Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Sporadic Posting Notice

I post daily here at Dungeon Fantastic, but unfortunately I have a lot of my plate right now. So I will post when I have a chance over the next two weeks or so, but probably less than every day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Writing Update

Busy week writing, so my posting here might be intermittant. - I'm 30-35% done with one project. - I'm tackling a major section in the other. - Two projects at one time is helpful for when I need to switch gears, but still, I don't think I'll do this again with these size projects. - Formatting is always the toughest part. - So is, oddly, the fixed, known crunchy details. You can't just write down what you think, you need to go look it up and ensure the wording and numbers are exactly right. "Close enough" is good enough with creative work. Sure, you chose words that weren't as good or elegant as they could be, and that guy would look better with a red shirt than a brown one and you could have had a theme going in the work. But it's not wrong. Crunchy can easily be wrong. - If you combine crunchy with formatting, your time evaporates faster than you can say, "Did I stay up all night playing just one more turn of Civilization?" Still, I like where these two projects are going.

Monday, May 3, 2021

More notes from Cold Fens 10

Yesterday was Cold Fens 10 - Session 151 overall in our campaign.

- There is a fair bit of what might get termed pixel-bitching going on recently. It happened with the orichalcum doors over multiple sessions. It's happening a bit here, too, with the PCs basically trying to "clear the map." They got directions from a slain foe thanks to Summon Spirit, and have been struggling to follow them. So they're just exploring around the un-explored areas trying to find something that might be "rough" and "dry." Any hint of "dry" means a search. It's time-consuming.

I must shoulder some responsibility here, as clearly I'm not providing enough clues to work from. But I do think here they've had a few clear clues - even clear directions - but they managed to not follow them. And not to go places they've seen that are of interest - in the Cold Fens and in Felltower, too. So I'm not really sure what is the appropriate thing to do in order to give the players enough tools make decisions without, basically, telling them what to do. I tend to err on the side of saying less. I need to think on this. Otherwise it might just be moving around the map until they find, by process of elimination, what they seek.

- Speaking of maps, people have mentioned their "map" a few times. The mapper is Ulf, I think, who had all of his supplies waterlogged and his old map ruined by a swamp dump. I'm not sure what map they're really making. Certainly not one I'll let them refer back to, or sell in town!

- What happened to Rahtnar's magic spear, that he picked up in Cold Fens 3? Wyatt's player has gone through the blog and taken notes on all of the magic items found. It's basically missing. Rahtnar seems to have had it going into Cold Fens 8, but he doesn't have it now. The summaries don't mention him losing it, but the summaries aren't 100% accurate. I write them post-game with what I remember. The standard, actually, isn't "if it's not known to be lost, it must still be owned or carried." It's "if it's known known and listed as carried, it's lost." So that spear is in Sakatha's tomb somewhere, or it was lost in the swamp. A fair amount of equipment just has been lost in the shuffle of character sheet re-writes, lost PCs that die in the dungeon without updating me on what they carried, or got sold without anyone remarking on it. That stuff is all just gone.

- During game on Sunday, Aldwyn wanted to spend 1 second pulling his lightstone out from under his shirt.

What shirt?

Aldwyn wears plate over mail over padding and underwear under that. His lightstone is on a no-weight-not-listed "string" that is easily broken (people snap them off to toss sometimes.) And he's got a pile of DR. How do you get a stone on a necklace under your layered armor and yet be easily accessible?

The stuff that really bugs me is this kind of thing. The PCs have everything at the ready, to be grabbed instantly or within 1 second, 2 max, all over their bodies. Meanwhile, they want their DR to fully protect all of this equipment. Maps are sealed up in waterproof scrollcases but are also open for easy viewing. Weapons are strapped down when they fall but in hand when fights happen. Lightstones are easily covered, but also shine a wide light without blinding the wearer. Armor covers everything but nothing is difficult to access because of all of that armor. It really annoys me because it's very video gamey, and very munchkinny. It really snaps me out of the fun of the game because the realistic difficulties that should make running a powerful hero still require some tought to play just disappear. And that's not fun for me as the GM. It's not even fun for me as a player, the rare times I get to play.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 151, Cold Fens 10

Somewhat short summary today, as not a lot happened worth recording. Also, I have other writing to do tonight. So this might be brief and sketchy.

Dates: May 2nd, 2021 - May 13th, 20201
Weather: Sunny, warm to start.

