Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hiring Sages when Everyone has negatives . . .

The PCs have decided, wisely, to take advantage of a DF Felltower institution: sages.

Like in old-school AD&D gaming, you can find out things by experiencing them or asking NPCs.

The PCs want to hire a sage.

There are a few issues, though.

One is the group makeup, again, has become very much crusading religious fanatics and would-be fanatics (Ulf, Heyden, Aldwyn, Sir Bunny, etc.) buttressed by a small squad of misanthropes (Galen, Bruce, Gerry, etc.)

So who can go and find and hire a sage? Not the misanthropes. Some of them live in the wilderness, and others are just completely awful at finding someone and getting them to react well to them. The fanatics, well, no so much either. Ulf is likeable, but has Paranoia. Wyatt isn't around to do it (I don't allow PCs who missed sessions to jump in between sessions to execute prep. It keeps you from having a stable of utility guys who help out even if you don't run them often.) The others generally aren't that smart and they need Research or IQ rolls to find a sage with Hidden Lore (Lost Civilizations) to answer their questions.

So it's a bit of tricky situation. The ones with good base rolls have penalties to bring it down. Those with poor base rolls have poor rolls and many of them also have penalties to bring it down.

How do you bring it up?

You spend extra money, of course, per "Where Did You Find This Guy? on DF15, p. 29. I'm not even at any of my PCs as I type this, but I know the page offhand, which is a measure of how often I have to tell people to go read it.

Once that's done, of course, it's just a matter of money and questions. I did caution them that they can get specific, and get specific answers, but the sage won't through in general-but-important information.

Hopefully they'll figure it out . . . but the tendency to go for debilitating social disadvantages to bulk out your disad pool, and that of several players to get more of such by cheaping out on Resurrection costs, means it's getting harder to find reasonable beings to help them out.


  1. I have to be the only person I know who tends to avoid the bad Social disads... [checks current stable of characters]

    Okay so 1 out of three* characters is competent socially (has no negatives, also happens to have decent social skills). The others are either Monsters (Troll, Ogress) or a bit Intolerant (Holy Warrior) or Callous (Martial Artist/Swashbuckler).

    Funny enough... the Troll has social skills, but that -7 from hideous and Monster really drag them down.

    1. That's not atypical. People seem to think penalties to social situations just aren't that big of a thing. So we end up with people ranging from poor to very bad reaction rolls.

      Now that I've said that, someone will make up a Bard with +6 reaction rolls all the time. It'll be one extreme to the other.

    2. Don't worry, that Bard will quickly join the others in the graveyard!

    3. I’ve got a bard just waiting!

    4. And here he is:

      Name: Valentí Vela (250)

      Attributes [140]: ST 11 [10]; DX 12 [40]; IQ 14 [80]; HT 11 [10]

      Secondary Characteristics [5]: Dmg 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lb; HP 11 [0]; Will 14 [0]; Per 14 [0]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6 [5]; Basic Move 6 [0]

      Advantages [97]:
      Bardic Talent 4 [40]
      Born Entertainer 2 [10]
      Charisma 1 [5]
      Energy Reserve (Magical) 3 [9]
      Language: Common (Spoken, Written, Native) [0]
      Language: Goblin (Spoken, Native) [3]
      Language: Orcish (Spoken, Native) [3]
      Language: Reptilian (Spoken, Native) [3]*
      Song of Humiliation [4]
      Voice [10]
      Wealth (Comfortable) [10]

      * Or Elder Tongue [3] if Reptilian is not a language.

