Saturday, April 21, 2018

Orc chief speed paint - finished

This guy - from this set - is all done. He just needs to dry and get a matte coating.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Orc chief speed paint

I ripped through this guy quickly tonight. He's just a base coat or two of the colors you see here. He'll be finished with my home-made magic wash and on the table next time I need an orc chief or orc champion.





He'll need Two Weapon Fighting, of course, for his oversized weaponry.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Divination In My Games: Part III - Practical DF divination

Continuing on the theme of divination, and GURPS Dungeon Fantasy as well, what divination spells do I think as especially well-suited to DF?

Here I'm using Divination as a means of getting the GM to give you hints. Direct detection spells should just be assumed to be useful.

Divination

The spells I find the most useful are the ones that are relatively simple to cast, don't require very special conditions, and aren't subject-specific. Here is a look at all of them.

From GURPS Magic, page 108-109:

Augury - potentially useful, especially outdoors. In a dungeon, it's much trickier - you'll need to be reading the scattering of rats or the patterns of slime on the ceiling. It's an easy spell to learn - History and one spell from each of the four elements.

Cartomancy - the -5 for divining things that aren't about people makes this less useful. Especially if monsters aren't people.

Crystal-Gazing - solid choice. It's -10 for using water, but you can carry a mirror. Easy prereqs.

Dactylomancy - five word limit is tough. Not every useful.

Extispicy - One question per animal, minimum 20 pounds. Only handy once you've slain monsters the GM considers appropriate. Works best on life-or-death, which isn't a great way to find out hints on puzzles.

Gastromancy - Cool, but it's 5 FP to the subject and needs Hypnotism, a skill most won't really have or use if they do.

Geomancy - useful outdoors, moderately useful overall. Worth considering if you have Earth spells anyway.

Lecanomancy - The flat -5 sucks, but the halving of time penalties is useful. Tricky to carry water and stuff to toss into it.

Numerology - basically useless in a DF game.

Oneiromancy - tough to actually get to cast this - requirement for sleep, a lucky roll on dreaming, etc.

Physiognomy - only useful on the subject, which can be useful but frankly Death Vision will do the job more effectively for less investment in time and cost.

Pyromancy - useful if you have something of the subject to burn, otherwise the -4 hurts. Still, fire wizards will want this.

Sortilege - useful.

Symbol-casting - useful, especially if "true tokens" exist for the +2. Half the time of most other divination spells!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Divination In My Games: Part II - Recent Gaming

I posted Monday about Divination in the old days - especially my AD&D games.

What about more recently - specifically, my 10-year GURPS campaign and my more recent 7-year run of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy? And that two-session delve into White Plume Mountain?

Let's take a look.

What counts as Divination?

If you just mean spells that gain you knowledge, divination magic is completely routine now. It's routine to use Seek Earth to search for precious metals, Seeker to find lost objects, Seek spells of all sorts to locate almost anything, Summon Spirt to question the dead, and so on.

It's actually become fairly routine. It's so routine that we saw Augury used in WPM, and I didn't even really know how the spell worked since no one ever used it in my AD&D days. The people I play with now* use spells to detect things.

But how about a more narrow definition - spells which give extraordinary ranged senses or predictive answers about the future?

I cast "GM gives us a hint."

We get significantly less of that, but we still get it.

We've had a fair amount of Crystal Gazing in my current game. We've had direct prayers for hints to the Good God. We've had a little bit of History and Ancient History castings to determine what happened in the past.

While GURPS does provide some "ask the GM" style divination, we don't have that many of those spells ready for use. Prereqs and time pretty much limit that.

But my players are much more aggressive with using magic to determine the answer to puzzles, root out history and backstory, and otherwise find out the easy way what something does before they mess with it.

Because of this, I expect that if we played more AD&D (hey, it's possible), we'd see more use of Commune and Augury and Contact Other Plane.

Divination is a really interesting tool that we sadly underused in my earlier gaming. This group is much more willing to spend resources on "find out" and not husband them all for "do stuff" like we did in the "good" old days.



* which actually has one overlapping player, who played in my high school AD&D and Rolemaster days, played GURPS with me in college, and played in my previous GURPS campaign as well as the current one. It's worth keeping good players.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

CRPGs based on Gygax's stuff? Maybe.

I saw this article today while I was at work:

Dungeons & Dragons creator’s unpublished work to be turned into video games


So I immediately went to check out Erik Tenkar's take on this. His commentary is probably sadly accurate.

