Thursday, February 28, 2019

GURPS Steampunk 3: Soldiers & Scientists

There is a new GURPS book out.

I play exactly no Steampunk at all. But I launched a crossover GURPS Steampunk / Space: 1889 / GURPS Voodoo game way back when. It sadly didn't really keep going due to the mix of players just not being able to get to game that often. But we had wonderful PCs and I wish we'd had the wherewithal to keep it going.

Partly out of longing for that lost game - and my joy in Space: 1889's background - has kept me interested in GURPS Steampunk. Another book has hit the digital shelves.

I didn't playtest this one but I did get some Additional Material credit. So I got that going for me.

Short version: I like it. I probably won't use it, but I wish I could.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Ghosts of Saltmarsh

The latest D&D book announced is another throwback to 1st edition AD&D plus later additions:

It includes stuff pulled from - or perhaps all of -

U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

U2 Danger at Dunwater

U3 The Final Enemy

. . . all three of which I've run and enjoyed. I'm not certain I will pick this up, but it's tempting - those modules were great fun, and the 5e update book Tales of the Yawning Portal was excellent.

It adds some nautical rules for D&D5, which makes D&D5 a bit more attractive - I like pirates, I like being able to run ships in games.

I'll consider it, but I wanted to get up a post and get to looking at it. I'll probably break down and get it, I tend to do that with these beautiful D&D 5th edition books, especially ones that give me more of the 1st edition feel I like to play with.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Lost in the Depths of Felltower

I was just going over some game notes, and came up with a quick list of major and storied items lost in Felltower.

I still need to get the full list of gear lost with Vryce, Hjalmarr, etc. in the depths. But this is a start:

- Gram aka Balmung aka Sigurd's Sword, dragonslaying bastard sword

- Shieldslayer, shield-breaking axe

- Valmar's Sword, a glowing longsword

- Sterick's Plate Armor

- Inquisitor Marco's Mace

- Gem of True Healing

- Iron Ring of Endurance

and I'm pretty sure there are a good six to eight other items that were gained, then lost, in Felltower.

That's a good bit of loot - and most of it in all in one place. Sadly with a beholder and a pile of gargoyles, but it's there.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Highlander Club

This isn't fantasy gaming, or GURPS, or anything of that sort . . . but it's Highlander-related, and bound to be quoted at our gaming table from now on (especially "fearsome but misunderstood," which is pure gold.)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Short Posting Break / Writing Update

I'll be taking a break from posting until, most likely, Monday 2/25. I'm finishing up some writing, and I have a professional certification this weekend that requires a lot of my attention. I simply cannot assure myself of time to post, so it's easier to just come out and say I won't.

As for writing, I've finish and will shortly submit my short writing project. Hopefully I'll be able to reveal what it is soon.

I'll get back to my longer, due-soon writing project as I can, which probably also means next week. I don't want to rush back into it, as I need the bonus for Time Spent on my Writing skill.

For GURPS-y entertainment in the meantime, go watch Doug's Kickstarter and keep hitting F5.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Random Links for 2/20

Here are some posts I found especially interesting this week:

Erik Tenkar's Fantasy Trip Legacy Edition - if you went for the TFT Kickstarter, you may get some of these, too. Neat. I'm still not wowed by the system, but SJG does put together nice boxed sets.

The Oozy Goodness Series over on Echoes from the Geek Cave looks at one of my favorite monster types - oozes, slimes, puddings, and so on. You know, like in this whole book that I adore:

People like bundles, and charity bundles especially, so I figured I'd pass these on:

Monday, February 18, 2019

Amplifying the Signal: Norðvorn Kickstarter

You probably saw this, but if not:

The Citadel at Norðvorn: Feb 19 at 10am on Kickstarter

Per Doug: The Citadel at Norðvorn is a mini-setting for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. It consists of three major settlements, many small villages, at least one ruin, and two primary sources of conflict: The Hunted Lands to the northwest of The Palisade, and the Endalaus Forest, to the north and east of Audreyn’s Wall.

Return to Norðlond, a Viking-flavored world with its own history, culture, and expectations. Visit as an outsider, or fresh from a victory rediscovering the Hall of Judgment.

I'm going to back this, even though I don't really like Vikings that much. And have no intentions to ever run it. Mostly it's because Doug makes really good products, and has a perfect track record for follow through. Simply put, he never puts out material that's less than excellent, and it always comes out. He over-delivers. It's going to be worth a look if you're interested in Vikings or DFRPG. If you like them both, just jump right in when it comes out. I'll update this post and post a link after it goes up.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Stack of Corpses This High . . .

Last game session, we were talking about Felltower a bit before we did our Gamma Terra game. One the subjects that came up was casualties. The discussion about them isn't germane to this post. But in thinking about that, I idly took a look at the casualty list again. It's pretty big.

The lowest point player character on the list is 250.

The highest point is 534.

The fastest anyone died was session 1.

The longest lasting player character lasted almost 100 sessions and had delved for 7 years (2011-2018).

