Saturday, September 22, 2018

Mini WIP - Swashbuckler with Staff

Here is how Jaspar's mini is coming along:

Eh, I'm not liking the paint scheme. I wanted a good solid color under some "armor," but still . . . I may need to restart him.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Food in Gamma Terra

I sometimes wonder what the heck you eat in Gamma World.

The whole place is a radiated nightmare with fauna and flora that seems like it's 20% mutated fish, 50% hostile vegetables, and 30% intelligent animals.

Make a burger? The beef is from a lethal animal. Who knows if there is any grain to make bread. And even the lettuce is probably psionic and the tomatoes almost certainly contain more radiation than lycopene.

Even if we found that lettuce and those tomatoes, we'd have to sweep green or red "snow" off of them and then cook them in water that flows in and out of mutagenic wastelands.

We handwave a lot of this. Not the amounts - we do have to make efforts to pack rations, bring water or purifiers, and sit and eat.

And we have found a lot of safe pre-disaster food. Ration bars, protein powder, and even some beer.

But geez, the rest of it?

It feels like we need both Eats Other Sentients, Cast-Iron Stomach, and a clear willingness to get mutated to just snack on some of the local staple foods.

I'm content to handwave it, because it's hard to wrap my mind around it based on the world we live in. Our GM's version of Gamma World is a lot scarier, a lot more depressing, and a lot more lethal than the nearly cheerful wasteland the mutant humanoids I played back in 1st and 2nd edition seemed to live in. Those lucky so-and-sos had food!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Chaos Wars Kickstarter + Felltower DF

So Tenkar noticed this before I did:

Chaos Wars Wave 3

And the Chaos army makes an appearance.

I have a number of these minis already. Some of them actually were released as three-stage player character sets but in this series have been turned into three individuals.

I'm sadly lacking in a lot of Tom Meier Chaos Knights.

I've stared at images of these minis with desire for decades.

So I'll rectify this with this Kickstarter.

Will these guys show up in Felltower?

Yes. I have some Warhammmer Chaos Knights, of course, which my players have seen. But I could use these Ral Partha / Ironwind Minis ones. Felltower definitely has some Chaos Knights. Why wouldn't it? Diablo II had knights, and Diablo II was awesome.

What makes a GURPS DF Chaos Knight a Chaos Knight?

It can be, but generally isn't, the Chaos prefix from DFM1. I love that prefix (I'm largely responsible for that one) but it's not what I'm gunning for.

Chaos Knights aren't really well-modeled with the Knight template, in my opinion.

Instead, Chaos Knights are more-or-less like unholy warriors except possessing traits that only come from Chaos warping, such as:

- natural DR

- in-born immunities

- in-born vulnerabilities

- expanded capabilities, such as better Night Vision, ability to sense evil (Detect) so they can find allies, and so on.

- expanded disadvantages, such as Berserk, Fanaticism, and Frightens Animals.

- strange powers, such as magical enhancements to weaponry.

Plus, honestly, whatever crazy stuff I can cull from Moorcock. Not soul-sucking swords, mind you, but he's a great source for evil knights.

And am I spoiling anything for my players? No, the old hands know I have those minis. That I'd use them is also not a surprise. If I'll use them as mentioned above, well, I do change my mind before the dice the table. Forewarned is forearmed, but sometime it's also rumors shaping reality.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Resurrecting Dead Minis Kickstarters

I saw this over on Tenker's Tavern.

The Lost KS Mini Project

There have been a lot of Kickstarters for minis that have failed, funded and never delivered, or delivered only once before the minis went by the wayside. It's like the next phase of Kickstarters have begun - the vulture round of Kickstarters trying to deliver on failed Kickstarters. I'm not impugning the motives or intentions of this Kickstarter's creators. It's just like we've hit a sufficient number of failed Kickstarters to provide the basis for new ones to resurrect what was or what could have been.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Barbie's dreams

Here is our GM's writeup of Barbie's dreams, which I covered in slight detail in last session's summary.

1) Barbie is in the desert, and knows instinctively that it's the 1940s. He is present at an above-ground atomic bomb test, behind a wall with a window in it -- a "safe" place from which observers watched the explosions. He's with a woman who is very pregnant - ready to give birth any day it seems. (He doesn't get a good look at the woman, noting only that, evidently, she's not hot.)

2) Barbie is in an engineering lab at a big midwestern university, watching a man in (or near) his 20s poring over some blueprints. Based on the man's clothing and the machines around him, it looks like it's the early to mid 1960s. On the blueprints are the schematics for an "ultra-tech" device of unknown purpose -- it's very clearly too advanced for that year. The man is nondescript and looks a little like a young Donald Sutherland.

3) Barbie sees a massive ultra-tech city, by the looks of it based on technologies much more advanced than those in the blueprints from the previous scene -- it's from farther in the/a future? The city might take up the better part of a continent, or even the planet.

4) Barbie is in another engineering workshop, this one more advanced than the university he saw before. The same man -- in his 40s, maybe -- is performing repairs on an android, a Mark V by the looks of it.

5) Barbie sees the same man, but much older -- he looks like he could be in his 70s. He's in what is immediately recognizable as one of the 20th Homeland Defense bunkers, like the one you all woke up in. But in your case, you saw little more than a room of cryo-pods and an armory when you selected weapons and gear. In the case of the old man, the bunker looks like it's dedicated to something "official". Communications? Headquarters, maybe. Barbie doesn't get the sense that the man is of any particular rank, but he's clearly important.

6) Barbie is with the old man again; it's not too much later. He looks the same age, his 70s, but he looks haggard and tired, as if he's experienced something traumatic. He's outdoors in what looks like a desert, with three younger people whom Barbie takes to be scientists of some kind. The old man and his colleagues are surrounded by soldiers in 20th Homeland uniforms, but slightly modified. (First and foremost, they wear white armbands.) They also have rifles that look more advanced than the ones you guys had to choose from when you woke up in your Van Buren bunker. The soldiers are pushing the old man along at bayonet point, and Barbie gets the sense he (and his people) are being exiled, or left to die.

7) Barbie is on an observation deck in an advanced orbital shipyard, watching an "ultra-tech" starship being constructed. (It's hard to gauge how "advanced" it is; it's definitely not 21st century, but it doesn't look as exotic as a ship that would be native to the planet-wide city from the previous dream.) The same man is there, but his age is indeterminate -- he looks odd, somehow "changed". The ship isn't very far along, in terms of being built. Barbie can see that it's called 'Terra Nova'.

8) Barbie is in a medical lab -- the technology looks similar to the life-pods in your 20th Homeland bunker. This same man is there again, looking like he's in his 60s now, but this time he'd suspended in liquid in a "Rejuv Chamber" (which when Barbie describes it the rest of you will recognize from the medical facility in which they've been living). The Chamber's medical lab is in slight disrepair; the power is on, but no one seems to be using it. (Even so, the Rejuv Chamber is in good shape and the man looks alive and well.) Most notably, the lab is overgrown with massive tree roots that come into the room through the walls and ceiling.

Apparently a point in Meditation would help him recall more. I hope to convince Barbie to do so. And I think we need to find that guy.

Monday, September 17, 2018

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 17 - Finishing Muskegon

Days 120-125, approximately, since departure from the bunker.

"Barbie" - demo/EOD (no longer MIA)
"Caveman" - demo/EOD
"Hillbilly" - medical specialist
"Love Handles" - demo/EOD
"Princess" - cryptographer/sniper
"Short Bus" - computer programmer

In reserve:
"Fatbox" - demo/EOD
"Momma's Boy" - computer programmer
"Oinker" - demo/EOD

We started off in Muskegon, in the ferry terminal. When we awoke, Barbie was there. Disoriented, but otherwise exactly as we'd last seen him over a hundred days (and 15 game sessions) earlier. He related to us what we remembered - it felt like no time had passed, except that he had some strange visions. Being a soldiers in WWII standing at a nuclear test site next to a pregnant woman, seeing a scientist working on some tech in the 1950s that was way beyond the tech of "our" 1950s that we knew, some strange visions of other assorted events.

Hillbilly gave him a beer and welcomed him back, and we peppered him with questions. He seemed fine, otherwise. We basically sat around drinking beer and snacking and deciding what to do next. Once we'd settled that, we got some rest and then headed out to Meade Motors.

When we arrived we saw a couple of barricades. Princess lit it up with his Bunny Scope on its x-ray function and saw five Little Monks behind it. Hillbilly insisted we shoot them, and to start with the unarmed one. Princess knelt down and shot that one in the skull, killing him outright right through their flimsy arrow-resistant barricade. The others froze. Princess shot the next one, and then a third. Two of them popped up - one to fire a belly crossbow and the other ran. Hillbilly shot down the bow-armed one with Opportunity Fire, and Caveman shot the fleeing one in the back. All died in a single shot apiece. We walked over and looted them of useables. Caveman checked the glove box and trunk of the wrecked car out front, but it was empty.

