Monday, October 23, 2017

GURPS Print-on-Demand Update

Steve Jackson Games added some books to the GURPS Print on Demand title list.

Another of the books with my materials is up, too - the Dungeon Fantasy Companion contains my Magic Items book.

There are now 16 books available from CreateSpace or Amazon.com. I gather that SJG does a little better on the deal if you use CreateSpace, but if you've got Amazon.com Prime, it's just flat-out cheaper to the consumer to buy from them.



What is available right now are:

Dungeon Fantasy Companion
GURPS Bio-Tech
GURPS High-Tech
GURPS Horror
GURPS Infinite Worlds
GURPS Magic
GURPS Martial Arts
GURPS Mass Combat
GURPS Mysteries
GURPS Powers
GURPS Rogues (3e)
GURPS Spaceships
GURPS Thaumatology
GURPS Ultra-Tech
GURPS Warriors (3e)
How to Be A GURPS GM

If you want any of those in print, they're available. I have GURPS Ultra-Tech in POD, purchased from Amazon.com, and it's very nice.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Retirement age in DF Felltower?

The idea of retired characters came up in the comments on another post the other day. Basically, I dismissed the idea that "Stericksburg" would be renamed after an active PC because he was pretty badass. Maybe when he's retired, I said.

When would that be?

Probably never.

No Mandatory Retirement Threshold

One thing about my game is that it's all about hack-and-slash fun.

So as long as someone is having fun playing their hack-and-slash guy, they can keep playing that guy.

There does reach a power level when you're basically not challenged by much of what you encounter. But GURPS is GURPS - there is never a level where you're effectively invulnerable. And no matter how powerful you get, there are things you just might not be able to deal with.

A perfectly lethal knight won't ever be able to overcome some magical effects, especially ones that automatically overcome resistance and need post-effect remedy, not a good roll.

An epic-ly powerful wizard won't be able to overcome foes in melee in a NMZ.

A powerful cleric might wave away undead with trivial ease but lack to the ability to destroy non-undead with sufficient ease.

So I'm not especially concerned. As long as people are having fun with their guys, they can run their guys. I'll let them sort out the who and what and when of stopping playing a particular paper man. And if someone wants to basically set a PC aside for special occasions, that's fine too. We've got a dozen or so templates to choose from and lots of levels, side levels, attached side areas, and so on to explore in the megadungeon game. It's all about the player's fun, not the PC.

One of my players did say, basically, that he means to keep playing one of his guys until he dies and can't get brought back. That's not counter to the game. You don't win in DF Felltower by getting to retirement age or being unbeatable. You win by risking your paper man to have fun. And as long as I can keep up the challenges, why set a PC aside?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

On the painting table: Desmond and Hayden the Unnamed Knight

Here is what I'm starting to paint:




Desmond isn't base-coated yet, but he'll get that tonight. He's from one of the Bones Kickstarters.

Hayden has a black base coat and gunmetal grey on his metal gear. He'll get more metallic paint, a re-coating of the red and tan he had before, and some general highlights. He's a TSR elf fighter from a TSR boxed set:

Friday, October 20, 2017

Pyramid #3/108 - What new monsters?

So I wrote some new monsters for the DFRPG-themed issues of Pyramid. What are they?

Here they are by name, and any variations offset below.

Cerberus
     The Cerberus
Colchis Bulls
     Iron Bull (aka Gorgon)
     Rock Bull
     Storm Bull
Ghoul*
Giant Beetle (grouping)
     Big Beetle
     Big Bombardier Beetle
     Humongous Beetle
Giant Centipede (grouping)
     Big Centipede
     Humongous Centipede
Giant Frog (Grouping)
     Big Frog
     Big Killer Frog
     Huge Frog
     Huge Killer Frog
Hydra
Shamblethorn**
Wyvern

Many of these you've seen in my games, and if you haven't, you eventually will.



* Based on the ghouls/wights of Felltower.
** the fabled "root men" of the Cold Fens, which my players call shambling mounds. They are, basically, but also sort-of not.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pyramid 3/108

The new issue of Pyramid just came out today:



I've got a few monsters in it.

I'll try to get a good look at everything and post about the contents ASAP.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How tough was Baron Sterick the Red?

So Baron Sterick the Red was slain in my Felltower game.

How tough was he?



(A sword-swapped version of Boris Mingla, Evil Warlord, by Werner Klocke)


Sterick was a human knight and clocked in around 525 points.

A good chunk of that was non-relevant skills like Strategy, Tactics, Leadership, etc. It included his Born War Leader 6.

Most of the rest? Combat. He's a knight, like I said. Highlights include:

ST 18
Speed 7

Combat Reflexes
High Pain Threshold
Striking ST 2
Extra Attack 1
Armor Mastery
Fit
Two-Weapon Fighting
Weapon Master (Axe and Broadsword)
Enhanced Parry 1 (All Parries)

. . . and a custom variant of Unkillable.

