Saturday, August 31, 2019

Game box, ready for game

Woohoo, gaming tomorrow. The game box is ready.

Not shown, the orc box in case the PCs change plans at the last minute, the minis box, and the Secret Special Figures box.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Random Links for Friday 8/30

Fridays seem to be random stuff I don't want you to miss day. So be it.

Wizard Hats, explained. The AD&D supplement City of Lankhmar had mechanics to make black wizards have this kind of stuff happen to them.

A look at Gaslands and Car Wars 6e. I loved, loved, loved Car Wars back in the day. I still have all of my stuff - sans the original counter mix, which disappeared mysteriously. I replaced that in its entirety, but honestly I haven't played it much since then. Too time consuming.

Sean Punch says the Magic Items 2 Kickstarter starts next week.

Joe the Lawyer is also Joe the Really Powerful Lich Designer.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Frequency of Maneuvers in my GURPS games

I was just thinking today about the frequency of use of maneuvers in my GURPS games. Based on what I've seen, not a hard count, this is the breakdown.

Most frequent use: Attack, Concentrate, Feint, Long Action, Move, Ready, Wait

Frequent use: Aim, All-Out Attack, Change Position, Committed Attack, Do Nothing, Move and Attack

Occasional use: All-Out Defense

Rare used: Defensive Attack

No use: Evaluate

No matter what I've done with Evaluate, no one uses it. Defensive Attack is something I like, but rarely does anyone want the bonus to defenses but still want to attack - All-Out Defense is a more popular choice if defense is important. That one doesn't come up all the time - maybe 1-2 times per combat from, mostly, non-combatant types who are close to being attacked. The offensive-heavy ones come up a lot, and the balanced attack and defense approaches the most.

How about in your games? What sees the most use, less use, and no use?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Gygax & Arneson article

Kotaku put up an article about the history of D&D, and Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax.

It is bound to be a bit contentious . . . it feels like pot-stirring in a way. But if you haven't really delved into the history of the development of D&D, this is a place to get some of that information.

Dungeons & Deceptions: The First D&D Players Push Back On The Legend Of Gary Gygax

TL;DR version? Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson are both responsible for the hobby, and it didn't develop without a lot of rancor and credit-taking.

It's definitely worth reading. I'd also suggest Jon Peterson's Playing at the World, but that's a bit more of an academic look at the subject. I don't meant that as criticism. It's just aiming for telling the whole story in detail, and examining the development of role-playing games overall, not just telling the popular story of Gygax and Arneson and D&D.

And it's worth noting, that if you ever find yourself wondering at the friction, divisiveness, credit-warring, and hate that goes on in gaming and think, "Why can't we all just get along and play games with fireballs and elves?" Well, it was never the case that gaming was free of that. All of that nonsense is embedded in its history like original sin.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Reading from Storage: GURPS Martial Arts Adventures

I've long owned a copy of GURPS Martial Arts Adventures. I mostly got it for the Kung Fu: 2100 scenario, as I once briefly played that mini-game with my cousin but a) didn't get to complete the game and b) never saw it again.

Given a chance this past weekend, I went and pulled this out of my voluminous GURPS book collection to read.

The art really shows its age, and it's weird to go back to reading books with sidebars and not boxes . . . but it might be fun to run "Pawns of the Clonemaster" or "Dark Arena." The first is based on Dennis Sustarre's Kung Fu: 2100, the second is the classic "kidnapped and forced to fight in an underground martial arts tournament-to-the-death." You know, in that weird world where the very best martial artists (including Bolo, of course) die in dingy underground fights before rich patrons.

I'm really happy to get my hands back on my paper copy of this one.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Felltower Forest Gate

Next session of Felltower, the plan is to penetrate the so-called "Forest Gate."

Here are all of the known details on the "Forest Gate."

It was discovered in Session 106, Felltower 78. None of the PCs who discovered it are still alive - most died at the eyes of a beholder in Session 112. So all the PCs have to go on is the written record in the summary, basically, as second-hand hearsay.

More details are listed among the "Known Gates."

And that's about it. It's open, it's got vegepygmy and thorn hound tracks around it, it's difficult to access directly. It has not been scryed. It's not clear where it goes or what's beyond it. But it's the destination for next time.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Felltower: What does Arctic Gear include?

The players in my Felltower game debated either the "Icy Gate" or the "Forest Gate" for next session. Although they ultimately chose the "Forest Gate," the question of arctic gear (DF 16, p. 16) came up.

When meshed with DFRPG armor, it's a really good deal. Better DR for less weight than some non-metal armor. Assuming, that is, that it includes full coverage from head to toe.

Here is what I ruled:

Arctic Gear (DF 16, p. 16) includes coverage for the head (skull, face), torso, arms, legs, and hands. It does not include boots. It covers the face but not the eyes - for that, get snow goggles. Also gives +1 FP for heat when worn in in non-arctic conditions; otherwise as written.

Clothes don't generally include boots, so no boots. Nor do they include goggles, so no to goggles as well. The extra FP cost is to discourage people from using it as a general-purpose armor booster/ersatz lighter non-metallic armor.

It seemed like the most fair way to do it.

