Sunday, July 14, 2019
I'm looking forward to getting back to dungeoneering after my break!
Friday, July 12, 2019
Hopefully that's just the start of a longer tail of sales - DF12: Ninja sold 12 copies and DF15 a few more, so it's not like it's a one-and-done.
I'd have been happier cracking the 100 mark, of course, but every sale counts and I appreciate them all. I'll see what I can do about getting another book rolling soon. If DFT3 can sustain sales for a bit, I may have more Felltower-related material to put together. So much of what I have is cobbled-together notes that spring from immediate need and play, so the dungeon itself is more than a bit difficult to produce. But monsters, items, NPCs, perhaps dungeon sections, rules variations - I have plenty of those to offer up. Let's see how this one sells before I settle on doing any of that.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
d100 Mercenary Missions
It's a fun read and I think I can use some of those as adventure fodder. They'd make great random missions for a fantasy minis wargame, too.
Monday, July 8, 2019
Weather: Hot, sunny, moderately humid.
Crogar, human barbarian (268 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (409 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (355 points)
5 Skeletons (~35 points)
6 Skull Spirits (?? points)
Hayden the Ebon Page, human knight (307 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (250 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Orcish Bob, not-orcish orc brute (approximately 125 points, NPC)
The group gathered in town for another delve. Given the short handed crew, the lack of a Scry Gate scroll (it's on order, and will come in two more weeks), and desire to put paid to the orcs, they settled on dealing with the orcs. So they decided to go down the orc hole again, for a fourth straight session.
With that in mind, they found Raggi and recruited Orcish Bob, both of whom are always down for combat.
They gathered some rumors, including one about the orcs despising hobgoblins and "all of their allies." What allies? The PCs weren't sure. They also heard of a giant staircase up that goes to a "heavenly realm."
They purchased a portable ladder (since Wyatt has the one from last time), some assorted basic gear such as rope, mallets, spikes, etc. and headed out. They moved up to the castle and had Galen scout it out while Invisible. He found no signs of recent occupation. Meanwhile Gerry pulled out a skull to summon a Skull Spirit. He did, and rolled a 3. I thought of some good options . . . and told him a 1 or 6 was special. 1. Okay, roll again I said. 6. He ended up with six skull spirits. They'd have to act like a Mass Zombie grouping, not get individual commands, but it was still a great addition to the group. They rested a bit, then headed into the castle. They opened up the trap door and headed down.
From there they made their way, unmolested, to the orc hole. They kept an eye on that and checked the six doors they dealt with last time. The "stuck" door was still stuck, so Ulf put Silence on the area around the door and Crogar chopped it down. Beyond it were just abandoned orc beds, like the other rooms.
From there, they went down the orc hole in the usual fashon - Silence to nail in a rope ladder, Galen and Gerry Invisible going down first, the group once it was determined what the situation was. There were no guards on the "cliff" but the fishnet was there, repaired crudely.
They climbed up and cut it down, again under Silence, while Galen scouted ahead and determined the four-cave complex was empty and not recently used for living space. Hayden sliced up the net into knotted ropes, "so the sea turtles don't get caught in them" and tossed the bits in the pond ("Where the sea turtles live.")
The group scouted out and mapped the caverns, crudely. Then they formed up and headed up the "orc tunnel."
It was about a mile in that Galen, scouting ahead, found a barricade across the 9" wide tunnel. Beyond it was a 6-7 yard circular cave, with two goblins (preparing some kind of stew over embers), and seven orcs with bows, axes, and clubs. He pulled back and explained what he saw. They contrived a plan to get Galen up there, then Ulf would sneak up and cast Silence to allow them to be slain without alerting anyone.
Sadly, Ulf's terrible Stealth roll meant the orcs must have heard him; when Galen arrived four orcs were waiting on the far end tunnel - the goblins and other three were gone. When Ulf arrived, Galen shot two orcs once each in the right eye. They dropped, dead. The other two shot him as he became visible. One arrow bounced off his armor, another barely penetrated (but he resisted the poison.)
He shot them in the vitals and dropped one and wounded the other. Then he shot that one twice more and killed them, then shot the other four more times "to make sure." The other PCs rushed up.
Raggi kicked down the barricade and the checked the pot - maybe stew, maybe poison for arrows. They decided to pursue the others who clearly fled. They did so cautiously, though, with Galen scouting ahead and waiting at bends for them so they didn't lose track of each other or put him out of help's reach. They found a watering hole along the way (and some dropped arrows), fed by trickling water from the rock above.
They kept going - eventually another two miles, hearing more and more howling and yowling and growls ahead as they kept going. Finally they found the exit - a tunnel mouth out to the bright sunlight of the day. Highlighted in the light were about a dozen devil wolves. The group decided Galen should shoot a couple and lure the rest into the tunnel where they could be killed. So they set up, and Galen shot and killed two. But the wolves retreated instead - the PCs couldn't determine why (they failed the relevant PER rolls I made for them to detect anything.)
The PCs advanced to see outside. They saw a wooden palisade, about 15-20' high, embedded in a solid stone embankment - clearly Earth to Stone was used if not Shape Stone. The palisade had many orcs on it, and two sturdy gates to the left and the right. Beyond them, separate from the palisade, were two covered towers with movable shutters and a tarp covering them - clearing artillery platforms. Orcs in the scores - maybe hundreds - were organizing and they heard owlbears and ogres, too. And goblins, of course.
The group had planned to attack but decided to talk, instead. After some discussion of what they wanted, of course.
They seemed to have settled on "we want the orcs to leave us alone and let us go anywhere we want freely, and we'll ignore them in turn." Some suggested that the rumors of an "orc king" in Felltower meant they wanted the bones of that king, and the PCs could find it for them for a suitable reward.
So they sent Galen out to negotiate. Galen clearly was respected by the orcs, if not feared - probably feared. They accompanied him with the six skull spirits.
He walked out, bow away, but with Missile Shield on. Ten orcs launched arrows at him, then another ten. All missed. He called for a parley.
After some back and forth, the orc chieftan himself climbed down to talk, accompanied by five well-equipped orcs (guards? subchiefs?) and a standard bearer with a head mounted on a pole. The chief worse decorated armor and carried a bastard sword. The stood about 10 yards apart and yelled to each other.
Galen basically told the orc they were bored of killing orcs and wanted free access, but also asked what the orcs sought in the dungeon. The orc chieftan said that wasn't for non-orcs (using the blanket, very insulting term in orcish for "non-orcs" that basically indicates sub-orcish scum.) Galen mentioned the "orc king" and the orc chieftan looked momentarily surprised before putting his fierce negotiation face back on.
Galen and the orc couldn't come to terms. Galen said if they didn't agree they'd keep killing orcs, and the orc chieftan's response was, basically, "So what?" The orcs clearly wanted to explore Grak Yorl ("the Boneyards") and didn't care about casualties taken doing so. Once it was clear the PCs had nothing else to say, they both went silent and the orc chieftan climbed back up. As he was vaulting the battlements, Galen said, "We have the orc king's bones." The orc chieftan stopped dead amd turned, and said, "Show me."
Galen couldn't, of course, and remained silent. The orc chieftan left. Galen pulled back and the group discussed what to do.
They decided to leave a strongly worded note in Common and drafted one. Then Ulf wrote it out and Galen shot it into the palisade wall with one of the captured orc arrows.
The message said:
To the Leader of the Orcs: We have no desire to kill any more of your orcs beyond the scores that we have already slain. We will not invade and destroy you, or even kill any more orcs, if you tell your troops to stop annoying us with their feeble attacks as we explore Grak Yorl. Leave as alone, and you may well see the bones of your king.
—Galen and his Warband
They trudged back the three miles to the caves, and climbed out of the orc hole. They took the time to loot the dead orcs, finally, and cast Mass Zombie on them, set up the barricade, and order them to kill anyone who came.
From there, they headed to the crystal lenses/mirrors they'd found back in session 35. Only Raggi had been there before. The others had heard of/read about them.
They proceeded to spend a lot of time experimenting with the mirrors and the repelling doors. They put Bravery on a willing Crogar and then convinced him to to walk backwards toward the doors. He went flying onto his face for 4d-4. They tried sending a skeleton, and it was flung back (for 2d-2 and it survived.)
They tried casting Dispel Magic on the doors from an Ethereal Body Gerry, but it didn't work - nor did Lockmaster. They tried Crogar rushing it after another spell and he went flying and landed on his neck.
They tried casting spells on things beheld in the mirrors to see if it amplified spells. It did not do that. But a Sunbolt shot in a way to ricochet off of all of them into the door was clearly amplified, and it scorched the previously undamaged doors. They couldn't make a large enough spell to matter, though, and decided blowing the doors off wasn't the solution.
They spend a good hour or so there (maybe more like 2) experimenting before they finally called it quits and headed back home. Luckily, nothing molested them the whole time.