His skills included Axe/Mace-27 and Broadsword-28, and solid skills in Shield, Thrown Weapon (Axe), and Brawling and Wrestling. Nothing great, though - solid for his DX and point level, but nothing special.

He also had a Bad Temper and an Obsession with raising a kingdom.

Weapon-wise, he did 3d+11 cutting or 2d+7 impaling with Magebane, and 3d+13 cutting with Shieldslayer.

Gear-wise, he had something close to $250,000 worth of gear using Basic Set prices and DF1 modifiers. That's pretty amazing, but considering that Vryce lost all of his gear once, including some great weaponry and solid armor and still had close to $80,000 worth of gear and probably another $10-20K worth of consumables it wasn't so lopsided. At the top end, costs start to multiply for a simple +1 here or there.

So he was a tough fight. He couldn't be permanently put down by mere combat, but combat would set the stage for his defeat. The first crew made the mistake of a lack of clarity of mission - it was half "let's talk to him" and half "and then kill him if he attacks us." They still came close thanks to Lightning spells. The second group had the advantage of a better main fighter, and total clarity of mission - "Get the bodies and escape if possible, if it's not, kill Sterick." Some excellent rolls on buffing potions helped immensely, too - but were countered by some improbably rolling by me for Sterick to keep him in the fight. It still cost them a headless PC.

In the end though, they got him.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Man Cave's awesome game world

I thought I had a good game world until I saw Clichea.

And I thought Clichea was my ideal world until I saw this:

Battles in the Land of Fowlwarren: our Fantasy Campaign

And I quote:

"Our campaign setting is based entirely on this cartoon which I came across last year:



"

!

!

!

Oh, my world of Felltower, Stericksburg, the Lost City of D'Abo (and her fabled bells) . . . it feels so overwrought now.

I may need to deploy people from Hopsland and Mallardia in my pool of hirelings . . .

Monday, October 16, 2017

DF Felltower, Session 93, Felltower 66 - Four Entered Felltower

Sunday was a scheduled Gamma Terra game, but one of the GT players couldn't make it. We'd have a very short crew. On top of that, the GM was busy right up until the night before game. So I volunteered to run Felltower instead. We still had a short crew, but since one of them was the player with the most powerful PC in the game, it seemed like it was the right move. We played Felltower and put off GT for a couple of weeks.

October 15th, 2017

Weather: Warm, wet.

Characters:
Ahenobarbus the Lacerator, human swashbuckler (250 points)
Desmond MacDougall, human wizard (250 points)
Hayden the Unnamed Knight, human knight (250 points)
Vryce, human knight (497 points)


After the disastrous delve the previous time, a group of PCs again attempted to crack the six double doors in the caverns past "the dragon cave." Word had spread about the last attempt pretty quickly, as Church alarms meant to warn about the Sterick's Tomb, better termed Sterick's Prison, having been breached. Add on research the PCs had commissioned, Quenton Gale's Reincarnation and coming back to tell his tale, and general open-mouthed recruiting and word was out.

They'd heard the history of Sterick and how he came to be placed in his prison, and that he'd sold his soul to a demon in return for being undying and unkillable. But to escape the prison, they needed him dead. It says something about the group (and the game) that Vryce decided he'd go fight him and then figure out how to destroy him and leave from inside the unopenable prison.

Vryce gathered together an entertaining group of volunteers:

- a short knight with a bad knee.
- a white-haired old wizard who can't remember people's names
- a red-haired, red-bearded cousin (or brother, or retainer - it's not clear) of the Barcas - a swashbuckler.

. . . and that was it. No one else would come, for pay or promises of loot. Ahenobarbus asked if they couldn't just sweep up folks from debtor's prison, death row, or the drunk tank, and then realized, oh, wait, that's probably us. It actually made the group more plausible that everyone was kind of odd, like only the really desperate came.*

They spent a long time gathering up materials and discussing plans - a couple hours in real terms - but the whole session was one fight, so I didn't rush anyway. Even so, they stocked up on healing potions, spell stones, gems of healing, food, water, chain to bind Sterick and chain to bind his sarcophagus, and buffing potions of all sorts . . . and then headed out only to arrive at the cave mouth and think, hey, we forgot something.

They decided they needed a scroll of Summon Spirit, because they'd heard that only Sterick's confessor, Father Martin Hauer*, knew the secret to actually destroying Sterick. But Sterick killed his confessor first, and no one could contact his soul. They figured, maybe that's the head that Sterick is carrying on his belt, and they could use the scroll once they had the head. (No one put two and two together and got, "If Summon Spirit doesn't work now, it won't work later, either.")

