Thursday, October 15, 2015

Castle of Horrors Session 3

Thursday is GURPS Day!

My online group continued exploring the Castle of Horrors. It was a fairly productive session, though it could have gone a little better. They did finish their first expedition and find their way home, and restocked and set out again.

As usual, +Douglas Cole wrote up his own version of this session, for a player's view of what happened. I didn't read it until after I wrote my own version.

Siege Beasts in the Chapel

We picked up where we left off on the previous session: the PCs were outside the castle's chapel, planning to shoot the huge, armored, four-armed guardian inside, and the guardian was challenging them for a password and preparing to shoot them.

There had been some confusion at the end of last session about whether people were in position when the guardian started talking to them, and how long people had to aim before the fighting started. I decided that the question was basically insolvable, and a random roll of 1d-4 seconds was the simplest solution. Unsurprisingly, most people weren't in position, and only +Nathan Joy's character Yusef had a chance to aim.

The PCs opened fire, with Yusef slamming three shots into the guardian's leg. It dropped to the ground, and returned fire wildly with its crossbow and calling for aid. Other PCs fired onto it or watched the doors. A second later, another pair of guardians (the ones the PCs had briefly tangled with earlier) opened the doors on the ground level, and a second pair came in through doors on the balcony, some 20' overhead. One of the ones one the ground level got shot immediately by +Theodore Briggs' character Thomas, who got near maximum damage on his first 3" 12G high powered rifled slug, and that guardian died instantly. The other two on the ground floor didn't last much longer.

Gold Glitter is Good

The two guardians on the balcony didn't last much longer, as both Yusef and +Douglas Cole's character Neil critically hit with snapshots. As luck would have it, both of the guardians ended up 1 injury away from death and failed their major wound checks, so I had them dramatically tumble over the balcony railing (a good 3.5' tall, but the guardians were 12' tall so it didn't help much) and splat on the floor.

The bodies were quickly searched: their armor was thick cow hide and useless, but each of them had a heavy gold coin on a string around their neck, and a sledge hammer nailed to their right hand. Yusef and +Uhuk of the Guard's character Ryan appropriated some sledge hammers as tools. There was nothing else of value on the bodies, but the gold coins were worth serious money on their own.

+Kevin Smyth's character Raleigh went for the crow statue, which turned out to be glowing faintly under close inspection. When she put her hands on it, the eerie tugging sensation that she had been feeling shifted from the statue to the west north-west, basically in the direction of their campsite. After some discussion, everyone agreed to return to campsite through the courtyards, but first they wanted to check out the balcony. Unfortunately, the stairway to the balcony was past a pair of alcoves, and there was a statue in each alcove.

After the previous experience with statues, no one wanted to walk past them. Fortunately, Thomas and Yusef each had about 10 yards of 1/2" synthetic rope, and it would be easy to climb a rope to the balcony. Except no one had a grappling hook (Doug: "Who takes a grappling hook to hunt deer?") so they ended up piling up some of the church pews to form a platform so that Ryan could lift someone high enough to secure the rope to the railing. I pretty much handwaved the effort.

There was nothing dangerous on the balcony. There were a pair of thrones, slightly rotten, and covered in gold leaf, which the PCs made note of, and a ladder to another room above the chapel. Everyone climbed back down the rope, tromped through the courtyards to the campsite to confirm the hypothesis about where Raleigh's tugging was leading her, and then went back to scrape off the gold leaf before possibly being returned to the Real World.

In a case of excessively stupid GM, I'd forgotten to note how much gold there was on the thrones. As it turns out, an ounce of gold can be trivially beaten out to cover 300 sqft, so my initial estimate of 200 lbs was off by three orders of magnitude. A little bit of work and the PCs were happily in possession of another 2 ounces of gold. With all their loot in hand, they returned to the campsite and were transported back to the real world.

In Texas, the statue stopped glowing, and its eyes instantly changed from green to red. Over the next two days, the eyes slowly changed in color back to green, and the statue started glowing very faintly, like phosphorescent paint. The PCs correctly picked up on the fact that the statue had a recharge time of at least two days, and that they'd need to pack for at least that long for their next trip.

Okay, Enough Roleplaying, Guys!