There are 31 PC names on the list. Many are multiples.

There are 40 NPCs on the list. Only two - Brother Ike and Red Raggi - are multiples.

That's a total of 71 killed in action in Felltower in 113 delves. That's 0.628 casualties per session. On a PC basis, it's 0.274 casualties per session. Obviously, they clump, and range from 0 to 19 per session. The most PCs killed in one session was 8.

So if I'm doing the math correct, for every 10 delves, it's likely that about 6 characters die, of which 2 or 3 will be PCs. That's about 1 PC death every 4 sessions, along with 2 and a 50/50 shot of losing another (2.5 lost per 4 delves.)

That's pretty awful.

Is Felltower (and its sister side locations) that lethal? Yes. I'm going with yes.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Busy Writing

Since I spent my spare time today writing for pay instead of blogging for fun, I figured I should put up an update on my writing projects:

New DF Book - the is preceding well. I'm a bit behind where I expected to be, but mostly it's a matter of putting in the time to catch up. It's all either written already but in totally non-SJG format, or it's formulated in my head, with only a couple of exceptions. Those I know what I want to do with but the words haven't fully formed up yet.

New Quick Project - I was asked to knock off some short material on a tight deadline. It's SJG work, again, but I can't even hint what it is beyond that. But it's going to take up the rest of my free time this weekend. Not because of length but because I've got only a bit of it.

Basically, I've paused one, despite it being a bit behind where I want it to be, to do another one. Then I can get back to the original project.

I really do miss having a schedule that had me working early, and then home most of the morning. That's my prime writing time, and the loss of that has really put a cramp on the amount of words I can get out. Still, my non-gaming work is significantly better than it was before (and I get to teach a lot more martial arts) so it's a good overall tradeoff. But the times when I used to have my creative juices really flowing are now occupied by other work.

And yet since I so often draw on my Felltower game for inspiration and ideas, I at least get to conflate game prep with paid writing - or at least paid writing brainstorming. Pro Tip, one you could have learned from Gary Gygax back in the day with Greyhawk - write based on your own games. It's a great time saver, and the playtesters are the dead PCs of your gaming buddies! Hurrah for future zombies!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Things I Like to Read: some Rangers of Shadow Deep AARs

I've been really enjoying reading this series of AARs over on Plastic Legions:

Rangers of Shadow Deep

It looks like a reasonably fun skirmish game - which I like, not that I get to play them other than rarely.

Plus his terrain, both scratch built and what looks like from kits, is incredible. And it's just him playing by his lonesome. The rules detail - down to the rolls - makes it all the more interesting to me. Very cool.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

What's the right way to play DF?

TL;DR: However you choose.

If you read my blog, and read my blogroll, you'll find game summaries for a number of GURPS games centered around DF and fantasy gaming.

If you read all of those summaries, you'll probably notice that we don't all play DF the same way.

Which of them, if any, is the "right" way?

Obviously to me, the answer is all of them.

We all seem to run DF differently.

And it's all good.

I really do enjoy reading summaries of games that run differently than mine. And none of us are wrong to run our games the way we and our players find to be fun.

I may get the last word, sometimes, either out of sheer willingness to keep hitting "Reply." Or because I often turn my own game material into books of monsters or rules. But it doesn't matter for those games.

That's a great thing about gaming. Even so many years down the line, if the way I run and enjoy games is or isn't like the ur-games of Arneson and Gygax, whatever. We've taken the ball and run with it and we're enjoying it.

What prompted this? Just me thinking about how my commentary about Death Vision and Unfazeable here and at the Castle Whiterock summaries might be seen as criticizing a game. It's not. It's clearly a fun game that the players enjoy. I just want to engage in the connection a comment affords, and try to make my own game better by seeing what I'd find to be issues before they come up. It's not really me vs. another GM, or our game versus their game. It's purely constructive in intent.

All of that said, the correct way to play Eyes of Death is as amoral haters of everything who lurk in places with good vertical retreat room and plenty of cover vs. arrows. Anything else is wrong. Otherwise, we're good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Random Gamma Terra Facts & Notes

We've learned a lot of little things in Gamma Terra.


The War was May 1st, 2322.

It's, as far as we can tell, 2562.

We don't know what day of the year it is, but we've been out of the bunker - we, the original five* - for 142 days. The additional troops have been out since a few weeks after that.**


We've hit a fairly bewildering variety of technology. It's a weird mix of 70s-vision future tech and modern visions of technology. Computers with giant disks and blades, plenty of keyboard interfaces with green-on-black displays, etc.

Some highlights:

- Duralloy, an impenetrable metal that absorbs force

- Transport gates (which means my goal of getting into orbit isn't unrealistic, there must be a gate to an orbital weapons platform somewhere!)

- Idiot-proof medical pens

- Will-powered lasers (not my favorites)

- Disintegration grenades

- Anti-grav

- neural-directed military and law enforcement equipment

And 8 generations of androids.