So they turned around and headed back to town. They got in before curfew, but had to wait it out until the next day. Queue up Vryce calling in to work and asking to use a personal day to get off on Monday, etc. etc. jokes.

The next morning, they headed out again.

This time they made it into the dungeon. Getting around was a little easier - the church provided them a map of the prison, meticulously drawn when they made it. To make a long story short, they wound their way around, avoiding trouble and going through door after door. They did one, took a side trip to gather mushrooms and rest, and then started back on the teleporting doors.

They ran into trouble on one, though, teleporting right into a bunch of crushrooms. The church told them monsters were periodically summoned into the complex and were attracted to the teleport chambers when people began to teleport. All part of the wards they set up to make rescuing Sterick difficult. In any case, the crushrooms charged. The PCs began to hack them apart, easily hitting them and mostly staying out of reach. But just as someone (I forget who) downplayed the danger (and Vryce warned them, "These things are dangerous"), one of them roll a 4 and critically hit Hayden (whose player had, just prior to start of play, decided to remove Luck and buy more ST instead. Oops.) It bit on a random location - another 4, Skull. It smashed Hayden's helmet and knocked him out. The others sprang into action to try and kill that one first - Desmond hit it with an Ice Dagger, Vryce cut it up, and Ahenobarbus finished off the one close to him. But it still managed to squeeze down on Hayden and inflict 60 injury to his skull after armor. Hayden was mortally wounded. They cut down the crushrooms, but then were stuck - no Great Healing, no Stop Bleeding, no nothing. What to do?

They retreated to the "mushroom chamber" and its improved Sanctity. Desmond tried a quick prayer (he's a seminary school dropout) and defaulted Esoteric Medicine (Holy), needing a 6. He rolled a 7. Hayden held on, though, so he prayed again and then tried again. This time, I figured his prayers were worth a +1 (gee, I'm so generous) . . . and he rolled another 7! Hayden was stabilized after two hours of chanting, praying, bandaging, etc. They fed him red healing mushrooms and healing potions and eventually got him to nearly full HP. That would be critical later.

After some more travel around, avoiding dead beetles, rats, live beetles, and whatnot, they reached the final door and went in.

They found Sterick's tomb, floating. On the ground were the headless bodies of their friends. No heads, though. That put paid to a plan to chain up the tomb, grab the bodies, and escape with the corpses for Resurrection before the doors could close. Vryce quaffed his Strength (+2) and Dexterity (a phenomenal +6!) potions.

They piled in to the room. Desmond started in with Flight spells and Vryce started to crush spellstones, starting with Blur -4 and Flight and then used a Great Haste spellstone and then Invisibility as the sarcophagus opened. Sterick sat up and demanded to know who they were. Vryce glided up and struck his arm. He badly wounded Sterick's arm but it was clear he wasn't crippled despite the wound - and Sterick managed to Dodge the second strike of the pair as Vryce turned visible! He snapped out his sword and his axe and jumped into the air and struck Vryce.

Vryce and Sterick fought in the air, each climbing for superior height until they ended up level near the ceiling. Vryce went with a full-skill Feint on his first turn and then split his attacks on his second turn into Rapid Strike, heavily deceptive. Sterick tried one Feint but once it was clear Vryce was better than him (thanks to his potion-amped DX 20) he went for axe swing followed by sword-and-axe combo.

They exchanged attacks for several seconds while Hayden and Ahenobarbus moved up from behind. Vryce circled to get Sterick surrounded, but at the cost of being unable to parry for his friends. Sterick kept moving to face Vryce without exposing himself to too many back shots. Vryce's attacks hit home most of the time, thanks to some excellent Feint rolls. Often Sterick defended with penalties in the teens despite rolling very well on his own Feint counters. Even as he was badly hurt, he kept moving - slowly after a few strikes, but still going.

Ahenobarbus got cocky and moved up next to him, glancing down in to the sarcophagus and seeing a bunch of heads. The he struck. Sterick parried his attacks and, since Vryce was momentarily out of easy range, attacked Ahenobarbus instead. He used Feint, crushed Ahenobarbus's defenses, and then hacked him twice, putting him well below -5xHP. Ahenobarbus's decapitated corpse joined the rest.

Hayden was more careful, and managed to get behind Sterick and cut him twice in the back, once bouncing and one maximum damage hit wounding him. Sterick ignored him for the moment, pressed by Vryce. His counters never touched Vryce, as his only critical hit was foiled by Vryce's luck.

Again, Sterick took damage from Vryce, suffering a greater pounding then he took in the first fight, but routinely made his rolls to stay active (I rolled a 3 on an early on, a 4 on the next one, and nothing above a 9 for a 13 or less base target). Hayden tried him again, and this time annoyed Sterick enough to distract him from Vryce. He took two chops in the neck for his trouble - and went to -41 HP, made his death check (and stunning roll!) and kept his head. He backed off as Vryce moved in to keep him away. Desmond hit Sterick with an Ice Dagger and it failed to penetrate his armor.

