Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What non-combat skills do they bring to the DF table? (Cleric, Druid, Scout)

Here are even more reflections on the non-combat skills DF templates bring to the table. These are based on my experiences in my game; your own experience may vary!


Possibly the most useful non-combat skill you bring to the table is Exorcism. With it you can clear cursed areas, banish evil spirits, and otherwise purge areas of evil. It's not fast or easy, but it's a potentially mission-critical skill. Without it, all you did was kill some temple guards or demons and steal some loot - the root of the evil is still there. With Exorcism you have a chance to finish the job.

Not healing? No, that's basically a combat ability. That you also have post-combat slower healing skills (First Aid, Surgery) and optionally abilities (Healing) is extremely helpful, but it's basically a "recover from combat" ability. Most of your skills support healing or Exorcism.

Besides those, it's really a question of your skill picks. Panhandling to beg for money, Savoir-Faire (High Society) for dealing with bigwig quest givers, Research and Writing for finding things out before your delve or writing up what happened afterward.


Excellent outdoors, the Druid really doesn't need a lot of text to explain its utility outside.

Inside, you're always limited by penalties to spells and skills focused on trees and plants and animals. The non-combat skills you do have mostly feed into the outdoors or the combat skills you have.

That said, even in a dungeon druids have solid Per (base 14) and FP (base 13), so you're good at spotting things and usefully sturdy as well. You also have access to Poisons and a weapons load that really pushes for their use.

Outdoors, you're golden. Indoors, try to leverage your Background skills as much as you can and be a useful spellcaster within the confines of your penalties.


Perception. Outdoor abilities. You are great at both of those. Your Per 14 is equal to that of the druid, but you're a bit faster and more oriented towards combat in case your scouting doesn't quite work out so well.

Beyond that, Tracking will help you find the lair of foes, especially if you are looking for the origin of wandering monsters or roving patrols. Cartography could help, but you're going to want two hands for a bow, not one for a shield with a lectern mount and one for a pen.

Out of your Background Skills, a few are especially useful in dungeons. Prospecting will help with all of that tunnel delving and spotting potential natural sources of treasure (ore), at least in my games. Seamanship will help in non-dungeon trips but Boating comes up more often than you'd like in megadungeons. Knot-Tying is useful for taking prisoners, and Swimming has saved a scout in my games.

Overall, your focus is ranged combat but you make a pretty good point man even in a group with a druid, and a good backup for a stealth-focused thief.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Expanded Realistic Injury in Pyramid

I forgot to mention this, but Pyramid 3/100 come out last week.

One of my articles is in it, expanding the Realistic Injury rules in GURPS Martial Arts.

You can lay this one at the feet of Shawn Fisher, who pretty much literally asked for more of this detail in an email after watching Ronda Rousey lose to Holms. Also, Steven Marsh, who leadingly asked, "Do you have an article that would fit in this issue?"

I pretty much just expanded on what you'll find in GURPS Martial Arts. The article includes breaking jaws, missing teeth, cauliflower ear, temporary disfigurement from injury, and so on. It also has some protective gear (mouth guards and ear flaps), rules for a variety of permanent impairments, and a simplified system if you like the concept but hate to look stuff up.

There is a lot more than just my article in there, but if you like mangled faces, disfigured ears, and long-term consequences to fighting, I've got a couple of pages in there for you.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hireling availability in Stericksburg

The PCs are flush with cash at the moment, so the usual questions have come up about purchases, availability, and so on.

But also, about hirelings. The PCs really need a few niches filled, and no one seems in any hurry to fill them. They have two thieves, but each is run by an intermittently attending player. They have three scouts, but one is a retired PC put aside by a current player, one run by an intermittently attending player, and one run by a player on long-term hiatus. Their only cleric is an NPC set at 50% of the points of Hjalmarr.

Out of the three, the current one wanted is a good archer, probably to shoot down orcs.

The best shot at getting one is deliberate recruiting, aimed at getting a 125-point archer based on the Archer template. I know the PCs would like someone better - 187 or 250 - as a full partner, but that's not really an option. The only NPC higher than 125 base points they've delved with has been Raggi, and he was rescued from a dungeon prison. Others were 125 and gained some experience in play - Orcish Bob ("I'm not an orc"), Melchior the Malevolent, Gort (okay, he wasn't worth nearly 125). Rescue from a dungeon seems to have been the big thing - that's probably what it would take to find a high-value guy.