      Disadvantages [-50]:
      Compulsive Carousing [-5]
      Curious [-5]
      Gregarious [-10]
      Lecherousness [-15]
      Sense of Duty [-5]
      Xenophilia [-10]

      Quirks [-5]:
      Clean Freak [-1]
      Friendly Drunk [-1]
      Layabout [-1]
      Likes Expensive Jewelry [-1]
      Self-Imposed Limit (Won't carry a load) [-1];

      Skills [48]:
      Singing HT+9 [2]-20
      Public Speaking IQ+4 [1]-18
      Musical Instrument (Drum) IQ+3 [2]-17
      Performance IQ+3 [1]-17
      Acting IQ+2 [2]-16
      Musical Composition IQ+2 [1]-16
      Fast-Talk IQ+1 [1]-15
      Current Affairs IQ+0 [1]-14
      Diplomacy IQ+0 [1]-14
      Merchant IQ+0 [2]-14
      Mimicry (Speech) IQ+0 [1]-14
      Savoir-Faire IQ+0 [1]-14
      Shortsword DX+2 [8]-14
      Cloak DX+1 [4]-13
      Connoisseur (Art) IQ-1 [1]-13
      Connoisseur (Luxuries) IQ-1 [1]-13
      Heraldry IQ-1 [1]-13
      Interrogation IQ-1 [1]-13
      Intimidation Will-1 [1]-13
      Poetry IQ-1 [1]-13
      Propaganda IQ-1 [1]-13
      Streetwise IQ-1 [1]-13
      Thrown Weapon (Knife) DX+1 [2]-13
      Carousing HT+1 [2]-12
      Detect Lies Per-2 [1]-12
      Fast-Draw (Sword) DX+0 [1]-12
      Sex Appeal HT+1 [1]-12
      Ventriloquism IQ-2 [1]-12
      Acrobatics DX-1 [2]-11
      Stealth DX+0 [2]-11

      Spells [15]:
      Bravery IQ+2 [1]-16
      Charm IQ+2 [1]-16
      Command IQ+2 [1]-16
      Daze IQ+2 [1]-16
      Fear IQ+2 [1]-16
      Foolishness IQ+2 [1]-16
      Forgetfulness IQ+2 [1]-16
      Loyalty IQ+2 [1]-16
      Mass Daze IQ+2 [1]-16
      Sense Emotion IQ+2 [1]-16
      Sense Foes IQ+2 [1]-16
      Sound IQ+2 [1]-16
      Terror IQ+2 [1]-16
      Thunderclap IQ+2 [1]-16
      Voices IQ+2 [1]-16

      Equipment [41.205 lb, $2,000]:
      Anti-Garrote Collar [$35; 1 lb]
      Bandoleer [$60; 1 lb] with 3 Large Throwing Knives [$40; 1 lb ea.]
      Clothing [$0; 2 lb]
      Cutlass [$500; 2 lb]
      Drum [$40; 2 lb]
      Heavy Cloak [$50; 5 lb]
      Light Cloth Body Armor [$53; 6.3 lb]
      Light Leather Boots [$17; 2.1 lb]
      Light Leather Gloves [$5; 0.6 lb]
      Light Cloth Helmet [$13; 1.5 lb]
      Light Cloth Leggings [$37; 4.5 lb]
      Light Cloth Sleeves [$25; 3 lb]
      Potion Belt [$60; 1 lb] with Minor Healing Potion [$120; 0.5 lb] and Strength Potion [$250; 0.5 lb]
      Pouch [$10; 0.2 lb] with 1 Silver Coin [$20; 0.005 lb] and 5 Elven Rations [$15; 0.5 lb]
      Silver Chain Link Bracelet (6 Point Power Item) [$500; 0.25 lb]
      Wineskin [$10; 0.25 lb] with Water (1 Quart) [$0; 2 lb]

    5. Who are you expecting to speak Reptilian to?

    6. Ah, probably nobody in Felltower (he was built on standard DFRPG templates). All lizard men, dino men, and snake men appear to be dead. Perhaps a dragon...not that useful. Elder Tongue might be if anyone speaks it. Demons? Golden swordsmen? (I’d assume elvish for them). Cultists?

    7. Canonically there isn't a catch-all "Reptilian" tongue. But I was curious who you thought got glommed into the "we talk reptile" pool. I assume the languages were chosen for target selection for spells and your Song ability, rather than because you guys want to talk to any of these beings.

      You'd want to keep this in mind before you make a guy who can speak - but not read - a "dead" language that is primarily used in written form. Who'd teach him the way to say it but not to write it?

