Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Burnination! - Trogdor the Game

I don't need this, but, maybe yes I do.

I mean, it's TROGDOR!


I wear a Trogdor t-shirt when I'm GMing, or at least about half the time I do.*

* The other half it's a WFMU t-shirt with a mock-Vallejo group shot.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Gate spell scrolls in Felltower

The PCs in my game as thinking about going through a gate, but are wary of doing so without throwing some Gate spells to find out what's going on on the other side.

Here is what I said about Gate spell scrolls:

"a Scry Gate scroll is Special Order (1d+1 weeks, I'll do it from the time I have a request* on record) and will cost 4x as much - $200 per point = $800 per scroll for an unpowered one. Why so much? Gate spells are rare, and the few wizards that know them know you'll pay what they ask."

Since the party has a lot of broke or nearly broke PCs, this might mean exploring a gate (which I'd personally like them to do) might get back-burner'ed until people have more disposable income. But that's how it goes - it's pretty lame to make a difficult spell for a rare and potentially lucrative source of adventure cheap and easy. If the PCs really want to, they can learn the spell. That'll be costly (4x as much as well) but it's easily done.

* Editing later: And payment.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Staff-Armed Swashuckler in Felltower

Kalzazz asked about our staff-armed swashbuckler PC in DF Felltower.


- good reach. You have reach 1,2 with both attack forms.

- cheap weapon. You have a lot of spare cash for equipping your guy, unlike every other swashbuckler.

- great defenses vs. melee and missiles. Buying Parry Missile Weapons for a staff-armed Swashbuckler per DFD Swashbucklers p. 14 is necessary. Once you have it you're going to be remarkably hard to hit, especially given the naturally defensive qualities of the staff.


- limited weapon selection. Your main focus is the staff, which means you do thrust crushing or swing crushing damage only. No cutting, so you give up +50% to +100% injury multipliers. No impaling, so you give up one-shot eye knockouts on living foes and the x3 multiplier to the vitals. While a few foes are vulnerable to crushing (See, Amorphous Stone meta-trait or Vulnerability: Crushing), most are not especially so. Skulls are easy to armor on things with brains, and many things have No Brain, Homogenous, or Diffuse and thus can't be usefully attacked there.

- limited non-magical enhancement options. You've got fine, ornate, and not a lot else to upgrade your staff with. They're cheap, but that's about it.

- competition for staves. Magic staves are also very useful for wizards, clerics, and staff-armed martial artists. Not every magical staff you find is even going to be a useful weapon, and many of them will have been created by and for spellcasters, not fighters.

- always two-handed. Much like greatsword-wielding knights, you've given up a lot of functionality with a two-handed weapon. You can't have a ready weapon and a potion, a concoction, a throwing weapon, a shield for its DB, hold onto a friend or a rope, etc. You're either armed and ready or not, you can't be that and something else. This comes up a lot in my games, as PCs try to "grab so-and-so and drag him to safety" without dropping a weapon or losing any defenses. Not possible with two-handed weaponry.


The staff-armed swashbuckler in our game has mostly have a very limited effect so far. This is because:

- he's 250 points and been adventuring with a group well north of 250 points. Most of the other front-line fighters are in the high 300s and one is 500+.

- the player is somewhat inexperienced. He hasn't really been able to maximize his abilties because he's still not that used to using them.

- the inherent offensive and utility limitations of a two-handed weapon armed guy with a crushing-only weapon makes it tougher for him to make an impact.

I think this is a survivable and interesting character, but with his strong defensive abilties comes a lot limitations. As long as the player can find a way to maximize the good and minimize the limitations, he should do okay.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Random Links & Thoughts 7/28

A few brief links and ideas for today:

- I enjoyed this post of Gary Gygax's session reports over on Zenopus Archives. I think Gary Gygax is the only person I've ever encountered who used the word "doughty."

- One of my players found this mini which might fit Jasper the staff-armed swashbuckler.

- I watched a few videos on The Fantasy Trip that SJG put out a while ago while I wasn't paying any attention. It looked okay, but some of the combat details really made it clear to me why I like GURPS. Some of the basics demonstrated are a bit raw and rough compared to systems I liked in modern GURPS.

- I did a little work on my GURPS campaign notes. Next game is in a week or so.

Friday, July 27, 2018

DFRPG down to ~100 copies

According to the DFRPG Kickstarter update:

"We're alerting the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game supporters first: Warehouse 23 now has fewer than 100 copies of the boxed set in stock, and these are the last that we expect to have for the immediate future. If the game is reprinted, we will make an announcement, but at the moment, we have no plans for a second printing."

So, if you want one . . . get one soon. It's a very good product. Hopefully it'll be possible to get the whole set's books in POD as a set, soon, since the boxes will be gone. I have two myself, and I honestly prefer it as my go-to GURPS ruleset for our game.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

No Pyramid, now what?

With Pyramid going away, now what for my game writing?

I honestly haven't been writing for Pyramid that much. I have 2-3 half-finished Pyramid articles in the works that will now never be finished. what's the point? They aren't book-worthy topics. I could post them here, but they're potentially valuable somewhere down the line.

I haven't been writing that much for SJG much, either. I'm just flat-out busy right now, and especially focused on broadening my knowledge base for the diverse clients I train at one of my day jobs ("You lazy boy, you only got tree jobs!" - My friend's grandma, account to my friend). I just haven't been able to commit to a deadline when my main focus isn't writing for SJG.

So it seems like my best option is writing books. But like I said, I'm not exactly able to bind to a deadline.

