Mayhem, a barbarian
Caleb, a wizard
Yémos, a cleric
Kim, a thief
Anêr, a swashbuckler
Kúflaug, an orc slave
Quid occurrit hoc in ludo:
Caleb got the pony to stop before it ran off the ledge.
Kim picked open the lock on the chest, but didn't see the trap, which squirted alchemical goo into her eye, burning it. In the chest was 12 copper farthings, 2 silver pennies, a bronze jewelry chain, a silver jewelry chain, and an edged rapier that Caleb felt was magical and glowed when Anêr pulled it out of its scabbard. Yémos healed up Kim so she could see out of both eyes again, then the pony, Caleb, and himself.
From there they went deeper into the dungeon, away from the way where they had been before, which entailed a left turn. They passed by a lake, next to which was a shallow pit filled with glowing black goo.
The passage widened into a bigger cavern which had a stream cutting athwart it. Over the stream was a bridge, and standing next to the bridge were 17 dwarves. The dwarves did not take heed of the heroes until Caleb yelled at them, "Hail, all-mighty workers of the earth!"
One of the dwarves, who had a full head and beard of honey-blond hair and big forearms, greeted them back. "Hail, all-mighty moochers of our work!"
Dwarf: What brings you down here?
Caleb: A hole in the ground.
Dwarf: You would see the underground as that, wouldn't you? That's it? Only a hole?
Caleb: Admittedly we have yet to encounter any of the dwarven wonders that have been sculpted underground.
Kim: We're looking for some dwarven art, and to soak up its beauty and not take it.
Dwarf: If you find dwarven art down here, you'd be the first to find it. I think we'd do a better job of carving.
At this time, the heroes took stock of the heraldry of the dwarves, and guessed that they came from the northern lands of Mōr-Nembe.
Caleb: Do you know Likháfrikh?
Dwarf: Never heard of him. So, all you want down here are dwarven artifacts?
Caleb: No, no, no. I was just saying that if we find any, we'll admire the hell out of them, and let you know if we do.
Kim: Do you know of any bad things further in?
Dwarf: All we know is of a sword of amazing magic and might and it's ours. Ours, ours, ours.
Kim: Would you like help killing things on the way in?
The dwarf smiled: Well, m'lady, I think we would like that. I'm Gahfurúkhai.
After some introductions, Gahfurúkhai added, "As long as we find the sword, it's ours."
Caleb: What sword is this?
Gahfurúkhai: It's one that fights evil.
Caleb: We don't like evil very much.
The now big gang went over the bridge, and into a cave that became paved and worked stone. They went down a short flight of stairs to a door. After listening at the door and finding it unlocked, Kim opened the door. Behind it were two big ochre puddles that seemed to shift forward a tad when she opened the door. Behind the jellies was a stone altar, and a hallway leading out.
Kim shut the door. Gahfurúkhai said, "You're all pussies," and opened the door. Kim and Caleb each took a shot—Kim with her bow, Caleb with a small Fireball—and then the jelly's pseudopod missed Kim. Anêr pulled out his new sword and went into the room, giving the jelly a slash, while Kúflaug missed with his smash.
Gahfurúkhai saw the flash of Anêr's new blade, and screamed, "You liars!" He rushed to strike Anêr, and smashed his mace into Anêr's back. Anêr fell forward into the room from the blow. Kim, however, dropped her bow and pulled out her sword, and lifted it to strike Gahfurúkhai. The dwarf, however, easily blocked her blow. Mayhem's blow, however, was true, and struck Gahfurúkhai in the back. The other dwarves, in the back of the hallway, started to pull away the heroes' pony, but she put up a fight.
Yémos rushed down the stairs and into the room to help Anêr, and Caleb fired up a Blast Ball, still eying the jellies. Anêr got on his hands and knees, while Kúflaug smashed the jelly. Gahfurúkhai, however, wasn't yet done with Anêr, and he dropped his mace and jumped on top of Anêr. This left Gahfurúkhai's back turned towards Kim, and she stabbed him in the neck twice. The dwarves at the top of the stairs, shocked, started to back away, and Mayhem turned around to look at them. Yémos moved Gahfurúkhai off Anêr, and Caleb lobbed his Blast Ball into the room to scorch the jellies. The jelly at the fore missed Kúflaug with its pseudopod, and Anêr started to crawl back. Kúflaug gave the jelly another whack.
Gahfurúkhai, now in pain, looked up at Yémos, and whispered, "We'll talk." Yémos instead healed Anêr. Mayhem grabbed the pony, while Caleb started casting another Blast Ball. Anêr again got on his hands and knees, and Kúflaug again hit the ochre jelly. Gahfurúkhai looked up at Yémos, and whispered, "Please." As he saw the dwarves holding back, Yémos cast Major Healing on Gahfurúkhai, staunching his wounds. Anêr stood up, Kúflaug kept wailing on the jelly, which went splat, and Caleb's next Blast Ball missed the jellies.
Gahfurúkhai at last passed out, and Kim glared at the dwarves, hoping to intimidate them with her blood-soaked body. Mayhem moved to smash the last jelly, but then the dwarves rushed to the top of the stairs. Yémos tied up Gahfurúkhai, and Caleb turned around and started casting another Blast Ball. The jelly missed Kúflaug. Anêr stepped towards the top of the stairs and missed a dwarf. Kim also stepped toward the top of the stairs to stab a dwarf, who blocked her blow. Mayhem turned around and started back up the stairs.