They went with the "Forest Gate" after all. So Al at Al's Arctic Adventuring Aemporium isn't terribly happy right now, but he'll be on standby with arctic clothing and snowshoes for next time.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Rick Loomis, RIP

Sadly, the RPG industry lost another early member of the hobby - Rick Loomis, one of the co-founders of Flying Buffalo. I made a lot of use out of Flying Buffalo products later in my gaming - mostly during my 3rd, edition, Revised GURPS days with my first crew and second crew of 3rd edition gamers.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Upcoming Gaming

As always, Friday is a bit of a short post.

We've worked out the upcoming gaming schedule.

Our next game will be over Labor Day weekend, and it will be Felltower.

It seems like it will be a big crew - a good number of our "occasional" players should be able to make it.

My plan is to also settle on which AD&D adventure we'll run next while I have a group at the table. I'm still leaning heavily to A2, but I might get swayed to G1 . . . although I feel like the pregens are a bit overpowered based on my own previous run-through. We'll see! My schedule doesn't quite permit as much gaming as I'd like but we've got some schedule and ready.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Magic Items 2 start date?

A while back SJG announced there would be a Magic Items 2. As someone who wrote Magic Items 1 and Dungeon Fantasy Treasures 3, I've got an interest in seeing this come out as soon as possible.

SJG put up a note about when it will start on Kickstarter buried in a different update.

Basically, a week-long Kickstarter in the beginning of September. So . . . 9/9? That seems like it would fit the bill if 9/2 is out. I'd keep an eye on 9/2 anyway. I have subscribed to updates but for years they haven't actually arrived in my email Inbox like other Kickstarter updates do.

If you see it, feel free to comment on this and let me know. I'll post up as soon as I notice it's up for pledging!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Selling Dragons - did it come up in your game?

One thing from AD&D that we never had happen - not once - was selling a dragon.

We didn't have people fight to subdue, either, which is probably the primary cause of not having dragons to sell.

But overall, it's one of those things I found odd. There isn't much of an economy for monsters. A few - mostly ones that can be trained as mounts - have valuable eggs or young. But you don't have a sale value for orc slaves, owlbears you trapped in a cage, that roper you charmed, etc.

But dragons have a standard market value - and it's not even that terribly high. 1d8 x 100 gp per HP. That huge, ancient red dragon that seems to come up in every campaign somewhere is worth a whopping 88 x 100-800 gp or 8800 gp to 70,400 gp. Not low, really, with an average of 39,600. But how high is that when the average gp value of its monetary hoard is a bit above 80,000?

Potentially it's a way to increase the value by 50%. Or realize profits when you catch the dragon out of its lair and can't find it or get to it.

Yet I've never seen it done. I've read about it in Gary Gygax's columns in Dragon magazine, and in the AD&D books, but never seen it done in play.

Just another element AD&D spent a lot of time on that just didn't impact my gaming.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Game Inspiration: The Fallen Sky Castle

My previous GURPS campaign was set on the Known Worlds of the D&D Expert Set, using much source material from the Gazeteer series plus my own spin.

One of the spins I put was the wreckage of a fallen multi-dimensional sky city in the northern parts of the Principalities of Glantri.

The PCs never visited it, nor did they follow up on it. I'd largely forgotten about it until I started re-reading Michael Moorcock's "The Knight of the Swords."

Here was the weed-grown wreckage of the vast sky city that, during the month-long battle [. . .] had careered from one plane to another, rupturing the fine fabric that divided the different dimensions of the Earth until, crashing at last upon the gathered ranks of the Vadhagh and the Nhadragh, it had destroyed them. Bring of a different plane, the tangled metal and stone of the sky city still retained that peculiar shifting effect. Now it had the appearance of a mirage [. . . ]
- Michael Moorcock, The Knight of the Swords, First Book of Corum

The book states shortly after that the ruins look differently viewed from different dimensions, and they are sprawled out in an area 20 miles in circumference.

That description really grabbed me. It also reminded me then and now of one of the ghostly "wrecks" in Stewart Cowley's Spacewreck. So I had to put it in.

I'm not sure I ever had written notes on what I intended to do with it - I may have had little besides a description. But I sure would have done something with it eventually.

But it started life like a lot of my ideas do - vague sketches based on bits I liked elswhere, as stub-ends for eventual adventuring use.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Playing with Tenkar's Wrath's "treasure"

Erik Tenkar posted a monster with a neat idea in it. Actually, the whole monster is nice:


But what grabbed me was this special power from the valuable gemstones contained in a Wrath:

1 in 6 such gemstones are permanently imbued with stolen life essence. These stones heal the bearer 1 hit point per day on top of other factors, such as rest and magical healing.

Okay, so you kill this life-sucking semi-undead being that wounds people badly enough to force them to recover by rest or just simple piles of healing spells. You take a gemstone out of it which is "permanently imbued with stolen life essence." And this heals you 1 HP per day.

From someone else's life essence.


Does this add up over time, day in, day out, as injuries are healed by it, slowly letting that personality accrete into yours.

Perhaps, in GURPS, this would mean you eventually add on disadvantages from the new personality. Or eventually add Split Personality.
If the stolen spirit is evil, this could be warping. If it was good - say, of a saintly or genuinely good person - it could be reinforcing your positive nature. Maybe these eventually come with positive traits, too, tied to the bad ones. Or at least, traits useful to the bad ones.

Maybe it doesn't come with a downside . . . but you can use that gem to Resurrect the slain victim, or perhaps just to speak with him, her, or it by Summon Spirit. Or perhaps even without. Maybe it's a conduit to the afterlife in both directions - you heal more easily, but your hold on life is just a little more tenuous because you've got a two-way street to the afterlife. A penalty on recovery rolls when Mortally Wounded, perhaps?

