Saturday, June 14, 2014

The times they, are a changin'

Over the last couple of session I could feel a change in some of  my players attitude towards the megadungeon. They just weren't as excited about it as they had been. I made some adjustments to the game. I added more puzzles, reduced the random encounters, gave out some treasure with small plot hooks attached, that sort of thing. 
That helped a little.
The players just weren't into it any more. But because they are all good guys, they played on. After our last session (my off week of GMing), I asked point blank if the dungeon was still fun. The response was a hearty "Meh." One player (Batista) stepped up and commented about there not being enough story. That in the past my games had been about story, and this game was just a slog through a dungeon.The other players present agreed. I still need to check with the guys who weren't there, but I have a feeling they will agree. 

A bit of History. 
The first campaign  ran for this group was a series of loosely linked published adventures. Some were from old Dungeon magazines. Some were PDFs purchased from places like RPGNow. All of the adventures were converted from D&D to GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. It was a lot of fun. The players advanced from 125 point characters to about 300 point characters. The problem was in the style of play. From the GM side of things I felt like I was railroading the players through the adventures. I don't know if that is how the players felt. I should have asked. The group went through some big changes, players left, players joined. The combination of the roster changes and the perception of the railroad track I had laid down led me to close that game down.

Next I GMed a Shadowrun game, converted to GURPS, of course. As a reaction to the tight story lines of the previous game, I built a huge sandbox for the players to run around in. I had a couple of plot lines running, each with ways for the PCs to interact and affect. It started out pretty well. The first couple of runs came off with a few minor incidents that planted the seeds for things to come. But then the players started to flounder. I had built the sandbox too big. Way too big. The players were looking for something with more direction. Again we were experiencing some roster changes in the group and it seemed like a good time to switch things up again.

That brings us to Spiderweb in the Corner and the megadungeon under Castle Falconflight. Here I built a tiny sandbox. The PCs could do whatever they want as long as it involves going into the dungeon, killing monsters and getting treasure. It felt like a good solution to the problem I was having in the Shadowrun game. Limited area, limited NPCs, and a very straight forward game. I set things up for the players to power game their way down into the depths.

Not enough story. I was enjoying the slug fest, the minimal prep, the focus of the game, but it was/is lacking.

So, Its time to change again. I have a couple of options. I could expand the game world, send the PC out beyond the one town and one dungeon. Or I can change the game completely.
 I am going with option 2. I am currently planning on starting a GURPS Reign of Steel campaign.
Thanks to this great article written by +Peter V. Dell'Orto, I will building a limited sandbox. There will be tons of adventure to be had in the sandbox, and if the players start moving towards the edge, I will endeavor to bring them back using plot hooks, and rewards. I still have a lot of decisions to make. How many points? Where in the game world? I need to create the NPCs the characters will interact with etc. 

I plan to continue the blog, although its focus will change. I also intend to keep the megadugeon ready to roll, for one shots, or if we have a guest player that would be hard to work into the RoS game.

So, who among you has played or GMed a Reign of Steel game? What advice can you give me?


Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Chilly reception, Undead spiders, and someone gets tossed off a roof.

The Party
Batista, human thief, approximately 325 points
Aquinas, Dwarf cleric, approximately 325 points
William Von Cromberg, human knight, approximately 325 points
Acroa, Human scout, approximately 305 points
AElfvine, Human Wizard, approximately 315 points

No hirelings joined this foray to the dungeon.

After gathering a couple of rumors, stocking up on healing potions and other consumables the party prepared for another early morning departure for the dungeon. Just as they were about to go up to their rooms for the night a man entered the Inn. He was ragged and wounded. His left had was missing, his arm ending in a stump covered in bloody bandages. He had bruising on his neck, as if he had been strangled. He walked with a noticeable limp. An empty scabbard hung at his waist. The bandoleer over his shoulder was empty. His chain mail missing several links and caked with blood. He staggered over to the group and flung a rolled sheaf of papers at the group. Shouting as though he were deaf, "I'm Done. I will Never Go Back to that thrice cursed dungeon. Here take these maps" His voice dropped to a barely heard whisper he continued, " I left four friends down there, if you see them, tell them I'm sorry."
The maps were very basic, and seemed to be areas that were new to the characters. In all there were 3 maps. One labeled "B", one "C" and one "E". Both B and C were of man made dungeon, but E indicated natural caverns and an underground river.

Accompanied by the wagon crew, the group rolled out just before dawn. Traveling over the river and through the woods they eventually came to the clearing surrounding Castle Falcolnflight and the ruined village.
Stopping at the clearings edge, William, using a spyglass, spotted a couple of figures walking on the outer wall of the castle. Batista was selected to sneak ahead of the group and gather information. In the mean time the rest of the party stealthfully made their way to the rally point in the ruined village.

Batista waited until the figures were out a sight before sneaking his way to the base of the wall. Fearing more people may be inside the castle, he elected to climb the outer wall. Three stories straight up. The climb was difficult, requiring several rolls all with negative modifiers, but his extremely high skill came through. Once on the walkway he found a shadowy corner to hide in. Here he waited for the cloaked figures to return. His luck held as only one of them approached him. Silently stepping from the shadow Batista snapped his saber out at the mans neck, doing enough damage to decapitate him. Batista quickly tossed the body over the crenelations of the wall and returned to his hiding spot. The second figure came around to investigate. Batista once again slipped from the shadows, this time running his blade through the man's belly. Too wounded to react the man staggered a bit. Batista planted his foot in the mans back and kicked him off the roof. Batista climbed down the wall and rolled the bodies for loot, finding only a dagger and a couple of gold on each one. Batista rejoined the group at the rally point. Once there Batista was questioned by the group as to what the figures were. He really didn't have much information, other than that they were human and poorly armed.

