Sunday, September 30, 2018

C2 Pre-summary

It's late, so I'll just give a quick rundown on C2 so far.

The group handled AD&D much better, this time. Or this group did. Out of five players, two were long-term AD&D vets (running the cleric and the thief), two had played in White Plume Mountain last year (the magic-user and the monk), and one was new but had been heavily briefed on AD&D by his dad (the fighter.) And of the two vets, one had also played in WPM. By "better," I mean they had a much better handle on the the consumable resources they had, the nuances of things like damage vs. S-M / L and initiative, the importance of ganging up, and the value of spells and using them appropriately.

We got through most of the module today, but we simply ran out of time. A lot of time was spent figuring out puzzles, and trying to find alternate solutions instead of pushing ahead with the first workable one that was found. We got to the "last" bit of the adventure with very little time to spare to complete, and put it off for another day.

We had some highlights:

- manticore trouble, again. This time, no one wanted to talk to it.

- a plethora of L-sized creatures - in fact, not a single S or M sized one yet - and the fighter chose a two-handed sword! Excellent choice.

- some clever puzzles that the PCs figured out, and some they did not but managed to solve eventually.

- lots of valuable contributions by our youngest member, whose dad wasn't even old enough to attend Wintercon VIII when this module debuted.

- the one non-tournament encounter that I used turned out to cost a good 45 minutes of time to resolve. Oops. We'd still have run out.

- a combination of proper caution saving people, and excessive caution hurting people. Got to love it.

As always, returning to play AD&D close to "by the book" was a lot of fun, and we'll finish C2 and then we'll certainly play AD&D again. If only to encounter over-written rules and stern admonishments to be strict with the players in the DMG!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

C2 Pregen comments

We'll be playing C2 with the pregens from the module.

Some interesting notes:

- the party spellcasters are notably higher level than the rest. The group is:

Human Fighter 7
Human Thief 7
Human Monk 7
Human Magic-Users 10
Human Cleric 9

- they all have 18 in their prime requisite. The monk has no 18s, only the minimums for her class (but also Charisma 15)

- they all have maximum HP.

- they're all unequipped, and the party has 25,000 gp to equip them with magic items from a list plus mundane gear from the PHB.

- none have bonus-providing stats other than their prime requisite.

I don't think I ever really examined them that closely to note all of this (except for the equipping part, that is.)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Next AD&D on Sunday

We have a small crew on Sunday - looks like 4-5 players - so we're going with AD&D.

I'll be running the tournament version of C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness.

The conceit of that one is there are four condemned but mid-level characters and a loaner monk from the local monastery, and they're sent to retrieve the mysterious and powerful Soul Gem from the ruins of the Ghost Tower.

I'll be running it straight-up, using the same rules we used for S2 White Plume Mountain.

It should be fun. Hopefully the players can find their way through to defeating it, but it's a tough adventure with players with varied levels of AD&D experience. That makes it especially challenging. May they roll a lot of 20s and apply the lessons learned from WPM!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Revised GURPS Magic: Death Vision

Death Vision is one of those spells that has an effect that seems a little outsized to what it costs in energy and time to cast.

I think it's a great information spell, but it's "mentally stunned" with no resistance is pretty easy to abuse. Don't agree? Have a Death Vision-25 foe fight the PCs along with a few allies to take advantage of the -4 defenses from stunning plus the ease of getting a -2 for flanking on a stunned foe.

There are two ways to control that:

Add a resistance roll. Simply put, an unwilling subject can resist. I'd go with Will-2, here, like Madness, because the effect is dangerous but minor, and it's a time-consuming spell to cast until your skill is 20 or 25.

Add immunity. Not everything should be subject to this. Limiting this to sapient or near-sapeint foes (IQ 6+) is a good start. Limiting it to such foes makes it dangerous against intelligent foes, but not an easy way to divert dire animals. I'd also blanket in Death Vision as a spell subject to Immunity to Mind Control Spells - demons, undead, etc. shouldn't generally be subject to this kind of spell.

In my own game, I'm considering doing both. The main intended use - figuring out what might kill you - is unchanged. Its main actual use - stunning foes as an attack spell - would be weakened without being nerfed. The Will-2 resistance means it's still very effective, but it's not automatic. So that's probably how I'll run it in Felltower.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Spells "On" Control on Bless

So dripton has a very interesting approach to the Bless spell.

As you can see in this summary, they treat it as an ongoing spell.

So, you have put a Bless spell on each of your five companions? That's a -5 to cast additional spells. That's a big penalty to eat up, especially since Bless isn't something you can casually cancel. You're taking a solid, lasting hit for keeping your friends protected.

I'm still not sure I'd use the spell - my experience with it has led me to ban it in my current game - but it does make it a lot harder to abuse!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Flooding Felltower?

One of the things I use in Felltower is the real local weather.

Heat waves, blizzards, unseasonal heat, early frosts, heavy rains, whatever.

If it's outside my window at game, it's outside the dungeon.

Today's weather is one I'm not sure I've deployed - flooding.

We had steady, heavy rain leading to flash floods and structural damage in the area. Sodden ground plus a lot of additional rain hasn't done well for some trees and lots of roads.

We're playing Felltower this weekend. Has the rain affected the dungeon?

On one hand, probably not. It's high up, and literally on the peak of the mountain. A lot of the local flooding is due to local topology, such as low-lying ground or slanted roads heading towards gutters and sewars.

