Tuesday, March 31, 2015

DF Felltower/Cold Fens Explosive Fireballs idea

In my Felltower game, we've been mucking with explosive spells a lot.

This is to replace the really anemic explosive spells as they are written now:



"The target and anyone closer to the target than one yard takes full damage. Those further away divide damage by three times their distance in yards (round down)." (GURPS Magic, p. 75)

That works out to full damage in the center hex, 1/3 to the surrounding ring, 1/6 around that, 1/9 around that, 1/12 out to four, etc. So you get a damage-variable size, with pretty low damage results out past the center and the ring around it. Even an 18d Explosive Fireball doing max damage (108 points) does 36 damage, then 18, then 12, etc. Average damage is noticeably smaller, but still does 63, 21, 10.5, 7, etc. (and costs 36 base energy, so it should be good.)
A more reasonable 6d Explosive Fireball does 21, 7, 3.5, 2.33~, 1.75, etc.

I prefer a less variable area of effect, given that pretty much all GURPS spells are precisely sized. You don't throw a spell and then find out how big the effect was.

I also like fireballs that aren't a lot of expensive for potentially high damage to an impact/point blank target plus a high chance of almost no damage to moderately armored folks 1-2 yards away.

What we've been doing up to now has been -1d of damage per yard away. Potentially really big - an 18d spell is 35 yards across!

Another simple way to have decreasing damage but standard effects is this:

- All explosive spells expand to 1 yard (if 1d), 2 yards (2d), or 3 yards (3d+). (Preserves the variable size from 3e)
- Explosive spells do full damage in the center hex, 2/3 damage out to the surrounding hexes, 1/3 damage out to the hexes around that. (Preserves 3e size, keeps a single roll)

Still another would be to say:

- All explosive spells are 3 yards across.
- Divide damage as above (round down, min 1).

That makes all explosive spells a 3-area spell (1 hex, the 2 rings of hexes around it). Damage is one roll, and easier to calculate.

You could make these things even more effective, if you had no reduction in damage within their size. 6d? Does 6d to everyone in the area of the spell. That's pretty scary, and easy, but it cuts down the downside of 4e explosions (variable area) and reduces the utility of area attack spells (uniform damage over an area).


I kind of like the middle option. Single size (no tiny explosive fireballs), easy damage calcs. If Hannibal the Flammable throws a 5d explosive fireball and rolls 17 damage, he'll do 17, 11, 5 in the three rings of hexes. The max-damage 18d example above would do 108, 72, 36. Done. Average damage would be 63, 42, 21. Well worth the cost for the annihilation that probably brings (damage plus everything bursting into flame at that damage).

Easy enough. Quick thirds instead of 1/3, 1/6, 1/9, etc. No variable area that depends on rolls to see how big it is, which slows down combat a lot for little gain once foes have DR 3+.

Will we do this? I have no idea. But I am thinking about it. It wouldn't change any recent events, and it would make those 1d Explosive Fireballs Hannibal loves so much more potentially useful - now they'll hit a 15' diameter circle for at least a little damage) instead of nothing but the target. He might get lucky and do 2 damage to his target's neighbor's neighbors.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thanks Galoob! (Hoard of the Dragon Queen)

I just want to publicly thank one of my (relatively new) players. To make a long story short, he ended up with a free copy of Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Not needing a 5e adventure full of dragons, he gave it to me to mine for adventure ideas. Since he runs Galoob, presumably his whole story about legitimately getting it is merely cover for swiping it from some D&D-playing passing merchant in Stericksburg.



It's pretty nice looking. I'll give it a read, and yes, I promise to use any cool bits from it for the dragons in my own game! Thanks again!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

DF Game, Session 59, Cold Fens 2

March 29th, 2015
Weather: Cold, but clear.

Characters (in Swampsedge): (approximate net point total)

Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (270 points)
     Koric, human guard (~70 points)
     Orrie, human guard (~70 points)
El Murik, dwarven cleric (254 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (250 points)
Hannibal the Flammable, human wizard (254 points)
Rahtnar the Vegan, dwarven martial artist (254 points)

Still in town (Stericksburg or Swampsedge):

Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (265 points)
Bjorn Felmanson, human barbarian (250 points)
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (395 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (372 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (302 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (468 points)

We started with the group assembled in the "town" of Swampsedge, east of Stericksburg along the Silver River, where it disgorges into the Cold Fens, in the County Eorna. Further east of the Cold Fens - which stretch a couple hundred miles or so - is the troll-plagued city of Molotov. We added a pair of new PCs - Gerry the Necromancer and Galoob, who'd heard rumors of hot naked watery murder nymphs and had to come see for himself (he's got Lecherousness with a self-control roll of "Why would I roll a self-control roll?")

The group gathered rumors, including one about an old lizard man civilization centered on the Cold Fens that men destroyed centuries ago, rumors of swamp cows (which they decided meant hippos), that the swamp isn't so deep that you couldn't walk if you didn't mind wading, and to usual warnings about leaping leeches. Also, that you can't kill watery murder nymphs because they are made of water.

Hannibal also found those seashells were from nowhere near here - very old, and way out of place this far from a warm sea.

They purchased a lot more rations (the least anyone took was 6 days worth) and headed out using skiffs borrowed from the people whose skiffs they recovered last time.

They headed out, following the route OCW showed they last time, but not taking him this time. They made good progress, since they now had slightly faster boats, two skilled boatmen, and two people with Survival (Swampland) to support each other. So fresh water wasn't an issue (it's general not - it's not a fetid swamp), food was stocked up, and the boats moved pretty easily. Good rolls ensured few encounters, and a lot less stinging insects. They did see the usual bats and normal sized snakes and swimming rats, and fog shrouded large sections of the mangrove-like trees that tangle the waterways here.

One the second day, near dusk, they heard poling-like splashes and voices speaking Goblinese. So Galoob yelled to them, "Stay away, we're dangerous people here." Pretty much, that's what happened. They hushed, and the noises ceased. The PCs quietly poled away and found a good spot to camp, choosing Comfort and Concealment as their two camp location perks. But the critters the voices belong to figured out too closely where the PCs must be, and stalked them. The PCs had their skiffs tied side by side in a sheltered spot near a tangled "shore" of mud and roots and earth. They heard movement on foot and boat noises, so they split up - half moved "inland" to the edge of the trees, half stayed on the boats.

They quickly found they were being oh-so-slowly pinchered by hobgoblins. Ten came overland, and then a raft with five more came into view. Those on the raft had one in the back poling, two with crossbows mid-raft, and two crouching with shields in front.

A fight broke out when the infravision-having hobgoblins started to shoot at the PCs and advance. Rahtnar rushed out at them, and Hannibal used Rain of Fire to light drop flaming rain down on the battlefield ("As the Good God intended!") as Galoob moved to try to secure a flank (aka, hide while sneaking) and Rahtnar tossed an axe and then ran into melee. Gerry tossed a Skull Missile in here, too, nailing a crossbow-toting hobgoblin.

On the other side, El Murik used Sunbolt to zap incoming hobgoblins, who kept shooting at him with eerie accuracy (they kept rolling 7s, every time they fired at him) which led us to surmise that the Crossbow Bolt Guild has a thing against dwarves. Or at least El Murik. Asher waited behind the boats chest-deep in the water, while Korric and Orrie hunkered down waiting for melee. Much sniping went back and forth, with Al inflicting some injury. The raft was followed by a second, and they came into mid-range and then stayed there, sniping away as their shield bearers blocked for reloading crossbowmen. That was okay until Hannibal showed up and thew an ineffective Fireball and then used Rain of Fire on the rafts. That and some good hits by El and Gerry (who kept up a solid rain of Skull Missiles, thanks to Great Haste, and despite a critical failure leading to a skull biting his hand) kept them off balance until Hannibal set one raft alight with a 5d Explosive Fireball. The other escaped, but not unscathed.

They counted corpses and figured they trashed one raft and killed 14 hobgoblins (one of the ones from the landside attack never did turn up). They got a few weapons and some silver and copper as loot, and turned two hobgoblins that weren't decapitated or had their legs broken by Rahtnar into zombies.

After that, they headed to the temple. They reached it at nightfall, and chose to rest until morning. They did, worrying at the especially thick and active fog and twisted and nasty vegetation near the temple.

In the morning, they decided to scout around the island for another way in. Long story short, they moved in, dodged the watery nymphs (and took a pot-shot at one with a Sunbolt, and it dodged), and checked the trap door. The altar stone had been moved off, and broken with hammer blows into pieces too small to usefully block the entrance. (They decided it was impossible to do this from below, but I pointed out it was merely less-easy to do move it from below.)

Then they sent Galoob to climb up the back walls of the open-air temple. He did - he fell once, hurting his arm, but they healed him and sent him back up. He spent a good 90 minutes working his way a quarter mile in and up, over deeply tangled roots of twisted, leafless trees covered with dark, dead-looking but moist moss. And the rats. Lots of rats, who chittered and glared at him and seemed to follow him and cut off his retreat.

He finally made it to the highest point he could find and climbed a tree out of the mist. He saw the island trailed off to the south, even more tangled, and was steeply sided. No sign of another entrance. He headed back. It took much less time to get back, but the rats stalked him the whole way. Or maybe it was just his imagination. He came down via rope they'd tossed up to him earlier, and then later he was sent back up to collect some sticks for a fire and bring down the rope.