I'd love to see more of what Gary Gygax did. I'd really like to see Lejendary Journeys, even if only for historical reading purposes. But I'm not sure this announcement is really a sign of actual gaming materials to come. GaryCon seems to be great, I found Gygax magazine to be so-so (and it's gone, in any case), and this whole thing just drags on and on.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Divination In My Games: Part I - the Good Old Days

There is a nice post on Divination spells over on Greyhawk Grognard:

On Divination

Divination spells are one of those areas that saw very different use in the old days than in more recent play.

Toady, let's talk the Good Old Days.

Good Old Days

In my old days of playing mostly AD&D, from 4th grade until sometime in High School, divination spells were almost entirely unused.

Some of this was a function of our age and interest - we wanted spells that did cool things like blow stuff up, create or do things you need right away, or heal. Combat, direct utility, and recovery from combat.

Part of it was how we played - I can't remember anyone ever trying out these divination spells. Too much chance of failure, too much vagary, and too much dependence on a fellow elementary school (or junior high school, or high school) kid to interpret in a way that's helpful.

The fact that we very often played games where people had read the modules and knew what to do probably didn't help any. You didn't need to figure out that puzzle door or guess the answer to the riddle, you knew it. You knew where things were. You just had to survive getting there - difficult enough when you have the answers. It's like we'd all pre-cast Contact Other Copy of the Module and knew that Blackrazor was down this hallway and not to stick our heads into the mouth on the wall in the Tomb of Horrors. And if you hadn't read the module you'd ask people who'd played it before.

In a way, that's cheating, but in another way, it was just an alternate form of getting the answers. In play, you'd throw Commune and ask the DM who is roleplaying your god. Out of play, you just went and found the answers without casting the spell.

We also didn't really see what they were for. One of my current players downplayed the value of casting a divination spell in a session because, "It doesn't matter what's beyond the door, we're going to open it and go through anyway." I can argue against that in a lot of ways, but it's fundamentally logical. It's like scrying the inside of a present you intend to open - you're committed to the course of action, so the time spent getting foreknowledge isn't helping make a decision.

At the same time, I think the way the spells were presented didn't really lend them to getting used. Like so much of AD&D, they're just there with the expectation that the players and DMs will figure out what to do with them.

Given that I learned when I was 9 and 10 years old, mostly from playing with players my age or a bit older, that didn't happen. It wasn't instantly clear what to do with those spells. There wasn't really any guiding material that said, "Oh, yeah, Divination spells - this is how you figure out really opaque puzzles in the game, or figure out where to go next when you don't have a clue. The DM will help you along in those cases but only if you do it through in-play actions like casting these spells!"

So you almost never saw Divination spells used.

(On a tangent, you rarely, if ever, saw Charm spells used due to arguments over how they worked, no one summoned animals or monsters or elementals, and those demon summoning related spells didn't see any use.)



I do see a lot more Divination in my more recent games - maybe not to the extent that they'd get used in D&D by the original players, but more than I saw in the past. I'll write more about that tomorrow.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Felltower housecleaning

My time to prepare for game has dropped off a bit, thanks to my new job. It's all good - I really love the new gig. And I have done so much prep for Felltower that I can run it for many sessions without further prep.

Can, but more prep is always good.

So what I did was:

- I updated the rumor list - partially. I still need to do more. I wish I could sustain enough for a D30 but the PCs pull in 10+ rumors per session, it's hard enough to keep 20 fresh ones in there.

- I did some partial restocking on some places the PCs haven't been tramping recently.

- I did some minis restocking now that "Let's go to the Lost City and find the other Bell of D'Abo" is a game-time decision.

- I did some filling out of details on places the PCs are close to that I'd left unfinished.


I also did some housekeeping on the blog.

- I updated the campaign page with links.

- I updated the monsters encountered page. Mostly with snakes and puddings, but they needed to be added.

- I fixed a few picture links in some old posts. Many are still broken.


As always, the upside of a sandbox is that it's always ready. The only thing that would be easier would be running pre-made adventures straight up. But I've put the work in, so now I get to just maintain and enjoy.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Least used races in my games

Some races just don't get a lot of play in my games. Here are a few.

Cat-Folk - I just don't love cat people. I like actual cats, but I don't really like cat races. Some of it is the actual racial designs, a much of it is not wanting players do all sorts of cat-themed roleplaying.

Most animal-men fall in the same disused category. The occasionally bear-man doesn't bother me too much, though.

