Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Casting Room Minis, free worldwide shipping

Wargames Foundry has spun off a webpage selling its "Casting Room Miniatures" lines. Postage is free for the rest of 2015, worldwide.

This isn't their complete set of ranges, but still, it's a lot of good stuff, including:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sense of Duty in my DF games

Sense of Duty (Companions) isn't a required disadvantage in my DF game. It's common, since it's an easy disad to roleplay and it's got a nice upside (+2 reactions in danger when it's known, great for hireling morale.)

But it's not automatic.

Something Doug wrote yesterday about it triggered a thought. It seems like some people regard the world as a two-way split:

Those with Sense of Duty (Companions).
Those who'll backstab you for your stuff in a heartbeat.

I see a three-way split:

Those with Sense of Duty (Companions).

Most people.

Those who'll backstab you for your stuff in a heartbeat.

The Sense of Duty folks will stick by you even when leaving is a better option for them - and maybe for you, if "come back and retrieve my corpse" is a viable option. For that and other reasons SoD ends up being an eventual death sentence for characters. At some point, it will come to pass that the options that'll keep you intact are off the table because your character has an inner feeling of duty to his or her buddies.

The "most people" may or may not. They might make the rational choice. They might suck down the last potion and not give it to you because, well, it's better if they drink it. They might backstab you for your stuff - but probably won't. They'll stick by you most of the time, but they don't feel compelled to do so (unless they have other disads that do so.) They have other disads that limit them, or perhaps annoy you, but it's just a normal sense of loyalty, not a strong and option-limiting one.

The others are the ones who lack SoD and take unfriendly disadvantages that place something else of value over their companions. Greedy, Loner plus some other social disads, Callous; Selfish, Jealousy, Paranoia, etc. are all good choices for this kind of guy.

Pretty much, my players are in category 1 - they take SoD often. The ones that don't are more pragmatic about saving their buddies, but aren't therefore automatically your secret enemy. They're just not internally compelled to help you or help their NPC companions. The fact that so many take SoD (or Code of Honor that doesn't allow for abandoning comrades) is why some fights that could easily have ended with "leave that one guy to die" because near-TPKs or turned into epic swingy fights that the PCs pull out of their collective rear ends. The option to take off just wasn't there for many of the characters.

It's an easy disadvantage to play, and it's mostly positive, but it does put some restrictions on your actions. It doesn't mean that if you lack it, though, you lack any moral sense or any loyalty. You just have a normal, not inflamed, sense of loyalty and obligation to your buddies.

Monday, September 28, 2015

DF Game XP House Rules: New Set

Here are the rules we'll be using for the Lost City, wholly replacing the original set, and we'll see how it goes. If they work well, they'll remain when we return to Felltower.


We will use a modified version of the Advancement rules from DF3, pg 42. I won't give out points for killing things. I don't care if you kill stuff or not unless it's part of some mission or quest. I will give out points for getting things done and so on.

Loot: Loot makes the delver world go 'round. If sufficient loot is taken home to meet the base threshold for your character is worth 4 xp. Under this threshold (but still significant loot) is 2 xp. 20% or less of this threshold is 0 xp.

Unlike other awards, this is on a per character basis - lopsided loot distribution can mean some PCs get more XP, some get less.

Exploration: Exploration is part of a successful delve. No exploration or no significant exploration is a -1 xp penalty. Exploration of at least one new area of significance (which generally will be clearly significant) or exploring many areas in general is 0 xp. Exploration of many new areas or multiple areas of significance is +1 to 2 xp. +2 xp is reserved very significant exploration, and will be rare.

Roleplaying: If you find a way to make your disadvantages and quirks matter in the game in an especially disadvantageous and/or entertaining way, you will get between 1 (minimum) and 3 (maximum) bonus points. If your disadvantages help you, you don't get a bonus for them that session - getting an advantage from a disadvantage is sufficient bonus! Physical disads and flat-out stat reductions (reduced Speed, for example, or Hard of Hearing) don't count here, as they have constant in-game effects. Not playing your disadvantages is a penalty of -1 to -3 xp. If you can't play the ones you have, we can change them to ones that fit the character as played.

Awesome Bonus: If you do something especially clever, cool, or otherwise awesome, I will give the whole damn party bonus points. Encourage each other to be awesome. "Awesome" is not a die roll, its a memorable action that makes the game better. Think "Conan book cover scene" or "story we will tell forever" not doing risky stuff just to do risky stuff.

Most Valuable PC: Every session, at the end of the session, the party can vote at the end on who gets a bonus point just for being the most useful, best roleplayer, best dresser, brought the best beer, whatever. It's up to the players for gets it and why. GM preference is that it's not "because so-and-so needs one more point for that power-up he wants."

Never Leave a Man Behind! - No casualties (a "clean run") is 1 xp. Losing 1+ PCs or NPCs is 0 xp, if the bodies are brought back to town for Final Rest or Resurrection. Leaving corpses behind (or if they're disintegrated, eaten, etc.) OR many deaths (even if bodies are recovered) is -1 xp.


- the goal is 5 xp for a solid, profitable session with exploration and no deaths, just like now. The system we tried in Lost City session 1 was too generous. Getting 6 should be difficult, and 7 should be a session we talk about for the rest of our lives.

- loot is valuable enough that getting it makes up for a lot else, and even death.

- it's very loot centric, but makes exploration a possible substitute. It's always better to look around and find new things.

- "expected" level of exploration means that in a megadungeon, a few new interesting things is plenty. In a lost ruins full of potentially actionable targets, just going into one or two new buildings won't do, you'll need more.

- I ditched the "large score" bonus after finding that 5x was too easy, 10x wasn't crazy either (a mere $2000 each to start with), and making it some epic score seemed unnecessary.

- I personally liked "character deaths don't matter" but my players really like the bonus/penalty system, and so it stays in.

- One technical point: loot is based on sale value in town, and only counts what is actually sold.

- Another technical point: loot only "counts" when found initially. You can't keep taking portions of a hoard home and making your threshold. It's still valuable if you go back and get it on another trip, but it's only loot for xp purposes the first time you find it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

DF Game Session 67, Lost City 1 - Armoury

September 27th, 2015

Weather: Varied (mix of clear and some rain)

Characters (approximate net point total)

Angus "Mithrilbraid" McSwashy, dwarf swashbuckler (250 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (278 points)
Hasdrubul Stormcaller, human wizard (250 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (250 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (250 points)
Quenton Gale, human druid (250 points)

     Kasias, human guide (62 points)

In reserve:
Dave, human knight (252 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)

Angus may or may not have forgotten to name himself, so we did that for him. It's possible it'll change. We also constructed an elaborate backstory for Quenton.

Gerry showed up late, but put a point in Survival (Jungle) which will help in the future.

They set up in town, got sorted out, and collected some rumors while hanging out at the thrown-together drinking hole "Rumshackles" run by an ex-pat from the north named Rick. Hjalmarr heard one about the twin golden bells of the Princess Ailivo of D'Abo, and that one will lead you to the other. They heard that not all "men" are actually human. They heard about a round, spike, stinky fruit that's good to eat (+1 to Survival rolls for Mo for foraging only), and about the mix of dangerous snakes to be found, and that supposedly the princess wasn't killed centuries back but is trapped in the temple.

Hasdrubal made a special effort to find anyone in "town" who wanted anything special from the city. No one did, but someone told him there is an old armoury on the West side of town that people go and retrieve stuff from when they go. Haz is nutty but oddly personable (Diplomacy skill helps.)

All that taken care of, they met up with their guide, Kasias (Kah-SIGH-as), and headed into the jungle.

The trip was a bit of a slog. With only Move 4, great Navigation rolls (Kasias has Absolute Direction) and some delays from fatigue, they took a longer time than expected to get there. They insisted on sleeping on to recover from lost fatigue from their nasty daily HT rolls against the heat, which cut down their travel time. They also hit a fallen tree (which cost Haz 2 HP and a twisted ankle) which needed circumventing, some torn-up trail flooded from water, and other delays. Biting flies also infected Gerry with Jungle Rot (luckily, an easy cure for druideopathic medicine). They managed to scrounge up a spiky stank fruit during a break, but only enough for one person's meal. Worse, after a short rainstorm a giant rhino beetle was disturbed and rushed them, coming out of the jungle nearly point blank. It stormed forward and smashed into Mo, who was knocked aside, and then it bit Mo's shield and held on. A short but nasty fight ensued. Its massive skullplate shield bounced the Lightning and Skull Missile spells of the wizards harmlessly. Meanwhile Mo and Hjalmarr bashed at it (after Hjalmarr cippled both legs) and Angus tried to stab its armored eyes - to no avail. He switched to slashing the protruding eyes and the heavy fighters kept pounding on it. They took out its right eye so it berserkly swung around and bowled them over and tried to bite Hjalmarr. But it took a pounding after that and dropped. Mo was badly wounded from being struck with its horn, but not terribly so.

Concerned (rightly) about being dogpiled by critters coming to investigate, they moved on for an hour before resting.

They kept on ahead, avoiding army ants and dodging bad weather ("daily rain" being "passable" weather for jungle), before they finally arrvied at the plateau in the early afternoon of day 4. They hacked through the brush and reached their first view of the city.

Here is my base map and their handout:

(Yes, that's the I1 map. I re-purposed it.)

When they first saw the city, Hasdrubal immediately pointed to a building and said, "THAT is the armoury."

They rested a bit and spent an hour watching the city. It was suspiciously free of flying birds, animals, and other things. Occasional movement could be seen but it was hard to make out.

