Thursday, January 31, 2019

Simplified DF Underwater Combat, revised

A while back I posted some simplified DF underwater fighting rules.

I've since revised them a little bit. Here is what I have and intend to use next time the PCs play "will swim for gold."

These are basically the same, except that I've made it explicit that Aquatic creatures get certain bonuses. I also changed the damage on attacks into/out of the water to half damage, which is just easier than a per-die minus that doesn't impress guys doing 2d+8. There are a few other small changes, as well.


DF Simplified Underwater Combat

- Swimming move is per Basic Set p. B354 / Exploits, p. 21.

- Weapon skills are capped by Swimming skill, unless you are under the effects of the Swim spell on or are Aquatic or Amphibious.

- No Reach 1+ weapon swinging attacks underwater. Sawing, close combat weapon swings, etc. use thrust-based damage. Limitations are based on maximum reach.

- Thrusting and unarmed attacks suffer no additional penalties.

- No thrown ranged attacks under water (including Missile spells); special underwater ranged weapons exist and use special stats.

- Attacks into and out of the water are at -4, 1/10 range, do half damage, some attacks can't penetrate water at all. Based on attack coming from one environment to the other.

- Shield bashes do half damage and are -2 x DB to hit

- No Parry except unarmed or purely close combat weapons, no Block (but you get DB), Dodge is normal for your move, no Retreat (except with Ethereal Body or Walk Through Water or Aquatic creatures).

Plus the usual rulings as needed. I've already made a fair amount of concessions to "if it looks like a Bond-vs-Frogmen fight, it's not penalized" so I'm not inclined to make more. I'd deal out of a lot of "No, even though you're a Weapon Master with the Swim spell on." You wouldn't need to make a lot of Swimming rolls, or anything else besides "fight more or less normally."

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Giant Shark Bowl Ooze

I don't know where one of my players finds these things, but this is the kind of perfectly stupid thing that I want behind my motley cap-marked gates to silly places:



It practically stats itself.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Crogar the Barbarian WIP - Part 2

Crogar the Barbarian proceeds apace.

Here he is with grey basecoating on his fur-wrapped feet, moccasin brown on his belt, more grey on his metal bits (not the axe yet), and flesh on his body.

He'll get another flesh coating and then a wash, while the fur-lined feet will get progressively lighter drybrushes after the wash. The helmet and bracers will be iron or steel, I think, and so get gunmmetal grey. The belt will end up with a big steel or bronze boss. The horns are likely to go dull ivory at this point.

The shield alone will be bright and shiny - it should look like a knight's shield looted for Crogar's use, not his own. So it'll get dented a bit, maybe, but I'm thinking a blue shield with a white or silver eagle. We'll see once I put paint down.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Crognar the Barbarian WIP

I'm converting this mini for use as Crognar the Barbarian.

It's a Bones barbarian with a two-handed axe. Crognar uses a one-handed axe, but it's a cool figure. He needs a shield - so I mounted a GW knightly shield on his back.

Here he is with the shield mounted, just before I coated him a light gray coating for painting:






He should be quick to paint. And who knows, maybe Crogar will use a two-handed axe at some point.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Construction Styles of Felltower

Felltower's castle and dungeons aren't of uniform styles of construction.


Felltower Caslte - built as a modern defensive structure for a highly magical battlefield. The walls are rubble-filled worked stone coated with anti-magical coating. Sections - especially internally - the walls are flecked with meteoric iron and coated with anti-magical coatings. The rubble fill is a mix of earth, chunks of worked and unworked stone, and anything else left over from construction (mostly wood bits) and compacted down. The castle was built during the era of Sterick's Barony, much like Stericksburg (which shares similar, albeit weaker, defensive structures.)

Some of the foundations are much, much older, although there are few - the very foundation stones of what was there before were largely removed or destroyed.

Levels 1 and 2 - shaped by magic and then hand-worked to finish. Sections of what the PCs have called sub-levels off of level 2 - the crypts, the funereal niches, the unfinished level that connects to Sterick's Tomb, the Prison level, etc. - are of the same construction.

Level 2 featured the first black hemispheres.

The workmanship is good, but plain, and oddly lacks any supporting arches. The ceilings are high but nearly squared off. They hold up despite lacking basic supporting architectural features like arches and support pillars. Several large rooms exist that don't have enough ceiling support yet are fully intact despite earthquakes. Many of the rooms and hallways feature art or frescoes, many of which are damaged beyond recognition (and no, Repair won't help.)

The "apartment complexes" were of the same construction but generally much more finely done and decorated.

Some of the structures, however, don't match anything around them. The "green zombie" room has a corridor leading to it unlike anything around it, and the room is equally unusual. The now-missing twinned temple was of no matching construction or design, and didn't seem to be built so much as it just was. The altar, the pool room, and a few others don't match the surrounding designs.

Sterick's Tomb - sometimes called the "dragon entrance" or the "caverns," the area of Sterick's tomb isn't constructed, it was formed naturally and then expanded with Shape Earth (some), Earth to Air (a lot) and natural and supernatural work. Its internal, full-formed and worked stone was clearly made by highly skilled workmen plus magic.

The Apartment Level - sometimes called the "Gate Level" or "level 4," the corridors are uniform and different from the upper levels. The corridors are 12' tall, 10' wide, and feature a supporting keystone arch every 10 feet. The walls are somewhat cruder and rougher than the upper levels. The floors are even but also rougher, and echoes are more easily made but thanks to the arches and walls less easily pinpointed, making this a relatively noisy level.

This level featured a large number of the black crystal hemispheres and additionally flat purple disks.

Many gates are located here, along with the "prison" rooms. These gates are sometimes in unique circumstances - such as the Olympus gate in its Olympian-construction hall - or are plain pillars but seem to have been dug out, not built into a room. In other words, the rooms around the gates seem to be have been created to access an existing gate.

The caverns - these recently discovered caverns seem natural or dug without directing intelligence (or at least directing craft and art.) The same applies for some of the cavern areas on the "Apartment Level."

Mungo's carverns - like the caverns, above, these seem dug or naturally formed. Collapses from poorly chosen digging routes and/or earthquakes, and sinkholes, are common.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

I hate page flipping through Dungeon of the Mad Mage

I'm still steadily reading my way through Dungeon of the Mad Archmage Mage, and I'm really enjoying it. It has a very old-school feel, and a very Forgotten Realms feel as well - at least how it felt in 1st edition FR products.

It does have two traits that really annoy me, though.

Page Flippling

The maps are not in a separate booklet. I'll have to see if they are available as such online, somehow. So I keep reading, flipping, reading, flipping.

Not only that, but:

No Monster Stats

Monsters are given names and it's up to you to go read their stats in the Monster Manual. I don't really have those remotely mastered yet, so I keep having to go flip and look. Even a few stats plus a page reference would be huge.


