Monday, 19 December 2016

GURPS Free Cities Session 31: Battle At The Stone Axe Camp

Aurum Red-Brand - Human Wizard (354 points)
Mor'ath Enanqua - Elven Swashbuckler/Thief (329 points)
Zaxod - Half-Orc Knight (339 points)

Player Absent:
Arc Sol - Human Cleric of Pelor, the god of the sun (349 points)

Day 74 (Cont.):
Weather: Sunny, No Wind
Date: Coreli 5th, 2526
After finishing off the last of the Stone Axe orcs, the party discussed what to do for several minutes, until Mor'ath got bored and started looting.  In addition to a pittance in coins, he also found Gili the dwarf, unconscious and bleeding out under a pile of bodies.  Arc stabilised her with Stop Bleeding, and they put her body onto the levitating disc.

Mor'ath went to find the horse that had ridden into town, Arc took Gili to the church to be healed, Zaxod held the western gate until reinforcements arrived, and Aurum went to the enchanter's shop to sell the lightning wand he had picked up in the mines near Carda several months ago.  In the town square, Mor'ath found the horse, but was unable to convince it to move.  As he struggled with default Animal Handling, Harthex arrived with a group of guards and asked him to gather the rest of the group to meet him in the square, and sent more guards out to reinforce the gates before heading north.

Once the team was assembled, Harthex informed them that they were going to have to "deal with" the orcs as soon as possible, and that the militia would now be raised indefinitely, halting construction of the town.  He threw a bag of coins containing their weekly pay to Arc, and returned to commanding guards.  The party returned to the mansion's dining room and discussed their options.

Mor'ath argued that they had just killed a fair few orcs, so they should attack the Stone Axe camp immediately, while they would still be reeling from defeat.  Zaxod agreed that all of the orcs had to die, but suggested that they attempt to recruit some other group to help.  Eventually they went and got Jarron, and agreed upon trying to recruit the Cracked Skull ogres with cheap jewellery and some sort of livestock.  After some persuading, Jarron agreed to come along to smooth things over.

Zaxod asked Harthex for money for bribes, and secured 300 silver pieces ($3000) and a pig (quickly named "Hamzod the Half-Pork").  They bought jewellery (and Zaxod chipped in another 200 silver of his own), and Mor'ath found that the horse had been tamed by Cirth, the high elven archer, who snootily parted with it when asked.  Arc healed the wounded and put Zaxod in a Healing Slumber and the party settled in for the night.

Day 75:
Weather: Not a Cloud in the Sky
Date: Coreli 6th, 2527
They gathered up Jarron, Hamzod, and the horse, got Blessed, and headed out to find the Cracked Skull ogres to the southwest.  Just before entering the forest, Arc and Mor'ath noticed a group of six goblins riding strange creatures headed towards them.  The front half resembled a wolf, but the rear was scaled, like a lizard.  Aurum realized that they were worgs, and warned that they're far smarter than the average wolf.

Zaxod hit one of his throwing axes into the ground as a stake, and Mor'ath tied the animals to it, while Arc readied a Sunbolt.  and Aurum tried jumping over Hamzod, but tripped and landed prone in front of the pig.  Thanks to Hates Animals, Hamzod was sufficiently annoyed, and bit Aurum's leg, grappling it.

Mor'ath and Zaxod ran after the goblins while dodging arrows, and Aurum missed a Water Jet to knock Hamzod away before the pig could pin him.  The goblins continued to miss (though they did force Bless rerolls and spooked the horse into running away) and closed, hoping for better odds, but after half of their number died in a single second, they retreated.  Mor'ath considered chasing after the horse but gave up.

Meanwhile, Aurum hit Hamzod with the Water Jet, but not hard enough to knock the pig free of the stake, and so it looped up and onto the levitating disc, while still holding his foot.  Finally, the wizard attempted to break free and easily succeeded against the ST8 pig.

Several hours of searching later, they found a group of large huts made from animal hides arranged at the circle with an ogre sitting on a large rock in the middle.  When they approached, he yelled out that there were "orcs and also not orcs", and other ogres emerged from their huts.  Zaxod was (for some reason) in charge of diplomacy, and was able to convince the ogres not to immediately attack by offering them Hamzod and some loose coins they took from the goblins (both of which the ogre took and then tossed behind him).

However, the party was unable to convince the ogres to help them attack the orcs, partly because the ogres failed to understand what the party wanted them to do, and what payment was being offered ("We'll give you more pigs!" "Me already have pig.").  Eventually, Jarron was asked to take over, and, thanks to his non-default Diplomacy, managed to convince them to "smash orcs".

They led the ogres north through the forest, Zaxod using his Leadership to keep them somewhat organized, until they arrived at the wooden walls of the Stone Axe orc camp.  The ogres charged, and orcish sentries on the walls blew horns, sounding the alarm.  Arc and Aurum cast Shield 5 and Great Haste on Mor'ath and Zaxod, finishing just as the ogres bashed their way through the walls.

In the courtyard beyond, the orcs were beginning to assemble, with archers on the wooden platforms at the top of the walls, and many heavy footorcs backed by cavalry just inside the gates.  Mor'ath and Zaxod hung back for a bit (losing their Great Haste and 5FP in the process) while the ogres made a gap, and Arc and Aurum launched Fireballs and Sunbolts at the archers on the walls while hanging back near the treeline.

