Gorefest Gazette by Richard Sharpe Volume 2, Issue 1 Sunday, Dec. 11, 2017 To Hell and Back Again Our fourth season started Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 with a casting call seeking new players who had at least some experience with GURPS. On Discord, we found Chris "Killer Mouse" K. and Archon Shiva. Mouse has been playing GURPS for just more than a year while Shiva has been playing for about the same time as me, around 25 years. They both did very well! While only about 25% of the dungeon was explored, a whole adventure took place from beginning to end. More about that in the session recap below. In the past, I've decided that writing narrative recaps is a grueling process and requires long blocks of time, so I tend to procrastinate. Thus, I'm going to make them as short and to the point as I can. Introduction The following story was read aloud to the players right before we began play: “More than a century ago, there was a small village by the
sea. One fell night, beneath a blood-red moon, a lightning storm gathered in
the village’s square. Though frightened, some villagers watched as a tear in
the fabric of empty space ripped open like a curtain. In the morning, a
swirling pool of mist bordered by crackling energy stood in the center of town.
No one dared go close. Many fled the village in terror of the phenomenon.
“In the morning, a messenger was sent to King Lorik the
Great who dispatched a team of sorcerers and wise men to investigate. They
returned to inform the king the anomaly was a magical portal, a gateway to
another place. The king then sent a band of scouts to enter the
interdimensional doorway and return to report their findings. The first group
did not return so a second, more powerful troop was dispatched: a half-ogre
gladiator feared throughout the kingdom; an elfin archer, a pride to his
people; an aging Halfling wizard, wise and crafty; and a soldier-priest
representing a mighty god of war.
“They told of an endless subterranean maze of stone passages
and corridors. Monsters infested the tunnels. The undead walked, haunting the
seemingly-infinite labyrinth. There, fire breathing dragons hoarded treasure
while demons hunted for souls. It was some type of systematic dungeon far
beneath the world’s surface. Perhaps it was Hell; after all, if money is the
root of all evil, this place had plenty of it. Piles of coins and jewelry
sometime lay in the middle of the floor—but the heroes warned it was bait, not
treasure. The kingdom’s champions had taken the bait but defeated the evil dimension’s
traps. They had escaped and with them, they brought fantastic wealth. Well, not
all of them returned. Four descended into the darkness, but only three arose from
the depths to tell the tale.
“When the king heard the news, he was shaken to the core. His
reply was swift and certain. He gathered an entire legion—10 cohorts of his
soldiers, though this was during a time of strife and war—and he marched them
straight to the small village. He commanded the force in person , and it’s such reasons why we now considered him the legendary
king of old. The line of soldiers snaked for miles behind the row upon row of mounted
cavalry, all in shining armor. Upon its arrival, the beach-side village quickly
became a town. Over the past century, that town became the port city we all
know as Brecconary in the kingdom of Tantagel.
“The army’s vast size proved worthless in the assault. Only
one man could enter at a time and after an arbitrary number passed, the rest
were transported somewhere else. There seemed to be no end to the amount of
places the portal could empty those who passed through it. Few that stepped
inside would escape, but those that did all told the same story: it was a realm
of madness and death.
“The king order the portal be sealed. His sorcerers went to
work, but the portal was not without defenses. The circle of mages was
disintegrated in a massive explosion that killed thousands. Most of the village
was turned into a crater. The king was spared, but further attempts to close
the portal were no more successful than the first.
“The kingdom’s wars wouldn’t wait. Eventually, Lorik had to
return to his castle to push back invaders. He left the three heroes and
charged them with closing the portal before demons or dragons started spewing
out. The heroes’ epic adventures are the stuff of legends now, but most
importantly, they liberated a mighty weapon for the king to use. With it, he
won the wars and eventually unified the land.
“Today, Brecconary is a sprawling city built around trade,
but at the center of it all, the portal still stands. Any effort to close it
was met with disaster. Good King Lorik VIII, descendent of the great king of
old, decreed that anyone in the land was free to enter the portal and seek his
destiny. We now know that the realm beyond the portal isn’t of this world. Some
call it the Abyss, for the depths seem bottomless. No one knows who built the
ancient corridors, nor who left such fantastic wealth scattered behind. The
entire local economy is built around those seeking riches, fame and adventure
in what others call the Nether World. Yet others call the dimension Hell, for
it is built in levels. The lower one goes the more treasure one can find—but
deeper is the danger as well. There are tales of its undermost regions, tales
that speak of fire and brimstone, pits of lava with gouts of flame.