Or maybe it's just me? Have I been given too many poison cookies and frogurts with sodium benzoate in them to just take a gem like that as a reward for killing a monsters?

Sunday, August 18, 2019

That's where the ____ lives

One of the things I here while the players are going over the map of Felltower is "that's where the ____ lives" or "That's where the ____ is."

That's not always true, though, and it can mean the players are put off of their plans when they arrive and it or they are not there.

The architecture is really the most fixed element in Felltower. Even that's a bit changeable.

With a megadungeon I feel like you need a good base of consistency, but that consistency can't mean that what's in one room when you arrive the first time will forever and always be in that room. While the orcs may always be in one area, the undead may congregate in another, and that one area always seems to be plagued by rats and slimes . . . that doesn't mean you won't find those things in other places.

And it doesn't account for wandering monsters or reactive monsters.

A good example of that was the werewolves. They were dwelling in one area until the PCs showed up and cut down a lot of them. They went back to finish the job and they were gone. Well, yes. They'd taken some very heavy casualties and moved to a lower-risk area (at least as they perceived it to be.) They didn't move far enough, but it may be that something was keeping them in that area instead of another.

Sometimes you can make the mistake of thinking that where you ran into something was where something lives. That kind of error is why "the Lord of Spite's apartment" actually turned out to be stairs down to a whole level where the Lord of Spite actually seems to "live." Turns out he was out for a stroll, not living behind that one door.

Plus the state of monsters changes. The dragon isn't always sleeping, the orcs are always on alert by the main entrance, and so on.

The terrain is largely consistent, much more so than the monsters, but even so . . . sometimes hallways are blocked. Sometimes they're open. Doors are open or they are closed. Bars get installed. New tunnels get dug, by animal-intelligence monsters and sapient dwellers alike.

You can depend on many things in Felltower, but over time things change. You can't always expect to meet or find the things you met or found where you met or found them. Usually you do, but you can't bet your trip on any one thing being as it was. Or especially on all of the things beings as they were.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

We Are Clones (in Autoduel 1st edition)

"I'm a clone, I know it and I'm fine.
I'm one and more are on the way."
- Alice Cooper, "Clones"

The Car Wars universe dealt with character death by making it curable - sort-of - with money.

I decided to go back and take a look at it. It seems like a textbook case of Extra Life - you purchase a backup "you"for cash.

The details are on the sidebar of Autoduel 1st edition, p. 75, and basically copy Car Wars in costs:

$10K for the initial clone growth
$1k/month to maintain
$2K to reprogram, and it needs to be reprogrammed monthly unless you get a MMSD.
MMSD storage of your memories is $25K but the data never disappears and can be used repeatedly. So much so that you can get a new clone for $5k as long as you've got an MMSD. Cheaper than maintaining a clone, really.
Direct upload from a corpse is $K.

So this adds up very, very quickly even given the high-value cash of Car Wars. It costs 1-2 Div 25 cars per year to maintain.

And you lose any XP gained between the time when you last updated your clone (or MMSD) and when you die . . . so you really don't want to die without leaving an intact corpse to upload into your close or you lose XP.

This costs no points, however. It's purely a monetary transaction, just like a Resurrection spell but one that will work even if you're utterly annihilated . . . assuming you maintained your backup.

I have to pull my copy of Autoduel 2nd edition out of storage and see what they did there. I was right near when it's boxed up today but didn't think of this clone issue until I was listening to the song quoted above on the ride home. Oh well. I'd listened to it many times prior and didn't think, "Hey, what about Gold Cross?" until today's stray thought. I'll take a look when I get a chance - or if you've got it, say what it has in the comments. Is Gold Cross an advantage or, essentially, equipment like in 1st edition?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Random Links for 8/16

Here are some things that caught my eye this past week:

Doug has a nice rack!

Gonzo History: Gaming Edition has Sharpie-"painted" Daleks.

All Bones About It reports that the next Bones Kickstarter is delayed.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

DFT3 Artifacts of Felltower sales update

About a month ago I posted the sales numbers for DFT3.

My most recent royalty statement indicates another 49 copies sold. So that's 143 copies so far. Thanks to everyone who has purchased. It's a small amount but your sales mean a lot to me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Earthscrapers and Scryscrapers

During our last session, we found about two other megastructures in the area.

The first is an earthscraper - essentially, an inverted pyramid into the ground with dwellings along the sides. Unfortunately, it's right within the outer fringes of what we consider Purist territory. What we found out about it is that it was supposed to house - and may have in fact housed - 2.8 million people at the time of the war.

It's also burning - Softie's sensors spotted fires there. Is it on fire? Is there a battle going on? Is there some kind of permanent flame licking up from the depths of the scraper from some disastrous effect of the war?

The second is a skyscraper - a massive pair of multiply linked towers. We have no detail on these at all, really, except they are massively tall (I'm assuming an arcology) and outside of Softie's flight zone. Far enough outside that we'd be hard pressed to visit it without other transport.

