DF Whiterock Session 14: The Bigger They Are Splat




Warm, mostly cloudy

Player Characters:

Bernard (threethreethree), Human Fighter, 170 points
Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 170 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 201 (+15) points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 192 (+11) points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 176 (+15) points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 216 (+5) points

Significant NPCs:

Durkerle, Dwarven Cleric
2 Orc Barbarians of the White Roc tribe
Drugila, Giant Orc Wizard of the White Roc tribe
Nemoura, Nixie Princess
Giant Crayfish

We rejoined the PCs in mid-battle, against two orc barbarians and Drugila, Giant Orc leader of the White Roc tribe.  One of the barbarians was down, stunned, and disarmed.  The other one was barely wounded and fighting Garreth.  And Drugila was Levitating and throwing boulders.

The unstunned orc barbarian tried to smash Garreth with his flail, but Garreth was waiting and unleased a Rapid Strike with his katana as soon as the orc came within range.  The first stroke hit and did enough damage to slow the orc.  That hurt his Dodge enough that the second stroke also hit.   The orc wasn't down or stunned, but he was badly injured, and failed to hit Garreth.

Polly fired an arrow at Drugila, who dodged in mid-air, and retaliated with a boulder.  Polly acrobatically dodged the boulder in return.  (She initially missed her Acrobatics roll, but used her Luck to reroll.)  The downed orc barbarian was in the boulder's path behind Polly, but was not hit.

Meanwhile Seépravir invisibly snuck toward Drugila, Ibizaber invisibly and silently snuck nowhere in particular, and Bernard (who had just arrived on the scene, and was given directions to the battle by rear guard Durkerle) ran toward the fight holding his crossbow.

Garreth took another double-shot at his wounded opponent, and hit once, doing a bit of damage.  Seépravir, with an uncomfortable number of spells maintained, dropped all the spells she had on Zaber (Dark Vision, Invisibility, and Hush), then cast Missile Shield on boulder-target Polly.  Zaber responded to his sudden visibility by diving behind some rubble.  Polly took another shot at Drugila, but missed.  Drugila threw her last boulder at Polly, but missed due to Missile Shield.

Garreth took another rapid strike on the orc barbarian, who had waited and got a flail attack in first.  The orc failed to injure Garreth, and Garreth made the orc bleed a little more, still failing to stun him.  Seépravir cast Blur on Garreth to make him hard to hit.  The badly wounded orc that was fighting Garreth went Berserk, and did a double All Out Attack, but Garreth dodged the first blow (though he needed to use his Luck) and the second attack missed because of the Blur.  Polly drilled Drugila through the breastplate into the vitals with a bodkin arrow, making a serious wound.  Drugila responded by casting Darkness around herself.  Unfortunately for her, three of the PCs had Dark Vision, so it only really helped against Bernard.

Garreth took another attack on the defenseless orc barbarian who'd just All-Out Attacked, and did enough damage to kill him.  The second orc barbarian, who'd been badly wounded last session, passed out.  Polly put another arrow into Drugila for serious damage and a stun.  Drugila came out of stun after losing a turn, and Bernard, unable to see Drugila, aimed at the darkness.

Realizing Polly could see her, Drugila cast Missile Shield on herself.  Seépravir made her Thaumatology roll, recognized the spell, and tipped Polly off (in Elvish, so Drugila wouldn't know, but Bernard didn't know either).  Seépravir cast Levitation on Garreth, Polly headed for the ladder up, and Bernard kept aiming at the darkness hoping Drugila would come out.

Drugila reached the trap door in the ceiling, and opened it, but this meant leaving her area of darkness, giving Bernard a shot with his crossbow.  Missile Shield meant it had no chance of hitting, though.  Seépravir had been levitating Garreth up, and he finally got into reach of Drugila's feet, rolled a critical hit, and chopped one of them off cleanly with his Katana.  He then stabbed her other foot, not as critically.  And finally, he levitated up some more into torso range, landed a huge stab, and Drugila died.  That meant her Levitation went away, and she fell.  Luckily for Seépravir, she fell the other way, not onto the elf's head.  Splat!

With the battle over, there was time to search the tower.  This revealed mosaics on the walls, recently cleaned, showing scenes of orcs and cloud giants working together to kill humans and elves and dwarves and gnomes.  Also a huge set of iron double doors, which the party ignored.

The whole party (except for rear guards Durkerle and Ibizaber) climbed up the ladder or levitated to the next floor.  This revealed the 200-foot-tall second level of the tower, with a huge spiral staircase, and more mosaics on the walls.  These focused on a cloud giant with a giant flail, a huge iron crown, and white birds whose size varied from small enough to ride on the giant's shoulder to large enough for the giant to ride.

After a long climb up the staircase, the group reached a room featuring an altar, a prayer mat, a wood elf in a cage, and a prone one-armed giant skeleton.  The elf pleaded for rescue, whlie the skeleton started trying to punch anyone within reach (and that was pretty far).  Polly started filling the skeleton with arrows, Bernard prodded it with a spear and tried to keep it off Polly, and Seépravir worked on rescuing the elf, while Garreth stood back.  The skleton's huge hand almost got Polly once, but she dodged it, and then Bernard gave it a good stab and taunt.