For all of the non-combat action, and non-action at the end (due in party to very uncooperative wandering monsters dice) this was a very interesting session. Generally I feel a bit bad when the PCs try to find treasure and just can't eke any out. This one, I don't feel badly at all - no one even remotely tried. They briefly discussed killing the giant, but decided they'd already robbed him so he wouldn't have any loot. Red Raggi and Orcish Bob voted for that but didn't have the numbers to carry it.
The fortifications really slammed the PCs to a halt. I had mentioned way, way back when Galen scouted that the orcs had heavily fortified a cave entrance to the south that seemed to potentially reach into Felltower. Yes, yes they had. Clearly it was a good idea because the PCs weren't sure what to do and talked instead of killed because of the walls.
Shame of a waste of a massively successful Skull Spirit casting. All they did was- aid? hinder? do nothing for? pick one - some diplomatic talk.
The diplomacy was actually pretty amusing. The lack of a "face" character - even someone who is potentially likable but also talkative - hurts a bit here. You literally had two killers - Galen and the orc chieftan - possessed of no other agenda than "leave us alone so we can explore the dungeon as we please" and both with Callous and Bloodlust - talking about a non-aggression pact. So it ended exactly how you'd expect. "We'll keep killing your orcs." "Okay, you do that." It didn't help that the PCs had nothing to give and nothing to demand other than ignoring one another and a bit of "stay out of Felltower."
Loot was 31 sp each. That's a big drag on Bob's and Raggi's availability. From their perspective the PCs didn't even really try to get loot.
MVP was Crogar, as decided by a random die roll. XP was 1 for exploration.
Sunday, July 7, 2019
- the PCs went into Felltower, down the orc hole, and all the way to the far end of the tunnel!
- negotiations with the orcs ensued;
- a note was left;
- and the lenses/mirrors/doors were toyed with extensively.
Close to no loot, which bodes ill for getting hirelings next time, but it was a fun session to run.
Also, Excited Utterances and Unwanted Stabbings were extensively discussed.
Summary sometime tomorrow.
Saturday, July 6, 2019
After that, I'll get in some posts - probably scattered for the next week - and then I'll be posting irregularly at best for the rest of the month. I'll be away from my computer and a bit off of my usual timezone so it'll be difficult to keep up posting.
So look for the usual post-session barrage of posts for the next week, possibly some real excitement in the form of a spectacular session, and then a bit of a lull for a while.
Friday, July 5, 2019
I like the idea of abstract wealth for many games - it takes the day-to-day financing out of the game and makes it about choosing stuff, accessing stuff, and doing stuff - not about the nitty gritty of detailed equipment tracking.
Oddly enough, then, the game I play in - GT - and the one I run - DF - are all about nitty gritty details like coin weight, bullet counts, gear shopping, and so on.
Like Mailanka says in his post, some games are about that directly. Counting rounds after the apocalypse is part of the fun.
Looting orcs for every last coin and searching the stomachs of giant frogs for swallowed gemstones is classic fantasy gaming.
The detail is a strong and important aspect of play. James Bond doesn't fret about where he gets gas for his car but Mad Max sure does. Conan squanders jewels in the fleshpots of the south, but PCs in games want to hoard every coin until they have enough for . . . whatever. Magics swords, potions, castles, henchmen - they cost, and a few gp here or there can add up.
This is why I track equipment so closely in DF and why we do so in GT.
It's also why we track the details of gear so closely. It is, again, part of the fun and the challenge.
It's really something well-supported in the game system and part of the genre.
If I ever do get around to running a modern game, I'll use abstract wealth. It's just easier to roll and see if you can buy, or just have, some random stuff than have people tracking dollars and cents and going on Amazon.com to check and see how much one of those costs. As easy as that is, and as convenient, tracking it all is likely to take away from the game.
Thursday, July 4, 2019
The minis themselves are Greek-themed, making them great for Jason and the Argonauts moments. But it's the description that makes this worth posting about:
RISING FROM THEIR GRAVES . . .
They are the shades of the men of Sparta, Athens, Thebes, and Macedon. When a Necromancer plunders the coins meant for Charon, she can reanimate their remains and bind them to her will. Only by removing the skull from the body, or destroying the coins, may the warriors break their curse and return to the grave.
Wow. Those are some awesome skeletons. No just whacking these guys with a club and moving on. You've got to decapitate them . . . or destroy the coins the Necromancer used to summon them up.
This is a great way to make skeletons interesting. Get rid of the decapitation thing - it's too easy for PCs to just whack them down and cut off the head and move on. Make it all about the coins. Which, clearly, need not be on or anywhere near the skeletons.
Unkillable 2 (Achilles' Heel: Destruction of personal passage coin) is a good way to represent that. So is Unkillable 3 if you like skeletons that fall to dust which whisks off without a breeze to re-form back at their master's lair.
With that in hand, you have a Necromancer with some seemingly frail and fragile minions, but actually ones which will keep coming back no matter what you do to them, until you break up those coins. Which she presumably needs to keep close by to command them. Or you can defeat the necromancer, and claim the skeleton-coins for yourself. Will you lay the suffering souls to rest or abuse them yourself?
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
I'm thinking from Reaper Bones giant-sized to Reaper big dragon sized.
Right now, my solution has been padded desk drawers and hope. But I don't have a good way to transport the figures, or really store them for anything like movement.
I've used GW cases (they're pretty good for small ones) and Feldherr (not bad, but they've suffered some breakage from fairly day-to-day use), and Chessex (ugh.) I'd curious what other people use to transport big, heavy, and delicate minis.
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
- GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Treasures 3: Artifacts of Felltower has been updated. As far as I can tell, it's just a fix to an error that crept into the initial draft, and remained unnoticed - setting the start of my DF game to 2001 (incorrect) instead of 2011 (correct.)
- I like this look at gear by Mailanka, very much.
- In one of the reviews of DFT3, Weapon Sets got a call out. But it noted there is only one weapon set in the book. That's not exactly true. There is another set - the relationship between two of the magical weapons (on pages 6 and 7) is another set. It's not called out as one, but the two weapons have complimentary effects on a bearer using both, and one special power of one weapon applies to the other if they're used together. That's not the case with any other weapons also used with that particular item (on page 7). That's also an example of a set. I should have called it out more specifically, but you can't think of everything ahead of time.
I'm being deliberately vague because my players read this blog and not all of them - hopefully none of them - have read the book.
Monday, July 1, 2019
"but Josiah takes out one bandit, making the other bandits flee. However, Kôštē thumps a bandit in the back with her staff as he runs past."- from GURPShexytime
Okay, then, so it's not just my PCs who try to kill all fleeing foes before they can get away?
To be fair, this group doesn't try to run down the fleeing bandits, albeit probably because they've got an active threat in front of them.
But this is the kind of decision that can come back to haunt you. If you never take prisoners and never let a routed foe escape, then you've taught everyone to resist to the last. Some groups will break anyway, but notoriously brave ones (like the orcs in my campaign) will learn that it's win or die and go into battle knowing that and act accordingly.
This keeps making me think I should give this rule a go.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
Let's assume it's the latter.
If so, we've got some research that's been discussed:
- How to deal with or bypass the "evil door" that guards the Black Library.
- Sending a PC with Streetwise into the slums to try to find the hidden entrance to Felltower that rumor places there.
Researching the lenses has come up, but still, they haven't found much of any clues about how to use them and little has come back from asking about it before.
With the orcs having been dealt a serious blow, it's likely the PCs will stop attacking the orcs directly for a time. "Finishing off" the orcs will be tough - there are many, many more of them - but another attack might be a good way to try to penetrate through to even more important folks (at least as one player opined.)
With them out of the way, the PCs can do some deeper delving. The problem still remains that the PCs are relatively weak for the areas left unexplored, and the areas best known to hold treasure are also those best known to hold monsters capable of wiping out the group - the beholder, the huge dragon, the draugr, the Lord of Spite, possibly the deeper giant fantastic staircase (GFS) . . . .
Several gates are unknown, several more leads places that are known but no one is yet ready to try and unravel - the "air gate," the "fire gate," the "jester gate," the "jungle gate."
So as I see it, there are three broad groups of options:
- clear out a known "danger pocket" or deal with a known enigma
- go through a gate to unknown dangers
- explore deeper (the staircase, some of the paths leading past the "Lord of Spite's Apartment Complex."
That is at least how I'd group them - old, unknown puzzle, new paths.
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Friday, June 28, 2019
Thursday, June 27, 2019
Name: Demitrios, Antonios, Leonatios of Meepos
ST 13 
DX 13 
HT 12 
Basic Lift 34
Basic Speed 6 [-5]
Basic Move 7 
Ground Move 7
Water Move 1
TL: 3 
Languages: Common (Native) .