I'm not sure what we'll do with this information, but the explorable areas of Midden (Michigan) kept getting more interesting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Pictures from Gamma Terra

Here are some visuals our GM created for our Gamma Terra game:

The logo on the seed crates:

The local adventuring area:

The campaign area, updated. I'll post about some of the new features - the Earthscraper and that giant scryscraper in Sault Ste Marie - tomorrow. I wonder if the Greyhounds still play there, just in the Quebec Mutant Junior Hockey League?

My theory, which all the evidence supports, is that some of those craters that don't have any radiation, glass slicks, etc. were trek bombs that just disintegrated spheres upon detonation. You'd want a ground impact rather than an airburst for maximum damage with those, I suspect, but either way, that's my theory.

Monday, August 12, 2019

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 20 - the Morrow Project?

"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

We started off at our base, assembling a team for a trip to a construction project on Grand Island that we'd found reference to in an Autonomist's "time capsule" in Muskegeon.

We spent only a brief time at the base - enough to rest, eat, and reload - and try out the new power armor - but not to make any new grenades, do any research, etc. We did swing by 12.7 Mike Mike to pick up Love Handles's M14, which he'd repaired with a rebored barrel (at an Malf of -1).

We traveled via Softy aka Warbox aka Adjunct Captain Hopper to Grand Island, Michigan. What we found was the island itself had some moss-covered areas covering man-made structures, and a small town on the mainland with some energy sources and a radiation source. Naturally we decided to hit the town first, on the grounds that it was likely a bit less involved and interesting than the main construction project area, so we should sweep that up while we had the time and interest instead of leaving it for never (pronounced "later.")

Annoyingly as always, Warbot isn't willing to expose herself to "enemy detection" so we could only use her for insertion and extraction. (This is why you don't see me put "get ammo for warbot" high on the list of things to do - ammo to do what with?) In short order, we visited four locations, three of which had power sources detected in them and one of which had radiation detected.

- a 12 meter tall broadcast power tower. It was opened with a coded door panel - Love Handles tried 1-2-3-4-5 and it worked. Short Bus had suggested we find the building number if that didn't work. Inside we found three 75-pound portable batteries. We took them immediately. Oinker climbed up for better view with his eyes and the "Bunny Scope" - which he'd borrowed from Princess for the duration.

- the next building was a two-story squat structure with a shed and clear yard. The yard was maintained by three Mark V androids. We told them we were evacuating them and to get into warbot with their stuff. They did. The door was resilient so Hillbilly loaned Hoopslayer to Short Bus, who's power armor enhanced ST 24 (plus some additional Lifting ST) made for a better chance to force the door. He sliced up the door "latch" and in we went. This was a local sector orbital observation point. The first floor was deserted but the second floor had deliberately obscure symbols depicting satellites in orbit. Love Handles got some pictures and we counted up the objects in space - two large, several medium and upwards of a thousand small ones - all active. Some of the small ones orbited the medium and large ones. We couldn't control anything or communicate, or glean useful data from the systems, although Short Bus tried.

- the third was a pet shop. It was open to the elements and largely destroyed, but behind a closed "Staff Only" door we found a lab still functioning. The centerpiece were two "dogs" - but with strangely enlarged heads and somewhat hand-like feet (more like a possum or raccoon than a dog.) They were is suspended animation. We elected not to revive them. We also found frozen/suspended animation tissue samples of hundreds of dog breeds.

We left this all as it was and moved on.

- the radiation zone was actually around a geodesic dome, in a "trailer park" of domes (some on stilts, many on the ground, all clearly movable units.) Radiation came from one. We headed to that one, because Barbie insisted this area was "on the way" (it's the opposite direction) and "there is treasure there." He wasn't wrong.

We scanned the dome where the radiation was coming from - detected initially by Warbot and closer up by our Geiger counter watches and Short Bus's spiffy new power armor. The Bunny Scope peered through most of the walls and saw meter-long ants and a dead guy on a bed holding a basketball-sized object that was the source of the radiation.

So in we went, having no good way to lure the ants out. We fanned out across the living area, as some ants approached. They were brushed metal in color, and metal in armor, too. Hillbilly shot at one off-handed with his 9mm, holding Hoopslayer in his hand, as Short Bus moved to melee with his shield and the sword he got from 12.7 Mike Mike. Barbie came in third followed by Oinker and then Love Handles.

Barbie shot one a few times and scored the metal of its body, as did Oinker. That one rushed Short Bus but got shot in the eye by Oinker, klling it. The next used metal fangs to bite Short Bus but did no damage.
Hillbilly put away his useless pistol and drew his SCAR-H and fixed Hoopslayer as a bayonet while this was going on. Oinker aimed at the next one, Short Bus cut at it with his sword (and rolled terrible damage), Barbie shot at it. In moments it was dead.

We moved up to engage the others in the hallway. Short Bus moved forward and Hillbilly backed him up, as the others fanned out to other areas. One rushed out and Hillbilly, who was Waiting, shot at it and missed, taking an All-Out-Attack (Determined) for a +1 since Short Bus was basically blocking the hallway. This proved to be a mistake on Hillbilly's part.

The ant rushed right past Short Bus and bit Hillbilly for maximum damage, injecting radioactive venom into his leg. Short Bus turned and cracked it with his sword, and rolled very poor damage and didn't even scratch it. Hillbilly desperately stabbed at it and missed, twice, and it bit twice more. Hillbilly collapsed, rubber-legged and barely holding on to consciousness (due to massive damage - more than 12 basic damage per hit - and FP loss, and despite HT 14 and Very Fit, to give you idea of what we were up against.) Short Bus managed to kill it a moment later. Meanwhile Love Handles had to kill one in the kitchen.

