Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tweaked Retribution spell for DF

During the Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter, Pee Kitty, aka the Assistant Line Editor for GURPS, put up a new spell for clerics, called Retribution. You can see it here:

New Spell: Retribution

You can see in the comments that I came down pretty hard on the idea of using it in my games. I can see a lot of potential abuses. And even making clear it's injury, not damage, that is reflected, it would still be extraordinarily useful against "glass cannon" type monsters (attacking kills themselves), those with Cosmic Ignores DR attacks (same), and especially against high-damage boss monsters (suddenly, they are vulnerable to being attacked and from attacking). The last one would have very strong negative effects on my game.

It took about five minutes after that went up for one of my players to say, "We need Brother Ike to learn this!" With two berserkers in the group, and some low-DR types and free access to zombies, skeletons, created servants, etc. this spell would be a fantastic benefit to the group. It's easy to learn (PI being so useful in and of itself that it's not an obstacle), cheap to cast and maintain (3/1, which is 2/0 with skill 15), combat-fast to cast (3 seconds, much like the offensive spells generally I see used and buffs like Great Haste) - all of which compound the concerns I had.

As I put it to my players:

"Would you guys fight The Lord of Spite without putting this on everyone? No, right? How about the orcs? Might not matter, but may as well? The dragon? The "behir"? Stirges? (low HP, always seem to cause damage to you guys)?

Equally, though, it would be a fantastic detriment to the group. People already seek to maximize their defenses at all costs, and then (and only then) increase offensive firepower. If there is a potential that striking foes who hang around clerics means you might take your injury back, you really are encouraged to ensure you can't reasonably hurt yourself on the first strike and then open up with the followups. Easiest way to do that is lower damage strikes and more HP in case you don't pull the blow enough.

And with two berserkers in the group, one of who regularly gets pasted for a lot of damage, this would be an automatic buff for them. And a repeated one - first guy striking the naked screaming guy hurts himself, and then 2-3 seconds later it happens again, and again.

So we said no to it.

One of my players liked it, but then it turned out he thought it was caster-only.

And that is a tweak I think I like.


As written, except the spell is caster-only.

. . . and, done. I might use that. In order to have this matter, the cleric has to get injured. Now, to paraphrase the wise man Malak, "It's bad luck to kill an evil high priest." It's spending 1 character point you can use elsewhere and accepting a -1 to your other castings to make sure if your cleric gets hit the attacker will take injury if you do.

If that's too restrictive, you can limit it a bit less:

- only subjects with Power Investiture or Holiness. (Clerics can shield other clerics and Holy Warriors)

- only living subjects. (No zombies, no doors, no Created Warriors)

- only living, willing subjects. (No orcs forced into your service, no rats)

- Only those with a specific subset of disadvantages that apply to your Holy Might powers (Must have one of, say, Honestly, Disciplines of Faith, Sense of Duty (Co-Religionists), etc.)

Or you can tweak any of the costs and duration and time to cast:

- Cost: 3/2.

- Time to Cast: 5 seconds.

- Duration: 10 seconds.

Me, I like caster-only. Evil clerics can be tricky to attack because, hey, the demons and Chaos Gods and Elder Things they serve might smite you back. Hitting the good cleric might be the last thing anyone does (and the good cleric baring his chest to the vampire might be faith in his god's Retribution, not self-sacrifice.) Then it's a cool spell, not the automatic buff for berserkers and the source of "what can we get the dragon to breathe on so it kills itself?" tactics.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Dungeon Fantasy RPG review is up

Still on the fence about the Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter?

My review of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG is up on Bell of Lost Souls:

All You Need in One Box

Last day of the DF Kickstarter

Not much to say except, this is the last chance to get in on the Kickstarter. Please take a look:

If not, remember that any GURPS purchase through Warehouse23 before the end of the Kickstarter will also contribute to the stretch goals.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thoughts on the Bless spell

My last campaign was full of these kind of comments:

"Don't forget the +1 for your Bless."
"Does my +1 for Bless count that?"
"Oh, wait, my Bless might have fired off last turn to stop that."
"Can I use Luck before my Bless takes effect?"

So when we started up Dungeon Fantasy back in 2011, I said, flat-out, we're not using Bless. You can't learn the spell, and NPCs won't cast it for you or on you.

Curse, I left alone. It's a thematically appropriate spell, it's an unresistable penalty for messing with evil high priests, and it's going great roleplaying possibilities. PCs with Curse on them make some very interesting in-play decisions. So Curse is gold as is.

Bless, though, I do kind of miss having having a bless-like effect.

I ended up giving a boon in my DF game - a one-shot use of Luck that the player could choose to activate whenever they wanted to.

It's tempting to allow that as a spell:


You gain the Luck advantage for one use; once used, the spell ends. This does not take an action, it's purely a meta-benefit. This can be lost through your own actions if the GM determines you've been acting evil. Non-good, non-holy, non-believing subjects may cause the spell to automatically fail. At PI 5, you can keep a boon on up to five subjects. At PI 6, you can keep a boon on up to 10 subjects. You can only have one Boon on you at any given time.

Duration: Until activated.
Cost: 20
Time to Cast: 20 minutes.
Prerequisites: Power Investiture 5.