The skeleton's attacks and dodges had been mostly ineffective due to the penalty for being prone, so it finally decided to get up.  It was wobbly and only had one arm, though, and lost its balance and fell.  The damage from the fall was enough to finish it.

Seépravir found the key to the elf's cage under the prayer rug, unlocked the cage, and the elf stepped out and introduced himself as Elias, a cleric.   He then proceded to recover his equipment from a chest nearby.  There was a nice silk banner of a diving white bird of prey, and a curious gigantic iron crown, and the group took both back down.

Garreth wanted to find the water creature that Zaber had spotted before, so Zaber led the way through twisty tunnels to the submerged cave.  The little green lady was still there, and spoke Elvish.  A conversation with Seépravir revealed that she was a nixie named Nemoura.  She had been exploring various submerged caves when she ran into a giant crayfish, which chased her until she reached a passage too narrow for it, which led to this cavern.  She could not go back out without fighting the crayfish, which was too tough for her.  She had charmed some orcs which had visited the cave, and sent them to fight the crayfish, but the crayfish had killed them, and then other orcs had plugged the entrance to this cave with a boulder too heavy for the nixie to move.  So she's been trapped in this cave, between a rock and a hard crayfish, for a few weeks, eating most of the small fish in the cave.  She offered to cast Water Breathing on anyone brave enough to fight the crayfish.

Garreth, who had a Ring of Swimming, volunteered.  Nobody else wanted to fight the crayfish, but invisible Seépravir accepted a Water Breathing spell to follow and help Garreth.  They started down the passage to the crayfish, then Seépravir cast Blur and Great Haste on Garreth.  He swam at the crayfish and tried to stab it with his Katana, but long swung weapons don't work so well underwater, and he missed a lot. The crayfish tried to grapple Garreth with its huge claws, but he dodged.  Garreth pulled out a knife and tried stabbing the crayfish with it, but barely penetrated its hard shell. Then he noticed a ledge in the room, sticking out of the water, and decided to climb up there and try to lure the crayfish into coming out of the water, where his weapons were more effective.

The crayfish was not a genius, and exposed part of its body to Garreth's greatsword.  (He had dropped his katana but had the greatsword as a backup weapon.)  With Great Haste he landed several blows, severely wounded the crayfish, and the death spiral began.  The crayfish started trying to swim away, but it was slowed by its wounds, and Garreth was quite fast in the water due to the Ring of Swimming, and kept after it, landed a few more blows, stunned it, and killed it.  He chopped off one crayfish claw (good eatin'!) to bring back to the others, and he and Seépravir swam back to the others.

Nemoura was overjoyed that the crayfish was dead, handed Garreth her ring as a reward, and swam off.  Seépravir detected that the ring was magic, and it resized itself to fit Garreth's finger as he tried it on.  Garreth so no effect from the ring, so he handed it to Ibizaber, who swam around (badly) while wearing the ring until his head went under, and he figured out that it gave him Water Breathing.

Satisfied with their delve, the group decided to start grabbing treasure and headed for Cillamar.  One cleric (Durkerle) was leaving the group, but it appeared that Elias might be willing to take his place.

GM's Comments:

The fight against the two orc barbarians and the levitating, boulder-throwing Drugila was a pretty good one, but they just couldn't hit the PCs very often, and when they did, the PCs used Luck.  High health and good rolls to stay up meant the fight lasted a while, but Garreth and Polly just landed a lot of damage, and eventually all three foes went down.

The prone giant skeleton would have done a lot of damage if he ever hit, but -4 to hit and -3 to defend for being prone is a huge penalty, and standing up wasn't safe for the giant skeleton, and when he tried he missed his DX check, and that was the end of that.  Just hanging back and plinking him with arrows probably would have been the safest strategy, but Bernard's taunts and spear-stabs sped things up.

The fight against the crayfish was interesting because Nemoura could only give two PCs Water Breathing, and only one PC could wear the Ring of Swimming.  So it was essentially a solo fight, with Seépravir providing some buffs.  The GURPS underwater combat rules (from Pyramid 3/26) are just brutal to land creatures: all DX skills capped to Swimming skill, -4 to hit per yard of length for swung weapons, thrust damage -1 per yard of weapon length, swing damage -1 per die per yard, Aquabatics roll needed to retreat.  The ring essentially made Garreth amphibious and got him out of some of those penalties, but he still had -8 to hit and -6 to swing damage with his 2-yard swords.  But he had Great Haste and Blur (at -5), which are pretty nice.  He tried switching to his knife, which had smaller penalties but much less damage.  Climbing up on land was a winning tactic: if the crayfish had been smarter it would have stayed out of reach in the water, but it wasn't that smart, and once it stuck part of its body out of the water, it was in deep deep trouble.

Only two players made the whole session: a couple arrived late and a couple had to leave early.  So things were a bit disjointed, but I think things went okay overall.