Leaving the relative safety of the rally point the group crossed the clearing as quickly and quietly as they could. They entered the castle through one of the many holes in the wall. Once inside they made straight for the stairway leading down to the dungeon below. Once underground they opted for the easier but longer path to what was now being called level A. The plan was to get to level B in as direct a route as possible. Taking the long narrow passage near the Crypt with the Otoroshi guarding it they headed for the stairway where they had encounter the giant bombardier beetles.

At the edge of their torch light they spied some quick, furtive movement. Acroa scouted ahead of the party to see what he could find. As he approached he saw movement again. This time he was able to make out that whatever it was had pale skin, and was smaller than a man. Suspecting a trap, the group stacked up at the next corner in the hallway. Leaping around the corner in an attempt to surprise their quarry, Batista was suddenly bathed in a aura of debilitating cold and frost. The six Frostfell Harriers were considerably quicker than the party. Taking advantage of their speed, the Harriers dashed up the hallway to better engage the party in close combat. Batista was set upon by two of the creatures, each attacking him with icy claws. Batista was able to dodge both attacks easily. However, the Cold aura surrounding the Imps took its toll,doing 5 points of damage. The rest of the party was similarly able to fend off the claw attacks, but each was wounded by the sub-zero cold. Aquinas started casting Protection from Cold as quickly as he could on the most wounded members of the party, but the tight hallway made this difficult. William was his usual killing machine wading through the Harriers as quickly as he could get to them. Aelfvine was able to snare one with a Fascinate spell, allowing the other members of the party to dispatch it with ease. By the time the combat was over most of the party was severely wounded. Healing potions were used in great quantity, everyone received some first aid. While the spell casters rested, William lamented not having sought out Brother Murdock to join them.

The Delvers then made their way to Level B and using the newly acquired map, discovered that they had missed several rooms on the last trip down. The first of these rooms contained a long bench, big enough to hold six people, facing a large wooden X  standing in the center of the room. Each arm of the X had a manacle attached to it. Behind the X was a small chair, bolted to the floor and facing away from the Planks. The far side of the room had a locked wooden door. Batista mad quick work of the lock and discovered torture chamber behind the door. In addition to the usual racks, iron maidens and other tools of the trade the group found a large drain in the floor covered with a heavy iron grate.

Peering down into the darkness Batista was able to make out some angular shapes, no details, but the shapes were definitely man made. Working together the party was able to lift the grate out of the opening. Securing a rope to one of the torture devices the group began to lower themselves down the drain. William waited until the entire group was down then jumped in, using a ring of feather fall to make his way down.

The room was large. The walls covered in murals of giant spiders, demons, dark elves and creatures that were half man-half spider. Several large graves dominated the center of the room. Each was six feet square and stood about four feet tall. Each of the stone graves was also covered in carvings of spiders, dark elves, and the half man-half spider creatures. Batista, wanting to see what was inside tried to shift one of the stone lids on the graves. As soon as he touched the stone it began to tremble and shake. Soon all of the lids were doing the same. Then with a loud crack the lids all broke into pieces and giant Undead spiders about 9 feet across clambered out.
The party panicked a bit. Batista, still wounded from the fight with the Frostfell Harriers made his way to the one doorway out of the room. Acroa loosed an arrow at the over sized eye of one of the spiders. William also made his way to the doorway Batista was intending to flee through. Aquinas fired of an armor spell on AElfvine. AElfvine began to concentrate on an illusion spell. The spiders attacked and most were able to defend with out much issue although they did have to give ground and would soon be backed up against the walls.
Batista after realizing that the rest of the group was going to stand and fight returned from the hallway, ran his full move and took a wild swing at the closest spider. Acroa loosed another eye shot, scoring good damage. William was able to advance and attack also.
The fight went on for a couple more rounds, neither side able to do much damage to the other. AElfvine's spell finally went off and trying to play to the natural tendencies of spiders created a phantasm of thousands of smaller spiders attacking the giant spiders. This was just the edge the group needed. It didnt cause a lot of damage but it was enough to put a couple of them over the edge. This made it much easier for the party to gang up on the remaining spiders.
Hidden among the grave good the party found a suit of plate armor, black as night. Aelfvine rolling well on his Hidden lore, magic items skill was able to recognize it as a being Armor of Darkness.

IT was getting late and we needed to end for the night.


Two really close fights. THe Harriers were more difficult than I thought. They arent all that tough, but do hace a 1d cosmic aura attack. The spiders were easier for teh party to deal with. It was fun to see the looks on all of the players faces when I picked up 7 dice for a damage roll. by far the most I have used in this game.

Armor of Darkness: Known abilities: DR 8 all but torso, Torso DR 15. Deflect missile (only when an active defense is allowed), Dark vision. Being worn by "Good" people causes damage to the wearer.

The maps were given because I was tired of trying to keep the directions traight between myself anf the player doing the mapping. The maps are not labeled in any way and may not alwys be correct, but it should help save a lot of confusion

At the end of the session the players wanted to camp in the dungeon. I said no. My response was to paraphrase +Peter V. Dell'Orto from his blog Dungeon Fantastic;
    First you start camping in the dungeon, then you hide things in the dungeon, then you have to guard the things you have hidden, then you have to live in the dungeon to protect your stuff all the time, then you become one of the monsters in the dungeon.

I was wrong to say no. I should have let them camp. I mean really, why not. If the party does follow the example above, the game changes. Either starting over with new PCs or with a different focus on the mico climate within the dungeon.

Gas Attack and a Giant Crab

First session in a long time. The weather was nice, and we got a late start due to little league practice.

The Party
Batista, human thief, approximately 320 points
Aquinas, Dwarf cleric, approximately 320 points
William Von Cromberg, human knight, approximately 320 points
Acroa, Human scout, 300 points

Brother Murdoc, Human Cleric, unknown point total. Hired by William Von Cromberg to provide some healing power as Aquinas has no healing spells.
Daniel Red Apple, Halfling, unknown template, unknown points, glommed onto the party while they were in town.