So far we only know that the Bal'Kree have their own language, and some of us know some of it.

We haven't found much use for our other languages; we really need a Latin speaker, based on how much we find. We're hoping one of the new guys will speak it.***

Lots of races seem to speak their own languages. We got around in Boomtown thanks to a telepath and a 20th Homeland person.


We've encountered/know of:

- Purists - former 20th Homeland, now an army with an anti-mutant bent. Hillbilly being a mutant now doesn't endear this group to him.

- Restorationists - folks dedicated to restoring the wonder of the Ancients. Sometimes helpful.

- Army of the Bear - mutant animals who follow a mutated bear.

Random Bits

There are a half-dozen or so bunkers of the 20th Homeland. Many of them are in Purist territory and are the basis of the Purists.

Midden is the current name of Michigan, which the Bal'Kree say is from "Mitten" for the shape of the land. Michigan, really.

Bear Lake is north of the great forest, and north by a bit from where that Airbus was supposedly going to take us:

I'm sure I'm missing a lot of bits, but I may have to keep up a "Gamma Gazetteer" and this will make a good start.

* Barbie, Caveman, Hillbilly, Princess, Short Bus.

** Fatbox, Love Handles, Momma's Boy, Oinker - and a mess of fools who followed Lt. Newb.

*** One of our potential players studied Latin, so he may as well take it on his PC. I regret taking Spanish and not Japanese, if only because I speak way more Japanese personally and I like using that skill.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Unfazeable & Death Vision

This post springs from a comment I made on a Castle Whiterock game summary.

I've already proposed nerfing Death Vision and making it more of what I feel it should be - an information spell with offensive capabilities - instead of what it is - a broad, irresistible mental attack spell that works on practically anything at all.

But the game summary I linked to above reminded me of something I'd left out - Unfazeable.

Unfazeable should also provide immunity to the stunning effects of Death Vision. It doesn't cause mental stunning due to confusion, or distraction, or puzzlement, or anything of that sort - it's from fear. It is "chilling" and you need to "shake off the effects of the spell." Yet Unfazeable says you are "exempt from Fright Checks," that it is "incompatible with all Phobias," and that Intimidation "does not work on you."

None of that sounds compatible with something "chilling" bothering you.

Me, I chalk up the lack of mention of Unfazeable in Death Vision simply to the wording of Death Vision being unchanged from 1986 (GURPS Fantasy 1st edition, 1st printing). Back then, you had no Fearlessness, no Unfazeable, and even no Fright Checks. It couldn't account for a new advantage, and wasn't modified to do so.

Monday, February 11, 2019

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 18 - Unknown #2, Part I

Days 142 since departure from the bunker.

"Barbie" - demo/EOD
"Hillbilly" - medical specialist
"Love Handles" - demo/EOD
"Oinker" - demo/EOD
"Short Bus" - computer programmer

In reserve:
"Caveman" - demo/EOD
"Fatbox" - demo/EOD
"Momma's Boy" - computer programmer
"Princess" - cryptographer/sniper

When we last left, we were cleaning up in Muskegeon. We accomplished some downtime activities - mostly healing, resting, gear maintenance, etc. plus fixing loose ends like the Princess and the bank.

We'd decided to next hit "Unknown #2" - a sort of above-ground structure with significant underground elements deeper than Softie's (our warbot) ground-penetrating radar could penetrate. We gathered up the Tomorrow Men who were ready to go, and went.

We arrived at what looked like a two-story build with a mast, with one "pod" like extension on one side, and two on the other. The structure was completely grown over, with dirt piled up. We fired up the Bunny Scope - which Oinker borrowed from Princess - in X-ray mode and spotted a hatch in plus hatches into the attached pods that we dubbed "bathyscopes." We quickly cleared one of those off and forced its door open. Inside were rows of seats and an inside airlock hatch. We forced that open with some work and went inside.

It turns out we didn't have very good lights, just our helmet lamps and glowsticks. We'd clearly forgotten to loot powerful flashlights from the big superstore a few sessions back during Operation Top Hat. We had to make do. Luckily Hillybilly has some night vision, but it was still slow going exploring.

We moved through the "building" and found it barren of fixtures, mostly, and the walls and floors and ceilings were scoured of paint, etc. and the doors had their card readers scoured to the point of uselessness. The doors were flimsy, however, so Hillbilly simply kicked them down. After a few minutes and kicked doors we came to a room with a desiccated naked human corpse on the ground, a "chest" the size of a steamer trunk, and a cabinet. The group searched the room while Hillbilly checked the corpse.

It was a human with a tattoo of the 20th Homeland - a brother - but also that of the Purists - so a fallen brother. Meanwhile, Love Handles explored the far end of the room. Something slapped into him, an explosion of jam-like stuff that let off a cloud of grey "smoke." With his superior gas mask (which we all have) and top-end NBC gear (Caveman, Love Handles, Hillbilly) nothing happened. He backed off and tried to smear it off, but it didn't work, until Short Bus tried water (he's our chemist, for what it's worth). That helped clear it off.

