Friday, December 22, 2017

Skeleton Army

The opening setup

"Really, Zarlazz? Skeletons?""What's wrong with skeletons?""A bit low-rent, aren't they? Couldn't you come up with something that hasn't been done to death?""What, you'd prefer we give the adventurers a more meaty challenge?""That pun was beneath you, Zarlazz.""Puns are beneath us all, Kovath."

Session Recap 3 & 4
I’m merging these into one recap, because, it was really just one long fight (see session chat logs here and here).   We left off the session before with a boss level encounter of 21
Round 4
skeletons.  Stonemaul (Dwarf Cleric) had weakened them all with a timely prayer that I ruled cast turn zombie on the horde.  It did 4 damage to all the skeletons and turned 5 of them.  The skeletons that remained moved forward in more or less a phalanx pattern:  Skeletons with reach 1 weapons in the front, archers in the back.  In between I added one small adjustment: I changed the skeletons from using 1-handed spears to using 2-handed spears.  This gave them reach 2 and significantly improved their ability to affect the melee heroes without having to find a space in the scrum.  Interestingly, this does not (at present) adjust their CER, (except to remove shields, which would in effect lower CER).

I was fairly convinced the players would stomp these skeletons in short order despite the fact that CER insisted it was a boss encounter.  Boy, was I wrong.  As the fight moved forward, a few major issues became clear:

  • Gharza had no magical tools for interacting with the undead in a meaningful way.  She was forced to buff PCs, then hit things with her staff.  This wasn’t as bad as it could have been
    Round 5
    (Crushing does double against skeletons) but it was still a noticeable issue that fighting against living foes wouldn’t have presented.
  • A few of my players were more interested in getting into the fray than playing in a highly tactical way.  This led to Teetonka (Half-Ogre Thief) getting injured early due to a lucky axe swing.  Once the skeletons smelled blood, they came for him and managed to seriously wound him and Gharza before Vondur (Dwarf Swashbuckler) beat them back.  
  • Stonemaul (Dwarf Cleric) ended up in a position to take 2 arrows to his chest. From that point forward, he was reeling and it was tough to mount a credible defense.
  • Bowgre switched to his broadsword once the party had noticed the skeletons, but I’m not convinced that was the right call.  Impaling is pretty far from useless against skeletons, and he could have crippled the back row of archer skeletons pretty early, minimizing some mischief they got up to later.  The wounding modifier and swing damage on the sword meant higher damage numbers, but had the party defended the hallway, instead of wading into the middle of them, they might not have needed the damage as much.
Round 6
Vondur acquitted himself very well, chopping off skeletons at the legs with his edged rapier, stepping in and out while beating down enemies all along the front line.  His high dodge, buckler and luck for what little got past his defenses meant he was unlikely to suffer any real injury anyway.  The crawling skeletons Vondur created became a nuisance as they crawled in close to claw at players.  

From the outset Gharza cast Shield on various party members, improving   defenses, and missile shield on herself so that she didn’t have the archers to fear.  From there she lay about her with her reach 2 staff getting a damage multiplier for crushing.  Wasn’t the most wizardly way to fight, but she put down a few skeletons, especially the ones Vondur made into crawlers.

Fiona (Human Knight) waded into the middle of a pack of skeletons and engaged probably about 4 at a time.  With her extremely high parry, heavy armor and shield, she was never in any real danger.  She did a decent job of drawing fire, and killed several skeletons.  

Stonemaul didn't really do any spell casting, instead leaning on the skeleton’s vulnerability to crushing to make his mace do some work.  For a mid liner, Stonemaul killed an impressive number of skeletons.  That pretty much came to a stop towards the end of the first session of the fight, in which Stonemaul was fired on by the 3 unturned skeleton archers all in the same round. 

Poor Teetonka got axed early and speared soon after and spent most of the fight just trying to get safe and stable.  

Bowgre engaged a group of 3 skeletons more or less on his own on one side of the map, it took him most of the fight, but he took them down.  He proceeded to take a south westerly flanking action and went on to do the bulk of the damage to the archers in the back row. 

In the end, the team came out victorious, but at cost.  Stonemaul was so badly wounded that he couldn’t heal himself.  The team decided to gather the loot they’d collected so far and limp back to town.  The haul for the whole run is below. 

5 longbows $200; 3 lb each
4 axes $50; 4 lb each
4 shortswords $400; 2 lb each
4 small maces $35; 3 lb each
4 Spears $40; 4 lb each
41 remaining arrows $2; 0.1 lb each
Found treasure is as follows:
1 gold, 33 silver, 247 copper ($1,307; 5.62 lb)
1 half-gold, 1 quarter gold, 1 eighth gold 79 copper (1.64 lb $429),
11 eighth-gold, 21 silver, 174 copper ($2144 .78 lb)
1 non metallic shield balanced, etched with an inlay on top and porcelain ($1,750, 11.25 lbs lightened 25%, sells as DF not DFRPG)
1 pair of bracers of Endurance (acts as if a 3 fp power item for mundane tasks only) ($1390, 9 lbs)
bundle of wyvern furs  ($500, 75 lbs )
Siege Stone ($550 .01 lbs)
fancy gnomish sandals ($500 .25 lbs)
2 probably tourmalines ($1281.25 0 lbs)
Fine metallic shield with jeweled inlay  and edging of feathers ($994, magical, lighten -25%.  Only pays as if standard DF lighten when sold 9 lbs)
1 potion of agility $700 .5 lbs.

They had to make rolls to identify all of this, and (to my surprise) succeeded on all of it.  Teetonka had Wealth:  Comfortable, which provided a solid bump to the pawn price on all of it.  In the end, they walked out of the merchant’s office with $10,338 they didn't have before they walked into the dungeon.  Split 6 ways we come out to $1,723, which isn't bad at all for what amounted to less than a day of work.  11 CP feels like quite a bit for the time spent in the dungeon, but it maths out and I’m going to go with it.

All in all the fight played out well.  I had a brain fart and failed to actually apply the shields the skeletons were supposed to have.  This would have added to the length of the battle (which had already dragged on) but would have given the enemy many more chances to wound party members.  I don't think we'd have ended up with a rout, but might have drained even more party resources.   Since the party was banged up enough to decide they needed to go home, I don't think I need to beat myself up over it too much, but I didn't give the party a stack of medium shields to sell either.  I feel that was a fair trade.  I suspect I may need to turn up loot a bit for the encounters. We are now talking about adding a treasure multiplier of some sort for the generator, but, the next dungeon is already generated.  The party will have to live with treasure as is at least one more dungeon.  

Any questions about the dungeon?  What would you have done differently either as a player or as a GM?

1 comment:

  1. Never underestimate the damage poor tactical choices by the PCs can do to the PCs. There is always a great explanation, too - "I had to, I needed to Retreat" or "I had to step up and take advantage of that Stunned guy" or "I was worried I'd get flanked if I didn't charge right into the middle of all of them!" Heh.

    "Impaling is pretty far from useless against skeletons"

    As long as the base damage is high enough, it isn't actually worse against skeletons. But I can see why someone would defer to something with higher base damage and a better injury multiplier. Smart scouts pack blunt arrows for these fights, though, IME.