Tuesday, February 28, 2017

More Session Notes for Session 86

More notes on Session 86.

I Wish

As soon the fight started to look like it was either going to be a total disaster or a hard-won slog with a pile of dead characters, Hasdrubul's player started to write out a wish wording.

Actually, first someone said they should vote on whether to do it or not.

I shot that down instantly. A bane of my GMing fun is "talking is a free action." Because people have entire conversations, put things to a vote, discuss tactics. I know the whole, "My PC should know tactics well even if I don't" argument, except that your PC is probably suffering from combat tunnel vision and doesn't have a birds-eye view of the whole combat and know that Brother Ike just took 6 injury and 6 CP and no one nearby is available to rescue him even though that's four yards away and behind you with four foes in between. So I like to think that evens out without even adding in "I consult with the entire group to plan my action."

So no "vote." It's up to the person with the item.

Hasdrubul's player said something like, "I wish my entire party, living and dead, was back at the cave entrance where we came in."

And they got whisked away, just like that. It would have been very tense and interesting if I made them wait until the beginning of Hasdrubul's next turn, like a Force Dome forming, but I didn't. Probably for the better, as people would have started to act based on knowing they had one second's action before safety.

I chuckled at the wording. Had this been a malevolent wish, a forced wish, a wish from a being that had a perverse sense of humor (like a wish from a Talisman of Zagy), I'd have teleported them nude to the entrance. Maybe not even the dungeon entrance, as I could easily have perverted "cave" to almost any cave along the way.

But I didn't, because non-hostile wishes go off of wording and intent not wording twisted.

I was a bit surprised wishes came up right away, especially against creatures I'd expected to be a challenge but didn't see as an existential threat on paper - a dozen or so gnolls plus a half-dozen or so each of ogres and slorn. But it's probably better it got used right away instead of after a few more people had died.

Beginning Scout

Our new player was running a Scout. His dad had told him the basics, so he had all the die rolls, skills, damage, etc. on point. Still, he made some sub-optimal choices with targets and hit locations, probably due to holdover D&D "knock off the HP and it'll die" thinking. That works in GURPS, but ensuring incapacitation and death through sheer HP isn't as sure as through superior hit location choices. He'll do better next time, I'm sure, and I forwarded some specific tactical advice and a link to a GURPS 101 on the subject.

I supposed I could have done that earlier, but a) I'd forgotten about it until later that day and b) I hate when new players are basically introduced to the game via optimization methods. I just like to let people play and feel it out, not look every second over to a veteran player or a note sheet of tactics and say, "What should I do?" It's not as fun to be told what the best thing to do is as it is to try stuff and figure it out.

It would have helped a little in the fight that sparked the wish, but then again, maybe he'd have taken out an ogre and a slorn and convinced people they'd turn the tide with some good rolling only to find it wasn't adequate to overcome a pincer attack. Nobody looks at Cannae and thinks, "Geez, the Romans could have pulled that out with a little better rolling." I figure that's the case here, too. There were a lot of back shots in people's futures.

Ken Shabby

So, was he a wizard?

Maybe. Maybe not. I know but it's a secret for now, not the least of which is because it's driving Hasdrubul's player nuts and I enjoy doing that to him.

Ken was one of those NPCs people like even though he wasn't very helpful. Folks always latch onto the most unlikely NPCs and decide they like them. Raggi was useful and effective and powerful from day one, but it took a long time before anyone liked him. Ken was useless the whole time and beloved. Some of the guys I thought were interesting didn't grab the players.

Still, he was fun to have around for a session. I'm surprised he made it as far as he did.

The volunteer types aren't generally worth their weight, but the PCs tend to enjoy them, and it's plausible people would be all over the group when they come back rich and/or spray resources around. Using a wish to rescue the group will ensure a lot of publicity for the group as well!

Not very intimidating . . .

Mo wears war paint from head to toe, and not much else. He yells and curses and makes Intimidation attempts. However, he has two things against him:

1) He isn't very intimidating, thanks to a low point investment and moderate Will.

2) Mo's player rolls very badly on Intimidation.

Hopefully he'll be able to turn that around. I don't hand out a lot of free bonuses to Intimidation, either. It's circumstantial. A bunch of orcs, backed by more orcs, driven to fight in combat by their fierce nature, who outnumber you, and who live in a dungeon full of monsters because they like to - are they going to scare easily? Probably not, not so easily that a PC should get a bonus for much besides displays of ferocity themselves and superior SM if they have it. I've heard the argument of "I should get a bonus, my guy is big and strong" but being scary enough to potentially intimidate is a prerequisite for non-specious Intimidation rolls. Also, it's not everyone within earshot. Pro tip - if you want to scare a group, don't start with the whole group. You're at -1 per five people, and that's an issue when you have a low skill and a Quick Contest.

Not Tough Enough for the Lost City

I noticed a few comments in the group (and in the comments) that basically put The Lost City on the list of "stuff to do when we have a full slate of high-point guys and a lot of prep." That's ironic, because The Lost City was originally set up as a place for the new crop of 250-point guys. It's tougher to get to, thanks to the gate being near "the Lord of Spite's apartment," but the place itself is unchanged. Fear of Rangol Grot's Mind Control spells is part of it, although they beat him cold and might have captured or killed him way back when . . . but they'd chosen armor over speed and needed speed in that instance.

In any case, hearing "not ready for The Lost City" is like hearing "not ready for the Caves of Chaos." It might be true but it's not a sign of your own strength. Heh.

Monday, February 27, 2017

DF Felltower, Session 86, Felltower 59 - I Wish

February 26th, 2017

Weather: Cool, clear.

Currently Active:
Alaric, human scout (250 points)
Hasdrubul Stormcaller, human wizard (296 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (320 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
     Antonios, Demitios, and Leonitus of Meepos, human spearmen (?? points)
     Farmer Gam, human witchhunter (?? points)
     Ken Shabby, human "wizard" (?? points)
     Louis, human halberdier (62 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (316 points)
Orcish Bob, not-an-orc orcish warrior (~125 points)
Quenton Gale, human druid (300 points)

We started in town, gathering rumors and whatnot. But first we had to deal with fallout from the previous session - who had what loot?

Mo received the Iron Ring of Endurance, and got it charged up. Dryst was holding the Minor Ring of Wishing but turned it over to Hasdrubul because he was going out of town, and Has' also got the Necklace of Fireballs. Mo mounted the Gem of True Healing in his beard for light. The Ring of Protection went to Hjalmarr, because he could use a resistance boost. So, a few days after the last session ended, he popped it on. And dropped to the floor, instantly stone dead.

Brother Ike ran to get the others, and brought them to Mr. Holgerson's room. They couldn't get the ring off, it was hexed to his finger. Has' suggested hacking it off but that got shot down - they'd need to regrow it or re-attach it. So they decided to bring him to the temple. The clerics tried to remove the ring with Remove Curse but it was stubborn - the cursed ring had Hex-20. The PCs had them try again . . . and again. They got off three more castings that succeeded but couldn't overcome the ring's curse. The head priest refused to do a fourth. So they cut off Hjalmarr's finger, cored it out to get the ring off of it . . . and had him Resurrected and then his finger Instant Regenerated (for some reason, Mo kept the mangled finger.) Hjalmarr had to wake up alive in the church's infirmary, much broker than before.


They spent the week gathering rumors, hunting for a cutpurse (they didn't find one), Raggi (he wasn't there), and some professional hirelings. They found a few - the Meeposian brothers and Orcish Bob. (I couldn't find Melchior's mini, so they couldn't find Melchior the Malevolent.) They also picked up some volunteers - a self-proclaimed "wizard" called Ken Shabby, Farmer Gam the Witchhunter, and Louis the Halberdier. Louis was actually on duty all day, but he said they never come and check on his post so he may as well be up in Felltower so long as no one tells his officer. The PCs agreed and took them all. Lucky for all of them, Hjalmarr had met a scout earlier in the week and convinced him pickings were good up in Felltower so he joined as well.

The group stocked up on winter clothing and headed out to Felltower. They worked their way around to the dragon cave and in.

Once in, they moved towards the peaceful pool room to grab some magical mushrooms. Naturally, they got kind of lost on the way. They'd seen some slime on the floor ahead and Gale identified it as sessile but ravenously flesh-dissolving. They tried to avoid it and got turned around.

Gale bailed them out with Pathfinder and they realized they'd just gotten turned around on the way back from the slime. They blundered into an encounter, as well - an earth elemental came out of the darkness and pursued them, and they turned and fought it. It was big and strong but couldn't manage to do much before it got hacked apart, although it bounced some arrows and sword blows first.

They eventually made it to the pool room. Once in the pool room, they ate mushrooms, drank the Essential Water that was there, and Mo swiped the last one each of the yellow-tinged and purple-tinged mushrooms and ate them, gaining Dark Vision and some resistance to poison. They took three of four remaining red-tinged ones (although they never did remember to use them) and headed out.

They moved around the slime but couldn't do much to avoid it - it covered the stair bottom. So they tried Freeze on it and found that made it inert enough to walk on, and did that. They climbed up the stairs to the tiled room above.

There they found they had a missing map, and spent a good 10-15 minutes sorting through the mass of maps given to them by Dryst before they got back on track. They found their way to a rubble-choked stairs and started to dig it out. They decided Silence would help. Has' asked Ken Shabby if he knew that spell. Ken nodded sagely and showed the OK sign. "Cast it." Ken quietly mimed, "Shhh!"


