Friday, 19 May 2017

GURPS Free Cities Session 48: Battle of Carda

Locke Landen - Human Bard (274 points)
Morgan Merkle - Human Mentalist (270 points)
          Brother Maurice- Human Initiate of Avandra, the goddess of freedom and luck (144 points)
Sindri Blackshield - Tiefling Knight (292 points)
Virgil the Grim - Human Barbarian (293 points)

Day 156 (Cont.):
Date: Peris 43rd, 2526
Weather: Clear
The orcish wizards continued their advance under covering fire from their horse archers, but the party hesitated to give orders to fire on them until the lead wizard cast a spell that shook the gate beneath them.  Bolts flew and cut down many orcs, but another wizard made it into casting range and the door was smashed down by magical force, allowing the orcish army to charge through the gap, and the Brotherhood paladins were nowhere to be seen.

The party rushed down the stairs, though Virgil briefly considered jumping the 20 feet ("I have Acrobatics now, how bad could it be?"), and reinforced the peasant levies against the orcs, when they saw an orc in black plate with a plumed, horned greathelm stride through the ruined gate, barking orders in Giant.  Realizing that things were going poorly, and that taking out the enemy leader was too good of an opportunity to turn up, the party pushed through the orcish line and into the open, taking some minor wounds on the way.

More orcs in black plate with greatswords rushed foward to meet them, followed by another orcish wizard, while a group of orcish soldiers disengaged from fighting the peasants and turned to face the party.  Sindri and Virgil waited for the black orcs to come into range, but neither side was able to land a telling blow.  The rest of the party repositioned slightly, and the orc soldiers charged in on their unprotected flank.

Sindri inflicted a serious wound on one of the black orcs, knocking him prone, while Virgil took some minor damage from another.  Locke played his Dissonant Strain and stunned 5 of the 6 orc soldiers, knocking them prone and weaponless.  Morgan threw a PK Bolt at the non-stunned soldier, having failed a Pyromania check, but missed, and failed to hit the orc sergeant behind it, while Maurice cast a Major Healing on Virgil, nearly draining his reserves.

The wizard cast a spell on Virgil's sword, but it only glowed bright red briefly and ineffectually.  Virgil killed a pair of stunned orc soldiers, Sindri advanced to smack down the wounded black orc, Locke stunned all the orc soldiers a second time, and Morgan inflicted Madness on the orc leader.  The wizard cast a spell, and a glowing purple wall slowly emerged from the ground around Sindri.

Virgil continued mowing down the stunned orcs while Sindri backed away and out of the glowing purple field while defending from the black orcs.  One of them missed badly, and accidentally threw his sword directly into the ground inside the purple field, which finished forming into a dome of energy.  The orc sergeant tried to shield rush Morgan, but missed, and took a PK Bolt to the back for his troubles.

The wizard cast another spell, and a glowing, 20' tall purple wall instantly sprang into existence, blocking Sindri from the rest of the fight.  Maurice dropped his sword to grab some paut from his potion belt, and Locke stunned the orc sergeant, several of the surviving soldiers, and the orc leader.  Virgil started attacking the leader's groin repeatedly, inflicting serious, but non-fatal, wounds, while Morgan lit the wizard on fire with another PK Bolt, which he failed to Dodge and Drop.

Locke Mind Controlled one of the black orcs and told it to defend him, the second fell down under the burden of his wounds, and the third, missing his greatsword, was forced to switch to a long knife.  Things finally seemed to be looking up, and even though the orc leader grabbed his sword, he wasn't able to parry effectively while on the ground and suffering from hallucinations.  Sindri considered putting away his equipment and climbing out, but realized that it'd take too long and resorted to pacing.

The wizard rolled on the ground to put out the fire, Maurice finally drank the paut, and Virgil continued carving up the lower half of the orc leader.  Locke managed to Mind Control the orc leader, only for him to break free immediately after being ordered to defend Locke thanks to Intolerance (Humans).  The remaining orc soldiers regained their feet, but one was interrupted by the controlled black orc, and the other had no weapon other than a shield.

The black orc with the knife made an All-Out Attack to grapple and stab Morgan, but landed neither, while the wizard's attempt to cast a spell was interrupted by Locke's Rapier Wit.  Maurice healed some of Virgil's wounds while he launched an All-Out Attack at the orc leader, but his first attack to the skull merely clanged off of the orc's greathelm despite rolling 17 damage, and his second (back to the groin) did only mild damage.  Unfortunately, this also left him defenseless.

The orc leader exploited this and made an All-Out Telegraphic Mighty Blows attack at Virgil's skull, which hit, and rolled 26 basic damage (Virgil: "Don't worry guys, that's only 68 damage, I'm still fine"), stunning him and knocking him down.  Sindri yelled out "Virgil, no!", and continued to pace impatiently, while Maurice finally remembered that he knew Dispel Magic and dispelled a 1m section of wall, freeing Sindri and dropping to 0FP in the process.

This has been a pretty interesting battle so far.  It's probably the longest, though with several breaks; even non-casters are down a significant amount of FP by now.

I abstracted the push through the orcish lines to a few defense rolls, which worked reasonably well to get them into the interesting part of the battle.

There were fewer enemies in the battle because Locke rolled so well on his Public Speaking last session, and more of the orc soldiers were either killed or unable to leave the front line.

Maurice needs to get the Huge Subjects perk for Major Healing as soon as possible, assuming Virgil survives.

Morgan asked how hard it would be to climb the magic wall, and I ruled it as Climbing-7; this allows a starting Thief to actually have a reasonable chance.

Sindri got 5 Tactics rerolls this battle, and burned through almost all of them in the first couple turns.  However, they still have one left, and could have used it to avoid that nasty head wound on Virgil.

Some reroll highlights:

  • Virgil decided to dodge a shield slam after saying he should just take it because "dodging is free".  He critically failed, and would have fallen prone.
  • The orc leader critically succeeded on a dodge, and was forced to reroll.  The second roll was a 5, and also a success, but the third failed.
  • Virgil made an All-Out Attack (Double), but critically missed the first one, and said "Don't worry, as long as it's not 'end your turn immediately' I'll be fine".  You can guess what he rolled..

The Hallucinating condition is incredibly annoying because you have to roll dice every turn.  Anything that causes that now causes Retching instead; they're the same cost and a flat -5 to DX, IQ, and Per is easier to remember and faster.

It's strange that Force Wall is instantaneous, while Force Dome takes a second to materialize.

Sindri took a hit to the skull and would have been at -30 or so, but realized he had a Bless still active while rolling death checks.  Being a generous GM, I allowed this to undo the wounds.

The orc leader is the first person in the campaign to take advantage of layered head armour, with a greathelm over a pot helm over mail.

I don't think an All-Out Attack by a frontline PC has ever not been punished with a severe wound.  This is at least the second time that a prone enemy leader with a two-handed weapon has hit a frontline fighter with an attack to the skull, instantly turning the tide.

I screwed over Virgil at the end with an incorrect ruling on the huge hit to the skull; Command can also be used to defend others.

Turns out we've been playing the Stunned condition wrong this whole time, and knocking people prone whenever they get stunned.  It's only supposed to be when they suffer knockdown, usually due to a major wound.

1 for some success
MVP went to Sindri for getting so many Tactics rerolls.

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