Centaurs - I'm not a horse person, either - although I am a basashi fan. I really actually like the idea of centaurs, but they come with just so many issues - the whole horse body thing makes for a lot of issues. Can't go upstair in the inn. Can't fit in the carriage. Can't climb up the rigging on the pirate adventure. Can't, can't, can't. And what they can do isn't terribly better than what human-like beings on horses can do.

Variant centaurs have much of the same issue - wemics, for example, or any other quadruped-with-a-human-body types. Vrusk were exceptionally cool but came with issues in Star Frontiers in a way none of the other races were.

Pixies - and sprites, brownies, and other tiny flying races. Generally the issues is the annoyance of scale. I find them difficult to play as a GM without them being annoying instead of fun. As a GM, I tend to nix them from the list faster than you can say, "Hey, everything in the game has a penalty to hit me, right?"

What races don't really see much use in your games?

Friday, April 13, 2018

Describing art in my game

This past session, the PCs traveled through a gate that ended in a domed chamber with a field of stars painted on the inside of the dome. The building below depicted scenes of the city, but with six-fingered hands (a game theme) painted on to them later.

Queue up questions about the stars - how much celestial drift do they show? Are they accurate? Do they match the stars in the northern sky? Any stars bigger than they should be, or brighter? Is there a "North Star," and if so, is it properly depicted in relation to the other stars?

Etc.

The murals? Questions have come up about the relative height of depicted figures, details on their weaponry, dress, facial features (recognizable individuals), etc.

I see this in player's questions about art in general, actually - the questions assume three-point perspective, representative drawing, Vermeer-like attention to color changes, deliberate attempts at photo-accuracy, etc.

But in most cases, this isn't that kind of art.

As a result, I've been trying to make it clear that art isn't usually Renaissance and post-Renaissance realism. I point out medieval and ancient approaches to art. Things like lack of perspective. Centrality of image meaning centrality of importance (aka Jesus is drawn in the middle). Symbols and signs used to show meaning ("That guy with the ankh is a priest, but that guy with the sword represents justice"). Gaze direction meant to show relationships. Specific location of objects or figures in a picture may depict multiple events over time, or be placed as part of some kind of artistic standard, much like how people sign things in the upper left hand corner or bottom right - it could just be convention.

Images made for a purpose are not always made by a master painter, either. They often are, but not always. Large images will have been made by crews of artistic assistants supervised by a master, if there was one. Hand-drawn art by people without Artist skill may lack accuracy and merely give a sense, much like how stick figures suggest but don't really accurately depict humans.

With that in mind, while art can and should be examined for clues in my game, it's often examined with a modern eye used to photo-realism like that scene out of Blade Runner. Instead, it should be looked at for meaning, not precision, more often than not.

And I'm doing my best to get that across in a way that allows the players to sense what is generally there to find.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Spellstone Rulings for my DFRPG game

A few rulings came up in my DF game the other day, directly related to GURPS rules.

Spell Stones see a lot of use in my games, so questions come up all of the time. Here is how they play out in my game.

One Per Hand - you can't crush more than one spellstone per hand. You can't even hold two and crush one. You don't actually "crush" the stone. It's not fragile. You squeeze and concentrate (it takes a Step and Concentrate maneuver). It's not a question of physical force, but of finishing a ritual.

It takes deliberate action. It's not a free action, you can't "trade" an attack for it, and falling on a stone doesn't cause you to crush it against yourself. Unintelligent creatures aren't going to step on stones and set them off.

It casts a spell on the subject. In other words, the effect isn't set, the spell and energy is set. A 4-point Blur spellstone is worth -4 to hit on a SM+0 or smaller user, -2 on SM+1, -1 on SM+2 or +3, and worthless on larger subjects.

One exception is the Gem of Healing. It just works on anyone, providing 8 HP of healing when crushed. These are common in my game, but clerical spellstones are unusual as Spell Stone is an enchantment, and mostly wizards do enchanting. Ignore SM for these. It's an exception, and while I don't like exceptions, it's vastly easier to have it work universally than to scale it to SM.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Two Links for 4/11/2018

Two posts really entertained me today, and I think they might do the same for you.

Mike Bridges has a fun post reviewing a poll about Which Monster Should Attack Town?. I don't love the tarrasque - it just seems overdone, Gojira to deal with up-gunning PCs too much, but I do like the review of monsters. I've used a fire-breathing dragon and purple worms, maybe it's time for rocs and titans?

