First thing that happens is that Hiro disappears (we lost a player). Second thing is Thumvar bursts into song. Cadmus determines that we can (a) see lots of spirits, (b) they’re very close to the regular world right now, and (c) they can ride-along and give us some knowledge as well as some of their idiosyncrasies. The possession/ride-along might end when we leave the spirit forest. They take the immediate effects (singing, fluent Tien speech) with them if we intervene fast enough, but might pick up a Quirk-level thing with singing and Tien.

We could even get multiple riders, like some Cat-Bus of spirits.

Over the sound of creaking harness, walking, and loud singing, Staver hears the crack of a whip, extremely close by. He has to roll Will-4 . . . oops. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees what he thinks is a tall samurai in red and black armor, and that rider settles in to him.

I suddenly have the urge to shout “JOCKEY!”

Cadmus wonders if he should Smite Staver, or Exorcise the spirit. Staver still detects as very, very Evil (so no change) but the spirit isn’t actually evil. 

Naturally, soon thereafter we get attacked. By a giant albino white tiger the size of a wagon. “Music soothes the savage beast!” so maybe we’ll sing to it . . . but Staver realizes that at the very least it’s a freaky monster tiger because they usually don’t just charge at us.

Shiro decides to bow to the tiger. Might as well be polite.

It stops right in front of us; Thumvar sings as he soars through the air, and this close, Cadmus knows he’s not a spirit. There are arrows pointed at it, axes unlimbered, and general lack of fear. The tiger stops charging, confused. It’s not a normal tiger, nor a spirit, but it could certainly be some sort of funky sentient Tienese thing with friends, family, and the Tien equivalent of a cell phone.

It roars in our faces, and it echoes through the forest in what’s supposed to be imposing. It was going for imposing. We’re nonplussed, he’s plussed, and he slinks away.

The ever helpful Miyaro is looked for . . . but apparently she was making out with a wagon guard, or pooping or something. A kami was supposed to take care of it, but it died, leaving the tiger with no guardian spirit. We call the poor beast tiger-no-kami.

We reason that we could probably try and find a properly suited guardian spirit. 

We journey on, and days or weeks later, not far away, Cadmus hears the sound of an axe hitting flesh. Cadmus blows a Will roll totally, and a giant, angry, black-bearded spirit named Breaker settles into him. Cadmus can actually talk to him, though, and finds out he used to be mortal. He was a woodcutter, he went into the forest, and ate some stuff, and then went back home and murdered his family. 

Cadmus’ Bad Temper goes from bad to worse, and he’s better at hitting things with his axe. Cadmus decides to pray, to try and ease the spirit, and excorcise them. he gets a vision of a giant wheel grinding, as Breaker is forced to relive over and over the events that led him to kill his family. Some strangle purple berries were the culprit; they are reddish-purple, instead of the extra-nutritious reddish-pink that are very similar. 

Despite the anger of the Scout blathering on about nature crap, we feel something kind of click inside my head, and the spirit realizes he was under the influence of bad berries at the time. He no longer is quite as angry. Whenever I roll Righteous Fury, I can add 1 to one of the three rolls. 

That’s entirely cool.

WE keep moving, and another week passes. The trees part to reveal a huge open clearing, still covered in a wood canopy. A giant wooden torii gate stands in the clearing. We have to go through the fancy gate, talk to the kami elders, show them we’re up to snuff or let them sniff us (snuff us?) to ensure we’re the right band of heroes to save their sorry asses.

In the clearing, we find that Staver is tormented by an unsettled spirit as well, tortured by a manacled slaves or something. So the trick to settling the spirit is to reach past the giant sinkhole of evil in order to settle the spirit.

Cadmus manages to pull the evil visiting spirit out of Staver; Staver’s regular evil spirit stays where it is. During the ritual, Staver is poised to leap into the river at any moment since most interactions with Cadmus tend to end with Staver on fire. Thumvar and Shiba are no help whatsoever; Cadmus eventually boots them as being no help whatsoever. Staver feels terrible, like a ball of fire building in his stomach . . . after a few hours, a ball of fire tears through his lower intestine, and, um, exits. Burning hemorrhoids. The cleansing fire, which will last about a week. 

Pharasma gives, and Pharasma taketh away. Kinda of a dick move on Pharasma’s part, but hey, Staver is a demon/infernal, and Pharasma can get away with that sort of thing. 

On the bright side, Staver can  just lay on his stomach and heal. After weeks of being stabbed to death in his dreams each night, he picks up an extra level of Fearlessness. 

After we walk through the gate, a samurai floats (literally) out from the gate. He’s wearing light armor, and introduces himself as Noburo in Tien, and demands to know what our business is, looking first to Shiba.

Shiba, the best of us to deal with this, notes that we have been asked to deal with the problems in the House of Withered Blossoms, and wish to help continue that path. He critically succeeds a Savoir-Fair roll, and Noburo fails to grimace, nodding respectfully. Grudging respect, but respect. 

Now he looks at Thuvar the Hummingbird. He actually sings the right polite stuff, and having temporarily multiclassed into Bard, Noburo is again reluctantly impressed.

Cadmus explains his mission to settle spirits, kill demons, and reap souls for Pharasma. He succeeds in 

Noburo’s lip begin to curl just looking at Staver. “And you.” he says, as if Staver just did a diarhea on his favorite rug. Staver explains that she’s the servant of Ameiko, true heir to the Minkai Throne. He has to roll streetwise . . . and blows it badly. After all, he is the worthless servant of Ameiko. He raises an eyebrow at her, as if to say “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

Ameiko replies in flawless Tien, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, whammo-change-o, and manages to fast-talk Staver through the gate. What’s the point of having a super-Bard in the party if she can’t get the scrub into the Posh Club?

We circle the wagons and set up for the night. There’s a nervous, curious gathering of shadows as the kami gather, drifting closer to the caravan. Animal spirits with too-knowing eyes. Some are wood, rock, or snow. 

The kami begin whispering strange words, which Miyaro translates for the PCs. She tells them that the kami swore an oath long ago to guard the oni of the Five Storms, who were imprisoned in a pagoda called the House of Withered Blossoms. For centuries, the kami kept the Five Storms contained, but one night, 160 years ago, most of the oni somehow escaped their prison. The kami do not know how, but they do know that at least one oni still remains in the House of Withered Blossoms, for their oath forbids them from stepping over the threshold while even one oni remains inside, and the way is still barred to them.

The kami ask the PCs to enter the pagoda to learn what happened to the Five Storms and, if necessary, to defeat the last oni within. They know that the PCs seek to depose the Jade Regent, and that he is allied with the Five Storms— an exploration of the oni’s former prison might give them information and weapons they can use against their enemies. If the PCs agree to go to the House of Withered Blossoms, an audible sigh passes through the kami gathered in the clearing. At length, a single kami approaches the PCs, a tiny ancient warrior with a tree branch growing from the top of his head. This is Akumi, a fukujin kami (see page 84). He bows to the PCs and introduces himself, and humbly asks them for one more favor. Akumi’s ward, a small bonsai tree, was recently stolen by hobgoblins who took it inside the House of Withered Blossoms. Bound by his oath, Akumi was unable to follow, but he can feel that his bonsai is still alive somewhere within or beneath the pagoda. He has tended his ward for centuries, and should it die, Akumi believes he will die as well. He begs the PCs to go into the House of Withered Blossoms and recover his precious tree for him.

We are the first mortals sent to penetrate the gardens, enter the pagoda, and clear out the oni within. We note with some angst that Staver is basically oni, now, in whole or in part. We go through “the rules” of entering and exiting the pagoda and prison with the gathering of forest spirits. 

We shouldn’t eat anything from within. It’s all probably been exposed to millenia of close demonic contact. But sure, as far as they’re concerned, we can burn it to the ground, take whatever we want within it, do whatever we want to it. Clear it out, don’t die, and if they remember, they’ll let Staver out too. If we happen to kill ’em all, that’s good too.

We contemplate going to the bottom of the dungeon, and between Cadmus’ Holy Glory and Staver’s Terror radiance, we just scare the hell out of everyone and make them run out into the forest.

We send Staver’s familiar, the falcon Provornyy, to scout ahead, a sort of Scout recursion. Two days travel ahead, she starts circling, having found a dead sunken circle, and a spiky human cave that no animal with any sense would go in. There’s a “fake forest” around the human cave, full of broken rocks. Thorns, briars, real wrath of bird type stuff. Purple flowers that feel “wrong.”

Oh, look: flavor text!

The animal calls soften to a whisper as the forest parts to reveal a vast bowl, the ground sinking from the forest tangle into descending rows of frozen terraces. At the center of the depression stands a towering porcelain pagoda, its walls and eaves smothered in thick, clinging vines and draped with heavy webs, soaring to a golden rooftop. Stylized representations of forgotten creatures and beasts dance upon the pagoda’s walls, and a band of huge thorny spines juts from its midsection. A decaying garden surrounds the pagoda, a frozen echo of past magnificence. Broken statues litter the garden, and icy clouds of violet blossoms drift through the ruin. The overpowering scent of death and decay hangs in the air.