The corpse had been killed by a neck slit and its left arm was messed up as well. Hillbilly took its chip, which Oinker scanned for with the Bunny Scope. Perhaps he's got a higher rank, and if not, we can see who he was.

We checked the chest, as well, which had a swipe card reader. Hillbilly swiped our long list of cards through it - nothing. It had a glass-like top but it had gone translucent with whatever scoured the inside of the structure.

A little bit of door-kicking, chest-we-can't-open-finding, and empty-cabinet-checking later, Love Handles got hit from the darkness with a globule of something smokey. Oinker scanned with the Bunny Scope, however, and spotted a weird mushroom-cap thing with octopus tentacles with an open end hanging in the upper corner. It flicked a globule of "stuff" at the group. Oinker shot it three times and dropped it.

We dubbed them "flingers" but later "Octoshrooms" (which coincidentally is what the GM named them.)

We continued to search the "building" and it quickly became clear it was a mostly-buried spaceship. We found a room with dead computers and a vine-obscured curved window. Aha, it's a ship.

Eventually finding the logo S.S. L.E.O.N.I.D.A.S. confirmed that. We eventually found more Octoshrooms (which Oinker shot, and one got slashed up and killed by Hillbilly left-handed.) We found one of them around a corner, and Short Bus tossed a grenade of Hillbilly's and blew it apart. They were worrisome but didn't do any harm.

We climbed up the elevator shaft in the building - actually just a shaft with rungs to climb . . . for zero G, or some kind of anti-G? Yes. We reached the top and found a bridge, with live computers. And an Octoshroom, which flung goo at Oinker. Oinker claimed he felt like he was telepathic, and could sense the Octoshroom. He thought "peace" at it, and told Hillbilly - who had a bead on it with a pistol - not to shoot. And it flung good into Hillbilly's visor.


Eventually Oinker decided to shoot it, once we groaned that it was clearly not friendly. He shot it a few times and killed it.

We split up, leaving Short Bus with Love Handles to play around with the computers, and the rest of us explored. We some rooms with dirt in them - spillage from damage from the ship crash-landing here like some piece of Stewart Cowley art.

We found aft of the ship a docking bay with an overhead iris - overgrown, based on how we couldn't see it. Under it was a three-seated UFO-looking vehicle sitting on the floor. Aha, a flying car, finally! Loot if we can get it powered up, or even if not. We'll need Softie to blast open the iris - easy with her laser batteries - and then tractor beam it out.

In any case, we found other chests we couldn't open but no more Octoshrooms and no more trouble.

Short Bus got the computers working, and found out L.E.O.N.I.D.A.S. stood for Law Enforcement Operations Neural Induction Dynamic Armor Squadron. Yeah, they strained for that one. We're on a PAG Helipad Compsite Carrier, 62' x 553' x 198', 52 crew, 20 "parasite drop capsules." Three of those left, it seems. The last log entries - system or otherwise - were May 1st 2322. That was Day 1 of the war. The war lasted only three days, so these guys didn't miss much.

We gathered back up and decided to head down as far as we could. That turned out to be a third level. We quickly explored that, and found two staircases down to a 'tween decks area. One was crushed and inaccessible, the other held two Octoshrooms up in corners. Oinker shot one, but it wasn't harmed and dirt flew around. He decided that seemed odd, and re-acquired the other one and shot that. (I think Hillbilly ran up and slashed it, and briefly got goo'ed at this point.) It died . . . and Hillbilly was briefly telepathic. He could sense the group, and that one of them was keeping a secret. (Dun-dun-DUUUUNNNNN!) Hillbilly tried thinking at Barbie but couldn't communicate. Who has a secret? Well, now Hillbilly does too.

We found another shaft down, and took it down all the way. We found a large open hold with broken catwalks. Below was a glowing hemisphere - a forcefield - with four corpses in front. Behind it was a weird electrical generator (maybe.) We left Oinker in overwatch - he likes high places - and climbed down with a mix of climbing gear and catwalks.

At the bottom we found those four corpses were skeletons clad in white plastic-like armor, three identical and one officer-type. The armor was damaged, as if by repeated combat, and inside were skeletons. They had the markings of 20th Homeland and the Purists on them (that one being a DNA helix of barbed wire.) We searched them, and Hillbilly found a hidden side compartment on the left leg of the officer type. He had a gold coin commemorating "Atlanta Triumph 128 N.E.", 13 gold chips, a white ID card with four silver dots on it, and a gravity knife. On the others we found two red ID cards with 3 black dots - all clearly high-ranking cards - and six pens - 2 red, 1 white, 3 purple. For now, Hillbilly took those, along with their chips, carefully separated so we know who was who.

