDF), and I mixed in some of its version of stirges with the stirge swarms that were previously in the adventure.  I think that made the slog of a stirge fight a bit more interesting by adding some variety of targets.



2019-06-05

Individualism vs. Communism in RPG Parties

When we played AD&D as kids, the party mostly worked as a team.  Except at the end of the adventure, when we divided up the magic items.  At that point we rolled dice to determine the order of picks, and then each player would usually take the best available item, not necessarily the best item for their character to use, or for the party's overall effectiveness.  It could get merciless sometimes.  "Yes, I'm a fighter, and yes, I can wear armor, so no, I don't really need the Bracers of Defense AC 4, and yes, your mage really could use them, but, you see, they're worth a lot of money.  Do you have an equal item to trade?  I guess I need to keep them then."  Level training was expensive in AD&D, so there was always a need for large stacks of gold pieces.

That was before GURPS, and before Gordon Gecko in Wall Street, but most of us played like we had the Greed disadvantage.  Maybe that's the way most American boys were in the 1980s, or maybe it was just us.

Many years later, the current group of 5 PCs in the Castle Whiterock campaign amuses me, because they want to play almost exactly the opposite way.  Almost all found items remain "party property", unless they are easily divisible (like cash or items that everyone agrees are useless that should be sold and turned into cash).  Occasionally someone asks if they can buy an item that only they want from the party, but most of the time, they just ask to use it, while not needing to take ownership.  PCs freely loan money to each other to help them afford major purchases.  To put it bluntly, they're a Communist Party.  They're trying to win the game as a group, and don't really care too much about whose character gets what treasure.  (The one exception is that the PC who bought Wealth, and thus sells all the party's treasure at a much better price to everyone's benefit, gets a bigger cut to compensate him for spending all those points.)

So, as a GM, is this okay, or is this something I should try to stop?

For the most part, as a GM I think inter-PC relations are up to the players.  They can do what they want, as long as one player isn't completely ruining another player's fun and thereby threatening the existence of the game.  The big exception is that if a player gets points for a disadvantage or quirk, they need to earn them by playing it.

One obvious DFRPG disadvantage related to money is Greed.  If a PC takes Greed, they should pretty much wreck the idea of a Communist Party unless it clearly works in their personal financial favor all of the time.  "All for one and one for all", not so much.  "What's mine is mine and what's yours is ours," sure.  Maybe this could work if there was one Greedy PC and the rest just let them keep an unfair share of the treasure because they don't care.  Dwarves in DFRPG have Greedy by default, so if you want to have a Communist Party, you might not want any short bearded folks ruining it.

Another one is Wealth.  The GURPS 4E rules say "The GM should not allow wealthy PCs to bankroll their poorer associates.  This makes below-average Wealth little more than 'free points.'  The
GM might allow rich characters to hire poor ones."  Basically, if anyone collects disadvantage points for below-average Wealth, they can't be propped up by a collective in a way that makes that not matter.  ("A Disadvantage that is not a disadvantage is not a Disadvantage.")  So if you want to make a Communist Party, probably everyone should have at least Average Wealth.  Or, if someone insists on playing a Poor PC, they should be reduced to the status of mere hirelings, to earn those disadvantage points another way.

The other one is Miserliness.  A miser might be okay with pooling the treasure, as long as they get to be in charge of making sure nobody spends any more of it than necessary.  A Communist Party needs a quartermaster (someone has to track all that party-owned stuff), so if there's a miser, they probably need to take that job.  If some other party member has a spending-related disadvantage (Compulsive Spending, Compulsive Carousing, Compulsive Gambling, the need to eat an expensive diet of health food to maintain Chi abilities, etc.) then there's going to be conflict.  But maybe it could work if enough cash is paid out to each PC to more than handle their own basic upkeep, and only the remainder is kept in common.

The other problem with party-owned items is what happens when the party composition changes.  If a PC leaves the game, it seems reasonable that they would want to take their fair share of the party's stash with them.  (If a PC dies and can't be resurrected, they probably have heirs who'd want their share.)  Conversely, if a new PC joins, the existing group is certainly free to share their resources, but if any of them object, the system might fall apart.

It might be interesting, though possibly out of pseudo-historical genre conventions, for an adventuring party to be a formally incorporated business entity with actual legal rights, shares, a board of directors, etc.  That would be a way to get the advantages of a Communist Party (the PCs pool their resources to try to win, and only the players who enjoy accounting have to worry about accounting) while putting a capitalist face on the system.  ("We're totally going to liquidate this and all be rich someday, just not yet.  We're still in startup growth mode, you see.  Plowing all the profits back into the business.  Dividends are for later, after we run out of dragons to kill and rob.")

There's more than one way to have fun playing an RPG.  Perhaps individual versus group ownership of items should be part of your next Session Zero.

