DF Whiterock Session 23: Iron Gnomes




Cool, party cloudy

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 215 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 259 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 247 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 233 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 269 points

Significant NPCs:

5 Iron Gnome Lancers
2 Iron Gnome Marksmen
1 Animated Table

We started the session in a low-ceilinged lounge in the Clockwork Academy, full of ancient chairs and couches, right after Zaber opened a secret door behind some carvings of a clockwork gadget.  The room behind the secret door turned out to be a brightly lit rectangular vault, containing four Iron Gnome Lancers and a table.  The Iron Gnomes immediately started wheeling toward the PCs at fairly high speed, while extending their lances to 3-hex reach.  They were far enough away for a few seconds of action before they reached melee range.

Polly took advantage of the time it took for the lancers to close range by firing bodkin arrows at whichever of the lancers she had unobstructed line of sight to.  In the three seconds of closing time, she fired six bodkin arrows (Heroic Archers with Extra Attack are a bit nuts).  One missed, one was dodged, and four hit, doing enough damage to badly damage one of the lancers, enough to slow it to half Move and half Dodge.  Meanwhile, Elias moved forward, Zaber pushed a large flowerpot forward, Seépravir cast Great Haste on Garreth, and Garreth drew his katana and moved forward.

As the lancers reached melee range, Polly hit one with another bodkin, then double-speed Garreth ran into lancer melee range and did an All-Out Attack (Determined) with his first turn followed by a Rapid Strike with his second.  All three were Deceptive Attacks for -1 to defend.  And, somehow, the lancer dodged all three.  (With 3-hex reach, it used a Retreat for +3 to all the Dodges against Garreth, and was still able to attack without needing to move closer.)

All four Iron Gnomes were now in melee reach of both Elias and Garreth.  I rolled randomly to see which each targeted, and all four picked Garreth.  Uh-oh.  The first one rolled a 6, for a Critical Hit, making it obvious to observant players that they had Lance skill of 16 or better.  Garreth used his Luck to negate the crit, but the lancer still hit on both of the rerolls.  Garreth easily parried the hit.  The second lancer (the one that had been badly damaged by arrow fire) also tried to impale Garreth, with a Deceptive Attack for -2 to defend.  Garreth tried to parry, but the combined penalties for the low ceiling, the Deceptive Attack, and the second parry of the turn meant that he failed.  The lancer did 11 points of impaling damage to Garreth, which his Bless spell negated, but Garreth was no longer Blessed.  The third lancer tried to spear Garreth, who tried for Acrobatic Dodge, but failed his Acrobatics skill roll, giving -2 instead of +2 to his Dodge.  He failed to dodge, and took 15 points of impaling damage, a Major Wound even with Garreth's high HPHe made his knockdown roll.  The fourth lancer took a Deceptive Attack, Garreth failed to parry with the penalties, and it did another 13 points impaling.  This resulted in a death check, which Garreth passed, and another knockdown check, which Garreth rolled a 17 on, meaning he was prone, stunned, and disarmed.

Polly kept shooting, plugging two more bodkins into a previously unwounded lancer, damaging it enough to slow its movement.  Zaber kept moving the flowerpot forward, for some reason.  Seépravir announced that it was time to retreat.  Because he was stunned, Garreth had to Do Nothing, but made his HT roll to recover from stun, so was merely prone and disarmed.  Since he still had Great Haste on, he got a second turn, which he used to Ready a wineskin full of healing potions and roll one hex away from the fight.  Because he did something while at negative hit points, he had to roll a HT check to remain conscious, which he passed.

The first lancer decided to stab Garreth again, since he was still moving.  Garreth tried a retreating (by more rolling away) dodge, but failed, and took another 12 points impaling.  This was his second death check, this time at a penalty for even lower HP, and this time he failed by 2, a Mortal Wound.  Not quite dead, but unconscious and in danger of dying.  The other lancers attacked Elias, but he successfully blocked and parried and retreated.  The table in the back of the room, deciding its side was winning, decided to animate and move toward the battle.

