Saturday, June 30, 2018

AD&D Ghoul Paralysis, resolved

Remember how I couldn't find the duration of ghoul paralysis back when I ran White Plume Mountain with AD&D?

Well, Dave Brown did, and sent me this email (posted with his permission):

"I seem to recall you mentioning ghoul paralysis in your White Plume Mountain session a while back.

Today, while looking over a very old issue of Dragon Magazine (#39 July 1980), I found THIS:

Question: In TD-37’s “Sage Advice” there was a question
referring to the paralysis caused by ghouls, ghasts and
carrion crawlers. The reply stated that the duration of the
paralysis was not clearly defined in any of the rule books.
However, a duration for the paralysis inflicted by ghouls is
given on page 15 of T1, The Village of Hommlet. It states that
“Any human or demi-human must save vs. paralyzation or
become immobile for 3-12 turns.” I suppose this is the
official word. Still, what is the duration of the paralysis
caused by ghasts and carrion crawlers?

Answer: According to Lawrence Schick, Vice-President for
Production and Design at TSR Hobbies, the paralyzation caused by
carrion crawlers is of the same duration as that caused by ghouls—
3-12 turns. Paralyzation caused by a ghast takes twice as long—6-24
turns—to wear off.

I don't recall your table ruling, but I thought you might like to see that they eventually patched it."

So, as Dave pointed out in another email, it took several years - and the author of White Plume Mountain - to answer a question left wide-open by the Monster Manual back in 1977. Geez. So while I undershot the number by a lot, hey, I didn't think to read every Sage Advice column for several years of Dragon magazines until I found one.

And for those who don't read playtester lists too closely, Dave was a very helpful playtester on GURPS Martial Arts.

Friday, June 29, 2018

What next in Gamma Terra?

The other day after game we had some discussion about what to do next in Gamma Terra.

It's been a while since we played, due to a combination of factors. But one of them in us not knowing what to do next.

With a handful of the players around, we had some useful discussion.

We left it at:

- we want to loot that factory. To do so, we need androids.

- we want the Princess, the big floating cruise ship.

- we want to take all of this cool loot home with us.

To do that, it seems like the plan is:

1) Tell our allies we'll provide some androids.

2) Go back on Sweaty aka Warbot and get some of those droids (or send Sweaty back to get them with one of our absent PCs, and bring back Barbie with them along with our new player's new PC.)

3) Find a way to peacefully - hopefully - evict the Little Thieves from the factory.

4) Get the factory running with our androids.

5) Clear the cats off of the Princess.

6) Trade off with the Fit to get someone to help fix the Princess.

7) Load up the Princess with all of our loot, the cars from that lot, the bots we make, etc. - and head back to base.

8) Decide what's next.

Should be doable, right?

We'll see.

I'm not sure when the next session is - probably August - but we've got a rough plan, now, which is far more than we had in the time between last session and now!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Fantastic (Dungeon) Grappling playtest in Felltower

Our group got a preview of Douglas Cole's grappling rules from his new Kickstarter, Hall of Judgment.*

It saw use during a session of our DFRPG game, Felltower.

We had only a single grappling situation come up in play, but it was a critical display of the rules.

A strong and powerful knight had been charmed by some murderous nymphs, and was prepared to march to his doom. "Reward" as he saw it. Another PC, a brand-new swashbuckler, dropped his weapon and grabbed his friend to keep him from doing so. In an amazing series of excellent rolls, he was able to prevent the knight from simply walking away from the group. He held him for a couple critical seconds before the group's most powerful PC, another knight, was able to drop his weapon and grab the charmed knight. Together they pull him from his feet and dragged him bodily to safety.

The Hall of Judgment rules? They were able to support that. They did so . . . okay. Well, but not exactly in a way that gave us results we felt reflected how it should play out. We modified them on the fly to support them. The Fantastic Dungeon Grappling rules were able to take that change without breaking.

Some of our experience was colored by the fact that we've been using a modified and simplified set of the rules from GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling for a while. Rules, in fact, developed by Doug and I, then simplified even further and twisted into shape by repeated contact with the PCs. So we already know that using Control Points is awesome and enhances the game - they've been doing so in our own game for a while. We already knew what kind of CP effect calculations we liked, how to resolve grappling as an attack and how to simplify the myriad of details in Technical Grappling into a DFRPG-friendly roll-and-resolve speedy system of play. We came into it with our own homebrew knowing what works and what was clunky. We already knew that CP make the game better and more fun. They add a small amount of detail and tracking for a lot of drama and excitement.

So naturally, therefore, there were bits to Fantastic (Dungeon) Grappling that didn't appeal to the Dungeon Fantastic family of adventurers. Mostly, areas where the new rules were very close to ours, but differed in little ways that didn't appeal to us as much as our own. But there were plenty that did.

Where we'd been using a calculation to determine DX penalties and movement penalties, Doug had a simplified table written. We found the table was much faster. No longer would we calculate everyone's CP, their modified DX, their modified ST - we could just record CP and check the table. Much better than before. We also liked the simplified bonuses for skills. We'd done basically the same thing a while back, so we really liked seeing that integrated into the system. The system changed some little things that we'd house ruled away in the past, too.

Our older rules didn't really address forcing someone to move around with you. These did - and as you can see, it was a big deal. That we came up with suggested changes to them shows how valuable we recognize they are - they're going to keep playing a role in our game. We sent Doug a long list of suggestions, questions, and comments that he integrated into the rules (or rejected, or modified) as he saw fit. I think we gave Doug the tools to make the Fantastic Dungeon Grappling rules a bit better. And I like that his version of "simplified Technical Grappling" meshed well with ours, which will make our game better.

So overall?

These are good rules, and you should consider backing Hall of Judgment just to get them.

* Not really a surprise, is it? Doug and I have co-written some material, we playtest each other's stuff - we even worked on grappling articles together and have done some basic work on a modified version of Technical Grappling for Dungeon Fantasy. He is even responsible for the name Felltower and the name of Sterick and hence Stericksburg. So this is news like "fire is hot" is news. But hey, for folks who don't know us - fire is hot.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Speeding Up In-Town Logistics - the GM's to-do list

I posted the other day about speeding up in-town logistics largely aimed at what the players need to do.

I have some of my own work to do, and I'm getting on with it.

- emailing people about research requests, special orders, and XP early. As in today, weeks out from next game day. If they need to get in their requests, so do I.

- following up on previous requests for information and pricing.

- ensuring the players and I are on the same page about what they want for the next game.

- start writing the rumors earlier.

Not a big list, for sure. But I do tend to put away my Felltower stuff after the game, write the summary, and then leave it sitting for weeks until 2-3 days out from game day. Then I start to do my pre-game prep. I need to get on that faster, as the players really held up their end of the "let's speed this up" bargain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Advanced Labyrinth Lord

I backed this:

It would be nice to have a one-book LL that combines both the basic rules with all of the Advanced Edition Companion rules in one volume.

Monday, June 25, 2018


Here is that basilisk that the PCs encountered yesterday. I'm sad that I only own one of these:

He's just a series of layered browns, brushed with brown magic wash, with metallic peridot eyes.

I probably should have painted his talons a different color, but the mini is pretty small and looks good on the table.

I should get another one or two of that mini.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

GURPS DF Session 105, Felltower 77 - For Want of Dispel Magic

Date: June 24th, 2018

Weather: Very warm, partly cloudy.