The decided there were three clear ways down - some lianas vines on the far side, a big tree that nearly reached the top of the cliff (which is between 120-140 yards high in most places), or a switchback trail. The tree was closest, so they went there.

They had little rope, but enough. They picked a strong-looking branch and snagged it with a grapnel, and tied it off to a spike driven into a largish stone since there were no trees near the plateau edge. Mo leapt out and climbed down, followed by Hjalmarr and Angus. The wizards and druid went down with Levitate from Gerry. The climb down took 16 minutes, but wasn't that hard (trees are +5). Except for Hjalmarr, who missed his grip and fell - but in a frenzied grab snagged the rope, which held (lucky for him), and he managed to climb down the rest of the way.

They used Conceal to put some (temporary) tall grass around them while they rested at the bottom. From there, they worked their way around the edge of the cliff. The buildings in the city were mostly one story, flat, made of cyclopean stone shaped together with magic and worked with tools. The streets and side-streets were 18" round flat stones set into rain-damp earth.

They checked a few buildings as they moved along the wall aiming for the "statue building."

Once there, they moved in. The interior was largely gutted, as if there had been temporary interior walls now gone, leaving pillars and a box-like structure inside. They opened a sliding pocket stone door on the box-like structure. Inside was a staircase and frescoes showing the varied architecture of the city, including the statue. They ascended to the roof.

Atop was the statue - a 24' tall statue of a man, not terribly well made, with a shield and a stone sword aloft in its right hand. It was chipped around the legs, and in front it had a big crack in its abdomen. Moreover, it had a right eye of some marble-like stone (different from the rest of the body) and its left eye socket was empty. Deciding it was a) a golem and b) had a valuable eye, Mo cracked it in the face with his flai (he's 7', reaching to the face with a hop and a strike wasn't that hard.) He hit it, smashing most of its nose off. It responded by bringing its sword down into him. Mo unwisely decided to Block, which didn't work at all.

It hit him for 13d+7 (ST 100) and shattered his shield and hurt his arm, and knocked him flat. Gerry snapped off an Invisibility spell on Mo. This didn't seem to matter. It hit him again and knocked him flat again - by this point, Mo was making death checks and trying to stay awake. The other fighters sprung into action, as did Haz.

(Lucky for Mo, I rolled awful damage three times. I think I need to roll one by one or something, or just take average damage, which would be higher - avg damage is 59, I never rolled close.)

What followed was an interesting fight. Angus tried to get it to hit him, while he dodged around. It took a swing and missed. Hjalmarr whack it in the legs from behind, so it spun and tried to whack him. Hjalmarr hit its sword and took a chunk out of it and then broke it a second later. Then Angus chipped at it from behind, and Mo ran up with his flail. It spun to face them and punched Mo (11d!) and knocked him flat. Angus hit it more, aiming for the abdomen crack, while Hjalmarr hit it from behind. Haz hit it with a 6d Explosive Lighting spell and zapped friend and foe alike, for not much effect. Finally they knocked it down - Hjalmarr took out its leg when it spun to punch Mo. It dropped to one knee and one fist, and Angus took it down with a few more slices. It fell into pieces . . . and through the now-cracked ceiling. Hjalmarr and Mo fell with it.

Haz climbed right down to work on Mo's wounds, only to to find him smashing the head apart. The eye they wanted as loot? It had fallen into pieces, and out of the socket.

The sounds attracted some attention, though, and they heard gorilla noises. They quickly packed up and fled to the southwest and used Conceal.

Sadly, flesh-eating apes have Discriminatory Smell, and tracked them down. A man in hooded robes and five apes found them and attacked. Haz put up a full-strength Windstorm but the apes charged through (although one briefly fell) and into them. Mo put one down, Angus dropped three, and Hjalmarr hacked off one's arm and then killed it a second later. The man tried to throw an Explosive Skull Missile but it was diverted by the storm, so he fled (pursued by the storm.) A Great Haste Angus chased him, but he was gone.

They decided to hang out and zombie the apes, after Gerry finished draining the still-living of vitality and energy. But when some giant ants started to come around, they decided they'd eventually be worn down and had to move. They managed to zombie up two apes.

They reached a building they called a "ziggurat" but which was a multi-story building. They found three doors and sent one of their two zombie apes in. It shouldered its way through the door but somehow the ceiling and wall fell on it and crushed it to death. Angus climbed up to the top floor, and found a "glass" sunlight and looked down into a hazy green oval. He climbed back down and said something about a "giant green emerald" and that they should go in and look.

They tried a couple entrances and found a way in that wasn't in imminent danger of collapse. A few staircases later and they found themselves in a red-mosaic floored room lined with windows and faded frescoes. In the center was a mosaic oval of circular stones with a red mortar holding them together. Gerry and Haz could, using their magical senses, see a six fingered hand (wrist east, fingers west) made of slightly-magical stones. It was slightly slick with accumulated slime from element exposure, but yes, it was there and visible only to the magically sensitive.

They decided it was pointed at the next building, so they checked a few other rooms and then went next door. Sadly, next door was just a burned out ruin with some clearly cooked-and-eaten bones and scorch marks on the walls.

Running low on time, they headed along the wall to what Hasdrubal insisted was "the armoury."

They arrived after spotting some man-sized beetles in the distance down a road. Around this time, Haz started naming all of the streets - "Crap Avenue. Crap Boulevard. Crap Street. Crap Court. Crap Terrace." He's kind of negative when the money isn't flowing.

They made it to the "armoury" (also called "building #3" for reasons I don't recall) and found many doors - one of which was partly open. It took the ape-zombie three tries to get it open.

Inside was, indeed, an armoury. But a looted one - 40,000 square feet of storage area, mostly full of rotted wood, rusted metal bits, and broken stone shelves. Using the light stone they'd made for the previous building exploration, they found there were some 10 x 10 or 15 x 15 areas closed off - most of which had been opened and plundered.

They searched around, and Gerry noticed one "block" was covered with piled stone racks with a door behind it. 30 minutes of clearing later, they reached a stone door. The ape-zombie couldn't budge it, but after two tries Hjalmarr was able to crowbar it open.

It opened and a skeleton fell out. It was of a man who'd died trying to bash the door open. His broken sledgehammer was next to him - head broken, handle broken, a vial tossed to the side. Inside was a great supply of weapons - spears, bows, arrows, dozens of machetes of different sizes, a few polearms, leather armor (Quenton swapped his helmet for a D'Aboan style one), and so on. Also, 6 silvered small machetes, 2 silvered machetes, and 1 silvered huge machete with a golden amulet welded to the hilt - all fine.

The PCs basically loaded up all of their bags with machetes, bows, etc. and strapped weapons all over the ape (and tied a bundle made from Angus's tent to it, as well) until they were close to dropped below Move 4. Then they skedaddled.

They originally planned to block the door, but the sun was setting and they wanted to be out of the town by nightfall. They also originally planned to leave via the switchback trail but logic (go back the way you know vs. explore new ground on the way out) prevailed.

They headed out and away. They spotted some short guys off in the distance with a dog - Angus guessed at what they might be (I joked it was zombie Rahtnar, now with an evil dog companion).

As they left, they heard a creepy and disturbing scream in the distance, like a woman's scream of terror cut short. Then some bird cries, then, nothing. They finished their climb and left.

They made it back to town with good speed thanks to perfect weather 2 out of 3 days, and no seriously delays. They managed to get just over 1000 sp apiece, and found the oil was a magical Oil of Puissance and the machete had a Demonhunter Medallion on it (as in DF6, but a little stronger.)


What's the funniest to me in this session was, when I re-purposed the I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City map, was that "building #3," as they called it, seemed like a natural place to be a weapons depot or armoury. So I was secretly very pleased when Hasdrubal's player pointed at it and said so, too. That's probably why I spent extra time detailing it (no "here are the basics, wing it if they go") and making a handout sheet. I knew someone would identify the suspiciously intact building surrounded by damaged buildings as one worth going to.

Speaking of re-purposing the map, am I worried that my players or commenters on the blog will reveal stuff? No. It's really just a map re-purpose. I got a blank version and put down my own locations. I used the same features but not the same encounters. What might be Area F on the module map might be nothing at all on mine. So it's a non-issue. But it makes it much easier for the players to navigate and pick targets, for people at home to see what's going on, and for me - my job is filling in detail, not spending hours mapping a city and describing it. So whatever you know about I1, it's probably not going to help much here. Way, way too much has been changed. The handout was a great success, though, as they've marked up the building, they're going into ways into and out of the city, what is worth checking out, what's a low-priority target, etc. Great stuff - and they can do it by email, too. Win, win, win.

I just want to say, my experience back in the day running Pitz Burke for my cousins' PCs in Gamma World paid off in spades here. I used a "search turn" like time setup for exploration, a rough idea of what's in the empty buildings, and a good set of concepts to fill in around the keyed and detailed areas. It worked extremely well.

The stone golem fight was a lot of fun, even though I rolled awful on damage. Not that I want PCs to die, but I don't like rolling sub-average damage all the time with my "scary" monsters. 13d+7 shouldn't be a yawner, it should be making you think about your next guy and if you can stay below -10xHP and be up for Resurrection. I assumed the PCs would think it was a golem and try to attack it - and yes, it was down on HP to start with. And had Wounded. Fun fight.

As always, there aren't really fights on the way home through the wilderness. I count all "lethal encounter" rolls as time delays, and discourage extra resting and slowing down with extra rolls. It makes the trip home hard, and a real logistical issue, but doesn't take a lot of out-of-game time.

