Sunday, May 1, 2016

Game Log Mayday 2016

Dramatis Personae:

Mayhem, a pint-sized barbarian
Yémos, a cleric
Caleb, a wizard
Anêr, a swashbuckler
Kim, a thief
Ash, a squire
Villûdē, their guide through the swamp

Quid occurrit:

Heroes duos nagas vinxerunt singulatim.

Res aliae:

Anglice, now, Anglice. The heroes beat two nagas, one-by-one. (That's your Latin lesson for the day.) Since it's Mayday, I'll celebrate by writing the logs along with telling the rolls. And we were talking about random encounters on the forum.

I roll my random encounters on the One-Page Wilderness System. I use one modification: a 12 is a purely random encounter on my tables, letting me spice things up with some lesser encounters and some monster movement. I have a 3d6 version of this in a Pyramid submission, with random encounters being a bigger deal in it. It lets me set the big encounters in an area, and the random encounters handling the minor ones.

First, we have the day, 15 Skraptôs 2852. I rolled the weather on the d30 Sandbox Companion many months ago, applied a modifier to the d5 rolls for temperature to make sure extreme rolls went nearer to the monthly mean, and then assessed the quality of the weather in terms from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures. Mostly from luck, the distribution of the 352 days of 2852 came to what DF16 has by random chance. Anyways, 15 Skraptôs is something like mid-July, and I treat this dale of the world as 40° N for all things that matter (sunrise at 4:30 am, sunset at 7:30 pm, and no, there's no daylight savings time). The weather had no rain, a high of 100° F (I treat day encounters at the high), a low of 70° F (I treat night encounters at the low), and an average of 90° F (not something I use much, but the high and low came from it and the next day's, so I left it).

I checked for disasters first. I make two 3d rolls, and have disasters happen on a 5 or less. The first roll is for those disasters in DF16 which the weather does affect, and the second is for ones that the weather does not affect. The weather for 15 Skraptôs was Passable (it didn't rain, but it was really hot), so it didn't affect the first roll, and regardless, the rolls came to 9 and 11, so nothing happened. If something did happen, I would have rolled a d12+6 for the hour (24-hour scale) in case the time wasn't dictated by other circumstances. (The sinkhole in the last game, for example, could only have happened when they made camp, so I ignored the hour, which was noon or something.)

I then rolled the four encounter times I knew to check: Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Night. I rolled a d6 and added it to the earliest time for each encounter (6 am, noon, 6 pm, midnight); an encounter might happen at those times, dictated by the hex in which the characters were at that time. The times were 11 am, 1 pm, 11 pm, and 6 am, and the rolls were 18 (no encounter), 17 (no encounter), 5 (encounter from a random bordering hex), and 7 (encounter from a random hex two away). Since the first two were no encounter, I didn't care in which hex the characters were when nothing happened, but for the second two, I waited to see where they camped.

Then we rolled to see how much ground they could cover. The group makes three rolls, one for Hiking (because they're, uh, hiking), one for Weather Sense (which is optional, but they always take it), and one for Navigation. As DF16 says, a success increases travel speed by 10%, and a failure cuts it by 10%. Actually, failing the Weather Sense roll changes the effective weather level for travel, and see DF16 for that, but I'm not getting into that. I apply Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem from page 11 of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons to Hiking rather than have individual rolls, since that means I have to calculate a movement rate for each member of the party and then go with the lowest one. It's a hassle I've learned I don't want. They made all three of the rolls, giving them a 30% bonus for the day. The lowest encumbered Move was 3 (Yémos, and maybe Caleb; I knew Yémos had encumbered Move 3 and that's the lowest). Since Hiking is Move/2 an hour, their rate is 1.65 miles per hour. They spent 10 hours traveling as they always do, which lets them make two foraging or hunting rolls and not have to worry about feed for the horses. That comes to 16.5 miles for the day, which becomes some kind of a movement point.

(Edit: I see I goofed. My players should have gotten 19.5 miles for the day.)

