Dungeon Fantasy campaign recap

I have finally committed myself to continue occasionally running the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign I started as a limited-series back at the end of September. You’ll see several posts about it in the coming days, but for now, a summary of what has transpired so far (pretty much what I give to new players):

A brief “story” exposition

You’re a previously acquainted band of adventurers based out of Caverntown, a fortified underground settlement and hub for adventures in the surrounding dungeons and subterranean tunnel networks. The town is a cosmopolitan center where many kinds of folks mingle, focused around a service industry catering to adventurers.

Recently, you’ve come into possession of directions leading to a lost dungeon complex. A group of powerful villains calling themselves The Invincible Legion of Evil (TM) constructed a complex consisting of multiple individual dungeons connected by caverns as a staging ground for their attacks against the Kingdom and the forces of Good. However, only half a dozen years after construction was complete and the complex fully staffed, internal bickering and a happenstance intervention from an adventuring party resulted in the villains either being destroyed or running into hiding, and their troops disbanding.

That was several generations ago, and the location of the complex was since lost… until now. You have heard of this dungeon before, of the villains’ riches and magical items still left somewhere inside. When you noticed a crazed prospector rambling about finding the way to one of the supposed back entrances of the complex, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, even in case his info was wrong. You bought a map to the place from the guy, and set out on your journey.

For players who weren’t here the last time: we’ll just “reality warp” the whole thing and say that you guys were here all along instead of the characters who are now absent (least fuss that way)

Recap of previous sessions

Session 1

Date: 2018-09-22

Player Characters:
Felicia, dwarf druid (275 points)
Florentian, wood elf thief (275 points)
Rod Steele, human cleric of war (275 points)
Thundarr, minotaur barbarian (275 points)

You’ve followed the map you acquired through the tunnels around Caverntown, eventually reaching the dungeon after only one day and a bit of travel instead of two, thanks to your navigational and survival skills. The entrance was located in a small cavern which also contained a lake (this was, according to the info you got, one of the back entrances into this dungeon complex). You’ve pushed aside the massive door, avoided the trapped entryway, and found yourselves in the dungeon. Inside you discovered some kind of a water reservoir, but the way forward led to what appeared to be a hobgoblin storehouse, judging by the 3 hobgoblins guarding it. While planning how to deal with them, Thundarr lost his patience and went to the trapped entryway, bellowing at the top of his lungs, pretending to have fallen into the traps and luring the 3 hobgoblins. The rest of the group quickly prepared an ambush, and executed it flawlessly. The hobgoblins were dead in just a couple of seconds, and you tossed their bodies into the reservoir.

Session 2

Date: 2018-09-24

Player Characters:
Bhaz, lizardman barbarian (275 points)
Bramor Stonecutter, dwarf cleric (275 points)
Myrddin, wood elf mystic archer(275 points)
Thundarr, minotaur barbarian (278 points)

The storehouse contained various hobgoblin military, survival, camping and similar gear. You eventually continued through one of the corridors past it, reaching what appeared to be another storehouse, but completely dilapidated and unused for a long time. While looking for leftover treasure, you alarmed a nest of giant rats, and set the whole room on fire (the old shelves and crates were very flammable). You ran out of the room the way you came, shutting the door behind you. After a bit of a discussion on what to do next, you decided to proceed through the room after all, and exit through one of the doors on the other side. You rushed in, thankfully not wasting any time because you were starting to cough from all the smoke, and exited on the other side. There you found a tunnel leading further away. Following the tunnel, you found a relatively large, empty room. Choosing one of the two doors on its other side, Thundarr sprung a trap, but was uninjured and you proceeded further. In the next room, you killed a lone hobgoblin archer who was waiting in ambush for you. Following the way, you entered another big room, where a band of hobgoblins waited for you and a fight ensued. Half a dozen turns into the battle, a bunch of hell hounds joined it as well. Due to some good tactical decisions and a timely countering of a Darkness spell cast by a hobgoblin cleric by your own Sunlight spell, you defeated your foes without serious injuries on your side.

