Sunday, December 31, 2017

DF Felltower, Session 96, Felltower 68 - Say My Name (Durak, Gates, and Werewolves)

December 30th, 2017

Weather: Very cold, snowy.

Ahenobarbus the Lacerator, human swashbuckler (262 points)
Alaric, human scout (262 points)
Aldwyn, human knight (250 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (302 points)
     5 skeletons (~25 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (336 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (143 points)
Raggi Ragnarsson, human berserker (?? points)
Rolan Liadon, wood elf scout (250 points)

We started in Stericksburg with the PCs gathering rumors. One they especially were interested in was one about a fungus kingdom deep under Felltower. Otherwise they got their gear together and headed out. Alaric's acquaintance Rolan joined him - someone he knew before he dropped out of Scout College. Aldwyn knew Ahenobarbus (they say from both taking Extra Attack - they get mistaken for each other.)

The PCs suited up in cold weather gear and headed out. Hjlamarr shook Shieldslayer at Sterick's statue and Ahenobarbus spit on it. They headed out of the slums and climbed the snowy mountain.

The climbed over the snowy, icy walls with their ropes in the cold, but somehow made it over. Mostly thanks to Levitate by Gerry. They cleared the snow from the trapdoor, chipped the ice off, and pried it open. They headed into the dungeon and dropped off their cold weather gear (mostly). They spent a lot of time carefully sending an invisible scout ahead, and then meeting back up with them. Rolan has some ideas about using a set of colored runes he can leave as he moves to indicate where he went and what he saw, but they're too broke to implement that.

They headed down to the second level, and to the giant fantastic staircase. Near it, though, one of the hallways towards the "orc area" was heavily webbed up. Oh yeah, Mo planted a spider egg here and forgot it.

They opened the door and went into the staircase, and waited for the door to close before they reached the bottom. The new delvers were momentarily bemused by the optical illusion that it continues, which Rolan declared a "common, kindergarten-level elf trick." They opened the door, moved out, and waited for the door behind to close. Once it did, they moved toward the mosaic room on the way (I think) to the "golden swordsmen apartments."

They made it to the mosaic room and began to puzzle over the mosaics. I'm not sure what the original plan was, but it derailed right here. Hjalmarr started warning Aldwyn about Durak. Who? Durak. Durak? Yeah, Durak. How do you spell it? D-u-r-a-k. Durak. Etc. Suddenly he felt something in his stomach - butterflies, really, and a sinking feeling.

Soon after, they hear distant scrape-stomp, scrape-stomp noises . . . getting louder.

They immediately started to move deeper into the dungeon. Alaric scouted and found the corridor turned right at the end, but to the left was an archway into a roughly 6 x 6 room . . . with a 5 yard diameter ooze in it! He backed off quickly. They decided a) they couldn't risk to fight it, despite Gerry's Explosive Skull Missile spell, and b) sneaking past was probably not going to work. So they headed back.

The sound was getting closer. They briefly tried to figure out hot to set the ooze onto the Lord of Spite, and decided they had no actual idea how to do that without being between them both. They panicked and ran into the corridor between the "air gate room" and the direction the Lord of Spite was coming from. His scrape-stomp and the clop-clop-clop of his boars was getting louder. So they ran into the gate room. The room smelled smokey, and Ahenobarbus said something was trying to smoke them out. They decided to take the gate. They levitated Rolan up and behind the gate so see if they could hide there - but its swirling blues and greys were translucent. They realized they needed to fly to the gate as it was 9' up and 9' away from them, and the room was 50' top to bottom so they couldn't slide down the "bowl" and reach it. At the same time, wind started kicking up in the room. Air elemental, declared Gerry. So Gerry cast Levitate on everyone and pushed them through the gate one after another, and then came through.

On the far side, they found themselves smashed together (Gerry couldn't seem to move them further once they'd passed the gate, until he was on the same side.) They were blinded by startlingly bright sunlight in thin air . . . and hovering a few feet over a cloud, with the gate in the middle.

They blinked away the sunlight. Gerry eventually lowered Alaric to the cloud. He found it spongy and soft, and he sank up to his knees in it like deep snow. It was wet, and not hard, and his quickly got soaked feet and damp skin. But it was "solid" enough.

Gerry lowered them all and they searched. Above was more sky, leading to more clouds, some patchy, some a solid sheet. The sun, or at least sunlight, was bright. Above was only sky. Below, too, was more sky. Maybe a quarter mile or more below was a nearly solid sheet of clouds, but holes in that sheet revealed only more sky and clouds below.

They began to feel breezes coming from the gate. They fanned out and waited. Out of the gate came a smallish but rapidly spinning whirlwind with glowing red "eyes" within. The scouts shot it with minimal effect. It slammed Gerry and send him flying off of the cloud - luckily his Levitation was still on. They duked it out up close with the elemental, mostly ineffectively swatting at it. It let off a thunderclap and stunned Raggi briefly and also Alaric, who as usually rolled 17+ on his HT roll and was out of the fight. Hjalmarr found the lightning of the elemental was especially potent and lit his shield on fire, scorched him through his armor, and so on. He eventually had to ditch his flaming shield, and naturally got his hand crippled and dropped Shieldslayer, as is his wont. The elemental pulled up into the air and hovered above them, whirling in a tight circle and shooting lightning to the group more or less at random. Gerry tried to hit it with an explosive spell, but missed. His second shot, however, hit it square and demolished it.

They found Alaric's bow, Raggi's axe, and other dropped items "buried" in the cloud and possibly sinking slowly. They dropped Hjalmarr's shield down to see if it clunked or poofed through the cloud. More like the latter.

Gerry couldn't maintain Levitate on big, bulky, heavily-armored Hjalmarr. So he shucked his leg armor and lent it to Aldwyn and gave the skeletons all of his spare gear.*

They sat around on the cloud (Ahenobarbus lay on it, "It's like a dream.") They spotted some flying birds far off "ahead" near another cloud. So they slowly levitated Rolan over - a long trip at Move 3 and a few hundred yards. He made it to a nearby "strip" like cloud that was a good 40-50 yards long but only 3-4 yards wide and quite irregular. He lay down and watched the "birds." He was closer and had a better angle. He could see they were huge, they numbered at least 3 at probably at most 5, and there were cone-topped towers visible underneath them. Brightly colored pennants fluttered from them. It was clearly a "fairy tale" like castle, and the big birds enormous. He lay back on the cloud and tried to let his peripheral vision tell him the pattern of cloud movement. They were moving independently of each other, often with their "own" wind. It didn't seem to center on the gate, or the castle.

He signaled Gerry and Gerry slowly brought him back.

Meanwhile, Alaric spotted a few dozen stirges flying down beneath them, around a small cloud that had drifted close but maybe 100 or so yards down. They hid and waited. Rolan made it back and then plotted how to get to the castle. Lots of them wanted to go, but it was eventually pointed out that, if anything was hostile, they were dead. Gerry was the only way there or back, he had to levitate people one at a time. Not only that, but fighting air-native foes when you only can move at 3, when the wizard concentrates on moving you, pretty much mean unlimited free back shots against you while you Wait and hope to hit something as it flies by.

They decided to go back. They tied a rope to a skeleton and sent it through, hoping to pull it back to check on what it found. It went, the rope got sucked through (and Hjalmarr chose not to try and stop it), and that was that. After 10 seconds or so, Gerry checked and his Levitation spell was off.

They waited a while after this - maybe another 20-30 minutes - and then headed through the same way as originally. On the other side was a larger, but somewhat weaker, air elemental. They duked it out with this one. Gerry lowered Hjlamarr to the floor and then cut his spell, then began to cast spells. Eventually it "died" from an arrow shot from Alaric done immediately after it was badly weakened by an Explosive Skull Missile. Another skeleton had its leg blown off.

They gathered the broken gear and the skeleton's stuff and moved out. No Lord of Spite - he'd clearly gotten bored and moved on in the intervening hours.

The PCs headed out toward the "golden swordsmen apartment complex" and reached it, and went past. They decided to break down the brick wall they'd found. They did, using a bedroll to shield and quiet the hammer blows of Hjalmarr, and two more cloaks held out to further cut off escaping sound. Hjalmarr knocked a hole in the wall and began to unbrick it. On the far side was a crusted-over white material like still-damp plaster. It wasn't sticky (Hjalmarr tried to glue a brick to a wall with it.) Gerry took a look and identified it as a strong herbicide. They decided there must be killed plants nearby, perhaps the fungus kingdom was here and the herbicide was meant to block the fungus? ("Oh come on," said Raggi, "Fungi aren't plants.")

They smeared their weapons with the stuff, and Alaric took some.

They wounded down a snaky corridor and found a grate-like portcullis. On this side were two pairs of bladder-and-bellows ejectors, with cords leading to the portcullis. That had 12 small brass bells on it. They realized it was noise to alert . . . someone . . . and substance-ejectors to hit whatever tried to get underneath (bottom pair) or just come through (top pair.)

They spent some time carefully muffling the bells and prying them off the portcullis. Then they cut the cords for the bladders and re-rigged them with their own rope to make manual pull-ropes. They wanted to be able to trigger these on purpose if pursued.

Next, Raggi and Hjalmarr raised the portcullis. They decided spiking it open defeated the purpose of quietly removing the bells, so they lowered it. They entered the room beyond and quickly decided to go through a door to the right instead of a hallway to the left. They pulled the door open (Hjalmarr having tried and failed to push it, despite me saying it opened in toward him.)