Plus, SJG isn't normally willing to commit to books in a series until the previous one has done well enough. So I can't just keep handing in books of monsters and magic items, as much as I have books worth on my drive ready to go.

So it's a bit of a quandary. Not as much as for others, who depend on that revenue stream, or who hoped to finally get some first-time author credit. I've got a lot of credit built up, I can write what I like. It's just now a question of time and topic.

Where else can I get paid to publish my not-fully-book-ready GURPS stuff now?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

And down goes Pyramid?

SJG posted this. I'd have missed it except for an email from someone who reads this blog:

"Public Announcement
As recently announced, we are focusing on our core games and adapting our operations to better fit today's shifting market. As part of the change in our schedule, we are closing down Pyramid magazine later this year. The December 2018 issue will be the final issue of the magazine, and effective immediately, we are no longer accepting subscriptions.

Existing subscribers, in January 2019, will be given the choice of a refund (delivered by check) for unfulfilled issues or, if they wish, two times the refund value in Warehouse 23 credit. Each subscriber will receive an email late this year with instructions on how to claim their refund or store credit.

Closing down Pyramid will give our team more time to spend on the GURPS game, producing more PDFs and bringing more out-of-print GURPS books back to print through the GURPS On Demand program. Additionally, this will give the team time to explore the thousands of Pyramid articles that we have published since 1993 and select the best works that are worthy of compilation, expansion, and update to the GURPS 4th edition rules.

Thank you for years of support. We will miss Pyramid, but there's nothing stopping us from bringing the magazine back when the market changes again. Steve Jackson Games has been here for decades, and we will continue to do what we need to do to publish games for many years to come."

That's up on the Pyramid website.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Sell me on The Fantasy Trip

So SJG launched the Kickstarter for The Fantasy Trip:

I'm at least a little interested. But I know me - if it's a PDF only, I'll never actually run it or play it. But if it's print, we're looking at $60 plus approximately $80 for the complete edition in print + PDF. That seems like a lot of $ and a lot of shelf space. I've never played TFT - I jumped on board Steve Jackson's stuff with Car Wars and then Ogre, and then Man-to-Man on my way to GURPS.

I'm not sure what the $80 really gets me. I have DFRPG and I love it. I have Ogre: Deluxe Edition and I don't ever get to play it (and it's too big to keep handy, just in case.) Why should I go for TFT?

If you know TFT, explain what I'm really getting here that's worth getting in to. I'd appreciate any comments and pitches.

Monday, July 23, 2018

GURPS DF Session 106, Felltower 78 - Two More Gates

Date: 7/22/2018

Weather: Warm and humid to very warm and raining.

Alaric, human scout (262 points)
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (252 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (341 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
Jasper, human swashbuckler (250 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (383 points)
Vryce, human knight (509 points)

We started off in town, gathering rumors and purchasing gear. But as they did so, Gwynneth - elf female - met Mo - possessor of great mojo with elf women, specifically - met for the first time. Mo pulled his slickest move and took her hand and kissed it . . . and rolled a 4 on Sex Appeal. Gwynneth was all for Mo, right there. Hilarity ensued over the rest of the session.

The plan, such as it was, was to go fight the werewolves and to check out the pit that leads to the level below.

They headed out. Mo had already decapitated the statue of Sterick, so he started on smashing the horse's legs. From there they went up the winding path to the top of the mountain and reached the castle. Nothing waited for them on the surface so they climbed up. For some reason they forgot Ike, so Mo climbed down and climbed back up carrying Ike.

From there they headed down through the trap door. They eyed the wheel that opens and closes it, trying to figure out how to break it so it can't be locked, but put that off for later.

They made their way to the second level, and to the giant fantastic staircase door. They opened it and stood around discussing plans for several minutes. Hjalmarr kept opening the door each time it closed on its own. Eventually, they went down. At the bottom, Alaric mused about ways to destroy the art that gives the illusion of a continuing staircase.

They opened the door and headed out into the level. No "click" this time. They quickly made their way to the partly bricked-up section of tunnel near where they'd fought the golden swordsmen. They passed by the brick wall, with its "gunk" on the far side (a bit dried, now.) The tunnel turned right and left before ending in a portcullis with four spray-bottle traps that had been disarmed once by Rolan and then re-set. Alaric disarmed them all this time. Mo attempted to raise the portcullis, but it was locked. So Vryce joined in and together they lifted it, snapping the lock. (They'd discover there was a locking lever on the far side, now useless.) They all shuffled under the portcullis and let it down.

From there they could turn right or left. They smelled a musty, earthy, moist smell around this area. They headed left. They found a circular room roughly 12-14 yards in diameter, covered with a yellow-brown gunk on the floor. It had clearly been hand-spread, away from the far end and towards this exit. There were also two other ways out, hallways equidistant from the one they were in.

They couldn't decide if the material was poisonous or not. Alaric tried to scoop some up with a spoon, but he didn't have a very good time of it. He could get some off but they didn't have a place to keep it. In the end they had Gwynneth Create Earth to cover the entire room with a few inches of soil and then walk across. They chose the left exit.

They went down a corridor and turned 45 degrees to the right. Just past the turn they could see the corridor continued until it reached a left turn, but at the turn a room opened out to the upper right. They could clearly see a black ooze sitting on the floor, glistening.