XP for the trip was 6 points - 5 for 5x their threshold in loot, +1 for no deaths (my players really like that one), +0 for expected level of exploration. I realized 5x in loot is too low, so I'll re-tool the XP for next time and post the new plan. I have a suggestion out already - I'll post it before next session.

Speaking of the next session, it's in 4 weeks - 2 weeks from now should be Gamma Terra. We'll switch off between them for a while.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Do my posts make me seem adversarial?

I wonder sometimes, how my posting makes my campaign come across.

After all, you see my posts and a smattering of comments by some of my players.

Often my posts are talking about rule changes, stuff my players have figured out how to use or abuse, and things I'd do differently. Mix in the stuff that has nothing at all to do with my game or my players that just pops into my head and gets thrown in, too. It's got to seem sometimes like I'm this grumpy GM with a hostile relationship with his players.

It's really far from that, though. Most of my gaming group were my friends outside of gaming (only a few recent additions were online-only or friends of friends, and only one is a direct gamer add-on.) We play games to play games with each other, not game with each other to play games - it's something for friends to do, not people who happen to do the same thing as each other.

So I write my games based on the idea that we all want more-or-less the same kind of fun. In game I might be harsh and strict. I might make bad rulings and be all stubborn about them. I might say "no" as my default answer and only come to "yes" if I'm convinced it's a great idea.

I write rules based on this idea, too - that they are for co-operative groups.

A good example are the XP rules - we've got a number of options on the table for changing them. It's not because I want to punish my players or whip them into line. It's a mix of the rules we've been using and suggestions from them mixed with suggestions from me to come up with ways of doing it. We all want the same thing - rewarding certain play approaches and not others - and it's just a question of how to do it.

The light armor thing recently is the same - the majority wanted jungle, and "there goes my mail!" was just a new challenge. So are the restrictions on chargen - some players would want them relaxed but they're not there to oppress them but rather to fulfill a greater group purpose. My crazy rulings on all sorts of things are also ones we generally agree on.

But yeah, sometimes, from comments, I feel like I'm giving them impression of being an adversarial GM riding herd on an uncooperative group of players and whipping them into line. Far from it. It's vastly friendlier and more cooperative than that, even if the perceived tone of my posts sometimes make it seem not so.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Armor, Travel Speed, and Players

For our Lost City game, the players originally were looking at some fairly heavily armored guys - mail, scale, etc. and hefty loadouts of gear.

Once we settled on jungle, they started to peel that back a bit.

Sending them the rules for how the jungle and heat will affect them caused people to roll things back even further, since they had a concrete understanding of what a little less armor and gear would mean. It went from "be light, it'll help" to "be light, because it means I suffer 2 FP less per fight and start 2 FP higher when one happens."

It's worth noting that the axe-and-shield knight, a self-described heavy fighter, will be wearing leather armor (albeit ornate and enchanted.) We may have one guy in mail, he hasn't decided yet, but it might just be a willingness to suck up the pain to ensure he's got extra DR despite the downsides. Or he might revise and get lighter armor.

But it's not their travel speed that they were concerned about. It was the fatigue penalties. The climbing penalties (there will be climbing). How long it takes to get there? That just decides how much food to bring. Twice as long means twice as much food, not a big deal in most cases.

Here is something I have learned as a GM:

You can't get players to trade armor and equipment away for movement if, when they arrive at a combat, it's a heavyweight championship.

Nobody sprints to the heavyweight title fight. Nobody brings a light tank to a heavy tank battle, no matter how much faster the light tank is.

If the fight will always be waiting for them, it behooves them to bring the heaviest and most effective combat loadout possible.

Adventures which depend heavily on movement rate, but which ultimately have a setpiece end (the lost temple, guarded by tireless guardians) or are just a place to explore at your leisure, don't incentivize faster movement. If you have a bunch of hexes to explore and a lost plateau to reach (X1!), does it matter how long it takes?

You can ensure the travel is a grind in some environs - food issues, disease, wandering monsters, etc. That way a shorter travel time and better speed is good. You can make sure being slow in the dungeon means you can't run away and burn through more torches.

But if armor and a heavy loadout are more of an advantage in the combat situations than a downside in a non-combat situations, players will load up. I've found most players will choose "better equipped to fight" over "better equipped to get away." And why not? Winning fights is how you get the loot from the monsters. It's how you clear out the evil temple or send the semi-materialized death god back to his plane. Running is how you leave the problem for later.

Here are some ways I think work to incentivize lighter loadouts and less armor:

- Bonuses for speed. If having extra speed is an advantage, people will seize it. "If we're fast, not only can we sack the Temple of Woe but also get there before the high priest puts the solid gold chalice back in its unopenable box!"

- time limited adventure locations. If you only have X days to loot the area before the army shows up, you will have a real incentive to skimp on heavy stuff. If the chance to adventure literally ends at a certain time (not just becomes harder), then people will take a hard look at lighter loadouts.

- level playing field. If the place you end up with is the middleweight championships or lightweight championships, people will be tempted to overmatch it with heavy armor but will also feel like lighter armor is an option.

- legitimate tradeoffs. If armor gives a lot of benefits and slow movement gives few real downsides (the adventure waits, non-combat problems aren't movement-sensitive, etc.) than people will armor up. GURPS nicely comes with two of these - FP loss from combat and marching is tied to encumbrance, and so is Dodge (which is a legitimate and extremely valuable defense.) D&D5's way of putting DX bonuses only for light armor is a good example of a legitimate tradeoff.

- remove the fear. This is a more general suggestion - don't make being without your armor the worst thing in the world. Make sure it's also a good thing part of the time. No one wants to bet their guy's life on light armor instead of heavy if there is no upside. But if they know that it's not going to be more lethal if they go light, they'll consider going light. If they suspect you're pushing them to remove their armor so you can really let them have it, they will keep it on.

Most of those work pretty well in combination - my Lost City setup is a combination of Level Playing Field (foes aren't hanging out in scale or plate, either), Time Limited Adventure Location (the players have 5 sessions, 6 max, to loot as much as they can, and slow movement means more encounters which means less session time in the city), and legitimate tradeoffs (heavy loaouts and metal armor = more fatigue, and this is potentially costly.)

Some players will still choose heavy armor and heavy loadouts. That's a legitimate choice. They may choose to lose out on some opportunities for loot or to avoid monsters or to flee and bet on the value of armor in combat and their extra equipment being useful. That's fine, too.

There are heavy-handed ways to ensure the characters strip down, like heat traps and magnet traps. Or nagging at the players until they take off their helmets and remove their plate armor. Or you can just tell people it's hard to sleep in armor. But I'm reminded of a book I'd read that said the conquistadors that took out the Incas didn't remove their armor to sleep. I believe it - if you feel like the fight takes X, and that fight can come at any time, you'll drag X to the fight no matter what it costs to get it there. Incentivizing things so going without the usual maximum combat gear is a better way to go. Don't make it a punishment for not doing it, make it - at the very least - a mix of punishment for not doing it and a reward for doing it.

I think I managed that.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

DF Lost City Jungle Rules

So I made a cheat sheet of the player-facing rules I'm using from DF16 for my DF Lost City game.

That way, my players are looking at the exact rules I am, and can prepare appropriately. After all, the characters can sense tiredness or know how hot they are or experience the jungle, but the players can only make decisions based on descriptions and roll mods. I'll describe as I go, but I wanted to put the roll mods in front of them so they can make informed decisions.

(In game, the characters will have put up with this crud on the way to the starting point, so they'll be experienced with it. This helps explain why their loadouts reflect the area so well.)

Vic suggested people would like to see it. I think this is true, but it's mostly from DF16 so I can't just cut-and-paste-and-post what I largely cut-and-pasted. It's stuff that is in DF16. But what stuff?

Here it is!

Movement and Travel Time as written, from p. 23. We don't using Hiking skill but successful Navigation will keep you on the x0.4 trail instead of the x0.2 jungle. Sometimes, "I'm pretty sure it's the right fork" and being wrong means backtracking!

Nasty Weather is from p. 30-31, but I simplified Weather Sense down to mitigating the effects because you do some unspecific "preparations" and "adjustments." Why don't you do them all the time? Because it'll slow you down even when the weather is good.

Camping, p. 24-25, as written. Actually I didn't put these on the cheat sheet as people have them down by now. Everyone say it with me, success means pick two!

Scouting, from p. 25, as written.

Heat and FP, from Harsh Climates, p. 30 and Travel Fatigue, p. 24. I adjusted the +1 FP for "plate" to "metal armor" because GURPS is extremely generous about armor worn in heat. The daily Survival roll is at -2, net, for conditions and temperature.

It's a trek to a known destination, not an exploration, so those and some random encounters with bad conditions and trail problems as well as biting flies and jungle leaping leeches and the dreaded tree lobster is really what it's all about. These ensure being heavily equipped and under-prepared suck, but also ensure being prepared means you know, in game, what you're getting for giving up DR and heavy but useful gear.

PC Age

In your games, how relevant is PC age?

Is it just color, so you have a handle on how the PC looks and his or her background or experience?

Is it game-mechanically enforced, like in games like 1st-3rd edition GURPS, AD&D, Wizardry, or Traveller?

Is it something you totally ignore as irrelevant to play?

Is aging something that gets inflicted on PCs as an attack, a consequence of decisions to travel long distances, or otherwise modified in play?

I'm curious. My DF game doesn't pay any attention to it (people write it down, I look, the PCs die in a few short years anyway). It doesn't get inflicted on anyone or affect anyone in a negative way. I've had it matter before (mostly with players running too-young PCs who got treated as inferior to adults). I have a cool adventure that depends heavily on temporary aging (well, temporary if you win). But generally, it's not a big deal.