The dungeon itself is very cool, and incorporates many things I thought to include in Felltower and things I wish I had - and ones I can add later. It's very good. It's just I feel like it's going to be hard to use if I don't basically make a per-level cheat sheet of monster stats and copy all of the maps. Annoying. Worth it, but annoying.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Felltower campaign to-do list

I'm not great at following up on paper to-do lists, but I do generally get to stuff I write out on the blog. So here is my to-do list for my current game:


- get the equipment lists for all of the fallen PCs - Mo, Vryce, Hjalmarr, Rolan - and put their loot where it ended up in Felltower. That's stuff to be discovered later.


- revise Gerry's Allies advantage to reflect his current point value, and determine the upgrades appropriate for his skeletons.


- restock. I haven't had a chance to do that in a bit.


- choose and possibly paint minis for the new crew of PCs. Possibly modify one with a shield to represent Crogar, unless he chooses to be the Bjorn Fellmanson mini since Bjorn is long gone.


- get the PCs the revised list of rumors heard. Which might not be important anymore - one of the players writes down word for word what I say (and even what numbers were rolled.)


- make some notes about allowable Template modifications for the game, since DFRPG's templates don't always match my current list of changes.


That's not a big list, but it's enough to keep me busy in my "spare time" before the next game session.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Rulings on the Sunlight spell

During Session 113 of my DF campaign, questions came up about the Sunlight spell.

It's a spell I think is underused, and perhaps because of that it hasn't really come up before in our game.

Can I cast it in mid-air?

In other words, can I cast it above something to illuminate down?

I ruled no.

Area spells are cast on "the ground or floor" per Spells, p. 12. This neatly solves the issue of "cast it on the air in front of me at -0 and illuminate things very far below me." That would essentially mean it's easy and cheap to light up distant, deep places. Instead of PCs exploring with trepidation down crevasses and fissures or into strange sinkholes, they'll just cast Sunlight and have a look down. Not for this game, no.

Why doesn't the sunlight spill out into the surrounding area?

It does, sort of. The light is still light, and illuminates an area outside of its radius to a lesser effect per Exploits p. 19. But it doesn't spill out; it acts as if it's a light projected from above.

But it extends up?

Yes. Someone argued this makes no sense. Well, it's internally logical, in that it creates a light source on the sky or ceiling above that projects light down. It's weird in some circumstances, but it's magic and not that unusual for that.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My game is DF on Hard mode

The standard description of my game around my table is, "DF on Hard mode."

That's a pretty fair description. I'm not certain who came up with it first - possibly me, probably my friend Tom, who has played with me for a long time. And keeps coming back for some reason.

I say it's a fair description because:

- the rules as written are the most lenient form events generally take. My own rules tend to be harsher. This can work in your favor, as the harshness mashes down foes, too, but mostly it's mashing you down.

- many things are "one try." Spells, opportunities, fights.

- hints are sparse. They're clear after, not always before. They are hints, not

- you can absolutely drop or sell the quest item and never get it back.

- I err on the side of parsimoniousness, not generosity, when it comes to power handouts.

- the frogurt is also cursed. And the Krusty doll is stuck on "evil."

- I'm ruthless with tactics, and on tactical mistakes. Your own poor choices as a player can damn or kill your paper man.

- you can die perma-death from totally stupid, random things. You have to be able to laugh off the death of a 500+ point guy thanks to some poor choices and move on, or the game really isn't for you.

Most of my games are like this. They aren't stacked against you, per se, but the odds aren't in your favor and I'm inclined to just like the dice have their say and see what happens. I'm not opposed to fudging, because I am the ultimate arbiter of the game, but generally I fudge for real-world reasons (it's late, so I pick an easier-to-run random encounter) not in-game reasons (it's an unfair fight, say.)


I think this shows a lot about my players, too. They persevere. They win over odds that aren't in their character's favor. They earn what they get, good and bad.

It's not a game for everyone. I don't apologize for that because I'm not sorry. I want my players to win, but I can't help but make it really hard to do so. They are a good group for finding a lot of fun in the struggle and not just in the victories.

It's how it is. Hard mode.



All of that said, this came up last session with Dryst's player making a session after a long period of working basically seven days a week for months on end.

Dryst's player would be "DF on Hell mode." A sample comment from last time? If you fail a Survival roll, you're down a limb, roll randomly. And a critical failure? Well, a critical failure means you failed to survive. Better know someone with funds for Resurrection!

Heh.

I like that in so many ways. Not the least of which is I get to benefit from Stockholm Syndrome. "Peter is so nice, he doesn't have us lose 1d limbs for a failed roll, he only has beholders kill our guys!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Loot of Lost City 7

Here is the loot from last session.


The PCs took home a hundred pounds or so of copper coin, at 250 coins to the pound, and $0.10 per coin.

They also found some jewelry, a ruby, and some other salable goods that came out to around 800 sp worth apiece.

The "special" stuff they found was:

- a Greater Healing Potion

- an Ebony Death Goddess - a statuette that summons/turns into one of these.* The PCs are already calling it Kali, who traditionally has four arms or eight plus, not six, at least not as I've usually seen her depicted.

- an Oil of Puissance

- Hjalmar's old, stolen silver small machete.

- a one-shot Luck amulet.

- a scroll.

The scroll was on snake-skin. Maybe. It's like snake-skin but not quite.

Lucky for Felix, Dryst insisted on using Analyze Magic on the scroll and rolled very well. It's cursed - any who read it becomes a snake-man.

That caused an uproar.

Bruce wants it, because he wants to change from human to - ahem - "snerson," which he insists is the correct way to describe snake-persons.

Gerry wants to use it on one of his skeletons, so he'll have a snake-man skeleton.

Someone suggested casting Gift of Letters on a captured orc, making him read it, killing him, and then using Zombie to get, eventually, a skeleton snake-man for Gerry.

Other people want to sell it.

Wyatt wanted to give it to the church to destroy, hopefully to build up some credit for having done good deeds. (I shot that down - the Church has no official negative position on wizards booby trapping magic items, only on evil/unholy items. They condemn sin and lawbreaking, Church law especially so, but don't adjudicate all magical conflicts or uses of magic.)

Right now, someone has it. I'm not sure who. Ditto with everything else. They sorted it out.



* A couple of the players had one of these in my last big GURPS campaign. I still have the mini, so naturally I resurrected the concept.**

** Hopefully this won't become a nuke. You know, "Let's just use the Ebony Death Goddess and win this whole fight!" or "We'll throw in the Ebony Death Goddess, lock the door, and then open it after she's killed all of the enemies!" It's not that powerful, merely very useful.

Monday, January 21, 2019

GURPS DF Session 113, Felltower 85, Lost City 7

After the near-TPK last session, the pool of delvers had been severely depleted. Losses of major figures such as Hjalmarr, Vryce, and Mo plus lots of up-and-coming delvers left limited options. Still, there was a will to explore Felltower, and more delvers were gathered.