The list looks a bit different, Ori's player moved to a different state. Drav's player switched out to play a scout, replacing  Ori and eliminating the overlap between the two wizards. AElfvine's player was away on a business trip.

Other than making sure the still had use of the Inn's wagon, the party did little in town.

The Group, their hirelings and the wagon drivers all set out in the early morning hours to Castle Falconlflight. The journey was uneventful and the band stopped just short of the clearing around the Castle. While the rest of the group found a place to stash the wagon, Acroa scouted around the ruins of the town and the back of the Castle.

Making a bee line for the second level of the dungeon the group headed down the ladder hidden in the jail cell in the basement of the Castle. Making their way to the closest stair way down they entered what was once a priests robing room. The stairs were behind a closed door. Acroa took the lead and headed down the stairs. About halfway down he started to suffer from nausea and feeling weak. A foul stench began to waft up from the room below. Unable to see into the room, the party started rummaging through their packs looking for a disposable light source. Daniel, the halfling follower, reached into an interior pocket of a ridiculous overcoat and pulled out a glow vial, which he chucked down the stairs before anyone could stop him. The light revealed a dense mist of poison gases about waist deep populated by six giant bombardier beetles. William, armed with his sword and a continual light stone charged down the stairs, holding his breath as best he could. The light was more effective than the sword, causing the beetles to flee out of the room into their warrens.

The room was an art gallery, or rather it had been an art gallery. Several ornate frames hung on the wall, but the canvases had been crudely cut from the frames and were missing.

At this point mapping was all but abandoned and the players rushed from room to room. First they discovered a small room, all four walls covered with plain red tapestry. a bit of searching revealed a door on the far side of the room. The party spent some time trying to figure out the purpose of the curtains, but did not discern any thing out of the ordinary.
The next room was filled with low tables and cushions. The tables and most of the floor were covered in small (1 inch) loose tiles, each with different symbols on them. The party surmised that the tiles were used in a game similar to Mahjong.

Continuing on they found a closed door that felt warm to the touch. The hallway smelled especially musty. after checking the door for traps, and finding none, they opened it to reveal a room filled with steam. Inthe center was a small fire over which was a pan filled with rocks. Next to the fire was a bucket filled with water.  Entering the sauna, they were attacked by a steam elemental. William engaged the elemental with sword and shield, to little effect. Due to the vaporous nature of the beast every attack against it only did 2 points of damage. The group hung in there, taking only minor wounds and eventually sent the creature packing back to its home realm. Searching the room reveal a silver bracelet inlaid with mother of pearl. The inlay depicted a sun being eclipsed by the moon.

Continuing with the pell mell run through the level they found themselves in a very long corridor with many twists and turns that eventually turned into another section of rooms.
Here, somewhat frustrated by the way in which the group was proceeding, William stood in the hallway and started banging on his shield and yelling at the top of his lungs. This had the desired effect, drawing out the closest dungeon dwelling monster, a giant Crab. The crab lunged at William with a pincer but he was able to deflect the blow off of his shield. William wound up for the return strike, taking an unusual called shot to the head. Rolling a three, William struck a critical blow. Rolling on the table he came up with the "treat it as a major wound result." turns out he didn't need it. The damage roll (3d+7) came up an 18+7 for 25 points. Maximum damage, killing the beast outright.

After this there was bit more exploring, including finding another art gallery, this one still intact, however the frames were trapped with a lightning spell that did a number on Batistia. After gathering up the artwork, the party headed for home.

William is coming into his own as the groups tank. In all my years of gaming I have never seen max damage rolled on a critical hit. It was pretty awesome.

Batista's player suffers some sort of curse. IF there is any form of electricity in an adventure, his character will be the one to find it. IT happens over and over. As the GM this amuses me to no end. I have never rigged it for him to be the one getting shocked, it just happens.....all the time.

Hiring Brother Murdock the healer was a help, they would have had to head home sooner had they not had him along. Daniel the halfling didn't really have any impact on the session, but I think as time goes on, he will.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A shelf full of 3 ring binders

The book shelf in my home office is a modest one. A simple put it together yourself model from the local outlet of the worlds largest retailer. Five shelves, plain white, and rather boring. I did replace the cheap cardboard back with salvaged pallet wood to add character and strength, but the shelf is just the vessel, what is on the shelves is what matters.

The top f the unit is covered in mementos, including a green telephone from my grandmother's house, a Spider-man cake decoration from  my 30th birthday, and a ceramic dragon painted by my son when he was younger.

The first shelf is filled with works of fiction, many authors, many genres.

The second  and third shelves is home to my gaming books, mostly GURPS but a few others thrown in for good measure. The books are sorted by genre. Fantasy, Alternate earth, Space, Western, Supers and a few Genre defying.  In each section there are two or three large three ring binders.

The Binders.

Each binder is home to a campaign I have run in the past. Character sheets, NPCs, maps, all of it. Ready to go in a moments notice.  The binders are the equivalent of a Zombie Apocalypse "Go Bag".

If my group of players were to come to me and say they wanted to change games, I could, in just an hour or two, get them running. By the time the players finished building characters, I can review enough of the material to run a starting adventure.

I have a fully developed Supers world ready to go. It pulls a lot of stuff from Champions and Mutants and Masterminds, but I run it in GURPS. I have 3 distinct power levels set up for the game, depending on what the players what to do. I can run a street level game, a regional/national level game, and an international/world level game.

I have a Fantasy world ready to go as well. I have several plot lines, each in a different geographical location, ready to go. The word has large cities, wild regions, and lightly populated areas.

