Sunday, 18 September 2016

GURPS Free Cities Session 20: An Eventful Night

Arc Sol - Human Cleric of Pelor, the god of the sun (326 points)
Aurum Red-Brand - Human Wizard (318 points)
Mor'ath Enanqua - Elven Swashbuckler/Thief (298 points)
Zaxod - Half-Orc Knight (316 points)
Aegert the Green - Human Apprentice (~125 points)

Day 46 (Cont.)
Weather: Cloudy, Rainy
Time: 1AM
Zaxod and Mor'ath regrouped with the rest of the party at the Lazy Dragon Inn nearby, and they planned when to make their next move.  After Arc healed up Zaxod and rested for a while, they took a look over at the Asilos estate and noticed that there were more guard patrols.  With the goal of extracting Leonidas Marinos, they went back to the rear wall of the estate to infiltrate it with the whole party (minus Aegert, who was incapable of stealth and unsuited to combat) this time.

Zaxod was Levitate'd by Aurum while he rode the levitating disc which was following Mor'ath.  Arc waited for Mor'ath to drop Aurum off inside of the wall, and then loop back over with the disc to pick him up.

However, the party got confused and after about 20 seconds of discussion, a pair of guards with halberds came around the corner, noticed Aurum and Zaxod floating just off the ground and 9' in the air, respectively, and sounded the alarm, calling for crossbows.  Zaxod responded by yelling out that he was a demon, here to eat their babies, hoping to distract the guards.  Aurum then moved Zaxod through an open second story window and cancelled his spell, while Mor'ath found a back door and tried to force it.

Zaxod jumped back out the window and landed on the ground beside Mor'ath, who was now picking the lock, and Aurum, who got off the disc.  The guards held their distance while calling out the party's movements ("There's one inside the second floor, no wait he jumped out, okay now they're opening the back door"), and Arc waited patiently, knowing that Mor'ath would quickly come back over the wall to bring him over.

Mor'ath finally got the back door open and they rushed into what was apparently the kitchen.  Aurum quickly locked the door behind them, and they moved through the first floor of the house to the basement, avoiding any more guards through a combination of luck, speed, and stealth.  They made their way down to the basement room where Leonidas was being kept, and Mor'ath picked the cell lock and Zaxod put the unconscious noble on the disc.  Meanwhile, Arc headed back to the Lazy Dragon to meet up with Aegert, having realized that the party had abandoned him.

The party moved back to the kitchen and (again) avoided any guards, but Mor'ath took a look out the window and saw 12 guards, some with crossbows, waiting out back, so they decided to try the front door instead.  As they entered the main hall, they were ordered to lay down their arms by guards, some with crossbows, some with shortswords and shields, waiting on the platform at the top of the stairs to the second floor, which overlooked the entire hall.  After a moment's discussion, they decided to run across to the main door anyway.

The guards with crossbows aimed and then fired while the party ran across the hall, while Zaxod tried to screen for Aurum unsuccessfully.  Aurum took a bolt to the back but stood standing with exactly 0HP, Mor'ath blocked one with his cloak, and Zaxod took a bolt but was only mildly injured.  As Mor'ath reached the doors and said "Well at least they have to reload so now we're safe for a few seconds", the crossbowmen dropped their crossbows and began readying more that they had waiting nearby.  At this point, Arc arrived back at their room in the inn and asked Aegert to cast Wizard Eye to go find the party.

Mor'ath got the door open, revealing another two crossbowmen and four halberdiers between them and the front gate (which, thankfully, was open), and tried using Fast-Talk to convince them that they were with the city guard and should be allowed to pass.  This failed.  As they moved out into the front yard, Zaxod closed the door to prevent more shots from behind, Aurum collapsed from his wound, and the crossbowmen outside took their shots.

The crossbowmen switched to shortswords while the party ran towards them, and Mor'ath disarmed, cloak grappled, and hamstrung one, while Zaxod wasn't attacked by the other and ignored him, moving straight into the waiting halberdiers.  As a result, he ate four halberd attacks, the first one destroying his fancy axe when he parried with it, and was brought down to the negatives but still standing.  Aegert finally found the party with the Wizard Eye, so he and Arc ran out of the inn towards the front of the Asilos estate to meet up with them.

With his crossbowman disabled, Mor'ath moved in on the halberds as well, while Zaxod drew his great axe.  Then, the other crossbowman, after seeing Mor'ath possibly cripple his friend for life, moved and All-Out Attacked Mor'ath in the skull from behind, stunning and knocking him down while Zaxod took out another halberdier, and then also took a shortsword to the skull and was stunned and knocked down.

Mor'ath came out of stun, fast-drew his saber off the ground, and tried to acrobatic stand but botched it and ended up sitting.  The remaining three guards ordered them to lay down their weapons and surrender, but thanks to a combination of Code of Honour (Pirate)Overconfidence, and Sense of Duty (Adventuring Companions), they refused.  After failing Gesture to try and do some moderate planning, Mor'ath dodged a halberd and then crippled its owner's hand while Zaxod started standing up.

Zaxod ran over to Aurum and started dragging him away while Mor'ath finished off the rest of the guards (all "non-lethal" attacks, including hand and leg cripplings with a cutting weapon), and the main door opened again revealing 4 guards, two with sword and shield and two with crossbows.  The crossbows fired at Zaxod, then fell back and were replaced with another two crossbowmen while Mor'ath retreated away, around the corner of the outer wall, and out into the city streets, just as Arc and Aegert arrived.

Arc waited for Mor'ath to run over to him so that he could cast Major Healing, but as Mor'ath started moving he failed his HT roll to stay conscious (with an 18), and fell over.  Zaxod retreated back around the corner still dragging Aurum, and Arc tried Awaken on Mor'ath, but failed thanks to the low-sanctity of the city.

