Sunday, March 1, 2015

DF Game Session 56, Felltower 47 - Mungo vs. Vryce, Part II

This is Part II of a session suspended last time due to lateness.

Characters: (approximate net point total)
Al Murik, dwarven cleric (277 points)
Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (270 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (395 points)
Vryce, human knight (468 points)
     Father Keef, human cleric (125 point NPC)
     Gort of the Shining Force, dwarf adventurer (NPC)

Still in town:

Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (265 points)
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (372 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (302 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)

We started the game mid-combat, with the PCs about to go.

What followed was a slow-motion disaster. I'll give the general flow of the combat, but not a blow by blow. It was too long, too complex, and too messy to do so. The fight took almost 7 hours of play, mostly because we took it slow and steady and I gave people plenty of time to make decisions. Also, there is a lot of complications with a dramatically modified battlefield fought over by lots of monsters and characters with lots of buff spells and penalties to contend with. Despite the real-world urgency of snow piling up, this was something we did slowly. We did lose Asher's player early because he lives north and snow was wiping out his chances of getting home.

As the fight started, Vryce continued to back off, fighting Mungo. It started to go badly right from the start. He failed a Dodge roll and took a pounding smash from Mungo's 282 lb. giant hammer, but it was a glancing blow. (I dumped dice over the GM screen, for Mungo's 8d+24. He did 46 damage - average damage for 8d+24 is 52.) Vryce was knocked back, but not down - a solid DX and ST 40 from his Giant Strength potion paid off.

Al continued to heal Vryce, and Dryst continued to renew Great Haste on him.

A few more seconds of brawling, and Vryce landed a few especially hard blows on Mungo - and he went down!

The giant troll teetered and fell backwards in the flames.

Vryce moved forward, trying to push the advantage against the fearless trolls. He carved up a pair of trolls badly, meanwhile spending a full turn of his Great Haste whacking the fallen Mungo to ensure he stayed down.

Vryce shouted Mungo's line - "Give me treasure!"

Dryst tossed his last Alchemist's Fire onto Mungo, lighting him up, since they knew he had DR that was clearly sufficient to ignore normal flame.

Vryce continued to push forward, cutting down another troll. Meanwhile, the trolls kept moving in closer, but not into the fire. More trolls packed in from behind.

But as Dryst then got a Flame Jet spell going and blasted Mungo - and nothing happened. Fire immune? Uh-oh. Mungo started to stir.

The trolls moved up, though, and along with their numbers (at least a dozen and a half) they had two rust monsters, which, as Dryst's player has long claimed, are their natural allies.

Dryst cast Mage Sight even as Vryce started to back off and the trolls started to gang-rush the PCs. His spell revealed Mungo had a magical necklace worn as a bracelet around his right wrist. But Vryce was too far from it, and even then the trolls were pushing him back by weight of numbers and Mungo was starting to sit up.

The trolls rushed into the flames, having mustered up enough numbers to make a solid charge. Not only that, but two of them hoisted their rust monster pets up and held them overhead to avoid the flames, and moved in.

Vryce kept fighting, pulling back, even as the rest of the PCs piled out of the Mystic Mist to try to fight a path to Mungo and get that bracelet off (or destroy it). They never got close - the trolls moved in and engaged, and trolls behind them rushed though any gaps and kept the PCs rolling back.

The PCs fell back fully into the Mystic Mist, which helped keep the fight even. But before they could fully retreat into it, one rust-monster-toting troll tossed his charge into the mist behind Vryce, who stumbled into it and lost his leg armor as he retreated. The trolls followed the PCs.

The fearless (well, Unfazeable) trolls weren't scared of the mist, but it did obscure their vision, disjoint their attacks (roughly half the time they'd wander off in the wrong direction), and otherwise annoy them. It kept one of the rust monsters from every doing anything really useful, though.

The fight in the mist was messy. Right around this time Vryce was grappled by multiple trolls. Asher hacks the arms off of one on Vryce's leg, and was dismayed when the arms held on to Vryce and the troll turned and tried to bite him! Vryce kept breaking free (ST 48 for grappling purposes) but the trolls kept on him, one biting his hand and hanging on.

Once he got free of that one, Vryce turned and kicked the rust monster who'd wrecked his leg armor, and traded a metal-covered boot for a solid impact, but didn't kill it. Even as trolls rushed past him, he cut one's head off, backed into its still-fighting body, and started in on the next trolls to stumble into the mist.