Session 3

Date: 2018-09-28

Player Characters:
Bramor Stonecutter, dwarf cleric (278 points)
Myrddin, wood elf mystic archer(278 points, GMPC’d)
Thundarr, minotaur barbarian (281 points)
Vaeril Yesthana, half-elf knight (275 points)

After the battle with the hobgoblins, you decided to retreat outside of the dungeon and rest for half an hour. The journey outside, the rest, and getting back to the site of the battle was uneventful. Instead of going in the direction where the hellhounds came from (west), you took the way north, and after following some winding corridors you found what appeared to be a refuse pile/toilet. Getting back to the battleground, you encountered yet another band of hobgoblins, and a second fight ensued. This time, their heavily armored leader was with them, along with a half-orc wizard who made some trouble for you with smokey and stinky clouds. The battle started of well, with you taking down a hobgoblin heavy and their archers slaughtering one of their frontliners, but during the second half their leader proved to be rather hard to take down and seriously injured several of you. Nevertheless, you were victorious. Exploring the area where this second group came from you found a hellhound pen / alchemy lab, another barracks, and the leader’s finely appointed chambers. In a corridor beyond, there was a heavy metal hatch on the floor. You looted the area, and took a short rest.

Session 4

Date: 2018-10-01

Player Characters:
Bramor Stonecutter, dwarf cleric (281 points, GMPC’d for healing between battles)
Kilrad, dragon-blooded knight (275 points)
Kruux, lizardman knight (275 points)
Myrddin, wood elf mystic archer(278 points)
Thundarr, minotaur barbarian (284 points)

After looting the hobgoblins, the group decided to take a look at the hatch beyond the leader’s quarters. It led into some caverns deeper below, and that’s where you went after demolishing the hatch so that it can’t be bolted from above (thus trapping you). Underneath were a set of natural cavernous tunnels, and you proceeded to explore them. This, of course, started by scaring a nest of bats, but luckily no other subterranean denizens were in the vicinity. Following the “left for loot!” strategy of exploration, you ended in a damp cave where a difficult battle against a large ooze ensued. It had even gotten backup in the form of a large, stinking grub, though that one was dispatched very quickly, unlike the ooze. Eventually you prevailed, but instead of destroying the creature it split in two and proceeded to retreat! Giving no quarter, you pressed the attack and reduced the two new oozes into puddles of dissolved matter. Thundarr also decided to take a look at the pool on one end of the cave. Even though the waters stung and burned, he managed to retrieve a couple shiny coins from its bottom. You rested a bit with Bramor healing your wounds.

Session 5

Date: 2018-10-01

Player Characters:

Kruux, lizardman knight (278 points)
Rod Steele, human cleric of war (278 points)
Rognir, dwarf scout (275 points)
Thundarr, minotaur barbarian (287 points)

While his companions were finishing their rest, Rognir the dwarven scout checked out the tunnels around the damp cave. The closest one led to a small cavern reeking of rot, coming from several animal and humanoid corpses in various stages of decomposition. Through his skill with tracking he deduced that this must have been the lair of the giant grub you slew. After examining the corpses, he returned to the rest of the group who were preparing to head on. In the tunnels beyond the grub lair you found more tracks, determining that one of the tunnels was an occasionally used underground “road”. There were also several relatively recent sets of tracks leading into a tunnel branching off from the “road”, so you decided to explore it. Several caverns down you encountered a mudbowl, but instead of trying another way around which seemed a bit narrow, you decided to brave the mud. It didn’t prove much trouble thanks to Thundarr leading the way and setting up a rope “ferry”. After startling another colony of bats and avoiding a suspicious webbed alcove, you encountered a cavern with a huge pit and a narrow walkway besides it. Rognir noticed something below, and skillfully scaled the jagged pit walls down without a scratch. He found the remains of a dwarf not as fortunate as him, although examination revealed he had wounds caused by blades or claws, not by sharp rocks. He took the fellow’s axe and the group continued on. There was a large lake in the next cavern, and Thundarr dove right in. The lakebed was covered in layers of bones! But even though the water was crystal clear, he found nothing of value among them. After taking a short rest to dry off against flaming weapons courtesy of Rod the cleric, you continued down the tunnels.