Even with Scout! points, these are like nothing we’ve ever seen. The vines are either dead or hibernating, and have recently shed the petals. The petals are the size and shape of a human hand. 

Like that’s not ominous or nuthin’. It’s about 3pm. We decide to observe for a bit, look at the life cycle of the plants and the boundaries of their powers. The bowl edges are in terraced steps, and the bowl is 500yds across (!). The forest comes to a sudden end at the bowl’s beginning, with the garden around 300 yds from the pagoda. The tower is completely covered in these vines. And the (spiky!) vines extend all the way to the first step of the terrace. So 100-200 yards from the outer rim to any spiky stuff, then 300yds of nasty spiky stuff. Then pagoda. The walls look like they’re porcelain, but the roof looks like it’s made of . . . gold. Porcelain and polished bone kinda look the same, though. Hard to say.

There seems to be a hole in the roof too. We don’t have a high opinion of our kami allies IQ, so we wonder if the oni within just chopped a hole in the roof and moved on.

At nighttime, the vines come alive, swell with purple blossoms. At midnight, the blossoms detach and drift in a swirling pattern around the pagoda. If anthing was going to try and sneak out we’d never see it. These things stay airborne for hours. Fleshy oche-colored fruits are blooming on the vines, and all these fruits burst open in rapid fire until the valley is filled with sap with a honey/horse-sweat smell.

Ewww.

After 3am or so, the movement and nastiness is random and light; more like twitching or thrashing than a breeze. 

At dawn, the flowers drop to the ground, lose their meatiness, and decay in front of our eyes.

The hole in the roof . . . there are no vines there. OK, good plan then. The vines only get to about 10′ from the top. Cadmus points out that if the vines are avoiding the roof, the roof entry might be leaping into the dragon’s mouth. 

We take to the air, Cadmus giving Shiba a lift with his new handy-dandy spirit horse. We arm up, assuming melee fun, and head up to the top of the 70-yd tall tower. 

Cadmus’ Spirit Horse
Spirit Horse Ally: Bestial [-10]; Mute [-25]; Wealth (Dead Broke) [-25]. [-60]

ST: 30[100]*† HP: 30 [0] Speed: 6.25 [0]Lifting ST: ST 40 [15]*†

DX: 13 [36]† Will: 11 [25] Move: 8/24 [10]
IQ: 6 [-80] Per: 12 [30]HT: 12 [20] FP: 12 [0] SM: +1

Dodge: 10 Parry: n/a DR: 4 [20]
Bite (14): 1d+2 crushing.Kick (14): 3d+2 crushing.


Advantages: Acute Hearing 2 [4]; Claws (Hooves) [3]; Combat Reflexes [15]; Doesn’t Eat or Drink [10]; Enhanced Move 1.5 (Ground) [30]; Night Vision 3 [3]; Peripheral Vision [15]; Ultrahearing [5]; Walk on Air [20].

Disadvantages: Spirit Horse Ally [-60]; Careful [-1]; Quadruped [-35]; Vow (Only attack demons, spirits, or the undead), [-10]; Weak Bite [-2]. [Total -108]

Skills: Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-15; Intimidation (A) Will-1 [4]-12; Mount (A) DX+2 [16]-17; Running (A) HT+1 [4]-13; Survival (Plains) (A) Per [2]-12. [Total 30]

Techniques: Kicking (Brawling) (H) [3]-15.[Total: 3]

Class: Spirit.
* Cost reduced for Size (-10%).† Cost reduced for No Fine Manipulators (-40%).

We look down into the hole, and see, well, a crap-ton of spiderwebs. There used to be floors in here at 7-yd intervals, but they seem to have mainly been demolished. About 21 yards down, we have some floors. We do some summoning and spellcasting tricks and all go down to the lower levels

Oh, and Thumvar and Staver notice that the roof is gold leaf. We calculate it’s probably about 1,300 lbs of gold. $27M of loot . . . if we can haul it away.

We enter the spiderweb, and we hear the creak of pressure being placed on the web from multiple directions. 

We end there.

We re basically recovering and shopping. We kicked the local ruler’s elite troops collective asses in games of skill. Horseback riding, archery, and wrestling. Cadmus takes no share of treasure this time, giving his mates a leg up in buying cool stuff. Nate said I can hold it “on account” next time. Since we each net out about $82,500 “retail,” this will turn into some neat stuff later on. For that which we decided to sell, that means each of my fellow compatriots can spend about $27,000 in cash, and we kept a bunch of cool gear worth $100,000 as well.

After we are out and about for the day, we have a fairly uneventful dinner with Taidashar (?), and the chauvinist leader invites us to tell a story to match what we’d just heard. We tell our own tale – actually the NPCs tell it, because most of us just kill stuff for a living – and we are gifted with a masterwork “horsehead fiddle” for our honesty. It’s not literal, thankfully.

Cadmus, Thumvar, and Shiba stay up late. We fast forward a bit, and do a bit more performing, as Staver and Shiba do a nifty skit on hot coals swinging glowing swords at each other. We’re gifted with four potions of Dragon Breath, which is pretty cool.

Before the feast on the fourth night, a messenger shows up at Ameiko’s personal quarters, and requests her presence with the prince. Staver, stuck like glue to Ameiko, tags along. They wind up in the prince’s quarters, and he’s impressively attired in his most precious silks, looking like a playa. The prince proposes to Ameiko, she brushes him off extremely politely, his gentle smile falters. Staver doesn’t kill him, and his smile falters because of that.

This meal is on us. We’re all hopeless, but once again, NPC to the rescue as we remember that Ameiko is, in fact, an Inkeeper. She supervises Thumvar and Shiba, who supervise the actual cooks. It goes off pretty well. Absolutely no horse urine was used in the preparation of the food. Again, we’re given a fine Scimitar, with another +10 CF due to being ornate. So something like $8500.

After all that gifting, we decide we need to give him something, preferably unique. Something commemorative of our journey. We gift the prince with the skull of an ice dragon – at the Feast of the Dragon, a great coincidence – which pleases him greatly.

So, we’re all invited, now to wander out on the town. We decide that it’s the time for the GM and/or the prince to try and murderate us. We head out, and since the GM is looking for a map, we know to sharpen our weapons.There are hundreds of people drunkenly wandering through the streets setting off firecrackers.

Perfect setup for an ambush. About 16 NINJA discard a dragon-head costume and attack! Shiba’s first. They’re carrying katana-like swords. Shiba nails one, and Staver seems to nail two more since they were all lined up conveniently. Cadmus invokes his new “always on” Righteous Fury giving him ST 19, DX 19, and HT 15. Nice.

Things get busy really fast, as these guys surround us . . . but they do trigger Thumvar’s wait, and he hits one for 17 (2) cut, which does horrible things to him.

Shiba fast-draws a sword from Staver’s belt, tosses it in the air, and shouts “The Sensei defends the Student!” Naturally the sword starts fighting, proving once again that Imbuements are awesome.

Staver backs off to surround Ameiko, and horror of horrors, has to do Move and Attack as a Heroic Archer. Staver kills one, and Thumvar attacks. Cadmus uses, for the first time, Pharasma’s Necrosis. It nails his target for 10 (5) to the vitals.
Then nastiness happens as all the ninjas move. Ameiko’s Wait is triggered, preventing her from taking an attack to the rear. She makes a solid attempt at a hit, but her foe dodges. This still prevents her from being hit from behind, so net win.

Ameiko is then forced to spend a destiny point to avoid being murderated . .. and Staver fails a Will roll to control a new, uncontrollable new ability. She has a SoD towards Ameiko, so there you go. Staver busts out into a burning attack, Terror, and an Extra Attack.

Live is about to get interesting. Ameiko is the only one of us looking at Staver, but nearly all the ninjas are. Ameiko has apparently seen this sort of thing before. There are thirteen targets, and five bolt and run like hell. She also sets e00000000000000veryone in her hex and adjacent on fire for 1d+3 incendiary burning damage. Twice, I think, for extra attack. Lots of people try and dodge and drop, most fail, including Ameiko, who is unhappy.

A ninja swings at Cadmus, who ripostes and parries. Thumvar parries an attack using a Knight point, and Shiba also parries with Annihilating Weapon. He takes a big chunk out of the other guy’s sword.

A Minkai peasant woman charges at the empty space behind us, and all of a sudden . . . more ninja!

Shiba controls his dancing weapon, which nearly hits but his foe dodges. He also attacks normally, and kills a guy. Staver runs around some guys, and his freakin aura sets them on fire as a drive-by. They’re on fire, unhappy, and burning alive. This is part of a move and attack, so then Staver actually shoots twice and does a brawling attack as well.