A rare last-minute (he said he could play a few hours before game) appearance by Dryst helped immensely.


January 20th, 2019

Weather: Early snow followed by driving rain, icy winds, and then sunny cold.

Characters:
Aldwyn, human knight (264 points)
Bruce "the Mild" McTavish, Jr., human barbarian (250 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (250 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (461 points)
Felix Aurelius, human cleric (250 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (389 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (332 points)
     5 Skeletons (~25 points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (250 points)

The group gathered in Stericksburg, around a core of vets - Galen, Aldwyn, and Gerry - plus some new or recent additions - everyone else. They gathered rumors and stocked up on gear. They headed out and up to Felltower without Dryst, who said he'd come but be late.

The mountain top was windy and cold, but the castle was unguarded. They went in through the gates and to the trap door. Gerry had a skeleton try the door but it was zapped by the black energy and mildly damaged. Someone or something that locked the door again. They headed for the main entrance.

Galen went down first, with Dark Vision and Invisibility on, and spotted an orc facing away inside an open pillbox shutter on the left side. He loosed an arrow and the orc went down. A second orc looked out for a split second and Galen put two arrows his way, too. The orc dodged one (with a 3!) but narrowly failed the dodge the other, which knocked him down and either dead or unconscious. Dead, Galen figured, and signaled to the group that there weren't any guards.

They made sure, and Wyatt jumped across and strung up a rope. The climbed across.

Once across they went right, but without a crowbar they couldn't get open the doors. Bruce managed to fit Wyatt's knife in and pry the door open enough to get fingers in, but the dagger snapped in the process.

Just then, Dryst showed up, and created a crowbar which he insisted Bruce needed to hang on to.

They moved to the noisy room, which Felix quieted with a Silence spell (he rolled a 3 on that.) They made their way down the stairs, past all of the usual rooms, and to the intersection near the giant staircase known as the "intersection of hate." They moved past it, hoping to turn over to the base of the pillboxes and retrieve the two fallen orcs for Gerry to turn into zombies. That did not work - they first found noisemakers and boards with bent and rusty nails in them (cleared under Silence by a servant) and second they found the corridor past the "animal smells room" had been blockaded. They didn't want to dig, and simply gave up on the orc zombies.

They headed down the GFS, checking for traps. They made it to the "apartment level" and cautiously moved along. They eventually reached the gate to the Lost City of D'Abo. Dryst scried the gate, from both sides. Each revealed the exact same scene - you can't go in "the back" and come out facing another direction. Worried about getting smote by golems again, they sent in servants first and then fighters second, some facing "back." Nothing waited for them except blasting heat, a big change from the icy winds of winter around Stericksburg and the clammy chill of Felltower.

This trip matched the last trip in a lot of ways. First, they couldn't locate the stairs down, thanks to having re-sealed off the floor after using Shape Earth last time. So they climbed down to the lower level. Dryst sent a Wizard Eye to scout, but closed doors impeded that.

Heading down the street to the east, they carefully sent the Wizard Eye into each and every window or open doorway they found, finding only stone furniture and emptiness. At the end of the street, however, a 15' anaconda crawled out of the ruins and headed for them!

Galen thumped it with arrows for several seconds, although it dodged a couple of them. Felix cast Sunbolt and zapped it, but it was too weak to harm it. Crogar and Bruce charged, with Aldwyn walking and then running after them. As the snake closed, however, Galen put an arrow into its skull and stunned it badly. Crogar halted, waiting for it to advance. The other fighters halted, waiting for Crogar to engage it. He waited. The snake was stunned. Galen held his shots. Crogar kept waiting. After a few seconds, the anaconda recovered from stunning and chose to escape with its life. Galen put two more arrows into it as it turned away, killing it.

The barbarians closed, and Aldwyn slashed it repeatedly in the "neck" but - luckily - failed to decapitate it. Luckily because Gerry wanted to make a Zombie snake.

So Gerry did . . . but rolled an 18. Oops. The snake snapped into unlife . . . and attacked Gerry, grappling him in its coils! Gerry cast Phase and passed through it, and that was the signal for Bruce to kill it. Oops.

From there they found the armoury that was looted by the original group (including Gerry) years back. All they found was moldy and moldering armor and weapons, none of them in anything like serviceable condition. They wasted a good amount of time searching for secret doors or additional weapons and found nothing of value.

Next, they moved building by building, heading toward the tetrahedron by way of a badly collapsed building they'd spotted and decided needed investigation. This took a long time - much time was spent checking rooms, even once moving a bed, scanning for secret doors, checking for anything of value or interest. For the most part, there was none, and the heavy stone doors often took Bruce and Crogar together to move - or no effort at all, depending on the condition of the rolling mechanisms.

They checked an intact building with a courtyard of sorts, and found nothing but moldy grain in a single room. But a second level structure had a purple-and-black colored ceiling and walls decorated with weird symbols. Dryst was scouting via Wizard Eye and knew they were Elder Tongue symbols, but it was a puzzle what the meaning was. They all denoted history and religion, and the past. But since the Elder Tongue has thousands of symbols, often readable in both directions (or in circles, or lines, or specific patterns, etc.) he couldn't figure them out. Fleix went next with another PC (I forget who) and decided the best way to check these was a room full of Sunlight. That caused the symbols to char immediately into black circles of soot!

Dyrst groaned, but Felix was well pleased.

They continued down the road, exploring more ruins. Dryst put Earth Vision on Galen to spot basements (there were none.) As they approached the ruined building they sought, some a half-dozen vegepygmies and two thornies came around the corner at the next intersection, some 120-130 yards away. Galen put an arrow into each of the lead two immediately, and then said, "There are some vegepygmies coming." The ones he hit, though, had little reaction except from the thump of impact. They started to strike their chests and deployed.

The PCs formed up. The vegepygmies suddenly were obscured by growing grass about 6-7' tall. Clearly they had a spellcaster.

The PCs warily advanced, but when they reached the intersection they found no vegepygmies. They cut their way through the grass.

The eventually searched the ruined building they sought, but it turned out to be just an old building falling apart under the relentless creep of the swamp.

They made it to the tetrahedron. Several of them climbed up, and they began the process of exploring and looting it.

What followed was basically identical to the last time. First, they dropped a light. It dimmed and slowly went out.

Next, worried about slimes, Felix held in a mirror to look up through the crack. A slime fell on his hand. They tried to burn it off, Gerry not recalling that this doesn't work. Felix tried to scrape it off, but only ended up sliming up his knobbed club. Bruce tried with his knife and got slime on his bare hands. Eventually Felix pulled off the glove and tossed it. They couldn't figure out how to kill the slime and moved away from it.

Then they decided to send someone down, but wanted to ensure it was safe. So they lowered a skeleton. Just like last time, it last a few seconds and fell apart, destroyed.

Oops.