Four more sword and board guards rounded the corner, and Zaxod moved in to fight them unarmed, while Arc successfully got off an Awaken for both Aurum and Mor'ath, and then used Major Healing to get Mor'ath above 1/3HP and gave him Shield 5 while Aurum drank a minor healing potion.

Zaxod grabbed one of the guards and tried to neck snap him while Arc and Mor'ath crippled the hands and legs of the remaining three.  Aurum stood up and looked around the wall but saw another 8 guards coming from the far side of the estate, and the party cut their losses and ran off into the night.

The party made it back to the Marinos estate, and were admitted entry, despite their blood-soaked clothes, thanks to having the house's master on the levitating disc.  Katerina was overjoyed to see her husband again, but then immediately panicked when she saw that he wasn't conscious.  Arc cast Detect Poison and found that yes, Leonidas had been poisoned (well, drugged), identified the poison with Esoteric Medicine, and then cast Neutralize Poison and cured him.

Leonidas woke up shortly thereafter, but didn't remember anything of his abduction other than playing cards and then leaving.  Disappointed that they didn't have any evidence of the Asilos family's plans, they took their 20gp from Katerina, who offered to back them up in any legal disputes, and then headed back to the Blue Pheasant to rest.  Along the way, Zaxod passed out, but was Awaken'd and trudged the rest of the way.

Arc tried some healing, and eventually put Zaxod in a Healing Slumber, but struggled to repeatedly heal anybody, so the party went to sleep.

Before going in, the party actually had a discussion about just burning the house down and getting Leonidas out afterwards, because he's in the basement and should be safe.  Thankfully they didn't do this.

The party made a lot of mistakes that resulted in this taking the entire session (5 hours).
-Attacked the same night after already putting the enemy on high alert, without any real plan other than "get Leonidas"
-Abandoned the cleric (this also sadly left him without anything to do for the vast majority of the night)
-Didn't cast any buffs before going in (Haste 1/Shield 1 can be sustained indefinitely for free, for instance)
-Didn't use one of several spells to make their lives way easier (Shape Earth to open up a hole, make handholds in the wall, or create a hill right outside the wall, Levitate to get multiple people over, etc)
-Running across the main hall without first baiting out crossbow shots with high-dodge team members (I actually forgot about Sacrificial Dodge, so that screwed Aurum a bit)

There was some discussion about how it should be easier to climb a 9' vertical wall than it was (Climbing-3/DX-8, plus encumbrance penalties).  It might be worthwhile to use climbing spikes or a ladder.  It also might be worth it to buy Climbing above default.  Forgot that people could have done a vertical jump to extend their reach (not that that would have helped anybody other than Zaxod).

Slightly reworked Bless to have more concrete ending points.  This is a nerf, but "+1 to everything and then also degrades a devastating injury to a regular one" is insanely OP.
1) Any failed active defence in combat results in an automatic success and the Bless expiring.
2) Any surprise attack that normally wouldn't allow a defence results in a normal defence roll and the Bless expiring.  In the case of an attack from behind, it is treated as an attack from the side, so you still take -2.
3) Any critically-failed attack roll or other important roll in or out of combat results in a reroll as per Luck, and the Bless expiring.

What Mor'ath ended up saying with Fast-Talk was his 3rd or 4th attempt.  The first couple all involved some variation of "Do X or else we'll kill you", which is Intimidation.  Probably won't allow people to backtrack like this in the future.

The party tried their best to use non-lethal attacks on the guards who might be innocent.  For some reason, severing and potentially permanently crippling limbs/hands is seen as fair and reasonable.

I didn't use lighting penalties at all.  Woops.  Pretty much everybody should have had -3 the whole fight.  Would that have helped the party?  Well, Mor'ath has Night Vision 2, and Zaxod has Night Vision 3, but roughly half the guards have limited Dark Vision, so call it a wash.

A lot of the crossbowmen used Predictive Shot rather than targeting something like vitals.  Seems fair, as otherwise Mor'ath has Dodge 13 before Acrobatic Dodge/Retreat.

The party lost a lot of gear, and in total, they actually lost money on this mission.  They'll have a chance to get back their Signature Gear back later.
-Aurum's Signature Staff: $1,000, 7FP Power Item
-Zaxod's Signature Axe: $500
-Zaxod's Other Axe: $40
-Zaxod's Great Axe: $500

There was some discussion of going to the city guard, but they realized that they had no evidence against a powerful noble house other than their eyewitness testimony.  Zaxod wants to meet with the Grand Autarch to state his case against the Asilos.  We'll see how that works.

The party made little progress towards stopping the blue-robed man and the Asilos from summoning the war devil (they got the prospective blood sacrifice out, but aren't sure if Leonidas was special or they could just use anybody), but opinions are split on what to do about it.  Arc wants to stop it, Mor'ath says it's not the job they're being paid to do, and Aurum and Zaxod don't really care.

Arc's player asked how they're supposed to play this without a dedicated cleric.  I pointed out that they found a chest filled with roughly $27,000, and have spent roughly $0 of that on healing potions, and that they can hire cleric NPCs for a reasonable price (though obviously not in Zerakim, thanks to the low sanctity).

In spite of the constant -5 to all of his spells, Arc never even tries to use First Aid or other mundane healing methods.

1 for general progress
1 for roleplaying
1 for the hardest fight (outnumbered against under-powered opponents)
0 for loot
1 for quests
MVP went to Mor'ath because both he and Zaxod fought well, but only Mor'ath was able to free Leonidas

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