They decided they needed to clear the ooze, as it was between them and the werewolves (this would prove not to be true, they'd mis-mapped.) So they decided Alaric should shoot it, and Gwynneth would throw an Explosive Fireball. Alaric readied and shot immediately, with no one else (even Gwynneth) getting ready. His arrow hit the ooze, and in response five oozes zipped out at them! Since they were only 7 yards from the oozes, which have Combat Reflexes and Move 8, before they could do anything else the oozes had rushed into their midst. The best chance to catch multiple oozes in a large explosive spell without roasting any friendlies was gone.

What followed was a fight with the oozes moving in an among the group. Folks readied disposable weapons and swatted away, while Gwynneth cast 3d Explosive Fireball spells and threw them into the group, igniting her friends as she scorched the oozes. They whittled away at the oozes for a bit, until they realized they regenerate - and do so quickly - and they couldn't just wear them down. As the fight went on Hjalmarr used a Resist Fire spellstone to put a fire on himself out (and to prevent more damage from the fire spells), Vryce used Resist Acid to render himself immune to the corrosion of the oozes, and several weapons were destroyed or badly damaged - although no real weapons of note. Alaric used up a lot of arrows firing into the slimes, too. Brother Ike took a stinging whip to the face from an ooze and was blinded in one eye and knocked out cold from corrosion and venom. Moe lost his beard to an ooze, and lots of armor was damaged. Vryce at once point tried grappling oozes when his wooden sword broke and then resorted to punching them to burn them as he was on fire for half of the fight. One ooze split, too, retreated, and then the two came back once they'd regenerated to sufficient HP.

In the end the oozes were slain, much paut was used, and Ike was out. And they could clear see more ooze where they'd first spotted it. After the fight, they had to drag a one-eyed Ike away to recover. No one had Awaken or any Awaken stones or scrolls, so they needed to heal him up a bit and then wait for him to waken on his own - which would take an hour or so.

So they retreated all the way back to the colored door area. They tried to open the big, heavy door but couldn't budge it. So Mo stuck his hand into the biting door's mouth, got bitten, and they hauled the door open and piled in. They partly closed the door (it had no latch or handle within) and stayed there. They searched the room thoroughly but then just rested for more than an hour. Mo's loincloth had been burned off, but Mo asked Gwynneth for some of her rob. She ripped off the bottom part so he could make a rough mawashi out of it. Ike eventually woke up, having been fed healing potions. Once he was able to finish healing himself, his eye was fine, and they were ready to . . . rest more.

Around this time they heard marching booted feet nearby. They weren't able to identify anything beyond that - not numbers or distance, only direction - from the direction on their map were the stairs lay.

Once they were rested, they headed back out. They began to suffer breathing issues from the close air of the dungeon in this area.

Once again, they passed the portcullis and headed into the circular chamber, deciding to head right (still convinced, at this point, that the werewolves were to the left.)

To the right they smelled that earthy, musty, damp smell. There was another of those portcullis setups - four sprayer traps, each individually rigged, twelve metal bells on this side of the portcullis, etc.

Beyond it was a 20' long, 10-12' deep pit full of pungi stakes close-set and smeared with some yellow-brown gunk ("urine and feces" they decided.) The pit was maybe 10" from the portcullis, and went wall to wall.

Alaric tried to disarm the four traps. He got two of them, and then got a breath-full of fumes from one after he set it off. It was toxic, but not terribly so. Ike couldn't identify it with Poisons. He finished disarming the traps after that (including that one, it wasn't clear if it was empty or not.)

Then he plugged up the bells with strips of Gwynneth's increasingly small robe. Mo used Power Blow to double his strength and open the gate (finally getting to use his Iron Ring of Endurance.) He held it up as Gwynneth used Create Earth and Earth to Stone to make a pillar to keep it up for the next 24 hours.

They then decided to cross the pits. They tossed lightstones to ensure it wasn't a No Mana Zone. But how to cross? Mo could jump, but Vryce could use Walk on Air. So Vryce picked up Hjalmarr and walked him over at Extra-Heavy Encumbrance. Once they got there they realized there was another, identical pit. So Vryce used up some of his FP and shuffled most of the group to the middle, and then from the middle to the far end.

The far end was a short bit of corridor . . . which terminated in a cave floored with earth. It was full of trees! Mo couldn't identify the type, but they were appropriate the the climate around Felltower and Stericksburg. White seed pods floated around on the air, in the not-quite-still air. They could see a canopy of leaves overhead, but it was dark, with no sign of sunlight, and the trunks kept going up past the first layer of leaf-filled branches. A faint glow came from ahead. The trees seemed normal, except for where they were. They heard crickets, perhaps, and saw ants going up and down one of the trees. ("What size?" asked Hjalmarr's player. Me: "Normal size." - queue relieved look. Me: "Normal for a dungeon, I mean. Three, four feet long." "No, no, I don't like that." Heh.) No animals were seen, but normal bugs, sure, plenty of them.

They moved carefully ahead, checked for tracks. Mo found some - some bipeds and some quadrupeds. He decided they might be consistent with vegepygmies and thorn hounds aka thornies. And yes, they were. Quite clearly, distinctly vegepygmy prints. They moved with care toward the glow. In the center of a rough circle of nine thick trees was a pair of pillars with a fair glowing shimmer between them. A gate! Unlike the stone pillars they were used to, these were wood, twisted with vines and clearly growing out of the ground. They lacked branches or leaves but were definitely living. They quickly decided this must be a "forest gate" or an "earth gate" to go with the fire gate, air gate, and suspected water gate they'd found.

They didn't want to go through the gate without having Scry Gate or their druid, so they headed back, repeating the steps that got them in. Before that, though, they cast Seek Earth on gold and on silver, and identified both of them as being back the way they came. The silver was closer.