In front of the force field, though, was a stand with a laptop on it. The screen still glowed green-on-black, and showed this:

Great, a puzzle. Short Bus checked under and around the laptop to see if anyone had taped the password under it. Nope. So we puzzled away at it for a good 15 minutes or so. We hit on "Infinite" or "Infinity" and "Universe" but they didn't seem to fit. Then Short Bus said, "I think it's something like Future, but it's too short. Maybe 'Tomorrow.'" As he said that, Hillbilly said, "That's it." Love Handles figured out what numbers that would be on a standard keyboard layout, and tapped that in as we backed off a safe distance.

The shield came down.

Behind the shield were three suits of power armor! Two were clearly out of service, but one was fine, and plugged in.

We also determined the force field generator was portable. Well, movable. Okay, loot. We started to take that apart as Love Handles dealt with the armor. He eventually got off his MOPP gear and helmet and pulled on one of the helmets after figuring out how to get it off. He popped it on and found it had a neural interface, but he couldn't operate it until - according to the unit (labeled a Law Enforcement Operations Neural Induction Dynamic Armor Suit) he needed to be synched up by a medical professional. Hillbilly said, "Me, I can do that." Love Handles clearly didn't believe him, so Hillbilly explained that's he's a medical specialist, knows how to operate cutting-edge medical technological devices, and we live in a subterranean medical facility with androids that Hillbilly learned that skill from. So it's not like we can't do it. We discussed the suits and decided we needed all three - one to use, two for spares - and that Short Bus probably is the one to get it as he's our point man. Probably. If not, Barbie since he doesn't have any NBC gear except a gas mask.

We moved on to the "electrical generator." Long story short, it had a screen and a swipe card, and projected a shimmering field between two poles. So Hillbilly swiped the white-with-silver-dots card. And the "field" showed a ruined train station labeled Bear Lake. A transport portal?

We tossed a glowstick in, and that was fine. So we put a stick on a rope and tossed that in - and pulled it back just fine. So we sent Oinker through with a rope around his waist. He was fine, and we could hear him muffled as if through a wall. So Hillbilly and then Barbie went through.

The place stank of death. Of corpses. We moved ahead and found a bricked-off tunnel, presumably walling off the dead, and light coming from a side area. We headed there, into a waiting area, and climbed up into sunlight.

We found a ruined town, overgrown by forest, with a smashed-up robot covered in vines and ruined buildings. One building had a picture of three men in power armor (not Law Enforcement Operations Neural Induction Dynamic Armor Suits) with one foot each on a fallen bear, with Purist logos. Ahah, Purist town or Purist victory mark. We presumed we'd find a mass grave behind the bricked up tunnel.

We also found three horses - two big, one pony-sized - with eight legs. Oinker went to talk at them, but they didn't talk back. He wanted to take them, but we reasoned with him about how it wasn't possible to get them through the portal and up through the ship.

We used Hoopslayer to get some choice bits from inside the robot, took a snapshot of the wall picture, and opened up the brick wall a bit, expecting to find victims of the Purists. Nope. We found dead Purists, with signs of disease. We bricked them right back up after taking a snapshot or two. Might help us later.

We went back through the portal.

Hillbilly buried the skeletons in the dirt on the bottom floor, with help from some of the guys, although we took their gear and armor. There wasn't much to put down as a marker, so when we come back down Hillbilly will bring something from above to put down in each place so it's clear what's been done.

From there, we hauled up one of the broken suits. Short Bus and Oinker stayed behind the guard, as we'd left five levels unexplored.

Love Handles led, Hillbilly dragged the armor, and Barbie did cleanup. As we came to one area, though, we found a door Hillbilly had kicked down was back. We'd decided the Octoshrooms had illusion powers of some sort, so Hillbilly told Love Handles to shoot into a corner. It did, but nothing happened. So he kicked down the door.

And the door morphed into liquid metal and formed a metallic silly-putty arm and grabbed him around the neck. Mimic! Oh no! (YESSSSS!)

It started to crush him between his trauma plates like PB&J. Hillbilly dropped the armor and drew Hoopslayer. Barbie shot right past Hillbilly's head and into the thing, wounding it. Love Handles tried to escape but couldn't and instead just tried to keep it from crushing him. Hillbilly tried to slash it, but it dodged, pulling Love Handles to the ground. Barbie aimed. Hillbilly jumped onto both of the fallen. Barbie shot the mimic again, and then Hillbilly slashed and stabbed it. It was hard, like metal, but Hoopslayer deals well with metal. A second or so later Hillbilly finishes slashing it up. It died, peeling back with the coloration of Love Handles's armor and NBC suit. It was heavy, and when an angry Love Handles kicked it he hurt his own foot.

We moved on.

We found another room that had just about one or two too many pieces of furniture now. So we backed up and decided to shoot them all. But wait, we couldn't all aim in the room. So Hillbilly tossed in one of the homemade frag grenades. BOOOM! Ping-ping-ping-ping. Something moved. So we threw in another. Again, BOOOM. A mimic came tumbling out. It died moments later. Love Handles shot it with his little silly M16, while Hillbilly cut it with Hoopslayer and Barbie shot it with a man's gun, an M14. It died and turned into a big metal twist. We'll take that, eventually, for analysis.

