Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Crypt of Krysuvik in PDF - It's beautiful!

The title of this post says it all. The Crypt of Krysuvik was dropped into my DriveThruRPG possession today . . . and it's beautiful.

I won't comment on the adventure or the writing, except to say that Doug did an excellent job editing and I really like Marshall's ideas and what he did with them.

But the layout, text, maps, and art . . . excellent. I'm very pleased that my book is so attractive. Not since DFM1 have I had such an attractive book, physically.

Thank you Doug!

You can see the cover here:

Crypt of Kryusvik cover

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Method I for Gary's Birthday

So it's Gary Gygax's birthday, as I was reminded by this Tumblr blog:

Suggested Options for Rolling Character Stats in AD&D

I love this quote:

"Character generation, then, is a serious matter, and it is recommended that the following systems be used."

"3d6 in order" is a legendary hallmark of early D&D, but I came up with Basic Set D&D (3d6 in order, with lowering one stat to raise another) and then right into AD&D. We generally used Method I.

So let's get on with the serious matter of rolling up a paper man for AD&D, using, oh, Method I:
6-4-1-1 = 11
5-5-4-3 = 14
6-6-5-5 = 17
5-5-3-2 = 13
6-1-1-1 = 8
5-5-3-2 = 13

I can put them in the order desired. So let's make this guy a halfling thief!

Str 10 (11 -1)
Int 13
Wis 8
Dex 18 (17 +1)
Con 14
Cha 13

Not bad. With max HP he's HP 6, and has AC 6 without any armor and AC 2 with leather. That's probably survivable.

I could have done a dwarf fighter with 18 Con, a cleric with 17 Wis, a magic-user with 17 Wis . . . I was tempted to make a Str 18 Half-Orc Fighter/Assassin, too, with Cha 6 or Int 6 (not bright, but wise and deadly?) So much fun.

Happy birthday Gary.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Big Noble Knight Games sale

Noble Knight Games is doing a "Buy 3, Get 1 Free Product" sale on certain items. Some of them are already at a pretty steep discount.

Here is the link to the sale and the list:

Buy 3 Get 1 Free

If I needed more stuff, I'd be all over this. Sadly, I'm more trying to downsize my collections just a bit. But I did want to pass this on.

Just browsing, geez, I wish I was into 15mm armor games . . . 5 Shermans for $7, 5 Tigers for $7 . . . you could lay out less than $100 and have a nice battlefield full of armor . . . hmm . . .

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Gaming session plans for the next 3 sessions

Our gaming plan is:

- next game, A2, in all likelihood.

- the following game, the Cold Fens.

- the game after, either A2 (if we didn't finish it - see below) or Cold Fens or Felltower.

I'm hoping we can do A2 in one go. I plan to push the pace rather strongly, and rather aggressively keep the pedal down on time spent. It shouldn't take multiple 8-hour game sessions to finish what's a 4-hour tournament adventure. I may just declare the game finished if the PCs don't finish the game. Otherwise it's likely people will spend, say, an hour on the very first puzzle or trick or trap they encounter, then another couple hours on the first fight, then another hour or so trying to figure out an alternate way around an encounter because there "has to" be another way than through the heavily guarded guard posts, etc. I get the caution, but it's useless in A2. So I am hoping it's a one-session game.

After that we should be back to alternating weeks of DF until such a time as our Gamma Terra GM can spend some time prepping so we can play that.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Physical Delvers to Grow soon?

I missed this update, probably because Doug posts a lot of updates and I can't be checking every day to see what's up:

Core Books: In the House!

I'm looking forward to having a physical book of the Delvers to Grow. I think it's a very good addition to DFRPG, and I'd like to have an actual physical reference to use.

I mostly use PDF for reference, but I find it easier to read physical books. I ordered a copy of this above and beyond my author's copy. I expect only one but if I end up with two I'm going to pass it on to someone in my gaming circle without one. If Doug had these 5 days ago, it's not going to be too long before they start arriving with the pledgers.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Links for Friday 7/23/21

A few quick links and thoughts today:

- I'm still probably ditching my Bones V set, but here are some pictures of things from the core and expansion sets.

- Matt has a hexagonal gaming table covered with hexagons.

- We're likely to be pushing A2 back a bit because of attendence issues from a hard-core AD&D fan in the group, and the fact that the group seems to have some unfinished business with the giants in the Cold Fens. And a plan! (Okay, a plan to go and set up and then make up a plan, but it's a step.)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Is bad PC behavior a Reputation?

Yesterday, I wrote about bad PC behavior and why NPCs generally seem to know about it going in.

Should that be a point-costed Reputation in GURPS?
Briefly, Maybe, but I run it as No.

In general, I don't assign a point-costed Reputation for such behavior, unless it's explicitly personal behavior by a specific PC. General behavior by a whole class of adventurers gets covered by the usual steep reaction penalties that delvers in a dungeon-bashing game get - penalties for invading the living space of the encountered NPCs, penalties for cultural divides and language issues, penalties for perceived and actual prior behavior. Negotiation is still possible, but if you murder-hobo as a main approach, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. NPCs might take a risk on you, but only if they have to, or you make it so tempting to do so that they overcome their risk-aversion due to reward-greed.

In town, NPCs react off of the PC's disadvantages. They're sufficiently two-dimensional that I don't worry overly about giving them specific problems with PCs. The PCs can create those issues themselves, but if they don't, they don't exist beyond that which they gained points for.

So while being a standard PC and acting like a standard PC - killing for loot, taking no prisoners, and sparing no pity - gives a blanket problem, you don't get points for it. It's just a campaign switch if everyone does that all of the time.

If you take a nicer approach, though, you can negate that. It takes a bit of effort - and it's worth buying positive reaction traits to overcome the automatic assumption you're a murder hobo like the rest. But consistent behavior the other direction can change that campaign switch of expect all delvers to be untrustworthy murder-hobos. You just have to put the work in to prove it. If you do, though, it's possible to reap the rewards of being nice. However, a little trust-breaking can undo a lot of trust-building, so the work needs to be consistent, as well.

In all of these cases, it's possible to grant a blanket Reputation to all delvers . . . but it'll be earned through play, and serves only to reduce the effective value of a PC. Since my game uses a flat cap on the maximum negative points on a PC, this really doesn't help very much. It just adds the complexity of putting down disadvantages on paper without getting any real game utility out it. So I save Reputation for individuals and what is known about their actions individually.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

How do the NPCs know you're not to be trusted?

A lot of NPCs in my games react poorly to delvers in general.

How do NPCs who haven't met the delvers in particular know they are untrustworthy greedy violence-mongers?

It seems unfair from a player perspective that somehow people "know" you don't take prisoners, you don't tell nobody your business, and yet somehow people know not to surrender to you or run because they know you'll slit their throats or shoot them in the back. What gives? How do GMs justify this unfairness?

Here are four ways.

1) Word gets around. Let's face it, PCs are terrible, terrible, terrible at covering their tracks. They also want credit for all of the cool stuff they did, adulation for their special loot, and respect and fear of all around them. So they don't tend to do much besides destroy everything like rabid wolverines, sell stolen loot at a premium as a collection that fails to disguise its provenance, and so on. They also tend to either leave corpses around or blood splatters where their new zombies walked off from. So "we didn't tell anyone or leave survivors, how do they know?" You've left enough clues to make Inspector Clouseau look like Sherlock Holmes.

2) People jump to conclusions. They're stereotyping you. Why is that?

3) You're not the only one. If you're going around plundering and murdering and betraying and taking no prisoners except to question and later kill and zombie, others probably have done this. It's not like you invented being ruthless and greedy. So people assume you are. You have to prove you have Sense of Duty but they'll probably assume you have Greed and Bloodlust and a Quirk: Kills everyone who ever wronged him in any way and "wronged" means "inconvenienced."

4) Summon Spirit. The kicker. Divination. People can find out a staggering amount about you even if you kill all of your enemies. Their friends can use Crystal Gazing to look in on you. They can summon their dead buddies and talk to them, even if you destroyed the corpses. They can use History spells to check out where that goblet you won't discuss came from. They can just ask and get a solidly accurate answer.

So really, being a murderous delver is fine . . . but it's hard to conceal. Foes will assume this is you, and foes with any knowledge can find out what you're like if they hear you are coming. And even random NPCs in town curious about the loot you sold them can find out very solid details on how you found it, with some access to magic. Pretending otherwise is failing to recognize that a fantasy world with common divination magic means just doing something is probably enouugh for someone with enough cleverness and will to find out what you did.

That's why the NPCs don't trust you quite as quickly as you'd hope!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

GURPS 2021 PDF Challenge - that was fun

The GURPS PDF challenge successfully unlocked all of the books.

I've seen a number of them - the authors did some exchanges so we can read each other's. There aren't any that I'm not looking forward to seeing in final production version.

But there are a couple I'm really looking forward to.

All of the DF books can be useful to me.

Ring Fort? Thanks Doug, I probably will need to drop a ring fort down somewhere and now I'll have one.

Two-page dungeons? I like them and I'd run them. I told Matt so when I first saw the book. I don't know when I'll need them but they might be useful drop-ins for Felltower.

Gates? I wrote it.

Twists? I didn't see this one - Sean usually doesn't post stuff up for peer review when it's a short production item and doesn't need spot-checking. Sean is covering some ground here that I'm interested in seeing covered but wasn't interested in writing myself - land, titles, and high-tech. I'm really looking forward to that.

