Thursday, August 31, 2017

Armor Options for our DF to DFRPG Switchover

So, I've been thinking of the armor options for our DF game, which is mostly switching over to DFRPG as its rules base. Not that this is a big change, but for armor, it is significant.

Option 1: As Is

As we play now, using GURPS Basic Set's armor and DF1/DF3 rules on sizing.

Pros: Simplest.

Cons: We'll have to ignore sections of the DFRPG and all supplements to it that deal with armor. When GCA files for the DFRPG come out we can't use them or I'll need to make a patch GDF to go with them. People enamored of the new armor options will have to leave them by the board.

Likelihood of Use: Very high. In use now, so this will remain unless we make a deliberate change.

Option 2: By the Book Plus Oversized

By the DFRPG book. This approach means:

- there is no Faerie Gear.

- SM -1, SM -2 armor is the same weight as SM 0 armor.

- SM +1 or larger armor is handled per DF1 and DFD:B; that is, double cost and weight.

We can't just do "by the book" because no cases for armor cost/weight for SM +1 guys exist and we have two of them, one of whom (Honus) wears armor.

Pros: Simple.

Cons: SM -1 and SM -2 delvers will be unhappy, especially those already running them. Existing armor can be grandfathered in, but this won't make them happy because armor can be lost, existing armor can't be assured to be upgraded, and PCs with a little more cash and time in will have better gear than new PCs can possibly get. Will require a patch GDF for GCA.

Likelihood of Use: Moderate. It's the least work while still allowing for lighter, better, but much more costly armor.

Option 3: By the Book Plus Oversized Plus Mundane Gear

Use the armor as-is from DFRPG, but use the mundane armor rules from DF1/DF3.

- SM -1 and SM -2 armor will be very light, but very weak (1/2 and 1/5 weight and DR)

- As now, SM -1 and SM -2 delvers will need to go either no-armor ("why bother?") or heavy armor with enchantment to make up for the loss.

- Access to lighter armors means SM -1 and SM -2 delvers will have some DR but armor will be heavy for what you get (SM -1 Epic Plate would be DR 4, 5 with a round-up, and 48 pounds; SM -2 Epic Plate would be DR 2 with a round-up, and 19.2 pounds) but still better than the DFRPG allows (36 pound DR 2 heavy leather for either.)

Likelihood of Use: Very Low. More work, less likely anyone would take advantage, and it's easier to just use things as-is.

Option 4: By the Book Plus Oversized Plus Faerie Gear

Use the armor as-is from DFRPG, but use the sizing rules from DF1/DF3.

- SM -1 and SM -2 armor will be lower in DR (-1 and -2, respectively) but significantly lighter.

- SM -1 and SM -2 armor won't be any more expensive than SM 0 armor

- Smaller delvers will lose some top-end DR but will be able to get close to SM 0 DR for a fraction of the weight of the armor they have access to using GURPS Basic Set.

Pros: Players of SM -1 and SM -2 delvers will be happy. Getting extremely light, high DR, very effective armor will simply be a problem of wealth. Playing SM -3 or smaller characters will be covered.

Cons: This is basically a giveaway - the most PC-favorable parts of the existing rules plus the most PC-favorable parts of the new rules. Small size isn't a disadvantage, it's a very large advantage, given wealth to cover for it.

Likelihood of Use: Nil. I'm not against making things better for the players, but I am against something that will be a lot of work for me and everyone else just to make things better for a select few PCs.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Other People's Posts - DFRPG armor in DF 13 loadouts

Charles Saeger put up a nice post yesterday that puts the Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game armor weights/costs into DF13's loadouts:

New Armor Loadouts for DF13

That's pretty cool - if you want to grab-and-go a loadout, it's still two steps to do it this way but it sure beats doing the entire loadout by hand.

I also put this in my sidebar of GURPS links to make it easier for people to find again.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bones IV last 4 days

The Reaper Bones 4 Kickstarter is still going, and closing in on its last few days.

They've expanded with some very cool expansions:

Chronoscope, a sci-fi pack.

Dreadmere, a horror-and-undead filled swamp,

Dark Reaches, your basic D&D Underdark (gnomes, dark elves, fungi, monsters)

Lost Valley, reptile men and dinosaurs

At this point, though, I will still pass on all of them. Dark Reaches is tempting for the monsters, but the ones I don't have but want are few enough to make a $50+shipping ask too high. I'd love the umber hulk knockoff, the hook horror knockoff, etc. but I don't need them, and there are too many I don't want in the pile. And besides, that Fungal Queen is totally a surface dweller wearing a mushroom man's head as a hat and pretending to be a mushroom to rule them all. Bet you don't get that in too many games.

The Lost Valley is cool, but I play GURPS. For all that I have players who say, "HECK YES I WANNA FIGHT DINOSAURS!" the problem is that dinos aren't terribly exciting monsters. They are just giant lizards, without the fire breath of slorn or magical powers of dragons. They're bags of HP with a Dodge score and a high-damage melee attack. Unlike in, say, AD&D, where there is this terrible risk the 18 HD T.Rex will bite for 5-40 before you can whittle down its HP to 0 and drop it. In GURPS, especially in GURPS DF, it'll be "okay, eye shot, I take it right to -5xHP." Also, if I wanted dinos, there are cheap plastic dino toys all over the place. If the pack expands, though, it's possible it may fill out with things I must have. So anyway, that makes it less likely I want or need this.

The core set - which will run me $110 with shipping, rounded up - is a great deal, though. And you can buy straight in for individual pieces if you want. I already have plans for the minis from mine!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Games notes from Sunday's DF Felltower session

We played our 91st game session in the current DF game on Sunday.

Here are some random notes:

- The cleaned up Grease spell in the DFRPG is very much like my cleaned-up Grease spell. I approve.

- equally, the improved Very Rapid Healing is a tempting buy for a barbarian nowadays.

- I still prefer ST checks over CP-based systems for dealing with spells like Glue or to hold on to something. It's just easier. Perhaps a smoothed CP-based system could work, but it'll add a step that "Okay, ST Contest!" just doesn't need.

- It's starting to get tricky to keep track of who touched what hand of what color in what room, in what combination.

- I really should have put the Raiders statue in a location with a giant rolling boulder. Or had a French-accented wizard accompanied by horde pygmies with blowguns come and try and take it back. Oh well, can't think of all of them.

- I'm down to d20 rumors most sessions. It's hard to keep a fresh, useful pool of rumors ready for a d30 with the relatively limited delving going on. There just isn't a lot to chat about.

- Mo finally, as of the end of the session, got 30 HP. It's been a slog, since he's been improving ST at the maximum rate he can, not improving HP alone. His one-shot kill potential is getting better now that he's at ST 22 with Striking ST 2. One more point of ST - probably two sessions from now - and he's got 5d-1 swing as a base. This is good because even a combat-oriented barbarian is a second rate combatant next to a knight that's over 150 points his better. Being a bruiser enough to really smash stuff helps.