Combat Reflexes 
Enhanced Block (1) 
Sacrificial Block 
Shield Wall Training 
Code of Honor (Soldier's) [-10]
Code of Honor (Stays Bought) [-5]
No Sense of Humor [-10]
Overconfidence (12 or less) [-5]
Sense of Duty (Adventuring companions) [-5]
Never operate seperately [-1]
Worship the Saint of Fishes, St. Pesci [-1]
Squire (Dungeon Fantasy) 
Armoury/TL3 (Body Armor) IQ/A - IQ+0 10 
Brawling DX/E - DX+0 13 
Carousing HT/E - HT+0 12 
Climbing DX/A - DX-1 12 
Connoisseur (Weapons) IQ/A - IQ+0 10 
Fast-Draw (Shortsword) DX/E - DX+1 14 
includes: +1 from 'Combat Reflexes'
Gambling IQ/A - IQ-1 9 
Gesture IQ/E - IQ+0 10 
Heraldry IQ/A - IQ-1 9 
Knife DX/E - DX+0 13 
Leadership IQ/A - IQ-1 9 
Shield (Shield) DX/E - DX+2 15 
Shortsword DX/A - DX+1 14 
Spear DX/A - DX+2 15 
Stealth DX/A - DX-1 12 
Sumo Wrestling DX/A - DX-1 12 
Tactics IQ/H - IQ-1 9 
Thrown Weapon (Spear) DX/E - DX+1 14 
= Total 
1 Large Shield LC:4 $190 Wgt:18.75
Bash Dam:1d cr Reach:1 Parry:No ST: Skill:ST:DX-4, SK:Shield (Buckler)-2, SK:Shield (Force)-2, SK:Shield (Shield) Notes:[2,4]
Rush Dam:slam+3 cr Reach:1 Parry:No ST: Skill:ST:DX-4, SK:Shield (Buckler)-2, SK:Shield (Force)-2, SK:Shield (Shield) Notes:[2,4]
1 Shortsword LC:4|4 $400 Wgt:2
Swing Dam:2d-1 cut Reach:1 Parry:11 ST:8 Skill:SK:Sword!, SK:Shortsword, ST:DX-5, SK:Broadsword-2, SK:Force Sword-4, SK:Jitte/Sai-3, SK:Knife-4, SK:Saber-4, SK:Smallsword-4, SK:Tonfa-3
Thrust Dam:1d+1 imp Reach:1 Parry:11 ST:8 Skill:SK:Sword!, SK:Shortsword, ST:DX-5, SK:Broadsword-2, SK:Force Sword-4, SK:Jitte/Sai-3, SK:Knife-4, SK:Saber-4, SK:Smallsword-4, SK:Tonfa-3
1 Spear LC:4|4|4 $200 Wgt:4
1H Dam:1d+2 imp Reach:1* Parry:12 ST:10 Skill:SK:Spear, ST:DX-5, SK:Polearm-4, SK:Staff-2 Notes:
2H Dam:1d+3 imp Reach:1, 2* Parry:12 ST:9† Skill:SK:Spear, ST:DX-5, SK:Polearm-4, SK:Staff-2 Notes:two hands
1 Spear LC:4|4|4 Dam:1d+3 imp Acc:2 Range:13 / 20
RoF:1 Shots:T(1) ST:9 Bulk:-6 Rcl:- $200 Wgt:4
Armor & Possessions
1 Boots $80 Wgt:3 Location:feet
1 Gauntlets $108 Wgt:1.5 Location:hands
1 Leather Helm $25 Wgt:.5 Location:skull, face
1 Legionary Helmet $165 Wgt:4.5 Location:skull, face
1 Ordinary Clothes (Status +0) $0 Wgt:2 Location:
1 Scale Armor $495 Wgt:26.25 Location:torso, groin
1 Scale Leggings $295 Wgt:15.75 Location:legs
1 Scale Sleeves $233 Wgt:10.5 Location:arms
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
- Regeneration works very quickly on eyes in Felltower. No one asked, but I think some of the players probably expected that a solid eye hit would mean an eye would be crippled - blinded - for a long time. But crippling injuries generally heal when all of the HP lost to it come back; we don't track individual wounds but I felt that full regeneration of all damage inflicted on a creature is excessive and beyond the spirit of the rules. And it's not injury that is the issue - should a 5 damage hit to the eye on a human (20 injury) take 20 HP of healing to recover, but a 10-HP hit on a HP 5 Troll (with No Brain) take much less healing? That seems odd - what's behind the eye shouldn't determine how long it takes to heal the eye. So I decided it came back as soon as enough HP to heal a lost eye was healed. For a troll, this could be a few seconds.
I suppose I could rule that damage in excess of twice what is needed to cripple the eye destroys it, ala Dismemberment, but that would just about every hit to the eye destroys it even in a non-DF game. That seems excessive. There are lots of ways to damage and blind an eye with a blow to the eye socket that doesn't destroy the eyeball.
- We still struggle with a logical and consistent and loophole-limited ruling on light sources and Invisibility. That's a whole post on its own. Suffice it to say I didn't let someone "partially uncover" a lightstone while invisible, so it only shows in one direction.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
If you didn't realize it from that article Sean and I wrote way back when for Pyramid, I really like the movie "Blood of Heroes" aka "Salute to the Juggers." Sean Punch introduced it to me. It has some of my favorite things in it - Rutger Hauer, post-apocalyptic sports, Joan Chen, weird death sports, and more (like Vincent D'Onofrio and Delroy Lindo.) Is it a shock in a world with calcio fiorentino that people play the sport of the Juggers?
Special thanks to Tom Pluck for finding this and sending it to me.
Monday, June 24, 2019
Date: Sunday, June 23rd, 2019
Weather: Hot, clear, sunny.
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (250 points)
Antonios, Demitios, and Leonitus of Meepos, human spearmen (?? points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (409 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (355 points)
5 Skeletons (~35 points)
Skull Spirit (?? points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (265 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Orcish Bob, not-orcish orc brute (approximately 125 points, NPC)
The group gathered in town, after a long debate session about what to do. They scrambled and found Raggi, Orcish Bob, and the Meeposian Brothers. They bought a rope ladder, Wyatt managed to find an Agility potion - and Ulf was given a Minor Healing potion while panhandling! With some other assorted gear, they headed up to the top of the mountain. They avoided the "Giant Cave" entrance, formerly known as the "Dragon Cave" entrance, because there is a giant and a pack of dire wolves there.
Instead they went down the trapdoor entrance - a skeleton opened it and was not zapped. They'd heard a rumor that orichalcum armor will block that black energy, but Wyatt claimed the guy spreading the rumor was clearly a blacksmith selling orchalcum armor.
They made their way down into the dungeon, then to level 2, and then towards the orcs. The spelled-up Galen and sent him ahead to scout as they got close.
He found a barricade blocking a T-hallway right where they'd previously had a big to-do brawl with the orcs and an Earth College-expert caster. It was 6' high and fronted with oil and caltrops covered with some odd black sticky stuff. Galen cleared them aside and peered through narrow eyeslits and saw nothing behind it. He came back and reported to the group. Then he went back, hopped the barricade, and saw two crossbows strapped to stools, set with rope triggers going to the left and right up the direction the party meant to go. He snuck up there and saw orcs - three to the right, one to the left, mostly being lazy but one on guard with the crossbow rope trigger around his wrist. The solitary one in the back was just resting.
So Galen shot down two of the guys on the right, dropping his usual Invisibility. One fell and triggered a crossbow harmlessly.The next second he shot down the orc in front of him and spun to put down the other. (Actually, I realized after he can't do that in one second - Double-Shot required he be able to see both targets, as he's firing two arrows off of the bow at the same time, so loosing two arrows 180 degrees away from each other doesn't cut it.)
The group came up and cleared the rest of the caltrops, put Silence up and had the skeletons chop apart the barricade. Wyatt wanted Raggi to do it but he didn't want to and gestured at the skeletons. As soon as there was space Gerry slipped through and cast Zombie on one of the orcs.
They made their way, again with Galen scouting, over to the orc hole. There, they used Silence on the hole and went kicking down doors to make sure no one was in the rooms nearest the hole. They didn't find anyone, although one door was jammed and Raggi couldn't kick it down, and Wyatt couldn't turn the handle to open it either.
They nailed in pitons and dropped a rope and climbed down.
Again, Galen went ahead to scout, and ran into no opposition. He checked for secret doors to see where rear attackers could come from, but found nothing. Gerry followed when Galen reported back and they used the usual Invisibility, Dark Vision, See Invisible, now No-Smell, and Levitation to check the cliff-face exit. There was the fishing net again, hung with bells and noisemakers. Behind it were six armed goblins relaxing after a dice game, and six flasks. All were back by the far end.