After that, the ants scattered into holes and we didn't see them again. Hillbilly asked for someone to hit him with "Grey, blue, and red please." Oinker hit him with a red pen, then found Hillbilly's grey and blue and hit him with both. That helped - the grey is rad-chelating, the red heals injuries, and the blue boosts FP. Hillbilly was still a mess, and groaning about mutation risks.

While that was going on, Love Handles found a bunch of home-made pickles. Short Bus scanned them and found most of them radiation-free but a few containers had picked up some radiation (probably from the ants, given the uneven distribution by area.)

Love Handles went off to inspect the basketball. As suspected, it was a bomb. The dead man wore broken early-issue Purist armor and symbols (and had a chip, which Oinker extracted for our collection). Love Handles got right to disarming the bomb, without waiting for things like "people to get clear." He immediately rolled an 18. Lucky for us, it wasn't armed yet, just in-process, so instead of sealing it off and ending the radiation leak from it he amplified it. We all took some rads and some damage - even through our personal rad-resistance (call it +3) and suits (call them +2 or more, the better ones much more.)


But it could have been worse. Make-up-new-guys worse. Luckily many bombs have more failsafes than triggers, if you do them right.

In the end he got it sealed off. We gave him a purple pen to ward off the extreme FP loss he'd suffered. Love Handles through this was a great idea, even after last time. Spiked up on the purple, he ate all of the non-radiated pickles (and didn't share) along with much of Oinker's rations.

We left the bomb for now. We'd eventually come back, hook it to the outside of warbot, and bring it near (but not to) our base.

We forgot to bury that 20th Homeland/Purist guy, actually. Damn, we had a good track record of honoring the dead of 20th Homeland. If/when we go back we'll swing by and do that.

All of that done, we headed to the island. Off of the island was a manmade sunken concentric circle of concrete. We checked that out and found it was a geothermal power source. Aha.

Then, we debated where to start - the tower (on one end of the island) or a "strange object" near another buried object (on the other end.) We voted and the "strange object" won 3-2. We headed there.

We headed up to the "strange object" and warbot put us ashore nearby and we bushwacked the rest of the way. Love Handles forged ahead, hopped up on his purple pen. He soon found a crashed "space shuttle" with some boulders nearby. He got a vision of three of the "boulders" hovering up, unfurling tentacles, and attacking him. So he said that over the comms and ran forward to make sure that happened!

We all moved to keep up, Short Bus in the lead as he's got enhanced ground movement (he's like Hillbilly Mk. II.) He strove to come up with Love Handles and protect him. Oinker climbed a tree, and Barbie and Hillbilly jogged up to meet them.

As envisioned, the boulders did rise and turn into hover-squid (also dubbed cyber-squid, boulder mimics, and more) and attack. Love Handles shot away at the with his M14. They had a hard metal outer shell and a soft underbelly, which Love Handles shot for. He managed to take one out, Oinker shot one down from a tree, and the next one got shot apart as it melee'd Love Handles after he charged around the back of the ship. Hillbilly shot it twice, Oinker once, and Barbie twice, with the result that Hillbilly killed it. The others disagree, incorrectly. Be before it died it picked up Love Handles and threw him somersaulting into a tree, wounding his arm badly (5-6 hits of damage.)

We finished off the blog-squids (their proper names) and explored the ship. It turned out to be a search-and-rescue spaceplace than slammed into the ground - so the big buried object nearby was likely a landing strip (it turned out to be one.) They had been burned alive thanks to keeping their helmets off and gloves off of their suits - which were otherwise unscathed. We took their fireproof suits and again, forgot to bury the poor guys. Oh well. We might be able to use - or sell - those suits. The ship was otherwise useless.

The nearby large object was, in fact, a buried landing strip - and the roads up to it a form of clear diamond-based crystal. Damn. They were easy to clear because nothing could gain purchase. Oinker wanted to try cutting it with Hoopslayer but Hillbilly couldn't see the point of vandalizing it.

We cleared some of the landing strip and found running lights and markings.

So we left the rest and headed to the monorail station just south of it, and climbed up to the track. We walked on the track to the next stop - a trefoil-shape of three buildings. They turned out to be hydroponic farms and regular indoor farms, complete with dirt and climate control (but no lights at the moment.) We found boxes of seeds and seedlings ready to go . . . big 10 x 10 x 10 boxes of them. We checked all three and that's all we found, so we bunked down for the night. Except for Love Handles, who couldn't sleep.

The next morning we walked on the next monorail, past a second support pillar (the only one we'd found - the rest of the track is just suspended in the air) and through the actual monorail car, which was derelict up on the tracks. We made to the terminal and down - into the base of a partially built tower.

Outside the tower were seven graves - marked with office chair backs and marked in Sharpie. The only names we could still read were Angela Cho and Patrick Shay. The others had faded too much. We got inside the tower (I can't remember how) and into the first floor. We found an old Heavy Lifter Mark V with one arm and worn-out legs sitting on the floor running at minimal power. When we approach, it spoke.