“If it is riches you seek, find them you may. If it is Hell
you want . . . that you will surly find.” Session Recap In the town of Brecconary, our three dungeon delvers were tasked with rescuing a blacksmith's missing daughter, Gwaelin. He agreed to pay $3,000 for his beloved's return, the most he could afford. The three heroes then hired an apprentice mage and stepped into the magic portal leading directly to the dungeon. Gorefest Dungeon characters and their respective players for the Dec. 10 session include: Chris D. playing Henry Goldston, human Knight, 250 points. Shiva playing Deacon Ostarys, dwarven Cleric, 250 points. Mouse playing Vakkem Flintbreaker, human Scout, 250 points. Previous Continual Light spells were snuffed out as soon as the heroes entered the dungeon. Luckily, there were lit torches on the walls, and our protagonists pilfered them. There were three southward passages in the stone corridor. Ostarys, dwarven Cleric, played by Shiva, prayed to his god seeking guidance and was told to head west. That narrowed the choice down to two. The fearsome four bravely scouted the far passage, but after seeing a slimy ooze monster, decided to go with the other. As they walked down the hall, they saw the outline of a set of double doors in the darkness at the distant end of the hallway. There was light coming from the other side, a loud ruckus as well. As they drew nearer, the noise got louder and the adventurers could tell they were dealing with a room full of goblin-kin. The doors were slightly ajar. Vakkem, human Scout, played by Mouse, peeped through the crack. There were a bunch of the green-skins sitting at the table playing cards. Vakkem took a shot at one goblin's temple and nearly blew the foul creature's head clean off its shoulders! Enraged, the rest of the horde stood, drew their weapons and readied their shields. (In addition to the free attack on the goblin, I had the monsters make Ready maneuvers for their first turn.) With that, the invaders kicked open the doors. Henry, human Knight, played by Chris, and Ostarys entered first, shields raised in defense of the Scout and apprentice wizard. The room's description: A warm blaze crackles and pops in the massive fireplace against the south wall of this cavernous great hall. A rough wooden table with two benches stand in the center of the room. The vaulted ceiling is 18 feet high in this 14-by-eight-yard room. Faded, tattered banners hang on each side of room displaying a horned and fanged skull with green eyes on a dull red field. There is a large set of double door on the north and east walls. There is another, smaller door farther to the south on the east wall. The first group of hobgoblins, orcs and goblins didn't fare too well. Pretty well every turn, one was hit with a major wound to the vitals from Vakkem's arrows causing an HT-5 major wound roll. Of course, all failed and the attack almost certainly took them to below 0 HP. If they were below 0 HP and shocked, I saw no point in making numerous and repeated HT rolls for them as they lay on the ground and thus counted them as defeated. After about the third round of turns (three seconds of game time), one of the goblins called for backup. Out of the door in the southeast corner flooded several more monsters. They met the same fate whether by Vakkem's arrows, Henry's sword or Ostarys' axe! After the last one hit the floor in a pool of its own greenish-black blood, the delvers entered the door which eventually led to three jail cell doors. With keys found on the belt of one of the orcs, they released Gwaelin and escorted her back to town. GM's Comments: Everyone did very well. Table talk and rules discussion were kept to an acceptable measure. The players performed their role well—they acted as a team. The adventure was designed to be simple and straightforward. I had no idea if the new players were talented or terrible and this being the first introductory scenario, I really wanted the newly-recruited players to win! It may not bother some players, but for a brand new player whom I don't know, it's a safer wager that a dead character on his first session might make him not want to come back. Besides, everyone loves a happy ending! I'm glad that I don't have to critique teamwork. That's a vital part of an effective group! The one area I'd like to see improved is during exploration process. It took about 45 minutes to get 14 hexes from the entrance. Just remember that you can specify that you're moving at a walk (1 hex) or brisk walk (2 hexes), but move your token faster. Moving tokens slowly doesn't help detect traps! You're either going to hit the trap or not, so once you've committed to a path, go ahead and take it. Push your token along at a good clip. Once we finally got into combat, we managed 12 rounds—that's pretty good for about three hours and really good for a first session! As the rust wears off and we all become more fluent with the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, the more turns in battle we'll get. Still, four in an hour isn't bad at all. Great job guys! Kill