So after some discussion they got ready to basically rush the cliff, send Ulf up there to put Silence and hand a portable ladder from the cliff. To make sure no goblins could escape, Gerry came up with Galen - far back this time - and used Great Haste. Galen shot down four of the goblins in one second, and as the other two jumped up in surprise he shot them twice each. They all dropped, clearly dead.
They began their plan. As they did, though, two dark-skinned and well-armed orcs came running up. Galen shot at both of them, nailing one in the vitals with a 4, and missing the other - clearly Missile Shield! He shot both of them again, and missed both - so both had Missile Shield, but he managed to shoot through it.
The orcs taunted them from the top, as Ulf pushed away to avoid getting stabbed in the face by one spear-armed orc. The other, sword-armed orc basically waited for a chance to fight. Galen kept loosing arrows and missing. Wyatt climbed up the cliff face to fight the orcs and allow Ulf back up. But then Galen shot one of the orcs with another 4! Shortly after, he got yet another 4. The skull spirit was sent into the action as well. Soon both orcs were downed and the PCs managed to slice through the net, noisily. Meanwhile, they heard the noises of orcs organizing in the big cave beyond the cliff face area.
They managed to get their forces to the top - and Wyatt tossed the six bottles by the goblins, not wanting to get nailed somehow from behind with oil flasks they'd left. He chucked them into the water. (This led to some discussion of stashing zombies all over the dungeon for later use. I restrained from pointing out this would require them to move there, thus becoming dungeon monsters.)
They formed up quickly and moved into the cave, Wyatt quaffing his potion as he went (and getting +5 to DX.)
They confronted a loose formation of 21 brute orcs backed by seven two-headed ogres - three really big ones and four "smaller" ogre-sized ones. (Wyatt consistently refers to these as ettins, which is clearly what they call two-headed ogres where he's from.) Also were eight orc archers, one big brute one and the rest normal warriors. Well, Galen was confronted with that - Gerry had cut down his buffing spells so only Galen had Dark Vision.
The PCs began to advance, the main combatants - Raggi, Wyatt, and Orcish Bob - in the lead, with Galen and the orc zombie behind, and then the Meeposian brothers backed by Ulf, then Gerry backed by his skull spirit and skeletons.
They advanced in more-or-less methodically, with Galen shooting down orcs - and finding these brutes tough and often staying up after two shots to the vitals, or blocking with their shields. The orcs launched arrows as well from the darkness and hit PCs, but mostly the arrows plunked off. Wyatt took one but shrugged off the venom on it, as did one of the Meeposian brothers (who Ulf then healed.)
The PCs kept moving into the fray, fighting the orcs - who then pulled back, steadily, at the command of something back in the darkness (one of the big two-headed ogres, according to Galen). The PCs kept pressing, and soon Raggi was wounded and went berserk. A couple of orcs disobeyed orders and tried to attack Raggi while he was vulnerable and wounded him, but they soon went down. Wyatt killed an orc or two as Orcish Bob mostly moved to keep his flanks covered. Ulf held his paralyzation wand and cast healing on Raggi after a hard initial hit.
Galen systematically shot down all of the archers, basically from right to left, after a single shot at an ogre showed it to be Missile Shielded. The orcs continued to pull back, leaving the flank open to the ogres. The PCs moved up, Raggi taking steady damage as he killed and wounded orcs. Meanwhile the Meeposian brothers had been advancing slowly - 1 yard per second - formed-up. But at the urging of Wyatt and Ulf, they rushed up a bit. At this time, Raggi critically missed on a swing and dropped his axe. Orcish Bob took a terrific hit at this point, too, and dropped, badly wounded and stunned. The zombie and Wyatt moved to protect him.
Then one of the ogres yelled to the surviving orcs - many were already down - "Now! Surround them!" Galen couldn't understand what the ogres said to one another but caught that and relayed it to the group. The orcs surged forward, the four "regular" two-headed ogres threw eight spears at Raggi (many hit, hurting him badly and leaving him at negative HP) . . . and suddenly two trolls attacked from their right flank. One clawed Ulf twice and bit him in the neck, dropping him straight to heavily negative HP and knocking him out. Another attacked the Meeposian brothers, biting Antonious in the neck and clawing Demetrios and Leonidas in the neck - the attacks ended Invisibility. In a second, the orc/ogre and now troll counterattack put the PCs in a bad situation.
The troll on Ulf ripped at his neck a bit and mortally wounded him, then dropped him to concentrate on the skeletons that Gerry commanded to charge it. Their solid defenses kept it busy. The one on the Meeposian brothers mauled Antonious and dropped him unconscious but it passed its Bloodlust check and moved on to better targets - the other brothers stabbed it repeatedly and hurt it. Galen loosed arrows into the fray and blinded the troll that had mauled Ulf and wounded the other. But with regeneration, the trolls weren't terribly worried.
The ogres advanced. Raggi had no weapon, but had a nearby foe - a two-headed ogre. He rushed it and grappled its right-side head and started to punch it. It couldn't effectively fight back until it dropped its axe and punched back, the club-armed left hand trying to swat Raggi. An orc ran up and started to hit Raggi in the back with his axe. He was heavily armored on the torso so it didn't hurt much, but by now he was at -96 HP and only 24 injury from automatic death.
Gerry ordered the skeletons and skull spirit after the trolls and put Great Haste on himself and then Galen, and then put Haste on himself so he could move up closer to Wyatt. Galen started to seriously massacre orcs at this point, even past the heavy damage he did to them so far.
Orcish Bob passed out at this point, and he was stabbed by an orc who called him "traitor!" according to Galen. But Galen shot that orc down. The orc zombie fell, and the remaining orcs rushed the PCs. Galen shot one and wounded it, so two skeletons deployed to fight him.
Waytt moved up after the ogres, and stabbed one four times - once in each eye. His heavily Deceptive attacks got through and the ogre dropped. The others closed in, including the big brute one.
The trolls kept fighting, but didn't make much headway against the skeletons. One went down after several more hits and more of Galen's arrows, which he plunked into the body - his experience in the Troll Wars told him there weren't any vulnerable points on a troll. Once it went down, Gerry ran up and spiked down an Alchemist's Fire on the downed troll.
One of the ogres rushed the Meeposian brothers and quickly killed Demetrios. The troll took down Leonidas (he'd die, too) and the ogre smashed down one of the skeletons with a 3 for a max-damage club hit. Galen shot into the orcs and killed the one hacking at Raggi, then one that tried to close in with Wyatt, and then finished another one. Other orcs collapsed from their arrow wounds, too, leaving no more orcs.
The second troll was soon down, and two skeletons hacked at it to keep it down. Meanwhile, Wyatt had fought most of the other ogres. He blinded all of them, including the big guy and the two spellcasters, and put one head lolling on the one fighting Raggi. But he saw they were regenerating and the ogre casters had put Great Haste on themselves. So he focused on them for a bit, eventually stabbing them all in the eyes with more attacks, all at a higher Deceptive, than they could defend against. Soon they were all dead, including the one on Raggi.
Galen had no more targets, so he dropped his bow and rushed around behind the ogre (he's Base Move 12) and stabbed it through the chinks in his armor, wounding it. Wyatt (and Raggi) rushed it. Galen stabbed it again, but then Wyatt got around it and killed it. Raggi didn't snap out of berserk at first, but a default Leadership roll by Gerry did the trick.
He collapsed unconscious.
The PCs spent a few minutes on finishing the trolls (with another Alchemist's Fire and wooden weapons and arrows as fuel) and checked the wounded ogres and orcs to see who was dead and who Gerry could drain FP from. They bandaged up the wounded and looted everyone of the obvious loot - swords, purses, etc. and searched the ogre cave. The ogres were loaded, and one of the wizard-types wore a plainly magical corselet - which shrank down when they took it from him.
After maybe 10 minutes of this, they headed out, leaving the battlefield behind. They had enough skeletons to haul their wounded teammates, with help from Galen and Wyatt, and eventually made it back to safety.
Ulf held on through several HT checks and made it back to town, where he could be healed. Orcish Bob recovered with some church healing as well, and so did Antonios. Leonidas and Demetrios, however, had died, and Antonios announced his plan to return to Meepos with their remains. Raggi was fine, eventually, presumably, as he always is. The armor turned out to be a Mythic Corselet. The PCs gave a fine spear one of the ogre's threw to Antonios in thanks and offered (but were rebuffed) when they offered to pay extra to help him get his brother's corpses home.
The divided up the loot and we ended there.
We forgot to make Ulf's roll against HT loss or horrible scarring. We'll do that next time!
The orcs, again, tried some new tactics. They aren't great engineers but they do vicious fighting well. They sacrificed six goblins as part of a "defense in depth" plan that left pickets to trip an alarm on an attack while their main force was out of the range of damage. Waiting orcs just kept watch on the goblins, to see if they'd die. They did, and thus they knew to organize for a fight.