They pretty much made Mo dig for a while, aided by Farmer Gam, and then swapped to Hajlmarr. It took more than an hour to clear the filled stairs enough to crawl over, but as soon as that was done someone lobbed in an Explosive Fireball and burned Farmer Gam and Hajlmarr. They cleared out and sent Has' up, and he ate the blast radius of another Explosive Fireball before he could lay down a Stench to clear the room. Mo and Hjalmarr tumbled into the room next, and Has' dropped his spell as they declared it clear. The party came in and chopped down a door-turned-mantlet that blocked the doorway, and then spent another hour holding the room while people cleared a better path back.

By this time, both of the mushroom effects on Mo ran out.

The PCs advanced into the dungeon, taking arrow fire at most corners. They found the way to the Orc Hole had been recently blocked off with rubble fill, so they decided to go to "the Lord of Spite's apartment" and "explore the rest of the area." They headed that way, again, taking arrows often as they moved. One of the Meeposian brothers took a poisoned arrow in the arm, but otherwise they made out okay and made it to the red-hand print marked metal door. They opened it up, tentatively moved in, and then down the stairs, closing the door behind.

At the bottom, they formed up and moved into the area and headed left. They heard the click of a door (or at least, Alaric did) and moved into a hexagonal room.

Last time they'd gone left, so this time they went right, forcing the door open and moving past. They reached an intersection. Straight ahead they decided probably went to the Lord of Spite. To the left, who knew?

But Alaric spotted a thread of a tripwire diagonal across the hall - so someone coming from straight would trip it but you could turn left in safety with ease. They moved ahead slowly, and found the thread lead to a 600+ pound giant double siege crossbow with thick bolts aimed around chest level or so. It was closer to the right wall than the left, again indicating it was meant to nail someone coming from opposite the way they came.

They were making a lot of noise, here - long discussions, walking back and forth, etc. nevermind having forced a door they heard close, indicating someone or something had gone through it. They sent Gale and Hjalmarr up to the crossbow to check it - it had two bolts laid in, had clearly been cranked recently (no sign of wear from being cranked too long), and was deadman switched to launch. Gale tried to disarm but bobbled the trigger too much, setting it off. Two bolts snapped out, clacked into the far wall hard enough to shed splinters, bursting into flame (probably Flaming Missile.) This was loud, too.

They started to hear noise themselves - as the crossbow trap went off they hear a yowl and then a surpressed yowl. Then scrapes and reptilian hisses. And then more yowling and growling and armor noises - like dogs, perhaps, and lizards. It built over time, and then they started to hear low barks, more hisses, armor and weapon noises, steady bangs, etc.

Was someone trying to summon the Lord of Spite? Uh-oh.

They decided to back off and go find somewhere else to explore (a choice they'd realize later was odd and flawed). After a few minutes, they decided where to go. So they ran back to the hexagonal room, leaving a Pollen Cloud behind, and closing the door. They set up to watch the corridor "south" and one or two of the volunteers to watch the back door, and opened the door they'd gone down last time they explored this way.

They saw a group of gnolls and hyenas heading at them - clearly, they'd been outflanked. Mo and Hjalmarr moved to block the doorway, Alaric shooting past them at a gnoll, but getting blocked, and then Hjalmarr pitching his axe at the same one, missing him as he Dodged but slamming into the next one, dropping him stunned and badly wounded.

The gnolls rushed them. Gale put up a Pollen Cloud (which caused a few missed attacks and defenses, actually) in the hallway. The NPCs, except for the Meeposian brothers, rushed in to back up Mo and Hjalmarr. Ken started chanting weird words in a deep voice.

For a few seconds the fight was going okay but not well - Mo and Hjalmarr hurt some gnolls, and knocked one cold, as they forced their way into close combat. The hyenas tried to rush them down and/or Evade but couldn't manage well enough. But Farmer Gam and Louis crammed in to stab gnolls (and did so well) and Hjalmarr and Mo stepped back to clear space to swing . . . allowing the gnolls and hyenas to continue to press.

Just then the other door was kicked open - by an Ogre!

Has' turned and zapped him with Lightning and stunned him badly and then moved to retreat, calling for the Meeposian brothers to turn. They did, forming up in a shield wall.

More ogres charged in - four more, accompanied by six fire slorn!

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Only four and four could fit in, but they did, roasting Alaric's leg and Farmer Gam's arm (crippling it briefly) and lighting them on fire. Alaric managed to shoot at a slorn but it dodged. Gale was forced back after failing to Pollen Cloud them and barely avoiding breaking his staff parrying a giant club.

Has' tried Wall of Lightning to electrocute oncoming gnolls but blew the roll. Mo and Hjalmarr fought on, Mo smashing a hyena's skull and Hjalmarr badly wounding a gnoll that refused to just drop. Hjalmarr was critically hit, too, with a 3 landing a morningstar blow to his neck. He wobbled but didn't fall and wounded that gnoll badly in return.

Ken Shabby stepped up to one of the ogres and yelled, "DIE!"


Nothing happened. Has' considered stopping to cast Identify Spell but decided not to.

At this point, the line was pressured from both sides and was breaking. An ogre smashed Orcish Bob down after he tried to keep them off of Alaric, knocking him on his back. Another one smashed Ken with a maul for 21 damage. Ken had 0 DR and 8 HP, went to -13, and with HT 11 rolled a 15 on his death check. He dropped dead.

Gnolls pushed through, and Louis went down from a hyena biting his arm and crippling it, forcing him to drop his halberd. A gnoll stepped over him and smashed Demetious of Meepos in the back with an axe . . . and rolled almost minimum damage, just scraping his mail and lightly injuring him. The Meeposian brothers stabbed at a slorn and injured it.

The whole situation looked like it was going to go from bad to disaster in seconds. So Has' lifted up his ring finger, and speaking too it, wished his party living and dead were back at the cave entrance where they'd ditched their winter gear.


Just like that, there they were. One diamond had cracked and gone grey.

("You can thank me for not making up new characters." - Has's player.)

The PCs spent a couple of hours there, healing people up and resting, and Entombing Ken Shabby until later.

They decided to keep going as it wasn't too late in real world time, and once they'd gotten everyone nearly back to full they headed into the dungeon again.

They made it back to the slime, froze it, climbed up the rubble, and found the orcs filling it again.

Gale used Shape Earth to move some aside and they crawled to the attack. Has' put up a Stench and caught a couple of orcs. Mo took a thrown spear and threw a knife in return, and then dropped into the room. Hjalmarr followed, then Alaric. Mo smashed one orc in the groin and it was bit by the Targe of the Tiger, then grappled with the other.

Hjalmarr "helped" by throwing an axe he'd borrowed from Mo into Mo's back, missing his shot at the grappled orc, wounding Mo. He then stepped around his friend and cut down the orc in melee after Mo headbutted the orc (unfortunately the orc's helmet prevented any real harm). Alaric shot up the wounded orc with arrows until Hjalmarr cut him down, too.

From there the group moved in cautiously, but even so as they rounded a corner a bolt from the dark hit Brother Ike, drilling him for 22 injury. They dragged him around a corner and shoved him full of potions, Mo ripped out the poisoned, barbed quarrel, and they gave him more potions. They took another arrow shot but at this point the Meeposian Brothers were walking backwards in formation and blocked it (and all the other shots that came to the party's rear).

It took time but the PCs worked their way back down the hallway. They walked into another small ambush as an orc threw an axe at Hjalmarr. They recovered the axe but Hjalmarr was too slow to pursue. They moved on and then past the giant staircase. They headed for a secret door marked on their maps. It had frustrated the group a few times, no one wanted to "waste time" on it, so they wanted to get through it this delve.

That's pretty much what happened - they found the secret door, messed around with the arrow scratched into the floor, and then eventually decided the catch is elsewhere. They found a small pushbutton stone in a nearby 10 x 10 "alcove" and pressed that, unlocking the door. They got it open and saw a room with a red six-fingered handprint on the wall. Mo touched it (1 HP damage, 4 FP, -1 DX and HT from chills for a while), as did Hasdrubul (same, but 5 FP). No one else wanted to.

They sealed it up and proceeded to ransack a few rooms on the way home.

The first was an empty room.

The second was equally empty, but Mo insisted Gale go check the far wall.

Amusingly the room turned out to be a teeter-totter spiked pit that dumped people into some kind of slime's lair. Long story short is the slime glommed onto Gale as he propped himself out of the pit with his staff and Mo and Hjalmarr held the floor on their end to keep Gale from being fully dumped.

Gale zapped the slime with Frostbite, Hjalmarr pitched an axe into it getting it to let go, and then Gale was able to get back.

Eventually they experimented with getting down below - they convinced Louis to go in tied to a rope in exchange for a full share of any loot instead of merely tips. He did so, with Has' waiting with a Explosive Lightning spell charged up to 6d. When the room tilted and the slime arm oozed up, he rolled a 3 and blasted it for 30 damage. That did the job, killing it. Gale was sent in below the floor with Has' and they determined there was no loot.

They checked one last room, finding a broken chest, and then headed home. Naturally, the same exact way they came, but at a little more speed because they're heading home.

Mo blundered into a dung-smeared caltrop placed in their path, getting badly hurt but not crippled. They took more bolts and arrows on the way, too, but none of them hit home. The finally made it to the rubble, crawled over and down, and made their way through the caverns and back to the entrance.

They Disentombed Ken and carried him back to town for Final Rest.