I'll be busting out Where Did You Find This Guy? (Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen, p. 29) for this.

Finding an archer takes Leadership, although I'll give a default to other skills (Carousing makes sense, for example, as long as you don't mind a certain class of disadvantages being more common) and allowing complementary skill rolls for such skills instead of only Propaganda.

Stericksburg is large enough to rate a bonus for size, but canonically the hireling pool is small right now due to external wars. So it's a flat +0 for recruiting in the city.

Bribes, hired criers, purchased drinks, etc. will be as usual - $400 for +1, 10x per plus after that.

Bonuses for pay are possible, but since the standard is "Let's find this guy and then negotiate a cheap price" I'm assuming no bonus for promised (and delivered) higher pay. "You get a 1/2 share" is the same as promising standard pay, a full share would rate a bonus depending on how the NPC viewed it. I'd roll 1d-2 (-1 to +4) and use that. Yes, it's possible to get a -1, since you're promising $0 and that's often close to what the PCs have brought back, and potential recruits might be turned off by that.

Asking for Heroic Archer - which is possible on the Archer template, but rare - would rate a penalty of at least -2, probably -4 because of the points involved.

The bonuses I apply for dramatically overspending on upkeep would apply, too - after all, it's increased visibility thanks to eating out at better places, drinking better, staying at fancier dwellings, etc. etc.

And if the group chooses quantity over quality, they can get a fair number of 62-point types who can use a bow. It's easier simply because they ask for less pay, so you can ramp up their offered pay quite high without incurring a large overall cost.

Overall, that gives a reasonable shot at finding an NPC. One roll per downtime, with how we play, and a good excuse to burn money carousing and interviewing and otherwise trying to fill a hole in the group. They won't get a full-on scout, they can't without someone setting aside a PC and making one up, but they can potentially get a bow using support fighter. And that would be useful even with a PC Scout.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Minis Primed and Ready

. . . ready for paint, anyway. I got home early today and took advantage of the low-humidity, high-temperature weather to prime some minis.

Here is a collection of Hundred Years War era halberdiers, billmen (well, one), and voulge-wielding infantry, plus my barbarian chief and an old TSR barbarian retrofitted with a replacement Thunderbolt Minis axe:

This way if my PCs hire some pole arm carrying hirelings, I'm set.

Or if they fight more barbarians. I haven't had nearly enough hostile living barbarians in my DF game, yet.

Friday, February 17, 2017

More on Loren Wiseman

Thanks to Winchell Chung for linking to this:

Farewell to Loren Wiseman

It's a look at Loren Wiseman's writing, especially Traveller and GURPS Traveller but also mentions others like Twilight: 2000.

Dungeons & Dragons themed lego set idea

Over on LEGO's Ideas page, there is a neat project for a D&D-themed set. Trademarks filed off, of course:

That's pretty neat, and as someone who uses LEGO knock-offs to make walls, has a player who has made the PCs in LEGO just for grins, and who loves minis on the table, this is something I'd like to see. The only downside I can see to this is that my experience with LEGO on the table is that the moment something isn't actually in active use, at least one player will disassemble it and make something new. Have 3-4 spare lengths of wall? Now you have a tower! Have that carefully built intersection to plunk down? Not any more, it's a boat! Players just can't keep their hands off of them.

I actually blundered into this thanks to news alerts on my news feed, via an article in Popular Mechanics which is best summed up by the opening sentence:

"As a veteran Dungeon Master, I can tell you there are a lot of things that help a Dungeons & Dragons campaign come to life, like a compelling story, some fantasy mood music, and yes, sometimes costumes. "

Gah, no! Come on, guy, it's not compelling story, mood music, and costumes - it's not a love scene in a period romance movie. You want your game to come to life? You need friends, some dice, and imagination. That's it. And you don't even need the dice that badly. Gah. I hate to criticize how other people have fun, but geez, please don't make me cringe at the description of the games I play. Sigh.

And you don't need minis, but I love minis, and LEGO counts.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Loren Wiseman

SJGames tweeted some sad news - Loren Wiseman, long-time GURPS Traveller Line Editor (amongst many other credits), passed away yesterday.
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