Friday, May 20, 2022

Link for Friday 5/20/22

Just one link for the week:

- Video: What games get wrong about war

One game I really enjoyed, War in the East, is especially bad on the "exact detail" level. You know to the tank, the squad, the truck the capacity of your army. But it is good on all of the others - morale, non-combatants, supply, lack of knowledge of enemy formations, difference between killed and wounded. The biggest trouble you have as the Germans in WITE are trucks, roads, and enough construction troops to upgrade the rails quickly . . . and the cost of swapping to better leaders over the better politically-connected. The Soviets suffer more from lack of good leadership early and the difficulty in organizing your forces in the face of German man-to-man superiority. And trucks. No one has enough trucks until long after the issue is mostly decided in one way or the other. Not even then for the Germans, in my playthroughs.

Tabletop games are especially notable for the "100% kill" issue. RPGs tend to assume only extermination is victory, many foes must be killed to defeat, and indeed often you can't get maximal XP (the minimums standard of PC expectations) by killing them all. Add that to the total knowledge of your own capabilities, down to precise knowledge of your chances of success, etc. and the usual lack of morale . . . and you get something very different from reality, no matter how realistic or not the system purports to be.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Rulings from Session 169

Just a couple of quick rulings from Session 169:

- Attacking into Close Combat is -2, but generally doing some other DX-based activity while in an already-occupied hex is -4. Rules-specified different penalties supercede this, but if not, in general expect a -4 for "while I step into close combat" or "while standing in a hex occupied by another combatant."

- You can attack to grappple a dropped weapon if it's your turn, the weapon is dropped on your turn, and you can reach it. You can't lean into another hex to get it, bobble it with a foot into your hex, or attempt to grab it if it is not your current, active turn unless you took an appropriately-triggered Wait to do so.

That's pretty much it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Loadout videos for U.S. Army specialists - Cav Scout, Dog Handler, Sniper

I mostly do my links on Fridays, but these have a central theme. These are loadout videos done by Business Insider over on YouTube. They feature U.S. Army soldiers discussing their carry loadouts. I found these interesting, plus potentially useful for gaming.


- PCs tend to heavily pack (or overpack) weapons. These guys tend to heavily pack uniform kit - socks, boots, camo gear, etc.

- Some very plain bits of civilian gear show up. For example, the same Lumocolor pens I use for my Chessex battlemats are carried by the Cavalry Scout for his maps.

- Packing order is generally critical in my own experience, and that seems reflected here.

Good stuff.

US Army Sniper Breaks Down His Field Combat Gear | Loadout

Every Piece Of Gear In An Army Cavalry Scout’s 72-Hour Bag | Loadout

Every Piece Of Gear In A Military Dog Handler’s Field Bag | Loadout


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Foundry VTT issues I'd love to have resolved

Here are few things that trip me up in Foundry VTT with the GURPS module:

- light sources. I really want to be able to turn on light sources for DF and have them just show up . . . and show the dim areas - where there is a penalty to rolls - to clearly show up. Otherwise, everyone assumed bright = bright, and -0. That's not ideal.

- walls. I'd love the "walls" layer to be visible while I'm on other levels. Or just have an option to make walls visible to players, not just block light.

- visible margins. I'd like to have an option to make a roll, hide the roll, but reveal only the margin of success to the players. Something like, "Norker rolls . . . makes it by 4." That way I can roll contests and have visible results, but not visible skills.

Overall, though, as we've gotten more skilled with the system, it's become much easier . . . and it's a versitile base VTT with an excellent rules package on top of it.

Monday, May 16, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, Session 169, Felltower 121 - Second GFS - Part II

Actual Date: 5/16/2022
Game Date: 4/10/2022

Aldwyn, human knight (360 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice (180 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (420 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
     1 tough skeleton (105 points)
"Mild" Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (349 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (379 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)

We began where we left off, with the PCs cornered in the depths of Felltower by an onrush of a gigantic hallway-filling white-tinged blue ooze from behind and by three identically-colored but smaller oozes from their left. There were no other exits.

They quickly headed towards the three smaller oozes, who rushed them and went right up the ceiling - heading for the wizards and skeletons. The big one oozed up just as quickly. The front-line fighters tried to stop the small oozes but they were able to evade right past. Varmus throw an Explosive Fireball at the giant ooze but it burned the skeletons a little and didn't harm the ooze at all. Wyatt and Ulf pulled out hairs - Wyatt head, Ulf beard - to cast Continual Light on, but never managed to do so.

Invisible Gerry ordered his three normal skeletons to fight the oozes. They did, and blocked access to him and Varmus at least briefly. The PCs then ran, leaving the skeletons to fight the oozes. They managed to hold off the oozes for a few seconds, which was enough for the PCs to get a lot of space between them and the oozes. They ran around left and left, and then ran straight ahead to avoid ending up in the dead end they'd emerged from. The two smaller oozes were pursuing them again from behind and the big ooze coming from their left - it had moved to get them from the other direction (!) and left them no choice but forward.

Ahead they saw a room but no exits, and ran in, hoping for side exits. Instead, they saw six small levers on the far wall. Ulf and Wyatt started their usual "let's not just flick things randomly" but then Gerry moved up and did that, flicking the left switch down and then the one next to it down. There was a black wall suddenly in front of the entranceway, then it was gone, and the oozes were gone. Thanks to Dark Vision Gerry could see the hallway out led to difference places.

The barbarians heard a scraping noise they said was clearly claws on stone, so Gerry threw some more levers and the black came back. This time, they were in another room - a larger one. They were further from the levers, but they were still there . . . just in the middle of a wider wall. There were also three switches on the right wall.