The fight was a confused mess of Al healing and using Lend Energy to keep Vryce conscious and fighting as his Great Haste spells ran down, Gort cutting trolls badly before getting his leg armor rusted off by falling on a rust monster, and Asher and Keef contributing with lots of damaging strikes. Dryst made himself invisible (and even briefly made Vryce invisible for a split-second advantage in the fight, which did help for that second).

The trolls kept pushing in, making a fast dash through the fire into the mist.

Gort went down with a crippled leg and then was knocked out by the trolls. Al managed to fight a bit longer, having stuck his pick into a troll and then ripped it out as it turned, then struck him again. He had to let go to retreat, and before he could do more than re-grip and rip out his pick he was knocked down and dropped it. He tried to get up, but a troll tore into him and knocked him out. Mungo, having entered the mist (and rolled a 3 on his IQ roll, thus avoiding any re-rolls to orient himself) pounded him into Al-Murik-Burger with a hammer blow.

Asher, on the front lines, was fighting and doing pretty well injuring and burning trolls. But one got past his guard and grappled him. Vryce stepped up and took a couple swings into the grapple, something he's well equipped to do - and critically missed, hitting Asher instead of his target, and then missing his target. He hit Asher for 46 cut, well in excess of what he'd been doing with his 6d+17. Asher dropped, blew a death check by 1, and was mortally wounded. To add insult to injury, he didn't hit the troll.

Dryst invisibly floated up to the ceiling and tried to stay quiet. He was out of almost everything and was planning to run.

Vryce backed up - Gort was down and out by now, Keef cornered and driven back toward the ghost's bones (and he'd soon drop), Dryst not combat-useful, and Al and Asher down.

Vryce put his back to the wall and fought. He kept slicing up trolls, dodging stabs from Mungo (who was crouched in this lower area and just cheerfully stabbing into melee), and doing his best to stay up. Vryce started becoming unlucky, though - he missed a few Dodge rolls, rolled a few 18s (two in a row, falling down from a Dodge) and getting grappled. Even as he went down and trolls tried to pile on to him to pin him, he'd roll just free enough to avoid them. He even managed to fend them off and get out and drink a Dexterity potion, use a Shield spellstone, and drink some healing potions - Great Haste, massively improved Fast-Draw from the +5 on his DX, and his sheer refusal to quit helped. He fumbled his sword a few times, dropped a healing gem, and was stabbed at least 3 times by Mungo (6d+4 impaling, ouch!) One troll even tossed the rust monster onto him while he was done and he just rolled away enough to avoid the poor confused thing's touch

Finally, it was clear he was alone, Dryst had blown the fight (getting off Hawk Flight), and he was utterly doomed. So he decided to break out. He tried repeatedly to slam his way to freedom. His excessive speed (Move 11) and ST 40 helped, but the trolls rolled very well and while they suffered horribly from the impacts, they stopped him from getting out. The rust monster managed to make an IQ roll and touch his back armor, rusting it away. Trolls behind him clawed up his back and tried to hang on to keep him from running, but it didn't work. Finally, Vryce evaded a troll and ran out of the mist and into the fire. They followed.

He reached the other side of the fire and ran into about a dozen trolls - there must have been more than two dozen in the first place. He couldn't get through, and Mungo closed in, waiting for him to turn to run to smash him. Vryce fought, with a combination of sword swings, slams, and lots of evasion. He even managed in one turn to run past two of three trolls before the last one got in his way. He was tantalizingly close to breaking out, but it finally went Mungo's way.

Trolls started to land grapples, and fend off Vryce's attempts to escape. Wounds slowed Vryce and with trolls on both arms he couldn't get out healing potions. Mungo slammed his hammer into Vryce a few times, ignoring the chance of smashing his own guys (he'd done that once before in the fight, and almost did it a few times now). Vryce took a hammer blow that knocked him prone, and more trolls piled on as he tried to get up. Then Mungo grabbed him, for a whopping 8 CP (on 4d. I'm serious - 4 twos.) Vryce managed to stay up, but he never did get fully free of the trolls as more and more grabbed him. In the end, Mungo got another hand on him, and with over 65 CP on him (remember, ST 40 and DX 19) he realized he was in trouble. He tried to play dead. Mungo wrenched him free of the other trolls, bite him for a lot of damage (putting him well south of -2xHP by now), and Vryce passed out for real.