So Dryst put a Force Wall across the apex, to cut off some of the slimes (not all of them, but enough.) They sent Bruce down to look around. With no Search skill, poor Perception (he has a 10), and darkness, he stumbled around for a few minutes finding nothing and taking damage from the miasma of death. He came back up.

Galen eventually volunteered that he has excellent night vision and high Per and high Search. So they sent him, next. He found a scroll, a soapstone statue of a half-man half-snake (see below), an amulet depicting two snakes facing each other, and a small statuette. He also found a stone chest full of coins. He filled a sack with coins, digging deep in case the good stuff was at the bottom, dumped in the the assorted stuff he found and came back up via the rope.

They examined the loot - the coins were all copper, with snaky motifs. Still, it was a significant value even at $0.10 per coin. They checked the snake-man statue, and it seriously unnerved Crogar.

Felix wanted to read the scroll, even though it was some creepy snake-like skin. But he was convinced to do so later.

Galen went for another scoop, this time trailing twine made with Create Object to tie onto the chest so other, stronger guys could follow the twine. He did so and scooped coins. But even before they could haul him up, the twine went slack - it had been partly dispelled by the magic-draining of the bottom of the interior.

Bruce went back down anyway to "follow where the string was." That resulted in a couple minutes of fumbling around (and a slime missing him, actually, and a failed Per roll to even notice) and then coming back, hurt.

They broke off the looting at this point, as they saw birds flying in their direction in slow, lazy swoops. They climbed down and took cover in the buildings.

They waited, with weapons and spells ready. But a horrifying shriek rang out. Galen was stunned. Aldwyn was stunned, and picked up a new quirk (Unnerved by woman's voices). Crogar was so stricken with fear he puked. But a few held on. A harpy flew down and past them, clearly having come in for a low shriek-by. Dryst, Bruce, and Felix released at it. It avoided Felix's Sunbolt and Bruce's harpoon, but Dryst's Stone Missile hit it and wounded it very badly. Barely conscious, it tried to fly away.

(I actually forgot to require a Per roll to spot the harpy in time, and just let everyone shoot. I often forget those.)

Dryst cast Hawk Flight on nearby Wyatt and sent him after the harpy. He flew after it using Move and Attack. He fended off a dire vulture attack on the way before outdistancing them. After several seconds, he managed to hit the harpy in the hand and sliced it off. That did for her, and she fell and plowed into the water of the swamp near the vegepygmy stockade. Wyatt swooped back, slowed down, and stabbed her four times as she floated.

He came back after this.

The group was still dealing with the fear. Poor Aldwyn just couldn't snap out of it, even with slaps, the (Loretta Venturini-like) Command to "Snap out of it!" and so on. (He had to roll a 5 or less.) Deciding they just couldn't wait for him to relax on his own, Bruce come up behind him and put him in a rear naked choke (doubly so, Bruce wears nothing but a kilt) and put him to sleep over a few seconds of struggle. Dryst said moments later, "I could have used Sleep."

Next was a pair of scouting trips - first Galen, buffed out the wazoo and with Invisibility, No-Smell, and Dark Vision plus Flight and numerous buffs, was sent to see where the harpies lived. He found two holes but no second harpy.

He came back.

They sent out even more buffed Wyatt to find those holes and kill the remaining harpy (Gerry having forgotten they'd killed one way back when.) He explored and looted the holes, confusing the dire vultures that couldn't see or smell him but which could hear him. He flew back the long way, checking out the vegepygmy fort (which Galen had estimated would hold between 60-100 vegepygmies and about 20 thorn hounds) and then the east side of the city. He found a nest along the water, the ape cave, and the metal gates.

He came back with the loot.

At this point, they headed back to the gate. Galen flatly refused to do more looting now that the slimes were likely down on the floor, no longer sealed behind a Force Wall. So they had to bow to his decision.

They made it back to the gate, and this time found the staircase below. While they debated how to open the stairs up to the gate floor and then if to reseal them, Dryst cast Earth the Air and ended the discussion.

Felix suggested sealing off, or trapping, the stairs or the gate room (I'm not sure which) to ensure the next non-PC people to go through would stumble into it. No one seemed keen on trapping their own path, so they let that go.


As they headed back to the stairs, they heard a weird hooting / piping noise. Bruce was sure it was of no animal he'd ever heard of (thanks to Naturalist), while Crogar was sure it was a burrow owl (thanks to a critical failure on Naturalist), and wanted to go check it out. He was overruled.

The went to the hidden hand on level 2 and had Gerry touch it, along with Wyatt, Bruce, and Crogar. They lost HP and FP, got the chills, but otherwise were able to function. They headed out via the trap door, once again trying to decide if they should/could disable it. They decided against trying (Wyatt strenuously arguing that smashing/"securing" exists is why there are so many fewer than before) and left.

They made it back to town and dealt with their treasure. (I'll get a post about that tomorrow.) They had enough for a solidly profitable delve.

Notes:


Early on in the session, Felix's player said, "We'll save the Pyramid [sic] for when we need loot." He was quickly corrected . . . loot was goal #1. That's a good point, there - most of the time the group gets into trouble, it's one of two things: prioritizing something other than loot, and then the "we need loot!" rush at the end of the session leads to bad decisions or it's having Plan A, and then executing Plan B because something even slightly unexpected happens. This was almost the second, where "go to the Lost City" became, briefly, "with a detour to get some orcs from the orc-held pillboxes" which could have turned into a full-out dig-and-fight row with the ors. In any case, "loot first" has served very well when it's been pursued.

Fright Checks are nasty. They don't come up too often, so generally my players don't prepare for them. Gerry's player always did so, especially because he think they're too nasty. I've noticed most fighter-types are the least prepared . . . since being afraid is a roleplaying decision, most play fearless . . . but failing a Fright Check is a character ability effect and it pays to invest in actual fearlessness if you don't like being useless in a scare-fest.

We had some issues with adjudicating Sunlight. Can you cast it mid-air and have it extend downward? There doesn't seem to be a reason why not, but I can see all sorts of problems that will cause me. We decided you need to cast it on the "ground floor" just to save my sanity.

Once again we've hit the highly amusing cycle of "he's charmed/confused/scared/mentally stunned and can't get out" so they beat the poor guy unconscious to "fix" this. Command was an interesting attempt, but it's not curative. Sleep would have been a good way to go, as would Relieve Madness. There was a lot of rules confusion over this, too - that it was Will, and recovering from fright, not mental or physical stun. So no Awaken, no Combat Reflexes bonus, nothing of that sort.

Overall not a bad session - pretty good loot, everyone except Dryst hit threshold. Add in some good exploration (+1 xp) and everyone ended up with 5 xp (Dryst 3 xp). I forgot to mention to Felix's player that he got a bonus point for destroying the elder writings with Sunlight.

Four of us - the players of Wyatt, Gerry, and Crogar and I - rode home together as part of our winter weather planning and talked about the session. It sounds like Crogar's player is beginning to get that loot, not combat, drives the game. Maybe. He's still young - as young as I was when I first learned to game - and we don't have a play style that matches his attention span and interests too closely. But he likes XP.