Finally, though, Vryce hit him solidly and Sterick fell out of the air with a smell of sulfur in the air, gasping something like, "I'm not finished yet."

Vryce landed next to him and started to just hack him, pausing briefly to take off Sterick's invisible helmet and toss it aside (it appeared, as it's only invisible while in correct use.) Desmond insisted on rolling him over and taking the head off of his belt. Vryce said, "What head?" He hadn't noticed (PC or player) that he's got a head strapped on to his belt.

Vryce kept trying to hack him, but realized he was doing nothing - Sterick's inert body was immune to further harm! Desmond started to unroll his scroll to use it, but suddenly realized he needed to look at the head before he started spellcasting. It was animate! It looked fresh - pale, bloodless, but fresh. The eyes were open and looking at him, the mouth moving.

He started talking to it. "Are you Martin Hauser?" (Annoyed look) He couldn't read it's lips (Per-10 is a tough default, and no one thought to ask him to speak slowly or mouth along or anything like that to fish for a bonus.) Then he said, "Blink once for yes, twice for no."

They started a slow process of guesses of what to do. Eventually, Desmond decided to use an alphabet board. He quickly started to write in Ahenobarbus's and Hayden's splattered blood on the floor . . . until Hayden croaked, "Don't you have some wizard's kit or something?"
"Oh, sure, I have paper and ink."

So fine, he stopped writing in blood and used paper. With an alphabet board, they got Father Martin to spell out what he needed.

I M-U-S-T S-P-E-A-K

What now?

Desmond blew into Father Martin's throat to get air across his vocal cords. In breathy words, he told them to face him to Sterick - who was by now chained up and padlocked, with Vryce standing huffing and puffing over him. He tol Vryce to kill Sterick again, as Sterick began to wake up and speak. Vryce split his skull and put him right to -5xHP or below.

Still powered by Desmond's air blowing, Father Martin banished Sterick to Hell.

A weird red whispy smoke emerged from Sterick's mouth, and hovered above them and looked them all over. "I'll see you in Hell."

With that, he disappeared.

The doors clicked open, as Father Martin expired.

After this was the task of healing up Hayden.

Next, they stripped Sterick of his stuff and debated bringing his corpse back. They realized this would add a lot of extra work, for one, and the church said they wanted him "destroyed" if possible, for two. They went with destroyed, and burned him to ash with alchemist's fire and flammable oil, and used his bonfire to burn Gale's corpse as well (Quenton the goblin saying, "I don't need that thing anymore" to Vryce as a pre-delve instruction.)

Next was gathering loot and corpses. Loot included their wish ring - worn by Sterick - Sterick's baton of office, his necklace, his personal seal ring, and two bent coins (passage coins for his eyes, bent so they couldn't be used according to custom.) They also took his armor - some of it fantastically well made and highly enchanted glossy-black heavy plate - and weapons, Magebane (a very fine balanced meteoric thrusting broadsword) and Shieldslayer (a Quick Draw dwarven balanced fine throwing axe that destroys shields on impact).

It took a few trips, but they got everyone out. First Desmond grabbed three heads and Vryce and Hayden carried corpses. Next, they left Desmond outside and made a few more trips in and back, luckily not encountering any lethal foes.

With all of the bodies on the surface, they send Hayden down to town for help. He went to the church, explained they'd destroyed Sterick, and asked for help getting bodies to the church for Resurrection. Some strong-bodied acolytes came and helped.

The bodies were assembled and the last wish of the Ring of Minor Wishes was used to put the bodies back together and restore them to "just slain." Still, all of time can't be rolled back, so they had a -1 to Resurrection rolls. Still beats the -20+ they'd have had otherwise.

Resurrection followed for most of the slain, with spiritually costly versions for Brother Ike and Hjalmarr, and a failed attempt for Hasdrubul (he needed a 14, and rolled a 16). The rest succeeded, and Raggi told his story of waking back up and going for his axe and mouthing off to Sterick. Veronico and Raska were given Final Rest.

XP for the session was 5 apiece, as everyone reached their loot threshold after selling some of Sterick's stuff, and each received 1 xp for defeating Baron Sterick the Red, a signature boss-level encounter of Felltower.


* Ahenobarbus's player said it was a sentence, "Prison or Felltower." That would explain a lot of the delvers - five delves or until dead, whichever comes first.

