tisdag 19 februari 2019

Post-Session Report: Tying up some loose threads from last year

Date: 19/2 2019
Appearance: Magnus (GM), Thomas (Biff-Börje) and Johan (D'Jonna)

After a few months hiatus from the campaign we're now back in business with a short but pretty productive meeting to have a look at the book-keeping and tie up some loose knots. The haul from last delve was pretty extensive and needed a definite answer about what was being sold, what was kept and what was thrown away. In the end everything that could be sold was sold to leave as much funds as possible for buying skill-ups and armour.

There was also the question about how the delve ended plotwise which was also handled in a nice but somewhat matter of fact way. Biff-Börjes allies was basically put out of the game even before the meeting, them being either lame or broken in their lower appendages but it became even more final when the "good" orcs kidnapped them and the leader argued "An eye for an eye" and promptly killed one of them for getting his own warriors slaughtered by the party while the other one was kept as a potential bargaining chip if needed. When the party returned with his beloved commander as well as the rival orc leaders head on a plate he didn't need to bargain though and instead promised them shelter in the future as well as gifts when he'd settled in his old quarters which the party seemed to be all fine with.

Three of the prisoners they found (one of the Hobgoblins, the Barbarian and the Goblin) were taken along back to town. The Barbarian will be treated as a 250 point Henchman for the future while the Hobgoblin and the Goblin will be put in prison for interrogation. The Goblin seemed mostly interested in carving different figurines out of wood. There's also the human-looking female (who upon closer inspection seem to have some minor orc traits aswell) who was "rescued" from the orc tribe. She's been too upset to get any information at all out of as of yet but it seems she will be a future ally to Börje to make up for his two lost ones.

torsdag 10 januari 2019

The year in review 2018: Looking Forward to more gaming

Looking back on the past year I'm very satisfied with keeping this blog going for the whole year. My previous attempts at blogging have never lasted more than a few months tops and never more than a couple of posts in total.

2018 generated a grand total of 33 published blog posts and even though I mostly post for my own amusement and maybe for my players I still feel like continuing for another year. Since going back to work from parental leave my posting have degraded fast from almost once a week to once or twice a month. This is totally fine and my goal for 2019 is to keep this pace going with one post minimum per month for maybe a total of 20 posts for 2019.

My second goal is of course to play more games, with focus on gurps dungeon fantasy. To have one proper rpg session each month is maybe a stretch but if I make it I will be very pleased. I also hope to finish my writing project and start and maybe even finish my second one. We'll see what this year has in store...

torsdag 27 december 2018

KotB Delve #4 - Orc diplomacy

Timespan: 2018-10-16 - 2018-11-16 (Session 6-8)
In-game time: Mandatory one week in town + one week and one day on the road.

Participants:

D'Jonna - Amazon Warrior (Barbarian Template)
Boerge the Beef - Human Thug (Knight Template)
 - Sture (Guard)
 - Kent (Torchbearer)
Father Wår - Human Priest of the Lord of Light (Cleric Template)

Three short weekday sessions concluded this delve, the first one was mostly bookkeeping and travelling to the dungeon. Boerge repaired his shield and took up some work at the armorers, D'Joan tried (and failed) to find someone that could make her an owlbear-fur chestpiece while Father Wår identified his newly-found wand and did some additional research on the book they were sold a few sessions ago. Sture the Stone usually uses most of his allowance for gambing but this time something good came of it: he picked up a rumor at the tavern that the Merchants Guild were looking for adventurers. Boerge went there and was informed that another one of the guilds caravans had been attacked, presumably by orcs. The bodies of the caravan leader, a respected guild-member, and his wife, had not been found so chances were they were still alive, most likely as prisoners somewhere in the caves. On their way there they were raided nightly, first by a group of kobold hunters and then a pack of wolves. Both were struck down with ease. The kobolds had catapults with insect swarms and ampoules containing some kind of tranquilizing toxin while the wolves were left in camp to be skinned. After the two encounters the group decided to take some time to create a proper camp on the outskirts of the caves that is better camouflaged as well as easier to defend.

When heading to the caves the next day (day three) they were dead set on finding themselves some orc to kill and hopefully set the poor merchant couple free in the process. And it didn't take them long to identify some orc in and around a guardtower they had noticed during previous delves sitting on the north side of the mines. The moved forward in the forest above the mines and when they were close enough the cleric Sunbolted directly into the tower for enough damage to start a small fire in it while Börje and D'Jonna stormed forward to take care of the orcs beneath it. They killed one and wounded another before they even gave them a chance to give up.