- The PCs only found one treasure the whole trip, and it was really significant. Like I've said before - the deeper you go, the more risk but the more reward. Oversized slug beasts, wandering patrols, lethal reeks, death brains, gibbering mounds of chaos, etc. and glue-and-grease traps with harmful spells set to go off on a touch, strange runes, doors that bite, etc. - nevermind gates and gate guards and puzzles - but one treasure is $20K. Go deeper, and it'll potentially be more so. It's the logic of the game, and the game world reflects that.

- I can be pretty harsh on "we copy down the symbols." My example is when I've copied down Hangul from the supermarket and showed someone who speaks Korean and they say, "I can't read that." It's worse because I don't even know what I'm copying. Or when I write kanji in Japanese and it's not clear what I'm actually writing to the person written to because the stroke order is wrong and minor errors creep in to make it all unclear. And I speak, read, and write that language. So, Artist rolls to copy down symbols. You can't always take a rubbing. And by the way, taking a rubbing means you need paper equal in size to the writing . . . tough when I make giant doors covered in symbols. This is on purpose, it's supposed to be tricky to sage-source or crowd-source your strange runes and whatnot.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

DF Felltower, Session 91, Felltower 64 - Endless Room & Colored Doors

August 27th, 2017

Weather: Clear, cool, sunny.

Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (337 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (340 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (494 points)
     Raska, human laborer (62 points)
     Veronico, human archer (125 points)

We started in town. The PCs gathered some rumors, stocked up on gear, and purchased potions and spellstones. They also recruited a couple of hirelings and found Raggi. The grabbed their bridge, a lot of rope, and headed to the castle.

They made it up, with Hjalmarr touching the statue of Sterick's axe and saying, "I'll find you soon." Heh.

They climbed into the castle without difficulty, and headed to an area long-ago explored because there was a note about a red six-fingered hand in it. They headed right to the "apartment complex" and sent Vryce in past the defenses at a run. He got zapped with lightning, limmed with black fire, and shrugged off freezing damage before he was safe. But could the others pass? Probably not.

So Vryce moved into the complex while the others went around to a secret door. They found and accessed the first one, but once inside an adjacent corridor they couldn't open the doors they found. They did find a spy hole, and used that to talk to Vryce. Vryce touched the red hand, and then went back around and met him as he sprinted past the defenses again, taking more damage for his trouble. This took a while out of game, but that's all that happened.

They headed down to the depths to explore more. On the way, though, they got turned around and ended up by an old area. One door was wedged shut with a strong, thick wedge that basically shut the door fast. They were curious so they unwedged it, since clearly no one would wedge something other than treasure behind a door, right?

Turns out it was a room with a least a few reeks in it. They fled, but Mo stayed to spike the door shut. Without the wedge, the door wasn't sealed enough, so the reeks soaked out beneath the door. One grabbed his leg and flowed up it.

He fled back to the group and Hjalmarr hacked it off, hurting them both. He slew it, but not before it sizzled off a lot of Mo's skin and left it sensitive (-2 DR).

Mo tossed a pair of alchemist's fire grenades at the door to seal it off and roast one reek (he's not sure if that worked) and they headed down to the next level. They quickly made it to the giant staircase.

Once down the giant staircase, which Vryce can now open, they tried to touch the floor to see if the painted staircase would extend down. It didn't, despite a rumor to the contrary.

They headed into the level they'd been delving in recently, and moved into new territory.

They quickly found a heavy door, and opened it up, and then a corridor lined with painted-on symbols they couldn't read (and Ike's attempts to copy them came out rubbish, thanks to a terrible Artist default roll.) It also had clouds and stylized bird images. At the end of the hallway was another door. That was forced open. Beyond it the air smelled of fresh, clean air. There was a long wide ledge sticking out into an oval, perhaps egg-shaped, room that extended to the sides, ahead, and down. Floating 9 or 10 feet off the floor was a glowing blue disk - a gate. Something whisked by just out of view, sending a breeze their way. They closed the door, assuming it was an air elemental. They marked this as "air gate" and moved on.

They head bare feet slapping on the floor nearby, so Mo put on some Dark Vision Salve (from Magic Items, from the DFRPG, purchased in town). He couldn't see the source, but he did keep an eye out and ensure nothing snuck up on them.

The other direction found them a mosaic-lined extended octagonal of a room. The mosaics were in reds, blacks, greys, and purples. They depicted two-dimensional non-perspectived images of cone-hatted humanoids worshipping, making offerings, and sacrificing to six-fingered taller cone-hatted figures. Two panels stuck out - one on the right wall, in the middle, showing sacrifices to two six-fingered types.

On the left wall, the panel in the middle showed books and scrolls picked out in grey with black letters. Most of it was just random, lorem ipsum-like nonsense. But a scroll above human eye level read "Whose will do you submit to?" in Common. Hjalmarr tried touching it, and found the letters depressed as individual letters. A chime went off, clear and low, right after a clunk. They tried to "type" in combinations once it was clear every letter was represented at least 3-4 times on the panel. All they did was set off more chimes.

More of this lead to a slugbeast of unusually large size coming after them down the wall. They fled to new territory, passing a small room midway down a long passageway. They eventually reached a side passage full of intersections leading to doors, and a T end with a bricked-up passage to the side with two missing bricks and a door to the left. They took the door.

Beyond it was a large room. How large? They marched for several minutes, and it was huge - hundreds of feet. They kept going and going. Long story short, they eventually gave up and walked back to the door - and it only took a few steps.

Intrigued, they tried several directions - all the same. They tried tossing lightstones and walking after them - tossing worked, but walking back always took far less time than they'd spent walking away from the door.

They spend tens of minutes trying chalk marks, tying rope onto people (it would tense, but drop limp as soon as the person took a step or five and ended back up at the door), and otherwise trying to figure this out.

Eventually, though, something else came at them from the fast distance of the room, closing very, very rapidly. It was a very human-looking brain on four crab-like legs - a Death Brain! It zapped several of them in turn, starting with Mo, inflicting direct brain harm and Fright Checks. One sent Raggi berserk. He charged. They fought it in the distorted room, with ranges being strange, movement away from the door taking many steps and towards the door very few, and sideways an unpredictable amount. The death brain was quick and agile, and avoided most of their attacks.
Mo tried throwing an axe where he thought it would be, and missed. Finally, though, Raggi caught up to it and critically hit it, cutting it down. It leaked clear fluid, and they hacked off its legs to keep and its brain was bashed up to see if it was normal brain material. It seemed so.

After several more minutes of testing and checking, yet another monster appeared in the distance, but closed very rapidly - a gibbering mouther. They got the first hint of it as it moved in and spat at Hjalmarr, disintegrating a chunk of his shield with a gob of corrosive spit. It swarmed in, gibbering away and confusing (dazing) Raggi and Ike repeatedly. It zoomed in and bit at Mo, taking a chunk out of his hand and dodging his counterstrike with easy. It bit at Raggi and tore great chunks out of him. It dodged arrows and slingstones, and stunned poor Ike as he tried to get a Sunbolt going, causing him to (harmlessly) zap himself. Eventually Raggi cut it, slicing it deeply but then crippling his own arm on the thing's critical Dodge. But it was wounded enough that it exploded, sending razor-sharp armor-piercing teeth out as shrapnel.