It said its name was Calindra. She was one of the seven workers on site when the war happened. They lost power and basically starved to death/dehydrated to death over a few days of no water, no food, and no help. All of the workers grabbed a Mark V and talked to it as much as they could to "download" their personality into it. Calindra died somewhere in the middle, with the two we saw dying last. But the other Mark Vs just wandered off or wore out, leaving only this one "survivor." Hillbilly told her to talk away, we had plenty of cradles for androids and we'd recharge her. She told us the site was being built on behalf of the United Earth Government supporters, the Free Men League (or whatever, it's like that.) The designer? Morrow. John Brady Morrow.

Who was that? The brains behind the project to stick soldiers into the ground that led to the 20th Homeland being put into suspended animation. (I suppose you could call it the Morrow Project? Activated during the Aftermath? Which happened in Gamma World? We have the Quentin Tarantino of post-apocalyptic GMs.)

Who also was that? The guy with the bandages who Hillbilly shot up back in Session 2.

Who also was that, part two? The guy whose picture we saw shot out in the Autonomist time capsule . . . and who Barbie sees in his "dreams."

Oh, that guy.

Maybe Hillbilly was a little quick on the trigger.

In any event, we also found out a big VIP was here the morning the war started and never left. And that above us were going to be apartments for rich folks who supported the League. But below? Accessible mostly by the landing pad and through the farms - which had underground levels? Space for 5,000 more people to live. Oh, hello. Guess who has roughly 4000 people to house and feed when we bust open Van Buren bunker? We do.

So we decided to search up and then down. Up, we found a number of really swanky model apartments. No loot, but very nice places. Hillbilly kept calling places to live as we found bigger (and smaller) apartments.

In one room, though, we found a women with a severe but attractive haircut, sitting at a table. Love Handles and Hillbilly walked around her. She was totally motionless. We came around and saw she was about 6'4", wearing a sports bra and cargo pants. On the table in front of here was a longish ninja-to, a stack of six special-looking tri-point shuriken, and a pistol. Next to her was a garment bag. As we came class to the android, her eyes flickered and we heard "reboot commencing." Not wanted to deal with the downsides of a Mark VIII ninja, Hillbilly said, "Barbie, now" and nodded to her. Barbie shot her in the back of the head even as Love Handles started to say, "Wait, what if . . ."

The android's head rocked from the shot, and Barbie put three more rounds into her and Love Handles joined in. That basically took her head apart.

Hillbilly realized a moment later that maybe they could have cleared her weapons but it wasn't clear if that would have helped. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

We netted a really nice ninja-to (given to Short Bus, as it should divide armor), shock shuriken (I can't recall who took them), and a longer-barreled needler pistol like the one we'd found a little while back. One magazine of plain ammo, and one unmarked ("curare-tipped explosive" opined Hillbilly.) And a ballistic fiber dress suit.

Short Bus went to work on the android, and Oinker scope'd her to see if she had a backup "brain" or storage. She did. Good. We can interrogate her later, when she's a headless ninja.

We found her boss - a black man in his 60s (to appearance only) in a nice suit, lying dead on the bed, clearly from radiation effects. We carefully stripped him and took photos of his face and hands. He had a black ID card (nothing on it at all), a really nice Nadal-level watch, and a nice ring. We took it all.

We also found a nice pistol in the piano bench of one of the grand suits.

In the end we made our way back to warbot with our loot by way of the underground passages. The place was already ready for dwelling . . . the farms just aren't ready. We'd need to figure out how to reactivate them.

So we took Softy back to town to pick up the bomb in a sling, and headed back home.


Hillbilly did go with IQ 13. I get to roll next time on the level up chart.

The black snows are coming, so we'll need to plan downtime soon. I'm not sure if it's between next session and the one after, or before the next session.

What is that needler ammo? Heck, maybe it's Spasm, from the Matador series by Steven Perry.

We really need to find that corpse of poor old Morrow. Another one - like the ninja - that Hillbilly shot (or had shot) out of fear/caution. She probably wasn't a threat, and would have been a great source of information and possibly a helpful ally. Or not. Maybe she would have taken out heads and stacked them in the hallway for the next group to find. Guess what shooting her in the back of the head does? It makes that not happen.

Fun game. We need to discuss MVP, not that we give out points for it that I recall. I'd say Oinker and Short Bus were very useful for their gear, Barbie for his ruthless shooting and insistence on looking into the radiation source, Love Handles for not rolling that second 18, and Hillbilly because I'll think of something.

Between sessions we need to do full medical scans on everyone, again, and give everyone chelating agents, again.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Gamma World pre-summary

We played GURPS Gamma Terra today.


- went up to the Free Men construction project (I'd thought it was the Autonomists, clearly not).

- we found some more big batteries and some more androids.

- we got to see what's in orbit.

- we fought metal-armored ants and Hillbilly got really messed up.

- we found a bomb. Love Handles proved fairly inept at putting it on safe mode, but we survived.

- we fought flying squid-monsters and explored a "space shuttle."

- we found the setup for an indoor farm.

- we explored a partially built tower.

- we talked to a downloaded personality in a Mark V android, killed an android ninja, and gained some nice loot.

- we figured out who the mysterious bandage dude was. The one Hillbilly shot way back when.

- we found a potential base for the future.

All in all, a very good session. Details tomorrow.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Initiative in T2K over at The Ranting Savant

Thanks to Kalizweb I've been reading The Savant's Rantings, a blog with a lot of posts on Twilight: 2000. It's usually v2.2, which I own but I'm less familiar with than with v1.0, the T2K I played originally.

