2019-05-21

DF Whiterock Session 49: Trollicide

Date:

2019-05-17

Weather:

Cool, partly cloudy

Player Characters:

Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 365 points
Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 298 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 360 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 348 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 382 points

Significant NPCs:

4 Trolls
3 Elite Trolls
Roargroth, Troll Boss
Gar and Nar, Ettin
Huge Wolf


We started in the Giant Cave, where four of the PCs (but not Elias, because he had church) had just defeated four trolls.  They knew via scouting with an Invisible Wizard Eye that there were more trolls in a smaller cave up above, but wanted to discuss the best tactics to defeat them, rather than just charging right up.

Seépravir decided to cast Invisibility on herself and fly up to check out the trolls.  Zaber was a bit annoyed by this since he was the most experienced scout, but by the time he lodged his objection the wizard was already out of sight.  After flying up a steep trail, she went down a short passage, leading into a cave about 60' in diameter and 15' tall, containing four trolls and a lot of piles of refuse, trash, and debris.  The trolls appeared to be standing guard.

She cast Hush on herself, then flew past the trolls, toward the exit at the back of the cave, and then cast Create Fire.  She then started spreading the fire out across multiple hexes, then moving the fire, using Shape Fire.  One of the trolls quickly noticed, and started yelling in probably-Troll.  Then he decided to try to put the fire out by urinating on it, but this didn't work, and Seépravir responded by moving the fire into the troll's hex.  (At that point I had to compute how much damage the fire would do, because if it would do any damage then it would count as an attack and Seépravir's Invisibility would go away.  But it was spread out enough to be a 0-damage minor annoyance, so I decided it didn't count as an attack this time.)

At this point all four trolls were watching the fire and either running away from it or yelling.  One started toward Seépravir, and she decided it was time to leave, and flew over the troll's head and out of the cave, then back down the steep path to where the other PCs were waiting.  In the meantime Elias had showed up, a bit wet from some boating at default skill level, and using his Flaming Flail for light.

The other PCs were bored of waiting around for Seépravir, and Garreth suggested that they just go up there and kill the trolls.  This motion passed.  Zaber didn't have a light source or Dark Vision (his Night Vision was plenty for the dimly lit giant cave, but not for any pitch black places), so Polly lent him a Continual Light bodkin.  Everyone except Elias still had a Flight spell going.

The PCs reached the passage into the troll cave, the trolls spotted the PCs, and it was combat time.  Because Polly had her bow and the trolls didn't have any ranged weapons, she got to shoot them while they closed range.  She picked a target, shot it in the leg, crippled the leg, watched the troll fall over, then shot it in the neck, leading to a stun.  Zaber and Garreth flew up near the ceiling in prone position to maximize the free space for Polly to shoot through.  Meanwhile, more trolls emerged from the back of the room into line of sight.  One was a larger troll with a club and huge shield, definitely not one Seépravir had seen before.  Seépravir decided to cast Great Haste on Polly to increase her rate of fire.

Polly decided to keep shooting the prone troll rather than picking a more mobile one.  This was quite effective at making green stuff come out of the troll's neck, but trolls are very tough, so it didn't really achieve much.  Elias, with his usual disregard for tactics, decided to charge out of formation to get at the trolls sooner, rather than giving Polly more time to shoot them.  This caused Garreth to reluctantly move forward next to Elias to keep him from getting ganged up on, but still stay up high.

Seépravir, still flying near the ceiling, decided to Great Haste herself next, so she could cast twice as fast.  Polly decided to shoot another troll in the back, but the big troll with the shield sacrificially blocked for his ally.  The troll decided to shield rush Garreth; Garreth was pretty close to the 15' high ceiling, but the troll was about 10' tall with long arms and a huge shield, so he could reach.  Garreth dodged.

Elias decided to use his Divine Grace ability, and rolled +10 to DX for 13 turns.  +10 brought his DX from a fine-but-unimpressive 12 to a ridiculous 22, and his Flail skill from a pretty good 15 to a kind of silly 25.  Seépravir responded by casting Great Haste on Elias so he could use that weapon skill twice as often, and then another one on Zaber.  Zaber decided to use his double turns to fly in, All-Out Attack, then fly back out of the troll's reach so it couldn't hit him back, an impressively unsporting strategy that basically made him invulnerable unless a troll was smart enough to take a Wait maneuver.  Meanwhile, Polly kept shooting trolls in the legs and neck, often, leaving a pile of slow trolls leaking green stuff, but no dead ones because trolls don't die to mere arrow wounds.

By this time a troll was in katana range, so Garreth fast-drew and started taking rapid deceptive attacks.  I made the troll make a stupidity check before it could deign to retreat, since it was large and dumb and fearless, and it rolled a 17, so that troll actually didn't know what retreat was.  Without the +3 to dodge for retreating, and with a -3 for Garreth's deceptive speed, its odds of dodging weren't great, and it got its leg crippled and fell down.  (Garreth was disappointed it didn't come clean off, but trolls have a lot of HP.)

Elias's turn came, and, unlike the rest of the PCs, his weapon was on fire so could actually kill trolls, not just give them some minor injuries to regenerate from.  He knocked one troll unconscious with his flail, then attacked a second one but missed.  Seépravir dropped her Invisibility to have one less spell on, and cast Mass Daze on three trolls.  She rolled a 6, not quite a critical success because all her spells on lowered her effective skill below 16, but still hard to resist.  All three trolls failed to resist, and decided to just stare into space until attacked.  Seépravir yelled out to leave those ones alone until all the un-Dazed ones were finished off.

Zaber again flew in, chopped a troll foot, and flew back out to safety.  Polly shot a troll in the neck some more, piling up damage but still failing to kill it.  Garreth crippled both arms of the already prone troll under him, reducing it from claw/claw/bite to just bite, and only if it could reach while prone.

Elias, ignoring tactics, started to attack one of the Dazed trolls.  His four companions screamed to leave the Dazed ones alone and finish off the ones that were horribly wounded but refused to die because the wounds did not involve fire.  He first achieved a coup de grace on an unconscious troll that was below -5*HP; as soon as fire was applied it insta-died.  He then fire-flail swatted the one that Garreth had crippled, and while that one required dice rolls as it wasn't quite unconscious, it failed to dodge and he finished it.

At that point there were no standing, un-Dazed trolls left, and all the prone trolls were grievously wounded enough that one hit from Elias's fire would finish them off, and then four (or even five if Seépravir wanted to help) PCs could simultaneously attack each Dazed troll before it would wake up and get any defenses, so I called the fight rather than making people continue rolling dice.  Eight more trolls were burning, in addition to the four that had been killed down in the big cave.  It was a fairly big fight but the PCs weren't really challenged.

Seépravir had noticed that one troll had magical hide armor, so they recovered that, though it was pretty singed from its wearer being set on fire.  Otherwise, the trolls just had some clubs and one huge shield, and a couple more non-magical suits of scorched hide armor.  And a whole bunch of piles of filth.  I asked if the PCs really wanted to dig around in that nasty gross cave, but of course they did -- there might be treasure!  Zaber took a swig of something strong first though, for protection.  Zaber, who is good at searching, found a rod and a staff and a ruby and a lot of coins.  Polly, who is also pretty observant, found a couple of her own unbroken arrows and some more coins.  Garreth, who is not as good at searching but is persistent, found some bones and some rocks and some things that come out of trolls and one copper piece, and then decided to stack rocks around burning trolls to make a nice fire pit.

Seépravir cast Seek Magic to see if they missed any magic items, and found the nearest unknown magic was a bit to the south.  Zaber scouted ahead that way, and found another cave that looked like trolls lived there, but no more trolls in it.  There was a mace leaning against one wall.  The cave also contained a large bed of soft fungus, and searching under that revealed a niche with some coins, some red stones, some orange rock, some purple stones, a grey stone, and a sword.  Garreth used his weapons knowledge to identify the sword as a shortsword, a type of sword popular among tiny people and people who don't care about doing maximum damage.  Seépravir used her Merchant skill to identify bloodstones, amber, and garnets.  The grey stone was magical.

At this point the PCs decided to go talk to the ettin again, with two goals in mind.  Seépravir and Zaber wanted to steal the ettin's magic ring, but without Elias knowing.  Garreth wanted to get the ettin's help moving the giant turtle shell to the elevator.  So the whole group flew back down to the big cave and then southeast toward the ettin.  Zaber asked to be turned Invisible first since the ettin didn't know about him, to make later burglary easier.  

As they reached the stalagmite forest containing the ettin's lair, the ettin's huge wolf bounded up to greet Polly, who had previously fed it several chickens (which had been intended for feeding to giant clams but everyone forgot).  Polly didn't have any more chicken, but she did have a bunch of giant turtle meat (which had been intended for luring trolls, but everyone forgot).  Elias advised Polly to shoot the wolf because all wolves are evil, but she did not.  Garreth, who spoke Orc and Undercommon and thus could communicate with the ettin, struck up a conversation about killing all of the trolls and the giant turtle.  Gar believed him but Nar was skeptical.  They led the ettin and wolf back to the turtle shell.  The wolf licked some meat off the shell, then hopped in the stream and gorged on giant turtle carcass for a while.