They made plans - either sit up on top and wait for the bandits to come out (since there was no other place to spot them from, they realized), or sit up on top and send a zombie to tap on the door and see if anyone came out another entrance to investigate. In the end, they decided to just attack the place, since all of the "find another way" or "wait for the bandits to raid again" plans required a lot more rations, time, and resources then they had. So they decided to move in and attack. They set a fire, used it to summon a fire elemental, and rested until they were ready. They plunked a coin in and it rattled down and the trap door opened.

This time, the room at the bottom of the stairs was empty - no table or chairs or wine. The double doors opened easily, and it was dark within. They sent their fire elemental ahead by "herself" (the mini is clearly female) until it illuminated a row of swordsmen back by archers. Hannibal told it to attack. It went with that, since Hannibal promised it flammable people to burn. Out so far ahead, though, it lasted only a few scant turns of sword-swings and arrows. It did stall the bandits for a few turns, though, and let the zombies go rushing in, followed by a Great Hasted Rahtnar. Some miscommunication kept El Murik from throwing a Sunbolt (everyone kept obscuring his line of visition) but Hannibal got off a fireball on the leader of the archers after Rahtnar unfortunately merely nicked the man's arm with an axe throw.

The rest of the group moved in a little slowly - all keeping centered or to the left. Eventually, as they kept tossing lightstones, they revealed the spearmen and halberdiers from last time off to the right, just as they came running in (Yay for silencing spells, at least yay for the bandits). And as Asher and then Gerry passed one of the doors, out stepped the plate-armored guy who attacked them while flying last time. He did All-Out Attack (Long) against the totally unsuspecting Gerry and run him through the vitals, dropping him immediately unconscious. Asher turned, and Koric stepped up and smacked the man in the body with the pick-head of his halberd, injuring him badly.

Meanwhile Rahtnar was carving a path through the swordsmen, one at a time, by crippling their feet. The zombies kept fighting, but one went down and then clambered to its feet only to be cut down once more. Hannibal used smoke to block the charging spearmen and halberdiers. Most of them made their resistance rolls vs. choking and ran right through, but one got hung up in the smoke and others had to veer around. He dealt with that by backing up quickly and trying to drop another smoke next to the first - but it failed. Pressed, he fell back into the entrance room and put a 2-area Fire Cloud (at max power, 5 damage/second) across that.

Meanwhile a small brawl was going on between the two NPC henchmen, the swordsman, and Asher. The swordsman slashed down Korric, but El Murik healed him and got him up. Without his halbered (still stuck in, and annoying the swordsman) he was forced to draw his knife. As he did, the spearman (driven away from Hannibal by his cloud spell) engaged them from behind. His buddy Orrie kept stabbing away at the swordsman, so he could retain his defenses. But in the end a solid hit put him down, leaving Asher backed by El Murik facing the swordsman and spearmen.

Two spearmen who'd gotten past the cloud found trouble - one is trying to hit Hannibal, who is good defensively with his staff, and the other ran through the cloud only to have a hidden Galoob smash an alchemist's fire directly on him and then stab him, too. He's doing the stop-drop-roll thing to little avail.

Situation? Archers retreating to shoot more, most of the swordsmen down with crippled feet, both zombies down (one was finally hacked apart by the halberdiers). Gerry is down, and unfortunately hurt by an attempted healing spell (but not dying, although he needed to make a death check). Korric and Orrie are down, one out. Asher is cut off. El Murik is facing a number of spearmen. Rahtnar is far away from help, and while he's good, he's down to his last turn of Great Haste and he's in danger of getting surrounded and shot in the back with arrows if he turns to make space. And the wizard is somewhere . . .

It was getting too late for me to stay - honestly, I needed to end an hour earlier - so I gave the players a choice. I'd stick around and run a few turns of "try to break out and flee as best we can" or we'd stop right on the spot if the intent was "fight until we win or die." After a brief discussion they decided on the latter.

So that's where we left it.

 photo Battle of the Cold Fens 001s_zpsyy4oxiub.jpg
(As always, click to make it bigger)



Notes


I'm waffling on what to do next time - either allow new arrivals to show up as reinforcements (through Old Crazy William, they have access to another raft, and with OCW and Bjorn two guys with Boating), or finish the fight and then have people pull back to town or meet incoming reinforcements. So, three options. #3 would be the most consistent with how we do things. #1 would be easy and fun. #2 would be easier, but a little less fun. So I'm leaning towards #3, with the caveat that we treat this all as one big session for XP purposes. It's not totally implausible, and like I said, it could be a lot of fun. It's not like this big brawl is close to over.

Annoyingly, the five-minutes-to-write-up hobgoblin fight took about 1 hour 45 minutes or so to game out. I deliberately left it off the map so I could use broad distances and rough locations and keep it going, but my players didn't like that much. Without more than vague info from me, they built a map, set up dice as figures, placed their own guys, and made decisions based on distances down to the yard for spell and missile fire. So it took way, way, way longer than any random encounter should have. That's a good reason why we ended in a fight, and ended late - this little nothing brawl took a long time. I need to talk it over with everyone and see what I can do to speed it up. I have two ideas, myself - going back to 1-2-3-next person even in confusing fights off the map, and using Action-style range bands. The former is hard to do when people have legitimate questions, and the second will hurt wizards a bit, but the fight took way too long and I think part of it was people fretting over exactly which hobgoblin was how far from which guy. Generally we've run fights quickly, but maybe with the spread out party no one was in the mood for quick and wanted accurate. Which is fair, but it was a lopsided fight that served mostly to potentially consume or add resources, and the game would have been better served if it had gone more quickly.

Another part of it might have been all of the low-cost-spell sniping. Hannibal did the most with his two Rain spells, and then a big explosive fireball. A quicker switch to high-damage explosive spells might have sped it along.

I'm not sure why my players are so enamored of "cautiously hang back while we send out precious summoned resources out unsupported" followed by "spread out and attack!" but it's in full view in this combat. It's why the otherwise hard to kill Diffuse fire elemental went down so far - damage caps at 2, but when you're alone and taking 3-4 hits a second, that adds up fast. I think they were worried about archers from the dark again, which is fair, but they have a guy with Missile Shield, so that might have been a better move. The elemental would have been lethal hell if it could have been fighting in close supported by the zombies and the other melee fighters. At least I think so.

Rahtnar purchased Weapon Bond, which we haven't seen used in this campaign until now. He bought it once each for both of his matched throwing axes. He also learned shield, because he's a martial artist in scale, with a shield, who uses his twin axes one at a time.

Yes, Skull Missile is a new spell. No, you can't see it yet. Yes, I'll try to publish it at some point.

Hobgoblins make good zombies. I forgot to have the spells to do that rolled at -5, though, for their magic resistance. Bleh. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, but I hate forgetting.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Looking forward to Sunday's game


I'm looking forward to game tomorrow, more than usual. Why?

- We have a player coming back after an absence (running Galoob Jah, last seen groping a trap.)

- We have a fairly large group coming (6 players). We have seven on the definitely active list, but one can't make it because of a scheduling conflict. We have another who is trying to fit game back into his schedule, too. After months of "4 regulars" we're getting a little larger set of regular players.

- We will finally get to see that necromancer* Vryce's player made. He's been bringing him session after session, only to have to put him back because they needed Vryce's firepower for that session. I have notes about his spell selection from November 2012. So for people who feel bad that Vryce's player had to put his best guy aside for a while, remember he's been waiting almost 2 1/2 years to run his backup guy. And I'll get to see if the decisions we made about a new spell are both balanced and fun. It's probably balanced, but we'll see if it's sufficiently fun.

- Spoiler: Despite losing their skiffs and getting the altar dropped onto their secret door exit, the bandits raided some merchants in the area in the past week. They aren't a bunch of swollen corpses or paralyzed into inaction thanks to the altar-pushing expedient from last time.

- The players - and their characters - have a much better idea of what to expect. They're certain to load up on rations, several of them learned Boating and Survival (Swampland), and they know what's on tap. They know they have a mix of supernatural foes and mundane foes with supernatural support.

- I'm curious to see how the mix we expect tomorrow will handle the dungeon. In theory, knowing what they face could mean more aggression, as people are dealing with known opponents. Without their best straight-up fighter (the shirtless, and often pantsless, Bjorn), any fight against the bandits will be much tougher. There aren't any NPCs free to fill out their front ranks, which might be an issue for this party (two wizards, one cleric, one holy warrior with an emphasis on holy not warrior, one thief, one martial artist, and two 70~ point NPC halberdiers.) But hey, this is a shakedown adventure with a lot of 250-point guys. As long as people don't take the approach that any risk is a bad risk, or that their 250-point paper men are too valuable to risk in a fight, it should be fine for the survivors.

- One concern there is the "spend 5-6 hours trying to avoid the difficult stuff we found last time" move. I've as much as stated outright that finding a sneaking way into the dungeon unguarded by and not known by the current occupants isn't a terribly realistic plan. It's one that depends on a dungeon with a second entrance and one that egresses into the dungeon in a place such that the inhabitants don't recognize it's a way in. Iffy, at best. They can try to find another way in - I won't say if there is, or is not, another way in. But I asked them not to spend the whole afternoon trying to search a 2.5 mile per side triangular tree/shrub/vine/tangle covered island (that's about 2.7 sq. miles) for a new way in. There might be one, but there might not, and adventure definitely awaits beyond the entrance they know. Like gaining new access to Felltower, blind search isn't the best way to spend an entire session.