The dwarves swung at Kim, and one put his mace into Kim, who fell on her back. Another tried to hit Anêr, who parried the mace. Yémos grabbed Kim, and Caleb lobbed his Blast Ball at the dwarves in the back, scorching them. Anêr tried stabbing a dwarf in the face, but the dwarf blocked his blow. Kúflaug, with no jelly left alive, went back up the stairs.
Anêr, Kúflaug, and Mayhem made a wall at the top of the stairs and fought the dwarves. After a few seconds, Kúflaug took two blows that made him pull away. This let a dwarf move into the gap, but Yémos and Caleb, who had dragged Gahfurúkhai, pushed his sleeping body at that dwarf. "He's alive!" shouted the dwarf, and they pulled upstairs, while the gang went into the room and shut the door.
Yémos bandaged Kim, and started to work more on her wounds. However, from hallway into which the gang had not looked came nine skeletons—six with spears and spears, nine with swords and spears.
It was an odd battle, with many wild swings. Yémos not healing up Kúflaug came back to haunt him, as he had to heal Kúflaug once a skeleton downed him early. Later, Kúflaug went down again, and chose to play dead. It worked; the skeleton moved to fight Yémos. Caleb found that Acid Jet worked well against the skeletons, albeit slowly. Yémos, as he often did against skeletons, smashed them with his staff.
A skeleton who fought Anêr had a memorable (second) last stand. First, its spear broke. Then, it tried punching Anêr, who lobbed off its hand instead. Then, when Anêr tried to stab the skeleton, his new sword went flying. The skeleton then tried to bite Anêr, who quickly pulled out his old sword and lobbed off the skeleton's jaw. It still kept striking with its shield, though doing no harm. But in the end, it went down, along with the other skeletons.
Boy, did I give rules I hadn't used much before a good workout. Grappling? Check, and I had an NPC start one. Lifting? Check, though moving the dwarf was mostly ad hoc. Since the one skeleton kept trying to bite and punch, those were unarmed attacks, and Anêr's killer Parry let him make attacks at its limbs. Shield bashes? Check; Biter (as the players dubbed it) didn't have many other choices left for attacks.
Not only for the sword, but also for the tactics do I wish Eric, Anêr's normal player, were available. He's willing to try Deceptive Attacks, which I had to point out to Chris, who runs Mayhem and Caleb. Striking the Face wasn't a bad idea against the dwarves, who had heavy armor, but not against the skeletons.
The three skeletons with swords were stone skeletons, which I rolled in the d30 DM Companion. Basically, they moved slower (Basic Speed 5.50 vs. Basic Speed 6.50) but with higher DR (DR 4 vs. DR 2).
The sword is indeed intelligent, though the characters don't know this. Its intelligence hasn't come into play, but I had always wanted to have one in a game. I might write a Pyramid article on these once I get some experience with these in play. Both the Weapon Spirit spell in GURPS Magic and GURPS Thaumatology have some advice, but both need some honing for Dungeon Fantasy. Obviously, I'm using rules I crafted from both Original D&D and Expert D&D. I feel I should remind everyone that Monsters & Treasure had swords as 20% of magic items, easily the most of any permanent item (scrolls were also 20%, and potions were 25%), which was intentional.
Peter V. Dell'Orto down at Dungeon Fantastic, the ur-blog for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy bloggers, had a discussion not long ago which touched on reaction rolls. As I said in the comments, I use them often. Today had many. So a tale of many reaction rolls:
The first reaction roll was 11: Neutral, when the gang met the dwarves. When Kim offered to help them in the dungeon, I made another roll, and I got 16: Very Good. That dropped a couple of levels back to Neutral when Kim shut the door to the room with the jellies. (There was something else going on which I shan't explain but had something to do with that spot in the dungeon.)
Let me back up a bit and explain something. Dropping a level, for a reaction roll, means -3. All the levels for reaction rolls are in groups of three. It's something to keep in mind when looking at penalties and winging it without rolls when that makes sense.
I didn't roll another reaction roll when Anêr pulled out the magic sword (and the players, incidentally, found it odd that dwarves would be looking for a rapier, which is odd when you think about it). He's a dwarf with Greed (12), so I made a self-control roll for him, which he failed. He wanted a magic sword, and someone else had one, maybe even the one for which he was looking. I thought it appropriate that he would go nuts.
The dwarves, worried for their leader, did have another reaction roll, and it was a 6: Bad. Their leader was in peril but quarters were close, so they started stealing the pony to start. (Unlike Caleb earlier, they didn't make Animal Handling (Equines) at default.) The dwarves failed a morale roll when they held back for a few seconds, but not by much (by 2), and they did outnumber the gang by almost 3:1, though they didn't have a spellcaster or missile weapons. When they got a good chance, they took revenge.
The last roll came when Caleb and Yémos threw their leader's body at them. It was another Neutral (I think a 10, but I didn't write it down), so I figured they would back off at that point, glad to know their leader still lived.