Gar told Garreth that he couldn't carry the turtle shell outside of the cave, because it was his duty to guard the pyramid.  But they eventually struck a deal where Polly could help the wolf guard the pyramid for a bit, while Gar and Nar helped carry the turtle shell to the elevator.  Fortunately, both halves of the split party achieved their goals without wandering monster attacks.  At that point, Garreth and Polly and Elias headed back to town, while Seépravir and Zaber lingered behind.

Zaber invisibly searched through the stalagmite forest for the ettin's lair, using his Tracking skill to look for where the huge footprints went.  He eventually found a large stalagmite hollowed out into a residence, with the ettin sitting inside and the giant wolf lying outside.  Zaber starting flying in silently and invisibly, but then the wolf started sniffing the air, and Zaber aborted the mission, not wanting to risk a fight.  When he got back to Seépravir they discussed learning the No-Smell spell to complete the stealth collection.  They then flew home, actually arriving before the others, because they were flying unencumbered rather than pushing a heavy wheelbarrow.



GM's Comments:



The troll fight took a while because there were 5 PCs and 8 trolls, but it was a cakewalk.  The PCs had pretty good tactics and a Heroic Archer and Great Haste and Mass Daze and very good defenses.  The trolls had regeneration.  So they took a whole lot of damage without dying, until Elias eventually got around to hitting them with fire, and then they died.

You do not get to use Luck to make your opponent reroll a critical success on a defense roll, which forces the attacker to roll on the fumble table.  This is pretty clear in the rules and I'm not house ruling a change to it.  (However you can use Luck on the roll on the fumble table, to possibly get a less bad result.)

Garreth rolled a 16 on his resist disease check for searching through piles of troll refuse -- and passed anyway because of the +5 Resistance to Disease for being a half-orc.  Every advantage comes in handy once in a while.

It's mildly amusing how the PCs have befriended the ettin, and gotten information from them, and fed their wolf, and talked them into helping them move a heavy turtle shell, but they still can't resist trying to steal their magic ring because PCs must have every magic item that isn't nailed down.


2019-05-14

DF Whiterock Session 48: Turtle Parliament

Date:

2019-05-10


Weather:

Cool, overcast


Player Characters:

Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 361 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 356 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 344 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 378 points

Significant NPCs:

2 Stirge Swarms
Quickened Giant Snapping Turtle
4 Trolls


The party (minus Elias, who had church) started in Cillamar.  The most interesting rumors were that Lord Flitwick's bodyguard Gord the dwarf had died in jail, and that King Mirias Stormwarden was going to visit Cillamar in July.  Zaber and Seépravir used their Propaganda skill to try to ping Gord's death on Lord Flitwick.

Seépravir cast Flight and Invisibility on everyone, but the party couldn't survive without their wheelbarrow full of junk, so they ended up walking to Castle Whiterock anyway.  Garreth rolled an 18 on his Hiking roll and burned a use of Luck to avoid risking a broken leg.

Once they reached the dungeon, the group went down a level, across to the elevator, then took a skiff down the underground river to the huge cave.  Seépravir cast a suite of vision spells on herself, then cast Wizard Eye and put Invisibility on it.  The eye, scouting ahead, spotted several trolls, moving west.  Seépravir had the eye follow them across a stream, up a narrow hidden path, and into their cave, which contained a bunch more trolls.  Then the trolls began beating each other up, regenerating, and repeating.

Everyone wanted to ambush the trolls, so they started sneaking west, but the trolls had a head start.  While sneaking along the north edge of the huge cave, the party was noticed by some stirge swarms, which dove on them.  The PCs outrolled the stirges for surprise, so it ended up being a fair fight against two stirge swarms.  One managed to injure Garreth, thanks to his unarmored face.  The other bounced off his torso armor.  Then Garreth backed out of that hex and tossed an Alchemist's Fire in with the two swarms, singing them.  Polly fast-drew her rapier and did some rapid stirge swatting, dispersing one of the swarms.  Seépravir cast Mass Daze on the remaining swarm, causing it to just sit there in the fiery hex for a second, long enough for the flames to finish it off.  So a very quick and easy fight, at the cost of one Alchemist's Fire, and then 30 minutes for Seépravir to perform First Aid on Garreth.  Thanks to Bless and 20 HP, that healed 6 out of the 7 points of injury he'd taken, and he was happy to press on.

The group continued west until they reached a wide, deep stream flowing north-south.  With Flight, getting over the stream was no problem, but the group decided to have a long conversation next to the stream about how best to ambush the trolls in their cave.  Unfortunately, that took long enough to cause a wandering monster roll, and a I rolled a 5, and then the wandering monster was the Local Denizen which happened to be a Quickened Giant Snapping Turtle, and then the Quickened Giant Snapping Turtle rolled a 3 on its surprise roll.  As Polly wisely said a bit later, "New plan, if friendly people tell us horrible monster lives in river we do not hang out there to conduct a session of parliament."

The turtle was going to try to eat someone, and it randomly picked Zaber, who was standing with his back to the river.  It came up behind him, rolled a solid hit on its bite roll, rolled pretty solid damage -- and Zaber's Bless spell decided that this was a good place for a miracle, averted the hit, and went away.  The turtle was slightly grumpy about this, but all the PCs had to spend the next turn making IQ rolls to recover from Mental Stun, so it got another turn to eat Zaber.  However, with its opponents about to go active, it decided to spend that turn using its Quicken power (which looks a whole lot like the Great Haste spell).

All the PCs made their rolls, so they got to go, so that was the end of the turtle's fun.  Garreth fast-drew his katana and stepped within head-chopping range, but missed twice.  (He was taking a rather large deceptive attack penalty.)  Polly asked about the presence of eyes and/or skull, and when told that the turtle appeared to have both, Waited to be able to shoot it in the eye as soon as Zaber got out of the line of fire.  Zaber, not waiting to be eating, ran away from the turtle, and then Poll shot at its eye twice.  It dodged the first, but not the second, and the arrow crippled its eye and lodged into its brain for large amounts of damage.  The turtle made its death, consciousness, and stun checks.  (There was a large penalty on the consciousness and stun checks for a brain hit, but the turtle had a large bonus to those.  Unfortunately it didn't have nictitating membranes to protect its eyes, making its impressive shell DR mostly pointless.)  Seépravir flew straight up to get out of biting range.

The Quickened turtle went for an All-Out Attack (Double) on Garreth for its first action.  It rolled two hits, but he rolled two retreating dodges.  (He was smart enough not to parry the giant turtle's bite, which was big enough to break his katana.)  It then followed up with a step and attack on its second action, but Garreth made that too.  Garreth tried two more heavily deceptive rapid strikes to the turtle's head, but he missed the first and it just managed to dodge the second, with a retreat bonus.  Pretty fast for SM +4!

Polly decided to shoot out the turtle's other eye, hit, and it failed to dodge.  This did enough damage for a second death check, which the turtle passed, but then it failed its next consciousness check.  The unconscious but not dead turtle started slowly sliding down the muddy sloped bank toward the stream.  It didn't live long enough to get there.  Zaber stabbed it in the eye socket with his knife, then Garreth smashed it in the skull a couple of times, hard enough to take it to -5 * HP where it didn't get any more death checks.

The turtle corpse slid into the stream.  Garreth suggested Polly go carve its shell off, so she put her bow on the shore, jumped int the water, and started sawing.  This was taking too long because of the need to come up for air, so Seépravir lent her the Ring of Water Breathing, and in a few minutes Polly had separated the turtle's shell from its body.  Unfortunately the shell weighed about a ton, too much for Polly to lift.  However, Garreth was to use his newly learned Power Blow ability to briefly crank his ST to 38, enough to throw a very heavy shell out of the stream onto the east bank.  Polly also decided to carve off about 40 lbs. of turtle meat for use as troll bait.  The turtle weighed many tons, so there was plenty.

At that point the troll ambush discussion that had been so rudely interrupted by the turtle attack started again.  Seépravir noticed through the Wizard Eye that the troll cave contained another exit out the back, and a bunch of piles of refuse.  The leading tactic seemed to be starting a fire in the back exit to keep the trolls from escaping, but avoiding burning the trash since it might contain valuable but flammable loot.  They kept talking and talking, and then Seépravir noticed through the Wizard Eye that 4 of the trolls were heading out of the cave toward the PCs.  There was much rejoicing.

Zaber the stealthy decided the best place to ambush the trolls was up against the edge of the cave, where the path to the troll cave reached ground level.  So everyone headed there and squeezed up against the wall, with Garreth at ground level, Polly 6' up, and Seépravir and Zaber about 20' up.  It was a great ambush setup, but it was foiled by the PCs rolling a 17 on their surprise roll for an automatic failure.  The trolls charged, but they didn't have any ranged weapons so Garreth and Polly were the only ones they could reach.  All four charged at Garreth, and two were in Move and Attack range, but they missed.

Seépravir dropped some excess spells to reduced her casting penalties, and then dropped a Mass Daze on three of the trolls.  They failed to resist and stood around like dummies until hit.  Polly shot two arrows at the alert one and it dodged one of them.  The other did pretty decent damage, but it was a troll, so that didn't mean much.  Garreth fast-drew his katana and rapid struck one of the Dazed trolls in the neck.  It didn't get a defense against the first attack, which did a lot of damage but dispelled the Daze.  It failed to dodge the second attack, and took enough damage for three death checks, except it was a troll and the damage wasn't fire or acid so it laughed it off.