All in all, though, it should be a good session, so I'm looking forward to it.



* That's a wizard specializing in necromancy spells, not the Necromancer template from DF9. I may offer him the power-ups from that template, though, in lieu of the "usual" wizard ones.

How I deal with encumbrance in non-GURPS games.

The other day I mentioned that I run encumbrance strictly in GURPS, and that I think the importance it rates in the game and the ease of handling it (clear and discrete levels, real world measurement) encouraged me to do that.

In Swords & Wizardry, I said I just eyeball my gear and estimate. There is a pretty good reason for this. As far as I can tell, in S&W Complete:

- Weapons are extremely heavy (10 pound bastard swords, 10 pound spears, 2 pound daggers, etc.)
- Armor isn't exactly light, either (70 pound plate armor)
- Non-weapon equipment doesn't have any listed weights at all.
- A "normal" level of gear, not counting armor and weapons, is 10 pounds.
- We're playing a 100 coins/pound treasure system.

So I eyeball it. Non-weapon gear is a basically set amount of vague total weight for a nebulous amount of gear. Maybe to make up for that, armor and weapons are very heavy. My armor and weapons load alone puts me close to my 105 limit for move 12. Add in the 10 pounds and treasure and I go right to move 9. Move 6 is like 70 pounds away from my starting point, which is 7000 coins. Most of the time that's not what we're carrying around. Since my move can't ever go up to 12, and rarely (let's say never in actual play) goes to 6. So I don't track encumbrance. The game makes it not-important. It doesn't care so I sure don't either. (On the other hand, I have a five-digit XP total exact down to the ones column, and a treasure total tracked the same way. Those matter a whole lot in S&W! I bet most other OSR types have their XP total as exact as I do, too)

In D&D5, encumbrance is a little more detailed. But I found that my armor choice determined my move and encumbrance level rather more than anything else. So again, eyeballing it based on my very large gear choices. I don't carry a lot of assorted crud in dungeons (probably a smaller assortment of gear than the stuff I carry in my actual toted-to-work-and-play backpack, which is chock full of everything). So I could make an almost certainly accurate assessment of my load based mainly on my big combat gear.

In our AD&D days, tracking encumbrance was such a pain I think I started handing out Heward's Handy Haversacks and Bags of Holding ASAP so I'd have an excuse to not keep track. I still don't really get the whole coins-to-relative-bulk-and-weight thing. I mean, I understand the intent but I had to look up everything, and I don't think anyone really knew what to do with it all. We played totally mapless and didn't track torch burning times or anything, either, so movement rate didn't matter unless you were faster than human. We'd read about poor Dimwall and Drudge but we wouldn't calculate encumbrance. We might go as far as counting our load the first time we made a character, but it was quickly ignored in actual play.

This isn't to say I don't look at old-school dungeons that have a 10' pit with a dead thief in it with a sack filled with 3000 sp and leather armor and don't think "He was carrying 300 pounds of coins?" It's just that I couldn't tell you what leather armor did to your encumbrance level without looking it up each time.

I wish I could recall how we did it in Rolemaster. Maybe the wrong way, I can't recall. Maybe not at all, since it was basically my AD&D group, minus a few others, that made the jump. Same with most of the non-fantasy games - it's been too long, but since I can't tell you off the top of my head how encumbrance worked in Top Secret, Gangbusters, Star Frontiers, Twilight 2000, Traveller, etc. means we probably didn't pay attention to them. None of them are very gear-carrying-centric games, though, since you always had a vehicle around or got dumped on Volturnus with nothing.

But that's why I think the game system matters. The approach you choose matters, the effect of encumbrance matters, and if the game system doesn't think it's important, or makes it clunky to track, I don't track it. If it makes it easy enough, and important enough, I'll do it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

My latest GURPS DF book is on to production

According to Sean Punch's latest "Another week in the life of GURPS "

"The latest GURPS Dungeon Fantasy masterpiece from Peter Dell'Orto is out of editing and on its way to production."

First out, I'm glad he liked it.

Second, that's a big step forward on the process, so soon enough I'll be able to announce what it was here on my blog. Naturally, you've seen some of it in play already, and more as my sessions roll along. My games are a generating machine for good GURPS content, and for that I'm grateful to my gamers, who find a way to turn a lot of my writing ideas into real, actual tabletop fun. And thanks to Pee Kitty, who put in the final editing work and helped make the last little wonky bits into solid gaming material.

I'm looking forward to being able to discuss it once it comes out. Sadly I don't have another one in process just yet; my free time for writing has dwindled to near-zero thanks to a contract job I accepted. That's a really excellent job, and it pays well and it's actually challenging and interesting . . . but it means the hours of the day I'd spend tapping away letting my ideas flow out onto a screen are spent on some non-gaming challenges. But I have some ideas of what I'd like to write next, for when I have more time to do so . . . and yes, it'll be DF related, and draw on my game. I'm looking forward to what I'll do with my writing time.

Future/Pledge Wash recipe?

Like the title say, does anyone have a good recipe for a Future-based black or brown wash?

I've been looking, but the best one I found so far is The Painting Clinic's video, but even so that's an ad hoc method done on the spot.

I'm looking for a recipe for a pre-mix wash that'll keep in a screw-top jar for a long time. Basically, proportions of X paint, Y Future, and Z water to make a dip/wash mix I can use on command. That way I can have the stuff around and brush it on each mini as it gets done, and not wait around for a big load of them and mix some up "just for now" and use it before it dries out.

As much as love the Army Painter Quickshade, apparently, I didn't seal up some of the cans well enough last time (maybe I failed to chip off enough dried gunk along the edges) and it dried up. I'm not putting another $25-30 down on a can because I only need it infrequently and it's a pain ensuring it doesn't dry out.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Turn-Based Oddness

Gaming Ballistic and Don't Forget Your Boots wrote about some of the oddness that comes from turn-based games and the intersection of some situations and options.

Naturally, after playing for so long, my group and I have had a few of these weird moments, courtesy of odd circumstances and a turn-based resolution system.

A couple come to mind.

Vryce and the Orc Spellcaster

In a big orc fight, the orcs tried to plug the doorway. Vryce burst through and ran through a small gap in the ranks to attack a back-ranks spellcaster. On the spellcaster's turn, he ran away. Then orcs poured in to prevent Vryce from following. Vryce's player was frustrated - how could someone run 5 yards away from him in the blink of an eye, after being within sword's reach a split second before?

But Vryce even getting that strike was possibly an artifact of turn-based play. In a real-time simultaneous-move world, Vryce was only marginally faster than the orcs. The spellcaster was already intending to fall back until he had more orcs between him and the well-known lethal threat that is Vryce. More orcs were charging in to seal off the gap. He might not have been able to bust through the momentary gap in the ranks, because that moment would appear and pass in a split second. The spellcaster may have moved out of reach right away. Instead, you get this moment of "I'm just fast enough to bust through and get a wild swing at that guy as he runs, before his buddies cut me off and he moves out of reach." That's how I interpret that, and that's pretty reasonable. It makes the tactical imperative of physically filling space, not just threatening to fill it with a swing or a step, much more clear.

On the day, I remember saying that if Vryce basically had a Zone of Control (aka ZOC) or a zone of opportunity attacks, he would have been able to prevent the spellcaster from moving freely or to get a free cut at that spellcaster. But then again, so would all of those orcs he deftly ran by because of a few open hexes in exactly the right place for him to move. He didn't need Evade, but "hexes adjacent to an enemy cost extra to enter or leave" or "opportunity attacks" would have kicked in. I suppose we could make rules like that, but they'd substantially change the rules set, and probably replace the current oddness (run up and hit, then the guy runs out of reach) with more oddness (how do you enforce a ZOC in your front arc with a one-action, one-second timescale? How exactly are you doing this without physically restraining the target? If you have time and movement to execute more attacks, why aren't you using them in the first place?)

Runaround

We've had the classic "runaround" attack issue discussed elsewhere very often. Sometimes, it only looks like a runaround. One classic was with a sword-and-shield using soldier-wizard-engineer in my previous GURPS game. The group was fighting gnolls in a mountainside keep (in UK3 The Gauntlet, actually). One PC knowingly and willingly turned his back on the gnolls to get a shot at a foe close and behind the line of PCs. So a greataxe-armed gnoll used All-Out Attack and smacked him. The player was miffed he didn't get to defend. "I knew he was there!" and "I should defend at -2!" kind of stuff (not a quote, it's been 16 years since that session.) I said, yes, you knew he was there. You knew there were dangerous people in front of you and turned your back on them, on your turn, to do something. This wasn't a case of a turn-based system artifact causing a faster foe to get a back shot. This was a terrible tactical decision to turn his back on a foe he thought was safely out of reach, forgetting that he was just within reach of a Move 6 guy's attack if he had a 2-reach axe ready at full extension . . . and he did. Bam, roll up a new PC.

Could he have looked over his shoulder? I suppose, but is the standard of combat "I'm checking my 6 over each shoulder every turn with no cost for taking my eyes off of what's in front of me" and complete awareness? Not to me. I figure the "runaround" rule, and the way we usually rule it (only if a foe starts in your back hex, and generally only if it's reasonable that you couldn't or wouldn't or just plain didn't track him visually) is fine. It's clear most of the time. This is one of those clear cases - he turned his back, assuming he could do so without consequence, and was wrong.