We went inside and spoke to Sid. The network was still down, but since we said we had a driver's license (looted from the Princess,) he could "get us into a car for a test drive." We chose the SUV-looking thing that could seat us all. Hillbilly had the best driving default (Heavy Wheel Vehicles @ 14, one up from everyone else) so he drove, with Sid chattering away on shotgun. Hillbilly told him we wanted to see how the commute was to Baker college.

We made it most of the way to the college with only a couple of stops to clear debris and fallen trees and whatnot that we couldn't drive over or around. We parked the car, Hillbilly told Sid we'd be "right back" and we hiked a few hours to the campus.

We spoke to Jezza and explained our plan:

- get Gentle Alice, the big elephant-sized moose thing, to the Little Thieves so we could talk to them.

- help them win their war in return for coughing up the factory and staying out of the way of Jezza's force.

He agreed, but wanted us to bring a Little Thief to Alice, not the other way around. He also wanted them kept in the dark about where Jezza's force was located.

We also asked Jezza for help getting the Princess operational. Hillbilly proposed a trade - the killer robot we'd deactivated (and had no idea how to reprogram or control) for the Princess. Jezza said he'd run it up the chain and see if they could fix it. We provided them with images of the damage that Caveman had thoughtfully snapped.

So we stayed overnight at the campus. We discovered that Baker College of Sector 30 didn't have a mascot. So we gave it one of our own - the Hoops. Go Baker College Hoops! Assorted keyring bottle openers were taken.

We took the tunnels under the campus out to the north in the morning, clearing some debris on the way. We made to the factory and inside, and to the leaders of the Little Thieves.

We tried to see if Vox could speak to them - nope, and she lacked the software to analyze and learn a new language. Fine. We had Love Handles, our chief emoter, feel all sorts of excited about Clipper coming with us, having a big talk, winning the war over the Little Monks, and doing the Nub Nub Dance. Thanks to their empath, he was really swayed. He agreed to come with us. He was less excited by the blindfold we insisted on. Hey, it was better than the "put him in a big sack and Hillbilly will carry him" plan that Barbie and Hillbilly and Princess liked.

We eventually got him to the college, and introduced him to Colonel Jezza. Thanks to Alice, we could speak telepathically. Love Handles told Clipper to listen to Hillbilly.

Hillbilly told him the plan. We'd help them defeat the Little Monks. "The Silenced," supplied Clipper. However, his people ("The Followers of the Voice") would have to depart the factory so we could make more robots. He was delighted! The Silenced worshipped machines but wanted them as-is, like idols. The Followers wanted more robots, more machines, all active and doing things. Hillbilly said we wanted the same, and he called us the "Shadow Men." Why "Shadow Men?"

Basically, there were the machines. The machines made the first humans, who resented the machines. So they created the first Shadow Men, who could then in turn make new machines. Or something like that. They were all for us, since we'd help bring back the machines.

They learned this tale long ago . . . probably from earlier Homeland troopers. And he said there was another vault like ours nearby! "I'd like the see it" said Hillbilly. "Someday, I hope to go there with you," said Clipper. Aha, okay, yeah, "We'll have to have lunch sometime!"

We sorted out the details of the battle. We settled on where to meet, that we'd start the fray soon, and that the Followers would attack the Silenced everywhere. We'd meet them at Meade Motors and head to the airport. We asked Jezza to borrow a mech, and he needed two days to program it to follow voice commands. We told Clipper the detail. Hillbilly checked to see if this was planned genocide. Nope, they'd allow any who surrendered to rejoin their religion. Great, Hillbilly's conscience was salved (since he hates those little guys, now, this was total generosity by his standards.)

Caveman quickly assembled a list of words we needed Clipper to say, so we could record him and replicate them with our mobile computers so we could talk to our new allies. He got the usual - forward, move left, move right, where is ___ ?, target here, etc. and asked for suggestions. Short Bus and Hillbilly decided we just needed Arnold Schwarzenegger lines - "Come with me if you want to live." "Get to the chopper!" "I'll be back." "I'll kill you last." "Enough talk!" Barbie was quick to add in some. We got a surprising amount of use out of them. Which is to say, almost no use out of the real phrases, but plenty out of "Come with me if you want to live!" Short Bus and Hillbilly envision an entire culture built around the wise one-liners of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We split up, and spent a couple of days at the campus, checking out the library and grabbing books we thought we'd need - robotics, farming, DIY books, one on survival, recent history, etc.

When the time came we mounted up in the "Top Hat" onto the Brute - the mech - and headed out. Sid and the car were long gone. But we wandered over to Meade Motors in 1/4 of the time we'd have taken on foot. We found Jezza and company there, but it had been cleaned out by the Followers. Jezza and company headed to the store, worried enthusiastic fighting might set it on fire. We headed to the airport, sweeping up a big tail of Followers. We eventually got them ahead of us, as they fought the Silenced in the brush and the roads ahead. We came to a bridge near the airport, and set up as the Followers advanced. Princess sniped as needed, shooting anyone who seemed like an easy or important target. We crossed the bridge after they finished fighting. We reached the airport soon after. There were mainly three hangers - two damaged and built upon, and one intact. We headed to the intact one.

A wave of Silenced charged out. Short Bus let them have it with the lightning gun (the "stun gun" we called it). It zig-zagged across them and dropped them, electrocuted. More charged out - armored ones, this time. Zap, they went next. But Short Bus and Princess felt themselves burning. We quickly spotted a built up top structure on the hanger. Hillbilly shot it up, dumping an entire magazine into it in the 2.~ seconds that takes, and calling for the mech to autocannon it. Barbie shot at the same time, killing some of the defenders inside. The mech complied with Hillbilly's command, firing a ZIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPPPPP of 3mm rounds from its tri-barrel cannon and sawing the entire superstructure, and the wounded and dead Silenced within, in half. It slid out. Hah.

With nothing else coming out, we decided to continue aiding the attack. But Hillbilly wanted to secure the building. Short Bus, Caveman, and Barbie climbed off the mech with him, after our wounded both hit themselves with red pens to heal up a bit.

We advanced into the building as the mech walked off, Princess shooting any psych-looking guys and Love Handles directing the mech.

Within the building we found six Silenced - four with crossbows, two armored ones with shields and swords. We also saw a floating winged bus, which looked exactly like this doesn't:

The Silenced fired at us, and we shot them back. Short Bus shot one with his pistol but missed, then Hillbilly cut one down with a sprayed burst. Caveman came in shooting, as well, as did Barbie, as Hillbilly shot down the two armored ones. But as we pasted them, Caveman got really cold! A momemt later, it happened again, both despite his anti-psych hood. With everyone down, we started to look around.

Barbie spotted a shimmer and shot at it. We turned and began to fire on that - Hillbilly had only one round left, and fired it. We all were evaded. A hit or two from Baribie and Short Bus fritzed out the cloaking, and revealed a suited man-sized figured wearing something like a old-timey diving helmet with a skin-tight suit that seemed to reduce the effect of our bullets. So Hillbilly drew Hoopslayer, the glass knife. As he did, though, he felt control of his body slipped away from himself. Something was filling his head with images of things he'd never do! (Probably) At that moment, though, Caveman scored a bunch of hits and the figure dropped. Just in time - the images faded.

Hillbilly ran over, inserted his knife, and carved around the thing's heart. Then he cut open the suit - after determining there wasn't a clear way to remove it otherwise - and pulled out the "man" inside. It was an emaciated grey humanoid with a squidly head with eyes under ridges.

We checked the bus, next, and climbed in.

It announced it was a commuter loop, rattled off the cities, and that it would leave in 5 minutes. Members of the armed forces always fly free!

Some of us really wanted to go and see the whole loop, but then it was clear it would fly us all the way to Purist territory. We'd likely get shot down or intercepted. We reluctantly got off.

From there, it was mostly mopping up. The Silenced surrendered around when the squiddly was killed. We had taken the Shrine of the Short Bus and defeated their best. We took the mech back after helping organize the victory a little bit.

We ended up a few days later at the campus, meeting with Jezza and the Clipper and their other leader-type. All seemed well. An ambassador from the Fit had some to see us, too.

It was a Hippo-woman whose name I forgot, since I mentally dubbed her Princess Hippo. She were there with three bat-headed cats, her pets - Caveman checked, as heck, they could have been her bodyguards, superior officers, whatever. She said the Princess was a large prize, and they were reluctant to let her go without us sweetening the deal.

She asked for alliance between our forces and the Fit. At least a formal non-aggression pact with Muskegon as a neutral ground for meetings. We agreed to talk this over. She was under the impression we needed to check with our superiors.