The Action adventure by Shawn Fisher is good. I read it and I liked it. It's fun stuff and has exploooooooooooooooosions! If you play it right, it will, so do that.

And Matt and I can't do Renaissance Orcish Underwater Ninjas without his work on Venice, so I should probably read that whole book ASAP.

Everything else I looked at is, at the very least, interesting and worth the time to read.

Overall, I'm excited to get the books. DF23 will be my first read, after DF22 gets a glance to see if anything changed from just-pre-release to release.

Monday, July 19, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 154, Cold Fens 13 - Hexcrawling the Cold Fens (Part I)

Game Date: 7/18/2021 - 7/24/2021

Aldwyn Hale, human knight (345 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (170 points)
Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (329 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (350 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (498 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
     Rahtnar the Skeleton (~125 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (353 points)

Before the session, Ulf took swimming lessons. Otherwise, the PCs just gathered up food, purchased potions, and otherwise got ready for a trip. They decided on exploring the area between Sakatha's island the the giant's island, to see if anything was there.

They headed out into the swamp. They contended with the usual - biting flies, mosquitos, leeches, leaping leeches, wasps, etc. - but the weather held up. They were able, in general, to avoid any real trouble.

However, one night, Aldwyn and Varmus heard some rustling. Aldwyn stalked out to see what it was - some kind of rodent-like thing in the bushes. When he approached, it flung spines at him, twice. They clunked off of his armor. He waved his knife at it as it fled. In the morning, they found short quills tipped with a sticky, probably toxic, substance. Galen didn't know of any animal that fit that description.

Another night, a big anaconda - 21' worth of anaconda - slithered out of the darkness and towards the camp, right around dawn. Galen and Bruce were awake. Bruce moved into its way. The snake tried to bite him in the groin (11 on the random hit location table is still groin to me) but he was able to dodge, and then grabbed it with both hands for 9 CP after dodging aside. The snake tried to grapple him back with its slinky coils, but missed. Bruce proceeded to start punching it in the skull. The snake writhed and tried to grapple, but ultimately failed as Bruce punched it over and over in the skull, breaking its skull after a few hard hits.

They spent an extra hour skinning the snake and then Ulf used Create Food on its meat to make it edible without having to cook it. Galen skinned the snake for Bruce so he can make boots.

Still another night, as they began to do a circuit of the giant's island (seeking, apparantly, a trail that reaches the water's edge to follow into the island - they didn't find one), they camped not far off on some other dry-ish land. A quarter-mile off they saw a light moving back and forth, like a lantern. They woke Galen and Ulf put Resist Lightning on himself. They got the others up and buffed away. Galen shot the light but it moved aside, and then went out. Nothing else came of that as they hopped into a Sanctuary and Ulf put Vigil on himself so they could camp within.

The next day, they ate some food that Ulf made with Create Food . . . but he'd rolled an 18. He ended up spoiling all of the food, but subtly. They ate it . . . and most of them (except Wyatt and Crogar and Bruce) vomitted it back up and were nauseous for the whole next day, and got very little proper sleep.

Despite that, they headed to the giant's island and spent some hours exploring the coast until they found their previous landing point.

For some reason, they headed back right to the area they'd seen that light, and camped close by. This would have fateful consequences.

That night, as Varmus and Aldwyn were on watch, a 6" sphere-ish of light appeared less than a yard from Aldwyn and touched him - zap! He took 3d electrical damage, burning and stunning him. He shook it off as Varmus yelled for everyone to wake up, and moved closer to Ulf. They started to get up - some quickly, some less so. The light - Galen called it a will-o-the-wisp - kept shocking Aldwyn, putting him to negative HP and barely holding on to consciousness. Ulf woke and cast Resist Lightning, which seemed to stop its attackes. Wyatt tried to stab it with a wooden sword, Galen shot arrows at it (one seemed to pass through it, and maybe did something?) The wisp then disappeared. But Aldwyn was badly hurt, there was a lot of noise of people yelling for Resist Lightning and whatnot, and the sound carried far.

They finished buffing themselves and then looked around . . . nothing. So they went back to sleep. Ulf heard the sound of something in the water - it sounded like something big, wading. So they decided that they needed to get into another Sanctuary. Ulf made one, and they piled in, putting Vigil on himself again.

They next morning, though, when they emerged, their boats were gone. Galen had concealed them, but clearly not well enough. Something had dragged them out into the water, clearly, and they were gone. Bruce had left his snakeskin in the boat, and was inconsolable.

They decided it must be the giants. They debated going home and giving up on the boats, but took a vote. Going after the giants narrowly won - with a few undecided voters like Crogar and Varmus.

So they crossed overland to the north, and camped overnight after Galen did a little scouting to ensure they were west of the giant's island.

We ended there, with the PCs determined to get their boats back.


- the PCs almost went home, but they had a big discussion and settled on killing the giants. Wyatt's player argued that in-game, there was no way the PCs would just walk home. I usually let them discuss on their own . . . but that just didn't seem correct. They'd walked off from sunk costs and from potentially lethal challenges in the past. That they might not walk away from this one was fine, but not the logic that they wouldn't. They had multiple times in the past. This is more of a break with the past than a continuation of prior conduct. It sure suits the couple of guys with Overconfidence.

- in typical adventurer/PC logic, I'm sure they'll now justify every thing they ever do and have done to the giants and/or their allies in terms of justice for the stealing of their boats. Not that they'll do anything they wouldn't have done just because the giants have money and they want it. If it somehow turns out the giants didn't steal their boats, they'll justify it based on that, instead - for allowing their boats to get stolen. Nothing sets off the righteous anger of PCs more than people fighting back.

- Bruce was MVP for punching a snake to death. XP wasn't otherwise handed out as the delve is not complete.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Cold Fens pre-summary

We played a session of the Cold Fens today.

- the group headed out exploring the area between the giant's island and Sakatha's island

- the boated around and trekked around, dealing with bugs, ants, bugs, leeches, bugs, and a will-o-the-wisp of some kind, and leeches all over

- Bruce wrestled a snake . . .

- they lost their boats . . . they believe to the giants, so . . .

- they made their way north, and then had Galen scout the island . . . and next time will be them attacking the giants.

Summary tomorrow!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Felltower: It's a PC world

In my post on the Felltower Orc Pallisade, I posted this comment:

From an in-game perspective, why should the local rulers care about the orcs? It's a difficult trip - either through a dungeon, or overland through tangled forested hills and low mountains to get to the orc's ravine/valley camp. It'll be costly in men, treasure, and time. And your opponent are a large group of orcs who aren't bothering Stericksburg in any significant way and who are a potential, but not actual, military threat only if you provoke them. Skirmishes happened here and there in the years past, but nothing major and mostly with people who went up to Felltower or too far into the unclaimed woods to the north. And if you win . . . you get a place that's difficult to hold and doesn't come with much value. So why organize an army?

From an in-game PC perspective, why would you want an army to help? If they come and help and leave, they've done nothing but cut your treasure share to very little. If they come and help and stay, they've done that plus Felltower is now surrounded by the ruler's controlled lands. That ruler might extend his rule into Felltower, at least in name, and thus legitimately ask for taxes or tithes of loot and claim particular things . . . or require tasks by social and legal force. Why get them involved?

From an out-of-game perspective, why have NPCs do stuff for the PCs when the PCs find it hard?

That last one is why I set it up so the first two paragraphs are the situation. I made it a problem no army is going to come solve so the PCs have to do it.

This isn't a new thing - neither the orcs, nor the idea that NPCs should swoop in and make life easier for the PCs, or give the PCs a big reward or a lot of help to do the things the PCs find important.

I posted about this back in 2014.

So the PCs are the ones who need to do jobs.

But NPCs will tell them what to do and how to do it and reward them for seeking treasure, right?


No quests.

The idea of the game is to be a limited sandbox. The PCs will get stuff they can do, but what to do - and doing it - is PC-driven.

I've occasionally offered rewards for items pulled from the depths, but they've almost never been taken. I've offered extra rewards for doing particular tasks, and mostly the response has been to bad-mouth the NPC offering the reward as being too cheap or the task too hard. So even the quest-lite things I've offered have been shot down . . . and honestly it's for the better. The PCs should determine what they want and how to get it, not wait around for NPCs to tell them what the NPCs want and bribe the PCs to get it. Nevermind the PCs will expect to keep the quest findings if they're better than the reward and claim they can and should be able to hold them against all comers, because that's only fair (cough, cough, White Plume Mountain, every time.) So why bother? I just make it purely about the PCs. And I structure the game in the game world to make it so.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Random Links for 7/16/21

- Mailanka wrote a post that riffs off of my "Paper Man" writing.

On Paper Men and Disposable Characters
I think this is where I put down my first "paper man" discussion, although my buddy Don W. using it dates back to pre-internet days.

My Paper Man is Dead

Ultimately, it's not about characters being disposable vs. being special snowflakes. It's about the character being a vehicle for something else, and ultimately just being a tool for shared imagination and shared fun . . . and not the point of the fun. You're not playing tabletop RPGs to make a paper man, you're making a paper man to play tabletop RPGs. The whole "waah, waah, waah, my paper man is dead" line is reminding you that loss of a paper man in the process of having fun is just part of the game. More disposable or less disposable, their job is to let you have fun. Don't lose sight of that and emphasize the paper man over the point of playing a game.