We've had related cases thanks to people making odd choices of where to step, wearing blinders (I mean, a greathelm), or having one eye. Most of the time, people accept that, yes, I've made my own decisions (stepping poorly, facing away from a foe, wearing a vision-restricting helmet because I want more DR) and I'll take the consequences. Occasionally, though, we get the "I'm checking over both shoulders while keeping an eye on this guy in front of me and Feinting the dude next to him" approach, and grumpiness can ensue when I rule in favor of a free back shot.

How do I rule on them?

Basically, we play the rules as written. But I'm not hesitant to make one-time rulings for situations where they seem to warrant it.

I also tend to apply my own vision of the situation and the reasonableness of results, along with the fairness (witness the "If bad guys can't interrupt Great Haste with Wait, you can't either" ruling.)

If you make moves depending on what a literal reading of the rules say you can and can't do, and what must result from that, you are taking a risk. If you make moves based on what a reasonable person would think would happen in those circumstances, and assume that generally I'm a reasonable GM, you will be okay. It's the latter standard that I use, not the former, to determine what's okay in a situation. You're arguing before a judge who considers precedent but who isn't bound by it. Sometimes, the rules say you get a defense at -2, but circumstances say you don't. Sometimes, the rules say you don't, but circumstances say you do.

And I'm okay with that. That's part of the reason for a GM, so we can have rules and games that work that way.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reaper Bonus: Flying Buffalo Poker Deck

I discovered a missing piece in one of my Reaper Bones sets, and emailed them for a replacement. The request got processed but lost in the Bones II hubub, so when it finally went out they threw a nice bonus in for me:

The Origins 2014 Flying Buffalo Pocker Deck

You can see all of the card details (but not the cards themselves) at the link.

I'm trying to decide what to do with it. Part of me says, "Keep it!" but the rest of me says "You don't use playing cards for anything anyway, and have a couple decks despite that." Which is true - the rare times I need playing cards it's for games with ESL/ELL kids, and a standard set is better than a fancy set for ELL students.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Making Monsters courtesy of Ravens & Pennies

Over on Ravens & Pennies, Christopher Rice has an excellent post for people making monsters for their GURPS games.

Gamemaster's Guidepost: The Art of Creating Critters

It's a great guide. If I could usefully add to it:

How skilled is it? Know what its absolute skill level can do. But also know what its skill level gives it relative to its intended foes. Skill 16 is murder vs. Skill 12, but it's toast vs. Skill 20. All the instant death ST-based damage in the world is harmless against foes you can't hit.

Does it have special attacks? Especially for genres like DF, you need to know what special attacks it has that make it especially able to deal with its expected opposition. If its attack forms are limited in a damage type (it only uses fire, say) know how common totally effective counters will be.

Know the synergies. In other words, if your critter has 20 HP and Regeneration, know this doubles the HP regen rate. Know how Unkillable 3 and Recovery will work together. Familiarize yourself with what all of the abilities you are putting down on the sheet meet and how they interact with each other.

I think those, coupled with Christopher's advice, will help when you are making up GURPS monsters.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Strict Encumbrance, GURPS, & My Games

"STRICT ENCUMBRANCE MUST BE TRACKED OR YOU CANNOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL LOGISTICAL CHALLENGE."

- Not the DMG.

Apologies to Gary Gygax, whose "Meaningful campaign" quote has been much mocked but also much commented upon.

Encumbrance seems to be one of the issues that splits old-school gamers. Track it strictly? Track it strictly but come up with an alternative method, such as item slots or large items vs. small items? Come up with some alternative? Appendix O doesn't get the love that Appendix N or the Random Harlot Sub-Table receive.

I go with strict tracking.

In my GURPS games, in fact, in every one of my GURPS campaigns, encumbrance is tracked pretty strictly. On a 5-point strictness scale, with 5 being "by the book, always" and 1 being "who cares?", we play every game at either a 4 or a 5. Usually both.

I think this is because encumbrance is so deeply embedded into the core of GURPS.

Encumbrance is handled with a simple, concrete, real-world metric - weight. Bulk matters abstractly (hard to hide under a table with a halberd, say) but weight is concrete and tracked. Your strength (ST) stat directly translates to your maximum load. Just about all gear comes with weight. We routinely keep track of weight and I expect all of my players to be able to quote me their loaded weight (PC + gear) at any time.

Why I say it's the game system is that I don't really do more than eyeball my S&W character's gear. I didn't even think about encumbrance for my D&D5 guy. But GURPS, I know to the pound what people are carrying in their normal loadout.

We'll eyeball things and wing it a little in play - it's easy to say that you've got 60 pounds between "Light" and "Medium" encumbrance so adding on this treasure puts you at Medium and that's that, without doing the math beyond estimation.

Like I said, I think it's the rules. Since encumbrance effects so much (Move, Dodge, fatigue after a fight, penalties to load-limited skills, etc.) and the limits are so embedded into the system, and the metric for it is so common and easy to grasp, it's something we all track. No "200 gp weight for a scroll, and GP are 10 to the pound, but scrolls are bulky and have more encumbrance" to foul up tracking. No bulk-conflated-with-weight issues. You need to deal with bulk on its own, with a GM's judgement, but it's easy to get strict encumbrance tracking.

And so every GURPS game I've played, back to when we just messed around killing each other in Man-to-Man, we've known how much gear we're carrying. It's easy enough, and a big enough deal to not be a big deal at all.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

DF Cold Fens - Passed Over Adventures

A little while back, I posted about what I was looking for in my DF game, some modules I was looking at, and then what I chose to implement.

Here are adventures I passed over, and to some extent why:

UK4 When A Star Falls

When a Star Falls (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons module UK4)

Why I considered it:

- It has a mix of wilderness and indoor/dungeon.
- In the mountains, and I had handy mountains.
- It has an interesting mix of monsters, including some of the odder but well-chosen monsters typical to the UK series of adventures.
- It's a sandbox with a plot, which makes it easy to adventure in, with lots of things to do with lots of logical stopping points.
- It has a mix of a plot device that fits into DF (a meteor!) and something DF does well - gnome artificers.
- A mix of combat and negotiation, and plenty of chances to choose between them.

Why I rejected it:

- Maybe a little too much gnome artificer technology.
- It has a lot of fiddly bits, which would make it tricky to convert.
- So much to read, absorb, and have fluency in that it would take some familiarity to be comfortable using it. I didn't have that kind of time.

I may still use this adventure some day - it's really an interesting one, with a lot of interesting hooks and good places to adventure.

Mirror of the Fire Demon

I reviewed this here.

Why I considered it:

- Ready to go GURPS DF adventure.
- Mix of wilderness and dungeon.
- Fun hook of "rival adventurers" to drive delving.
- Overall excellent materials.

Why I rejected it:

- Some of the players went through significant parts of it.
- Maybe too big for a pickup basketball style game of delve-and-return.
- Desert. I didn't have a handy desert.

Secret Christopher Rice Adventure

Christopher Rice wrote a DF adventure and was nice enough to share the draft.

Why I considered it:

- Ready to go DF adventure.
- Mix of wilderness and dungeon, complete with hex maps.
- Well balanced and well assembled - neither too tough nor a steamroll.

Why I rejected it:

- Desert. As good as it was, it's a desert, and I'd decided a desert wasn't going to fit into my plans.
- Theme. I'd have to rename, relabel, and re-purpose some of the material to make it fit with how my world is working. That would take some work to do properly.

In Search of the Trollslayer

In Search of the Trollslayer: A Heroic-Level Adventure for Basic Roleplaying (Basic Roleplaying system) (The Mad Mayor's Dungeon Delve)


Why I considered it:

- Pretty cool dungeon delve.
- In a swamp, and I'd decided I'd like swamp or mountains.
- Pretty atmospheric.

Why I rejected it:

- A bit too powerful, if I converted it appropriately.
- A little difficult to convert, because it's been years since I played a CoC-based game system.
- Treasure a bit too rich, magically.
- A bit too small for delve-and-return. To do delve-and-return it would need significant expansion.
- Wilderness too small, so I'd need to create my own.


So out of five, I rejected those four. The other I took and used as the basis - largely intact - but I can't disclose what it is, of course.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Paranormal Exterminator Minis

I'm not saying I need these. Or that I'll use them. Or that my players must buy these for me.



Nothing of the sort.

But I am just saying that I own a complete and intact copy of West End Games' Ghostbusters: A Frightfully Cheerful Roleplaying Game.

That's all.

Watery Murder Nymphs

I needed three watery murder nymphs for my DF game. Lucky for me, I had some minis ready to serve. I just needed to paint them fast.

Two of these, appropriately, are Reaper Bones II water nymphs. Or kelpies. Or whatever. But they're watery.

One isn't. It's a dryad or wood spirit of some kind, hence the drooping hair instead of flowing seaweed. But turning her tree into coral was trivial.

 photo watery murder nymph 001s_zpsho4cmm4m.jpg

All of these guys were a drushbrush job:

- base coat military blue.
- drybrush dutch blue.
- drybrush sky blue (heavy drybrush)
- drybrush white.
- dark blue touch-up on nipples.
- coat with acrylic floor wax.

The coral nymph had her coral done as:

- base coat antique white.
- drybrush eggshell white.
- drybrush mauve.
- drybrush pink.
- drybrush light pink.
- coat with acrylic floor wax.