2019-06-02

DF Whiterock Session 51: Alpha Strike

Date:

2019-05-31



Weather:

Cool, cloudy


Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 302 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 373 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 368 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 356 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 390 points

Significant NPCs:

Drow Groaning Spirit
Behir
Quintus, Alchemist
Alrux, Dwarf Armorer


The group started in Cillamar.  The big news was that the Ashwood Bandits that had taken out a merchant caravan to Galaron had been Dealt With by the Magn'gard, the elite guard company of the Patriarch of Cillamar.  There was also a rumor that Hugin had been with the caravan that was attacked, and was injured.  

Zaber heard that Lord Flitwick had left town, after his bodyguard died in prison.  Zaber cased Flitwick's town house, and it was indeed dark and empty.

Quintus was around, so they brought him the 42 lbs. of mushrooms they had collected in the fungus forest to see if any were particular valuable.  None were.  They asked him if he was looking for troll, stirge, or dire bat parts, but he was not.  (He informed them that troll parts are illegal in town, which is why he uses trollhound muscle instead in his healing potions.)  The PCs then discussed stirges with Quintus, to see if he had any useful information that might help them eradicate the stirge swarm menace in the huge cave.  He let them know that stirge colonies have a queen.

Seépravir (Research) and Elias (Hidden Lore: Undead) both found more information about Groaning Spirits.  Seépravir brewed some expensive potions (two Greater Healing and one Flight) just in case the fight against the Groaning Spirit went poorly.

Then the group brought the orichalcum they found in an underwater chest to Alrux, to see whether he could make armor with it.  He said that he could, but the PCs were not ready to commit to ordering any armor, so they took their orichalcum back.

Seépravir cast the usual batch of travel spells (Flight, Invisibility, Lighten) and everyone set off for Castle Whiterock, though the wheelbarrow full of random junk they brought along meant they were travelling at walking rather than flying speed.  They reached the castle without drama, just missing some thunderstorms.  Seépravir cast a new batch of spells (Dark Vision on everyone except Zaber, who had enough Night Vision to see fine in the big cave, See Secrets and See Invisibility on Zaber.)   Polly cast Keen Vision on herself and Zaber, critically failing one roll but without any horrible effects.  They took their new elevator from the surface down to the Clockwork Academy, then walked through a couple of former troglodyte levels to get to the underground river level, which Garreth rowed them across using a skiff.

Once they reached the huge cave, the group flew over to the fungus forest, north of where they fled from the groaning spirit last time.  The plan was for Elias to cast Affect Spirits on his flail and Polly's rapier, then for Seépravir to cast Silence a bit north of the blighted clearing, and everyone except Garreth to hide in the quiet zone, which they hoped would provide them immunity to the groaning spirit's deadly keening.  Then Garreth would Kiai-lock the groaning spirit, and Polly and Elias could run up and kill the spirit.

It seemed like a pretty good plan, but they failed to execute the part about everyone staying in the Silence spell.  Zaber wanted to scout ahead and find the spirit.  Elias wanted to charge and kill evil and didn't wait for his cue.  Polly wanted to stay with Elias.  So, the Silence spell ended up not really being used.

What happened instead was Seépravir cast Great Haste on Garreth, and Garreth charged into the clearing where the spirit was waiting.  Garreth resisted the spirit's fear aura, then was lucky enough to finish his turn outside Keening range.  The spirit moved but wasn't fast enough to get into Keening range on her turn.  And then Garreth ran up next to her and Kiaied, and managed to stun her.  Elias used Divine Grace to raise his DX to heroic levels, and then Elias and Polly charged.  Seépravir Great Hasted herself.

The next turn, Garreth Kiaied again.  He failed to stun the spirit, used Luck, and stunned her on the reroll.  Elias and Polly both reached the edge of the clearing where they could see the spirit and had to roll versus Fear.  Elias resisted, but Polly failed, and went running back into the mushrooms.  So Elias was the only one who could hurt the spirit.

Garreth stepped closer, and stumbled over something invisible (it was the rotted corpse of a female drow), but didn't actually fall.  He Kiaied again, and the spirit rolled a 17 on her resistance roll.  For his second maneuver from Great Haste, he waited for her to appear to recover, so he could immediately Kiai again.  Elias got into All-Out Attack range, and flailed the stunned spirit 3 times, achieving one maximum damage critical hit and two regular hits.  The spirit failed to dodge either of them, with the -4 for stun, and the combined damage of three blows from the holy flail inflicted a death check.  The spirit failed it, and that was the end of her.  She never managed to get a Keen attack off this time.

Polly eventually recovered from the fear effect, and returned to the group.  Zaber, who had See Invisible, could see the corpse that Garreth had almost tripped over.  It was a rotted, broken body of a drow female, wearing some tattered clothing, some bracers, and an invisible ring.  And it had a curvy-bladed large knife in its back.

Zaber removed the ring, and the corpse became visible.  He smashed the body, causing his existing Invisibility to be dispelled.  He put on the ring, and turned invisible again.  He smashed the body again, and became visible again.  He took the ring off and put it back on, and did not immediately turn invisible again, but after a while started fading away.  So, while he was no wizard, he was pretty sure it was an Invisible Ring of Invisibility.  He tied some twine to it to make it harder to lose.