DF Whiterock 13: Orcs Can Be Alchemists and Barbarians and Giants




Warm, partly cloudy

Player Characters:

Durkerle (M.C. Warhammer), Dwarf Cleric, 193 (+10) points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 201 (+10) points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 192 (+6) points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 176 (+10) points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 216 points

Significant NPCs:

Quintus, Alchemist/Wizard in Cillamar
1 Orc Alchemist/Wizard of the White Roc tribe
4 Orc Lab Assistants of the White Roc tribe
1 Unknown Small Green-Skinned Water Creature
2 Orc Barbarians of the White Roc tribe
Drugila, Giant Orc Wizard of the White Roc tribe

Four of the PCs met at the Inn of the Slumbering Drake in Cillamar.  Polly was off in the woods somewhere, and nobody was quite sure where Bernard went.  Ibizaber was back, though, presumably from a prolonged bender.

The first order of business was figuring out what that rock-with-spines that attacked them last time was, and whether it was valuable.  Quintus figured out that it was a rasthnum, and that rasthnum spines were useful.  He also mentioned that he'd like more trollhound muscle.

Next, Seépravir went to the Temple of Justicia and brought the prayer book that they had found in the dungeon, in case someone there was interested in cleansing the altar under the castle.  Unfortunately, all of the Holy Warriors were busy smiting other enemies, so nobody was currently free for any dungeon expeditions.

At that point they ran out of things to do in town, so headed to Castle Whiterock.  It was a nice day for a hike, but a bit hot, so they didn't make great time.  Nothing attacked them on the way, so they went back down to the third level of the dungeon, where they'd met some orcs and bugbears last trip.

Seépravir decided to turn invisible and scout the nearby area.  She found that the passage to the south had two doors.  The one to the east had some noisy orcs behind it, with one yelling at someone.  The one to the west was silent.  And then the tunnel continued to the south a bit, before changing from a nice square well-constructed tunnel to a narrow twisty dingy dangerous-looking mine tunnel.  She went back and opened the door with no noise behind it, and found a storeroom, with a bunch of crates, a few picks and shovels, and some dead reptilian humanoid lying on a table, cut open.  She went back to her allies to report.

After some discussion, they decided to ambush the orcs behind the door.  They got in position, then Garreth kicked the door open.  Inside were 5 orcs in scale armor, an alchemy lab, and a big hearth.  Ibizaber snuck up behind one of the orcs and backstabbed, but didn't do enough damage to penetrate armor.  Garreth threw a sai at an orc, missed, and drew his katana.  Seépravir snuck in, still invisible.  And Durkerle started running toward the battle.

The orcs recovered pretty quickly, but didn't accomplish much.  Most of them pulled out flails and proceeded to miss Ibizaber and Garreth with them a lot.  Ibizaber stabbed one of them in the unarmored face and cut off a good chunk of its nose.  Garreth tried stabbling the apparent leader, but he threw his arm in front of the attack and blocked it, taking no damage.  A wizard!  Seépravir found an apparently safe place to stand, near Garreth, and started using her Rapier Wit ability and Stun spell to stun orcs.

One of the orcs actually managed to hurt Garreth, but it wasn't a major wound.  He took a turn to defend and recover, then resumed fighting.  The wizard tried a Command spell to make Garreth fall down, but it failed.  He tried Spasm spell to make Garreth drop his katana, but he did it wrong and Garreth's hand tightened instead of loosening.  Finally, the wizard gave up and pulled out his morningstar.

The PCs kept dodging everything the orcs threw at them.  One of the orcs got frustrated with Ibizaber and decided he was a cheating wizard.  Eventually Garreth started landing cuts, and then Polly came into the room, late as usual, and started shooting orcs with her over-strength bow.  Durkerle had finally reached attack position, but was distracted by Polly's entrance and went to talk to her instead of fighting.  It was over a few seconds later, with the alchemist and his lab assistants all dead.  A toad jumped out of the wizard's clothing, but Garreth killed that too, to Polly's chagrin.  Durkerle cast Major Healing to fix Garreth's flail-wound.

The shelves and tables contained a full alchemy lab, a few books in Orc, plus a bunch of ingredients.  The alchemist had a magical bag, which nobody had time to identify, other than seeing if things placed inside it got lighter.  (They did not.)   There were a books about alchemy, magic, and troglodytes, and a secret compartment with an apparent spellbook inside.  One of the books contained a flier in Gnome, which nobody could read, so they saved it for later.  The invaders grabbed the light and valuable-looking  stuff, and left the heavy and fragile lab equipment for later.

They went back to the room with the dead reptilian.  The crates were full of boring mining equipment.  There was a grappling hook and some rope, which might be useful.  There was also a paper, describing a process for removing scent glands from troglodytes and making stenchpots out of them.  They took the paper.

At that point Ibizaber wanted to scout ahead, so Seépravir cast both Invisibility and Hush on him.  He explored a bunch of dead-end mining tunnels.  One had a word on the floor in Orc, which he didn't read.  He continued until he found a tunnel with a large boulder blocking a hole in the end of it.  It looked deliberately placed.  He tried pushing the boulder out of the way, and was surprised to find that he could.  On the other side was a large cavern, much of it underwater.  Ibizaber saw some kind of small green-skinned green-haired humanoid in the water.  She started singing, and he ran away.

