Saturday, August 19, 2017

Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Brief Review

Here is a brief look at the PDFs from the DFRPG boxed set.

Adventurers - The one-book character generation part of the boxed set. All a player needs to make up a paper man to play as.

Template layouts are greatly simplified and clarified compared to those in DF1. Material that used to be spread across Basic Set, DF1, DF11, a couple of Pyramid articles, and the Denizens books has been pulled together into one place. Not all of it, but a good core of what you need to play.

Nicely, several of the templates have been simplified (the Bard, for example) to make them easier to use. Others have been revised to make them more effective in their niche (like the Martial Artist) or to make them play more like how people want them to be (the Barbarian.) No PCs are SM +1, so you don't have to worry about oversized gear.

Speaking of gear, the weapons are a solid mix of those from Basic Set and Low-Tech, complete with the suggested changes to combat stats that came with Low-Tech. Armor is based on Low-Tech, but where LT was more of an armor design system you've got a per-location picklist with cost, weight, DR, etc. Armor is generally heavier for non-metal armor, lighter for metal, and the costs are cheaper for non-metal and very much higher for metal.

Exploits - The one-book replacement for Basic Set: Campaigns and DF2 (and bits of DF16, to a much lesser extent.)

It's very heavily page-referenced and written up with DF in mind. Cases that would mostly affect DF are written directly into the relevant rules - such as Invisibility into vision penalties for combat, flight into Retreat, and so on.

A lot of little things are simplified - slams use your ST-based thrust damage with a modifier for speed, combat at different heights is a three-case scenario (no difference, small difference, large difference/flying), etc. None of this makes it incompatible with GURPS 4th edition as a whole, it just has the detail dial to a fuzzier, coarser level.

For my money, this is the most useful book in the boxed set - all the GURPS rules you need for DF, written solely with DF in mind, often simplified where that is beneficial, with nothing extra you need to ignore.

Spells - A one-book replacement for GURPS Magic and a Pyramid article clearing up the rules written up in DF1.

A lot of spells are gone, because they involve long explanations and/or extra rules. No Zombie spell, for example. Create Servant is gone, and if you've seen my game play you can probably guess why it might be seen as abusive. Not a lot of summoning except for animals. But the writeups are clear and use the DF prerequisite trees. And the spells are in alphabetical order within their colleges. A pain for a read-through to see what spells are basic and which are advanced, but a huge benefit for the rest of your gaming life when you want to quickly find them.

Nicely spells have had effects revised where previous versions were vague - Stench works a lot clearer than in previous books, for example. Smoke no longer creates opaque tear gas but rather has its effects spelled out in the description. It's just an easier book to use than "look in GURPS Magic, and in Pyramid, and check DF1 to make sure nothing is changed."

Magic Items - no comment here, I wrote most of this with a bunch of additional material by Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch. I will say I like his parts of the book better than my parts, but I'm pretty sure I say that about every book we've ever worked on together.

Traps - The traps are wordy but clear. A lot of them feel like they owe Grimtooth the Troll some thanks. But overall they range from fairly petty traps to lethal ones, all fully compatible with DF and its assumptions. It's a fun book and even players reading it won't save them from all of the traps.

Dungeons - I won't comment on the contents of Dungeon 1 and 2, but I will say they are:

- complete

- well-written

- ready to go

Which is something GURPS Dungeon Fantasy has needed for a while. We've had all of one adventure out there. A good one, but just the one. I'm terrible at writing adventures for other people to run, so this is something I'd like to see more of to get people able to jump right into GURPS.

I can't evaluate the GM's Screen and Cardboard Heroes based on PDFs; we'll see how they are once I have them in usable form.

Next time, I'll post about how I think we'll use this in my ongoing GURPS campaign.


  1. This makes me think. I agree that those little changes from standard GURPS are a good idea, but if you're looking for an something to write about, a guide to things to watch out for when using GURPS to expand a DFRPG game would sure be useful to me.

    1. I'll have to think about that. My experience will be going the other way - from "full" GURPS to the DFRPG + elements not included in the DFRPG. So I won't know what it looks like going the other direction, not from actual experience.

    2. That'll probably be almost as good.

  2. Having seen them at Gen Con, I can say that the GM screen looks and feels great. The cardboard heroes work well, though the art felt a little small on the punch out standees.

  3. I haven't read Grimtooth's in a decade or more. Most of those are straight from my head to the paper. Any similarities are not intentional. I'm glad you liked it.

    1. The feel of the traps, and attitude of them, has a lot of Grimtooth in them. I wasn't talking about specific traps.


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