They couldn't prevent one of the guards from jumping down the open trap-door and into the lair below which made them a little uneasy. They decided to drag their prisoners out from under the tower and back into the brush and when one of them came to they started questioning her. She kept saying in broken common that her tribe, the Blackscalp clan were the "good orcs" and that they should speak to her leader Krisk about killing the "bad orcs" of the Bloodspear clan instead. They were not convinced but D'Jonna decided to give it a go in the last possible moment, accepting an invitation into the lair to convene with their leader.

The entrance to the lair was a fairly large room with one wall covered with skulls of different shapes and forms. This didn't bother the stoic amazon though and she proceeded to speak with the leader who was an older, battle-scarred orc with a surprisingly eloquent dialect of common, like he'd been teached at young age by a human scholar. He gave a short backstory about why the orcs were living in the mines, that they had always had a wary but non-aggressive relation to the humans in the area until recently when a competing tribe moved in, took over half of the lair and started raiding the nearby farms and trade routes. Now his tribe is too weak to do anything more than defend their part of the lair and the only thing keeping them from moving back north is that the Bloodspear has taken Gryst, one of his most beloved commanders as prisoner, probably tortured him aswell. If the PC's could investigate and release his commander he will reward them in the best way possible. If they were to obliterate the tribe altogether he would be even more pleased. Then D'Jonna and the orc leader shared a common appreciation of a proper handshake in blood and the PC's were off to kill some more orc.

They headed straight for the closest natural cave entrance and having succeeded a Tactics roll they charged straight in for surprise. Inside the cave entrance four guards were sitting around a fire, three orc and one gnoll. Further down the room there was a staircase heading down and beside it something was glimmering in the firelight. Boerge beat the gnoll down with a flail-hit to the back of the head and he fell straight into the fire and spent the next three or so rounds rolling around with his fur burning but was out of the fight. D'Jonna charged one orc down to the ground and proceeded straight to the back of the room where she managed to pierce an eye on another with her spear while Wår protected the flank and use some support magic. A small tactical mistake gave them trouble after the initial onslaught though. After downing the back orc D'Jonna realized that the gleaming surface in the back of the room was a large gong and moved into position to attack anyone going for it but before the last orc was moving the one she had knocked down grappled her legs from behind preventing her from taking the necessary step to be able to hinder the one trying to hit the gong. 

A loud sound spread through the halls of the Bloodspear-clan and within three rounds three more orcs moved in from a room to the side almost immediately maiming both the torchbearer and the guard protecting that door. D'Jonna had a really hard time braking free from her grappler and in the end she decided to just take the minus to hit, stand still and attack anything within her reach. Scared that there were more orcs preparing to head up the stairs they moved out directly without even looting and decided to regroup in the relative safety of their camp.

They healed up in camp but realized that neither Sture nor Kent would be able to walk on the injuries they'd received in the fight (Kents leg was lame, Stures was broken) so they decided to leave them in camp when they headed back to the orc lair the next day. During the night they heard some strange shuffling around the camp but decided not to investigate and nothing came forward to attack them either. When they ran into the Bloodspear Orc lair for the second time the next day it the entrance was almost unguarded. Only a single orc not dressed for battle was guarding the gong and this time they stuck to their plan, silencing the area around the gong while taking care of the confused orc. After a short discussion about how to move forward and a quick check into the neighboring room to see that it was empty they charged down the stairs to retain the element of surprise. Directly outside the stairs a net-trap had been set to catch intruders. D'Jonna and Börje ran straight past it but Wår who was staying behind got tangled and spent the better part of the fight trying to get out. Meanwhile D'Jonna and Börje made orc stew out of at least a half dozen surprised orcs and another gnoll. One of the female commanders they had heard about was in this room aswell, visibly pregnant. Her cheek was knocked off by Börje and she was knocked out but they opted against killing her (I'm not sure if that was even the most lenient thing to do). During the fight at least as many non-combat orcs had scuttled out of the room to it's sides.


After resting up for a short while they continued through one of the the two passages leading out of the room to it's sides finding a locked door and a corridor leading into a large dark hall filled with blinking red orchish eyes. They checked the room which seemed to be some kind of sleeping quarter filled with orchish women and children cowering behind each other, among them was also a human woman which seemed to live with the tribe. They didn't want to risk starting a massive fight so they left them and then ran out through a door by the entrance to the room and nearly fell down a narrow hewnout ledge looking out over a larger natural cavern. About five meters down there were a huge pile of excrement with mansized glowing red creatures digging into it.