Doug discusses murder in town, mostly in a Viking context. But his conclusions are universal - make engaging in legal issues fun and interesting, not punishing, and the players are more likely to do it.

Monday, April 9, 2018

GURPS DF Session 101, Felltower 73, Lost City 6

Today marks the first crossover session between multiple "game areas" in my campaign - the PCs were in both Felltower and the Lost City of D'Abo today.

Date: 4/8/18

Weather: Clear, cold (Felltower); Hot, mildly rainy (Lost City of D'Abo)

Characters:
Ahenobarbus the Lacerator, human swashbuckler (262 points)
Dave the Crippler, human knight (262 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (318 points)
     5 skeletons (~25 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (336 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (143 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (363 points)
Quenton Mudborne, goblin druid (292 points)

We started off in Stericksburg. The group quickly determined it was either a) kill the norkers or b) go to the Lost City and see if Rangol Grot was back at his house. They decided on the latter. This meant no Raggi, as he's not interested in going to some hot city in the jungle when there is perfectly good loot in Felltower.

They gathered rumors, and heard some good ones - like that there are dozens of dragons buried under Felltower. "We have to go to Felltower instead!" said Hjalmarr, but no one backed him on that. Not even Hjalmarr, in the end.

The geared up, bought rations, and stocked up on spellstones of Strengthen Will and Magic Resistance for the second confrontation with Rangol Grot - known user of Mind Control and Illusion & Creation spells. They also mostly stripped down their armor - Hjalmarr went with leather and cloth, Dave with leather, and the rest of the party was already lightly armored. Well, not Gerry, with his six-fingered vampire armor, but at least everything was lighter.

They headed out and up to the castle. They made lightstones and Gerry grabbed up one his spare skulls (he has a few, actually) and created a Skull Spirit. The castle seemed deserted, and they climbed the walls. Dave had to choose between climbing himself, and risking a fall, or being hauled up and made fun of for being hauled up. He went with climbing himself - and fell, but managed to break his own fall on the rope. He tried again, and critically failed, falling to the bottom. He was uninjured thanks to some armor and some luck on the damage roll, but his pride was dinged. He was hauled up in a sling like the lesser climbers. The group really needs to knock a permanent hole in the wall or destroy the gate.

They made their way down into the dungeon and to the giant staircase, and went down. They put Keen Vision on Mo and partnered him up with high-Per solid-Traps Quenton Mudborne. They spotted a trap - caltrops, carefully placed on the stairs. They checked the stairs before that - sure enough, and angled wire pinned to the outside of the stairs lead to a plastered section of wall. Some careful disarming later and they nullified but didn't identify the tripwire trap, then gathered the (naturally poisoned) caltrops and put them in a bag.

At the bottom, they wanted to figure out this "click" they keep hearing, and sent Quenton forward to figure it out. He carefully moved forward, examining everywhere for tripwires, pressure plates, etc. Eventually, while stopped near the first room, he heard a low thud and the click. They looked around more but couldn't figure it out.

They moved toward the gate to the Lost City. On the way they were a weird suction and squishing noise down one of the corridors, and Ike felt a little woozy (they eventually figured it was lack of vital air.) They found tripwires set up near it, but didn't identify what they were connected to - they just stepped over the first after ensuring it was not backed with yet another trap. "We need to hire this gnome" was pretty much the consensus of half the party around this point.

Dave was the first through the gate - he simply rushed through. Mo (carrying Quenton under his arm) and then Hjalmarr stepped through. As they did, Dave and Mo were struck by some kind of magical attack. Dave was briefly paralyzed but shrugged it off - Mo was paralyzed. Hjalmarr and Dave's full-face protection meant they had no peripheral vision, and couldn't see what hit them. A moment later Hjlmarr and Mo were grappled about the head and neck and had their necks wrenched. Hjlmarr took fairly horrific damage (he went straight to negatives despite HP in the 20s) and Mo was badly wounded as well. Dave turned and saw two obsidian golems - just like the ones he'd faced his first delve - grappling the two fighters.

Meanwhile Ike and Ahenobarbus came through the gate into this extremely close-in brawl. Hjlamarr was neck-snapped again and went negative, but Dave smashed the golem in the chest, and then smashed off the arm of the golem, and then a moment later smashed its leg off, too. Ahenobarbus chopped at the other one and damaged it, and then acrobatically rolled between Mo's legs to safety. Hjlmarr, naturally, fainted away as soon as he was no longer grappled. Ike healed him and moved away. Ahenobarbus chopped up the remaining golem a few more times and then Quenton, from his odd perch under Mo's paralyzed arm, cast Lightning and zapped the golem, reducing it to rubble.

