Monday, November 30, 2020

GURPS Call for Playtesters: Hot Spots: Srivijaya

You'll have to get in on this quick if you're interested in being a playtester:

Call for Playtesters: GURPS Hot Spots: Srivijaya

I am too busy, so I need to pass on it, but if you know anything about the history of Srivijaya, they're looking for you especially.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

More Felltower Rulings to Remember

Felltower Rulings to Remember has gotten a few additions. I'll list them here as well as edit a link to them in there.

Like the rulings there, these are Felltower specific. Some may in fact be the rules as written and intended - they also may not be. They're how we're playing them for the current campaign regardless of any source material, rules writeups, and readings of such to the contrary.


"Paut restores 4 FP depleted for magic." The key word here is "for." You can only recover FP you spent to power magic. It will not restore FP lost due to someone else's magical spell, supernatural origin attacks that deplete FP, supernatural power that is like magic but is not actually magic per se, and so on. If you have any question on it being covered, it's not covered. Paut is a way for casters to get back FP after casting spells, and not anything else.

Resistance Potions

Resistance potions provide level 1 of resistance of the equivalent spell.

Improved Magic Resistance & Elixirs

In DF Felltower, Improved Magic Resistance provides no benefit whatsoever against hostile elixirs, nor does it hinder friendly elixirs. It merely acts as Magic Resistance against hostile magic only, and does not impede helpful spells or your own casting.

This one is not a ruling, but it is a FAQ.

Is the cost reduction for high skill on the base, or the final, cost of the spell? Final. I can't believe I have to answer this roughly once per session after 9 years of Felltower and 30+ years of steady GURPS gaming with the same magic system.

See also Protection from Evil.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Computer problem - fixed!

I spent a good chunk of the day on my computer issue. I think I've solved it - by copying my personally useful files off of my user profile to a new one, then deleting the original, then re-creating the original, and moving them back, and then deleting the new one. That seems to have worked. It took a lot of work and lot of different tries to fix it, though. I wish I'd tried this earlier in the process, but it seemed reasonable that a problem centered on explorer.exe was with that, not with the user profile. It just goes to show that you can let yourself get deceived by reasonableness plus an unwillingness to back off and look at the problem from a larger perspective. It's a useful lesson for RPGs, too - if you focus too much on the issue right in front of you, you can miss the larger issue that's causing that smaller issue. You have to re-center yourself and look at the problem from a new angle.

As a result of all that computer futzing around, I did basically nothing gaming-related today - just reinstalling video games, reinstalling GCA, and otherwise getting my machine going again. I'm not sure how I corrupted the user profile, but clearly I did . . . and thank goodness for the one guy who solved a similar issue by doing so.

I did keep myself occupied during the updates, reboots, and waiting through rebuilds by (finally) starting to watch the entire series "The Vietnam War" through end to end. I'd seen the first three episodes a while back but didn't really get a chance to see the rest, as I'd lacked a TV at the time and couldn't see them online. Now my situation has changed and I have access to them.

Watching this has really cemented my interest in getting Fire in the Lake, even if I don't have someone to play with just yet.

I'll wait until the price drops a bit. I've found some reasonably priced copies of 1st edition eBay, but it's 2nd edition I want (why play with errata to unwind?) and I'll wait on that one.

Felltower is next week - but I have some Felltower updates for tomorrow, if not the one everyone wants (who won the fight?) since that's not nearly done yet.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Friday Links 10/27/2020

This will be short today, as I've been having some computer issues and chose to solve them tonight . . . so I have no time to post. I'd blamed Windows 10 except it's working fine on 2 of my 3 machines, and badly on another.*

- These Japanese B/X D&D covers are really very Japanese and very anime. I don't think I've seen them before, or shared them if I had. It strongly resembles that Wizardry anime, ne?

- Dragon body parts as loot. Way ahead of you there, although even I was late compared to the first . . . I recall people coveting dragon-scale armor back in my elementary school AD&D days.

- I passed on every single sale this year for Black Friday. The only thing I was eyeing was Fire in the Lake and the two places I was looking, the price went UP on Black Friday. Nevermind.

* Basically, explorer.exe keeps crashing, it locks up when I click on "Open With," it frequently goes extremely slowly, and icons and images show blank very frequently. Even a full system reset was to no avail. It reset fine, and then within 45 minutes of that, while I was slowly trying to build my apps back out, it started again. I'm trying System Restore now but I do not hold out any hope as I suspect an update is clashing with something else on my system, and I can't tell which one. Suggestions on fixes are welcome but I may have tried it already, as I tried everything I could find at least twice each before going for a soul-destroying "reset."

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thankful for, 2020 edition

This year I'm thankful for:

- my ability to get a steady amount of gaming in, even when we had to revert to online-only play

- streaming MST3K episodes to keep me entertained during lockdown

- Megadungeons coming out!

- doomchildren

- and as always, the people who read, link to, and comment on my blog.

Thanks everyone. Enjoy the day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Protection from Evil

Last session we had questions come up with Protection from Evil (DFRPG Spells, p. 64). Looking at the spell, it's pretty straightforward, but nonetheless questions came up.

What does the DR protect against? It's the Armor spell with a limitation to only affect attacks from evil, basically. So direct attacks of all kinds from things marked Truly Evil (only), including weapons and ranged attacks. It does not affect indirect attacks, like explosions from exploding Doomchildren or shrapnel from the same, or falling damage when they knock you down from your Walk on Air spell, or fire damage when you catch on fire from their spells.

The DR stacks on top of all other DR, right? No. The DR stacks like normal Armor spell DR - so you take the higher of Fortify or Armor, not both. Sorry, no +3 from Armor and then +6 from Protection from Evil.

What does the Magic Resistance work against? Spells. This is not +2 Resistant to Evil Supernatural Powers per level. It's +2 Magic Resistance, per the spell.

Plenty of Truly Evil foes have abilities that are neither physical attacks nor spells, per se. This does not help against them. That might seem a bit unfair, but it's a cheap spell for what you get. and it's very specific what it gives you.

I'll use this page to list any other ruling that matter on the spell.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

So should I get one of the COIN games?

For a long time, I've been interested in the COIN (COunter INsurgency) games. They're discussed here.

I may be on the verge of getting one.

All of the games look interesting. Not a one seems wasted.

I gather Cuba Libre is the easiest and most accessible of them, but I watched a (fun) playthrough and I think that's enough for me. The GMT games website recommends it for a starting game, but I won't drop $80 on a game to learn how to play a different game I get.

Out of the remainder, A Distant Plain is fascinating, and topical, as we're in year, what, 20 of the US involvement in Afghanistan? Kids born after 2001 could be serving there as I write this. And the game's approach - that even your allies are not 100% aligned with your goals - is a solid one.

Here is a video look at it from GMT games.

But I keep coming back to Fire in the Lake. It covers the US involvement in Vietnam during 1964-1972. It's an easy game to divide into four factions: the US, ARVN (the South Vietnamese government and forces), the North Vietnamese government, and the Viet Cong. Each goes into two sides with related but not identical goals. What puts the ARVN into a good position isn't always exactly what satisfies US aims in the region. The VC and NV both want to topple the south, but they don't have identical views on who should be in charge and what "reunification" under Communism means.