Hidden Suns session 6: Heat of Battle

Date: 2018-08-21

Player Characters (344 points):
ESA1000 45460 (4-5 for organics), humanoid engineering robot
Gaichu Koschei, android infiltrator/assassin
James Titus Kane, human legendary starship Captain of the Stewards Navy (retired)
Alva von Kirchess, aasimar diva / Captain of the Knights of Golarion (retired), breach and clear specialist
Julianne Margeurite Sadayo Aletta Mackenzie Kawakami-Rose-Albert III (or just Jill), human brilliant inventor / industry mogul, dilettante adventurer/explorer

The group spent a day in their crashlanded ship, resting from the previous delve into the jungle pyramid. Gaichu’s familiar, Greg, healed Gaichu, while Jill repaired 4-5 as well as Gaichu’s and 4-5’s gear which was corroded by the gelatinous cube. The next morning they made their way to the pyramid again. From now on, there would be five people but only two of whom could pilot a hoverbike. So the solution was for Gaichu and Alva to ride with Jimmy and 4-5, while Jill was towed on another hoverbike by 4-5.

Along the way, while flying over the savannah, the group noticed a band of natives on what looked like a hunting trip. They were human-sized but big and burly, pale blue-skinned and wearing patchwork metal armor. They did not seem to have noticed the party. That changed soon, however, since Jill took a pot shot at one of them out of “curiosity”. He dropped into the grass and didn’t get up again. The others noticed the group, ducked in the grass, and started aiming towards them with what looked like primitive slughthrowers. They didn’t shoot, because the party was rather far from them and moving rapidly away on hoverbikes. A discussion ensued on what to do with the natives, but no conclusion was reached before the group flew out of eyesight.

Reaching the pyramid, the party did what became their standard procedure – they left the bikes a hundred yards away, camouflaged them, and stealthily approached the building. Everything was clear, so they proceeded below. They went through the tunnels to where they blew up the gelatinous cube, encountering nothing new on the way. They didn’t continue down that corridor, however, opting instead to go through the stone door in the north-western corner of the room. It was a bit stuck, but 4-5 effortlessly budged it open. The corridor beyond was very snaky, and even though its majority was spread to the north-east of the previous room, it eventually led to a door to the nort-west. Gaichu checked for traps, but didn’t find any.

Beyond was an 8×8 yard room, with a small dried-out fountain in the north-west corner and a stone balcony on the east side. There were stairs leading to it on its south side, and stone beds carved into the wall could be seen on top. A stone door was on the north side, under the balcony. Alva decided to take a look at the balcony, and climbed the stairs. Reaching the top, she noticed four corpses on the floor of the balcony, previously unseen because the balcony’s railing was blocking the view from below. As she approached, they started raising up and she opened fire.

She did some minor damage to one of them, and then again on the next round, when the remainder of the party could also start shooting since the corpses were now in sight having fully stood up. One of them attacked Alva, while the other three jumped in huge leaps down at the rest of the party! They went for Gaichu, 4-5 and Jimmy, attempting to impale them on the sickles they had instead of hands. Jimmy and Gaichu managed to dodge or parry their attacks, but 4-5 was “hooked”. The corpses were tough, but could for the most part not get through the party’s defenses. Jill was free to pick targets with her holdout laser while the rest were engaged, and they eventually blasted them down suffering only minor injuries, except for 4-5 who received a nasty impale from the initial jump. But Greg took care of that after a quick retreat to the surface in order to facilitate the casting of healing spells (the entirety of the Pyramid has so far been a low-mana zone).