The fight over, they realized the golems stood guard "behind" the gate, which only really exists from the other direction. Their lead fighters were lightly armored but lacked peripheral vision, so they weren't able to sense the silent golems waiting for them.

The gate itself was flickering on/off and didn't seem wholly there. No one wanted to risk a trip back.

They healed up, woke up Hjlmarr and removed the paralysis on Mo. Without even looking around, they started to make plans - they gathered the choicest bits of gemstone and obsidian as loot and piled it up with Quenton's armor, which he shucked to avoid dealing with heat.

They were within a domed building near the West side of the city, near the cliff. They set Quenton on the hot roof to observe the city and everyone else healed and got ready. Again, no one searched (or even asked, "What does the room look like?" - Heh.) They found themselves on the second floor with no way down, so they climbed down the side of the roof and started across town.

Dave was very impatient about the slow progress at this point, so they put him in charge. Suddenly it went from "Let's DO something!" to "Wait, what are our options? Should we do that? What if we do this other thing?" Leadership has its downsides.

Dave eventually settled on going straight to Rangol Grot's house, scouting it, and then assaulting it. They headed off. The only issues they had were some giant ants that came out of a building near them right as they went by. The 8-10 workers kept working, but four soldier ants clacked mandibles at them in warning. They backed off, and circled around and past the ants - who took that as non-hostile action (I rolled either a 15 or 16 on the Reaction Roll, putting them well about the "Neutral" result that would allow passing them.)

The sunny and hot weather turned to a steady rain. The reached Rangol Grot's house. It looked ruined and deserted. Hjlmarr tried to climb the wall but it was slick and difficult, with no easy purchase for a grappling hook, either. Eventually they Levitated him up.

Getting over the wall was tricky, so they just had Quenton Shape Earth to make a crawl-hole and they all crawled through. Once inside, they spelled up and began to explore the house. They found nothing except a ransacked house (with a locked but corroded main door), windows with broken or missing shutters and torn paper (it's an East Asian-looking house), and a clear kill site from some beast tearing apart another beast in the main room. Otherwise, it had been thoroughly looted. It was getting late, though, and they were very fatigued (some more than others, thanks to failed HT rolls against the oppressive heat and humidity.)

They stayed overnight, all but Mo and Quenton sleeping inside (and those sleeping in the yard, under a Weather Dome, and resumed exploring the city on game-date 4/9/18.

The next morning they headed out to the Path of Kings. On the way, they rounded a corner just as a group of eight apes, two snakemen archers, and sword-armed snakeman rounded the corner. Both sides backed off. The PCs backed up and set up where they couldn't be flanked and waited as they hear hoots and howls for a short time.

The foe didn't come, though, but a 18' foot snake did emerge from a nearby house, about 100' or so away. Mo tried to shoot it with an arrow and missed, and it slinked over the wall to the garden in Grot's house. They decided it was what killed its prey there.

After a few minutes, the snakemen and apes did not turn up, so they moved north down an "alley" to find their own flanking situation. They eventually moved out to the Path of Kings and found no enemy waiting, so they went wide around and down a diagonal street they named Diagon Alley and eventually came to the headless statues of the kings.

Dave the Crippler called out, "Hello" and asked to speak with them. Voiced began to speak to them - mostly one at a time, in various timbers, but occasionally a cacophony of voices. According to the Kings:

- Rangol Grot was still around.

- they wanted to know how the PCs were doing on the whole "find him and kill him and get the second bell" thing. Ahenobarbus claimed that it wasn't that long, time moves differently for them. (It's been two years)

- they seemed surprised when the PCs mentioned a gate to Felltower (which the PCs decided was the origin of the curse)

- they said that Rangol Grot is still around and is with his allies - the harpies ("bird-women") or the vegepgymies ("plant-men").

- they asked where the bell was, and Hjlamarr said, "I don't have it." They asked where it was, and Hjalmarr didn't answer that.

- there will be a reward for freeing the city from the curse. Someone (I think Mo) asked for the Princess Olivia as his reward, and they Kings said, "Yes, of course!" So Mo has that going for him.

- the PCs accused the kings of lying at some point (I can't recall exactly why). The kings claimed they never lie.

After a while, the PCs headed out, deciding they'd check out the vegepygmy fort.