Zaber wanted to attack a troll without risking injury so he decided to fly down, Move and Attack, and fly back up out of reach.  But he didn't quite have enough movement to pull that off, so instead he just flew above a troll and threw a knife at its head.  He rolled a critical hit, but not a lot of damage.  Polly then put a couple of cutting arrows into the neck of a troll, while Seépravir lectured everyone about how Dazed trolls won't wake up until you hurt them so better tactics would make this easier.

One of the beat-up trolls decided to All-Out Attack (double) against Garreth for four total attacks.  (Trolls have Extra Attack 2.)  He rolled a 17 on one dodge, but then used his Luck.  The troll hit once, but it was a torso shot and not enough damage to penetrate Garreth's plate armor.  It then realized that it should attack the less armored face instead, did so, and rolled a critical hit, doing enough damage to annoy Garreth.  Garreth made his stun check, though.

Seépravir cast another Mass Daze to re-Daze the three trolls that were moving around.  All failed to resist.  Garreth teed off on one troll for a whirlwind of damage that was enough that I ruled it was a pile of troll parts until it had time to regenerate for a while.  Zaber went for a neck stab on another troll and rolled another critical hit, but with unimpressive damage.  Polly pulled out her Rapier for variety and sliced up the troll that Zaber had injured, wounding it severely and knocking it out.  At that point Seépravir cast Create Fire to create a one-hex region of supernaturally hot fire, and Garreth started throwing disabled troll bits into it.  Then he went over to the last Dazed troll and repeated the process.

The four trolls were a pile of burning goo, but there were more left up in the troll cave, and we were out of time.  The PCs decided to stay in the cave and press the attack, rather than going back to town.  We'll see next week if they can finish off the rest of the trolls, or if the other trolls are smarter or luckier than the ones encountered so far.

GM's Comments:


The stirges were a minor annoyance of a random encounter, basically wandering damage.  They caused the party to waste an Alchemist's Fire though.

The turtle was pretty tough, but suffered the usual one-versus-four problems that most monsters without allies do.  It got very lucky to achieve surprise (combined with the party being dumb enough to stand next to the stream for a long time to give it a chance to do so), but Zaber was saved by his Bless.  If the turtle had gone after Zaber a second time rather than spending the turn activating its Great Haste, it might have gotten him.  With hindsight it should have activated its Great Haste before revealing itself, then gotten at least two and probably four free attacks on Zaber, probably getting a chance to demonstrate Swallowing Whole.  It had IQ 5 and no Tactics skill though, and probably didn't take the party very seriously since they were so itty-bitty.

The trolls were lucky not to get ambushed, but got owned by Mass Daze, and the squishier PCs were smart enough to stay out of melee range.

Scouting ahead with an Invisible Wizard Eye was a smart idea for the party, though a bit boring since if the Wizard Eye gets spotted and destroyed, it doesn't really matter.  One issue is that the giant cave is multiple Roll20 maps, and Roll20 doesn't easily allow a party to be split across maps.  So, it pretty much requires that the Wizard Eye stay on the same map as the rest of the party.  Which, maybe that's technically not a GURPS rule, but now it's a house rule: if a Wizard Eye travels far enough from its caster that the GM finds it annoying, it's dispelled.  To be fair, the wizard can sense when the Wizard eye is about to reach that range.

No real treasure this week, unless you count a giant turtle shell that's probably too heavy to get home.  But the PCs are still in mid-delve so they still have time to find something.


2019-05-08

DF Whiterock One Year Retrospective

The first session of DF Whiterock was April 27, 2018, so we're just over a year in.  We've managed to play 47 times in 53 weeks, or about 89% of the time.

So far, 9 players and 10 player characters have entered the Castle.  (One other player made a PC but didn't play.)  We've only had one PC fatality, Holly the elf archer, who charged a bit too bravely into the teeth of multiple crossbow orcs while not wearing armor.  She was replaced by her sister Polly, who has somehow managed to survive.  We've had a stable group of 5 players and PCs for the last 26 sessions.

The original group of PCs started at 150 points, plus -25 points of disadvantages, -5 points of quirks, a bonus -5 point Sense of Duty: Adventuring Companions, and a free language at Accented.  PCs who joined later have been given a few extra points; we've seen PCs start at 160, 170, and 180 points.

The current five PCs have 378, 361, 360, 344, and 298 character points.  These correspond almost entirely to participation: the PCs that have survived the longest and participated the most have the most points.  Of the five active PCs, two started in the first session, one started in the second session, one in the eighth, and one in the fourteenth.

The following PC races have entered the dungeon: three wood elves, two humans, two dwarves, one high elf, one half-orc, and one gnome.

The following levels and sub-levels of Castle Whiterock have been at least partially explored: the castle, the upper orcish mines, the lower orcish mines, the cloud giant tower, the upper troglodyte caves, the Clockwork Academy, the lower troglodyte caves, the ruined chapel, the lich's library, the underground river level, the hidden fane, the huge cave, and the black pyramid.  There are probably some more levels that the PCs haven't found yet.

In addition, there have been many hikes and a few flights between Cillamar and Castle Whiterock, a trip to the capital Galaron, and a side trip to the elvish wizard town Mystenmere.

The most commonly encountered NPCs in the campaign so far have been the mysterious innkeeper and sorceress Lady Chauntessa and her shoulder dragon Ixnay; the aged alchemist Quintus and his apprentice Lyssa and her cat Dodger; the mercenary Hugin; the gnomish siblings Katanya and Findle Glimer; and the noble, artist, and clothes horse Lord Flitwick.  All except Flitwick (with whom the party had a falling out over the ownership of some drawings they commissioned) are mostly friendly.

The most impressive enemies defeated so far are the orc chief Kaernga; the half cloud giant, half orc cleric Drugila;  the half-dragon half-troglodyte priest Benthoc; the baby red dragon Cinderalis; the huge toadspawn mountain troglodyte Sossank; the elite ghast priest Most Bloated Muthren; the minyad druidess and fungus farmer Vulgaris (who was spared and turned into an ally); the aboleth wizard Acenthus; The Wight Lady; a huge clay golem; a sand devil; the mummy bard Nef'meruti; and the true mummy lord Anhkhotep.  There were some other enemies that were intended to be impressive but went down way too easily, like a huge gelatinous cube.  And some enemies that weren't intended to be that tough but were, like orc crossbowmen and gnomish lancers and random swarms.

The most terrifying non-enemy met so far is the lich librarian Lorus, who most of the party are quite committed to not messing with, but Elias really wants to kill.

The most interesting magic items found so far are a Ring of Water Breathing and Create Water, a pearly spear that returns to its thrower and can be activated for Great Haste, a reed flute that can be activated to Fascinate, Concuss, or Cause Sonic Pain, and a silver intelligent rapier named Charithmysis, The Bard Blade who thinks none of the PCs are worthy of wielding it or knowing its exact powers.

The current group of PCs mostly operates as a team and has a pretty solid division of labor.  Seépravir the wizard casts buff spells (Dark Vision, Great Haste, Flight, Alertness, Lighten, Invisibility, etc.) on the others and occasionally Stuns enemies, but mostly keeps out of the way.  Zaber the thief spots everything (enemies, traps, treasure, secret doors, etc.), disarms traps, picks locks, and occasionally tries to backstab something, with mixed results.  Polly the archer shoots things in the eyes, unless they're Nature.  Garreth the fighter wrecks things with a katana, moves large objects, and rows boats.  Elias the cleric keeps Bless up on the other four party members to give them bonuses to everything and keep them from dying, casts Gift of Letters to read all the clues, uses his Wealth to pawn items for excessively good prices, and occasionally charges into battle and smacks things with a flail.

By far the most important advantage in this game has been Luck, which all five current PCs have.  Through a combination of caution, good active defenses, Luck, and Bless, they have kept their fatality rate really low.  But dungeons get deadlier as PCs get deeper, so there's always a chance...

2019-05-05

DF Whiterock Session 47: Pearls Before Ettin

Date:

2019-05-03

Weather:

Cool, light rain


Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 294 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 357 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 340 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 374 points

Significant NPCs:

5 Giant Clams
Gar and Nar, Ettin
Huge wolf


The party started in Cillamar, but Zaber was nowhere to be found.  Probably curled up in a beer keg somewhere.

Polly bought a crowbar for humanely prying open giant clams and extracting pearls, and a box full of 7 chickens for feeding to giant clams.  Garreth heard that Lord Flitwick's bodyguard Gord was stabbed in jail.  Seépravir heard the King Mirias Stormwarden is going to be visiting Cillamar this summer.  Seépravir cast Seeker to see if Ashryn was working on her Smoke wand, and saw a vision of a stick and some golden feathers on a table.

Seépravir cast Lighten on Elias; Alertness, See Secrets, Keen Hearing, See Invisible, Invisibility, and Dark Vision on Polly; Dark Vision on herself, and Flight on everybody.  Polly cast Keen Vision on herself and Seépravir.  Once prepared, the whole grep flew to Castle Whiterock.  While Flight is only 5 miles per hour, it's unaffected by terrain, so this was a much nicer way to get to the dungeon.  They made it there without drama this time.