Ibizaber explored some more tunnels, and eventually came to a place where the tunnel led to a white-walled cylindrical tower, with two large orcs with crossbows standing guard outside.  They didn't see or hear him, thanks to the spells, so he snuck up to try to get a better view.  At that point the others were starting to worry about Ibizaber, though, and started trying to follow his tracks through the tunnels.  (Durkerle was left behind to stand guard.)  They came up behind Ibizaber.  Seépravir was invisible, but Garreth and Polly were visible, and the orcs spotted them, and started aiming crossbows and yelling "Drugila!"

Polly ran up and took a shot at an orc.  He dodged, but spoiled his aim.  Garreth ran up and threw a sai, missing.  Ibizaber and Seépravir, both invisible, snuck up.  As Seépravir moved forward, she could see farther into the tower, and saw a giant female orc, picking up boulders.  The orc that had had his aim spoiled aimed again.  The other one fired his (rather large) crossbow at Garreth.  He tried acrobatics to improve his dodge, failed, used his Luck to try again, and made it.  Then he successfully dodged the bolt.

Polly took another shot, but the orc dodged it again, ruining his aim again.  Garreth threw another sai, this one with daylight-bright Continual Light on it.  (It had been observed before that these orcs don't like bright light.)  The sai hit, doing a bit of damage and also spotlighting that orc.  Ibizaber and Seépravir kept creeping up invisibly.

At that point the orc that was trying to shoot Polly got tired of having his aim spoiled and just took a snap shot at her.  Unknown to the orc, Seépravir was in the line of fire.  She tried to dodge, failed, used Luck, and succeeded on the retry.  The bolt kept going and almost hit Polly, but she acrobatically dodged it.  The orc threw his crossbow to the ground in frustration.  (Reloading a crossbow takes a while, so he was about to switch to his flail anyway.)

Not knowing Seépravir was in the line of fire, Polly took another shot at the orc.  Fortunately, she missed Seépravir, hit the orc, and he failed to dodge.  The bodkin arrow went through the orc's mail and did big damage to his vitals.  He failed his knockdown roll for the major wound, and fell down, stunned, dropping his flail.  Meanwhile, back in the tower, Seépravir saw the female giant orc Concentrating on a spell.  She recognized it as one she also knew, Levitation.  Garreth advanced on the other orc that was still standing, and took two rapid swings at him, but he parried one with his flail and the other missed.

Still invisible, Seépravir picked up the stunned orc's dropped flail and threw it back a few yards, making it harder for him to arm himself.  The stunned orc stayed conscious and came out of stun, but was still down and unarmed.  Polly took a shot at the standing orc, but he dodged it.  The giant orc threw a boulder at Polly, but she dodged it.

And we broke there for the night-in mid-battle.  One barbarian orc down and badly hurt and disarmed, but not out.  The other barbarian orc still up and fighting.  And the giant orc (presumed) leader flying around throwing boulders.

GM's Comments:

We lost a player this session.  Durkerle's player wasn't very engaged in the game, and decided to drop out midway through this session.  I will NPC Durkerle until he gets back to town, then retire him.  An important lesson here is that you should pick voice or text before you start the campaign, rather than switching back and forth.  Durkerle's player strongly prefers voice, while most of the others like text, and we keep picking text when we vote every week.  The party is now down a very entertaining character, but also a frequent source of intra-party drama.  We'll invite another player from our waiting list next time the group returns to town.

The orc wizard/alchemist and apprentices weren't much of a match for the party.  Flails are good weapons because they're hard to block or parry, but most of the PCs are pretty good at dodging, and the orcs didn't have very good skill.  The wizard tried several spells, but they kept getting resisted.

Ibizaber probably made a smart tactical decision, running away from the singing water creature rather than staying to deal with her alone.  (He has Curious, and rolled to resist it before running away.)  But that means the mystery of that cave won't be revealed until next time.

The ongoing battle looks like a tough one.  Invisibility is a double-edged sword -- PCs who don't know exactly where their allies are risk shooting them, and Polly's arrows do enough damage to really ruin an ally's day if she hits one of them accidentally.  And all three orcs are either large (SM+1) or gigantic (SM+2).  Do they have the skills to match their obvious size and strength?  We'll find out next time.

We had some Roll20 difficulties, with Ibizaber unable to see anything for a while, despite his token having a light source and me being able to see through his token's eyes.  Eventually I deleted his token and made a new one, which worked.


What Counts as an Attack for Purposes of Wrecking Invisibility in DFRPG?

In traditional D&D, the Invisibility spell went away if you attacked.  So it gave you one sneak attack, but not ongoing sneak attacks.  And there was sometimes also a higher-level version called Greater or Improved Invisibility that stuck around if you attacked.

In GURPS Magic, the Invisibility spell didn't go away if you attacked.  It was quite good, but also quite expensive.

One of the changes for Dungeon Fantasy and later DFRPG was making Invisibility go away if you attacked, but lowering the mana cost a bit to compensate.  The wording in DF1: Adventurers is "To keep Invisibility from completely upstaging thieves, the spell ends instantly if the subject attacks, casts a combat spell, or otherwise does anything more violent than moving around, spying, and stealing. Reduce energy cost from 5/3 to 4/2 to compensate."  This wording is reused almost verbatim in DFRPG: Spells.  So it's clear that violence ends the spell, but not exactly clear what counts as an attack.