The moved beyond this and found their way to a room with a broken purple disc. There, the air was close and Gerry felt sick. They smelled sulpher to the right, and so they went left.

They found an intersection and a pit. They lowered a rope down the pit, and realized it goes right down to a cavern below - there were standing on maybe 20-25' of rock over a big opening. Ahah.

They headed past the pit to a door. Hjlamarr kicked it open and revealed a they were in a T-shaped room . . . with six wolf-men standing at the fringe of their light range!

The lead three fighters moved in, and the wolf-men (werewolves, it turned out) charged them. The werewolves had no interest in letting the PCs form up. They charged right into close combat, bouncing arrows and slows blows off of their fur, and started to claw and bite the PCs. There were about a dozen all together, including a bigger, stronger-looking leader. They howled as they charged.

This quickly became a nasty, close-in brawl. Aldwyn could barely fight with his longsword and was hampered by his shield. Hjalmarr managed a few hits but could barely hurt them, and Ahenobarbus had Magebane bounce off of them. They were getting clawed and bitten, sometimes severely, and Ahenobarbus almost got his throat torn out (Luck turned a 4 into a normal hit, which he failed to defend). The werewolves weren't terribly skilled fighters but they pressed so close it was difficult for anyone to fight effectively. The scouts began taking eye shots when they realized magic arrows had no more effect than magic weaponry - and the werewolves healed damage at great speed. Gerry started putting Great Haste on everyone, starting with himself and the front-line types. The werewolves rotated out the wounded for fresh werewolves and let the others heal.

They dropped a couple with eye shots, and dropped a third that pushed into the hallway pursuing Aldwyn. Hjalmarr was surrounded and clawed but his hand-me-down armor from Vryce was solid. Ahenobarbus put away Magebane and got out Serrita, his beloved silver-edged fine long knife. He went to work.

While even brain injuries from point-blank max-damage arrow shots just wounded the wolfmen and put them down for a moment or two, Serrita was dealing traumatic injury quickly. Two cuts did little, but then a Great Hasted Ahenobarbus started to stab to the vitals after a Feint (he has Extra Attack). He started putting werewolves down. He managed to kill two before they either broke and ran or just changed tactics - but they fled. He turned to the fallen werewolf behind the front line. Alaric and Rolan had been shooting it over and over in the eyes, and Aldwyn had tried to take off its head. Alaric eventually dropped his bow and started sticking silver coins into its eyes (were they remained, actually, and were not recovered), putting in a total of 10 sp before Ahenobarbus killed it.

They'd slain three werewolves. The others fled out a side door. Gerry took a quick look (he was Invisible) and saw a pair of large double doors chained shut at the base of the T-shaped room, and they covered the opened door. Ike and Hjalmarr glanced at the map and realized they could be cut off from behind. Gerry cast Zombie on a werewolf and they fled. (Out of game, I think they thought this was a matter of seconds . . . but Zombie takes a minute, and Gerry was looking around, and Gerry needed to stop and drink paut and people paused to get healed. So they actually were left alone for several minutes. Still, they were concerned.

They basically fled back the way they came, lifting and placing down the portcullis. They wanted to fully re-arm the trap, but they'd dismantled it and re-rigged it for manual use and had cut cords to do so. They could do it, but needed time (10s of minutes, not ones of seconds) to do so. They decided to just head home.

Sort of.

Hjalmarr was navigating, and moved to the lead as the scouts trailed and the light fighters had moved up. He got into the actual lead and wanted to turn left at the next intersection. (At this point, it was very late, so I pointedly asked, "Are you sure you want to go somewhere you haven't been yet today?" I was assured that yes, yes it was fine, and Hjalmarr will lead off.)

So they headed up the corridor, looking - I think - to avoid re-treading ground that was close to The Lord of Spite. Hjlamarr led, with the scouts further back because of concerns about the werewolves trailing them. They moved quickly up the corridor and past the "Lost City" gate. There was a twang and Hjalmarr caught movement out of the corner of his eye (a very lucky Perception roll) and tried to block it (Combat Reflexes helps!). He failed, and it was still too soon to re-use Luck. A massive bolt - flaming, and enchanted, and envenomed - slammed into his side and severely wounded him. Then, arrows and howls came from ahead. Close to a dozen long arrows flew into the group. Raggi took an arrow to the chest through his mail. Others were blocked or just missed. The scouts shot back blindly, hoping for a random hit.

They heard barks and yowls - gnolls! They began to exchange shots with the unseen gnolls ahead. Raggi wanted to attack. Ahenobarbus was undecided. But Gerry said no, and put up Darkness. Ahenobarbus put down alchemist's fire in the darkness. The PCs fled after Hjalmarr downed some potions to stay awake and functional and get back to full move.

They ran around the other way to the stairs - and barely made it in time before arrows and gnolls came at them. Hjalmarr was narrowly missed by some arrows, and they headed up the stairs. Gnolls followed. Alaric took two pot shots on the run but didn't observe his results. Ahenobarbus smashed his other alchemist's fire on the stairs to block them. Gerry sent his zombied werewolf down to fight the gnolls. They fled as combat erupted. They got out on the top of the stairs and I declared that close enough to safety to get home. They wanted to "touch the hand" on the way out but no one remembered to tell me they did it, so no one did.

They made it back to town safely.

* This took a lot of actual real time to sort out weight. I still dislike weight-based Levitate very much. If it was SM-based, even with an encumbrance mod ala Teleport, instead, this would have been a non-issue. I may need to just do this, and endure the grumping.


This session marked the first time in the campaign an actual living being went through a gate. Until this point, it had all been Wizard Eye spells, Created Servants, and so on. It took what I should have expected - poor decisions followed by desperation.

We did have the usual "Okay, if a rope into a gate is pulled through a gate, then if we lasso the Lord of Spite, he'll be pulled in. How hard does it pull? Is it automatic? Is it . . ." etc. etc. I mentioned my whole, "It's Magic, not Science" thing - and if gates - specifically put in the game to allow the PCs to explore all sorts of weird and wonderful places - become multi-hour discussions of how to leverage them into weapons or how to partly stick something in and then come back out and if not can we use gates as precision cutting tools to manufacture things or destroy difficult-to-break items? It's amusingly creative but it means "figure out the specific and replicable mechanics of gates to weaponize them for a plan that requires skills and tools we don't have" trumps "explore this strange and wondrous world." I don't mind cleverness, but I do mind edge-case hunting and random experimentation, especially when it's clearly "do something because we're not sure if we just want to use the gate and go adventure."

The PCs started to try to think of silly names to assign to Durak, the Lord of Spite, so they wouldn't accidentally say his name. All sorts of stuff - Mr. Crunchy Pants, Fluffy Bunny, etc. I finally said, "he is called the Lord of Spite so people can avoid saying his name." They might still try to come up with a ridiculous name for him, but I did want to make it clear that saying "the Lord of Spite" is not the same as saying Durak, which is why people assigned him a title. The Good God isn't the Good God's name, because you don't want to tick off your god by drawing his direct attention whenever you need to talk about him. We'll see if the actual name everyone knows sticks, or people end up with multiple names. "Fluffy bunny." "Is that the Lord of Spite?" "Yes, but we call him Fluffy Bunny now to avoid saying Lord of Spite." "Okay, the Lord of Spite is Fluffy Bunny, got it."

The werewolves were tough. I had no sympathy, though. This is at least four levels deep in Felltower, and they have heard rumors of werecreatures, rumors that you need silver to kill them, etc. They tried every magic weapon they had, probably on the "Silver or magic to hit" AD&D logic. But this isn't AD&D. Just because some things in AD&D conflate the killing power of silver with magic weapons doesn't mean they're always equivalent in DF. I was surprised that neither scout had a single silver arrow, no one had taken a silvered dagger "just in case those rumors are true," etc. And while silver-plated isn't as effective as silver, it's cheap enough. They'll probably be more ready next time, although they're more broke than this time.

This was my first use of werewolves, which are basically the werewolves from DFRPG . . . but with some additions. My long-time inspiration for how fantasy werewolves should be are the savan dalage bred by Magden Norath, from the Glen Cook Dread Empire series. That series was a huge influence on my previous campaign. This campaign draws more on different inspirations, but in any case, I like the dark savagery of Norath's critters. I ditched their severe fear of light and vulnerability to fire, because in DF, that would mean they were harmless most of the time. That's better suited to a game where light and fire aren't things every PCs carries around on their delver's webbing.

Speaking of delvers webbing, at one point in the fight Ahenobarbus was fighting, but his player and Aldwyn's player hit on a plan. Aldwyn would sheath his sword, then ready some alchemist's fire off of Ahenobarbus's delver's webbing, and throw it. I was incredulous. I asked something like, "The alchemist's fire is in back or front? Front? So, from behind you, during a fight, he's going to reach around in front of you and take alchemist's fire off of your webbing while you stab werewolves in close combat?" I didn't even mention that Ahenobarbus was Great Hasted. That wasn't going to make it easier. Plus, the time they allotted was less than it would take if Ahenobarbus had already readied the vial and was holding it out for Aldwyn. I'd give that plan a die roll for mishap in a 1-minute AD&D melee round, but I just declared it a no-go on a one-second time scale unless they wanted to organize it better. It's an example of how desperate for solutions they were!