Once they reached Castle Whiterock, everyone went down one flight of stairs, walked across one dungeon level to the elevator shaft, and flew down to the river level.  Finding a skiff right where they left it, Garreth rowed toward the giant clams, while the others flew.  When they got close to the clams, everyone got back in the skiff, and Seépravir dropped everyone else's Flight spells, as well as Invisibility and Keen Hearing, to improve her chances of casting other spells.

Garreth put on the Ring of Swimming, while Seépravir kept the Ring of Water Breathing.  With everyone prepared to extract pearls from giant clams, Garreth rowed the skiff around the rapids and parked it near the clams -- and they started firing their natural harpoons at the party!  Garreth dropped an oar, Fast-Drew his Katana, and started showing off his Parry Missile Weapons skill by knocking down multiple harpoons, then dodged the one aimed at him since his parry was penalized a lot by previous parries.

Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  Garreth grabbed the crowbar in his other hand, preparing to go pry clams open.  Polly stood guard, but didn't want to hurt any of the clams unless absolutely necessary.  The final clam fired its harpoon at Elias, but Garreth was still within Parry Missile Weapons range and knocked it aside.  Elias took the oars (without any Boating skill) and attempted to keep the boat relatively stable.

Seépravir jumped into the water (using Flight as a poor elf's substitute for Swim), and cast Slow on the closest clam, but it resisted.  Using her second action from Great Haste she tried again, and succeeded.  Garreth jumped in the water too.

The four non-Slowed clams fired another barrage of harpoons.  Polly parried one with her rapier, Garreth dodged one, and Elias blocked one.  Seépravir Slowed two more.  Garreth swam up to a clam, preparing to pry it open.  The final clam (out of sync with the others) tried harpooning him, but he dodged it, with some help from Luck.

Seépravir cast Slow on another clam, then waited, intending to cast Stun when one opened its shell to shoot.  Garreth used the crowbar to try to wedge a clam open.  It failed to dodge (despite rolling a 6; clams are not very good at dodging), but the clam won the contest of ST and refused to be pried open.

A clam opened its mouth to fire a harpoon, and Seépravir reacted by Stunning it, catching it with its shell open, and spotting a pearl inside.  Then on her own turn, Seépravir cast Slow on a clam and Great Haste on Garreth.  Garreth dropped the crowbar, swam over to the open clam, reached in (using default Pickpocket skill) and grabbed the pearl, then waited for another claim to get caught with its shell open so he could try grabbing another pearl.

Seépravir paid 1 FP to cancel Slow on the clam whose pearl had been taken, and also dropped Alertness and Lighten, to reduce casting penalties.  She then waited again, preparing to Stun another clam when it opened its shell.  Garreth swam back to where he'd dropped the crowbar and retrieved it with his left hand.  All five clams fired their harpoons approximately at once, targeting Polly, Garreth, and three times Seépravir.  Polly parried, rolling a critical parry that I ruled gave her a chance to try to cut the harpoon cord if she wanted, but she didn't want to hurt the clam so decided not to.

Seépravir's wait triggered and she Stunned another clam right after it fired its harpoon, catching it with its mouth open.  Garreth's wait triggered next and he managed to grab that clam's pearl.  Seépravir dodged one harpoon, needing Luck.  Garreth dropped two pearls and tried an open-handed (with gloves) Parry Missile Weapons against the next one, and succeeded.  He tried parrying the next one too, but failed, so Seépravir had to dodge, which she did.  The harpoon continued and hit another clam inside its open shell -- oops.

Seépravir decided to try Wait one more time before retreating, preparing to Apportate a pearl out if Garreth managed to pry a clam open.  Garreth successfully pried, but neither of them saw a pearl inside.  Garreth moved on to the next clam, pried it open, and Seépravir Stunned it.  Seépravir was able to see a pearl inside, but Garreth was not, so some underwater gesturing commenced.  Eventually Garreth saw where Seépravir was pointing, and grabbed the pearl.  At that point Seépravir's Great Haste expired.  Garreth shoved a pearl inside his bandolier for safekeeping.

Another round of harpoons failed to hurt the PCs, and Garreth managed to pry open the last clam and recover its pearl.  At that point the only remaining business was retrieving the two pearls that Garreth had dropped.  He swam down and found one of them, but couldn't spot the other.  Keen-eyed Polly tried from way back in the boat, and somehow found it, several hexes away.  Seépravir cast Flight on Polly so she could go fetch the last pearl, while Elias started rowing away from the clams.  Eventually everyone got out of harpoon range, with four pearls gathered.

Seépravir wasn't happy with only four, and tried Seek Earth to look for other pearls.  The nearest pearls it found were up and west, far away.  This convinced her that the fifth clam really didn't have one, and the group decided to continue boating north toward the huge cave.  They managed to navigate the waterfall and tie up the boat without problems, then walked through the tunnel to the big cave, then south past the pyramid to the field of large stalagmites they had spotted before.

Nothing attacked the party on the way to the stalagmites, and when they got there, Polly started exploring.  She noticed that some of the larger stagmites had caves dug out of them, which looked like long-abandoned living space.  Then she heard loud, low voices coming from the south.  Seépravir cast See Invisible on Polly just in case, but the voices soon turned out to be a quite-visible two-headed giant, walking toward the group.

Somehow, Polly decided to talk to the ettin rather than shooting it.  Unfortunately for her, they didn't share a common language.  But some of the ettin's words were Orcish, which Garreth spoke, and Garreth was eventually able to converse with the two heads.  As they started talking, a huge wolf (even bigger than the ettin) crept up around the stalagmite it had been waiting behind, to stand next to the ettin.

Seépravir noticed that the ettin was wearing a magic ring (actually, about bracelet-sized for an elf), but was polite enough not to try to steal it.

A very long and painful conversation ensued between Garreth and the two ettin heads, Gar and Nar.  Gar and Nar weren't always in agreement and occasionally needed to stop talking the Garreth to punch each other.  But the party was able to extract some facts, like:
  • The big pyramid door opened and the golem inside died.  (This was not news.)
  • The trolls had been trying to open the pyramid forever but never did.
  • This was the only ettin left in the area because the others went west to work for duergar.
  • There were some young, hard-drinking, rock-throwing giants to the west.
  • There are lots of annoying stirges in the cave, who probably lair somewhere up high.
  • There's a big turtle, either fast or slow, in the river to the west.
  • There are a lot of edible lizards to the south.
  • There's a tribe of lizard rats with a sword on a bridge over the river to the west.
  • Trolls come back to life after you smash them.
  • There are neat paintings on one of the stalagmites that you should see.  They were painted either by ettin ancestors, or by Nar.
At some point during this long conversation, a stirge dove down to try to suck some blood, but the giant wolf jumped up and caught it out of the air with one bite.  Polly rewarded it with one of the chickens that the group had forgotten to feed to the giant clams.  The wolf liked the chicken, so Polly eventually gave it all the chickens.

Everyone followed Gar and Nar to look at the stalagmite painting.  It featured a human with a robe and a staff using some kind of magic powers to move the black pyramid into place, while guarded by ettins.  Seépravir noticed some faint writing under the painting.  Elias cast Gift of Letters, which revealed that it said "West equals South" in Draconic.

At that point the ettin got hungry and announced its intention to go eat some lizards.  With their new friend(s)? departing, the group decided to go back to Cillamar.

GM's Comments:


This was our first death-free session.  Only one combat, and it was non-lethal.

The "fight" against the giant clams took forever, because the PCs had decided to harvest the pearls without hurting the clams.  Only Seépravir and Garreth really had much to do, so Polly and Elias mostly just watched.  If the players had demonstrated a foolproof strategy (Missile Shield, for example), I would have just handwaved some of the detail and let them have the pearls, but they were in danger of getting harpooned the entire time, so I couldn't.  But in the end they never actually got harpooned, though it took a couple of uses of Luck.

I was quite surprised that the PCs made friends with the ettin and his giant wolf pet, rather than starting a fight.  Once in a while, something in the dungeon is happy to talk rather than fight.

Because we spent so much time playing with the clams, not much new ground was covered this session.  But the pearls were worth enough to more than cover everyone's living expenses, so it was technically a profitable delve.

Next time, we'll see if the PCs keep exploring the giant cave, or go another way.

2019-05-03

DF Whiterock Session 46: Travelogue

Date:

2019-04-26


Weather:

Cool, rainy


Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 290 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 355 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 352 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 336 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 370 points


Significant NPCs:

Vulgaris, Minyad Druid Alchemist
Charithmysis, The Bard Blade, Rapier
Morro River Trading Boat Crew
3 River Pirates
Master Nabaron, Martial Artist
Valfors Bay Fishing Boat Crew
Giant Shark
Ashryn, Half-Elven Student Enchanter
Ilvisar, Elfen Wizard/Professor


The PCs had been discussing travelling from Cillamar (a small town near Castle Whiterock) to Galaron (the capital and biggest city in the Kingdom of Morrain) for a while.  With winter ending and Seépravir having raised her Flight spell to level 25, long-distance travel was finally practical.  (Though not exactly convenient since Flight is at 5 miles per hour.)  Everyone wanted to go shopping in a city, Garreth wanted to find a martial arts master, Zaber wanted to find some dirt on his nemesis Lord Flitwick, and Seépravir wanted to find information about the Order of of the Sundered Scale.  (Previous information had indicated that the order had come from Galaron to Castle Whiterock to kill the great red dragon Benthosruthsa, several decades ago, at the urging of Lady Chauntessa.)