Count 6 Goblins 3 Orcs 2 Hobgoblins Loot Armor for goblins and orcs is "unsellable." Armor from hobgoblins—$150 6 long knives—$125 ech. ($720) 6 short bows—$50 ech. ($300) 2 medium shields—$60 ech. ($120) 3 spiked small shields—$60 ech. ($180) 6 small shields—$40 ech. ($240) 2 saw-tooth falchion—$125 ($250) 3 saw-tooth falchions—$80 each ($240) These values are subject to the seller's Wealth status. For average Wealth, that's 40% barring merchant negotiations. See Exploits, p. 16. Looks like $2,200 base from dropped equipment from goblin-kin. So, Average Wealth seller would get 40% of that or $880. That divided three ways is $293.33. From the weapons rack, there was: 1 spiked small shield—$60 1 long knife—$125 1 short bow—$50 3 saw-toothed falchions—$80 ech. ($240) That's a total of $475 and 40% of that is $190, divided three ways is $63.33 each. That's a total take of $356.66 each in equipment drops without negotiations. Vakkem was kind enough to give Gwaelin back her fine, balanced, silver-coated, ornate thrusting broadsword. What a gent! She was to be a quest-giver and "free" NPC ally for the (harder) second branch of the adventure (rescuting her friend), but we ran out of time. There's always next time! Best part is, everyone receives the $1,000 promised for her safe return. That's a total haul of about $1,356.66. Again, that's without merchant negotiations. Also remember "Selling the Tale," Exploits , p. 17: At the end of a dungeon crawl, the heroes can take a week to immortalize their recent adventures. Each may try one roll – Cartography to map the journey, Musical Composition to compose a ballad, Poetry to pen an epic, or Writing to create a learned work on the Squid Cult, ochre slime mating rituals, or similar esoterica. Success creates something worth selling; the creator gets $100 (of course, it costs $150 a week to live at the inn, which explains why authors live in garrets). Critical success is literally that, and scores $500. Character Point Rewards From Exploits , p. 92: The GM is free to award any number of points; between 0 and 5 points per session is reasonable. The GM may also give out extra points, perhaps equal to those for a session, upon an adventure’s conclusion. The two are cumulative – any award for completing a mission would accompany that for the quest’s final session. Battles We had one battle. While it was far from epic, I think we had fun. It was either a fodder or a worthy enemy battle. From Exploits , p. 86: " Fodder appear in hordes that outnumber the party. Worthy monsters can challenge the heroes when the numerical odds are more-or-less equal." So, here we clearly have fodder. No one was injured, nor was anyone really close to being so. Monsters usually went down with 0 HP or a failed stun roll in one hit. Only a couple survived one hit and they only lasted two. Feats The adventure was a simple one. It was basically a skeleton of an adventure meant to be finished in one session. I took out most everything other than start at Town, enter dungeon, kill monsters, get loot, get quest item, and go back to Town. Thus, there won't be a whole lot of points here. The dungeon, however, is much, much larger than the one adventure encompassed! This is probably the only time when the dungeon is larger than the adventure. Finding and extracting item GM has designated a “quest item”: 1 point . Here, I have deliberately and literally objectified women. The quest was to extract the merchant's daughter and that's what you did! There are opportunities for all the other categories in that section throughout the rest of the dungeon. So, for the session, you only received 1 point. But, this was also an entire adventure according to the definition in Exploits , p. 87. We started in Town, found a quest, went to the dungeon, fully completed that quest, and then returned to Town. That's a whole "adventure!" This is probably the only time in Gorefest Dungeon that we'll complete a whole adventure in one session. Normally, all that's going to take four or more. At adventure’s end, everyone gets 5 points if the party returns to town with enough loot to pay off any sponsor, rest for a week ($150 apiece), and recharge all power items completely (see Power Items, Adventurers, p. 115). Right there, we have 5 points. However, that gets modified. Cleared dungeon (killed every non-random monster): +1 point Dead PCs: -1 point/death Insufficient loot to meet above needs: -1 point Left dungeon less than half explored: -2 points Needed divine intervention: -1 point Recovered “quest item” requested by sponsor: +1 point We didn't clear the whole dungeon. Not even close. There weren't any dead PC's. We left the dungeon a lot less than half explored, so that's -2. While divine assistance was granted, intervention was not. Again, you guys recovered the quest item, so that's another +1 point. That means 5 points, -2, +1 is 4 points. Add the two together and you receive 5 character points total for completing the session and the adventure! Everyone did a very good job! I hope to see everyone around the table again next year!