Characters:
Aldwyn Hale, human knight (340 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (170 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (336 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (490 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
     Rahtnar the Skeleton (~125 points)
Heyden, human knight (308 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (343 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)

We started off with the party in Swampsedge - Ulf, Bruce, and a couple others - or in Ulfhollow ("Ulfhalla"), where they spent the week.

The PCs headed out along the northern edge of the Cold Fens. Once they reached near their exploration area, they headed in.

They poled around for most of the first day, passing through some explored areas, getting eaten by bugs (some doing FP loss, mostly, once doing damage), and otherwise poking around.

One the second day of travelling disaster struck. Rahtnar was polling along the second boat, and rolled an 18 on Boating. The skeletal boatman accidentally prodded something, which surfaced under the boat, flipping it. The occupants hit the water, mostly.

Crogar fell in but swam well (he rolled a 3, and no, it wasn't enough to trip his Curse -3), Aldwyn and Varmus started to drown, Ulf as well. Gerry had Levitation on and just hovered up and out of the flipping boat. Rahtnar sank (Feature: Cannot float). The folks in the lead boat all turned to look.

They saw a hippo-sized thing with a mace-like tail and a horrible head on a long neck. They made their Fright Checks, but took injury as its very gaze took some life out of them.

As those in the water floundered, Gerry (who also made his check) cast Strike Blind on the beast, blinding it and ending its gaze attack!

A split second later, Galen put three arrows into it, two into one eye, one into another, and presumably spitted its pea brain. It had just started a mournful lowing as it was blinded, and the arrows cut that off. Its head dropped into the water, as did the tail.

They used Levitation and a tossed harpoon (tied to Bruce with a line) that Aldwyn could grab to rescue the drowning. It worked well enough. They found "dry" land and healed people up, and tossed some scrolls and maps that had been destroyed by the water. The ones they could save were given to people with actual scrollcases to keep dry. Ulf had stored his in his delver's webbing . . . .

From there, they explored a bit futher over the next couple of days. Bats had flown overhead in a long stream from SW to NE, so they scouted that way a bit, but didn't find a close-by source. They sent an invisible Galen up in the air for a slow spin around, so he could scout out the area from above. He saw a dry "island" off to the southwest with a ruin on the north side, edged with some mist. The saw a larger "island," wetter but still more dry than usual, to the south, heavily edged in fog and mist, about 5 miles in diameter. To the east and southeast he saw the wet, swampy end of the Cold Fens become drier - land punctuated with water rather than water punctuated with land.

They decided the trolls they were hunting, and they'd asked the dead fellow from last session about, must be south. They headed that way, fending off more annoying bugs and lethal ones as well.

They reached a heavy mist, and stuck to the shoreline and they explored around. They decided after a while to get out of the mist, and headed back north. Someone said the big island was 9-10 miles away, this was more like 5, so it must not be this one. But after they headed north, they headed east and southeast, looking for drier land.
Somewhere in here, they found a dry, high ground that had been used as a campground in the past. They camped there, after letting Galen explore on foot solo for a while. They'd use that as a base for a couple of days of exploring the area.

They pushed right up to the end of the western end of the fens, where swamp gives way to marshy but generally solid ground. They circled around and back after exploring for a bit, with Galen avoiding some sunning giant lizards.

Later, as they explored, they spotted a flying dragon to the west (still unable to discern a color). They hid, as it was clear it could have seen them. They hid well, and waited 30 minutes for it to stop looking. It kept diving down at something N-NW of them, but they couldn't see what.

Eventually, though, they gave up and headed back home after a significant amount of exploration and map-completing.

Notes:

- The PCs asked later if the fog/mist they encountered was supernatural. I didn't allow an additional roll later on. I did have Galen roll one at the time, so see if he could figure anything out about the fog (causes, say, or anything special about it) and he could not. I often make people make rolls for perfectly normal stuff, so rolling isn't a hint. It might be totally normal. You just can retro-investigate very easily.

- The PCs headed right for the foggy island, it seemed, until they reached it and decided it was too close, it wasn't 9-10 miles away, and thus not the destination they wanted. They're unclear if it is Sakatha's lair or not. They're unclear if the island with the ruins is the dragon lair or not. They didn't want to go there and check.

- The catoblepas was good timing. I rolled up a lethal encounter, and that was in the area, and Rahtnar rolled an 18 on Boating. So it make perfect sense that it was in the shallows eating bottom plants, Rahtnar hit it with his pole, and it surfaced and knocked them over. Great convergence of rolls.