Although it was a fun and very interesting session, it was largely agreed that the smart move with the group they had was to just move on the orcs and invade the "orc hole." Two scouts, a necromancer, two heavy fighters and two speedy fighters, clerical support - and a low loot threshold. We'll see if they follow up on that, or the cloud castle, or the werewolves, next time. They wanted to promise Raggi they'd kill the gnolls next time to improve the odds that he'd come, but Raggi knows this group - they'd change their mind anyway, he's not taking "We will do this" as an actual promise of doing it.

XP was 2 each - 1 for exploring new areas, and 1 bonus point for the first actual exploration of a gate. MVP was Gerry because his Levitation spell was critical.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

I'm dreaming of a white Felltower

It's a cold, cold, cold yet snowy day today - way colder than it usually is for constant snowfall.

But thanks to the Good God's Saint of Work Scheduling, I'm free this afternoon for a game of DF. The PCs will be trekking up in the snow to Felltower (if it's snowy outside here, it's snowy outside in the game, too.)

The group will also include a tryout - another son of one of our gamers - and the first running-his-own-PC session for a returning player. He once briefly ran Korric and Orrie back in session 3.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Role of Post Labels on Dungeon Fantastic

I try to avoid admin posts on this blog. Blog posts about posting blog posts just doesn't feel like something I should be doing . . . however, I think I need this one.

I use the labels for posts quite extensively.

I posted something yesterday in the comments on this subject, and I didn't want it buried:

"Actually and just one further note, not really aimed at you but rather at everyone. I've very careful about my post labels. This one is GURPS, and assumes you're using GURPS rules. A lot of "Wandering Monster" encounters are not purely up to chance, but depend heavily on things like Survival skill rolls, player-decision-dependent modifiers (either positive or negative), PCs stats, and even very specific issues like transport mode (no one falls into pits when using everyone is using Levitation to move) or approach method (how fast are you traveling relative to max speed.) So it's not just "I rolled a 1 on a d12 this turn, then I rolled some damage." I'd implement this a bit differently if I was doing it in, say, 1st edition AD&D or 5th edition D&D, or Star Frontiers, or whatever else.

So I'm really coming at this from the narrow angle of "why I do this in GURPS."

That clearly refers to yesterday's post specifically.

But it is something that is true in general.

I am very careful, thoughtful, and thorough with my uses of post labels. I've been careful to use the same labels over and over. I've equally been careful about adding new labels after getting a bit label-happy on my S&C blog.

Posts about minis get a minis label - but unless they're painted or about painting, they don't get a painting label.

If I'm talking about Ye Olde Days when I used to play, or my current games, I tag it with war stories.

Posts about GURPS get the GURPS label. Even if they are also about other game systems, I put in GURPS because it also applies to GURPS players. If it also applies to Rolemaster or Swords & Wizardry or some other system, I'll put in a post label out those, too. But if write a post and it's about GURPS only, or I'm only really considering it from the angle of GURPS, it's going to have a GURPS label . . . but not those other labels.

I'll put both DF and DFRPG labels on posts that concern both systems, or my game (which runs primarily on DFRPG, but drawing a lot from DF). But if I only put DFRPG, I'm really thinking, "But not DF" or "But not GURPS in general." Sometimes the reverse - I might post something for general GURPS that wouldn't fit in DFRPG or DF, or maybe in DF but not DFRPG, or whatever.

I don't always call this out in the actual text. But I'm very aware of what I'm doing. I'm quite intentional about the labels I use. I use them to call out what I'm talking about, and what I think the post is about.

Sometimes this shows in my responses to comments - a lot of "yes, but" or "no, because" responses. Or how I respond to "You didn't think of this" when "this" is something from a system, or approach, I wasn't trying to cover in the particular post. Or why my GM-centric advice doesn't advice players, or my player-centric advice doesn't consider things from the GM's view. I put labels to make it clear what I'm doing or what where I see that topic attached to or filed under.

I suppose something I could do would be to call out what game systems I'm talking about, or other post labels, right from the start. But honestly, I'm not going to do that. I like labels for what they do - they let you see what I'm thinking about as I post, and find similar posts where I have the same considerations in mind.

So that's how I use labels on my blog. It's not an afterthought, it's part of how this whole thing is organized.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Wandering Damage on my Wandering Monster Tables

I was reminded about this from an unfortunate incident - someone discovering a bite from some unknown critter. Annoying. Potentially harmful or even lethal, if it's the wrong thing.

Lots of this stuff comes up in real life:

- surprise bug bite!

- where did I get this cut?

- I must have gotten scratched!

- I guess I did touch my eyes after I touched that infected person.

- Oh, that was poison ivy vine? It just looked like a bump on the wood in the dim light.

And so on.

I've usually had entries like these on my Wandering Monster tables. I joke about Wandering Damage but it's a very useful concept. Just divorce it from the joke of "skip the monsters, just apply the damage they'd do." Sometimes, harm just happens.

So I put things on my wandering monster tables like:

3: Infected critter bite! 1 HP damage (ignore armor/clothing DR) plus HT roll vs. disease (-1 to all stats until cured).


5-6: Bug bite for 1d-4 FP.


1: Poisoned! Possibly a bite, a cut from an envenomed thorn, etc. Ignores DR, roll vs. HT - 1d or take 1d toxic damage and -2 DX until all damage is cured.

I've thrown on disease rolls (HT roll), colds (HT roll), unstable ground (DX roll!), traps (Per roll), rainfall (HT-based Survival vs. FP loss, DX-based Cartography to shield the map, etc.), weird smokes or gases (almost anything to roll against, sometimes nothing to roll against), etc. to represent a hostile environment.

Why I like this:

It's unavoidable.

Lots of PCs get pretty blasé about combat. It's something their characters do well by design, often by basic game design (for example, a fighter in D&D-based games or knights in DF.) Unless a monster is tough enough to be a legitimate threat, a combat encounter probably just costs time and may not even cost significant (or any) resources.

Plus, combat is often avoidable. Run from the slow monsters. Hide from the one with poor senses. Talk to the one who doesn't want to die just because it ran into you on the way to the toilet.

But wandering damage of this kind isn't. It just happens unless you took precautions, such as anti-bug lotions, sealed armor, certain spells (-1 to all spells up per incidence of them), etc.

It's realistic.

All the armor in the world won't help you against a curious spider or annoyed ant if it's unsealed. Even if it is, unless you're breathing air through a filter you can still suck in something harmful. "I have plate armor!" shouldn't mean "So I'm immune to anything that causes less damage than I have DR." Sometimes the guy with scratchin' holes in his ratty shirt or who won't wear heavy armor is on to something - in certain places the real threats are the brown recluse who drops down on your neck during break, not the sword blow you fear you won't parry.

And this kind of stuff just happens in normal environments. In hostile ones, during travel, they're bound to happen more. They make the game feel more realistic, too - how come you fight giant ants but no one ever just gets bit by one?

It's funny.

Really, not much to say beyond that. "Your knight was bit by mosquitoes!" is pretty funny. Even dragon-slaying heroes step on the wrong spot and twist an ankle or get bit by a bug.

It's fast.

Resolution is quick. Roll, roll, the PC rolls, you describe, stuff happens, you keep moving. It doesn't take a lot of time to resolve. So you get a good bang-for-your-buck time wise.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Some Practical Magery 0 spell issues

The other day I put up a post asking for suggestions for good Magery 0-requirement spells for a DFRPG game. I got a few of them.

A number of them, though, have been offensive - Flash, Glue, Stench . . . generally, I went for utility spells, ones that are useful to put up but either have a long duration (Continual Light) or a long effect (Ignite Fire) or have a reasonable cost-to-duration (Mage Stealth).

The offensive ones? Great spells, if you manage to get them off.

Here are some practical issues I see:


For non-Wizard, non-Bard templates, skill is going to be between 8 and 11 for a 1-point investment in a spell. Most of them will be the lower - it's the Thief that allows for a whopping 11 for 1 point.

A character with IQ 11 and Magery 0 needs to put 20 points in a spell to get to a reliable and cost-discounted 15. If you're putting 20 points into a single spell, you should probably be thinking you are overemphasizing your minor at the expense of your major. Should a Knight dump 24 points in getting a 15 in a spell or raise ST by 2, DX by 1, skill by up to 5 (6 if you dump the spell entirely)? Odds are, you aren't adding more than you are taking away. Points are zero-sum. So you either accept a low skill and success rate, or dump in points to succeed more often at the expense of other things you can do well. That could be two to four well-shot arrows, a Feint and a sword swing, four blows from fists and feet, a backstab, etc.

For a different caster type, these are smaller issues - you're looking at a 12+, but then again, you need a solid reason for an offensive spell based on IQ+Magery 0 when you have IQ+Power Investiture 3+ on tap, instead.


With a low skill, odds are you are going to fail fairly often.

Skill 8 = 25.9% of success.
9 = 37.5%
10 = 50%
11 = 62.5%

Those aren't great success rates in a time-critical application.


Failure will cost 1 energy.

Success will cost the full amount.

Odds are you'll pay more than the full amount to cast the spell.

Casting Time

For most templates, casting time will be double. Skill 9 and under doubles casting time (per Spells, p. 10).

For a lot of spells, this "merely" makes a one second spell two seconds. But now this spell must be worth taking two turns away from other actions the PC could be doing.

Again, you can remove this issue with points . . . either with improved Magery, or IQ, or just putting 2 or 4 points in each spell. But the same concern applies that I mentioned above - what are you not doing with those points that improve your profession? And if you're doing to pull lenses from DF and go for the Wizard lens, you should be eyeing it as a whole, not in terms of a few Magery 0 spells that could help.