Although they made no money, Hjalmarr and at least some of others kicked in for pay for the Meeposian Brothers since they'd earned no share, bought a halberd for Louis since he'd lost his duty weapon on the delve, and offered Orcish Bob money (he said no, it's shares or nothing and they found nothing.) They (mostly Hasdrubul, actually) made sure Ken Shabby got a good hobo funeral and Mo and Has' plan to tell tales of Ken's bravery.


So, yes, wishes come, wishes go immediately. It did really look bad. They may have had options to make it a victory but TPK seemed nearer than total victory. Choosing to leave their back to a threat that knew they were there was odd. Given more firepower they may have won anyway, but the smart move was to back off entirely (or to a better fighting area) and it was too late once the ogres rushed. The PCs also learned that yes, if your enemy is determined to be in close combat with you, and you're not willing to be there too, you're going to get backed off. Realistically, what stops foes from rushing into you is that they only want to come in safely. These guys were aggressive enough to force the issue and the PCs couldn't absorb all of the penalties to stand fast and deal with grappling and closing.

We added another player today for a trial. It was fine - he's the son of one of the players, which is where Dave the Knight came from as well. He worked out great, so if he's interested he may return (with Alaric or with a different PC perhaps, we'll see.)

Cursed ring? Yeah, so that's a Wizardry I: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord reference. Once of the respawning treasures (we didn't use that term) was on level 4 by the elevator and the Blue Ribbon and included a * * * CURSED * * * ring called the Deadly Ring which would kill you. You needed to get it removed and your guy raised, but if you sold it unidentified was worth 50,000 gp. So I threw that in - a False Aura'd ring that would kill you if you failed to resist at HT-5. Hjalmarr rolled poorly.

No mapping today. They went to map and I said, who is mapping? Turns out no one had any paper, ink, etc. so no one could map.

Still a good session. MVP was Hjalmarr because he died and for map wrangling. Everyone got 1 xp otherwise because they just barely found a new area.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Felltower Game Prep Notes

Today we've got a session of Felltower. It'll be interesting to see how it goes, as the guys who run by far the two heaviest hitters in the game - Vryce and Dryst - are out due to scheduling conflicts.

That leaves a smaller group - Has', Hjalmarr (and Brother Iklwa), Mo, Gale, and Alaric the Scout (a player tryout). NPCs may be available, as the PCs are trying to hiring one or two deliberately and may be able to whip up some others. The more veteran ones are probably around but would ask for more loot - guys like Melchior the Malevolent, for example, will take half-shares in a large and powerful group but won't settle for less than a full share given a smaller and weaker team.

What the group can accomplish will be also somewhat less, since they'll lack Vryce's firepower and relative invulnerability and all of the utility provided by Dryst (lightstones, servants, created tools and clothes as needed, Dark Vision, aerial mobility, Silence, etc. etc.)

On the bright side, there is a lot to do, armed with a Scout they'll have a much better chance at dealing expeditiously with orcs and rats and other mundane foes (assuming they can get within eyesight of them), and money is split better split fewer ways . . .

So will they go after the Lord of Spite? The orcs? Through that gate that seems to go the Lost City? Wander around cleaning up their maps? Try the big doors in the caverns? Try to puzzle out one of the other puzzles in the dungeon?

We'll see in a few hours.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

B-Team S&W Light, Session 2 - Grimmsgate 1

We played the second session of our small-group S&W Light game last night.

Moldleaf, Elf Magic-User 1 (me)
Bertrum Blackbutter, Battle Hobbit Fighter 1 (Tim Shorts)
Doug's Ranger, Elf Ranger 1 (Douglas Cole)

Last time we'd solve an ogre's problems. As a reward, the mayor of the town gave us some cash and a special "thank you" present - the deed to a piece of property. Great! Except that it was conveniently located 5 miles away, in the town of Grimmsgate.

Great, we can take a hint. We took the hint and left for our new digs.

On the road near town, two bandits leaped out at us. We got initiative, so I cast Charm Person on one of them. He rolled a 1 on his save, as is wont to happen. I said, "We're looking for Grimmsgate, how do we get there?" and my new friend, Fred, started to answer. Unfortunately, five more bandits emerged including their mail-clad leader. He yelled at Fred and ran Fred through with a sword for not stabbing us. Geez, ruthless. I yelled, "You killed Fred!" as melee broke out. In a short melee, I got stabbed and dropped, dying. Bertram and the Ranger killed another bandit (I think) and badly wounded the leader. He said, "Let's get out of here!" and they ran, seeing we weren't such easy pickings. The Ranger shot him in the back, killing him, as his men scattered. Two healing potions got poured down Moldleaf's through to revive him. We looted him of some cash (150 gp), his sword, and his mail, and a silver amulet (non-magical).

We reached the town and saw it was mostly deserted, or at least many farms were. We chatted with a wary guard, met the head of the Temple of Law. There we got healed, along with a quest to clear out an old temple infested with goblins, two potions of healing, and a scroll with Magic Missile and Sleep.

We also got set up with rooms at the inn, collected rumors (like a missing farm couple), and got settled in. The next morning we visited the smithy and bought some gear (daggers for Moldleaf, for one), and the Emporium. There we got a lot of fun stuff - banded armor for Bertrum, a nice bow for our Ranger, a scroll with Strength and Invisibility on it for Moldleaf, a costume jewelry-bestudded silvered dagger we dubbed the Dagger of Liberace, some healing salve (Battle-tine), and some other stuff.

Eventually we headed out to the old temple. It turned out to be more like a ruined structure near three caves in a wooded hill, arrayed like a triangle with one at the top and at each point. We went right up to and into the topmost of the three. We headed straight then left and found a crypt room with niches with skeletons in it, and two dog statues.

Naturally, one of the statues animated and attacked us. We broke it up into pieces, including via a hit from the Dagger of Liberace, but not before someone got hurt. We healed that with Battle-tine and moved into the next room. More niches. In this one, skeletons started to slowly animate, rise, and attack us. There were 15 niches and thus 15 skeletons.

We fought the good fight for a while, taking out five skeletons (the Dagger of Liberace proved effective here again), but eventually their growing numbers told. Bertrum and then the Ranger dropped. Moldleaf fled, then ran back in to drag out the fighters one by one and heal them up. That done, we retreated to town.

The next day, healed up and now with Moldleaf memorizing Sleep (more useful, less fun), we peered into the right cave. We saw a carved face on the wall. Our Rangers said, "Left cave." So we did that, going in and finding a storeroom with old crates and new rats.

Five giant rats swarmed us, biting and wounding Moldleaf. We killed two, and then Moldleaf threw Sleep. Actually since it was down to 3 vs. 3 giant rats, Tenkar asked me if I wanted to do that - I'd declared it, but it was possible to roll back. I didn't want to risk the inevitable "we got eaten by rats because we rolled 1s the rest of the fight."

After that we found some minor loot, and a secret passage. The end of the passage was quite hot, and the secret door at the end was hot to the touch. Betrum opened it up, despite every warning in elementary school during fire prevention week, and went in. Into a fireplace. Past it was a half-dozen weird cursed humans devouring raw rats. We attacked. Long story short, we took out one guy but both fighters got mauled and we dragged them back to safety and closed the door. Once more, we went back to town, this time for the duration as it was close to quitting time.

We hit level 2 after two solid delves.


Tim didn't roll many ones. Doug rolled a LOT of ones. I rolled poorly on initiate for us pretty much all the time.

I have a lot more fun with Charm Person than Sleep, despite it not really being clear what I'm buying for my spell slot and a failed save. A slave? A friend? A slightly positive reaction bonus? I'll cast until I'm sure.

Overall a fun session although it took us a bit of setting up to get it rolling, mostly thanks to my wonky schedule issues (it wasn't clear I could play until basically playtime.)

S&WL is a lot of fun.

Friday, February 24, 2017

What are hirelings good for?

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen provides templates for three uses:


Hired Help

Lower-Point PCs

The first are third uses tend to be pretty clear. If you generate an ally you need some templates for sub-250 point characters and generally know what you want from your sidekick. As lower-point PCs, again, pretty straightforward.

But I've found players running 250-point PCs tend to struggle with hired help. Both with what they aren't - not full-powered delvers, not even close (even 125s leave 125 points of upgrades on the table, somewhat similar to a 250 vs. a 375 in terms of choices) - and with what they are.

First off, let's just get this out of the way - 62-point and 125-point hirelings are no where as capable of, nor can they hope to replace, 250-point delvers. They simply can't. "Can't we hire a 125-point healing cleric that can turn the undead and remove curses and exorcise altars?" Sure, if he does most of that on a 9 or less or so. "How come these 125-point skirmishers don't stand up in the front lines as well as martial artists and scouts?" Because they can't. Even a specialist won't always be able to do their specialty as well as most 250-point delver does their secondary job.

Remembering that they won't be pegged at 25% or 50% of your point total thanks to being Allies and don't get 5 xp just because you did is easy.

The main struggle seems to be knowing what to use them for.

Leaving aside what they aren't for now, I want to look at how I've seen hired help used effectively and how I think they can be used effectively. What is hired help good for?

I'm deliberately leaving aside the whole "use them as suicidal mine detectors and meat shields" approach, as my group generally doesn't do that and it's not conducive to long-term hireling market access.

Freeing up PCs for PC-level work.