One of the posts I really liked was this one about initiative:

Take the Initiative - Twilight: 2000 Initiative Mechanics and Options

What's interesting about T2K, in its original and later incarnations, is that physical agility and movement speed aren't relevant in initiative. What is, is a mental readiness to act based on several in-game factors. In the original game, which forced you to skip turns based on your "Coolness Under Fire," you could act quickly but not often if you weren't elite or a veteran. In the later game, it's not exactly like that but your experience matters a lot.

It's an interesting concept to think of for a game - basing when you act on your experience and not your dexterity. The analysis in the blog post is worth the time to read if you are mucking about with initiative house rules in your own games.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Things to do for Gamma Terra on Sunday

This coming Sunday we'll play GURPS Gamma Terra again. We cleaned out the LEONIDAS last time, and our next stop is a small island where the Autonomists set up some kind of construction project.

Since we'll have time to stop home to our secret underground lair, we may have time to get some stuff done. Here is what I have on my list:

- make more DIY grenades. The ones we had were tactically useful even if they weren't especially lethal to the enemy we faced.

- figure out the power armor, if possible. It would be useful to get someone in it - the plan right now is Short Bus since he's our point man.

- repair our NBC suits and armor!

- see if we can get any more information on Barbie's dreams. Or on the man in Barbie's dreams. I am pondering how we can get Barbie to dream and get something from it. I wonder if we can do some MRI-style scan on him while he's sleeping and see if it's memories, he's actually awake and not dreaming, something.

- Marie Kondo some of our gear. Or at least Hillbilly will do that with his gear.

Hopefully this list will jar some memories for my fellow post-apocalyptic survivors of things they need to do.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Why I put in limits on item purchases in DF/DFRPG

I put in a fair amount of shopping restrictions in my game.


Most of the time that I put in shopping restrictions - potion limits, rolls to find items, limitations on what spells can go on scrolls (or limitations like "no one sells Universal scrolls"), etc. it's not intended as a punishment to players or to nerf the rules.

Mostly, I put in those limits to speed up gameplay by reducing two things:

- shopping time

- if X then Y planning.

By shopping time, I mean time the players spend looking for items to eke out just a bit more power for their guys. It's a sensible action to take, in a meta-game sense. Spend that money to be a better delver. It's a little less so in-game, since what's the point of delving for money if you spend close to 100% of it getting better at delving? It's a casino where you can't cash out your chips so you may as well keep betting them. But in any case . . . it takes time. Flipping through books. Asking the GM. Rolling for stuff. Asking other players if this purchase is a good idea. Hitting the books again. Flipping through every single spell you can look at to see if might be useful. This inevitably takes time. I'd like to spend this time gaming, not prepping for a delve. It's not possible for the players to do this all ahead of time.

By If X then Y Planning, I mean "If you can get a scroll of X, we can try Y." "If we can afford X, we can use it to do Y." Then we cut to more of the same as above - pricing things out, more discussion, more pricing, more discussion, sometimes more rolling, etc.

It's fair to say that my own rolling restrictions - not all items are available - feeds into the uncertainty here. Irony, I know, since it's intended to cut this down a bit. It does cut down on the first (roll, it's not there, move on) but not the second (think, plan, roll, then decide.)

But in general my approach is to attempt to get more actual play in, at the cost of shopping and prep. Adding restrictions has aided this but not eliminated it. Leaving them off, originally, made for a lot of shopping and prep time. It's a question, to me, of the right amount of restriction to keep in some utility for money without making rewards from last session eat into the time of this session.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Shapeshifting Flying Pigs II: The Elric! RPG

It occurred to me today that the Oonai, that'd I'd mentioned yesterday, probably had stats in Elric! Dark Fantasy Roleplaying.* And that in fact, I did own a copy of that game.

Given that I have a Chaosium-to-GURPS 3e conversion chart (from GURPS Cthulhupunk) and a GURPS 3e-to-4e conversion chart (from SJG and my own experience), statting up any of the Elric! creatures is easy enough.

Unfortunately, their stats are pretty mundane - they're kinda big, kinda strong, not too bright but not too dumb. Their real power is shapeshifting - they gain the attacks and defenses of whatever they mimic. So much so that it's easier to just whip up a set of stats for something like this and then set it loose than to "loyally" follow the stats in Elric!

On the bright side, though, I do have some easy stats to convert over for DF, such as, oh, Quaolnargn, the Mist Giant, the Grahluk and Elenoin, Prince Yrkoon . . .

*Yes, the game's title has an exclamation point.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Flying Shapeshifting Pigs

Here is a monster I'd forgotten about until I grabbed "The Vanishing Tower" by Michael Moorcock as a quick in-between-non-fiction book read - the Oonai.

"Creatures of Chaos. In Melnibone they are called the Oonai. They can change shape at will. A sorcerer of great mental discipline, of superlative powers, who knows the apposite spells can master them and determine their appearance."


These creatures shapeshift into the form of - and gain the powers of - things up to and including Melnibonean dragons with their napalm-like venom. They attack individually even though they appear in groups, and can only be banished by a Lord of Chaos.

But, when slain - which they can be with normal swords - they turn back into "heavy, black, pig-like creature[s]" with ugly, lumpen bodies.

I'm a big fan of shapeshifters, but it's amusing they're just ugly lumpy black pigs when they're not anything else. It beats the usual "formless mass" that I've seen before (and used myself.)