So from a practical standpoint, low-point investment spells for Magery 0 characters are going to fail often and cost a lot. I think utility is better for them. From an efficiency standpoint, if you're going to invest points to get past these practical issues, you're starting to get away from what you do better than anyone else in order to half-ass something less poorly. I think that's probably a mistake.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Origins of Dinomen

Over on Dungeons on Automatic, the PCs in their campaign fought 16 dinomen.

Dinomen actually originate in my previous GURPS campaign. That game was set on the Known Worlds of D&D, used 3rd edition (revised) GURPS with the two Compendiums and GURPS Martial Arts 2e, and had 150+40+5 point characters. The power level was good, but it's worth noting that most DF character start with ST and skill levels that people ended the game with in my previous game. That game did feature the world's first Heroic Archer (once we'd made a partial changeover to 4e), just as a historical note.

Back in that game, I'd adapted Garks from Rolemaster (specifically, from Cloudlords of Tanara). I used them to replace most generic little fodder - kobolds, xvarts, goblins (since we used GURPS-style PC goblins), mites, etc. I took the idea of small, annoying, animal-like fodder creatures that attack en masse and ran with it. I kept the name "garks" for that game, but didn't really do much stat-wise to convert them. I just liked the idea of them.

When it came time to write Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1, I knew I wanted to use these guys. I decided they were easier to deal with at SM 0 as a GM than at SM-1, so I moved their size up just a touch so they'd fall into SM 0. I also decided they'd be more fun and more unique as little dinosaur-headed humanoids, and so I made that change. All that really remained of their original inspiration would have been a directly-stolen name, so I changed that as well.

Thus, dinomen.

Their stats are identical to the stats I used in my 3e game. Their leader and champion stats, same thing.

In my previous game, I put a half-dozen 150+40+5 point guys optimized for campaign play, not just straight dungeon-bashing (of which they did little), in tight tunnels against more than 30 of them coming from multiple angles. The PCs beat them, but it was brutal, and included one PC panicking from a spell-induced fear effect and falling down a pit and others getting slashed and bashed by hatches and clubs. It was a tough fight, and "the gark fight" was talked about for a while in that game.

One of the PCs got the leader's magic axe, which was a Quick-Draw hatchet he'd use until the close of the campaign as a fight-starter (and thus, occasional fight finisher as it killed a very surprised foe outright.)

In any case, since I thought 5:1 odds against non-optimized PCs who'd probably have been in the 185-200 point range in 4e (maybe a bit less) was good enough to make them fun, I should emphasize that in the description. Hence the dozens, scores, dozens of scores comment. Against DF opponents, dinomen really need to be deployed in large hordes to even be a little scary.

You can see that too in the Dungeons on Automatic fight description - 16 dinomen resulted in a total massacre. Had they not been surprised . . . it probably would have still been a total massacre. Dinoment are really the picture-perfect DF fodder. Low stats, low damage, low defenses . . . but there are a lot of them, and it only takes a 3 here and a 4 there to inflict sudden, surprising, upsetting damage on the PCs. But you need to deploy a lot of them for this to happen. And if they can't ever come to grips with the PCs, well, they won't even rank that.

My tip on using them would be:

- open spaces, so the PCs can't bottleneck them.
- very large numbers, so the PCs have to worry about FP, HP, and Luck being ablated away as sheer probability results in hits.
- provide them non-dinomen support. An evil wizard*, some trolls who pal around with them, actual dinosaurs, an unholy cleric or two, swarms of giant rats that accompany them looking to feast on the slain, opportunistic ogres. That can force the PCs to put their better fighters against better threats, and risk flank shots or overrun by dinomen.
- overrun. Dinomen who march up to the PCs and slug it out toe-to-toe are dead. So are most of ones who rush into close combat, try to Evade past big front rankers to attack the weaker folks behind them, rush around flanks, push right up into the PCs and make it impossible to drop Area spells on them without collateral damage (simply because they're in the same hexes as your friends), etc . . . but those tactics make these guys a bit scarier.

* Is there any other kind?**

** No.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Loot 2017

Gaming-wise, I got some nice stuff for Christmas this year, including this from my fellow gamer and brother-in-law:

Jeff Rients's Broodmother Skyfortress for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Jeff's stuff is way more gonzo than I ever play, but it's always interesting to read. So I'm really looking forward to what I can plunder from this. The PCs haven't had a sniff of the cloud fortress in my current game, but perhaps I'll be able to loot this for ideas to put in it before they get there.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Felltower: Rules, Rulings, and Gear answers for a new PC

We should have "new" player at our next DF game session. New to the DF Felltower campaign, but not new either to our gaming group or GURPS. Just new to DF and how we run 4th edition GURPS.


Can I get the Staff spell enchanted into my bow?

Good question. Technically, there is no Staff spell. There are only Wizard's staves, wands, and rods (all listed in the DFRPG and Magic Items). You don't go out and get X made into a Wizard's X* but either find or buy a pre-enchanted item.

But the idea that elves - all of whom can cast spells - run around with longbows that function as staves - makes perfect sense. And in DF you can get a bow you can play as a harp. So, yes, you can do this. They are available in all normal, all-wood bow forms - short, regular, long, composite.

I'll assume that despite the length of most bows, it'll just knock off -1 from reach unless you ready the bow as a staff - you normally grab a bow mid-point, or 2/3 of the way down (for one like a Japanese daikyu (大弓)). You can keep the bow ready as a bow and use it to cast a spell and get a -1 yard break or ready it specifically for casting and get a -2. That seems fair.

I still won't allow this as a power item, though, as I like my 'no weapons, no armor' rule. A Wizard's Staff is an exception, but this falls on the wrong side of the line for me.

Winter gear?

Baby, it's cold outside. People can get winter clothes in a few forms:

Winter Clothes. Suitable for cold weather; worn on top of ordinary clothes or under armor it will provide +1 DR but gives -1 to DX. You can't put your arms down. $180, 4 lbs.

Fur Coat. An animal skin coat, provides DR 2 to the whole body (when wrapped in it) or neck, torso, and legs (1-3 on 1d) from behind. $100, 15 lbs.

A winter bedroll would help, too, if you expect to stay outside or sleep in a glacier like in G2.

Dryst used to just magic this up, but there are few creation mages around and none with the party at this time.

Rules & Rulings

Can I forage for rations on the way to Felltower?

A good thought, and a good question. Simple answer, though:


The rules imply you can, but it's not practical, logical, or in-game sensible.

Felltower is a 6-or-so hour long hike from town, given a steady but reasonable pace up the well-worn path to the top. Most of the time is height, not actual distance, and taking breaks to you can arrive with the need for only a short break (lunch, we assume) before delving. It doesn't assume extra time spent hunting, fishing, picking berries, finding edible roots, etc. and/or cooking and preparing.

In game, the path is well-worn, barren, surrounded by scrub bushes and rocks and not much else. It's also right outside of the slums on the north side of the river, which adjoin a growing town. Little grows there, and what does grow would have been scrounged by the poverty-stricken folks in the slums. Even the danger of Felltower itself wouldn't discourage them from ranging partway up the mountain to snag edibles.

A scout ranging off the trail could find game - it's been done by NPCs. But add in that it's winter, people will be picking over the ground a lot, and the difficult terrain and it'll be time consuming.

A PC insisting on scrounging will mean a much-delayed trip into Felltower (perhaps getting inside at night - subjective dawn for the orcs). If successful, this will save approximately $2 - $4 in ration needs. If it fails, someone else will need to provide food or suffer a hungry PC.

So as a practical matter, if you say, "I'm going to spend some time and bank on a success to say some ration costs!" another player is going to get (probably rightly) annoyed and just say, "My guy gives your guy some rations."

So I said no, and suggested we save that for non-hasty overland travel (the jungle trip in the Lost City, more leisurely travel in the Cold Fens).

Can I buy (skill not on my template)?

Yes, with Quirk points. That's how you buy spells when you're an Elf with a non-caster template, too.

This does mean you have all of 5 points to spend on spells, off-template skills, trading character points for starting cash, etc. - you can't do everything. I am strict on this because the "do everything" approach means you don't show up good at something from the start.

Can I buy (advantage not on my template)?


And it's pretty incredible to me that this question has almost always been for Lifting ST to raise encumbrance break points. Part of why I've said no is so that every single damn PC doesn't have a split ST stat. Even the wizards (perhaps especially the wizards) want this so they can armor up but not slow down.

Can I buy (skill or advantage on my template, racial or otherwise) in play?

Yes. If it's on your template, racial or profession, you can buy it later. There is a monetary cost, and you might be restricted by needing a teacher or magic or a training sequence, but yes, you can. Don't worry about realism, because a) it's Dungeon Fantasy, and b) there is magic in this world. Maybe you just down some blessed owlbear eyes and get Night Vision, or practice your weapon under the right person and get Weapon Master, or play with your drum circle on the night of the full moon and gain shapeshifting for your druid. Magic isn't science, and if you limit yourself with science you're limiting the fun of this campaign.

And yes, I've answered those before, many times. Even just recently. I should get it printed on the cover of the books.

* Great band name. Or hero's name.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Kromm on making your own monsters

Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch has been putting up a series of posts with advice for players and GMs alike for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game on the SJG Daily Illuminator.

He put up a nice article with advice on creating monsters:

Dungeon Fantasy Tips: My Little Monster

Sean knows a lot about monsters. He co-wrote Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1 with me, wrote Dungeon Fantasy Monster 2: Icky Goo by himself, created all of those "standard" DF creatures in Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, and provided invaluable help on Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic as well.

