Actual Play: GURPS DF Jade Regent – Ravenscraeg 8

When last we left our heroes, we’d just had the screens fall to reveal a staggering number of new foes in the middle of this final combat of the adventure.

Dawn was stunned for a single second, we were looking at ten or so angry zombies, and a runecaster and some other BMF (an Oni) were threatening us, along with two metal animated statues (golems) with surprisingly sharp swords.

Shanking Validates Pectoral Reqiurement

Soon after we started up, as we faced the Zombies, we quite literally heard the pitter-patter of Ninja feet, and while Thumvar was able to sacrificial parry for Staver, Michel took 11 imp to the vitals pretty much right away, mortally wounding him and incapacitating him for the rest of the four hours of fighting.

Thumvar had been Great Hasted (two maneuvers per turn) late yesterday, and so things got very dead when he was around. Still, he could only save one of them.

We noted that with invisible/stealth ninja All-Out Attacking us to the Vitals from behind, we should all invest in DR 14 pectorals immediately.

Learned Prayers Make Life Really Easy Sometimes

Cadmus’ turn rolled around, and he invoked Enhanced Protection from Evil, which forces a Contest of Will+10 for Cadmus (24) vs. a Will roll from notionally each bad guy. Cadmus makes his roll by 16, and Nate more or less handwaves (or they just roll equal to skill) the opposed rolls, and that means that no “malign supernatural being,” which includes demons and undead, cannot approach within 16 yards. While it’s tough to see on the screenshot, there is basically no place within the combat map that is closer than 16 yards, so this more or less nullified most of our opposition.

The Oni freaked out a little and launched an arrow at him, which Cadmus blocked . . . but the arrow exploded into flame, setting him in fire a bit. But every ninja and all the zombie vikings burned rubber getting outside my effect radius, which they could not do. They fled at some crazy Move, too – they were Fast Zombies, but they never came into play.

Apropos of Nothing: Smite and Protection from Evil are just “I win” buttons in this context, It turned what should have been a frantic, desperate fight which was made worse by our neglecting anything resembling a fight plan or tactics into a near walk in the park. I’m sure Nate is thinking about nerfing some of these abilities either now or in the future.

Thumvar Makes Like John Henry

Cadmus slowly moved to the Coi pond to extinguish himself, Thumvar basically pulled out his flail and started pounding the crap out of our two golems. This was vastly aided, and a life saved, perhaps, by two pieces of unfortunate golem luck:

The first biff chopped into the golem’s leg; the second managed to unready a weapon, which wound up saving Dawn from a serious injury later.

In any case, without a blow-by-blow, Thumvar beat the tar out of these guys while Great Hasted. It was a fairly mechanical task, and Thumvar was perfectly designed for it.

Serious Flaws Revealed in the Undead

Then between Dawn and Staver, they double-teamed the runecaster, with Staver doing his usual Heroic Archer bit, and Dawn providing great help by decapitating the guy.

At that point, with the runecaster’s expiration, all the Zombies up and died all at once. This was noted as a serious flaw in the design of these undead servants.

I’m not Dead Yet

The last credible threat was the Oni, who went by name of Kimandatsu. He couldn’t get within 4 yards of me, which was enough to bring him within Cadmus’ Smite range. That would have gone better had Cadmus not been on fire, and he had to roll himself into the Coi pond to put himself out.

That worked, and he was able to get in one or two submerged Smites – 2d irresisitable burning damage within a 4-yd radius; the biggest benefit there was snapping “Kim” out of invisibilty, which led to most of us trying our luck at killing him.

I think most of us managed to get a small piece of him, whereupon Thumvar finished up with the iron statues, Heroic Charged over to us, and hit the Oni for 18 cr damage.

He died, fell over, froze the pond, and then shortly after, called us fools and woke up.

Next adventure, we shall remember sooner that we are in possession of a Demon-killing sword of awesome power.

“Dawn Triumphant,” by Emily Smirle

Cleavage Rules the World

One bit of inside joking: the new character that replaced Brody is a transcendantly good looking ninja
nymph. Who stores various items, including a six-foot staff, in N-space. We unanimously decided that she’s pulling all of this stuff out of her cleavage. This led to a bit of joking about this (literally) stunningly good looking (stripper) ninja babe riding into combat on a dinosaur wielding a demon-killing flaming sword. One of our players (Emily aka Bruno) sent out a picture.