    8. Good point indeed—if nobody else speaks it, really hard to learn (not like there’s a college for that). He’d probably be better off with ER 4 or dumping points in skills. Probably ER 4.

    9. I've been contemplating a HOrc or Orc Drummer Bard, Song of Terror and Song of Destruction (modified Shout of Destruction for DFD:B)... he isn't very stealthily though...

    10. The more I think about it, Valentí is better off ditching that fourth language and picking up Hide Emotion, Lend Language, and Borrow Language. That paves the way for learning things like Hide Thoughts, Mind-Reading, Mind-Sending, Lend Skill, and Borrow Skill, as well as Telepathy, Soul Rider, Control Person, and Possession. The latter are not so helpful in combat, but could be useful post-combat (provided we leave some people alive) or potentially even pre-combat (if stealthy). Hide Thoughts is always good, Borrow Skill could be really cool and helpful (puts Shortsword at 18 if he casts it on Galen, or could learn any melee or ranged skill that party members know at 16). It's not terribly useful given the casting time at Skill 16, but it could be helpful in the right situations, especially if he uses Song of Humiliation at the start of combat, and then immediately starts casting from the back ranks.

  2. The troll is only unattractive to other trolls and has no social stigma to them.

    1. Well yes, she's a great diplomat for Troll inter-tribal problems... but yet she keeps getting stuck herding the vile smooth-skinned take as well to her diplomacy (unless it's "Do as I say or get eaten!" diplomacy/intimidation... I mean her Intimidation to smooth-skins is a 19... a 12 to other trolls...)

  3. Kudos for making social disadvantages matter. A disad that isn't a disad shouldn't be worth any points.

    As a GM, the way I work around this problem is a lower disad limit. If the players only have -25 points to damage themselves with, they won't be quite as trainwrecky. As an extra bonus, players can usually remember to play 2 or 3 disads.

    As a player, the way to work around this problem is to have one PC in the group be really really good at social stuff, and have all the other PCs hide outside town to avoid affecting the social butterfly's work.

    1. Thanks. I agree - in the future I'm likely to cap disads and just give out more points. I'm tired of endless posts about disads because people are taking them - along with 5 vague quirks - to get their "full" point budget.

      The social butterfly + hiding approach works well. I make it just hard enough that hiding outside of town has costs.

      You save money, but:
      - you can't special order anything unless you ask another PC to do it for you during game (they're in town, not running back and forth out of town.)
      - you don't get rumors.
      - you can't recruit NPCs.
      - you can't shop.
      - your skillset is not available for other people to leverage in town.

      None of that is crippling, but it is annoying enough that some players will spend money if they have it, despite their own in-town issues.

    2. "The social butterfly + hiding approach works well. I make it just hard enough that hiding outside of town has costs."

      Ditto. Each PC gets one action per day they can perform in town between missions... so if you want to sell for everyone, that's one of //your// actions, buying stuff (including someone else gear)? Another of //your// actions.

      Resting is also an action.

      I'm pretty lenient on crafting so far (make a sword? Or a shield? Or a full suit of Articulated Epic Dwarven Orichalcum Plate? One day*), but that's only because I don't allow Enchanting and I'm using the Brewmaster Alchemy rules from Pyramid 3-82 Magical Creations.

    3. Right. There has to be a cost - to you or others - for not being able to do your own in-town activities.

    4. Also, some In Town Activities require a cost, either you stay in town, or you pay to be able to perform those activities. I should finalize that list at some point, so far it's on a "when asked basis" since it doesn't come up much (because only one PC prefers to remain out of town and doesn't do "In Town" stuff, and the Player doesn't play often).

  4. I think Polly made 1 social roll in the entire campaign in the very last session

    1. In some games, social skills and reaction rolls just won't matter. I endeavor to make them matter. I must be doing something right, people have generally jumped on chances to get Reputation bonuses on their PCs!

    2. My players tend to parley with great frequency, sosocial skills are a must. One just built s character to fence their goods, and repair their base of operations (I use base as a leveled perk, the gang of henchmen level PCs now control most of a city block and part of the dungeon below it.


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