How about in your games?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

d6 Thieves that can actually Thieve

I'm a sucker for:

- thieves with 1d6 HP, so they aren't third-rate fighters.

- thieves with thief abilities that aren't so awful that they are poor thieves, as well.

Over at Hill Cantons there is s variant thief that's pretty interesting.

A Revised Thief Class for B/X or LL

Good stuff, I don't know if I'd use it (I might do my own, if I ran B/X or LL) but it's very good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More DF Lost City chargen questions answered

DF Lost City of D'Abo will kick off on Sunday.

Here are a few more questions I answered, repeated and re-edited for those following along at home. I may have answered some of these before - it's okay, I don't expect my players to memorize my blog or my emails.

Can I buy stuff from Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables? - No. That's a treasure suggestion pile for the GM, not a shopping list for the players. Assume the answer is no for anything and be pleasantly surprised if I suggest something is available.

Can I start with magic items? - Not asked so much as assumed and bought and paid for. Yes, it's fine. You need at least Ornate (the cheapest non-size prefix) for magic armor, but if you buy that, sure, you can have enchanted armor. Or magic weapons. Or magical shields. Or a Cornucopia quiver (a great idea, given the cost.)

What's the weapon list? - Almost anything from Basic Set, Low-Tech, or Martial Arts, from TL 0-4. If you haven't seen it in play before, ask. It's probably okay, and most of the stat changes in Low-Tech are ones we played with as house rules anyway, so enjoy getting +1 with that shortsword and the better great axe damage (also in Barbarians!)

When it comes to weapons, Low-Tech trumps Martial Arts which trumps Basic Set. DF volumes trump everything.

How about armor? Use Basic Set. Spend some money on better quality gear if the weights upset you. YOU only have to do armor once in a while, I have to do it over and over again for every NPC with armor on, so Basic Set wins. Yay, simplicity!

Can I merged Quirk points into (whatever)? Sure. You can blow an extra 5 points on advantages, skills, stats, whatever. Have a pool of 20 to spend and want a 15 and a 10 point advantage? Use your 5 quirk points. It's fine. They're extras to put anywhere, not after-the-fact add-ons.

Can I buy up (whatever) in play? Yes. Absolutely yes. It's on your racial template or professional template? Yes, you may buy it up to the max allowed, no matter how much or little sense that makes. Maybe Galen got special eye drops, that's what the $200 he spend on Night Vision 5 paid for. Maybe Borriz got a special blessing of the patron saint of ditch-diggers and upped Pickaxe Penchant to the max. We're still not sure what Vryce did to get two do-overs per hour from the universe (Extraordinary Luck), but he did it. It's all good. It's DF. Just take it, pay the training costs we use, and it's yours. There is no distinction between "at startup" or "in play" for anything.

Weirdness Magnet? I decided to ditch it. It was too much work for me and no roleplaying required for the player. I'll leave it on existing PCs, but I asked our new wizard PC not to take it. It was offloading roleplaying tasks onto me coming up with a weird bad thing every session. I wasn't keeping up, so it was often free points.

My character background? By all means, have one. Keeping it to a punchy paragraph is good. Just enough so we have some idea why all the crazy stuff you selected fits together and why you'll risk eventual death in a dungeon in return for money you may or may not find. Or don't have one. It's fine.

And of course, like I said before, you can't modify the template but you can sub in a worse disad for one on the template. Rest assured, I will make them count.

Editing later: Can I have Crude gear? (Barbarians, p. 28)? Yep. The rules about reaction penalties apply, though, and remember the "no enchantments" downside. Not a good choice for your Signature Gear Weapon Bonded weapon, for example.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Writing Update

So I recently said you should write every day, when you're writing for a deadline.

I wasn't able to keep up with writing for my book every day, although I did write for my game, my blogs, and my jobs every day.

I did manage to put away a big chunk of my latest writing project yesterday, and mentally outline something else. I'm way ahead of schedule on my project.

It is, naturally, tied to DF, and I can cross-use material from my game in my book and vice-versa (I'll write for my book and insert it into game.)

Today was kind of a lost cause for writing, but there is still tonight - I'm going to try to get in a little work tonight and keep the ball rolling from yesterday's "let me get this one idea down" session that turned into knocking out a sizeable percentage of what was left.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Lost City of D'Abo

Here are some details on the Lost City of D'Abo, setting for our next 5-6 sessions of DF.


The Lost City of D'Abo isn't "lost" in the "Where is it?" sense but in the "We don't have it anymore" sense. It was once the secure capitol of a mid-sized southern theocratic state, before a disaster struck. Those who should have known better convinced themselves they were beyond failure, and tried and failed to do something epic but foolish. Those who survived the disaster fled.

In the centuries that have passed since, the locals have broken up into small clans. They use the "Lost City" as a "Trial by Ordeal" or to prove right of rule in cases of succession, or just as a trip to really impress their friends. Not all make it back. Those that do report that all sorts of unpleasant animals, monsters, and man-like creatures live there.

Legends claim the last princess of the city, Princess Aivilo, didn't die but still lives in some fashion in the city. Others claim she's gone but can be called back to save the city.

Legends also claim there are two golden bells of "inestimable worth" in the city, along with treasures left behind when the population fled.

Game Details

That's the background so far (well, I have a lot more, chunked up into actionable rumors!)

Setting - Looks like "jungle" and "woodlands" are tied, and I'm the deciding vote if there is a tie. As much as I'd love to re-purpose the map I have to be a "cold mist-shrouded woods" from "hot mist-shrouded jungle," the latter is easier than the former.

I told the players "Jungle" meant heavy armor is going to mean much slower travel and more FP loss to heat, but equally enemies are less likely to be armored. "Woodlands" means when it gets cold here it gets cold in game, and they'll need blankets, bedrolls, tents, etc. to stay warm . . . and both they and the bad guys will have more DR from armor and winter clothes. Basically it's dire apes and blowguns and loincloths or trolls and crossbows and scale armor. Whichever.

If it changes, just swap in "dark forest" for "jungle" and I'll set this in the woody, tangled forests near the Cold Fens. Getting home if they stay too long will be easier (they can walk) but more dangerous (many more trolls.)

Caravan - the PCs arrive as part of a semi-sprawling caravan of pilgrims heading to a shrine off to the west. This is part of a once-every-three-years trip to the site of the Third Martyrdom of Saint-in-Waiting Buyya Duad, a truly obscure eventually-to-be-sainted holy man of the Good God. The site is only visited once every three years - pilgrims visit the other two matyrdom sites on the other years. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Third Martyrdom, so a large pilgrimage has been organize to make the dangerous journey down the jungle-choked River Dracon and then overland to the site.

Town will be a temporary trading camp set up by the locals to interact with the traders and pilgrims from the big caravan. A small base camp is set up, complete with a ramshackle palm-frond topped bar, a tinker's, a local wizard who can teach any spells (he's got Teaching and Wild Talent!) and recharge power items and brew up Paut and Minor Healing potions and do some minor healing (Cleric lens) etc. He's greedy, though, so spells cost $80/each! Locals will come and go, providing rumors.

Jungle Love - It will be a 3-day trip to the city across the jungle, assuming the players leave at dawn and aren't too heavily encumbered. If they are, it'll take more days to get there. The jungle will be dangerous but at least for the first trip they'll get guided to the city so getting lost will be less of an issue. The wilderness is basically profitless encounters, although there will be some little benefits they can pick up if they look for them.

Showing the Map - once the players get to the city itself, I have a player handout map for them. No time wasted mapping!

Time Limit - the main body of pilgrims will come back in a couple months, and at the end of session 5 the last of them will leave for the east and then north. The players can stay as late as session 6, but town will have dropped into "rest place only" and "local services only" and they'll need to make a lot of rolls to cut across the dangerous wilderness to catch up with the tail end of the caravan. Otherwise, they'll literally miss the boat and have to stay in the area.

Target-Rich Environment - the Lost City is a target-rich environment. There is much more than can be done than time to do it. That's on purpose so the players don't get stuck in a "let's not play until everyone is here because we need them all for that one thing left" situation. There is always going to be something to do.

Active Environment - there is a fair amount going on in the area. The players can camp out and rest and all of that within the city if they want, but there will be risks (i.e. wandering monsters, active retaliation, hungry critters) to doing so.

I'm hoping the target-rich environment plus the time limit means the players push a little harder to get loot, avoid game-session devouring debate, and try to resolve things quickly. The active environment should push them to keep on their toes. I'll happily fritter away sessions resolving fights with wandering monsters - it's cutting out looting time.

It also means I'll have a only partly-looted partly-interacted with area the players can come back to in the future, either with more starting characters or with their experienced vets to finish some puzzle they only figure out a year from now.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Revised XP, Take III

Here is yet another take on revised XP for my DF game. Maybe the last for a while.

The goal is the same - encourage risky behavior and more exploration even at the cost of dead characters.

XP House Rules Proposal III: Explore & Loot Equally

Base: 0 xp. Delvers without loot or exploration are worthless.

Loot - Loot is still central.

Sufficient Loot to cover your threshold ($200 for a starting guy): 3 xp
5x or more than that: 4 xp
Under threshold: 1 xp
1/5 to none: 0 xp

Exploration - Exploration is also important. "Interact with" means explore, map, fight, or otherwise deal with new areas in a positive and basically effective way. Running away, not touching anything, etc. doesn't count. Significant areas have some kind of monster, major feature, treasure, puzzle, or other element of note. Generally, hallways, doors, traps, random dungeon color, etc. doesn't count.

Interact with many (4+) new areas: 3 xp
Interact with at least one new area: 2 xp
Nothing new: 0 xp

Character Death - No effect on xp.