The final fight against the orcs was excellent. The PCs used excellent tactics, and only really got mauled because the orcs/ogres used clever tactics and magic back. Had Gerry had See Invisible up, they could have forstalled those as well. Even after that, they recovered well and didn't fall apart and kept fighting soundly. The orc/ogres used revised tactics based on what worked poorly for them last time - Missile Shield extensively, Great Haste on the casters, Invisible fighters instead of relying on a crowd to shield the big guys plus hasted trolls.
What's interesting to me is that the final fight was basically the second fight the PCs faced - and retreated from - way back when. The orcs weren't quite as well equipped, but had better odds against the PCs than the previous time. This time, the players committed to the fight - not once did anyone even bring up trying to cut and run. It was win, period. And they did that. Wyatt also was very good about staying close to his buddies, and helped keep Raggi (and fallen Orcish Bob) from getting mobbed and potentially killed until he was needed to attack ogres, and sometimes even then.
The orcs clearly suffered an appalling defeat here. It remains to be seen what happens next with them. Wyatt opined that if he was the orc king, he'd find somewhere else to settle. Ulf said he's heard the orc king's body is buried somewhere in Felltower, so it was likely they'd stick around anyway.
MVP was a tough call. Galen was the runaway favorite early, with his 3 (!) 4s rolled against a foe with Missile Shield. Based on a ruling I liked back in Roleplayer magazine. It's happened, rarely. It's never happened twice in one fight, nevermind by the same person. Galen did it three times - including on his first shot. But then Wyatt killed every single one of the two-headed ogres - which one them the battle and was the whole point of the attacks on the orcs. In the end, Galen's once-in-a-lifetime triple was the winner. We've played with that rule since the someething like the late 80s/early 90s and I've never seen that happen before.
I'm not sure of the exact loot, it's being done by email, but it was plenty. Wyatt claimed the Mythic Corselet. He immediately asked about getting Lighten on it but sadly, it's not something you can add additional enchantments to. He's stuck with all 35 lbs. of it. It's really a better deal for an SM+1 type stuck with heavy armor, but Wyatt wants more DR and this gives plenty.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Saturday, June 22, 2019
So I'm running a delve into Felltower tomorrow.
It looks to be a thin crowd:
and possibly Hayden the Ebon Page.
With such a thin group, expect to see a lot of last-minute grubbing for hirelings. What the group will do isn't clear. They'll be light on firepower for dealing the orcs a third (and decisive?) blow, but that may still get tried. The long list of undone stuff might get get whittled down. Or maybe they'll just randomly wander around for a few hours and then attempt something crazy in a panic with only an hour left to play and no loot found!
You know, one of those.
Friday, June 21, 2019
It's extremely valuable to an author to get feedback, positive or negative. We rarely get as much as we'd like. Or at least, I don't.
Reading it over made me think of what I like the most about my own books:
- I like re-reading my edited words to hear how my writing could sound if I was just better at it. This gives me a lot of pleasure, but also helps me write better the next time.
- Picking the quotes - and then getting to read them in the final book. I think I found some excellent ones for this book - Poul Anderson, Gary Gygax, Glen Cook, Hugh Cook, J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, and Alexei Pehov. The first thing I do when I get one of my own books back is go through and read the quotes. It's also the first thing I do when I get someone else's book. It tells me so much about the author and the feel the book is going for. Basically, it's a "who are your influences?"
- and I like reading over all of the credits - the people who helped me, the staff that made the book happen, and seeing my friend's names in print for all of their hapless dead PCs who played through the material I put down into the book.
Those three things make me happy.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Treasures 3: Artifacts of Felltower
by Peter V. Dell'Orto
I had a mish-mash of items ready to publish as a Treasures book a while back. At the time, SJG didn't want it - it was too close to the release of DFT2. A couple years went by, and I whittled it down to some better ones and added some new ones . . . but the only theme I had was "stuff from my Felltower campaign." Steve Jackson Games did want that, actually.
So this is the first official GURPS book featuring Felltower, and some of its amazing artifacts - Sigurd's Sword, Shieldslayer, the infamous Ring of Pro (Deadly Ring), oddments like potions of Giant Strength, Stubborn Rings, and more.
It's only $5 and you can find out the stats I use for my Felltower game for many items found in the game, and some not yet found. You'll actually have inside knowledge of what's to come and what is out there. How can you resist?
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
War in the East not only rewards system/game mastery, it demands it. You need to coordinate multi-level headquarters structures in order to maintain supply. You need to place those along rail lines (and convert the gauge of those lines), find appropriate places to put them to convey supplies up to the front line units, and safeguard them against enemy troops. You can't just assume a specific distance - if weather, terrain, or conditions lower the effective range of the HQ, you can be out of supply. And not just a HQ, but that unit's specific HQ (as far as I can tell.)
That assumes they have supplies - cities have supply dumps. Trucks and trains can bring them up - but are subject to attrition (wear and tear, as well as partisans and air attacks). You need to insure that there is fuel, general "supplies," and ammunition.
Mess any of that up, and your razor-sharp spear tip of armor and motorized infantry divisions will run out of fuel, or ammo, and be stuck when they could be rolling forward. Push a little too hard this turn and you can suffer immensely.
To do all of this well takes a close reading of the rules, and lots of practice. Even with that practice, it's easy to mess it up.
It is what people who don't actually know much about GURPS think GURPS is like.
For a massive video game that models the Eastern front down to the man and the individual vehicle, including esoterica such as local labor recruitment, administrative costs of firing commanders and moving units to another HQ, and so on . . . this feels right. I'm fine with this.
But I do get why some people prefer games with rules light enough to not really need to bother. I don't mind - in fact I generally prefer - a medium-weight system for tabletop gaming.
I really don't want to dig into too much minutia. I'd like to be able to if I have to, but mostly, I want some easy but consistent answers and rules with verisimilitude.
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Hillbilly has 15 points as of this session, and will have 20 as of next. +1 DX? +1 IQ? Both make a lot of sense. I'll decide right after I roll for leveling up since it'll be 20 sessions and we've been doing that every five. It's a really tough call - improved IQ would give Hillbilly +1 to his IQ-based skills, +1 to general comprehension rolls (useful for identifying odd tech), +1 Will, +1 Per. But +1 DX would push a number of his skills from the 14-16 range to the 15-17 range, improve three skills I rely on a lot (Knife, Wrestling, Guns), and generally make him better at what he's become - the main melee combatant. IQ has the slight edge here. I could just directly up his skills, but I'm right at the point of diminishing returns on that. Still, dumping 5-10 points in my medical skills would be immensely useful. Lots to consider, here.
I wrote that last session of Gamma Terra.
Next session is #20, and I'm not sure if I get to "level up" with a random increase or not.
If so, obviously I'll roll that first and see what I get.
But once that's done, unless I got some game-changing result, I'm going with +1 IQ.
As I've thought about this, I feel like I'll regret the "missing" point of DX less than the "missing" points of IQ, Will, Per, and one level of every IQ-based skill. I really want my Will and Per up, and I almost bought them up directly. I think we need better IQ-based skill rolls. And I have been without those breakpoint levels of my DX-based skills for a while. So I'm not sure I'll miss them.
Although +2 ST is really tempting, too . . . nah, not yet. IQ. Unless that roll comes up with something really decision-changing (like +1 IQ) I will go with getting Hillbilly a bit smarter. It's too useful at this juncture not to.
Monday, June 17, 2019
This is over at 1000 Foot General
, with a group of inexperienced gamers figuring out how to deal with the challenge of unforgiving rules and potentially being outnumbered as well as out-powered as they get rolling. Here is their second session.
I'm hoping that there will be more of those summaries, complete with pictures.
Sunday, June 16, 2019
In Into the Orc Hole II, the PCs killed about a dozen orcs, mostly big "brute" orcs, along with four goblins, two devil wolves, and two half-ogres.
In Into the Orc Hole III, the PCs killed about 50 orcs, most regular orc warriors but one orc sergeant and one spellcaster.
Given that Galen's estimate is that maybe 300 orcs warriors are up in the valley north of Felltower, this is about 15-20% casualties. All dead, only a handful wounded and escaped. Unachimba asked how many forces/tribes could survive suddenly losing 10% of their number?
It's a good question.
Is that it for the orcs?
Losing 15% of your numbers in a couple of weeks is quite a serious amount of damage. But will that stop the orcs? The real question is, are casualties the orc's center of gravity? If so, then it's likely the orcs will back off, retreat from the dungeon entirely, or attempt some non-conflict way to resolve their goals.
But what if they aren't, ala - just to choose some easy examples - the Soviets in WWII, the Chinese in the Korean War, or the Romans during the Punic Wars? What if losses and casualties are just seen as a combination of the price of doing business, the cost of poor tactics, or a renewable resource? What if the orcs see combat casualties the way the PCs see money - something you spend in battle (via potions, paut, consumables) and then forget about?
