Sunday, July 24, 2016

24 July 2016 game log

Dramatis personae

Anêr, swashbuckler
Ash, squire
Caleb, wizard
Kim, thief
Mayhem, barbarian
Yémos, cleric


Villûdē, guide

Quid occurrit

They made camp after a few hours after the orc fight. Caleb agreed to train T'ssst the gnat in his spare time.

The next day, they spent day gathering food. The day after that, they traveled deeper into swamp. Mayhem kept himself from stepping on a sinkhole while setting up camp, a task at which their guide did badly. Not to be outdone, Ash hurt himself while hunting.

While on watch before midnight, Yémos heard din of trees falling from a ways away. Yémos and Ash listened for a bit, then Yémos went to bed after nothing happened.

Early morning, Mayhem was on watch. The ibathene showed up, 14 yards away. The gang tried to kill it fast, but did no harm to it and lost a few arrows. Caleb did get off a good Fireball at the ibathene's eyestalk, but otherwise it got there too fast for anyone to get off more missile fire. After it missed Mayhem with its tongue, the ibathene spotted the gang's horses behind the tent, and it wrapped its tongue around Ash's horse. It crushed it and ate it. The pony fled into the wooded spots of the swamp. Everyone tried to do harm to the ibathene, but mostly they hurt its claws but a little bit. It  swatted at Anêr and missed, then ran after the pony, the lure of its flesh greater than the not-so-fleshy heroes who were scratching it a bit.

That day, Mayhem and Villûdē followed the wake of true mayhem that followed the ibathene, getting to a hole about six feet athwart. It smelled awful. When they looked down, they saw something run into a tunnel. Caleb sent T'ssst into the hole, and it flew back up, and told Caleb that it saw some big white bugs with wings. Caleb thought they were stinkbugs, something he read in a book about Things Man Was Not Meant to Know.

Kim went down and saw the bugs, which stayed in their three tunnels. Mayhem also went down, and Yémos dropped down a small rock with Continual Light on it. Ash then went down, pushed past Kim and Mayhem, and went up to a stinkbug. It turned its rear to Ash, and let out a big cloud, which made both Ash and Kim pass out. Mayhem kept his breath, and dragged out Ash and Kim, and lifted them up with rope. Caleb then went down, and found he could kill the stinkbugs with Blast Ball.

After Caleb got done being the Orkin Man, they found a set of quality footwear down the first tunnel, which neither hungry stinkbugs nor Caleb's Blast Balls had worn down. Everyone guessed these were the Boots of Saint Hubbins.

They spent the next two days going back to the peat farm, hoping the ibathene didn't run into them again. Luckily, they did not, and got to the farm, where everyone took a bath, especially Kim, Ash, and Mayhem.

Res aliae

This adventure was mostly going through the swamp, and hoping to be in the right spot at the right time and not die from the ibathene, after which a Tracking roll would find the lair. Luckily, they had two juicy horses, and did just enough harm for the ibathene to think, as best the idiot beast could think, about going after the other juicy horse instead. I play with the D&D Expert Set morale idea of checking upon first foe dropping or first hit with damage for a lone foe, and then upon losing half the foes or hit points. I've said this before, but I do a simple Fright Check, but running instead of puking or stunning for a failed roll. While the ibathene is tough, it's dumb, and I left its Will at 10.

How does this ibathene look? See this for official details. And I also made sure to let the players know that it was 60 feet long. This one is a good lengthwise shot of a boat with people on it. I thought a little perspective would help let everyone know that this was one Bad Mother Fucker. It's like $100,000. I assure you, something gets lost in the translation. We didn't have anything that could truly show its 20 hex length, so everyone went alongside a phantom one-hex wide strip with a figure of a purple worm coming out of the ground as its head.

Its GURPS stats aren't that tough. They're mighty tough for most characters in my lower-powered world, but some games might need a little more oomph. A gang of a half-dozen 250 point characters could take one out, though with some losses. Oh hell, here's what I made:


A reptile 60 to 120 feet long with one eye on a long yellow eyestalk. It is bright green otherwise, with a red belly.