Now just to stat them up secretly and use them in DF . . .

Monday, August 5, 2019

2019 AD&D schedule?

For the past couple of years, we're thrown in some 1st edition AD&D here and there. We played two adventures so far:

S2 White Plume Mountain


C2 Ghost Tower of Inverness

A year back, after C2, I mentioned that the A-series was in the lead.

I think it still is in the lead. G1-3 (in this case, just G1 this year) would be fun but the pre-gens are a bit overpowered for G1 in my experience. So I'd either need to accept that, or allow the players to roll up their own higher-level guys.

G1 also has the issue of being extremely high-combat. This is a disadvantage for my GURPS players because it's hard to adjust to AD&D with combat - in GURPS, a well-executed combat can have no consequences for you besides some consumables expenditure and fatigue. That's almost never the case in AD&D, where every fight wears you down and a bad one can end your ability to progress in an adventure. So I'm not sure that's as fun as it could be, not just yet anyway.

The A-series is a bit of a mix of combat, puzzle-solving, and careful play. I think that's a good match for my players.

I'm not sure if this will happen soon, although I could literally pull A2 off the wall right now and run it tonight if I had to. But I'd like to get the ball rolling so we don't miss out on 2019's AD&D!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Felltower Update for 8/4

It's been a sparse few weeks in terms of work on Felltower, but it hasn't lain completely quiet in that time.

We're going to pick back up gaming in the next weeks, possibly with Felltower.

Since time passes one-for-one in the game world with the real world, weeks have passed since the last delve of the PCs into Felltower. I've had to go through and make sure the dungeon reflects those weeks.

One area I'm thinking of working on again are the rumors. Since relatively little exploration has been happening, and relatively few new areas have been uncovered, there isn't really very much to plausibly say about the megadungeon. Because of that I'm concerned that rumors - always subject to some variation in value - are becoming too thin in terms of value. I have to make up 8-10 of them per session, pretty routinely, and since new areas aren't found they're often re-hashing information the PCs have heard before. That gives them the weight of truth, even though they're not any more or less true than things mentioned only once in the rumors.

Plus, they do take time to write - and I often spend my last minutes of game prep on the rumors even when other stuff needs tending to, simply because they're expected and I can't have too few.

I'm not sure - perhaps I'll give fewer rumors (one automatic and one for a success on Carousing, an additional one with a critical) so I'm not always racing to get more generated.

We'll see. That's what I'm thinking of at the moment. Hopefully with the orc menace rolled back a bit, the PCs will delve a bit deeper? The terror of the beholder is holding them back a bit, though, which is fair . . . but they'll eventually need to go down to where there are dragons and beholders again.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

DFRPG Magic Items 2 in September

It was announced a few days back, but in case you missed it (like I did):

Dungeon Fantasy Magic Items 2 Coming To Kickstarter In September!

It'll be a one-week Kickstarter so the books can be released in December. I'll keep everyone posted - and hopefully I don't miss it, either.

Friday, August 2, 2019

War in the East Supply notes

So I did take advantage of my break to really put some time into learning Gary Grigsby's War in the East.

What really killed me was supply - I'd regularly outrun supply, especially with my panzer and motorized divisions - and have my offensive grind to a halt while I found ways to force fuel back up to the front.

Looking at some AARs helped, but so often they were in Beginner mode and I started in Intermediate, so they'd manage to break through the Soviets much more easily and supply much more effectively.

But I did find a simple but useful guide to supply here:

War in the East Supply Basics

It's very basic, but that's what I needed - something that just told me what to do and where to look.

Armed with that, I fired up a scenario I'd been playing - Road to Leningrad - and tried what I knew. I started with my panzers already out of fuel, and did what I could to rescue the situation. I managed, but the loss of momentum (and some other mistakes later on with support and unit distribution) kept me from taking more than half of Leningrad itself and left with an Axis Minor Victory instead of the Major Victory I'd hoped for. Well, that and not being able to cut off supply to the Soviets in the city, which I'd thought I'd done enough to effect but apparently had not.

The next time I played a bit, I was able to keep my fuel-sucking panzers in fuel the entire time. What a difference that made - I haven't finished that playthrough, but I'm much more solid.

Now to learn administrative tasks, like creating units (support and otherwise), replacing officers, creating new formations, and reassigning units to new HQs. Some of that I've done in play, but mostly ad hoc.

Fun game. Hard, but fun.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

GURPS I Did Wrong: Man-to-Man Edition

Just as a fun followup to yesterday's post, what did I do wrong in Man-to-Man, the original combat system-only release of GURPS?

Heh. I didn't do this wrong long. But I remember it distinctly.

Shock Penalties Are Forever - back before 4th edition GURPS, stretching back to Man-to-Man, shock was unlimited. You could suffer any amount of it, not just the -4 cap you can suffer now.

And in my first Man-to-Man game, I didn't think it wore off in 1 second. Oh no. You just kept it.

In very short order, Rogan the Reaver and Fiendish Frederick were limping around at 3-4 HP but with -8+ on all of their attacks. They couldn't hit each other until one or the other of us eventually got a good shot in and finished the job.

But woo, that was tough. Injuries were debilitating, and ever since the "Death Spiral" of GURPS hasn't seemed that bad. I had made it much, much worse. Getting hit wasn't just a sign you were losing, it was pretty certain you weren't an effective combatant anymore, either.

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