Fun session.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Snow Permitted - Felltower today

We had a session of Felltower today.

Highlights:

- eight players

- guest star Dryst showed up

- orcs were slain

- the Lost City was reached

- Zombie backfired spectacularly

- loot was taken

- slime was slimy

- and harpies were fought.


Overall, it was a really good session if you like loot (almost everyone), not so great if you love combat (Crogar the Barbarian's player). Details will follow when I have time to write the summary.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Snow permitting - Felltower tomorrow

We're getting snow now, turning into rain and ice. So it might be too slippery to get to Felltower tomorrow.

But if we do, it'll be a short crew. Hayden the Unnamed can't make it as his player lives in a much more northerly, snowier town. But we have a few new ones:

Crogar the Barbarian, run by Jaspar's player. Queue the Basil P. music as he comes in. He's a Savage Warrior with Shirtless Savage, because barbarians hate buying armor.

Wyatt Sorrell, a two-longsword swashbuckler. He's probably going with Weapon Bond (Rougish), which is from Sean Punch's DFD Swashbucklers book but which I suggested based on Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser's propensity to steal replacement versions of Scalpel, Cat's Claw, and Greywand. He won't be able to steal replacements, but it makes for interesting discussions of loot - looted longswords would be swappable in for his existing blades.

On top of that, it's likely we'll see Desmond or perhaps a cleric, Felix Aurelius.

And I'm pretty certain Crogar's player's dad will run Gerry.

And poor Aldwyn probably wants to avenge his philandering girlfriend, Gwynneth.

All in all, even this small group is pretty interesting and could be really potent, depending on the mix and location they get to.

Or we could be snowed and iced out. We'll see.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Bones 4 on track . . . good news or bad news?

Uh-oh.

From the Bones 4 Kickstarter:

"When will my rewards order ship? When does Wave X ship?

At this time, we remain on schedule to begin fulfillment in February 2019.

We are waiting on two final containers to ship. At this point, this puts us still on schedule to begin fulfilment in February. This does not mean on February First, but sometime during the month.
"

I'm in Wave 1. I am so not ready for this many more minis to paint.

And in other news, coming soon - the Albino Level of Felltower!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Old School play with new school rules?

Douglas Cole also blogged about this. Go read that, too.

Necropraxis put out the results of that OSR survey I linked to a while back.

OSR Games


The comments are where the really interesting discussion is, for me - can a game not be old school, but play old school well?

Of course my answer is yes. I'm playing 4th edition GURPS and Felltower is very much old school. It's inspired by the games I played as a kid running AD&D and by the things I heard about from games earlier. It's a megadungeon crawl with a minimal outside world with a very high body count.

I think that's what D&D5 is, too. It's a new game, and new school in many ways. But it clearly can play old school - and it even as a very playable and interesting megadungeon published for it.

And as a total aside, I find it pretty amusing that more people think Labyrinth Lord is OSR than AD&D 1e is. Heh. I can kind of get it - AD&D 1st edition isn't a revival, renaissance, or resurrection, it's just the old school itself. Yes, there are older games than that, but if the DMG isn't old school gaming, if AD&D is somehow less "old school" than DCC, well, I'm not really sure we're all using the same definition. Which we're almost certainly not. Is an original old school game OSR, or just original? Is it more or less OSR than OSR games? And it's funny to think of people in, say, 1979, lamenting how the hobby had gone all new school with AD&D. Heh. The more things change . . .

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Random Links for 1/16

Wednesday is turning into Random Links Dump Day, since I tend to get done with work late. So here are three more:

- I liked the thesis of this article:

The Basis of the Game is Making Decisions

I won't agree with everything he says, and I have no idea about anything on Critical Role (or much about it at all), but I agree with the thesis. The game is about making decisions. I think it's better to present a game about how it's played - and what you do - first of all. "This is a game of building giant space empires and negotiating with alien races!" might sound awesome, but if what you do is "draw a card, read it, and roll a die and see what happens" it's a game of drawing cards and rolling dice. RPGs are about decisions. And if you play point-based like I do, you're making them right from the start and those decisions influence other ones. The monsters providing an interesting basis for those decisions.

- This game review makes the game sound tempting. Maybe when I have more free time.

- I'm sad I missed out on this boxed set of minis, based solely on the words "Lords of Decay" and "Julie Guthrie."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What's next in Felltower?

We're on track to play DF Felltower on Sunday.

So what's next?

New Paper Men

I'm reviewing some characters, including a swashbuckler and a cleric. I've heard rumors of others, and we're not sure what Jaspar's player will do.

Old Paper Men

Some of the old paper men may return - Aldwyn and Desmond, for example. Gerry is a certainty. I'm not sure if Hamilcar or Ahenobarbus will make an appearance, or Murak, either, but they're out there. Galen's coming.

Equipment Questions

I've fielded a fair amount of gear questions - including one that sent me over to Douglas Cole for his specific crafting knowledge. Booyah for DIY weapon makers!

Old Plans, New Plans?

What actually happens is still under discussion - orcs, Lost City, careful delving on the "apartment level"? The mix of characters will matter.



That's all I have for an update - I have a lot of emails to get through, and characters to review . . . and it's a busy week looking busier. But it will get done in time for delving.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Gratitude to my readers

Thanks for buying my books.

Thanks for reading and using my books.

And thanks for telling other people about them, as well.

I don't say those things often enough. But I was thinking about that as my royalty statement came in today from SJG. I don't make a ton of money from my book sales. Month to month, it's not even a full day's wages (except for my day off, but the others all beat it.) But it's sufficient income over the year to allows me some fund to pour into gaming:

- new books

- minis

- paints

- minis

- brushes

- PDFs

- Kickstarters

- minis

and even some minis, truth be told.

All of that is because of you, and people like you, who buy my books.

I ad-support this blog, too, but I pull in about what I get a month from SJG in a year of ads here. They're useful but not a major haul. The real money I get out of my hobby is from people purchasing what I write. So thank you for doing so. I hope my words and my ideas have enhanced your games.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Felltower, Grinding, and Game Style

Martin Leuschen brought up the prospect of Felltower becoming some grim grinding while the PCs get back up to speed after the loss of almost the entire core of the PCs last session.

"Grim grinding with poor rewards" is how he put it.

My game, though, largely has been grim grinding.

So, what do I mean by "grinding?" In CRPGs, I've always associated "grinding" with repeatedly and steadily clearing out encounters that give you a good XP and resource reward for their challenge level, and/or killing fixed encounters over and over again for their XP. Basically, turning the process of gaining enough power to fight and beat the game into a simple series of repeated actions done over and over.

Here in particular I'd say it encompasses a mix of risk reluctance and confidence that you can eventually build up enough resources to overcome a challenge. The idea is time is on your side.