I'd be playing it solo, almost certainly. If I got, say, Pendragon, I bet I could get three players to join me. Fire in the Lake, maybe, maybe not.

But it's sooooo tempting. I'm much more interested in 20th-21st century insurgencies than in Roman Britain, say.

Here is a review of Fire in the Lake.

I've started poking around to see if someone has a used copy of FITL 2nd edition . . . if so, and it's more in my budget than an $80 new game, I'll get it. Otherwise, I may just have to think about finding a way to play it and splurge on the game new.

Monday, November 23, 2020

GURPS DF Session 142, Felltower 110 - The Lord of Spite (Part I)

Date: November 22nd, 2020
Weather: Cool, cloudy, dark.

Ahenobarbus Barca, human swashbuckler (286 points)
Aldwyn Hale, human knight (313 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (145 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (326 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (408 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
Heyden, human knight (307 points)
"Mild" Bruce, human barbarian (315 points)
Sir Bunny Wigglesworth, human holy warrior (286 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (306 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (321 points)

We started off in Sterickburg. The group purchased some potions, spell stones, and gathered rumors. Mostly what they did was stock up for their planned assault against Durak, the Uncaring, the Lord of Spite.

The group headed out and into the dungeon via the trap door under the fallen tower.

They made it unmolested to level 2, to a room near the GFS. They planned to fight the Lord of Spite there, because they'd decided corridor was a bad idea. Probably because the boars smashed any formations to bits with their charge.

There they decided to rest up in the "illusiory library" before summoning Durak. So they did so, but heard a scraping noise outside. They got ready if it was the Lord of Spite, but when they popped open the door a pudding was lurking outside! It smashed its way in and tried to maul Galen and then the others. They cut it to death, but it took a while - Crogar, Aldwyn, and first Wyatt (with a wooden sword) and then Ahenobarbus (with Magebane) cut it up. Of course, Varmus threw a fireball into the fray and hit Aldwyn by mistake . . . and it was an Explosive Fireball, naturally. Bruce got set on fire but they put him out, and Aldwyn was under Resist Fire so he was okay.

The pudding down, they moved it aside and rested more (and healed Crogar with the staff, from his 2 HP fire wound.)

They then headed to the room nearest the stairs. They put on Oil of Puissance (aka Oil of Sharpness in DFRPG Magic Items) on a couple of people's weapons (Bruce and Wyatt's, IIRC), Aldwyn called out Durak's full name, challenging him to come each time. On the third, he felt a lilt and fluttering in his stomach. They waited. Wyatt and Galen were at the top of the stairs to spot the Lord of Spite and his boars coming up.

They waited, 5, 10, 15 minutes (roughly - no one has Absolute Timing or used a timing candle.) Nothing. Aldwyn said his name again . . . and this time, he felt a little worse of a fluttering in his stomach and something . . . he couldn't put a finger on (he blew his IQ roll.) They decided he wasn't coming, so they formed up and rushed down the stairs, not wanting to be caught there. They reached the gate level, and then moved the hexagonal room where a previous group had once used a wish to escape onrushing gnolls. They formed up there, and waited. Still nothing.

The bad air wasn't so big of a deal this time - only Varmus (Unfit since his cut-rate resurrection) suffered a penalty from it thanks to some good rolling.

As they waited, they spotted a slugbeast coming toward them from down the hallway. Aldwyn got his wooden sword ready to fight it, and Galen just filled it with arrows for about 4 seconds and it stopped coming at them. Meanwhile they downed potions - Agility and Strength, mostly. Ahenobarbus downed three Agility potions until he got a "good one." (He rolled a 1, a 2, and a 4.) Several rubbed Dark Vision ointment on their eyes. So they left it there and forced the door. They moved to the cave area Galen had found last time, briefly pausing to send Galen down the baffle-filled hallway to check the area.

They reached the cave, and Galen and some others could hear the "sleeping" Durak - a low rumbling, wetly rattling breath. (One player said, "Like Darth Vader." No, specifically not. This sounds like a wet chest rattle through hole-punched lungs and not a steady, machine-line sound.)

They moved into the cave area, slowly, fanning out. As they did, a blackness suddenly appeared, and then heard the breathing turn to a low chuckle. They heard the drag-STOMP, drag-STOMP and ground-vibrating rumble of steps.

They began to activate spellstones and cast spells. Blur, Walk on Air, Strengthen Will, and others. As they did, devil maws spun out of the impenetrable darkness and a couple of doomchildren ran out. Their lightstones began to wink out, but they had a few glow vials going. Ulf put Protection from Evil 6 on himself and 1-2 others as this went on.

Galen shot down and killed one of the doomchildren, blowing it apart. Wyatt fought one of the devil maws and cut it down with a myriad of slashes. Moment later, more came out - three more devil maws, plus more doomchildren. The PCs waited outside the darkness and engaged the guys who came at them, but otherwise waited.

Then Durak and his two boars appeared. He spoke a word of such vileness that it harmed all around. Ulf resisted. Aldwyn went into a coma and had a heart attack; he fell, stricken. Varmus was deafened. Crogar went into a coma. The others were mostly defeaned . . . Bruce was fine, and Sir Bunny was utterly unaffected (he had ~26 with Higher Purpose and maxed Resistant to Evil Supernatural Powers and Strengthen Will.)

The boars charged into the group, one trampling comatose Crogar and rushing the back-ranked fighters. The PCs attacked them, aiming for the legs. Wyatt, by now under Great Haste, managed to crippled both of one's back legs. It slashes out with its tusks but wasn't able to connect.

Bruce turned his back on Durak and a devil maw to attack the boar, cutting one of its rear legs off. He paid for this as the devil maw grappled him with five claws and held him in place. Then the Lord of Spite smashed him with his club and cut off his left hand with his axe (he rolled randomly, as he usually does.)

Ulf used Rebuke Evil but rolled poorly, inflicting relatively little damage and panicking only a single doomchild.

Meanwhile, doomchildren kept charging in - a total of 13 came in the end. They ran in berserkly (something several players just never noticed - they kept using Feint, Deceptive Attack, etc.) Galen would put 3 arrows a turn into one at a time and kill them. The doomchildren were generally spaced out enough to avoid fraticide although they took some damage from fragmentation. Varmus took some fragments, though, and fell unconcious. Heyden smashed the hamstrung boar on the skull for a huge amount of damage . . . wounding it. Then Heyden backed away from Varmus to lure a doomchild back with him, eventually killing it - but the hamstrung boar crawled over to try to maul Varmus.

Meanwhile Sir Bunny moved up toward Durak, but a doomchild rushed him and critically hit him in the right foot - and sliced it off. Sir Bunny fell. Wyatt stabbed the doomchild to death, blowing it up, and then engaged another one. Sir Bunny ended up getting to his knees, knee-walking forward in the hopes of cutting off Durak's necklace or breaking the skulls, but he was at the wrong angle for either (besides, the necklace is below Durak's mane of hair, and thus not an easy slice.) He swung at a doomchild instead and rolled an 18 and hit himself, but harmlessly.