Then the players looked at a stripped-down version of the campaign map, and they picked where they wanted to look for the Boots of Saint Hubbins. They chose to search the hex where they camped, 1420. I made a Tracking roll behind the screen and told them that they found nothing. The whole task took the time it took to go through the hex, which is a 5-mile hex. I did let them know they saw no big animals nor any spoor of them.

They chose to move on to the hex to the north, hex 1419. They had to travel 5 miles to leave hex 1420, since they weren't traveling into a hex next to the one they left (hex 1421, the session before), and the travel miles they spent searching the hex didn't count for leaving it. (If they were going into a hex next to 1421, I'd only make them pay half.) When they at last left hex 1420, I rolled for an encounter, with the new hex (1419) as the middle hex. (I used some quick math on the iPhone calculator app to determined that this happened at about 2 pm.) I rolled a 5, an encounter 1 hex away, and the hex I rolled did have an encounter: a spirit naga. I rolled at random for which spirit naga (I'm not revealing much to say that there is more than one naga), as nagas always travel in groups of 1. (They have Loner (6) and think they're the center of the universe. They not only hate other sapients, but they hate other nagas. This will come to bite them, as GURPS isn't kind to single-monster encounters.) The naga was a female named Ilavashti. I rolled 4d6 for encounter distance in yards, and added the biggest SM involved (+1, for the naga, though looking back it should have been for the horses), and got 12 yards. I also made a roll for a condition, and I got "failure." I decided Ilavashti had just lost her last catch (I didn't determine what it was, but it will come into play in a bit), and therefore was more desperate for a bite.

I made a Perception check for Ilavashti and had all the characters do the same (players rolled, other than for Villûdē, which I rolled). Looking back at the end of the fight, I should have added the Acute Vision 4 or Acute Hearing 4 for the naga, as she rolled badly (15, Perception of 14), though I'm not sure it would have mattered much. Those who made it were Kim, Ash, Mayhem, Caleb, and Villûdē. I also had everyone make an HT roll, modified by the encumbrance penalty as it was a hot day. This had Anêr down 1 FP and Yémos down 3 FP. Anyways, the way I handle surprise was that everyone who made his Perception roll got a quick action to start combat in initiative order. I'm sure I'm missing a better way that's Rules As Written, so if I am, point me at the right spot in the books.

Kim was the first character in initiative order who made her Perception check, and she made a Stealth check to start combat. She has Stealth-14, Moderate Encumbrance (-2), and a standard -5, making her effective score 7, which she rolled exactly. Ash aimed, Mayhem tried Stealth and failed (because he's using it at default, duh), Caleb cast a 3d Fireball and just made his roll (16), while Villûdē tried to hide but failed her Camouflage roll.

Next second, Anêr tried Stealth roll and made it by 1 before we applied the -5, so he missed it and it did nothing. Ilavashti stepped and Concentrated, and tried to charm Mayhem with his gaze, but was too far away and Mayhem made his Will roll anyways. (I had to quickly rule how I was handling the distance and chose to treat it like a normal spell, and found that isn't how the Mind Control advantage works after combat. This makes sense; if I treat distance as a spell, it becomes a weak advantage. Regardless, Ilavashti didn't roll better than Mayhem.) Now Kim, from behind the naga, made an easy hit roll, and maxed out her damage—7 impaling, which became 8 HP injury.

Kim's position is going to be an issue. Ash made his Bow skill roll by 2, but the naga Dodged, so I had him roll to see if he hit Kim, the wrong target. He did hit Kim, doing 7 impaling to Kim, which became 10 HP of injury.

Oh, what was funny was that Kim and Ash are played by the same player, John. Oops.

Mayhem moved towards the naga, Yémos grabbed the horses' reins, Caleb stepped and aimed, and Villûdē, useless in a fight, also went to help with the horses. Anêr rushed towards the fray alongside Mayhem, and Ilavashti, mad about Kim backstabbing her, turned around and made a Wild Swing (er, bite) at Kim, but missed. Kim did an All-Out Defense, suffering from shock (Mayhem and Ash are the two with High Pain Threshold). Ash tried reloading and did a step and a Fast-Draw (Arrow) roll, which was a critical fumble.