Alaric, human scout (262 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (372 points)
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (250 points)
Hayden the Unnamed, human knight (277 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (341 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
Jasper, human swashbuckler (250 points)
Vryce, human knight (509 points)

We started in town, gathering rumors and buying potions. All went pretty smoothly and very quickly, all things considered. Brother Ike tried to make holy Continual Light stones, but the Good God was clearly not happy with Mr. Hjalmarr, and punished him by taking the spell away from Ike for a while (he rolled an 18.) Gwynneth stepped up and made some.

The group headed right off to Felltower Castle, passing the headless statue of Sterick unmolested - none of the usual vandals were with the group, and Hjalmarr no longer even shakes his axe at the statue.

They climbed the castle easily enough, with Gwynneth lowering a rope after using Levitate. They climbed down the trapdoor entrance, and worked their way to the bottom of the giant staircase with no difficulty.

From there, they headed right for the giant orichalcum doors they'd previously discovered, since Jasper insisted the key they'd just found must be for those doors he'd heard them discuss.

They made it there pretty easily, and didn't hear a click or anything of the sort. No traps on the stairs, either. They did hear some distant scraping noises, but disregarded them. They found one of the black hemispheres they'd shattered was now fully intact. So the scouts shot it apart from a distance. After that, they made it to the big doors.

The doors are maybe 18' tall and 9'+ wide each, made of orichalcum, and covered with pictographs of birds, animals, fish, and weird symbols and squiggles connecting them all. Someone had painted a white triangle across the midpoint of the doors around arm level for a normal person. Hayden identified the pictographs as being from a lost civilization in the western deserts near Sham.

They began to search them for a keyhole. None was obvious. Hjlamarr took the key and touched it to the doors.

"That's not how keys work" pointed out Vryce helpfully, as the doors failed to open at the touch.

Alaric began to search the doors for a keyhole, inside the various symbols and so on. Naturally they started with the ones inside the triangle but there was nothing noticed there. As they waited, though, they began to hear a drag-stomp, drag-stomp muffled by doors. They immediately hightailed it out of there.

They headed to the trapped corridor. They found the traps they'd so frequently faced had been dismantled and removed, all except for the pressure plate. They avoided that and headed straight ahead. They soon found the corridor ended in caves, and head that drag-stomp, drag-stomp. Uh-oh, it was merely the "back way' to the Lord of Spite's caves. They retreated back and went around to the baffled hallway and toward the gnome's room. They found that the doorway nearest to the gnome's door was trapped with a tripwire leading to a covered tube around head level. "A tube of rot grubs!" suggested Galen, which upset Hjalmarr a lot. That set Hayden off talking about his buddy Quenton's rot grub launching blowpipe, which didn't make Hjalmarr any happier.

They continued on past Phase Snake Junction and past it, despite Jasper's urging that they go to the golems. He said, "I just want to hit something!"

From there they briefly checked on the "prison" and saw it was still there. They moved on. "That area is dead to us" said Hjalmarr, or something to that effect.

From there they found a new corridor they hadn't taken, and headed that way. They found a T intersection and heard scraping and hissing from the left, and smelled a musky odor. Maybe snakes or lizards? They formed up and headed that way, since anything in that direction was clearly stirring.

They moved down the hallway with the heaviest fighters in the lead, and Jasper impatiently moving up in the rear. They came to the corner of a room with a pair of pillars (a gate?) and two hissing eight-legged lizards.


They shot their death gazes at Hjalmarr and Hayden, who both resisted and took some injury (2 and 5, respectively, if I recall correctly.) The PCs charged. They couldn't reach either on the first move, and Vryce and Hjalmarr took death gazes and again resisted, taking some injury but not the drop straight to near-death that basilisks are infamous for. Galen shot two arrows at one's eyes, missing one and hitting with the other, but the nearsighted basilisk managed to see the arrow in time and dodged! Alaric moved up and shot the same one twice and injured it badly. Jaspar ran up, just short of the basilisks. But even as they death-gazed the PCs, Hjalmarr closed in and chopped the wounded basilisk in the neck twice, with each blow being serious enough to probably kill it. It dropped, dead. Vryce sliced in the other apart with two serious blows (one did 32 damage, and his poorer one in the low 20s) and it died. Jasper was inconsolable, he didn't get to hit anything. The group tried to tell him that they couldn't spare even a split second, as the basilisks could kill them far too easily.

They searched the room, which thanks to a mispronunciation by Hjalmarr, is now called the Basilika. They found two unhatched basilisk eggs, and one with a split in it. Ike, meanwhile, was tasked with cutting out the valuable eyes. He managed to remove 3 of the 4, and they packed them in a cut up sack in the bottom of an empty quiver. The unhatched eggs they wrapped in Alaric's owlbear pelt cloak and put it in Vryce's backpack. They debated about what to do with the other. Hatch it? Keep it? Destroy it? Leave it alone? Hjalmarr really wanted to keep it. Someone argued it would bond with them when it was born, and they'd have a basilisk. Wiser heads prevailed and Hjalmarr reluctantly sliced it in half, finding after that he'd killed a nearly-hatched infant basilisk.

From there they examined the columns but whatever gate was there, was dead.

They found another nearby corridor and moved down it. Along the walls, increasing in numbers as they headed down it, were sigils, runes, and symbols of all kinds. Gwynneth said they weren't hazardous. By the end of the corridor, the walls and ceiling were covered with them. They clearly denoted strong magical power and affinity with water. Gwynneth detected the area was strong aspected pro-Water college spells and against Fire college spells.

Ahead of them was a "landing" in a water-filled cave. The land was just damp/wet cave floor that trailed off into water. The water was cobalt blue. They decided this was clearly "the water gate" since they'd found the air gate. They backed off without much exploration or examination.

The area they were in had no other ways out, so they moved on.

They eventually found themselves in an area they thought looked familiar on their map. So they spent about 20-30 minutes neatening up the map. Luckily for them nothing turned up to try and eat them.

They moved into some nearby caves, certain it was near the sinkhole they'd found a while back.

They took a tunnel they'd avoided before, and down a slippery slope to a damp room where they heard water dripping. In it was a small pool and a larger pool. Again, they decided to back off as they had nothing like Breath Water to explore with. But Jasper wanted to find out how deep the pools were. So he rushed in and dipped his staff into the smaller pool. It went all the way down without touching bottom! He moved to the next one and stuck in his staff. As his hands reached the water, a watery hand reached out and touched him! He felt momentarily paralyzed but snapped out of it in an instant. He stood, swept his staff up out of the water and around and hit the hand - he swung three times but the first splashed the watery hand into droplets. A moment later three beautiful watery forms rose from the pool - water nymphs!

The party turned to run, and Hjalmarr yelled at Jasper to run. He backed off so he could keep hitting the nymphs. One tried to reach him and he parried aside the hand and splashed it away. One of them, however, cast a spell on him. He resisted, thanks to Luck, despite his average Will. He started to run. Hjalmarr had been close behind. As Jasper ran she tried again, and he resisted. The nymphs turned on Hjalmarr in a moment, and cast on him. Hjalmarr resisted, thanks to Luck. A second later, though, he failed, and was charmed! He began to head toward the nymphs. Jasper dropped his staff and grabbed at Hjlamarr, and put 6 CP on him - his maximum. Hjlamarr tried to tear away from his grip and march away, but despite the odds (ST 13 vs. ST 18) Jasper handily kept him from moving! He did so again a second later, all the while resisting another Charm. Vryce grabbed Hjalmarr for another 10 CP, and he also resisted a Charm, barely (despite his Will 16.) With both holding Hjalmarr, they dragged him away.