From there they headed back to the original portcullis room and out to the other direction, toward the silver (maybe.) They turned left and found the intersection with the pit down, but passed it by. They reached the "werewolf door." They readied their silver and silvered weapons and forced the door and rushed in . . . to an empty room. The werewolves were gone.

What they found instead was a room with two exits - a fairly mundane door to the right, and at the base of a "T" a pair of 15' tall doors chained shut. With a lock? No, just chained with links made of 4-5" diameter iron, some 6-8' feet of the ground, run through huge staples mounted into the walls.

They briefly considered them and left by the other door.

From there they found more tunnels. One of them led to a bright area. In it was a room lined with columns, made of creamy white marble, with a blue-painted vaulted ceiling above. The columns were fluted and decorated. At the end were a pair of impressively large columns with a shimmering in between them. A gate!

From there they headed to a new area, and found a room. Mo forced the door open and broke the lock that had held it shut. In it was a wooden chest with two 6' pole through the loops, one broken partly off. There were drag marks to show the chest had been moved in just far enough so the door wouldn't hit it. The room was otherwise empty.

They investigated and found the chest wasn't trapped, just latched shut, but was slightly tilted. Looking under, they found two potion vials with their tops off wedged under it. If the chest moved, they'd fall over, open. A lip around the bottom edge of the chest made it harder to see them. (Jaspar couldn't figure out how you'd set this. Clearly not enough time spent catching bugs in jars.)

Detect Magic revealed them both as magical. Jaspar wondered what could be in it. The suggested ranged from "ghosts!" to pretty much "ghosts." Unable to figure out a way to shift the chest without risk, they had Gwynneth cast Create Earth. The Dirt Mage did her thing, and they packed the dirt around the box and opened it. In it was loot (4725 sp, 15 empty potion vials that clearly had once held potions, and a SM-1 potion belt.) They took it all, swapping in more dirt to balance the chest. Mo wanted to check for false bottoms and started to move the dirt into the lid until that started to tip the chest. He stopped, and they moved it around and checked slowly. They found none.

Alaric wanted to recover the potions, somehow, and had a plan. (I didn't pay attention to it.) They spend some more time on Alaric's plan to get the potions, but most of the group had little interest in risk for what may or may not be useful potions. So they left it there over Alaric's objections.

On the way out, they discovered another room with a black hemisphere on the ceiling. Mo pointed out they don't want to be zapped by those purple rays, so they held back and let Alaric shoot it with his Cornucopia arrows until it shattered. They moved on from there, back to the pit down.

At the end they decided to lower Alaric down into the put with Night Vision and possibly Flight on him, but I suggested they do not. It was late - about 30 minutes past the time I prefer to stop - and only one of two things could happen. A) Nothing, so it wasn't worth doing, or B) Something, and that would take a long time to resolve. Better to do that in the future. So, with that, they headed to the surface.



We got off to a slow start today because I had some computer problems. Short version - it keeps locking up. I may have solved this last night, though, by deleting two new programs I'd installed. But a couple of reboots and some caution about what I had open helped. Tech problems are the downside of playing out of Word document.

I was distracted by this enough that I forgot to hand out the results of Vryce's research. We rolled for it and I sent it by email.

Mo started use off right with his first use of Sex Appeal. And Gwennyth's player was a good sport about playing up his character as totally smitten by Mo.

The ooze fight took about two hours of real time. Oozes are tough, they're slow to kill without area effect or explosive spells, and they regenerate fast. The PCs started out a little parsimonious with the spells, too, which mean the first few seconds - when the oozes were clumped up the most - they weren't ready with a mega-big fireball to destroy them. Still, I don't regret using the oozes. They've been appearing as they have for a reason, and starting the fight with a single arrow from a scout while the rest of the party was unready wasn't a good approach.

Speaking of oozes, corrosion damage is pretty nasty. Ike got off easy, not losing an eye permanently. The PCs had a lot of damaged gear that now needs Repair spells to fix. I used the DR/HP charts for weapons from LTC2, which I wrote years back. That goodness, because I needed them today. I was doing Basic Set damage until I realized DFRPG simplifies it to "destroyed at -1 x HP" so we swapped to that. I probably should just pick one system for all inanimate object damage. The PCs will probably prefer to roll, and that's how we've done doors, so I may go with that.

Jasper was pretty desperate to find, and fight, the werewolves. This despite being the least well-equipped to fight them. They didn't find them. Not all foes "live" in the room they are encountered in. Or stay there after a fight. Everything reacts. The werewolves clearly reacted to a number of deaths with leaving or moving.

XP was 5 apiece (4 xp loot, 1 xp exploration) except for Vryce (1 xp exploration). MVP was Gwenneth for all those invaluable Explosive Fireballs. Vryce needs 20K to make his threshold, 5k to even get 2 xp, so ~700 wasn't going to cut it.

I felt pretty happy they found some silver, since they've had a hard go of it with treasure. This one could easily have been a dry trip if it hadn't been for that. The potions they left in their precarious situation, which probably just means a special trip in the future to try and recover them intact. That should be interesting. It's always easier to pull the pin on the grenade then to put it back to recover the grenade.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Felltower pre-summary

Here is what happened, more or less, in today's session of Felltower:

- a timely 4 on a social skill roll set up some amusing play

- no traps, no clicks

- traps disarmed and re-set by Rolan were disarmed, permanently

- yet another battle with oozes occurred and much equipment was destroyed

- two more gates were discovered

- another black hemisphere destroyed

- and some silver discovered!

