Sunday, December 8, 2019

As-yet unused races and templates in Felltower

I took a look at this list of races and templates from my DF game. Here are the ones we haven't seen . . . yet.


We have yet to see any of these:

Half Elf
High Elf

Professional Templates

We haven't had any of these, either:

Assassin (DF 12)
Evil Cleric (DF3)
Unholy Warrior (DF3)

We haven't seen every Barbarian and Swashbuckler variant, either - we've had only basic barbarians and savage warriors, and vanilla swashbucklers. I don't want to count every single variation, though - there are lots of them, and it's not such a big deal to me if the swashbucklers we've seen or barbarians we've seen have used all of the templates available.

I think I'll likely see a High Elf or Half Elf before too long, but Half-Orcs have a lot of baggage. All of the three "evil" templates - assassins, evil clerics, and unholy warriors - also have a lot of baggage. Especially evil clerics, who can't be adventuring with the regular ones and who, despite all sorts of hoping to the contrary by my players, aren't just good clerics who get extra evil abilities. You give up a lot when you turn evil. Bards, well, someday someone might run a bard. I like the DFRPG one better but either would be interesting to see.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Dungeon Fantasy Companion speculation

A cover and an announcement for Dungeon Fantasy Companion, by Sean Punch, was put up on Kickstarter.

Here is what I'm speculating will go in it:

- leftover magic items that didn't fit into Magic Items 2 thanks to not making the extra page count.
- new templates for player character professions
- new templates for player character races
- possibly more "power up" style additions to existing templates.

It would be a good place for new rules, but DFRPG isn't rules-heavy. Monsters, too - it could possibly include monsters left out of Monsters 2 (but for various reasons I suspect they'd get saved for Monsters 3.)

That's what I mostly think will be included.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Circular Stonehell

I think this circular map of Stonehell level 1 is neat as can be:

Pretty cool.

What's in the middle? Is it a shaft straight to Hell?

Yes, of course it would be in my game. Why wouldn't it be?

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Limiting Dodges exemption

I am blatantly stealing an idea from Christopher Rice and then slightly modifying it - an exemption from Limiting Dodges.

Limiting Dodges (GURPS Martial Arts, p. 122) recommends exempting fighters with Trained by a Master or Weapon Master from multiple Dodge penalties or restricted Dodge against firearms. Add Enhanced Time Sense to that list. Even in a game where TBAM and WM don't provide this exemption, ETS should.

Great idea, Chris!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Car Wars 6th edition Kickstarter

The Car Wars 6th edition Kickstarter is up:

It's been running for a few days now and it's fully funded.

It's not for me, though. I came into it in the pocket-box and paper counter days. It was a great game. This redo of the game is probably great, too, but I'm just not in the market for another minis-and-board dice-and-tokens game. If you are, and you like Car Wars, take a look.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

More on Laws & Customs of Surrender

Thinking more about laws & customs of surrender.

Life has value

Literal value. You can buy yours (and your stuff) with payment. Many of your foes are actually more valuable to you living than dead. They can provide ransom, be enlisted to service, and may even be socially obligated to provide information willingly (depending on the culture.) Killing them means all you get is their stuff. Sparing them may mean you get more value than their stuff is worth on the market.

"No Quarter" Means Something

If most battles are to defeat, not extermination, then the ones that do mean something. Foes that kill their defeated foes are a little scarier and deserve death in return became a special threat. If every fight is always to the death, then there is nothing special about ruthless foes.

Murder-Hobo Disadvantages Hurt

If you are generally compelled by your disadvantages to kill your foes (Bloodlust, Intolerance), or tend to limit your options in not using excessive violence (Intolerance, Bad Temper, Compulsive Behaviors of the right sorts, etc.), you will suffer an inability to take advantage of such customs.

This makes disadvantages like Bloodlust really more of a disadvantage. Right now, it's generally a quirk-level of effect. It's annoying to players who'd prefer that they question a prisoner without access to supernatural means to question the dead, but otherwise, that's about it.* But if foes reasonably expect battles to not be to the death, and gaining something of value from a defeated but living foe is on tap - even more value than if the foe is slain - then it's well worth -10 points.

Civilized Disadvantages Hurt & Help

Code of Honor, Honesty, and other do-gooder disadvantages are a disadvantage in that they compel you to follow the rules of war and surrender. But equally, they help you when the enemy has them, and will essentially force you to take the more valuable "spare them" option. If life is indeed valuable, in a monetary sense, you're going to come out ahead of the murder-hobo types.

Anything else I missed?

* Well, that and the inevitable attempt to explain that your guy puts in an extra shot to be sure of a downed foe at the end of a fight, not in the middle of battle, so it's not even tactically inconvenient.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Laws & Customs of Surrender

This excellent post over on The Dragon's Flagon prompted this post in turn.


If you read the Tales of Froissart, Medieval history in general, or watch lots of YouTube histories of battles (like this one here), you'll constantly run into the concept of ransom of nobles. Capture an important enemy knight, you sell him back to his family (and treat him well in the meantime.)

I find most gamers come at battle with a 20th/21st century concept of ruthless total war. A defeated enemy is a prisoner. Prisoners are held indefinitely or killed outright. All belongings of the defeated belong to the victor. A prisoner has no value to the victory except for what he or she carries or the information he or she can give about allies or treasure. And that's more easily extracted, in fantasy games at least, after murder using Speak with Dead (D&D) or Summon Spirit (GURPS Magic.) The concept of prisoners for ransom, prisoner exchanges - a perfectly common 20th century phenomenon, and release on exchange (you go home and don't fight until officially exchanged for another prisoner) - they may as well not exist.