We ended at this point because there may be more mimics, and we do want to explore the rest no matter what.


We ended early-ish because of possible bad weather rolling in to our GM's home area. Our plan is to finish up the SS L.E.O.N.I.D.A.S. next game session, then get back to DF for a bit. We plan to explore Unknown #1 after that, and then Ottawa after that.

This was a very revealing session - either a massacre or a mass burial of plague victims (and we'll need a full medical scan ASAP, now), a transport portal (!), a suit of power armor (and spare bits), a force field, Purists, a new style of ID card . . . seriously, this has been a treasure trove already. Literally in terms of valuable loot and figuratively in terms of information.

We need to figure out the date in "N.E." We have clues - if we can determine how long ago those guys died.

I'm excited by the gear we found, the cards, the info about the Purists, and also the opportunity to roleplay a bit. We've got a Soldier's Code of Honor and a Vow ("I do solemnly swear . . . "). Hillbilly will cheerfully shoot the living hell out of the Purists, but they're still brothers and you bury your fallen brothers. We'll bury that other guy on the surface - Softie can disintegrate a hole, and we'll cover him with the dirt we dug of the ship, and mark him somehow. Seems fitting.

Roleplaying note - Hillbilly has Bad Temper (15). I've never rolled that. I know when I'm mad. I don't need the dice to tell me to be mad or not to be mad.

MVP is still under discussion, but I voted Short Bus. Oinker and Barbie and Love Handles all did stuff. And my guy Hillbilly was very useful - strong enough to break down doors without a roll, killed a lot of things, carried a lot, had some useful ideas - but that Force Field was a showstopper. Not for Short Bus. And that got us the best armor we've heard of. MVP.

Next session should be fun. This one was.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Gamma World pre-summary

We had a fun session of Gamma World today.

I'll have the summary up tomorrow, but for now:

- we explored some of Unknown #2;

- we found a strange species that may have some telepathic powers;

- we found a nice suit of armor;

- we found out more about the Purists, and some Purists;

- Hillbilly killed things with Hoopslayer;

- we tested out some homemade grenades brewed up by Love Handles and Oinker;

- we solved a puzzle (okay, mostly it was Short Bus);

- and Oinker talked to at animals.

We didn't get to finish Unknown #2, but we'll do that next time. We did very well overall. Details tomorrow.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Preparing for Gamma Terra

Tomorrow is game day, and we're up for Gamma Terra.

After a fair amount of discussion, based on real-world and game-world concerns alike, we settled on exploring "Unknown #2." I can't locate it on our map:

Or on these.

Our reasoning for seeking out "unknown #2" are mixed.

"Uknown #2 is in the UP, and Softie can take you there. Her scans see a structure above ground of decent size, and her GPR (which she will admit is not great, though it was enough to detect your subterranean medical lab) sense something much larger below ground - maybe another buried facility of some kind, purpose unknown. (Her pre-war databases indicate that there was nothing of particular interest in that part of the state...) " - andi jones, our GM

That sounds pretty interesting. Unknown #1 sounds cool, too, but it's outside of Softie's area of operations. So that's probably soon but immediate.

Real-world, some of the areas we have special interest in - not the least of which are The Arsenal, Ottawa, and following up on Barbie's weird visions, somehow.

But two of those - The Arsenal, and Ottawa - will take a significant amount of prep time for the GM. So much so that it possibly would have pushed game back out weeks or months.

And also out of game, exploring subterranean locales full of danger and loot is fun. I really like doing that, with swords and shields or with SCAR-Hs, Will-powered lasers, and Torc Grenades.

In game, it's easy enough to justify Unknown #2.

It's within Softie's range, so we can approach it quite safely. We still can't figure out when Softie can actually engage anything. She's basically been more like stealthy transport than what I visual a warbot being like. But even so, it's useful to leverage her as transport. And it's also really useful for us to hit long-abandoned and unexploited (maybe) locations.

As an overall strategy, my/Hillbilly's goal is to free the rest of the 20th Homeland and get them set up as a civilizing force. We'd be the sharp point of the spear for that force. Also, we'd ideally deal peacefully with anyone we can reasonably deal peacefully with. But also I'd like to vacuum up all of the pre-Shadow Wars tools we can - weapons, medical gear, etc. So small places we can effectively explore and exploit are well worth doing now, before our actions make doing such a little more difficult. You know, like when we get into a big war and that takes dozens of sessions and impinges on our opportunities until it's won.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Lt. Colonel Kilgore, or, I love the smells of minis in the morning

I love this mini and this paint job:

He's done up over on tasmancave.

It's a great sculpt and a great paint job. It just makes me happy. I was going to post something else, but, no, this. Tonight it's this.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

GURPS DF supplement writing update

I'm still working on that GURPS DF supplement I mentioned a while back.

Here is a brief update and some hints:

- You've seen elements of this book in play in DF Felltower. Not a surprise, I'm sure.