ST: 72
HP: 72
Speed: 4.50
DX: 10
Will: 10
Move: 10
IQ: 2
Per: 10
Weight: 30 tons
HT: 11
FP: 11
SM: +6 (20 hexes)
Dodge: 7
Parry: n/a
DR: 10 (see notes)

Bite (17): 8d+8 cutting. Reach C.
Claws (17): 8d+8 cutting. Reach C-7.
Tail (15): 8d+16 crushing. Reach C-7. Rear hexes only.
Tongue (17): Constriction Attack with the tongue's ST 36. Reach 1-10. After a successful Constriction Attack, the ibathene drags the hapless foe it to its mouth to eat; it drags with Move 5. The foe can break free if it wins the Quick Contest for the Constriction Attack. Roll each second until either the foe breaks free or the ibathene brings the foe to its mouth, at which time it bites its foe. Striking the tongue is at -4; it has HP 36 and DR 3.

Traits: 360° Vision (Easy to Hit); Acute Taste and Smell 4; Amphibious (Water Move 5); Breath Control 3; Cold-Blooded (50°); Discriminatory Smell; Enhanced Move 0.5 (Ground Move 15; Water Move 7; Costs Fatigue, 2 FP); Infravision; Nictitating Membrane 3; One Eye; Quadruped; Supernatural Durability (see notes); Vibration Sense (Air); Wild Animal.
Skills: Brawling-18; Swimming-10; Tracking-9.
Class: Dire Animal.
Combat Effectiveness Rating: 173 (OR 73 and PR 100).

Notes: Has DR 5 on its belly and eyestalk. It is truly dumb, and might not know when it's dead. Its Supernatural Durability works differently: it has no special attack that must strike it for it to die, but it keeps going until it reaches -5×HP. Once its HP reaches -5×HP, it must make an HT roll each turn to keep from dropping dead. It keeps fighting until it fails an HT roll or reaches -10×HP. From the Arduin Grimoire, p. 82.

This isn't a big one. Like the link said (the first write-up is an exact transcription of what is in the Arduin Grimoire), they can be up to twice this size. Since GURPS has a neat 1d thrusting damage for every +10 ST at this level, a twofold size ibathene would have something like ST 144, something like 15d+15 cutting damage, DR 20, with eyestalk and belly DR of 10 and eye and tongue DR of 5-6. Raise its Brawling with each SM to keep up its chance to hit. My players kept going for the toenails, which I called chinks in the armor on the Hand. For folks who truly care about the CER (which isn't a big thing for me since I don't like to balance encounters, but I do want to know when there's a party-killer around the corner), that will put it in the CER 300 range. In the hex crawl system I use, the ibathene has a 2-hex range and is active at any time. I don't think I could ever bring myself to go for Hargraves's idea to have 1d6 ibathenes. This is the goddamn tarrasque of any world that has one. You don't have more than one tarrasque, as it lowers the Bad Mother Fucker factor, and goes from gonzo to silly. 

(Do you hear me, Pat Huot? I still remember that afternoon we gave AD&D 2nd Edition running rules a workout from all those goddamn tarrasques you threw at us.)

Why they fought it at 14 yards

I've been fooling around with better ways to find encounter distances. Here's how I figured 14 yards:

10 yards base
Plus 5 yards for the biggest SM on the incoming side (the ibathene is Horizontal, lowering its SM for this)
Plus 0 yards for the biggest SM on the detecting side (likewise for the soon-to-be late horses)
Less 7 for being a starlit night (it was a new moon)
Less 1 for Bad weather

That's 10 +5 +0 -7 -1 = 7. I took twofold that for it being a swamp, which has many trees and water; same tale for thick woods with hills. For thinner woods, that's threefold; for no woods, that's fourfold. For flat land or mountains, make those twofold what you have above. So, for spotting men on plains on a bright day, or a flat desert or tundra, that's 80 yards.

I asked the OSR group on Google+ a few weeks ago, and the answer for starting encounters was detection range. The answers were great but not all that specific, so I got this to get into the general range. They're also akin to what D&D 3rd Edition has. I might vary this on a simple d6 roll. A 1 halves the range, a 6 makes it twofold. A 2 being 75% and a 5 being 150% could give a little more variation for those who want it. If someone can see farther due to Telescopic Vision or Night Vision, he gets a Perception check to see if he can see his foes before they could see him. The ibathene, being dumber than a box of rocks, didn't bother, not ever having much in the way of tactics.