Sunday, 27 August 2017

GURPS Free Cities Session 60: Stirges and Slayings

Damien - Human (?) Sorcerer (270 points)
Morgan Merkle - Human Mentalist (311 points)
  Boras Stormtouched - Human Initiate of Kord, the god of battle and storms (129 points)
Sindri Blackshield - Tiefling Knight (315 points)
Virgil the Grim - Human Barbarian-Swashbuckler (318 points)

Day 182 (Cont.):
Amothius 22nd, 2526
Weather: Raining, Smoky
After checking to make sure the devils to the south were gone, the party headed back to the Ducal Palace to tell Hestius that they were going to go to the Temple of the Jade Eye, and he gave them a letter to pass to whoever was in charge.  Using Damien's Walk on Air spell, they walked up and over the walls, and saw the orcs below slowly extending their lines to fill the devils' place, and passed without issue.

Around noon, they arrived at the base of the mountain and sat down to rest, but were ambushed by bat-mosquitos, identified as stirges by Virgil shortly before they charged in.  Damien found himself bitten by 5 and went down, while Boras took one to the face, Virgil one to each eye, and Sindri one to his good eye.  Morgan, who had been given the Ring of Protection, was saved by the invisible force field, and remained unbitten.

Boras cut down one loose stirge, then the one on his face thanks to good rolls, and Sindri tried to follow suit but smashed himself in the face with his flail instead.  Morgan set about burning everything near him, while Damien got off an Armour spell far too late for it to matter, as it couldn't stop the already-attached stirges draining his blood, and Virgil grappled the ones on his eyes and squeezed them to death.

Damien was clearly in trouble, so Boras ran over, yelled out "Kord, guide my hand!", and started slicing and dicing stirges while Morgan provided ranged support; the rest of the stirges were crushed, cut, and burned quickly, and the party sat in to rest for over an hour, burning through healing potions after Boras' skill at healing was exhausted.  During this time, Virgil scouted up the mountain a ways, and found that there was a roughly-carved staircase winding around it, which had in one sections collapsed in a landslide.

Once the party was back in travelling condition, they walked in spirals up to the summit, avoiding a harpy's nest on the way.  They made sure to descend outside of town this time, to avoid startling anybody, and approached to find a series of terraced farms surrounding a walled stone temple at the peak.  They asked a polearm-wielding guard who was in charge, and were directed to a Master Fung inside the temple.

In the courtyard, robed acolytes trained in an unarmed combat style that Morgan recognized from his brief time with Sado Con, while a stooped-over old man with a long, white beard watched over them.  The party approached and introduced themselves, but were informed that business would have to wait until the next day, and were taken on a tour of the temple, along with Jung, the large, bald man who had been training the acolytes.

They were lead through a garden, where several people worked on plants which Virgil recognized as crimson lotus; extremely poisonous, but, as Master Fung pointed out, useful for certain psionic concoctions, and then to a fountain with strange white-tinged water which Fung referred to as the Spring of the White Poppy, which the psions among them used to open their minds and enter a trance.

Master Fung was called away by Lyn, a woman they recognized from the gardens, to go see a Master Evard, and the party was left with Jung and Lyn as tour guides.  Morgan tried talking to Lyn about their psionic training, but she was more interested in talking about the outside world, so that discussion went pretty much nowhere.  Virgil, meanwhile, challenged Jung to a wrestling match, and the two stripped down and went into the sparring ring in the courtyard.

Virgil's sheer strength and size helped him, but Jung was clearly more skilled, and threw him to the ground after several seconds.  Morgan was reunited with the party, and they spent the next several hours walking around aimlessly; speaking with Jung was like talking to a (perfectly polite) brick wall, and Lyn only pointed Morgan to Master Evard for training.  Eventually, they were invited for pre-dinner tea with Master Fung and several of the other old masters in the dining hall, where Sindri noticed a 3' eye of carved green stone was set into the wall over the head seat, above Fung.

Afterwards, dinner (a bland but filling porridge) was served, and a young man sitting with Jung and Lyn yelled out to Fung that he should be sent with a squad of other novices to attack the orcs, but stormed off after being told he wasn't ready for such responsibility.  Dinner concluded uneventfully, and the party were escorted to their lodging in a small building attached to the temple wall.  Damien Magelocked the door after several failed attempts, accidentally locking his pack shut in the process.