Durak kept chuckling and swatting at Bruce. He landed a solid club hit to the leg and crippled it; now Bruce is badly wounded and held up mostly by the devil maw. His attempts to break free kept failing - it too easily parried his attempts to reduce the CP on him.

The fight continued, with the devil maws mixing it up with the PCs. They took fragmentation damage frequently but just regenerated it all too quickly.
Galen kept dropping doomchildren, one at a time. One explosion lit Bruce on fire, and another lit him on fire. Meanwhile a skeleton started to hack onto one of the boars and steadily inflict a little damage at a time to it. Wyatt stabbed the eyes out of a devil maw but two more just popped out. Ahenobarbus, now under Great Haste from Gerry, slashed out the legs of another boar and put it down, and then chopped a devil maw repeatedly but couldn't finish it off.

Ulf used Walk on Air to walk up 2 yards and over a devil maw. It just reached up and grabbed him. (I think he was thinking 6' off the ground was out of its reach - nope. It can reach that high - they'd ball-like but not really short.) He was stuck. It got 16 CP on him and he was stuck. Wyatt was grabbed as well, on the right arm. Wyatt managed to slash the arm holding him repeatedly and managed to get free.

Meanwhile Galen was slashed by a doomchild and hit - and it crippled his right arm. He dropped his bow and off-handed drew his shortsword - his blew his Fast-Draw (Sword) roll and just drew it normally.

Ulf prayed to the Good God for help - and sacrificed 8 saved xp to get a +8, bringing him to a 16 (Theology-12, Power Investiture 6, base -10, +1 per xp sacrificed permanently.) He rolled an 11, and succeeded! Coincidentally, his armor tore and he sprang free of the grapple, and is able to walk away in his new War Shorts. He's heading over to Crogar to try and wake him up (and Aldwyn, too, presumably - he doesn't know he's dying, just out.)

We left it there - Ulf freed from the devil maw, Bruce stunned, Wyatt broken free by slashing the arm that held him . . . and the Lord of Spite totally unharmed.


They made a good effort to summon Durak to them. But they had a backup plan or two just in case he didn't come - as Sir Bunny pointed out, the stories said he was spiteful, not stupid. In the end he didn't come to their challenge. When they went down stairs, they heard him "sleeping" (their term), but he didn't seem unprepared for them. They had designated targets, planned how to take out the boars and doomchildren, and so on. They did it all without my input - I specifically didn't even want to know their plans.

Some seem obvious - Galen to kill Doomchildren, in the hopes of causing a chain-explosion-death of them (they're dumb, but they spread out, so that's rare), chopping the legs off the boars and spacing out so they didn't get trampled in turn, Strengthen Will spellstones to beat the utterance, etc. Some of it worked, some didn't. The Rule of 16 saved a few of them from far worse fates.

Durak and his companions have a long run of removing linbs. Sir Bunny lost a foot, Galen's arm is crippled, and Bruce lost a hand and has a crippled leg. Aldwyn going into a coma along with Crogar probably count for something, too. Poor Crogar's player - every big fight, through no fault of his own, he's out for most of it. Luck would have been useful there.

Oddly Bruce lost that leg to a hit that he tried to Dodge, giving up a superior defense to attempt that. I'm not sure why he was "saving" the defense or for what.

The grapples by the devil maws have messed people up badly, and they're hard to escape from. I get some glum, "Oh well, what else can I do?" responses in these cases . . . but often the same people have 2 points in Wrestling and that only if their template required it. Superior grapplers are dangerous foes, especially in such a wild melee.

Roll20 had a complete outage during our game - our first. It derailed play for a while, though, during the combat.

We finished the next-to-last-turn at 8:48, and the last turn ended at 9:31. Even given a little distraction, that's a good indication of how long it can take.

Rules questions of the night - can you aggresively parry a weapon with a weapon? No, we're not going there. And does Protection from Evil caused a lot of questions - I'll explain what they were and deal with them later this week.

It was that last turn where we saw our first using of character points sacrificed to get a bonus to last-ditch prayer. And it worked! Sacrificing 8 to bring an 8 to a 16 was a good move, I think. Costly but it was going to succeed unless he rolled a 17 or 18.

Note to self for next time: How many people have Glow Vials going? Only a few characters have Dark Vision, the skeletons still shining light are yards back of the fight, and the rest of the light stones were blotted out by devil maws by now.

MVP was Ulf for the epic use of character points to bail himself out of a grapple.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Game Prep - Roll20, Tokens, and Maps

I pretty much spent today's game prep time doing the following:

- Making tokens with Token Maker 2

- Editing those icons so they have sight, so I can control them as the GM, so they have labels, etc. etc. etc.

- Then trying to take my maps of the dungeon area the PCs will likely go to in order to fight Durak, The Lord of Spite, and trying to make that into a hex combat map. Doing that with Dynamic Lighting and all of that is beyond me. I spent literal hours doing Fog of War on a pre-made map in the past. If I was good at turning images into other kinds of images, and editing them, and making fine adjustments to them, and making sure they're exactly as proportional as the minis are, I'd have gone into visual and graphic design like my sibling did. Instead of spending my time on tactics, reviewing the treasure in the area to make sure I'm on the ball, etc. I spent it scanning and uploading maps and trying to convince Roll20 to cooperate. Honestly, if I could just point a camera at a map and ask people where they wanted to move, I'd do that. This is way more time than it's worth, and there is roughly a 75% chance my players do something else and force the fight to occur elsewhere.

I spent a good hour on this already, and I'm not done yet.

I mean, I could leave this all for game time, but it'll ruin tomorrow instead of just messing up today. Roll20 makes me tired all over.*

* Second best line in The Usual Suspects.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday Links & Thoughts 11/20/2020

Here is another post on the "Gary Gygax Hated Magic" idea.

Was Gary Gygax Afraid of Magic?

Me, I still see this as realizing you handed out too much power without enough limitations and just adjusted accordingly . . . not hate or fear. Just recognition that hey, maybe powerful, fast, easy, reliable magic wasn't the best design decision for long-term play balance?

James Mal thinks we need large groups. Yeah, I got that covered. We might only get nine people this Sunday. I'm kind of bemused by the people saying it's hard to play online with more than 4-5 people. We've had less than 6 only once, and man, that was a rarity. Zoom holds up well and Roll20 is a pain even with 2-3 people, so 8-9 doesn't make it any worse.

I keep losing the locations for stuff like this, so here it is again: The Magician's Ring story, starring Mike Mornard's wizard Lessnard.

The Magician's Ring

It's really very much a Jack Vance homage, with how arrogant the PC is and how conniving the NPCs are. "Such treasures are not for the likes of mere Mediums" indeed.

