Actual Play: GURPS Jade Regent – Ravenscraeg

Today’s game started out after we’d been attacked by some sort of acid ooze in the previous game. Naturally, we were immediately attacked by a giant wasp on a narrow set of switchbacked stairs.

Cadmus, usually the shield and magic axe guy, decided to play with his dueling poleaxe (spear tip, hammerhead, axe blade) instead. That’s trading Axe-19 for Polearm-14, but a 2-yard reach. We shall see.

First round, our Knight (also a gargoyle) flew off the stairs, took a Wait maneuver. Then the wasp flew some huge amount of hexes right at Cadmus, who managed to parry him aside with his polearm. That triggered Thumvar’s Wait, and he got in a good thwack. Brother Michel the Cleric/Mage stepped right behind me, which irritated me until he tapped me on the shoulder and casts Walk on Air. “Walk after him, just don’t fall.”


Cadmus steps up into open air, stabs, but the thing dodges. Then Staver, our Infernal Scout, does a ranged Feint and Attack at the things wings, makes the Feint by 14, and destroys them. Crunch, splat, Fight over.

Well, that fight. Two ninjas were naturally hiding in the shadows climbing the suporting timbers of the switchbacked stairway, the way ninjas do.

The less ethical among us (Staver and Brody, our thief) shoot first. Brody chucks a knife at one (Knife Throwing: the art of skillfully discarding a perfectly good weapon), which causes his target ninja to have to make a Climb check to not fall. He makes it. Nimble little bastard.

Staver drills his target with an arrow for 10 impaling. Target also fails to fall. Maybe he’s got some armor, ’cause 20 injury if he don’t, and he didn’t die.

The rest of us non-perceptive folks notice something’s up. Literally. 10 yards up, and enmeshed in the support structures for the stairs.

Thumvar flies, Michel puts himself close to a wall, goes defensive, and ponders what spell to hit them with. I Walk on Air halfway to the ninjas. Brody drops to the ground beside Staver, but would have biffed the landing except for a quick Thief! point. He plucks an arrow from Staver’s cornucopia quiver (infinite arrows) . . . and realizes that with -8 for cover and -4 for range, he doesn’t have the skill to hit them. Oops.

Staver’s turn again, and she sinks an arrow into the boards; -8 for cover is a lot.

The ninja’s try to Stealth out, one succeeds, disappearing into the woodwork. The other does not, and Thumvar fast-draws a hatchet and chucks it at him. Crazy Dodge-monkey gets out of the way. This left Michel little to do, with 10 yards of distance between him and his hidden foes, so since he hadn’t set anything on fire for a few hours, he went with that option, casting explosive fireball.

Cadmus continues walking through air and chops at the neck of his foe, who dodges. The way Ninjas do. Despite missing, he cuts through the support pillar ninja-boy is standing on, since his axe does 2d+3 (2) cut, and rolled 14 penetration. He fails to fall, pesky ninja. The stairs also fail to fall. But are weakened.

I just wanted to say that running through the sky to stab ninjas is really where I want this game to go, and I’m happy we’re partway there already.

                                                                                    — +Nathan Joy 

Cadmus’ foe turns to try and fast draw his sword and stab him in the throat.  Cadmus notices that the thing has black feathers and a yellow beak. Ravencraeg is apparently pretty literal. Cadmus tries to aggressively parry the sword, hoping to chop it in half. He makes the parry, but only by the margin provided by his shield (DB+3), so no dice.

Thumvar flies over and buries his axe into the bird-ninja of Alcatraz, killing him.

The other one is nowhere to be found. Boo! for alert foes.

We bring the body down, and search him, finding two potions, and three more stoppered vials. Plus 10 yards of spider silk rope, a short sword, blowgun, some daggers, and a lightly armored black garment. Ninjas have good loot.

Cadmus remarks we should probably get to the big ol’ doors before archers arrive at the arrow slits – which would make our lives generically difficult. This goes more or less unnoticed. Due to shiny potions and stuff. One’s a blur potion, the other a potion of Insignificance, that makes the eyes just slide off you, not noticing your presence.

Staver (Greedy) searches the wasp’s nest for treasure too. She discovers that wasp’s nests are kinda gross. The GM allows a roll vs. Naturalist (Scout!), Staver biffs it, spends a Scout! point to make the roll, and finds out that wasp’s nest paper makes good field-expedient gauze/bandages for first aid. +2 HP to first aid attempts.

Which, given we keep spending time NOT getting to the doors, I believe we’ll need presently – but it turns out I’m wrong. We swing open the heavy door, and . . .

. . . are attacked by a huge swarm of Ravens. Two of them, actually.

We back off a bit, and Brody tosses an exploding egg (nagateppo). This blinds one swarm.