Anyway, it's very interesting to see someone's outside perspective of a way to play Felltower. He's largely describing the kind of background that led to the placement of Gram/Balmung in the dungeon, the sword-spirit, the whole backstory of the dungeon with Sterick, etc. . . . I wouldn't encourage a player to make a suicide background-creator to put things into the dungeon that were already there to find. But it's an interesting perspective on how my campaign looks from the outside.

- Want to know what Matt wrote for the PDF Challenge? Now you can find out.

- Blood of Prokopius is still writing about megadungeon denizens and scripture. It's pretty neat.

Part 2
Part 3

- This is more linguistics than gaming, but still, I like language details and this kind of detail is interesting for historical campaigns. I've heard it before that "we have no idea what (Latin/Ancient Greek/Ancient Egyptian/etc.) sounded like." Well, that's not exactly true - we have actual primary source discussions of the sounds, and the ability to recontruct sounds by tracing back from existing sounds in languages that developed from ancient languages. It's a pretty neat concept. Just because we don't have audio recordings doesn't mean we don't have a way to find out how speech sounded.

What Did Ancient Languages Sound Like?

- I'm 9-in-10 likely to sell my Bones IV Core Set. I'd enjoy opening it but I'm not thinking I'll be painting that much.

- The PDF Challenge is still going. Only a few days left. We need some more $$$ to unlock DF23, by Sean Punch.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Felltower Orc Palisade

Since some discussion has come up about the orc camp in my comments on my blog, here is some edited details of the route to the orc palisade in Felltower.

Session 119, Felltower 90 - Into the Orc Hole V

Once down the orc hole - essentially a hole in the dungeon floor going down a twisting, steep climb down, and then a cliff up to a cavern area - leads eventually to the "orc tunnel." "It was about a mile in that Galen, scouting ahead, found a barricade across the 9" wide tunnel. Beyond it was a 6-7 yard circular cave [. . . ]

They kept going - eventually another two miles, hearing more and more howling and yowling and growls ahead as they kept going. Finally they found the exit - a tunnel mouth out to the bright sunlight of the day. Highlighted in the light were about a dozen devil wolves. The group decided Galen should shoot a couple and lure the rest into the tunnel where they could be killed. So they set up, and Galen shot and killed two. But the wolves retreated instead - the PCs couldn't determine why (they failed the relevant PER rolls I made for them to detect anything.)

The PCs advanced to see outside. They saw a wooden palisade, about 15-20' high, embedded in a solid stone embankment - clearly Earth to Stone was used if not Shape Stone. The palisade had many orcs on it, and two sturdy gates to the left and the right. Beyond them, separate from the palisade, were two covered towers with movable shutters and a tarp covering them - clearing artillery platforms. Orcs in the scores - maybe hundreds - were organizing and they heard owlbears and ogres, too. And goblins, of course."

So that's the palisade. It's a semi-circle of wooden wall embedded in a solid stone base - rounded and smooth, not angular and carved or laid down mortared stone. The semi-circle encloses the tunnel exit from the dungeon at a short distance - I didn't specify in the blog post but it's roughly 20-30 yards out at its furthest.

That doesn't leave any space for sheltered and sniping. It's completely cleared of cover of any kind. Any spot there is subject to direct and enfilade missile attacks. Getting over the wall means climbing 15-20' of wooden palisade embedded in a smooth-based stone embankment also 10' or so high. Or going through the gates, which aren't very advanced but still have towers to provide enfilading fire and plunging fire at anyone at the base.

The orc camp is largely obscured beyond it, but there are places from which orcs can see over the wall - towers on the far side of the valley, the covered towers within. It's a smart bet that something in those towers is aimed at dealing with foes coming from the dungeon.

So as much as siege equipment might sound useful . . . it's not clear how it would be trucked so far through dungeon corridors, down stairs, down more stairs, down a hole, up a wall, and miles across tunnels . . . and then assembled in plain short-range sight of the enemy. Sure, Galen can stand there with his Cornucopia quivers and shoot up the orcs, but math says eventually someone will critically hit a PC with Missile Shield and that Galen will critically fail and potentially break a bowstring. Meanwhile, the orcs have other non-missile options to annoy the PCs. It's not a non-starter for the PCs to stand around at the entrance and slug it out with the orcs at range, but it's not likely to be a decisive fight or a valuable one for them. It is a non-starter for them to essentially conduct a planned siege assault - they lack the ability to bring the tools to the site, the materials on site, and the skills to do so well. There is almost certainly a way to deal with the orcs violently, but the defenses make it a lot tricker than laying a partial siege from within a killing ground.

Why are the orcs so organized about dealing with threats from the dungeon? Is is only the PCs who keep massacring orcs within the dungeon? Or something else? It's not clear, and the PCs haven't really found out (and asking in town sure won't help.) But this is why it's not such an easy solution of applying tried-and-true anti-fortification technology to the orc wall conundrum.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

DF 22 Gates is unlocked

Just a quick "Huzzah!" post - my book unlocked. They didn't update the Kickstarter just yet, but huzzah! 1500+ people shall get to see what I write about when I write about gates.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 22: Gates is next!

It's only going to take an easy $27,500 to get DF22 unlocked.

And the campaign is already nearing 1500 backers and is over $22,500. I think it should get to a full unlock, but it's nice to not have so long to wait to know mine will get out there.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Call of Cthulhu Kickstarter

I saw this, thanks to checking in on the SJG Kickstarter:

Now, I have a copy of Call of Cthulhu. Not the boxed set, but rather the 4th edition softcover. That's enough for me - it's a good edition with a lot of extras. If I needed more stuff on my shelves to sit unused, I'd go for the boxed modules. They're a joy to read even I won't ever get to run them.

If you're not as lucky as I, you might be needing a good, physical copy of one of the best games ever designed. The prices for the kickstarter aren't that bad, either. This might be a good chance. I didn't want anyone who reads this blog to miss it and only find out later, like I have with so many things.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Felltower vs. the Cold Fens - which next?

The actual "what's next" plan involved AD&D and A2. But the next GURPS is really the question, here.

What's to do in the Cold Fens:

- explore more. A hard way to earn cash but an easy way to get 1-2 xp.

- find the dragon's lair. Believed to be in some ruins. Ties into the above.

- go after the giant brothers. The group is hoping they're blinded and dead, but somehow their treasure is left unclaimed. Maybe. Perhaps they're fine, and their treasure is too . . . but round 2 will be a hard fight for both sides as they both can come more prepared.

What's do in Felltower:

- the usual list of no-goes. Gates, explore deeper, fight the beholder, fight the dragon(s), go down to the level with the killing floor.

- kill the draugr.

- kill the cloakers, "behir," Big John the troll, and others who must have loot because reasons.

Overall, I'm not sure where the PCs see their opportunities. The lack of exploration has killed the rumor total, and the pool gets smaller - unless you explore more, there isn't much new "Oh, hey, that reminds me . . . " knowledge to be had. Or pseudo-knowledge, as rumors generally are.

From the outside, I wonder, does it seem like there are other possibilities? I think the campaign is still going fine, but that to a degree the players can't see the forest for the trees and the trees for the forest. So much has happened and so much gone and forgotten . . .

Saturday, July 10, 2021

GURPS 2021 PDF challenge - combat advice?

I just wanted to highlight this $5 add-on mentioned in the PDF challenge:

I'm really interested very hard, GURPS-specific advice on combat. But I'm also certain that Sean's general advice on the subject will be good. Having both - general advice and GURPS-specific examples - might be something I can get a lot of mileage out of. Maybe not - I've been GMing GURPS combat since all we had was the combat system (aka Man-to-Man.) But given that it's Sean, the odds are extremely high that I'll get far more than $5 of value out of it. I'm the most excited for this out of all of the PDFs other than my own (I like seeing my words in print.)

Friday, July 9, 2021

Friday Links 7/9/2021

- Let's talk megadungeons.

Bat in the Attic and Blood of Prokopius both have posts about them on their blogs that are worth reading.

My own dungeon is very, very minimal because I know what it looks like in my own head. This goes back to the Other People's Megadungeons problem.

- I got some helpful feedback on my post about remoting people in to an in-person gaming session. The post is here.

- We moved game day to 7/18. Attendence issues. It'll probably be A2.

Sorry to be brief tonight - so, so much to do and no time to do it all.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

GURPS 2021 PDF Challenge is Live!

If you missed the announcement elsewhere, there are 10 days left in the GURPS 2021 PDF Challenge.

My book is one of the later stretch goals. I feel pretty good about that - I take some pride in batting clean-up, or close to it.

I personally went for the $8 level - the books and a PDF on combat by Sean Punch. I think that's a pretty good deal. And if you missed Pyramid Scheme or the 2020 challenge, you can jump in on those, too. You know, if you want GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 21 to go with Dungeon Fantasy 22.

Join me in this one, even if only for $3.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Reaper Bones 4 - Sell or Keep?

I mentioned that I received my Bones 4 set.

I'm not sure I need it. I haven't been painting minis. I don't strictly need anything in that box. Some of it would be nice, but I don't need it.

To make my money back, I'd need to recoup ~$110. So I'd need to sell it for $125 on eBay, plus shipping, so after eBay fees and the time it takes to ship that I won't be behind and might be a little ahead. I'll dig up an exact price if any of my gamers wants it, as I can sell it to them for cash and just zero out the cost since it won't take any actual effort.

I'm eyeing the ones for sale right now so I can see how much they sell for.

