Tuesday, July 9, 2013

First blood! After play report 7

Calawas - Elf Thief (Katz)
Amalia - High Elf Cleric (Paraj) - absent
Volbak - Dwarf Knight (Jim)
Lamaevhun - Wood Elf Scout (Tim)
Ilsildel - High Elf Wizard (Martin)
Chief - Wood Elf Barbarian (Catherine)

John Porter, employed as a laborer and horse-hand by the party
Titus Longfellow, employed as a man-at-arms by Isildel
Matthias Wimbledon, novice of St. Cuthbert, employed by Calawas

This was a short session, so not too much happened. The party was down at the back end of a hole that had turned into a worked stone passage leading underneath the Moathouse, confronted with a sliding wall behind which they heard voices.

After a lot of dithering on their part, the party decided to force the issue, and the thief got out his crowbar. Assisted by the resident muscles and nearly herniating himself, Calowas finally levered up the wall, after which the barbarian went about lifting and holding it. When he'd gotten the wall about half-way up, the party heard from the other side the shouted words, "Hold! Stop and identify yourselves!" and saw four pairs of boots and four sets of chainmailed legs.

Calowas lost no time and dropped to one knee to fire his bow. He saw four men, dressed in heavy mail and wearing black tabards with a yellow eye in the center, with leveled crossbows. He shot, but his arrow bounced off the chest of the man he fired at.

They shot, and their bolts didn't bounce. Two sank into Calowas' chest, puncturing his lung and spleen. One missed, going wide and bouncing back along the corridor, and the last blew a hole right through Chief's leg. She fell, dropping the wall and frothing into a berserk rage from the pain.

The one saving grace here was that the barbarian was both crippled and without her hammer to hand. She promptly tried punching out the dwarf, who calmly blocked while the Wizard spun up his Sleep spell.

After she calmed down, Matthias rushed forward to check on Calowas, who as it turns out was still alive but badly in need of surgery, which he attempted to provide. Unfortunately, the enterprising thief bled out before his lung could be patched up properly.

That's the point where the party decided to head home to cut their losses and come up with another plan of attack.


This marks the first death, and the splitting of the family. Really, Calowas has been asking for it for a long while now, going off alone and fighting things while severely wounded.

It seems like my players are under the impression, despite my warnings to the contrary, that they can 'win' every encounter. Hopefully this cured them of that.

The guards have ST 30 crossbows. They can wind them up with a crank well enough, but they're definitely a fire-and-forget deal. I wasn't sure I wanted to do this, since some part of me still doesn't want to take such advantage of the rules, and 4d+4 imp seems kind of harsh, especially four times. Still, I went with it because I'd have no qualms if the guards were PCs, which seems a pretty fair test when the PCs are supposed to be special because of point totals only.


  1. Siege crossbows are totally fair. Mean, sure, but rules-legal, not unrealistic in the game world, and fair. Carrying a maximum strength fire-and-forget crossbow has deep roots in GURPS gaming.

    A lot of people get that "we can win every fight" thing going. You just don't want to run, because frankly, fighting and winning is a major part of the game. Running away is a lot like not opening a door, not looking behind the curtain, or not opening a chest. Maybe it makes sense, maybe it's the smart and safe tactics, but the fun is behind that door, behind that curtain, or in that chest. So they fight even when it's not the best option.

    A dead PC now and then isn't bad, especially in this kind of game. It's meant to be a bash-and-loot, not an epic storyboard about the PCs and their ups and downs.

    1. I'm really not upset about the dead PC; he totally had it coming. We play a hard game around my table, and the PCs earn the right to keep breathing.

      I completely agree about running away, but there's a large middle-ground between 'run away' and 'shoot first, ask questions later'. Not every encounter need be a combat encounter.

    2. I would just like to note that

      A. Ilsildel protested beforehand that pressing on (through an obvious strong point, but he didn't say that cuz he's kind of oblivious) when your wizard is out of juice (due to bugbear related issues) might be less than optimal.

      B. A good tactical approach to that sort of situation is "open the door a crack and toss in an area spell that makes the strong point inhospitable or uninhabitable." This requires a spellcaster with juice.

    3. As a tactical option, "drop to one knee and engage in an archery duel, unsupported, against 4 other guys" is probably a lot worse than "drop off the wall and warn your allies and prepare an ambush against the guards with Scout and Knight working together." I can't really condemn a GM in a gritty game who kills a PC who makes that kind of bad decision.

      While I do think ST36 crossbows are overkill, would ST16 or ST17 crossbows really have been that much better? 1d+6 vs DR3 or so, twice, doubled for impaling is still a pair of fatal hits and a good chance of bleeding out before that surgery is complete.

      I think you're fine here.

  2. I think 4d+4 imp is a bit high. A military crossbow from Low Tech can be rated ST 30 but uses half that to determine range and damage. So, ST 15 at thr+5 imp results in 1d+7 imp, which, if you convert to dice, is 3d imp even. So, not necessarily a large change in outcome, but I think that's right.

    A siege crossbow does the same thr+5 imp with ST 36, or ST 18, for 1d+8 imp or 3d+1 imp.

    Note that an arbalest, which is a "heavy weapon" only does 3d-1 imp.

    1. I don't think we're using LT.

      Really, the issue is more about the cost and availability of one-hit kills. (18 imp, possibly x4, is quite dangerous to a 150 pt delver.)

    2. Yeah, 4d+4 is hard to get with ST 30. Without dice conversion, you'd do 3d+4 with a Basic Set Crossbow. With it, you'd do 4d. To get 4d+4 you need ST 35 and Composite Crossbow (thr+5) or ST 37 and a regular crossbow (thr+4). Someone else might be able to double-check that.

    3. I think they're actually ST 36. I was writing from memory, but I'm fairly sure the guards have ST 12, not 10.

  3. Isn't the fact that all but one of the characters an elf, an indication that 'Elf' is undervalued in the points system of GURPS or Dungeon Fantasy?

    1. I wouldn't think so. Wood Elf is a sub-par choice for Barbarian (20 points to get a penalty to ST and a bonus to DX? that sucks); High Elf is an indifferent choice for Cleric or Thief. It seems like at least three of the players went for theme and/or "this is how I think of the character" over point efficiency.

  4. Dude! *All* of the characters are Elves. *ALL* of them.

    (aside) NOBODY in our family wants Volbak to realize he is adopted. He's very sensitive.

    We were going to go with a theme of "seven dwarves," which mutated via player attrition and general weirdness to "Six elves, all related." (Related in that weird elven way that becomes possible when everyone is sexually mature at 25, fertile for 300+ more, and not especially monogamous. We all call each other "cousin" but I firmly believe that if anyone actually diagrammed our family Celtic knot Hastur would appear.)

    Volback's player had already made a dwarf Knight however, so the running joke of a dwarf adopted by elves who doesn't know it was born. It's great fun as a chunk of situational comedy.

  5. any new developments with this campaign? sure would love to read some more!