As this was happening, Galen ran up and took two shots through the crowd at the main nymph. He hit her once, to no real effect . . . but missed the other because he slammed an arrow into Gwynneth, who was partially blocking his aim. Oops. He rolled maximum damage and Gwynneth dropped, barely making a death check. He sighed, stopped and grabbed her, and dragged him away.

They made it to safety and then Gwynneth snuck up closer and used Apportation to retrieve Jasper's staff from where he dropped it to grab Hjalmarr.

They sat on Hjalmarr and tried to figure out how to help him. No one knew Remove Curse or Dispel Magic. No one had an Alchemical Antidote, and it wasn't clear it would help (it wouldn't have.) So they tried slapping some sense into Hjalmarr. Hayden took off Hjalmarr's helmet as Hjalmarr said the nymphs were friendly, and had treasure and "other things" they wanted to share with him. Hayden slapped him. "I'll pull it to 1d" said his player. 6. BAM. Hard enough that it would have been a major wound on a normal person. It didn't work. He balled up a fist to "help" further. Ike used Command to Sleep, but that didn't work as it's an impossible command.

In the end, though, they decided to choke him out so they could put an unresisted Healing Slumber on him, and did so. They tied him up in any case, and made a litter out of a cloak - no one ever explained whose cloak - and two staves. Hayden and Jasper carried him.

They went and rested for a bit, but still Hjalmarr was still charmed. So Hayden choked him out against and they repeated the process. Down effectively three fighters, they had to be careful. No Dispel Magic meant they couldn't solve this problem in the dungeon, unless the charm timed out on its own. It became clear it would not.

They explored after this, finding a few more areas:

- the sinkhole.

- a set of windy, possibly natural stairs down a short distance. At the end of that was a cave, and there was a natural-seeming pair of columns embedded in the upper-right wall with a shimmering between them. Another gate! "Earth gate," they decided.

- they found the narrow passage that had frustrated them in the past, and Jasper suggested Shape Earth to widen it. They did so.

Beyond that, they found a nook with a skull in it, with a dagger rammed into the crown. They backed up a bit, carefully looking it over. Detect Magic revealed the dagger was not magical. So what was up here? Should they take it for Gerry to question?

Jasper strode forward and grabbed the skull.

And set off the deadfall rockfall trap. Stones crashed down on him. He blew his Per roll, and took 26 damage - he used Luck to re-roll that, and got it down to 22, half to his torso and half to his skull. Thanks to some solid skull DR (6) he wasn't killed outright, but was forced to make a death check. He passed that, but failed the KO roll. He dropped under a pile of rocks. They dug him out, and were relieved to find him still alive. Ike went to work. His skull - like the one he'd tried to retrieve - was broken. But a series of healing spells, First Aid, and a touch from the Staff of Healing brought Jasper back to full. But as they rested and healed, a sharp and acrid - yet faint - odor was detected. Several of the PCs took some FP loss from their long-term pile. They felt uneasy.

They moved back and headed back the way they came. They eventually decided on a shortcut, gambling that their map was right and they were close to the exit. They were, and found their way to the octagonal room by the other door. From there they headed to the stairs. They spent about 20 minutes debating going to explore elsewhere, but then decided on just heading home. They did so, stopped at the secret room with the red hand so Gwynneth could touch it.

They made it back safely to town, and got 580 sp for the two eggs and three eyes. They divided it up amongst everyone but Vryce.


Spending XP by email actually sped things up a lot. We'll keep doing that.

We had an interesting test of an aspect of Douglas Cole's grappling rules for his new Kickstarter. I'd made my own set of simplified grappling rules off of Doug's Technical Grappling, in collaboration with Doug. But we tried his mostly straight-up and sent along our comments. We really liked one aspect of the rules, and liked the concept behind one of them but the execution left us with questions I sent along to Doug. Hopefully it'll help make our game and his supplement better for having tried them.

I love my version of the basilisk, shown off in DFM3, and I love what it became after Sean Punch weighed in on it and then Christopher Rice suggested upgunning it. They are scary, and even against high-HT PCs it's only a matter of time. The PCs did well to make it a race and stamp on Jasper's player's desire to get some blows in. One extra turn would have been extra damage, and who knows, maybe a PC without Luck would have blown a roll or two and died outright. You can't risk that.

MVP for the session was Hayden. Jasper's player furiously lobbied for himself for all of the truly amazing rolls he made. But he made them all after doing things that stirred up trouble that derailed the ability of the group to explore, so eventually they decided that cancelled out. Hayden's amusing 6 injury slap to Hjlamarr and then choking him out twice so he couldn't resist Healing Slumber was pretty funny, and that got him MVP. Everyone got 1 xp for exploration, and either 2 xp for loot or 0 (Vryce only.)

Fun session, but it was kind of sad that a lasting charm power derailed it. But they did choose to go into the dungeon without any ability to counter hostile spells of the sort. They probably won't do that again. For want of Dispel Magic, much exploration and risk-taking had to be severely curtailed.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Speeding up town logistics in Felltower

We play a good, long session of Felltower every few weeks. But it does seem like that soon enough it's like 6-7 pm, there is only a little loot on the table, and the players are desperate to make loot. So they push into new areas, start large fights, explore dangerous traps, etc.

Then we play until 9 pm or so. This sucks for me less than it used to - Monday is now an afternoon-and-night day, not a pre-dawn rise like it had been. But we have players who live in different states, players who work on Monday morning (most of them), and even a young kid who games.

One solution is to get out of the gate faster - finish up the "town" portion of the session and get into the dungeon quicker. Here is what we're doing:

- you have to spend points ahead of time, by email. I'm sure I'll still allow people to spend them in person, if they forgot or get asked to pull a PC out of the reserves and run it. But if most people do their points ahead of time, that cuts out some time we need to spend on that.

- someone proposed a price list of common spellstones, potions, scrolls, etc. to avoid lookup times. I don't know if anyone made one or not.

- no speculative "is this available and how much is it?" rolls. If you're making a roll to see if something is available, we're assuming you've been spending time shopping for it and offered to buy one. In other words, you can't roll to see if something is available, then price it out, then decide if you want it. This should cut down on time spent discussing options based on consumables (usually potions and scrolls) that the PCs might not be able or willing to afford.

- come ready to roll. Take care of your equipment purchases quickly and then we can start.

We're not going to do a hard timer or anything (although we'll set an alarm that says, basically, it's late so don't do anything big.) But we will try to get rolling in the dungeon earlier.

And hopefully "get loot" will be prioritized over "wander around figuring things about and hope some loot appears." Leaving "loot!" until later has made for some tough slogs at the end as the players try to squeeze some out to justify a lot of tramping around.

We'll see how this goes.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Spending points on Allies

According to DF15, pg. 28:

"The player gets to choose his Ally’s template and any packages listed as options for it; e.g., he can declare that his apprentice is a budding necromancer, or request an archer who’s actually a slinger."

but it also says

"Ultimately, the GM designs Allies. Subject to the above guidance, the GM picks out advantages, disadvantages, skills, and spells; he might ask the player for input, but that’s just a courtesy."


"The GM shouldn’t do mean things like give a swashbuckler who wants to pass along his rapier mastery a protégé who knows Smallsword but not Rapier, but he’s under no obligation to create an optimized stats-monster merely because that’s what the player would do.

I'm quoting these because it's about time to put some points into Brother Ike, Hjalmarr's 50% point value Ally. Hjalmarr's player has sent me some requests and suggestions.

But ultimately it's up to me.

So I have a lot of decisions to make.

