Saturday, October 22, 2016

Drilling out Slimer

So I have this "Slimy Ghost" one of my players purchased for me:

I'm actually working on him, and he should be a very easy paintjob - especially since my Will-o-Wisp glow-in-the-dark coating paint works so well.

The problem is, he has no space for a base - no slot, hole, or gap.

I'm not sure how the heck he's supposed to do anything except get painted and then sit there on the table rolled on his side because he can't balance anything like you'd hope.

I've been working on drilling a hole but it's tough. I have a pin drill, but I'm thinking I might need to get out the electric drill and put a real hole in him. I have a clear "flying" base to match . . .

Anyone try using a standard (in other words, low-voltage) electric drill to base-mount minis? I'd love to know this will work before I, I don't know, burn out my drill or trash a mini.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Tabletop Props for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy

The other day, Benjamin asked me about my tabletop props. And over on The Collaborative Gamer the is a great post about tabletop props that goes way beyond the materials I use.

But do use some props with regularity.

General Materials

GM Screen

I can't show a picture of it, but I use pieces of various D&D screens with GURPS charts tacked or taped or clipped to it. Yes, I roll behind the screen. No, I'm not fudging. Yes, I'm rolling sometimes just to fool you into thinking I'm randomly determining something. No, I don't care if you think that's fair or not. I'm the GM, not the dice, or the players, or anyone else. And a GM screen helps me leave stuff where I can easily see it without stealing the mystery of "what did he get out of the minis box?" or "How many more Doomchildren are there?" or "Why is he just drawing pictures on his notepad when I hit the monster for 25 damage? Is that a bad sign?"


Not a tabletop prop. But it's critical. The actual game is run off of a laptop I bought, basically, for the express purpose of running GCA and Word and keeping a huge tab run of PDFs open at the same time. I record all of the player's XP and skills and stats in GCA, and it's kept me sane. Even as it drives me crazy when it does weird stuff thanks to legacy issues and code that couldn't keep 100% up with 4e, nevermind my house rules. Still, a useful tool.


d6s by the score.
Polyhedral dice - d12s, d20s, and my d30 - for rolling on the rumor table.
d10s to record 10-second spell durations - Great Haste being the key one.

The Battle Map

Chessex Maps

As reviewed here. One stays on the table the whole time.

Cardboard Heroes: Dungeon Floors

I've got a few copies of these I've backed with cardboard and use for pre-made rooms.

Not-LEGO blocks

If you've seen any of my gaming pictures, there are always these grey LEGO look-alikes. Some company that a friend of a friend worked for made them. They discontinued the blocks, and he rescued some from the path to the rubbish bin. Someone used them for an art project and I kept the remainder.

They're . . . not as good as Lego blocks. They don't stick smoothly or come apart easily. They're a little finicky. But they are free and I have lots of them. I can pre-make walls and stick them together and put them down on the Chessex mat to create the battlefield.

If they have downsides, they are these:

- walls expand. Put down two walls to make a corridor, and over the course of a battle, it's pretty certain players moving the walls just a little bit to accommodate their mini's base will leave it where it was nudged. Then, it'll get nudged again. Eventually, someone will want to move into that so-called "half-hex" and move the wall to fit their mini. By a few turns into a battle in a tight 3 yard wide corridor it usually gets to be about 4 yards wide.

- they fall over. You need to base them with a wider base, but still, they're prone to getting knocked over.

- they're too tempting. 100% of my game sessions have involved me threatening violence to people who take the pre-made wall sections I've made apart and then building things out of them. Then, I suddenly need a wall, and I have to stop for a minute or two and take apart the tower, boat, weird modern art sculpture, dice holder, pencil cup, whatever that was made out of my walls. Since they're a little sticky and come apart only with effort, this actually defeats the purpose of pre-made walls and slows things down. This alone has led to the expanded use of Cardboard Heroes walls.


My players pitched in a got me a set of Dwarven Forge doors. Also, I traded for some Mantic and other doors as well. I think I have doors covered.


I have hundreds of painted minis. Enough said.

Furniture, Etc.

I also have some plastic furniture. This doesn't see too much use, but I do use them.

I also use or have used:

- plastic palm trees from some pirate battle game set by Pressman.

- snowy walls from a Christmas snow-scene setup.

- craft store models of all kinds, especially if they are durable and cheap. Or at least cheap.