I'm still undecided . . . but I'm leaning towards selling it. I don't need this stuff, no matter how much I wanted it when it first came up for sale.

I might still change my mind. I'm still deciding.

But I think if I could choose again to back it or not, I'd go with not. I guess I'm moving beyond an endless desire for cool new minis to add to my stockpile.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Any experience with mixed-mode/virtual+in-person gaming?

Since March 2020, all of my games have been hosted online, using a VTT and Zoom, for the most part.

It's possible, though, that we may dip a toe back into face-to-face gaming.

A couple of our players simply cannot do that. They'll need to stay virtual, even if the rest of us get to sit around a table and play instead of sitting at our respective desks at home.

So, a simple ask here - does anyone have any experience with remoting-in a player? Ideally without any special equipment besides just pointing a laptop or tablet in the correct general direction? Any articles on the subject that shine a light on the practical experiences of people who have done it?

Thanks in advance!

Monday, July 5, 2021

Four things I'd like to see in Battletech: the Mercenary Collection

I'd be thrilled to see these four things:

Morale System

A morale system - much like that in X-Com: Apocalypse, with fleeing foes, units going berserk or panicking, etc. would be awesome. Since you could potentially break a foe, you could put together even larger battles where extermination isn't reasonable and winning by routing a foe a necessity.

Eliminating Combat/Non-Combat Phase Differences

The game operates on a phased combat system. Prior to combat, you can move your guys without worrying about phases, but all they can do is move, sprint, jump, or hold in position. They can't use any of their abilities, special "inspiration" based abilities, or attack.

All too often you have to sidle up to a foe, get into sensor range, then finish a turn just moving and cede the initiative to your enemy . . . even though you know where they'll be and have Sensor Lock as an ability so you could have spotted and attacked them. The game should just do phased movement at all times. I'm tired of basically getting a mech shot at by foes I'm attacking because I activate them with my movement, and then they go before I can follow up on that . . . even if I walked right up into firing range and LoS.

More fixed tonnage missons

Most missions have no fixed maximum tonnage. More should - both by mech size and by total. While I'm playing the Flashpoint campaign with highly experienced mechwarriors, it's just better when I've hit missions with fixed maximum tonnage. I've had to dig into my storage and pull out medium and light mechs and equip them and use them. Sure, I custom configured them and used some choice weaponry - like a Snub PPC++ on one mech and Inferno launchers on another, so I'm still at an advantage. But it's a lot of fun to be forced to use different mech sizes. More missions should have requirements.

Too many say they do - "this mission needs speed" kind of stuff - but honestly you can always just bring 4 assault mechs and make do. Yeah, it's tougher on escort missions, but you core out enemy mechs and ghost their pilots in one-two alpha strikes anyway so who cares if you have to do it at range?

Equip as Stock

If you strip a mech and put it in storage, then take it out . . . you have to re-equip it from scratch. They have buttons to strip equipment, strip everything, and to max out the armor based on free tonnage. But not one to put it to stock loadout. That would be very handy. I don't always remember what stock loadout is, and while I like to customize my mechs it would be nice to get it to show me what a standard Kintaro or Griffin or Catapult has. They don't, and so I just make my own bizarre loadouts. It's fine, but it would be so nice to just grab, click, and then advance time and go when I want to try something as originally intended.

It would be nice to have that wish list fulfilled.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Hexcrawling the Cold Fens

Charles Saeger asked in the comments on my Friday post about the hexcrawling procedures in the Cold Fens for Felltower. He's done a lot of hexcrawling in GURPS and written on the subject and created useful procedures for it as well.

Hexcrawling the Cold Fens

Daily procedures

Weather Check using DF16's weather table. Weather Sense can reduce the effects of the weather on travel rates and Survival rolls.

Hourly procudures

- Roll Boating for all boats. Critical Success means double speed movement, success means normal movement, failure doubles movement time, critical failure costs one hour and there is no movement and something bad happens, 18 means a boating disaster. Boating rolls are made per-boat.
- Roll Survival for the group using the Part of the Solution . . . rules. Failure means delays and problems.
- Move the boats into the next hex and advantage the time tracker 1 hour (or spend 30 minutes to move to a specific point in the same hex.)
- Roll wandering monsters. If an 18 was rolled on boating, that's when they come.
- Resolve any combat, etc. from wandering monsters.

Effective useful daylight for travel is 6 am - 6 pm, for 12 hexes worth of travel. After nightfall penalties increase for Survival and Boating go up by the lighting penalty. Wandering monster chances increase.

Camping is resolved by a Survival roll per DF16.
If boats are concealed with Camouflage, roll only when it is required in a contest of skills against a searcher.
Wandering monster rolls occur every four hours at night, and dice are rolled to determine which shift they occur in (assuming a typical 4-shift watch.)


I didn't originally see the Cold Fens as a hexcrawl. The PCs had only one main goal, originally - clear out Sakatha's island of evil. They failed in that and lost everyone except Gerry. I had seeded the area with nasty wandering monsters, though, and some fixed encounters - the giant brothers in the abandoned shrine to Old Father Troll, the dragon's lair in the old ruins, and one or two others. I figured the PCs would eventually come back, even from the first, but I didn't really think out how that would work.

I did take the time originally to set out the speeds of travel and the procedures for wandering monsters and so on. That paid off when we came to do this recent hexcrawl.
We did have to make some rulings along the way. Weather Sense changes the effects of weather but not the weather - it's still raining, your bows still get wet and the boat still fills up with water and must be bailed, you just don't get a -1 on Survival rolls and travel isn't affected as your expert knows how to prepare for and navigate the weather. Boating criticals improve speed of travel but don't provide miraculous effects (even on a "3") but an 18 does cause a disaster. Life isn't fair. Stuff like that. One little bit that was especially an issue was "Concealment" - I think the players started to think that reduced the chances of wandering monsters. It did not. It just reduced the chances those monsters would spot you first (or at all). Once they knew that, they did tend to choose Line-of-Sight as a camp feature as they worried more about their own Per than that of the monsters . . . who might not be impressed by visual concealment!

Having rolls per boat does mean it's unlikely one boat doing well really helps. Yes, traveling in groups means you tend to go at the slowest speed, and then a bit slower than that for coordination. Having four shifts at night for camping means a small group has less hours per day to travel or less sleep!

Overall it's been fun, and I hope to use a similar method for overland. I would change up the "how" a bit to match the overland approach we used in the Lost City, but the basic rules in DF16 work very well.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Bones 4 Arrived

I just mentioned this yesterday, that I had no idea when these would come.

They came today:

I'm still deciding what to do with the lot. I guess it came with dice, too?

I'm glad it didn't come during the rain today!

I better go find a good list of what's in here.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Friday Random Links for 7/2/21

Weekly wrap up.

- I still plan to run A2, but I plan to run it on 7/11. Unless my players come up with a really good plan after their delve into Sakatha's island last session. I don't expect so - they didn't really do anything but confirm what they're after.

I did learn they enjoy hexcrawling, though, with procedural travel, so we may need to do some of that in the future.

- My Reaper Bones minis shipped. Sadly, I've mostly stopped painting since between when I pledged and when they'll arrive. We'll see if they inspire me to take up my brush again. If not, maybe I'll just sell the lot on eBay. I doubt I'll back the next one.I don't even remember when I stuck the email with the shipping notice, so figure I'll get a UPS "package arriving tomorrow" notice at some point and it'll just show up. Like Tides of Numenera, it's coming so late (for reasons beyond their control) I've lost a lot of interest.

I'm still a bit grumpy that I barely got my pledge manager stuff locked in at the last minute. Apparantly they posted it as an update, and then emailed all of us delinquent people as a last resort. Well, had they emailed me as a first resort, I'd have locked in my pledge immediately. So I found that a bit annoying . . . and some helpful non-Reaper person gave me snark when I said so in a comment. Just remember, your fans reflect on your company, too . . .

- I'm excited that DF22 will come out. I wish I had any idea of when that would be.

I'm even more excited that my payment for DF22 will come soon. Heh.

Sounds shallow, maybe, but getting paid for game writing is sweet.

- After a break I'm back at Battletech: The Mercenary Collection. I'm into the Flashpoints. They're good, although I'm not sure what the deal is . . . do you usually make a new company to play them out? It just told me where they were and I went for them with Gunhaver and the Cheat Commandos, my campaign-winning crew. My first two missions were a joke. One had me going to fight a high-danger, well-equipped enemy lance. Their heaviest mech was a Wolverine, a 55-ton mech with good staying power and useful firepower. My mechs were a gauss gun-carrying Atlas (100 tons), a gauss-gun carrying Highlander (95 tons I think), an AC/20 mounting Atlas (100 tons), and a 70-ton Archer with two upgrded LRM-20s. We finished the mission without significant armor damage, just down a lot of ammo. It's getting better but I'm still walking through them. I just entered a tournament of champions with mechs provided, so that's a level playing field, but my pilots are all 10/10/10/10 in skills, and we'll see how good the enemy is.

Still amusing but not challenging, just a time waster.

- Speaking of games, War in the East II is out. I'm waiting on it showing up on GoG with a sale, but it looks good. I'm not saying it's not worth $80, just that I can wait on it. I'm still trying and failing to do well as the 1942 Soviets. I'm doing okay but it's hard to figure out how to deal with some situations when you're outgunned and on the defense.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 22: Gates

Here are a few details I can leak about DF22: Gates.