Roleplaying, Awesome Bonus, MVP - Unchanged.

In this approach, taking home sufficient loot, exploring a little = 5 xp. Taking home a LOT of loot is 4 xp, even if you didn't explore at all (making a straight-up "spend the session getting that treasure" a worthwhile delve, if you also count the money as worthwhile.) You can potentially get up to 7 xp with lots of exploration and great amounts of loot. And I get to give 0 xp for those sessions that consist of spending 1/2 of it messing around with a profitless dead end because no one can decide what to do and then 1/2 spent opening doors and running away from monsters.

Death has no effect outside of roleplaying and the usual consequences on hiring new NPCs when you come back with half the PCs dead and all the NPCs eaten by purple worms. High upside, high downside with this approach, but cost of achieving your goals isn't important.

I kind of like this one, too, if my players are more into "yes, make sure we explore!" instead of yesterday's "Consequences, shmansequences, as long as I'm rich" approach.

Friday, September 18, 2015

New House Rules for DF, Option II

Here is another option under consideration for new XP rules for my DF game.

XP House Rules Proposal II: Double Down on Loot

Base XP for a session is 1 xp.

Loot - Gaining sufficient loot to reach your threshold - $200 each, to start, is the expected basis of XP.

Loot 5x or more than your threshold: 5 xp
Loot 1x or more than your threshold: 4 xp
Loot less than your threshold: 2 xp
Loot 1/5 of less than your threshold: -1 xp

Minimum xp for loot is -1, maximum is 5 xp. (Average expected is 4 xp)

Exploration - No or almost no exploration is -1 xp. Minor or unexceptional exploration is 0 xp. Finding an clearing major or significant areas of the dungeon or sandbox may result in a bonus of 1-2 xp (1 xp, generally, but 2 xp if it's a significant advancement in terms of exploration.)

Minimum xp for exploration is -1 xp, maximum is 2 xp (average expected is 0)

Character Deaths - +1 for a clean run where everyone comes back alive or gets Resurrected or laid to rest. Otherwise, no effect on XP. Lost companions may cause Roleplaying losses (if you're a Sense of Duty type, have a Code of Honor, have an Ally who dies) but don't otherwise affect losses.*

Minimum 0, maximum 1 xp. Average expected is 0.

Roleplaying, Awesome Bonus, MVP - unchanged.

The idea here is that loot provides wider swings. Character losses are expected, although if you can get everyone back alive you're up a point. If you come back with everyone, did a little exploration, and found your threshold in loot, you're at 5 xp (same as right now, actually, for the same things.) If you mess around and play it safe and no one gets hurt and no one gets any loot, you have 1.

So those missions where people run in, look at stuff, run home with a few pieces of salvaged junk worth $10 to each of them - 0 points. +1 for everyone alive, 0 for loot, -1 for no significant exploration. I kind of like that. A mega run where you find a new major area, whack a rich monster or two, and come back with everyone can net you 7 points . . . 6 if some people get killed off, back to 7 if you get them back to life or properly buried (no clause in this version for "fell down a bottomless pit" or "burned with the wights so they don't come back" or "but I Zombie'd him to help us!"

So that's another idea for XP in my game.

* Killing your friends off to maximum your personal loot is technically okay, but try getting invited back to game after that.

RAINN bundle

RPGNow is offering a bundle of RPGs to benefit RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network):


It includes the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, which is normally around the $25 you'd spend for this bundle.

I'm putting this up because one of my players is a big and consistent supporter of PROTECT, and has published books to support them. He let me know about this RAINN bundle, although to be fair so did Erik Tenkar.

Please take a look and consider purchasing it and supporting this charity while you get your "IT MUST BE MINE!" feeling covered, at least for a short time.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

New XP House Rules ideas for DF

I have a set of XP house rules I like a lot, especially with some little tweaks we made after the initial writeup.

But one of my players suggested a more "mission oriented" or "exploration oriented" reward system. I thought about that, and decided I had some changes to make, too. Ideally I would make a system that is:

1) loot-centric, so gathering loot is the name of the game (keeps it light, fun, and cheerfully profit-oriented.)

2) mission- or exploration-oriented, so you always feel the need to do need things or push further.

3) encourages risk instead of punishing it.

#1 is fun because the drive to make a profit makes people do crazy risky things something.

#2 I like because it discourages attrition-based raiding strategies that eat up sessions without really providing any excitement. There is a big difference between, "Today, we go for the dragon!" and "Today, we wear down the orcs with some low-level attrition and hope to steal enough swords off of them to get nearly full points!"

#3 means the risk of losses is minimal compared to the gains of success.

Here is what I am thinking - we'll hash this out with the group, and maybe I'll hash it out more across additional posts.

XP House Rules Proposal

Base XP for a session is 1 xp - even a bad delve teaches you something (plus, it leaves something to lose for poor roleplaying and other penalties.)

Loot - Gaining sufficient loot to reach your threshold - $200 each, to start - is worth 2 xp. Less than your threshold is 1 xp. Coming back with no loot or almost no loot (1/5 or less than the threshold) is 0 xp. Vastly exceeding this number (5x your loot) is worth 3 xp.

Minimum 0 xp, maximum 3 xp.

Exploration and Mission Completion - Exploring a significant new area (staircase down in a megadungeon, exploring multiple areas of a large level, find a new location and making efforts to clear it, etc.) is 2 xp. Minimal exploration (minor new areas, little real exploration) is 1 xp.
No exploration of new areas of significant at all is 0 xp.

The usual bonuses for special tasks completed will also accrue - exorcism of an evil shrine, destruction of a source of malign power, overcoming a difficult puzzle or task, etc.

Minimum 0 xp, Maximum is 2 xp plus bonuses.

Casualties: Two ideas here:

Never Leave a Man Behind! - No casualties is 1 xp. Losing 1+ PCs or NPCs is 0 xp, so long as the bodies are recovered, given Final Rest, buried or burned in a safe spot, or otherwise safely and respectfully disposed of - or if they are utterly unrecoverable (lost at sea, fell down a nearly bottomless pit.) If the casualties are all Resurrected or otherwise brought back to life (Zombie doesn't count), this counts as No Casualties (1 xp)! Summoned creatures don't count, usually (I'll note special exceptions.) Losing characters where they can come back as undead, or otherwise when bodies are treated poorly, is -1 xp.

Maximum XP is +1, minimum is -1.


Casualties, Smasualties - Casualties have no effect on XP at all except from a Roleplaying standpoint.)

Maximum/Minimum is 0 xp.

Roleplaying, Awesome Bonus, MVP - all unchanged from the original document. Note that Sense of Duty will mitigate against abusing the "Casualties" rule. It will be okay if they happen, but running out on your buddies so they die on the ground that "maybe we can make it back and rescue your corpses" will cost you points if you have Sense of Duty or the appropriate Code of Honor. You took the disad, you have to play the disad.

Assuming Never Leave a Man Behind:

So a solid bit of looting (2 xp) plus significant exploration (2 xp) plus no casualties (1 xp or 0 xp) plus the base (1 xp) means 6 xp for the session, one more than now.

A solid bit of looting (2 xp) with just a little exploration (1 xp) and some casualties not resurrected (-1 xp) would be 3 xp including the base 1 xp.

A careful delve with minimal loot (1 xp), no exploration (0 xp), and everyone is safe (1 xp), plus the base, is 3 xp. (which seems high, actually)

A bad session with a near TPK (-1 xp), no exploration (0 xp), no loot (0 xp), and plenty of PCs left behind (-1 xp), plus the base points is 1 xp - 2 = 0 xp. Better hope you were MVP.

Assuming Casualties, Smasualties, those same delves would be:

5 xp (2 + 2 + 1), 4 xp, and 1 xp.

Not sure if we'll go with this. We'd need a good understanding of what "exploration" means. For example, my feel that for exploration, opening a door, seeing monsters, and running away is not significant exploration. But equally it means the area is known in the future, so going back doesn't count as a new area.

But is exploration a new room? 5 new rooms? How many hexes? How many new things? That I'm not sure about.

I may have to jigger the numbers around a little, and get rid of the base point. Maybe make the loot numbers 0, 1, 3, 4 instead of 0, 1, 2, 3, so "made enough" is 3, and loot is still front-and-center.

Overall, though, I think changing the concept to a loot minimum, loot assumption, and loot bonus is good. I like the idea of making casualties less of a concern - if you risk less xp cost, or nothing, from pushing into new territory and trying to loot treasure at the cost of dead characters, will you risk more?

That's a rough draft, in any case. Except changes!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Next DF location is . . . The Lost City

Looks like we're going with:

- mostly dungeon with a shell of wilderness around it.

- a temporarily stable town setting which will move after a number of sessions (a ship or a caravan-turned-temporary-trading-camp or a pilgrimage, not sure yet.)

- a time limit (town will leave, and PCs need to go with it!)

- a ruins, so we get a sandboxy area for the characters to explore instead of a more linear dungeon.

- anything not explored when the time limit runs out will be left behind. The players can, of course, come back to it some other time.

- if we still need XP and loot, I'll have the caravan/ship/pilgrimage stop near a dungeon or lair on the way home.

- speaking of XP, we've got some requested changes, so I'll be working on a new set of XP house rules and see how they work.

I'll seed the players with rumors of the lost city, and some of what can be found within. There will be some generically lootable places, and at least one larger, more dangerous spot.

