Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Revised Disadvantages for GURPS DF Felltower

In light of my recent post about disadvantages, here are some revisions.

Bad Temper

As written, plus you must make a self-control roll not to lash out verbally or physically at any foe that insults you, or attacks you, even if you've got better (or other) targets. If you also have Bloodlust, you will not be distracted from finishing a foe before moving on to the one angering you . . . and any that anger you must force a check at the lower of your Bad Temper or Bloodlust self-control roll to stop hitting the foe after its down, even when it's obviously dead.

Code of Honor (Chivalry)

Per Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game Adventurers, p. 58, not per Basic Set, with the following clarifications:

- "civilized folk" includes things that appear to be civilized folks (if it looks like a dwarf, treat it as one) and things that clearly aren't "folks" but are clearly civilized. People/things with Social Stigma (Outsider), (Savage), (Criminal), or (Monster) can be dealt with as lessers; for everyone else fights must not take unfair advantage. No flanks, no fighting the unarmed while armed, etc.

"Must protect" doesn't necessarily mean you need to interpose yourself between the squishy types and the enemy at all times, but it's a good move and it should be your go-to. You'll take extra risks above and beyond those necessary if that's what it takes. Sacrificial defense perks are helpful for this but not required.

"Never refuse to defend civilization against Evil." Using negotiation to defuse a threat is fine; not seeking out a fight you can't win is fine. Deciding a fight against Evil is unwinnable shouldn't actually cause you not to fight.


Contrary to popular belief, this doesn't require a check before going on a delve.


Includes Truthfulness to an extent - you must make a self-control roll to lie even when it's not illegal to do so. Your ability to do so is not impaired.

Vow (Never refuse a challenge to combat)

Clarification: this is any goad to fighting, not just a formal challenge. Answering an informal challenge with a formal one of your own is fine, but you will fight regardless of your opponent's willingness to accept a formal duel. Nothing in this Vow insists the fight be fair on either side - if you insist on making it so, take an appropriate Code of Honor; your opponent is not bound by any disadvantages except their own.

If you have a Code of Honor which already requires you to accept formal challenges (Chivalry, Bushido, Gentleman's), the vow is only worth -5 points as it only expands the challenges you'll accept from "honorable foe" to "anyone."

Sense of Duty

Note that Sense of Duty automatically overcomes other disadvantages that interfere with it. These include Cowardice, Bloodlust, etc. You still must attempt to follow Codes, Vows, etc. - you'll just do so in a way that helps those you have a SoD toward.

(Good Entities) isn't really relevant in Felltower. (Coreligionists) covers the same ground for all purposes since there is only one major religion in the area.


As Adventurers, pp. 66, plus a self-control roll is appropriate when someone else proposes a plan that's different from yours.


I'm looking to provide clear, preferably mechanical, guidelines for when and how disadvantages affect your character. This way they're easier to adjudicate and everyone goes into each character's creation and play with an idea of what their disadvantages will really do. Some disadvantages a just a bit harsh, too, and I prefer to make some of them less so in order to make the game play more smoothly.

The "Never refuse a challenge" vow is one we've had issues with. It's generally been held to mean, and played as if, it only applies to formal, fair duels. "Fair" as defined as one-on-one, with the enemy refraining from any and all support of the duelist. In other words, it was played as if the disadvantage applied to the enemy. If someone banged a shield or issued a clear call to fight, the PC would generally throw back a "come fight me man to man or you're a coward!" response, and then only grudgingly fight if that was the case. I want to make it clear that you're the one with the issue, and you'll step out there even when it's a terrible idea and the fight isn't fair, because you vowed you would. People who want to live a long time don't make this Vow and keep it that long. Remember that even Musashi retired.

I'll add to this post as I notice more disadvantages that need special additions or subtractions.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. Charles Saeger wrote the best stuff on this kind of approach you can find on the internet.

    2. I get you want all your additions in one nice, easy to link to post (I agree) but can pop a quick word into your current posts when you've updated this one?

      I agree about Saeger's list, I've been using a modified version of it for years.

      Wait... never mind. I've turned on notifications... so technically I'll be notified if you just pop a comment down here... hmmm.

  2. As an aside, it occurred to me that the way to make Easy To Read relevant in a DF game is to have it penalize feints.

    1. That's a really good idea. Or penalize, or cap, Deceptive Attack. How tricky can you be if your face gives it away?

    2. The simplest solution is to just apply the +4 others get on social skills to their quick contests against your feints.

    3. That's what I assumed you meant. I'd also say that if you have Easy to Read you can't use IQ-based or Social Skill based feints, or if you do allow it, double the penalty to +8 to the victim's roll.

      Deceptive Attacks are trickier. The easy way is to say since DAs can be speed-based, not just tricky, Easy to Read doesn't affect them. A more rules-intensive version would be to allow the attempt, but give the victim a Per roll. On a success, the victim ignores -2 of the Deceptive Attack - equal to a +4 effect.

    4. I wouldn't penalize Deceptive Attacks, because a) it's more complicated, b) my interpretation is that, despite the name, Deceptive Attacks aren't actually about fooling the opponent so much as attacking in ways that are simply hard to defend against (I believe this is supported by the write-up in Martial Arts, but feel free to correct me), and c) I think for a -10pt disadvantage the combination of social penalties and a single (significant) combat penalty is just about right.


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