We agreed, of course - we wanted an alliance, so they were offering to give us what we want in return for us receiving something we wanted. Done. We made it clear we're the decision-makers, though. The more people that treat us that way the easier it is for it to remain true as we pick up more people on our side.

From there, we decided to wrap up the session and do everything out of game time. A badder with metal-warping abilities fixed the Princess, they helped us remove the Phase Cats safely and harmlessly, and we'll figure out what to have the factory build later one.


So, Barbie is back. I half-expected his player to just run Oinker or Fatbox or Momma's Boy and then we'd pick him up. His appearance was way, way weirder. Don't forget there is a Time Manipulation mutation in Gamma World. So . . .

On the ride home, Caveman's player and I conceived of a way to crack the bank vault. We'll try to put that in place by email and either resolve it by email (it's not complex, it just requires some help from the Fit) or early next session.

Now we just need to figure out what next. If you can secure a food supply, we can open up the bunker and free 20th Homeland and get them barracked in the underground base and in the Princess.

And how do we ensure they're going to listen to us? Simple. Free them one by one and pound anyone who doesn't agree that we're in charge, then get them to help us pound/convince the next. It'll be slow but it'll work.

All we really need now is some ulta-tech man-portable ranged weapon that isn't difficult and finicky, like Momma's Boy's laser.

Oh, and food supplies for our 20th Homeland buddies we plan to release real soon now.

MVP was Barbie for spotting the cloaked cryokinetic.

And Hillbilly will have 10 xp as of next session. +1 ST for an 18? High Pain Threshold? +2 Will or Per? Save for +1 DX or +1 IQ? Actually raise some skills? Learn Physician? We'll see.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Gamma Terra pre-summary

I'll get the summary up tomorrow, but we played Gamma Terra today.


- had Barbie re-appear. This was weird and unexplained - he went AWOL with no trace, and re-appeared out of nowhere with some strange memories and unaware that 100+ days passed since he disappeared. Really, really strange.

- got a car. A big SUV, not a bitchin' Camaro, but still.

- found a way to communicate with the Little Thieves, and made an alliance with them.

- asked the Fit to help us repair the big cruise ship, the Princess.

- fought a big war with the Little Monks

- found a flying bus

- concluded an alliance with the Fit

- handled a lot of negotiation, transport, etc.

Fun session.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Gamma Terra: Stand Aside, Join the Little Thieves, or Destroy the Both?

So we're finally going to do all of this stuff we talked about in Gamma Terra:

What Next in Gamma Terra?

The plan is pretty much unchanged from then, except it's clear that the Little Thieves want to go after the Little Monks in a big way. We get along with the Little Thieves. Their name worries me - what is it they are stealing? - but their actions are mostly benign. We had that one issue with that one splinter group of theirs, but that seems all sorted out.

I'm the suspicious sort, but I'm willing to extend trust while we've got the tools to avenge dishonesty.

If they fight the Little Monks, what is our best option? We seem to have three:

1) Stand aside. We let them fight it out and see who wins. Maybe the Little Monks win, and we can clear out the Little Thieves from the factory.

2) Join them. We join the Little Thieves, and help them crush the Little Monks either with direct support or some kind of distant fire support (we do have a couple of snipers.) The we can negotiate their removal from their factory home as a condition of our help.

3) Play both sides against each other. The Red Harvest solution was suggested by one of our players. We get both sides to destroy each other.

Out of those, I rank them 2-1-3. I think 3 costs us all the work we did with the Little Thieves, has the most potential downside, and probably takes the most time. It will also cost us the most ammo and most effort.

1 is the least effort, least time, and least thought. But it gains us nothing except possibly a stronger hand in forcing the Little Thieves off of the production floor of the factory.

So I'm pushing for 2. We join the Little Thieves, help them beat the Little Monks, and ask for their total departure from the factory floor as a condition of that. We then put the factory into production and use the benefits of that to further our other aims.

We'll see how it all plays out.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Failure of the Mook Rush in GURPS DF

I was thinking back about some old posts over on No School Grognard, especially this one:

Castle of Horrors Session 7

It features a "mook rush" that doesn't have much of an effect.

That's been my general experience with mook rushes in dungeon fantasy style games: although the maneuver economy implies that three to one odds should be good for the mooks, the mechanics of actually getting all their units into place and attacking at the same time never quite work. Mooks in the front line get killed too fast, and their replacements end up with the unviable options of Move (and not attack) or Move & Attack (and miss) or use some kind of Attack maneuver with a Step of 2+, which exposes them to deadly counterattack on the next turn, thus repeating the cycle. All of which lets the PCs heroically stand against a tide of mooks pretty successfully, as long as the PCs stay together in a mostly anchored line so the mooks can't envelope them.

In a game like AD&D, if the mooks get in some lucky shots, they get in some lucky shots. Even "hits on a natural 20" means 1 in 20 mooks deal their damage to a PC. That adds up, since healing is a finite resource. PCs can be coaxed into using finite magical resources to destroy the mooks, too. In a tournament-style game, one-shot, or a megadungeon delve, rest simply isn't going to happen. Lost HP means expended healing spells, and that means a finite resource is consumed or lessened.

In GURPS, that's not really the case. It takes more like a 3 or 4 to get in a PC, and that can be mitigated with Bless if you allow it and Luck in all other cases. It takes a lot of lucky blows to hit a PC, then the strike needs to penetrate DR, and then and only then are resources consumed . . . perhaps. Most of the time, it just gives the PCs some FP loss, if that, and some EP usage they can recover easily. In a DF game, defenses can be so high, DR so solid, and damage inflicted so terrible that mooks just really waste the mooks, not the PCs. They choke the battlefield and provide bad footing for enemies trying to follow up on the effect of the mooks.

They aren't useless, but a "mook rush" generally isn't a serious threat in GURPS DF. You can maximize what they do, but my experience is that they aren't really that threatening.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

So much Gamma World . . .

This cover of Different Worlds was posted the other day on Old School FRP. This is so Gamma World that it hurts.

Speaking of which, we're playing our 20th Homeland GURPS game on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018

Assembling other people's dungeons into a megadungeon

So I loved this post by Jeff Reints about assembling existing adventures into megadungeons:

how to make a megadungeon without really trying

"Like many DMs, I own a lot of published dungeons. And given the amount of free and cheap D&D material available on the interwebs, we all have access to approximately one gerjillion dungeons of various sizes and complexity. My method now is to plunder that archive and assemble my megadungeon out of bits and pieces of other dungeons."

Yes, this. I totally agree with this idea. Not the least of which is because I discussed doing this a while back (January 2012 to be precise):

"Copy Things, or, The World is Your Geomorph. If you like something on another map, copy it. Either use it as inspiration, or just use it. [. . . ] Need a watery cave? Find a watery cave in an adventure and use that. Need a temple? Just copy the temple. You don't need to honor the original creator's complete vision because you're not here for that. You're speeding up your mapping. You can use the whole thing, of course, but you don't have to."

A couple of places in Felltower are literally just tag-ends that lead to published game material. A couple of other places - includes Sterick's Prison - were just maps and concepts taken, along with much of the existing encounters, taken from published adventures. Sterick's Prison is just level two of S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, complete with its go-and-return puzzle. And I started my campaign off with B2.

I also used part of existing adventures for a couple of other encounters. I lifted a few rooms from published materials, re-used rooms from the Dungeon of Death complex I'd populated for my 1st edition GURPS game on the Forgotten Realms, and more. Copy, copy, copy.

This avoids one of the big pitfalls of "Other People's Megadungeons." If you know the source material well - if you've played and re-played T1, S4, C2, S2, A1, etc. over and over, it's not really that complex to mesh them up. You know the material, and you know why you chose them and chose to mash them up. The familiarity is there.

And it's not all that hard, really, to put some connective tissue between them and start running the game.

This is all much easier, too, if you run an AD&D-compatible class-and-levels game. You don't even have to change anything. Just plunk them down and go with them. Modify 10-20% of the encounters and I'll bet your players hardly recognize them.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Updated Felltower Gate list

I went through and updated the Gate List:

Known Gates of Felltower

I added the "water gate," the "forest gate," and the Olympia gate. I believe they may have found another gate but I'm not certain from my notes they saw it; if so I'll add it on after my players get a chance to review the updated list.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Random Notes for 9/8

Just some assorted links and notes:

- Sean Punch announced he's written Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 4. I can say that, having not seen any of these monsters, and having no idea of the content, that all of them will be canon for Felltower and will begin to make appearances in my game the moment the PDF arrives. Sean thinks of, and writes, monsters that are entirely in line with a nastier version of me. Bwahahaha.

- I updated the DF campaign page and monsters encountered links.