I have SCI-FI covered as well.
 Cyberpunk, got it, in the form of a mash up between GURPS Cyberworld and Shadowrun, depending on if the players what magic or not.
I can run a GURPS Reign of Steel, or GURPS Monster Hunter
I can run a  Space based game too. Traveller, Firefly, WH40k, all ready to go. OK the 40k needs some work, but not much. With a bit more time I could pull together a Star Wars game, but that is very undeveloped at this time.

Point is, save the stuff you have already run. You may need to shave the serial numbers of a few things if your players have seen it before, but you will have it.
 If your players aren't as excited about a game as you are, you can change with little fuss. If you need a one shot because the regular GM is down with the flu, pull out an old supers encounter to fill in. Need a break from the current game? Pull out the binder from a different genre. Stuck for an idea? Go through the binders, maybe change a weird alien into a new fantasy race or monster. Maybe the Pirates from you old fantasy game can crew the Star ship attacking the PCs.

Truth is other than the mega dungeon I am running now, I haven't run a completely original game in years, maybe decades. But, then again, I could drop it into Cyberpunk as a sewer, or Space as a space station, or Supers as an underground lair for the evil mastermind. Good thing I am saving all my notes in a 3 ring binder.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Seven weeks is a long time

So, I havent had a chance to run a game in seven weeks. Normally a break this long would have kicked my gaming ADD into over drive and I would have shown up at tomorrows session with an entire new campaign world ready to foist on my players.

Not this time.

I was able to resist the urge a couple of ways.
First, I didn't go looking for new ideas for the campaign I am currently running, I didn't need to. Running the self contained dungeon has allowed me to plan further out than I normally would have. The maps have all been completed for some time. The upper levels have been stocked, restocked and reviewed. The encounters have been buffed, or de-buffed as needed. The treasures are ready and waiting.

Second, I didn't read any gaming books. This is what usually kicks me into "New Game Planning Mode." Once I start reading about new settings, adventures or whatever, I cant help myself. Often times I will pick up a out of genre book, looking for crossover ideas. This will then percolate in my mind until the ideas become entire campaigns on their own.

So tomorrows session will not be a new game, in a new world, with new characters. Just good old fashioned dungeon crawling.

Boy, am I looking forward to it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lost Reich paper model

So, the  regular dungeon crawl game has been on hiatus for about 6 weeks now. It has been a weird combination of illness, spring break, vacations, work and on and on

 In the mean time I have been working on some paper models to use in different games.

Below, is a 28mm scale version of Fat Dragon Games' Lost Reich Sherman Mk. 1 mecha. This model was originally designed to be 15mm scale, but I wanted to use it in a different setting. After a  little work in GIMP to change the scale and clan up some details I didn't want in the larger model, and I was ready to print. The model went together pretty easily. It took me about an afternoon, while i was watching television, to fully assemble the model. This included cutting it by hand, scoring the folds, coloring the edges, assembly and basing.

 Above, the 28 mm scale version pictured with an original 15mm scale Sherman and a GW Imperial Guard

Again the 28mm scale Sherman, an Imperial Guard soldier, and a soda can for scale.

the two versions, 15mm on the left and 28mm on the right.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Session 4: Skulls and Spiders

The Party:
Batista, human thief, approximately 315 points
Orivileni, who is called Ori, Wood Elf scout, approximately 315 points
Aquinas, Dwarf cleric, approximately 315 points
William Von Cromberg, human knight, approximately 315 points
Drav Emberstrike, dwarf wizard, approximately 315 points
Aelwine, human wizard, approximately 305 points

Guest appearance:
Unnamed Dwarf fighter, approximately 300 points. A former player was in town for the night and used a sheet out of the back up characters file.

The players spent quite a bit of time figuring our how they wanted to spend earned CP. Once again most chose to raise stats, or save to raise stats. Time was also spent on deciding what to do with the suit of armor found last session. In the end they sold it to purchase quite a bit of equipment including a permanent Continual light stone, enchanting William's sword with Puissance +1, and a ton of healing potions. As this was the first real money they were able to spend, I didn't bother to roll for availability.

Gathering rumors was less successful for the group this session. I would report them, but I have misplaced the notebook where I recorded the rolls on the chart. (Doh!) I do recall that at least two were already known to be false.

Once again the wagon team from the White Wyvern Inn agreed to accompany the group to the castle in exchange for a portion of the loot.

As usual the group departed the White Wyvern Inn before dawn, over the river and though the woods to castle Falconflight. Scouting around the valley showed no new work in the rebuilding of the castle. After helping the wagon team hide themselves in the ruined town, the group headed into the Castle through the larger gap in the back wall of the Castle.

In the castle jail, the party heard the sounds of fighting from around a corner. Ori sneaked ahead to see what was happening. In the hallway a three foot long Acid spider had a man in plate armor pinned to the ground. The man was no longer fighting back. The sound was actually the spider trying to get past the armor to enjoy his evening meal. Ori loosed and arrow while signaling for the rest of the group to charge in. Aelwine cast an illusion causing the hallway to appear longer than it really was. The spider fell for the trick and came up short on its charge. After that it was quick work for the party to bring the spider down. They did recover enough venom from the spider to make several acid grenades. 

Wasting no time the delvers headed down to the large passage, now known as Giant Cockroach path. Once in the dungeon, the delvers made a bee line for the terraced dining room. The group made their way to the bottom of the center isle ramp. Batista suspected that there should be a door here and began searching.  He did not find a door but buried under the rubble at the end of the ramp he did find 3 copper tiles in the floor, each about an arms distance apart. A little poking and prodding later, the party realized the the three tiles were pressure plates. Everyone readied weapons while Batista, Aelwine, and William stepped on the tiles. With an extremely loud sound of rusty gears, a secret door opened vertically in the wall. Everyone rushed through into a long narrow hall way. 