Vryce pretty much decided that next session, they'll head through a gate. Which one? It's not clear, but one seems ideal for when Quenton Mudborne is around, so maybe if he shows, they'll head to that one. Otherwise, it may be the other . . . or maybe even the "Jester Gate." We'll see.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Felltower Prep Report

Today, work, training, and rain.

But early to-bed, for tomorrow we Felltower!

- the PCs have some plans. One involves retrieving a chest full of loot. Or spiders. Probably loot, but it could be spiders. Just saying. Hayden wants to veto this in case it's treasure, as he's never around for low-risk high-loot delves. Or even just high-loot delves.

- some long-ago apportioned treasure was disposed of by Galen. Specifically, stuff he helped take from a dragon. We resolved that by email.

- Vryce hired someone to research Pasha Tewfik, the ifrit. I listed the possible answers and we'll roll to see what turns up. No, they can't use Luck. "I just happened to find an expert" or "he or she just happened to find the right answers" is what Serendipity is for.

- points were spent so far ahead of time I can't recall who spent what. Hurrah! They're all updated and ready to go.

- the pool of characters available means no one has any idea what the hell they're doing before game, except "I'll bring guy X if you bring guy Y and so-and-so brings guys Z" makes for head-twisting emails. I basically need to pack every single mini I own every trip just in case. Spoiler alert: not doing that.

Should be a fun session tomorrow!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Pirates of Treasure Island Kickstarter

I think I have enough pirates - and I have some Treasure Island-themed pirates already. But still tempting:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

What use is Sex Appeal in a dungeon?

This came up in an email.

What use is Sex Appeal in a dungeon?

Offhand, I can think of a few uses:

- getting a positive - very positive - reaction from NPCs of an interested sex, be they man or be they man-like.

- distracting foes

- inspiring NPC hirelings

- annoying players running female elves with a good roll to disrupt their rolls against you.

If that's not worth a point or two, what is?

Apropos the skill name, back in Rolemaster, there was a skill called "Seduction." I always liked that name better than "Sex Appeal." It just felt more broad, and yet more nuanced. I'd change the name but it messes with bookkeeping for no good reason.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Crossbow house rule for AD&D

One thing I never liked in AD&D was that crossbows are the much-poorer cousin to bows. Maybe Gary Gygax was really swayed by those accounts of Crecy, but it seems odd that crossows are basically slower, weaker bows. So much so that no one ever took them until I made some house rules.

Here they are:

Heavy Crossbow: 2-7 vs. S-M, 1-6 vs. L, ROF 1
Light Crossbow: 2-5 vs. S-M, 1-4 vs. L, ROF 2

Range, cost, etc. are the same.

The heavy crossbow is now a once-a-round weapon that does superior damage on that single hit to the bow. Still not as good as a bow, since 2 x 1-6 is better than 1 x 2-7, but it's not a completely inferior choice. Items like the Crossbow of Speed move this up to ROF 2.

I used to run it with ROF 1 for both of them, but I find the light crossbow needs some help to be a valid choice. And "Crossbow" is one proficiency in my games, such that proficiency matters.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Talk about your hobbies at work

This is the second time* my hobbies will get me unrelated work.

I was chatting with a client who was slogging through some necessary but boring work capacity development. Aka, walking on an inclined treadmill. We were discussing having stuff, and having stuff that's hard to move around.

So naturally I mentioned my minis collection. Hard to move around, important to me, and irreplaceable if sold off.

I could have said, I collect figures, or I have some toys, or whatever. But I said, I paint miniature gaming figures.

"Oh, that's exactly what my son did. He used to play Warhammer."

Heh. I said, "That's exactly the kind of figures I paint - plastic and metal 28mm miniatures. I don't play Warhammer, but I know it."

That led right to my client saying that she'd mention that to her son, as she'd like him to train with me for a while, and he'd be really interested to know I was a minis collector and painter and gamer.

It's interesting to find out who overlaps your hobbies.

So, my advice? Let people know what you play. It could lead places unrelated to gaming.

* The previous time? I mentioned to one of my occasional clients (not mine, someone I'd cover when her trainer couldn't make her session) that I grew up playing role-playing games. She told her son, and that was the clincher for him coming in to try out training. Not often you associate "role-playing gamer" and "personal trainer" but they pair up in me just like "I've written game books you can find on Amazon.com" and "I've fought full contact."

Monday, July 16, 2018

Line Painting & Finishing Up Guys I Don't Like

Some line painting today:

Those six guys came out blurry in the shot but you can see they mostly have their base coats on.

Next up:

- the head on the standard.

- their shields, off the figures first.

- mount the shields.

- wash with a brown or black magic wash (maybe both) to deepen all of the colors.

I like these figures. I didn't have any fun at all painting them.

They're all done, except:

- the shellbacks need a magic wash to protect the paints and bring out the depth.

- the mangator needs his eyes done, and then a magic wash.

It's too humid to do a wash now, I think.

Last couple hours of Advanced Labyrinth Lord

Last couple of hours on this Kickstarter. If you like Labyrinth Lord (basically, a B/X D&D derivative) and Advanced Edition Companion (a B/X derivative version of AD&D, basically), this is a one-book compilation of both books.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

What spells do DF wizards need in Felltower?

Following up on my own post, what spells do DF wizards need in Felltower?

This list obvious is much different than it would have been in the past. It's based very heavily on current needs and situations the PCs face now.