Some parties struggle during adventures just from sheer lack of numbers. It's hard in a small team to have two guys lifting a heavy portcullis while someone stands ready to fight and three others watch the intersected corridors behind you - even without taking the squishy mage and cleric off of those duties. It's hard to carry lots of sacks of loot when sacks take two hands (or are slung off a two-handed pole.) If someone goes down, you need a person to carry him or her without taking your other fighters out of the line - and the clerics and wizards aren't likely to be strong enough to manage well.

Often you need a pair of eyes, a body to occupy a space, and so on. Some specific roles I find where hireling fit is:

- bodyguard for wizards, cleric, etc. You just need someone who can force an attacker to stop and deal with them, even if only to slow them down, until a better combatant can finish the job.

- Filling in flanks. In a large corridor or in the wilderness, you need people who can occupy space and ensure the enemy can't just run around you. Even a 62-point bargain henchman can do this; a 125 does it better. They won't be able to stand and fight against threats that worry 250-point guys, but they can prevent you from getting cut off or surrounded.

- Fighting over the front ranks with polearms. This is a marginal use - it sounds great, but only works if the players really buy into formation fighting. As soon as someone says, "I need room to Retreat" or "I had to run out of formation, otherwise that demon-wizard would have killed us the next turn with a spell" - right or wrong - this falls apart.

- a tripwire against attacks. A rear guard who isn't capable of winning a fight is still potentially able to guard your rear just by being there.

- standing guard along with higher-value PCs when camping. No matter how well you explain your careful setup to the GM, they never seem to believe you can watch the skies, the ground, listen for noises, watch in a 360-degree circle, and move around silently so no one can draw a bead on you. Extra bodies mean you really can watch multiple directions if you've got multiple people doing it.

- carrying things. More bodies means more gear needed, and more supplies needed, but especially for dungeon delves with a surface base you always benefit from more hands once treasure is discovered.

- junk work. Guarding the horses so the GM doesn't say, "You're seriously just leaving your horses in the owlbear-infested Orcwood and going into the dungeon?" or cooking your meals so you don't have to explain why everyone is engaged in fully restful leisure but somehow the stew gets made.

All of those things can be done by PCs, but it's easier if you can relegate that to hired help. You basically turn money, Leadership, and positive reaction bonuses into more work done and your PC free to do dangerous stuff.

Doing jobs the PCs can't do at all.

Not every party has a barbarian, a scout, a thief, and a cleric. You can hire a specific skill out of those skillsets (usually) by turning to hirelings. You can also augment skills:

- Missing skills like Area Knowledge, specific Hidden Lore specialties, languages, and odd Survival specialties are often more easily hired than learned. Especially if you don't plan to stay in the Lands of Terror after you've cleared out the Death Brain infestation from the Lost Crypt. Thief specialties and outdoors specialties usually play well into being hired out; cleric skills to a much lesser extent (Surgery, perhaps, everyone should have First Aid anyway), and make-it-or-die skills like Traps or Exorcism work better on PCs than on lower-point hired help.

- Missing spells are a good reason to hire casters. You don't always want to learn them yourself, or they'll need prereqs you'd rather hire for than spend points to learn.

- Backing up existing skills. Many adventures have ground to a halt as people realize one guy with Boating or one guy with Seamanship doesn't help when you need two craft to travel. Other times you need a backup person with Survival because of additional numbers or for complementary rolls, a guy with good ST for moving things, solid Per for helping to search, and Lifting for picking things up can help.

Overall, I find those are broadly the ways to use hirelings - fill in gaps where a body matter enough that point value is the second consideration, and add in/supplement skills and skill sets. All the while acknowledging that they're not going to be up to the challenge outside of their specialty. Or even in it, versus a PC - the strongest Laborer or toughest Squire is no Barbarian in ST or Knight in combat skill, respectively.

The big mistakes seem to be using them as if they were 250 ("Put Pigsticker Paul in the front line, he's a fighter"), or thinking of them as such ("Hey, we've got a 125-point cleric, so we're good on healing forever, so don't make a cleric"). A second one is thinking everyone is a Laborer with a side specialty ("The NPCs will carry everything - tell the archer to sling his bow and carry these orc swords for us.") But the main issue is, even knowing what they aren't, is what to use them for?

Hopefully the above will help a bit.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What's money for in GURPS DF Felltower?

So if money can't buy you magical power whenever you've got the cash on hand, what do you do with it?

One of my players asked me that directly. As he said, not trying to argue, just asking, okay, what are we supposed to buy?

Great question. If I'm reining in magic item purchase and that was where money generally went (and your future dream is a shopping scheme), what do you shop for now?

Here is what I visualize money being used for, in a non-domain game situation*:

- weapons (enchanted with basic enchantments** and especially superior mundane weapons)
- armor (ditto, especially superior mundane)
- shields (ditto)
- potions, chemicals, concoctions, etc. (subject to the usual dosage availability)
- minor scrolls
- mundane gear (especially higher-quality gear)
- hirelings
- henchmen/allies
- research
- services (including healing and Resurrection)
- skill training costs
- overspending on upkeep for in-town bonuses to rolls

I'd even expect some bribing monsters (pay X to bypass a fight so you can go get X+1 or 2X or 10X elsewhere), since PCs wouldn't be broke. The PCs did this just to get into the dungeon, for a while, setting the orcs up as guards (and then ruing that every session after).

My ideal is that PCs would be potentially flush with money most of the time, capable of buying the things they need and spending in town as required. I'd rather have guys saying, "I've 75K and I have no idea what I should do with it" instead of "I have a brand new custom-made fine ornate balanced Dwarven Puissance +2 Accuracy +2 Icy Lightning mace with Shatterproof on it and a ring with always-on Dark Vision, and 28 sp. Can someone front me cash for rations? Oh, and upkeep, otherwise I'll crash in the woods and make a Survival roll."

Of course, "buy anything" didn't quite go as planned. If this doesn't, I'll veer the group back onto another route.

* And for what it's worth, if I did have a domain game in mind, I'd:

- ramp up the money a lot.

- ramp up the required loot for XP a lot to match.

- completely cut off magical item purchase but potentially allow hiring enchanters

In other words, I'd scale it all up buy make "build a castle" and "raise an army" viable while kneecapping the ability to buy personal magic power. Instead of looting owlbears for hundreds of coins and buying healing potions and hiring torchbearers, you'd be looting dragons of massive box-cover coin piles and spending it on raising some heavy infantry to help secure your castle.

** Largely Accuracy +1, Puissance +1, Shatterproof, and Continual Light for weapons, Fortify +1 and Deflect +1 and Lighten 25% for armor. Little else.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reigning in magical item purchase in my DF game

Recently I've been tightening up some of the purchase of permanent magic items in my DF game. Mostly it's because people buying magical items is a large load of time on me. Even given price lists, cost calculations, and simple availability rolls, I still need to be involved in answering cost if it's available, how it works if you get it, how long it takes to get, and then is it available at all . . . and at any time the player might say, "Nah, too much."

But there is also the issue that if I put a magical item in the dungeon, the PCs received a magical item. They might turn it into cash, but it's a cash value that is less than what the item is worth to use - you can't find a magical shortsword and trade it in for an equally magical broadsword, you lose a big chunk of value selling it.

But if I give people money, I'm effectively giving them carte blanche to augment their personal power in any way - it's a wildcard magic item. It's not 20,000 apiece in silver, it's 20,000 silver in cash and magical items of your choice once you get back to town. Ironically this makes cash more valueable than rare magical items because it's more flexible.

On top of that, people then spend themselves dry. Since any coin not spent on permanent magical items that buff your abilities is a permanent reduction in power, people spend everything they can on gear. The best possible magical gear, since it's on a cost-comparative basis with mundane gear.

That was fine early on in the game, when people lacked items and it wasn't clear how long we'd play or the long-term dynamics of "money equals magic items of my choice."

But as we've gone on, the spectre of broke guys in magical plate armor with fine swords gleaming with magical power and belts full of potions living hand-to-mouth and griping about $40/day hirelings being too expensive became a pretty standard development. People generally had broke characters with between $50K and $150K+ worth of gear. They had Maseratis and Ferraris and took up a collection for gas.

I realize this wasn't what I wanted - no one did anything really interesting with money because upgrading gear was too important. Until you have a backup of everything, all Puissance +1 or better, the best magical armor possible, a spare of everything magic'ed up, amulets and rings and bracelets with permanent protective magic on them, and unlimited healing potions you don't want to do crazy stuff like pay for research or splurge on better living in town just to get a few useful but ephemeral bonuses. Even the party animal PCs didn't really live it up, because you're always saving for a special magic item. That's really counter to how I'd like the game to play out.

And like I've advised a number of times - if the game is going where you want it to go, keep going. If not, turn back in the direction you do want to go.

So I dramatically cut back on the magic items you can get freely, reigned in the ones you can special order (and put an availability roll onto special orders - there aren't craftsmages sitting by to forge you a sword and then magic it up), and cut off most of the rest. Upping the price to $20/point across the board helped, too - even minor enchantments are pricey enough to make mundane gear look better. Had I it all to do again, I'd simply say magical items are not available for purchase except under special circumstances - one-off encounters with people selling things, say, or offered in exchange for cash as part of a reward. But too much rides on custom gear now to say you can't get it any more, and I'm okay with that.

But then that leads to a question - what is money for in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Felltower?

I'll go into that question tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What non-combat skills do they bring to the DF table? (Cleric, Druid, Scout)

Here are even more reflections on the non-combat skills DF templates bring to the table. These are based on my experiences in my game; your own experience may vary!