I cover Gates, of course, especially:

- spell and gates

- placement

- use and abuse

- types of gates

- and some sample gates.

I think I crammed a lot into ~10 pages, much as I did with DF21. This time, though, I didn't need the magic editing of Douglas Cole to make it fit. I managed to restrain myself all by myself. That's post-level newsworthy right there, heh.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

SJG GURPS 2021 PDF Challenge

So . . . guess which book I wrote?

Kromm already leaked it, but it's not like it would be tough to guess.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Weapon Master: What to do in DF?

Based on my other posts on Weapon Master, here is what I think makes the most sense in Dungeon Fantasy for me. It's in the game and here to stay. Haves and have-nots exist, and the have-nots struggle to stay relevant with the haves in combat and the monsters too able to fight the haves. So what to do?

I think I need to build around it because:

- DF really embeds Weapon Master as a core trait;

- WM creates a strong have/have not split;

- and WM and its effects are core to the high-power experience;

Therefore I think the optimal solution is to expand access to Weapon Master.

Right now, the only combatant template that lacks any kind of Weapon Master is the Holy Warrior as far as I can tell. I think a simple fix is to allow the Holy Warrior to buy Weapon Master in some fashion:

- Limited to a specific class of weapons

- Limited to the "All Weapons" version

- Unlimited

I don't think anything is really harmed by allowing them access to any level they want.

There is a slight temptation to make it a Holy Ability, and thus dependent on their holy disadvantage - violate it, lose it. But in practice, I've found it's not that common to violate your holy disadvantage. So that would just be a discount for a power to be always on, and have weird effects like losing it in No Sanctity. It's not a bad idea, I'm just not sure it's worth it.

Moreso the idea of limiting to the "only against Undead or Demons." Ugh. Now I'll get the annoyance of this nonstop: "Is this undead or a demon? If so, my Rapid Strike is only -3/-3 not -6/-6 so I want to make my Deceptive Attack -2 not -1. If not -1 is fine, I'm just checking." Plus what if you don't know it's undead? Or you're attacking a vague shape in the darkness and it turns out not to be a cultist but a demon, instead, do I tell you that by modifying your roll? Ugh. Nevermind that.

Another option is to say they have Weapon Master (Holy, -10%, only weapons with the Holy modifier, -20%). They'd be standard warriors without it, but for 14 to 32 points, they could have the advantage usable with any Holy weapons - see DFRPG Magic Items for a description. This is pricy, but you get guys who are hell on wheels with a sword that fits their idiom (if that's the best word for it here), but not otherwise.

Giving Holy Warriors some kind of access to WM might be the only way to take an existing campaign and level the playing field at least on the side of the PCs. The non-fighters will have to just cope - bards, thieves, clerics, druids, wizards, and the like should recognize that fighting isn't their thing and avoid it when possible.

I'm not certain what approach I'll use, but allowing Holy Warriors access to WM seems like the only way to keep them relevant when everyone else has access to multiple attacks, multiple defenses, and skill-based-per-die damage modifiers and they do not. You can easily copy this approach on other templates if they, too, use weaponry but lack the firepower to keep up with everyone else.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Weapon Master: Monster consequences

Here is part II of my mini-series of thoughts on Weapon Master and its consequences. You may or may not like these consequences. I'm really just observing what I see and what I think the results of the advantage being freely available is on a game.

How do you make sure monsters are a threat to Weapon Master PCs?

The simple answer is, "Just use more monsters!" or "Just use stronger monsters!"

That's fine, and it works to a degree.

The monsters must be designed with dealing with WM in mind or they're going to provide a less-than-expected challenge. Rewards are less appropriate to the challenge if they're easier because you're getting more, higher-damage attacks against them and fending off more attacks with less penalties. Or monsters are designed with an eye to WM foes, and are thus more dangerous themselves. That balances them better against the WMs.

But it further leaves the have-not PCs in a hole. They're facing increased numbers of foes, yet effectively attack less often than their WM-having buddies and defend against multiple attacks less well than they do, as well. Or they they're facing foes designed to absorb multiple defense penalties (or get around them by having a high Dodge), the DR to absorb an additional +4 to +6 to even +8 damage expected from a WM PC, or the ability to saturate defenses to deal with the WM's ability to defend multiple times more effectively.

Essentially those are decisions I make when I'm designing a "boss" monster for DF. The assumption is the monster must have the DR to deal with very-high-damage threats, because the "low" damage PCs can inflict 10-15 points of raw damage. The monster must be able to deal with 2-4 attacks per PC per second; out of each block of attacks one is likely to be a high-skill Feint. The monster must be able to deal with high defenses without needing to saturate them to do so, because defenses will, at worst, cascade down at a -2 and likely will do so from two pools (dual weapon or weapon and shield) or be at -1 (fencing weapon or two-handed sword) or both. All of this is without Great Haste more than doubling the threat of the PCs, as the first turn will be an All-Out Attack.
They may or may not need enough HP and damage-reducing advantages to survive all of this anyway; Regeneration is nice but unless it's at least 10 HP/second it'll get smothered. A worthy foe merely needs to be able to this against one PC; a boss against multiple. If they can't hold up more than 1-3 seconds of this, they're really just fodder by another name. And the ones who can hang with WMs for a while like this can generally ignore non-WMs unless they get a lucky break or jump in between WM character turns.

Much of this exists without WM, but it's all to a higher degree just with the addition of a 20-to-45 point advantage on a PC. WM effectively attacks as an attack-and-damage multiplier on a PC and thus makes them more of a threat to that worthy or boss foe, and may reduce worthy to fodder and bosses to worthy. If that boss was meant to take on 5-6 PCs and now faces 5-6 but can only hang with 1-2 WMs, the reward it provides just won't make much sense. Any loot will probably be turned into more power, contributing to the lopsided nature of the encounter later.

There are consequences to decisions elsewhere in the game system. This is one of them. Much like how magic system choice dramatically affects the threat of monsters, so does WM. Magic might make ranged foes helpless (Missile Shield) or provide the only way to fight them (ghosts, say), but either way it's a change. I'm arguing here that Weapon Master is such a change, too, since it makes a category of PCs (the haves) able to more effectively deal with monsters as foes than a non-WM would be.

So monsters are affected by WM, too, and by monsters I mean the GM's adventure design. It's harder to appropriately challenge a WM PC without making non-WM PCs basically irrelevant.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 153, Cold Fens 12 - Scouting Sakatha's Island

I spent the week prepping AD&D, so we could play A2 Secret of the Slavers Stockade. But it needs nine characters to be run, and we ended up with four players. One player was very enthusiastic to play AD&D. Another, less so, because running multiple characters isn't really his thing. After some discussion, it was clear that the way to go was to play the Cold Fens, and do a scouting/exploring mission. Exploration of a lot of new areas (10+ hexes) would be easily done and net 2 xp even if no loot was found . . . and the PCs really want to know the current status of Sakatha's Tomb.

So we last-minute switched to that. I literally had both games queued up to play and then just started running DF.

Game Date: 6/27/2021 - 7/3/2021

Galen Longtread, human scout (498 points)
Heyden, human knight (308 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (343 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)

The group gathered at Ulf Hollow, and set out in a boat after gathering up all of the paut, healing potions, and rations they could.

They worked their way south from Ulf Hollow and took the first SE passage they could. That ended up a mistake - it slowly turned NE and then N. They reversed course.

They explored further south and then southwest and then southeast. This took a couple days of travel, mostly using Sanctuary at night after a pair of leaping leeches sucked 4 HP of blood out of Wyatt's face before he could smash them bare-handed. Otherwise they mostly dealt with insects ranging from nuisances (loss of some FP) to lethal (loss of some HP) and once getting stalked by (probably) some shamblethorns.*

Eventually they reached a point where, come evening, wisps of strange fog came questing in from the SE. So did bats. Lots of bats. Bats that sure seemed to Wyatt (who rolled a 3 on his Per check) were looking for something. So they ducked into a Sanctuary (and I ruled they couldn't fit the boat in) and waited it out until morning. Ulf stayed awake with Vigil.

They sent Galen exploring overland for most of the next day, and found little except a fog-shrouded island to the SE. They camped not far from where they started after waiting out the day in the rain while Galen explored solo, and slept in a Sanctuary again.

The next day they landed on Sakatha's Island, and found the "dock" and the steps. They tied off their boat their and climbed up. Relying on the journal entries that described the place before, they sprinted past the watery murder nymphs. Ulf blasted one for 18 damage with a Sunbolt while on the run, but they otherwise avoided them. They did the coin-on-a-string trick, which Wyatt had read about, and went down through the trapdoor.

Once below, they systematically searched the whole place. Their map wasn't accurate, but even so, they covered the place and searched all they could. They found many signs of fierce battles, but not a corpse, coin, stitch of valuable clothing, or anything worth taking. Wyatt wanted to test doors to see if they could just be opened but Heyden kicked or shouldered or yanked them all open with Forced Entry without waiting. In the end, even with See Secrets on for part of the exploration and Galen's expert eye, they found nothing new. Just "secret" doors that wouldn't open without some trick (unholy water, according to the journals), and that was that. Ulf tried to Dismissive Wave away the evil temple and failed utterly.

That done, they made their way back a new way and then to home. The only threat was a pony-sized frog that swam at them . . . Galen put three arrows at it, hit with two, it dodged one, and he did minimum damage (8 damage) to the skull . . . enough to knock it cold. They poled on home and left it behind.


