Some miscellaneous stuff from my most recent game session.
Swimming - The swimming rolls were pretty harsh for most of the PCs.
One player argued after the fact, during a brief break (because then it was a rules discussion, not weaseling bonuses or complaining) that encumbrance penalties shouldn't count for rolls to hold your breath. I agree, and so does GURPS - but this wasn't holding your breath. It was getting your head above water. Taking a deep breath in preparation for holding takes a second and a Concentrate maneuver in GURPS, otherwise you go on what's in your lungs without any prep, which doesn't last as long.
The Swimming rolls are for keeping your head above water. Encumbrance - how strong you are relative to the weight you carry - is important, and most of the PCs were at Medium Encumbrance (so -4 to the roll) or Heavy (-6), and were defaulting swimming. I know people who figure swimming is an "everyman" skill - everyone can do it. But GURPS doesn't assume that, and neither do I - I took swimming lessons to learn. You can try to do it, but you're not as well off if you spent the time to learn it.
Still, these are very athletic guys, and even the NPCs had above-average stats by virtue of work or race.
So why did so many PCs and NPCs drown (well, drown and get torn up by killer fish)? Because they hit the water disoriented from a teleport and went under, laden down with gear, and never got their heads above water. Unable to do so, they couldn't concentrate to cast spells or do much else. Even if they could, several critically failed their Swimming roll and I ruled they swallowed water and lost even more FP and sank.
Is Swimming that hard? No. GURPS gives you a generous bonus for entering the water deliberately, and you can hand out nice bonuses for still waters and you don't roll until you are in water over your head in depth. That's why later the PCs could swim for another dock with (relative) ease - bonuses and less distractions.
Yes, you can vary the templates. I let my players know they could vary from the templates in DF1 a little bit. Not much - they can spend their 5 quirk points on basically anything, subject to my okay, even if it's not on the template. Also, I'm willing to allow changes that make sense within the template. So the Martial Artist doesn't have Polearm as a weapon choice, and doesn't list Gigantism as a choosable disadvantage. But a SM+1 martial artist with a giant horse cutter is awesome - Benkei awesome - so obviously I'm going to allow that.
That's not a lot of variation, but I feel like the pretty rigid adherence to templates has really added to my game by narrowing and focusing the PC's abilities.
And yes, everyone could add Swimming. You know, just in case.
A potion in hand . . . I was pretty generous in allowing a 1 in 6 chance of Nakar's potions floating up and within range. But what the heck, that's a 5 in 6 chance of nothing, and it felt fun. Plus, it moved the adventure along either way - they'd stop looking if they failed, they'd get moving if they did.
Amusingly Vryce's player saw his meager supply of potions and said "I have 17 gold [eagles, at 100 sp each), why don't I have more potions?" Yeah, the price seems high until you need them.
Mass Zombie change. The prereqs for Mass Zombie are Zombie and Charisma 2. Back in 3e, it was either Strong Will 2 or Charisma 2, but there is no more Strong Will advantage (just a Will stat). While my players suggested either Will 2 over base or minimum 17 Will for the spell, I decided that most prereqs are kind of pointless anyway. So I said just Zombie and either Magery 3 or Charisma 2. Done. The spell is expensive enough as it is, it takes a long time to cast, and its utility is limited (bodies can't be heaped to make it more efficient).
What's next? I'm still not sure what everyone will run - Nakar's player might run a wizard or cleric ("Same thing!" he says), not sure about Kullockh's player. I'm looking forward to seeing Chuck Morris and his horse cutter in action.
All in all, I'm really surprised anyone lived. Well, not that Raggi Ragnarsson, aka Red Raggi, aka Raggi the Indestructible, lived. That guy won't die, and didn't even when the party pretty much tried to let him die. I did say that if all the PCs died and Raggi was still alive, I was just going to rule that he survived and let him spread the word back in town. That would have been very amusing, not implausible (he just refuses to die), and let the players use their old knowledge with their new PCs without qualms about meta-gaming. Everyone said "of course he wouldn't die!"
Well, four of them didn't, and the group goes on. They'll need a new map, though - the copies all got wrecked, unless it turns out Honus has one, or they buy the early, inaccurate copy they sold out on the market for just this kind of backup.