Sunday is a game day for us, so I've put what little time I have for prep into it. I'm basically spending a lot of time trying to make Roll20 do things so I don't have to do them on Sunday. It would be nice to game in person for a change so I could just draw a map freehand in 5 minutes and put down the minis . . . instead I needed to make pictures, now I need to make icons, next I need to make the map and hope the players go to the spot I think they're going to. It's annoying prep yet critical for this fight. I may enlist one of my players in it if I'm not able to get it all done by tonight.

By the way, big Foundry sale! I wish I could do nothing but buy their minis and sit and paint them. I don't have that kind of time and money. Well, not money to spend on minis, anyway. And I've had some painting issues. So mostly I look at these bigs sales and think, why, yes, I do need gun-armed Zulus and Swiss pikemen and Hundred Years War archers and Victorian adventurers, plus obviously those Greek heroes. And then I mostly move on, because, I probably really don't. But if you do, get them. I've never regretted a single purchase from Wargames Foundry or Casting Room Minis.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

GURPS Combat Cards

I've been remiss in not mentioning this on the blog:

GURPS Combat Cards Now Available

One of my players uses combat cards; I think a few more would benefit from having them in front of them so we wouldn't have the same questions so often (Usually about doing a "Wild Swing" - they mean Move and Attack - and defenses, or what your options are on Committed Attack when you take an extra step, and All-Out Defend.) It's a good way to do "No Rules Lookups in Play" and yet have the rules at your fingertips.

They're $12.95 on Warehouse23.

They real, potentially crippling downside to this set is that it's Basic Set only. It's Martial Arts that introduces a lot of options to combat, and Martial Arts really needs a set of combat cards for its options. For now, we'll have to stick with notes and home-made cards.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

What's the fun in your fun?

I often say things on my posts like, "Fun session." Often after a loot-free fruitless delve with no exploration and lots of frustration for the PCs.

It would be a contradiction except for the fact that "fun" isn't defined by in-game success or by the characters.

So what is the fun in our fun?

For me, it's a combination of these:

Exploration/Discovery: I really enjoy sessions when the PCs go new places, or find new things. Or better yet, gain understanding of something I've had to keep under my hat for a long, long time . . . and then I get to watch them figure it out.

Reward: The PCs finding something rewarding - or the players learning/earning something rewarding, is fun.

NPC-PC and PC-PC interactions. These are especially fun if the NPC is interesting to the PCs, or the PCs have to deal with language issues, cultural confusion, or suprise the NPC with unusually non-PC actions (such as: reasonable payment, trust, not lying to them, not killing them because of legalistically argued reasons, or even attempted friendship). Those are a lot of fun. Watchng the players try to figure out how to deal with a given NPC, given their own issues and goals, can be amusing. In-game obstacles being overcome to get these interactions makes them more interesting to me.

The players. These is the main bit, really. It's why a 10-12 people game is fun even though we can't get much done. It's just awesome hanging out with an extendd group of people we all enjoy gaming with. (As much as the players say, "We need Dryst!" we'd be perfectly happy with Angus McSwashy . . . we're really saying, "We need A____" - the player, not the character.)

If these are there, at least in some portion, it's usually a fun session. Notice that combat isn't there. A good fight can result in good stories, but generally it's really a fun fight if something interesting happens that's more rewarding than just killing some monsters. "Loot" is a subset of "reward." "People getting to use their cool powers" isn't there. It's moving around the sandbox, interacting with elements, figuring it out . . . and doing so with people you like to spend time with. Those make for good sessions.

Equally, you can have some bad from the above. Lack of exploration. No reward, and no one learns anything. NPC-PC interactions are the usual flawed negotiations and full of lies and scheming from characters incapable of sustaining either - Conan the Cimmerian trying to be Cugel the Clever. And players not being able to make it. Even a small group is fun, but a large group is better.

That's where the fun lies in my games.

It might be a bit different for my players . . . but we've had a blast in some of the sessions where the summary indicates a total non-starter of a session. So I expect we'd have a very close overlap if they chimed in.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Recent Exploration in Felltower

So I was thinking about changing loot-based XP to a system that requires a bit more exploration.

I decided to look at the delves in 2020 so see when people did any exploration.

The last time anyone received 1+ xp for exploration was for Icy Gate I.

Prior to that, it was the Lost City 11 and Lost City 12.

Prior to that, "Ape Gate."

The last time a group found a new significant location in Felltower, and actually went there (Wizard Eye doesn't count) was Session 126, back in January.

So, five sessions of exploration in 2020 out of fifteen - 1/3 - had enough exploration to warrant 1 xp. None had enough to warrant 2 xp worth (admittedly a notably higher bar.) Of those, two were past two gates, and two were in the Lost City finally going into two places the group had eyeballed in the past but never penetrated. Only one involved delving deeper into Felltower.

That's fine as a proportion, really - the gates are meant for exploration. So is the Lost City (not that there is much left to do). But it's still a fact that 2/3 of the sessions didn't result in exploration, wether because they were extended multi-session combats, clean-up delves in already explored areas, or otherwise moving about in already-discovered areas.

If, generously, you assume that all multi-session delves that involved some exploration in a session count as exploration in both, it's more like 8/15. Much better . . . but a good chunk of the game is about exploring for loot. It's not like the other seven were spent exploiting loot discovered in other delves. It was just attempting to get some (Draugr), or hoping for some (most of the rest.)

So best case count, half of the delves just don't involve exploration. And only 1/15th involed poking down just a little deeper into Felltower. I won't delve into the numbers for now, but sessions with exploration more often than not come with 2 or 4 xp for loot, and more often 4 than 2. So the data do seem to support the idea behind that rule change musing.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Why don't I do this more often? Multiple languages, one race

In my non-dungeon-bashing, non-DF GURPS fantasy games, I tend to make languages more of a campaign issue. In DF Felltower, quite the opposite. But in general?

Regional languages? Check.

Foreign visitors with odd languages? Check.

Languages changing over time? Check.

High and vulgate versions of some languages? Check.

One thing I don't do enough of, though, is different languages for other races. If you speak Elvish, that covers the elves in the bounded sandbox of my campaign area. I don't put in multiple languages for non-human races, most of the time.

Re-reading Traveller Alien Module 3: Vargr has made that omission clear.

"There are hundreds of Vargr languages [. . .] The most commonly encountered language in the Spinward Marches and adjacent regions is Gvegh. Counting the related languages Gvegh-Aek, Kithnour, Uedhu, and Taeksu, the Gvegh language family is spoke by about 60% of the Vargr encountered in the Marches and neighboring Gvurrdon sector."

The Vargr make the Aslan, with their singular language and culture, seem just a little more alien from them.*

This is a reminder for me for next time - add some variations.

Immortal (or nearly so) Elves could have a unified language of great complexity and historical weight. It could be mastered over centuries of study and use, and while non-elves learn just the vulgate form, the elves learn the full version and are able to convey cultural meanings that others don't live long enough to master. Or they may speak many, many different elven languages, each as complex and nuanced as the next - perhaps by family group, or political or cultural group, or by hobby and interest. They have the time to learn them, so why not? Both fit.

