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 glories. 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.


  1. *Furiously scrambling to decipher a whole bunch of hint posts and engaging other players to do the same...*

    1. Heh. It's the rumors and hints of things in play, not the stuff I sum up, which is generally where the real hints lay.

  2. Still trying to figure out those darn lenses!


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