Then the orcs aren't done. Even with a lot of casualties, if they don't see casualties as a big deal, it's not a big deal. They reproduce like mad and they have a totally callous attitude about death (theirs and others).
The PCs really haven't figured out what the orcs want. During their friendly phase the orcs weren't very good about explaining what they wanted. It's clear the grunt-level orcs don't really know the details beyond a fuzzy level, and those who know aren't talking. And aren't interesting in having the PCs accomplish it for them.
Ultimately, casualties can determine the outcome of the PCs vs. the orcs - the PCs can inflict so many casualties that it has to matter, even if the orcs aren't concerned by any individual or small group loss. But unless casualties in and of themselves are something the orcs are concerned about, it's probably not enough.
A big question remains - do the PCs feel satisfied with having given the orcs a good hard drubbing, or do they push the issue, risking casualties and poor loot (the orcs are low on swords, and high on low-grade-metal mail and axes) in order to push the orcs past recovery?
We'll see next session.
Friday, June 14, 2019
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Written by Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch
Published by Steve Jackson Games 2019
The latest DFRPG release is Monsters 2, which was Kickstarted a few months back. The book is a sequel to DFRPG Monsters, which was included in the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game boxed set.
The book contains 24 new monsters - new to GURPS DFRPG stats - plus many have multiple variations. These include some staple beings: giants, angels, striges (aka stirges or strix), chimera, killer trees. They also include some unique additions - blood-draining undead, demonic dragons, elemental humanoids (and elemental blends), killer plants, things that dwell between dimensions, and so on. They're written up by Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch, who writes monsters that seem tough and mean to me, and I pride myself on playing on hard mode.
All of them get complete game stats, blurbs on how best to use those stats (tactically, but also to spark adventures), and writeups of what the stats mean when you use the monsters. Each monster comes with a full-color high-quality illustration, some adventure seeds, and enough information to back up their abilities with concrete in-game rulings.
Although some of the monsters already have had GURPS stats - giants and strix, for two examples - the DF/DFRPG level stats and excellent advice on how to use them is especially useful.
Overall: I'm impressed by what's included, and many of these monsters will see immediate use in my own Felltower campaign. Having only 24 monsters - admittedly some with multiple variations - is a bit disappointing. The two-page layout gives a lot of meat to the monsters but costs in overall quantity of monsters.
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
- We haven't actually needed our "combat coordinator" since the first couple of times we used one. Interesting. People have been much better about keeping their place in the order and keeping others (and myself) on track with who is next.
- I'm terrible at remembering turn-delayed effects. So are my players. Poisons that affect a PC the turn after due to SM+1? Often forgotten. Guys taking arrows to the face and never having to remove them? Yes, usually. I get that sometimes those arrows don't penetrate DR enough to cause injury, but if it's because of special Barbarian Shirtless Savage DR or because it got through armor but not through skin, it's still sticking out of you. I forget penalties to knockdown and stunning, too, even though those don't change.
- Skull Spirits used to be, in 3e, total killers. In 4e, especially at DF power levels, they're pretty much annoyances unless you deploy them in groups.
- My players are these guys.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
- Invisibility and Zombie/Mass Zombie - I ruled those spells end Invisibility. I think it's a tough edge-case call, but when I ruled it did our resident necromancer-running PC agreed right away. That's generally a good sign. As fun as NPCs who raise the dead while hidden can be, it seems like it's more than just sneaking or stealing.
- Market Glut. If the PCs keep selling piles of low-value (or even high-value) gear, the market is sure to have enough after a while. I ruled that's the case with the endless stream of axes, spears, and other low-value weapons the PCs have been cashing in. Meanwhile the high-value items are still high-value. There are only so many okay-quality axes, spears, and low-quality suits of mail people want to buy.
- Mass Zombie works on corpse piles made as a "final resting place." Seems fair.
That's about it for rulings during the game.
Monday, June 10, 2019
Date: Sunday, June 9th, 2019
Weather: Hot, clear, sunny.
Aldwyn, human knight (274 points)
Bruce "the Mild" McTavish, Jr., human barbarian (267 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (254 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (250 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (409 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (332 points)
5 Skeletons (~25 points)
Skull Spirit (?? points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (261 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
The group gathered in town, planning to raid the orcs a second time. They looked around for Orcish Bob (and anyone else) but found no one. They decided to look for Raggi and luckily found him. They gathered rumors, hearing that the big sphere that destroyed their Wizard Eye was a Bronze Beholder (like a bronze spider!), that the cone-hatted cultists have been seen in Arras, the big city to the west, and that a plague of trolls has been threatening the Cold Fens and the nearby town of Swampsedge. Wyatt got his foot stomped hard during a bar brawl (18 on Carousing), and decided that bar wasn't the best place to go drinking. Raggi disagreed - the "Brawl and Brew" is one of his favorite places!
Ulf started to plan a complex plan, but it depended on having a scroll of No Smell. So Ulf went shopping but couldn't find one - in fact, thanks to a terrible roll, no one in town makes those. Oh well, they'll need to learn it themselves or special order it from out of town. That killed that plan.
So they just set out with fairly mundane gear and off to the dungeon. The plan was, as usual, to go through the "dragon cave" to bypass the orc-held pillboxes at the front entrance and the locked spiral staircase door. All of the other entrances known have been blocked off.
When they reached the dragon cave, though, they found it wasn't abandoned anymore. It smelled of smoke, and there was a pile of discarded bones, skin, and other bits off to one side. Galen sneaked up and found it included a number of deer and a medium-sized owlbear (based on the beak and feathers.) He checked for tracks and found that a giant-sized humanoid - with big, wide feet - and between 12-18 dire wolves had been around.
Mild Bruce said it was clearly a hill giant and a pack of dire wolves. So they sent Galen ahead to scout as they moved up. Galen moved into the cave, Invisible and with Dark Vision. He went into the cave and found it empty of occupants but with clear signs of a pack of dire wolves and a giant. He found a big club leaning against a wall near a cookfire from the night before, chewed up bones (and dire wolf scat) in the corners, and a pile of mixed-sized roundish boulders. It stank of urine and wet dog. He searched a bag near the fire and found some wool cloak with half a wheel of hard cheese wrapped in it (he took that), an axe-head turned scraper, some gold and silver coins, some loose caltrops, and some other knickknacks. He took the valuables and the cheese and left.
They group came back in and quickly moved into the cave. They debated destroying - or stealing - the club to disarm the giant but realized it wouldn't do that. They followed their usual path deeper into the dungeon and eventually up to the second level. There, Galen found the room at the top of the stairs was guarded by two orcs near the door, on semi-alert, but at the top of the stairs was a greased area with one pack of caltrops scattered over three hexes, just enough to possibly catch the unwary. He hopped over the grease and shot both orcs dead, turning visible in the process.
The PCs moved up and looted the bodies, which Gerry proceeded to Zombie. Galen checked the hallways and saw orc barricades on either end, near the next turn-off. He heard the sounds of stealthy movement. After a few minutes - spellcasting and looting - the group advanced. Galen, Bruce, and Wyatt went left to cover them, the remainder of the group went right. They stormed the barricades and found nothing. The orcs had pulled back.
So the group moved to the right and explored a room (it had been used for stores, but was now empty.) They then headed to the "pillboxes." Galen and Wyatt covered the left one, while Crogar and Aldwyn climbed up to the right one. Crogar pushed open the trap door and took two arrows, one to the face and one the arm. He shrugged them off (Barbarian DR and Shirtless Savage DR) and managed to resist the poison, as well. He climbed up as the orcs dropped their bows and readied weapons. He moved into melee with them. Aldwyn climbed up
after and engaged the orcs as well. Crogar swung a powerful blow but went for a random location and lopped off an orc's arm and forced them back as Aldwyn climbed up. In short order they carved up the orcs.
They looted them but didn't Zombie them. They headed toward the orc hole, with Galen scouting.
Near the treasure vault statue room they found another barricade, and past it was a big pool of oil with a trail of oil leading away. Galen jumped that and was shot at by two orc archers and two orcs tossed Molotvian Cocktails at him. They all missed as he dove aside, shooting down one of the archers as he did so, but the cocktails ignited a good section of the room and lit the pool of oil on fire.
The PCs either jumped the oil (most) or ran through it (zombies, skeletons, Aldwyn). Galen shot down two more of the orcs. The last one just charged, yelling a battlecry, unwilling to die shot in the back. Galen shot him down in the front.
They looted them and moved forward to the "orc hole" and checked the side passage - nothing. So they began to climb down, Galen in the lead.