Levitate. This is a critical spell because "easy" access to the dungeon now involves a fair amount of climbing. Even fairly solid Climbing isn't enough to ensure a risk-free entrance to the dungeon. Plus, hauling out loot, wounded comrades, monsters bits that the PCs are sure will sell, etc. This is one the party needs. Wizards love it for gliding around "out of harm's way," which largely isn't true, but still.

Missile Shield. This is less critical because of the increasing prevalence of missiles the spell won't or can't stop, such as meteoric iron bullets for slings and prodds and area-effect attacks. But it is what keeps your wizard from being pincushioned by the all-too-real threat of orcish arrows and poisoned crossbow bolt traps.

Scry Gate. Gates are a major part of Felltower, and the path to real riches and success lays in going through them. Going completely uninformed is foolish, however, and risky.

Seek Gate. Useful mainly to find a gate in a new area. It's on the list of very important spells to have.

Shape Earth. If you can't shape stone obstacles out of the way, you will slow down the party significantly. Or make some exits impossible!

Note this automatically means you know Seek Earth. Good thing, you need that, too.

Finally, a fire or acid spell very useful. Fire more than acid, but you need one. There are a number of things that can't be fully defeated without burning damage or corrosion damage.

Looking over the PCs and the dungeon, those seem to be the "show up with these or don't show up" level of magic. Not everyone can and will start with all of these, but you need some. A complete wizard will eventually want to know them all.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Kickstarter Ending Soon: Hall of Judgment for DFRPG

I'd like to amplify the signal on this Kickstarter that is ending soon:

Doug's Hall of Judgment for the Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game. It is an excellent supplement from what I've seen. Doug always makes very high-quality books. And if you support this, you're supporting GURPS and the Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game alike. So, please do that.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Kickstarter Ending Soon: Advanced Labyrinth Lord

Less than 72 hours to go in this one that I backed:

I figured I'd post it and make sure no one missed it who is interested.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

What spells do DF wizards need?

After re-reading For Want of Dispel Magic, I was thinking, what do DF wizards need to bring to the table?

Not want, not desire, not build around, but capital-N need to have in order to do their job?

These are spells that I feel do things that you can't easily do another way.

In no particular order:

Dispel Magic and Counterspell. You need to be able to counter magical effects. If they best you can hope for is "maybe he'll snap out of it" or "maybe the spell will run out" or "let's try putting sunglasses on him" you're probably hosed. You need to be able to counter spell effects.

Mage Sight. Although you can generally spot magic items with just Magery and Per, this is a simple, foolproof way to check for them. Don't depend on "I can spot magic items" to spot all magic, either. "More reliable" is worth one damn point. Spend it.

See Secrets. Yes, the Scout and Thief spot stuff without this. They'll spot everything with it.

Remove Curse. If it's not placed on the "cleric only" list, this is a must-have. Be able to remove lasting, curse-like effects - like Curse or Possession spells.

(Forgot one: Continual Light. For the love of everything that is delving, be able to create a lasting light source.)

Campaign matters, too. Felltower rewards Seek Earth, Scry Gate, and Levitate pretty well. But the few above are one that, when PCs lack them, they lack the ability to usefully do things that only wizards can do. What else is on the "must have" list? Not types - I don't mean "some kind of missile spell" but specific spells.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

840+ hours of DF

I was just updating the DF Campaign page and thought about about much DF we've played.

We usually play for about 8 hours. It's very rarely less, it's often more. So, conservatively we've play 840 hours of DF. It's probably much close to 1000 than that, though. I'm counting a few sessions I knew were closer to 10 hours and a few 12+ hour sessions as 8 here.

I think I'm going to put myself down as "very experienced" in running Felltower, and "experienced" in running DF in general.

I'm just sorry I haven't been able to find more hours to play in.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Status of the Ken Shabby Memorial

It's time for a Tenkar-style look at the status of the Ken Shabby Chainsaw Bear Memorial Statue Fund.

Here is Ken Shabby himself, poised with mighty spells to destroy his foes. Sadly, ogres turned out to be immune to magic, and he was slain. Perhaps struck down, only to return stronger than before?

Nope, just struck down.

But how about that fund?

Current plans include a full-sized chainsaw bear style statue of Ken Shabby. It will be the centerpiece of a trio of mages facing a wall listing all of the mages slain in Felltower.

Current assets: 0 sp.

Total assets raised: 0 sp.

Assets looted from Felltower since the plans were made: Many tens of thousands of sp.

The status of the Ken Shabby Chainsaw Bear Memorial Statue isn't positive. On the bright side, it's not so much "in the red" as "not in existence" sense.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Pre-gens, chargen, and Dork Tower

So as I'm spending timing thinking about how to do characters for my next side foray into 1st edition AD&D (motto: needless complexity can be yours!), there is a well-timed bit of warped Catholic theology about rolled-but-unused characters:

Click along, it keeps going from there.

So how are we going to do the characters for C2?

I had some thoughts:


The module comes with pregens . . . but only five. It has a whole story woven into those five, too, but the story drops away as soon as you enter the dungeon. That's not a big worry. I do need more than five, though.

I thought of using other pregens. The A-series has good characters - and nine of them - but they're short a bit on levels. I may save them for when/if I get to run A3 and then A4, which I think would also be a fun side game. The ones in S4 are too high level, the ones in I1 are a bit iffy in terms of power distribution. No one wants to be a 3rd level C/M-U with 9 hp.

Roll Our Own

We could do that, using the experience of WPM and Appendix P, and probably go with the roll-six-sets-of-4d-drop-lowest and use Appendix C to give them magic items.