Day 183:
Amothius 23nd, 2526
Weather: Heavy Rain
The party woke to find the courtyard empty, and were accosted by polearm wielding guards and told to follow them to Master Evard.  They were lead to a strange bronze door with many inscriptions recognized by Morgan as wards against psionic scrying attempts, which opened to reveal a sickly, pale old man; Master Evard.  He informed them that something bad had happened overnight, and that he wished to check their minds to see if they had had any part in it.

All but Paranoid Damien submitted, and, except for Damien, who would now have a detachment of four guards escorting him, they were cleared of any suspicion.  Evard informed them that Master Fung had been found dead in his chambers that morning, and that his three top students, Jung, Lyn, and Yong Han, the young man who had offered to fight the orcs at dinner the night before, had been found unconscious and suffering from short-term amnesia near the Spring of the White Poppy.

The party told him why they were there, and Evard explained that, as the temple was currently leaderless, nobody would be able to give them the assistance they wanted.  When asked why he didn't simply assume leadership, he explained that he was marked by an Aboleth in his younger days, and could not leave this psi-phobic chamber without attracting the attention of powerful aberrants, which excluded him from leadership positions.

Worse, the likely candidates for the next Jade Eye were the suspects!  Evard asked the party to solve the mystery, in return for his advising the next Jade Eye to assist them, and they accepted.
He further offered his psionic assistance, explaining that he could Mind Probe any witnesses they might find, or use Psychometry to confirm if an item was the murder weapon, or anything else that didn't involve him leaving his saferoom.

They started by investigating the body: Master Fung was sprawled out across his desk, with a decorative and distinctive knife in his back.  A quick look by Boras, however, revealed that the knife hadn't hit anything important, and that Fung seemed to have died from poisoning.  Morgan took a look and noticed that there was a thin layer of dried liquid on the table, with a slight trail leading to the windowsill.  Virgil took a lick of the liquid and determined by the sudden burning sensation that, yep, it was poison all right, and also that it seemed to have been mixed with tea.

Virgil looked outside the window, which overlooked the garden 10' below, and jumped out to check for tracks, but found nothing out of the ordinary, nor did he find any signs that the wall had been climbed, suggesting Levitation.  They decided to go and interview the suspects, starting with Jung, on the assumption that his straightforward attitude the day before suggested he might be compliant.

This turned out to be correct, and they discovered that Jung often took tea to Master Fung before he went to sleep, though he didn't recognize the knife, nor did he have psychic powers, relying on Chi instead.  Jung was unable to point towards a specific person who prepared the tea, as Master Fung was a simple man and not overly particular.  They then moved on to Lyn, who was snippy at first, but quickly became quieter after being called out on it.

She identified the dagger as being a family heirloom of Yong Han's, and confirmed that the crimson lotus from the garden could indeed be turned into a strong poison.  She identified Fung, Evard, herself, Yong Han, and several older masters as knowing how to prepare psionic concoctions using it.

I'm nerfing Sorcerers; their spells can no longer have 0FP cost, and cannot have durations exceeding those of Wizards (so no 15-hour Walk on Air/Flight).  It's a nerf, yeah, but it brings them more in line with Wizards, which are where the baseline for casters should be.

Similarly, Wizards can now add Magery to innate attack rolls because Psis and Sorcerers can.

Thrust damage is now Swing-2, to make spears semi-viable and buff Martial Artists further.

Amazingly, no eyes were crippled, though admittedly the stirges only did 1d-3 on the initial damage roll.

Sindri still doesn't have hand armour, which lead to a couple stirge bites.

Boras is evangelizing for Kord pretty hard, and seems to be making progress with Virgil ("I didn't know that a god could make you hit better!").

I forgot that Virgil was really hurt, so Boras didn't heal him at all until he was poisoned for mild damage and needed to roll for consciousness.  His eye is still crippled until he's fully healed.

Partway through the session, the party came to the conclusion that the temple was clearly a reclusive bard college, and not just a bunch of psions.

Damien neither ate nor drank anything he was given, preferring to stick to his rations, so he was very pleased when it turned out that somebody had been poisoned, and he had been proven right.

Someone pointed out that it would be awfully stupid for Yong Han to plant his own dagger at the crime scene when it was unnecessary, but then Paranoid Damien noted that might be exactly what he wanted them to think!

Damien noted that Yong Han seemed to want to help attack the orcs, and suggested that, even if he was guilty, they blame somebody else, to guarantee they would get the support they needed.

2 for general progress
1 for combat (the stirges)
1 for roleplaying to Damien (No Compassion Quirk played well)
MVP went to Damien for boosting the travel speed again

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