Raggi and Mo were badly wounded, and needed healing. They got it, and the group left the room, annoyed they couldn't figure it out.

Not wanting to leave empty-handed, they explored a side corridor and found they all ended in noteworthy doors. One had a black door with silver-plate-edged iron bindings. They forced it open and found a slate-grey room with a glowing blue rune on the wall. Fearing a teleport trap, they backed off.

The next door was a green demon face with squinted eyes and a keyhole in the mouth. Hjalmarr tried that, and it tried to bite him. He narrowly dodged it. Mo cut the door with his demonhunter machete but to no avail. So they moved on.

They found more - a red stone door and a blue-painted wood one.

They forced the red stone door and in the corner of the room beyond was a small golden statue of a moai on a grey stone pedestal. They contrived a plan that basically worked out to "Vryce runs in, swaps in a stone for the statue ala Indiana Jones, and runs back out."

This failed.

The statue turned out to be magically Glued to the pedestal, and the floor was instantly covered with Grease and the statue with Glue and the pedestal cast Dehydrate over and over, once per second. Vryce was badly hurt the first time (I rolled a 3 on the spell). He instantly realized he was in trouble - stuck to the statue, unable to get his feet so he could break free. They'd tied a rope to him and Mo hauled him back. This worked, overcoming the Glue spell with ST, but unfortunately the statue stayed stuck to the pedestal.

Vryce argued for leaving, that it was clearly a trap and thus wasn't going to be real treasure.

Mo argued to try again, that it was clearly real treasure because it was trapped.

Hjalmarr sided with Mo. They tried again, this time with Mo going in and Hjalmarr and Vryce pulling. This time it worked - Mo was hurt, but he could keep his grip and they pulled, and his grip exceeded the strength of the spell keeping the statue on the pedestal.

They got the statue out. It was about 5 pounds, and seemed to be gold.

It was getting late, but they decided to risk one more door - the blue one. They couldn't force it, though, and decided to return to the surface.

They eventually did so, first going up via the spiral stairs and metal trap door and then retrieving their bridge.

They made it back to town, not bothered any further.

In town, the statue turned out to be a gold alloy, hollow, and worth 20,000 sp ($20K) for its gold and design. They pocketed $5K each, which Mo immediately spent to commission his morninstar to be enchanted with Puissance +1. That's where we ended.


Quotes of the game:

"Haven't you ever dungeoned before?" - Mo (right before the reeks)
"We should have known better." - Vryce (right after the reeks)

Very fighter-heavy group today. Vryce recruited an archer and a laborer so they could cover ranged better and have someone to haul digging tools in case they were needed. Vryce's player also runs Gerry the necromancer, but until he arrived at game we thought it was only two people playing so he figured on Vryce. Gerry's character sheet was elsewhere, so it was easier to just run Vryce anyway. It did lead to a ST-heavy, moderate-Per (best Per was 12), low-knowledge skill group. Still, it worked out okay.

The NPCs got their names because I needed to name an archer, so Mo's player said, "Archie." I said, "No, Veronica - now we're talking." Then it become Veronico, which sounds like a masculine form of the name. Raska was Roscoe, until someone mis-pronounced it and I decided Raska sounded like a great fantasy name. And Veronico Raska sounds like a Scott Lynch character name.

The gibbering mouther has different powers than the original D&D monster. I should just rename it, honestly, as it is look-and-feel but with very significant changes. The death brain is a mini I had, plus a name I'd been meaning to stat up. They're not terribly nasty but they aren't pleasant, and could be lethal in numbers.

That was one of my more mean spell combos - statue glued to pedestal, pedestal casts horrible spells on folks touching the statue, floored gets Greased so you can't get stable to break free or pry off the statue. And yes, feet on the pedestal would work, but then you'd get your feet glued to the pedestal and hit with spells then. I'd originally planned on Deathtouch but I decided I over-use that one, and something resistable would be more dramatic. It was.

I commented that it's a lot of fun to watch people solve problems without spells. Mostly because with spells it becomes combining spells, parsing sentences, discussing costs and timing of casting, etc. Without them, it's ingenuity with known tools.

Hasdrubul's player couldn't make it, thanks to a prior engagement, but he did provide a quote I think we need to use - "I'd rather be in Felltower." Well, who wouldn't?

XP was 5 each, as $5K apiece was enough for everyone's loot threshold and they explored several new areas.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Origins of the +4 to hit the hex - found

The other day I asked about the origins of the +4 to hit a hex.

No one chimed in with the answer, but now I'm back at my office and can check myself. It's exactly where I thought it was from.

The earliest reference I could find was in GURPS Fantasy (subtitle - Magic System and Game World) for 1st edition GURPS. Or maybe for 2nd edition - I had 1st edition, and I got this and used it with 1st edition. It was published in 1986.

Under the spell Explosive Fireball, it says:

"Can be thrown at a wall, spot of floor, etc. (at +4 to hit) to catch foes in the blast."

- GURPS Fantasy, p. 20

That is carried forward to GURPS Magic, 1st edition, and eventually got clarified to mean a single hex. So, why is it +4 to hit a one-yard hex? Expansion from this "spot of floor, etc." from 1986.

Generally I ignore this for direct-fire, non-lobbed attacks. I just don't see why a 3' circle is a +4 to hit, especially when monsters that are 2 wide by 1 tall aren't even +4 to it. Either way, this seems to be the earliest reference.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Quick Equipment Kits notes - from Pyramid 1/06

Yesterday the latest Pyramid came out, featuring an article by me.

Let me just get this right out of the way - loadouts are time-consuming to write. I expected to knock this off in a day or two, writing in my "spare" time between blocks of work. It turned out to take much, much longer.

As an article, it's physically long for its total wordcount. That's thanks to tables, layout (lists, not paragraphs), and formatting. It's why this article is in this issue, and not the one before - it's not small even if the wordcount is rather so.

As a writer, it's a tough way to earn a dollar. There is a lot of text re-use. There is a lot of page flipping, formatting, math, double-checking to ensure the math works, and double-checking consistency with the existing material. That's after you've made decisions about what needs to go into a loadout, knowing full well many people will look at it and say, "This, but not that, or that, and this thing instead - this kit sucks!"

With that out of the way . . .

I wrote this one to deal with an issue I tend to have with buying gear:

- it takes up a chunk of time;

- people forget all sorts of useful gear because they haven't memorized the contents of the equipment lists;

- it takes time to add up the costs and weights;

- full-out loadouts are useful for initial loading out, but not for replenishment or piecemeal add-ons or upgrades.

I tried to account for all of these issues with kits. I'd seen such kits in the Rolemaster Companion and liked them then. So I wanted something like that for GURPS.