Polly kept shooting, though unfortunately Elias was in the line of fire.  She rolled a 16 for her first arrow, which with the -4 for Elias in the line of fire missed the iron gnome, so had to roll 9 or less to hit Elias, and fortunately missed him too.  Then Polly got to roll 9 or less to hit the iron gnome behind the target, and was lucky enough to hit, but the iron gnome was lucky enough to roll a 4 on its dodge roll for a critical success, and did some robotic taunt dancing.  Polly's second arrow hit its intended target, one of the badly damaged lancers, and it failed to dodge (with its Dodge at half due to its wounds), and the cumulative damage was enough to knock it out of the fight.  (These lancers stopped at 0 HP, rather than rolling HT checks, though the players didn't know that yet.)  Zaber chose All-Out Defend (Double) and backed up.  Seépravir stopped maintaining some non-essential spells to improve her casting odds, then cast Levitate on mortally wounded Garreth.  Two lancers that could reach Elias tried to hit him, but he blocked and retreated and parried.  The third lancer tried moving through the hex where Zaber had left the flowerpot, failed its DX check to evade it, and stumbled.  (-2 to defenses on its next turn.)

Then Polly fired two cutting arrows at the lancer that had stumbled.  It failed to dodge the first one, took enough damage to slow it, failed to dodge the second one because of the penalties for stumbling and being slowed, and took enough damage to be knocked out.  Elias and Zaber defended and backed up, and Seépravir used Levitate to move Garreth away from the lancers, while stepping back herself.  The table in the back of the room moved forward some more but was not yet in melee range.  The two remaining lancers tried to hit Elias and Polly, but Elias blocked and the Move and Attack on Polly missed.

Polly fired two more cutting arrows at the lancer that attacked her, lining up her shots so that any misses might hit the other lancer behind it.  The first arrow hit its primary target, and the other arrow missed everything.  Elias All-Out Defended some more.  Both remaining lancers went for Elias.  He blocked the attack from the first one, but failed to parry or dodge the second, even with Luck.  The lancer rolled good damage, and Elias's Bless (from a scroll, because you can't cast Bless on yourself) saved him, causing him to do a crazy bendy acrobatic dodge that Elias would not normally be capable of, and being consumed in the process.

Next turn, Polly fired two arrows at the animated table.  One missed, and the other hit hard enough to badly damage and slow it.  Zaber and Elias kept defending, while Seépravir kept moving Garreth out of lance range, toward the door at the back of the lounge.  Both brave lancers kept attacking Elias, though no longer with the advantage of numbers.  He blocked the first lance, and the second lance missed.  The less-brave table decided to retreat back into the vault.  

Polly ignored the retreating table and focused on an unwounded iron gnome lancer, drilling it with two bodkins.  The -2 Dodge penalty for Committed Attack (which it had needed to double-step into range of Elias) meant it failed to dodge, and then it was slowed by damage, which caused it to fail to dodge the second arrow, which knocked it out.   The last lancer standing tried a Deceptive Attack on Elias, but he made his retreating dodge even with the penalties, and Polly finished it.  She then mercilessly hunted down and destroyed the retreating table, while the others started trying to save Garreth.

The wineskin full of 20 healing potions that Seépravir had been filling every week in town, and Garreth had been hauling around forever, finally came in handy.  They poured two potions into Garreth, and he double-healed because of 20+ HP.  Then Elias cast Stop Bleeding, which healed a few more HP and also stopped the "roll vs. HT every 30 minutes or die" effect of the Mortal Wound.  Seépravir cast Lend Energy on Elias, and then Elias cast Bless on Garreth to give him +1 to all his Healing and HT rolls.  They poured some more healing potions down his throat, until he eventually woke up at near-full HP.  He had to make a HT roll to see if the Mortal Wound cost him a point of HT permanently, but succeeded.  Elias used one of his remaining scrolls to restrore his own Bless, which had been knocked off during the fight.  So in the end it was a successful battle, at the cost of several easily-replaced healing potions and a rare Bless scroll.  The iron gnomes had some gold trim, which was quickly looted.  Garreth wanted to take an entire broken iron gnome back to town, but they were hundreds of pounds, too heavy to easily manage.

With the mechanical foes all broken and Garreth mostly fixed, the group moved forward into the vault to see what the iron gnomes had been guarding.  Seépravir cast Seek Magic to simplify the search, and surprisingly it found some magic on a chair in the lounge.  After fighting an animated pushcart and an animated table, there was some worry the chair might be aggressive, but it turned out to be a normal chair with a magic scroll stuck under its cushion.  The scroll was written in Gnome, which nobody could read, so they saved it for town.