Mayhem kept rushing towards the naga, not wanting to miss the fight. Yémos and Villûdē stuck with the horses. Caleb lobbed his Fireball at the naga, missing her and missing Kim. Anêr kept rushing towards the naga. The naga? Ilavashti bit Kim, but she Parried, and did 4 impaling damage, 2 HP after DR. Should I have applied the shock penalty to the attack roll from Parrying an unarmed attack? Well, I didn't. It seems like more of a reaction, and her second of pain was almost done anyways. Regardless, she kept up her All-Out Defense, and stepped back.

Ash loaded another arrow, and Mayhem did a Move and Attack at the naga's flank, a Wild Swing. It hit, and the naga would have failed her Dodge even had Mayhem struck from her forehex. 11 cutting, 12 HP.

From there, it was almost over. Yémos and Villûdē stuck with the horses, Caleb readied another 3d Fireball. Anêr tried the same trick Mayhem tried but missed. Ilavashti tried her HT roll to stay awake, and failed, passing out. Kim dealt the coup de grace, then Yémos cast Major Healing on her.

Yémos made a Surgery roll at default (I ruled it could default to Esoteric Medicine like it does to Physician) and tried to see if the naga had any treasure in its body. Good munchkin thinking, but no. I let John know that Yémos hitherto had thought they smelled bad on the outside.

Chris (the guy who runs Mayhem and Caleb and, for the moment, Anêr) got the idea to track the naga back to her lair. I made a Tracking roll for Mayhem (the group's best tracker) and the tracks led them eastward, into the thicker woods. They started to walk east.

Later that afternoon (5:30 pm, more or less), they moved into hex 1520, which is to the east and has Heavy Woods (all long-term movement counts for one fifth, all combat movement counts for half). As they were going into a new hex, I made another encounter check, and came up with 12—wholly random encounter. I rolled on my hand-rolled charts, and found they had run into a pair of brown bears, wanting food, and fear as a complication. (I didn't check right away but they were not giant, mutant, or having one of Mailanka's templates. Each of those can happen on a 3 or less on 2d, or 4 or less with someone with Weirdness Magnet in the group. And yes, I did roll up a Weirdness Magnet encounter for this session, which happened, but Caleb has no idea. Mythic Roleplaying is my friend for those charts.)

Also, I rolled 1d-3, plus their Size Modifier (+1). The amount was negative, so it meant in-lair or near-lair … I'll explain. This is my way of mimicking the old % In Lair stat from OD&D and AD&D. This is a truly handy stat for a hex crawl, and the decision to drop it from first Basic/Expert D&D and later from 2nd Edition AD&D hurt the game. My method is to roll 1d-3, add Size Modifier and a few other things, and if the amount is negative, it's in-lair. Bigger beasties have bigger ranges. If it's exactly 0, the lair is in the hex, but not nearby, while if it's a positive number, that's how many hexes away it is. Roll 1d and count clockwise from north to determine direction, and feel free to fudge a bit for lairs more than a hex away. Yes, this is also in my Pyramid submission, and I don't want to talk too much more about it so it gets published.

Unlike for the nagas, who are full-time assholes who worship themselves and eat folks, I made a reaction roll for the brown bears. This was a 13, with a -5 from being in-lair, so it came to 8. My notes from my conversion from GURPS Bestiary say that a brown bear with a Bad or worse reaction will strike if the characters come within 10 yards. Lucky for them, it wasn't that bad, and my encounter distance came to 17 yards.

This time, only Ash was down FP from the heat, 3 FP to be exact. Ash, Mayhem, and one of the bears (Cindy, as I deemed them a mated pair) were the ones who failed their Perception checks. I also made a mental note—Ilavashti's failure before was that she couldn't fell one of the bears for food. That also explained why the bears were afraid. And, while we're at it, they're new arrivals to the area. The nagas have killed all other big predators.

