Monday, March 30, 2020

Book Finished and Submitted

Hurrah! My book is officially submitted.

I'll get up a GCA-related post in a little bit, but for now . . . I just wanted to get this out there.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

What disadvantages are mis-priced in GURPS DF Felltower?

Some disadvantages effectively have less disadvantage for their points in my DF game. Others have a significant amount of impact for less points. This isn't exhaustive, but it is a list of ones that stick out to me.

I will have some revision suggestions embedded below, but I'll also be coming up with more. For a further look at disadvantages, check out my new Disadvantages post label.

Less Impact:

Bad Temper [-10]. This one should make for a lot of aggression, and bad decisions based on foes targeting you, or hurting you, or insulting you. Or frustrating traps or puzzles might anger you. In actual play . . . it sits on the character sheet and maybe - if the player really, really feels like this situation is incredibly upsetting in a special fashion - gets the self-control number rolled against. Generally, this isn't worth the points most people get back from it. This should probably have concrete effects, much like Berserk does. In fact, that's a good fix - you must make a self-control roll not to lash out verbally or physically at any foe that insults you, or attacks you, even if you've got better (or other) targets. If you also have Bloodlust, you will not be distracted from finishing a foe before moving on to the one angering you . . . and any that anger you must force a check at the lower of your Bad Temper or Bloodlust self-control roll to stop hitting the foe after its down, even when it's obviously dead.

Code of Honor (Chivalry) [-15]. You must obey your liege lord and faith, protect any ladies and weaker folks, and fight fair if you opponent is also of chivalric background. These come up, respectively, never, never, and almost never in my game. This gains you 15 points and effectively acts as a quirk (save any ladies) and quirk-level Code of Honor (fight fair against other knights with a chivalric background.) This is actually significantly less restrictive in actual play than the Soldier's code, or the Pirate's code. I may just flat-out require a change to the Code, or ban this in favor of the Soldier's c.ode, or put in restrictions about "fair fights" that apply more generally. Perhaps it's against the code to take a flank or back shot against a sapient foe? Perhaps you must accept surrenders except from clearly non-coreligionists? Hmm . . . time to check out the Tales of Froissart again. 15 point Codes shouldn't be an "oh yeah, sometimes this comes up!" kind of things.

Easy to Read [-10]. Given the infrequency of negotiation, and the fact that barbarians aren't ever put in charge of them, means this is free points. It should really be a quirk, or -5 points at most. Unless being "Easy to Read" also means being easy to influence, or easy to trick, or easy to distract, it's really not a whole lot of anything, here. I bet if it gave -2 to resist any influence roll or magical charm attempt people would toss this aside in a split-second. I'm not sure what else would make a good, in-game effect for this in a game where negotiation is uncommon by player choice and it's easy to keep the bad poker players out of the situation. This has had some in-game effects (when the PCs try to lie their butts off to NPCs with the barbarians standing right there, with that look of "I hope they buy this total lie!" on their faces) but not so much that it's worth 10 points to the affected PC.

Honesty [-10]. You follow the law. For the most part, this is only limiting in that characters with it can't sell their loot on the black market, won't traffic in illegal loot, and won't violate the laws of Stericksburg. Otherwise . . . it's legal to kill underground, and what you find is yours. This is probably a -5 point disadvantage, at heart, in a game with broad legal status given to most of what delvers do in the first place. It should probably fold in Truthfulness in this type of game to be worth the full -10.

Intolerance (Urbanites) [-5]. No one is going around reacting at -3 to their fellow teammates, even though the groups is about 2/3 urbanite and 1/3 outdoorsy type. Those urbanites even go shopping for those woodsy loner types and no one seems to mind. Probably should be a quirk.

Vow (Never refuse a challenge to combat) [-10]. This one is entirely on me; I should define what a challenge is. Perhaps it's even the baying of animals attempting to scare you off, or any insult from a foe (say, a draugr) is clearly a direct attempt to get you to fight them and you have to make that happen, etc. Otherwise this has come up only a couple of times in a long campaign full of PCs with it - often multiple ones at the same time. Worth -10 if there are lots of challenges to combat, -1 or -5 if it's a rare but dangerous thing.

Weirdness Magnet [-15]. I had attempted to eliminate this, but a couple of PCs still have it. It just doesn't factor in much in play; it's not a game where outside forces do much to you in particular over and above the other delvers around you. It works for to a mostly-free 15 points, and doesn't even have quirk-level implications. Weirdness Magnet can and should define your life - like Garrett, in the Garrett, P.I. books, who is a bona fide Weirdness Magnet and suffers its effects on his life and reputation. In DF Felltower, nothing really comes of it.