Orcs don't have time to be unifying all of their lanuages - if they're short-lived like I often make them. They're likely to have tribal languages with a lot of overlap in the middle, especially if you use an AD&D-like approach of mutually hostile orc tribes.

Dwarves might have clan tongues, or be that race that has One Correct Way of doing things. Depends on your take - are they insular and family oriented, or feel themselves one very tight, unified culture?

And yeah, to my players, maybe you speak Manticorian, but do you speak Manticorese, it's closely-related but not identical language? Heh.

Something I'll have to make more use of, if/when I run another fantasy game. Or, given the reminder from the Traveller book, a sci-fi game.**

This does get pricey with GURPS 4th edition's language pricing, but that can be addressed with a simple switch - make all languages both written and spoken for the same price, so they're 1/2/3=3 not 1-3/1-3=6 total points to master. Learning a few 2-point languages isn't a big thing, and having enough to get by in emergencies in a lot of languages is pretty cheap. Illiteracy is simply a quirk-level disadvantage for a language, and "broken" assumes illiteracy.

* As an aside, I'm pleased that I still have my copy of Traveller Alien Module 1: Aslan. I knew I'd purchased it, and read it, but I hadn't laid eyes on it in years. I was relieved when I was able to just pull it out of the Traveller pile.
I'm only sorry I don't have all of the Alien Modules.

** I've done it before, but I'm more "hard space opera" and a lot less "fantasy with blasters," and I want vac suits and engines that need overhauls and maybe some weird psi-like powers of limited effect, and generally my players want to run Jedi. It's not a good mix.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Felltower DF NPC: Brother Ike

By request, here is Brother Ike. Hjalmarr Holgerson bought him as an Ally, but sadly Ike died twice - the first time he was Resurrected, and the second time he was torn into shreds by a ravening eye and, at -10xHP, was dead permanently.

Brother Iklwa Juma Deswayo N'Zinga

Brother Iklwa, aka Brother Ike, is an acolyte of the Good God and is part of a brotherhood dedicated to Saint-in-Waiting Buyya Duad, the Thrice-Martyred. He was hired as a personal cleric to Hjalmarr Holgerson, who, upon each of his deaths, became increasingly more religious. He sought guidance from Brother Ike for his spiritual lessons.

175 point Initiate (see DF15)

ST 10 HP 10 Speed 5.25
DX 11 Will 13 Move 5
IQ 13 Per 13 BL 39 lbs.
HT 12 FP 12
Dodge 9 Parry (Axe/Mace) 11+DB Block 11+DB

Knobbed Club (13): 1d+1 cr; Reach 1.
Mallet (12): 1d+2 cr; Reach 1.

Traits: Charitable (12); Clerical Investment; Combat Medic 2; Energy Reserve (Holy) 5; Power Investiture (Holy) 4; Resistant to Disease (+3 to resist); Sense of Duty (Coreligionists); Vow (Chastity); Vow (No edged weapons); Vow (Own no more than what can be carried).

Perks: Huge Subjects (Major Healing)

Quirks: Full of parables about Saint-in-Waiting Buyya Duad.

Skills: Axe/Mace-13; Climbing-10; Diagnosis-11; Exorcism-12; First Aid-15; Gesture-13; Innate Attack (Beam)-12; Poisons-12; Religious Ritual (Good God)-12; Riding (Equines)-10; Search-12; Stealth-10; Surgery-10; Survival (Jungle)-12; Swimming-12; Theology (Good God)-12; Thrown Weapon (Axe/Mace)-12; Wrestling-11.

Spells: (15 unless otherwise noted) Awaken; Cleansing; Command; Continual Light; Detect Poison; Final Rest; Great Healing-14; Healing Slumber; Major Healing; Minor Healing; Neutralize Poison; Recover Energy-16; Relieve Madness; Remove Contagion; Resist Fire; Resist Lightning; Resist Poison; Restoration-14; Stone to Flesh; Stop Bleeding; Stop Paralysis; Sunbolt; Suspended Animation; Test Food; Truthsayer.

Gear: Backpack, Small; Blanket; First Aid Kit; High Holy Symbol; Iron Spike (x4); Leather Armor Suit; Ordinary Clothes; Paut (x4); Personal Basics; Potion Belt; Rations (x3); Sandals; Staff of Healing; Surgical Instruments; Wand of Holding; Wineskin w/gallon of water.

Saturday, November 14, 2020


I really need to get the rest of my GURPS 3e books out of storage, but I don't actually have room for them on my book shelves. One of the ones I need to get back out is this one:

I want to read it after I finish re-reading this:

I recently got a copy from Noble Knight.

I had access to this back in the day, when I ran a two person campaign for one of my current players, and one of my former players. I can't put a finger on the year, but I was in High School, as that's when I first became friends with one of my current players. I think the copy of this book belonged to the player who ran a Vargr. For all I know, he sold the book (likely) and this is that exact book (unlikely, although it's happened before.)

When I've had a chance to re-read it completely, I'll do a review. I really, really like the Vargr. They're such an interesting race, and, like most Traveller races, they're both accessible and alien. That's a tough combo. The rules around them make it easier to run them as written than as men-in-suits.

I'm looking foreward to finishing a re-read and getting into making some Vargr Corsairs. And to be honest, having done graduate school work in Linguistics, I'm way more interested in the whole section on the Vargr language!

(I almost forgot - here's a rock opera about a genetically modified vargr! I wear my The Lord Weird Slough Feg "Traveller" t-shirt to Gamma Terra games sometimes.)

Friday, November 13, 2020

Random Links for 11/13/2020

- Tenkar is going to pay for S&W articles. Time to brush off one or two of my half-finished ones and sell them at $0.05 a word. If I write quickly, I might earn what I do training people. Heh. But still, for RPG word, that's a good rate!

- Diseases in GURPS get a look over at Mailanka's blog:

Noboby Takes Resist Disease

I'll note that in Might & Magic I (and II), disease means when you rest, you lose HP instead of gaining them - and thus can't heal naturally. That could make a useful wrinkle on the excellent disease setup in the article.

- Doug writes about a specific combination in some detail. It's amusing how often the answer is, "It's in GURPS Martial Arts." Yeah, we did good work. Kromm did most of the bits people point to, including me, but hey, I helped. Heh.

- This blog has really extensive articles on military topics, with pictures.

So as of 2017 at least, North Korea is fielding year 1942 variant T-34s? Guess so.

ISIS had a tank unit with a repair/customization shop, complete with good decisions (camoflauge!) and bad decisions (putting reactive armor on track skirts!)

You can see every major piece of hardware lost in the recent 40-odd day war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Lots of T-72s bit the dust from drones, apparantly.

- I endorse this kind of approach.

On Magic Weapons by Racial Background

I do this with cultures and races, when possible, so there is a lot of distinctive gear around and you can start to make predictive guesses. I probably should have codified it a bit earlier in Felltower, but it's meant to be a hodge-podge with no sense of a "culture."