They decided to explore the cavern at a later time and headed back to the entrance of this floor and through the other passage. When passing through the scene of the previous battle they noticed that there was a path of blood along the floor and into one of the rooms to the side they were going while the pregnant woman was missing. One door was chained and barred while another was merely closed so they decided to kick in the closed door upon which a boss-fight ensued. The orc leader was a berserking axe-thrower standing behind a waisthigh pile of stuff in a 4x6 m room which took a minor hit to the torso before hurting D'Jonna badly from one of his two thrown axes and crippled her speararm. Around the side of the pile another one of the female commanders, this one berserking aswell came charging with two katars, both of them were all but naked. Wår immediately started healing D'Jonna back up but she was going to experience another crippling hit to the same arm before the fight was over. She was almost cut off from the other two standing a meter or two further into the room when the commander tried to force Börje back with her Katars but he stood his ground and after a few rounds managed to inflict enough damage to her to make her drop and then moving on to take care of the leader with skull-hits from behind while D'Jonna was fighting for her life with Wår chainhealing her.

In the back of the room on a lavish bed the pregnant woman they'd beaten before was now in labour, unconscious but her whole body twitching and spasming while blood was soaking the sheets and floor below. This gruesome scene made a lasting impact on Börje who will not get close to pregnant women again for a long time. After taking care of her (now he thought it was the most humane thing to put her out of her misery) they proceeded to loot the room and their former adversaries that occupied it, finding jewellery, a bag of copper coins tied with a long rope, weapons and some fine wine and clothing. They didn't find any keys for the barred door though. While resting up in the leaders room they heard some shuffling outside due to an exceptional hearing-roll from Wår but were too weary to investigate.

After an hour or two of rest and meals they headed out of the room and immediately noticed that the locked and barred door had been opened, inside was a pen of some kind to one side and a big cage with three kobolds in it chirping and clicking exitedly when they saw the PC's. For once they went the bloodless path and just released the kobolds which crawled through a hole in the back of the pen and out of the lair. On one of the walls there were also signs that someone had been chained to it until recently. They headed back to the sleeping quarters where they now found the last of the three commanders, holding two semi-tamed gnolls in chains around their necks like dogs while two orchish brutes held the human woman they had spotted before aswell as the tortured orc at swordpoint. By using the woman as translator she agreed not to kill the hostages and also give them the keys for the rest of the rooms if they gave her safe passage out of the lair with what was left of the tribe.

In a small storage room they found a bowl of herbs, some foodstuffs and about 100 sq ft of oxhide. In the back of the other passage there was another prisoncell, this one with three hobgoblins, a goblin and a barbarian inside it. After clearing the lair for loot they had one last surprise. Back in the camp Börjes Allies were missing!

A nice set of sessions in all, the largest amount of loot money-wise this far. XP was three each I think plus XP for loot which we didn't have time to calculate during session but it will render about 2-3 additional XP each. MVP was for Wår which really made the difference in the bossfight with his healing, keeping D'Jonna from falling over which definately could've ended the fight on a sour note.

fredag 30 november 2018

Laws of the dungeon: Light and Darkness

A big part of GURPS DF and the tradition that it tries to emulate is the dungeon, it's even in the name of the product. A dungeon implies cramped, dark and creepy spaces, often situated below ground.

This means a lot of the story of a DF game (and of course the fighting) will take place in various degrees of darkness, and also that a lot of the monsters and humanoids that you meet there will be adapted to that darkness (and to varying degrees the PC's as well).

Me and my players have grappled with the rules for darkness penalties for a while, not satisfied neither with the way it's written in the Basic Set nor the DF-specific rules. For me as a GM it comes down to letting dungeon-dwellers with appropriate advantages enjoy an edge in their natural habitat compared to surface-living PC's unless the PC's find creative ways to mitigate that edge and maybe even turn it in their favor.

Dungeon rooms are rarely fully illuminated due to their inhabitants relying on various levels of Night Vision, Dark Vision or Infravision. So it's up to the PC's to illuminate them. This is what basic equipment the PC's have a their disposal:
  • Helmet Lamp, Shield Lamp - 5 yard Beam
  • Bull's Eye Lantern, Light Jet - 10 yard Beam
  • Torch, Lantern or Flaming Weapon - 2 yard Semi-Circle
  • Continual Light Stone or Glow Vial around neck - 1-3 yard Half Circle depending on strength of spell or amount of pills in vial
  • Sunlight spell - Area as big as the caster decides
  • Alchemist's Fire - size of fire +2 yards Circle 

And this is the rule I'm proposing: Give all dungeon rooms a darkness score ranging from -3 (torches or strong candles spread out all across the room or corridor providing passable back-lighting) to -10 (total darkness). On each attack (or other action based on vision) that penalty is used if the players haven't got extra light-sources affecting the target of their action. For the first light-source used the penalty will be lowered to -3. For each additional light-source or if the darkness score of the room already is set at -3 the penalty will be lowered by an additional point. So a total of four different sources of light is needed to completely mitigate darkness-penalties in a room that has no proper back-lighting to begin with.

