Sunday, October 30, 2016

Felltower: Things not done yet

Felltower continues to be many things.

A source of enjoyment. We are still playing Felltower half a decade after the initial delves into its lightless depths. That's semi-High Gygaxian for "five years after the first session featuring the dungeon." The fun hasn't worn off yet.

It's a source of material for GURPS books and articles. Rock trolls, octopus blossoms, some magic items I hope you'll get to see someday, rules tweaks - a lot comes out of continuous play, which a long tradition going back to the origin of tabletop role-playing games.

It's a fun outlet for our creativity. I say "our" because much of what comes out of it is a mix of things I think are fun and comments and requests from my players. Then it mixes together with game-session decisions, which sparks even more creativity.

It's a source of posts. Felltower pretty much drives this blog. That wasn't the intention of either the blog or Felltower. But it's a strong core of what keeps people reading this stuff.

So it's done a lot for me, and we've done a lot with it.

But there are things I meant to do I still haven't done.

Henchman Brigade. I still haven't run my "all 62 and 125 point delvers" session. The idea is everyone gets 3-4 PCs each. We'd run them through, enjoy them getting chopped up by monsters the 250-500 point PCs cut through like nothing, and keep the survivors as NPCs.

Nowadays this is called a "funnel" thanks to the DCC RPG, but it's an older concept. 0-level guys building into full PCs showed up in N4 Treasure Hunt by Aaron Allston, and Yaquinto's Pirates & Plunder had three tiers of pirates (extras, secondary, and main characters) and we played it with the expectation you'd keep the survivors and bury the rest where they fell.

In any case, I haven't done this yet. Right now I don't think I can - the orcs are too organized, and motly weak delvers would just get chopped up. If the orcs let them pass, word would get back the PCs that the toll had dropped, and acrimony would ensure. I may still do this with the Keep on the Borderlands, though.

Dungeon Fantasy Gamma. Now that our Gamma Terra sandbox is set, well, perhaps I could stake out a small area of Gamma World and gate in some wizards and dwarves and so on to it. They'd go through Felltower, nominally, or come from the same world, but it wouldn't be connected to the main game. Just an excuse to use the same backgrounds, rules, races, etc. without changes.

This one I might still do as a one- or two-shot game.

Run Felltower Online. I eventually got permission from my players to use Felltower with other groups. I had plans to try running it online.

I eventually gave this one up. It's just too much work. I don't really have a regular timeslot available to play. GURPS has a front-loaded time investment in chargen, which is fine for a longer game but not for a busy GM running a short game. I'd need to master Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds, and then take my made-for-tabletop maps and make versions I could show online. That's besides finding players, teaching the rules, making available things we use in play that aren't - but I hope will be - official GURPS products, the occasional playtest elements we include thanks to my freelancer work, etc. It comes with a cost beyond the expected reward.

It's also a big logistical nightmare, as fun as it might be. I don't like prep work. Plus I'm not a huge fan of GMing for people I don't know well - that's bit me multiple times. So this one isn't going to happen.

Beyond that, the game is quite good. It's worked out better than I planned, and has stayed within the hack-and-slash bounds far beyond what people tell me is possible. It's just there are things to do with it I haven't done yet.


  1. If you don't mind a very leisurely pace, I run a pbp game that gets updated at least daily over on

    1. I couldn't really run a game that way unless it took place in an alternate-reality Felltower, though. At that point, it may as well be something different entirely.

  2. My eventual mega dungeon game will be open to other groups for conventions and one shots. I might set it in an earlier time period, especially for one shot groups. Plus I might make it more of a location for a non mega dungeon DF game (rescue someone, kill a boss etc) so basically got in and get out. That will make it feel more lived in for the ongoing game.

  3. You and I seem to have the same issues with running short games online - crudload of work for what you get out of it. I keep doing work for my own short game(s), but I'm being realistic in that it's mostly an exercise. I'd like to run it in person, but I have no viable players these days, and if I wanted to run it online I'd have to really put effort into re-learning Roll20 and making maps usable online.

    I'm in awe at how long Felltower has lasted (I mentioned this before I believe). I do have a sandboxy "mega dungeon" type game dwelling in the back of my mind that I intend to channel some of your tips and techniques for whenever I start creating content for that. It'll be a more horizontal hex-crawl than vertical dive, but there's still plenty of interchangeability.

    Actually, I'm partial to thinking I should wrap up the current project shortly and move towards the mega-dungeon type one as I believe it would offer more viable recruitment options and more interesting content.

    Hm hm.

  4. I finally started mapping my mega dungeon yesterday. I'm not planning on using it at all until DFRPG comes out and even then it will likely be sporadic games until I get a regular group.

    I worked off a real world map. I haven't filled in any information just blank rooms and locations.


    It's pretty quick to map. As I make mistakes rooms get bigger or smaller than real life. Connections appear. Spaces between rooms in real life are potential rooms in the game.

    And no walls. Was going to put them in then realised all they did was make it harder for the PCs to not start in a choke point. Now they can start anywhere on the edge of the map.

    Using A3 paper is great. Perfect size for each map. No matter how small. Leaves room to add passages especially in sub levels. Perhaps sub level 2 is smaller than sub level 3 which is bigger than four and so on. A3 can be photocopied whereas bigger sizes can't.

    I plan on mapping the whole surface 'city' then the two or three parts with real world sub levels and all the buildings with their two or three stories.

    Then I'll do a draft fill of as it was back in the day. Then try to play a test game there of back in the day/fall of the city. Then do an updated map with collapsed building and occupied monsters. And then add in all the gonzo stuff like orc caverns connected to the city, portals and what not.

    1. I ditched plan one aready. Just going straight to 'finished' mega dungeon with no steps in between. when draing it it too empting to add in fallen statues, open passages, holes in walls etc

    2. Sounds really interesting. The one upside to a choke point is you can be ready to go faster. The downside is that it'll always be a choke point.

      I went with a mix of 8 1/2 x 11 and 11 x 17 for my maps, at 8 squares to the inch. That's close to A4 and A3. It was a good choice - plenty of room for big dungeons, plenty of room for small sub-levels.

  5. I first came to this blog because you were doing the Caves of Chaos in DF and your play reports inspired me the ToEE in DF.

    It quickly expanded to be more than just an inspiration, becoming an in-depth resource.

    Even now, when I've left DF behind (though not without fond thoughts; I'd -definitely- still play a game), I still come here for the play reports.


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