Advancing cautiously they came upon an unlocked door. While Batista checked the door for traps, Ori ran back to the Terraced dining room and stacked up a bunch of tiles in the still open doorway and returned to the party. His search complete, Batista opened the door. As he did, the same screeching metal sound filled the air. Thankfully ORi's tiles had stopped the door from closing completely, leaving just enough room to shimmy through should they need to.

Entering the room revealed eleven small alcoves, each with what at first appeared to be two burning candles in the recess. As the group moved closer the shadows shifted revealing the true nature of the lights.  Eleven flaming skulls took flight and attacked the party. Immediately blades were flashing, hammers swinging and spells were flung. Drav let fly with an area effect fire spell that did little damage. Batista tried to flee the fight by exiting the room through a door on the side wall. Three of the skulls pursued him just as the door slammed shut behind him. It was another battle of patience as the size modifier and speed of the skulls made them hard to hit and the cosmic nature of their attack dealt a slow steady stream of damage to the players. Batista trapped alone with three of the skulls was a dodging machine. He was only hit once or twice before the rest of the group showed up to rescue him. After the fight was over, 11 bloodstone gems were found, one in each alcove. William gathered these up and the party moved on.

A bit of exploring revealed the party to be in a complex of rooms and hallways behind the large room with the crypt.  While passing through the  crypt room, careful to stay on the correct tiles, the party saw the corpse of the Otoroshi they had slain on the last trip in. By watching for a few seconds they were able to see a second Otorshi had taken residence on the roof of the crypt. Aelwine made several rude gestures at the guardian, but it ignored him.

Moving on, the party found themselves in a large lounge. several overstuffed chairs, lanterns, chandeliers, and other fine furniture were placed around the room. While the others set to searching and looting, Aquinas flopped down in one of the chairs, kicked his feet up on one of the coffee table and tipped his head back in hopes of catching a quick nap to recover lost fatigue. As he gazed at the ceiling it started to wriggle and writhe. Aquinas tried to jump up and alert the others but before he could a three foot spider had dropped from the ceiling and tried to bite him. Large spiders cascaded from the ceiling as the party tried to gather into a defensive formation.  The fight went pretty well for the adventures. A few people were bitten, most had plenty of armor to protect them. Those that didn't took not only the 1d-1 from the bite, but 1d-1 fatigue damage as a follow up attack. The spiders were quick and dodged a lot of the attacks. As players figured out the spiders could not get through the characters armor, they started using all out attack, extra attack, to force the spiders to dodge more.  The fight still drug on for quite a while. In the end all the spiders were dead, the party was able to heal, and gather quite a bit of loot.

The party made it out of the dungeon, and back to town with no difficulty.

The second spider fight was long, really long. The players seemed to get a bit disinterested. I take the blame for that, I was not giving very good descriptions of the action. By the end of the fight, they were just happy to have it over.

Not sure why more of the players are not taking advantage of Power-ups. I think it might be not wanting to take the time to read and understand them and just get playing. Not sure if this needs "fixed" or not.

Note taking continues to be a weak link on my part. I have to slow down and take better notes.

the Plate armor, the gems and the furnishings from the lounge added up to a pretty good haul. for the first time, having the wagon waiting for them has paid out. 

Each player got 5 CP.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Session 3: Fish-men and a Guardian Spirit

Bitter cold and howling winds did not keep us from playing.

The Party:
Batista, human thief, approximately 310 points
Orivileni, who is called Ori, Wood Elf scout, approximately 310 points
Aquinas, Dwarf cleric, approximately 310 points
William Von Cromberg, human knight, approximately 310 points
Drav Emberstrike, dwarf wizard, approximately 310 points
Aelwine, human wizard, approximately 300 points

The session started with the party in town doing research, gathering rumors, and trying to arrange for a wagon team to accompany them to Castle Falconflight.
 Drav spent time at the Academy researching the guardian spirit discovered near the end of the last session. He learned that the Otoroshi would leave the group unmolested, if they had good intentions when they entered the tomb.
The rumor mill was in full swing. The PCs learned that: 1. A dragon lives in the dungeon. 2. A man recently came into town with four gargoyle heads and a large number of gems. 3. A beautiful woman lives in the dungeon. 4. Some of the trees near the castle are sentient and will attack. 5. The dungeon leads to a lost dwarven city.
After several failed attempts to hire a wagon team, the owner of the White Wyvern Inn took pity on the adventurers. Arrangements were made for the party to take one of the Inn's wagons in exchange for a small portion of any loot returned to town.  The group also rigged up a large wooden crate with long wooden handles, a la the Ark of the Covenant, to transport treasure out of the dungeon.

Once again, the group set out in the predawn hours, over the river and through the woods to Castle Falconflight. They arrived at the edge of the clearing. Here the companions decided to head for the front gate instead of the side entrance they had been using. All was quiet as they neared the Castle gate. Batista made the gruesome discovery that the portcullis had crushed a man when it fell from its rails. Judging by the state of decay, the large number of insects feasting on the corpse and the foul smell, Aquinas came to the conclusion that the deceased had probably already had his last rites. Batista then searched the body, discovered a set of Delver's Webbing and 2 or 3 minor healing potions.

Some talk was made of sending Batista up the wall of the Castle to open the gate from the inside. This plan was quickly rejected by Batista. Instead they made their way around the castle to the larger section of broken wall. They had avoided this area previously because of the large number of footprints in and around the gap in the wall.

Batista was first in. The room, part of one of the cornet turrets, was well used as evidenced by many muddy foot prints tracked in and out of the room. On one wall a mustard colored cloak hung on a peg. Batista investigated, disturbing a large colony of yellow mold in the process. Everyone made their resistance rolls, and a pearl was found sewn into the hem of the cloak.