I still need to figure out if the "town" comes and goes (but won't be coming back after X number of visits), so we can have time pass normally outside the game, or if it's a cyclical thing and the players get dropped off and won't have a chance to go back to civilization if the miss the next bus. Like maybe the caravan comes through the area on the way to somewhere, and on the way back, and then there is a long gap between. Like the once-every-two years trip for a trading visit with the Bad Luck Tribe of the Little Yellow God, or to the elephant's graveyard (PCs welcome as guards, not as partners), or to some religious shrine that is only open for view once a decade or something.

One of those - so the PCs will have a base camp for a few sessions, maybe they can push it one more (and risk a lot of travel rolls on the way home trying to catch up), and then that's it. If they still want more adventuring before Felltower, well, they can stop at the Cold Fens on the way. Heh. Yes, somehow it's on the way home.

My vision is "jungle-wrapped ruins" but maybe I need to make it "forest-shrouded ruins." I'll decide soon.

Of course, the lost city has a name. Thanks to offline discussions, it shall be called . . .

The Lost City of D'Abo

Gerry & company will be there, soon . . .

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mulling over the next options for DF

We're still rebuilding our DF game after the big disaster. We played Gamma Terra in the meantime, which was good because it gave me a lot more time to prep for game and a lot more time for people to make characters.


We are looking at an expanded wilderness component. Right now it's a discussion of two options:

Mostly wilderness, with lairs and a mini-dungeon to seek out - a hexcrawl.


Mostly dungeon (a ruins), with a wilderness component.

In either case, I'm handing the players the map. Possibly just the outline of the map for the hexcrawl (so it's more exploration heavy) or maybe the full map (so it's a known area, but finding the mini-dungeon in this known area is the challenge.) If it's the ruins I have a map in mind - I'll flat-out steal it from a published adventure, so I don't have to draw it myself, but at least partly populate it with stuff unrelated to the source material.

For the "mostly dungeon" one, it'll share a lot with Cold Fens (wilderness is a "moat" around a mostly linear dungeon) and the Caves of Chaos (ditto, but with a less linear dungeon.)


It's a tossup between a few:

- a lost island, with "town" being a ship and its crew.

- part of the drier, more tangled-woods section of the Cold Fens, with town being a caravan working its way around the edges while the PCs make forays in looking for something.

- a jungle wilderness with "camp" being a ship on the river doing some of its own business (trading, mapping, harvesting weird plants, whatever) while the PCs have time for a few forays into the jungle.

So, Survival (Jungle), (Island/Beach), or (Woodlands) would be the way to go. No one will need water-based skills except maybe Boating (it's come up in every campaign I've ever run.)


For sure, the next group will have Gerald "Gerry" Tarrant, necromancer and zombie booster.

Under discussion for the others are:

- An axe-and-shield Knight (or a Scout, or an Assassin - all the same player - all looked solid at first pass.)

- A dwarf swashbuckler with a dwarven bastard sword (haven't seen him yet, I'm curious how he'll come out.) I have a mini that might do for now, if I swap out for a larger sword. Depends on if he has a shield or not.

- A Savage Warrior with Shirtless Savage and Berserker, with a morningstar. He's going for Berserk (Battle Rage; Enraged) so he can defend but also not waste time not being berserk. He'll get Beefcake Protection ASAP and Naked Rage if you lives that long.

- A druid. This will be interesting, because he's aiming to be dungeon-useful later as well as wilderness-useful now.

- A wizard. Probably air-centered, since fire didn't cut it last time.

No one has seriously mentioned a cleric yet - "Evil Cleric" was bounced around but they can't heal anyone, so that's not as useful for support.

We also have some other characters who could get involved - Bern the artificer, Galoob the thief, Christoph the scout (one player's retired character), and Dave the knight.

Personally I think the group can benefit from a more front-line heavy approach, and I think a Scout would help immensely in the outdoors and also solve a good part of their "we can't fight the orcs, they have bows!" concerns in Felltower. Bow damage isn't terribly high, and thr/impaling is a weak attack versus supernatural types . . . but the ability to put damage onto any foe in a melee is really helpful.

But it's tough to adventure without reliable supporting types, too. And there won't be any NPCs around this time to start with - there will be someone back in "town" to recharge power items and heal, but not to come adventure with them.

Monday, September 14, 2015

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 3

Picking up where we left off many months but a mere few game minutes before . . .

"Hillbilly" (me) - medical specialist
"Short Bus" (Mike D) - computer programmer
"Princess" (Andy D) - cryptographer
"Fatbox" (John M) - not sure
"Momma's Boy" (Tom P) - computer programmer
"Love Handles" (Vic L) - demo/EOD

Present but NPC'ed:
"Caveman" (Jon L) - demo/EOD
"Barbie" (Mike H) - demo/EOD

(We run a half-split, have-merged session today. I'll be light on details for the half that didn't involve my guy. I wasn't paying any attention.)

Post-combat, we suffered from some extreme exhaustion (4d FP - which even with 16 FP knocked most of us down and into "Do Nothing" for a while). We managed to get into the Warbot, Adjunct Captain Hopper. I re-christened her "Softie" for mostly bad reasons, and thankfully it stuck because my backup name was suggestion was worse.

Long story short on Softie was that all of her fuel reserves were dry, the generator was too weak to power her up . . . but she could coast at 10m at roughly 10 mph using her emergency environmental power converter. We couldn't get her up to elevated highway, so we flew her straight home.

This being Gamma World, bad things happen. As we cruised (we joked, at 9m so we had some climbing room if threatened) we flew over some stiff grass. Turned out it was a field of zeeth. Zeeth teleport spiky seed balls into their victims. One appeared in Short Bus's gun hand and basically blew it up. One appeared in my left leg next to the bone. More appeared, but we kept moving through and doing emergency surgery. Princess followed my somewhat expert instructions and carved out the one in my leg with a slice between the major muscles, and didn't kill me (a pink injector helped.) More appeared, including one between my toes (ouch, but not in me) before we got out. Sigh. Short Bus and I suffered heavy damage. We knew for next time to avoid the spiky grass - and honestly, I was too busy dithering about with our loot to pay attention to what we'd been heading into. Bad move.

We reached the Bal'Kree camp and left Softie at the edge - she didn't have power enough to climb above their barrier-like tree plantings. We headed into the camp.

There we discovered some new 20th Homeland soldiers - about 10, IIRC. They'd been dumped out of the vault like we had, and limped out heavy on food and water at the command of Newbie, their LT. (Actually, Newbie got directed around a lot by Fatbox) They made it out, found the airplane bridge (but no brass, since Caveman made us police it up last time.) They found the buryin' holes, which were empty. They also eventually found a "tree" sitting in the road. Said tree turned out to be a "tentacled elephant!" according to Momma's Boy, who helped machine gun it to pieces with his Mark 48 MG.

In any case, they made it to camp. Newbie, sadly, convinced most of them that they were near Battle Creek, MI (true - the "Bal'Kree" got their name from there) and they were going to go home. The protestations of folks who realized that there wasn't no Michigan anymore fell on deaf ears, as did the multiple passes the more lecherous folks in the group (Love Handles and Momma's Boy) made at a female 20th Homeland soldier.

Once they left, we put our heads together and decided to execute our plan to refuel Softie. We had two real options - a possibly semi-online plant held by some possibly not unfriendly types, or an online plant held by some "Purists" - mutant-hating guys. I voted to wipe the Purists, but difficult terrain for Softie was between us and I couldn't convince anyone to fly around it over water. So instead, since Option A was right out, and B was the clear choice, we chose Option C and headed to the "Proving Grounds." It's some kind of irradiated deathlands were people go to prove their mettle - and they come back changed, come back proven, or come back not at all.

So yeah, we went there.

I don't know either, and I was there.

So we hiked up to the Proving Grounds. We passed some odd clefts in the road, which seemed to be from some large burrowing animal. We went over and around.

We reached the Proving Grounds without further incident. It was an old parklands, with a smallish hurricane shelter-ish bunker, a bleachers, a gazebo, and a ranger station.

It was also crawling with Sep - sand-diving sharks.

How it basically worked was:

- We set up on the bleachers.

- We tossed rations (and then junk) to draw out the sharks and shoot at them.

- Momma's Boy stripped down to armor and minimal guns and made a run for the bunker.

- We covered him, but he was still gnawed on by a shark and had to shoot it off of himself. Bopping it on the nose was less effective than SNL led us to believe.

- He made it to the bunker, and despite searing radiation, barged in past a sign that said "One at a time - be honest." (In Sharpie). Inside was a comfy chair, some bottles, some other boring stuff, and a rack of comics and magazines and books and porn. Momma's Boy grabbed all the porn and ran back out.

- He made it back.

- We sent out Fatbox and Love Handles, this time with NBC gear on. Shot Bus threw trash to draw the sharks. Princess and I shot the sharks (yes, Doug, at full ROF.) They made it. Few sharks did.

- Fatbox decided it was a fap hut, for lack of a better term, and that's what the proving grounds consisted of.

- They took the rest of the comics and the books and ran back. We shot more sharks, and saw a GIANT shark come up and eat some thrown trash.

We eventually took our stuff and headed home.

We made it back to the Bal'Kree, no closer to refueling our warbot. We did have a bunch of books to give to the Restorationist, Serven, and everyone noticed that my eyes had turned white. A sign of "the change" we hear.

So I tried all of the injector sticks to fix that, but no, nothing worked. We figured out what one of the injector sticks did.

Basically our loot was some books we gave away, some porn we didn't, I got mutated, and we expended a few hundred rounds of ammo. Next up? Plan B, go to the place with the possibly not unfriendly guys and see about their reactor.

When we got back, though . . . Barbie was mysteriously gone without a trace!

So, we have that to distract us from ever going on our mission.


