Just some random notes on Felltower today.
Return Missile and Invisibility
So I've been generous with Invisibility. I let you cast Missile spells and Melee spells and hold them and stay invisible (which is really bizarre given that some of these give off light, like a fireball). I'm not a jerk about how you somehow stay in formation and people don't run through your hex while you're invisible.
But I draw the line at places where you're effectively attacking in all but name. Casting Return Missile is an attack - the missile returns to hit the attacker thanks directly to your action. Casting any kind of hostile spell on someone, or even a non-hostile spell on an enemy, ends the spell. Lobbing grenades is an attack, even if it's not at any actual target. Otherwise, it's starting to be "avoid directly attacking someone or using damaging spells, and you can stay Invisible" - and that's making the spell even more valuable than it should be. Even in a dungeon full of folks that target by aura, smell, hearing, who can see invisible, sense vibrations, etc. I've already been a little too generous with the Missile and Melee spells, I don't want to extend that by saying any action that isn't based on one of the five Attack maneuvers or a spell that directly causes damage is somehow therefore not an attack. That way lies the non-DF version of the spell, which is too powerful for a combat-centered game.
And speaking of Return Missile, I'll stand by my ruling that you can't return lobbed grenades with it. You have to cast it on the target, not the missile, and you can't cast it on part of the target.
The players clearly found either a new level, or a new portion of the level with the trolls and Mungo. It's not really known to them which one.
This is because I never tell anyone which level they've arrived at. I don't use level numbers when I describe things, nor do I tell them when levels changed. This is deliberately because I:
- have some "half levels" that are just areas sunk below (or raised above) the level of the surrounding map level.
- have some sub-levels that don't connect to anything else, sometimes on the same depth more-or-less as other sub-levels they are remote from.
- want to leave the PCs unsure what's above or below them in terms of other levels (if I say you're on 2 and now it's 3, you're reasonably sure there isn't a 2.5, and stuff halfway is a sub-level)
- like to let the PCs decide how things fit together.
The place they got to was clearly deep (100-120' below the level they entered it from, which itself is down below the surface and then down some big stairs). That's all they know so far. Revealing it was really new wasn't a giveaway, they all knew it.
In a megadungeon, I think this has some serious merit - the more I define what things are, the more I'm telling the players not to look for the definitions themselves.
Have a Thought for the New Guys
For many, many sessions now, the PCs have been trying to find a way down to the deeper levels of the dungeon. Once they got the door open to the "Lord of Spite's room" (as they called it), they found stairs down.
Now, the veterans knew the stairs were there. They'd spotted them when the Lord of Spite came out of that door way back in Session 23, Felltower 15.
But they never really talked about them. I wasn't really sure if they'd remembered, so I never brought them up (hey, I run the game, I don't want to play the delvers with you.) The players who started after that had no idea. They knew it was a room with the Lord of Spite in it. They knew nothing of stairs behind it, as far as I know. So whenever discussions came up about stairs, this wasn't discussed.
Actually, that goes for other areas too - the vets "knew" where certain stairs or doors on the map went, and waved off investigation. Turns out they had discarded those prematurely.
This is for a good reason - you don't want to re-hash and re-explore everything when new people join. But it has a cost - you often end up blind to things you've chosen to write off that a new perspective can help on. I think it's worth keeping that in mind for any game - you have fresh eyes and a fresh perspective, use it, don't tell them what to ignore because you're ignoring it regardless of your reasons for ignoring it.
So I've been waiting for the PCs to find the big staircase down since, I don't know, a few years ago. Once they found it in Session 23, I thought they'd make the connections about how to open the door. They did not. I piled on some rumors, made sure there were people who knew the answer (they never sought them out or talked to the ones in the dungeons that did), ensured I wasn't being too opaque (I thought, anyway). What it finally took was a delver determined to push all buttons and touch all weird things to get the door open.
So, yeah, finally. All those discussions, all those "Can't we hire sages to find a new entrance to the dungeon?" All those "Why don't we just make servants and pickaxes and have them dig us a tunnel into Felltower from closer to town?" plans . . . yeah, I was just being patient and waiting for someone to try to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And be willing to take a risk.