Fifth Realm: Session 26 - A New Beginning


Several weeks ago, all the known lands were hit with various floods, quakes, shifting land, rising mountains, and other dramatic events that have reshaped the landscape and destroyed many towns.

Refugees from Mistwood have been looking for a new home. A scout returned to camp injured by a wolf attack, but reported that he had spotted an old keep that might still be in good enough shape to house the survivors.

The sheriff (who the survivors have turned to for leadership), has asked that a group follow the scout's direction and see if the keep can support the survivors.

Setting out

The party decided to get some information from the scout (Alec) who was lounging about near the healer's tent. He claims that he was attacked by a huge pack of wolves, but the heroes got the feeling he was exaggerating quite a bit. He was able to provide the group with a detailed map through the forest to where he saw the keep.

Before leaving town the sheriff found the group and told them that we was going to have the people start packing up for the journey as soon as possible. He gave the party two bundles that when burned would create smoke to signal to the town if the keep was safe or not.

An Odd Gnome

The path to the keep was pretty clear, but as the group emerged from the dense woods, they spotted the keep and a small camp along the way.

When they got close to the camp the meet a Gnome who was busy building and hammering and moving about his camp.

He didn't have much useful information for the group, but did offer to sell them various tools he had invented such as a crossbow converted to a "fly swatter" (bolts had flat mesh attached), and mouse traps (which were tiny bear traps).

The party decided to pass on these and continued on to the keep.

Dead Wolves and Broken Bridge

On the path up to the keep the players found the bodies of several wolves, being fed on by large (not giant) rats. An examination didn't yield the cause of death, only that they had been devoured by these rats.

Further up the party found a chasm between the path and the keep, and the drawbridge was broken and hanging by one chain.

Kaz was able to move the end of the broken chain across the path, where the party secured it, and crossed over.

The Keep's Inhabitants

Inside the party found the keep's structures intact but worn and in disuse. While looking around, William heard sounds from around the corner and the group snuck up to check it out.

Unfortunately, they weren't very stealthy and when they got to the corner a group of strange people, in tattered clothes, turned to face them.

The party tried to identify what these "people" were, as something was clearly "wrong" with them. They didn't seem to be zombies, but had some zombie like aspects.

While this evaluation was going on, they began to shift and contort till something that resembled a cross between a man, a skinless dog, and a rat appeared. Then they charged.

These rat-man-monsters rushed the group, but Kaz through down a Grease spell and the others held their ground. The monsters began to fall one by one as they approached, the few getting around the corner were dealt with quickly.

When most have bunched together, Kaz hit them with an explosive fireball. Then dispelled the grease and the party finished off the others before they had a chance to stand.

Further in the party saw a figure dart around a corner, and also heard sounds of conflict from another direction. They decided to follow the figure they saw to an open area further in.


The group managed to be a bit more stealthy this time and managed to spot the man they saw before, who was having a coughing fit.

In the open area near him were four large persons that seemed to be malformed and bloated. And at the far end was a thin man in a cloak and speaking in a strange language.

The sick man then vomited... a rat, before collapsing onto the ground.

From there concealed position, the group took aim and fired (fireball wand and sun-bolt). Which destroyed two of the bloated men... but then they exploded into swarms of rats. The fireball burned enough of the rats that the ones remaining scattered.

Before the creature had time to reach the party, another set of blasts (and a crossbow bolt) took out the other two and the rats of the other swarm. But this left 2 new swarms and the thin man charging in.

The rats swarmed William and Penelope but were quickly sliced through and dispersed. The thin man was also hit with a powerful attack and fell down.

The party rushed him and as he recovered they finished him off before he could cast whatever spell he was preparing.

From his neck Kaz took a magical amulet that has some sort of animal control magic on it (and a picture of a rat). But he was persuaded to not put it on just yet.

We wrapped up there for the night. Next week we'll pick up still in the town.


This session went really well. First session awkwardness and a new player (new to GURPS as well as the group), didn't seem to cause any troubles. Things moved along at a good pace and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

One thing that I've been working on is "[The GM] should feel free to drop out of combat time whenever dramatically appropriate, and to resume combat time when noncombat action gives way to more fighting." (B362). This as speed up the "lulls" in combat when no actual trading of blows is happening (Readying, closing distances, long actions). 