On the other hand, probably. The mountain is well-placed to get a lot of rain. It's gotten a lot over time.

So I need to consider what all that rain will mean for the current state of Felltower.

Sometimes, the simple answer - whatever I see outside the window is the weather - implies some effect I hadn't planned for. So it goes.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Tried to give Tides of Numenera a go

Well, this was anti-climactic.

I decided I should finally start to play Torment - Tides of Numenera.

It's been a while, so I needed to update GOG Galaxy.

That finished, and I had to reinstall the game. So I did that, waiting for a long time as it downloaded and installed.

Then I didn't have any time to play, so I set this all aside and went off to finish my home work and then headed off to work.

I got home, and fired the game up and all I got was this:

"Switching to resolution 0x0 failed, trying lower one
Switching to resolution 0x0 failed, trying lower one
All resolution switches have failed
Screen: could not switch resolution (1366x768 fs=1 hz=0)"

So clearly I need to spend some time tinkering with my resolutions. The game ran once before, when I first got it, I just didn't feel like spending the time to play around much. Now it doesn't work at all. My enthusiasm was pretty much "I should play this, I paid for it" and that's not a good sustainable base for serious troubleshooting.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

A bit more Felltower history

The history of Felltower has been revealed occasionally in chunks, but mostly in drips and drabs.

Back in 2011 and 2014, I posted a bit of Felltower history.

Here are a few more bits that have been discovered since then.

Construction styles in Felltower vary greatly from area to area. Some of the sections were built within the known human habitation of the underground complex. Others predate any human habitation, and show signs of have been tunneled to rather than tunneled out. Several features of the tunnel complex are clearly not of human make, and exhibit powers not ascribed to any known spell or miracle of the Good God.

A baleful force seems to dwell within the depths of Felltower, captained (?) by slender, six-fingered beings with bejeweled armor and elegantly designed weapons. Rumors make these beings out to be elves, demons, vampires, or all three. Their origins, intentions, and goals are all obscure but clearly hostile to surface dwellers.

There is a tunnel connecting the distant valleys to the north with the complex under the castle, by which the orcs have access. Rumors have placed at least two similar external connections into Felltower. These and the gates may partly explain the bewildering variety of creatures that continue to fill its dank halls even as monsters are exterminated by delvers.

Since the beginning of the clearing of Felltower, numerous groups have made their presence known in Stericksburg and Felltower. These include cone-hatted cultists, partisans of Sterick and followers, loner wizards, glory-seekers, and gold-seeking delvers.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Mini WIP - Swashbuckler with Staff

Here is how Jaspar's mini is coming along:

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

Friday, September 21, 2018

Food in Gamma Terra

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

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

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

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

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

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

But geez, the rest of it?

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

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Chaos Wars Kickstarter + Felltower DF

So Tenkar noticed this before I did:

Chaos Wars Wave 3

And the Chaos army makes an appearance.

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

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

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

So I'll rectify this with this Kickstarter.

Will these guys show up in Felltower?

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

What makes a GURPS DF Chaos Knight a Chaos Knight?

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

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

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

- natural DR

- in-born immunities

- in-born vulnerabilities

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

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

- strange powers, such as magical enhancements to weaponry.

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

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Resurrecting Dead Minis Kickstarters

I saw this over on Tenker's Tavern.

The Lost KS Mini Project

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Barbie's dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We spoke to Jezza and explained our plan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We checked the bus, next, and climbed in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

MVP was Barbie for spotting the cloaked cryokinetic.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Gamma Terra pre-summary

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


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

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

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

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

- fought a big war with the Little Monks

- found a flying bus

- concluded an alliance with the Fit

- handled a lot of negotiation, transport, etc.

Fun session.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

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

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

What Next in Gamma Terra?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We'll see how it all plays out.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Failure of the Mook Rush in GURPS DF

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

Castle of Horrors Session 7

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

So much Gamma World . . .

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

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Port of Shadows

Give up all hope of lengthy posts from me for a few days, at least. This arrived:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Assembling other people's dungeons into a megadungeon

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

how to make a megadungeon without really trying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Updated Felltower Gate list

I went through and updated the Gate List:

Known Gates of Felltower

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

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Random Notes for 9/8

Just some assorted links and notes:

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

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

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

- Felltower needs a bit of this mania:

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

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

Friday, September 7, 2018

Above the Flatline on Vertical/Horizontal level connections

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

How I’m Organizing My Megadungeon

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

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

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Reflections on my Modified Mook rule in play

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

How does it look after five more years of play?

How does it play?

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

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

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

Have I changed it?

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

Should I expand it?

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

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

How often do I apply it?

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

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

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

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

You can see that play out in my DF game.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Pictures from Session 109

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

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

The medusa fight:

The cyclops:


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

Monday, September 3, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"See?" said Galen.

Mo was properly chastened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ferryman asked where they wished to go.

"The underworld!" said Alaric.

"Yes, the underworld," said Hjalmarr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Felltower / Olympia pre-summary

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

It featured:

- snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.

- a very tough fight.

- a supernatural trireme.

- Mo admitting Galen was right!

- a trip to the Forge of Eternity.

- bargaining for a weapon.

- a trip to the Fissure of the Underworld.

- meeting Cerberus.

- a boat ride with a strange ferryman.

- and lots of loot!

Details tomorrow.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Revised GURPS Magic: Great Healing

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

Great Healing

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

Cost and other effects are unchanged from Spells.
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