Cadmus, Reaper of Souls, Messenger of Death, invokes Holy Glory. Staver has to roll Terror, which fails. He’s stunned and acquires a new perk. Our Mysterious Stranger, who alerted us to ninjas, crit fails and suffers many seconds of ecstasy, exhausting herself with orgasmic fury. All 11 ninjas make their rolls to resist. Yeesh. Friendly Fire Fail.

Shiba thwacks another one. Staver’s new thing is to run by bad guys and set them on fire, so he runs into the midst of a bunch of guys, shooting on the way. She does 7, 4, and 8 incendiary burning just by running by a few foes, shoots two more with her usual double arrow Dual-Weapon Attack, and then claws someone with her Extra Attack. Two dead, and three more attacked with fire; two Dodge and Drop away, another burns.

Thumvar makes flying smushies out of another foe.

We go back and forth for a bit, and they allow me a shot. Critical success on a neck chop, 21 (2) cut damage.

Cadmus and others dispatch all but one of the fleeing ninjas (for interrogation), while our mysterious stranger introduces herself an Miyaro. She is from the South with some allies who are essentially camped inside the “haunted” forest. She’s heard of our great power, and wants our help to deal with the situation. If we’re lookign to go into Minkai, we’d have an escort.

We get hit over the head with a clue bat, and decide to actually follow the adventure.

The prince blames the Jade Regent, he’s so uncool. They want us dead, Prince doesn’t like it – he gives us a tooled, high quality riding saddle and a combat-trained horse as a “get the hell out of here” parting gift.

We end there.

I’m not really very good with character templates and fiddly bits. Rules are my thing, or at least I think they are. So when it came time to add some powers to Cadmus, the Warrior Saint I play in +Nathan Joy‘s Dungeon Fantasy game, I enlisted help. Emily Smirle and +Theodore Briggs pitched in and suggested a Summonable mount. Em started me down the right path with the Stallion template from DF5: Allies (a great book), and I tweaked the point value to be 50% of Cadmus’ current 415-point total.

It’s Higher Purpose, so to speak, is to bear Pharasma’s holy cause into battle. It does not eat, sleep, or communicate with other animals.

This changes the cost of Animal Ally, I think:

Spirit Horse Ally: Bestial [-10]; Mute [-25]; Wealth (Dead Broke) [-25]. [-60]

Typically Dense Unreadable Statblock: Spirit Horse

ST: 30[100]*† HP: 30 [0] Speed: 6.25 [0]
Lifting ST: ST 40 [15]*†
DX: 13 [36]† Will: 11 [25] Move: 8/24 [10]
IQ: 6 [-80] Per: 12 [30]
HT: 12 [20] FP: 12 [0] SM: +1
Dodge: 10 Parry: n/a DR: 4 [20]

Bite (14): 1d+2 crushing.
Kick (14): 3d+2 crushing.

Advantages: Acute Hearing 2 [4]; Claws (Hooves) [3]; Combat Reflexes [15]; Doesn’t Eat or Drink [10]; Enhanced Move 1.5 (Ground) [30]; Night Vision 3 [3]; Peripheral Vision [15]; Ultrahearing [5]; Walk on Air [20].
Disadvantages: Spirit Horse Ally [-60]; Careful [-1]; Quadruped [-35]; Vow (Only attack demons, spirits, or the undead), [-10]; Weak Bite [-2]. [Total -108]
Skills: Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-15; Intimidation (A) Will-1 [4]-12; Mount (A) DX+2 [16]-17; Running (A) HT+1 [4]-13; Survival (Plains) (A) Per [2]-12. [Total 30]
Techniques: Kicking (Brawling) (H) [3]-15.[Total: 3]
Class: Spirit.

* Cost reduced for Size (-10%).
† Cost reduced for No Fine Manipulators (-40%).

Design Notes

The only skills I thought I wanted him to have are Intimidation, Mount, and Running. Survival is pointless (he goes away), and Brawling means a spirit could alter the natural course of things. Maybe it can only use certain skills like Brawling and whatnot against undead, spirits, and demons. That would work. I’ll add a Vow and keep the brawling.

Restricted Diet as a Disad would be replaced with Doesn’t Eat or Drink, a 10-point advantage.

Given a 205-point budget, I think that gives me 45 points to spend.

Hitting ST 30 for 100 points (+15 from now) and +10 Lifting ST (+15 points? Same modifiers as ST?) would be ST 30, Lifting ST 40. BL 320 lbs. I like that.

DX +1 is an easy 12-point add, fits within the budget, and helps out lots of stuff.

Attribues: 176
Advantages: 105
Disads: -108
Skills: 30
Techniques: 3

Total: 206.

Cadmus value: 415; 50% Ally. on 15- wouuld be a 12-point power, I believe, as a Summonable Ally.

Parting Shot
If Nate lets me have this guy, it’ll only eat up 12 points of a “you get to spend 50 points on otherworldly cool powers” budget. The request/demand was that we get some 3D mobility. The spirit horse can carry 320 lbs, which includes Cadmus and a bunch of his gear (Cadmus ain’t light), but not my goal of throwing wounded companions over the saddle . . . not at full speed, anyway.

This lets me take Cadmus into the fight, he improves my Riding skill by +2 due to averaging (and that will need to go up even more if Cadmus isn’t going to be hampered in combat by the lower limit of Riding and Weapon skill). The horse, much like Shrivener (Cadmus’ Named Weapon) is only able to attack spirits, demons, and the undead. The mount is fast enough with a max speed of Move 24, and able to accelerate at 8 yards/sec/sec.

I’m open to any tweakage, and of course, feel free to steal the horse for your own games if you want!

We picked up more or less where we left off, with Cadmus having his shield hand crippled and his right leg terribly injured . . . but a quick healing potion fixed the HP loss bringing him back to 15 HP (of 18 total).

We more or less kept making incremental gains, slowly eliminating some of the big hitters, and Cadmus rolling sideways to make a big hit on Bormurg, the leader/spellcaster. That was good for 15(2) cut, but he had to spend both his recently-refreshed destiny points due to the worst-timed critical fail ever.

He then got nailed by a few guys from behind and a crit, knocking him down to 0 HP; he made his HT roll and fast-drew his second major healing potion, which brought him back up to 11 HP.

Having enough of that, he rolled back again and changed facing. Staver nailed a nearby goon, leaving, for a change, Cadmus with only one foe. So he found himself momentarily yeti-less. Or at least yeti-limited.

So that was a good thing, but then Nate reminded me that my Righteous Fury was about to run out. That’s going to leave a mark, yep.

People are mainly flocking to Thumvar, as the most dangerous combatant on the board. For a brief moment, it appears Cadmus is clear of the foes . . . so he tries a backward extention (acrobatic stand), and naturally critically fails the roll. That’s like the third one this game for him. Sigh.

One guy comes his way, and bashes him in the torso with something heavy, with 2 HP of blunt trauma getting through his DR 12.

Staver steps up and flings two arrows at random locations on two different targets, hitting both, one in the foot and the other in the left leg. They both fall over and are incapacitated. Thumvar manages a runaround and strikes a troublesome foe to the skull from above and behind, killin’ him quite dead.

Cadmus’ Righteous Fury runs out, and he chooses to kneel; that’s as far as he can go, since his leg is crippled. That helps a bit, getting his penalties to be a bit lower. That’s all he can do. He’s also now at 5HP instead of 9HP, which is uncomfortably low.

Hiro comes up and gives the Blessing of Hachiman to Thumvar, granting him +4 to all weapon skills for the next 10 minutes. That’s going to get ugly.

A Yeti Brute takes a chop at Hiro, who fails to parry the flail, but a timely sacrificial block with Weapon Master (Shield) saves him from harm. Staver literally runs, screams, and leaps, firing two arrows at the last two remaining Yeti Hunters, hitting one for 10 (2) impaling. “You know he dead.”

Thumvar comes up and kills another with a mighty double-shot to the torso, doing enough damage to bisect the poor guy. Shiba continues to spring towards the battle.

A Yeti Hunter tries to fire an arrow at Thumvar’s flank, and Thumvar’s trusty shield Returns that Missile right back at him . . . but he dodges, falling to the ground in desperation.

Hiro pulls out the Breath of Fujin, an air jet spell that lands for 41 cr, double knockback, nwd. 82 knockback, and 8 blunt trauma.

The bad guys continue to flail at Thumvar ineffectually. Both Shamans gesture and cast something. At Thumvar. Ah, a giant hailstorm, with 2 1d-2 crushing attacks to random locations each turn. Cadmus is nonplussed.

We discuss healing, and decide that healing potions will trigger a HT roll to undue crippling, but not heal any HP of damage. HT for a basic potion, +2 and +4 for the next two strength levels. Nice rule, we think.

Staver lashes out with two meteoric iron barbed bodkin arrows. He gloats . . . briefly . . . since he doesn’t recognize them as meteoric, and so ignores them. He just takes an arrow to the vitals and falls over dead.  Let this be a lesson to everybody about the dangers of arrogance.