In most games - and in most of my games, this kind of grinding generally works. You don't take risks unless you're forced to. You maximize the force you can bring to bear. You bite off the smallest chunk you can get away with biting off. You don't, in a word, risk. Sometimes you need bold choices, though, and if you don't identify them well you tend to miss opportunities. I've seen a lot of them, and experience more frustration as a GM from them than from ill-advised risk.

We're playing Dungeon Fantasy now. The power level, I felt, plus a mix of risks and rewards that made any delve dangerous but potentially lucrative, would discourage that approach.

Felltower sprang from that.

Felltower basically depends a bit on not grinding.

Not just the megadungeon, but the entire campaign, has a bit of "replenishing risks but finite rewards" to it. You can literally spend too much time or money gaining your loot.

The Cold Fens had that happen - I expected a smaller number of delves, and so the PCs expended a lot more resources to gain loot than I'd expected,

Felltower itself isn't so parsimonious. There is more loot out than has been found. There are places to go get it. It probably doesn't seem that way with a very significant number of delves being barren of loot. However monsters do appear, and fewer of them have loot than do not. Many of them are just wandering scavengers, who probably will eventually depart themselves when the last of what's worth scavenging is gone. Or not - there is a lot pointing to creatures (like delvers) feeling an irresistible pull to the dungeon.

I'm rambling a bit, but back to the point:

Felltower basically depends a bit on not grinding.

The game expects you to take some risks. You have to go through gates before you know everything that's beyond them. You have to fight a battle sometimes and then go fight another before you've fully recovered. You have to pull the lever. You have to open the door. You have to turn the statues. You have to cultivate allies because you'll need them later. You have to rush ahead because fleeing or staying is too dangerous - or flee, because the other two are too dangerous. And you have to figure out with limited time and resources which one is appropriate. You need to use resources up with cheerful abandon when they're called for and husband others for a dark day, and know which is which.

It's very much the opposite of the Black Company approach, which puts the 15-minute work day to shame. They clear a dungeon (more or less) with a siege, and a graveyard full of monsters one single monster at a time with maximal force and rotating troops. That's something I deeply appreciate . . . but it's not this game.

This game requires a bit of boldness. You'll lose characters - it happens. You can't grind yourself to certain victory.

And one consequence of the "you can't grind yourself to certain victory" is that Felltower is a hard place to bring up replacement characters. Each wave of new characters - lacking the permanent resources found and lost with dead PCs - is less and less well equipped to face the risks that slew the earlier group. Without the video game "levels reset" and "creatures respawn" and "monsters are loot pinatas" it requires an entirely new area to explore and loot. That's something that it isn't unreasonable to expect in the game world but requires more and more time from the GM. In this particular case, that's not generally available.


So the next wave needs to go in without Shieldslayer, Sterick's armor, Inquisitor Marco's Mace, the Wand of Holding, and many item items. The personally owned treasures of the PCs are either lost (siphoned off to relatives or left undiscovered where buried) or are loot in the dungeon, now. It's back to square one, but the dungeon is a bit more barren and the way a bit more dangerous.

I'm not sure if that's a flaw, or if it might not cause a different approach. It may be perceived as a flaw, or a flat-out serious negative or impediment to fun by the players. It's just part of the mix between the design of the game, the way it's been played, and the reality of a GM with less time. Some of which I spent just now explaining all of that, but hey, I didn't have enough going to make a whole side area ready for next week anyway. I expect we'll keep playing but it's possible it's tipping the line over from "sometimes frustrating but fun" to "sometimes fun but frustrating." We'll have to see.









It's possibly ironic that I finished grinding my new Bard's Tale party up to the levels I want them at this morning for an hour or two while I was listening to some study materials. I don't know. Different games. You can't just go fight 396 berserkers over and over for 65K experience in Felltower.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A modified Ghost Tower of Inverness

Issue #24 of Footprints has an article that prompted me to download it, and which might be of interest to my players especially.

It is a modified, shortened version of C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness.

Most interesting, I think, are the pre-chosen equipment options to speed up the start of the game. There are some interesting choices, especially given the challenges particular to the dungeon.

None of them feature a magical two-handed sword, which was a fantastic choice for Lembu, made just because Lembu's 9-year old player wanted the weapon that did the most damage that he could find. L-sized creatures abounded, and took lots of damage.

Worth the read if you know C2 well, or if you played it with me.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Very Expensive Magic, Cheaper Mundane FAQ

Our last game session, we ended up discussing my post about changing the relative cost of magic items in DF/DFRPG and jacking up the loot found. Questions were asked and answered - here they are.

Starting Cash?

Unchanged. You start with $1000, unless you choose some variation of Poverty, Wealth, or Trading Character Points for Money. Since mundane item costs are unchanged, this should only affect starting characters in two areas:

- magical armor and weapons (already almost entirely out of reach anyway thanks to $20 x energy costs.)

- Paut and potions and scrolls (staples of starting wizards'/clerics' equipment lists.)

Notes - it's a tough call if paut and potions should be grandfathered in at the "old" costs just for starting characters, so they can still start with a Minor Healing Potion or a couple of Paut But then it's tempting to start with a Potion of Dexterity, or a scroll, for example, and try to sell it for 40% of the marked-up value. I could waive that off by saying you just can't do it, but it's probably better to say prices are what prices are.

Power Items

Power Item rules are unchanged. Cost to charge Power Items is 10x as much - $50/point.

Notes - I considered making it $5/point to charge Power Items. But that is effectively the same as making it $0.50 per point under the old values. And if all spells cast in town cost 10x, why isn't charging? It should be. I just would have to hold a hard line against players of spellcasters complaining it's not fair that their "ammunition" is 10x cost now, especially coupled with a likely lower willingness to just buy tons of Paut because of the relative cost vs. mundane upgrades. Still, the actual buying power is unchanged - you'd have more delves where you take home $2500 instead of $250, and if you spent 10 energy doing so you're still out 20% of your buying power. It's just that under the "bigger loot" approach you'd have more to do with the other 80%.

What counts as magic?

Magic items are magic; mundane items, no matter how fanciful (orichalcum, meteoric iron, dragonhide), are mundane and cost is unchanged. Magic items are priced at $200 per point.

Notes - This is kind of an odd question, but it came up in an oblique way. Only things that are priced as magic items are magic items.

Selling magic items

Magic items are sold based on their new prices.

Notes - yes, this does magic it much, much, much more tempting to sell a marginal magic item . . . or even a good one . . . to end up with scads of cash for mundane purchases. That $17,600 magic sword might be $170,600 instead, and fetch $68,240. You can equip a whole company of delvers for multiple delves with that. It's serious money.




This is still something I haven't done, although I got a lot of interesting discussion out of it. I also got some direct negative responses to it. And it would take some work to implement. Still, big piles of money - and much more money spent on mundane things* - is tempting.