The orcs tried a two-pronged attack. Galen ran into an orc with a spear, backed by another, around a corner. Despite bad footing, a bad angle, and trying use a composite bow in tight quarters vs. a waiting foe, Galen killed the orcs. He killed both of them one at a time - shooting one in the arm and leg as he came around a corner, knocking him out from his wounds. Moments, later, as the last of the humans entered the pit, six orcs who'd concealed themselves in rooms near the orc hole tried to rush the skeletons. Gerry dropped down Darkness on the skeletons, who held off the orcs - one wounded an orc, and one particular skeleton crippled an orc's hand, knocked down and stunned another, and wounded a third. The -4 for attacking into the dark hexes confounded the orcs. Meanwhile the zombie orcs and Raggi climbed up. Raggi backed off until Gerry told him the darkness wouldn't affect him once in it, so he ran in and attacked the orcs. He quickly finished off all except the broken-hand orc who had limped away. Raggi laughed at him and went back down into the orc hole.
At the bottom of the hole, the PCs found the same room as last time. This time, though, the orcs had hung a heavy fishing net over the cave mouth exiting the room. So now a climb would reach a net, and cutting it would be a laborious process of sawing and slicing.
At the foot of the cliff were 9 dead orcs and 2 dead goblins, naked and rotting. So they decided that simply had to Mass Zombie them. They used Levitation to put Galen up where he could see. There were three orcs waiting back near the exit from the "balcony" - two with bows nocked but not held ready, one with a mace and shield in front.
They spent a few minutes on Mass Zombie and got the dead to rise. But as Aldwyn tried to arm them with captured orc weaponry, rot grubs burst out of one and four got into him, slithering between his gloves and arm armor! He yelled and dropped the weapons and Ulf leaped into action with Cleansing. That expelled the grubs in the nick of time (I'd rolled a 4 for the number of seconds before they did more injury). They stomped grubs and backed off from the dead. Gerry told them to arm themselves and they did.
(Amusingly, that's all they ever were used for, although they had big plans to send them at the orcs to inflict the rot grubs on their enemies.)
They used Levitation to get Ulf up the cliff to the edge and Silence so he could hammer in spikes without the orcs hearing (they said "alerting" them, but they were clearly alert). They'd had Galen tied one rope to both with a line between them.
They sent the orc zombies climbing up to cut the net with their axe and scimitar. As they did, though, the orc archers shot at their hands. The sawing wasn't going well, either, as the net was strong, the weapons not especially sharp, and one-handed cutting of a net not an ideal way to cut it down. Galen shot at the orcs at this point, dropping his Invisibility. He missed - they all had Missile Shield! They send shafts back at him, but missed because of his Missile Shield. They crit-fished each other a few times to no avail.*
Aldwyn and Mild Bruce climbed up, as did Wyatt, trying to get to the net. They cut at it as the orcs shot arrows at them which they mostly Dodged. Wyatt yelled to have the zombies climb up and hang from the net as he climbed up. The zombies did so, and pulled it partly down and made it easier to cut. Aldwyn and Mild Bruce forced their way through the netting and attacked the orcs, followed by Wyatt and then Crogar. They fought a sharp melee with some injuries on both sides until Wyatt closed in and killed two of the orcs after someone else killed the third; somewhere in here Mild Bruce broke his greatsword (!) and borrowed one of Wyatt's longswords, and Aldwyn took an axe to the face after a rash advance. But it didn't last long for the three orcs. Wyatt moved up into the larger cave and then backed off when he saw a couple dozen orcs.
The PCs tried to stop and reorganize but the orcs pressed forward as they did so. So they counter-advanced and a melee ensued. First it was tight - Raggi in the middle, Mild Bruce and Aldwyn on the flanks. They planned to advanced into a "bulge" to get five fighters vs. five orcs. Raggi had a "better idea," which was to continuously All-Out Attack (Great Cleave) on the advance (he has a Rules Exemption to allow that). He generally decapitated or incapacitated two orcs per turn this way, and forced himself into the advance mass of more than two dozen orc warriors.
The PCs followed, killing as they could. Crogar announced he was going kill "two of them." He ended up needing to kill a few more than that.
The fight was a straight-up melee. Raggi got hit and hurt many times - his lack of defenses and moderate armor didn't help sufficiently. But out of what turned out to be 30 orcs, he killed probably half of them, perhaps more. Galen shot down several, the other fighters killed a few apiece - especially when they stopped piling multiple attacks on one foe even when said attack was a fatal one (a neck slash, an eye stab.)
Back the orcs was a wizard and a subchief. Galen shot at them but, no, Missile Shield. So as the wizard was casting a spell Ulf zapped him with his Wand of Holding and paralyzed him. A moment later, Galen rolled a 4 and shot right through the subchief's Missile Shield and killed the orc. This was as the last of the orcs was cut down.
(It being late in the real world and) the party being exhausted, they set up to guard as Gerry cast Mass Zombie on all of the orcs still with heads on. They rose, and helped carry the gear of the slain to the surface.
They returned to the surface via the trapdoor exit to avoid the giant, who presumably is going to be unhappy about being robbed. They sold the orc mail (for only 20%, it's junky) and weapons (getting a mere 10% for non-sword weapons) - there is a bit of a glut on the market, and the orcs keep their weapons well and their armor poorly. But even so, axes and spears just aren't in that much demand.
* I allow 3 or 4 to penetrate Missile Shield, per a very old Roleplayer Q&A answer. It's not canonical but it's fun, as you can see later on this session.
In a rare "no, not that" move, I veto'ed Mild Bruce living partway up the mountain when he camps out between sessions. That makes for a little too much chance to a) claim free knowledge ("I live there, what did I see or hear?") and b) kills off too many potential avenues for new adventures - raids on the slums, strange noises and sightings, disappearing hunters, etc. because Mild Bruce should just be there as it happens.
Amusingly, to me anyway, Aldwyn purchased Hard to Kill 1 and Hard to Subdue 1. I suggested he just get HT 10, but he had 6 points and said "I don't have 10 points." I suggested he wait, but nope. He earned 4 points this time. Guys buying Hard to Kill and Hard to Subdue andFit was one of the reasons I wrote the patching and "over patching" series. In my opinion you end up with a lot of "special case" rolls, a lot of questions ("Does my ____ apply here?"), and less overall benefit for similar cost. But my players almost all disagree with me here.
Although the orcs fought back hard, they didn't have their A team to oppose the players and it showed. Few injuries, except for Raggi getting carved up a bit, and lots of casualties. The PCs, for their part, pressed the attack. Even so it was a slow press - a stop to make Zombies, heal, drain FP, regain FP, loot, etc. and even Mass Zombie for several minutes. The orcs were as ready as they could be. I found it odd that they were really concerned about "alerting" the orcs long after the orcs launched multiple attacks on them, and clearly had observed earlier attacks and pulled back. They didn't alert the main force by horns, but the orcs they encountered were all ready for them. Add on the fact that the final battle started around 6 pm, because of the very slow movement up to that point, and they couldn't exploit their attack further. Too bad, because they killed 51 orcs (2 guards, 2 pillbox occupants, four ambushers, five more ambushers, three orcs in the tunnel, three guards, thirty orc warriors, a subchief, and a wizard), which even given a few hundred orcs is a very serious loss. Another hard push - had they had the time for it - could have been decisive. But in any case they gave the orcs a drubbing. Mostly losses in personnel they can afford (schlubby orc warriors) but still losses.
I'm pretty ruthless in play - Aldwyn took an axe when I rolled a hit, he tried to Dodge because he had done committed attack, and was hit. I rolled damage. Someone pointed out, hey, you could have parried with your other sword. Yes, he could have, and he would have made the parry. I said, "You already Dodged." Sorry, the game moves on. We can't retcon turns and decisions based on "I would have" or we'll never finish.
XP was 4 xp each for loot - they each took home just shy of 1000, and coughed up extra to Galen to hit his 1000 threshold - and 0 for exploration. They voted Ulf MVP for the paralyzing shot on the orc wizard. Raggi and Galen were in contention but they didn't want to "waste" the point on Raggi (how times have changed) and Galen lost out to Ulf.
Also, kudos to our host's neighbors, who pretty much started staining their deck when we started playing and worked straight through until we pretty much finished up 9 hours later. That's work ethic.
Sunday, June 9, 2019
Saturday, June 8, 2019
That said, the players also realize that the orcs may be on high alert since the attack was so recent.
So it's going to be a battle between prepared delvers, ready to follow up on the damage they caused last raid, against prepared orcs, ready to deal with a raid that happen oh so recently from the same delvers.
Out of game, this means a battle between the wiles of the players and the power of their PCs, versus the numbers (but lesser power), wiles of the orcs through the GM's perception of the same, and the limited options of the orcs based on their racial preferences and tendencies. Man for man, the PCs outmatch the orcs. But the orcs have many more "men" than the PCs, and the PCs are casualty-averse despite (or perhaps because of) the sheer amount of casualties that Felltower demands. The PCs have more of a range of resources, but the orcs have more of the specific resources.
So this is going to be potentially an interesting session.