With that in mind, would you surrender? At best, you're looted of everything of value and set free, but that's unlikely. You expect to be stripped of gear and either sold into slavery or murdered.

But I think there is a way to do this.

Laws of War

Implement some rules of value.

Make it clear right from the start of the campaign that there are certain concepts of war and battle that are accepted. When a civilized foe is defeated, it's accepted in general that he or she should pay a ransom in return for being spared. You may claim their goods, or a ransom, but not both - and it's generally preferred that you claim a ransom. It's considered bad form to seize goods outright with the acceptance of such by the defeated. Ransom will generally be in cash, but can also be in kind, deeds, or promises (in a game that needs them - I'll respect your borders for a year, we'll conclude a pact, I'll protect your allies in my territory, etc.) If you can't pay in cash, you can hand over your gear.

Service also counts. Using the rates as a hireling (DF15, p. 32) to calculate how long of service works, or you can default to a year's service in lieu of handing over goods of value. This is a great way to get hirelings, by the way - defeat the enemy, recruit them instead of looting them, and you've got hirelings who've agreed to work for you for a year without pay (you would still need to make sure their upkeep is cared for, through loot or pay.)

Another option is to pay a month's upkeep. A Status 0 foe might owe $200, while a high-ranking noble may owe many thousands. They could easily be worth more than their carried goods.

For example, you defeat a foe and he or she surrenders. You can claim his or her gear and let them go, or you can claim a ransom. The ransom should be similar to the sale value of the gear seized - say, 50%. The defeated and the victor can negotiate turning over a particular piece of gear as part of the negotiations. If you defeat an enemy swordsman and he doesn't want to give you his Weapon Bond sword he doesn't have to, but may have to pay quite a lot to keep it (assuming the foe values it correctly.)

Also state outright that NPCs follow these by default. That is, it's likely that foes will follow these rules more than they'll break them. Most enemies will follow these rules; ones with "oath breaker" disadvantages will have appropriate reputations. But otherwise, assume civilization matters and the rules are followed.

The concepts of absolute good and evil work against such social mores, however. Can you free a member of a Chaotic Evil race? Would a Lawful Good character free an evil foe, and vice-versa? Would Lawful Good people really be fighting each other to the death? Those are maybes, but it's another layer of complication and another step in the going-on 50 year arguments about what alignment means. In a game without strict alignment but clear definitions of evil - GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, for example - it's unlikely true evil will just ransom off a Holy Warrior of the Good God or spare some "useless" prisoners. But the more civilized types might - anything that lacks "Truly evil" could follow these norms, rules, and mores. And even then Truly Evil ones may spare those that surrender in an attempt to use Good to defeat Good. And Good can try to use the weaknesses of evil to escape and win the day, as well.

All in all, though, I feel like stating outright that surrender is viable and likely only costs you service or some of your cash can help. Combined with "fleeing always works" and knowing what the foes want can make fights doubly less all-or-nothing decisions. Players fear death of their PCs and often fear loss of their cool stuff more than death. "I may as well be dead if I'm going to lose my magic sword and armor" can end a PC and make for long slog fights where the players desperately try to drag it out while they come up with a miracle to win. But knowing, hey, I surrender and pay some cash and escape - maybe that's the way to go. Maybe next time after the extracted truce ends, you can get some payback. But surrender doesn't equate with death, and it's stated outright.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Snow Saves Slave Lords

Snow and ice wiped out a session against the Slave Lords today, so unfortunately we weren't able to get in any gaming at all today.

I instead did some game prep. Mostly this consisted of cleaning up and organizing my game materials a bit. But I also decided on how I'll proceed for the Slave Lords series going forward.

For the second part of A1, I'll go with "mystic healing powers of the temple" to restore the wounded to full HP. I was going to go with partial - 75% of the lost - but the PCs lack any healing reserves. I feel the appropriate effects of the first session are the cost in spells are reserve items. They've used most of their potions, wasted their Potion of Clairaudience to clairaudit into a Silence, 15' Radius spell, cast a number of spells (especially Phanstern when he was flailing to "not waste" spells as he was mauled in melee), and otherwise expended resources.

Everyone at full HP and the PCs restored - including Phanstern, who'll catch up - and down spells and consumables seems fair.

Thinking about the previous game, it was obvious retroactively how used to "GURPS on hard mode" my players are. They put a troll down and then used two flasks of oil and lit them with a precious charge from a Wand of Fire even though any one of those things would have done the job. But they're used to needing to inflict 120 HP of burning damage-based injury to ensure a dead troll. They'd have used the rest of their flasks if I hadn't stopped them.

They're also a little unfamiliar with their own magic, which cost them. Witness the Sleep spell cast off to the side of combat to avoid putting a PC to sleep - something that simply wouldn't happen based on the level of the PC (and the distribution of sleep effect levels.) This cost them some resources and time that wouldn't have been an issue for a more veteran AD&D group. They'll learn, which will be critical to surviving the later modules and when we go on to the Giants series. You can't usefully run 9th-14th level PCs if you struggle to effectively run 3rd-6th level PCs.

Sadly the ice and snow cost me a day of gaming I won't ever get back. But in a couple weeks we'll have another day, and the Slave Lords will take some hits then. Or the PCs will be exterminated in the attempt. And boy will that throw a wrench into my plans to run the whole series, eh?
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