Seépravir did some research on Charithmysis, The Bard Blade, but didn't find anything.  Apparently Charithmysis was not quite as famous as it thought it was.

Garreth had heard that Master Nabaron in Galaron favored interesting liquors, so he and Seépravir took a quick trip to Castle Whiterock to try to get the Minyad alchemist Vulgaris to brew or distill something suitable.  They successfully used Flight and Invisibilty spells to make the trip fairly quick and uneventful.  Vulgaris had some mushroom wine available to trade to the local derro, who hadn't showed up to trade in a while as a result of being killed by the PCs, so she was happy to sell it to Garreth.  With the mini shopping trip completed, Garreth and Seépravir went back to Cillamar to join the others.

Meanwhile Polly went looking for hard carrot juice (always in stock at the Inn of the Slumbering Drake since she was such a reliable customer) and rapier training (also available in Cillamar).  And Flitwick went looking for information on Lord Flitwick and heard that his bodyguard Gord had beaten up the wrong guy in the wrong bar and was currently imprisoned.  Hugin was in the Inn, and Polly and Zaber thought about trying to hire him to either do something with Gord in jail, or guard the Magic Portal next week when they went through it, but Hugin said he had a caravan guarding job next week, so they'd have to wait until another time to hire him.

With everyone back together, the group began plotting their trip to Galaron.  The initial focus was to reduce and redistribute the equipment load so that nobody was encumbered, to fly as quickly as possible.  A combination of Lighten Burden spells and leaving some armor behind accomplished that.  Elias learned Create Food to reduce the amount of rations that everyone needed to haul for the trip.  Seépravir then cast Flight and Invisibility on everyone, along with Warmth (for comfort) and See Invisible (for keeping track of the others) on herself, and everyone took off.  Nobody actually had any points in Area Knowledge (Kingdom of Morrain), but Seépravir's 18 IQ gave her a default (as a native of Morrain) of 14, enough to have a reasonable high-level map of the kingdom in her head and know that Galaron was about 150 miles northwest, where the Morro River ran into Valfors Bay.  So all they had to do was fly mostly west, prudently avoiding the dangerous Ashwood Forest (home of the vile Blackwood Druids) rather than flying over it, until they saw the (impossible to miss) Morro River, then just follow it north to Galaron.

At the end of the first day's flying, the group was in the middle of the Ice Mire, with no small town inns or even small farm barns nearby for shelter.  But they did have the advantage of being able to scope out a camping spot from the air, defaulting Survival (Swamp) from Seépravir's very high Naturalist.  They found some reasonably dry high ground, took turns keeping watch, and made it through the night without being ambushed.  Then Seépravir recast all the same spells, and Polly added some Keen Vision to help spot things from the air.  The group flew northwest, until they spotted the Morro River, then followed it north.  As night approached, they decided to try to see if a boat would give them a ride, so they could keep moving while they slept.  Seépravir asked a passing small trading riverboat for passage, and the captain agreed that they could crash on the deck for $75 for the group, or double if they wanted the cabin.  Garreth said the deck was fine and paid the $75 to save money, but then Seépravir slipped the captain another $100 for the more comfortable cabin.  Everyone went to sleep, except (being PCs) they decided to keep watch in shifts just in case.

And this caution was a good idea this time, because around midnight, a small skiff pulled up alongside the boat, threw grapples across, and 3 pirates boarded.  Unfortunately for the pirates, Polly was on guard and attentive and started filling them with arrows, while the crewman on watch yelled for the rest of the crew to wake up and repel boarders.  By the time the other 4 PCs and the other 2 crew had awakened and emerged from their cabins to fight, the pirates were full of arrows.  A deal was struck where the PCs got to keep the pirates' knives, and the crew got to keep their (beat-up) skiff and ropes.  While the crew were awestruck by her pirate-feathering abilities, she asked if any of them knew how to get pearls out of giant clams without killing them, and the captain said you had to use a big metal stick to keep their mouth open, because they'd snap a wooden one.

Everyone (except whoever had guard duty) went back to sleep until morning, then Seépravir recast all the spells and the PCs flew toward Galaron, because flying was faster than boating.  As they approached the city, keen-eyed Zaber noticed its green walls in the distance first.  As they got closer it was obvious that the walls were glowing green, obviously magical.  The group decided to drop their Invisibility and walk in through a gate like normal people, rather than flying over the walls.

A city guard asked their purpose in town, and got the honest answer that they were on a shopping trip, except that Garreth was looking for a fighting master.  The guard waved them in without trouble, and Garreth started asking passersby for directions.  Zaber's high Carousing skill meant he'd heard of two bars in Galaron, the Warrior's Rest and the Landshark.  Garreth had also heard of the Warrior's Rest, and they agreed that would be a good place to ask.  Elias knew that the biggest temple in town was the Temple / Observatory of Ireth.

Seépravir didn't know about any bars, but knew about the local Temple / Library of Delvyr, and headed that way, saying she'd meet the others at the Warriors Rest later.  She managed to impress the half-elven librarian / priestess enough to gain free admission as a visiting professor, then tried to research both the Sleep of Ages spell and the Order of the Sundered Scale.  She found a book that mentioned Sleep of Ages but said it was just a fairy tale myth, not a real spell.  She had better luck with the Order, finding a few sources with information that jibed with what she'd found before, and using the Copy spell to make copies.

Garreth walked into the Warrior's Rest and someone immediately tried to hire him.  The large man who failed to hire him indicated that Master Nabaron was a regular and would probably be in later.  Polly tried and failed to order hard carrot juice.  Garreth got everyone some beer instead.  Then since it appeared that Master Nabaron wouldn't turn up for a while, they decided to go shopping.

Seépravir went looking for a Smoke wand, but failed to find one.  Garreth went looking for Bless scrolls and rolled a critical failure, learning that not only were Bless scrolls not available, they were sacreligious and even asking about them was very rude.  Bless was reserved for powerful clerics to cast directly on the few who were worthy enough to receive it, not something to be sold to the highest bidder.  Polly went looking for a very fancy magic rapier, and found almost what she was looking for, minus the silver.

Elias went looking for someone who could turn his already fancy enchanted flail into a Holy Weapon.  It was highly unlikely that anyone could do that in a hurry, but he rolled a 3 for a maximum critical success, so not only was there someone who could make a weapon Holy in only a couple of weeks, he could get it at a discount due to his past services to the Church.  Polly went looking for a Cornucopia quiver that made fine bodkin arrows.  She rolled a 4, a critical success, so she found it.  She rolled again looking for meteoric arrows, but her luck ran out.  Garreth went looking for a fancy katana, but didn't find one.

As night approached, the group went back to the Warrior's Rest.  Master Nabaron eventually appeared, and Garreth bowed to him then presented a gift of the mushroom wine.  Nabaron chugged the bottle, then asked Garreth to back away from the bar, and do a backflip.  Garreth made his Acrobatics roll (using Luck to get three tries at being impressive), and Nabaron invited Garreth to visit his dojo at midnight.  At that point Garreth began a training montage.

With Garreth busy, Seépravir and Zaber decided to fly to Mystenmere, a small town full of elves and wizards in the Anseur Forest, about 100 miles to the northwest.  Seépravir wanted to look for more information about dragon hide and spider silk armor there, and Zaber wanted to find more dirt on Flitwick, who he'd heard had a daughter there.  Meanwhile, Polly decided to get a temporary job as a guard onboard a large fishing boat, just in case any pirates or sea monsters attacked.

It was Polly's lucky day, because the fishing boat was attacked by giant shark.  Polly was on duty when it attacked, so she got the honor of filling it with bodkin arrows from her new Cornucopia quiver.  It was a very large shark so it took a lot of arrows, and it was also smart or lucky enough to keep its eyes out of Polly's view underwater so the arrows were in the back, not the eyes, so it survived to get next to the boat.  Meanwhile a couple of harpooners aimed their harpoons, and another crew member readied some flaming pitch.  Eventually the shark was filled with a lot of arrows (though the magic ones disappeared when new ones were created), a couple of harpoons, and on fire.  Then it reared out of the water, revealing its eyes at point blank range, and Polly managed to shoot both eyes, into the brain, and kill the huge fish before it ate any crew members.  Then Polly wanted to hoist the monstrous shark into the boat.  It was a bit bigger than the fish the boat was equipped to catch, and the harpooners didn't think they could lift it, but Polly made her ST roll (with help from Luck) and they managed to get it on board, where the captain thought that, while shark wasn't the tastiest fish in the Bay, there sure was a lot of it, so they might as well chop it up and salt it for sale.  Polly took one of its huge teeth as a souvenir, and earned enough money to pay her cost of living during the trip.

Having reached Mystenmere, Zaber went looking for information about Flitwick's daughter Ashryn.  He heard that she was a stuck-up rich student, so he bought some fancy clothes to look less like a drunken thief, and eventually found her, hanging out with some a couple of other young half-elven wizard students.  He decided to use Propaganda to spread rumors about Lord Flitwick being broke.  A few days later, he heard Ashryn screeching to one of her friends that she might have to get a job as a measly enchanter to afford school.