** Who kept getting called "Martin Hauser" by Desmond. On purpose? Maybe. He doesn't know any of the PC's names, either.

Notes:

Sterick held up longer than I'd expected. The fight with Vryce was a superhero fight - both flying, one with weapon skill-28 and two magic weapons vs. one buffed up to weapon skill-34(!) and carrying a magical sword wrested from some other high-skilled foe. But the 6-point difference in skills told, and often Sterick was forced to defend at -12 or more. He went deeply negative before he finally failed a roll and dropped. Last time he was solidly negative near the end, but one or two more hits could have been enough to put him down (especially that 18d Lightning spell because of the effect through armor.) Vryce was able to crack his DR 15+ armor regularly with his 4d+12 attacks more easily.

Will there be massive negative repercussions for selling Sterick's stuff in town, having killed him, etc. etc.? No. Not that kind of game. All but Desmond paid 5 points for a +1 Reputation in town, though.

Brother Ike was given Resurrection for "free" - it cost him 30 character points, taking him from the mid-160s to the mid-130s. He'll slowly grow back to 50% of Hjalmarr's points, but I'll set a per-session cap so it's not just a snap back to where he was but a slow grow. Like I said before, there is a metaphysical cost to be paid to come back, and either you do it through money (which goes for sacrifices, good deeds and charity, etc.) or parts of your being or both.

Has' had enough cash in his 401(r) to pay for his own revivification. It failed, and he had most of the cash needed for another one for Ahenobarbus. I can't recall who fronted the rest of the cash for him. Raggi I just declared had 15,000 sp in uncashed empties and money laying around, since I know the party would pay for him otherwise. That seemed unfair since Raggi's lack of cash has everything to do with me no keeping track. So saying he had a 401(r) equivalent seemed fair to the players.

Now the PCs need to get some armor modified to fit people, finish passing out Has's stuff (Desmond already got his spiffy magical six-fingered vampire armor), and so on. Magebane went to Ahenobarbus (argument for this: "Hey, I lost a 350-point guy here!"), Shieldslayer to Hjalmarr, Sterick's armor to Vryce, his spidersilk underarmor is currently up for debate and/or sale, his seal ring to . . . someone. The other stuff was sold.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Felltower pre-summary

We played a session of Felltower tonight.

It featured:

- three new PCs:

Ahenobarbus the Lacerator, human swashbuckler
Desmond McSomethingorother, crusty old man wizard
Hayden the Unnamed Knight, human knight*

- Vryce using up scads of high-value consumable magical gear

- Crushrooms crushing people

- a high-risk do-or-die mission to slay Sterick the Red, with no one sure how that could be done

- a big brawl, with a casualty or two

- a headless cleric's help

- a permanent PC death.


* Actually, just Hayden, but I had "Unnamed Knight" for his name and kept it on after. We'll see if it sticks. I think it's funny, but we'll see.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Every statue a gorgon's victim?

Do your players - or you if you're playing - assume every statue is a gorgon's victim?

Warning: Tiny metal breasts after the cut.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Age of Ravens & Rolemaster

This post made me very happy:

Retrocember Rolemaster: Bringing Law to the Ursine Dunes

This is awesome. Especially this:

"ARMING YOURSELF
One of the largest challenges to running Rolemaster comes from the combat charts. Weapons have individual charts. A successful roll usually moves players over to an additional critical table (Slash, Crush, Pierce, Heat, Shock, etc). That’s the cornerstone of the system and why it’s dismissively referred to as Chartmaster.

But that’s also the secret sauce.

Those charts are great, wild, and fun.


Yes, yes, and yes.

And yes.

I totally agree, and I've said that very same thing before.

Fans of Rolemaster might complain about system holes, weirdly distributed secondary skills, Initiative, the disconnect of class/levels/skill points/stat-based point allotments meshing, etc. but play because the crits and weapon effect charts are awesome.

I'm very excited to see how this goes. I love Rolemaster even though I don't play it anymore. I hope game summaries (complete with crit descriptions) follow that post!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

DF: Cut Rate Resurrection III (Felltower edition)

A while back I wrote two posts on cut-rate Resurrection for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy:

Cut-Rate Resurrection

Cut-Rate Resurrection II

With a number of PCs dead in my Felltower game, and with our switch to the DFRPG as the main game engine*, questions have arisen about how we'll deal with Resurrection and its cut-rate varieties.

Felltower Resurrection

The church in town can cast Resurrection. Cost is $15,000. Results are not guaranteed - results are subject to the rules for the Resurrection spell from GURPS Magic, p. 94. This is a change from Exploits, p. 62-63, to maintain consistency with how we've run Resurrection the whole game so far. PCs are not suddenly available to be restored, no fail, no roll, no concerns about time between death and healing, thanks to this rules switchover. Felltower is GURPS DFRPG on hard mode!

Cut-Rate Resurrection works per Exploits, p. 67. Every $500 or fraction thereof you are short on the required donation** is -1 character point. The player may pick and choose what they'd like to lose, subject to GM approval - you can't pare away skills and advantages and purchases you regret and save money doing so.


. . . and that's how we'll do it.


* Not a big change, but still, lots of little changes here and there.