A D&D 3.5 SRD goes into a bit more detail.  "For purposes of this spell, an attack includes any spell targeting a foe or whose area or effect includes a foe. (Exactly who is a foe depends on the invisible character’s perceptions.) Actions directed at unattended objects do not break the spell. Causing harm indirectly is not an attack. Thus, an invisible being can open doors, talk, eat, climb stairs, summon monsters and have them attack, cut the ropes holding a rope bridge while enemies are on the bridge, remotely trigger traps, open a portcullis to release attack dogs, and so forth. If the subject attacks directly, however, it immediately becomes visible along with all its gear. Spells such as bless that specifically affect allies but not foes are not attacks for this purpose, even when they include foes in their area."

(Of course D&D rules are not in play in a DFRPG game, but it's an example of someone thinking about the problem and writing more clarifying text.)

In our DFRPG game, I ruled that Rapier Wit counted as an attack.  It's an attempt to directly stun an opponent, and I think that the effect is more important than the mechanism here.  I see Rapier Wit as a whole lot like the Kiai ability that Martial Artists can have (which explicitly says it counts as an attack), or the Stun spell (which is obviously an attack spell since it's targeted on an opponent and nerfs them.)  I think Rapier Wit is an easy call.

The hard calls for me are the cases like pickpocketing an enemy, tying his shoelaces together, or cutting a rope bridge with enemies on it.  The DFRPG spell text explicitly allows stealing, so I decided pickpocketing is okay.  I think tying an enemy's shoelaces together in a combat situation is a grapple attack, so that makes you visible.  The D&D SRD uses the rope bridge as an example that doesn't make you visible, but I think they got that wrong.  It's an attack at a distance, but it's an attack.  Similarly, magically moving a heavy object over someone's head and then letting it fall is an attack, in my mind.

The other interesting case is area spells designed to affect enemies later, rather than now.  I think casting Glue in an enemy's current hex is obviously an attack.  But what about casting Glue in an unoccupied hex that an enemy might or might not step in later?  I think I'll allow that one, though it's a very edgy case.

(Of course these are just local rulings for games where I am the GM; I don't have any authority to tell anyone else how it should work in their games.)

The moral of the story is that RPG rules are never 100% clear, the GM on the spot always has to make a call, and players have to deal with it.  All the GM can promise is to try to be consistent and fair.  There are games that claim to be "100% Rules As Written," but that just promises a lack of deliberate rule changes.  The GM still has to fill in the gaps when the rules aren't perfectly clear, which is often.


DF Whiterock Session 12: Bugbears?




Warm, clear

Player Characters:

Durkerle (M.C. Warhammer), Dwarf Cleric, 193 (+5) points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 201 (+5) points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 176 (+5) points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 206 (+5) points

Significant NPCs:

3 Bugbear mercenaries
6 Orcs of the White Roc tribe
1 Rock with spines

Play resumed in the same place we stopped last week, right after Garreth's Luck avoided a huge flail trap.  The group continued down that hallway to the west, in a clump, until Polly spotted a bugbear with a spear. lying in wait around a corner.  The bugbears had heard them coming (loud traps will do that) and had achieved surprise.  It threw its spear at Polly without taking more time to aim, and just missed her.

While the PCs were recovering from surprise, the bugbear readied his flail, and two other bugbears with throwing spears (one next to the first, to the south, and another down the hall to the west) started aiming.  Garreth fast-drew his knife, threw it at the bugbear down the hall, and missed.  Durkerle used Awaken on Polly to unstun her.  Polly started shooting at bugbears, but missed.  And Seépravir used Rapier Wit to try to stun a bugbear, which failed and made her Invisibility go away.

The annoyed bugbear swung his flail at the newly visible Seépravir, but Garreth used his sacrificial greatsword parry to stop the attack for her.  Polly shot a bugbear in the heart and knocked it out.  Durkerle kept running at the bugbears, very slowly.  The closer one threw his spear at Durkerle, who blocked it with his shield.  Seépravir cast Stun on that bugbear, successfully.

Polly shot the bugbear to the west twice, once in the vitals and then once in the torso, and killed it.  Garreth hit the closer bugbear with his greatsword, and it fell down trying to dodge, but the blow was surprisingly weak.  Durkerle finally reached melee range and smacked the downed bugbear with his mace, and it tried to surrender.  First it said something in Goblin, which nobody understood.  Then it said something in broken Orc, which enraged Polly, and she shot it through the heart.  It still wasn't quite dead, until Garreth hit it a couple more times while it was down.  Then he wandered over to the knocked-out bugbear and stabbed it in the eye.

The group looted the bugbear's bodies, just finding smelly leather armor and a key.  They then found the room the bugbears had come out of, which contained four (not three!) large beds, a table with some coins and dice on it, and a chest.  The chest had a lock that the bugbear's key opened, and contained a bunch more coins and a paper with writing in a language nobody could read.  It used dwarven runes, so they figured it was Goblin.  At the bottom were what looked like two signatures, one saying "Drugila" in Orc, and the other saying "X" in Illiterate.