Plus, he did a whole article of monster mods - taking the prefix/suffix idea from DFM1 and running with it.

Useful advice if you're making monsters for DF. I do a lot of it, obviously, and Sean provides a lot of good advice in an eloquent and readable way.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Inspired by the Seven Brides of Vecna

This campaign background is every part of awesome:

The Seven Brides of Vecna

You could do it with having them contain the bits of the Rod of Seven Parts, actually. Just make them, effectively, part of a magic item themselves. That is, all on one location they are a power source or magic source beyond their individual utility.

Seems pretty horrible to describe mummified wives of an arch-lich in terms of utility, but in a way, I think that makes Vecna all the more evil. "Hey, I'll get married to seven women, turn them into undead and make them part of an unliving construct that enhances my personal power." If you didn't think he needed to be thwarted before, well, how about now? Plus, it opens up the possibilities beyond "destroy them" or "gather them" to "can you free them?" and "can you undermine Vecna's power by changing his wives?" It also allows for a mix of motives - perhaps some loved him, some wanted to use him and failed, some feared him, others were marriages of convenience for mutual gain. So you won't be able to deal with each the same way.

Even if they aren't part of some magical construct or power circle for Vecna, they can be sources of knowledge about him. Perhaps they know his true name, or each holds a piece of it as part of the marriage ceremony that bound them together. Perhaps being married seven times to brides each possessing part of control of Vecna's magic made for some multiple of his power. Gather them all, learn from them (or decipher the true name from examining their inanimate remains), and you'll either gain power yourself or undermine that of the great arch-lich. It would be a major campaign if your goal was to kick out the power posts of a major NPC in the canon of D&D and destroy him.

Inspirational stuff.

(Obligatory Monty Python reference here)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

DFRPG: Good Magery 0 spell choices?

I've been discussing some good Magery 0 spell choices with one of my players, who is working on a elven character for our DFRPG/DF game.

It's surprising how many spells there are that need little more than Magery 0.

Here are a few standouts to me:

Dark Vision - an easy path exists through Night Vision and then only Keen Eyes, and a longer path through 5 L&D spells. But it's Magery 0.

The downsides to this is cost - it's an expensive spell and someone with Magery 0 probably lacks the 15 to discount the energy demands. But it dramatically increases the usefulness of the character with it.

Continual Light is also useful, because it can be cast ahead of time for light sources. Handy when the other casters are busy or down, or too lazy to make you a glowing rock.

Hush is a great spell for scouting, and also seems doable without Magery. Mage Stealth is even better.

Ignite Fire is good from a survival perspective. Purify Water is as well - and it requires Seek Water.

Any other ones that seem like good choices? Remember Magery 0. Levitation would be useful, so would Missile Shield or Lend Energy, but they require higher Magery.

We're using Spells and GURPS Magic subject to the DF prereq rules here, if that helps.

As I mentioned, though, skill level will hamper you here. Magery 0 and, say, an IQ 10-12 caster means skill 8-10 for 1 point. Nothing that requires resistance, casting at a penalty, or works best on multiple subjects is going to work here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Marching Order, Battle Order, and Scouting

The Ravenous RPG blog put up a collection of posts, and linked to this post about marching order.

Footprints of Fools and Wanderers: The vagaries of Marching Order

Did I say post? I meant article containing possibly exhaustive discussion of marching order and marching order concepts for D&D games.

It did occasion some thoughts about my own campaign, and how we depict marching order and who goes where.

Show Me

We represent marching order with minis - it's their primary use, although we do use mapped tactical combat quite often. Marching order is quite literal, and visual - where the minis are on the sample hex sheet is where they are in the game.

Lanes & Marching Order, not Battle Order

What's interesting is the emphasis in our marching order on "lanes." Given a "standard" 3-yard across corridor in a dungeon, the players rarely put three across. Instead, they'll bunch up side by side with a clear lane down one side and place high-mobility characters in those lanes to be able to move forward. Or put ranged attackers there so they can shoot down the lane. In other words, the assumption is marching order is not combat order - it's a mobility-and-protection based employment of space from which bold paper men spring into action when the bad guy minis hit the table. Goal #1 is to protect the weaker characters, goal #2 is to provide lanes for moving into action, and goal #3 is anything like spotting, scouting, and so on.

That could be making lemonade out of lemons, however - if experience tells you berserkers, guys who can't bear to waste a single second of Great Haste, wizards unwilling to take a -1 for range that they don't have to, and so on are going to zip out of "formation," you don't waste time making a formation. You don't create a battle order, you create a marching order and assume it'll explode like a rack of pool balls on a break when combat begins, each character moving to the spot they need to be at the moment. Or want to be in, either way.

No Scouts, So Who Leads?

Another lemons/lemonade issue is who leads.

Same with goal #3 - the party often lacks useful scouts. Lacking literal Scouts - bow-armed Scout-template PCs - and scout-capable templates like Thief or a Per-enhanced fighter-type - the group assumes their Per won't cut it. With that in mind, the "scout" tends to be more of a front-line fighter than an actual scout.

Add in a fear of a low-armor character getting caught out on his or her own, and you get "send the guy with the most DR and HP to scout." It's not a very effective way to avoid traps or trouble, it's more of acceptance that trouble will happen and not dying from it is the way to cope. If your best "scout" is the druid or a wizard who bought up his IQ and got Per in the bargain, or a non-human fighter with Infravision or Dark Vision, then this has merit.

Sometimes this gets extended even with actual scouts - again, fear of a low-armor character getting caught on his or her own. Ironically, this can mean Move 9-10 scouts with Per 15 and Stealth-17 or Move 7 thieves with Per 14 and Stealth-19+ are often crammed in the middle with the wizards to protect them from harm, as a Per-10 DR 9 Knight leads off the group because he's got the most DR and the best Block score. It does have the effect of making the surprise rules (Exploits, p. 26-27) fairly one-sided - the NPCs might surprise the PCs, but PCs leading off with low-Per no-Stealth PCs in close proximity to the others with light extending ahead don't surprise people often. Not even deaf swordsmen!

The Middle

Clerics, Druids, Wizards, Bards if we ever had any, Artificers, Thieves, and Scouts end up here most often. The latter two function better as actual scouts, but often get put in the middle. The middle is the place of default - the party doesn't build out from the middle, but rather walls in towards the middle. Characters who can't usefully protect others go here.

Who trails?

Generally, the rear rank goes to one of three types:

- cheap hirelings, who are less valuable in the front because they aren't the best fighters;

- high mobility guys who can run to the front if needed or just fight from the back if attacked from there;

- a moderate-mobility, high DR guy who can absorb a back shot.

Per isn't as big of an issue. It's hard to walk backwards in the dungeon all day, so no one tries to force the issue. They simply have PCs check their back as they move, at corners, etc. and routinely turn around when they pause to map or force a door or chit-chat.

The rear is both critical and less important than point. You need a strong rear guard, but most of your combat ends up coming from the front as you're heading into, not fleeing, danger. A hireling who would be an obstacle at best, bad footing after death at worst, in the front rank is a valuable speedbump for rear attacks. A high-mobility PC in the back is both a rear guard and capable of zooming up a lane to get to the front to fight.

And as always, a high-DR high-HP character is useful because they're hard to kill.

And that's how marching order works in my game.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Free Stuff from Frog God Games

Another quick note about free stuff:

Frog God Games is doing a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. Just check the Free Downloads tab on their page, find the Holiday PDFs, add them to your cart, and check out. They are up to day 6, and it seems like days 1-3 are gone now. So hurry up if you want free stuff.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hopes/Worries of Removing Spell Learning Limits in Felltower

Here is what I'm hoping will and won't happen with the removal of existing spell learning limits in my DF game.

I hope that . . .

- Wizards are able to diversify more effectively, so each wizard isn't just a single-college (or worse, single attack form) specialist.

- Wizards are able to address more utility situations without undermining their main specialty (in other words, you won't need to focus on "utility" in order to have basic Meta-spells, Protection and Warning, and Knowledge spells).

- Wizards remain focused on being a better wizard, not just a more diverse wizard* (in other words, the goal doesn't become "buy every spell that could be useful" but remains "buy what you need to be effective.")

In short, I hope that Wizards leverage this to diversify without diffusing their power, and focus on overall improvement over getting a wide variety of spells "just in case."

I worry that . . .

- play will grind to a halt as Wizards want to double-check all of their spells to make sure one of them isn't the solution to this problem. Or some combination of spells across all casters ("If you cast A, and I cast B, and then before A runs out you cast C, and the cleric casts D, and then the subject goes and does X, and Y, and Z before spell A needs to be maintained . . . ") is busted out in the face of all obstacles.

- that easy access to spells means players will want to try spell-based solutions to, well, everything, because it's only a session or two or three to get the spells needed (". . . and if that doesn't work, I can learn spells E, F, G, H, and I during downtime and try spell I as well!")

- Wizards will feel pressured into maximizing their spell diversity instead of maximizing their effectiveness, or pressured into learning spells in order to test a spell-based puzzle solution theory.

- cutting the amount of time needed to learn high-prereq spells will mean those spells will be short-term acquisitions instead of long-term goals.

- Wizards become near-clones of each other in terms of their spell lists.**

- Wizards will be less prone to improve a handful of spells to very useful levels because those points are being used to learn new spells. Ditto on improving IQ and Magery, both of which should really go up ASAP and As High As Possible on DF Wizards in my games.