** Which I assume is to cover the recharge costs and material energy costs of healing, not just their time. In other words, they're not price-gouging you and leaving the poor dead. They're taking a required sacrifice because something must be expended in order to effect the return of the dead to life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lost Hall of Tyr - so, so close

Douglas Cole's Lost Hall of Tyr Kickstarter is so, so close. $2,485 pledged, $2,500 to fund.

Someone go throw him $15 so the poor guy can exhale!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Spellcaster hirelings in DF

Dungeon Fantasy 15 has a number of spellcaster templates, for both 62-point helpers and 125-point henchmen.



In my own game, I tend to make caster hirelings much less commonly available than non-caster hirelings.

I have a few reasons for this.

Difficulty of making them

GURPS character generation is a lot of fun, and I love what you can do with it, but making a list of 15-30 spells is not as fun for me. It's tough to make a good set of choices when you're making your own guy. NPCs can be more throwaway but they need to be effective in their niche. So they take time to make. While someone can hire an archer and I can pretty much go from template to loaded out NPC with a personality in a few minutes, if that, a caster will take me more time. I'm loath to spend that time if I don't need to, and I'm really unhappy spending that time at game (especially as I also field requests and questions about actual PCs.)

Belated requests

Usually people don't know they want or need a caster until the day of game. "We need a wizard of any kind" might be answerable with a 125-point Apprentice, if I can sit down and make one quickly. Or if I have one handy. What if there are specific requests? When you add on "with See Invisible and Levitate and enough FP to get us all over the castle wall" it's a bigger problem. Then I need a fully-made wizard with certain spells. "No" ends up being easier than "make a roll, and if you roll well, everyone leave me alone for 10 minutes while I make up a guy."

High Expectations

No matter what, once a caster gets introduced it's common for people to start seeing them as full-fledged master (whatevers.) Acolyte? Cleric. Apprentice necromancer? Master necromancer. Beginner elementalist with Stone Missile-13? 18d Stone Missile Sniper capable of firing into melee without hesitation. I exaggerate a bit, but not by much. The expectations rise. A 125-point guy who serves as a bandage for a serious gap in available spellcasting needs gets seen as a full-out replacement for a 250-point delver.

On top of that, skill expectations are high - all casters getting a -1 to energy cost for skill, able to maintain spells for free, and succeeding in casting despite penalties? That's a feature of well-made 250-point delvers. That's where a good measure of those extra 125 points go.

Annoying the PCs

If you do get a good, effective, well-designed caster, then it tends to eat into what the PC casters do. This simultaneously annoys the player due to overlap, and makes for less likelihood the NPC gets used. "We already have a necromancer" or "We already have an artillery mage" means the guy doesn't get hired. Or it means he gets hired and people choose to use their non-caster PC foe the session, turning this back into the High Expectations issue.


This tends to be why you don't see a lot of caster hirelings in my games, and see the same ones over and over once you do. I add in game explanations, too - casters being less common, wizards being more suspicious, the church being unhappy that delvers show up every three months saying, "Funny story, Father so-and-so died and was eaten, who else you got?" But a good portion of it is the mechanical issues of making them up, designing them well, having them ready to go, and then the expectations issue.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Casting Room Miniatures sale

Casting Room Miniatures, part of Wargames Foundry, is having a 20% off sale until the end of October with this code:

CRM20%

I'm a big fan of their work, and have a number of their adventurer minis. And they have a Free Samples policy worth taking advantage of: Free Samples.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Prepping for Felltower & the "Rescue Mission"

I'm busy reviewing characters for Felltower.

Originally we'd planned to play Gamma Terra for our next session, but one of our core GT players can't make it.

So it's Felltower for our next game.

Quenton Gale reincarnated, which allows for some very easy explanation of how people know what happened during the last session. An eye-witness to all but the very end, and post-end eye-witness, is available.

Some loose ends were noted - before Quenton actually died, he got a glimpse of the decapitated heads* of most of his companions.

There is one lingering question - "Red Raggi" Ragnarson. He dropped with a vicious cut to the neck. But the players know out-of-game he wasn't dead, that Hard to Kill kicked in. They'll know in-game, at least the vets will, that Raggi has woken back up from being "dead" before.

On top of that, Raggi has Recovery and his random healing potion selection (rolled each time) came up with a Great Healing Potion. So he was at -1 x HP, and has a healing potion that, on average, will heal him 28 HP (4d, x2 for 23 HP).

As long as Sterick the Red didn't take his head, like he did the others, he could actually be alive . . . although water would be a major issue even if they have plenty of food. Quenton didn't see his head before he died.

And does Sterick have some ability to make undead? He had draugr bodyguards, but draugr are created by dead who can't rest in peace. You generally don't just make them. He may have had more powerful undead friends, or ways to make them, but there wasn't much detail available.