I'd be tempted to use the "buy your equipment" magic item list in C2, but that will take at least an hour of discussion, and endless minutes of "Who has the Sword +3?" followed by "No, remember, we decided to get a Sword +2 instead, and use the extra money on a Potion of Flying." "Who has that?" "It got broken, remember?" Aargh. At least if I hand it out, it's just out there.

So I am leaning toward the roll up six sets and equip from Appendix C.

What level? Depends on a few things.

Level Issues

If the module is scaled for five guys around level 7 or so, then eight-ten players with level 7 or so PCs means the module isn't going to give them as much of a challenge. But if I lower them down too much, they'll lose out on higher-level spells which can be critical to dealing with some situations. Potentially. I am not cleverly giving stuff away here, or cleverly avoiding doing so. I haven't re-read the module in enough depth to do that. I'm just saying, if they expect you'll have level 4 spells and you don't, that could be an issue.

The old AD&D pregren thing of mixed-level groups is nice, but who wants to be the lower-level guy? If I let someone be M-U 7 but the second M-U is only 5, that's probably fair to the module but not so fun for the level 5 guy. We'll do that in Barrier Peaks (we'll use those pregens) but not here.

Also, I need to know how many players, so I can distribute XP accordingly. We're so far out we don't know. I'll have to pick a date soon, so we can get on this.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Current Complicating Connections of Fellower

We're currently on a short lull in gaming in Felltower, thanks mainly to my schedule (unavailable for three straight weekends.)

But I think it might be interesting to list of the connected moving parts that are giving my players fits in Felltower. I'm using their terms of the levels, here, irrespective of how I actually label them.

The Surface

There are basically only two ways into the dungeon, now. The main entrance, and the tower entrance.

The PCs abandoned and lost their ladder-turned-bridge a few sessions back. The tower entrance is heavily built, and if it's locked from within it harms those who try to open it. They haven't found a way to destroy the entrance's lock.

There were at least two other ways in within the castle. The PCs destroyed the well entrance, so the orcs plugged it up with refuse and wreckage. It's clearable with a lot of manual labor that no one is willing to do. They haven't located where under the ruins the other one is, although they found those stairs when they found the Choke brothers.

The castle itself used to be an easy walk-in, over ruined walls and an open gate. They destroyed the gate in the down position (!), and the orcs repaired the walls to a sufficient extent that the PCs need to climb.

Outside the castle is the bugbear entrance, but that was filled with earth last time they checked. Someone or something collapsed it.

Level 1

The Orcs. They've been relatively quiet, but they are there and potentially can attack the party as they limp home or if they futz around too much on level 1.

Level 2

More orcs here - the "orc hole" is on this level. Orcs don't seem to patrol the area by the door to the Giant Fantastic Staircase, but they are close by.

The draugr are off of this level.

Stirges still hassle the PCs periodically thanks to an infestation near the connection to level 1.

Level 3

There is a way in from outside, through the dragon's lair. But the whole of level 3 accessible from there is a series of dead-ends, connecting back to a heavily orc-held area of level 2. The orcs have put up multiple blockages to make even getting to them involve heavy digging.

Level 4

The norkers and gnolls and ogres were cleared out. But the gnome (?) is still on the loose. The PCs have a key they believe is to a pair of massive doors, but can't find the keyhole. In addition, those doors are very close to the biggest complicating factor - The Lord of Spite.

There is a black reaver down on that level, which the PCs managed to trigger. They're not sure if it's patrolling around or not. That complicates getting to a number of areas nearby.

There is a sinkhole to a "massive treasure" but it sits on top of a mobile floor. The sinkhole is near some areas with monsters, too, so it's not an easy exploration.

The hallway near Phase Snake Junction has some obsidian golems in it, and the PCs can't figure out a way to clear them on the cheap (aka, one at a time, by attacking first.)

ALL of this is subject to the Lord of Spite. Although a lot of discussion centers around him "sleeping" in his "apartment," he moves around a lot. He could intervene in any of these situations, not just the one near his "apartment complex."

Level Mungo

The PCs can get to this level by swimming and breathing water. The level is probably lethal for most of them.


Those seem to be the open complications.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Next AD&D - Decided!

It looks like our next AD&D gamne will be a run-through of C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness.

G1-3 actually had a lot of votes, but some players have an issue with the time - probably 2-3 sessions per adventure, with three adventures.

No one asked for S1 Tomb of Horrors.

And one player has played in, and GMed, T1 The Village of Hommlet multiple times. I'm not sure that would hurt, but it certainly wouldn't help his enjoyment.

So it will probably be C2.

C2 comes with five pre-gens, but it's likely that we'll have more than five players. So I'll apportion out XP like I did for S2 White Plume Mountain and allow people to generate characters.

Magic items will be done in the style of the original adventure - a pile of cash to use to select magic items by value. That should be fun. Originally it's 25,000 gp. But perhaps I'll do 5,000 x the number of PCs, or some lesser amount (more PCs is more power anyway).

I'll take a run through the adventure and decide how to structure it, but it's likely I'll use the tournament encounters only to speed the group's progress through.

Look for a game of this in late Summer.

Friday, July 6, 2018

How current are rumors?

I hand out a lot of rumors in my Felltower game.

How current are rumors?

Some Rumors Age

Some of the rumors in the game are time-limited. They provide information, probably old by the time you hear it, about something that is subject to change.

Oddball "I'm calling you from a café about 10 miles south of Mesurier. I wondered if you could do me a favor?"
Bellamy: "Mesurier? I got a map here someplace that says we haven't even captured that place yet!"
Oddball: "Yeah, so I heard. Everybody seems very friendly."