Possibly the most useful non-combat skill you bring to the table is Exorcism. With it you can clear cursed areas, banish evil spirits, and otherwise purge areas of evil. It's not fast or easy, but it's a potentially mission-critical skill. Without it, all you did was kill some temple guards or demons and steal some loot - the root of the evil is still there. With Exorcism you have a chance to finish the job.

Not healing? No, that's basically a combat ability. That you also have post-combat slower healing skills (First Aid, Surgery) and optionally abilities (Healing) is extremely helpful, but it's basically a "recover from combat" ability. Most of your skills support healing or Exorcism.

Besides those, it's really a question of your skill picks. Panhandling to beg for money, Savoir-Faire (High Society) for dealing with bigwig quest givers, Research and Writing for finding things out before your delve or writing up what happened afterward.


Excellent outdoors, the Druid really doesn't need a lot of text to explain its utility outside.

Inside, you're always limited by penalties to spells and skills focused on trees and plants and animals. The non-combat skills you do have mostly feed into the outdoors or the combat skills you have.

That said, even in a dungeon druids have solid Per (base 14) and FP (base 13), so you're good at spotting things and usefully sturdy as well. You also have access to Poisons and a weapons load that really pushes for their use.

Outdoors, you're golden. Indoors, try to leverage your Background skills as much as you can and be a useful spellcaster within the confines of your penalties.


Perception. Outdoor abilities. You are great at both of those. Your Per 14 is equal to that of the druid, but you're a bit faster and more oriented towards combat in case your scouting doesn't quite work out so well.

Beyond that, Tracking will help you find the lair of foes, especially if you are looking for the origin of wandering monsters or roving patrols. Cartography could help, but you're going to want two hands for a bow, not one for a shield with a lectern mount and one for a pen.

Out of your Background Skills, a few are especially useful in dungeons. Prospecting will help with all of that tunnel delving and spotting potential natural sources of treasure (ore), at least in my games. Seamanship will help in non-dungeon trips but Boating comes up more often than you'd like in megadungeons. Knot-Tying is useful for taking prisoners, and Swimming has saved a scout in my games.

Overall, your focus is ranged combat but you make a pretty good point man even in a group with a druid, and a good backup for a stealth-focused thief.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Expanded Realistic Injury in Pyramid

I forgot to mention this, but Pyramid 3/100 come out last week.

One of my articles is in it, expanding the Realistic Injury rules in GURPS Martial Arts.

You can lay this one at the feet of Shawn Fisher, who pretty much literally asked for more of this detail in an email after watching Ronda Rousey lose to Holms. Also, Steven Marsh, who leadingly asked, "Do you have an article that would fit in this issue?"

I pretty much just expanded on what you'll find in GURPS Martial Arts. The article includes breaking jaws, missing teeth, cauliflower ear, temporary disfigurement from injury, and so on. It also has some protective gear (mouth guards and ear flaps), rules for a variety of permanent impairments, and a simplified system if you like the concept but hate to look stuff up.

There is a lot more than just my article in there, but if you like mangled faces, disfigured ears, and long-term consequences to fighting, I've got a couple of pages in there for you.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hireling availability in Stericksburg

The PCs are flush with cash at the moment, so the usual questions have come up about purchases, availability, and so on.

But also, about hirelings. The PCs really need a few niches filled, and no one seems in any hurry to fill them. They have two thieves, but each is run by an intermittently attending player. They have three scouts, but one is a retired PC put aside by a current player, one run by an intermittently attending player, and one run by a player on long-term hiatus. Their only cleric is an NPC set at 50% of the points of Hjalmarr.

Out of the three, the current one wanted is a good archer, probably to shoot down orcs.

The best shot at getting one is deliberate recruiting, aimed at getting a 125-point archer based on the Archer template. I know the PCs would like someone better - 187 or 250 - as a full partner, but that's not really an option. The only NPC higher than 125 base points they've delved with has been Raggi, and he was rescued from a dungeon prison. Others were 125 and gained some experience in play - Orcish Bob ("I'm not an orc"), Melchior the Malevolent, Gort (okay, he wasn't worth nearly 125). Rescue from a dungeon seems to have been the big thing - that's probably what it would take to find a high-value guy.

I'll be busting out Where Did You Find This Guy? (Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen, p. 29) for this.

Finding an archer takes Leadership, although I'll give a default to other skills (Carousing makes sense, for example, as long as you don't mind a certain class of disadvantages being more common) and allowing complementary skill rolls for such skills instead of only Propaganda.

Stericksburg is large enough to rate a bonus for size, but canonically the hireling pool is small right now due to external wars. So it's a flat +0 for recruiting in the city.

Bribes, hired criers, purchased drinks, etc. will be as usual - $400 for +1, 10x per plus after that.

Bonuses for pay are possible, but since the standard is "Let's find this guy and then negotiate a cheap price" I'm assuming no bonus for promised (and delivered) higher pay. "You get a 1/2 share" is the same as promising standard pay, a full share would rate a bonus depending on how the NPC viewed it. I'd roll 1d-2 (-1 to +4) and use that. Yes, it's possible to get a -1, since you're promising $0 and that's often close to what the PCs have brought back, and potential recruits might be turned off by that.

Asking for Heroic Archer - which is possible on the Archer template, but rare - would rate a penalty of at least -2, probably -4 because of the points involved.

The bonuses I apply for dramatically overspending on upkeep would apply, too - after all, it's increased visibility thanks to eating out at better places, drinking better, staying at fancier dwellings, etc. etc.

And if the group chooses quantity over quality, they can get a fair number of 62-point types who can use a bow. It's easier simply because they ask for less pay, so you can ramp up their offered pay quite high without incurring a large overall cost.

Overall, that gives a reasonable shot at finding an NPC. One roll per downtime, with how we play, and a good excuse to burn money carousing and interviewing and otherwise trying to fill a hole in the group. They won't get a full-on scout, they can't without someone setting aside a PC and making one up, but they can potentially get a bow using support fighter. And that would be useful even with a PC Scout.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Minis Primed and Ready

. . . ready for paint, anyway. I got home early today and took advantage of the low-humidity, high-temperature weather to prime some minis.

Here is a collection of Hundred Years War era halberdiers, billmen (well, one), and voulge-wielding infantry, plus my barbarian chief and an old TSR barbarian retrofitted with a replacement Thunderbolt Minis axe:

This way if my PCs hire some pole arm carrying hirelings, I'm set.

Or if they fight more barbarians. I haven't had nearly enough hostile living barbarians in my DF game, yet.

Friday, February 17, 2017

More on Loren Wiseman

Thanks to Winchell Chung for linking to this:

Farewell to Loren Wiseman

It's a look at Loren Wiseman's writing, especially Traveller and GURPS Traveller but also mentions others like Twilight: 2000.

Dungeons & Dragons themed lego set idea

Over on LEGO's Ideas page, there is a neat project for a D&D-themed set. Trademarks filed off, of course:

That's pretty neat, and as someone who uses LEGO knock-offs to make walls, has a player who has made the PCs in LEGO just for grins, and who loves minis on the table, this is something I'd like to see. The only downside I can see to this is that my experience with LEGO on the table is that the moment something isn't actually in active use, at least one player will disassemble it and make something new. Have 3-4 spare lengths of wall? Now you have a tower! Have that carefully built intersection to plunk down? Not any more, it's a boat! Players just can't keep their hands off of them.

I actually blundered into this thanks to news alerts on my news feed, via an article in Popular Mechanics which is best summed up by the opening sentence:

"As a veteran Dungeon Master, I can tell you there are a lot of things that help a Dungeons & Dragons campaign come to life, like a compelling story, some fantasy mood music, and yes, sometimes costumes. "

Gah, no! Come on, guy, it's not compelling story, mood music, and costumes - it's not a love scene in a period romance movie. You want your game to come to life? You need friends, some dice, and imagination. That's it. And you don't even need the dice that badly. Gah. I hate to criticize how other people have fun, but geez, please don't make me cringe at the description of the games I play. Sigh.

And you don't need minis, but I love minis, and LEGO counts.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Loren Wiseman

SJGames tweeted some sad news - Loren Wiseman, long-time GURPS Traveller Line Editor (amongst many other credits), passed away yesterday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

DF Felltower: Minor Ring of Wishing

So on Sunday, the PCs picked up a Minor Ring of Wishing. Here is the description straight out of my notes:

"Minor Ring of Wishing (appears to be a gold ring with three diamonds. As a Great Wish, but only about 1/3 power - equal to a 300-point spell casting, diamonds disappear as wishes are used, last wish turns ring to lead)"

So what can this thing do?

Per my Great Wish post, all you get now with Great Wish in DF are options #1 (cast a spell, 300 points to determine effective energy/effect) and option #4 ("anything else").

Thanks to this being a lightweight version of Great Wish, though, additional limits apply:

#1: A spell cast with this is automatically successful, but does not automatically overcome resistance. Nothing permanent can be created.

Part of the why for this change - the "does not automatically overcome resistance" - is that this becomes a much better choice than Great Wish for any resisted spell that costs under 301 points. It's a Ring of Three Automatic Enslave Spells, or Ring of Three Automatic Annihilation Spells or something of that sort, which both makes it more powerful than I'd like it to be and dramatically undercuts the value of getting a Great Wish.

#4: Effects are limited compared to Great Wish. Effects will tend to be just enough to get the job done, and scope and area may be limited for large effects.

The why on this is because it's minor, not great. Great has more power, and will do more.