We decided the fact that Dawn must hide all that ninja stuff and draw it from her ample bosom was the best excuse for the Cleavage Window ever.

Parting Shot

This was a fight we should have probably lost. Badly. And we still might, and we did lost Mark’s character to an unfortunate early-game shanking incident. But we should have been pretty systematically disassembled, I think, just based on crappy tactical choices alone.

But Cadmus’ Protection from Evil (Enhanced) is just an “I win” button. Smite is just about as bad. That is actually a bit of a complaint, and Nate and I mulled on how to nerf it a bit.

We’ll see what happens for the rematch. Dawn will employ her sword to better use, I can likely keep Kim away and occasionally Smite him, Thumvar will do his usual damage, Staver may or may not help, given that these stupid demon critters tend to be stubbornly resistant to impaling damage.

We shall see.

20 thoughts on “Actual Play: GURPS DF Jade Regent – Ravenscraeg 8

  1. Smite is an excellent candidate for a per round fatigue cost.

    True Faith (Turning) and/or Protection From Evil need a per use and a per minute fatigue cost. Though they're not as bad if the undead/demons have ranged attacks, so there's also an element of intelligent monster design from the GM.

    1. Agree on Smite, with perhaps a crit or success by 10 costing less. Or FP per die damage you want to do, or something.

      The tactic you encouraged me to use, invoke PfE(Enhanced) and push guys away, then do nasty stuff, then re-invoke would be appropriately nerfed by this as well.

      Right now, it would appear that Divine Favor is not impacted by Sanctity/Unholiness levels and more or less costs no fatigue points. With Learned Prayers being totally reliable (thus my previous post on making them more variable), this is pretty limited for the uncertainty level, and thus probably needs a nerf bat.

    2. You could also just set a reasonable cap on PfE (Enhanced)'s range of exclusion–maybe 5-10 yards. Personally, I actually prefer how D&D's turning works–if something is much weaker, it just pops and dies in a blast of holy power. Anyway, the problem here seemed to be the 16 yard range. In most combats I've seen with maps, 16 yards is either all or most of or at least a very significant chunk of the map, making it hard to maneuver much.

    3. Yeah, there's quite a bit o' double-whammy involved. The bog-standard Holy Warrior or Warrior Saint seems to start with a genre-appropriate Will-14. Adding 10 to that for the bonus means that on the average, you're keeping bad guys who have Will-10 14 yards away. Things that should break your concentration (like being shot at by arrows) are resisted at Will or Will-3, which is still 65-85% chance to succeed. So you've got a lot of advantages.

      The other thing that Mark was encouraging me to do (and I would have done had I not been drowning at the time) is to invoke PfE, let the guys run away into the corners like shown, then drop it to lay waste with my Axe or Smite or some other thing. Then when they get close, re-invoke it. If you can arrange useful terrain features, this is like a yo-yo of death. Kill a few zombies, push 'em away, let them come, kill a few more, etc.

      Another way to go here – especially in Unholy zones – would be that invoking such protection in the temple of your adversary could draw Unholy beings to you like a really angry moth to a flame. You're picking a battle on Demonkind's (as an example)chosen ground.

      As Megatron might say: "So unwise."

    4. I have realized something reading your summary.

      Poor Staver might have been affected by Protection from Evil. He pings as Evil regardless of whether he actually is or not (no comment) but I don't know if he's Supernatural enough. He's not affected by Pentagram, I don't think?

    5. I think it's Nate's call. The Half-Spirit descriptions don't specify them as supernatural, but they have abilities (Dark Vision, Weaknesses) that are well beyond baseline humans. Myself, I'd probably call him Supernatural enough.

    6. I don't even know if he'd get hit by smite; I've had him complaining about it because it's funny. He avoided the Pentagram in the demonologists lair because he doesn't know.
      Excommunicated isn't enough on its own, you shouldn't be able to turn Necrotechnicians.

      If he can be smote, I'd sort of assume he can be Turned. But that implies he's Supernatural, which means he can walk through Forcewalls/domes and be trapped by Pentagram.