Seeing actual resistance, the ogres began to break, but Zaxod succeeded at rallying them thanks to Leadership.  Mor'ath noticed that a group of archers backed by shieldbearers were assembling on the far side of the camp, and slid around the combat, moving from cover to cover, while moving towards them.  Zaxod noticed that a 10' tall orc with no armor and a huge great axe, backed by several 9' tall orcs, was surrounded by orc shamans casting spells, and split off to sneak towards the group.

The orc chieftain spotted Zaxod sneaking up and him to battle, calling him a coward.  Zaxod accepted, and the two moved into melee, while the shamans shuffled away into a large tent to hide, and the guards watched and cheered "TOGDAZ!".  Despite the fact that the chieftain was unarmoured, Zaxod struggled to deal enough damage to the leg to cripple it, and the chieftain was unable to get through Zaxod's substantially enhanced defences.

After being parried one time too many, the chieftain made a (20 MoS!) Beat and landed a couple of heavy hits with an All-Out Attack (Double).  Zaxod exploited this with a dual-weapon attack to the skull, knocking the chieftain prone and stunned, and followed it up with another attack to the leg, temporarily crippling it, as the guards advanced towards him.

Arc and Aurum finished off the archers on the walls and moved in to support the ogres with missile spells, while Mor'ath engaged the archers from behind and began alternating between a flurry of attacks followed by rapid movement to avoid getting encircled, but just as things were looking up, Zaxod went down on a failed consciousness check (with a 16).

Arc broke off from Aurum and cast Awaken on Zaxod, waking him up just in time to parry 5 successive attacks with Boxing while on the ground.  The sixth attack overwhelmed his defences and slashed across his torso, just before Zaxod started to regain his feet.  Seeing his predicament, Mor'ath began moving towards Zaxod to assist, an ever-thinning horde of shieldbearers and archers on his heels.

Aurum finished charging a 15d Explosive Fireball, and threw it into the front lines, killing 7 orcs (and one ogre) outright, and then moved up after Arc.  Arc took one guard down with his urgrosh, landing a good hit to the back of the skull, quickly followed by another.  Mor'ath killed one guard, but left his back exposed and took a great axe blow from another (and burned Luck to stay conscious).

Zaxod finally regained his feet, and then immediately failed another consciousness check (with a 16, again) and collapsed.  Arc Awakened him again, just as Aurum caught up and fired off a Panic, scaring 5 orcs (including 2 of the guards) away.  The chieftain finally stood up, frothing at the mouth, and advanced towards Zaxod, only for Mor'ath to stab him in the eyes 3 times, killing him.

With the chieftain dead, and the ogres winning the battle at the front line, the orcs routed, and fled into the forest.  Zaxod tried to follow after them, but burnt his last FP and collapsed.

This was a long session, at 7 hours.  Luckily nobody had anything else to do the next day, so we went until the battle was over.

Hamzod took Aurum out for pretty much an entire fight.  ST8, DX8 pig OP.

Holy crap, Shield 5.  Zaxod's Boxing Parry was 13, while on the ground.  However, we forgot to only have it active on front hexes, so it was a bit overpowered.

Speaking of Boxing, I missed the rule that it takes -3 to parry non-thrusting weapons.  Woops.  Regardless, we all had fun, so it was worth it.  Edit: Zaxod's player pointed out that he was using -2 for successive parries due to Weapon Master, because all of his normal weapons are covered.  Again, oh well.  We'll remember for next time.

Beat seems to be the way to take out Zaxod, so long as he's below half-health.  It removes his ability to parry (until he gets a second dwarven axe), so he has to rely on dodge.  He's considering buying up Shield skill now.  It'd also probably be a good idea to have a second dwarven axe, so beat doesn't leave him defenceless.

Mor'ath is very difficult to hit, with Parry 18F, Block 14, and Dodge 13 (raised to 23F, 19, and 18 thanks to Shield).  Swarms of All-Out-Attack (Double) to pray for crits is basically the only way an enemy with skill <18 can hope to hit him.

It's a good thing they ended up bringing the ogres, as the chieftain and his alone required almost all of their attention.  With another 30 or so orcs, they would have probably been screwed.

The chieftain used some abilities from DF Denizens: Barbarians, which made him incredibly tough, and his superior strength made him dangerous even with lower skill.  He also had a large array of buff spells on him thanks to the shamans, but Might 4, Armor 4, Vigor 4, Shield 4, and Haste 4 weren't quite enough.

They debated a lot about whether they should go to the Cracked Skull ogres or the Night Wolf orcs.  At one point it was suggested that they light a fire near the Night Wolf orcs to draw them out without explicitly going to their home, which was forbidden as part of the trade deal.  Someone even suggested they try to recruit the Blood Drinker ogres, though that idea was quickly discarded.

1 for general success
1 for good roleplaying
4 for combat (Boss, outnumbered 4:1)
1 for dealing with one tribe of orcs.
MVP went to Zaxod, though every party member was in contention (including Hamzod).  They would have given it to Arc, but I rule that players must be present to get MVP.

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