- I based and mounted Jasper's mini. He'll get a basecoat when the rain clears up.

- Felltower needs a bit of this mania:

"3. Manic obsession w/cleanliness has overtaken sentient dungeon occupants, watch as they busily scrub, sweep, mop, dust, polish, chemically cleanse walls, floors, doors, pits, traps, bringing an unprecedented sparkle & freshness to dungeon environment"

It's getting a bit gamey in the dungeon with all of these dead monsters and the stale air of "level 4"

Friday, September 7, 2018

Above the Flatline on Vertical/Horizontal level connections

I found this post over on Above the Flatline really interesting.

How I’m Organizing My Megadungeon

The gist of it - establish multiple up and down connections as well as horizontal connections in the dungeon. Allow for some chokepoints, but otherwise give a lot of choices of movement.

That's something that doesn't exist so much in Felltower, which has a series of chokepoints. That was deliberate, since I needed to contain the players within areas while I built out the dungeon. But it's constraining on actual play, since it means those chokepoints continually limit choices, travel, and decision paths even after I've made the dungeon. It's nice to see someone understanding the value of a well-connected many-choice dungeon in three dimensions from the start.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Reflections on my Modified Mook rule in play

About, oh, five years ago, I posted about my modified DF mook rule.

How does it look after five more years of play?

How does it play?

Well, in the main. The automatic failure on HT rolls has really sped up fodder fights. However, it's run foul of PCs who try to nickel and dime fodder to death - 1-2d spells, play-it-safe body shots, etc. Instead of forcing a maximum amount of rolls (which means fodder go down in windrows), they try to hunt for just enough damage to take them out without resource cost. That plays away from the effects of the rule, minimizing the value.

But when PCs force knockout rolls, fodder just drop and stay down. It's effective and does the job as intended in those cases.

Also, when the PCs specifically take the time to kill the wounded, stop to kill the fallen, etc. I feel a bit lame declaring a moderately wounded orc "fallen" and knocked out. It reduces the interest value of declaring things fodder down a bit for the GM. Not that the PCs can't deal with the fallen as they may, but hey, if I handwave "they're defeated and flee!" or "they fall and some crawl away, the fight's over!" and the players insist on killing to the very last orc, very last rat, very last spider, etc. then we're back to tracking details. When that happens, why not track them all?

Have I changed it?

Yes. Mooks don't auto-fail Stunning rolls, which otherwise makes Explosive Lightning the only spell of choice against fodder. Instead, I use the group roll rules from GURPS Zombies to resolve who is stunned and who is not.

Should I expand it?

I don't think so - it's pretty expansive. It does what I intended.

I've proposed a "High Adventure" or "Swords & Sorcery" level of Mook Rule where fodder gets no resistance roll on resisted spells. I still think that's awesome, for the right kind of game. I may need to run that right kind of game someday. We haven't tried it out.

How often do I apply it?

In retrospect, not enough. I apply it to truly fodder opponents, like orcs and such.

I don't apply it to critters in limited numbers, even when they are fairly weak. Partly that's because if there is only one giant spider, one ooze, a handful of maned rats, etc. I feel like they should do more than drop on the first hit (and the PCs almost always manage to land that first hit.)

I should really a) feature more fodder and b) use these rule very aggressively when I do. There are more fodder fights on the horizon in my game.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Felltower, high-point PCs, loot threshold, and emergent behavior

I use my own set of house rules for XP, which depend heavily on loot taken (and sold) for determining XP awards. And the amount of loot needed for that XP varies by the character point value of the PC taking home said loot.

Douglas Cole is a big fan of the phrase "emergent behavior." You know, what emerges from actual play when the PCs and situations meet the rules.

You can see that play out in my DF game.

Vryce is 534 points, these days. He was 509 for a long while, saving for Extra Attack 1 [25]. In theory, that's a 5-session savings. If you explore some new territory (1 xp) and take home sufficient loot for your threshold (4 xp), you get 5 xp.

In actual practice, this took much longer - more than twice as long - for Vryce to save up.


With a loot threshold of $20,000, and a minimum need of $4,000 just to get 2 xp (and 0 xp below that), it's been hard for Vryce to make steady gains.

This also pushed Vryce's player to spare Vryce a bit, and play his other character (which he greatly enjoys running, as well.) Vryce is saved (and saves himself) for big scores and dangerous delves. He doesn't risk himself, his gear, his expendables, etc. on low-reward delves or ones he feels aren't up to his standard of challenge. Why risk death for 0-1 xp, maybe 3 xp with a "huge" $4K haul, when he can save himself for delving past gates, striking at powerful foes, or going after potentially big loot? Combat in GURPS can kill a 500+ point character stone dead with a bad series of rolls; it's foolish to do that for 250 point character level rewards.

This has also encouraged people hovering below a big threshold jump to consider saving for something big - a 10, 15, or 25+ point advantage - to make the jump "worth it." This emphasis on big jumps instead of incremental gains also feels good in this game. It means PCs have more of the "big" advantages, and don't just incrementally increase their power at all times.

So this system is working in a lot of ways I had hoped.

- it pushes an emphasis on loot and exploration, with killing a way to accomplish those things.

- it pushes players to risk their delvers on deeper and deeper delves, or suffer a long, slow slog of improvement.

- it encourages bringing along new PCs, since a 250-349 point PC can get 5 xp pretty routinely.

- it encourages players to use their higher point PCs a bit less often, on "appropriate" delves.

- it slows down growth from purely linear, so characters start to slow down in growth and don't make a steady march towards "everything, all maxed out." You always have to make tradeoff decisions, even at 500+ point power level.

Overall, it's been an interesting experiment and it's had a lot of the positive effects I hoped for, and some I had not. It's worth giving some thought when you design a system of XP (or another rules system.) Does it potentially encourage the kind of things you want to see in the game? I wanted to see an emphasis on loot, secondarily on exploration, and a desire to risk your high-value PCs less and less.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Pictures from Session 109

I don't post a lot of pictures of sessions any more. This is mostly because a couple of my players post them on Instagram.

Here are links to a few of the better shots from Session 109.

The medusa fight:

The cyclops:


You can track our sessions real-time by following Hjalmar's Instagram and following the #Felltower hashtag.

Monday, September 3, 2018

GURPS DF Session 109, Felltower 81 - Olympia (Part II)

Date: 9/2/2018
Weather: Very hot and humid

Alaric, human scout (293 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (450 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (389 points)
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (262 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (370 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (394 points)
Vryce, human knight (509 points)

We started off outside the hydra's cave. (The PCs at this point decided they should dip weapons into the toxic blood of the hydra. I ruled it was too late - last session they'd specifically done healing, washed off the blood, moved to the cave and gathered and sorted treasure, etc. The blood wasn't remotely fresh any longer.) They hiked away from the stinking cave and found a nice place to camp with clear lines of sight and a comfortable overhang, and rested for the evening.

The next morning they debated following the coast to hopefully find "a boat" to take them to the Forge of Eternity across the Sea of Chains. They ended up choosing to go straight to the Cave of Serpents to avoid the temptation to go straight to the island.

They hiked across the land, seeing horse and/or centaurs (hard to tell at a distance) and some distant houses. They could find no one to speak with that was on their convenient path forward.

They eventually came to a land with stunted olive trees bearing withered and wrinkly fruit, wild but fruitless grape vines, and twisted grass. In it were the broken remnants of Doric columns. They sent a Wizard Eye to scout. It found a ramp down into a column-lined hall with a fire at the end before it was destroyed with an arrow. ("Wheelchair accessible - they are far in advance of our culture!") They saw little else with the eye before it was destroyed with an arrow.

They formed up, put on some Missile Shield and Resist Poison spells and headed to the location and down the ramp. They used Create Object to make a mirror for Gwynneth to hold.

As they reached the bottom of the ramp they found skeletons and drying corpses, and saw a large amount of treasure strewn around the fire. The spread out slightly at the bottom.

At first, nothing came, but they heard the distinct rattle of a large rattlesnake. That was quickly followed by a rush of a half-dozen swarms of snakes, and four bit rattlers! As the rattlers came forward, the scouts loosed arrows at them and wounded a pair. As they advanced, the source of the loudest rattle revealed itself - a snake-bodied medusa with a composite bow!

She drew an "arrow" from her quiver and fired - it was a snake. The PCs had picked up the cues and were looking at the ground, which made spotting and defending against arrows difficult. Hjalmarr ate the first one in the vitals, takes 21 injury and only his Resist Poison stopped the venomous snake from doing more. He cut the snake's body off as it went limp in his chest, leaving the head in. He stopped another arrow, but quickly took a second. The scouts finished off a couple of the rattlers but found the medusa were under Missile Shield!