After a bit of rest, the group followed the eager Polly down the hallway, then turned southwest at a fork.  A bit further down was a door to the southeast, which Garreth opened.  Inside was a big room containing an altar, three burning magical torches, four archery targets, and a crate.  Everyone checked out the altar, which had what appeared to be the remains of a sacrifice victim.  Further investigation showed that the victim had been human, but that the altar itself looked like something that would be found in a temple of Justicia, not an orcish temple.  At that point Durkerle lost it.  He was no fan of Justicia and decided he wasn't helping to fix her altar.  Polly and Seépravir started cleaning it up themselves, and then Polly decided to search behind it.  She found a secret compartment, which Seépravir figured out how to open.  There was a catch that needed a skinny knife or long lockpick, and she didn't have either, so used Apportation instead.  The compartment opened to reveal a shiny offering plate, a key, a book, and a magical bottle.

The book was entitled "Prayers to Justicia", and Durkerle decided to take it.  He wasn't allowed to, then decided to break the altar with his mace.  Seépravir countered with a Levitation spell on Durkerle, to move him away from the altar.  He failed to resist, and was floated out the door of the room.  Then Garreth held the door closed, and Seépravir read some blessings from the prayer book to attempt to restore the altar.  She then set Durkerle down on the ground, gently.

While fuming outside the door, Durkerle noticed a rock with spines on the ceiling over his head.  He jumped back as it tried to fall on him.  He tried to smack it with his mace, and it dodged.  The rock then started backing away from Durkerle.  The others came out the door, and Garreth ran the retreating rock down.  It tried to hit him, and he parried with his greatsword.  Then Polly took a while running shot at the rock and missed, losing her balance in the process.  The rock finally landed a blow on Garreth, but it didn't penetrate his scale armor.  Seépravir cast a Glue spell on the rock, sticking it securely to the floor, and at that point it was a sitting rock.  Polly shot it with a cutting arrow, and then Garreth chopped it in half, revealing some purple goo inside.

Polly tried to taste the purple filling, which was an impressively poor decision.  She hit the floor, unconscious.  Nobody had any way to cure poison, but Durkerle cast Awaken, and Seépravir tried First Aid to purge some of the poison.  Polly was still paralyzed for a few minutes, but eventually started moving again.  She was lucky that the purple paralysis poison was non-lethal.  The group looked for an empty vial and then gathered as much of the poison as they could.

After some more rest back in the bugbear barracks, they followed Polly down the hallway again, to another door.  This one opened to reveal a barracks with 6 orcs and a lot more than 6 beds.  The orcs were totally unprepared for invasion and were surprised.  Polly shot one, Garreth horribly missed one and dropped his sword, Durkerle ran slowly toward the battle, and Seépravir ran invisibly into the room.

Polly shot another orc, and yelled something about how they killed her sister.  Forgetting he had dropped his sword, Garreth charged into battle.  Fortunately, it was attached by a lanyard, so it followed him.  By the time he had his sword ready, Polly had shot another orc.  Another one was so surprised it turned out it was deeply asleep and would not wake up during this battle.  (Spoiler alert: it would not wake up after the battle either.)

The final two orcs broke out of stun and were brave enough to ready their flails and try to fight.  One yelled something about how Polly was too stupid to tell the White Talon orcs that killed her sister from the White Roc orcs.  (They looked the same: big, strong, milky-white skin, piggy noses.)   One tried to attack Garreth, and missed.  Seépravir used Rapier Wit to stun one, Polly shot one, and Garreth stabbed the other one.  Eventually both passed out.  Garreth then went on a stabbing spree to make sure none of the orcs would ever get up again, while Seépravir looked for loot.  These orcs didn't have much: their weapons, a couple of mail shirts, and a few coins.

At that, the group decided they had enough loot to go back to Cillamar.  They had explored three more rooms and fought bugbears, a rock with poison spines, and a new group of orcs.

GM's Comments:

The bugbears had a nice ambush set up, and achieved surprise, but there were only three of them and they were outclassed by the PCs.  Garreth used his Luck to give himself another chance to recover from mental stun, which turned out to be a good call.  Durkerle used Awaken to unstun Polly, another good call.  And then Polly and Garreth did a lot of damage.  The bugbears had surprisingly good treasure.

The temple was interesting mostly because of intra-party drama.  Seépravir and Polly wanted to un-desecrate the temple of Justicia and Durkerle wasn't having it.  Levitate is a pretty reasonable way to deal with an uncooperative cleric.  And finding a secret compartment in the altar with treasure was a pretty good deal, considering they didn't even have to fight anything for it.

All the yelling and pounding on the door earned a bonus wandering monster roll, which came up rock-with-poison-spines.  (The monster actually has a name, but the players don't know it yet, as none of the PCs recognized it.)  If it had managed to surprise Durkerle and achieve its goal of dropping on his head for impact damage and bonus poison damage, it could have gotten a nice meal.  But it failed to surprise him, and missed, and then it was a fair one-on-one fight on the ground.  And then Durkerle's comrades joined the battle, and four PCs against one rock was not a fair fight.  It was doing a pretty good job of dodging until it got Glued to the floor, and then that was that.  Polly then tried to even the odds by drinking the rock's poison. but fortunately for her it was non-lethal.