- Some bits of the writing involve elements from a previous, non-DF game that inspired my own DF game. And some of the monsters in DFM1. They haven't all been encountered in Felltower, but they are there or are accessible from there.

- I'm a little behind schedule on writing. Not behind SJG's schedule, but behind where I expected to be. Since our next game is GT, not DF Felltower, I should have a little more time to write this week. I intend to use it to catch up to where I think I need to be - another 2000 words ahead (or at least formatted properly) of where I am.

- The real trouble, as always, is ensuring I'm putting my oddly phrased notes and shorthand rules writeups into SJG's format and into readable, useful English. And just like the last sentence, this can involve too much passive voice and near run-ons.

- Once that's all done, poor Sean Punch has to edit it. This will result in a lot of rewrites and corrections, but I think my oddly phrased English is getting more and more odd. I already regret how much time I will make him spend on this.

- There is a definite Felltower theme going on with this book, and I'm enjoying that very much. That game has brought me many hours of fun. I'm hoping this book brings some of that fun to other people's GURPS games.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Tanks & Historical Battles on YouTube

I'm steadily running through some video series on YouTube, mostly brushing up on history or just enjoying myself hearing things I mostly already know.

This blog is mainly about RPGs, but it has a small but important sideline of talking about tanks. If you want a good tour of tanks, weird and famous alike, check out the "tank chats" from The Tank Museum in the UK.

It starts with #1 and the A-13 Cruiser, and they start out very short. As they go on they generally get a bit longer, which I like.

You can skip right to the Tiger I, featuring that Tiger you saw decapitate some poor schmuck in Fury, but then you'd miss total freakshows like the Praying Mantis or a tank with a searchlight for a main "armament." I'd love to see more details on the hows and wherefores, but what they do is quite good.

If historical battles are more your speed, BazBattles has a nice series. I'm a bit unsure of his pronunciation, after seeing his Sengoku Jidai series. "Imagawa" is "Ee-mah-gah-wah" not "Ee-MAH-goo-ah" so I'm not sure the others are any better. But it's helpful to have a visualization of battles even if it's a reasonable guess not a certain depiction.

It's enjoyable stuff. I figured I'd pass it one since it's what's occupying part of my time that I spend not blogging.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Google+ falls - it has no effect! (?)

Or does it?

As far as I can tell, the impending doom of Google+ should not affect this blog.

It may cost me my Followers list, but I don't think that's a Google+ followers list. We'll see.

I don't use G+ for comments. I tried that, very briefly, and hated it. So I should be good there.

We lost the actual value of +1 a while back, once they made that about sharing and not feedback on value.

Honestly, I only used G+ because Google forced me to have a profile and use it. I used it to spread the word about this blog, but I didn't do too much chatting there. After a while, even sharing posts because routine and I stopped adding anything to them, and I finally just left it automated and didn't engage at all.

My only real concerns are hidden integration, and Google deciding that Blogger needs to go.

But if you see something broken on the blog, or the loss of G+ affects something that you use or that I link to, please let me know on this post. This will be my place to check for blog issues resulting from Google jettisoning G+.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Other Ways to Play Fraxinetum

This is a story I didn't know - a small group of Islamic adventurers took over a small fortress in Southern France and set themselves up as a local force.

It's detailed in this post: Fraxinetum.

While Matt does outline some ways of playing it - PCs + Allies / Ally Group, I think it has a lot of possible ways to play it.

Here are two I like:

Troupe Play

Instead of an Ally Group, make each player an Ally Group. Allow each player a main character, a few secondary (lower point) types, and a lot of minor PCs to support them. This is essentially how you'd run a Pirate crew in Yaquinto's excellent Pirates & Plunder RPG, a game that had an enormous influence on me.

I've run a game like this in the past, and it's fine - you rotate through your main characters and backups as necessary, and fill out groups with PC-made extras who fulfill the roles of NPCs without being generic Allies.

Black Company Style

The Black Company books are really books about individuals and small groups, for the most part. The encounters between the main force of the company and obstacles aren't sidelines, exactly, but it's rare you know the exact size and makeup of the group. It's more like a formless mass of approximate size that provides a basis for encounters and a pool of PCs and NPCs.

With this kind of game, you'd essentially put aside mass combat, and emphasize the small group encounters and individual actions of the PCs. You'd have a pool of associated warriors to provide replacements for killed or crippled PCs, for reinforcements, and to explain why the PCs don't have to do boring stuff like garrison or run messages or other annoying logistical bits. Or do the actual logistics.

With either of those or Matt's suggestions, I think this is a good historical example of something that seems pretty gamey - bold warriors seizing borderland, attracting followers after they do so, and then ruling the area until civilization essentially co-opts them or forces them out. It's the classic "end game" of D&D, except it's how it should be - the start, not the finish, of adventure.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Player Tips for Felltower

I keep getting referrals to my blog from a post someone made on the SJG Forums about player/PC tips. I don't read the forums anymore except for tracking in on some GCA posts and the ones that directly affect freelancers. I didn't even really do more than skim the thread a little bit to see why I'm getting hits from it. But that this one keeps bringing hits to my blog makes me think - what advice would I give a new player to Felltower?