Friday, March 20, 2015

TSR AD&D Minis - Monster Tribes

I finally got a (very nice, unpainted, lead-rot-free) set of the humanoids and trolls boxed set from the TSR AD&D line.

I had an original set back in the day, and I still have most of the minis, but I traded some minis away to friends (notably, the troll with his arms overhead) for other minis, and still others broke.

Well, now I have a complete set that ran me $16 with shipping - not bad at all!

 photo Monster Tribes 001s_zpsrf1lmgj2.jpg

Those guys will paint up nicely. I don't need most of them, only that troll, but it's nice to have all of these intact. They're generally fragile, though, so I may have to decide if I want to paint them for gaming (in which case, I accept some breakage as we go) or just to display at some point.

We'll see. But I've finally gotten "back" that troll figure I lamented trading to Jay A. way back when.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Least Used GURPS DF Templates & Races

Yesterday I posted about DnD classes and races we never saw in my games.

What about templates in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy?

It's a good comparison to classes, since out of the box you can treat DF templates as rigid class-like professions instead of suggested options.

So far, we haven't had any Bards, Druids, or Swashbucklers. We've had a few Swashbucklers made, not yet run, but no one has touched the other two.

We actually haven't had any elves, either. Out of the races I've allowed for my game world, we have had a lot of dwarves (second only to humans - I count four so far), a halfling, a goblin, a gnome. But no elves or half-elves. No one has even asked about them, actually. This is a reversal from my earliest GURPS campaigns, where we had so many elves and half-elves humans stuck out as oddballs. The campaign that ended back in 2010 featured no elves, too, though, so much so that I took them off the race list after a few sessions and made "Where did the elves go?" a campaign question to be answered. No surprise, this current group has a significant overlap with that group (four of the current 6 or 7 regulars played in that game) and lacks elves. That might change after this post.

Since GURPS charges for races as an advantage, there isn't a basically free front-loaded power boost like you'd get in a D&D-based game (especially AD&D). Where AD&D had level limits to say, basically, your dwarf fighter is better than a human but caps out at level 8 or so, GURPS says, pay for those advantages up front. Also, where AD&D allowed multi-classing for demi-humans but not humans, it was a strong incentive to be non-human so you could be a fighter/magic-user or illusionist/thief or cleric/magic-user or something of that sort. So I think this shifts the assessment of what a race is worth when building a character.

How about in your GURPS games? Any races people avoid? And DF templates that don't get the love?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Least Used Classes & Races

Erik Tenkar brought this idea up:

What is the most underused A(D&D) class?

Good question. In his experience, it was clerics.

But in mine, we had a lot of clerics. My cousin used to run Cleric after Cleric after Cleric. So much so that "plate armored front line cleric with mace" was kind of a thing in our games. He ran a lot of Thieves, too. We had Fighters, druids (the Dru the Druid XIV jokes I make aren't jokes), Magic-users, Illusionists (mostly of the gnome Illusionist/Thief type, but I remember a single classed human Illusionist, too), Rangers. I don't remember any Paladins back in the Players Handbook days, probably because elementary school kids don't like the idea of magic item restrictions.

Once Unearthed Arcana came out, we added Cavaliers, Cavalier-based Paladins, Barbarians, and more.

We used the Monks from Best of Dragon Vol. 3, too, and they were a lot of fun (even ask El Murik's player, he ran one.) We didn't use the ones from the PHB, because it was hard to roll one up and they sucked so badly at level 1 that no one wanted to be one. I've heard tell they don't suck, but AC 10, d4 HP, and no special powers for a combatant would mean instant death in my ruthless everything-is-a-fight AD&D gaming days. At least the newer monks could mix it up from level 1.

So underused? Assassins. I can't remember any assassins. We didn't play evil groups, and assassins aren't that good unless you're evil (and even then, if you use the PHB rules about poison, your best weapon is dangerous to you, too). Assassins were NPCs.

How about race, eh?

Back in my D&D days, we had a lot of elves, half-elves, dwarves, and the occasional gnome. Almost no halflings - maybe even no halflings - I can't remember any offhand. More than humans in most cases. We didn't play that long, so the front-loaded power boost of being a non-human multi-classed character was too much to pass up. We didn't get any half-orcs, though. So, no halflings, no half-orcs, and a lot of elves.

Tomorrow I'll post on the same subject, except for GURPS - so hold those GURPS DF template comments for a day. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Notes on Swampsedge

Swampsedge is the name of the "base" town in our Dungeon Fantasy game. What will not wanting to send the PCs back to the Caves of Chaos (been there, done that, not nostalgic again yet), I needed a new base.

Luckily I'd marked some ""Troll Marshes" and "Cold Fens" down on my maps, heavily inspired by the coolness of having a marsh-and-swamp land on the scale of the Pripet Marshes. And I had an adventure that takes place in a swamp. So I just needed a base.

Swampsedge is a smallish town, with well under 1000 people, about six miles from the edge of the swamp. It was unwalled, guarded by militia and some private guards, and is part of the County of Eorna. It was pretty quiet, because although they are close to a dangerous swamp, it's exceedingly rare for critters to come and raid a large settlement and the local militia could handle that. They could handle the occasional foolish troll or lost giant snake and knew not to shoot arrows at giant flying monsters on the hunt.

Now it's getting a wall, the militia is being re-formed, and the Count sent some of his house troops to guard the place after it was raided and partly burned by a small-ish but vicious group of bandits.

In-game, there is frantic wall-building going on. Militia have been re-formed and are drilling with their weapons after the previous bunch got routed and slaughtered. The locals are doing their part, paying special taxes, gathering wood, feeding the militiamen and the new garrison of a dozen or so troops, etc. Meanwhile, the PC delvers have arrived to deal with this bandit problem and, clearly, some other problem what with the composition of the party.

In game, too, the PCs are getting into this background story. Hannibal has Strategy and he has appointed himself an adviser to the town's mayor and militia leader, advising them on their defenses. El Murik is healing people hurt beyond the limits of the local clerics. Rahtnar is probably explaining the benefits of a vegan diet to them. Korric and Orrie would certainly volunteer for the militia while they're waiting between trips. Stuff like that.

But out of game, it's a DF Town. Its purpose is to be a safe base to adventure from and not worry if your guy is pickpocketed or killed or whatever between adventures. Don't get shirty and it's okay. It's a small town but they'll buy loot to sell on to passing merchants or passing merchants will buy it directly. Downtime will be enough to recover. Even the cruddy local wizards have someone with the secret to charge Power Items and a Guild Membership Card to discourage people beating said secret out of him. There are just enough nameless NPCs spinning tales to allow for rumor rolls.

And the players know all of this. I told them straight out:

"Don't worry about Swampsedge. There won't be big combats around that town unless you mess up badly and somehow rile up a bunch of bad guys and run screaming back to Swampsedge with them in hot pursuit. Town is a safe home base unless you take steps to [mess] that up. That it was attacked is background story, and the wall is there to explain why it won't get attacked again, and the limited resources in soldiers is why they need you to deal with the swamp instead of mounting another expedition."

I also said:

"I'm deliberately limiting access to Stericksburg's resources and previous PCs, so pretty much put Vryce, Dryst, The Bank of Honus, etc. on the "not available" list. Just like when we started the game, it's a poor base with limited resources and a big task in front of you. So pretty much if any idea involves something from Stericksburg, it needs to wait until you've finished up here."

In other words, the limits on the town that mean you can't get a lot of potions, scrolls, paut, special items, replacement weapons, etc. are there on purpose. Circumventing them by saying, "The heck with this, I send this magic item to Dryst to analyze, take a loan from Vryce, and special order a bunch of potions" is beyond discouraged and taken all the way to "No."

Why do this?

- It's a shakedown cruise. It's not meant to be playing your bootstrapped PCs up. That's fine when the bootstrappers and bootstrappees are in the same location and fight shoulder-to-shoulder against the same monsters. It's less fine when the bootstrappers are more like helicopter parents, waiting to swoop in and make it all better. To discourage "but this one time, is it okay if we . . . " I made sure to make it a "no."

- It's a challenge. It's harder to start over with less stuff. But everyone has a much clearer idea of what's coming this time. Well, at least half of the players do. So putting a hard challenge with limited resources in front of them is a way to let the new characters earn their spurs without feeling like second-class citizens when they arrive at Felltower. The survivors will have real accomplishments, just like the survivors of the Caves of Chaos could point to their sacking of the various lairs and destruction of all of the component parts of a growing temple of evil as a real benchmark accomplishment.

- It's a focusing tool. Without access to "anything in the books we can afford, and any of the spells in the game, and all the knowledge and resources in this city" the players will focus on their new characters and see what they can do. Getting access to those resources later is fine - even with all of that, the party has gotten chopped up badly a few times and nearly slaughtered to a man last time. But starting without it means the party has to focus like a laser on what they can make out of what they started with.

And that's why Swampsedge is the way it is. The resources are limited for out-of-game reasons but given in-game explanations. The PCs are allowed to interact as if they don't know the town is safe (because in the game world, it isn't) but the players know not to spend any time worrying about stuff other than adventuring. Town is there to make the adventuring work better and provide the basic assumptions of play, not to change the focus from "Dungeon Fantasy" to just "Fantasy." Ultimately, town is a dungeon delve enabler with a backstory. And Swampsedge is that town.