* Maybe. Or maybe just giant scads of money hoarded because people need $50K for Puissance +1 or won't feel safe without $300K in the bank for Resurrection plus some replacement magical gear.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Flexible Task-Based XP for DF / DFRPG

Here is a flexible task-based version of my XP House Rules.



XP Awards

One of the following must be completed:

A) Loot Threshold - sufficient loot to meet an XP threshold must be found.

B) Sufficient Exploration - 10+ new areas must be found.

Successfully doing so nets 4 xp (adjust accordingly for PCs who miss their loot threshold.)

Bonus Points: Loot

If the PCs successfully complete A, then they can earn +1 xp for exploring at least one new area. Exploring 10+ new areas is worth +2 xp.

Bonus Points: Exploration

If the PCs successfully complete B, then they can earn +1 xp for finding at least 20% of their loot threshold, +2 xp for finding loot equal or greater than their threshold.

All other systems - MVP, etc. - can stay intact.

Why?

These would be useful if you want to allow the players to choose what to emphasize for a delve instead of being straightjacketed into a specifc set of required success standards.

To make this simpler, but not actually easier, set the loot threshold based on the highest point PC. You're better off trying to explore a lot if you have a high-value heavy hitter backed by a lot of low-point starting PCs.

This inevitably will lead to waffling over tasks - should we keep looking for loot? Should we explore?

This issue is partly why what you need for "sufficient exploration" is raised in the above rules. That way, you don't get "find one new area, then switch to loot!" You really do need to commit to exploration if you're going to make exploration the goal.

You could easily modify the above to allow for additional choices - execution of a pre-made plan (the PCs say, "We want to discover the stairs to the next level down" or "kill that dragon!" and that becomes the main goal. Getting another of the two is worth bonus points - but only the category where the PCs have been more successful counts.

I haven't tried this, but it's an interesting thought experiment.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Random Links for 1/9

Just a trio of links worth clicking on for today:

Joe the Lawyer is back with another podcast . . . covering many things, including "the Goddamned Deck of Many Things" - you know you want to hear him talk about that.

This is a very cool post about an old, old, old CRPG.

And this is an interesting thesis about 2nd edition AD&D and friendship. Although, honestly, cooperative groups and groups where non-cooperating players were forced out were common in my early days of gaming, well before 2nd edition came out. That may have codified it, but the happy mob of players all out for themselves wasn't something I really experienced much of. Your party was your group, and you cooperate for the most part. It's interesting to think of a willful and deliberate shift to that as a feature of a specific edition, though. I'm not saying he's wrong, just that this did not come out of the blue.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Myconid inspiration revealed

A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords was one of my early module purchases, and I found the myconids really creepy and interesting.

This post over on Old School FRPG (on Tumbler) explains why - they're mushrooms from Fantasia* turned sinister, as imagined by Erol Otus:





A lot of D&D is just "cute thing, done creepy."

* which I'll admit I've never seen all of. Maybe only the dancing brooms part.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Tomb of Horrors, the pamphlet version

Over break, my players and I brought out our gaming loot from Christmas.

Among the loot was the boxed set of the D&D art book, as seen here on Amazon.com:



Included is a pamphlet of the tournament module version of S1 Tomb of Horrors.

Not only that, but as Paul discusses here, it was an adventure that helped bring about the Tomb of Horrors.

I'd really like a copy of that little pamphlet. Not enough to spend a lot of money on that art book. Don't get me wrong, the book is fascinating to look at. I just don't see me doing much with it, and if I really need to peruse a copy my group has several. I do really covet that early version of Tomb of Horrors and the Alan Lucien adventure which clearly helped inspire or inform it.

I'm just not sure it's worth $67 or so to get it.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The color-coded magic and monsters of Felltower

If you pay close attention, color is a useful - but not always exactly accurate - guide to effects in Felltower.

Certain effects, and certain effect-bearing monsters, come color-coded.

The beholder fired off eye rays of various colors, including green (panic), yellow (sleep), grey (petrifaction), translucent smoke-grey (armor-bypassing damage), black (death), purple (paralysis), among others.

Traps have fired off colored rays that specific, generally consistent effects.

And some monsters are color-coded in a way that indicates their powers.

Color Effects

The most consistent colors are those of effects.

Purple rays, for example, are generally paralyzing. These include wands of holding, such as the one the PCs have (had?), rays from traps, and rays from the beholder, too.

Green rays have been exclusively fear or other emotion-warping effects.

And don't forget the "black fire" that so perplexes (and injures) the PCs in Felltower.

In general, if a beam/ray is of the same color as another beam/ray, it probably does the same thing.

Color Monsters

Monsters are sometimes color-coded to indicate effects or powers.

Yellow Ravening Eyes, for example, are spellcasters.

Blue-hued monsters include a lot of winter-themed monsters, as do white ones. Red tends to indicate fire or heat.

Dragons are supposedly color-coded, but the PCs have only limited proof - a single red-hued dragon that breathed fire.

But equally, some are not - a blue beholder is merely blue. It may desire cookies more than a red beholder, but it's no more or less cold or heat themed. A red-skinned demon might be red because I though the mini would look cool red but not use fire attacks. And so on.




I find that using themes, even if just in colors, helps the players feel like there is an underlying and consistent world. And there is, such as it can be with a weird world of magic and elder beings and strangeness. But just like fire is hot and ice is cold, purple rays will paralyze you and green ones warp your feelings. And it's easier on the GM, as well.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Bard's Tale I: Don't Joke with the Priests of the Mad God

One of the puzzles in Bard's Tale I is the name of the Mad God. You need this to progress to the second major dungeon, which has the answer needed for later dungeons . . . and awesome monsters to grind.

However, there is a temptation to try other names. You know, instead of working your way down to the answer in the first dungeon, maybe you just peruse the names in the manual and try guessing those.

Well, don't guess BURGER, the Mad God's priests don't like that.

How much don't they like it?

This much:




Even just 99 Ancient Enemies is enough - they have a lethal breath weapon. I don't think the Black Company* is going to make it through.**


Apparently this isn't a totally unwinnable fight. According to the internet, if you win this, you get 200K+ in experience and then the Mad God's priests send some real foes after you.


* Can anyone tell me which book I was reading when I named my characters? I do think Sleepy should be a Paladin, not a Warrior, but I never did try the game with a Warrior instead of a Paladin, so why not?

** They didn't.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Advanced Labyrinth Lord arrived - take two

I received my replacement ALL book this week, for the dented book that I received.

It's pristine, it's beautiful. No scratches, no bashed-up corners, no damage at all.

Thanks to DriveThruRPG for promptly replacing the book with a pristine copy in only a week.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Gaming Ballistic's 2018 and new GURPS DFRPG material

Douglas Cole put out a thorough look at the year of Gaming Ballistic, both the company and the blog. I suggest you check it out.*

Gaming Ballistic 2018 Year in Review


There are a couple things of special note to Dungeon Fantastic in that blog:

1) More Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game Support

"Dungeon Fantasy RPG
I have three signed contracts for more work in Nordlond for 2019"

Great! More DFRPG support is not a bad thing.