- My news feed popped up a Vice article on wargames which includes a nice picture of men and women in NYC playing Fletcher Pratt's naval mini wargame.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Modifying Loot-Based XP to Encourage Risk-Taking (Part II)

Continuing my thoughts of the other day:

Modifying Loot-Based XP to Encourage Risk Taking

Here are three more ways to encourage more exploration and risk-taking using DF21's loot-based XP system.

1) Remove the 20% threhold reward. Currently, if you get 20%-99% of your XP-based loot theshold, you get half of the loot XP - 2 points.

With this approach, you get rid of that. It's all or nothing - 0-99% of your loot threshold means 0 xp. 100% means 4 xp.

This means that higher-point delvers really must go deeper. Scumming for lesser loot in the higher levels of the dungeon, especially those picked over, will likely result in a 0 xp delve - 0 for exploration, 0 for loot.

2) Tie in exploration (version A). You must earn at least 1 xp in exploration of new areas to get 4 xp for loot. Otherwise, you get 2 xp.

3) Tie in exploration (version B). You must earn at least 1 xp in exploration to take advantage of the 20% threshold reward. You do not need exploration to get 4 xp for meeting your loot threshold.

1 and 3 seem like they have some potential.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Noble Knight Games sale

Just passing this along - there is a holiday sale at Noble Knight Games.

I can't really highlight anything on sale - you know what new games you want and what old, out-of-print stuff you're looking for. All the stuff I wrote is out of stock. (Shrug)

I guess I should have waited a couple weeks to get my last batch of items.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Modifying loot-based XP to encourage risk taking?

Yesterday I mentioned what I felt like was a logical fallacy / poor strategy when it came to earned XP in my games. That is, saving your points when you're close to a required loot threshold, so you can earn more XP on less found loot.

I allow people to do this - sit below a threshold and not spend their points. It's been done before, even by as long-lasting and successful of a delver as Vryce, who delved his last in the low-to-mid 500 point range.

Evileeyore suggested something that basically, I feel, means that this might be learned behavior. Enough delves have come back with little or no loot, so it's a logical reaction and seem like a useful stratgey.

I think it's a self-fulfilling prophecy - the idea being that we're not strong enough to delve in dangerous places for more loot, so let's keep our point low so we can max out XP even as we grub for missed loot in the picked over sections thanks to low loot thresholds. Repeat that over and over. It becomes repetive and self-reinforcing as no one gains confidence they can gain more loot, especially as they don't know of any, because they're not exploring deeper from need but staying as shallow and safe as possible. Why risk your life for $5000+ per person if you can eke out $200 per person and get 4 XP for loot, or $400 when you're a bit higher, etc. The delvers are thus gaining points but don't see things to do, feel like they're always stuck grubbing, and fear going deeper because if bad stuff happens while trying to scrape up whatever loot was left behind in the first (and second, and third, and more) passes over the area, then going deeper must be a TPK. Actual TPKs that occur just prove that deeper is too dangerous.

And thus caution and trying to eke out every coin before taking risks has been a regular feature of the game. It took a long time before anyone went below level 2, and mostly when people find new ways down (long a goal), they immediately back off and put it on the "do it later, when we're more points" list. That's happened with multiple levels. Instead of people trying to find a way to get deep quickly and with the least risk on the way, hoping for a big score and a first crack at puzzles, rare magic items, and strange monsters, it's a min-max game of cautiously trying to maximize XP from the minimum risk.

So I really see this idea of "we're going to barely get loot anyway so it's a good tactic to hold onto points to keep our thresholds lower" as people trying to see an in-game benefit to in-game caution. The thing is, the cautious games are fun despite the cautious play, and the risky games are fun because of the risky play. No one tells stories about the empty delves but the TPKs and crazy fights and weird discoveries come up all the time.

Some of this might be tied to the experience point system I use. It rewards loot and exploration, but loot more, so perhaps it encourages and rewards risk-minimal loot-sufficient delves instead of awesome risky and loot-rich delves. You know, better 100% of us live and 80% of us get 40-60% of maximum XP than 60% of us live and all of us get lots of loot and maximum XP.

There are a few potential ways around this.

You can make the loot thresholds based on escalating loot per delve, not per point. It's your how many points you are, but how many delves - so eventually you need to take risks, and you better have maximized your XP along the way.

You can scale loot thresholds by delve, not delver - either use the average points of the party to set a threshold for everyone, or just set it off of the highest point character. Oh, sure, you can bootstrap, but it's going to take a lot of loot to do it. More so with the second version. The "average" version could work - if your party is 250, 275, 300, 325, 350, 430, 470 = ~342 on average, you need 7 x 200 = $1400 total for the party for everyone to get loot (given Method 3.) Or just put your foot down and say it's $4K each for full loot because the big boys are coming out to delve.

You could also not allow uneven loot splits - XP is based on an even split, even if the money is split unevenly.

Me, I'm okay with the threshold-hovering, but I would like a way that encourages people to delve deeper. The lack of new "easy" areas and diminishing returns on looting picked-over areas (new monsters show up far more often than new loot does) could couple with one of the above to push delves deeper.

It's always tough, as lethal old-school play encourages caution, but only rewards risk. Perhaps I need to adjust those rewards in order to encourage a bit more risk taking.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Some rules & rulings from yesterday

A few things came up last session:

- One player asked if there was, essentially, a "blog knowledge" skill - not his exact words, but I think the aim was the ability to roll against it to look up stuff on the blog in play. Or have me relate information from it. I said no out of hand. So a roll (takes time) to let someone slow things down while they look things up?

Oh sure, you might say, I'd only look things up while other people are doing things. But if so and your discovery would change their minds, then their time was wasted. And if they slow down, inevitably, to wait and see what you "recall," the game slows down. Plus the game then because an exhaustive search of my blog. It's not player skill and knowledge in a tense dungeon setting, it's search skill in a more casual computer-assisted dungeon-based process of treasure aquisition. No thanks!

- Lens question - can you buy them piecemeal? I've answered this many times, but here it is again - you can buy stat increases and apply them retroactively to a lens's cost. If your knight picks up +1 IQ, you can later buy a template that requires +1 IQ for 20 points less. The rest of it must be purchased together. Yes, it's just easier to do it all at once.

- Can you hold off on spending points to sit just below a "loot threshold" for as long as possible? Sure. Go ahead. Be a weaker delver, longer, instead of a better, stronger delver faster and use your enhanced abilities to try for larger loot. I think it's a poor decision long-term but you can do it. Anything that tires to maximize XP per session now over long-term risk-taking for more loot is probably not a good strategy. Or a fun one. "I can get 4 xp for loot each session for less loot found" vs. "I can get potentially 5 xp per session with more loot if I explore more and loot more." Which one is a better one to spend an actual real-life day that you can't get back?