Monday, March 16, 2015

DF Game, Session 58, Cold Fens 1

We started our side mission for the new and lower-point characters. We also welcomed a new player for a tryout, and welcomed back a player who hadn't played with us for about five years.

Characters (in Swampsedge): (approximate net point total)

Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (270 points)
     Koric, human guard (~70 points)
     Orrie, human guard (~70 points)
Bjorn Felmanson, human barbarian (250 points)
El Murik, dwarven cleric (250 points)
Hannibal the Flammable, human wizard (250 points)
Rahtnar the Vegan, dwarven martial artist (250 points)

Still in town (Stericksburg):

Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (265 points)
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (395 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (372 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (302 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (468 points)

We started with the group assembled in the "town" of Swampsedge, east of Stericksburg along the Silver River, where it disgorges into the Cold Fens, in the County Eorna. Further east of the Cold Fens - which stretch a couple hundred miles or so - is the troll-plagued city of Molotov.

When we last left Asher, he was dead and his guts had been eaten by trolls. The group couldn't afford to a Resurrection for him, but the church did it themselves. They also re-equipped Asher, to the tune of a further 2,000 sp, and introduced him to El, newly arrived in town.

They were told:

- There are bandits raiding the river traffic and road traffic near the Cold Fens.
- The bandits raided the nearby village of Swampsedge and burned parts of it down.
- These bandits were pursued by a troop of soldiers from the local lord, who never returned.
- The local lord has requested assistance dealing with the bandits. The church volunteered their services (implied – in exchange for a large donation.)
- The church has found there is a source of evil somewhere in the swamp, but cannot detect exactly where.
- Asher and El are to destroy the source of this evil at whatever cost to himself and any companions they brings along.
- Asher and El and their companions are welcome to any treasures found, but Asher must pay back the 17,000 sp for his resurrection and re-equipping before he is welcome back in Stericksburg and the good graces of the church.

Koric and Orrie, first rescued from the Caves of Chaos years back, work in Stericksburg as guards. Vryce recommended them to Asher, who persuaded them to follow him and El Murik to Swampsedge to deal with this bandit problem. They also picked up some other adventurers who came recommended as friends of friends either along the way or arranged to be met at Swampsedge.

Long story short, the townsfolk and other locals were busy putting up a wall of stone and wood (mostly wood) around Swampsedge. The local militia was being reorganized and was bolstered by another dozen of the Count of Eorna's personal troops led by a solid but cautious commander.

The party found out nine men - all military-aged able-bodied men - had been hauled off by the bandits. They also killed a lot of other military-aged able-bodied men (amongst others). The thirteen men (12 hand-picked men under Sir Balzar) arrived soon after, took a local guide with them, and went off in pursuit of the bandits. They were not heard from again. The locals suggested that Old Crazy William, though, who lived on the edge of the swamp, could guide the PCs.

They also gathered rumors - that the dead don't always stay dead in the Cold Fens, that some parts of it are blind to the sight of the Good God, others dead to mana, warnings of berserk lizard men, and other cheery details like that.

Old Crazy William entertained the party with his talk of snakes, red-eyed giant lizards that walk or crawl, and other possible nonsense, but that he could take them to the island where the old temple was where the bandits came from for 1000 gp each, on Sally, his raft. After a few minutes of crazy, El Murik cast Relieve Madness on him. It shocked poor William badly when he was sane enough to realize he'd been in the grip of madness for a few years. He told them he'd guide them, no charge. He told them a few years back a bad storm got drove him to shelter on an island in the middle he'd been told to avoid since he was a kid. He didn't remember anything after that, but that he'd been told - no idea who - to take anyone who asked to the island. He helped guide the soldiers, and left them on the island.

Once he went crazy again, they made him a spear and got on Sally and his spare, smaller raft. They set out.

It wasn't as straightforward as they tought - poling through the tangled waterway, ducking overhead vines and clumped roots and so on was tough. With only one person with Boating, even knowing the right way to go wasn't enough to make good speed. Add in biting flies brought up by the March thaws and the PCs were constantly hassled and couldn't make much progress. They only made a little more than 3 miles the first day's poling and had to spend the night on the rafts pulled up to some semi-solid ground. They also encountered a giant swimming constrictor snake - but Hannibal blew a chunk off of it with a fireball and then Bjorn put an arrow into it, before Asher chopped the poor burned and stunned snake's head off with a few sword strokes.

The next day they burned through most of their rations (no one thought to ask OCW how long to the temple island) and dealt with many more biting insects, chittering bats (which OCW muttered about), a few tangles, and even more difficulty with the rafts. They also had to pull aside for almost an hour and wait out a dragon flying lazy figure eights in a north-south pattern, as if hunting for prey. Green or black, they asked? Unclear. Dark, though.

They spent a more comfortable night in a safer spot, and then headed out. The third day they got their boating in order and William rolled a critical, and they managed to reach the island by nightfall. It was a fog-shrouded island, and the fog was especially creepy, seeming to coalesce into threatening shapes just at the edges of vision before dissipating when looked at.

They checked the place out - it was a flat stone, pillared rectangular area atop a muddy island, reached by three steep steps. Six skiffs were pulled up, two tied apiece to a pair of posts and one to a spike driven into the steps. The island, according to William, was a few miles long (they de-crazied him and then asked), and mostly tangles and mud with no other place to pull up. They decided they couldn't camp this close, and had to go in, tired or not. So they poled up and tied off.

The spike was recent - days? Weeks? Maybe from the soldiers?

The pillared platform ended in a rough wall of seashells, edged on either side with a pillar and topped with a thin stone "beam."

As the PCs spread out and moved onto the platform, there was a clicking noise and quarrels came flying out at them. One of them slammed into William, hitting him in the vitals for max damage (0 DR, 1d6+4, rolled a 17 on location and 6 on damage) and he dropped, mortally wounded. The party split up and took cover behind the pillars, El dragging OCW with him.

Half the group moved up pillar by pillar along the left, towards the shell wall. Asher took a crossbow bolt in the groin but stumbled to safety. As they got a little closer. Hannibal tossed a fireball into the wall and blew a hole in it. It turned out to be a dry seashell curtain. Around this time, El cast Stop Bleeding on OCW, stabilizing him.

The PCs closed in and then Hannibal blew a large hole in the middle for them to rush through. They did. There were 10 skeletons behind the curtain, along with a real wall behind three 20' pools of algae-choked water and a bloodstained altar. They engaged the PCs, but it ended quickly. Bjorn shield rushed them and didn't slow down as he bashed each to pieces. Others shot with crossbows but several of the crossbows broke or jammed. Rahtnar and Orrie chopping down one that was bypassed by Bjorn. Even as the skeletons went down, though, although they got off a few shots on the way down, and a beautiful watery nymph emerged from a pool next to Bjorn and tried to grab him. He fended it off with his shield - all the while ogling her beautiful naked form. He whacked her with his axe but it was like cutting a stream with a sword and only a tiny WHICK of water flicked off.

The PCs near the next pool were attacked by another one of the nymphs, and Rahtnar was grabbed and paralyzed. The watery woman dragged him into the pool and pushed his face under the water. Unable to breath, he started to drown.

Hannibal shouted out suggestively even as he fireballed the nypmph. Steam rose off of her, but he didn't seem to do all that much damage. Orrie, Asher (who jumped into the pool), and Bjorn grabbed Rahntar and wrestled him away from the nymph. As soon as he was clear, Hannibal covered the entire pool with a Rain of Fire and the nymph ducked away.

 photo swamps-edge-ep-1_pic-1_pool-of-fire small_zps556lchik.jpg

The PCs backed off to heal and rest. Once they did so, they made a plan to get behind the three pools (arranged in a triangle.) They moved up, put a Rain of Fire on the center pool, and they ran closely around it.

Behind the pool they found:

- a trap door in the floor, made of stone with no clear way to open or close it.

- a bas-relief of a demon on the back wall.

- a blood-stained altar made of flat stones arranged into a table-like arrangement. The blood wasn't that old, but not new, either.

They did their best to pry up the trap door, but it was very difficult to get around the edge. Once they did with El's pick, Bjorn tried to lift it but felt it pull against a latch.

Meanwhile Hannibal examined the demon bas relief (which El had pronounced a "standard type" demon, after a failed Hidden Lore roll) and found a small coin-sized slot in its mouth.

Bjorn checked the slot and saw it went in and down. He put his very last silver piece in there, as Asher approvingly noted its singular nature provided special value for such purposes. It clunked down and rattled away, and the trap door clicked and opened up slightly. There were able to pull it open, giving the (now three) beautiful watery murder nymphs a last longing glance and went down.

There were stairs down, ending in a door. They heard nothing at the door, and opened it easily, pushing it in. Beyond it was a narrow room with double doors to the right, and a table with a pair of chairs and a bottle of wine. Quick examination showed the wine was not old, and nothing was dusty. They listened at the door, and heard nothing.

So they opened the doors and moved in. There was a large room beyond, large enough they couldn't see the right or far walls. They moved in a little, and tossed a lightstone forward.

As they did, six arrows flew out of the darkness to the right and thumped into El and Orrie. They were wounded, and the party sprang into action. Bjorn and Rahtnar rushed to the right, only to have Bjorn to find a wall. Bjorn and Rahtnar could hear the rattle of armoured men and footsteps, and Bjorn whacked the wall to see if it was real or illusionary - real. What the?