Anêr stepped and waited, and Kim made her Stealth roll. Yogi, the male, stepped and grunted at the gang. Yémos and Villûdē again took care of the horses, while Caleb stepped and waited. Instead of backstabbing the bears, Kim stepped behind a tree. Ash came to, and took aim at Yogi. Mayhem stepped and waited. Yogi and Cindy both grunted. Caleb at this point asked for a Naturalist roll, which I made for him and he made by 2. I told him that Caleb wouldn't want to get too near bears, and were looking for pic-a-nic baskets. If the gang didn't bother the bears, the bears wouldn't bother them unless they were starving. So thus, they chose to walk around the bears.

A few minutes later, they set up camp. Someone (either Mayhem or Yémos) made a Survival roll to set up camp, and chose Comfort and Lines-of-Sight as their camp benefits (DF16, p. 24). Yémos cast Watchdog over 5 hexes.

The delvers made their foraging rolls for both that night and the night before, as we had ended the session before we made those rolls and I caught this as I tried tracking Villûdē's meals. So over two days, Ash broke even on meals (as in, he got six meals from hunting, and ate six meals), Mayhem was down one, Yémos, Caleb, and Kim were each down two, and Anêr and Villûdē were down three. Most folks forage with Survival or Naturalist, though Kim and Ash mostly hunt with Bow, while Mayhem can go Fishing. Hex-crawlers travel on their bellies, and DF16 has made foraging a mini-game in of itself. A delver in the wilderness without Hiking and Survival is a liability, no matter how good a fighter he is.

The encounter rolls at 11 pm and 6 am pointed to hexes that either had no encounters in them, or had no encounters in them that wouldn't happen in this hex, either due to not coming outside at night, or from hex 1520 being too far away for that monster. I'm not revealing which.

The next day, usual rolls again. No disasters. My encounter rolls came up a monster from a hex one away (6) at noon, another monster from a hex one away (5) at 3 pm, yet another monster from a hex one away (5) at midnight, and a monster from inside this hex (2) at 1 am. As it happens, the tracks led deeper into the thick woods, and Mayhem failed the Weather Sense roll, knocking its rating down from Passable to Bad and lowering the movement rate by -50%. They made the other two rolls, but only could go 10.5 miles owing to Mayhem's worry about the weather. As all overland movement costs fivefold in this hex, they hiked a whopping 2.1 miles. They got a tenth of a mile into the hex the day before by trudging a half-hour after meeting the bears, so this was a whopping 2.2 miles.

As they only had moved through 2.2 miles of a 5-mile hex, there were no extra encounter rolls beyond the first four. I did make a Tracking roll for Mayhem to see if he could keep following the tracks, which he did.

Neither of the daytime encounter rolls yielded encounters. So, they set up camp, and Yémos (I think) failed the Survival roll to set up camp, yielding only Comfort as a benefit. Everyone made his two foraging rolls—Kim found four meals; Yémos, Mayhem, and Ash two each; Anêr, Villûdē, and Caleb one each.

The midnight encounter roll also yielded no encounter. However, an hour later, there was an encounter. I rolled evens-odds to see if either the nagas or the bears came, as both have lairs in this hex.

Yes, another one. And of course, he was alone, but at least he was hunting at night. As it was a night before a full moon (my calendar has the moon phases marked; the moon circles the planet every 32 days, so that's 8 days each quarter, and actually easy to see), the darkness gave a -4 penalty to all ranged combat, leaving everyone but the naga (a male named Adhrta) and Kim needing light (both have Night Vision 5).

Instead of the Camouflage roll, I screwed up and had Kim make another Perception roll. It's just as well, as the team's Camouflage isn't its strong skill. Both Adhrta and Kim made their Perception rolls, so they knew of each other. I didn't write down what the distance was, but going back over my notes indicates it was 14 yards or something near that, based on when Adhrta and Kim made it to each other.

So comrades, come rally, and the last fight let us face.

Anyways, the naga slithered towards them. Kim first woke Ash, then, on her next turn, threw a log into the tent to wake the sleepers. That woke everyone up, and they slowly started to crawl out of the tent, stand up, and draw their weapons. Kim slowly stepped towards the naga.