Some investigation showed them a secret door - detected largely thanks to See Secrets, and careful and specific examination by Gerry revealed the middle switch of the (new) three was the most used. So they flicked that and the secret door, to their original left, opened up, revealing a hallway to a T intersection. They stopped and did some energy transfers, and Ulf cast Seeker a couple of times on his lost clothing and shield. Both times it revealed the path from where they were to a not-so-distant location. Ulf tried to explain the path to the group, and Wyatt tranlated it into much clearer directions.

That done, they headed out and turned left . . .

. . . and saw things. To the left they just turned to, there were a bunch of norkers, but with worse posture, more gangly arms, and no weapons. To the right, there were norkers and one of them (thanks entirely due to mapping and lighting control setting issues in Foundry VTT) saw a gith with an axe (which once I rectified things, they could not see any longer because he was out of their vision range . . . I miss an actual tabletop.)

Initiative fell with the (waiting) foe, who rushed them while they were still in "turning the corner marching order" and before the PCs could neatly set up to defend a choke point. The foes rushed in.

In a close-in brawl, the norkers were able to really bring it to the unarmed PCs. Wyatt kicked on but hurt his foot. Varmus put Flaming Armor on Aldwyn, but the flames didn't disuade the axe-wielding armed norkers from attacking him. They did, and managed to land a few blows and put him down on his back. A seemingly endless randomly swung set of attacks hit his groin more often than not (ouch) and cut him down. Bruce tried to beat one of the unarmed guys to death but kept feeling a tingling even as his fists did little or nothing to them. Crogar kept dodging, as did tough skeleton. Gerry threw Flash and dazzled a bunch of foes and blinded a couple. The PCs backed off a bit. Aldwyn was eventually hacked to death, just as Bruce grabbed one of the unarmed guys by the torse, then lifted him and pitched him sideways into another norker. Neither fell, however, thanks to a good pair of DX rolls.

Gerry put Levitation on Aldwyn just before he died, and as Bruce cleared out he pulled Aldwyn to the ceiling.

Wyatt kicked to disarm against a blinded norker, and rolled a 3, and then handily won the contest of skills with his potion-enhanced DX 20. The axe went flying into the tough skeleton's hex. Wyatt stepped in and kick-flipped it up into his hands a second later.

That's where we had to leave it, with the PCs backing off and getting pushed into by their armed foes, and Wyatt finally armed.


- the PCs did a lot better with the oozes than I expected. The lack of a Rule of 16 with spells meant the high skill levels of Gerry really could hold out well. Even so, he lost all three of his lesser skeletons. It'll cost money to replace - and equip - three more in town.

- those mana-eating oozes are basically manaplasms. Sean Punch specifically calls them out as unfair in lots of ways. I agreed, so I use them in bunches plus a giant one with more power and juiced their stats up a bit. It's that kind of game.

- Wyatt rolled a 3 on the "to hit" to disarm. That meant no defenses, but I didn't allow it to be an automatic disarm. Maybe that was insufficiently generous, but I doubt anyone would accept a more generous ruling in favor of a foe. He wanted to kick the axe out and then catch it - but he didn't want to step into the hex. He also wanted to kick-flip the axe into his hand, but at reach one. I shot both down. Yes, it would be cool. No, it wouldn't make any sense based on reach, and allowing it would allow it to be a regular thing - that you can kick-ready a weapon from "nearby" not just in actual reach. Generous ruling always come back to bite me as standardized tactics. Point of fact - there was a lot of "shouldn't their axes be totally burned up by now?" after 2-3 seconds of single hits to a foe inflicting 1d6 damage on those axes. Enemy axes are extremely fragile, but fully lootable at max value, and PC axes are immune. Eyeroll here.

- I'd advise my players to read the rules about handing items to other characters, since they're bound to want Wyatt to pass the axe to Crogar or Bruce.

- MVP was a toss-up between Wyatt (for style points in combat) and Gerry (for basically doing everything else - skeleton use, levers, Flash spell, etc.). So they rolled a die and Wyatt won.

- The game should have been much better, but we had three issues: an inability to get the manual initiative order to work, the weird lack of some actors (monsters) that I know I put into the system in the past week . . . and mapping issues. I went in and put in most of the missing actors during the session but it slowed us down a bit. Next time it'll run more smoothly.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Felltower pre-summary

I'll be brief:

- we ended mid-fight

- the PCs managed to temporarily evade the oozes, but at the cost of a number of skeletons

- they stumbled across some levers and in desperation flicked a few

- they ended up elsewhere, so they flicked more levers and ended up even more elsewhere

- the ended in yet another room, flicked some other levers they found, and headed out a secret door opened by one

- they used Seeker on Ulf's stuff and found it was outside the secret door

- they headed through and were attacked from both directions by norkers, some Gith shadowing the norkers in the background, and some somewhat softer-skinned norkers with stooped postures, green-and-light-grey patched skin, dull eyes, and longish arms.

- in a big brawl they managed to back off to form a line but at the cost of Aldwyn getting hacked to death.

We ended there.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Felltower preview

Tomorrow we'll be playing Felltower with a reduced crew, but sufficient for the job.

The big question is, how can they get out? They're in an ooze-filled level with no gear, no non-magical sources of light, and no idea how to get out. Or where their stuff is but only a big clue where it isn't - the last room they were in.

So once they escape - somehow - they need to get to their stuff, or get to new stuff, or get to home. One or more of those.

Frankly I'm really curious how it will go. But I'm still not looking forward to the slow slog of a potential fight in the dark. Still, answering the weird questions is what gaming is all about.
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