Brother Ike is originally a healer. He was requested as one, and I designed him as one. But at the same time, he's been getting more and more general cleric demands. Be effective against demons and undead. Be knowledgeable about religions and theology. Have a plethora of healing spells. Have a lot of power. Be capable of effective Last Ditch prayers. Have some cool power-ups that improve his offensive power and his defensive resistances.

In short, the demands went from "someone needs a healer!" to "we need a full-fledged cleric." No one particularly wants to run a full-fledged cleric, and the ones that do mostly want to leave healing and knowledge and so on off of the table to focus on other areas. Ike's in quite a bind.

I'm currently waffling between a few things. It's tempting to min-max him to PI 6 as soon as possible so he can use any cleric spells. But at the same time, he has some gaping holes as a delver. He's a poor climber. His DX is low-ish (11). His IQ is okay (13) but less than clerics need to be (14). He is slow. He is weak. He has low skills in some basic delver and cleric abilities. He needs more Energy Reserve. He's already got 15+ in all of his spells.

So it's an interesting situation. Min-max? Round him out? Start making bigger investments towards being a full-fledged cleric (many sessions and points away)?

We'll see. He has about 15 points to spend now. In a delve or two he could be open to raising almost anything.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Party Size Penalties for share-taking NPCs in Felltower

Here is a proposed mechanic for "entrepreneur" NPCs - the ones who delve for a share of loot. After all, they're coming a long for a shot at riches. The more delvers who come, the less risk - but the less reward.

Paid hirelings are unaffected by this. The more the merrier - and the more that come, the more likely they are to come home safe!

For every share-taking character past 4, availability rolls for share-taking NPCs are at -1.

For example, 7 PCs, 1 NPC ally, and 3 hired hands are delving. Raggi is currently available on a 9 or less, the Meeposian Brothers on a standard hireling search roll. Seven share-taking characters worth a -3 to these rolls. Raggi is available on a 6 or less, the Meeposian brothers on a search roll at -3.

Notes: These numbers are set based on my campaign, which now has 11 players who have played at least one session in the past few months. -1 past 4 means -7 if everyone shows up, which is pretty reasonable when a share is maybe 8% of the total haul.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hall of Judgment for DFRPG fully funds quickly

I put up a post yesterday about Doug's new Kickstarter.

It's already fully funded and then some.

I think Doug's a little surprised by this.

Me, not so much.

This isn't his first go-around on a product. Or on a Kickstarter. He's got a proven track record of:

- delivering everything he promises

- doing so on time

- do so without extra expenses to the backers

- often exceeding what he promised

- and showing his math so you know what all the funding is about, and how it works.

So even if GURPS fans are badly outnumbered by D&D5 fans, this project stands on the shoulders of the Kickstarters Doug has delivered on before. It makes it an easy back from an enthusiastic audience.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hall of Judgment for DFRPG

Douglas Cole's Hall of Judgment is now in production for in a Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game version.

I backed it for $10 for a PDF so far, but I'm probably going to upgrade to print.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Dragon Heresy Introductory Set PDF - Arrived!

Douglas Cole's Dragon Heresy Introductory Set PDF was released over the weekend. I downloaded my copy and I've been digging into it.

I'll try to get up a review if I have time. But just some highlights:

- It's beautiful. The art is excellent and the fonts and layouts make for a book that is easy to read and enjoyable to look at.

- the rules are tight. They've been gone over so many times now, that they read smoothly and I know from experience that they play well. Even when I was running a PC ported in from straight-up D&D5 and not generated with the Dragon Heresy rules

- there is a lot in the way of character options and races. While "introductory" there is a lot of meat here, enough to actually start and run a DH game.

I skipped out on the hardcopy. I was sorely tempted - and originally pledged for it. But I had to consider the amount of shelf space I have and my actual need for a hardcopy. I decided I'd save my hobby funds for getting the hardback of the full set when Doug finally launches it. That I will want in my hands and on my shelf.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Felltower Bookkeeping & FAQs answered


I needed to do some player-facing bookkeeping in Felltower, so it's about time I get that done.

Galen Longtread is back, and I needed to do some bookkeeping for him.

First, he had ordered Bracelet of Iron Arm before he left, at Power 15 and with the Power enchantment. Since it's cast on himself, Power 15 is sufficient for "always succeeds" and doesn't require a roll to activate. However, we ditched the Power enchantment and replaced with with a mix of additional "Always On" items and the rules you see in DFRPG Magic Items.

Galen gets a refund of 500 power x $20 = $10,000 cash.


A few PCs still don't have quirks. If they still don't by next game, I'm going to pick some more or less at random from the Quirks book! Hurrah for vindictive GMing!

Okay, maybe not vindictive. Too lax. I have PCs on my GCA files with undefined quirks and 10+ delves under their belts. If I wanted to just give you 5 points for nothing, I'd have handed out 255 points.


I updated the Rumors Heard file to put it up in our shared resources folder.


Can I buy Lifting ST or Striking ST?

Is it on your template? Then yes, up to the level limit specified. If not, then no. If you wish to buy it off-template, you'll need a Lens from a template that has it.

This is for two reasons, one template-related and one campaign-related.

The template-related one is that the templates often come with a specified level of Lifting ST or Striking ST, complete with a limit. It's unfair to say, for example, Knights can get Striking ST 2 but anyone can buy it off-template later. If anyone can buy it, at whatever level I specify as a limit, then Knights should have that at +2. This implies strongly that the limit is 0 unless specified on the template that it is higher.

The campaign-related one is that I like the strong template distinctions. The question generally is about Lifting ST, because people want to carry more and more gear and wear heavier and heavier armor and get the ST needed to raise their BL to the point that they can do so without raising their encumbrance. Note this is about Encumbrance, not Move - Basic Move can often be raised to a level sufficient to speed up the PC. But getting from Medium (2) to Light (1) means dropping a -2 to Dodge to a -1 to Dodge, 2 FP lost after a fight to 1 FP lost after a fight, a larger margin before a -3 and 0.4x Move modifier, etc. To avoid everyone spending 3/level and upping Lifting ST to carry more stuff and more DR, I keep it strictly to those templates that allow it.

Which Templates? DFRPG or DF?

Either way. I allow any and all versions of the templates allowed, from either source.

Which armor?

On a starting PC? DFRPG. On an existing one? You can keep your old stuff, but you can't replace it.

Can I buy X or Y later? It's on my template. Can I start with Z? It's not.

If it's on your template, then yes - start with it or buy it freely later. If it's not on your template, you can't start with it or buy it later unless it's a designated Power-Up. In that case, go for it.

That's a really frequently asked question, probably because I keep adding new players unfamiliar with the way this campaign is run.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Comic-Style Wargame Recap

I was looking at the excellent and evocative paint jobs on these Mordheim minis over on Belched From the Depths:

Mordheim Undead Gang

In the descriptions he links to this awesome after-action report of a Mordheim game done as a comic book!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Random Thoughts for Friday 6/15

Just a few random gaming thoughts for Friday.

- I can't wait to use the GURPS rules for influence rolls on PCs for PC vs. PC social skill rolls in my DF/DFRPG game. It's a-coming.

- I'm way behind on my mini painting. I've had a little more free time, in theory, but in practice I've used it for extra study, extra sleep, and doing extra chores. I will try to get the rest of my orcs painted ASAP so I can deploy them against the players when they finally decide to solve that.

- I need to make a copy of the Black Reaver story by Brand the Magician from the Rolemaster Companion for a handout. It's the front page cover of my DF GM Book - a binder of printed DF PDFs for quick reference.

- I'm slowly working my way through the updated Dungeon Alphabet. It's really enjoyable, but again, work-related reading and study has been taking priority.