The corpses had nothing of value on them, but there were a couple of gems in the corner of one of the stone beds. The party proceeded through the north door. The tunnel beyond was basically a big, snaky U-turn, but it was nowhere near as long as the previous one. It effectively led to a room which was directly to the west of the one where the battle against the corpses took place. The door to it was a bit stuck, but 4-5 took care of that.

Immediately after opening it, the party noticed an orange glow coming from within the chamber. It was quite large, a some 20×20 yards, with a 3-yard wide chasm at its center. The glow emanated from it, and it was crossed by a 1-yard wide stone walkway. Ancient tapestries covered the walls, and contrary to all others encountered so far, they were completely untouched by time. As most of the team were examining the tapestries (they seemed to be depicting some abstract motifs) Jimmy approached the chasm and looked down. He didn’t like what he saw – there were five giant, orange-scaled lizards clinging to the chasm wall. They hissed at him and climbed up, just as he opened fire on one of them.

The others joined the fight when the lizards were already on top. Alva advanced with her gauss shotgun, Gaichu started shooting plasma projectiles with his gauss crossbow, Jill with her plasma pistol, and 4-5 with his modified arc cutter. The beam weapons and Gaichu’s projectiles seemed to have little effect. As the lizards advanced, they breathed fire on the party. Jimmy started to retreat since the lizards were ganging up on him. Gaichu shot a tangler bolt at the biggest of the lizards, which occupied it for a couple turns. When the lizards closed in, they caused a few nasty cuts with their bites. Gaichu eventually switched to cryo and piercing bolts when he noticed his plasma bolts were ineffective. Half a dozen turns in, Jill and Alva went into melee with their knives and 4-5 with his wristblade. Jill eventually retreated, Alva kept the lizards busy but didn’t inflict much damage, while 4-5 went all-out crazy stabbing lizard skulls. Eventually, the lizards were defeated, but the party was seriously injured by bites and burns. They retreated outside of the pyramid for healing provided by Greg, and that’s where we stopped.

Multimillionaire characters in Space Dungeon Fantasy

A new player joined us last session. Their character is a multimillionaire, having invested 100 points into Wealth. This gives them 100,000 times the average starting wealth, or 5,000,000,000 GURPS $ in this case. Such characters seldom have the motivation to go raiding ancient ruins, and also kinda beat the point of Dungeon Fantasy type games where loot is one of the main goals if not the main goal of the game. But I allowed it anyway.

Why would such a person work for a “questgiver” who offers little besides a monetary incentive, in this case the explorer Archibald Grey? They wouldn’t. I instead simply retconned the character into Archibald’s place. So Jill is now the person who hired the other players, whose ship they crashed (pocket change, it’s insured anyway), and who’ll pay them at the adventure’s conclusion. After that, they’ll simply go on further adventures together. Why does she risk her life on such endeavors? Well she’s bored! It’s her hobby.

But what about the elephant in the room, what do we do with the important element of loot acquisition when Jill could simply equip the whole party with the best gear money could buy, including magical items in the case of this setting? I allowed those 100 points of wealth only under the condition that they would be used exclusively for personal purposes or for flavor. So Jill has about one million GURPS $ in her personal gear. Her armor was constructed from a tailored (Ultra-Tech p. 174-175) light hardsuit adjusted by a pile of modifiers such as Ornate, Super Fine and other, house ruled ones. Her knife, holdout laser and plasma pistol were constructed and paid for as Metatronic Generators (Pyramid 3/46) which Jill made herself since she’s also a Quick Gadgeteer. She doesn’t really have much aside from that, she simply doesn’t need it. And since I didn’t want her bankrolling the other characters, the gadgets she makes may only be used by her – it’s Weird Science after all!

For some, a setup like this could go beyond what they’re willing to accept as plausible or internally consistent or could require too much suspension of disbelief. That’s fine, I myself would not allow something like this in other campaigns. But now, for me and my current group, this is a win-win solution. A player gets to play out their fantasy, no pillars of gameplay are broken, and the GM gets some nice hooks for the story.