Friday, January 31, 2014

Megadungeon Reflections: GURPS rules & Play Issues

The other day I reflected on what I'd change in my megadungeon, or consider changing, if I re-did it with what I know now after running 30 sessions in it.

Here are things I'd do differently from a rules/play perspective. Some of these I've discussed before, but this is the latest-and-greatest and tries to pull them together. I didn't list things that I changed along the way, because you can always assume that I'd have changed it earlier (such as how some spells work, say, or the duration on Shape Stone) if I could. These are things I don't think I can just go back and change without some grave damage to the game as currently going.

Definitely Change

Uniform Enchantment Costs

I'd set all enchantments to a uniform cost. No more smoothed casting costs for Quick & Dirty enchantments at $1/point, Slow & Sure at $20. I'd just set all of it to $20/point. Even a lowly Fortify +1 spell would cost $1000 on a full suit of armor.

This would make the better non-magical armor and weapon enhancements a much better deal.

Gameworld Coupled Enchantment Maxima

I'd couple armor and weapon enchantments to the value of the underlying weapon in some way. Probably the "one enchantment or enchantment level per prefix" approach.

More Loot From Day One

I'd have put in more money from day one, since for a while delving was like a minimum wage job - you could get by on it, if someone else paid your bills for you. Not good for delving. I fixed this later, but it really was a mistake I should have fixed way earlier than I did.

Heavier Money

I like my 250 coins to the pound game, but man, it would have been fun to have 50 coins to the pound for the same value, so big hauls of treasure were a serious weight consideration.

Technical Grappling

I'd have incorporated at least parts of TG from the start, so we could have learned its ins and outs by grappling with monsters.

Now, admittedly, it came out well after my game launched, but I did have my playtester copy and access to Doug, who'd certainly have been happy to have an ongoing playtest the whole time he was finishing the book up. Still, some of the way this was meant to be a game we played for a while until we got bored meant we tossed a lot of stuff to the curb. It's only now it's clear how useful this would be as a basis of grappling in a game where the monsters are ridiculously strong and the heroes very powerful.


Revised Talent Costs

I would use the talent costs from Power-Ups 3 instead of the costs from Basic Set. For the Barbarian and Scout, especially, this saves some real points.

Wildcard Skills

I'd give these a harder look, although I might make them a bit narrower. Not "Knight" or "Barbarian" but "Melee Weapons" and "Missile Weapons" or things like that. Ones that made broadly skilled (but not crazily broadly skilled) guys a little easier to do and hold their ground a bit better against specialists. And if not Wildcard skills, I'd look at Talents to cover these.

More Characters Per Player

It would have been really interesting to have required people to make up both a 250-point and a 125-point character, and either play one or the other each session. Build in a backup, so to speak. DF15 wasn't quite ready to go during the planning stages of the game, though, but it would have been nice to start the idea of a pool of characters off as a standard, with differently ranked guys so we could mix in power levels. I'm not sure how this would have worked, but at least half of my group has played in my old pirate game where we had multiple PCs per player and different point levels for each of them. I'd also let them make up some hirelings themselves and throw them in as findable NPCs (and I may still do that.) It would have been fun to try!

I'd also consider Vryce's player's argument that Sacrificial Parry is way too good regardless of cost, and either ban it outright or more strongly limit it - perhaps say it counts as more than one parry for multiple parry purposes.

To be honest, there are a couple more things I'd do but that I'm in the process of addressing (and hope to get into Pyramid Magazine) so I can't write them out here. But they have to do a bit with combat and loot, if that helps any.


  1. I like the flat-rate enchantment costs. May have to steal that.

    Would the "one enchantment per prefix" apply to individual decorative embellishment, so one could put more enchantments on a sword with cheap bells, red tassels, and an enameled image of a chariot than on one which said merely Ornate?

    1. That would certainly explain the orc fixation with gaudy bling, as seen in some depictions :-)

    2. I'd be willing to treat increased levels of Ornate as additional pre-fixes, with no limit - if someone wants to drop another $5K in bling on a sword to get another enchantment on it, that seems like a fair tax to me.

      I'm also a huge fan of flat rate enchantments. It's simpler to figure out as the GM and it means that partial enchantments of armor aren't a huge munchkin advantage.

    3. I would do it like Mark suggest. So a Very Fine Ornate +3 weapon qualifies for 5 levels of enchantment. It could be, say, A Puissance +3 Icy Weapon with Quick Draw (3+1+1 = 5).

      I wouldn't count Cheap as anything, or treat it as a -1.

    4. I think I'd use the Power Item table, with e.g. 100 points of enchantment allowed per 1 FP it could hold.

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    6. That's not a bad idea either. The problem I end up with is that means I need to look at a calculation, not a flat number (price, number of enchancements, etc.). You'd want to extend the chart using Excel or something to have it handy. But the idea is sound - it's why I listed some application of price as a limiter in those enchantment posts.

    7. I think Mark's suggestion is a little easier on the player side. As someone who plays a character that has nothing to do with Power Items, it makes it a lot more straightforward and quicker to figure out.
      (sorry about the deleted post, apparently I didn't click where I thought I did the first time).

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  4. Also that last bit about multiple characters of varying power levels sounds really neat! It's like Hard mode for DF, which is kind of already Hard mode.


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