Example: A knight and a barbarian is standing in the front row of a fight in a corridor with a darkness-score of -7 (candlelight along the walls), the knight has a helmet lamp and a continual light stone around his neck, the barbarians two-handed sword is enchanted with flaming weapon. Behind them a torchbearer is standing with a torch held up. This will negate the darkness-penalty for the knight (four light sources), the barbarian attacks the same enemy  from the side it will be a -1 to hit (three light sources: flaming weapon, continual light and torch). A target one hex behind the line of scrimmage will be at -2 to hit since the torch only affects a two yards radius.

Rule add-on for dazzle and light blindness: Just as easy as it is to be blinded by darkness it is to be blindness by sudden flashes of light when your eyes have adapted to darkness. Any light-source of at least 2 yards that is present in a hex between an attacker and his target or a beam of light hitting the front side of an attacker will give the attacker -2 to hit. A sudden flash of light can also cause Dazzle. Roll against HT with -2 for a beam of light, -4 for sunlight spell, -6 for Alchemist's Fire. On a failure you are dazzled for -4 to vision-rolls until end of combat. On a critical failure you are blinded for seconds equal to margin of failure then dazzled.

Anyone with Infravision is only susceptible to the negative effects of light-sources also emitting intense heat like a torch, flaming weapon and Alchemists Fire.

References: DFRPG Exploits p.19 "Light Sources", Gurps Tactical Shooting p.18 "Shooting in Darkness"

lördag 24 november 2018

Post-Session Report: KotB Session 08

Session Date: 2018-11-17

Another short session, but this one we pushed it a little to round up the delve. It was time to try and clear the "evil orc" lair. The PC's where the usual Knight, Amazon and Cleric and it included among other things:

* Two failed rolls for crippling, one critfailing for the two allies which made them unusable for the evening.

* Successful and effective Silence-spells

* A falling net trap which caused some problems

* Some gruesome scenes with pregnant berserk orc woman

* A naked orc leader, also berserking and crippling the Amazon's right arm.... twice!

* The Clerics healing really came into it's own for the first time, it was always nice but this was the first time they depended on it to win a battle.

* A human woman was found in the orcs common room, she was filthy and spoke only broken human.

* The biggest loot hoard in a single session thus far I believe, in part due to two good random rolls on the DF8 Jewellery Table

After the game a numbers of rules questions surfaced, the major one regarding "unjust" penalties to healing-spells for multiple casts. I've not decided if I will houserule it in some way yet but for the time being I will leave it as is.

fredag 26 oktober 2018

Post-Session Report: KotB Session 07

We played a short session last week but it was mostly bookkeeping and travelling to the Caves to nothing to write home about really. The one we played today was much more interesting.

* A group of orcs in a guard tower claimed to be "good orcs, peaceful orcs" after surrendering and was listened upon in the very last minute (a lucky dodge prevented the last conscious one from getting his head smashed in before D'Joan decided to give orcish diplomacy a go)

* A surprisingly eloquent orchish leader desperate for help with cleansing his former lair of a rival tribe, aswell as rescuing of one of his best men from the "evil orcs, despicable orcs".

* What looked like an easy surprise-attack on a couple of orc guards turned into a drawn out battle when the orcs managed to sound the gong in the last possible moment.

* Some interesting stuff happened during the fight like a dying gnoll rolling around the floor on fire, an orcish eye was pierced neatly and an orc who managed to keep his leg grapple on D'Joan for almost the whole fight, for her complete annoyance. One of the Knights allies was also 1 dmg from getting his leg decapitated, instead tearing his artery. There was much blood.

All in all a very fun evening. At last it seems like we're starting to get the hang of the combat-system (me included). There were some rules-checkups during the fight (like if you needed to tie or win an ST-contest to Break Free) but my impression was that they were pretty few and far between.

tisdag 2 oktober 2018

Writer's Dodge: Progress Report

A month has passed and the thirty rooms I planned on finishing during this time was more like fifteen. To my defence I have started working again after being on parental leave for a half year so I was kinda expecting progress to not reach the levels I had initially hoped. I've counted 22 rooms completely finished with about five more partly finished of around 50-55 rooms in total. Four lairs out of nine now have descriptions which also takes some time to finish that I had not initially accounted for.

I'll check back in another month with another progress update. If I have 40 rooms finished by then I will be pleased. Then I can push to finish this project until the end of November. Hopefully my playtest will be just about finished by then aswell.