I'm not sure I'll allow it, but it's tempting to do so. The "Boon Limits" means you probably can't march in and make a donation and get one cast on you - this is a serious and limited power only for the top-end clerics. Those that have it might be willing to put it on you for a big donation, but then again, maybe they won't - random wandering adventurers without a lot of pull in the church probably won't get it when the local bishop has others more worthy to get it. You could potentially resolve this with the Reaction Roll Table - if you get Very Good or better, the NPC cleric is willing to do it for you. Cost would probably be a sizeable donation - call it $400, like a magic item price - even so, unless you could make a case for it being free and needed (Excellent or better, say).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

DF Kickstarter - Final 3 Days

So if you guys haven't been following the Powered by GURPS DF RPG Kickstarter:

1) It's funded, so it's coming.

2) If you pledge at the $50 level, you'll get:

- the boxed set (a complete RPG in and of itself, complete with five books, counters, maps, counter bases);

- as of the time I write this three PDFs;

- and Shipping has been knocked down $10 off the estimate, which means it's around $5 shipping in the US, and there are EU and Australia-friendly solutions for people overseas.

3)If you pledge at the $250 level, you get a huge amount of stuff - the boxed set, GM screen, extra bases, PDFs of everything - literally everything - in the DF line, a Pyramid subscription, PDFs of the boxed set, some Pyramid magazines dedicated to DF, a bundled PDF of all the smaller DF related Pyramid magazine articles (including some of mine), and all of the Cardboard Heroes sets (the original 1-10). Here is a graphic showing the current level:

4) There is even a $550 version of the "I Want it All" level that comes with a private game session at GenCon. You can play with Dr. Kromm! I'd be tempted to do this - I've never actually had Sean Punch GM a session for me. Played a couple together, sat in on one of his game sessions, but not GM a play I played. Yet. I'll vouch for this, though - the game session I sat in on was a lot of fun. He's an excellent GM.

Please take a look, and join in the GURPS-powered fun of dungeon delving. No, it's not D&D, but if the abstraction of other combat systems is starting to make you wonder what a different system could do, or you're needing a switch from picking your class and dealing with levels, or you just want a change a pace from those, GURPS is a good system to look at. And this boxed set is a complete game, not a starter set, and all you need to play.

Plus, you'll finally understand all of my session summary commentary. That's priceless.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Revised GURPS Magic: Entombment

The party's druid just learned Entombment. You know, also known as Forlorn Encystment from the Dying Earth books.

This spell was much-used as a utility spell in my previous campaign, which featured three of the same players in my current group of regulars. In a dungeon setting, some of these are probably fine:

- storing chests

- storing prisoners

- caching treasure

- temporarily stopping someone from dying

Some really aren't:

- using it to pass through intervening earth (think, cavern 40' down, spell puts your 50' down into open air and you drop down, no Suspended Animation because the cyst doesn't form)

- if that fails, use it to test depth.

- using it to get rid of doors ("We'll Entomb the door!" - not that this came up)

So here is what I'm planning on:

As written, except replace the second sentence with this paragraph:

The subject remains in Suspended Animation (as per Magic, p. 94), in a tiny spherical chamber up to 50 feet underground. If open space exists where the subject would be encysted, the chamber will be 40' down; if that is also open, it will be 30' down, and so on. At least 10' of earth or stone must be beneath the subject or the spell fails automatically. The caster cannot determine how deep the subject was entombed. The subject remains there until rescued by tunneling or the reverse of this spell. Inanimate objects resist with their HT (usually 12) or the better of the DR or HP of any attachments (chains, hinges, etc.); some objects may not be separable from their attachments and are treated as part of the larger object (you can't Entomb parts of a wall.)

Otherwise works as listed.

I was tempted to make it "animate only" much like most attack spells are, effectively. But if people really want to Entomb corpses and chests, they can. The only doors vulnerable to this are going to be too weak to resist cheaper and more effective attacks. I still might, if my players prefer it.

I'll also rule that it only works if you're within a yard of the ground. A few inches of Levitate wouldn't do to make you immune - you need to be up at least a yard.

I also took pains to make it clear that staying awake is a cast-on-self only option. Also, it's worth reading Suspended Animation before you start making assumptions about what that means you can do with it. It's not Suspend Time . . .

For more revised spells for DF, see my appropriately-named Revised GURPS Magic for DF page.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pictures from DF Session 80

So we're up to 80 sessions, I didn't really pay attention. Twenty more before the century mark of sessions. Not bad for "let's play until we get bored."

andi jones took some pictures last session. Another one my players did, too, but it didn't seem so trivial to link pics off of his Instagram, but here is one of them.

A few notes on these:

- you can see me marking smoke with custom area effect markers made by andi. Also, the poisonous gas, marked with plain area effect markers.

- another andi contribution, tiny rubber bands mark minis by color or act as status effect markets. $1.29 or something for hundreds of them. Generally on NPCs I can mark Axeman (White) or Golem (Purple) on my notes and keep them straight. For PCs we use them to mark "dropped weapon" or "stunned" or whatever.

- I use some GW terrain counters to mark the center, and edging, of the Pollen Cloud spell.

- Never underestimate the value of actual rocks for representing shattered golems. Or representing rocks.

I don't think there are any pictures of the first fight, but here are three of the second and a special appearance pic at the bottom.

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