The spellcasters had started casting Explosive spells; but they were cut off when a medusa (which had been moving up under Invisibility) stepped out and threw a 6d Explosive Lightning spell at Hjalmarr. He failed to defend and it exploded. On the bright side, it seared some of the snake swarms to death, but it stunned Hjalmarr, stunned Dryst (who dropped his own Explosive Fireball and scorched everyone), wounded Gwenneth. The cascade hurt the PCs badly and wiped out their ability to quickly hurt multiple foes at once.

Gwynneth threw her own Explosive Fireball but clipped Dryst - luckily it was only 1d, and her played rolled a 1 for damage, harming no one.

Vryce hacked up a serpent, and then started in on the swarms. Mo hid behind a pillar waiting for a medusa or big snake to come by, ignoring the snake swarms that bit him in the feet and ankles and poisoned even his poison-resistant frame. But then one of the medusae called to Galen with Command - "Look here!" He failed to resist, and looked. Crackle - he turned to stone.

She turned on Mo. Mo failed next, a second later. The medusa repeated the trick with Gwenneth and Dryst but failed to overcome their resistance. The other medusa turned invisible as the snake-bodied one moved around slowly, shooting at each PC in turn, probing who wasn't immune to missile fire. Lucky for them, Ike was well in back and more dangerous targets were everywhere.

Gwynneth tried a few Explosive Fireball spells but mostly just missed, thanks to trying to avoid looking at faces and yet see past allied combatants.

Dryst became unstunned at this point, and threw an Explosive Stone Missile at the Command-casting medusa. She was injured as she dove prone to get out of the blast.

Alaric did himself in - he shot the fallen medusa, trying to crit and bypass her Missile Shield to no avail. She rolled over and looked in his direction. Since he was just looking at her as he fired he turned to stone.

With half of the group petrified, Vryce decided to take a risk and ran forward. As soon as he did, Dryst called to him and said to come back, he needed to Great Haste him. Sigh.

Vryce charged the medusa and ended up chasing her around. She moved away, dodged his blows, and kept shooting at other targets after missing him thanks to his Missile Shield.

Hjalmarr took another arrow sometime around here. He soon fell unconscious. Brother Ike desperately cast Awaken and got him up, and Hjalmarr barely held on to consciousness as he scrambled for a potion and drank it. He got up, eventually, with Shieldslayer in hand and readied his shield.

Vryce came close enough to Dryst and was Great Hasted, and the snake-bodied medusa shot Dryst but he blocked with his shield. Brother Ike cast Stone to Flesh on Galen, but failed by one! (He could have stepped sideways and gotten closer, but only realized that after he cast. I don't allow retroactive actions, so . . . )

Meanwhile the lightning-casting medusa had turned Invisible and re-appeared with a full-powered Lightning spell into Vryce's back - but Vryce had earlier paused to crush a Resist Lightning spellstone and was unharmed! He moved in on her kept his eyes on her feet and swung for her legs, chopping both off in a single blow. He hit her again blindly and cut off one of her hands. Gwynneth missed with another Explosive Fireball but clipped the fallen medusa and set her on fire (which damaged her jeweled necklace, and destroyed the value of her head.)

Vryce managed to cut up the snake-bodied medusa badly with a sword cut, but they continued their running (snaking) battle. The medusa who had been wounded and petrified Alaric was killed around this point by another spell from Dryst (I can't recall what).

Dryst took a critical hit from the snake-bodied medusa, and one of her snake arrows slammed into Dryst's vitals and knocked him out cold (he missed his stunning roll by around 9.) He was hovering knocked out in the air thanks to Levitate.

In a few more moments Vryce managed to close in on the snake-bodied medusa and cut her down. She fell.

The finished off the snake-swarms. They cast Flesh to Stone on Galen, who promptly got to work sawing the heads off of the two intact-ish medusa. The others healed up and gathered loot.

They found a lot of treasure - 22,000 sp and 74 uncut gems and 13 pieces of gold jewelry - plus the enchanted bow of the medusa. Alaric tried the snake arrows with his own bow and hers and found they stiffened into arrows. He didn't fire any, though.

They also found two side chambers - one for the two medusa, one for the snake-bodied one - lined with statues of past victims. They didn't see any that looked especially heroic, or rich, so they didn't revive any of them.

Once they fully recovered, they put the heads in sacks (which Galen carried, being a veteran medusa-head wielder.)

They made their way to the coast, noting thick storm clouds over Mt. Oympus. Uh-oh, better keep moving.

They reached the shore and found only tall cliffs - 90-120' or so to 150' or more in places. They moved along and eventually saw an isolated beach. On it was beached a trireme with a ram, its prow painted with a stylized eye on either side. They used Walk on Air, Flight, and Levitate to get everyone down.

Mo and Galen argued about the boat. Mo contended that it had no sail, they'd need to figure out a way to row it, it's too this, it's too that, no one has any skill. Galen stated that it's a supernatural trireme, and all they need to do is get on and it'll sail for them. They climbed on. The boat shipped its own oars with a ghostly glow and backed the vessel out into the water.

"See?" said Galen.

Mo was properly chastened.

The ship created a sail with a stylized U-like shape on it and took them to the sound side of the isle of the Forge of Eternity. It sailed smoothly and easily.

Once they arrived on the island, they climbed off and headed toward the central of the three volcanos on the island. Tracks showed only sheep - big ones - had been wandering around.

They hiked to the base of the volcano and found a gigantic fissure - many yards high and wide. They hiked in, and dealt with the heat and vog (volcanic fog). Ike and Gwynneth were overcome by fumes and felt dizzy; soon enough Gwynneth needed to be carried by Mo. They heard a rhythmic ringing inside, and saw a distant orange glow.

They reached the source of both - a vein of lava with a forge next to it, being worked by a gigantic cyclops. A glimpse of sky above told them the vent was directly overhead. The cyclops was working on an enormous spearhead, and ignored them at first. Hjalmarr tried to speak to the cyclops, in his usual polite fashion.

The cyclops spoke in a deep voice and asked why they came, and which god or titan they served. Hjalmarr said they were travelers, and were essentially neutral. The cyclops said, "So then you are cowards." He went back to work. Mo weighed in, and said they sought him out with a gift, as he needed a special weapon forged.

Mo did much better, asking for something to fight The Lord of Spite (whose nickname they won't even use, for fear it'll invoke him). After some discussion, the cyclops told them to leave the fleece - which Mo offered as a trade - on his table and return in the morning. He warned them not to molest his sheep, but they could stay on he island.

They did this, ignoring the delicious, fattened sheep that wandered around their camp, past them, rolled in mint while at play, etc.

In the morning they returned, dealt with the vog again, and retrieved the weapon they heard being forged all night. It was a SM+1 fine dwarven orichalcum all-metal morningstar. It wasn't enchanted, which Mo had requested, as the cyclops said his enchantments would not travel to all worlds. Mo asked for his name, to tell all who forged his weapon. The cyclops said, "I need no fame." They took their leave with thanks.

They climbed back on the trireme and it returned them to the mainland, again with a perfect wind behind them.

From there, they hiked to the Fissure of the Underworld. It was easily found - a big slope down into a maw into the earth. It narrowed as they walked in. It was silent except for water dripping in an inexplicably ominous way. After a time, they heard a set of growls.

They saw Cerberus, the legendary three-headed dog. Galen advanced toward it, going "Nice doggie." As it growled and looked at him, he pulled out bigger of the two medusa heads. A crackling heralded Cerberus turning to stone!

They decided to hurry, as they weren't sure the petrification was permanent on such a being.

Beyond the triple-headed dog was a river. Mo held out a pair of coins, expecting a boatman to come. Nothing happened. Hjalmarr called for one.

As they waited, Mo decided to dip his hand in the river (hey, maybe it would make him invulnerable!) It was terrifically cold, and sent a chill through his body and made him feel light and less substantial. He suddenly realized he wasn't hand-deep in it, but had waded to knee-depth and was sticking his arm all the way in. He stumbled back, and Hjalmarr dragged him out.

Meanwhile the boatman came, a blank-eyed man with a beard, cape, and a brown skirt-like wrap.

He asked for payment, and Mo coughed up a gold passage coin he'd been carrying around for a while.

The ferryman asked where they wished to go.

"The underworld!" said Alaric.

"Yes, the underworld," said Hjalmarr.

The ferryman asked the others. "Home," they all said in turn.

The ferryman waved Alaric and Hjalmarr on board, and said he would return for the others.

Alaric and Hjalmarr changed their minds. The ferryman wasn't very happy with the change, but eventually was persuaded to take them all, "Home." The ferryman took them down the river, which seemed to take a long time but no time seemed to pass. They came to an open marsh of greyish reeds, with rivers spilling from between rocks (possibly from caves) into the marsh. The ferryman turned them right, and headed to the river to their immediate right. Mo asked where the other led, but the ferryman would not tell.

