Sunday, May 14, 2017

DF Felltower: How much profit do you need?

My XP award house rules have worked out pretty well in my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game. It drives profit as the main goal, exploration as a secondary goal, and monster killing as a means to an end. It punishes treating (non-volunteer) hirelings nicely and avoiding character death at all possible costs.

However, I think the "profitable trip" requirement also rewards bottom-feeding to a degree that gets larger as you go on. Since a profitable trip is such a low bar - $150 for upkeep, recharge all power items ($0 - $100+, divided by the number of PCs). Less than $200 in most cases, although folks like Martial Artists (with their doubled upkeep costs!) need a lot more. I hadvbasically set it at $200 each and if the PCs exceeded that, they count the trip as profitable. Higher-value PCs (in excess of 350 points) have needed $400 each to profit.

In most GURPS games, point value of the PCs is not a good meter of ability. It's a meter of options they had during chargen, but not a true ranking of power.

In GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, though, point value is a pretty good meter of ability. Very little you can buy does anything except make you a much more lethal fighter, cunning delver, and capable adventurer.

So why not tie the amount of loot you need to your point value? And why not leverage the multipliers for Wealth to provide a set of numbers that mirrors an existing set of numbers in GURPS? Starting wealth in Dungeon Fantasy is Average, and gives you $1000 in starting cash. If it's about $200 for a profitable trip, then you need 1/5 of the starting wealth each trip to be profitable.

Method 1

Required Profit

Up to 249 Points: $100 each (1/5 Struggling)
250-349 Points: $200 each (1/5 Average)
350-449 Points: $400 each (1/5 Comfortable)
450-549 Points: $1000 each (1/5 Wealthy)
550-649 Points: $4000 (1/5 Very Wealthy)
650+ Points: $20,000 each (1/5 of Filthy Rich)

Optionally, every 100 additional points multiplies the need by 10; an 850-point delver would need to take home $2,000,000 to count it as a profitable trip and get full XP.

Failure to meet these numbers for that particular PC reduces their XP This explains why staggeringly powerful delvers prefer to farm out small tasks to lesser delvers and save their efforts for epic adventures against ancient dragons, evil empires, or giant armies.

You could make this a tighter spread, too - instead of every 100 points, make it every 50.

Method 2

Required Profit (50 point spread)
Up to 249 Points: $100 each (1/5 Struggling)
250-299 Points: $200 each (1/5 Average)
300-349 Points: $400 each (1/5 Comfortable)
350-399 Points: $1000 each (1/5 Wealthy)
400-449 Points: $4000 (1/5 Very Wealthy)
550+ Points: $20,000 each (1/5 of Filthy Rich)
Every additional 50 points: x10

You can opt for a mixed spread, too . At first it's every 50 points, but as the jumps get higher so does the amount of power needed to require the jump.

Method 3

Required Profit (Tiered, 100, then 50 point spread)
Up to 249 Points: $100 each (1/5 Struggling)
250-349 Points: $200 each (1/5 Average)
350-399 Points: $400 each (1/5 Comfortable)
400-449 Points: $1000 each (1/5 Wealthy)
450-499 Points: $4000 (1/5 Very Wealthy)
500+ Points: $20,000 each (1/5 of Filthy Rich)
Every Additional 100 Points: x10

In either case, there is no bonus for a massive haul - excessive riches are reward enough!

You can reach your required wealth by unfairly diving the wealth. This is totally fair, and encourages higher-powered delvers to either demand a bigger share or push to seek much richer (and better guarded) sources of wealth. i really prefer when people do this in round in-game numbers ("So-and-so gets a quadruple share, his buddy gets a double share, everyone else gets single shares!") than utterly munchkinly min-maxed divisions ("So-and-so gets $4000 on the nose, his buddy gets $1000, this other guy gets $400, and the rest of us divide up the money evenly netting us all $200.50 each so we all just barely make full XP!") Which is odd when they pool the money again to buy people stuff. But if the players enjoy min-maxing their loot to maximize XP, that's fine. I can be hands-off and let them do as they please and we're all happy. They get maximum XP, I don't have to deal with it, and the best way to benefit from the system is to take immense risks for high rewards so you don't have game the system.

What are you using?

After a bit of waffling, we settled on Method 3. It's been working quite well. Aside from my nit-picks on dividing loot it's been a good system. This does drive powerful delvers to go deeper because it's not enough to just cover costs to get full XP. It also means you don't need to pull in extraordinary loot for a while, but by the end you're forced to rack in fortunes.