We chose names for the person next to us. One of the choices I had was Conan, but Momma's Boy's player would have loved that. So, no way. Momma's Boy. This is the logic that meant that Star Wars fan Fatbox is Fatbox, not Wookie. And Love Handles - well, someone was going to get that one.

Fatbox's player is USMC (Retired), so he had an impressive ability to suggest to his LT all sorts of stuff. Mostly in the, "Sir, like you ordered, I made sure everyone got extra ammo" or "Sir, we're advancing in a standard patrol formation, isn't that right?" kind of ways.

I'm not sure how I got mutated. Everyone got a roll at the end except me, andi announced they were fine, and that I was mutated. So what did I do or not do that spelled automatic change? No idea. I wasn't the only one hit by the zeeth. I may have been the only one not running into radioactive fields this session (and only briefly did a session back.) So, yeah, no idea.

My character has Overconfidence as a Quirk. Basically how I play this is that I'm sure I'm going to kick butt at anything I try. There is a shark on you? Full auto at it, I'll hit it and miss you. There is a seed-thing in my leg? I'll have my buddy cut it out with a knife without anesthetic. We need a rear guard? I'll face backward, anything that comes up will be seen and killed. Not so much the "run into radiation for porn!" type of quirk-level Overconfidence. I'll let the Impulsive and Curious guys do that - which they did!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Gamma World session pre-cap

I'll write a session summary tomorrow when I get a chance.

But we played Gamma Terra today, which is basically GURPS Gamma World crossed with The Morrow Project.

Some highlights:

- us old-timers got back to the Bal'Kree with our warbot, but not before some zeeth grass teleported death into our transport.

- the newbies got dumped out of the vault.

- the newbies, let by an officer named Newbie, fought a giant killer tentacled elephant thing.

- We all met up at the Bal'Kree camp. Newbie led off some less strong-willed types to "find their homes." Nevermind they were nuked out of existence hundreds of years ago.

- The new combined group sorted its options and decided to check out the "Proving Grounds."

- Many earth-swimming sharks were fought and slain.

- Many now-antique adult oriented male magazines were recovered. Much ammo was expended and several were radiated recovering it.

- We made it safely back to base.

- Turns out I got mutated, somehow, despite being the most cautious of our group (My Overconfidence is Quirk-level, and mostly manifests itself with risky combat shots because I'm not going to shoot you by accident even if that shark-thing has half of you in its mouth and I'm shooting the head, not by doing risky generic stuff.)

Fun stuff!

Other CharGen rules from my game

Besides the general rules I have for PCs in Felltower, I have added a few others.

For starting PCs the following rules apply.

No Power-Ups.

If it's not on your main template, you can't have it.

I do make small exceptions. The Ferocious Beard perk, for example, makes perfect sense as a starting perk. I'm fine with people taking Reach Mastery if they have a two-handed weapon and don't feel like waiting exactly one session to get it. I'd possibly consider other ones, as well.

Spellcaster perks, though? Little chance of them.

I do make a big exception for the Thief. I think it's a much richer, fuller, and more immediately effective template with the Power-Ups, so I allow them, per this discussion and the ones linked here. A thief that starts with Sensitive Touch or Backstabber is a much more viable character in my experience.

Not a thief? Stick to what's listed on your template to start with.

The general idea here is that you can make a character with just Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers (Or Barbarians, or Ninja for Assassins.) You don't need any other books. You don't have to be fully conversant in the options to make a viable character. The rare exceptions are perks like the ones above, and I'm able to just suggest them as the GM if I think they'll in-concept and the player doesn't realize they are out there. One book is all you need to keep up.

No Lenses.

That is, no cross-training lenses. Template-specific lenses (like those in Barbarians) are allowed.

I do this for a few reasons.

One is that, at full cost, basically Knights and Swashbucklers can afford lenses. So it becomes a narrow set of templates that can afford to lens out right away, and it encourages people to do so because you can stack Swashbuckler onto Knight, say, just so you could get more sword skill off the bat.

Another is that, while I like the concept of cutting down duplication to allow easier purchase, it feeds into the first part and feed heavily into the next one. So not allowing it reinforces point one, and if I allow it . . . keep reading.

The third and probably most important reason is because that allowing lenses rewards the players with the most time to investigate cross-template synergies and long-range Power-Up synergy goals. Since I'm gearing the game to casual play, I want the folks who just say, "Give me a Knight with a mace and shield!" or "I'll run a Druid" just to be able to do so without worrying that they've already given up ground to the more rule-expert guys. That the rules-expert guys have come up with some totally amazing synergistic combination between this Knight Power-Up here and that Swashbuckler Power-Up there and this here Martial Artist Chi Power is fine - they're more than 100 points away from that. They're just as Knight as you are, to start, no matter where they plan to go.

No Special Customizations

If it's on your template and we're using it, it's on your template and you are using it. I don't allow customization. No extra disads above the count. No ditching skills just because you can't think why Mimicry (Bird Calls) or Writing or Physiology (Undead) can help you. Find a use for them.

I will allow thematically appropriate changes - this is why, for example, we had a Martial Artist with Gigantism. I've allowed different disads for some templates to swap in ones that seemed to fit the concept of the character and the template. But I haven't allowed new advantages, extra powers, or dumping required disads to open up more options for a template.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Review: Majestic Wilderlands 5e Berserker

I wanted to take a look at one more barbarian class out there - a 5th edition D&D berserker written by Robert Conley. I know there are other barbarian classes, and I may get to them sometime in the future.

Majestic Wilderlands Berserker

Written by Robert S. Conley
MSRP: Free!

The berserker is a class option for Lawful or Neutral human fighters in the Majestic Wilderlands.

Like most other barbarian classes, this berserker can track, go into a battle frenzy, and comes with a bunch of weapon, armor, and outdoor skill proficiencies. Most of these are granted right away, but the battle frenzy, skills, and some additional powers are added or improved as the berserker levels. This is much like the rest of 5e classes - every level is a significant improvement.

What I like about this class is that it is not just a frenzied warrior. Instead it's a holy warrior blessed by a specific god (Thor) and granted battle frenzy and special abilities because of that. This gives it a lot of focus that a more general barbarian or general berserker class lacks. These berserkers are giant-killers, basically - they got a lot of special perks for fighting larger foes.

Not only that, but it's a balanced barbarian type class - at least it seems so. The powers don't seem out of line for 5e, or what other classes would get. Unlike the "You get everything, but it costs a lot to level" approach of the UA or LL barbarians, this is an approach I think works better - you level like everyone else, and as you go up you gain new powers. A more monk-like approach, comparing it to earlier editions - every level you get more monk-like, instead of getting a big pile of abilities right away.

The supplement is well-written, attractively laid out, and tightly edited - as usual for Rob's books.

Overall: A nice class, and a good example of what you can do with the 5e framework with a specific type of barbarian in mind. Doesn't seem unbalanced with the official options, or with the rest of the MW classes.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Review: Barbarian Class (For Labyrinth Lord)

I received this PDF for free as part of a Tenkar's Tavern giveaway contest. Knowing I had a barbarian book of my own in process, I set this aside to look at after I finally got the book done. Here is the look I'd been meaning to give it.

By James Mishler & Jodi Moran-Mishler
From James Mishler Games
MSRP $1.00

This 9-page book (including the OGL) presents a barbarian class for LL.

The class seems very cluttered. While the Labyrinth Lord basic classes are pretty sparse, and the Advanced Edition Companion classes are a little more details, this barbarian is extremely detailed. Pretty much, this class can do everything you think of barbarians doing.

You have survival skills. You get berserk rages. You get 1d12 HP. You get six weapon proficiencies plus your tribal weapons plus more as you level up. You have solid saving throws, too. You get a solid AC if you run around shirtless, too (I highly approve!)

You also get a higher base move. You get special abilities based on your specific tribe. Battle cries. Tracking. Detection powers from our "Uncanny senses." Special enemies you can designate for bonuses. A barbarian horde to summon.

Take the berserk rage for example - you improve your AC, improve your offensive power (either a bonus to hit or two attacks), and get better saves against some hostile powers. You're tired and weaker on the far end of it, but the upsides are pretty amazing for LL.

There are some downsides. It takes 3000 xp - more than any other LL class I can see - to level up to level 2. You'll lag everyone in levels, but you get a lot at each and every one of those levels. I'm not sure the 3000 xp jump to level 2 is really enough for what you get. As much as the xp you'll need with this guy is so high, you're significantly more powerful than the other classes.

Overall this class is very well written, but it's overkill. It's a kitchen sink of barbarism. The class feels like a combination of 3e barbarian powers plus everything the Unearthed Arcana barbarian could do, too. None of the pesky restrictions, either.

One thing I thought was interesting is that barbarians have two different sets of minimum attribute scores. One set if you're rolling 3d6 in order. Another, higher set for 3d6 rerolling 1s or 4d6 drop lowest or assign stats. I'm not sure what to make of this - if stats are generally lower, you need lower stats to qualify. If stats are generally higher, you need higher to qualify - but if stats are generally higher, does this kind of thing matter? A high-stats game is not one that is going to be full of guys worried about making the stat minimums. So it seems like it would just drive higher stats, not make it harder to be a barbarian even with them.

Overall: Like I said above, it feels very cluttered and I'm not sure how balanced it is. The "everything any barbarian could do, you can do" approach is overkill for a system that has generally such a light character power footprint.

I'm curious how it actually plays, but as written, it's quite overwhelming in its depth and breadth of abilities. I wouldn't use this in my own game if I ran Labyrinth Lord.