Thumvar does a 2-yard flying step, gaining altitude, and does an awesomely successful double attack, including a critical success. He defends vs. the shield, but spends 3 destiny points to make Thumvar’s crit into a failure. Still, he’s defending at -9 and fails to defend. Thumvar rerolls a bad damage roll, and hits for 11 cut . . .which bites through his outer armor, and drags to a stop on something hard (really strong body hair!).

Shiba repositions ready to protect Cadmus and smackdown Yeti 2, and a Yeti Hunter actually manages to throw an arrow Staver’s way that forces him to defend. He blocks.

Cadmus’ turn. He uncripples his leg. Next turn he actually gets to stand up.

Bormurg is pissed off, and steps and swings at Shiba’s flank . . . critically succeeding, forcing Shiba to spend two destiny points to make that into a regular success. With a flail. Gets hit, no, a third Knight point turns that into a successful defense.

One of the shamam’s forms wavers, ans turns into wispy airiness. This will prove his undoing, I suspect.

Staver finds himself behind Bormurg, and nails him once in the vitals from the back and once in the brain, since the double-armor-divisor on the arrows. He throws back his head, and the blue light emanating from his visor streaks out of him. All of a sudden, Tatiyana, the witch we thought we killed – in fact, that STAVER killed – before, comes out of Bormurg’s dead body and streaks over to the altar. She extends her arms, and with a sudden screaming surge, a full gale-force hurricane force blizzard wind picks up. Visibility is zero. Range weapons useless (-2 per hex). And anyone flying rolls acrobatics to land, which both guys do. The guy who turned into a body of air? Whoosh.

She sure looked really dead earlier, so we’re voting that she’s undead. Heh. Undead. And I thought I was going to be useless this fight.

An eddy develops around Thumvar, and is -2 to all DX rolls due to the wild winds. Hiro drops to his knees, and casts a Lesser Strengthen Spirit spell which makes all of our weapons affect insubstantial.

Then a lightning bolt crashes from the sky, seeking Thumvar. He dodges. A wind, freezing wind, blasts into Hiro from the side, pushing him counterclockwise.

We all move steadily towards Tatiyana. She tries to strike Thumvar with lightning, Thumvar retreats towards her, avoiding the overhead lightning blast. Another roaring dust storm at Shiba, which he avoids. She casts . . . something else.

Shiba runs up to her, and nails her in the foot with a telescoping blow from his sword. It knocks her down, but doesn’t shut off her spell. She throws wind and lightning at the usual suspects, doing nothing. Staver hits her with an arrow. Thumvar steps up, and triggers Tatiyana’s wait. She kicks out at him with a Deathtouch enchanted foot, but he parries.

Thumvar does a nice dual-weapon attack, she tries a blocking spell to command him to drop everything, he resists despite huge penalties, and he kills her deader than hell.

We win!

****

Now, we just have to get out of here, get the caravan to the big city, and then LOOT. Plus an upgrade. 75 points of powers. Mwa ha ha.

Also, Cadmus’ DR12 on head/neck and DR9 everywhere else was routinely surpassed in this fight. There were many moments that he hit 0 HP, or slightly negative, and only the fact that I stocked up on 4 Major Healing potions (house ruled to 2d+6 HP restored, plus the modification about crippling, above) kept me both alive and in the fight.

Played in +Nathan Joy‘s Jade Regent game using GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. We picked up in the middle of the battle that was raging last time. All in all, this will be a short report. Cadmus did a lot of defending. He attacked ineffectually a few times against pretty awesomely skilled defenders. He did break ranks to Heroic Charge a super-duper Skill-30 guy from behind, beheading him. But then I got nailed like three times, and down to HP 0. Fell down, crippled left hand and right leg. Didn’t KO. Fast-Draw a major healing potion (house-ruled to 2d+6) and I was back up to 15 of 18 HP (boosted thanks to Righteous Fury).

Still, my next move should be pretty cool if I get to pull it off.

The other guys are pretty much more awesome than me, even though I’m technically a 470-point character by now. The spellslingers are seriously earning their keep, and Mystic Knight continues to be an amazing template, with envy-inducing imbuement skills (the explosive arrow is a real crowd pleaser).

We are absolutely inundated with bad guys. Nate’s exulting about finally making us use some of our consumables.

We did the game over Skype and MapTool, and Skype refuses to play nicely with my admittedly sparse setup with regard to webcam, headphones, and monitor-as-speakers output. At least sometimes. Other times, it works fine. No idea.

Not nearly this cool, alas.

I got to get back into Cadmus’ skin today, in +Nathan Joy‘s GURPS Jade Regent DF game. Cadmus woke up after his last memory was being crushed under an Ice Worm, way back when. He woke up uncertain, neither tired or particularly rested, and with a bunch of money in his pouch that was the reminder of his stake from before he got squished. Or something.

Guess Pharasma wasn’t done with him, but I didn’t get to turn all nifty white like Gandalf. I’m still Cadmus the Bland.

We wander down the hall into a huge room, split by a very deep chasm. There’s an upraised dais with lots of skulls and evil looking stuff. We approach the chasm, and hear barks and snarls. Staver launches an arrow towards the sounds of barks and yelps, and scares up a bunch of Yeti.

Looks like MapTool b90 has punched up the lighting model. Sweet. Lots of lights that attach to tokens.

Anyway, Staver launches a few arrows at the Yetis, starting a couple on fire, and after a moment, the other Yetis spring their trap. That’s right, we got ambushed by a bunch of hairy frozen ape-men.

They pop up next to Shiba and Staver, for the moment leaving Cadmus, Thumvar (currently hovering on our side of the chasm), and Hiro Nakitome alone. Five attacks go Shiba’s way, all connecting, while another five go for Staver. Fortunately for him, only three hit. Lucky lucky!

Shiba gets peppered with five arrows. Left leg, right arm, torso, left arm, right arm. Staver is right leg and torso (nifty player-designed macro!).Damage to Shiba ranges from 3(2) pi to 6(2) pi, and Staver gets nailed for 6(2) and 4(2). Oh, bonus . . . the arrows seem to be poisoned, triggering a HT-3 roll for every hit, and 1d toxic damage if that fails.

Pretty good opening salvo for the bad guys. After all this time, we still don’t form up behind the fighters, but then, it’s served us pretty well for this time. On the flip side, Cadmus just did wake up from being pretty dead, so perhaps not.

The new bad guys are 10 yards up and 30 yards to my southwest, while the other group is about 20 yards to the northeast over a chasm Cadmus cannot cross.

He very, very, very much needs to buy “On the Wings of Angels,” which is going to be unaspected Flight, as a learned Prayer. 8 points gets me Move 12. Plus badass ghostly etherial wings.

OK, now on “must have” list is some sort of ranged ability, plus the flight thing. I’m definitely OK with it being a Learned Prayer, as I only really want to use it to get into the fight.

Because being stuck out of range to do anything? Boring.

Ah! the berserkers and Hunters surge forward, leaping the chasm! The fight comes to me! Excellent. The hunters on the walls release their foot-holds, and slide towards the ground, unnaturally slowly. Cadmus rejoices, and prays to Pharasma: “Holy Pharasma, give me the might to face these creatures, and I thank you for this trial of arms to welcome me back to the world.” 1, 4, and 4 to physical traits. He chooses +4 DX, +4 ST, and +1 HT. He is, for 3d6 seconds, a 470-point character.This just about doubles his net move, and he’s now lightly encumbered. And 3d+4 (2) cut damage, Parry-19, Block-18. Let’s get it on.

Staver looses two arrows at two of the descending Yeti, one fails to defend, and hits the ground with a crunch. We think they’re suspended from the ceiling with magical ropes, physical or mystical.

The bad guys continue to hurl themselves over the chasm. Lining up pretty well along the west edge. Thumvar chucks a vial of alchemist’s fire at the biggest of the yetis, which explodes on his shield, setting it aflame. Shiba launches some sort of exploding arrow at the Wall of Descending Yeti, and kills at least three.

Cadmus fast-draws his own vial of alchemist’s fire, and critically hits the hex in the center of lots of bad guys. They all try to dodge and drop. The ones on the cliffs’ edge can’t, and take minor damage. Still: on fire is good. Will burn for 30 seconds, which is also good.

Staver continues to fire arrows at bad guys’ vitals, killing another. Only two remain to the southwest, and against Shiba and Staver, they will not last long.

Thumvar steps in, Fast-Drawing his sword, and executing a Rapid Strike on the two foes in front of him. One eats 13(2) cut; the other parries. The one that got hit dies.

The yeti all scamper and close on us, a veritable mob of living fur. Lots of targets, very close by. They all seem to rush Thumvar, who is flying:

Thumvar: Note, I’m 9′ up, unless they have reach 2+ they can’t attack.

GM: What’s the penalty for hitting above you with melee.

Thumvar: unless they jump

GM: They have greataxes.