- Cardboard bird houses for huts.

- actual rocks and stones as rocks and stones.

- sticks as tree limbs and logs.

- champagne corks as giant mushrooms.

- counters from various games (Cry Havoc, Battlesystem, GW's cardboard sheets, etc.) to represent terrain.

I probably left a lot off, but I believe in a prop-heavy game. I could play without them, but I sure as can be have more fun with them. I'd take pictures, but you can just scroll through my sessions and see all of this in action . . .

Thursday, October 20, 2016

GURPS Freebies

So GURPS Lite is free. I've got a link to it on the side of my blog. What else is out there that is free for GURPS?

Official products, I mean, not just fan-created material.

Here is the complete list:

GURPS free stuff at Warehouse23

I'd like to highlight some especially good or broadly useful ones.

Caravan to Ein Arris - and excellent GURPS starter adventure. It's wonderful for introducing new players to GURPS, and I've used it to introduce new players to RPGs in general. Yet it's not without some interesting depth for a group that pushes roleplaying and fights and physical challenges for groups that prefer those. It works very well one-GM one-player, too.

GURPS 4th Edition Combat Cards - also a great item for new players - printable cards with the various Maneuvers you can select from.

GURPS Martial Arts Techniques Cheat Sheet - GURPS Martial Arts has a lot of techniques. This is an at-a-glance listing of them.

GURPS Range Ruler - something we actually keep handy at my table as a tiny short-range-only Size and Speed/Range Table substitute.

Floor Plans 2: The Great Salt Flats - varying sizes of hexes and squares. Including, naturally, the 1" hexes GURPS uses. Technically not a GURPS item, but very useful for it.

That isn't a complete list - I mean you can get GURPS Lite in Korean so you can finally play with GURPS Martial Arts in Korean* But these are ones I've used in the past, use now, or just find nice to have in general.

* Results not actually likely.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Jason Sholtis's Kickstarter

Jason "The Dungeon Dozen" Sholtis has a Kickstarter for his campaign world:

I've linked to Jason's blog many times, and I've raved about his hardcover collection of the blog's contents.

I'm going to back this Kickstarter. I have a great deal of belief in Jason's ability to deliver on this. It's just a question of PDF versus hardcover, and how much I have in the gaming budget* to play with when the times comes.

Check this one out, even if only to marvel at the artwork and remind yourself why all those 1d12 tables are so fun to read.

* Which is pretty much the money I earn from gaming. I like to silo my income and expenditures that way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

FP and my DF game

As one of my players noted on a prior post, I do tend to forget to assess FP costs to the PCs. As a result, the only real costs are:

- FP from fatigue-based attacks

- FP costs from repeated Muscling Through attempts

- supernatural power costs (spells, Chi powers)

- costs imposed by supernatural powers (Great Haste cast on you by another).

Many of those come back quickly - 2 minutes or 5 minutes is pretty typical (the former for Recover Strength-20 and the latter for Fit.)

I rarely remember to enforce:

- FP costs after combat (per p. B426)

- Running (every 15 seconds)

- Hiking (hourly)

I could blame this on my players, but honestly, no one is motivated to remember bad stuff that applies temporarily, especially if they expect to get it back right away. And I'm supposed to be the one telling people the effects of their actions.

I decided the simple way to do this is three-fold:

1) Announce FP Costs Immediately. Like it says - when fights begin, I'll remind people that at the end of the battle they'll need to mark off FP equal to 1 + Encumbrance Level unless they manage to avoid making any attack or defense rolls.

I'm more likely to remember at the start, when I can pause the action, then after, when people are running to the bathroom, getting a drink, making plans, announcing who searches what and counting off healing spells and so on. If I announce it at the start of each fight, we're all more likely to remember.

2) Have a FP Assistant. I'm going to ask one player each session, one of the non-spellcasters, to remind everyone to knock off FP at the end of the fight. If that person wants to track everyone's FP, like they track treasure, etc., that's fine, but all I'm asking is to make sure everyone knows to knock off some FP.

3) Start Fights Down FP. Unless you've been doing nothing prior to the fight or only traveled a short distance and short time after a rest, I'm going to assume you are down the usual FP for hiking - FP equal to 1 + Encumbrance level.* That's how it should be, assuming the costs for hiking.

For most people, this won't be a big deal. For some, it might be an annoyance (i.e. casters who always assume they're at full FP and won't expend any after fights), but in general, it should be a workable approach.