Meanwhile, Seépravir approached the oldest wizard she could find, who turned out to be Professor Ilvisar.  He said his classes were full, but she persisted and asked about Sleep of Ages.  This freaked him out a bit and he made it clear that that spell was Banned and Not To Be Researched, Especially By Students.  Because it was Permanent and only the Original Caster could ever dispell it and if the Original Caster wasn't available, the poor subject would never wake up.  And Elves Don't Do That.  He told her that if she behaved he might have an opening next semester, and went off in a huff.

Still looking for a Smoke wand, Seépravir (in disguise) approached Ashryn to try to get her to make it.  She agreed, but said it would take a couple of months (because she has class and can't just drop everything to make a stupid wand), and Seépravir couldn't tell anyone who made it, and that she needed a couple of gold coins ($800) up front for supplies.  Seépravir gave her the money.

Seépravir also went looking for the rumored armorer who could make spider silk armor, and found where he lived, but he wasn't home.  He was apparently off in the woods doing something.

Zaber and Seépravir flew back to Galaron to meet the others, Elias picked up his now Holy flail, Garreth finished his initial Kung Fu training, and everyone flew back to Cillamar.

GM's Comments:


This was an ususual session: all town and travel and shopping, no dungeon (except for the brief trip to the dungeon ... to go shopping).  It was also largely improvised: I had a few buildings and a few NPCs detailed in Galaron, and a few more in Mystenmere (which I had no idea the PCs would visit, but once they have Flight, PCs go places you didn't expect...)

We never actually broke out a hex map, because I didn't have one ready for either of the two fights, which both happened on boats.  (One river trading boat, one saltwater fishing boat.)  So both were played out without a tactical map, in one dimension, with me just tracking the range from the enemies to Polly.  The pirates were pretty much mooks, and once the PCs were smart enough to post a guard and the guard happened to be Polly and the pirates failed to achieve surprise, it was just a question of whether Polly would kill them all before the other PCs arrived or whether they'd get to help a little.  The shark was not a mook, and was actually a pretty big bag of HP and DR and ST with lots of big pointy teeth that would leave a nasty mark if it bit you (or even your boat), but Polly spotted it far enough from the ship that she had several turns to fill it with arrows while it closed range, and then she had two harpooners and a flaming pitch grenadier to help her kill it.  (I know fishing boats where you live probably don't have flaming pitch grenadiers, but Valfors Bay is a pretty nasty place, and some sea monsters are afraid of fire.)

Shopping rules in Galaron aren't that much more generous than in Cillamar (it's a city but not a huge one), but the PCs rolled two critical successes and a near-critical success, so they got three interesting items.  Seépravir failed to find her Smoke wand with a dice roll, but found an enchanter to make one for her, in a coincidence so unlikely you wonder if she paid for the Serendipity advantage.  Seépravir also found information about both the Sleep of Ages spell and the Order of the Sundered Snake.  Zaber found more dirt on Lord Flitwick and his family.  And Garreth got Trained By A Master and started buying various martial artist abilities, including Drunken Fighting because Master Nabaron makes that a prerequisite in his school.  (It is traditional for GURPS Martial Arts styles to make students waste some points on things they don't want to teach them humility and respect for tradition.)

Next time, they're planning on heading back to the dungeon, probably checking out the stalagmites south of the black pyramid.  Will they find anything interesting there, or just tall pointy rocks?

2019-04-22

DF Whiterock Session 45: Mummy Guts

Date:

2019-04-19

Weather:

Cool, rainy

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 286 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 351 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 348 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 332 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 366 points


Significant NPCs:

Mummy Lord
Dire Lion
Animated Sarcophagus


The PCs started in town, but didn't spend much time doing things there.  Garreth was late, so the others left a note for him saying where they'd be, and traveled to Castle Whiterock.  Seépravir recently reached skill 25 with the Flight spell, meaning she could maintain Flight on the whole party all day for free (except for the -1 to other spells per spell on), but Zaber wanted to bring a wheelbarrow, which was too heavy to carry through the air.  So Seépravir and Polly flew, and Zaber and Elias hiked pushing the wheelbarrow.

They reached the castle without incident, except for one hawk that checked flying Polly out, considered diving on her, but decided she was too big to eat.  Seépravir cast Flight on the other two party members, Dark Vision on everyone but Elias, Invisibility on herself and Zaber, and Alertness / Keen Hearing / See Secrets / See Invisible on Zaber.  Elias cast Flaming Weapon on his flail.  Polly cast Keen Vision on Zaber.  Everyone walked or flew down one level then over to the elevator shaft, and down to the river level.

There was some brief discussion on flying versus boating, but again someone wanted to bring the wheelbarrow, so they took a boat.  Garreth wasn't around to row, so Zaber did so, at default skill.  (He has good DX and Bless so his default is pretty good.)  He managed to navigate the rapids without issue, and the group made it to the northern boat landing, then walked to the giant cave.  Nothing accosted them on the way, this time.

They hiked south to the black pyramid, then around the pyramid to the entrance on the south side, then Seépravir took a seat on the stairs in the normal mana zone, while everyone else went in.  Once again Zaber was told that Seépravir would notice and investigate if his Invisibility went away.

The other three first went back to the room with the reed boat, where they fought the mummy bard.  Polly flew up into the boat and played with the oars, but this didn't accomplish anything.  She didn't see anything magical in the room.  There were some hieroglyphics on the pillars, which Zaber noticed were conspicuously lacking in pictures of cats.  (All the other pictures in the pyramid were full of cats.)  Polly and Zaber eventually found Elias, who had been wandering around the pyramid, checking out the giant cat tree, and got him to cast Gift of Letters so he could read the hieroglyphics.  They formed a riddle:

"Heed my winding rhyme,
to destroy him for all time.
Find vessels sacred three,
Hidden in his tomb from you and me.

The first is clad in clay,
secreted in a vault where it shall stay.
The second wrapped in dried flesh,
his loyal subjects guard it best.

The last is hidden behind golden earth.
Up is where you should search,      
but down is where you will end.
Destroy the three and his body shall bend."

After some discussion, Polly and Zaber decided that the dried flesh one was the jar of guts they got from inside a desiccated lion, that the up/down sounded like the gravity trap in the vault where they found another jar of guts, but they hadn't found a third one.

So first they went back to the entrance hall, which had magical lights on the ceiling, and flew up to check them out.  The lights appeared to be some kind of (permanent, powerful enough to work in a Low Mana Zone) magic torch spells.  But they couldn't find anything secret behind them, even with Zaber's complete suite of sense spells.  

Next, they went back to the room where they killed the sand demon.  Polly brought a shovel, because she wanted to dig through all the sand looking for treasure.  But she didn't find any.  Meanwhile, Zaber resolved to kick all the remaining urns in the secret room full of urns.  (There had been about 300, and the group had taken about 50 of them.)  The GM rolled a 4 (a critical success) on a secret roll to see if Zaber found the right urn, and he did.  He kicked an urn that was hard enough that it injured his foot: solid stone inside a shell of clay.  He asked Elias to heal his foot, but Elias didn't think it was worth using a spell for 2 lousy HP.  Zaber took the jar back to (Invisible) Seépravir back on the entrance stairs.  Seépravir noted that the jar was magical.

Polly opened up all three jars of mummified guts, which was rather disgusting.  Everyone made their HT rolls to avoid nausea though.  Seépravir and Zaber backed up to get away from the smell.  Elias applied some holy water to the guts, which made them sizzle.  He then tried exorcism, which had no effect.  Finally, he hit them with his Flaming flail, which set them afire.  Zaber heard a faint scream from further inside the pyramid.

Seépravir cast Invisibility on Polly too, so only Elias was visible.  All three of them went north and down into the pyramid, to the closed door leading to the mummy lord's lair, flying over the step which Zaber had marked as trapped.  Zaber tried opening the door, but it was locked.  He picked the lock, then pushed the door open.

Inside the room was the mummy lord (alive again, or undead again, or whatever), flanked by a dire lion.  When he saw Elias in the doorway, he cast some kind of fear spell, but Elias resisted.  Meanwhile, the lion charged Elias, and both Polly and Zaber invisibly flew past the lion to flank the mummy.

Eventually the lion reached Elias, and pounced on him.  He dodged, failed, used his Luck, and succeeded.  The mummy tried his fear spell on Elias again, and Elias resisted again.  Elias used his Heroic Grace, and rolled +5 to DX for 13 seconds, transforming from cleric to ninja.  Polly examined the mummy, looking for magic, and decided his ring and breastplate looked magical.  At that point Zaber whispered something to Polly, and Polly whispered back.

The lion tried to bite Elias, who blocked with his shield.  The mummy spun around to where Polly and Zaber were flying around behind him (he had made his hearing roll and heard their whispers), and cast See Invisible.  Elias took two swings at the lion's skull, though it dodged them both.

Right then, Garreth showed up at the entrance to the pyramid.  Seépravir noticed that he looked a bit wet (some Boating issues in the underground river, offscreen) and also had some blood on him (attacked by some stirges in the giant cave, offscreen; the blood was theirs not his), but there was no time to explain.  Seépravir cast Flight on Garreth to boost his Move.  It would still take him quite a while to reach the others.  Seépravir decided to go with him.  Neither of them knew there was a battle going on, yet, though Zaber had told Seépravir about the scream, so she had her suspicions.