Staver: Hilarity

Two might hit, but Thumvar parries both easily. Seven arrows are drawn or nocked.

Cadmus swings twice, with minor deceptive attacks, but both blows are parried. Next time, one blow, more deceptive attack. Good to know.

Still, the guys who he set on fire a few turns ago continue to burn, and one collapses from the flames. The shaman’s still all stoic.

Hiro, our magic user, casts a nasty pit spell. A five yard chasm opens up, dumps a whole lot of bad guys into a 15′ pit. They’ll hit the bottom next turn, after which the pit will fill in. Not sure if it’ll trap them or not. We shall see.

Thumvar chops at the big guy, who is falling. 13(2) cut is delivered.

***

We call it there. The biggest lessons I learned for this:

1) Either all the players should stay close together, or you’d better ensure you have the mobility to join a fight quickly. That Flight learned prayer is on my “next 8 CP I get” list

2) One BIG hit is best when fighting guys with good defenses. The one attack I got, I wasted by doing a Rapid Strike. I had Axe-24. I should have just thrown down with a -8 to hit, -4 Deceptive attack. But that would still have left him with something like 10 or 11 for his defense. So maybe that wouldn’t have been enough. Had I hit, 3d+4 (2) cut vs hard leather (call it DR 2-4?) would have been something like 7-30 injury. Alas, he defeated both my swipes, and I got nada.

3) Chat-based gaming is still very slow. Very. Slow.

We picked up having . . .

just opened up a door into a room full of crystals pulsing with dark light in some sort of indiscipherable pattern. Some of them are magical, others are just full of what we assume is evil black ooze that glows with a black light, as strange as that is. Nothing seems to be moving.  There are other things that look kind of like the control panels at the doors, but several orders of magnitude more complex.


Thumvar: “So, can we grab some crystals for fun and profit or what?”
Staver: “Or do they bite?”

Cadmus: “Someone else can do that. I’ve had my fill of messing with pulsing crystals”

Shiba starts grabbing crystals, and meanwhile makes a Thaumatology roll.
GM: Shiba, you believe this is some sort of thaumaturgic machine. You’re guessing by the dust in this room it’s been here for… several thousands of years. Minimum. It also appears to still be doing whatever it was designed to do. Two crystals about as large as your index finger in different parts of the room are definitely independently magical, and they’re also definetely tied into the functioning machine. You have no idea what the purpose of the machine is, but you’re guessing it’s related to whatever reason this tower was built for. To be clear, they’re independently magical. But they’re tied into the machine’s functioning in some manner that you can’t figure out.
We’re told we have no idea what removing the crystals that are involved in actually operating the machine would do. Maybe nothing. Maybe boom. Maybe make it do something entirely different. 
Shiba decides to pull the crystals anyway. After Cadmus’ trick with the control panel last game, I can’t really object.
Shiba and Staver notice that all the crystals in the room
seem to be vibrating at a VERY high speed. Their edges are blurring, and
there’s a high pitched whine filling the room. Also, the black light seems to
be bleeding out into the surface of a lot of the crystals.
Shiba: Shiba has no compunctions about retreating. He does.
Though he must be stoic – “Pardon me, coming through the door now.”
he pants calmly.
GM: You get within a yard of the door before all the
crystals in the room explode. The fragments seem to be coated in a smoking
black ooze. And there are a LOT of them.
Shiba gets peppered with a lot of shrapnel, and including his armor, he bounces the first 2, take 3 injury on the right arm, 1 on the right leg, 10 on the right leg (and crippled), 3 on the left arm, and 1 on the left leg. He spends a destiny point on a HT-5 roll so he’s not poisoned, blinded, or otherwise awful things. He stagger/crawls out of the room, and kneels facing the door.
Thumvar pulls a Neo and dodges 
Cadmus rushes up to lay on hands, and decides to prime the pump with a Major Healing potion first. Having healed him and others, we decide we just destroyed a major black magic artifact, patted ourselves on the back, and ride the elevator up another floor.
Whether through accident or apurpose, we see a Remorhaz icon in the middle of the new level.

GM: A huge hexagonal hole lies in the floor of this huge hexagonal chamber. Four stone platforms jut from the walls 16 yards up from the floor in each of the cardinal directions. Above these platforms, a pair of open windows in each wall look out over the icy landscape outside. Six large crystals are embedded in the walls between the windows, glowing with a fierce blue radience. High above, a wide hexagonal opening pierces the cieling. Beyond this opening, a massive sphere of blue light sheds a dazzling radiance. Bolts of crackling electricity join the crystals in the walls with the ball of energy. A howling gale sweeps downwards from the sphere, carrying a rumble of distant thunder.

Immediately to the south of the shaft you just rose up from, you see another crystal control panel embedded in the floor.

As you rise to even with the floor, you see a massive white and blue worm. It’s mouth and it’s scales glow red hot. as it snaps around to look at you. It looks angry. Or hungry. Maybe both.

Mark Langsdorf: I’m suddenly reminded of Peter dell’Orto’s recent blogpost about focusing on the important stuff when describing the room. ie, WHAT ABOUT THE COLD LIZARD DRAGON THING?
Cadmus is thinking this is the perfect time for Righteous Fury, but alas, it’s defined as a “per day” power, not a “per session” power. My daughter happens by and asks if I want some of her Power (she’s four). I say yes; I’m going to need it.
There are also four icy wraiths circling the electric blue sphere, and furtive movement on one of the high platforms.
Staver starts off by sinking an arrow into the Remorhaz’ blazing-hot interior. The thing screams, the shaft burst into flame. 8(2) pi damage, and we’ll see how ugly or not that is.
The movement on the West platform proves to be Kayiyanna, a a beautiful woman with blue skin covered in white whorls peek out from over the edge of the platform. She naturally casts a darkness spell at Thumvar, who has taken flight to try and nail her. In a deadly way. We hope. We also presume that she’s the scary woman that the previous shaman was writing bad poetry about. No one likes a bad poet, so Thumvar will kill her twice.
The ‘hoarfrost spirit’ that Thumvar can no longer see plunges downward. 

GM: You spot movement from the northernmost platform and whip your head around in time to see the decayed corpse of a white dragon launch itself from the platform, soaring unimpeded by the wind towards you.
Cadmus: Oh, shit.

The Remorhaz gets another arrow, this time Guided, from Shiba, who’s got wicked imbuements. It does 9(2) pi, though doesn’t penetrate as deeply as Staver’s. It also bursts into flame, and the hardened steel tip melts out of the wound channel.
Cadmus lumbers after them. He really needs higher Move. I note Cadmus is keeping an eye out for threats, and so

GM: Since you specifically mentioned you were keeping your eyes out, as you’re moving towards Shiba’s back you throw a quick glance over your shoulder and notice a second undead white dragon swooping towards the group from the East.

We are so screwed.
Staver fires another two arrows at the Remorhaz, one hits, another dodged, and again hits for 10(2) pi damage, which elicits another shriek. 
Thumvar flies on, and leaves the darkness enshrouding him behind. The GURPS version of darkness isn’t tied to the subject, thankfully for him. He bursts out of the sphere and travels a few more yards. 

This close to her you see midnight blue hair whipping around her head, and wings of blue-black feathers spread slightly behind her. The feathers aren’t being torn at by the wind like you would expect.Her hands sport long silver nails that glint like razors, and she’s barehanded but wearing a steel breastplate patinaed with frost and a shield on her left arm.She quirks her head quizically in your direction, then twists her hand in your direction while jumping forward and down towards the sphere of blackness.

A lightning bolt sizzles down from the sphere above us, narrowly missing Thumvar (he dodged). And with the dark sphere floating in mid-air, things are going from bad to worse to awful pretty fast.
The Remorhaz charges at Shiba and snaps at him with his jaws; missing. 
Shiba: “Rude.”
Now, a howling spirit composed of wind, with a skeletal face, erupts from the sphere and charges at Thumvar, doing a slam. Thumvar blocks with the silvered sharp edge-blade of his shield. It squeals and peels away. 
Thumvar: “Yah, that’s what I thought you wispy wuss.”
Right about then something freezing cold sweeps through him from behind; he takes 1 point of burn damage from the cold, armor doesn’t protect. The cold alerts Thumvar to the attack, and he slaps some silver in the way on his way out, doing thrust damage for the sword. (lucky roll at -4) He manages 9(2) impaling damage (!), which ain’t bad.
Both of the dragons swoop towards Cadmus and Shiba, and one breathes a torrent of black ice. Cadmus flings himself aside, while Shiba uses his magical Peshkali shield to block the attack, and then tries to use Blinding Defense (Shield) vs. the dragon. This imparts a -6 Obscure penalty to Dragon #2.
And two pillars of whirling air approach from the south. Big pillars (SM+2).
Mark Langsdorf: It’s like Nate decided he likes boss fights so he decided to just have a bunch of bosses in the fight.
Shiba shouts “The Caterpillar Grasps the High Leaf!” and stabs the Remorhaz in the eye, extending his energy blade into the creature. It lashes out in defense with one of its many legs, but Shiba spends a Knight! point (his second for this blow) to make the defense go awry. 8 imp to the eye later, Shiba neatly sidesteps as it brainlessly continues past, coming to a sliding stop 
Cadmus rolls away from the sliding beast, invoking Smite for perhaps 6 injury, but the fire is muted, likely by the incredibly Evil vibes from this place.
And the wind spirits arrive at the party. Both slam Shiba, who seems to be the punching bag of this fight, for 10 cr double knockback, so he takes 6 injury and is pushed one hex. He keeps his feet nicely, though he’s cooked a bit (armor protects) by standing too closely to a recently-alive Remorhaz. The second deals 5 cr double knockback, which is ineffective.
Staver takes aim with two Deluxe arrows: Balanced Fine Silver Accurate +2 Puissance. Yow. Emily triggers her Mighty MapTools Macro of Doom:

Fast Draw: 2 Arrows (19-2) result:
«succeeded
by 3 »
Quick
Ready (18)
result:
«succeeded
by 10 »

Shoot Bow at Katiyana
(20)
@ range penalty -3
result:
«succeeded
by 6 automatic deceptive attack for -2/-1 » -1 to
defend due to DWA
Damage is 11
imp (2) if successful.

Shoot Bow at Katiyana (20) @
range penalty -3
result:
«succeeded
by 6 automatic deceptive attack for -2/-1 » -1 to
defend due to DWA
Damage is 8
imp (2) if successful.

Pretty cool, eh? Alas, the nimble minx blocks both.
The blue lady of darkness is mid-sphere, so cannot be seen by Thumvar, so he Heroic Charges past Hoarspirit 3, chopping at it with a Deceptive Attack, then jinks down to 1 yard above the ground. He spends a Knight! point to hit, and since it’s back is to Thumvar, it is cloven nicely in two.
Katiyana reaches one taloned hand out to Staver, her eyes flashing. Staver spends 1FP on a Feverish Defense, and critically succeeds. A lightning bolt flashes down, again, from the glowing sphere above, slamming down with a resounding crack. She then moves. Fast. 
A hoarfrost spirit charges through Shiba; another charges through Staver, to the backs of both. Shibas shows great sense, disappearing through the floor. Maybe out of range of Cadmus’ Smite maybe not.
The dragon that was close by Cadmus keeps going swooping into the black sphere. The other hits rather a lot of us with another strafing run. Katiyana is too high to be affected; everyone else is immune to cold. Shiba blocks with his magic shield, and Cadmus dodge-and-rolls out of the way. Lucky.
Shiba: Step back, shout “The Bell Tolls!” (Project Blow, Knight) and “The Termite Undermines the Pillar” (Penetrating Blow, Knight), and chop Dragon 1’s neck from a distance result:  «succeeded by 1 » and result:  «failed by 3 » taking the maximum DA penalty possible from by skill of 19 for 9 cu damage. Naturally he spends a Knight point to make this attack succeed. The dragon defends successfully, however.
A wind elemental gestures at Cadmus, unleashes a bolt of lightning, which misses, and another fires one off at Shiba, 
And the almost-see-through surface beneath Cadmus and Shiba’s feet flickers out of existence over a chasm 120yds deep.
We end there.


Session Notes

Cadmus was more or less not active this game. Got in one smite, one heal, and mostly a lot of nothing because he’s slow, has no ranged combat ability, and is generally ineffective on flying creatures. Also, some discussion was had about Righteous Fury, which is by the rules a per-day ability (in-game day), but I’d like to make that the 0% switch to per-game-session, because there are lots of other coolness things, like the supply of Destiny Points that enhance a character’s utility, that do work on a per-session basis. Also, RF is self-limiting – since I can’t keep it up when I Smite or use Protection from Evil, in fact, by letter-of-rules it dispels the RF effect, whenever I’ve got RF up (and therefore am toe-to-toe with some bad guy), I’m off my status as “guy who can bring wrath to the undead” for 3d seconds.

We’ll see what the GM says.

We picked up in the middle of combat, facing what looked to be one frost wight (the second died real quick in the first moment of the restarted game), and two “Scary Black Things,” which had proved to be very robust to damage, presumably very high DR.

Shiba goes after the frost wraith, and severs its good arm.

Cadmus is still buffed from his Righteous Fury (ST 19, DX 17, IQ 12, HT 18) and launches a complicated two-blow attack, one on each Scary Black Thing. He hits both in the neck for 13(2) and 18(2) damage, and both SBTs are alive, angry, but less alive than they were before getting Shrivener to the neck.

The moonflower comes up behind us, finally, still on fire from our initial assault. But he’s close enough to grapple Staver.

GM: t’s main mouth yawns wide and descends over the top of Staver from behind result:  «succeeded by 7 »  Staver, you are grappled and inside it’s mouth.
Shiba: Well, crap.

By “grappled” he means “swallowed,” and he also suffers 4 corrosive acid damage as well as 6 piercing “ow, spiky bits in it’s mouth” damage.

Shiba hears a heavy thud from somewhere to the northwest, and Thumvar is surprised from behind by a blow that no one, not even his friends, see coming.

GM: Something heavy but somewhat… giving slams into your side, Thumvar. You don’t know, something just hit you in the side out of the blue. Your right flank. It does 9 cr, and Thumvar is forced to make a HT check.

Something tickles his nose, and he sneezes.  

Thumvar has DR 14 or so, so nothing penetrates.

Now Staver’s turn. He loses the Contest of ST to break free by more than 40. Yow.

The SBTs change posture to kneeling, which is as as far as they get. Staver recalls he has a Salamander Amulate, and has DR 11 or so. Next turn, will open a vial of alchemist’s fire inside the plant.

Thumvar turns to strike SBT2, but sees . . . something.


GM:
THere’s nothing…. solid there. But
there’s a faint tracery of something with three trunklike legs in
a tripod configuration and two arms, with a wide cap where a
normal thing’s head might be.

GM:
Completely see-through, but you can
see the edges of it.

Thumvar throws one of his patented Dual-Weapon Attacks, at -6 for transparency, and spends a Knight! point to hit with the sword.  The outline does not respond to his attack, but something heavy yet soft deflects the blow out of the way. We’re being attacked by some sort of ambulatory mushroom. Must be trippin’.


Shiba:
“Stanniy-kun! The Caterpillar Grasps
the High Leaf!” A golden nimbus envelops Hayai, extending several
feet past the tip of the blade, as Shiba performs surgery on the
Moonflower to release Staver. Telescoping attack result:
«succeeded
by 7 »
and cut Staver’s prison result:
«succeeded
by 0 » DA-8/-4 for 15
cu damage.

Shiba:
Nice.

Shiba:
And I will spend Knight! destiny
points like water to make sure that attack hits

The plant fails to twist out of the way. The blade bites deep through the distended plant skin, skips off some sort of armor inside, and Staver comes tumbling out.
Staver rolls Scout!, and sticks the landing. Ta-dah!
Cadmus strikes twice hard at the beast before him, once at the neck and once at his remaining uncrippled leg, but is parried both times. 
The Moonflower slides forward, upset at losing a meal, and pieces of the root structure lash out, trying to entangle Shiba and Staver.

GM:
So, two roots try to encircle Staver result:
«succeeded
by 4 »
and result:
«succeeded
by 7 » and two more snake towards Shiba result:
«succeeded
by 1 » and result:
«succeeded
by 7 »
Shiba retreats and ripostes, and dodges, succeeding by lots. Staver critically succeeds on an acrobatics/Scout! roll, bouncing around like a tree elf. She dodges both handily as well.
Staver beats feet (hooves) to the edge of the grease, where she spins, stumbles, regains her balance (scout! point), and looses two flaming arrows at the SBT2. Both SBT1 and the Moonflower continue to suffer from the effects of alchemist’s fire, SBT1 looking at 2(5) and 2(5), while the moonflower is staring at 6(5) twice as well. She also crits with one of the arrows, and both hit. The first arrow hits solidly, and causes the SBT2 to fall over, but alas, not stunned.
SBT1 attacks Cadmus four times with his limbs from the flank, and while Cadmus blocks one, and dodges two more, one gets through for 14 cut, which puts 3 injury past his DR 12. 3 corrosive damage also splatters on his armor, and smokes. Further, SBT2 swipes at him prone, but Cadmus critically succeeds on the first parry (which also had a -3 to Riposte baked in), and also parry the second. He loses his balance, not able to take any action and a further -2 to defenses until his next turn. 
Thumvar steps to the plate, and fires off a Dual-Weapon attack. Both hit, but his dice hate him, and he only does 11(2) and 13(2) cut. Even so, the first blow bites into it’s carapace, and the second blow with the razor sharp edge of your shield severs it’s upper torso from the rest of it’s body.
It shudders and is still.
Cadmus moves away from the Moonflower, and attacks the Scary Black Thing with a blow to the torso and the neck. Spending his only two Holy Warrior! points to turn two narrow misses into two narrow hits (due to the -3 shock penalty from last turn). The 12(2) cut to the neck removes the head of the Scary Black Thing. We are now down to one Frost Wight and Audrey Too.
The Moonflower emits another flashbulb burst. This was the reason Cadmus put his +6 into HT and not DX, and he succeeds. Shiba spends a destiny point to be able to see, as does Thumvar. Staver is blinded.
It grapples at Shiba, and misses. And something heavy and squishy slams into Staver’s legs, for 7 cr each. Plus two HT-2 rolls. Fungus critter. Staver takes mild injury, and fails one of the HT rolls.