More arrows flew out of the darkness, as Bjorn and Rahtnar heard someone clearly say "loose at the fire mage!" and arrows flew out. One hit El, two slammed into Hannibal, one inflicting max damage - he used Luck to re-roll it (it being too late to re-roll the hit.) Luckily it wasn't as bad as he thought. El shot a Sunbolt randomly into the dark.

Asher threw a light stone and it came to rest amidst a ranked bunch of armed men - six swordsmen, six spearmen behind them interspersed with six halberdiers, and six archers, plus a plate-armoured leader-looking guy. Hannibal still had a Fireball in hand and threw it and nailed the nearest swordsman, but he blocked it with his shield. The group immediately started to retreat, holding the door.

At this point, they realized they were inside a Wall of Silence looked around the door, effectively allowing the bandits to organize in verbally while watching the PCs via the PC's own lights.

As the formation began to move forward, Hannibal sprang into action. He quickly put up a 4-area Smoke spell to block the line of sight of the archers and the direct advance of the enemy.

 photo swamps-edge-ep-1_pic-2_ambush small_zpsqbwocpv6.jpg

The swordsman and spearman ran one way, trying to flying the PCs on their right. The archers and halberdiers advanced around the PC's left. Meanwhile, their plate-armoured sworsman flew wide to the right, and then right into them - way too fast, and too clearly under Great Haste. He got right behind them.

The swordsman held the door, swinging at everyone he could to get them to back off into the room. He fended off a few attacks, but then Asher grabbed his legs from behind and Bjorn checked him with his shield, doing little past his plate armor. He sliced down at Asher who let go to Dodge. Bjorn swung and rolled a 3 - crit, max damage. He inflicted a horrible injury on the man. Unluckily for them, I rolled a 3 for his consciousness check, and by long standing rules that meant I could stop rolling until he was hurt again. He knew he was in trouble, and flew back into the room. Even then, the halberdiers could up. The group still backed off.

Meanwhile, Hannibal put up another large Smoke spell to completely seal off a flank from anyone not brave enough to run through, basically, opaque tear gas.

 photo swamps-edge-ep-1_pic-3_retreat-1 small_zpsusirlzya.jpg

El put an axe into one halberdier and knocked him down but not out. Hannibal torched one with a fireball. Korric and Orrie (who'd been healed earlier by El) fenced with the other polearmsmen. Rahtnar engaged as well, eventually crippling one's leg. Bjorn one-upped him seconds later as the group piled out of the room, and he lopped the leg off one of the pursuers.

 photo swamps-edge-ep-1_pic-4_retreat-2 small_zpsvvltxirr.jpg

They kept running, and the archers caught up as they were piling up the stairs. Bjorn took an arrow (after an 18 on a Block) as the PCs climbed out of the trap door. As he pulled himself up, Hannibal tossed down an Alchemist's Fire and lit the place up. They closed the trap door, blasted the nearby pool with Rain of Fire, and had Bjorn shove over the altar. He pulled a muscle doing it, taking 1 HP of (lasting) injury, but managed to tilt it over on the trap door.

The PCs made it back to the skiffs. They pushed off quickly, towing the skiffs behind them. Once somewhat safely away, they stopped. They could hear stone clinking in the distance, as the bandits tried to get out. They paused to put Great Heal on OCW and then poled away.

Long story short, three hungry days later they managed to make it back to OCW's shack and ate everything he had stockpiled before heading to town.

They sold the broken crossbow metal bits for scrap, sold the rusted morningstar for not much better, and collected a reward of 100sp each for return of the six skiffs (so, 600 sp). Not a profit, but not a total loss, either, and everyone received 4 xp.

***

Notes

Tough first session, but I warned people:

- the was a tough mission.
- Survival (Swampland) was a good idea, and people could take it (especially knowing it was a wet swamp ahead.)
- Boating was a good idea.

No one took me up on #2 and #3 until the end of session 1. Bjorn picked up Boating and Survival (Swampland) since that gives a much better return now than increasing his (Mountains) to pick up an improved default. Rahtnar also learned Boating, making him the expert thanks to his DX 16.

The PCs destroyed 10 skeletons, crippled one fighter, terribly wounded another, and maimed another (his leg being lopped off.) Assuming they have access to healing, call that 1-2 bandits down, only one permanently. They suffered no losses, though, except for expended material possessions.

I was pretty generous at the end with starving, because I realized people had misunderstood how to count rations and thought they were much better prepared. They did groan about how they had no idea the island was so far away, but I noted that no one asked even once and OCW could have told them.

MVP was Bjorn, for his timely fight-turning 3, slamming bunches of skeletons, holding the rear, and more. A good first session. I was personally very impressed with all of the spells Hannibal cast - all timely, well placed, and well chosen. Since I can't even remember if that player had run a wizard before, it seemed like he hit the ground running.

Amusingly, El uses a Dwarven Whetstone as a Power Item.

We had a brief suggestion of using Wait to interrupt Great Haste. I quickly pointed out that for our DF game we'd ruled you couldn't interrupt ATR, and Great Haste is ATR. I also noted that we could change it back so you could Wait and nail people who used Great Haste to All-Out Attack. I also noted that the PCs are the main users of Great Haste, so changing to so they could ace this NPC meant they'd nerf the favorite buff. No one went for that.

Flying and slams - this comes up a lot - shouldn't flying or levitating people be easier to knock back with slams? No. Flight and Levitation don't change anything except they give you the ability to fly. It makes for some odd mental images, but it neatly avoids making entirely new rules for fighting based on having no ground to push off of, or dealing with being easier to move around but somehow still able to strike with full muscular power or needing to factor Move into all combat.

Can't the church raise people for free, if they want to? No, not really. Even using their church as a Power Item for the casting, the power to charge it has to come from somewhere, and that has costs.

Shields and Martial Artists - Rahtnar wears scale and leather, a pot helm, carries a shield, and so on. Dwarven martial artists are odd. I did allow him an exception of taking Thrown Weapon (Axe), though, as it fits dwarves too well and shuriken and knives don't do so well.

Seashells in a northern swamp? Yep. It's a clue, although not a game-breaking clue to anything. But it's unusual and worth investigating.

Wall of Silence is a fun spell, not terribly expensive (2/1) and pretty effective in the right circumstances. It's rarely useful to let no sound out but also none in, but this was one of those times.

The PCs decided, but forget to check, that maybe some of the missing guys are a) charmed and b) amongst the bandits they fought. They'll follow up on that next time. They're also a bit concerned that they showed a lot of what they've got and saw little of what the enemy had.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

DF Session summary tomorrow

I'll post a full update tomorrow.

For now:

- we had five PCs and two NPC delvers.

- nobody was killed.

- nobody meaning no PCs. A few NPCs were left nearly so, one with a missing leg, and one PC-allied NPC terribly hurt.

- Apparently, "You guys should take Survival (Swampland) and Boating" was too subtle of a hint.

- the trip wasn't profitable, but it wasn't an empty haul, and lots of valuable intelligence was picked up.

- sometimes, you have to pay to get into the dungeon.

- skeletons are really vulnerable to shield rushing.

- Delvers with lust-related disadvantages on their sheets have trouble keeping their mind on business against watery murder-nymphs, even knowing the "water murder" part.

- Fire mages are really amusing to have around.

Like I said, full summary sometime tomorrow. I hope that covers it for now.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

DF Delvers Developing

The party is beginning to take shape, ready for Sunday's game.

Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (270 points), run by andi. Raised from death, he's on a quest assigned by the Church of the Good God (although not technically his order, as if that matters) to investigate and destroy a possible case of Evil in the cold fens to the East. They clearly know more about the threat, but have wisely chosen to not to share it in case it turns out to be important. Need to know, and Asher doesn't even need to know that it's need to know.

El Murik, dwarf cleric (250 points). Run by Al Murik's player. Al Murik's brother. They share family blood, as well as nearly identical spell lists and weaponry, with some minor changes that reflect the spells Al wishes he had, in retrospect. Funny how that happened. He's out for revenge against whatever killed and ate Al, but the church immediately assigned him to help Asher.

Bjorn Felmanson, human barbarian (250 points). Run by Vic, who is coming for tryout. Born in the frozen north, he disdains wearing too much clothing in the "hot" south where - get this - sometimes the snow melts. He's an expert with his axe but, yeah, he's often nearly naked and doesn't seem to realize that's actually kind of upsetting to people adjusted to things like "modesty" and "pants."

(Not yet named), human wizard (250 points). Name as-yet unconfirmed. Run by Vryce's player. Specializes in necromancy and can't wait to figure out how to lich himself. How does an undead-loving necromancer get along with an undead-hunter holy warrior and a priest? Because raising undead isn't technically illegal - raising undead is kind of creepy and nasty and no one likes it, but it's not technically illegal to raise the dead of fallen enemies on a battlefield. Having zombies around will make the holy warrior's True Faith with Turning a double-edged sword. The necromancer himself has Clueless, and he really doesn't get that undead are creepy. It's magical meat golems, made from dead enemies! Now they're like your new mindless and rotting friends! How is that upsetting or weird?

Hannibal the Flammable, human wizard (250 points). Run by one of our players from our previous GURPS campaign that ended about 5 years back. They laughed Hannibal out of Fire College . . . but he'll show them, he'll show them all! Bwahahahahahaha! Hannibal is a little crazy, he's a branded and convicted criminal (after torching the sacred Wicker Dragon of the Grass City of Hedonland), and he specializes in a) burning things and b) examining the burned remains. He's deeply sure they're hunting him down, and he'll burn them all if it's the last thing he does.
We're all just assuming this is because, during the last campaign, the rest of the players shot down this player's idea to burn down Orctown.