They looked into the water and saw tendrils of black plant roots entwining dead beings of many familiar races. They didn't ask and the ferryman didn't tell. He took them into a cave mouth and up the river and brought them to a beach. He pointed and told them home was away from the river.

When they beached, Alaric asked, "How does he know where our home is?" Someone pointed out that this was a good question, but too late.

They climbed out, and headed away. Eventually they saw a shimmering ahead. Dryst cast Scry Gate and saw Felltower beyond. They climbed through.

They basically made their way up the way they came, dealing with a lot of close air that lacked vitality. They aren't sure why this is becoming a standard feature of this level.

They climbed up and out of the dungeon, and walked out of the gate. They made their way back to town and found it was 9/3/2018, and they'd left for the dungeon on 8/6 and spent what felt like only a couple of days in Olympia.

Mo got right to work on his new morningstar, dropping it off with an enchanter for enchantment. He found it was easy to enchant with Puissance - half energy for that enchantment, and therefore half cost! He plunked down $10K on the spot to get it to Puissance +2 . . . that will take until 12/24/18 to complete . . .


Overall, a very nice haul for the PCs. They gave the bow from the medusa to Alaric, along with the nine snake-arrows. Mo had a morningstar made for him. Vryce had his nameless longsword from Valmar and Hjalmarr Shieldslayer dipped in the blood of the two alpha Colchis bulls and made both fire-proofed and corrosion-proofed. They also took home a lot of cash - enough that weight of silver was a problem.

The medusa fight was a lot of fun. Gwynneth carried the Create Object mirror around most of the fight and didn't use it. They had some vague plans for her to hold it, point it at the medusa, and someone else who use it for targeted. Luckily they didn't try, because I can't even imagine how you coordinate that in a fluid battle with one-second overlapping turns against mobile foes! Especially since the would-be targeters are mostly Per 10-12 knights and barbarians.

Although I didn't really intend things to be this way, the players went about dealing with Olympia in a very explicitly video-game fashion. Talk to the seer. Take the first challenge. Figure out which challenge probably unlocks things you need for the next challenge. Go to that. Keep going until you've cleared the game. It worked, but like I said, it wasn't intentional. There were multiple ways to deal with some or all of the challenges presented.

That was a close call on the ferryman. Alaric and Hjalmarr were pretty clear about wanting to go to the Underworld. It's only everyone else refusing that changed their path, and their refusal to go along with their initial request. Be careful what you ask for, eh?

Is that it for Olympia? Not necessarily. Chronos is still out there. There are many more monsters and events from Greek myth and my own version of it - and from movies we loved - that adventures there could be expanded greatly. I expect a lot of "and we'll bring that to the cyclops in Olympia and get him to make a weapon for you!" discussions from now to the end of the campaign. Will that work? Perhaps. The only payment they tried was a wholly unique item thematically linked to the world they were in. If something from another world, or something more mundane will do as a gift - that's unknown at this point.

Someone asked, and since it doesn't matter I'll reveal it - the estimated value I had for the fleece was between $30K and $50K, depending on how it was dealt with in town. Trading that off with what Mo got was probably a good idea.

MVP for session 1 was Dryst; for session 2 it was Vryce.

XP for the two sessions was 7 xp for Vryce (3 and 4), 9 for Dryst (4 and 5), and 10 for everyone else (5 and 5). A couple of players were a bit disappointed they didn't get a +1 for going through a gate, but I pointed out that was intended for the first gate, not every gate the first time.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Felltower / Olympia pre-summary

We played the second session of the delve into Olympia today.

It featured:

- snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.

- a very tough fight.

- a supernatural trireme.

- Mo admitting Galen was right!

- a trip to the Forge of Eternity.

- bargaining for a weapon.

- a trip to the Fissure of the Underworld.

- meeting Cerberus.

- a boat ride with a strange ferryman.

- and lots of loot!

Details tomorrow.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Revised GURPS Magic: Great Healing

I mentioned this in another post, but I realized I never put this up as a changed spell:

Great Healing

As written, except delete the sentence stating "A given subject can only benefit from this spell once per day [. . . ]" Instead, replace the line with, "Otherwise, this spell functions just like Minor Healing: it is at -3 per casting by the same caster on the same subject in one day."

Cost and other effects are unchanged from Spells.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Killed my Windsor & Newton brush

So, I went to paint tonight and found this:

I'm not sure what I did, here, but I must have left something on the brush. The bristles have been completely eaten away! I didn't find any shed bristles, so perhaps I incompletely cleaned some of my brush cleaner off of it.

Oh, well. I'll paint with my 00 instead of this 0 until I get a chance to replace it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Revised GURPS Magic: Healing spells and cumulative penalties

Here is another spell rules change - or at least rules clarification - for my Dungeon Fantasy / Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game campaign, DF Felltower. For more, see my Revised GURPS Magic for DF page.

The various _____ Healing spells in GURPS have a simple but effective limitation: a -3 to cumulative castings.

It's come up in my games - is this successful castings, or just attempts?

For my DF campaign, I have ruled this is casting attempts. Succeed or fail, the very act of attempting Minor Healing, Major Healing, or Great Healing on a subject counts as a casting. If it fails, pay your 1 energy and take the -3 cumulative on the next casting. Succeed, and have the spell effect, pay the cost appropriate for that effect, and also have the -3 cumulative on the next casting.

This makes for a very effective limitation on total healing for the day, which in turn makes injury more of a resource drain than it can be in GURPS. It has played very effectively in our game, too, and made for interesting tactical choices about spell casting and strategic choices about healing spell planning. Pack your potions, the cleric can't just try and try again!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Plot Continuity and Sequels (over on CRPG Addict)

I like this look at plot continuity and sequels over on the CRPG Addict:

Plot Continuity Across Sequels

Having played games where the sequel makes bizarre assumptions about the previous game, I was keen to see his examples.

I've played a few games that couldn't even keep straight what I did during that particular game - Fallout II was the worst example I can think of off hand. In that one I got an ending that talked about how I wiped out the deathclaws (I hadn't) and two end vignettes that contradicted each other. Nice. So sometimes it seems to be a bit too much to expect it to happen between sequels.

This is one reason I love tabletop games so much - it's not limited someone's scope and ability to cover all possibilities. You just go with what happened and make stuff happen from there. But a well-done sequel segue in a video game is very nice.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Musing on the next session in Olympia

Our next Felltower session may be our second session with the group currently adventuring in Olympia.

They seem to have plans to do three things:

- seize whatever treasure there is within the Caves of Serpents;

- visit the Forge and get the cyclops there to make someone a powerful magical weapon;

- escape back to Felltower (they hope) via the gate to the underworld, somehow bypassing its guardian in the process.

It's mostly the rest of what was set out as possible things to do in the immediate area of their arrival gate other than visit Olympia.

We'll need 6-8 players. Any lower and it's getting unwieldy.

Any more and we don't have enough PCs and NPCs to run.

Someone needs to replace Alaric's player, as he went back to college despite Felltower being the font of all that is worth learning.

Someone can run Ike, if we get an overage.

And someone may have to run Dryst, because we're not sure Dryst's player can make it . . . and it takes an experienced hand to run a 400+ point wizard with 117 spells, Wild Talent, and an unorthodox strategy for powering spells (basically, everyone else does it for him.)

I think we can get this all done in one session. If not, well, I'm probably giving two sessions worth of XP to the PCs. No sense in rewarding lollygagging and time-wasting. Unless they come up with a compelling reason to expand their mission, in which case, I may expand the XP. Chronos is out there, for the truly bold . . .

Monday, August 27, 2018

Game Inspiration - MER's Lovecraft story

I aspire to get to this level of perfectly tuned silliness:

"The coffin was heavily enslimed with ages of accumulated muck, but strange glyphs could still be seen on its rim, and along the side of the lid. No sentient being had ever read them; they had been placed on the stone in some unfathomable way by a group of sinister creatures who had left no trace of themselves, not even the glyphs."
- Mark E. Rogers, "The Book of the Dunwich Cow," in The Adventures of Samurai Cat

I don't really do gonzo. I don't really do all-out silly. But there is at least some silliness in my games. I don't know that I'd stick the above into my dungeon, but it does inform what I do pretty heavily.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hall of Judgment material in Felltower

What to use from Hall of Judgment for my DF/DFRPG game?

First off, I'm not going to read the finished adventure end to end. I've read parts, but not the entire thing. This at least retains the possibility that I could play it. I won't run it (I have too much to run as it is), but at least it's possible I could get in there and play if someone runs it.

The rules and monsters? I read them all. What will show up in Felltower?

Short version - not all of it. I've been running my DF game for over 100 sessions and 7 years; we've solved a lot of problems that new rules are meant to address.