GM: Staver, in the hex to the south of you the outline of some sort of mushroom has appeared, prone. Also, you feel a sudden burn along every inch of exposed skin. It feels like something tiny and cold is trying to burrow into you. Moderate Pain: Pain: You have a penalty to all DX, IQ, skill, and self-control rolls. This is -2 for Moderate Pain, -4 for Severe Pain, and -6 for Terrible Pain. High Pain Threshold halves these penalties; Low Pain Threshold doubles them.

Staver has received initiative. GM: Your turn. 

Staver is annoyed:

Staver: Draw two alchemists fire arrows, fire
them directly into mushroom guy’s HEX, aiming to hit myself with
splash damage along with him. I will BURN this crud off. +4 to hit
his hex, -10 for dazzled, -2 for pain = -8?
Staver: I bet I’m more heat resistant than it
is.
She nails the hex for 2(5) and 5(5) burning damage, the ‘shroom fails to dodge, and suddenly she has no trouble seeing it as it bursts into flame.

Note: alchemist’s fire is nasty stuff. 1d (5) burning for 30 seconds. 

Thumvar throws two blows at the Moonflower, both of which are parried. The moonflower continues to burn/smolder a bit, and Shiba keeps slashing at the Moonflower. He hits, and the GM notes we’re basically about to kill all the baddies, and shall we end the fight here?

We agree. 

The lower level, previously filled with the clash of arms, cries of battle, and crackle of flame, quiet once more.
We heal up a bit, but small white growths are appearing from below Staver’s skin. Peering at them, they look suspiciously like the arctic adapted mushrooms from the other room.

Oooo. This will not end well.

Staver: Now, I’m going to get out my knife,
and experimentally dig one out.
Staver: Since I have HP back. ANd nobody here
has surgery, but at least I have a good DX 😛
Shiba: “That does not look good. Perhaps
Mother Mvashti-sana can treat them?”
GM: You manage to pry one off with minimal
pain. Kind of like a blackhead.
Shiba: Keeps an eye out for attackers while
Staver mutiliates himself.

Cadmus wanders over to the glowing thing, makes an IQ roll, and I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of arcane control panel, pulsing steadily with some sort of black-tinged light.
Cadmus wonders if it’s evil, and in doing so, invokes Smite. Cadmus gets a funny look on his face and fingers his holy symbol.
The panel explodes, doing 17 burn explosive damage, throwing Cadmus back two hexes, and injuring him through the armor. 

Cadmus: Pretty sure that control panel was powered by evil. 

And now it’s a smoking hole in the ice.
Fortunately, there’s another one on the other side of the central shaft. Cadmus does not try to Smite this one.

Cadmus wanders around the tower, looking a bit dazed, and studiously avoidng control panelish things

GM: I won’t make you fiddle with it and guess the function of stuff. With an hour to mess around, you figure out that you can manipulate the panel to produce a shimmering hexagonal floor in hte central chamber that waits for about 10 seconds, shoots upwards to what looks like the next floor, and then disappears after another several seconds at the upper level.

Cadmus and Thumvar decide to test the elevator ride.

GM: Okay, so Thumvar works the levers, tongue sticking out the corner of his mouth, and then Thumvar and Cadmus run onto the shimmering floor. It shoots upward.

GM: The acceleration on this thing is pretty intense. You travel about 30 yards in about three seconds.

GM: The wind buffets you mightily on the way up, and the floor slides to a sudden stop. You are in the next section up of the hexagonal tower. Most of it is open, but there are walls sectioning off the northern quadrant of this level. Also, oddly the ice looks damaged here. The floor and walls have deep grooves, and large holes in them, though they don’t penetrate to the outside of the tower.

Staver: Claw marks. Drag marks of dead dragon.

GM: Both of you know you want to get off the floor pretty quickly.

 We wander around, and discover what can only be evidence that a rhemorraz lives here. What is that? A gigantic centipede full of volcanic fire. Eats mammoths, melts steel. Very very fast.

We really need to get off this level.

GM: So, wormeated floor and walls. Room to the north with door and mysterious panel. Other panel near the shaft.

GM: Whatchoo gonna do?

 Shiba fiddles with yet another control panel, and determines how to open the giant door. He “pushes the button,” and then . . .

There’s a delicate chime, and six traingular sections of the door seperate cleanly and withdraw into the sides of the hexagonal door. It’s a room full of crystals. All pulsing slowly. Importantly, they seem to be valuable crystals. Also, everything is coated in a thin layer of dust, and the air smells stale. There are a couple of magical ones, and a few mundane ones. The room looks like the panels you’ve been messing with, but floor to ceiling.And there is some sort of pattern to the flashes that are rippling through the crystals. You’re pretty sure this entire room is some sort of functional device, but you’re not sure what kind.

Cadmus asks if he should invoke Smite in here. Sarcastically.

We end there.

We ended last game with the weather finally clearing enough for us to head north to the Frozen Tower (probably of Doom!).  We are starting to – perhaps – approach the pole when a strange blue glow is seen on the horizon. It dominates the dark sky like the Luxor.

It’s cold. Damn cold. -100F/-73C cold.

The shaft of light emanates from a hexagonal tower, some 100m tall, whose top crackles with blue energy, a raging storm swirling above the light.

GM: The winds are SCREAMING here. This is the windiest wind that a wind ever did wind.

A shattered causeway leads from the shore of the frozen lake to a hexagonal entrace on ther northern face of the tower. It begs us (metaphorically) to venture on . . . and die.

Or maybe I’m just reading too much into this. Nope:

Everyone makes out skeletons of various creatures (including humanoids) slowly moving aimlessly in the lake around the tower.

Cadmus wonders out loud if this place feels quite as evil as the last black basalt thing we encountered, and he can feel the nasty emanating from the lake from the low hill you guys are scouting from.

Yep. Evil. Damn evil.

We also decide that this is in fact the Creepy Black Tower by the Lake, but not the Nameless Spires, which are at the north pole and well, “spires,” not “spire with vertical maglite.”

Cadmus prays for guidance, but receives none.

Cadmus: “Pharasma ignored me. So either we’re doing the right thing, or too stupid to keep living and she’ll see us Real Soon.”

Thumvar: “Or you at least.”

Cadmus: “Fair point.”

Shiba bats an eye at this weird foreign pagan reassurance, but only an eye. “Care to wager on that, Cadmus-sempai?”

Cadmus: “Absolutely. 100 silver says we make it halfway up and then encounter some Unspeakable terror, which is just a warm-up for the challenge we face extinguishing that light source.”

Jaded pros, we are.

We decide sneakitude is the best course, and start up the causeway. The Big Clunky Warriors make their rolls by 3 and 5. The Mystic Knight by 1, and the Scout is embarrassed by only making her roll by 3.

GM: You manage to sneak across the cracked and ruined causeway all the way up to the hexagonal portal leading into the black tower. Peeking inside, you see windblown snow in all the corners of the roughly trapezoidal chamber inside. Identical hexagonal openings exit the room to the right, left, and straight ahead. A strong wind blows from the portal ahead of you, but overall the wind is mercifully damped compared to outside.

Accidentally, a few wights are revealed by a vision layer error:

Cadmus: Oh, look. The Wight Stuff.

GM: It’s about 10 yards up and featureless.

GM: Wight? What wight?

Thumvar: or Thumvar on the left, Shiba on the right since that is how we are now?

Cadmus: Huh. Coulda sworn I saw the Wight

Thumvar: several

Cadmus: Well, they’ll be a Wight to Remember, then

GM: You do see some sort of crystaline structure poking out of the snow drift to the left and ahead.

Cadmus: Remember, we don’t talk about Wight Club

Looking around the area, the door to the left opens on a room dotted in pale white mushrooms sticking out of drifts of windblown snow, while a very large (and probably carnivorous) plant dominates the corner of the right-hand room. It’s about 7 yards tall, bulbous protusions that glow with gentle white light along it’s main stalk.

Feed me, Seymour. Wonderful.

It’s root system sprawls across most of the room. It’s maw is currently pointing up towards the cieling, and it’s gently twisting back and forth as if it’s dancing to some music only it can hear.