If I've done my job right, it should be easier to:

- grab-and-go kits for certain skills and needs;

- replenish ammunition (or stock up), complete with containers if necessary;

- stock up on food by the week or month;

- get an idea of what is an "upgrade" for a set of gear, and what is usually core.

Hopefully I've succeeded!

Although all of this is for the DFRPG, the contents should work just fine for the regular DF line, as well, although the page references are for Adventurers, not DF1: Adventurers.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Little things to love about the DFRPG

The DFRPG has a fair number of small rules clarifications, modifications to simplify, and changes that make for a potentially better GURPS experience.

Berserk now specifically mentions Change Position as your required maneuver when knocked down; I run it that way myself now.

Signature Gear is now a 1-point advantage tacked on to a specific item. It is no longer 1 point per $500 of value (round up). Nor does it give you any money. It's just plot protection for an item. I like that a lot. It's not new top GURPS in the DFRPG, but it's new to the DF line and DFRPG sub-line.

Slam is a Move-modified ST-based attack. No longer do you need to calculate Speed & HP to get a number, but just use your listed damage.

It's clear when to use Speed to give an attacker a penalty to hit in combat. It's not often (AOD (Increased Dodge) and Move, pretty much) but it's clear when to use it.

Relative positive SM isn't a penalty for attacking; not that I ran it that way (it's hard enough being an SM+4 giant without taking a -4 to hit a human and a -5 or -6 to attack a small halfling). It's still a bonus for grappling. You get hosed on being hit, but you grapple better and don't have worse striking.

Overrun and Trample attacks are clearly spelled out, and who can use them is also clear. Yes, big monsters can just walk through you and get a free slam or whirl in a circle and tail-slam everyone. Don't stay too close to the Rancor.

Crippling Injuries get a handy table for typical delver-level HP.

Combat at Different Levels is simplified, and it's abundantly clear what the effects are. Fighting flying monsters sucks - +2 and -2 to defend, and if you're not the one flying you're not the one getting the plus.

Knockback damage - from being knocked into things - is listed. Ah, just like Champions.

Unliving, Homogeneous, and Diffuse Target damage is in a nice a nicer, easier format.

Weapons use the GURPS Low-Tech damage listings and added weapons. Since I'm the one that did those, I'm very pleased to see this made core for the DFRPG.

Group Skill Use is clearly spelled out.

So is Surprise, and how to use it in a dungeon.

Everything is figured. Well, more or less - you don't need to modify costs for power sources or limitations, add enhancements for special bonuses, etc. It's just as-written, no modifiers. So Turning, Healing, modified Wild Talents for spellcasters, etc. are just as-is traits to take. Less figuring = faster chargen.

There is more, of course, but those are some highlights I found that might show you why we're swapping Basic Set for Exploits for our long-running DF game.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

DFRPG and DF Felltower

So how will the DFRPG affect GURPS Felltower?


Templates are easy. I'll let players use either/or. Pick either a DF1 bard or a DFRPG bard and make that. Pick a DF1 barbarian or a Denizens barbarian or a DFRPG barbarian. It's fine. And so on.

Armor is a very tricky topic.

I had players ask if we'd be using the new armor rules.

The problem is that as written, the rules don't cover SM +1. That's easy enough - apply the rules from DF1 for that. But they also make SM -1 the same as SM 0. Okay, fine for our goblin thief. But we've got a SM -2 halfling. Not only that, but he's optimized around a customized layered set of Faerie-made Dwarven Plate to get himself as much DR as possible. He's got a lot (I want to say DR 8 or 9) and it weighs practically nothing thanks to his size.

If we use the rules from the DFRPG, we need to:

- make up rules for SM -2 that work with the SM -1 ruling (no effect on armor cost/weight) where the original rules make SM -1 armor lighter and thinner.

- port over the rules for Faerie Gear.

- deal with "don't nerf my guy" issues from the player affected.

So in other words, we may not be able to use the armor rules because we've got an existing character who adds complexity to them and who will be negatively affected by using them.

Bummer, because I like them just fine and once GCA files get made, it would be easier to just use them straight-up.

It may be possible to grandfather in the existing suits, but then we still need rules for new suits of SM -2 armor. I'll see if I can either come up with some I like, or someone else does.

As an aside, I had one player ask to use them simply because armor is more expensive, so therefore any orcs killed will have better loot potential. I was pretty disappointed by this as a reason. It feels meta-gamey in a bad way, like asking for sword prices to be increased because PCs buy them so infrequently but sell them as loot frequently.

Nevermind it wouldn't likely be true - I'd simply deploy more orc minis with mostly non-metal armor if armor was expensive (no generic orc warriors with $4000 in armor, just because that armor used to be $400). Plus, I'd be more likely to simply use the stats I wrote down already instead of revising them to give the orcs less encumbrance from armor, different armor to reflect a more logical cost structure (again, they don't suddenly became richer in gear despite the logic of the gameworld because the game rules changed the value), etc. I'd just use them as-written, with as-written value of the gear. They'd have crude, heavy mail and notably light leather armor. Must be magic or orc manufacturing techniques or something. You can see this as me not wanting to hand out loot, or being stingy, or vindictive even . . . but it's a combination of laziness and a strong dislike of "I voted against this because I don't want the bad guys to be able to do it!" The latter is almost never true.* I don't let players take deadly eye beams, but that doesn't mean Eyes of Death don't have them.

Weapons are as listed in this book. We use them that way anyway.

Races are still limited to the ones I normally use.

Power-Ups available on the base template here will be available on a starting guy from other books as well; ones not listed but which are in DF11, Denizens, etc. are available as usual (in other words, case-by-case but mostly yes.)


This is a no-brainer. This is now our basic rules set for DF. I will add a house rules list to cover materials we've added, and a list of books that add on to this (like all of DF16, for example). So Committed Attack, Defensive Attack, Prediction Shots, Ranged Feints, normal Fright Checks (because it's funny when Vic's guys fail their rolls), no critical hit table rolls, improved parries for balanced two-handed weapons, the Close Combat technique and parrying/striking in close combat, and Technical Grappling-based grapples will go on that "list."

We've already been using some of this - the slam rules, for example, have been working in play this way since I saw the first draft of the book. I found them easy in play, enough so we could skip our house rule of always using max-move slam damage.

I will expect players to reference this, not Basic Set or GURPS Martial Arts, for in-play rules. I will expect my players to read it, too, although I'm sure that's not actually going to happen for all of them. The more that do the better the game will run.

That said, pages 1-70, and 95-end are required, 71-94 are useful reads.


We will use this as our basic magic book.

The problem is that we have a lot of spells in play that have been house-ruled and others not in Spells. No matter. I'll start to make a list of them and compile them. The rule will be:

House Rules document (aka DF Felltower Revised Spells)->Spells->GURPS Magic

Still not ideal, but we've got existing characters with existing spells I want to keep in the game.