Moving forward into the vault, there were two huge scrolls on the walls, behind glass.  The writing on them appeared to be unreadable gibberish.  Zaber tried to figure it out, while Seépravir yelled at him to stop reading things that might be traps.  Zaber eventually stopped reading, pulled out his very fine knife, and attempted to cut the glass cleanly.  He failed, broke the glass instead, and took the scrolls.

When Zaber looked up, he noticed a secret door on the back wall.  The party stood back and got ready for trouble, but when Zaber opened the door, the small alcove behind it contained only a gnome-shaped pedestal (Seépravir recognized the gnome from her research as Ergus Silverheel, founder and first headmaster of the Clockwork Academy), holding a huge and well-preserved book, with some spiky runes on the cover that Seépravir recognized as Draconic.  Once again Zaber wanted to flip through the book, and once again Seépravir yelled at him to save that for town.  Zaber made his self-control roll against Curious and reluctantly agreed.

With the book and scrolls in a wheelbarrow, it was time to explore the rest of the level.  The group decided to cast Invisibility on Zaber and let him scout ahead.  There were 7 iron doors flanking the long hallway that had led to the vault, and he systematically checked all of them for traps, listened at them, and then opened them.  Behind the doors were some long-abandoned offices, full of rotten furniture, rotten books, rotten plants in old flowerpots, and the tiny skeleton of some kind of pet.  A conference room contained a huge and very nice wooden table, that looked like it might be worth a lot of money if it could somehow be removed and brought to town.  Otherwise, nothing good.

Zaber then went near the entrance of the Clockwork Academy and turned south down an unexplored passage.  It led to a large balcony with three more Iron Gnomes, a hatch on the far wall, and a couple of stairways down.  Trusting Invisibilty and his Stealth, Zaber snuck past the guards and down the stairs, to a hallway with five doors facing south.  Once again Zaber searched each of them for traps, listened at it, then opened it.  Once again, he found a bunch of old abandoned rooms full of ruined furniture, nothing good.

Zaber snuck past the iron gnomes again, and went back to the rest of the party.  They decided to destroy the iron gnomes.  The group huddled around the corner from where they knew their adversaries were, Zaber bringing another flowerpot since the previous one had helped, and then Polly popped around and started shooting.  This time, her first two shots were good enough to disable one of the iron gnomes.  Elias tried shooting one with his hand crossbow, but missed.  One of the remaining iron gnomes fired a dart at Polly and missed, while the other extended a lance and charged.  Seépravir cast Great Haste on Garreth.  Invisible Zaber hid on one of the staircases, preparing to ambush the lancer.

Polly fired a couple of arrows at the dart-firing iron gnome, wounding it but not severely.  The lancer reached Garreth and tried to impale him, but failed its Move and Attack roll.  Garreth triple attacked it with an All-Out Attack followed by two Rapid Strikes, and this time the lancer didn't dodge and was chopped to bits.  The dart gnome missed again, and then Polly shot it with a couple more arrows and disabled it.  The second fight against iron gnomes had been a lot easier than the first one.  The party quickly looted some gold trim and darts, then Zaber wandered over to the hatch on the far wall.

Like the previous hatches, this one led to a very narrow chute, though this one was at an angle rather than vertical.  Zaber tried to squeeze in, but didn't fit.  Time was running short, so the group decided to go back to town, and try to deal with this chute next week.

GM's Comments:

Garreth almost died, despite high defenses and Luck and Bless, as a result of being quadruple-teamed by four Iron Gnome lancers, plus some bad dice.  The Mortal Wound rule saved him, as he missed his second death check by 2 points.  One point higher and he'd be dead.

With Garreth out of the fight, Polly did literally all of the damage in the first battle, while Elias defended and Seépravir Levitated Garreth's unconscious body and Zaber pushed a flowerpot into a strategic location then got out of the way.

The big scrolls and the giant tome on the gnome pedestal looked interesting, but fear of traps meant the group didn't actually examine them in any detail while still in the dungeon.

The second group of Iron Gnomes was a lot easier than the first, because Polly knocked one out on the first turn of combat, and Garreth knocked another one out as soon as it got in melee range, and the one with darts never actually managed to hit anything.  (Range penalties mean that hitting things at long range is hard.  Unless you're Polly.)

We spent the whole session on two fights plus a bit of solo exploration, but it feels like the Clockwork Academy is mostly explored except for that one skinny chute down, so we'll see if they finish this level off next time.

1 comment:

  1. Sooner or later Polly wants Extra Attack 2 for even more ROF fun


DF Whiterock Session 56: Spider Temple

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