One of the players said, "This is basically a ring of three Resurrections." I warned against such reductive thinking. At that point, it's better to try and sell the sucker for $45,001+ and then save $45,000 of that for three Resurrection spells and keep the $1+ as profit. It's also imagination limiting - you've defined it from "can potentially do almost anything, three times" to "does one specific thing three times." And further, that kind of thinking to lead you to avoid using one wish from the ring to, say, whisk the party out of immediate danger that is risking a TPK, and then have to suffer the near-TPK and bring back multiple dead people. Using one wish to avoid something that might lead to a TPK, or avoid some catastrophic loss, may be much better than using multiple wishes to try and partly undo the effect. Timing is key.

Since one of the players specifically asked about wishing to get pulled out of a near-TPK situation, that's at least under consideration.

We'll see what happens with this. Will it be easy come, easy go? Will it spark endless table debate and hypothetical questions? Will it grind a game to a halt as they write a legal pad length wish to make sure they word it so carefully that nothing can possibly go wrong? Will they hold onto these until basically the entire campaign is nearly over, because they want to save them for "when we really need them"? We'll see.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Session 85, Felltower 58 - Rotating Statue Puzzle Solved

February 12th, 2017

Weather: Cold, windy, sleeting, snowing, and raining. Yes, all of them.

Currently Active:
Dryst, halfling wizard (435 points)
Hasdrubul Stormcaller, human wizard (296 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (304 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (148 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (326 points)
Vryce, human knight (493 points)

We started in town, as usual. The roll for Raggi revealed he was still on winter break, probably down at Rumshackles II, drinking out of a cup made out of the skull of a coconut monkey.

The group bought equipment, picked up some rumors, and otherwise got organized for a trip to Felltower. Hasdrubul met an old lady who'd found her son's old potions in the attic and bought them all - some were useful, some aged to uselessness, and one aged into poison. He kept them all.

Dryst magic'ed up some winter clothes for them because everyone is too cheap to spring for an actual coat and boots, and then headed up the mountain.

They got over the walls of the castle with Levitate and Walk on Air, finding no orc guards. From there they went down the main stairs. There was no "bridge" so they needed to ferry people across with, again, Levitate and Walk on Air. Once across they lifted the left portcullis, then hammered it open with a spike.

Getting the metal door past it open took a fair amount of time thanks to the difficulty getting a grasp on it - no handle, sits flush. They'd broken the locking mechanism so they eventually got in. They passed the pillboxes, passed the "gargoyle room" with no sign of gargoyles, and eventually headed to the metal-doored room with the headless statues. Still no orcs.

They tried to open the door but it took several tries. First off, because it locks itself, and second, because it's heavy and needs forcing. It took a couple tries but finally Vryce got it open with his crowbar . . . but there was a spark, and FWOOOOM. The door lit up in flames. Vryce was fine, though, thanks to his heavy armor, but his outer clothing got scorched and he needed to pat the flames down. (The PCs thought this was a very strange trap, which means I might not have explained it well. Also, they didn't really investigate until it was over, so some clues about it were gone.)

They went inside the room and put on the four-eyed, four-eared, bald statue head on the appropriate bust. The so-called Saints of Felltower spoke to them, and told them three more heads remain. They left the room, and heard it click locked behind them.

From there they headed to the level below. They reached one of the statue rooms. At Hjalmarr's insistence, they rotated the statue to face the false door in the room. Mo did this one, taking 1 HP of damage and 6 FP as well from "black fire."

From there, they tried the door towards the "orc hole" but it was barred. A Glass Wall spell showed them it was barred with a 4" x 4" bar and the hallways was strewn with caltrops, sharp rocks, boards with rusty nails in them, etc. They decided not to try to go that direction. Instead, they went via the "lizard man area." That involved squeezing through bent bars, squeezing a larger gap into a large portcullis they've never figured out how to open, and then opening the great doors to the temple. They moved into the temple and ran smack into three hunting slimes. The slimes rushed them to slam, overrun, and envelope. In a brief fight, Mo, Vryce, and Hjalmarr slashed up the slimes, although all three got smacked by the charging slimes. Has' electrocuted one of them as it came on, then the warriors sliced them up into immobile, dead slimes.

They moved on and forced open the moisture-stuck door near the spiral staircase, and went up the slick, age-smoothed stones. They passed through a room, reached a statue room, and had Vryce rotate the statue to face a blank door (he took only 1 HP and 1 FP, which Mo pointed out was clearly racist, as their hoods indicated.) Next, they crossed an old barricade (they climbed over), dug through a rubble-choked hall and reached another statue room. Again, they rotated the statue, this time Mo. He again took more FP than Vryce did (I kept rolling 1 HP of damage, though.)

Then they worked their way across more rubble, digging out a more recently re-blocked corridor, and into the final statue room. Vryce rotated the statue . . . and nothing happened.

So Hjalmarr strode over to the meteoric iron door, grasped its pull ring, and pulled hard (making a Forced Entry roll). Just as the dice hit the table he realized he was standing in a massive scorch mark - Mo's player said, "Too late, you rolled!" Heh. Nothing happened, except the door opened smoothly if slowly.

Beyond was a short hallway to a rectangular room with six chests in it. Four were iron strongboxes, one was a soapstone chest with no openings, and one was a wooden chest. The last two were slotted for carrying poles.

The PCs took the usual precautions - look at the room from outside, put on Mage Sight, sent a servant in to look around and jump up and down on the floor, etc. Eventually they decided there were no traps. They set Vryce to guard the statue room despite his utterly abysmal effective PER (he has a 10, plus a great helm that muffled hearing and restricts his arc of vision), and checked out the chests.

They used Glass Wall on the chests, noting the wood one was full of copper and silver coins, the soapstone one full of jewelry, two of the iron boxes half-full of silver coins, and two more impenetrable (so either meteoric iron or lead-lined, lead being opaque to magical vision in this game.)

They started to systematically loot. Mo dumped out the stuff from his backpack and put it . . . elsewhere (I can't remember) and put a chest in it. He tipped the chest, Dryst cast Lockmaster, they pried it open, and out dumped 10,000 sp, filling the bag to load capacity. Hjalmarr did the same, putting his stuff into a bag and handing the bag to Brother Ike, then filling his bag with silver. They'd later dump the empty chest in the treasure room.

At this point it became obvious that emptying containers of loot into other containers and having folks two-handed carry them was not as efficient as just carrying the original containers. So they set to work on that. Dryst created four brute (ST 16) servants and four 6' poles and had them pair up to take the two large chests.

At this point, the orcs showed up. They opened the door into the room (the "orc hole" is very close by) and charged in, two at a time. Vryce spotted them as they moved in and attacked. He made short work of them, shouting to try and intimidate them (it failed) and too alert the party (that worked.) The party ran back.

In a short, sharp fight, Vryce killed a few orcs, Mo pushed past him and tried to Cleaving Strike a couple in the hallway, and then the mages took over. Has' put up a Lightning Wall in the hallway. Mo smacked a stunned orc down. Then Dryst put up a Force Wall behind the Lightning Wall. The dragged in the orcs (Mo finished them off moments later), Magelocked the door, put up another Force Wall inside it, and then Mo piled the corpses in front of the door (minus a scimitar that they kept as loot).

Mo (I think) grabbed one of the iron strongboxes, and Vryce the other - each carrying one under an arm. They moved back the way they came. (This is amusing on the map, as the orcs occupy a short L-shaped corridor between where they were and where they wanted to go, and they made a huge detour to avoid them since fighting through wasn't the plan.)

It took a while and lots of jiggering around, but they made to the the spiral stairs - dragging chests over half-cleared rubble, handing 280 pound chests to each other, Mo carrying the two big chests down the stairs using Walk on Air to avoid slipping, etc.

Meanwhile the orcs organized.

The PCs had to force the portcullises they'd bypassed to allow big chests through. That took time and effort, even with two ST 20 guys. They finally reached the door to the first statue room - and found the orcs had barred it shut and manned the room with a dozen warriors (spotted thanks to Glass Wall).

The PCs set up, left the chests behind, cast Stench to drive the orcs back, Apportation to move the bar, and then kicked the door open and charged in. Has' dropped the Stench and the front-line fighters attacked. The orcs died pretty quickly, although Mo got chopped badly on the arm (and didn't go berserk), Vryce critically hit and hurt, and Hjalmarr actually hit with a thrown axe and didn't drop his weapon. He did lop off an orc's arm and cripple another. They finished the orcs and piled them up against the left door, Magelocked that, and moved to the stairs. They found first one, then another stone wall, both of which Has' had to dispel (it took three attempts in all). They went up the stairs, opened the door, and took arrows and bolts. They closed the door. Mo threw a pair of light stones down the hallway, taking arrows as they came. They didn't reveal any orcs. So they made Vryce Invisible and sent him down the hallway, sword away (since it glows) and without his looted chest (important later.)

Vryce felt his way down the hallway from light source to light source, looking for orcs. Nope. The group advanced down the hallway to a T-intersection and took fire - literally, fire - a Fireball hit Mo and arrows flew past him. He got burned (9 damage!), and threw an alchemist's fire for light and possible harm. It revealed some orcs who backed off. They PCs realized the orcs wouldn't come within a short move of the edges of their light sources, allowing harassing fire without worrying about counter-attack.

So the PCs worked their way to the way out . . . but then realized Vryce had never gotten his chest. No one else mentioned it at all, and everyone else was full (which is why he had it in the first place.)