They made it up to the edge of the swampy parts, where the swamp is steadily but slowly consuming the city, road by road and building by building. They couldn't edge around the fallen buildings, so they went around to a ruined "courtyard" made up of a destroyed building and fallen rubble. The plan was to set up near the north path, ring the Bell of D'Abo, and when the vegepygmies and Rangol Grot came to attack them with a scroll of Wither Plant and some other attack spells and sic the Skull-Spirit on Grot.

As they crossed the rubble, led by Ahenobarbus and Mo, a 20' eel-like critter with four legs and menacing teeth raced out of a hole next to them. It grabbed Ahenobarbus around both legs with its tail. It bit him and mostly bounced off of Aheno's bracers of force (literally off the bracers.) He struck back and wounded it lightly, Mo smacked it with his mornginstar and wounded it. It clawed Ahenobarbus more - again bouncing off the bracers - and crushed him with its tail. But then Hjlamarr and Dave ran up. Hjalmarr readed its head and decapitated it with a single swing.

Once it was dead, they looked in the hole - Mo tossed in a lightstone. He saw glinting below. He stripped down even further but couldn't fit in the hole. None of the rest wanted to go in, so he tried to Fast-Talk Quenton. Quenton basically fast-talked himself into going, and climbed down the hole. At the bottom he found a lair, tunnels off to other ambush points, and lots of shiney things.

In the end, the shiny things were gems, jewelry, obsidian bits, a big chunk of raw emerald, a silver dagger, a gold-edged mirror, and some assorted coins - and lots of shiny junk. He took it all, after using Shape Earth to seal the other exits. He headed to the surface.

They decided that they had enough for now (good loot, and late real-world time) and returned to the gate.

This time they went in the ground floor. They found an entrance hallway with murals - very old, faded ones - of the city's history. Later painters had put six-fingered red hands all over everything that held some other symbol. The PCs spent a long time - maybe 45 minutes? - going over them all and trying to touch them, see if any matched the prints in Felltower, any where pressure plates, etc. Nope, just later changes to the art.

They explored the rest of the building, and in the center found a large room with spiral stairs up to nothing. It turned out there was a way up to the second floor and someone sealed it. Quenton used Shape Earth to open the hole, they climbed up, and theyn sealed it again.

There, they found the gate no longer flickering. They also searched the room, finally.

In it they found art depicting a squat, large black fortress where now stands Felltower Castle. They also found a painted map that they matched up to their own - it showed the way to the staircase from the destination of the gate. It was also clearly a later painting, and bits were missing or wore off due to weather.

The examined the stars very, very carefully. They checked them for celestial drift (based on defaulting from Seamanship and Navigation), which wasn't terribly successful. They confirmed the stars were mostly accurate, or at least accurate within the margin of error for being painted on a curved ceiling by someone in the wrong area of the planet. It clearly depicted the skies above Felltower, not above this city. None of the stars were gemstones (they checked), or buttons, or especially large or small, etc. etc. Very thorough. Gerry confirmed that making the area around a gate like the area you connect to could potentially shift the success of a gate spell in the area by a little bit, since in magic like seeks like or like matches like.

In the end, they went back through the gate. They made their way to the stairs, but dilly-dallied too long looking for the "click" source and heard two doors open quietly. Norkers charged them out of the darkness. Mo was trying to place the caltrops but had to dump the bag and run to avoid a full-out rush.

They booked up the stairs with norkers in hot pursuit. Ahenobarbus threw an alchemist's fire (Mo complained it's useless). Gerry put down a large area of Darkness which Quenton backed by filling it with a Pollen Cloud. That slowed down the norker's upstairs rush long enough for the PCs to get away. They made it up the stairs, made their way out of the dungeon, and climbing down the castle walls and back to town.

Notes:

- It's been a while since I got the name Rangol Grot from student's difficulty pronouncing "Language Arts." That kid is probably finished junior high school now. I wonder if he tried to explain the "I have Rangol Grot homework!" joke to his new teachers? Probably not.

- I really do enjoy the conversations with the headless statues of the kings. They're fun to roleplay.

- that "eel-like critter" is just a variation of wyrm in my game, but the stats are of the Academy Worm from DF10.

- I'll have to get those obsidian golems published at some point. They're really good for DF - glass cannons - literally glass, even - and dangerous. They'd wipe the floor with a weaker group, but against 2d-3d+lots and multiple attacks they're not quite as lethal. Fun, though.