Fantastic Dungeon Grappling will inform how we run our house ruled grappling. I like FDG but it does make some decisions differently than how I chose to make them earlier. Doug and I had worked on a simplified TG for DF for a while, and I took that and stripped it down further and did my own thing with it. But FDG deals elegantly with some issues that we didn't directly address, and so we'll use a merged version of them.

Field Dressing Game will see use since one of our players likes to have his character butcher and eat things. Especially weird things.

The Wilderness Survival rules are nice, but I'm satisfied with what we use from Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures. I get why Doug re-invented the wheel; DFRPG didn't have any rules and he probably didn't have access to use the materials from DF16. You wouldn't go wrong using these; but like FDG, I have others already.

From the Bestiary there are some critters I will use. I don't generally use a lot of normal animals, in fact I almost never use them - and there are a lot of normal animals in the book. The various bandits, warriors, etc. I don't need - I use the basic stats for 62-point delvers from DF15 instead. I will certainly use some of the faerie stats, if my players ever figure out a way into (well, under) elf hill, although they should be warned - I'll change them to suit my particular conception of Faerie. The ice alf and krabbari would fit right in with some minis I have, so they go in. I like the vaettr but I'm not sure I can fit yet another wight variation into my game; it's fairly full of them already.

so Hall of Judgment is a solid get for me, even without running the adventure. A good base of faerie critters, a couple of demonic and elemental monsters, and some modifications to my grappling rules. If you don't have you own grappling rules, don't use DF16, and will use the adventure, this is an excellent supplement.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Minis WIP

I haven't really had a lot of time to paint, and it's been humid beyond the norm, but I am not totally given up on painting this summer.

Here is a mini I've been working on:

He's a Warhammer Empire (I think) commander, mounted with an old Ral Partha shield as a buckler. I can't quite settle on the best way to finish him, but I think perhaps some grey on his mustache, some washing and highlights on his clothing, and a bronze face on his shield will do it. Perhaps tomorrow, if the humidity is as low as it was today.

Friday, August 24, 2018

eBay Ogre auctions delayed

I mentioned that I would be auctioning off my remaining Ogre minis this week. That will actually be delayed until next week. General business and a camera battery issue put paid to getting that done this week. I've resolved all of that, and the auctions will come, but they'll be up soon. Here is a teaser:

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Calling on The Good God

In our last DFRPG session, one of the PCs prayed to the Good God for guidance.

I was thinking about how I'd like to keep the split between "Seeking Guidance" and "Praying."

Praying is for danger. Stuff is bad, you need help. The examples are pretty clear - serendipitous saving of a life, teleportation to safety. I'd add arrival of help (if such help was on the way). Disruption of an enemy attack. Parting of Red Seas. Stuff like that.

I may even allow players who try the roll and fail to re-roll it immediately if they sacrifice character points to do so (and get the bonus, naturally.)

But you don't want to do this too much. Just because your roll is an easy 10 or 11 doesn't mean you should do this repeatedly during a delve. Save it; the GM is more likely to be generous if you ask infrequently.

But it's for "things have gone badly" situations, not "we're not sure what to do" situations.

Seeking Guidance is what you need to do if you need a hint, a clue, or a tip on what or how to do something. This may or may not be really helpful. It might just be obvious. And like any other "ask the GM" approaches, the more you use it the less likely the GM is to keep giving you useful stuff. "I roll Theology about going left or right." "I wonder what the Good God would do when confronted with this empty room that I think is something special!" Things like that will get old quickly.

I think the books make these clear enough, but I wanted to show my way of thinking about them. Theology and Meditation get you hints. Actual prayers get you miracles, potentially - but flat-out fail if you do them too often or try when you carry the way out yourself.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Half-Height Area Spells - abuses?

So I am still thinking over my ruling on half-height Area spells.

In our last session, I allowed a one-yard-high Stench spell, instead of the normal 4-yard height. This allowed the PCs to stand in a Stench that troubled their ratty opponents but not the PCs.

At the same time, I didn't allow a reduced-height Mass Sleep spell* to be cast.

I'm still not sure allowing partial-height Area spells that affect air, etc. are a great idea.

But at the same time, I'm not seeing a lot of abuse, here. Great tactics, sure. The oddity of, say, a one-yard-high Blackout spell so allow the PCs to see around them but otherwise annoy short opponents seems fairly interesting.

But I'm curious - does anyone else see abuses that can happen from allowing half-height battlefield-changing spells, with an exception that disallows Instantaneous spells like Mass Sleep or Turn Zombie or spells like that?

* Nevermind that Mass Sleep doesn't necessarily need to hit the head to be effective, although that does seem logically and thematically appropriate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Restocking / Not-Restocking Continuum - costs and benefits

One of the fundamental dilemmas of a megadungeon that I have found is restocking vs. leaving fallow.

If you continuously restock the dungeon, you get fertile ground for new PCs to explore. There are monsters of the same rough difficulty of the monsters in that area (assuming a level-based restocking system). There is new loot of the appropriate level to those monsters (assuming you restock loot, as well.)

But it costs you time and effort, as the GM and as the PCs. For the GM, you must take the time to place these new monsters. As the PCs, it costs you time exterminating them. With new PCs, it might be the right level of challenge. With more powerful PCs, it might just be an in-game resource drain and a real-world time sink. More powerful PCs might waste time, effort, and game time wiping out monsters, making clearing a level or clearing your six a waste of time.

If you don't restock the dungeon, then the new PCs have nothing to do except pick up scraps of the older, more experienced PCs. They can't handle the danger pockets, they might not be up to delving into new territory, and much of the older territory will have been cleared by the experienced PCs.

But equally you gain time. Game time and especially real-world time. The delvers take less time to get to deeper levels and interesting stuff. The the players in the real world spend less chunks of sessions chopping up puddings, burning oozes, killing orcs who won't quit, etc. and more time delving down after the hoards of dragons and demon lords and vampyre-lich-trolls.

Of course, this isn't either/or, it's a continuum. But it's one on which must choose a spot or end up with one. I'm generally closer to the "restock" than "don't restock" end of that continuum, but I do consider the cost of staying there . . . and the cost of leaving it to speed up delves.

Monday, August 20, 2018

GURPS DF Session 108, Felltower 80 - Rats

We had a poor combination of players for continuing the delve on the far side of the Oylmpia gate. So instead we picked up with a B-Team of PCs - a mix of experienced PCs who hadn't gone through the gate and some brand-new PCs.

Date: 8/19/2018

Weather: Damp, warm.

Ahenobarbus the Lacerator, human swashbuckler (286 points)
Aldwyn, human knight (254 points)
Bruce MacTavish, Jr., human barbarian (250 points)
Desmond McDermott, human wizard (260 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (330 points)
     5 skeletons (~25 points)
     skull spirit (?? points)
Jaspar, human swashbuckler (260 points)
Murak, God's Hammer, human cleric (250 points)
Raggi Ragnarsson, human berserker (?? points)

We started in town, as usual, gathering rumors and buying supplies. Two new delvers joined the group - a soft-spoken skirt-wearing barbarian with a greatsword and a harpoon, and a stumpy cleric of the order of Saint Taralle of Racciopi, who wields a hammer, hates evil, and claims to be half-dwarf. No one's really sure how they met those guys, but here we are.

They headed out the north gate across the Old Stone Bridge over the polluted Silver River to Sterick's Landing, with the badly vandalized statue of Baron Sterick the Red. Ahenobarbus spit on the statue, and they moved on. While they did Desmond made sure to caution everyone not to tell Mrs. McDermott about Felltower, just that they went on a hike near it just to look around, and that nothing happened. Mrs. McDermott has a low opinion of delvers and delving. Gerry made a Skull Spirit and rested while this went on.

They had decided to hit two areas of special interest: the "touch only once" altar, with those who hadn't touched it, and then over to a grindstone found all the way back during Total Party Teleport II.

They made their way up to the castle and through the acid-eaten portcullis. They opened the trap door and took the short spiral staircase down, and made their way toward the stairs down to level 2. They planned to go right past the "orc hole," assuming the lack of recent orc encounters means it should be pretty safe. They went the long way around . . . and as they did, they passed some doors to areas not yet mapped.

"That was mapped, but the map was lost."

So it was quickly decided to re-check those areas, just in case.

The first door of the three on their map was forced open by Bruce MacTavish, who kicked it open . . . and took a envenomed crossbow quarrel to the groin. It pierced through his kilt and his skin, but his great health was sufficient to keep the old, flaky venom on it from doing any harm. The PCs sent in another to check the room. All they found was a 30 wide by 60 long room with a crossbow trap set up in the corner. They took it, and made Bruce carry it. Murak used Surgery to remove the bolt. (The PC rolled it, and made the roll exactly! Hurrah! Except that he doesn't have a surgery kit. Oops, penalties . . . he ended up tearing the bolt out rather too violently.) They healed up Bruce a bit and moved on to the next room.