In short, I hope this makes wizards less laser-focused on a sub-niche ("I do fireballs. If it's immune to fire, the rest of you guys need to handle it, I'm useless.") but neither undercuts overall wizard effectiveness (IQ 15, Magery 6, ER 10 guys with 100 points in ~80 spells instead of IQ 16, Magery 6, ER 20 guys with 50 points in ~40 spells) doesn't lead to Win Button Hunting ("If I just learn enough spells, I'll find the one I need to solve problems in a single roll) either in session or between them.

We'll see if that happens. I figure making it clear what I hope for and worry about might help players of Wizards make more informed decisions.

* One of my players, before this rule change# used to spend 5 points earned in a good session as follows: one new spell [1], one point of Energy Reserve [1], and either save the last; buy a perk; or improve an existing spell that was on the margin for a cost discount. Usually the first. This was a good example of expanding spell ability but also maximizing caster ability - most casters give out in a fight or lack utility in a fight because of lack of energy, not lack of spell selection.

# Which he specifically asked for, FWIW.

** Which happened in all of my previous games, slight diversity in types of Missile or Area spells not withstanding.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Felltower rules changes - no limits on spell purchases

A while back, I'd given my players some questionnaires about our campaign to get feedback, requests, complaints, and compliments. That way I could know what's working, what's not working, what people like and dislike, etc.

One of the complaints was the limit of learning one spell per downtime for wizards. I didn't put a limit on clerics, mostly because they have such a limited list and don't actually learn their spells. The Good God grants them, so that doesn't need to take a week (heck, with a good prayer, it's possible to take place instantly . . . just unlikely.) Plus they and druids never built towards spells - they'd get the 1-2 they needed but generally need ER and FP and PI more than they need to fill out a giant spell list.

I did put it on wizards because of my experience with my previous campaign, which featured most of the same players.

In that game, every wizard pretty much was a slightly-different version of the other wizards.

Oh sure, Ol' Cort had Lightning and Body of Air, and Crestlin had Stone Missile and Hawk Flight. But the mainstays? Everyone had Teleport, Great Haste, all of the healing spells, See Secrets and other utility spells, and so on. Even one of the non-wizards used a Great Wish to get Magery so he could use Hawk Flight and other high-end movement spells.

In my games before that, it was the same. Wizards were people with Teleport, Great Haste, Levitate, Major Healing, a missile spell of choice, Dispel Magic, and a few others no one left home without. Didn't have them? Then you weren't a PC, or you had Magery 1 from being an Elf or something and couldn't.

And it goes without saying, a wizard without Missile Shield or Levitation almost isn't a wizard at all.

Fast-forward to DF, and I forsaw players making the same basic mage and then spending 4-5 of their 4-5 points a session on getting new spells. Nevermind a slow crawl towards spells they felt most aided their niche or their existing choices, it would just be "In two sessions, I could have (pick spell name) and we could come back and solve this problem with it."

Since I already have a lot of frustration with people using GURPS Magic as a shopping list for solutions to game problems -
"Let me find 1-point win button spell for this problem" - I figured, well, limit them to one spell and you're mostly fixated on what you can do with what you've got.

Take the brakes off, and wizards would be more fixated on spending points to get a variety of spells that could cover anything and everything.

Plus, it means the other players have a legitimate beef with you if you don't spend all of your points on getting spells that could be useful. Hey, you can get 4-5 spells a session, so "I need 8 spells to get this spell you'd like me to have" is merely you putting up your points for two sessions.

However, despite my concerns, my players are pretty much convinced these things won't happen. I'm not sure, but it's our game, not my game, so we took off the brakes.

On the plus side, this might mean the end of "I'm a fire mage" and "I'm a mind control mage" and "I'm a movement mage." It's much easier to end up an Elemental-spell mage or a Save-Or-Die mage or broadly-skilled utility mage with more spells available between each session.

It does mean I'll need to pay very close attention to spell choices. At 1/session, I don't - I know far before you get Mass Zombie that I need to tweak its prereqs, or before you get Earthquake that I might say it's unsuited to game. I only need to answer one question about spells each session. Now I'll need to answer many, as people ask "Can I get (spell name)?" and I need to check it and its prereqs for issues, and then answer the same question about another as my answer changes the desire to have it ("Nevermind, I'll get (spell name) instead, okay?")

There was a suggestion of a mid-point, but I found that even more annoying - why 2, or 3, or 4? Why half of your earned points or anything like that? That takes even more thinking than "all or nothing." The only addition I put was - if you buy multiple spells, you can't be doing extra stuff in town. No finding hirelings, doing Research, Carousing, etc. You're busy cramming spells, finding folks with those spells, reading weird books at the Wizard's Guild, etc.

So we'll see where this goes. I have very strong opinions about this, but again, our game. The players really liked this change, and we'll see how it goes. Hopefully it's more for the good, and the style of DF lends itself to a different outcome than I had in my 1e and 3e games. If not, well, DF is the game to find out in. It's high powered and pretty fault-tolerant, in my experience.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

My Advice Given to a New GM

One of my day jobs is being a personal trainer. It turns out that one of my current clients is a gamer.* He mentioned he'd be running a D&D game the afternoon after a session.

We chatted about it a bit, and I ended up giving him some advice.

1) Don't Let On When You're Making Stuff Up As You Go

Often I've played with GMs who'll pull back the curtain after the game and tell you "This was in the adventure, this was not. I made this up on the spot, I made this up later." I've had GMs do this mid-game.

I'm guilty of it occasionally myself.

But generally, avoid it.

It's so much easier as the PCs to keep your suspension of disbelief if this doesn't happen. It's easier to maintain confidence in and awe over the GM's ability when it doesn't happen.

It's fine to toss them a cookie now and then, and revel in how well you set things up. But default to keeping it secret. Find another GM, another player who isn't in your game and won't be in your game, and tell those people. Respect your players enough to let them experience mystery in what was planned, what was unplanned, and what they created.

2) The PCs Start Knowing Each Other

He was going to run a first session. I suggested something I learned over the years works well - have the PCs all know each other from the start. None of this "meet in a bar" scene. None of this "you see each other on the street" scene. That always, quite logically, ends up in intra-party conflict and fighting and arguments backed by "but I was just roleplaying my guy! He's a Bad Tempered Loner who is very sensitive about people looking at him or talking to him in bars or on the street!"

The heck with that.

Instead, all of the PCs know each other. Or at least know multiple other PCs in the group. Have two elves? Fine, they're cousins. Brothers. Went to bow school together. Whatever. Even if one is a NE wizard and the other is a CG ranger, they've got a long-term background bond. Stuff like that works - you just announce, "You all know each other, and you're all friends. Figure out how now or in play."

This will save at least half of the first session, too. I've gone as far as "You all know each other, and you've all agreed to go on this quest that one of the PCs was asked to do." That way they don't even need to waste time trying a) figure out what the adventure is and b) decide if they want to go on it. They don't want to do a), and they absolutely want to do b). So just start there.

I also told him to game with friends, and our rules on inviting new people.

And I also told him to keep his chest up on front squats. I'm not just a fellow GM, but I'm also his trainer, after all.

* One of my former clients was a gamer, too, which is partly why he became one of my clients. That's another story.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Free Gaming Material on Christmas

A couple of bloggers, that I know of, are giving away gaming material for the holidays.

First up is Erik Tenkar at Tenkar's Tavern, doing a "12 Days of Christmas" giveaway.

Second, Douglas Cole at Gaming Ballistic is giving away PDF and print copies of The Lost Halls of Tyr. I was a Kickstarter backer, and I already have the PDF. It's beautiful. It's well written. And there is a chance that you'll get it for free.

Hope that helps some of you guys get free stuff this holiday.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Where do the PCs get unholy water?

Yesterday Kalazz noted that the PCs used up all of the unholy water needed to get into the tomb of Sakatha in the Cold Fens.

He's absolutely right - the last delve was a real last delve.

But it's not like there is no unholy water in the entire world.

But equally, you can't go to the local Demonic Supply Store and buy some. And what you buy from some back-alley vendor is likely to be fake.

So where do they get it?

Pretty simple - they'll find it in play.

I suppose they could make it, too, if any of them were an Evil Cleric and worshipped Sakatha. But evil worshippers of a demonic religion don't generally make good companions for people wanting to kill and loot a tomb associated with it.

But instead it's a question of finding it.

Research skills will tell them about associated evil religions, in case "close enough" is good enough for getting past such doors. Maybe it doesn't need to be consecrated to Sakatha, maybe it only needs to be evil and demonic.

Current Events skill would help find news of wild cults that would need to be hunted down and looted for their unholy water.

Simple, old-fashioned delving might turn up more evil temples and shrines that could be looted for such liquid.

Returning to temples found and looted might turn something up - but this is perishable stuff, and usually the first thing spilled out when PCs tear through an evil cult.

Purchasing won't happen, but if a supply is found, and identified, and then preserved, the PCs can make a quick delve or two into Sakatha's lair. The current delvers are better equipped and know what they'd be getting into.

We will see how they manage!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Other People's Posts 12/13

Not to turn my blog into a list of other people's blog posts, but again today I'd like to highlight some blog posts I read that I really got a lot out of:

The Twilight:2000-themed minis blog It's 500 Miles to the German Border has a great post on weathering vehicle minis. Wear Value 5 comes from the game scale wear value of vehicles in T2K. Vehicles are valuable but hard to maintain, and since many if not most military units have broken up into small bands vehicles are worn-out, parts-starved, gear-covered combination wagon/fighting vehicles. This is just a nice bit of advice for taking any modern vehicle and making it loot used.