- Quenton is a really good scout, although he's a coward (a goblin racial trait) and weak. He has Per 15 and solid skills to back it up. Sending fighter types with vision-restricting helms on didn't work so well.

- XP was 4 for loot, 1 for exploring new areas. MVP was Dave the Crippler for crippling the arms on the obsidian golem that was very likely going to finish off Hjalmarr. Only Quenton - for finding loot - was in thew running with him. Dave's player was a little disappointed in the session, as he really only likes the fighting aspect. But everyone else was overjoyed with a profitable delve, lots of XP, and information gathered.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

DF session pre-summary

We had an interesting session of DF today.

- the return of Dave the Knight, again - this time equipped with motherly advice on surviving adventures.

- the return of Quention Mudborne, goblin druid - formerly Quention Gale, human druid.

- travel through a gate to the Lost City of D'Abo!

- battles with golems and wyrms, and running away from other things.

- talking to headless kings

- and discoveries that may shape future games.

Fun session. I'll get up a summary tomorrow.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Dragon Heresy Kickstarter update

You probably heard this on Doug's blog, but the Dragon Heresy starter set Kickstarter funded:



It's nice to see Doug's high-quality, attractive and well-written materials take shape and move out onto the market. I've long been a fan of his thought process, even when he was writing really complex gun-damage design systems and physics-based articles about bows. Now that sort of underlying rules precision is used with great art and attractive design. Good stuff.

Even if you aren't in the market for a starter set, consider throwing Doug $1 and at least showing your support.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Finally! Good priming weather

Cool, clear, breezy but not windy, dry . . . despite being the day before more snow.

So I got out and primed a bunch more orcs!



They should paint up quickly. I just need to make a banner for the standard bearer. I don't really need orcs, but the ones of the same make were well received by my players, so why not?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

New GURPS DF book - Caverntown

Sean Punch's latest addition to the DF is out today - Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown.



It's a town in a cavern next to a sprawling dungeon (dungeon not included.)

According to the blurb:

Land Of The Underground Sun

Dungeon Fantasy heroes see town as a place to hear rumors, buy supplies, and sell loot – but their players often want details. A settlement that serves wanderers obsessed with weapons, armor, magic, and mountains of coins won't look much like anything from Earth's Middle Ages! It'll be more interesting.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown presents a magical underground city a mere bowshot from the dungeon. Visit and find:

A lovingly described adventure backdrop, with a remarkable history and quirky residents (including powerful non-delvers with full character sheets).
Stats for guards and security measures – and notes on laws and customs – to make would-be troublemakers think twice.
Guidelines for "civilized" heroes who want to serve on the Town Watch or even own property.
Numerous rumors, intrigues, and potential quests.
Over a dozen brief dungeon descriptions to expand into adventures.
Expanded rules useful in any town, covering quest-finding, trade, bespoke gear (including magic items), healing at the temple, and more.
Welcome to Caverntown!
"

I've seen it already, and it's a nice, non-generic but very DF town for a dungeon-centric game.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Reddit Effect / GURPS doesn't do that

Periodically, I get a sudden influx of hits on my blog sourced to Reddit. It's not always Reddit - sometimes it's RPG.net or another forum, but mostly it's Reddit.

Pretty much, this is how it goes:

- I see an influx of hits, so I follow it back to check who is linking to me about what.

- I find some discussion about fantasy gaming / dungeon fantasy gaming / GURPS where someone says, basically, "Hey, this guy has run like a hundred sessions of GURPS playing a megadungeon!"

- I check the rest of the thread, which is full of "GURPS doesn't do that" or "GURPS isn't suited for that" posts. Because, you know, actual evidence that it does do that doesn't actually comprise evidence that it does do that.

- I sigh and move on.

Today I added this step of blogging about it. But it's so typical of Internet discussions. It's nice to get exposure, but it's hard not to be a little disappointed that me playing GURPS-based dungeon fantasy games doesn't actually even convince people to consider that it might be possible to do what I'm doing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

GMed games have options, CRPGs must anticipate them

Over on his blog, CRPG Addict pretty much sums up what I like about playing face-to-face, tabletop, "theater of the mind" games by highlighting a positive aspect of Ultima Underworld:

"Add to all of these things an overall approach that isn't offered here for the first time, but perhaps for the first fully-realized time: the ability to explore and solve puzzles from multiple perspectives. Take something as simple as opening a door. I'm hard-pressed to think of a game from even the last 10 years that takes as realistic (and yet still challenging) an approach as Ultima Underworld, where you can pick it, smash it (including with spells), cast an "Open" spell on it, or find the key. Just as in the real world, some doors are sturdier than others or harder to pick than others. Once opened, you can even close and lock them behind you. Meanwhile, in Fallout 4, 23 years later, just to preserve the integrity of their little lockpicking mini-game, I can't even nuke a door open."