The group managed to ambush the group of orcs, and these orcs didn't have great IQ and so didn't recover from Mental Stun very quickly, and being stunned in a room with Polly is a good way to get filled with arrows.  That was a pretty quick and easy fight.

Overall, the group made a bit of progress through the third level of the dungeon, but there was some intra-party drama.


DF Whiterock Session 11: Dust Mephits and the Ogre-Powered Elevator




Warm, clear

Player Characters:

Bernard (threethreethree), Human Fighter, 165 points
Durkerle (M.C. Warhammer), Dwarf Cleric, 193 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 201 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 176 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 206 points

Significant NPCs:

Ulrik, Duergar bookkeeper
Bork, Ogre elevator operator
2 Dust Mephits

The group got together at a private table in the corner of the Inn of the Slumbering Drake, to interrogate the Duergar prisoner they had captured in a secret room behind the orcish mines under Castle Whiterock.  Durkerle had the Compel Truth spell, and used it effectively.  The Duergar's name was Ulrik, and he was a bookkeeper and slave trader.  His job was to purchase slaves from the White Talon orcs and send them deep underground to his superior, a Duergar called The Impressario who ran a deep underground arena called the Bleak Theater.  The transport was largely achieved using an elevator, powered by an ogre named Bork, whom Ulrik was fond of.  The ledgers that had been found in Ulrik's room were records of slave transactions, in Undercommon.  When they ran out of questions to ask Ulrik, the group took him to the Temple of Danethar to get his crippled eye magically healed, and left him in the custody of Durkerle's superior there.

A plan came together: feed the ogre and gain his help.  So Durkerle bought a gigantic meat and cheese sandwich, and the party (minus Polly, who was off in the woods somewhere) headed for Castle Whiterock.  They got there without drama, and headed down to the orcish mines.  They decided that, rather than heading straight for Ulrik's secret room and looking for the ogre and the elevator, they would first clear out the rest of the mine level.

Seépravir turned herself and Garreth and Bernard Invisible, and cast Dark Vision on all three of them.  Durkerle, who had some kind of objection to stealth, remained visible with Continual Light on his shield.  The group snuck around the mines, using Durkerle as a landmark since nobody else could see each other.  Eventually, the invisible Seépravir came upon a small flying dust creature of some sort (which they eventually decided was a mephit), hanging out on a rock ledge near the end of a mine tunnel.  She failed to achieve surprise despite being invisible, as the creature heard her coming.  She backed off to rejoin her allies, while it flew forward looking for trouble.

Eventually, the invisible Garreth decided to sling a bullet at the mephit, but missed.  This made him become visible, and the mephit retaliated with its breath weapon, a cone of debris.  Garreth dodged it.  Meanwhile the still invisible Bernard aimed his crossbow.  Realizing Garreth looked pretty big and tough, the mephit attempted to summon another mephit, and succeeded.

Bernard loosed his crossbow bolt at the first mephit, which had no idea it was coming and didn't even get a chance to dodge.  The bolt did a lot of damage, slowing the mephit's flight, but not quite stunning it or dropping it from the air.  The mephit dodged a greatsword swing from Garreth, then cast Blur on itself to make itself harder to hit.  Meanwhile the second mephit unleased its pebble breath on Garreth as well, but he dodged that one too.

Durkerle, who had been (slowly) running toward the battle, heard a familiar elf coming up behind.  Polly had finally caught up to the group, and ran past Durkerle to fire arrows at the mephits.  She missed one, which was perfectly lined up with Garreth and (invisible) Seépravir.  Fortunately for them, the arrow flew harmlessly past both into the wall.

Finally, Polly loaded another arrow and fired it at the mephit that had been severely wounded by Bernard's crossbow bolt.  Slowed by its wounds, it failed to dodge, and the arrow was enough to kill it.  The second mephit immediately winked out of existence.  (Nobody was really sure if it turned invisible or teleported away or was automatically unsummoned when its summoner died, but it was gone.)  There was an attempt to collect the mephit's remains in case they were worth money, but they quickly faded away into ordinary non-magical dust.

Polly climbed up to the ledge where the mephit had been sitting, and found some coins and some cut blue quartz gems and a magic ring shaped like a seahorse.  After collecting all the treasure, she climbed down and the group scouted the rest of the mine passages.  They found nothing of interest -- the surviving White Talon orcs and their slaves appeared to be gone.  The mine work looked fairly shoddy, so everyone was happy to get out of there before it collapsed on them.

After a brief rest, the group went back to Ulrik's room and searched it harder, looking for the ogre and the elevator.  They eventually found a very well hidden secret door, behind a platform with manacles.  Behind the door was a well-built stone passage, leading to a large room.  The room contained a large ogre chained to the wall, plus a large box in the center of the room.  There was a wheel next to the ogre, leading to a chain at the top of the box.  They had found the ogre-powered elevator that Ulrik had told them about.

Durkerle advanced within throwing range of Bork the ogre, and threw it the huge sandwich.  The ogre deftly caught it and started eating.  At that point everyone tried talking to Bork in various languages, to no avail.  He didn't speak Common or Orc or Dwarf or Elf.  (Elf was admittedly a long shot.)  They climbed into the elevator, then tried some gestures, asking the ogre to lower the elevator.  The ogre tried some gestures back, asking them to release it from its chains.  Neither side was willing to give in.