Joseph Mason has more issues with GURPS Dungeon Fantasy than I ever did, but has one of the same issues I've had - he can't put it down and walk away. I've said this before and I'll say it again - we played a playtest of Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 1 just because we'd been board gaming but hadn't roleplaying gamed in a while, and then turned that into a DF game. That DF game was meant to be "mess around until we get bored" . . . and that hasn't happened yet six years on. In fact, that biggest and most consistent complaint about my DF game isn't my GMing, the wildly unbalanced encounters I use, issues with XP systems or treasure, TPKs, etc. but that we don't play often enough.

Greyhawkery has a very evocative post listing the swamps of Greyhawk. The post "Poll Result: Most Dangerous Swamp really highlights what makes each one interesting and dangerous. I love swamps, marshes, and river deltas as adventuring places, and all of these put me in mind to encourage my players to explore the Cold Fens a bit more . . .

This is pretty much what happens in my game when people decide the best rear guards are the Per 10 hirelings they hired for 1/3 of a pittance each (success only):

And finally, the roper in this picture always makes me think it's a guy in a costume. It just looks like a guy in a costume to me, maybe for Halloween or maybe in a surprisingly well-made low-budget movie.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Magic item special ingredients

Blog of Holding has recipes for every magic item in the dungeon master’s guide. Apparently Xanathar's Guide to Everything (on my wish list, but I haven't gotten it yet) has/suggests a rule that you need something special for each magic item.

This is not a new idea, but that idea combined with this list is pretty excellent. This list is really evocative, too. Needing "gloves stolen from a thief" is one of my favorites - it reminds me of how magic is crafted in the James Enge "Ambrose" books. This could make a good quest list - "A local wizard is paying top coin for otyugh eyes" is way more interesting than merely cutting horns off of random monsters and seeing if you can't sell them.

This idea is easily stolen for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game.

If players want to buy any of the magical items described inMagic Items, decide if you want it in the game or not. If yes, let them . . . but require them to supply the unique or special component necessary to make it. "Of course I can make you a Puissance +3 sword, if you can get me the edge of a dragon's claw or a nice chunk of mithral." Or perhaps "Sure, rechargeable greater wand of explosive fireballs? The heart of a flame lord."

You can either make a specific list of items ahead of time, or simply ad hoc make them as needed.

The lesser the item, the lesser the component. Or the more varieties allowed. The greater the item, the more specific - and it need not be (I'd say should not be) merely the physical component.

The mention above of the gloves was deliberate - I want to highlight that it's not always the component, but how you got it. Magic is more magical when it's not just science with "otyugh eyes" instead of "DNA from a creature with wide-spectrum low-light vision" or "elf blood" instead of "riboflavin*" - so make it so. You can't just hack a thief to death and take his gloves and use them for Gloves of Thievery (or gloves that are a Casting Item for Lockmaster and give Grace +2). They need to be stolen. You might need blood from an elf slain on the 13th day of the 13th month for your arrow of elfslaying, and figure out what day in your 12th month calendar counts as 13th of 13th in the orcish calendar to know when to draw such blood. It's not science, it's magic, and making part of the elements of some items specific in a non-scientific way is critical to making this just some generic commodity. It should make it part of the challenge. "No, I need to slay an elf tomorrow, not today - let him go, but cast Trace on his and keep it going" or "no, steal his gloves, don't borrow them or kill him and loot them."

It's a nice list that Paul created, and it's both fun to read and inspirational for DF/DFRPG.

* Critically important for time travel.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gygax dungeon level on Zenopus Archives

If you're interested in old-style dungeon levels, this is a really neat post over at Zenopus Archives:

Gygax's Dungeon Level from Hall of Many Panes

It's got a great breakdown of the level visually, themes common in Gary Gygax dungeon levels, and elements you can see I learned from for my Megadungeon mapping lessons and my Felltower levels.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Felltower Page Maintenance

I did some quick updates to the Felltower pages today:

- the Monsters Encountered page has been updated to include the golden swordsmen and goldcat and ooze.

- the Race and Template page has been updated to discuss DFD: Swashbucklers and DFRPG.

- minor updates to the layout of the DF Campaign page.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Easiest templates for DFRPG for a returning player - my take

Yesterday I asked about what the easiest templates would be for a GURPS 3e player returning to 4e-based play.

As promised, here are my comments.

My recommendation

What I said to the player was this:

"In terms of rules-know-how required to do really well, from easiest to most complex, the templates seem to go:

1) Thief, Artificer
2) fighter-types of all kinds
3) spellcasters of all kinds

2 includes barbarians, knights, martial artists (possibly the hardest of the fighter types), scouts, holy warriors.
3 includes clerics, druids, bards, and wizards.

Spellcasters are just tough because you have to learn the casting rules, deal with spell prereqs, track [energy from a power item, fatigue, and an energy reserve, etc.

It's totally doable [. . . ] It's just something you'd need to learn on top of knowing all of the other stuff.

Fighting is a little more complex than 3e, but if you read Exploits and a house rules doc I'll email to you (I need to clean it up to be readable) fighter-types are simple.

So that's how I ranked it.

Why are thief and artificer the easiest? Basically because:

- there is no combat complexity


- most of their skills are "decide what to do, describe it, and roll."

Not a lot of opposed rolls in there except against skills you're very good at (Stealth, for example). Most of the time, within your niche, you're top dog and roll against very high numbers.

Fighters are next. I think martial artists are the most complex, because of the combo of low armor values generally and specialty skills. We've had a heavy armor martial artist with weaponry, but a) he died and b) I'm not sure how effectively that leveraged what martial artists are actually good at.

Spellcasters are harder because of all of the things to track. Lots of rules to know, and all of them are critical to doing your job right. A non-optimized caster is a drag on the group, and one who either does too little or too much equally weights down the party in bad ways.

Ranks within Ranks

But how would I rank the fighters?

Easiest to hardest:

Holy Warrior
Martial Artist

In terms of making choices and playing the character, the Knight is the easiest. There is no bad set of choices for a Knight on the template. You're good at combat, largely melee combat. Melee combat really comes down to a few basic choices and understanding the rules for Deceptive Attack - something easily mastered. The numbers you roll against rarely change during a session. And you're probably going to either take cutting or crushing weaponry as your main weapon, and both are good choices against everything except Diffuse creatures (who you aren't good against anyway.) They're simple in actual play. "I drop my skill to 16 or 17 and then hit it in a random location or torso" is rarely a bad choice. It might not be the best choice, but it's almost always a step toward victory. Plus they're defensively sound unless you are a big risk-taker.

Barbarians are simple to design. Holy Warriors take a few more nuanced choices, as you need to decide if you're a demon-hunter or an undead-hunter and hopefully make choices that support that.

Swashbucklers can be tough - "Speed is Armor" means knowing how to leverage your speed. And knowing the rules for doing so, or depending on someone else to know for you.

Scouts aren't hard, but I don't think they are actually easy. You need to know:

- the range table
- the hit location table
- the rules for Homogenous and Unliving targets
- how the Chinks in Armor rules work
- how ACC works
- the Aim rules
- the rules for Fast-Draw and cumulative Fast-Draw.

Plus, you need to buy and track ammo. And have a good bow or two.

It's actually a more complex template than most melee fighters. It's not like a new player or returning player can't handle all of that. But it's very easy for players to think scout works like this:

- I shoot everything in the vitals or face and it dies.

I've literally had to pull aside every single scout's player save one - Galen's - at least once and say, "Please learn (some or all of the above list)." It's very frustrating for a player to expect they just shoot arrows and everything dies, then find out most of the foes they encounter in DF are most effective against their best damage types. Watching scouts shoot Unliving targets with broadheads, or accept advice from well-meaning friends who say, "Use bodkins points against those golems!" when Homogenous gives a 1/5 divider on injury, or not really get how the Range table works, or ask to shoot Chinks in Armor with a cutting-head arrow against a foe with only natural DR . . . it's frustrating as a GM. I end up needing to intervene to teach people how to run their guy. GURPS really needs less system mastery than people suppose, but for a scout you do need some. If you get buy with "I shoot it in the vitals!" or "I shoot it in the face!" and basically play Impaling McFaceshooty, you're going to spend a lot of time rolling relatively low damage and having the GM multiply it by x1 or x1/2 or x1/5 and ticking off arrows from your sheet.

None of this is to say Scout is a bad choice, or that this player couldn't run a Scout. It's just not the easiest template, it just on the surface presents the easiest choice. I still think a melee-oriented Knight, followed by an equally melee-oriented Barbarian or Holy Warrior, is the easiest way to go. You have more options in front of you, but no need to use them to be an effective character.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Easiest DFRPG template for a returning GURPS player?

One of my players is going to drop in and play DFRPG with us sometimes in my DF Felltower game.

That got me thinking, for someone conversant with the basic concepts of 4e but not the details, what templates are easiest to start with?

I have my own ideas and I've shared them with the player in question* - but I figured I'd see what you guys, the people who follow and comment on my blog, think on the subject.

What template-based characters are easiest to run in a DF game for a returning player, and why? Please share in the comments, I'm sure it will help him choose.

* Someone with a long history with me with GURPS 3e, Revised, but whose only encounters with GURPS 4e have been fairly heavily house-ruled.

(I shared my own thinking in this post.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Area spells trick

The other day, Sean Punch put up a great series of tips for spellcasters:

Dungeon Fantasy Tips for Superior Spellcasters

Great stuff.