That's a great thing for a computer game to do - give you a lot of options for dealing with a situation as mundane as a door. All are realistic within the confines of the game, and all have costs and consequences. You can't lock a door shut once you've shattered it, magic costs energy, and finding keys takes effort.

A poor GM will wall off options because he or she didn't think of them. A good game system will give you a basic structure to judge how well or poorly PCs can pull off actions* but doesn't attempt to cover everything. The challenge for game writers for computer games is you pretty much do need to think of everything, because you're not there to rule on it when it comes up.

That GM-can-rule bit is one of the things I really love about my hobby.



* Not to say systems that lack such are bad, just that they lack them. For people who don't have a good way to judge success or failure, having a basic underlying system is really critical. My opinions are colored by playing by-the-book as a kid. You don't hack down doors because there aren't rules for hacking down doors. You can pick them, force them, or just stop playing. Heh.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Post-Combat Shakes for DF, expanded

Post-Combat Shakes [-5] isn't recommended for DF. But hey, with sufficient imagination, it could be.

Combat is tough, and can cost 1 + encumbrance in FP. Plus, wizards are always dropping you 5 more FP with Great Haste, undead enervate you with FP-draining touches, and GMs saying stuff like, "That felt long, everyone lose an extra FP!"

Plus, you want to get the most out of your combats. While you mostly want to rely on strength and agility potions pre-combat and healing potions peri-combat, post-combat, it's all about healing and those post-combat shakes.

Here are three of my favorite post-combat shakes. All three are meal-replacement style, with protein, fats, and starchy carbohydrates to provide a mix of satiety (protein), steady digestion (fats), and quickly accessible energy to replenish the stores of glycogen in your muscles (starchy carbohydrates). Pick something that won't bother your stomach before the next combat.

Blend and drink immediately! Remember a good, loud blender (like my Vitamix) will attract wandering monsters on a 9 or less. Consider a quieter blender if possible. All of these are available in the Felltower cafe on the fabled Tavern Level of Felltower for only 5 sp each. Guaranteed to restore 1 FP immediately (limit 1 shake per combat, SM+1 or larger require 1+SM shakes to gain back 1 FP).



Banana Milkshake
8-12 oz unsweetened almond milk or whole milk
4-6 ice cubes
1 large banana
1 serving vanilla protein powder*
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon (I prefer ceylon cinnamon)
1 pinch of salt

Chocolate PBJ
8-12 oz almond milk or whole milk
4-6 ice cubes
1 tbsp grape jelly
1 tbsp peanut butter (almond butter, if you're allergic)
1 serving chocolate protein powder*
1 pinch of salt

Pumpkin Pie
12 oz almond milk or water
4-6 ice cubes
8 oz canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon (I prefer ceylon cinnamon)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 pinch of salt

(Warning - comes out very thick!)

If you need a shake you can carry into the dungeon warm, I recommend this one:

Cherry Chocolate Bomb
12 oz dark cherry juice (unsweetened)
1 serving chocolate protein powder*
40-50g of pure starchy carbs (50/50 maltodextrin/dexstrose mix, waxy maize, UCann starch, blackstrap molasses, or honey)

This one you can just shake and drink, no blending necessary! (Warning: mix with warm water, cold water will cause heavy clumping)

Optional adds to any of the above:
5g of Creatine Monohydrate
5-10g of L-Glutamine (especially after a long workout)
5-10g of 4:1:1 ratio BCAAs (warning: extremely bitter, probably not necessary unless your combat was very long or you spent a lot of time under Great Haste)
1 scoop Amazing Grass greens powder
1 cup of rolled oatmeal or granola (for I-framed/Ectomorphic delvers who burn carbohydrates like crazy during combat.)

* My top favorites are ON 100% Whey, LifeTime's line of proteins, and TrueNutrition's line of proteins (PDO111 gets 5% off) (especially pea and New Zealand grass-fed whey). FWIW I get a piece of any of those sales, but those are also the proteins I prefer the most. I wouldn't recommend stuff that sucks even if I got a piece of it.



So this started as just me channeling Gilda Radner as Emily Litella on SNL, but I may need to repost this on my S&C blog and send it to my clients.
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