Eventually Garreth starting threatening the ogre with his sling.  That didn't work, so he slung a bullet at the ogre, using only a fraction of his strength to avoid doing too much damage.  That made the ogre mad, and it turned out it wasn't really securely chained to the wall after all.  Bork slipped out of his chains, picked up his great hammer, and charged the elevator.  Garreth hit it in the leg with his greatsword, hard, crippling one leg.  The ogre went down, but kept fighting.  While prone, he swung his huge hammer at Garreth, who parried.  Garreth hit Bork again, in the arm this time, but not hard enough to cripple it.

Seépravir tried a Stun spell, but the ogre easily resisted.  Polly tried a bodkin arrow to the ogre's vitals, which was very effective, wounding Bork grievously, but he was tough enough to keep fighting with one working leg and a huge arrow wound.  Knowing he was in trouble, Bork tried an all-out attack on Garreth, but Garreth parried again.  Finally, Garreth walked up to the defenseless ogre and tried a rapid strike.  The first blow missed, but the second blow was a serious hit, enough to leave Bork unconscious and bleeding to death.

Seépravir asked Durkerle for a Stop Bleeding spell to keep the ogre alive, still dreaming of enlisting his help to work the elevator, but Garreth's blood was up and he shoved his greatsword through Bork's eye and into his brain.  So much for the elevator operator.  There was some discussion of using rope to go down the elevator shaft, but Garreth said they should just take the stairs behind Kaernga's throne instead.  So they did that.

The secret room with the stairs contained a wooden box, which they excitedly opened, before realizing it was empty because they had already looted it.  But Seépravir spotted a potion bottle that they had missed last time, above the secret door.  Not stopping to try to identify it, they climbed down the spiral stairs, into a small room with no exits.  Everyone started looking for a secret door, and they quickly found one.  They looked for traps on it, but didn't see any.  Garreth opened the door, and triggered the trap they hadn't found -- a deadfall of scrap armor.  He managed to dodge it, but it made a lot of noise.

Going through the secret door, the group found a large rectangular room, with lots of dust and dried blood on the floor.  Garreth pulled down an ugly tapestry on the west wall, which triggered another trap -- a gigantic flail swinging at him.  It critically hit, and he was in deep trouble, except he had Luck and it didn't actually critically hit after all, and he got a chance to retreat and dodge.

And that's where we stopped.  Another fight was about to start, but we didn't have time to finish it.  So we'll fine out next time what heard all the noise and came to investigate.

GM's Comments:

Compel Truth sure makes interrogation easier.  Durkerle rolled a critical success on the spell, so no resistance was possible, and they got to ask Ulrik questions until they ran out of ideas.

At this point Seépravir has Invisibility and Dark Vision at 20, which means she can turn the whole group invisible and let them all see perfectly in the dark.  (At the cost of having a huge penalty to casting other spells, from having all those spells on.)  It's amusing trying to coordinate an invisible group, though.  Durkerle's stubborn opposition to being made invisible was probably useful, as it gave them a rallying point.

The dust mephits were very hard to hit (SM-1, great Dodge, Blur) but didn't actually manage to hit with their breath attacks.  I didn't bother translating the percentage chance to summon another mephit into a 3d6 roll; I just rolled d100, which drew amused comments.

Seépravir guessed that the magic ring had to be either Swimming or Water Breathing because it was shaped like a seahorse, but there's no time to cast Analyze Magic in dungeons, and they didn't find any large pools of water to try swimming in or breathing, so they'll have to wait until later to find out.

Food wasn't enough to charm Bork the ogre.  He was surprisingly loyal to Ulrik, and cunning enough to try to fool these little people who presumably hurt Ulrik into coming within range so he could kill them.  But the PCs were smart enough to throw the sandwich from a distance.  And by the time Garreth enraged Bork into attacking them, it was a 5-on-1 fight without surprise.  Bork was tough but not that tough.  Without the ogre, they'll need to figure out another way to work that elevator, if they decide they need it.  But, as Garreth pointed out, they also had some perfectly good stairs down.

The first trap, a deadfall of rusty armor bits, was just a noisy annoyance, which wouldn't have done much damage.  The second one, a gigantic flail rigged to swing at high speed, could have been lethal.  It rolled a 4, a critical hit, so Garreth would have had no defense, except for his Luck.  (Just for fun, I rolled on the critical hit table, and got a 3, triple damage.  And then rolled 15 damage, so it would have been 45 crushing.  That would have been a death check, even on Garreth, with his scale armor and 20 HP.)

While both traps missed, they achieved their secondary objective of making noise to give the nearby denizens hearing rolls to notice intruders.  I would have liked to resolve the battle, but we only had 18 minutes left in the session, and you can't do much of a fight in 18 minutes, and one of our players was already very tired.  So we quit a bit early and will resume in the dungeon next time.

DF Whiterock Session 81: The Other Bleak Theater Guard Room

Date: 2019-01-10 Weather: Unseasonably warm, session entirely underground Player Characters: Elias , Wood E...