- Oddball and Bellamy, in Kelly's Heroes

It's usually easy to spot these. They refer to current events, recent happenings, and the actions of people who may come and go. They may age (and I'll take unheard but now aged rumors off the list, if necessary.)

Some Are History

Some rumors simply refer to the past. They don't reflect any current situation. They age, per se, but the information was already old. Rumors about the history of Felltower, of past adventurers, of lost civilizations and races, etc. refer to events already past. They may turn out to be false or too old (the lost sword was found, the dragon was slain, etc.) but they provide a basic understanding of the world of the past.

Some are Timeless

Some of them refer to foundational elements of the world or the game. They don't actually come with a time limit. Rumors about monster weaknesses, strange varieties of magic items, mystic pools, etc. are like this. They probably don't change.

"It's timeless, like a fine watch." - paraphrasing Zonker Harris (IIRC)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Brief reflections on levels for our AD&D game

When we play AD&D next:

Low vs. High Level

I think low-level play and high-level play are equally unforgiving in some respects. Low-level because a single mistake can cost your irreplaceable resources or kill your character. High-level because you have more resources but if you aren't clever about how to use them - or experienced in what's actually needed and what isn't - the higher-level threats can end you or cost you resources you need to solve a problem.

Mid Level Sweet Spot?

For people new to AD&D, mid-levels seem to be okay. You have enough HP and spells to get some stuff done but also not to die in a single good roll by the DM.

Very High Level is Tricky

Unless you scale down the opposition, very high level play is tough. When we played GURPS Dungeon Fantasy for the first time, it helped that we had PCs who badly outmatched the other side. That way while the players were learning what the power level played like, they had wiggle room on inefficient tactics and on weaker foes. In AD&D, if I toss level 14+ characters at my players and then expect them to deal with level-appropriate challenges, that's asking a lot. They just aren't as familiar with the play of the game. We witnessed that in White Plume Mountain, too, where resources were occasionally frittered away, it was hard to get used to HP as something you couldn't heal back up with rest and time in the dungeon, and then resources were husbanded when they could have been most efficiently expended.

So I think of the three, mid-level is the most forgiving for relative newbies.

All of that said, if the players vote on, say, G1-3, we'll play at the appropriate level (which just might be the pregens, although they're a bit high-powered for G1 in my experience.) Tomb of Horrors will use the list of PCs in the back. C2 might be the best choice, but it may not be chosen. And that's okay. These are only paper men, making real memories.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Mead-Guzzling Mini for the Tavern Level

I have to get this guy ready for the fabled Tavern Level of Felltower.

I'm not saying the players are close, but hey, they could be.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What AD&D is next?

Since we had such a good time with White Plume Mountain, I asked my players about another round of AD&D. Here is what I put up on the list as options and my comment:

C2 Ghost Tower of Inverness (tournament style, with pre-gens)

G1-3 Against the Giants (we'd do them one after another)

S1 Tomb of Horrors (warning: not hack and slash. Come ready to think.)

For low-level fun:

T1 The Village of Hommlet (we'd skip the village except as background)

With T1 I'd say we'd make up guys you'd want to run again in the future. For the rest, pre-gens and one-shot guys.

We'll see what they choose, or should I say, what we agree on.

Some adventures I like but I rejected:

A1-4 - the Slavers Series - because most of my players have been through at least one of these modules. I may bust out A4 at some point, as I think it's a great adventure with an unearned bad reputation.

S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (I used its central conceit as part of Felltower as a direct homage)

WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure (it's good for a smaller group, and we'd have between 7-10 PCs)

S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (too much prep for right now)

Return to White Plume Mountain (it's 2nd edition AD&D, so I'd need to fix it a little, and do a lot of re-reading.)

The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb (from Dungeon magazine - great stuff, too much prep.)

. . . and another Unearthed Arcana-era adventure that is too high level for my players. They just won't have the AD&D experience to really get much out of being high-level characters.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Ever run S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks?

I'm wondering if there is anyone who has run S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks straight-up, preferably with 1st edition AD&D. I have some questions and I'd love to see game summaries or hear feedback on it.

It's been on my "to run" list for a while, but the adventure seems like a difficult one for the GM - and for the GM to describe even given shared dungeon vocabulary. So if you have run it, or can point to a summary (not a review), that would be very helpful.

I'm specifically not looking for comments that contain spoilers for it - I'd be running it for my crew, some of whom are unfamiliar with it besides the basic concept. I am also not really looking for advice on mixing magic and tech. Just on the actual mechanics of running the module itself.

I do intend to run this at some point, with AD&D, once I feel like I have a good handle on how to do so. This is long-range planning as I'm too busy these days. But I have to start my long-range planning a long time ahead, right?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Brother Ike's upgrade

Here is how I finally spent those points on Brother Iklwa that I'd mentioned in my post on spending points on allies.

1 point went to learn Swimming.

1 point each went to praying for Great Healing and Restoration

- 12 points went to raising Energy Reserve (Holy) 1 to 5.

In my opinion, those made significantly more sense than just raising Power Investiture. He really does need to pray for Remove Curse, but the two he learned were critical at this stage, and Great Healing was very close to being needed. He may get Protection from Evil at some point, but as soon as he does his primary mission will be "buff cleric" instead of "healing cleric" during combat with anything that just might turn out to be capital-E Evil. That would actually undermine his utility as a healer, in my opinion, as his pool of energy and the need to cast at penalties now already limits him.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...