After getting their bearings the adventurers made some assumptions regarding the layout of the castle.Taking the first staircase they came across, they made their way to the roof.

Looking down into the courtyard Ori spied movement in the waist high grass.  Sadly he was unable to spot anything more. In an effort to lure out whatever was in the grass, Aelwine created an illusion of a weak, yet oddly chubby squirrel and set it limping through the grass. Nothing attacked the squirrel so after a minute the spell was dropped. Still concerned, the idea was struck upon to have Drav set the grass ablaze with a fire ball and then control the fire to force the creature to reveal itself. Soon a grass fire raced across the courtyard. Several chickens flapped out of the grass then into one of the arrow slots on the ground floor of the castle wall.

A quick exploration of the roof revealed four balistas, one on each corner turret, in various stages of assembly. Rather than remove the balistas, and put them in the wagon, the party destroyed the disassembled ones and sabotaged the two still in working order.

The sabotage completed, they headed for the dungeon below the castle. Taking a spiral staircase the group clomped and clanged their way down.  Rounding the last turn in the staircase, Batista narrowly avoided a spear thrust from around a corner.  A school of five Kuo-toa waited in ambush for the party. Batista leaped across the hall, back flipped off the far wall, then came down with a slash of his sword, but his opponent dodged.  Aelwine was the next one off the stairs, he immediately set to casting an illusion. Ori cleared the stairs but was unable to attack. The rest of the group stacked up behind Aquinas. Sadly this position  made them unable to navigating the few stairs to join the fight. Each of the fish-men made an attack, but either missed, or the target defended. Batista flipped and twisted his way through the fish-men to get behind them. Aelwine's spell activated which created thousands of illusory cockroaches flowing from his hands towards the fish-men. This was very unsettling for the Kuo-Toa. All failed the resistance roll so believed the illusion to be real.  As did William who had pushed past the dwarves on the spiral stairs. The Kuo-Toa made another set of ineffectual attacks. Batista took a swing at one of the fish-men sadly it was not injured. Aelwine set the mass of cockroaches to attack the Kuo-Toa. This action sent the Kuo-Toa retreating towards the open well behind Batista. A trio of fish men attempted to shoulder block Batista to knock him into the water. However, Batista was a nimble one so stayed on dry ground. The fish-men all made good their escape, but left 4 spears behind.

A bit of investigation allowed the group to complete the map of the dungeon. Once that was completed the group entered a trap door in the false jail cell to the library below. Once everyone descended the ladder they made a bee line for the room which contained the mausoleum. The room was quite large, measuring 30 by 21 feet. In the center stood a small mausoleum. The floor was covered in a random array of red and black tiles. An exception being  a path of black tiles which lead from one of the doors on a far wall to the small building.  The group dropped from a small balcony to the floor below, much as they had before. Aquinas and William elected to stay on the balcony.
Ori, Batista, Aelwine and Drav  all had to make 3 jumps to remain on the black tiles to make their way to the pathway. Drav jumped with all of his dwarven might but failed to clear the distance. He fell into a 10 foot pit, taking minor damage. The others helped Drav out of the pit then headed for the crypt. As they approached a sparkle of light revealed the spirit guardian on the roof once again. Batista,  failed to see the creature thus headed for the door of the crypt. As soon as he touched it, the Orotoshi jumped off the roof, slashed his claws at Batista then landed. Batista failed to dodge so was knocked below 0 HP in one shot. Ori loosed an arrow at the eye of the creature, but missed. Drav set loose a fireball which was easily dodged.  Here my memory begins to fade so my notes are incomplete.  I know that somehow the Otoroshi fell off  the trail and into one of the pit traps. Once he had fallen , Aelwine cast a Phantasm spell  of a large stone block that fell from the ceiling which also trapped the Guardian.  That gave Ori and Aelwine time to tend Batista's wounds and poured healing potions down his throat. Seeing how terribly hurt Batista was, William and Aquinas made their way to the floor of the room. Batista, Ori, Drav and Aelwine entered the tomb. William and Aquinas stood guard outside the open door. Aelwine was out of the fight because he was down to 1 FP. Batista was just barely above 0 HP. Aquinas had cast Armor on William upping his DR. As the Otoroshi leaped from the pit and onto the pathway, both Ori and Drav let loose with missiles from the open door way. One arrow  to the eye and a fireball, both struck home! Each doing a fair amount of damage. From here the fight turned into a slug fest. William and Aquinas  flanked the creature, while Ori and Drav took shots when they could. The creature fought well but the combined attacks were just too much. It managed to stay on its feet until it was all the way down to -5x HP

It didn't take long for the adventures to loot the grave. Hung on a rack near the head of the grave was a suit of scale armor. The armor definitely had some enchantments cast upon it so the group surmised it had been made by a master craftsman. Since Aelwine needed to rest, Drav used the time to cast analyse magic, which revealed  the armor was enchanted with deflect +1. The grave itself held no treasure.

It was late, so the party made their way out of the dungeon.  They arrived back to town with no problems.

Otoroshi (shrine protector)
6.25 Class Divine Being
7 Source GURPS 3rd ed Fantasy Bestiary p 49
Per :



Melee Level Damage
Claw 15 4d-1 cut
Tusk 15 4d-1 imp
Sharp claws, tusks, does not eat, does not sleep, sense “inpiety” or lack of respect for the place it guards, healing (all HP healed after 24 hours)
Brawling 15,
Otoroshi will use stealth and pounce from the roof of the building it protects. Otoroshi will AOA if the opponent is unarmed. Otoroshi will fight to the death. If a Otoroshi is slain, a new one will replace it 24 hours later. There will never be more than one Otoroshi per building, but may be more than one if the location has more than one building.