  1. Is the 100 point jump from 250-349 in method 3 deliberate?

    1. Yes. It even says so on the top of the chart (100, then 50).

  2. Seems to is very forgiving for low point pc's and very unforgiving for high point pc's. Why not start from a basic value say 500$ profit and then multiply it with the players total points/250 to find the required loot needed?

    1. I think you're right - it is very forgiving for low point PCs, and very unforgiving for high point ones. That's really something I see as a feature. Low-point guys can pretty much do anything and keep progressing. High-point guys have to take real risks. This encourages folks to have low point guys and not just their high-point guys. It also means it's not a steady road toward eventually having all advantages, all skills, all power ups, etc. on your template. You slow down and need to take risks *and* be choosy about what you spend them on.

      I'm leery of formula instead of a table. It's too hair-splitty (500 x pts/250 basically means $2/point) or depends on the group too much (if you mean 500 x total points of all PCs/250.) I'd rather have ranges so we neither need to do math per PC nor have players worried they could have earned more XP by not spending points!

    2. First of all thanks for taking the time to answer. I think maybe you are going for a more old school dnd than videogami feel. In the sense in old school dnd your progress petered out after a while.
      Ok that makes perfect sense. I propably would also use a table for my players for speed purposes.
      Yeah essentially I ment at least 2$ per character point the player's character has, in profit after all expenses. It really depends on how much treasure is awarded. I kinda assumed the DF 8 costs of 250$ week in town, 100 $ consumables, 50$ power items and 500$ profit. So each person must find 250$+100$+50$+500$=900$ or even more if you assume they can sell them for full price. So the total treasure you should find to get the xp would go up to 3-4$ per character point point. Still it would end up a steady road in getting all the pavlovian stuff.

    3. The thing is:

      - you need a *lot* of treasure just to keep a DF character going, if you're in a reasonably difficult campaign. Upkeep, upgrades, repairs, potions, power item charges, ammunition, training costs, etc. eat up money far faster than it seems up front. So a lot of money will be coming in if you hand it out like I do, but equally money will stream out of the hands of delvers at least as quickly.

      - Points aren't linear point increases. A 500 point delver isn't twice as effective as a 250-point delver, similarly equipped - it's more like a multiple of at least several times. So requiring 2x as much money is really requiring proportionally much less loot for the power the character brings to the table.

      - if loot thresholds are low, and you're primarily awarding XP based on loot, then it's idea for high-point guys to bottom feed - smack some orcs and goblins and dinomen and sell their gear and take their pocket change at minimal risk. It's a bad idea to take on dragons and demons and orc hordes, because it's much more risk but doesn't give you more XP. If you hand out XP for combat, this changes, but if you do that you can probably set a flat-rate "must make a profit" like in DF2.

      So even though my system may seem harsh, it really does work as intended - it pushes high-point characters to find high-end targets, lets starting guys do whatever they want for a while, and progressively pushes delves along as they go from starting to high point.

    4. Great stuff, I hope you keep playing felltower and providing us fun and excellent resource for DF.
      I wonder how many times stronger you would peg the 500 point delver than the 250 point one. Obviously such a question would be impossible to answer in normal gurps, but in DF you do have some consistent parameters. Also you personally have had experience with a almost 500 delver adventuring with 250 ones, so that's why I am aksing.

    5. It's very hard to quantify it, but it's significant. For example, take a 250-point knight, and build it however you want. Then give the knight 40 points and spend them all on one combat skill for a +10, so you end up with a 28 to 30 skill. Suddenly every attack is Deceptive Attack -5 - that slams fodder to effectively no defenses, worthy foes to fodder-level defenses, and boss monster to worthy level. Suddenly Parry is in the 17-20 range so even a 2nd or 3rd parry is easy - more so if you've taken Weapon Master.

      That's just one focused investment of skill. If, instead, it's 250 points of skill, Extra Attack, maxing ST at 20, Weapon Master (to leverage that ST into +2 per die damage), Enhanced Parry, Luck or Extraordinary Luck - you can see how it's a great power boost. You're still only one character, and still vulnerable to catastrophic failures from poor choices or bad die rolls, but you can make your main attack nearly unstoppable, your defenses effective impenetrable in normal circumstances, and shore up weak points so you are less vulnerable to alternate means of attack.

      It's hard to quantify that, although Christopher Rice has tried. It's just clearly true that you're much more than twice as effective.

    6. Are you talking about the challenge system for DF in pyramid 77? Or sth else?


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