- And a non-ruling. Durak, the Lord of Spite. The PCs might go after him, so if you want to read up on him. His first encounter was before they knew his name, when he was just the blue ogre in Session 23. That was before they found out he was a demon lord. Since then, he's come up a lot. The PCs are stocking up on spell stones and potions, and readying all of their items for an attempt on the demon lord. Sir Bunny has been summoned (his player has a lot of booked-up Sundays, so we'll see) and the Dryst Call has gone out. They want to take him out so he's unable to bother them for 666 days so they can explore in and around his "apartment," and try to open the doors near him. Last time they took a shot at him they used a Wish to escape, but this time it'll be do-or-die!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

GURPS DF Session 141, Felltower 109 - Nothing Ventured & Nothing Gained

Date: November 8th, 2020
Weather: Warm, clear, breezy.

Aldwyn Hale, human knight (313 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (135 points)
"Mild Bruce" MacTavish, human barbarian (308 point)
Crogar, human barbarian (317 points)
Desmond McDermott, human wizard (263 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (470 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (408 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
     toxic skull (?? points)
Heyden, human knight (307 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (321 points)

The group planned out their delve, and settled on bashing down the middle down on the GFS, checking out "five ooze corner," and then possibly the orcs or Lord of Spite after. They wanted to go the Black Library, which is why Desmond came, but they realized they lacked enough knowledge of Elder Tongue and magic to allow them to talk to the demonic door. So instead, they bought a battering ram, Strength potions, and some other gear for digging and breaking in, and so on. The group gathered rumors and headed out.

They headed into the dungeon through the trap door, and down to the giant fantastic staircase. They used a scroll to put Silence on the landing, had their four strongest drink Strength potions, tapped the door with a mallet (to check if there was a trap), and then started bashing. Their effective ST was 37 combined, and they did 9d+3 every 3 seconds. After two minutes - and 40 bashes - they didn't even scratch the door. (Damage was 9/43.5/57 min/avg/max)

Tired from the exertion, they retreated to the 2nd level and entered a large room, luxuriously furnished room with a roaring fire. "It's an illusion," said Galen. It was. It was all fake, unreal to the touch. They waited it out in the room until they were mostly ready to move on.

Next they headed down the stairs. At the bottom they headed out into the "gate level,"and naturally Varmus and Aldwyn failed their HT rolls for "bad air" and suffered a -1. In the room outside the stairs, Galen found some dried blood drops. They followed them to the left, to an octagonal room. They seemed to go past a door, opposite from the direction they wanted to go. It seemed that there was more blood away from the stairs than at them.

They ignored the blood for now and headed toward Five Ooze Corner. They reached nearby, and then Gerry sent a Wizard Eye to scout it out. Their map showed another hallway near the oozes. The eye explored a bit, spying the quiescent ooze pool, and Gerry found the "other corridor" was a map error - the ooze corner was a dead end room bewteen two known areas.

He sent the eye into the room and saw no obvious exists. The pool spun off an ooze and sent it after the eye. Gerry had it flee away from the party, and lure the ooze that way. He paused to check out the mosaic room, and saw it had been roughly repaired. At that point, the ooze caught and destroyed the eye.

They headed from there to the "brain monster room." It had been explored before, but not to Desmond's satisfaction. Bruce forced the door open and in they went. The room spilled away from them, as far as they could see with their light - and Dark Vision didn't help - it couldn't function past the end of the range of the light. They headed along the left wall, and walked for ~3 minutes or so, losing sight of the door. They decided enough was enough and turned to head back . . . but before they did, they saw something in the distance. It was a large fish-like creature "swimming" toward them. They moved toward the door. It closed very quickly, although it didn't seem like it was moving that quickly. It was a three-eyed catfish-looking thing with tentacles around its "head" and catfish whispers on its face. They fled out the door.

From there, they headed to the blood trail, forced the door, and followed it to a corner. It headed to the left, but ahead was the suspected back route to the Lord of Spite's caverns.

Galen headed forward, stealthily. He reached the caverns, and hear a raspy, rattling breathing. He moved forward and saw treasure scattered around the center of the cavern. He headed off to the side, and heard laughing instead of breathing, and spotted a devil maw coming from the right. He backpedaled, and then ran once he heard a drag-stomp, drag-STOMP.

Short version - they ran. They fled to the levels above, waited there in hiding in the "cold room," and then headed home once it was clear the Lord of Spite wasn't coming. They debated many other things to do, but couldn't settle on anything that wasn't just a time-waster, or, like raiding the orcs, better done with a purpose in the future instead of just to try something now as busy-work.

Back in town, they spent some time discussing a plan - the current one is, in two weeks, to go after the Durak, the Lord of Spite. The call has gone out for Sir Bunny Wigglesworth and Dryst, and many spell stones and potions were ordered.


MVP was Heyden, because his player had a really funny line at the beginning of the session that we felt suited Barbie in Gamma Terra. He now has 29 points saved. A lens is coming, eventually, unless he breaks down and puts them all into Artist-16 or Poetry-16 so he can be Felltower's Poet Laureate. Otherwise, no one really did anything exciting.

No loot, no XP for exploration today. A total empty session. But it did answer two nagging questions about Five Ooze corner and the "endless room," and did trigger a serious discussion about the Lord of Spite. We'll see if they can actually do it. But for now, the plan is go and fight him (or draw him out and fight him) and not let him escape. He's a tough go, thanks to at the very least having his boars, and possibly having devil maws and doomchildren with him, too. But there is a lot of loot near him, and some doors they'd like to explore unimpeded by his chasing them off of his lawn.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Loot Threshold XP and what counts as loot

I use a loot-threshold based system for awarding XP in my Dungeon Fantasy game. Old school gold-for-Xp updated to a system that wouldn't deal well with 1:1 like in the Good Old Days.

But I also like to enforce a rule about "new" loot. That is, newly found loot counts towards the threshold, but previously discovered loot does not. The basic idea is to prevent loot-maximizing.

Example: The party solves an interesting puzzle problem, and finds a secure secret door to a treasury. So they take just enough loot get everyone maximum XP. The next session, they do other things that aren't loot heavy, and stop by the treasury and trigger the clever mechanism and take, again, just enough. Repeat until the treasury is empty.

Instead, I only award loot-based XP for treasure when first found and successfully exploited.

What about edge cases?

What if you give loot to a monster and then, much later, take it back?

Probably not loot. It might be if it's different characters, but don't bet the delve on it.

What if you find monsters to trade with?

First time is probably loot - it's a good encounter and exploitation of it.

Second time? Eh. Probably not.

What if you find something, and then only later come back and take some?

Likely it's loot for XP purposes. Discovery isn't exploitation.

What if it's a huge hoard, and coming back and getting more is a dangerous and risk-filled prospect?

It's probably loot.

To me, no edge case has really been that strong of an edge case. They generally seem like a pretty choice in one direction or the other. So that's how I rule and how I play it. I try to point them out ahead of time, if you're planning a delve around a "loot" source . . . but I won't always point it out during the session. I feel like that unduly influences decisions during the session itself and that's not a positive thing.

If you're running loot-based XP, especially if you're doing so using the rules in DF 21, what do you think? How do you handle this?

Friday, November 6, 2020

Friday Links & Thoughts 11/6/2020

Random stuff for a Friday.

- Surprise, you're playing Metamorphosis Alpha.