But he missed a small but vital trick:

Trading energy for skill for area spells - Don't forget you measure your distance penalty for an area spell to the nearest edge of the area. You can make an area spell bigger, and thus closer to you, to ensure a good effective skill. A few extra points of energy for a larger spell can mean a slightly better chance at overcoming the resistance of targets in the area.

My players use this one all of the time, trading off recoverable energy for an easier chance at getting off a critical spell. For cheap area spells that depend on a good margin of success, such as Awaken, this is a vital tactic to know. Add this one to your repertoire.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2000 AD minis - arrived

So you've seen these guys before, painted like I'll never get them painted, ever:

Well, here they are on my desktop:

I also got Don Apelino, and they threw in a sampler Imperial Roman unasked for!

I really have no need for any of these guys, except the Roman, maybe. I suppose the Don can lead my two Ape-X minis around.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Last few hours for the Dungeon Alphabet Kickstarter

Just a quick heads-up, this is ending in a handful of hours:

Bronze Age meteoric iron weaponry = proof of magic

See, clear evidence of magic:

- Bronze Age peoples made meteoric iron weapons;

- Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers says meteoric iron weapons are unaffected by magic, making them awesome ways to bypass pesky Missile Shield and Blocking spells;

- they made these weapons even though they had perfectly good bronze weapons (and orichalcum weapons, obviously) to slay things with.

Therefore in the Bronze Age people had wizards to fight and slay, just like in Conan books. QED.

That's just science. And magic! And Awesome!

(King Tutankhamun's dagger)

Okay, it's mostly just awesome.

Monday, December 4, 2017

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 15 - Operation Top Hat / Operation Top Hat II

We played a session of Gamma Terra today.

"Caveman" - demo/EOD
"Hillbilly" - medical specialist
"Love Handles" - demo/EOD
"Momma's Boy" - computer programmer

Back at the Ferry Base:
"Fatbox" - demo/EOD
"Oinker" - demo/EOD
"Short Bus" - computer programmer

In reserve:
"Barbie" - demo/EOD (MIA)
"Princess" - cryptographer/sniper

We started out in our ferry station base camp. This time, Short Bus, Fatbox, and Oinker stayed to guard our base. Although he was still badly psychically damaged, Love Handles was deployed with the mobile crew.*

We headed out to the college campus to meet with Colonel Jezza and make plans for Operation Top Hat. We passed a mech sans Little Thieves on the way (we later told Colonel Jezza so he could snap it up.)

Operation Top Hat was:

- borrow a mech

- build a boxed superstructure out of salvaged wood and metal and mount it on top

- send it to the mall

- if it was unmolested, do the same again but this time with the PCs in it

- bail out at the mall and loot it

- have the mech pick us up

Jezza agreed if we'd agree to replace the mech if it was captured. So we did.

But then we decided that it was worth trying a smaller run against some of the Little Monk barricades they'd been setting up to keep us pinned on the coast road and away from their precious Ancients sites. We realized that they might sense living things, and so Caveman decided he should ride it on this pre-programmed test run around the local area. Naturally this meant we all ended up piling into the mech's "top hat" and riding it because one of us might get into trouble but four of us means we'd be able to get out of it.

The trip began, and quickly we reached a barricade. The Little Monks shot arrows into the mech and the superstructure, to no effect, then scattered. But then immediately Hillbilly felt a wave of fear - bone deep, paralytic fear. He shook and couldn't do anything. The Little Monks came up with their barricade wood and stopped the mech by blinding it with an extended piece of barricade. It started to move back and they started to box it in.

Caveman solved this by shooting one of the barricade holders on the side. Love Handles shot as well, and Momma's Boy started burst-firing his PDW into the Little Monks. In moments, they were mostly down.

Caveman tried to yell Hillbilly out of the catatonia, but failed. So then he started to joke him out of it. That didn't help much, but eventually Hillbilly recovered himself.

But Hillbilly decided from then on, Little Monks were little threats. Unarmed ones were dangerous, and needed removal. (He gained a Quirk: Intolerance (Little Monks) from this psychic fear attack.) At the next barricade, we'd slid by and the Little Monks didn't threaten the mech. At the third, just before we'd turn for home, Hillbilly looked out and saw two unarmed LMs. Aha.

He aimed at one and shot him down. He switched to the second and narrowly missed him. The others joined in, gunning down two belly-bow users and the second unarmed guy. A couple others ran and Hillbilly and Caveman shot them down.

We reached the college and discussed our failure.

So, Operation Top Hat failed.

We settled on Operation Top Hat II.

- ride the mech with the top hat to the fringes of the Little Monks territory in the East

- bushwhack our way all the way behind the mall

- loot the mall

- walk back and wait for the mech and then return

We did that, instead.

Riding the mech and much of the initial bushwhacking was uneventful. But as we crossed some ruins we found a medicine cabinet in a building we'd crossed and found a bunch of expired and old meds and bandaids but also a boxed electric razor in perfect condition. We took that.

Then we got jumped by an ogre-sized armored mole-man with a tree branch club. Momma's Boy and Caveman were closest to it, and we shot it up. Nothing significant happened. A second later Hillbilly shot it once right in the nose as Caveman, Momma's Boy, and Love Handles shot it more. Still nothing - rounds went into its fur, but nothing happened - only the nose shot drew a little blood.

It smacked Momma's Boy and knocked him back but not down. Love Handles tried to talk to it in English. Caveman dropped his rifle onto the sling and started drawing his knives. Hillbilly let go of the SCAR-H with his right hand and drew Hoopslayer (referred to as "Hoopfriend" around the college campus, naturally.) Momma's Boy drew his "headlights" - the "laser" and the shield.

The mole-gre kept swinging his tree branch with little effect. Hillbilly slashed it and missed, then stabbed it and lightly wounded it, and then slashed it for much more damage, and then again for a lot less - all through serious resistance from its fur. Meanwhile, Momma's Boy managed to laser it a couple of times and inflict serious hard. Caveman tried his shortsword and couldn't even penetrate its metal-hard fur. It swung and hit Momma's Boy once in this process and then missed MB and Hillbilly a few times.

Eventually it fell, and before it could really get back up it got las'ed again and slashed again. It dropped, breathing hard but out. No one wanted it alive, so Hillbilly slid Hoopslayer into its eye and finished it off. It had nothing except iron-hard fur and equally hard skin. Its nose and beady little mole eyes were the only weak points.

After that, eventually reaching the "mall" was uneventful.

The mall turned out to be single big-box store. Momma's Boy hacked the passcode door in the back, which is Tomorrow Men code for "pried off the keyboard and defaulted it to all zeroes." We snuck inside and replaced the door keypad.

Long story short, inside was a combination Super Wal*Mart / Lowes. We basically set down and looted the place silly for almost two days total.

Hillbilly located a Mark V android and had him bring us to his supervisor. Then, Momma's Boy organized them, used his computer skills to get them under our control, and put them to work. We had 13 of them working and 7 disabled old ones.

Then we looted. We got out Caveman's Scrounging wish list and filled it. We tooks bags of jewelry and portable electronics and watches. We took walkie-talkies, batteries, ball bearings, propane tanks, balloons, tools, beer (240+ years old but some was still good-ish), bedding, fishing tackle, and more. Roughly, 1500-2000 pounds worth of stuff (Caveman's player over-estimated weights and ended up near 2000 pounds, but it's likely significantly less.) We even got some kevlar bike gear to use as leg and arm armor, along with extra suits that we put on the androids to protect them.

We eventually headed out. The androids carried most of our stuff. We made it a few hours away before they ran out of power. D'oh!

So we pulled their batteries and sent Caveman and Momma's Boy back to get spares and recharge the batteries. Love Handles and Hillbilly hunkered down to guard the androids.

That all passed smoothly, but it was annoying.

We eventually made it to the Mech meeting point and mounted up. We packed up the "Top Hat" full of androids and stuff, carried the rest, and walked back.

We made it to the college, talked to the Colonel, and then took the mech to the factory (dismounting and walking part of the way to avoid the rad zone, the androids were sent through.)

We met with the head android there, emoted with the Little Thieves, got Momma's Boy to bond with them over getting a knife, and then headed out.

We then eventually worked our way back to our base (IIRC, riding on a mech.)

We ended there.


* Love Handles really needed rest. But his player was there, so he came with us. In-game logic bends to the meta-game-logic of "you play your own guy" and Love Handles's player was there.

All in all, a good mission. We got 13 of the 25 androids we need, we improved our kit significantly, and made progress. We need 12 more mechs, and we're hoping we can find some of them on the Princess. We'll need another vehicle before we can get all of this stuff we looted back to our base (Unknown Area 3) or the Bal'Kree, so we need to salvage that and/or a dozen more androids.

We're probably taking some time off, as Momma's Boy wants to learn how to use the compound bows we found at the store. He's tried to convince Hillbilly he'll need to learn it "for when you run out of ammo" but Hillbilly is banking on finding better weapons than a bow before he fires off all 350 or so rounds he's got left. Hillbilly will spend some of his downtime testing the spare suits of Kevlar, and we'll see what else he does - there isn't an easy to self-teach skill around that he needs. We'll see.

Hillbilly often needs to get out Hoopslayer, but lacks Fast-Draw (Knife) - yet he's not going to learn it. As I said, I've never rolled an 18 taking a Ready maneuver. And that's it - I'd rather spend 1 second getting the weapon out than risk failure getting it out quickly. Fast-Draw (Magazine) might help, I'll think about that.
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