Having figured out that the mummy probably knew she was there, Polly fired two arrows at his foot, losing her Invisibility.  The mummy dodged both.  Zaber decided to fly down and try to pickpocket the magic ring.  I let him roll, but the mummy had See Invisible up so his odds of success were not good.  The way the mummy evaded let Zaber know that the mummy could sense him.

The mummy stepped back and cast another spell, Reverse Missiles.  Elias feinted, then brained the lion with his flail.  The feint succeeded by a lot, the lion failed to dodge with the penalty for the feint, the flail attack did great damage (multiplied by 4 for a brain hit), and the lion died.  Polly fired another arrow at the mummy's foot, but this time it came back at her!  She dodged, but that was the last arrow Polly would fire in this battle.

Zaber tried grappling the mummy with Judo skill.  The mummy tried the Command spell ("Fall!") to block, but Zaber made his Will check, and the grapple succeeded.  (This also let the party know that the mummy spoke Common.)  The mummy pointed his magic ring at Zaber, and out came a translucent (but fully visible to Zaber's See Invisible) ram's head to slam him.  Zaber dodged it, without releasing the grapple.  He failed, but then used his Luck and succeeded.  

Garreth, still flying toward the battle, used the Great Haste effect of the pearly spear on himself to double his Move.  Elias moved up toward the mummy.  Once he got in range, he repeated the feint + skull attack combo that had worked on the lion.  It worked on the mummy too, though the mummy was a lot tougher than the lion (good DR, and also no brains), so the attack didn't have much effect.  The mummy did burn a bit though.

Polly drew her rapier, swooped down, and stabbed the mummy from behind.  Unfortunately she didn't roll much damage and didn't hurt it.  Zaber tried breaking the mummy's hand, but his brawling damage wasn't enough.  Elias smashed the mummy with his flail again, doing a bit of damage.

The mummy used its magic ring to slam Zaber again, and this time rolled a critical hit.  Zaber's Luck wasn't back yet, so he took the damage, and was knocked back, losing his grapple.  Fortunately, Zaber made both his stun and consciousness checks.  With Flight, fixing his orientation was easy, and he took a turn to fast-draw a healing potion and guzzle it down, getting him back above 0 HP and no longer in danger of passing out.

Elias and Polly continued tag-teaming the mummy.  Elias's flail did more consistent damage than Polly's rapier, but they both left some marks.  Meanwhile the mummy tried a fear spell on Polly, but she resisted.  Elias tried a shield rush, but the mummy was much stronger than him, and good at slames, and ended up knocking him over.  (But with Flight on, this wasn't a big deal.)  Garreth finally came flying into the room, holding a sai with Continual Light on it to see where he was going.

At this point, the animated sarcophagus that the party had knocked out last time they fought the mummy lord re-activated, and tried to crush Elias.  Elias retreated and dodged, then turned and started smashing the sarcophagus with his flail.  This knocked off more bits of marble, and after a couple of turns of this, the sarcophagus stopped moving (again).

Garreth was not yet within melee range of the mummy, but he was within sai-throwing range, so he threw his sai at the mummy -- not knowing that it had Reverse Missiles up.  He rolled an 18 for a critical failure.  After some thought, he decided to use Luck to avoid the critical failure, but it didn't avoid the spell.  The sai turned around and flew back at Garreth, but he managed to dodge.  Polly stabbed the mummy some more, and Zaber, back in the fight, grappled its ring hand.  The mummy spent its turn breaking free from the grapple, which it did easily, but not easily enough to avoid wasting a turn doing it.

Garreth finally got into melee range of the mummy, and his katana went snicker-snack, but the mummy used its Command spell ("drop it") and rolled a critical success.  Garreth dropped his katana.  But it was held by a lanyard (best $1 piece of equipment in GURPS), so it didn't go far, just cost him a turn to re-ready it.  Meanwhile Polly kept poking the mummy, and Zaber feinted it.

The mummy decided to use its ring on Polly, but she dodged.  Elias, done with the sarcophagus, ran over near the mummy.  Garreth recovered his katana, then double-chopped the mummy.  This time it failed to defend, took a ton of damage, and died.  Both the mummy and the lion vanished into thin air, but the mummy's equipment remained on the floor this time.

Seépravir, who had just reached the battle, turned right back around and flew back to the comfort of the normal mana zone on entrance stairs.  The others collected the mummy's treasure (mask, breastplate, ring, necklace), then decided to go fetch the other mummy's reed boat as well.  It was about 1000 pounds, but Garreth and Polly are both very strong, and they managed to drag it out of the pyramid, at which point Seépravir could cast Lighten Burden on both of them and make it easier to bring home.

At that point, everyone went back to Cillamar.

GM's Comments:


The mummy lord had Supernatural Durability: it couldn't be destroyed until all three of its canopic jars of mummified guts were destroyed.  After the PCs finally got around to doing that, it was just a shadow of its former self, automatically dying at -HP.  But getting it to -HP was hard, since it had a lot of DR and Reverse Missiles.  Polly sometimes did enough damage with her rapier to hurt it, sometimes not.  Zaber never managed to injure it, but he annoyed it into wasting several turns on him.  Elias was able to hurt it pretty consistently, but spent time fighting both the lion and the sarcophagus.  That meant that Garreth, who had no problem at all getting past its DR, got to swoop in and steal the kill.

The pyramid took longer than I expected, but the party finally cleared it.  So we'll see where they go next time.  I suspect, now that it's spring and Seépravir has Flight-25, they'll be itching to visit Galaron, the capital of the Kingdom of Morrain, where Garreth wants to seek out special martial arts training and everyone else wants to go shopping.  Or maybe they'll just continue exploring the giant cave.  We'll see next time.

2019-04-01

DF Whiterock Session 44: Mummy Bard in a Boat

Date:

2019-03-29


Weather:

Unseasonably warm, overcast


Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 282 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 347 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 344 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 328 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 362 points


Significant NPCs:

Hugin, Human Mercenary
Caswallon, Dwarf Engineer
Caswallon's Mute Assistant, Dwarf Laborer
Mummy Bard
Charithmysis, intelligent rapier


The group started in Cillamar.

Both Garreth's Epic Plate of Weightlessness and Polly's Penetrating Rapier reached Cillamar.  Each paid the balance due and showed off their new equipment.  Polly also bought a pick and a shovel, for use in digging in the pyramid.

Seépravir researched the jar of guts and found that this was related to some ancient religion that removed and preserved the organs of corpses.  She tried using Purify Water as a stain remover to clean a stained potion belt that she'd found in Quintus's trash, but it didn't work as well as expected.  She brewed more healing potions to replace some that had been consumed last delve.

Zaber talked to Hugin to see if he knew who was guarding Lord Flitwick.  Hugin had heard that Flitwick's bodyguard was Gord the Black Dwarf, who had a bad reputation.  Zaber spread some more rumors about Flitwick.

Hugin mentioned that it's good luck to feed Ixnay the shoulder dragon drinks, and gave him a beer.  Polly shared some of her hard carrot juice, and Zaber gave him some whiskey.  That was enough for Ixnay, who took a nap.

Elias tried casting Remove Curse on the cursed snake staff, but it still zapped Zaber when he tried picking it up, so either the curse was too powerful to remove, or he just didn't do a good enough job casting the spell.

For the first time in months, it was warm though to travel with neither winter clothing nor a Warmth spell.  This caused some shuffling of gear to celebrate reduced encumbrance.  The warm weather meant it was finally possible for Caswallon to install another elevator into the dungeon, so the group paid Hugin to guard Caswallon, paid Caswallon the balance due on the elevator, and had Caswallon, Hugin, and Caswallon's mute assistant accompany them on their trip to Castle Whiterock.  Caswallon brought along a mule-drawn wagon full of elevator parts and tools, which greatly slowed the trip to the castle, but nobody harassed the party on the way.

When they reached the castle, the group showed Caswallon the top of the hidden shaft down from the surface to the Clockwork Academy that Seépravir had dug with earth magic, and Caswallon and his assistant went to work while Hugin stood guard.  Not wanting to stand around watching, the PCs went down the stairs into the dungeon, then down the existing elevator to the underground river level, then had Garreth row them down the river to the north beach, then hiked from there to the giant cave.  Nothing exciting happened on the way, so the group continued to the black pyramid.  Seépravir cast Invisibility and Haste on Zaber, Flight on Garreth, then sat down in the normal mana zone at the top of the steps to rest and maintain spells.  Once again, they agreed that if Seépravir sensed Zaber's Invisibility was gone, she should hasten to their aid.

The others moved forward into the great hall containing the broken clay golem, and considered which way to go.  They hadn't explored the secret door to the northeast yet, so they went that way.  Behind the secret door were stairs down to the northeast, which ended in a passage leading east, which ended at a stone door.  Zaber searched for traps and listened at the door, but didn't find anything.  The door was locked, so Zaber picked the lock, then Polly pushed it open.  (Zaber didn't want to, as if anyone saw the door open with nobody visibly pushing on it, that might give away his Invisibility.)