- While I'm okay with large groups of PCs, I may need to either rule that past X PCs, there are no non-Ally NPCs available for easy recruitment (except possibly specialty hirelings), or apply a per-character penalty to appearance rolls. So if Raggi is 12- for a 5-man group, he's 8- for a 9-man group, etc. Might be a good way to allow for appearances without overwhelming the GM. I'll need to think that over more and post some rules ideas based on it.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Intro stories for our new DF PCs

Since I was asked, here is what I know about the new PCs.

Gwynneth is a female elf. She's apparently Aldwyn's girlfriend.* However, she didn't balk at being described as belonging to Vryce.

Several of the PCs joked, wait until Mo meets her. But they forget - Mo doesn't have a female elf thing. Female elves - every last one of them - have a Mo thing. He's got the Mo-jo when it comes to those dainty elfesses. So she came as a referral from Aldwyn. He might regret that when she meets Mo thanks to adventuring with them. She doesn't seem evil on the surface, but she does have Magery, which is a fairly evil trait in actual play. Or maybe it's more of a precursor to evil acts. In any case, she wants to discover lost magics.

Jasper, on the other hand, is a man of mystery. His appearance? "Regular human." He's so normal it's worth remarking how regular of a human he is. Except for having one eye, and a nasty scar across that missing eye. What happened? He won't say. He refuses to go anywhere unarmed and won't turn down a challenge to combat. He's forgetful (like, about he lost his eye). He's both overconfident and impulsive. Yet, again, mystery - he hates cold weather, but he's in a northern clime with chill mornings and snowy winters. He seems to know Vryce, quite well, but neither of them have disclosed how.

* She's run by the same player who runs Alwdyn. Maybe I need to make a "who plays who" chart.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Quick Tips for a 9-player session

We had nine players at our last session.*

How do I manage that?

No Equality, Only Fairness

I don't make sure everyone gets screen time. I don't make sure everyone gets equal time. I just make sure everyone gets the time they need to do the things they are doing in game. If you're passive, you'll observe more. If you're active, you'll do more. I don't make sure to bring up the passive players and restrain the active players. I just try to adjudicate play and focus on whoever is appropriate for the in-game situation.

At this point, I don't even go out of my way to make sure I hear out the 9-year old in our group. He's played enough to know to speak up when he wants to do something.

Let them Wander

I get annoyed with people who are doing more of something not-game than game. But a certain amount of attention-wandering is needed.

If someone gets a little bored or antsy and needs to had a sidebar conversation with a player, go for a smoke, go outside and throw hatchets and knives, check their Instagram, it's all good. As long as they don't miss their combat turns and don't neglect the game, we're fine.

Heck, I stop mid-sentence and reply to emails about my Monday schedule. It needs to get done, so I do it and move right back to game.

Trust them

My players manage encumbrance to the 1/4 pound, they deal with mana recovery, they track HP, cumulative healing penalties, ammunition, potions, rations, light sources, etc. etc. on their own. If they need to roll for that stuff, they do it. I don't even check, unless I hear something that doesn't make sense - and usually it's because I lack a piece of information. They fill me in and we move on.

I track the things they can't - the monsters, the dungeon, etc. - or won't - FP, conditions, and so on.

You can't run a game for nine people and watch them all do everything and double-check it for them. They'll play it straight. At least mine will. I can save my attention for other things.

Nothing really huge there, but that's how I manage nine players. If our other two regulars had made it, for a full gaming crew, it would have been eleven.

I'd just have scaled up the above.

* And 2/3 of them were from two families. A father and two sons, and two brothers and one's son. If only my cousin had shown up to help balance things a little!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

GURPS DF Session 104, Felltower 76 - Bottle Puzzle

Date: 6/10/2018

Weather: Warm, cloudy, misty.

Alaric, human scout (262 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (446 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (372 points)
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (250 points)
Hayden the Unnamed, human knight (277 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (341 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
Jasper, human swashbuckler (250 points)
Rolan Liadon, wood elf scout (263 points)
Vryce, human knight (509 points)

We started in town, with the group gathering rumors and purchasing gear. Galen stayed in town, despite his contempt for urbanites, and lived it up a bit now that his cash and equipment arrived. Much more lavishly equipped, he started to look into getting his dragon horn (taken back in session 46) turned into a composite bow.

The group gathered up and headed out, sans Rolan, who was a late joiner (the player originally couldn't make it, but plans changed during the day and he jumped in.)

With a group heavy on Levitation spells and Climbing skills, getting over the walls was trivial. The hatchway was still open so they climbed down and headed to the second level, and from there directly to the giant staircase down to the levels deeper.

At the bottom of the stairs, Dryst created a Wizard Eye on the far side of the door and put Dark Vision on himself. He sent the eye toward the octagonal room - and in it he saw two cone-hatted figures with axes and maces, standing guard. The party opened up the door and rushed out. The two figures moved quickly, opening the door to the party's right and stepping through. Dryst moved up and cast Trace on one of them - I figured Seeker doesn't make sense as a requirement for something in front of you. He tagged one of the figures and followed them through the door. That got his eye spotted, however, and it was cut down by one of the axemen. They closed the door with a too-familiar "click."

The PCs rushed up to the door and then faced the usually trap-strewn hallway. They ran a servant ahead. Shing! It died under a rain of weighted caltrops. The next died under a crossbow bolt while trying step past an obvious tripline. And so on - a few more died from traps - needle-firing traps, more caltrops, etc., and the "pursuit" became a methodical advance with Galen clearing traps. They eventually made it to the baffles and then moved towards where the norkers had been, and the doors heading away from there. One was barred, so they put Silence on it and Hjalmarr hacked it apart in seconds.

They continued to move carefully, mapping and checking for traps. Dryst sensed the Traced axeman was ahead.

Around this time the close air of the level got to a couple of the PCs, making them feel a bit ill (-1 to some stats.)

They soon found a room blocking their way, with a huge stone block over the doorway. They couldn't see any obvious trigger. So they sent in a servant - nothing. The servant opened up the other door - which set off bells set on posts on the back of that door. They had the servant close it. They then started to jump into the room, past the killzone of the block, one at a time. A servant was in, then Jasper, then Dryst floated in, then Alaric jumped in. As he landed the block fell. It was 10' x 5' x 3' of granite ("So about 1500 pounds" confidently announced of my players. Try nearly 10x that.) Dryst cut it in half.

(At this point, there was a really amusing - to me - discussion of silencing the bells so they wouldn't make noise. Nevermind the sound and impact tremors of 6 tons of stone block dropping 9' to the floor. They gave up on that in any case.)

From there they advanced forward and eventually passed another door. Passed| I meant destroyed. Beyond it was a hallway going left-right and a door ahead with strange writing on it. They determined it was Gnomic, and Gift of Letters revealed it said "Keep Out" and "Do Not Enter." Was the gnomes lair ahead?

Before they explored that, though, they saw some flickering to the right. They checked there - they found a gate, dully shimmering but only translucent. To either archway-side corner were statues of six-fingered cone-hatted robed figured, languidly pointing their left hands at the gate. Like the rotating statues, but without rotating bases.

Dryst sensed the Traced axeman was ahead and down, now. So they needed find a way down, they believed.

Dryst tried Scry Gate but it failed - perhaps the gate was closed. Alaric decided it was a good idea to draw a chalk mustache on one of the statues, so he borrowed chalk from Hayden and went to do so. As soon as he stepped up on the statue's base to reach the face, however, both blasted him with black energy. He lost 6 FP and enough HP to put him deeply negative. He passed a death check and his consciousness check, and stumbled back. Much time and a healing potion or two was spent healing him back to full or nearly so.