I've had players complain about reading a spell, then I say it was house ruled, then they have to look it up, etc. My solution is this:

- spells from Spells are left alone.
- spells that are house-ruled are marked with a * (and I'll mark them in my printout of the PDF, too)
- spells that are unchanged from and are written up in GURPS Magic are marked with a !

And as we go, I'll expand our "Spells Plus" document with existing, non-house ruled spell text as well. Eventually we should end up with just two documents - Spells, and an Everything Else document.

In any case, the players will need to look at and read the basic rules for spells (pages 1-14, and the back cover.) They will also need to read their spells in this book, and in the house rules, to ensure they know what they do "now." In most cases it's not different (and in some cases, the new rules match our house rules, like how See Secrets works) but you need to make sure.

Magic Items

We've already been using these. They are the law of the land in my DF game, with exceptions made for pre-existing items. No permanent items off the list in Adventurers is available for purchase. Consumables listed in Adventurers are generally available, as are spellstones and scrolls in the usual way.


All of these monsters will be added to the mix. Where I have existing monster stats I like better - my orcs, some of my dragons, my gargoyles, etc. - I will use those. Where I like them both I'll use them both in some fashion (different dragon types, different breeds of ogres, whatever.)

I expect my players will read these, which is fine. I ran AD&D for years with guys with the monster stats memorized. It's useful but doesn't help you hit them any more often.

The other books don't require any comments. They'll be used as needed, as written.

* I once had a game where they players strongly rejected some advantages and spells because "we don't want them used against us." I used them against the players anyway - the vote was, should PCs have access to ____, not should ____ exist in the game world. Just because you can't be a demonic weapon master with telepotation doesn't mean there are no demons, weapon masters, or teleport abilities. In DF, especially, the logic is escalating threat with escalating loot against escalating PC power; trying to adjust rules to nerf the threat is explicitly running counter to the logic of the game itself.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Brief Review

Here is a brief look at the PDFs from the DFRPG boxed set.

Adventurers - The one-book character generation part of the boxed set. All a player needs to make up a paper man to play as.

Template layouts are greatly simplified and clarified compared to those in DF1. Material that used to be spread across Basic Set, DF1, DF11, a couple of Pyramid articles, and the Denizens books has been pulled together into one place. Not all of it, but a good core of what you need to play.

Nicely, several of the templates have been simplified (the Bard, for example) to make them easier to use. Others have been revised to make them more effective in their niche (like the Martial Artist) or to make them play more like how people want them to be (the Barbarian.) No PCs are SM +1, so you don't have to worry about oversized gear.

Speaking of gear, the weapons are a solid mix of those from Basic Set and Low-Tech, complete with the suggested changes to combat stats that came with Low-Tech. Armor is based on Low-Tech, but where LT was more of an armor design system you've got a per-location picklist with cost, weight, DR, etc. Armor is generally heavier for non-metal armor, lighter for metal, and the costs are cheaper for non-metal and very much higher for metal.

Exploits - The one-book replacement for Basic Set: Campaigns and DF2 (and bits of DF16, to a much lesser extent.)

It's very heavily page-referenced and written up with DF in mind. Cases that would mostly affect DF are written directly into the relevant rules - such as Invisibility into vision penalties for combat, flight into Retreat, and so on.

A lot of little things are simplified - slams use your ST-based thrust damage with a modifier for speed, combat at different heights is a three-case scenario (no difference, small difference, large difference/flying), etc. None of this makes it incompatible with GURPS 4th edition as a whole, it just has the detail dial to a fuzzier, coarser level.

For my money, this is the most useful book in the boxed set - all the GURPS rules you need for DF, written solely with DF in mind, often simplified where that is beneficial, with nothing extra you need to ignore.

Spells - A one-book replacement for GURPS Magic and a Pyramid article clearing up the rules written up in DF1.

A lot of spells are gone, because they involve long explanations and/or extra rules. No Zombie spell, for example. Create Servant is gone, and if you've seen my game play you can probably guess why it might be seen as abusive. Not a lot of summoning except for animals. But the writeups are clear and use the DF prerequisite trees. And the spells are in alphabetical order within their colleges. A pain for a read-through to see what spells are basic and which are advanced, but a huge benefit for the rest of your gaming life when you want to quickly find them.

Nicely spells have had effects revised where previous versions were vague - Stench works a lot clearer than in previous books, for example. Smoke no longer creates opaque tear gas but rather has its effects spelled out in the description. It's just an easier book to use than "look in GURPS Magic, and in Pyramid, and check DF1 to make sure nothing is changed."

Magic Items - no comment here, I wrote most of this with a bunch of additional material by Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch. I will say I like his parts of the book better than my parts, but I'm pretty sure I say that about every book we've ever worked on together.

Traps - The traps are wordy but clear. A lot of them feel like they owe Grimtooth the Troll some thanks. But overall they range from fairly petty traps to lethal ones, all fully compatible with DF and its assumptions. It's a fun book and even players reading it won't save them from all of the traps.

Dungeons - I won't comment on the contents of Dungeon 1 and 2, but I will say they are:

- complete

- well-written

- ready to go

Which is something GURPS Dungeon Fantasy has needed for a while. We've had all of one adventure out there. A good one, but just the one. I'm terrible at writing adventures for other people to run, so this is something I'd like to see more of to get people able to jump right into GURPS.

I can't evaluate the GM's Screen and Cardboard Heroes based on PDFs; we'll see how they are once I have them in usable form.

Next time, I'll post about how I think we'll use this in my ongoing GURPS campaign.

Friday, August 18, 2017


Warehouse 23 is having one of their occasional 23% off sales on physical goods and PDFs.

Full details of the sale are available, but these are some highlights:

GURPS PDFs 23% off

GURPS physical products 23% off

Munchkin 10% off

And there is an $84.90 Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game pre-order bundle with a GM screen and a boxed set.

If you'd like to support GURPS, and this blog and blogger in specific, purchasing any of the GURPS items I've written or co-written would be appreciated.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game PDFs released to backers

I woke up this morning to find copies of some of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG PDFs in my inbox. They've been pre-released to backers.

I received the boxed set contents and the GM's screen contents. No sign of the add-ons - Magic Items, Traps, and Dungeon 2. I hear that some backers got those, so perhaps mine are a bit late. Either that or I screwed up the pledge process - it's remarkably hard to go back and check what I actually ask for from SJG.

I can't wait to hear what my players think of the rules; they'll recognize some of them as we've be using some of them since I first saw them very early in the review process (slams, some of the spell changes, etc.)

And Iron Llama put up some comments, too.

Origins of the +4 to target a hex?

I don't have access to my pre-4th edition GURPS books right now. But I was thinking about the +4 to target a hex with an area-effect weapon such as a grenade or an explosive spell.

I think it originated in either GURPS Fantasy (for 1st edition GURPS) or GURPS Magic (for 2nd/3rd edition GURPS, the one with the dueling magicians on the cover.) But I can't check from where I am.

Can anyone reading this take a look and see where it originated?