A Metamorphosis Alpha Tale – What The Heck Is This Dungeon?

- CRPG Adventures completed Ultima (aka Ultima I) and, as requested, reported his victory to Lord British. On Twitter, to Richard Garriott.

Utima: Victory!

- Power Score looks at Half-Orcs. I have to admit, I felt this line from Volo's Guide seemed a little too . . . gamey . . . to me.

"...orcs mate with non-orcs only when they think such a match will strengthen the tribe."

Only interbreed to strengthen their bloodlines? Seriously? There isn't a single Don Juanorc with an interest in the human side of the side? No Barry Whiteorc? No Wilt Chamberorc who'se racking up 10,000 victories on the battlesheets of love? They're just a bunch of cold eugenics breeders? Yeah, right. It falls flatter than the "rape only" implications of earlier haf-orcs.

- What are reviews for?

What do reviews of role-playing games do?
I put in a comment, which basically says my reviews are just highlighting things I like or giving you more information. And that when someone says something is objectively bad/not fun/etc. I take it with a grain of salt.

- Sunday is Felltower, and the "what do we do?" posts have begun! I'm not paying too close attention, because my current work schedule no longer leaves me any signicant prep time except the Sunday before game. So by the time my players start discussing what to do, there is no time to prep anything if they have a sudden neat idea. So it goes . . .

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Harsh Realism for Long Weapons

GURPS has a generous rule for long weapons, which dates back to the rules in Man-to-Man.

The 4th edition version reads in part as follows:

Attacking Through an Occupied Hex

You can attack “through” someone else in melee if you are using a weapon with a reach of two yards or more. You may attack through a friend at no penalty (this is a basic part of your training with any long weapon). (Campaigns, p. 388)

Is that really true, though? When you learn staff, spear, two-handed sword, longsword, greataxe, maul, glaive, etc. you learn to swing over and around your friends?

Maybe so.

Do your friends learn how to fight in a way that leaves you totally unimpeded to attack through them? And they aren't thrown off in any way, shape, or form by you attacking past them? All on a one second time scale?

I think not. I think earlier versions of GURPS assume some of what was later added under the Teamwork perk. I think a "harsh realism" rule is appropriate here.

Harsh Realism for Long Weapons

GURPS allows long weapons to attack through friendly hexes at no penalty; this rule applies a -4 penalty per occupied hex no matter the relationship to the attacking fighter. This penalty is eliminated if both the attacker and the occupant have the Teamwork perk.

On a critial miss, any "dropped weapon" may hit the occupant of the hex you are attacking through - 1-4 on 1d. This is distracting - -2 to all rolls for that turn (and may be harmful if the weapon is a force sword or similar weapon.) Critical misses that result in hitting a friend will hit the occupied hex's occupant . . . if it's an ally! Otherwise, determine who is hit normally.

Seems a little harsh, but not too harsh. I suppose I can harsh it up . . . but this is a good start. It seems better than you need to have learned to fight with someone before attacking over them without penalizing either of you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Runquest 2nd edition

This arrived today from Lulu:

So far, the printing seems clear and well done. I'm looking forward to giving it a good read . . . I just need to decide if I'm going to finish my current gaming reads, or skip to this one!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The Felltower Delvers in Instagram

If you don't follow Hjalmarr Holgerson on Instagram, you should. Despite his horrible death, he's maintained a pretty steady posting habit. Recently, he's been putting up icons for the variour party members.

Since we play exclusively on Roll20 it's been handy to have specialty icons made for play. I wonder if people will recognize their minis when we get back to tabletop play eventually?

Monday, November 2, 2020

"Gary Gygax hated magic." - Did he?

I saw this comment on CRPG Addict's review of Dark Queen of Krynn:

"It seems to stem from how Gygax hated magic so he purposefully made it difficult to survive as a wizard and made magic tough to learn."

This is not the first time I've heard something like this. I responded with a request for a source.

But I'll ask here, too. Does anyone have a quote from Gary to this effect? One from an early player that felt that Gary felt this way?

Magic changed from OD&D to AD&D, but in my opinion it's mostly in adding some complexity (spell components, timing on casting) that provides a mild brake on magic . . . but still keeps it quite powerful and game-shaping and game-changing.

It's also a comment I find hard to square with Gary's most famous characters being magic-users. Not exclusively, but even so, a couple of them have their names all over some potent spells in AD&D.

So, where does this come from? Actual Gary, or something that's been attributed to him in some roundabout fashion?

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Felltower NPC: Varmus the Hanged

This is an NPC from DF Felltower. He's the ally of Aldwyn Hale and he's built with the 125-point Apprentice template from Dungeon Fantasy 15: Hirelings

Varmus the Hanged (135 points)

Varmus is a skinny, reedy man with a long beard and a raspy, terrible voice. He keeps to himself, generally, and invokes the technical letter of the law whenever possible to avoid situations he'd like to get out of. Or just to be difficult - it's not always clear. He recently lost some ST and gained Unfit and Wounded (Torso) after nearly being bisected by a giant and Resurrected on the cheap.

ST 9 HP 9 Speed 5
DX 11 Will 14 Move 5
IQ 14 Per 13
HT 11 FP 12
Dodge 8 Parry (Staff) 11

Quarterstaff (12): 1d+1 (swing) or 1d (thrust) crushing, Reach 1,2.

Traits: Disturbing Voice; Greedy (12); Magery 3; Night Vision 3; Skinny; Unfit; Wounded (Torso)

Perks: Mystic Guidance (Fireball).

Quirks: Distinctive Feature (Eyes reflect light like a cat's); nsists his stomach can only tolerate elven rations whike traveling; Legailistc (Obeys the *letter* of the law); Pyromania (Mild).

Skills: Alchemy-12; Body Sense-5 (default); Climbing-10; Fast-Draw (Potion)-12; Gesture-14; Hazardous Materials (Magical)-13; Hidden Lore (Elemental Lore)-14; Innate Attack (Projectile)-12; Meditation-12; Occultis-14; Philosophy (Magism)-12; Psychology (Elementals)-12; Search-12; Staff-12; Stealth-10; Thaumatology-15; Writing-13.

Spells (all skill 15 unless otherwise noted): Apportation; Counterspell; Create Fire; Detect Magic; Dispel Magic; Essential Flame; Extinguish Fire; Fireball; Fireproof; Flame Jet; Flaming Weapon; Heat; Ignite Fire; Iron Arm; Itch; Lend Energy; Mage Sight; Missile Shield; Pain; Rain of Fire; Recover Energy; Resist Cold; Resist Fire; Resist Pain; Shape Fire; Spasm; Warmth.

Equipment: Backpack, Small; Boots; Elven Rations (x3); Heavy Leather Corselet; Leather Gloves; Leather Helm (Full Face); Ordinary Clothes; Paut x2; Personal Basics; Potion Belt; Pouch; Power Item - 5000 sp gold necklace, 18 FP; Small Knife; Staff (with Staff spell); Wineskin (gallon of water).

Notes: Has $150.30 to his name.
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