- At various points, they encountered biting insects, a poisonous insect (?) that bit Bruce, Crogar picked up dysentary (luckily only him, as no one was purifying water), land-slugs that drank blood like leeches, a venomous snake attacked Varmus and Aldwyn but gave up after a few failed bites at Varmus (his DR 2 was too high), and found some footprints of what was probably those guys they killed last time. Oh, and saw what they think were root-men.

- XP was 2 each for lots of exploration, 0 xp for loot (none!), and MVP was Galen for exploration and killing the catoblepas aka swamp cow before it could make things worse.

- I expected the next session is the Cold Fens, but it's not clear where the PCs intend to go. I'm not sure they had a plan today except to explore every area along what they think the guy they slew last session (and then interrogated) was explaining about the troll cave. They don't really understand the directions they got - how far each way, and by land or by water or both? So they don't really know where to look. Anything that seemed dry, or could be, was investigated. I think they have some places they could explore, and some signs of possible destinations, but they also have some they specifically don't want to encounter. Such as the dragon - Ulf put Resist Fire on himself along with Resist Acid whenever there was the slightest threat of it coming by.

- This was useful - a horizon distance calculator.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Cold Fens Tomorrow

GURPS DF Felltower game tomorrow - and it's back in the Cold Fens for round 2 of "let's find trolls!"

Right now, we expect the same crew as last time, but with an outside chance of a fire & acid using wizard (depending on the availability of a player.) That would be welcome addition to a troll-hunting expedition.

I'm not clear, as the GM, what the goal of hunting the trolls is, exactly . . . besides killing them and hoping they have loot. But the players seem to have a plan, and I'm interested to see where it leads them.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Friday Links & Thoughts - 4/30/21


- I love my day job, which I rarely talk about here. It's been very busy (a good thing in my field) and I meet some new and interesting people. That's killed a lot of time to write good, solid, long posts. But it did mean I got to meet an old-school Tai Chi instructor, which would have been even more useful 15 years ago when I was writing GURPS Martial Arts with Kromm.

- Book writing continues.

- So does playing Battletech a bit every day. I think I jumped onto a "Priority" campaign too early, as I've won those battles but gotten mauled a couple times doing them . . . and now I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs trying to get my mechs repaired and pilots healed so I can fight. But still enjoyable.

- I had to throw in a pedantic GURPS note on Lich Van Winkle's latest post. Thinking on "point creep" further, I'd note that in GURPS 4e, a number of items were re-costed down, a number of abilities point-costed up to make up for a disproportionate value, and things otherwise rejiggered. But generally, the big change was the value of 1 point is mostly lower because it gets you a bit less ability (generally) and the cool stuff costs more (generally.)

But I'll probably stand and die on the hill of saying that GURPS isn't inconsistent with "roll high" and "roll low." It just seperates bell-curve tables where extremes beat the average (criticals, random hit location), roll to succeed low (to hit, skill rolls, stat checks, etc.), and rolls for effect and duration (higher is better, unless you're the one being affected I suppose). It's a clear and consistent breakdown, but people who bullet-point GURPS down to "3d6 roll low" set up these "inconsistencies" to point out. It's merely inconsistent with that statement, not with GURPS.

- I find adventure prep the least rewarding thing I do. There are times I want to play really old school games because the adventure prep is easier. But then I look at xp systems, race-as-class, 1/10th of a pound gold coins, weird encumbrance systems, and so on and realize I play GURPS for a reason, and then get on with writing up things for it. Heh.

- This seems obvious, but it's worth saying. I once got exciting to play someone's GURPS game, but then it turned out to be nothing like advertised. Same with some other games. I played Vampire: Dark Ages once because I was excited by the looser Vampire rules of the era, and a chance to play some weird evil fantasy. Then it quickly became a very standard Vampire game . . . and I got bored instantly because I didn't like that era. Ditto with a lot of games. Hey, word to the wise - don't bait and switch me, even if the "surprise!" is "totally awesome!" I signed up for the outside of the box, and I expect it to show what's inside.

- I like this post on David C. Sutherland.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Writing Update

Just a quick writing update, because that's basically what I did today:

- my co-authored project is moving along. I got down a chunk of words yesterday, and did some revising of my co-author's sections.

- my solo project is also moving along. It's about 40% done by wordcount, and 90% done by ideas. That ones is due a few weeks after the other.

- my game prep for the Cold Fens is mostly done, but I plan to spend some time on it Friday getting it ready. Naturally, my players will start to email me "just a quick question to confirm something" starting . . . tomorrow morning, so I won't actually get this all done. But I should be good to go.

Having written is great. Writing is less great.
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