We'll see how it goes in play. FP shouldn't be a freebie because the GM has too much going on to track it for everyone himself.

* Yes, even guys who Levitate to get around. You don't fall into pits, suffer from bad footing costs, auto-detect No Mana Zones (heh), have 3D movement, ignore tripwires, etc. but you aren't traveling effortlessly.

Monday, October 17, 2016

D&D in Prison, and GURPS

One of my gamers forwarded this to me - an article by a journalist/whistleblower, playing D&D from memory in prison.

I Am Fully Capable of Entertaining Myself in Prison for Decades If Need Be

See, I ran game for delinquents, but I didn't really go all the way with that concept.

Amusingly he played GURPS when he was not in prison, and ran into a fairly typical issue I hear about in web discussions of the game - knowing where to stop.

"My problem, as usual, was knowing where to stop. GURPS included rules for RPG staples like magic and psionic powers." and naturally, the logical end point: "And too many comparably awesome ideas were presenting themselves to me each day, such that I never was really able to decide whether to start designing my increasingly elaborate Nixon game or instead do something simpler where Teddy Roosevelt is hunting you for sport."

Yeah, lots of people apparently get paralysis from too much possibility with GURPS.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

DF Felltower - Stericksburg News 10/16

Stericksburg hasn't stood still. Some things have changed a bit.

Comments are Tavern Talk, Part II - the comments on last session's summary are a perfect example of why I say the comments on the blog are tavern talk.

This is also why I treat everything that happened in the dungeon as common knowledge. You can try to shape it ("I keep telling Larry that Hasdrubul was possessed when he electrocuted him."), you might not provide full details (maps, mostly), but you can't censor it. Partly this is for my own sanity - my last game had a lot of "we don't tell anyone anything, ever, unless we specifically agree to tell someone something," which meant the PCs never had outside rumors or help . . . but also never had consequences of sharing too much. That would be basically impossible in a pick-up game where you change out PCs, people around the world (literally) are reading and commenting on the game summaries, and new players join (like the ones running Kenner, Naida, Hjalmarr) and others drop out (Borriz, Chuck Morris, Bern) or can't play for a while (Galen). Sorting which PCs know what, and which NPCs know what, and how the PCs get ideas that some commentator thought up would be a nightmare. Better they come back to town and brag away and reap the benefits and consequences of that.

And the really secret private plans the PCs don't want to share? They do that by email. The publicly-stated stuff and delve results are exactly that.

Supercharged Power Items - supercharged power items are available. It came up on the rumor table*, so now it's out there. The usual rules & prices from DF18, p. 10 apply here. As it says in the book, this is effectively twice as much as buying Paut, but having a double-charged power item has all sorts of benefits that 4 FP per dose potions do not.

Volunteers & Hirelings Have Dried Up - the recent failures to get rich have dried up the enthusiasm for people joining up for tips. Those willing to work for shares (Orcish Bob, Melchior the Malevolent, others) are unwilling to risk death for no reward. And hirelings are less likely to sign up when Hadrubul "I'll kill you if it's convenient, or useful, or you're in my area of effect" Barca is the one hiring. So that's high risk (-), low reward (-), dangerous companions (-), and uncertainty of rescue if danger occurs (-). Those outweigh the previous net benefits of profitable runs (+), Vryce the Dragonslayer hiring (+), the Sense of Duty clearly shown by the group (+), and bonuses and extra rewards (+).

Once the PCs reverse those trends a bit, the NPCs will start to appear more. The PCs can still try to directly hire NPCs, but there is a penalty on the recruiting roll, so spending extra money on the search is advised. Otherwise you're most likely to get nothing, and more likely that the ones you find are rolling with a penalty on the Random Hireling Traits Table (DF15, p. 31), or they may or may not be as good as they claim, or it's one of Jason Sholtis's Useless or Half-Price Hirelings. At best. I have to stress - at best.

Cut-Rate Resurrection is Available - Dr. Nicholas - aka "Nick the Miracle Maker" - is in business. He's happy to bring you back from the dead. Cash only, sign this waiver form, don't forget results are not guaranteed. Motto, "Will you come back from the dead? You might, it's a free country." Only 5000 silver pieces. Tips welcome!

And that's what's going on in town.

* Which is rumors and random events, really.
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