Sunday, March 17, 2013

Actual Play: Savage Tides Fogmire Part 1

I just got back from running the Fogmire session of my DF:STAP game. We didn't quite complete the dungeon, which I quite expected: the fight with the bar-lgura and the gladiator ape court was quite big.

SPOILERS for Savage Tide: Here There Be Monsters below

The session started with the delvers interrogating a zombie that's being tortured by demons. Why is the zombie being tortured? I don't know. The bar-lgura interrupted the discussion by teleporting in, capturing a bunch of inconvenient NPCs, and teleporting out. The delvers didn't get much of a chance to fight, though they did learn that the bar-lguras were vulnerable to silver (almost none of the PCs have silver weapons) but otherwise had very high DR.

Some prayers were made and a holy oracle pointed the way to the dungeon. The delvers explored a bit, avoided the obvious traps, used Scout! destiny points to track the monsters (the original adventure makes it clear that the bar-lgura drag their captives through the tunnels, despite being presumably able to teleport anywhere inside the complex) and quickly got to the first set of traps: the Doors of Sacrifice and the Shrine of Duplicity.

The Doors require a blood sacrifice from the delvers, in the form of one delver sticking both hands into a pair of bronze demonic mouths. A pair of (non-magical, non-important) statues loom on either side of the door, and the players were convinced they were golems. Some time was wasted, smashing the golems to pieces, but even then, the delvers didn't want to try to open the door. Finally, the elementalist used Shape Metal to shrink the door in its frame and they got in that way - and laughed a bit when they realized they could have just smashed the doors open.

The puzzle in the Shrine is fiendishly difficult, non-intuitive, without clues, and a definite case of pixel-bitching. The delvers searched enough to be able to disarm the traps on the mirrors (more Thief! and Scout! destiny points spent to find those traps) but I made them work out the candle-throne-mirror-candle-throne-mirror-portal sequence all by themselves. I think that took an hour of real-time to get through.

The first couple of delvers through the portal were sneaky, but the elementalist made some noise and the saint was spotted by the demons. A big fight broke out. The elementalist was kidnapped to the upper level, where one of the bar-lgura spent the better part of 7 rounds trying and failing to throw him off the edge. The other bar-lgura bounced around, opened the door for the fiendish gladiator apes, and got smited multiple times by the saint. The apes went after the saint and the scout, but failed to connect with either. Despite a constant stream of reinforcements and the knight taking a couple of rounds to get through the portal, the scout managed to kill enough apes to link up with the swashbuckler, who killed the rest. The ones going after the saint got ignited by smite, and I discovered that gladiator apes don't have High Pain Threshold. So their awesome Brawling-18 got dropped to an effective 11 thanks to "on fire", "-4 shock penalty each turn", and "-1 SM penalty." The saint just kept burning them, dodging, retreating, blocking, and parrying. Eventually the knight showed up and helped her out.

Finally the demons were down and enough apes had died that the rest cowered (and got exterminated by the  scout at range, but we didn't play that out). The delvers quickly explored the rooms. They figured that the valves in the the Chamber of Bones were trapped, and the elementalist used Apportation on a piece of bone to make a lever to turn them. He still got hit by the Rain of Icy Shards, but it wasn't as bad as it could be. They recovered the iron monkey paw ("It's not a statue, or a bas-relief, or a carving, obviously... I guess you'd call it a bit of tacky iron bric-a-brac?") from the fountains, and then went into the Iron Ape Statues room.

My friends are bright people, and confronted with a pair of iron ape statues missing a hand apiece while they were holding an iron model of a monkey paw, they quickly figured out what to do. There was some quick searching ('hey, you guys never said you were searching the court room"), some more Scout! and Thief! destiny points, and then they unlocked the treasure chests and found the other paw.

We ended the session with them opening the doors to the Hall of Howls. So far, they've been quiet enough that they haven't attracted attention of Team Evil in the Shrine, but we'll see how it goes.

My tactics with the bar-lgura could have been better. I'm torn as to whether the Shrine of Duplicity was too hard - it's clearly an annoying, single solution, pixel-bitching puzzle, but on the other hand, my players figured it out with minimal prompting, hints, or clues. I'll have to ask if they thought it was too frustrating or not.

6 comments:

  1. I always have an existential crisis over puzzles and riddles in a game like this. Do you rely entirely on the player's ability, or do you let them roll for it based on character skill, and where's the half-way balance that will make for the most fun...

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    1. I'm not afraid to just say "figure it yourself", possibly with some bonuses or hints based on skills. Normally, though, I spend a lot of time on the puzzles and make sure they have sufficient clues (ie, http://noschoolgrognard.blogspot.com/2013/03/changing-tide-reworking-sargasso-sea.html). This puzzle was pretty minimal on the hints and clues, at least as written in the adventure. It's also really non-intuitive and a bit disgusting ("the walls are bleeding blood on the throne? No, we're not going to sit in that!")

      I ad-libbed some stuff: bloody tracks between the altar, throne, and mirrors that at least gave them some hints about the order to do stuff and that they had to do something with the thrones. If I'd written the adventure, it's the kind of thing I'd have put in anyway.

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  2. Sorry the lack of HPT made your gladiator apes weaker. Berserk (Battle Fury) pretty much made it superfluous in my own games, which is where that monster is originally from. Combat would start, they'd go Berserk (they'd never try to stop it), and then they ignore shock anyway and fight until chopped to burger.

    They're a lot weaker when they aren't berserking.

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    1. I mean (Battle Rage) not (Battle Fury).

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  3. Oops, I think I forgot they were berserkers. It might have a slight difference, trading the +4 for telegraphed for a +4 for determined, but maybe not. The saint has a large shield with deflect 2 on it, so her effective active defenses are pretty high.

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    1. It's the berserk making them hard to kill that makes them tough. Without it, they're slightly tougher Flesh-eating apes, without the cunning or grappling. They are still just worthy, maybe tough fodder, but it should take a bit of killing to put them down.

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