Around this time Rolan showed up.

Next they tried the gnome's room. They smelled incense in the air. They forced the door and found a corridor beyond. That smelled more of incense. They reached another door. Alaric spotted something smeared on the door handle, so Dryst created a rag for him to have him wipe it off. He did so, and then opened the door. Thump! A crossbow bolt came out of the room ahead, from the left side, and slammed him in the chest. No one saw it in time to do anything about it. Again, Alaric fell back terribly wounded - and poisoned, too, with the now-traditional four doses of Monster Drool. The group stopped again, this time to remove the crossbow bolt and expend even more resources healing Alaric to mostly-well.

They explored the room. They found a gnome-sized bed, a crossbow set up to shoot at the door, food, wine, an empty armor dummy, and lots of trap-making gear plus some vials, incense, a jar of monster drool, and several full vials (they'd eventually turn out to the Bladeblack and Demon Gas.) While sorting around the in the stuff incautiously, Hjalmarr set up a hastily-set-up Demon Gas trap and breathed some in, getting mildly hurt. He did find a key, however - a small orichalcum key with pictographs on the webbing. Jaspar's player kept insisting they go right to the orichalcum doors. No one else could remember any until much later. ("Oh yeah, those orichalcum doors.")

They took all of the stuff they found, including some fine wine and a bottle of Molotvian Throatscorcher (a high-alchohol fortified wine), and found 96 days of Dwarven Rations. Hjalmarr took a few of those. He then hacked up the bed, cut one table leg shorter on each of the tables, and knocked the screens over. Such is the wrath of Hjalmarr!

The other half of the room had four beds for large humanoids. Under the heavy incense Galen and Alaric detected a dog-like smell but also another funk. Galen recognized it as troll thanks to his service in the Troll Wars. Maybe a gnoll-troll mix? "Gnrolls" suggested Hayden.

After looting the room, they searched it with See Secrets but couldn't find a way forward. Dryst still sensed the Traced axeman was ahead and down.

So they headed out the only way left - to the left. They found an intersection and a turn in the direct Dryst figured they needed to go. But there were at least two pairs of Force Walled off 9' by 9' opening every 30' in the corridor. A Wizard Eye cast behind one revealed an Obsidian Golem. They decided to destroy them pair by pair (as one-by-one turned out to be tricky to arrange.) Dryst used Create Earth to make a wall, and then Earth to Stone to turn it into a stone wall, cutting off the second pair from the first. This cost a lot of mana, which Dryst mostly siphoned off of Gwynneth.

They couldn't reach the golem beyond the left Force Wall with any of their magical weapons. So they decided to create a brute warrior servant to send in. Dryst did so, and created it a maul, too. It lasted a whole second - it stepped up to take a swing and the golem stepped forward and grabbed it around the neck. It failed to defend, and the golem neck-snapped it and killed it. Still too far to hit, the golem stepped back into its ready position.

Meanwhile, they rested. Three phase serpents put in an appearance. Rolan shot and wounded one with a critical hit, but the snakes kept coming. In a few moments they were in melee range. Galen shot one dead in the vitals, Hjlamarr cut one in half, and someone else - maybe Rolan? - finished the wounded one. They briefly discussed how you skin them (except they'd mauled them beyond salvage) or milk their venom, but no one had Poisons.

They decided to give up on the snakes and the golems, and moved further into the hallway, away from where the Trace was saying the cone-hatted axeman had gone.

They found what turned out to the a short corridor connecting to a circular passage, which on the far side connected to an octagonal room they'd found before. They briefly moved into that, long enough for the strange air in the room to cause Jaspar some issues. The circular passage - which Rolan ran around to count doors and check on - was unusual.

It had eight identical, slightly curved metal doors, four on each "side" of the circle (as the corridors bisected it.) The floor was smooth, the ceiling smooth, and the wall smooth and perfectly curved. It was clearly of different construction than the corridors common to this level.

Hjalmarr opened the first door on their left with a touch of his hand. It revealed a 30' diameter circular room with a tall ceiling. Nothing was in it, and See Invisible on Galen didn't find them anything. They next room had a metal flask in the center of the floor. A servant sent in to investigate it touched it, and it opened to spill out a spore cloud. That killed the servant as it whisked forward and went for Hjalmarr. Hjalmarr went a bit tingly from it, but kept dodging aside as they attacked it as best they could - arrows, axes, Fireball from Gwenneth (proving she wasn't just a mana battery for Dryst.) They did a little damage to it, but then Dryst destoyed it with a powerful Air Jet that it just narrowly failed to Dodge.

They left the bottle alone after that.

The next room had a nearly 2' tall blue pottery bottle veined with white, decorated with three rows of red diamond pattern. A servant sent to touch this did so, and the top popped off, smoke came out, and the servant got sucked in. The spell ended right after that. They decided the bottle clearly destroyed whatever was sucked inside. A second servant had the same thing happen.

They moved on to the other rooms, and found yet another bottle. This one a servant touched - and immediately swelled up past Brute Servant size, turned to face Dryst, and pointed at him. "You will pay for what you've done to us!"

The servant charged. It got as close as Hjalmarr, who pretty casually decapitated it. It disappeared. Alaric really wanted to touch the bottle next, but as he rushed in Hjalmarr checked him down and put him prone, injuring him. They healed him up a little bit, and Hjalmarr stood with his foot on Alaric's chest.

The next rooms had bottles as well. One caused a servant to disappear, but not be destroyed. Subsequent touching did nothing. Dryst let the spell run out. Hjlamarr was blasted by fire by a door, but it opened - and they took the bottle from the last identical room.

They also determined that the doors could not be opened from within, and only opened from without by someone who touched a six-fingered handprint.

Rolan, meanwhile was knocking on the inner wall. He determined it was thin, and hollow. Dryst checked with Glasswall and saw nothing but a strange white mist. The wall was thin, but not magic resistant. They were reluctant to try and shape it.

The PCs decided at this point that the bottles were some form of puzzle, and perhaps the misted area within was part of it. (I'm not exactly sure.)

So they sent Rolan and someone else - I think Hjalmarr - running around the doors to get them all open at once. Slap, run, slap, run, etc.

Once they did so, the central wall started to go translucent.

Also, the corridors out of the circular passage were gone.

And then the central walls disappeared, and the mist began to slowly expand out. Someone threw a lightstone in and listened for impact. None. Maybe it is a way down?

Someone - I think Hjalmarr or Hayden - reached a hand in. It felt tingly, like blood returning to a numbed limb. Uh-oh.

It became clear the mist would expand. The doors didn't close on any of the rooms.

Spells were cast - Purify Air, Fireball, Sunbolt, Air Jet - no effect.

They decided the way out might be down. Vryce walked into the misty area with his boots of Walk on Air. He walked down, down, down, holding his breath and withstanding the numbing through sheer physical health (effective HT 16) - but he didn't seem to be going "down." Up was as quick as a few steps. It wasn't a way out. It was just . . . nothing.

They ran back around the mist and into the room with the big bottle. They tried things there, too. But nothing.

They all retreated to the room with the bottle that had whisked away one of the servants. They had to cross the mist to get there. Jasper was reduced to a staggering mess, and had to be dragged by Vryce with rope that Rolan had rigged to everyone's wrists. Hjalmarr and Ike were reduced in stats and especially IQ. But they made it.

They had another servant touch the bottle - but nothing happened. It tried to open it, but nothing happened.