More Impact

Bloodlust [-10]. This has caused a lot of dead foes, including ones who might have been useful alive. It's cost turns in combat, as PCs put in an extra shot on anyone not clearly dead. Not everyone really plays it to the fullest, but many do - it's why you see some folks cheerfully cutting throats after a fight, or putting extra blows in over and above what's needed to kill something. Coupled with Callous, this has caused a lot of dead NPCs.

Cowardice [-10]. This has actually derailed whole session plans, and made some pretty straightforward plans impossible to execute. Well worth -10 and possibly more.

Overconfidence [-5]. Lot of dead PCs with this one, even when they've ferociously optimized to win and survive. Enough said.

Sense of Duty (Fellow Adventurers) [-5]. This is potentially close to worth more than -5. I think it keeps its value mostly because your fellow PCs, when they have it, tend to do more to help you. This one can kill you. On the upside, it's extremely easy to roleplay - take your -5 points, and don't abandon your friends. Many players will act that way anyway.

Vow (Own No More than What Can Be Carried) [-10]. This is very rough in a game centered on loot, with variable climates to be explored, and a need for backup gear. You simply can't own stuff and leave it behind (an exception is made for cash; I'll let you bury some cash somewhere so it's not weighing down your PC, as long as you don't go all Captain Kidd.) Without such generosity it's probably -15, instead, and you can expect to have to sell off your mail armor if you go adventuring without it, or buy winter clothes every winter if you're not toting them to Felltower with you. By the way, this is a quirk in a campaign with Portable Holes.


I'm curious what my players would think are wrongly-priced disadvantages.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Incremental Progress

Today was another day of working on my book - this time, an editing pass. It takes a lot to write a sentence and sometimes even more to cut it down to a better, shorter one. If you're used to my long, digressive sentences, with subordinate clauses and connected ideas, all strung together with commas, then you'll understand what I mean. My basic style makes the Hemmingway App light up the screen like a yellow and red explosion.

Because of that, I spent a lot of hours today basically reading and re-reading, cutting down here and there. Consolidating sentences and thoughts. Making formatting changes (mostly suggested by a fellow co-author authorized to look at the manuscript.)

It's a slow, unpleasant process and mostly feels like you're spending minutes deleting hours of work, or hours deleting minutes of work. The result never feels commensurate with the investment of effort.

But it's necessary. In the end, you'll get a better book.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Writing Update

It's GURPSDay, but I'm hard at work in the multi-leveled mines of my latest GURPS Dungeon Fantasy writing project.

I'm about 85% done by wordcount and 80% done overall by tasks. I'm starting to look for quotes, fill in blank spots, and get ready for a first-pass lookover of the manuscript.

It's due this weekend, so I should have it out of my hands in the next couple of days. Ironically, it's due the day I'm officially furloughed from work, but I think I'll take the time to work on a non-writing project before I launch back into one I've kept bubbling in the back of my head for a while now.

I wish I could provide more details from the depths of my work, but hey, you'll all see it soon enough.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Game prep - online vs. in-person

I'm a latecomer to running game online, but here are my anecdotal experiences about game prep between the two.


In-person:

- I have to prep minis - paint them and make sure they're in the minis trays.

- I have to prep all of my paper books and notes to bring with me to game

- I have to pack lunch and snacks


Online:

- I have to scour lots of images to find "minis" or send pictures of the ones I want to one of my gamers to edit into icons.

- prepare battle maps to save time in session

- prepare dungeon maps & deal with FOW

- assign out dynamic lighting, etc. for characters.


Same:

- I have to restock and review the dungeon areas I expect the PCs to travel to.

- write rumors

- deal with last-minute questions about spellstones, scrolls, skills, and point-spending.

It's a change - I have all of these minis, and encounters prepared around specific ones. I have battles that aren't in setpiece locations, so I can't just pre-prep them. It's taking soem getting used to . . . I can't fly by the seat of my pants as much online without having things grind to a halt. It's a learning curve.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Persistent Changes & Leveling Up Monsters in the Megadungeon

A great strength of a megadungeon is having a single location where delvers can go and effect changes on the environment. These changes can be temporary - unlocking doors, disarming traps, "clearing" a high-traffic room - but they are often going to be persistent - monsters dead, walls knocked down, doors removed. It's a combination of the immediate and the cumulative. The delvers that survive also change temporarily (injuries, fatigue, etc.) and permanently (gained experience, found gear, death).

So the PCs level up.

I asked back in 2013 if anyone had the monsters leveled up, too.

Clearly, Gary Gygax felt that way:

Gygax on Leveling Up Monsters

So it's not a new idea. Some monsters get more dangerous as they repel attacks just as the PCs do. The question is, do they gain experience from fighting and killing delvers? Or do they gain experience from looting the fallen, much as the PCs? Or purely ad hoc like Gary Gygax did? So many good choices . . .
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