- The PCs made it home just in time for July 4th, a day when people celebrate something with fireworks and fire spells for some reason.

- One hex had a random encounter with lethal insects and then had the same lethal insects encounter, totally at random, the next day. So I decided that's near a bunch of wasp's nests. So I labeled that hex. Avoid it, there are more wasps than you'd like there.

- Where were the bodies? Why were the doors closed? Good questions. Some of the bodies had become zombies or skeletons under Gerry's command. Others are just gone. The place was pretty thoroughly picked over by the PCs several times.

- MVP was Hayden for finding a Simpsons meme for every critical moment to paste into the Roll20 chatbox. So XP was 2 each for exploration, 0 xp for loot, +1 for Heyden. The lowest point PC out of this group is 308 points with 52 points saved. We'll see when "we're too weak to do that" runs down a bit with the lowest point guy soon to be 100 points above a starting PC.

- 2 xp from now, Galen will need $200,000 for 4 xp for loot, and $40,000 for 2 xp. So he'll likely insist on exploration (1 for a new place, 2 for 10+) all of the time. That's a positive to me. The old guard really will only benefit from a huge pile of loot or finding some new and interesting thing. That's why the 500+ point lord sends you lower-point guys out on quests. He can still get killed - the risk isn't any lower than before - but the reward is usually nothing at all. So YOU go do it, you new guys.

- Lots of fun today, even if the summary doesn't make it seem like it.

* Quote of the day, "Do they shamble? Like mounds would?" - Galen

Emergency Cold Fens

Thanks to illness & injuries & work and such, we have only four players today instead of the seven or eight we were expecting.

So the players decided it was better to play the Cold Fens and do some scouting. Overriding Galen's (sarcastic) suggestion to go "dirt the Los Bros Humongous."

Exploring in a swamp, hurrah! I'll just shelve all of my AD&D books for a couple weeks from now.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Tomorrow: A2

We're playing A2 tomorrow.

A week or so back, I put out the characters to see who wants to run who:

Claimed so far:

Dread Delgath
Kayan Telva

"Ogre" is likely going to Crogar's player, as he won't use any special abilities or spells if his character has one, so it's not a good choice given him a fighter/cleric or fighter/magic-user or ranger.

I think we'll have six additional players, so we're ready for a full house of AD&D fun. But I guess we won't see people read over their spells ahead of time, check their magic items out, etc. Oh well, I tried!

Still looking forward to it.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Links & Thoughts for 6/25/21

A few quick links and thoughts today.

- I have some more to write on Weapon Master issues, but that'll need to wait until tomorrow or Sunday. There are some interesting ideas in the comments on that post. My next post will deal with other fallout

- Okay, this is just neat. I'm surprised it took so long for someone to calculate, in retrospect. This would let you cost a self-control roll that isn't just 6, 9, 12, 15. I don't think I'd use this, but I like knowing I could and I'd be fitting into the mathematical curve.

DFRPG Self Control Rolls

- I don't particularly like aboleth. I do like this writeup and the way it weaves a lot of possibilities and rumors - often contradictory - into one narrative.

On the Ecology of the Aboleth

- Here is a nice GURPS 101 post on ending combat.

GURPS 101: How to end a fight

Sadly, so, so, so many of these endings require one thing - willingness on the part of the victor to not murder the defeated. If they're going to do that - either due to capital-B Bloodlust or just RPG-player-think of "kill everything so it can't fight you again" - then the fight cannot end except in death unless the defeated are faster than the victors. And are able to keep fleeing farther and longer than the PCs can follow. Most PCs in my experience pursue like the Mongols after a defeated foe. They won't generally surrender either, because what if the enemies act like they do? Better to fight to the death, just in case.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Weapon Master creates have/have nots

I love my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign. It's been one of the longer campaigns I've run. Still, there are things we'd do differently, or we wouldn't port over to another campaign.

Weapon Master

Weapon Master creates have/have nots.

One of my players - the one who runs Gerry and used to run Vryce - pointed this out. He's not the first to do so. But it's significant that it's so clear to everyone involved that this one advantage causes issues. I know some of my players would argue for a "lighter" version, or a way to make, you know, skilled guys viable via some version of this. But it's a fact that GURPS has always favored skill over strength (which is probably realistic), and giving something that rewards skill with the equivalent of both more skill and more strength means it's a mission-critical ability if you need both.

If you have it:

- you attack more frequently (-3/-3 for Rapid Strike, not -6/-6)
- your attacks are more damaging (+1 or +2 per die)
- your defenses are more effective (multiple defense penalties are halved)
- any benefits you have for combat skills or inflicting damage get a stacking benefit and increase in value.

If you don't:

- you get none of the above.

This isn't really news if you've played DF for a while.

I think if I ran another game, I probably wouldn't allow Weapon Master, Heroic Archer, and possibly Trained By A Master. The first for sure, the second just as likely, and the third . . . maybe. It's so much more limited in scope than Weapon Master, even though it affects more skills. Heroic Archer similarly creates a split - effective in ranged combat vs. nearly hopeless in ranged combat. You don't just become a better archer, capable of amazing shots . . . you become a machine gun. This is absolutely in-genre and necessary in a game with Weapon Master in common use, but if Weapon Master goes, so should it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Crypt of Krysuvik cover

Doug put up the covers for Delvers to Grow and Crypt of Krysuvik.

It's nice to see my name on such an attractive cover, along with my player and fellow DF GM Marshall LaPira.

I can't wait to see this in print.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Andrew Hackard

I just wanted to post this here, because I had professional dealings with the man. Andrew Hackard, Munchkin Czar and (as far as I could tell as a freelancer) one of The Powers that Be at SJG, passed away.

SJG put up a memorial post here:

Andrew Hackard

Monday, June 21, 2021

AD&D and A2 and Weapon Speed?

A while back I mused on using Weapon Speed and its weird, weird rules in my next AD&D session.

I'm leaning towards, "Not this time."

A couple of encounters have some special considerations that I think will complicate the Weapon Speed rules. Because of such, we'll have rules no one is really familiar with faced with exceptions, which I absolutely know will cause time to be spent arguing if it's X and Y then it should be Z even if the module says it's really not-Z-at-all.

Similarly, I don't think it's the place to use Weapon vs. Armor Type adjustments. Probably not, anyway. I'll have to take a closer look. I suspect it'll feed value into a couple of players who'll closely examine the rules and leverage their weapon choices vs. the enemy, and give the others one more modifier they don't know and have to deal with. It'll also make a joke of one stated tactic in the module, too, which isn't really a good outcome, either.

I might have to save those for some other situation where I feel like they make a lot of sense to drive play decisions, yet don't add too much complexity in the process. That might not even be possible. It's clearly not a good fit here.

A-Series: What use is Raise Dead in a tournament?

The Pregens in the Slavers series - A1, A2, A3, A4 - come with some magic items, naturally. In A1-A3, Karraway comes with a scroll with Raise Dead.

What the heck is it for?

For bringing back a dead PC, obviously, so they can jump right back into the fight! Boo-yah! Heck yeah, look how well-equipped these guys are! Those fighting the slavers are serious.

Except that in AD&D, Raise Dead takes weeks to recover from. You're helpless when you come back. It's not a quick way to get a dead PC back in action. It's a poor way - compared with Resurrection - to get a dead PC back eventually, if they make their System Shock roll.

Looking back at the version of Raise Dead in Men & Magic - book 1 of the original D&D books - it still requires a recovery time of weeks.

So why give it to the tournament PCs?

I can really only think of three reasons.

- it lets the PCs question a dead slaver by bringing him/her back from the dead to question. They'll be helpless. Useful as a plot device - ask Icar where to go next!

- it gives the impression the PCs have the resources to survive casualties. When you go to the next round, you can have all of the PCs because you can have raised them from death.

- it was added post-tournament to let the PCs bring back casualties between modules.

I don't know of any evidence for that last one. I have no proof, but not reason to suspect otherwise, for the following: the PCs are the tournament characters as-written. I'm curious if there is anything else out there that can explain it.

Any reasons anyone can see that makes this make sense, without having to provide for additional gear or handwaving away rules? I'm genuinely curious.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Next Week: AD&D, A2 Part II

Next week we're planning on a break from DF, with so many delvers mauled so badly that they need time off to recover from injuries. It's a good time to take a mental break and play some AD&D.

We'll play A2 Secret of the Slaver's Stockade, Part II - the dungeon portion of the tournament adventure.

We played the surface over two sessions last year:

Part I
Part II

I sent out a link to all of the PCs, their spells, etc.

My goal is to have everyone pick their characters within the next couple of days, or assign them out. That way people have a chance to decide who to play and look at their abilities.

With a group that's not really expert at AD&D and only plays sporadically, I think we'll need that.

We have one guy who only likes to play support characters. We have another who doesn't like to use special abilities or spells - and who once died with all of his spells still memorized because he wouldn't use them. We have guys who only like spellcasters. Etc. But we also have nine characters - Cleric, Illusionist, Magic-User, two Fighters, Thief, Ranger, Fighter/Magic-User, and a Fighter/Cleric. Seven of them have special abilities that can change the game. The ranger is best used against giant-class humanoids. The thief must find a way to backstab and detect traps. The clerics need to heal, bless, and offensively neutralize foes. The magic-users must handle the utility and offense roles. The illusionist needs to be a force-multiplier with spells that chance the enemy's ability to organize or attack.