GM: Staver, you recognize the mushrooms in the other room as some weird arctic variant of a fairly common northern mushroom.

Staver: Does it eat people or spew toxic spores?

GM: You’re not sure what they’re feeding off of, really, and the normal ones are brown, not white, but you’re pretty sure they’re descended from that.

Cadmus responds to Shiba’s suggestion of killing the plant from a distance with “I have five vials of alchemist’s fire.” He likes that plan. He likes the part where Staver suggests using his alchemist’s fire arrows even better.

Staver takes some time to study the plant, and tells us more bad news:

GM: You are pretty sure that’s an exotic plant normally found in jungles far to the south. Known as a “Moonflower” They can emit bursts of blinding light, are moderately mobile on their root structure, and like to swallow SM0 things whole. It is very weird to find one that is a) white, and b) thriving (apparently) in the arctic.

Cadmus: While I have never heard of an undead carnivorous plant, I feel we have found one. Deduction, not divination.

Naturally, our conversation is loud enough that the plant hears us. Sigh.

GM: The moonflower pauses in it’s strange dance, and the head turns towards the door all you guys are standing in.

Shiba reacts as he should, dropping his bodkin arrow, replacing it with a cutting arrow, and Aims at the Moonflower. Staver launches two flaming arrows at the Moonflower, and scores two hits, both of which suffer from the conversion to 1/2 damage for homogeneous creatures, but also both set it on fire.

As the warriors move up to cover the archers, the Moonflower slithers forward a bit . . . and emits a blinding flash of light. One of the light-emitting bulbous things on the stalk is now dark, and we find ourselves facing a HT-5 roll to see. We all fail, three spend bonus points to not be blind, but we rapidly realize that’s four more to go. Thumvar can do that; the rest of us can’t. And HT-5 is a lot. Staver, of course, didn’t have to roll at all, having actually looked purposefully away from the flashbulbs of doom after he loosed his arrows.

GM:Looking behind you, you see withered corpses sit up out of some of the snow drifts in the room you’re in. Two angular black things covered in chitinous armor plate with two legs and four arms ending in heavy claws step through the portal back outside. And you see a faint disturbance in the air in between you guys and the open portal to the room with all the mushrooms.

Just awesome.

GM: Oh, the scary black things seem to be dripping a black slime from every part of them, which sizzles when it hits the ground inside the tower. Thought that might be information you’d like to have.

Even better. It’s like he’s trying to kill us or something.

Staver Fast-Draws two flaming arrows, and shoots both at a scary black thing, which try and fail to dodge out of the way. 10 (2) imp and 6 (2) imp plus 3 and 4 burning . . . the first arrow sinks through an armor plate and burst into flame like a flaming arrow should, the second is much less effective, but still penetrates.

They start towards the group, moving awkwardly on all six limbs and leaving a small trail of hissing black slime behind them.

The two Scary Black Things move towards us at Move 4, which isn’t too scary for now. Could change. Maybe they’re holding back. That would suck.

Thumvar shifts around to protect our flank, tosses his sword in the air like a boss, Fast-Draws an axe and chucks it at a Scary Black Thing, and catches the sword. He hits for 11 cut with the silver-coated hatchet . . . which “just barely” lodges in his armored plates.

Yow.

Shiba casts a large Grease spell to create a bit of a denied zone around us, keeping the inner three hexes open so we can have footing.

The frost wights (GM: Like normal wights, but waaayyyy cooler!) advance at a sprint (Move 7) right through the greased zone, and one of them is in our inner circle darn quick. The other crit fails his balance roll and falls flat on his back, stunned (unusual for undead).

Cadmus steps into the middle of the circle of undead, and casts Smite. Unfortunately, Staver, a part-Infernal, takes the highest damage. Coudla sworn that he was less affected than that . . . but also the Smite is strangely muted, as the Evil Temple gives the beasties DR 5. OK, Shrivener is on the menu tonight.

Staver puts himself out, and the Bad Guys (SBTs) try and advance on us through the Grease. They both fall over.

Thumvar Rapid Strikes with his broadsword, but it’s parried by the Frost Wight despite the -2 Deceptive Attack; he’s not that good, but he got lucky. Shiba regains his vision, and strikes twice at the wight, the second strike biting deep (14 cut).

The wights go before Cadmus, and one closes to the Grease circle. The wight Shiba hit returns the favor with two quick blows, while the fallen wight critically fails his roll to get up, slams his head into the ground with a loud CRACK!, and his head rolls away from his body. First “own goal” of any game I’ve ever played. Shiba easily blocks and parries the two blows directed at him. He shouts “legacies of a more civilized age!” and golden ideograms flow down the sword, turning it into an annihilating weapon. The wight loses his arm about mid-forearm. Which is quite traditional, as we all know.

The third Frost Wight also crit-fails his DX check as he goes across the grease, and falls and hurts himself.

Cadmus, a bit tired of all the other guys doing the cool stuff, invokes Righteous Fury, receiving a +5 boost to ST, +4 to DX, and +6 to HT. Yow. He is, for the next 3d seconds, a 530-point character. He needs (!) to get at the Scary Black Things, as he now does 4d+1(2) cut with his axe.

Staver fast-draws two bodkins into SBT2, crits the F-D roll, and crits again on the first arrow shot, merely hits the second. SBT’s right leg is crippled. SBT has two legs and four arms, so this is a good thing.

Thumvar’s up, and is forced to spend a destiny point to turn a miss into a hit, and one-armed Wight Skywalker does not dodge. He takes 15 (2) cut, and crumples to the ground, unmoving.

This frees Shiba to advance on SBT2, with telegraphed rapid strikes for 8 cut and 14 cut, which fails to damage it (!).

Frost Wight 4 leaps at Shiba, crossing the greased spell area to claw at him, and Shiba blocks successfully.

Cadmus moves through his friends, striking at FW4 on his way to hit SBT1. He carves a large chunk out of the frost wraith as he passes, and due to the slippery surface and overall position on SBT1, nails him too. 15(2) cut on FW1, and 12(2) cut on SBT1, but I suspect the Scary Black Things have DR15-20, which probably means “not much of a wound!”

Nope: Your axe sinks deep into it’s armored plates. Black slime oozes out around the wound with a muted sizzle that echoes with faint screams.

The Moonflower closes in.

We started late, so we ended there . . . 

A great session by +Nathan Joy , +Mark Langsdorf , +Syndaryl , and +Theodore Briggs

We picked up where we left off. Shiba, Thumvar, and Staver were in the thick of it on the right side of the battlefield, while Cadmus was preparing to invoke Smite again against something like eleven targets in range.

Well, good plan. The other guys managed to not get too badly grappled and mangled by the hordes of undead, and screaming Undead Lich Lady tries to land on Cadmus’ head, trying to grapple him with her freakin’ hair. Cadmus had a plan, though, so he didn’t move – and Crazy Hair Lich Lady landed nearby. Then Cadmus invoked Smite on his turn, killed nine frozen dead or mammoths, wounded a few more, and singed and really pissed off Lich Woman.

Next turn, she grapples Cadmus with her hair, but Shiba takes his turn to chop through first her hair, then her neck, beheading her. Cadmus uses Protection from Evil (Enhanced) to clear the field of undead . . . and a Very Mad Mammoth slams through all of us. I think the rest dodged and whatnot, but Cadmus takes one in the back for 19 pi++, less DR. Still takes 14 injury through DR 12.

Ow.

But then the others make short work of those remaining nearby as Cadmus makes two critical successes and a regular success to not lose concentration when hit by Giant Angry Mammoth. So with all the mooks forced to stay a minimum of 12 yards away, we finish off all that remain at our relative leisure.

Combat Over; Confusion Starts



At this point, we discover that we’ve arrived on the set of Skin of Evil. The big monolith thing is actually some sort of extruded and hardened essence of pure nasty. When those of us with good intentions walk on it, it begins to burn and scorch our boots and armor. When Staver the Infernal enters the circle, he feels like Old Uncle Evil is welcoming him home, and he’s ready to teach him all those things that he was too young for before. In short, we looked at the nasty evil thing, saw the three-clawed symbol from Turok’s Bore (Tanuanak? Tura lura lura? Fantasy names. Sheesh.), and went back to camp.

We spoke to Ameiko, healed up, and generally decided that we should probably go on to the Creepy Towers of Doom from which None Ever Return (except hopefully our heroes). When we woke up, the blizzard we’d been in had ended, and no sign of the monolith was visible – it had just disappeared, taking the storm with it.

We ended there.

Lessons Learned

  • Not a surprise, but getting dogpiled by undead sucks. And since most Learned Prayers and other things require a Concentrate maneuver, which by RAW can’t be done while grappled, it sucks even more. Technical Grappling allows you to keep concentrating with a Will roll, penalized for how good the grapple is.
  • Ranged weapons in a blizzard? Not so useful.
  • Never, ever, ever turn your back on an angry mammoth. It never ends well.