So Vryce had to run back, invisibly, but holding the Sword of Valmarr to see by - a big glowing sphere of nothing coming down the hall. Orcs shot at him (Missile Shield stopped that) and he reached the end of the hallway - and found six orcs with the chest. He cut down five before one fell back, and more heavily armored, larger, well-armed orcs piled up the stairs. He scooped up the chest and ran. The orcs kept pace all the way down the 100 yards of corridor, but Vryce jumped through the door at the end, the PCs slammed it, and Dryst Magelocked it, then IIRC he put up a Force Wall to seal it.

They fled to the main entrance. There, they tried to quickly un-spike the portcullis, but could not, even with Mo smiting it. It's hard to break a heavy iron spike halfway into a narrow slot. They started to ferry people across the pit as the orcs opened the arrow slit shutters and shot arrows. Hjalmarr blocked for the servants, who would cost a lot to re-create. Has' put a Stench spell in each pillbox, driving the orcs back.

They made it to the surface, and then over the wall (with magic, once again cursing their lack of foresight in breaking the gate in the down position), and headed slowly back to town.

They got back late (slow drag, icy path, snow, cold, fatigue, etc.) but with a lot of loot.

But most of the loot was still in a few boxes. They basically put every detection and buff spell you can think of on Dryst, except See Secrets and had him open the locked boxes and shape open the soapstone chest, pulling out a lot of loot. But the lead-lined iron boxes stopped him. What to do?

The group wanted to have Naida River open the chests, but Naida's player didn't show, so no - PCs are not standing resources for each other waiting back in town. They wanted to hire an NPC thief or locksmith, and I said they could spend some time finding one, and the expert would demand a fee and/or a share, whichever was higher.

Instead they wanted to spend 1000 on the best lockpicks possible, meteoric if possible ("meteoric iron lockpicks" has become "lockpicks that don't set off magical traps" in gamespeak). Dryst made a default Streetwise roll and found some +1 lockpicks. Then they put a max-strength Grace spell on Vryce and had him try. It took a few tries and Luck rolls to get both open, and even downtime getting a Power Item recharged - this was a multi-day process, which all of the PCs armed and ready for action when attempts were made.

Once they got them all open, they found one was compartmentalized like a minis case and full of 200 gems and a magical gem, and the other padded and holding 2000 gold coins (yes, 8 pounds of gold)

They got to identifying magical items and counting loot. They got something like ~140,000 silver worth of bronze, silver, and gold jewelry, cash (including 40,000 cp, 30,000 silver, 2,000 gold), 200 gems worth around 200 each, a Gem of True Healing, and Iron Ring of Endurance, a Ring of Protection, a Necklace of Fireballs, and a gold ring set with three diamonds - a Minor Ring of Wishing. (details on that tomorrow)

The take was north of 20,000k each, including selling a sword, the empty chests, and some other miscellaneous stuff.

See Secrets turned out to be a critical forget. Or maybe not - as thorough as people were, they weren't thorough in searching the chests. So overwhelmed by the money they found, no one noticed the discrepancy of having, say, a 25 pound full chest, taking out 8 pounds of coins, and having a normally 15 pound strongbox that weighed 2 pounds thanks to a thin lead lining and some padding. The next owner, though, pulled out the padding and found a hidden bottom packed to immobility with 100 gold sovereigns (10,000 sp). The spell wouldn't have found it, but if the padding was pulled aside it would have needed a good Per roll to spot and See Secrets would have spotted it. No one was really sad because they made so much . . . good for them that I didn't stick the magic rings in that box's secret bottom.


It's rare for Raggi to miss easy loot. Just saying - kill some orcs, get loaded? Kill some dragon, get loaded? Kill some lizard men get loaded? That's when Raggi shows up. Vacation must be sweet.

Line of the night for me? Paraphrasing - "What's the sale value of the wishing ring?" Hjalmarr: "NO, we don't even want to know."

This was a rare session where I actually voted on MVP. I didn't want it to be forgotten, and I said, "MVP has to be Hjalmarr for insisting on trying the statue puzzle." Which is true. He suggested it, and the response was something like, "We thought about that and decided it wouldn't work." He insisted they try. That made all of the difference. Once before the PCs almost solved this puzzle, but failed because they didn't get to all of the statues. In any case, my vote didn't count, but it was unanimous. Who says the guy who set the plan and insisted on seeing it through doesn't deserve MVP when that turns out to be the mother lode?

Lockpicking by Vryce was funny. Just goes to show what good rolls, Luck, and maximized buff spells can do. Even so, he failed a couple of times.

I'm not sure why, but my players got the impression that Power Investiture comes with Detect Unholy or Detect Evil. No, it doesn't. You can sense Sanctity level changes, but there is no "Magic detection, but for holy or evil." That's a feature of items (strong holy aura, can be sensed) not of Power Investiture. This came up 2-3 times on Sunday.

Yes, Has', I checked, it was The Inn of the One Good Wheel. I'd forgotten.

Good session, lots of fun, and lots of loot. A major puzzle was solved, progress made two other multi-delve problem, all with excellent rewards. It would have had more impact earlier, of course, but now the group is flush with money. Given the flurry of "here is how I spend most of it ordering special-order custom magic items" I expect they'll be back to broke in no time, but with (eventually) better loadouts.

You can once again see the benefits of a megadungeon - lots of work to make one, but that treasure room I wrote up like 5 years ago finally came into play now. You can also see the importance of fresh eyes - someone who didn't see this as an unsolvable puzzle unrelated to the iron door. Good stuff.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Disadvantage swaps in DF Felltower

(No summary today - I worked and/or trained all day, but I wanted to get this post in anyway)

I put up a series of posts on disadvantages recently because they'd been on my mind. A number of players had disadvantages that just didn't fit their PCs anymore, didn't fit the game in the first place (mostly discovered as we played), or so tightly overlapped other people it was hard to see it matter. So a few got swapped out.

Hjalmarr, for example, swapped out Vow (Never refuse a challenge to combat) for Squeamishness. That's a tough disadvantage to deal with in DF, and it's off-template, but his player definitely plays him that way. After all, he already "dislikes" a bewildering variety of slimes, bugs, effusions, infusions, effluvia, gasses, smells, sounds, animals, events, and more. So that fits and it's a definite game play upgrade. The vow was also hard because Vryce has it, so if they're together, and it's not common for challenges to be issued for one knight nevermind for two. So now he's a Viking who loves being splattered in blood but doesn't want you to even mention spiders or slimy things.

Hasdrubel had a few disadvantages he barely played (Curiosity, for example) and one that didn't work well in the game (Obsession to create a city-destroying magical storm). But he sure played a total disregard for the lives of everyone around him, self-justifying power grasping, and twisted logic (evil is good, because evil leads and leading is good, so I'm evil, which is why I'm good.) He now has Callous and Obsession (Gain more power no matter what).

Dryst was long overdue to get rid of Weirdness Magnet, which I chose to ditch from the campaign. His player really wanted to get rid of Sense of Duty, since it didn't fit Dryst as he actually acts when the chips are down ("I'll help . . . if that's the most sound long-term thing to do here.") He ended up with Clueless (he does play Dryst close to that) and Laziness. Since as far as any of us can recall, Dryst has never done any actual physical labor, that seems pretty appropriate. He learns spells in town by using Wild Talent (with Retention) to buy them, not by actually studying, and when not Levitating has servants carry him.

Mo tweaked his Berserk to ditch Battle Fury as his player is a bit more tactically cautious than his disad forced him to play. He has Bloodlust, which he absolutely has played to a "T" since early on.

Overall it was a good series of changes - all for the as-played, and all for positive roleplaying improvements.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Felltower pre-summary

It's late, and I'm not sure if I'll even have time tomorrow to do a full summary, but we finally got in some Felltower this year.

Snow, ice, rain, and sleet kept Quenton Gale from the session, and apparently Raggi as well.

Despite that:

- the PCs killed a lot of orcs, rather incidentally

- the PCs puzzled out the rotating statues and the meteoric iron door

- the biggest single-session haul of loot was dragged out of Felltower, not without a lot of vocal opposition from the orcs

- Vryce demonstrated his lockpicking skills

- and the PCs forgot See Secrets at a critical time.

Very good session!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

This is how a barbarian chief travels!

Do you return from battle with your shield or on it?

On it, of course! After all, you command your horde from up there.

This is a Black Tree Design barbarian chief. I like how much he resembles Raggi Ragnarsson. Perhaps this is how Raggi gets around town, since he's rarely sober enough to drive himself.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Disadvantages in my GURPS Game Part IV: Point Theory

One possible final comment on disadvantages in my game.

Points Don't Set Intensity

Sometimes players will say, basically, "This is only a -5 point disadvantage, it shouldn't do that much to me."

In GURPS in general and in my games, particularly, this is not true.

The point value of the disadvantage is meant to tell you how much the game assumes it'll restrict you to have this disadvantage. In my opinion it's rating how much your disadvantage cuts down your options and comes with pre-existing logical consequences.

The rules basically say, Greedy (12) is -15 because it's likely to cause you serious problems, influence a lot of your decisions, and restrict your options a lot. Overconfidence (12) is -5 because, well, not as much. You just do the things you'd probably do anyway in an adventure game but overrate your ability to do those things. Sense of Duty (Close Friends and Companions) is -5 because you're probably going to do that anyway from purely pragmatic and social meta-game considerations. But you do get some points back because sometimes "Run away, no sense in us both dying" is a sensible decision for both of you but your disad says, "Stay here and fight at his side." This is why Sense of Duty (Nation) is worth more and Sense of Duty (All Living Things) even more than that - it just comes up more often, it's not that one comes up more intensely than the lower-point versions.