If those classes aren't played optimally, or at least well, they're just cut-rate fighters with low HP.

The players will need a strategy for casting spells, and for healing. They'll need to ditch the GURPS mindset of "and heal everyone up to full after each fight." They did that last time and were dismayed when the lack of healing spells meant they couldn't heal up wounded characters they needed later on. They'll need to find a way to move with speed and boldness without taking excessive risk. And a way to solve puzzles without "There must be a way to completely avoid this puzzle in this railroad-style tournament module." We'll see how it goes!

These posts might help, too:
Lessons Learned (2019)
Some Thoughts (2017)
Avoiding HP Losss in AD&D

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Ever Use Dungeon Shops?

One little feature of a megadungeon - and some video games - that I've never used in play is the "dungeon shop."

I mean a store, inside of a dungeon, usually selling things immediately useful in a dungeon (rations, 10' poles, torches) or special equipment you can't get elsewhere (magic armor and weapons, special magic items, useful monster bits), or buy the same. In video games they tend to have hideous guardians that prevent you from reasonably robbing the place.

This is one of those things I've heard of in tabletop games but never encountered.

Have you ever used one in a tabletop game?

My DF games feature a lot of in-town sales of equipment one might consider "special." An in-dungeon store wouldn't serve any purpose except to replenish stocks of forgotten items. The PCs would eventually assault the place anyway, and kill everyone and take everything, unless I made that literally impossible.

But I'm curious about actual real-world non-video-game occurances of mid-dungeon shops.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Links for Friday 6/18/21

- I have below zero interest in Harry Potter or English boarding school stuff that isn't that in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, but I do have a lot of interest in the Foundry VTT. There is a useful description of what it's like to play GURPS with it here at DF Whiterock, and here, too.

- I like maps placing known locations on other maps, like this one for the Majestic Wilderlands.

- We're probably playing AD&D next, to let all of the crippled heroes heal up. We'll play the second half of A2. Here is how A1 went:

Part I
Part II

- I put in an inquiry about another book . . . but it's not looking like a summertime project after all at this stage. Or at least not early summer.

- This is miniature wargaming in a nutshell. Basically, "these tankettes are useless and obselete by the time they hit the field. But at least I have a lot of them."

Green Red Horde

- Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord is just a brutal game. I loved it. I don't plan to play it again, though.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Shadow Harold's knife, silver, and the undead

"The [large, double-edged knife] cost me a whole stack of gold coins. It was a little less than a cubit in length, almost a short sword, and the mounting of the blade was covered with a strip of silver, so if you wished you could even risk a fight with someone who had risen from the dead."
- Shadow Prowler, Alexei Pehov

So it's probably a fine long knife ("almost a cubit" means probably a bit under 18"), possible balanced, definitely silvered. Could run as much as $1200 (+9 CF for all three), which is a reasonable stack of gold based on the prices we see in the books. It's not crazy, anyway.

One thing that made me want to write it up - the effect of silver on the risen dead. The undead - zombies, especially - are scary as all get-out in these books. They're not cannon fodder, to be chopped to bits by any given fighter or turned by a priest. They're flesh-eating creatures with a dangerous bite, extremely hard to kill, and while vulnerable to silver it's not really enough:

"I could quite easily be lucky enough to walk away from such a skirmish, even if my arm had been torn off."
- Ibid.

I like a universal vulnerability. It gives PCs a good handle on what to use. My own DF game doesn't feature this enough, so people tend to guess. That's fine, too, but it's empowering to the players and world-building if you have specific effects. If the undead are always scary . . . and silver is always useful (or potentially so) against them, you have already learned a lot about the world and how to interact with it. That's never a bad thing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Really Old Guns in Modern Service

I forgot to post this yesterday, but I found this video really interesting from a historical perspective as well as a gaming perspective.

Mark Felton: WW2 Guns in Modern Service

Out of all of them, the idea that the PPSh-41 is still out there is amusing to me. Out of all of them, the idea that the M1911 Colt and M2 HB .50 cal and the DshK are still in use isn't surprising at all. It's weird to even think of them as WWII guns, because WWII kind of came along during their run, just like so many other wars did.

Still, there is something interesting about PCs running into really old guns in current, regular-military service. Don't put your copies of GURPS World War II aside, you can mine them for firearms for your 2021 GURPS Action game.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Stolen Military Guns

A lot of times in modern games, GMs may want foes with modern military weapons to face the PCs.

The PCs sure as heck want to have access to modern military weapons. Usually extremely oddball special-purpose weapons, but in my experience they won't turn up their noses at grenades, assault rifles, and grenade launchers.

But you can't just pick up some M9, M4, M203, etc., right?

Apparantly if you take the very tiny loss rate of weapons from the US military and multiply it by the millions of weapons they have, it's not actually as rare as you might have thought.

This piece in the Military Times is a bit chilling in some ways in a real-world sense, but in a game sense? This is "that's why the fringe criminal group you're facing all have M4s!" justification.

US Military Guns Keep Vanishing, Some Used in Street Crimes

It reminds me of that scene in Lord of War when the main character tells a Russian general to, basically, declare 10,000 or something AKs lost and sell them to him. This is a much smaller scale, and is more likely a mix of thievery, accidental loss, and bad record keeping . . . but it's a way to put modern military guns into the hands of player characters who aren't in the military proper.

Monday, June 14, 2021

More notes from the Cold Fens

More notes from last game.

- I'll admit that despite all of my years as a GURPS GM, I'm still not sure exactly how to treat objects falling on people.

The rules for damage are clear enough. Hit location, very large objects falling on people, and defenses still throw me a bit.

Take the deadfalls. A tree falls on multiple PCs. Does the damage divide up? I know it's too heavy to Parry, but Crogar went for a Dodge and made it by the DB of his shield. So I ruled the shield took damage first. Had he blocked, would that have simply meant taking the hit but giving a very high chance of the shield being hit? It doesn't make sense that blocking with a shield makes any difference against a sufficiently large falling object. It shouldn't even necessarily break, but your arm might as you try to use it and a slab of leather, metal, and wood to stop something hitting you doing 10, 15, even 20d damage.

Blow-through is another. It seems like unless it clips you in passing, you should very likely take damage to multiple locations, especially if a limb gets destroyed.

I'm never exactly sure how to modify the hit location rolls, either. A standing person should have a very high chance of a skull hit from a big object falling from above.

So I'm not sure I handled the deadfalls correctly. They probably could have been - even should have - been more lethal. 15d shouldn't be "lose a limb, move on." That should be a potential effect but you shouldn't be more likely to get hit in the leg by a falling tree than in the skull . . . but I think the math says you are, as if you were a standing target attacked by a standing foe.

It's something I really feel like I don't have a great handle on.

- The PCs got a pair of boats. It was actually a pain to figure out what boat fit. I can't just eyeball one . . . the stat needs and costs and sizes are for very specific boats. They're often of historical interest rather than grab-and-go vehicles suited for adventurers.

Next they want to add waterproof tarps. I think this is just thin leather coverings (Low Tech Companion 1) but now I need to figure out the square footage needed for overhead coverage, and then price that out. GURPS doesn't always make things easy. It's something I don't love about the equipment lists.

- I ruled that Faith Healing can heal a crippled but intact limb, but a dismembered limb, even if technically still attached, is not intact. Sufficiently mangled is no different from cleanly cut off.

- It amuses me that the group has the Mythic Corselet - resizes to SM+1, potentially, with no weight gain - and the Universal Sword - which can be any sword - and they're both on Wyatt, who is SM +0 and only uses one specific sword size. Yet they have SM +1 guys who are eyeing heavier armor and people in need of either multiple swords or a rare sword type to just find (such as a greatsword or bastard sword.) It's not a criticism, really, and Wyatt uses them appropriately and well, it's just amusing to have the resources that can adapt nailed down to a specific person. Wyatt can't give that sword up, either.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 152, Cold Fens 11 - Deadfalls & Defeat

Game Date: 6/13/2021 - 6/18/2021

Aldwyn Hale, human knight (340 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (170 points)
Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (329 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (336 points)
Desmond MacDougal, human wizard (263 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
     2 skeletons (~35 points)
     Rahtnar the Skeleton (~125 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)

The PCs gathered at Ulf Hollow, with two new 18' skiffs they'd had made for them. They filled each boat up with four PCs (one big guy per boat) and left the extra skeletons behind, taking only Rahtnar the Skeletal Boatman with them.

They headed out into the Cold Fens, along the coast before making a beeline for the giant's islands. They did so without major issues - the weather was fine, and although they got eaten alive by insects, they mostly made out okay. One leaping leech attack on Mild Bruce failed. Swarms of bats harassed Aldwyn and Varmus, and again crippled Varmus's leg before being driven off. He was healed up easily.

The eventually made it to the giant's island, but decided to repeat their same path. Arriving late in the day, they moved out to a nearby landmass and camped there until morning, shrouded by the thick white mist that surrounds the island.

The next morning they poled over, dropped off the group, and then Rahtnar, Bruce, and Wyatt - the last two sans most gear and all armor - brought the boats back to their camp and concealed them there. They waded and swam back to the group. They gathered up and headed inland.

