In Hindsight: Taking Down The Faerie Godmother

by mshrm

So after last session, the big question is: How exactly did our heroes survive that? One would think she would just turn them all into winged monkeys and continue on with her day. I was wondering, the players were wondering, and even Douglas Cole, the author himself, was wondering over at Gaming Ballistic.

So, let’s delve into that question with some of that 20/20 hindsight folks talk about…

It is an absolutely fair point that I didn’t give Elunad the showing that she deserved, but I think the way I write the play reports might have made it seem one-sided than it felt at the time. I’ll often skip over things that the PCs don’t know, since these play reports also act as our record of what happened and what they know. Also, I’ll often gloss over several rounds of action without necessarily recording a lot of detail. Looking back at this last synopsis, I think those two factors made it seem like a lot less happened that what actually did at the (virtual) table.

Elunad spent effectively the whole fight out of sight of the PCs. Even if she had been in plain sight, like in some of their previous fight with her, they wouldn’t always know what she was casting, or even if she was casting. Her spells are at a high enough base skill that she doesn’t need to do anything visible at all. Magic just falls off her like it’s nothing. Particularly with her Compartmentalized Mind, so she can be casting while apparently doing something entirely different.

As I recall, Elunad started with Great Haste, as recommended, and the big darkness spell that had worked so well in the past. She tried two or three Mind Control spells, which were all resisted – pesky Rule of 16, combined with uncooperative dice. She had just gotten off Invisibility, which did her no good in the dark, when things went badly sideways. The plan was to cast Flight the next turn, then start harassing the PCs from outside the darkness, hopefully while they were still being cautious about turning their backs on where she used to be. Probably should have cast those in the opposite order, I guess.

And, of course, she was doing all this while sticking her glaive into the people who had particularly gotten on her nerves: Slingshot, for shooting her in the back that one time, and The Kid, for being so attractive and yet persisting in resisting her mind control magics while trying to use the same kind of magic on her. Impossibly infuriating! 🙂 And I think there was at least one Move action in there, maybe two, to keep the PCs playing whack-an-elf on the wrong side of the room.

My retelling may have drained some of the drama from the story, but I think the players felt that the party was hard-pressed. My games tends to be a little less “go for the throat” than some others, a tendency I’m trying to correct, but for us, having two PCs making consciousness checks at the same time is fairly dire.

From the players’ discussion at the time, and from talking about it afterwards, they expected a TPK. They feel that, in the end, Blixa got lucky. I think that’s doubly true: it was a lucky guess as to what direction to move in, and it was a really good roll to take advantage of the moment when it came.

What I’m trying to say is, at the end of the day, I’m not a bit disappointed in how it went. If the PCs had walked about talking about what a creampuff she turned out to be, I might have been, but they didn’t; they left in bandages telling each other what a close one that was and how lucky they were to make it out.

All that said, though… Yeah, I could have used her a lot more effectively.

Sad to say, I’m just not all that adept with the GURPS magic system. I tend to play the fighter-types myself, on the rare occasion that I get to play. I’m sure there are a couple of my players who know the magic rules better than I do. They certainly know the spell list better than I do.

I should have been better prepared. I had made myself a cheat sheet beforehand, but when the time came, all my planning went right out of my head. I had all the ammunition I could ever want, I just lacked the ability to put any of it on-target.

I entirely forgot about the existence of Mass Sleep and Mass Daze, either of which could have made a difference. I was working from the DFRPG books, and I notice that Dungeon Fantasy Spells doesn’t include Mass Charm, but if I had thought of it, all I had to do was walk across the room and pick up GURPS Magic. Terror might have been helpful, but I think I didn’t realize it was an Area spell until I looked at it today.

Elunad isn’t just good at Mind Control, she’s just as good at Illusion, but when it comes down to it, especially looking at Dungeon Fantasy Spells, the only Illusion spell for this kind of a fight is Phantom. She would be able to create a semi-solid “creature” with up to DX 30 and ST 30… or ST 60 if she were willing to pay the price. She readily could. She could have *cough* “summoned a dragon” and really ruined their day. Didn’t think of it.

That bit with the darkness worked really well. PCs do not like standing in a dark place. At least, mine don’t. As it happened, I had pre-calculated what it would cost her to cover a 4 hex radius, so that’s what she did. She would have been better off just blacking out the entire room.

I really should have considered that the Air and Weather colleges include spells like Explosive Lightning, Spark Cloud, or Spark Storm. Elunad could have been blanketing the room with damage… the kind that mostly ignores the heavy fighters’ armor. Again, just didn’t think of it.

There’s one other detail about that fight, though. After it was over, one of the players said something to the effect of “Do you think this will draw any unwelcome attention to us?”

So, y’know, maybe I’ll get another chance to try a godlike fae spellcaster against them…