The swarm attacks the rest of us. Large-area injury is resisted by the average DR of the whole body, so Cadmus is DR 6. So Thumvar and Cadmus, the best protected of the group, flail around being pecked, but that pings off the armor. We kill a few. Michel tosses a Stunball at our feet, which kills most of them, stuns a few of us (including Michel, caught in his own spell), and destroys one of the two swarms. We pause for a moment as the other swarm wakes up and starts coming for us. Thumvar is totally coated in massive amounts of plate, so he’s safe. I’m only threatened if they roll a 6, so I’m 85% safe. We keep swinging at it as we make time for the mage to wake up and kill the swarm with another spell. Michel rolls a lot of 14s.

Eventually we do enough damage to the final swarm to disperse it. Cadmus heals Michel, he recovers fatigue, we eat roast raven, and that’s the session.

GM: +Nathan Joy
Players: +Mark Langsdorf , +Emily Smirle +Theodore Briggs +Kevin Smyth +Douglas Cole


Not much to report this time. Lots of combat, mostly melee. We got caught off-guard by the wasp, who was fast enough to be on us before we could declare and trigger Wait maneuvers. Vulnerable wings made for a relatively easy fight.

The ninjas were more fun, but mostly they just hung out in the rafters, with only one trying anything. 

The ravens were more annoying than dangerous, since those of us in the fray were wearing enough armor to render them ineffective – but 1d6+1 pi++ every round with no hit roll and no defense is bad mojo unless you happen to be slathered in head-to-toe armor. Which Thumvar and Cadmus were. It did get a bit tedious, though – still a better alternative than what would have happened with my old kit, which maxed out at DR 6, which would have given me DR 4 instead of DR 6 for average protection, and that would have let a lot more damage through. As it was, I could just ignore them.

Still, one of the fun things about GURPS combat is the tactical choices, and swarms, while very nasty, don’t really allow for that. You basically do 2 HP per attack per turn, or 1 HP for pi or imp weapons. It’s really a matter of “I hope that you brought explosives, fire, concussion, or other area effects.”

Which we did. QED. 

7 thoughts on “Actual Play: GURPS Jade Regent – Ravenscraeg

  1. The ravens were only annoying because of concerted efforts to keep them busy. If they had pushed past the tanks (as they were going to do next turn, if Mark hadn't blown up the first wave and Kevin kept both waves busy with flash nagateppos) and gone after the backline squishies, the squishies would more than likely have been in deep doo doo.

  2. So, gut feeling – a whole party of average DR 4 or less gets this encounter. They lack a decent blaster mage or magical items or whatever to disrupt the swarms. Is this a near certain TPK or at least a forced retreat for the party?

  3. The 1d+1 pi++ unavoidable damage was pretty harsh. A lightly armored party would have been cut to ribbons and forced to retreat if they were lucky (overrun, slowed, and pecked to death otherwise). As it was, Michel was down half his HP from spending 1 round in the swarm.

    That said, DF parties without ways to deal with insubstantial and/or diffuse opponents are supposed to die. It's like bringing a delving band with no ranged attacks to the game and being surprised when the orc archers kill you.

  4. Probably. Flying swarms are probably too fast to be run away from, and the swarms have an attack per hex they cover that never misses and can't be defended against. And these raven swarms were 4 hexes in diameter, so they were beefier than your typical one hex swarm.

    There are some mitigating strategies, but they rely on environmental factors that may or may not be in play, for the most part.

  5. So just so I have an idea, from what I have read the players are around 300 to 320 points? If that is the case, how long has this game been going on, how often are points awarded, and what kind of starting character decisions did the players have to make?

    Also, I would love to have an idea of what process the players as a whole went through in order to put together a group like this. It seems that there is a clear front/back line (Possibly even a mid line mix with Armored Priest), though was this a decision the players made or something the Game Master recommended?

    Seeing as how most of the games I have ran were simply "I have a game idea! Make characters!" with little to know understanding of what was expected or what the other players wanted to play, resulting in some relatively short lived campaigns.

    1. We discussed roles together, though I was one of the last added to the group that played (we've had one or two additional characters). We started at 280 points; Nate didn't allot us the usual measure of disads, but increased our point totals accordingly. I wanted to play a Paladin type, and Antoni convinced me to try a Warrior Saint. You can go combat focus or healing focus, and I went "backup healer," but someone objected so I put more points into the healing role. I knew we'd have a knight and maybe a barbarian . . . so we arranged it to have a front line. Which I don't think we've EVER used. We all go running off pell-mell into individual melee. It's almost killed us a few times, but we ain't dead yet, so there.

      We're running an Adventure Path, so we get experience in big chunks at the end of each sub-adventure. I think we'e gotten one or two chunks total for maybe 20-30 points. Nate tells us that we'll likely pick up another 100 or so, maybe more, if we complete the entire thing.

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