Monday, August 14, 2017

More Bones IV thinking

More thinking about the Bones IV Kickstarter and what I'm getting and not getting.

Gauth - probably trade block / sale block. We'll see. But I don't really need another giant dragon.

Nagendra - nice snakemen. I'm glad to have them. The snakewoman, though, eh. Put breasts on a snake to make it a female? Snake-bodied medusa/gorgons have the same issue, but still, for some reason it doesn't bother me there. The rest are very cool, though.

Ape Attack - Like I need more ape-men. Hahah. They are welcome to join my eight metal Jason Weibe apes and my Hackmaster "ape shaman." These are welcome. I can always use more apes, even as they become more and more fodder to my higher-powered delvers in my game. Plus I like to paint apes.

Tree of Despair - amusing, but what would I do with it? Deploy a tree over and over in my games? Contrive a situation where there is a big tree on my tabletop with vultures and a victim on it and pay $12 plus shipping and painting time to use it?

I am 100% certain one of my players, maybe two of them, are thinking, "HELL YES!" to this question. But it's not going to happen. This is a useful wargame centerpiece, skirmish game objective, or diorama piece. It's a one-time use as a RPG gaming piece in my game, and then really only if we need to have tactical combat in and around it. Even then, I know my group - there is a 100% chance they'll say, "Let's not go back to that tree" and that'll be the end of it. It's like one of those very distinct character minis except more so. At least with a big dragon it can be the same dragon a few times, or be quickly re-painted into a different one. Generic monsters can be more of the same kind of monster. A big tree with victims? Better as a home-made terrain piece or a home-made counter, just to avoid the whole build, paint, and store aspect of this thing.

Dreadmere - cool, mood-inspiring minis. So far, I'll pass. Too many personalities I'd be able to use once, not enough repeat use for my $50. A boat and a raft and a cart are nice, but I can (and have) made them out of square or round toothpicks and parts from other games. This would make a great support pack for a "Dreadmere" adventure path or base play area for a series of adventures, though.

Living Statues - male and females of these. Both are cool. The price is nice and low for what you get. Still, they are very big, and I don't know how often I'd need Ancient Greece-themed figures - especially since I'd have them in Feb/March of 2019.

Chibi Delvers - I don't need or want these. But I'm happy to get them, and I like that it's dependent on Twitter and Facebook shares to unlock them. Nice idea. If I used the platforms they're asking for support on, I'd do so just to help out those people who really like these guys.

The various giants, bonus demons, etc. fall into the same boat. Cool, price is fine, by the time I'd get them I'm not sure I'd need them. Plus giants are kind of a pain for me to paint and store. Many of the others I just wouldn't use - cute baby dragons, dice monsters, skeletal animals. The trolls are tempting, but four trolls and a fanged dog for $12 - probably not. I might just get one or two of those trolls when they eventually come out. I do have a big pile of Bones, Legendary Encounters, and TSR trolls already. And that giant demon - way, way too big for me!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sandboxes & XP

John Arendt aka Beedo asked about flat-rate XP and sandboxes. I have opinions on this, because of the game I run and the game I play and a game I have played.

Here are three ways sandboxes can handle XP - by rewarding in-game action, purely flat-rate, and by story advancement/goal accomplishment.

Dungeon Fantasy: Felltower is a limited sandbox, and runs with goal-oriented experience. The system has gone through three iterations, but essentially, the reward are for loot (primarily), exploration (secondarily), and miscellaneous goals (avoiding death, finding special reward areas, etc.)

Since rewards are based on actions, especially loot, the game is very loot-driven. PCs make decisions that might be unwise from a long-term sandbox for per-session XP reward reasons. For example, the PCs have demolished several potential allies (even former allies) to get loot from them to reach their loot threshold and gain XP. They've allied with clear enemies to their own long-term detriment because it promised loot now.

Gamma Terra is a limited sandbox, and runs with flat experience. We get 5 xp per session, every session, no matter how much or how little we do.

We also get a random bonus every five sessions played, ranging in value from 2 points to as much as 20. So a reader might assume that skews things. But it's random, it's based on attendance not actions, and it doesn't skew anything except attendance.

Essentially, though, getting flat XP per session means we do what the situation demands. We didn't get XP for negotiating with the badders. We didn't XP for fighting them, earlier. We could have talked to the Iron Men instead of defeating them. We could have turned on the Triumvirate instead of allying with them.

The fact that XP is not tied to in-game actions means we don't take any in-game actions in order to earn XP. XP is totally divorced from our actions so we take actions we feel fit our goals in the sandbox.

The Known Worlds/Blood Dogs campaign featured story-based XP. As the PCs made progress by accomplishing in-game goals - clearing areas, finishing off story arcs, etc.* As the PCs finished what was essentially an area-based series of activities, they earned XP. Loot, slaying monsters, negotiation with potential enemies or allies, etc. weren't individually rewarded. Getting the group - the Blood Dogs - closer to their goal of defeating the evil wizard they'd unleashed and made central to the game was rewarded as they dealt with a block of linked issues. Plus I gave a small, minimal reward to players that attended each session to bulk out the rewards. But the largest percentage came from the story-arc rewards.'

Because of this, the PCs didn't worry about money except as they wanted or needed it. They didn't fight monsters except as they were obstacles. They didn't make friends or enemies except as they felt they needed to (and in the latter case, by their actions.)

Overall I think a sandbox works just fine with flat rewards. If you reward in-game actions, you get in-game actions centered on earning those rewards. A sandbox in an old-style D&D game will involve PCs aiming for loot. One in a later D&D game with most XP coming from monsters means they'll focus on slaying. A sandbox in a GURPS game with purely flat XP rewards means the PCs will just do what they feel like doing (or feel they need to do.) But it's totally doable do any of those three. My recently played and run games have been sandboxes, and the method of XP reward has affected how the players interact with the sandbox.

They all work, but they all give a different feel to play.

* I've said this before, but it bears repeating - "story-based" doesn't mean railroad, and doesn't mean a GM-centered story. The PCs essentially drove the plot with their actions, but it was the plot that determined their rewards.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why I don't sweat long-term fatigue issues in my game

One reason I don't really fret the generous fatigue point (FP) rules in GURPS is personal experience.

At the moment I'm doing some MMA training in Japan, as well as visiting old friends - the experience blends, as almost all of my Japanese friends are my MMA training buddies from living here and past visits. I do this routine of doing every single class while I'm in town, travelling to friendly associated gyms and training there, hunting down old friends and the toughest-seeming new guys to train with. I push nonstop, make some Carousing rolls in between, and sleep little thanks to an early dawn and early rising neighbors where I stay.

This isn't the first time I've done this. My record is training the same day I got off the plane, and then training 12 days out of 14 (two Sundays messed that up) including at least one extra mid-day class. Going hard 4-5 days in a row on minimal sleep (5-6 hours, not my usual 7-8) while jet-lagged and doing almost every round of training isn't that hard. I'd do all of the rounds but sometimes partner switching means you really can't or lack of mat space means waiting. And I'm always here when it's brutally hot and humid except when there is a typhoon. Plus my carefully arranged diet goes out the window in favor of randomly selected foods and travel-ready portions.