Gwynneth checked the walls - were they magic resistant? No - worse. They were magically dead. The whole place was surrounded by mana-drained stone. They couldn't tunnel out.

They began to send Vryce zipping around with Hawk Flight, trying to drop off bottles in rooms (including all of the ones looted, and in the empty room all of the vials found in the gnome's room.) That didn't work. He tried opening bottles in the mist to "suck" the mist in. Nope. They tried See Secrets. No.

Brother Ike prayed, but no help came from the Good God.

The mist kept coming, slowly filling up the front part of the rooms. They decided this must be a prison, with a fail-safe to kill everyone if everyone tried to escape.

They began to run out of ideas. They decided to try and send someone to the room with the big bottle - Alaric volunteered. Dryst went to put Trace on him but critically failed - an 18 and a 17 on the confirming roll (he has Magical Stability). Dryst couldn't trace him or sense his other trace, but they all counted as spells up. He tried on others - nope. He let the spells expire.

So they send Alaric and Vryce over. Alaric touched the bottle, the lid lifted and smoke came out and - POOF! - he was gone. Vryce flew back to report.

Without a way to track Alaric, they just decided to all go. They put spells on people, cast Resist Poison (it didn't help), and headed over. More people were reduced to nearly-total numbness. Jasper hit IQ 0 and began a drooling moron!

But they made it.

And one by one, they touched the bottle until it was Galen, Dryst, and Hayden left. They finally touched it.

They all found themselves on a hot floor, with random gouts of flame coming up (they all took some fire damage, some people caught fire briefly.) They were in a large round room with some balconies overlooking them from three sides, with smooth walls that rose far above to a narrow dome. The walls were rosy. There were a few steps to a dias with a giant throne on it, and an archway beyond that.

From the archway appeared a mist which coalesced into a 12' tall or so red-skinned being. Some kind of djinn or ifrit! It towered over them, toting a giant silver-bladed scimitar. It spoke in a low, basso rumble - "Who are you? Who is your leader?"

They pretty much pointed at Vryce.

The being invited Vryce forward, and asked, "Are these your followers? And is this your woman?" "Yep." So he invited Vyrce to sit beside him. He waved a chair into being and a small stone bench for Vryce's woman. For the others he calmed the flames to mere match-flames and the floor to merely "quite warm" from "burning hot." He introduced himself as Pasha Tewfik, and was mildly disappointed they didn't know of him.

They spoke for a time. Vryce claimed he was merely a delver, seeking power and money. "Ah, noble goals! For what befits a man more than power and money? Aside, of course, from his honor."

Pasha Tewfik told them this was his realm. Were they gated into his realm? No. They were inside the bottle. Size is merely a reflection of one's surroundings, he said, as is shape. He turned into a gigantic form of himself, then a bird of flame, then back into his normal form.

("He's so big!" gigglingly confided now-IQ 5 Hjlamarr to now-IQ 4 Ike.)

Pasha Tewfik lounged on his throne, sword resting at its side and leg thrown up over an arm. He asked after the current state of affairs. He knew nothing of "Felltower" or the Kingdom, and didn't know of any passages into the "circular space." They concluded it was a long time that he'd been there.

Vryce said his wizard would get him out. Dryst tried to b.s. about how he'd figure a way out. Pasha Tewfik casually denigrated Dryst's IQ to Vryce. But he did confide that he wished to leave this bottle realm, as it was quite boring. He could send them on their way, and if they removed his bottle from the room and into another area and open it, he would reward them - something for Vryce, of course, and his woman, plus some treasure to satisfy Vryce's "warband." They all liked being a "warband." He claimed he had great powers to fulfill the desires of others, but not to fulfill his own. He needed aid, although he never used dirty words like "need" or "help."

Vryce agreed, if they could take a day to rest and recover. Pasha Tewfik agreed, saying if a noble's honor wasn't a surety, nothing in the world could be. He left them alone to recover. They did, healing up the wounded, eating rations from those who bothered to bring them, and drinking water created by Dryst with his spells. They discussed what to do. Vryce insisted that they will do exactly as agreed, and they drew up a small portion of the map to show Pasha Tewfik were to send them.

Once ready, he sent them - back to the room with his bottle.

They immediately set about opening the door. Dryst put Might +6 on Vryce and Hjalmarr, and they slid the door open a few inches. Alaric reached out and touched the outside, and the door opened. They left, leaving the bottle as is. "I only agreed because I assumed he'd be listening if we discussed not following through" said Vryce (more or less.)

From there they worked their way back. The gnome's room had been fully cleaned out. The PCs stealthily moved up, trying to catch the cone-hatted guys off guard, but they were gone. Many traps had been cleaned up and chalk marks showing were they had been were gone. The guards were nowhere to be seen.

They eventually made it up and out of the dungeon.


So I called the central area the "tingly murder mist" room. It didn't murder anyone, but it came close to murdering everyone. The amusing thing about this puzzle, to me, was that I pretty much went through this process:

- mapped out an area with a circle surrounded by a bunch of smaller circles.

- connected it up.

- randomly rolled what was in the rooms (empty, monster, trap, special, etc.)

- decided it was a waste to fill the central area.

- made it into a puzzle that was lethal only if you pretty much decided to do silly PC things, like say, "Maybe we need to open up all of the doors at once?"

. . . and that's what happened. The puzzle was a trap that could only be set off by willful and deliberate PCing.

The mist wasn't lethal to this group, but it was close enough - the cascade of lowered stats meant you slow down, you get dumb, your HT drops and you're more vulnerable . . . and if you collapse in it, the lethal effects of breathing it kill you.

Why did Pasha Tewfik trust them all and send them all on their way, and not keep anyone back as a hostage to their word? The PCs don't know. It might have been oversight, or foolishness - but equally might have been because of other limitations. They simply don't know. One player was nervous about the effect of releasing the genie on the game world. Someone else said, "This isn't that kind of game." True enough. Either way, they passed up the promise of reward for the certainty of having gotten out safely. No one's Code of Honor really impinged on that, either, and no one has Truthfulness or Honesty.

Naturally my game needed genies in bottles, because I'm a big fan of Thief of Baghdad (basically, all versions I've seen.) Also, I needed bottles with places inside because I'm a big fan of Hugh Cook's Wizard War, too.

Loot was minimal, but still enough - they sold the tools they'd taken from the gnome, his poisons (not the drool though - Galen took that), his gear. Split carefully, that was enough for full loot for the newbies and near-newbies, and partial loot for the second tier. Dryst and Vryce got nothing except some change (if that.) They got a rare 2 xp for exploration, so the new guys got 6, the second tier 4, and the top tier guys 2. MVP was Rolan, because it was his player that insisted on doing all of the puzzle-solving that almost got them killed. He protested a bit, but they argued it really made the session what it was.

Fun game. Long, but fun.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Summary delayed

Long day today, and not much time to write and a lot of work & study related things to finish. So the summary will have to wait until tomorrow. Sorry about that! Expect it sometime tomorrow late afternoon/early evening.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Felltower Brief Highlights

We played Felltower today. Some highlights:

- the "click" is solved

- traps disarmed

- the gnome's lair discovered and a key found!

- lots of exploration

- a couple of puzzles found and investigated

- a near-TPK death trap experience

- negotiation with a powerful being

- and a large group (9 players!)

As always, a great way to spend a day.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Felltower Tomorrow

Tomorrow should be a good session of Felltower.

The plan seems to be jumping around from:

- kill the orcs

- kill the draugr

- explore past the norker area

I've got my minis ready, mostly - I don't have a good one for a new PC coming along nor time to kit-bash one into form. Just a quick check on the rumors and then sleep.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Kromm on Missile Spell Scrolls

One of my players asked me if this post by Kromm applies in our game.