By this point, Dryst had fled most of the way back to the entrance.

The fight was over.

Here are some pictures:

 photo morgo1s_zpsspbb6har.jpg

 photo morgo2s_zpscvozce8k.jpg

 photo morgo3s_zpsgtuj2unm.jpg

 photo Mungo 5_zpsttdcbmvh.jpg

 photo Mungo 6_zpsbxaxl3sp.jpg
This one is Vryce's last stand. He'd never step again past this spot.


After it was all done, I gave everyone some rolls:

9 or less to not be eaten by the trolls. Trolls are gluttons and can eat anything organic, but I knew they'd be in a rush to loot and avoid the ghost, who could potentially posses a troll and I'd decided they knew about the cursed cleric. Plus you never know, they might choose not to eat someone right away.

If eaten by trolls, a 6 or less meant there was enough left of the body to be under -10xHP, and thus possibly resurrectable.

We rolled for Vryce, Asher, Father Keef, Gort, and Al Murik. Out of the five all but Keef failed their "not eaten" rolls - even Vryce, using Luck. So, they didn't eat Keef. Vryce and Asher, though, made their "enough left" rolls. Gort and Al failed theirs badly.

So Gort and Al were completely devoured. This taught us that trolls love dwarves. Ate them bones and all, right away. Keef, though, was probably too close to the scary ghost - and the trolls hurriedly threw rocks as much as they could to fill up the gap before they dragged away their loot and burned trolls and battered rust monsters. That would explain him.

Vryce and Asher they quickly gutted, tore into chunks to get lootable stuff of of, chowed down on the choicest bits, and then tossed the corpses into the dungeon corridors as they dragged off their loot.

I rolled to see if anything else came along to chow down on the bits - nope.

I had Dryst roll to see if anything else came along to chow on him while we was resting or escaping - nope.

Dryst was able to get Vryce and Asher's corpses out via Apportation, Create Servant, and then skilled servants to swim them out. I gave him a roll to see how well it went - he rolled a 13, which wasn't bad.

Net loss: Al Murik, Gort, Keef - all dead and gone. Keef buried under rock. Vryce Resurrected, at a cost of 15,000 sp, and Asher possibly Resurrected if they can scrounge up the 15,000 sp for him, too. Vryce may have some assorted bits of spare gear in town to adventure with.


For me, the funny part is that my players assumed we'd be finished in no time - after Mungo went down, they figured, the fight was just about over except for slaughtering the trolls who stood. For me, the funny part is that I expected them to get killed off about 4 1/2 hours earlier. Still, it was one of those "holy moly, Vryce is amazing" fights.

It can be appallingly hard to hit people in GURPS, even with situational modifiers. Vryce was often prone, surrounded by trolls, and being gang-jumped, but they couldn't reliably get their claws on him. His Dodge thanks to eventually DX 19, a Shield spell (for +2 DB), Haste (+3 Dodge), and Mystic Mist (+1 defenses) overcame stuff like -3 for prone or -1 for bad footing. It makes me think the penalties for cumulative Dodge might be necessary in this kind of game. I won't rule it that way, but that you can have 5-10 trolls trying to jump you simultaneously and Dodge most of their attacks most of the time while unable to Retreat and often while prone is really a head-shaker.

I think the "not eaten" and "if eaten, are there bits left?" rolls were generous but fair. Had they all been blown (and if Dryst had been killed and unable to help), it could have been a TPK. Had enough been made, maybe some would have been left for dead but not actually dead and been able to sneak out of the dungeon. Maybe. I figured this was a good way to let luck and the dice add one final twist to the whole affair. Plus, it would automatically kill complaints later about "Would the trolls have . . . ?" or "But what about . . .?" Not that anyone would feel that "trolls eat you to the bones and you're gone, make new guys" was unfair . . . but having the rolls there would have made it feel like they had every chance. Plus it let me be generous without handing anyone anything. They "earned" those results the same way they earn hit rolls, with lucky dice.

The actual results are interesting. That Gort and Al were both eaten means that something I'd never have ruled (trolls love dwarf flesh) is true, and that Keef wasn't but did were they'd toss rocks meant a second priest lies alongside the ghost of the bishop. A simple ruling about everyone being eaten wouldn't do that.