Plus I get to deploy ever more of my painted orcs! Hurrah!
Friday, June 7, 2019
- I finally received my PDF of DFRPG Monsters 2. I'm beginning to read it and I like what I see so far. I haven't skimmed it, I'm finding I feel like reading it in order from Angel all the way to the end.
- I approved some preliminary art for DFT3. When I say "approved" I mean I was asked to take a look and offer comments and whatnot. I liked them - they're what I asked for and they depict a couple of items nearby in the book "in use."
- Speaking of DFT3, Kromm says it's a possible June release.
- Felltower this Sunday. Just a heads-up. It sounds like the orcs are getting a second visit.
- I've gotten a little more War in the East played. It's a vast game. Even a mini scenario like Road to Minsk takes me some hours to play. I'm running units past command or supply, failing to properly coordinate my attacks and my airpower, and making some poor attack decisions. I doubt I'm truly making effective use of the rail net, air power, and severing enemy logistics (although I obviously know the basics - surround units in a Kessel, screen the escapes, and never miss a chance to overrun an HQ or air base.) But I'm learning how to play. And it's maddeningly easy to get wrapped up in how many Soviet units you've crushed, prisoners you took, AFVs you disabled, etc. - much like the actual Axis forces did. I have to keep the goal the goal - defeat the enemy by seizing the victory squares in my scenario, with cutting off and crushing enemy forces being a way to do that.
Right now, I can't imagine how it is to play the Soviets in 1941. You get a real feel for why they'd hurl units to their deaths to buy some time or just hurt the Germans. I'll get there - probably by trying a late-war scenario later on and working backwards to trying to defend the motherland.
Thursday, June 6, 2019
I emailed SJG directly this afternoon.
I did finally get a red banner on Kickstarter asking for a survey, which I hadn't seen before - and a I just got an email a short time ago asking for the same. I submitted my email and got a response.
So I guess tomorrow I'll get the book? I won't have time to look at it until late - tomorrow is a very busy work day. So is Saturday. And Sunday is Felltower. So don't expect to see any of the exciting new monsters in the dungeons just yet. I won't even have time to read them all nevermind start stocking them.
Since I didn't have DFRPG Monsters 2 to read, I did some more practice with War in the East. It's a monster - I have no idea how I'd do Barbarossa without OKH handy to help me - but I'm getting the hang of it a bit.
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
This is a good one, one that I stumbled across while following links clicked on a whim while looking at blogs linked off of blogs that I like:
March Lord PCs
The results on the table really do make me think of fun characters to run and/or evoke some of the interesting minis I own and I'd like to see used. This makes me want to sit down and make some NPCs.
I've only briefly perused the older posts, but as one visually calls on Zhang Zhimou's "Hero" - a truly awe-inspiring piece of film art I once forced Sean Punch to watch before we outlined GURPS Martial Arts - it's likely I'll read more of what this person writes.
Monday, June 3, 2019
I spent a fair bit of time today adding in the necessary bits to GCA from DF9 to allow for proper pricing of Gerry's skeletal Ally Group. Not enough, as it killed 25%-and-up valued Allies, but I can add that back in when I have a little time again (and when it matters.)
Sadly this means some of the points he recently earned are likely needed to keep the group as-is, rather than upgrade them.
Currently he has an Ally Group (Built on 10% [0.4], Minion (+0%), Constantly Available (x4), Group Size 5 (x5) .
I gave him some options, some of which are:
- spend points to upgrade the whole group - going to 10 points for Group Size 6-10 would allow for 10 skeletons, or going to Built on 20% for 0.8 per would cost 8 more points but give them each another 30-35 points to improve their characteristics.
- downsize and upgrade the group - keep the point total the same (or increase it) and reduce the number of skeletons to allow for better ones. Instead of 8 points for 5 skeletons at 10% he could have 1 skeleton at 50% of his value. Or 2 at 25%.
- any combination of the above.
It's really accounting issues from GCA not having the right GDF file at the time we made him, and my own errors trying to end-run around it, that caused the cost issue. But it's high time we redressed that and also gave him a firm set of ideas for a path to upgrade.
Sunday, June 2, 2019
St. Timothy Strong-Arm. Patron of musicians. Miracles include making rancid things good, creating brotherhood out of disparate types, and inspiring crowds to frenzied pits of wild gyrations.
There, I feel better now.
Saturday, June 1, 2019
I did not, in fact, finish it. I got distracted by a new job, and did not put enough time in it.
Now the CRPG Addict is playing it.
It's a bit of a slog where I am now - clunky combat after clunky combat. When I complete that, it seems like I've yet another series of clunky combats to finish it out. I'd like to do so, though - I like the game enough. It's just a bit of a slog now.
I'm interested to see how the CRPG Addict handles the game, though. He and I have some different tastes and a different level of work put into game. Yet it's always fun seeing someone else get through a nice game world like that in Darklands.
Friday, May 31, 2019
Old, Wizened Fantasy Character Confirms That The Darkness Is Rising
You could set that guy in Clichea and be reasonably sure you've done your due diligence in starting a campaign. The players are going to ignore most of what he says and avoid the portal because it's dangerous and ask "What, the Shadow who?" about five sessions later.
Thursday, May 30, 2019
I was prompted to think about this from an email from a fellow GURPS GM asking about a related subject.
In a game like GURPS DF, with a large amount of points to spend, high skills to start, and access to extra money with some of the point budget, it's tempting to go for something unusual. The two-longsword fighter. The all-long-knives-guys. The katar and reverse-grip sword guy. The hammer-backed-pick-guy. The morningstar guy. The katana-and-sai-guy. Whatever.
One problem with that in my own games is randomized treasure. You might pick a trident, or a light horse cutter, or twin katars, but there isn't any guarantee that I've put magical ones out there. If I'm generating randomly, the tables in supplements like DF8 are skewed towards the more common weapons. The odder your weapon of choice is, the less likely there is a newer, fancier, more magical version just sitting out there. And the higher the odds that if there is one, it's the only one.
My own tendency is something boring but effective. It's probably a combination of my own personal tendencies (much of what I use is boring but effective, from exercises to vehicles - not all, but enough.) I know it's tough to replace the odd and unusual. And my games match. You could go an entire campaign - Takashi Harada can attest to this - without finding better katana and wakizashi than you started with. You'll find orcs with broadsword galore in my DF game, but orcs with horse cutters, jian, smallswords, kukri, etc. not at all.
If I was placing weapons in a story game, I'd possibly be more generous in this respect. But only possibly. I think my own tendencies and the style of my games - generally a slog through pseudo-medieval Europe with a lot of AD&D nostalgia - pushes people away from the unique and unusual and more to the utilitarian and common.
How about your games?
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Overall, I'm enjoying the book. It's well put together, and it ties together the three original adventures with some additional later edition adventures related to the sea.
It does make some changes to the original. Some of them make sense with the changed edition. Some of them seem to be changes just for the sake of change. Some are decidedly odd to my eyes - like half-demon and half-dragon characters just around because . . . somewhere along the line those became normal races to have around.
Overall, though, what I've read so far is interesting and useful, and makes the Saltmarsh area a nice little hotbed of adventure. I'm looking forward to finishing it.
One special note, though, about Holmes Basic - the Tower of Zenopus is the sample dungeon, and the Zenopus Archives has had posts about how similar it sounds to the setup of U1. Well, now it's part of the Saltmarsh adventuring area. Nice. Very nice.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
I won't say what they are, but I will say I do have quotes from:
Glen Cook - a standby for good quotes, as he paints huge canvases with few words.
Hugh Cook - his book Wizard War is one I've stolen a lot of inspiration from.
J.R.R. Tolkien (from his best work, too. Others might disagree, but they're not writing this book or blog.)
Alexei Pehov - it's tough quoting in translation, but I found a really good one that fit the page that needed it.
Michael Moorcock - he wrote of an anti-hero with a magic sword, in a world headed toward its own Ragnarok of sorts. That's an easy source of quotes. For this one, I knew what I wanted and had to track down the book more than the quote.
Gary Gygax - because it's Gary Gygax. I quote from his fiction, but the DUNGEONMASTERS GUIDE is always a good source of quotes. Especially ones that toss off game-changing concepts in a single parenthetical sentence.
I really should keep a file of pithy, fun quotes. But mostly I keep them in my head, and know where roughly to look for them. This can work well, like the quote I pulled out of a Glen Cook book for this one. The book was on my shelf.
It can work poorly, when I want quotes and realized I'd loaned out Moorcock's Stealer of Souls, most of my early Leiber books, all of the Alexei Pehov books, and more. I got a couple of those back in tine, and David Pulver rode in to the rescue with a quote from another book I was looking for. Steven Brust is usually a good source of quotes, as are Jack Vance and Roger Zelazny, but I had what I needed from the above.
I can't wait for this book to come out.