As the two drew nearer, the naga tried to charm Kim. At first, Kim resisted, but on the third try, she deemed the naga her newest, bestest buddy and slowly walked towards the naga. Ash rush towards the naga, did a Move and Attack, but the naga Dodged. Caleb fired up a 3d-3 Sunbolt, and rolled a critical success. This spell wasn't going to cost any FP, and was going to do maximum damage. (I didn't have them make HT rolls to see how far down they were. While the high for that day was 105° F, the low was 80° F, and being night, this was nearer the low.) The whole gang started to move towards the naga, seeing Kim was walking towards it like an idiot.

Adhrta bit Kim for 4 impaling, which was 2 HP after DR, and 2 HT poison. Kim rolled her resistance again, at a +2 from the betrayal of her new friend, but failed. Ash stabbed the snake, but only got a piddly 3 cutting damage, which wasn't enough to get through DR. Mayhem, however, shoved Kim aside (the naga's head was now in Close Combat with Kim), and rolled a critical hit—8 cutting, 7 HP.
Yémos came nearer with his staff with Continual Light 3 on it, and Caleb shot the naga for maximum damage: 15 impaling, 24 HP. It not only missed its Dodge, but it failed its HT roll from the major wound. (Writing this up, I missed Kim rolling for her major wound in the last fight with a naga. Either she made it, or I forgot to ask.) So its head slumped or whatever happens when a snake falls down. Villûdē tried to stab the naga with her spear but missed, and Anêr kept rushing towards the naga.

The naga, knowing it was on its last legs (or scales, I guess), let loose a Magical Bolt, spitting its last breath at Caleb for hate's sake. Unluckily for the naga, its Magical Bolt does a whopping 1d-1 crushing damage, and I rolled a 1 on the die. Ash got another swing, and this time it was a critical hit, doing 11 cutting, 12 HP. I rolled a HT roll for the naga to stay alive, which it did not do. I don't remember if it missed enough for it to only be a mortal wound, but I think it's safe to say the players weren't interested in taking chances.

Yémos again healed Kim, who got one HT back from rest the next morning. But the next morning is for another session.

So, that's how I roll, rules mistakes and missed rolls and all. Anyone who has constructive criticism for my GMing is more than welcome to give it, not saying, "Your tactics suck, let me help" and getting all pissy when I ignore his offer to help via insult.


  1. Tactics note: Magical Bolt semi-always hits, which means it should semi-always be aimed at the skull. Damage 1 should have been injury 4.

    1. Except it wasn't damage 1. It was a 1 on the die. So it was damage 0. I made a lot of mistakes, but the damage amount wasn't one of them.

    2. Having said that, it's a good suggestion I'll keep in mind. I'm not so sure shooting at the Skull would have worked in the last case, now that I update the naga listing on the Repository (and my notes) for Magical Bolt. (At the table, it was a matter of looking at the spell listing in D&D for that specific naga and seeing that he had magic missile, and deciding that he would lob that as his dying strike. Then I quickly looked up how much Magical Bolt a Magery 3 caster could have, and gave the naga the maximum.) The naga will have Innate Attack (Projectile) at 13 or 14 (the gaze should be slightly higher, having Ability Focus in D&D), and the Skull is -7, and the naga is SM +1 (which seems low the more I think about it, but not too much low), so hitting a human's skull is at -8 right off the bat. That's an effective skill or 5 or 6. Darkness doesn't apply since it was a full moon (-4) and the naga had Night Vision 5, but Caleb was at least a short distance away. If he's Innate Attack-14, he can hit him at up to 7 yards away. I think he might have been 4 or 5 yards away, so yeah, that would have *just* been the right tactic.

      That is, the right tactic if my die could have rolled a 2. There are no good tactics when you roll like shit.

      But let me put it this way: if there are any nagas still living who have magic missile on their spell lists, they *might* know how to aim their Magical Bolts better. I thank you for pointing that out. My players, doubtful.