Speaking of dice, I continued to roll completely awfully on high-dice damage. Mungo actually hit for 39 damage with an 8d+24 strike - yes, 15 damage on 8d. He did 8 CP on 4d, too, and then 12 CP on 4d. Only a couple times did he roll above average damage. The trolls, though, generally rolled 8-12 damage.

Trolls are appallingly tough to kill in GURPS. This is my fault, on purpose. They are Unkillable, with an Achilles' Heel, and I've ruled you need to do at least 1xHP in damage from their A.H. to count - no putting them to -220 (aka -10xHP) and doing 1 HP of fire damage to kill them. So the best way to kill them is to dice them into bits and then kill the bits with a big, hot, long fire. So after all of that, there were only a few trolls lost permanently - the early chargers who spent minutes on fire, often double-soaked with Create Fire and Alchemist's Fire. So Mungo, with his HP-enhanced Regeneration, immunity to fire, and so on, wasn't going anywhere quickly, even down. And yes, the PCs dealt something like almost 1000 damage to him over the fight.

And he was fine within minutes, tops, of the fight ending.

We're waiting to find out if Asher's player wants his PC raised from the dead. If not, that's that. If so, and they can raise the funds, he'll be back (we already did the roll.) Al Murik's cousin will probably show up, wanting revenge (by way of never going back to the water entrance.) And we'll see how they re-equip.

XP? I'll have to check, but it's possibly 0 here except for MVP (for two sessions.) No loot, 2 PCs deaths, 2 NPC deaths, severe defeat.

All in all, though, it was a fun session.

Game day

It's game day today.

We'll find out:

- Who is tougher, Mungo and his trolls or Raggi's Roughnecks (sans Raggi)?

- Do the PCs have some tricks up their sleeves? For that matter, do the trolls?

- If the PCs are tougher, can they survive their victory, get the loot, and escape with their lives?

- If they don't . . . what are they going to run next?

- And will snow cut our session short?

I'll post a brief summary tonight even if I lack the time for a full summary.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Do you use minis with your GURPS games?

Pretty simple question - the single largest part of my mobile gaming kit are my minis cases. My game would be much more mobile without them. But I love painting and using minis, and I feel like they add a huge amount of color and fun and clarity to my games.

Even using a stripped-down combat system, I still have the minis deployed on the map for marching order and to keep everyone straight.

What about everyone else?

If you play GURPS, do you use minis, or their virtual equivalent?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Magic Item: Staircase Carpet, Redux

The other day I posted a staircase carpet magic item based on this picture:

Here is an alternative, suitable for any system.

Portable Basement

When unrolled, the carpet creates a door to a pocket dimension. The dimension is a small, closed up rectangular unfinished basement, furnished with rickety chairs, a re-purposed table, and adequate lighting. Up to 12 people can enter uncomfortably. Each time it is used it re-stocks itself with 12 gamer-days worth of cheesy snack foods and caffeinated beverages. It can be used for up to 16 hours in a row, but then must be rolled up and recharged over the other eight. If rolled up with occupants in it, they are immediately (but safely) ejected.

Practically an unlimited amount of books, papers, dice, and miniature figures can be stored here. Any combat or exercise related gear, or actually valuable materials however, will be quickly buried until piles of character record sheets or messed up by cats and be effectively unusable.

The Portable Basement can be used daily by users up to the end of college. After college, it can be used once per week, schedule permitting. May require spousal permission.

Cost: Priceless. Weight: 5# but bulky rolled up.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thoughts on whiffing in D&D-based vs. GURPS

The other day, Douglas Cole posted a game summary in which his character missed a lot in D&D. I've experienced the same in Swords & Wizardry.

And as a GM, I have had a lot of attacks "whiff" in GURPS - either miss (not that common) or hit but get warded off by the defender (much more common.)

I find that whiffing in D&D feels a lot different to me than whiffing in GURPS. Reflecting on this a little bit, I think this is because of two things:

1) Defenses.

2) Baked-In Options.

When I whiff in a D&D game, I pretty much start to feel useless until I start hitting again.

When I whiff in a GURPS game, it's a little different. First off, most of the time the "whiff" is the net result. I still hit, I still manage to land a blow. My opponent must do something about it. If the enemy Blocks or Parries, well, I'm draining defenses from the target. If he Dodges, I'm forcing movement which potentially could mean falling if he Critically Fails. Maybe he'll Retreat and give up space I want to exploit.