      So there's a bit of balance: friendly fire 🙂

    7. The only problem with Learned prayers is that they are reliable. I knid of wish there was a slick way to introduce a chance for failure, just to keep the tension up, but Learned Prayers make Magery/Power Investiture look like a desperate act sometimes, even for casters rolling against 15.

    8. Did you see ? There's no true chance of failure, but this concept introduces significant variability.

      There should be a way to look at the chance of failure and then multiply the results by some factor. When it works, it works even better than RAW, but sometimes it fizzles.

      Course, if you're doing that, you don't need LPs at all, those are just Specific Prayers, requiring the reaction roll

  2. One advantage we'll have for the rematch: instead of Michel bleeding out on the floor, we'll (hopefully) have a Shiba, Mystic Knight Samurai Shujenga, carving stuff up. Another blade, another shield, another bow, and my arrows do funky things like Burning damage and/or explode. Though Nate's house rules on Imbuement combinations are going to limit my high-end wackiness.

    1. Yeah, I think the addition of a new warrior will help us, especially if we can elect to use actual tactics.

      This will make us (a) seek out and stock up on healing potions and stuff in case (b) Cadmus runs out of healing mojo. He's a much more effective healer than I thought he would be, but losing Michel means there's only one of him.

      I need to see how much a healing aura (so I can restore lots of us at once) might cost as an LP . . .

    2. You'd need to buy off Contact Agent (+9 points) and add Area Effect (+15 points) and then you'd have to deal with the problem that Lay On Hands, by design, transfers our character's wounds to your character. So you'd stand around all of us, prayer for a second, and take 30 injury and die.

      Don't do that.

      If you removed the Empathic Healing bit, that's another +15 points, and the fatigue costs get to be somewhat crazy.

    3. It is perhaps unfortunate that there aren't any obvious RAW Fatigue recovery potions… I have one house-ruled that is a proprietary formula at a temple. With a nine member party, the "5 Hour Energy" potions keep him going after a big fight.

  3. One option I was thinking of for True Faith (w/Turning), and which might work for your powers as well:

    – every point the undead fail their Will by is a -1 to all of their skill rolls (-1/2 that to defenses) unless they move back that many hexes.

    It's the way I handle fear – if you fail a roll vs. a fear-based attack, you suffer -1 x margin of failure to all rolls within a radius equal to 1 x margin of failure. So fail by 4? -4 unless you run back at 4 yards. Then you can recover by making straight-up Will rolls. Every point you succeed by knocks off -1 of the penalty.

    So maybe try that. It inflicts a penalty equal to your margin of victory, unless they stay outside of your circle. It means the really big baddies can punch through, but it strongly encourages them not to.

    1. That's not bad, and I like the imagery of the Big Bad forcing his way towards the Holy Warrior as if swimming upstream.

      I also think that the "official" seeming ruling about Unholy not impacting a lot of the Divine Favor powers needs to be retconned.

    2. The "logic" is that Holy Powers are the spark of divine moving directly through you, and mere mortal concerns like Sanctity aren't relevant. Whereas cleric spells are some kind of mumbo-jumbo ritual that don't directly tap the divine power, and hence, Sanctity matters.

      So a cleric who's in bad standing with his deity can't directly invoke Thor's Smashing Hammer, 'cause Thor says "no". But he can cast Sunbolt in a normal Sanctity area, because that's a mechanical ritual that isn't affected by his lack of atonement.

      I don't see a problem, other than stomping on PK's and Dr. Kromm's worldview, with saying that Holy Power doesn't have a Pact limitation but is subject to Sanctity. Or that is has both and has a -20% power modifier. Both ideas work equally well for me.

    3. That's the idea Doug – they can stay if they want, but they're better off if they don't. Ever since I started that approach with Fear, my players have been pretty happy with it. I may change Turning, I may not, but that's how I'd do it.

    4. The more I think of it, the more I like it. The Zombie Vikings can still (and might still) mob you by sheer press of flesh. They might be attacking at -16 in this case. But they'll be there, trying (and failing) to get at you, maybe slamming by accident, etc.

    5. For turning, at least, you can put a limit on it – win by 5+, they must flee, or even 10+, otherwise they just suffer the penalty.

      But yeah, the more I think about it the more I like it. Doesn't affect anyone in my current game though.

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