So Raggi is a big question mark. Alive, somehow? Undead? Simply and disappointingly dead? The last would be anti-climactic but it's what happened to everyone else.


Beyond that, there is the big concern that even backed by Vryce (Dryst's player and thus Dryst almost certainly being unavailable), Sterick will just add the new guys to the pile of corpses. They will be equal in numbers to last time, have a more effective core fighter, but all of the others will be significantly weaker. Quenton won't be, but he may or may not make the trip - given the option to bring a different PC his player may well do so.

"Let's add NPCs!" sounds like a good plan, except that it's a small spherical chamber with a lethal foe. Hirelings won't last more than a single sword or axe blow against Sterick, and will simply be in the way of better, more lethal PCs while alive and Bad Footing while dead. The better NPCs (Orcish Bob, say, or Deadeye Slim) are merely 125 points, and can hold their own against Worthy foes and beat up Fodder but a clear Boss like Sterick is beyond their ability to deal with. Remember those Deceptive Attacks at -7, backing up Feints - again, they're one second from being a movement obstacle and a $15,000 charge to Resurrect if you want to make up for that.


Also, the Wish the PCs have is quite limited. It's powerful, but it's not an all-powerful wish or even a Great Wish. It's a lesser version, subject to much greater limitations. So it's not a "alter reality to how you can phrase it in a single sentence" but rather a catch-all spell that does things normal spells can't or don't (or replicates what one spell can and does, if you like.) There is a clever plan to use it to allow to get the slain characters back, or at least make it possible to get them back despite a -1 per day Resurrection penalty. But it's not a Restore from Save Game or CTRL-Z spell. The players have both a chance to get their old guys back but don't have unlimited time and space in which to do it.

So we'll see how this goes.


* or the heads of his decapitated companions, however it's better to express that.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bones Young Dragons

I haven't gotten a lot of painting done, but I did finish these guys up except for the bases:



They came out pretty well - fairly standard "green" dragons. Still, they look attractive. I guess I need to put some young dragons into my game somewhere, along with all of the big ones!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Video Games to Finish / Never Finish

I have a number of video games I just haven't ever fully finished.

Games to Finish

Ultima IV - I never did finish this game, although I played it a lot back in the day (well, co-played it with my cousin R~). I got stuck finding the stones in the dungeons this last playthrough. So I located my savegame tonight and restored it to my current PC. I will get this one done. I do really want to check this one off - it's just such a special concept of a game.

Darklands - I've slain dragons and disrupted cults, but I haven't followed through on the full devil-worshipping cult thing. I need to gear up a little and just track down the witch's meetings and get to it before I completely forget what any of my cryptic game notes mean. Ultima has some of the same issue - I need to really sit down and look outside of the game to see what I've done in the game. No automap, no game logs, no quest lists - it's just a lot of bookkeeping and it makes it hard to pick a game up months or years later and get right back to it.

Fantasy General - I was doing well until a) I hit a very tough mission and b) I went on a visit to my family abroad. That was sufficient to derail my play; I need to get back to this and finish it up.

Numera - This one I haven't even started. I backed the Kickstarter, and it was so late that by the time it arrived I didn't want to invest time in a game. So I waited for a major patch; one came, but I still waited. I haven't even fired it up once. I should do that - I sank $15 into this, I should get some fun out of it.

X-Com: Apocalypse - Another game I was playing until a trip to Japan, and then I set it aside and didn't come back to it. I've won it before, back in the day, but I was enjoying my replay through it.

Sam & Max Hit the Road - Have it, haven't played it. I would like to, as I'm a fan of Sam & Max.

I have a bunch of games GOG gave me for free (Steam, not so much), that I may play at some time: Neverwinter Nights Diamond, Ultima: Savage Lands, Akalabeth. We'll see.

Games to Not Bother With

Bard's Tale II / III - As much as I love Bard's Tale, II and III frustrate me. I just can't work up any enthusiasm to finish either of them.

Wasteland II - I finished this a couple of times, but my last play through just ended with a whimper when I got tired of it. I think I'm done here. Wasteland itself, the original, never held any interest for me.

Dungeon Keeper - I think I've had my fun here. It's repetitive after a few missions.

I have some others, but not ones I've spent any time on. And I'm really hurting for time now - but when I'm overwhelmed with work, I often find 10-15 minutes here and there to play video games to get a mental break from work. So maybe questing after Avatarhood might do, or blowing up the city to save it in X-Com.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ogre on Steam

The Ogre computer game is out, released on Steam:



It's $24.99, which is bit more price:value than I'd probably get out of it these days. And if I love it it'll actually cost me more as I play instead of doing paying work. Heh. But I'll keep it on my wish list and see about Christmas or Steam sales. I am just passing along the word with this post . . .