And if I keep whiffing, I can up the ante with Feint or Deceptive Attack or flanking or switching attack modes to something that at least potentially changes the equation. Access to those options really changes the dynamic of what I feel like I can do if necessary. I feel like I have more control, and it's not as luck-based.

DR matters as well - in D&D, once you get hit, you're hit. The blow tells as well as if you had no armor at all - the armor factors into how many of them land. In GURPS, armor factors on hits by reducing them. It might even reduce them to zero. But I find when that happens, my mind starts to turn to, what can I do that isn't impeded by armor? And many options present themselves.

In D&D, in short, I feel like when I miss, I'm useless and my best bet is to hope for better rolls. In GURPS, if I miss because of skill, I can take options to hit more often, and if because of defenses, options to reduce those.

You might say that in D&D-based games, you can try anything. You can explain what you want to do to the DM and he or she will rule on it. But that's true in GURPS, too, to the same extent - you can try anything, and it's equally up to the GM how that goes. But the combination of baked-in options to choose from coupled with a higher hit percentage, which is then coupled with an active roll for the defender to see if it lasts despite counter-action, makes me feel more involved.

That's pretty much what it boils down to - in a straight-up fight, I feel in D&D-based games like my best tactic is to roll better, and I feel a little frustrated and useless when the rolls don't let me hit. In GURPS, I feel like I've got more decisions to make, and that I am less frustrated when it nets out to the same thing - whiffing.

I think this probably says a lot about why I prefer the game systems I do - the more combat is an interaction of factors and not an abstracted one-roll resolution, the more I enjoy combat. And since combat is something I find especially fun in games (and really fun in combat sports in reality), that drives a lot of my enjoyment.

None of which is to say I'm not looking forward to my next D&D game and next S&W game. It's just that I think I have a handle on why whiffing there bothers me more than whiffing in my GURPS games.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Magic Item: Staircase Carpet

I saw this picture on Jason Blalock's G+ feed.

So naturally, I have to stat it up.

For Swords & Wizardry / Basic Fantasy Role-Playing / Labyrinth Lord / D&D 5e:

Portable Staircase. Once per day, the owner may unroll this carpet and use it as a real staircase down. It can create a temporary staircase down through up to 30' of material. The staircase will reach up to a further 10' down to touch the floor. If no open space exists within 30' of the surface it is placed upon, the carpet does not function. It can> open into open air, however. Once rolled back up, the staircase disappears. Anything on the staircase is either dropped back down to the level below or to the level above (50% chance of each) and is unharmed by the process. The staircase lasts until the rug is rolled up, after which the carpet must remain unused for 24 hours to recharge. The carpet can be rolled up from above or below; this takes 1 round. 6' x 3', Weighs 5#.


Portable Staircase. Allows the user to create a temporary staircase down. Treat this as Create Door, but it only functions vertically down, penetrates up to 10 yards of material. The staircase will extend up to 4 yards past this point to touch the floor. Functions once per day. Once rolled back up, the staircase disappears. Anything on the staircase is either dropped back down to the level below or to the level above (50% chance of each) and is unharmed by the process. The staircase lasts until the rug is rolled up, after which the carpet must remain unused for 24 hours to recharge. The carpet can be rolled up from about or below; this takes 10 seconds. 6' x 3', Weighs 5#

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Painted Reaper Ape-X, Ape-X

Way back when I got Bones I, I got a lot of duplicates. One of them was Ape-X, the cybernetic super-ape.

I said at the time, do I trade one? After all, why do I need two gatling-armed super-apes?

I still have no answer to that except to posit that it is, prima facie, kind of a silly question. Why wouldn't I need two gatling-armed super-apes, if I need one?

So I kept them both and painted them. I've been meaning to post pictures of the guys, who are waiting for a Gamma World-themed minis battle or something. I painted them quite a while ago - maybe in the Summer? But then I stuck them in a storage drawer and kept forgetting to snap pictures.

 photo Ape-X001s_zps42b01387.jpg

 photo Ape-X002s_zps243c0f6f.jpg

I love the pose on these guys, but I have a sad fact to report - no matter how you stand them, the wide base means they can't actually bump fists. These guys should be able to greet each other like heroes in an Schwarzenegger movie. But they can't, and that makes them . . . very . . .angry.

Just saying.
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