Rule of Cool

... or "Crazy Plans are More Likely to Work"

A couple of things occurred to me the other day as I was reflecting on my last game session: 1) When players ask lots of questions, the the odds of doing something "cool" decrease. 2) If something sounds cool, it is more likely to work in my games.

I don't really think about these things during the game. They are not rules that I created... but this is just how things work out in play with my games.

Here is an example. In the last session, the party arrived at the cliff that separates the road from the keep. The drawbridge was damaged and only one of the two chains were holding it up. Someone asked if they could see the wench that held the remaining chain, and I replied that it was on top of the keep's wall between the two towers on either side of the bridge/gate. Then someone asked if the wizard flew up there would he be able to release it, and would the bridge land properly across the gap. I said he could probably release it, but that because the bridge was askew and damaged, it might break and fall. They ended up going with another plan.

But, had someone said, "I want to blast the wench with a fireball so the bridge falls and we can cross", I'd probably allow that to work (assuming they made the roll to hit).

Thinking about this, I realized that when I GM, lots of "technical" questions get the simulations part of my brain working. So, the answers I give are likely to be based on what makes the most logical sense for that situation. But, if someone states some crazy plan, the more creative side of my brain gets going and I want that to happen.

Of course the players need information before they can formulate crazy plans, so there's a bit of a catch-22 going on. But I think recognizing the ways that I GM and what some of the factors that lead to it helps me and my players.


Fifth Realm: The Story So Far...

The Fifth Realm is the setting I've been running my Fantasy games in for awhile now. It follows the standard fantasy tropes and uses most of the races from Dungeon Fantasy 3. I've run games that are somewhere between the full on Murder-Hobo-re that is Dungeon Fantasy and something closer to "serious" fantasy. The latest world events might just start shifting things a bit towards "dark fantasy" but we'll see how things develop....

Here is a recap of some of the events that have happens leading up to the current events.

The Turning Island Indecent

A few years back a group of adventures arrived in Port Destiny on Turning Island. They were commissioned by the leader of a group of "concerned citizens" to look into a strange temple found deep in the islands jungles. Soon they discovered a cult of a banished god were looking to open a gate way for that god to return to this world and bring about the end times.

They raced across the island seeking to five stones that could heal the magic seal that prevented this dark god from returning. Eventually they were able to defeat the cult and seal the god away, but at a high cost. Each of them lost one of the "elemental" essences.

Mistwood's Troubles

About a year ago the goblins started to attack the remote town of Mistwood. A (new) group of adventurers defended the town, tracked down the goblin hideout and defeated a group of mercenaries and a woman bent on using demonic powers to destroy the town.

Later the adventures chased off a black dragon that was making it's home in some nearby ruins. While there they met a group of orcs and had an unusually friendly experience. They also found a door marked with a seal they had seen before (on an amulet they had sold) and a carving that might have been been left by one of the adventurer's long lost uncle.

They tracked down the amulet, opened the door and found a vast underground realm that had been sealed off for thousands of years. Later they learned that this area was sealed off by a cabal of seven races to prevent crossing worlds as this "under realm" was a boarder land to other dimensions. They also discovered that the uncle had used a necromancy ritual to enter the land of the dead (still intact) in order to escape. The party had to find a lost relic, "The Returning Bell" to rescue him from the land of the dead.

After retrieving the bell, the party found Mistwood occupied by the Inquisition. These were suppose to be the King's most loyal who were tasked with upholding the law. But they betrayed the king and were going to hang the Mayor. The heroes ended up breaking the Mayor out of jail, just in time to learn that the town was in danger of total destruction.

The next morning the party had to get as many people out of town while avoiding the Inquisition. In the middle of the evacuation, the ground began to rumble, split, and rise. Soon it was a mad dash out of town, avoiding sinkholes and land slides.

When the day ended, only a scattered group of refugees were left at the banks of the river nearby. In the following weeks those that remained salvaged what they could. Mistwood was no more, but the troubles for it's people were not yet over....


Awhile back I stopped posting my regular game recaps, thinking that these were taking time from posting on other topics. But, as it turns out, without something regular to write about, I don't end up posting anything at all!

So, I'm going to try and get back into the swing of things, and that means resuming my regular game recaps! And hopefully that will lead to more non-recap posts too.