A pretty fun night of gaming. Both fights went well.
I'm not sure why the group trashed the balistas. They could have added up to a nice chunk of change.
An entire floor of the castle walls remains unexplored.
The party is having a hard time deciding if keeping the armor is better than selling it.
They made a profit, and earned 5 xp for the night.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Superstition and Dice

Gamers are by nature a superstitious lot. Especially when it comes to dice. Many players have their favorite set of dice. Some have that one special d20 they roll only when it "really matters". They may have dice they only use during random character generation. Other players roll one color of dice for skill tests and a differing color for damage rolls. We have most likely all seen someone change dice after a series of bad rolls. While playing at my FLGS, I once saw a guy go purchase an entire new set of dice after a string of failed rolls. Most of us own more dice than we could ever really need in a game. Some players would rather give up a kidney then let someone borrow their beloved dice. Some groups have a big ol' bucket of communal dice that players dig through to find the one awesome d8 they once got a critical hit with.

My only dice superstition is that for each new game, I get new dice. Weather I am a player or the GM, every time the group starts a new campaign, changes rules systems, or tries a new setting, I buy a new set of dice.

This habit originally started as a way to discourage myself from changing characters too often.  When playing in a long running game I would get an idea for a new character and want to play it. Our group rule at the time was; all new characters start at beginning level.  I was always behind the power curve. To limit my character hopping, I instituted the personal rule; New character, New dice. At the time we were on a pretty tight budget.  The money aspect was a real deterrent to changing characters too often.  The mind game worked, and I learned the joys of playing a more long term character.

Then I started GMing on a regular basis, and my gamer ADD reared its head once again. I would get excited about a new system, or GURPS would release a shiny new source book, and I was off the the races. Often I would spring the new game on the players without warning and with too little prep. THis bad behavior caused many a game to crash and burn. So, I put the rule back in place. New game, New dice. While I can afford new dice more easily now, the effect has been the same. I take more time to plan and prepare for a new game. I give the players more warning when changing things up. In general it just slows the process down, preventing rash decision making.

There is an up side to this little quirk. Each set of dice is like a little souvenir.  I can look at a set of dice and, in most cases, remember what game or character they were attached to.

Although we are a couple of weeks into the new game, I have just now gotten my new dice set. The delay was accidental. I ordered some dice at my FLGS, but due to back orders and then discovering that they were no longer in production, they never arrived. I purchased a set from my next FLGS, and now I feel as if I am finally, completely, really and truly  ready for tonight's session.

my new dice (and my dollar store dice tray)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Session 2: Attack of the Gargoyles

Session 2:

We had five players in attendance on a very cold and blustery Thursday evening.

Batista, human thief, approximately 300 points
Orivileni, who is called Ori, Wood Elf scout, approximately 300 points
Aquinas, Dwarf cleric, approximately 300 points
William Von Cromberg, human knight, approximately 300 points
Drav Emberstrike, dwarf wizard, approximately 300 points

The session opened with the party at the Inn of the White Wyvern. The group spent some time gathering rumors. William learned of some very dangerous metal skeletons in the dungeon. Aquinas thought this odd, as he figured all metal skeletons would, indeed, be dangerous. Batista discovered that some of the locals believe that the tunnels in the dungeon sometimes rearranged themselves.

William tried to purchase a continual light stone, but was not able to afford it. He settled for a stone with a single casting of the spell, which was considerably cheaper, but only lasted 7 days. The rest of the gang made no purchases as they had not made a profit on the last trip into the dungeon.

Again the group set out in the predawn hours. Traveling over the river and through the woods they made their way to the valley of Castle Falcolnflight.  Upon entering the valley, the group discovered that the portcullis had fallen off of its tracks. The falling  appeared to have crushed someone or something, but they chose not to investigate more closely. The guild also spied a large pile of cut stone blocks near the Castle gate. Ori was sent to scout ahead, but found nothing worth noting in the ruined village. The party then joined him in the burnt out house that served as their rally point. Someone suggested that in the future, equipment could be hidden in the house to save time taking it back and forth to town.

From the ruined house the party scampered across the clearing towards the hole in the Castle wall they had used before.  Before they could make it across, a group of Gargoyles swooped down  from the crenelations atop the walls of the fortress. The Gargoyles made one swooping attack, then landed. There were as many gargoyles as party members. The gargoyles foolishly split up to fight the guild one on one. The first round of combat was pretty even. Batista used acrobatic dodges to keep from being hit. Aquinas blocked with his shield, and William parried with little effort.  The gargoyles were very efficient dodgers in that first round, although Drav was able to tag one with a two dice fireball and Ori hit one with a well placed arrow.
After that it went down hill for the gargoyles.  The stone beasts were able to wound both Ori and Drav, but William was able to kill one gargoyle and several others were wounded.  The gargoyles then fled, flying back up to the top of the wall. When the others asked the cleric to help heal them up, Aquinas replied " There are some clerics who can heal people, I am not one of those types of clerics."

Once inside the relative safety of the wall hallway, the delvers discussed options.  One option was to explore more of the castle. Another option was to head straight down into the lower level of the dungeon. Last session the explorers had discovered a passage in the jail cell.last session.  The majority wanted to go down, so down they went. Down the spiral staircase, through the jail cell entering the first real level of the dungeon

The passage went directly to another trap door. This door opened into a library where a bookcase made up the final few rungs of the ladder. William tied a rope to the last of the iron rungs in the passage, to help with climbing out. They also chose to leave the trap door within the ceiling open. When a quick assessment revealed no traps they exited through the only door out of the library.  The library lead into a scriptorium, which contained several tall desks and stools, some decayed parchment and dried ink jars. Another search exposed a door hidden behind a bookcase. Batista loudly announced that since the door was hidden, clearly there must be more treasure to be found behind it. Following his logic, the explorers headed into a long narrow passage. Soon they came upon a side passage, this one of natural stone rather than carved blocks. Without even so much as a "hey which way?" William led the party down the side passage. The natural cave twisted and turned, but always sloped upwards. At a sharp switchback the party stumbled on four giant cockroaches each at least 4 foot in length. Ori, let loose the arrow he had ready, striking one through the eye. William brandished his continual light stone at the insects. Startled the cockroaches fled up the passage. The adventurers followed right behind without attacking, herding the insects in front of them. Soon the bugs were able to find some smaller passages that would have been a tight fit for the group to follow. The group decided to allow the bugs to go. Moving forward the explorers unearthed a passageway.  It ended up being just to the east of the prison complex, down a hallway they had ignored before.