Rahtnar the Vegan, dwarf martial artist (250 points). Run by Dryst's player. A beardless vegan dwarf (true vegans are beardless), with a sense of duty to his fellow vegetarians. Rahtnar wields twin dwarven axes, wears fairly heavy armor, and otherwise seems more like a knight than a martial artist. At least, until you hear him kiai and watch him parry arrows with his axes. His name is in no way influenced by another player's character from a previous campaign.

So it looks like two front-line-fighter-types (Rahtnar, Bjorn - one TBAM, one WM), a mix (Asher, a holy warrior but with almost nothing spent on the "warrior" part), a cleric, a death-focused wizard, and a fire-focused wizard. So 50% can stand on the front lines, and they have three spellcasters with a nice mix of spells.

Is that all?

Maybe, maybe not.

Maybes:


Two guys will play if they can make it, running their existing characters:

Galoob Jah, goblin thief (266 points). Galoob is heading for greener pastures, or colder swamps. After getting attacked by flying flaming skulls in Felltower and finding the only hot human women in the place were trapped magical statues has made him a bit uncomfortable with the whole megadungeon thing, so he's going to follow Asher on his quest.

Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (264 points). Bern needs money for his experimentation. Why head to the Cold Fens? Perhaps being a slugbeast for a while has made him pine for the swamps. And not just because I added the quirk "Sometimes acts a bit slugbeast-y." Maybe it's how he waves his pseudopods or tries to crawl on the ceiling, or all the pining.

I'm not sure where I'm going to find a beardless twin-axe-wielding dwarf-sized mini. I'm really going to have to dig, and do some conversions, before I've got the party well and truly duplicated in miniature.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Blog Comments are Tavern Talk

The other day, I replied to a comment by Benjamin Morley saying, basically, nice idea but now the players know that one. It may have come off as defensive or catty or something of that sort, but I didn't intend to be. I was just stating a fact.

I had a side conversation with one of my players who reads this blog and said, in short, if I +1 something, link something, or comment on something - nevermind write it on my blog - I'm assuming everyone will see it.

This is basically because my players read my blog, and the comments.

So what I do is treat all of the things on my blog as common knowledge. The things I post are widely and officially known. Rules and whatnot are proven scientific facts, and those who traffic in such skills and abilities know them like we know fire is hot.

The commentary by my readers? Tavern talk. Overhead stuff in Stericksburg or Falcon's Keep or in Swampsedge (the temporary new base, as of Sunday's game) between guards, residents, veteran adventurers, know-it-alls and know-nothings, sages, priests, etc. - it's all out there. Is it true? Maybe. Is it false? Maybe. Did a commenter nail the secret meaning behind a puzzle or a trick or trap or monster action? Perhaps. But maybe they're wildly off-base but oh-so-plausible.

Which is fine - I welcome all of the commentary. And I don't worry about its effect on my game. It is, instead, folded into the "reality" of this strange world where you can live and die raiding tunnels full of monsters for treasure.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Oversized Gear in my DF Game

Our tryout player is running a SM+1 Barbarian, and the nebulous rules about what should be and shouldn't be Oversized threw his gear list off a bit.

Here is how I summarize my rulings on this matter:

Oversized, yeah or nay?

- armor and clothing must be.
- shields should be, and we penalize you for too-small shields (basically, a DB penalty)
- tools and weapons can be.
- equipment shouldn't, unless it's also clothing/armor.

Which makes it easy. If you had, say, a SM+1 bow, you'd need SM+1 arrows and a SM+1 quiver for them. But a SM+0 bow? No problem, normal sized stuff is fine.

Backpack? A bigger backpack would hold more. You don't need it to be bigger to use it.

Rations? Nah, one meal is one meal. Presumably you stock up on more calorically-dense foods, that's all.

We've found this set of guidelines really takes care of most issues with "Oversized or not?"

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Daleks on Sale at BTD

For those of you who missed the last sale on Daleks, they're on sale again until Friday:



You'll need to register with BTD to see that, perhaps, but you'd need to do that to order anyway. $25.59 plus S&H - not bad for 6 daleks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

5e Elemental Evil Player's Companion - Free

Free Book!

It's for 5e, and it's free, and it's at RPGNow so it'll be in your RPGNow library from now on. Good enough for me.



Speaking of Elemental Evil, T1-4 and the Return To versions are on sale.


A Savage Warrior for Sunday

Why that title? Because "A Barbarian for the Weekend" wasn't alliterative enough, and sounded like a terribly patronizing article about LARPing or a Kickstarted D&D movie or something.

We've got someone running a bare-chested barbarian with an axe in my game, with a bow as his ranged weapon. So I dug into my pile of assembled and half-painted Warhammer Chaos Marauders and found one.

The head was wrong, so - SNAP! - off it came, and I put on a more suitably bare-headed head from the spares box.

I added a bow and a quiver, which are probably from a Mordheim pack or GW Empire Militia. There was a time I could get them pretty cheap, and they gave me a fantastic variety of figures. But here that box provided more weapons for the barbarian.

I have a color scheme on request - tan skin, brown pants, dark hair - but no time to paint until maybe tomorrow or tonight. I'll take him out and prime the back before it rains, too.

 photo Savage Warrior 001s_zps2spmhvyw.jpg

 photo Savage Warrior 002s_zpsthxjzce8.jpg


He's from the same kit I used to make Honus Honusson, too, so I've established these guys are Barbarians! and thus he fits right in.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A glimpse at Sunday's setting for DF Felltower

It's looking like:

- a swampy, cold badlands to the east of Stericksburg, close to but not quite along the river route to the east.

- some wilderness mixed with dungeon-delving and possibly lair-clearing.

- possibly a small-area hex crawl, if I can do up the hexes by Sunday.

- limited access to special gear (this isn't Stericksburg). So the PCs will need to special order any good stuff for a while. Minor healing potions and paut will be available but not in unlimited quantities, stronger stuff will be much less available (6-, for the most part.)

- a main area that contains a throwback, for me, to elementary school, modified to fit a go-and-return sandbox instead of a more direct go-and-complete quest.

- side areas that draw from campaign-specific references and from a couple of sources that have been on my "must use" list for a while.

- definitely a need to have some outdoors abilities. It looks like someone will run a barbarian, which would make that a little better for the group. A scout would be useful, too.

- an interesting mix of enemy types - some familiar, some new.

- and at least one Felltower tie-in!


In anticipation, I've tried to speed-paint up some minis I'll need for the game. I primed a barbarian mini, who will take a little more time. I'm not sure I can get him done, but I will try. The others are monsters and whatnot. And yes, there will be apes. Why wouldn't there be apes?


Sunday, March 8, 2015

DF Enchantment Changes

I decided to take the plunge and make an equipment rules change in my DF campaign.

- Magic weapons and armor require a positive-cost prefix to hold an enchantment.

- Charged magic items can only store power as if they were a Power Item equal to their non-magical value. Ex: A magic wand made out of dragon bone and gems worth 12,000 can hold up to 25 FP.

I discussed the armor enchantment a little bit before here, and my rules in general here.

The second one is just something that's been mostly in effect already, but I wanted to make it clear how it works.

Any special reason why?

Yes. The extreme cheapness of Fortify and Lighten meant that every single piece of armor the PCs have is +1 DR and 75% of normal weight. Same with the armor of almost every single NPC, even cheap-end hirelings who could barely afford beer money - enchanting a full suit of armor cost as much as getting a spare axe or mace.

So I was starting to feel the pressure on enemies, too - why don't the orcs all have +1 armor? Why not the hobgoblins? Why not bandits? Basically, shouldn't everyone have magic armor? It's ridiculously cheap and canonically some of those groups have access to wizards, and canonically some of them have looted civilized areas and/or trade with them.

Changing this also means that equipping new characters is much faster - no longer do you need to figure out the per-item costs for these spells and ensuring all new guys have the right armor enchantments.

Weapons, well, that's just to avoid the whole "I have 5K burning a hole in my pocket, I'll make my sword +1" thing. I'd rather people have a good basic item first.

Why now?

With a lot of new characters, and the old guys needing to re-equip, it seemed like a good chance to do this while keeping it fair for all.

What's the in-game justification?

Guild rule changes. Enchantment is NPC only, and they decided to stop enchanting junk for a pittance.

It was either that, or change the enchantment rates to $20/point for any enchantment, which would essentially make spell stones and minor enchantments go away, which would be a great campaign starter but I like the access to money-draining one-shot spells. I could just do it for armor, so it was 1000 for +1 DR and 2000 for -25% weight, but I didn't want to make that split. I could, if my players would rather say anyone can get this but it's more expensive for armor, but I like the fact that armor needs to be pretty good stuff (Ornate +1, say, or Dwarven) to get enchantment.

How did this go over?

Okay. One of my players asked for existing characters re-equipping to be grandfathered in. I said no, because the fact that everyone (or almost everyone) currently playing needs to re-equip was why I sprung this now. Grandfathering the old guys in would mean they'd all have cheap armor with Fortify and Lighten them but the new guys wouldn't, creating a have/have-not split. That didn't seem fair. Otherwise, it's not a huge deal.
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