I will say I don't love Vikings as much as Doug or some of my players. I don't dislike them, but I don't make Norse culture a big part of my game worlds. So Norse culture based material is, inevitably, less useful for me than "generic Euro-monsterdom" type settings and material. I'm more likely to plunk down a big dungeon full of dragons than a well-developed and logically consistent section of setting that's Norse. It's just a fact.

2) Said Support Has Monsters?

"If the three existing products go well, I suspect a Nordlond Bestiary will be something that could be compiled in the last portion of 2019, but this isn’t a product announcement. It’s recognizing that with four books probably containing 50 to 100 unique monsters, all of which have their own unique flavors, that this sort of creature catalog is a good idea."

Oh, nice. I like books of monsters. I like them a lot.

I do hope this really means monsters, and not "statblocks." Hall of Judgment is really cool, but a lot of the bestiary is mundane animals and bandits and so on, and that's as fun as Animals, Herd in the AD&D Monster Manual. As in, not really. Cool monsters I can give names to without unlauts and accent characters and then sic on my PCs so they can butcher each other are always welcome. Especially those by people not named "Sean Punch" or "Peter Dell'Orto," because I write really nasty monsters and Sean writes even nastier ones with exactly my sensibilities in mind. Sean writes monsters I like in the same way that Quentin Tarantino writes movies I like - it's like he knows what I think would be cool and what is cool about the stuff I think is cool. But another person's perspective be be good and useful.


So we've got that going for us.


I'd also point out that Doug goes into the issue I had brought up regarding this blog - how to connect to the audience? How to find people? If you know good, time-to-effectiveness efficient ways to do that, I think Doug could use the pointer. He can also use your eyes and your word of mouth. He's a good guy making great product; help him find the people who are looking for him . . . especially the ones who don't even know they are missing what's he's making.



* It's long, though. It's thorough even by Doug's standards, and Doug likes his posts complete. I read it in chunks.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jeff Dee on well-written rules

Jeff Dee wrote a great post about game mechanics.

I'll excerpt the summary:

"In summary: Tabletop RPG rules are there to assist the GM, and this is best achieved when those rules consistently produce reasonable results when played as written. The oft-repeated meme that "RPG rules are just guidelines" works *against* the goal of providing GMs with the kind of well-designed rules sets that would actually benefit them."
- Jeff Dee, on What Worries Jeff Dee


This is the way I feel, too. I want good, solid, basic mechanics that handle the common stuff well. I want them to be transparent and easy to understand. Just because I. the GM, can fix them on the fly or house-rule them doesn't mean I should have to. My rulings should be for edge cases and things not covered by the rules, and my house rules should be for things I want to make different at my table or for a particular game. If the game rules force me to make rulings to make them work, and house rules to make up for glaring issues, it's not really helping me make for a good gaming experience for my players.

Jeff said all of that better than I did. But I wanted to echo it here, because I think it's too easy to let "the GM can decide" get into your head. Don't rely on the GM to make up for the shortcomings in your rules. It's okay to provide tools (even easy-to-abuse tools) that require a GM's rulings or decisions. But the rules themselves should be an aid, not a detriment, to the GM's job.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 in Gaming

2019 is here, and 2018 is gone. How was it for gaming?

I got in an okay year of gaming, given a really unfavorable schedule for Sundays.

Running GURPS Dungeon Fantasy / Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game

2018 stomped 2017 in terms of Dungeon Fantasy. We played 16 sessions of Felltower (Sessions 97 through 112) and once again got in a 12/30 game session. 2017 saw only 12 sessions.

This year featured the long-awaited return of Galen Longtread, as our friend was able to finally make it back to game. He had some health issues going on, so being able to make it to game was a big deal and mattered a lot. To me, the whole point of gaming isn't the playing of the game, it's the playing with friends.

The last session didn't end on a high note, as the PCs got mauled by the monster they weren't seeking as they tried to find a more favorable way to attack the one they were seeking. But the year featured delving through gates - a visit to Olympia and a delve to the Lost City through the gate in Felltower. I'd hoped for more gate travel, but gates are clearly seen as high-level trips fraught with extreme risk and set aside for such.

The switch to DFRPG hasn't gone as smoothly as I'd hoped. We've sort-of ended up with a hodge-podge of DF and DFRPG. Not just because of using all of the templates, but because spellcasters routinely rely on GURPS Magic first, GURPS Spells second, and my magic rules third. The priority list is actually the reverse, so we've had a lot of halts to game as we all pull out spell books and consult them to figure out if what Player A thinks a spell will do is actually what it will do. And PCs have been repeatedly made with spells that have been removed from the game, or plans made around spells that aren't available, and wizard versions of spells that are cleric-only have turned up even after removal. I may need to - somehow - find the time to just make my own one-document "DF Felltower Spells" book and forbid the use of the others. I don't know where that time will come from, however.

Playing GURPS Gamma Terra

We played only two sessions of Gamme Terra - 16 and 17.

That's down from 5 the year before. Some of it was because we got stuck on what to do, and others because of the sporadic lack of availability of our Gamma Terra GM. But we got in more DF because we played less GT.

I enjoy the game, and it's time to decide what's next. I feel like the game demands we do high-level re-civilizing projects, and free the rest of the 20th Homeland and make an army. We can't really survive without that. But on the other hand, the most fun we have is exploring old ruins. So maybe we can find a way to "training montage" the first and do more of the second. It would be fun to jet up to Ottawa, though, and see what's up with that being the one place besides our area that Softie can go to. It must be a depot or base, and that would be fun to explore. And maybe there is a big honking giant intelligent computer up there that we can talk to! Hopefully it won't scan me and decide I'm not human anymore. Clearly transhumanism wasn't a thing. Hillbilly still feels human, eyes changed by mutation or not.

Playing AD&D

We kept up what's now a tradition of playing some old AD&D modules, too.

We had two sessions of AD&D (C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness sessions one and two)

It was meant to be one, but the exploration took a long time. Good thing we didn't use the non-tournament encounters (well, I used one, and that killed so much time that I regretted doing so) or the tournament clock!

AD&D is a lot of fun. I don't think I manage a campaign, though.

Other Games & Gaming

Basically none. I painted a lot fewer minis this year, although I did manage to get some done. I didn't pick up that many either. I've gotten pickier as my work schedule has dramatically cut into my gaming time. I didn't write much this year, either.

I did pick up a contract for a book, and I'm annoying a co-author on a project I've devoted little time to thanks to trying to get my other stuff done.

And I played just a little bit of video games this year, putting in some time on Borderlands 2, trying out (and putting aside) Diablo III, and picking Bard's Tale 1 back up just for grins.

And I did manage to keep blogging basically daily, even if only a short blurb, and keep gaming in my life on a daily basis.

Let's see if I can get in an equal or better amount of gaming in 2019.
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