New Spell: Rebuke Evil

If you missed it, Sean Punch added a new spell to the DFRPG:

Rebuke Evil

It's an anti-evil spell that's available to wizards, clerics, and druids alike.

I'd probably add some negative prereqs - you can't be Excommunicated, you can't generally be evil (a combo of traits and actions, not a specific list of traits). But otherwise, this seems pretty good. It's definitely going on the cleric list - clerics of the Good God causing evil beings to take damage and flee is very in-setting for Felltower. I'd just need to say the Good God started to add it.

Druids and wizards - not yet. But it's a nice spell.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Power Score on pre-set travel encounters

One blog I really enjoy reading is Sean McGovern's "Power Score."* His "How to Run" series, giving useful (and specific) guidance on published adventures, is especially good.

On 10/2/17 he put up one about The Tomb of Annihilation, and how to run that.

Sean's stuff tends towards stories and scenes more than my own gaming. But his effective use of NPCs, his approach of tying the PCs to the setting and the setting to the PCs, and the way he tightly connects events all appeal to me. You can see similarities in how I make everything in my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy / Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game campaign link back to the central megadungeon and everything center on the PCs.

What's getting me to post about this particular post of his is this, under Planning the Journey

"Let's make a bunch of travel days. These can be used when the group travels to a hex that doesn't have anything special on it."

Essentially, the idea is planned drop-in encounters. They aren't hex-specific, they're need specific - when you need something to make a hex interesting, or a travel day more than just a tick on the calendar, you've got these days queued up.

This is a cool thing to do with random encounters, too. Wandering monsters and random events can be these one-time pre-planned event capsules that you just drop in. Not a new idea (I mean, Jim Ward even co-wrote a book of them), but his are especially well executed:

- some are positive, some are negative;

- they all tie into player actions or potential player actions (climb trees, interact with animals, fight monsters);

- they give clues about and action-based investments in the setting (wildroot, wakka nuts, friendly animals, beautiful vistas);

- they use the setting (undead, dinosaurs, undead dinosaurs);

- they give the PCs ways to do the stuff the players will want to do (basically, use their abilities and be awesome);

- they use specific NPCs that have a role in the PC's adventure without taking the scene away from the PCs.

I think this is easier in wilderness than in dungeons, but pre-set "vignette" encounters are a great thing to have handy. I've done some - a sword-spirit in Felltower, an octopus blossom encounter in the jungles outside the Lost City of D'Abo, dragon-spotting in the Cold Fens. I should do more, and I should take more care to include ones that just highlight color and interest as well as bring danger.

Highly recommended, even if you don't want to run Tomb of Annihilation or 5e D&D.





* Although the white-on-black really bothers my eyes - I have to glance away from my screen for a few seconds and blink before I can face the standard black-on-white screens. Still, the content is worth the blinking.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

Dungeons of Tenochtitlan

Aztecs and a tunnel full of treasure:

Dungeons of Tenochtitlan (not the real article title)

What's interesting to me is that this is under a swamp-based city. Well, drained swamp based city.

The Aztecs are just interesting in a lot of ways - from their religion to their approach to warfare, to their end at the hands of Spanish cheerfully allying with all of the people the Aztecs stepped on to get to the top of the heap. Add in a dungeon and the DF campaign writes itself.

"The conquistadors departed, sealing the tunnel as they left, destroying the religious symbols. But the Aztec mummy-lich-wights in the tunnels below were not destroyed, as popular belief held. According to rumor, they're still there . . . and this map you found to the tunnel below indicates their treasure was not all recovered by Cortes and his 400 hirelings . . . "

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Recruiting new delvers for Felltower

Our next session is a few weeks away. But based on the last session, there is a strong need for new delvers. Only one of the players who lost a PC last time has an in-play PC they can pull out next time - and that player retired that PC and doesn't seem interested in running him again.*

So Vryce is apparently gathering a team of delvers to go find his old adventuring companions. Coincidentally there will be just as many of them available as there are players who need new PCs. The universe moves in metasterious ways. Presumably he's putting up posters and circulating the word.

I have to wonder what the criers and posters and such are saying.

"Wanted: Foolish men and women for a dangerous expedition assured of killing some or all. Must be willing to split the cool magical loot with the guys who failed last time."

"Operation Go Get My Dead Buddies: Volunteers only. Guarantee healing if you're alive, Final Rest if you're not. Impressive delvers may be hired full time."

"Need More Income? 5,000 sp or more per day!"
Sundays only. Must provide own weaponry and Resurrection funds."


Or maybe Dryst will write one?

"Servants Required!
Combat-ready servants required for totally safe mission. Must be willing to die so that Dryst can escape. Experience opening doors and carrying loot a plus!"


Mostly I'm being silly, here, but still. What kind of people are looking for this kind of work?

* Gale's player retired Christoph, the scout.
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