Gamma Terra on Sunday - Linkfest

So, we decided we'd play Gamma Terra for a session while we figure out what to do in DF.

I'm 99% settled on my plan for DF, but people are still making characters. I need to review them first, and also get minis for them, before I can really feel like we're done and ready to go. Easier to play GT, enjoy it, get to have one of our part-times roll in for a session ("Caveman"), and otherwise have two good sessions instead of one rushed one to restart DF.

Here are the links about Gamma Terra, for those who missed them (like Vic, for example.)

Off to Gamma World

Post-Apocalypse Pre-Summary

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 1

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 2

We have some plans to recover materials (and new PCs!) from the vault, find fuel for our warbot, and otherwise leave the peaceful Bal'Kree and go adventuring. Rebuilding the world from the ashes by sitting around in a village is not as much fun as rebuilding it by flying around in a warbot dealing death and finding relics of the wastelands!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

GURPS Barbarians & My Game

So, out of my own book, in my own game, what am I using?


We're using most of the templates. My campaign doesn't really have room for Rage Barbarians. I love them, it's just like my own Ninja template - it's not the feel we're going for.

I'd consider a Skinchanger-focused Rage Barbarian, though, if the player was willing to read DF5 and know the rules so I didn't have to explain them every time he wanted to shift shape. (I feel the same way about magic and allies in general, actually - know how it works, I've got a lot to do already!)

The others? Barbarian, Savage Warrior, Survivor? All okay.


They're all okay in my game. You've seen a Shirtless Savage, and I hope you'll see a Berserker that isn't one I made up myself (ahem, Raggi). I'm not sure Sea Raider fits (my game is so heavily focused on being underground), but it is allowed. Short? Sure, it opens up a lot of options, especially for smaller and larger races. Refined Savage? I couldn't say no - it's a good gateway lens, too, if you expect to be going for any kind of spellcasting or social approach.


They're all available, except the Rage Power only ones - if someone convinces me to allow a Rage Barbarian, those will all be included, too. If not, then no.

Rules & Switches

Okay, how about rules and tweaks and switches?

Outdoorsman is Too Expensive! - not in my games, it isn't. I use the expanded skill list, and I'm quite generous about the bonuses from Outdoorsman. I apply it to lots of rolls and as you can see from the Girdle of Savage Might, to some magical powers, too. I'd feel bad extending extra points to the barbarians and scouts and not the others. And if I did that, why not use the higher cost for Chi Talent, say? Nah, for my game 10/level is fair enough.

Oversized Weapons - these and the revised damages for two-handed axe/mace weapons? Fine! I hope to see a big ass club, too.

Crude - crude gear, yes. I expect the next barbs to take full advantage and start with lots of crude stuff for the discount since they rarely cash in worn gear for money anyway.

Pretty much, all the gear is there. Some of it is already in the game. The rest is there if people want it, and for me to thrown in. A round of Rageahol for the house, my brothers!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Barbarian Week: the Unearthed Arcana barbarian

After a near-TPK interrupted Barbarian Week, I bring you more shirtless sandal-wearing slayers for your enjoyment in celebration of my own barbarian-themed book release.

The first roleplaying barbarians I dealt with were in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st edition. I remember trying to tease out the class stats from the hints in issues of Dragon magazine. But our first real taste was the release of Unearthed Arcana.

Barbarians are singularly powerful characters, tempered by extremely high XP numbers early on. You need 6001 xp to get to level 2, 12,001 for level 3. On the bright side, all of your level titles are Barbarian, so you're name level at 1st level. That's only sort-of a joke.

Barbarians get double HP bonuses from CON. Double AC bonuses from DEX if they have non-bulky or no armor. They get 1d12 hit dice (and cap out at 8, with a +4 per level after).

They have some minor downsides to themselves: Some required weapon proficiencies, illiteracy, and they can't use Alignment Language (as if that was such a big thing in my games.) Also, they can't be dual-classed.

Otherwise, for the barbarian, it is all upside. They have:

- multiple outdoor proficiencies
- excellent jumping ability
- Detect Illusion
- Lots of Saving Throw bonuses (some flat, some level-based)
- Detect magic
- tracking (outdoors only, but as a ranger of the same level)
- leadership
- ability to hit creatures only hit by magic weapons.

Their downsides are small but significant. The class is a strange one, for AD&D. First off, it's a loner class. Most of the class's abilities aren't useful if all your friends don't have the same ones. Plus. you have a bunch of level-based restrictions. No associating with magic-users at all until level 6 ("if necessary!"), restrictions on magic item use (significant, but not critically so), no potion use until level 3, no associating freely with clerics until level 2 (must be hard being a tribal cleric, eh?), and similar restrictions.

Of course, gaming being social, these aren't restrictions on you, but on your friends. They can't run guys who aren't compatible with you. You've got abilities which restrict who you associate with and powers that work better if folks aren't around.

All that said, they aren't that powerful. Their high HP makes them difficult to kill, their low AC without real armor is useful but doesn't compare well with full plate and shield (especially magical.) The high XP cost to level means regular fighters (especially with weapon specialization) can hit well in excess of the times a barbarian can.

It's just their "can't associate" based on class and not alignment that makes them a difficult class.

War Stories

We had few Barbarians run in our games back when I was running 1st edition AD&D.

The aforementioned problems were the main reason - no magic-users allowed, leery of magic items (pretty necessary early on, especially if you lack a spellcaster friend) and you can't associate with clerics until level 2 (6000 experience points away!). In other words, it was meant for solo play.

I GMed for a solo barbarian that sticks out. My cousin ran him, solo. He made him up using the 9d-3d dice progression from the back of Unearthed Arcana. We did max HP at first level, so he had 20. He had a 17 or 18 DX that I recall, so he had AC 3 with nothing but a shield, and 18/something high strength. He did well solo - it was hard to kill him with the normal complement of levels 1-3 modules.

I remember him getting to level 4, and his luck held on the HP rolls - he had 76 or 78 HP (I want to say 76). By that point he could use magic weapons (which made his ability to strike foes who need a +1 or better to hit useless), he wasn't remotely killable by most things, and only his ST hit bonus let him hit the kind of monsters he needed to face to level.

It was just odd. I remember him almost dying in some encounter from The Book of Lairs, but that's about it. The side game for him eventually petered out as we shifted to Rolemaster and GURPS games.

How did this influence GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians?

More or less, I was influenced by the same sources. While I ran into the barbarian class before I ever knowing read any Conan books (maybe the comics came earlier - probably, actually), the influences mainly show in what I wanted not to do:

- make barbarians into magic-fearing loners.
- heap massive abilities onto a character at a growth cost
- needlessly restrict your choices (you have six weapon proficiencies, here are three of them spelled out for you)

I felt like that was a valid type of barbarian, but not the only one. So the influence was more "like the books we both read, without these odd class restrictions."

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Post-Massacre Postmortem II: What now?

Actually, we can start with what went right?

You know how sometimes a near TPK can derail a game, scatter the less committed players, and destroy the inertia that kept you gaming going?

Next game is 9/13.

That went right.

What to do next game and subsequent games?

Broadly, we have two options for play:

A) More 20th Homeland, run by andi jones, until such a time as we're ready for B.

Or just skip right to . . .

B) More DF, run by me.

As it stands, I need to prepare for B. If A happens (that is, if everyone votes for that), then I'm ready to run Hillbilly. But this post is going to look at B.

What next? We still need a side game to get characters up to the current threat level of Felltower. It won't be the Cold Fens - it's not clear how the next party would make it into the tomb, for one, and a newly hatched group will be less well equipped to deal with Sakatha and its minions. Probably incapable of dealing with the Cold Fens, really, although if they went for it any successful survivors would be rich. They'd need to accept the surety of heavy PC deaths, though, so probably not.

And, as always, new characters start with 250+50+5. Non-negotiable. Same lenses and races, plus most of what's in DFD1.

And the only surviving PC from the last delve is run by the same guy who runs Vryce, so we're not even slightly deeper in the replacement pool. Maybe Christoph will come back, if andi decides to run a Scout?

In any case . . . let's talk campaign elements.

Wilderness plus dungeons

This, for sure. I like the mixed component. Not the least of which is because it leverages Wilderness Training in DF16 and all the templates in DFD1.

It won't be swamp, because everyone voted "no more swamps." At least for now - coming back and finishing Sakatha is a real goal now.

Weak Base

Just like Swampsedge, I want a base that doesn't provide nearly-unlimited access to healing, consumable items, consumable buffs, etc. Hopefully by now the players are more adjusted to that - I want the early delves to be about the characters, not go-see-buff-return. Improved gear should be a reward of good play, not the basis of success. New characters should earn access to better gear just like the old characters did.

Time sensitive delving

I want to put more of a clock on delving - either rival parties, or some ephemeral nature to the dungeons themselves. Rivals could be interesting, although it might play into the "spread rumors, lay traps" approach more than "take risks to succeed first" style of play.

Ephemeral delves means dungeons that you can't repeatedly hit until they're empty. How I might do that is like this:

Mobile "town"

I am considering a mobile "town." Perhaps a caravan - the PCs are traveling to Stericksburg and Felltower, and weekly they have chances to deal with some lair, wilderness area, or small dungeon, and within a session or two the caravan is too far to go-and-return so you have to move on. That would discourage nibbling around the edges hoping to "level up" before you take a big whack at it.

How I'll do this, I'm not sure. One option is to run the revised version of DFA1, for real this time (note the note, if you're wondering about the link.) The players experienced chunks in a playtest, but maybe a full run would work with some allowance for go-and-return play. I could easily change the parts they're run into before.

We'll see how it goes!
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