They forced that door, and found nothing but a dusty room. They searched but none of them were particularly effective at it.

The forced the next door, and found again, an empty room. But they spotted a ghostly young girl who fled from them. They tossed a lightstone to follow her, and saw she fled to hide in a corner. Then, something unseen grabbed her by the hair and dragged her. Gerry put See Invisible on himself but couldn't see anything dragging her. She was dragged to the door and disappeared.

They spent some time determining what to do about the ghost, but also checked the room. They quickly spotted a 3' wide, 2 1/2' high hole in the wall opposite the door. A chucked lightstone showed only more tunnel, quickly turning to the right. They decided to tie a rope to Ahenobarbus and send him in. He handed Murak his sword (who played around with it, Vow against edged weapons or no, while he waited), put Serrita (his knife) in his teeth, and crawled in.

He found a Y-fork ahead, and heard rats to the left. So he turned right and crawled along until he found a short side tunnel that led to a flat stone wall that was clearly meant to be pushed away. He messed around with it, carefully, but couldn't force it open from a safe position. He moved on a bit further but came to the end of his rope.

He turned and crawled back . . . and ended up face-to-face with a giant rat! The rat attacked at the same moment and Ahenobarbus. The rat bit him several times but couldn't get through his armor (thanks to hist Bracers of Force and helmet) and Ahenobarbus eventually managed to shiv it several times and kill it. He crawled over it and out, followed by more rats.

He crawled out of the hole and announced, "My friends, rats!"

They had some time to get organized, but chose to mostly stand around and argue about how to fight the rats. So, the rats poured out of the hole. The PCs weren't that well organized; plus, it's hard to create a fighting line against speedy and small creatures.

The PCs ended up in a brawl with 30 giant rats and a hundred or so smaller rats (rodents of unusual size, in that they weren't giant, like the usual-sized rats) in the form of 10 hexes of rat swarms.

Gerry tossed a 1-hex height Stench spell, which did help discourage the smaller rats from coming in. Desmond hit several with am Explosive Acid Ball, but also hit Murak and Aldwyn, blinding Murak in one eye! The PCs otherwise just kept chopping and slashing at rats, who proved quite nimble. It was a lopsided fight in the end, but one of Gerry's skeletons was chewed up a bit, another was chewed on and accidentally dis-right-armed by a "helpful" Aldwyn sword swing, and a couple of other PCs were threatened. Desmond hit six rats with Mass Sleep, and the others were hacked up and eventually died.

Gerry used Mass Zombie and brought up nine giant rat servitors, who followed him around.

They began to explore the tunnels. Over the course of an hour or so they sent pairs of delvers into the tunnels, exploring and crawling. At one point Adlwyn got stuck, and Desmond had to crawl in and free him with Shape Earth. They eventually forced open the movable bit of rock they'd found much earlier, and moved out into that room. Everyone except Raggi and Bruce could fit, so they stayed behind with the skeletons. Raggi sat and sharpened his axe, and Bruce just waited.

Murak, while crawling to the hole, found a 2.25 carat pearl stuck in a corner behind the movable bit of wall.

They eventually found the room they'd entered was the second of the two rooms they'd explored.

They made it back to the room with Raggi and Bruce, but those two didn't hear the gentle knocking on the door. So they wrote a note and slid it under the door. Bruce and Raggi opened the door.

They crawled again through the tunnels, and this time took the left fork. They found the main rat den, in a room just like the others. The PCs searched it even as baby rats and young rats scattered, and found some copper coins, silver coins, and a few other trinkets. Plus two waterproof torches (see DF12) and a Potion of Minor Healing.

They left via the door in that room, and explored around. To make a long story short, they ended up going in circles around and around the rooms, until Aldwyn pointed out to Desmond that the map wasn't "totally wrong!" but just that he wasn't seeing that the rat tunnels formed connections between two mirrored layouts of three identical rooms per side. Once that was clear, the mapping was completed. That still ended up with lots of walking, lots of crawling, some shaping of stone, slipping that note under several doors, and much staring at the map to figure out where they were.

Before they left, Murak decided to sit down and pray to the Good God and Saint Taralle for guidance on what to do about the ghost. Or how to find the ghost. [I shot this down - I pointed out that Last Ditch praying doesn't say anything about clues, hints, or guidance - that's a different thing.] He ended up just recalling passages from the Scriptures that said things about "good things come to those that wait" and "patience is the virtue of the true believer" and such. So they decided to come back again in the future.

They headed out from here toward the second level, determined to at least hit the altar in the time remaining. That didn't work out. They heard the sounds of muffled voices and leather and metal. Orcs?

Ahenobarbus moved up and threw a lightstone around a corner. That got the voices to shush, a door to close, and then they heard a muffled horn. The orcs were calling up reinforcements.

They decided to hightail it out, since they had little time left and no stomach for a useless brawl with orcs. They hurried back the way they came and out of the dungeon.

They made it back to town with a pittance - the only valuable thing they'd found, really, was a 500 sp pearl and that old crossbow trap (300, 12 lbs.). They sold those and called it a day.


Once again, that caution in the AD&D PLAYERS HANDBOOK is on the money - "Do not be sidetracked. A good referee will have many ways to distract an expedition, many things to draw attention, but ignore them if at all possible. [. . . ] always stay with what was planned if at all possible [. . . ] (Gary Gygax, PHB, p. 109)

Lack of significant Per scores told here. That pearl was missed almost a half-dozen times before it was spotted (and no one searched, it was just a lucky roll.) The PCs missed significant clues about the rats, various dangers, the "secret panel" that would have revealed the rat holes much earlier, etc.

Raggi was available, but the Meeposian brothers were not. Raggi came, but this was a pretty boring and unprofitable delve. He's likely to keep his current frequency of appearance, or even lower it. Killing a few rats and earning 79 sp isn't really what he got into raiding and pillaging for.

The Stench was interesting. Can you cut down the height of an Area spell? I said yes, because it seems like you should be able to for spells that fill an area or clear an area. I didn't allow it for Mass Sleep, because I feel like that's the beginning edge of abuse.

We also had the usual "We'll use Seeker to [fill in blank with something Seeker specifically can't do]." It's a great spell for tracking down known people or things. It's not useful at all, specifically by design, for finding people or things you don't know well. You can't use the spell to find the owner of an object you found, or find an object you know must exist, or find a person you glimpsed briefly, etc. "Where is Raggi?" is valid; "Where is the ghost woman?" or "Where is the owner of this pearl?" is not.

I allowed folks with Acrobatics to try to Acrobatic Dodge and Retreat away from swarms. Not strictly canonical, but it makes sense with ground-bound rat swarms. I wouldn't allow it with flyers or swimmers, though.

MVP for the session was Ahenobarbus for his tunnel crawling. Also, he got my vote for saying, at one point, "Krull is canon. I'll fight anyone over it!"

Fun session, and even the little bit of loot they got was enough for this low-point group to get some XP, but it wasn't a great delve. They explored some rooms, found a mysterious ghost, and killed some rats . . . but level one wasn't renowned for its loot even before it was pretty thoroughly picked over. Hopefully next session we have enough people to resume in Olympia and get that cleared up!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

B-Team Felltower Delve pre-summary

Good game tonight. We had:

- 7 players

- debuts of two new characters, Bruce MacTavish Jr. and Murak, God's Hammer.

- a planned delve to the second level and the altar and a grindstone discovered many sessions back.

- a "let's just check these doors" moment that turned into the entire sessions.

- a ghost!

- rats!

- giant rats!

- tunnel rats vs. rats!

- loot!

Full summary tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Felltower B-Team, Assemble!

Tomorrow is our next game of Felltower.

Unfortunately, two of the players that came last time can't make it. It seems like to the players that's enough that we'll go with a "B-Team" of characters instead.

Jaspar's player, the son of one of our gamers, suggested that the B-Team rush through the same gate and join the A-Team. His dad shot that down; I did, as well, because the difficulty of everyone having two characters plus having more on the side who need to be run, plus Ike, would be logistically too difficult.

Instead I've been getting a last-minute rush of backup characters to check out. We'll see how they turn out.

But this also means game prep I didn't do needs to get done:

- I have to clean the flash off of Jaspar's mini and see if I can get him based for tomorrow. It's been too hot and too damp to do so yet.

- I have to do the rumors, which I'd left alone because I wouldn't need them for a few sessions.

- I need to check that I have the right minis for a regular dungeon delve, and possibly the orcs in case the PCs make a sally against them.

So, on to game prep . . . the B-Team assembles tomorrow!
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