Falling Down: GURPS Session in the Majestic Wilderlands

When I was a kid, my parents subjected me to five years worth of horse riding lessons (both English and Western). My sister became a good enough rider to win some events at horse shows. Me? I preferred dirt bikes and never really got past the fact that I was on a very large animal with a very small brain. However, in all of those years of riding, I never fell off a horse.

My GURPS character, Delvin, is not so lucky. He suffered the ultimate dwarven humiliation: Fall off your horse, land on your back, and then lie their with your beautiful short arms and legs flailing away for a round or so. It is a fate that I would not wish on anyone (well, maybe an elf).

The session started out innocent enough. We continued the work we needed to do on our inn. We secured membership with the inn guild, met with our innkeep, secured our brewmaster (a task that required significant rounds of testing), met with the master mason on construction, and came up with building plans. We also debated how to settle the 24 refugees that we had rescued. We decided to set up a little farming hamlet next to the inn.

With tentative plans laid, we hopped up on our horses and headed out to the actual building site, about a day's ride from where were have been staying (Dorn). There were four PCs in the group, plus one noncombatant NPC (our innkeeper). The ride was uneventful and would have been quite pleasant, had we not observed the lack of commercial traffic. Maybe this inn wasn't such a great idea?

The land became wilder as we moved closer to our destination. Suddenly, Durgo, the most observant of our party, noticed a group of armed men hiding up ahead in the trees and brush. We stopped, checked them out from a distance, and drew our weapons. I opted to prep my crossbow. This was a bit of a mistake.

As combat ensued, I missed my target (not surprisingly) and then wasted time drawing my two-handed battleaxe. While I was diddling with my axe, the six opponents shape-changed into boars. Oh, for crap. We were outnumbered six to five (never a good thing in GURPS), with our inkeeper as a noncombant. This made him a liability rather than an asset and also made it a four-on-six battle. Half of us would be outnumbered.

As I am the sole remaining meatshield in the group, I probably should not have wasted time with my crossbow. I am a killing machine with my battleaxe, but the crossbow is always a bit of an adventure for me. As I was drawing my axe and cursing my luck, I was heartened by the telling blows made by my companions. They were making a better showing than I expected. A series of strong attacks by my companions and poor defensive moves by our opponents tilted the field in our favor.

I was able to make my first swing of my axe count, killing a boar. It looked like the fight would end quickly and in our favor. But then our luck changed. Even as I confidently looked for my next foe, a boar attacked and my horse and I were not able to dodge. My horse was gored--fatally so--and I tumbled head over heels to the ground.

Now dwarves are not graceful folk. But we are not ashamed of this. We leave the dancing and prancing to pretty-boy elves. We prefer steadiness and sturdiness to flash and dance. However, rolling off a horse presents dwarves in the worst possible light. No steadiness. No sturdiness.

I found myself lying flat on my back, arms and legs flailing to right myself before I was set upon by a boar. My heavy armor prevented injury, but it accentuated by dwarven lack of grace. My sense of vulnerability was only surpassed by my embarrassment. I heard jeers of "turtle" even as I began to right myself.

As I began to waste precious seconds getting back to my feet, I noticed a stunned boar next me. I was able to take a measured swing (telegraphic) and kill him, even while on my knees. This redeemed the situation...a bit. By time I was ready to fight on my feet, the melee was over and the few remaining boars turned back to men and surrendered. I had taken out two of the six, even with waste-of-time crossbow shot and the tumble to the ground.

My colleagues began to question our captives. We discovered them to be cursed...probably not lycanthropes. It was obvious that the rest of my party was trying to figure out to save them from their wretched state. Me? I wanted to kill them, in part because they killed my horse (horses always win out over humans in my simple dwarven mind). Even apart from my horse, however, I wanted to silence them so that they could never speak of the dwarf lying on his back. The reputation of a dwarf is much more important than the life of a human (you humans are like rabbits...kill a few and they reproduce faster than ever).

This is where our session ended.