Welcome to Felltower

Felltower is my long-running DF / DFRPG game.

Felltower is DF on Hard Mode. I'm unapologetic about it. I try to keep the rules a level playing field, and then enforce them harshly on everyone and everything but give you the power to win anyway if you play well.

But what does "play well" mean?

The Game is Lethal

Death happens to PCs. It's rarely glorious. So:

Care for your paper man, but accept it's just a paper man. Like I said in my post a while back, the fun isn't your paper man. The fun is what you do with your paper man. Try your hardest to keep your character alive, use Wishes and Resurrection to get it back, but even the most powerful PCs in the game sometimes get killed.

Fight hard, but don't agonize over choices. As much as after-action reviews of fights gone well or bad in my game can emphasize single moves, it's rarely one Step, one swing, one Feint, one roll, etc. that either wins or loses a fight. Very rarely. Don't agonize over what to do this one second of a fight. The reward in the play - more on this below - depends on finishing multiple combats and exploring and going into new and interesting places, solving puzzles, and getting out alive. The more time you spend on each second of combat means the less time you spend doing the things combat is meant to facilitate.

So get some set plays, learn how to use a formation, know what your spells and abilities do, and move quickly when your turn comes up. And read this.

The Game Rewards Thought

You can't just run around and hack stuff.

Hints Abound. Not a lot of pure, "this is the answer spelled out" rumors and artifacts (such as books, scrolls) or mouthpiece NPCs exist in the game. But as I noted in this post, it's a cohesive game. There are hints and pieces of information that might seem trivial, but which are telling you things about the overall nature of the megadungeon.

Speaking of thought:

Know the Game. Know the tools in your toolbox. Understand how to exploit your niche (and learn, as soon as possible, how we resolve those niche abilities.) You don't have to know the rules, but if you don't, the GM and the other players need to know them for you. It's a cooperative activity that works better if you learn how it's played. Please do so.

The Game Rewards Action

As implied in the section on lethality, you need to do stuff in this game. You can't progress passively. You can't even really progress by eating the elephant one bite at a time.

Take Risks. By all means, investigate, think, and seek out sages and listen to rumors. But in the end the game is a game of action. You literally cannot - can not - earn loot without risk. Sometimes that risk will be substantial. The game is designed with risk in mind, and if you try to play with maximum caution and turn away from everything dangerous until you're certain of victory you'll spend most of the game in frustration. It's okay to be the type of player who only takes necessary risks, but it's certain failure if you deem all risk unnecessary.

The game, at its heart, rewards tactical risk-avoidance and strategic risk-taking. Boldly explore and grab for the rewards, and fight carefully and intelligently when you do. You're more likely to fail if you boldly fight and grab for fleeting tactical advantage, and explore carefully and "intelligently" avoid taking risks.

Final Thoughts

And just as a wrap-uo, I'd read these two posts and the posts linked within them:

Stuff I I Like: Being a Better Player

My GURPS DF Manifesto

Just remember, this isn't a game for everyone. It's a game for people who want this kind of game. It's a game I run for my friends - and not even all of my gaming friends like this kind of game. But if you're in, I feel the above will help you be more prepared for it.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

How many minis do I have?

Spoiler alert: I don't know.

But this came up the other day. A friend of the family paints models, and we once got to talking about minis and models when he saw my King Tiger.

"How many models does Peter have?" came up in discussion. I wasn't there.

I really have no idea. It's got to be between 500 and 1000 at this point. I can't imagine it's higher; I just haven't bought that many.

I've got about 100 orcs.

I've got at least three times that many human types, maybe more. Maybe more like five times or so?

A few dragons.

A couple dozen demons. A couple dozen dwarves (I even have a dozen of the same dwarf minis, thank to Bob Huss.)

Skeletons? At least 50 assembled, plus sprues to make half again more.

Plus bugs, apes, snakes, barbarians, horsemen, 100 Years War soldiers, gods, demi-gods, halflings, gnomes, a drider or two somewhere, wizards, ninja, samurai . . .

I least I've thinned out the ogres, but I have some 1/72 tanks. And a few boxes of Airfix 1/72 model soldiers that I don't even count.

I could take them all out and count. But that's a big chore just get a number. Although it might help me keep track of what I still have . . . and for you Marie Kondo binge-watchers out there, yes, they all bring me joy, even the cruddy one I painted so badly when I got started again. And I've got room for Bones IV in a month or so.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Pocket Box games Kickstarter from SJG

SJG launched this Kickstarter:

The only game - or supplement - I don't have but want is Necromancer. I'm not sure I want it for $20+shipping. I have the rest of the ones already - Ogre, GEV, even Boat Wars. I don't have Undead but I have the very similar Vampire by TSR.

Still, if you pine for any of those, it looks like it will fund.
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