Meanwhile Garreth played with the curvy-bladed knife and decided that it was both fine and balanced.  He asked the elves it if was magical, and they said no.  So it was merely a nice mundane knife.

Polly checked out the corpse's bracers and clothing, and determined that the bracers were magical and the clothing was just tattered rags.

Looking at the crumpled body, Garreth had an idea, and gazed upwards.  He saw several huge stalactites on the ceiling of the giant cave, hundreds of feet up.  The biggest one was directly overhead.  At that point the whole party wanted to fly up and check it out, but Seépravir needed to rest first.  Polly and Zaber weren't patient enough to wait, so Garreth and Seépravir and Elias stayed on the ground resting, while Polly and Zaber flew up to investigate.  Zaber was invisible, so he and Polly held onto a piece of twine so she could track his location.

The stalactite overhead was truly huge, probably 100 feet wide at the base and 150 feet tall.  Zaber flew up to it looking for anything interesting, and found a couple of arrow slits in one wall.  He peeked inside, and was a passage hollowed out, but nobody inside and no obvious way in.  At that point his investigation was interrupted by motion to his right.  He looked over and saw a 40' lizard/snake creature, climbing around a smaller (but still huge) stalactite nearby, toward Polly.  Zaber started flying back toward the ground, pulling on the twine.  Meanwhile Polly pulled out some food and waved it at the huge lizard.

As Zaber and Polly approached the ground, Zaber looked up, and noticed the creature was following them down, falling not climbing, at high speed.  About 10 yards from the ground, it abruptly slowed its fall.  Polly threw the ration to it, but the lizard seemed to think this was an attack rather than a treat, and dodged it.  Zaber fast-drew a couple of knives.  Garreth fast-drew a katana and started concentrating on Power Blow.  Seépravir Great Hasted herself on general principles and rolled a critical success, for double duration.  She yelled out that anyone next to her could also have a Great Haste, which attracted Garreth and Polly.

The huge lizard lined up Elias and Polly, and breathed lightning.  Polly dodged it.  Elias blocked it with his shield, but this was ineffective and he got zapped.  However, the damage roll was rather puny.  Elias had to make a stun check, which he failed.

At this point Polly decided the lizard was an enemy not a puppy after all, and started shooting arrows at its eyes.  It dodged four in a row, appearing to be supernaturally fast.  Zaber, still invisible, flew above the huge lizard, preparing to descend onto its back and backstab.  As promised, Seépravir cast Great Haste on both Polly and Garreth.

Garreth rolled his Power Blow, failed, chose not to use his luck.  Then he flew up next to the huge lizard and made two rapid deceptive katana strikes at a foreleg, the only part he could reach.  It failed to dodge, and he crippled the leg, then hit the crippled leg again to pile on some damage.  The combined effect of the two hits had the lizard reeling from its wounds, and at half Dodge.  For his second maneuver, Garreth flew forward to get in range of the lizard's torso, and unleashed two more deceptive rapid strikes.  With its dodge reduced, the lizard didn't stand much of a chance to avoid them, and did not, taking enough damage to need a death check.  Which it rolled a 16 on, and that was the end of that behir.  With its death, its Slow Fall effect was dispelled, and it crashed to the ground, but fortunately nobody was under it.  Garreth apologized for killing it too quickly before anyone else got to hit it.  Polly said this served it right for being a shocker lizard.

The behir didn't have any obvious treasure, but of course that didn't deter the PCs, who immediately started extracting teeth and scales and looking for mana organs.  They didn't find any mana organs, but decided to take a few teeth and scales to town to see if they had any value as weapons or armor.

Garreth suggested looking for the stirge lair.  Zaber is very good at finding things, so he turned invisible then flew around the cave for a while, until he spotted some stirges feedling on cave lizards in the southeast corner of the huge cave.  Then he watched the stirges fly back to the south wall of the cave and disappear, so he figured their lair was in there somewhere.  He reported back to the group.  Then everyone decided to head back to town.

GM's Comments:


Using Silence to avoid the groaning spirit's Keening attack was a great idea, but the party didn't have the discipline to stand still long enough to benefit from it.  Fortunately for them, Garreth repeatedly Kiaied the groaning spirit so effectively that it didn't matter, as she never got a Keen off.  The groaning spirit was definitely a glass cannon, with only her insubstantiality providing much protection.  Once Elias smacked her with a flail with Affect Spirits on it, she was doomed.  The combination of Great Haste and Flight was extremely tactically powerful, providing way-too-fast movement.

Splitting the party to go check out the giant stalactite overhead was probably not the smartest move.  Flying right back down to the party when they spotted the behir was.  Polly and Zaber probably didn't expect it to follow them, though.  The behir was a cool monster, but not quite tough enough to handle a Great Hasted Garreth in its face.  Being SM +5 is bad for you, as it lets opponents take huge Deceptive Attack penalties and still hit.

The group wanted to follow the stirges back to their lair, but we were running out of time in the session, so they decided to go back to town instead, and take on the stirges another time.

DF Whiterock Session 56: Spider Temple

Date: 2019-07-12 Weather: None, session entirely underground Player Characters: Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 320 points ...