On the other side of the door was a room about 50' square and 50' tall, with a lot of dust on the floor.  Zaber used Tracking to try to find footprints in the dust, but didn't find any.  Zaber's See Secrets found another secret door on the opposite (east) wall, very well hidden.  Zaber and Polly walked to the other side of the room, and then suddenly gravity reversed and both Polly and Zaber flew upward to the ceiling.  (Though nobody saw Zaber since he was Invisible.)  Worse, there were invisible spikes there.  Polly was wearing a Ring of Slow Fall, but it wasn't powerful enough to work in the low mana zone, and didn't help.  Both Zaber and Polly took significant damage smacking into the spiked ceiling; Zaber decided to use Luck to reroll his and take a bit less, but still enough to cripple his left leg and force a consciousness check, which he made.

At that point everyone started looking for rope, and realized they weren't carrying any.  Garreth, with Flight on, started forward feeling for anomolies.  He eventually found a Force Wall halfway across the room.  He tried cutting through first with his sai, then with Elias's flail, but it didn't work.  Zaber drank a healing potion.  Polly crawled along the ceiling to where the Force Wall was, and found that it didn't extend all the way to the ceiling.  Garreth flew back to Seépravir to update her on the situation, then heard yells to come back, and flew back to the rest of the party with the wineskin of healing potions.  He flew up all the way to the ceiling (because Zaber said the pointy parts of the spikes were farther down so ceiling level was safer), then set the wineskin where Zaber could drink some more healing potions.  When he was fully healed, his leg started working again.  Garreth then grabbed Polly and flew her down to ground level next to Elias, who cast Major Healing to fix her up.  And then he flew Zaber down too.  While Garreth was flying around trying to figure things out, the Reverse Gravity trap expired, but Garreth managed to adjust before hitting anything.  The Force Wall also went away.

Zaber tried pointing out the secret door to Garreth, but he was Invisible so Garreth couldn't see this.  Zaber then tried yelling directions, but Garreth couldn't see the secret door without magical help.  Finally, Garreth just flew back to Zaber, picked him up in a bear hug, and flew him over to the wall.  Zaber found a secret keyhole, tried picking the lock, failed, used his Luck to reroll, and opened it.  (Zaber has Extraordinary Luck which resets every 30 minutes.)

Behind the secret door was a 10' by 10' square stone vault, filled with treasure like golden coins, golden cat statues, silverware, and urns.  And Zaber's See Secrets spotted yet another secret door on the far side of the vault.  Zaber declared that he was searching for traps extra-hard, but didn't find any.  Everyone was super suspicious and extra cautious though.  Zaber leaned down from outside the room and grabbed one coin.  The coin turned out to be gold-plated copper, not solid gold, with quite a sharp edge.  Garreth flew into the room, not touching the floor, and grabbed a golden lion statue, a silver fork, and a handful of coins.  He handed them to Zaber, then went in for another pass, grabbing a fancy spear and a gold and obsidian crown.  Zaber wanted to ignore the coins since they were copper, but Garreth wanted to take them since even copper coins are valuable.

Temporarily leaving the coins along, Garreth picked up Zaber and flew him across the vault to the secret door, which Zaber picked open.  At that point the secret door opened, the floor of the vault disappeared, and the remaining sharp coins in the room fell to the bottom of a deep pit, then teleported to the ceiling, resumed falling, and a few pelted Garreth and Zaber.  Back in the big room, Polly used her shovel to catch falling coins and pull them out.  Meanwhile Garreth carried Zaber into the tiny room, which contained a golden jar and a lion's-head mace that Polly and Elias thought looked magic.

Polly collected all the falling coins near the vault's west entrance, but couldn't reach the rest.  So Garreth flew across, borrowed Elias's shield, and held it over his head at an angle to bounce coins to the west while mostly protecting himself.  It required 6 DX rolls and a few points of cutting damage from coins than managed to sneak in around Garreth's armor, but eventually he bounced all the coins toward where Polly could reach them with her shovel.

The jar contained more guts.  Elias said to burn them.  Seépravir didn't want to.  Garreth agreed with Elias.  For now, the group decided to pile up all the treasure near Seépravir, then go down the north passage that led to the Mummy's room, and explore the sand-colored patch of wall on one side of the passage.  Exploring consisted of Garreth bashing it with a pick, until he made a hole in the wall and revealed a passage behind it, with more stairs down.  At the bottom of the stairs was a door with a strange huge bronze lock, consisting of four dials with numbers on them.  Zaber had never seen such a lock before, but he fiddled with it for a long time anyway, and eventually managed to open it.

Zaber pushed the door open.  Behind it was a room featuring some pillars and a large reed boat.  Inside the boat was a women, playing some pipes.  Hearing the music caused everyone to make a Will roll; somehow they all succeeded.  (Though Polly needed Luck.)  Elias took a closer look at the woman and decided (via Hidden Lore (Undead)) that she looked like a mummy.

At this point some mouths appeared on the walls and started reading a rhyme about needing to find three sacred vessels and destroy them to bend his body.

Garreth inched forward toward the woman, who eventually cast some other mind control spell on him using her pipes, but he resisted.  At that point Garreth activated the pearly spear to give himself Great Haste.  Polly decided that was a good excuse to fire an arrow into the woman's eye.  She rolled a 17 on her defense roll, making it look like this combat could be over really fast -- but then it turned out she had Luck and got to reroll her dodge, and succeeded.

Garreth flew up to the boat, fast-draw his katana, and chopped the bard rapidly.  The first hit did some damage.  The second hit was a critical and forced her to drop her pipes.  The third and forth hits also left a mark.  She took enough damage to need consciousness and death checks, but made them.  Then she cast some kind of spell, and suddenly there were 5 of her in the boat, shuffling around to make it hard to see which was which, all drawing a pretty silver rapier.

Elias moved up.  Polly fired a couple more arrows, which were dodged.  Garreth hit two of the images, which were both false ones, as each disappeared when hit.  Zaber, still Invisible, jumped up to the boat and climbed over the gunwale.

The mummy bard tried another mind control spell on Garreth.  He failed to resist, used his Luck, and got a better roll but still lost the contest.  He was about to be mind controlled -- but then his Bless decided to prevent that, dissipating in the process.  Thinking she had succeeded, the bard told Garreth to "kill the archer" in Undercommon.

Polly ran around the boat to line up her shot properly, then fired a couple more arrows and managed to dispel another image.  Garreth decided to All-Out Attack (Double) with Rapid Strike to get a ridiculous number of attacks, but the bard managed to parry and dodge them.  Zaber jumped into the center of the boat and grabbed the pipes.  The mummy stabbed Garreth with her rapier, and he had no defense -- but she didn't do enough damage to penetrate his armor!

Polly took a couple more shots, and managed to dispel the last illusion, leaving only one mummy bard who had to be the real one.  Garreth went for All-Out Attack (Double) again to get 6 swings, but the mummy managed to dodge all 6, but now she was up on the prow of the boat, unable to retreat again without falling off.  Zaber decided to play the pipes, though he didn't actually have an Musical Instrument skill.  The sound that came out was predictably horrible.  Surprisingly, it counted as an attack, and Zaber became visible.

The mummy bard decided to go for Garreth's eye, using All-Out Attack (Determined) for +4 to skill.  Fortunately for Garreth, she didn't quite have the skill to hit it, but hit his unarmored face instead.  This left a mark, but didn't manage to stun him.  Polly took advantage of her temporary inability to dodge by shooting her in both eyes.  The first hit caused a death check that she passed.  The second hit caused a death check that she rolled a 17 on, and the fight was over.

Seépravir came running into the room to see what had happened to Zaber, but by then the danger was past.  Both the pipes that Zaber had grabbed, and the silver rapier, appeared to be magic.  Polly picked up the rapier, and it talked to her, in Elven.  It said to put it down, as she was clearly some kind of woodland beast, not a bard.  In response, Seépravir played a song on her flute.  She initially rolled a 10, a pretty solid success, but then she used her Luck and managed to get a critical success on the reroll.  At that point the rapier identified itself as Charithmysis and asked to be removed from this hovel.

At that point we were out of time, so the group packed up all the treasure, headed for the surface, collected Caswallon and company (who were done with the elevator), and went back to Cillamar.

GM's Comments:


The reverse gravity plus spikes on the ceiling trap was pretty brutal, but defeated by Flight.  (And low falling damage rolls, aided in Zaber's case by Luck.)  The infinite pit full of sharp objects was also defeated by Flight, along with Garreth's heavy armor negating most falling sharpened coin damage.

The PCs who abuse Luck constantly finally ran into an enemy who also had Luck.  It made the fight against the mummy bard last a bit longer, but 4 versus 1 is not a fair fight.  Her only real chance would have been to mind control Garreth or Polly and turn them against their friends.  She tried multiple times, and succeeded twice, but Luck saved Garreth the first time and Bless the second.  There was no time for a third.

The rapier that only works for bards is an interesting find in a game without classes or mandatory templates.  Will it decide that Seépravir is close enough to a bard based on her critical success on a flute-playing roll?  We'll see.

After multiple treasure-light sessions, the group finally hit the mother lode this time.  We'll see if they decide to try to finish off the pyramid, or skip the castle and go shopping instead.

DF Whiterock Session 49: Trollicide

Date: 2019-05-17 Weather: Cool, partly cloudy Player Characters: Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 365 points Elias (Wiggles)...