The players were doing a good job of role-playing everyone's happiness and excitement at getting back to the Real World, but I wanted to move the game along so I cut it short. Everyone was quite amused, as observers have called us on moving from tactical encounter to tactical encounter instead of role-playing more. Which isn't quite fair, I think: I'm happy to see a lot of role-playing that advances the plot, or even goes nowhere, as long as it occurs at the Castle of Horrors. The Real World, at least for now, shouldn't be a big part of the game.

Earlier in the week, I had sent out an email estimating how much loot and experience the PCs were going to get and asking everyone to make plans to spend that so we could move on quickly. I don't think people took it quite to heart, and there was a bunch of hemming and hawing about what to do. I was worried that we were going to have to end an hour and a half early just so people could update their characters, but I bullied them into making some choices immediately with the understanding that I'd be generous in letting them revise those decisions before the next session.

Exploring the First Floor

The PCs had previously agreed that they were going to clear out the first floor of the castle, and then move up until they reached the gnomes' lair. After that, I think people were undecided as to whether to continue up the towers or go into the basement. From the GM's side of the table, I have my doubts about how well they're going to be able to stick to this plan, but it's the thought that counts.

Everyone agreed that they didn't want to tangle with the gargoyles immediately, so they tried a door they'd seen in the north east corner of the keep. That door opened into some old servants' quarters, currently occupied by a trio of surly leprechauns. There was a dialogue, mostly of the leprechauns warning the PCs off and threatening to cut them down if they tried anything, but the PCs did learn that some driders lived in the basement and the leprechauns wouldn't mind if the PCs killed them. Nate immediately pointed out that the plan was to NOT go into the basement, and since the stairs into the basement was visibly blocked by giant spiderwebs, everyone agreed.

With that door explored for now, there were only two other options left: enter through the front doors and pass through the octagon room (and its gargoyles), or go through the chapel and down the long hall to the octagon room.  Either way, the gargoyles were going to be a problem.

Apparently the plan was only to kite one gargoyle, but
the gargoyles didn't the message about that.
There was a lot of planning and discussion and over-thinking, which I firmly squelched. Eventually, everyone piled up some benches near the altar to make a barricade and shooting stand, and Ryan was sent forward to open the doors to the octagon room. Thomas also balanced one of the thrones on the balcony railing, hoping to use it as a swinging weight trap and "Endor" one of the gargoyles. Raleigh prepped an area effect missile spell and everyone waited.

Ryan hit one of the gargoyles in the face with his hammer and ran away, and everyone else opened fire. Hammer blows and gun shots chipped away at two of the gargoyles, slowing them substantially, but they didn't die. We ended the night after the first round of combat, with Ryan kiting a string of gargoyles toward the chapel.

Technical Notes

My wireless router completely dropped my connection for no obvious reason about halfway through the game, and we wasted about ten minutes re-establishing the voice chat after that. Skype sucks.

MapTools was a mixed blessing throughout this session. It doesn't have multi-level support, so rooms like the chapel with a second level balcony opening onto empty space are hard to represent. I know exactly how I think MapTools should handle this correctly, and I think it has 90% of the components necessary to do what I want, but no one has written the necessary code to glue it all together. I should learn Java some time and nerd wrestle it to do the right thing.

The group is trying to figure out what the GURPS stats should be for modern steel and kevlar brigadine armor. We're using a version of Better Fantasy Armor with TL8 options, including "TL 8 Scalar" armor to represent the controversial Dragonskin modern ballistic scale. For now, I'm treating home brewed versions as cheap TL8 Scalar, but there's some discussion and I may end up creating a new armor type.

What Next?

We're going to continue playing next week. The PCs are going to keep shooting at the gargoyles, but gargoyles are fast and tough to kill, and I suspect it's going to go to melee again. They've got slightly better body armor and slightly better melee skills this time, but I suspect they may have to run away again. It'll be interesting to find out.

1 comment:

  1. "What Next?
    We're going to continue playing next week. The PCs are going to keep shooting at the gargoyles, but gargoyles are fast and tough to kill, and I suspect it's going to go to melee again. They've got slightly better body armor and slightly better melee skills this time, but I suspect they may have to run away again. It'll be interesting to find out."

    Our original plan was "trap and kill one, let them reset, and lather/rinse/repeat" over separate trips if required. Given that Ryan is "kiting" a number of these things (at least four; maybe up to eight?) we might not get to execute the "fight one at a time" plan, in which case a rapid strategic withdrawal ("RUN AWAY!") is in order.

    We definitely can't take on eight of these guys at once. I'm not sure we can take on two of these guys at once.

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