So as you put them down to get your quota of disadvantages, they're worth varying amounts.

Once they hit your sheet, they're equally weighted (subject to Self-Control rolls and interactions and actual play, of course.)

So you can't sit down and say, "I'm three times as Greedy as I am Overconfident, because one is -15 and one is -5." Nor can you say, "Overconfidence shouldn't make me do really risky things, because it's only -5 points, but Greedy is really nasty because it's -15." It's a false connection.

While you can look at the points given back for the disadvantage to assess how bad it is, you can't use that point value to determine its relative strength against other disadvantages.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Disadvantages in my GURPS Games, Part III: Changing Disadvantages in Play

Third in a series of posts on disadvantages in my GURPS game.

Disadvantages are Changeable in Play

Disadvantages are not set in stone in my game. They're meant to reflect your character as it currently exists and how it is actually played.

While disadvantages are prescriptive ("Berserk says I'm like this . . . " not "I'm Berserk like this . . . "), which ones you will have are descriptive.

In other words, if you play a guy who is bad tempered, you should have Bad Temper on your sheet. Then we play with that disadvantage in effect as written. Even if you've conceived of your minotaur as a calm, unflappable gentleman, if you have Berserk (9) on your sheet . . . he really also has Delusion ("I'm a calm, unflappable gentleman") but snaps on a 10 or more.

But what if it's down on your sheet, but you know, this doesn't really feel like how my guy should be . . . or how I actually like to run this guy?

You can't change them freely . . .

As the above implies, so a degree you're stuck with your disadvantages. You can't change them during a game session. What it says on your sheet is what you need to do and the rules you need to follow.

. . . but you're free to change them.

Between sessions, though, based on actual play, I'm happy to let people change their disadvantages. Made a berserker but found it's hard for you to really let go and All-Out Attack when there is a smarter move on the table? Made a guy who has Sense of Duty (Close Friends and Companions) but it's clear he'd sooner abandon a friend than risk death? Made a guy obsessed with a specific goal but find that goal is actually kind of counter to how the game is going? Made a guy with Bloodlust but you're constantly making the Self-Control roll because you just don't enjoy running a guy who'd "security stab" a downed foe?

Change it.

Discuss it with me, first, of course, but then you can change it. Your disadvantages should feel normal and natural and free-flowing. They should come up in play because you want them to. Or at least, groan partly in enjoyment as they make you do stuff that yeah, really does fit your guy.

My preferred path is to downgrade over time. Move a disad to a quirk, a quirk to nothing. But only if the originally conceived disadvantage fits at all. If not, ditch it entirely.

Good examples I've seen in play are downgrading Berserk (Battle Fury) to Berserk, or Berserk to Bad Temper. Changing Greedy to Obsession (Accumulate power) - that on a guy who'd forsake money, we found, if an actual change at long-term power gains were there. Adding Overconfidence to a character who took silly risks just because, while removing it from a character whose player simply could not help because meticulously careful.

You can't change them willy nilly, constantly. It's really something meant for downtime when both player and GM realize what's on the sheet is pushing in a different direction than actual play. But they're not permanent.

Buying them off entirely is as simple as that - downgrade it and spend the points for the difference. In a sufficiently flexible game (my DF game is a good example), you can just plunk down the points and get rid of it.

Ultimately disadvantages are meant in my game to be points back for limitations on your play that demonstrate and shape how you play. They aren't set-in-stone decisions that can never be undone.*

* We call those, "points spent on advantages." Or, that time that you Retreated right into the worse spot possible. Oops.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Disadvantages in my GURPS Games, Part II: Mitigating Disads

Continuing yesterday's post on disadvantages.

Better Big and Few than Small and Many

Just from experience, as crippling as a big disadvantage looks on paper, it's better to have a pair of -15s and a pair of -10s or a -30 and a pair of -10s than a -10 and eight -5s. They're all -50 points, but it's too much to keep up with. "I'm a seriously greedy dude with a Sense of Duty to my friends and a penchant for gambling" is way, way easier to play (and play with) than "I'm a mildly greedy dude with a bad temper, overconfidence, a Sense of Duty to my friends, who is afraid of heights, a glutton, who is hunted by his evil twin brother, is easy to read, and who is obsessed with becoming the world's best swordsman."

The "death of a thousand cuts" to avoid one bad disadvantage makes your character harder to play. It's almost certain they'll come up even more often than the big bad disadvantage. And it is certain you'll forget about some of them except when the GM reminds you or you look at your sheet. Don't try to eke out -50 or -40 or -whatever the easy way - find something that can really be a centerpiece disad or two like that and one or two complementary ones and be done with it.

Mitigating Disadvantages With Abilities

One canonical standard for disadvantages is that if something doesn't actually cause any disadvantage, it doesn't get you any points.

That standard has been extended on occasion to mean if you can fully mitigate the consequences of a disadvantage, it's not worth any points.

I agree with the first but not the second.

As long as there are still consequences to a disadvantage, it's still a valid disadvantage even if you can overcome some of them through other means. If you can utterly and fully negate it, that's a different case.

For example, if you have Bloodlust and have Legal Immunity (License to Kill) in some cinematic action game, yeah, you love to kill people. You do it a lot, even when it's a bad idea. And you've plunked down points to say it's okay. I'm okay with this. I think that's fair - there are costs for your disadvantage. There are consequences that apply even when there are no legal repercussions in the game.

Or if you've got high Status and Greedy, in a world where high status allows you access to a lot of money and few consequences for scrabbling for more (Marcus Lucinius Crassus, say), Greedy still has consequences. Annoyed people you bilked of money because you could make a deal unfair to them. Choices between "more money" and "more allies" that you go with "more money" on. Times when you value wealth more than costly decisions that'll set you up for long-term success. Still an issue, even if your Status waves away some of the consequences.

Basically those points have partly funded (or sometimes fully funded - that's rare though) the mitigation. You're still worse off than the guy with Legal Immunity or Status that isn't killing people out of compulsion or can't keep his mitts off of money.

Basically this is the old "Is Compulsive Fighting a disadvantage if you're really good at fighting?" To my mind: yes, yes it is.

So it's okay in my games if you take a disad and then work your way around it, especially ones that have constant effects. It's actually pretty interesting if that happens - something that's more fun than just "I'll make my Self-Control roll here."

Tomorrow: Changing disads in play

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Disadvantages in my GURPS Games, Part I: The Basics

Disadvantages are fairly fundamental to GURPS. They're amongst the very first things added to Man-to-Man - the first ones showed up in Roleplayer #1. Some of them have hardly changed since then.

How I deal with them in my games is pretty much out of the book, but with some caveats and explanations and clarifications.

Flow Naturally from Play

Your disadvantages should naturally flow from how you play your characters and determines that flow smoothly and naturally.

You want to pick disadvantages that either have set effects you can live with (even thrive with, because they're fun) or have roleplaying consequences you'd like to roleplay out. They shouldn't be forced. And they should fit how you perceive that guy acting in the situations you find yourself in.

You shouldn't need to refresh your memory every session of what's wrong with your guy.

As the GM, I shouldn't have to, either. If I look at your sheet and think, "Oh yeah, I forgot he's Curious" than you're not really being Curious.

Corollary: You should not have to tell anyone. "I run up and push the button because I'm Impulsive!" and "I'm stabbing that wounded guy again because I've got Bloodlust" and "I'm Stubborn, so I disagree. You guys should use Fast-Talk on me!" are really . . . moment-breaking. It's like an actor saying, "Hey, I'm angry because I'm an actor playing an angry guy!" Just play it, we'll know. Apologize during break for your character, doing in play is kind of lame and basically says, [Ralph Wiggum]"I'm Roleplaying!"[/Ralph Wiggum]. It also implies to the other players not to roleplay in a way that blocks you, even if their character would logically do that.

Self-Control as the Exception, not the Rule

The way I see it, if whenever your disadvantages come up in play you think, "I should make a self-control roll to avoid this" or "maybe it doesn't apply in this case," those disadvantages really don't fit your and/or your character.

Of course, there should be times when you really need to exercise some self-restraint and hold back from expressing your disadvantages. It's just an issue when those times are all times. If you read Bad Temper (12) as "On a 12 or less I'm not Bad Tempered," you're not really playing disadvantages the way I'm expecting as a GM. Even more so if you're reading it as "If I can't explain why I shouldn't even need a roll, then I get a 12 or less roll to resist." Being Bad Tempered should be your normal thing, even if you mostly restrain it when it really matters.

Greedy characters should go after money. Overconfident characters should be less willing to accept a situation is beyond them. Gluttons should eat a lot. Compulsive Carousers should be jumping into parties. Guys with Bloodlust should be putting in that extra shot to make sure someone is dead even if the players would prefer prisoners and prefer you not waste that combat turn. And so on.

Self-control rolls are for "I see serious consequences and need to avoid them" not "I see consequences and I need to avoid them." Even then, there should be times you don't want to roll, even if the other players at the table would like you to.

And if you feel this way about your disadvantages, they're really not the ones for you even if they sound right on paper. "My guy gets really mad! Except when it's not convenient, then his iron self-control kicks in." Okay, take a Quirk-level version and just be mad when it's convenient.

Tomorrow: Choosing and Mitigating your disads in my games.
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