We will use those costs and rules for Missile Spell Scrolls for Felltower.

I will allow a starting character to buy a scroll of pretty much whatever they want, but in play it is down to rolls and special orders.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Lessened Great Haste?

The other day, I mentioned that my players have occasionally suggested reducing the effect of Great Haste. Here are some ways you could potentially do that.

Instead of Altered Time Rate, have the subject of the spell gain one of these lesser effects:

Double the same Maneuver Only. You still get two consecutive turns. However, you must take the same maneuver twice.

Double Your Abilities: You get one maneuver. However, you also gain the following:

Your Move is doubled. If this raises your Move to 11+, you also gain another Step.
Your number of attacks is doubled. You can still only split one attack per turn into a Rapid Strike or Dual-Weapon Attack.
If you choose to All-Out Defend, you gain both +2 to one specific defense and Doubled Defenses. Move limitations still apply if you choose something other than Dodge.
If you choose Concentrate, your Concentrate maneuver counts as two seconds. You are still limited to one spell per turn.

Overall Bonuses: You get the following:

Your Move is doubled (as above.)
You gain Extra Attack 1.
You gain +2 to all of your Active Defenses (alternatively, +2 to Dodge and multiple defense penalties are halved. Defenses already at -1 cumulative drop to -1 per two defenses.)


None of those has been playtested, but I think they're all worth exploring to some degree. That is, if you agree that Great Haste is too valuable and too effective but still like the idea of a speed-based buff.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Solo vs. Solo?

Is there a good term to differentiate between these two modes of play? I've heard both of them described as "solo adventuring."

One Player Only, One Character Only - like it says. One guy with one paper man. No assistance from player-run PCs.


One Player Only, Multiple Characters - I'd throw one PC, many assistant NPCs in here - a fighter with his warband, a mage with apprentices, a hot-shot fighter pilot with his wingman, etc.

Back in the day, we only used "solo" for the first one. If you brought NPCs with you, it was just "one player" but not "solo." Sometimes I feel like I need a term that makes it clear which one is which.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Staff of Power (192 charges)

Jon Peterson put up an excerpt of a letter by Gary Gygax with Mordenkainen's stats.

Me, I went right past the stats to he has a Staff of Power with 192 charges. Well, had, he used 12, so he's down to a mere 180. Yowza.

Okay, okay, I know that staves in white-box D&D can have 200 charges. But coming to OD&D from AD&D, it really jumped out at me seeing it on a character sheet. And the Staff of Power is no slouch of an item, it dramatically increased the effective firepower of a magic-user.

The damage of it doing a retributive strike is god-smitingly powerful, based on Gods, Demigods, & Heroes, too . . .

Monday, June 4, 2018

Desire vs. Obsession [-5 or -10]

One of my players was generating a new PC, one with an Obsession. This prompted me to take a deeper look at the disadvantage and decide how I expect it to be played.

First off:

Obsession is greater than desire. This isn't a quirk. It's not just something you'd like to do, if and when it becomes possible. This is something that consumes you. You need to make a self-control roll if you have a chance to get even a tiny bit closer to your goal - and that's even if you are wrong about this thing getting you closer.

Points Are About Goals - The points you get back for your Obsession aren't determined by the level of obsession, but rather the attainability of what you are obsessed with.

Want to slay a dragon? [-5]. It's tough, and you'll make dangerous decisions and might risk a fight you shouldn't to get it done. Want to find the spells of the ancients? [-5]. I mean, who wouldn't want to find the spells of the ancients? You're just going to give "we might find those spells" the call over "or we can just go get that treasure over there."

Want to become the most powerful wizard in the world? [-10]. That'll take a while, there is a lot of competition, and lot of dangerous shortcuts that will tempt you along the way. Even then, you're more likely to die than to succeed. Want to destroy the cult of the cone-hatted folks? [-10]. Even knowing how many there are is a challenge, nevermind exterminating them them root and branch, down to the seeds of their regeneration. You'll equally make some bad decisions when you get a chance to do something to harm them.

Self-Control Rolls Aren't For Always. You are always obsessed. But if you always choose to make your roll, and don't pursue the obsession sometimes without rolling, you're really just better on rolling well for some free points. I'm not a fan. Give in without rolling whenever you feel like it, or see a good chance to do so. Sometimes your paper man just wouldn't try to give in.

Conflicting Disadvantages Are a Thing. If you have disads that conflict with your Obsession, remember how that works. Only Sense of Duty gets to stomp on Obsession freely.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Good God and Saints in Felltower

The main religion in my DF game is superficially Christian, monotheistic, and mostly derived from Catholicism. This because my last name ends in a vowel and I'm from New Jersey. Go with what you know.

I haven't really defined much, but we do have some of the major players in religion getting some in-game references:

The Good God is a masculine-defined god (Always "He") worshiped by pretty much everyone who isn't worshiping The Enemy in some form. Served by a large priesthood capable of spells as well as angels of various levels of power - few, if any, are ever encountered.

Opposing the Good God is . . .

The Enemy, sometimes referred to as the capital-D Devil, is served by cultists and evil folks of all kinds. He/she/it is served by demons of various sorts, mostly, and weird extra-planar beings of chaos and madness. Many evil cultists directly worship those beings. It's not clear if they are just aspects of The Enemy, or not. In any case, they can grant evil spells to evil worshipers.

We haven't defined many saints. So far we have the Seven Saints of Felltower (but no one is clear about who exactly they are), and one more:

Saint Buyya Duad the Thrice-Martyred is the patron saint of Brother Ike's* order. He's best know for his three martyrdoms and his many, many near-martyrdoms. He is the patron saint of matyrdom in general, he protects risk-takers, and he protects fools pretending to wisdom.


The overly-broad definition of The Enemy allows me to freely plunder AD&D, D&D5, Pathfinder, Labyrinth Lord, Rolemaster, video games, etc. for demons, devils, daemons, demons from the void and demons from beyond the pale, balrons, etc. to use in the game. It also neatly removes the whole AD&D cosmology which is a) cool but b) not what I want here. Same with having a single Good God instead of dealing with modern misconceptions of pantheistic religions ("I worship Artemis, so I totally hate that guy who worships Zeus!" Wait, what?) brought on by all growing up monotheistic. The saints let me play around with holy beings of all sorts.

Clearly I need to expand my repertoire of saints! (Just saying, not looking for suggestions - they'll occur organically now that I'm thinking about them.)

* Hjalmarr's sidekick cleric. Full name: Brother Iklwa Juma Deswayo N'Zinga.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Target 20

This is a pretty elegant all-in-one system for saving throws, to hit rolls, thief skill rolls, etc.

I'm not sure I'd use it, if I ever did play AD&D again like I keep noodling on about periodically. But it would be an effective bridge between modern practices I like (target number mechanics, for example) and ease of use with older systems (it handles descending AC.)

Target 20

Thanks to Delta for pointing to this.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Great use of maps & pics for T2K

I just want to call out one of the blogs on my blog roll:


I've really enjoyed reading the game summaries and game materials posted between sessions. But what I really like are the liberal use of maps and pictures.

The maps are clearly pulled from Google maps, then the positions of the PCs and their adversaries are put on them, like so:

I also like the use of images, also pulled from the internet, to depict the places the PCs go to. It's very evocative, and all the more so because everyone involved knows that's what the real place actually looks like. That adds a great deal of enjoyment for me when I read the summaries.

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