It's a pace that burns the candle at both ends but generally gets bracketed by a short break before (albeit with travel stress) and a long one after. Not a big deal if you don't do it every single day for a long time.

The individual bouts of combative training and fine, too - I generally feel like I've got as much power at the end as the beginning.

Anyway, this informs my opinion on whether I should enforce long-term fatigue penalties or more strict FP recovery issues in my GURPS games.

My DF game is a case in point. Megadungeon delving is a lot like this in my campaign. The PCs are off for a while. Then they gear up and do a half to a full day off walking, fighting, sneaking, healing, running, dragging, climbing, searching, etc. with only snatches of rest here and there to make up for FP spent in battles or movement. And once FP are back, they're back - no Last Gasp or Long-Term Fatigue rules wanted, needed, or used. After a day of this, the PCs take their haul back to town, sell it off, and presumably get some rest before doing whatever they do in Stericksburg that pays for most of their upkeep.

Even the overland isn't that bad - travel for a few days by boat (Cold Fens) or by foot (Lost City of D'Abo), spend a day or two trashing the "dungeon," then repeat. You might be tired when you get there but not enough to really bother anything.

The fact that no one took Light Sleeper helps, too - no one is literally asking for points in return for special issues with travel and fighting and lack of sleep thrown together.

There is nothing wrong - and a lot right - with the rules I referenced above. They just aren't appropriate in my game.

I don't like to generalize from only my personal experience. But I do find that my personal experience provides a nice explanation for why the delvers in my game aren't slammed for many delves in a short time or intense delves in general. And why I don't fret cumulative effects of hard combat beyond that caused by direct injury. Here is where the generous rules do match my experience with doing this in the relatively short term - intense effort is possible even when tired, especially combative effort. Penalizing the PCs for it doesn't seem that fun, and would run counter to something I've done personally. So yeah, thanks to my own "vacation" plans ("Let's full-contact spar for 9 out of 10 3-minute rounds with 15 second breaks!") I don't worry about the PC's fatigue issues ("Let's kill orcs for 12 seconds and then hang out for 15 minutes resting and looting, then fight again in two hours.")

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A little more on player buy-in

The other day I wrote about rules weight and player buy-in.

A few more thoughts.

Rules weight isn't purely determined by how well you know them.

It's a strong factor, though. A simple-ish game with rules you don't know well will play slow and require rules lookups and run clumsily. A complex game you know by heart will play as fast as the game can and run smoothly. The latter will always run more slowly than the former, assuming equal rules knowledge.

You need player buy in for complex rules.

Just as a practical matter, if you use complex rules or ones with large decision trees (say, full-on GURPS tactical combat), players need to learn some of them. Even if they can just use plain language to explain what they want to do, someone needs to turn that into in-game decisions.

If you don't get sufficient buy-in, the game will grind to a slow crawl. There will be slowdowns for sure, possibly arguments, lots of "I didn't know you could do that!" and even more "it doesn't work like that" even when it does because of half-understand rules derived from past examples.

Someone has to know the rules. It helps if someone equals everyone.

As much as I don't really mind "just tell me what to roll," it's offloading rules knowledge onto others. And if you want to do complex things, or have choice be up to you, it doesn't work as well.

In other words, if you're just saying, "I chop that guy with my sword! I rolled a 13, what happens?" then "just tell me what to roll" works well enough. Once you go to "I want to chop that guy with my sword. What should I aim for? Should I step back after? Can I pivot after to face this guy? What, is there a tricky way to get better odds? What are my chances of hitting?" etc. then you're just making other people do the nitty-gritty of knowing the rules. They need to present your options like a menu so you can choose.

A corollary to this would be that you probably shouldn't complain as a player when you suffer for not knowing things you choose not to spend time learning. After all, you're putting it on someone else to know it for you.

Know your group.

If your group has lots of people willing to put in time learning the rules, you can add more rules with less consequence. If your group does not, or has players whose PCs will directly be impacted by those rules but who do not like to learn rules, it's probably going to have negative consequences. Know if your group does better with more rules layered on top. Even a very good rules addition is a negative if sufficient players don't understand it (or want to!)

So, anyway, I think my idea is this:

- rules complexity is a factor in rules weight.

- player buy-in is required to make rules weight light enough to play well.

- lack of player rules knowledge is more of a problem the more rules you use and options within those rules.

All of this probably comes off as a little rant-y, which isn't my intention. It's just a thought about how to choose how many rules and how much complexity you want. It's got to reflect the investment the players put back into the game.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rules Weight & Player Buy-In

I've found that the more rules depth you use, the more your players need to buy into and learn those rules.

It's not the rules system, it's the depth and number of rules. I've played many games, most heavily GURPS, 1st edition AD&D, and Rolemaster. I can't say that any of those is really more rules heavy than the others. GURPS has a lot but they're mechanically more similar to each other and generally are modifiers and special cases. AD&D is a mess of different systems and special cases and a mix of those two. Rolemaster is just heavy on rules lookups, even if the system is remarkably simple (roll high, open-ended, add modifiers, consult a table). Anyway, that is a tangent.

But the more rules we enforced in play, the more players needed to know those rules.

Basically rules have weight, multiplied by the number of players, and that weight is divided amongst the players who know the rules. The fewer that know them, and the more rules, the more the game is slowed by rules adjudication issues.

You could say:

Rules Weight = Rules Used x Number of Players / Players who Know The Rules

A good example of this is my DF game. It's rules-medium.

It's not rules-heavy, as we've tossed many special cases and optional rules out of the window. We only use rules if they fit the specific challenges of the game. Damage to items, special grappling rules, special rules for combat, hundreds of magical spells, etc. are all in. Many other rules are out.

Even so, it requires a lot of player buy-in to learn the rules. We get this to a varying extent, from people relying on memories of previous play to those meticulously looking up the rules. The less people learn the rules, the slower the game plays. People need to deal with combat modifiers, defense and offense rules changes, spell lookups, effects of stats and skill levels on effects of spells and rolls, etc. Since we don't get 100% buy-in on learning everything, it slows things down.*

On the other hand, GURPS Gamma Terra aka 20th Homeland aka Gamma World+ (it's Gamma World, don't doubt that for a second) is rules-light.

Our character sheets, one equipment list, and one handout page covers all of our skills and abilities, stuff we can buy with XP, our campaign details, combat rules from range bands to ROF, etc. Maybe once a session we need to consult rules about setting things on fire or Aim bonuses or shooting from Prone. That's it. This has low player rules knowledge requires. Nothing is really slow, because there isn't anything to look up and very little to consider. Similarity between PCs means we can tell each other the required rolls.

My old GURPS game was more rules-heavy, and needed even more buy-in. You needed to invest more time in learning how the rules worked just to offload the responsibility of knowing them from the GM and other players. Someone had to know the rules if you didn't.