A bit discouraged, they returned to the scriptorium to exit via the only  door available to them.  They advanced down another hall way  into what appeared to be a receptionist area.  A large desk dominated the center while two rusty braziers sat in opposite corners of the room. One wall was painted with a mural, a sun being eclipsed by the moon.

Further exploring led them to a ransacked barracks.  On the wall hung a large tapestry which featured the eclipse design. The looters pulled the tapestry down, rolled it up for William to toss over his shoulder.  The group also located a small waiting room. The waiting room had two hallways that seemed to match up with the reception area. Batista was encouraged by William to pick one and make sure that it did indeed link up. A few steps into the hall, Batista stepped into something squishy. Shining his torch on it he discovered it to be a Reek. Batista made the roll to resist the daze effect of the reek then easily freed his foot before taking any damage.

The hall did indeed lead back to the reception area. At the urging of the player doing the mapping Batista headed down the second hall expected to link up with the waiting room. About half way through the passage a large gonging started to reverberate over and over again. Drav checked for magic and found the hallway to be enchanted. The group concluded it was an alarm spell so they ignored it until the cacophony stopped a minute later.

Beyond the waiting room the party found a one room apartment. From out of the darkness a pale semi solid figure appeared, pointed at the group then shouted "GET OUT" in a low gravely voice. Rather than leave, the party attacked. Ori sent an arrow towards the eye of the creature. The arrow struck home, paused for a split second, then continued through the target without injuring him.  Batista took off at a run for what appeared at first to be a charge at the creature.  He veered off at the last second, headed for a door on the opposite side of the room. Drav conjured a 2d fireball, unfortunately the attack did no damage. William yelled for Aquinas (the cleric) to turn the Wight. Aquinas instead blocked the Wight's attack on his shield then began concentrating on a spell.  William took a swing at the Wight, but it too was ineffectual. Aquinas completed his Affect Spirit spell on William's sword. The Wight simply touched William on the shoulder which paralyzed him. At this point, the delvers decided that discretion was the better part of valor so made a hasty exit out of the room following Batista. The Wight did not follow. William asked Aquinas why he didn't try to turn the Wight.  Aquinas replied, "There are some clerics who can turn undead, I am not one of those types of clerics."  William, upset and confused as to what the cleric was good for asked "What did you do for the Church?!!!" to which Aquinas replied " I passed the collection plate."

The next room proved to be a large kitchen and dining room. On the shelves were many dishes and pieces of cook wear. A quick tabulation estimated the value of the dishes to be  $300.00. Not wanting to be weighed down, the delvers left  most of the find behind. Aquinas and Ori  convinced William to take at least one cauldron with them.

Just off the kitchen in a hallway, a secret door was found.  Failing to disarm the Frost rune trap, Batista just barely dodged out of the geyser of frost which sprayed from the floor. Behind the door a stone staircase led down into the darkness. The party closed the door. Instead they focused on exploring more of the current level.

Through several twists and turns, with a bit of backtracking the adventurers found themselves back in the scriptorium. From here they returned to the hallway behind the bookcase. They passed the cave leading up to the castle.

The next room was rather strange. A steep, red tiled ramp slopped down the long narrow room. On either side of the ramp were several terraces. Each terrace contained a dining table and chairs. One of the terraces had a door behind the head of its table. Batista started down the ramp, but after only a couple of steps the tiles came loose. An avalanche of red tile and dust.thundered down the ramp.  Batista made a desperate leap for one of the terraces, narrowly making it to safety.
The rest of the group avoided the now bare stone ramp, climbed down the levels to the terrace with the door.
Behind the door was a small balcony. The floor 15 feet below them, the ceiling 15 feet above. In the center of the very large room was a mausoleum made of dark stone. On one wall a staircase led to the floor from a closed door. The floor was a random jumble of large red and black squares.   The exception being  a path of black squares that led from a far door to the grave in the center. Batista and Ori lowered themselves from the balcony to one of the black squares on the floor, and after several close jumps made it to the pathway. Just as they were about to enter the small building, Aquinas saw a small shimmer of light, that revealed what looked like a combination of a small bear and a large cat sitting crouched on the roof.  A successful check against his Hidden Lore skill led Aquinas to believe the creature was some sort of guardian spirit. After hearing this, Ori and Batista made their way back to the balcony, again avoiding any red squares. The party returned to town for a  time of rest and healing.  Aquinas felt more information on the guardian spirit was needed before going any further.


I may have been a bit strong in my encouragement to head down to the deeper levels.

Not taking the dishes, meant the party once again did not make a profit. This is going to make it tough to replace torches, arrows, and healing potions.

Overall a good session. I really need to make sure to take better notes. I got caught up in the exploration and combats so forgot to write anything down. Since it has been a week between playing and writing this post, I may have forgotten some things.

Aquinas really didn't do much in the fight with the gargoyles and I couldn't figure out why. His player is new to GURPS and was reading the character sheet wrong. He thought he only had 5 fatigue points. Once we figured that he really had 16 FP, he was quite a bit more active.

I updated the rumor chart, restocked the areas that have been explored, and in a effort to prevent the PCs from starving to death, upped the amount of treasure a fraction.