So whenever I think about rules weight and adding or subtracting rules, I do it with this idea that the players need to put some work in. If they're not going to do it, even a mechanically superior and campaign-superior rule is going to subtract more than it adds.

* We're hoping a switch to the DFRPG rules set with a single house rules handout for add-ons will help this. I expect so, but it won't be perfect. Players will still need to read the rules set to make the play speed as fast as it could be!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

DF Felltower - Special Thanks Goes To . . .

I'm away, so no Felltower today, but I generally have a game summary or a Felltower post up on Sunday, and it's Sunday.

This is more of a special thanks post.

A megadungeon game is a combination of the new and the iterative. You find new stuff, you deal with old stuff again and again. With a rotating cast of players, 70+ sessions in the dungeon, 90+ sessions of play, hundreds of encounters, six plus years of play, and many hundreds of rumors, it's hard to keep track of everything. Some things the vets know but the newer guys don't, and vice-versa, and not all of that matches or is in fact remotely accurate. Too much is the telephone game in a knowledge-sparse setting.

I try to help by tracking some bits for the players:

- I write game summaries. They're entertaining for readers, but they're really reference documents for actual play. That's probably why they are entertaining, actually.

- I track the monsters encountered.

- I keep track of all of the rumors heard and keep an updated copy.

- I keep updated character sheets for everyone. Well, not their equipment (too fluid) but their stats and spells.

But tying it all together? Not my job. Partly that's laziness (I won't do it) and partly that's specific game approach choice (it's a player-facing challenge, not a character or GM facing challenge.)

One of our players, though, has taken it upon himself to start to tie things together. Vic, who joined our group after discovering us online and overcoming our fear of getting axe-murdered by some random internet stranger, has started to pull everything together.

He has been:

- redrawing maps into single maps, taking the pieces drawn separately (like parts of one level accessed by different approaches), parts accidentally mapped twice, and parts just fading with age, and redrawing them.

- reading the game summaries again and again to check them against the maps and make lists of what was mysterious, not taken advantage of, or what really has been done.

- tracking the rumors himself to compare to events in the current and past sessions.

For all of this I gave his PC a bonus point in Cartography, but it's paid off in-game a couple times for the players. He insisted on checking some rooms for treasure that everyone assumed the vets had looted (they hadn't), pushed to solve the statue puzzle (and found a Ring of Pro, er, Death, for his trouble), pushed to check a staircase that a mapping error had indicated went somewhere thoroughly explored and instead lead to a key to the Giant Freaking Staircase, and has generated a few leads on treasures never followed up on.

I'm not sure if he'd planning on doing this for the Cold Fens, Caves of Chaos, and Lost City of D'Abo as well. I hope so. They're all tied together in one interlocking campaign. The PCs went from stuck, feeling like they'd dead-ended, into having more to do than they can possibly finish in a year of gaming. That probably makes him MVP in a campaign sense at the moment. So, thanks for that Vic.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Bones IV Kickstarter thoughts

As I mentioned the other day, I got in on the Bones IV Kickstarter.

There does not seem to be such an overwhelming number of character minis in this one, especially in the core set. That's good for me as mostly those aren't useful. They tend to be very much unique, heavy on detail, action-posed, and otherwise distinctive. They end up being time-consuming to paint and useful once at the table as a foe.

It's interesting that they put a big dragon in the core set. They are usually $15 add-ons. I had that one - Gauth - in metal and sold the kit because it was clearly never getting painted. With the dragons I have now, do I need another big one? One of my players would say "Yes!" but my players also strenuously avoid dragons ("There is a big dragon in the Cold Fens!" "Let's not waste time getting sidetracked exploring that place." "Okay, there is one in Felltower!" "We're not ready for that one, let's avoid it until we're all powerful enough." Etc.)

I like the knights a lot, and I like the inclusion of more monster types, even those odd minitaurs. And more goblins are welcome.

The Chronoscope add-on pack is very cool, but I only could really use 4-5 of them. One of those I already have in metal. So I think I'll pass.

The trolls add-on is tempting. I do like trolls and I do have several now. But I may not need those guys.

The "High Rollers" dice-people would make good silly versions of Modrons. But I could equally just have the PCs in my game fight deleted for spoiler reasons instead.

All in all, I think my $100 pledge is going to probably stay right there. A solid core set, nothing to add-on yet, and a few tradeable figures already (thanks for the kobolds and townsfolk, but they can go away when they arrive.)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bones IV

I was online for line 30 minutes, total, in the past 30 hours or so. 15 of them were around 1 pm, so I was able to jump in on the first wave of Bones 4. I haven't even looked to see what I'd be getting. I just figured, get in wave one and then decide what I actually want.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Intermittent Posting Warning

I generally post every day. However, I'm going on a trip so I it's possible I will be posting less. No worries, I'll be settled back down by the end of the month and posting regularly - and gaming regularly - again.

Jeff Rients on Not Giving Up

I love this post by Jeff Rients:

Don't give up. Don't beg for mercy. Bargain!

Go read it.


Good stuff, eh?

I approve, although in my own games I'd expect a lot more willingness to trade one kind of suffering for another - "Could I have had time to Dodge and Drop for a +3?" or "If I let go of the chest of loot I was carrying, my encumbrance would go down and I'd just have made it - can we say I did that?"

I do want to spare your guy.

But I equally want you to have the consequences of your own actions.

You can't get out of failure by trading in argument ("I should be able to Dodge and Drop and have been Waiting for anyone to jump out at me and hold onto all of my weapons when I fell.") Trade in things of actual value.

My only quibble with it is his suggestion of sacrificing magic items. I play with a lot of group-minded groups. I guess it's different when you are running a 'FLAILSNAILS' game where people bring PCs in from another game. In a fantasy game with access to resurrection and revivification and regeneration of lost limbs, and with a loyal party of delvers (in the meta, run by your friends), dying is temporary but loss of stuff is permanent. So you're less likely to say, "Couldn't my magic sword have snapped but saved me?" because you could come back with that blade if others survive. And if you're too poor to get brought back, your next guy or your friend's guy can use that blade.

We don't act that way in Gamma Terra, though, our Post-Apoc game. I suspect our GM would find a way to let us revivify our PCs, possibly with some "minor defects" (lost abilities) due to "minor inaccuracies in the process." But we're not sure, and I know for me I'd rather be naked in the radiated wilderness than dead and I'd give up all of my stuff to make that trade.

But given Raise Dead, trading off your cool amulet or your magic sword or whatever to live isn't a trade I see a lot of people making.


I have also dealt with the same kind of students as he has, as a teacher and as family of teachers. I always want to say that the time to beg, bargain, and claw for a better score was the whole semester. Remember that, delvers. The best way to avoid, "What can I do here to get out of dying?" is to have taken appropriate risk and appropriate care along the way. Be prepared, read your Players Handbook p. 107-109, and if your game has a luck stat or a Luck advantage (like mine does), save it for when you really need it.
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