Along the path, about 1/4 of a mile in, they got their first inkling of trouble when their vanguard - Crogar, flanked by Aldwyn to his right and Bruce to his left - tripped over a vine and triggered a deadfall (for 15d). Alerted to the falling log out of the mist by Crogar's senses, they dove aside. Aldwyn failed utterly. Crogar's shield was destroyed as he dove backward. Bruce dove forward, onto a cunningly placed bent-branch trap that slammed a series of stakes into his back, wounding him badly.

Aldwyn was hit solidly, and his right arm was crushed under the log (more than 2x the damage to cripple, thus destroying the limb.) His mangled arm was freed by Crogar and Bruce (once they freed up Bruce.)

They continued on, this time with Bruce solo in the lead. Ahead, he spotted a trap, maybe 80-90 yards - another heavy deadfall, this time a bag of rocks and logs up in a large tree. They bushwacked a path around it, and continued on.

Another 100 yards or more past that, they hit a third deadfall, which Bruce triggered despite his caution (Traps-7 isn't great). It did another 15d, and crushed his left arm, again destroying it. The deadfall trigger also set off a trio of branch-launched spears. One missed everyone, one would have hit Crogar but he parried it, and another hit Aldwyn and went right through his left hand, crippling it.

At this point, with two fighters down limbs, they decided to bail. They retreated back to the water's edge, and used Levitate and wading/swimming to get across to their boats. They left, leaving a Wizard Eye behind to spy out anything coming after their boats. Nothing did.

They made it a few miles away before dark. They found a reasonable camp - but only with Comfort - and concealed their boats. During the second shift, Gerry and Wyatt were on guard. Gerry heard what sounded like someone wading off in the mist. They later heard low rumbled like deep voices, then a muffled crack of laughter and splashes of something hitting water - and of a rock hitting multiple trees.

They woke the group up. Bruce drank an Agility potion. They waited, and heard the sound of a big splash and more, like a struggle in the water. Low voices called back and forth to each other over the sound. Something like a big slap on the water was followed by deep laughter.

The wading and speaking continued, but this time further away. It receeded a bit, and nothing bothered them until morning.

They headed out from there, exploring nothing else, and worked their way back to Ulf Hollow.


- Galen's player couldn't make it today because of ill health.

- The PCs gave up quickly after they realized they were walking into a fight - and probably more traps - with severely compromised combatants. 15d deadfalls are no joke. The after-action report was pretty simple. They didn't have anyone with Traps to make up for the loss of Galen, and they made a mistake in trying to attack the giants along the same path they took the last time. Going that way had a lot to say for it, but in the end it cost them their delves as the traps mauled them.

- Sparks flew between Wyatt, who immediately started to threaten to tell Mrs. MacDougal about the delve, and Desmond, who threatend him with Acid Ball. Those two ended up in the same boat, which wasn't the best planning to keep things quiet . . . Desmond is hard of hearing and tends to speak as if everyone else was, too.

- XP was 1 per for exploration. MVP was Mild Bruce for - and I quote - "I solved five traps."

- Short, profitless delve today, but it was still fun. It's a big question what's next, though.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Tomorrow: Cold Fens

As far as I know, the group is returning to the Cold Fens tomorrow.

They bought some boats, discussed but didn't actually budget for any elven blinds to cover their boats (I expect to hear "We mentioned it, does that count as a pre-order?"), and made some vague plans.

I think the plan now is to return to the lair of the giants and loot it.

I'm not sure if they have any secondary objectives or targets of opportunity.

We'll see tomorrow!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Links & Thoughts for 6/11/2021

Assorted stuff for Friday.

- This is an interesting take on an "origin" for beholders. It would fit well in a GURPS Fantasy II: The Madlands game. There, all of the really horrible things that will kill you used to be humans like you. Soulless, skinless, boneless . . . creepy stuff.

- The Reaper Bones V Kickstarter is finally shipping soon. I think I might have all the minis I need, though . . . I'm not really excited about getting more. I was already painting less pre-pandemic, and here during the (tail end of the?) pandemic I've painted almost not at all. I love minis but painting hasn't been something I've been able to keep up. We'll see what I do with the minis when the arrive.

- I probably won't have a game system that can run this . . . but I'll want to get one:

- Let's learn about Romans.

- Crypt of Krysuvik production is still moving along.

- I owe some work on my DF book, too, and I'll do that this weekend. Time for quotes! It would have been nice if I thought to find some ahead of time.

- Want to sell your TSR stuff? Noble Knight has a wishlist with prices.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

GCA Data File Update

I clearly haven't been paying close attention to the GCA forum . . . or any attention, really . . . but there was a big Data File update.

The change log just says updates, not specific changes.

But if you use GCA for characters like I do, this is probably important.

GURPS Character Assistant Update

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Adventuring Mistakes III: Is there a correct path?

If it's a mistake to go, "Oooh Shiney!" and too-easily get distracted from your goal . . .

And if it's a mistake to go, "Stay on Target!" and stubbornly refuse to get shifted fron your goal . . .

. . . then what is a poor adventurer to do?

Without a rule that is "Always turn left!" or "Never get out of the boat!" and can absolutely be followed, how can a delver delve?

It's really some variation of this:

Always keep the goal the goal.

I've heard this stated a few different ways by a few different people - usually attributed to someone's ancestor or old neighbor or something. I doubt it's a new concept.

It's simple in thought but together in execution. Pretty much all "how to succeed at adventuring" guide has some variation of this. And it's harder in practice than in statement.

You just keep re-evaluating, what's the real goal here?

If staying on target gets you there, you stay on target. If veering off gets you there, you veer off.

Is it possible?

A pitfall of this approach is, you need to really know your actual goal. Not just your stated goal. You must know what you will actually strive to do when it gets tough.

If the goal is, say, garnering treasure, then anything that best advances the garnering of treasure is worth doing wether or not it's part of the original plan.

If the goal is defeating evil, then anything that results in defeating more evil is worth doing - again - wether or not it's part of the original plan.

If your goal has contrary aims, you're going to struggle with this on. If you aim to defeat evil at all costs while getting as rich as possible, well, when the Truly Evil demon-worshipping vampyre-lich-troll says he'll reveal his otherwise unobtainable loot stash in return for his unlife, which do you choose? Or if going left fights evil and going right leads to loot, and you don't have the resources to do both, do you go right or left? The one you choose is your primary goal. If you don't know - or the group is split on which is "nice to have" and which is "the plan" then trouble will ensue.

Goals with hidden contrary aims also present a problem. The often-unstated, ". . . without undo risk or getting any PCs killed" addendum to most goals is also a contrary aim. You can't get maximally rich, or slay all the dragons, or fight all the evil, or find the bottom level of the dungeon, or whatever and satisfy that goal easily. If you try to do both, you usually veer off of the stated goal to satisfy the concerns of the unstated goal of minimizing the chance of harm. It can sometimes get you killed anyway when you turn away from a known risk into a "surely less dangerous" approach that contains more risk.

You can have a goal that's a little more vague - fight monsters, or investigate interesting things, or something of that sort. If you all understand what that consists of, it's easy enough to follow through on. Such goals rarely get coupled with "Stay on Target," but it's possible.

Overall, though, this maxim is something you do benefit from keeping in mind. Your plan isn't ruined if you're distracted by something that advances your actual goals. Your plan is worth a repeat of "Stay on Target!" if the distractions or opportunities don't further your goals. Sure, those are fun monsters to fight or that door is interesting, but you are after loot and know where it's to be found.

There isn't anything min-blowing in this post, but it's true. The goal is to keep the goal the goal, and not to let that slip aside too often. The goal of the game is to have fun but there is usally a specific in-game goal you're after. Figure it out, get agreement on it, and try to stick with it and it's usually easy to figure out what to do.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Adventuring Mistakes II: Stay on Target!

Yesterday was Part I of this mini-series: Oooh Shiny!

If you just clicked on that link, never to return . . . you probably suffer more from Oooh Shiny than from Stay on Target.

If you ignored it because you're here to read this post and you'll get to it later . . . maybe you're more of a Stay on Target type.

Stay On Target

This is a refusal to be swayed from your plan once you've set on it. You have your task, and you go after it without varying from it.

Just remember this famous proponent of the "Stay on target!" approach, Porkins.

Everything turned out for him okay, right?

Note, however, that inflexibility or stubborn foolishness is often fatal.
- Gary Gygax, "Successful Adventures," AD&D Players Handbook, p. 107

The Stay on Target approach can cost you opportunity. You have a chance encounter that presents an action you can take or pass on . . . do you pass on it to stay on the plan, or do you swap to this new thing? What if that "new thing" is a clearly better option, or a one-chance option?

Sometimes Stay on Target is, like Oooh Shiney, a way of avoiding decision making. Ironically, a cost of Stay on Target is missing out on your real goal. For example, you may plan to find a set of stairs down and explore there . . . but really you're doing so because you want to find a way to avoid a specific monster. Then you find a different potential way down and ignore it, because Stay on Target! We're looking for stairs! This especially happens when your plan is even more vague, or is really just a hope disguised as a plan (Step 1: Find monsters. Step 3: Profit!) Instead of shifting to an actual opportunity, you stick with the sunk costs of a plan that isn't as valuable as what you came across.

What kind of behavior do you see with Stay on Target?

Usually some or all of the following:

- insisting on a plan

- refusal to adjust or change the plan, even in the face of evidence of something better

- unwillingness to entertain changes

- arguing for continuation based on the costs expended on the plan already (sunk cost fallacy)

- risk aversion, especially in the form of avoiding new risks while insisting on surmounting old risks

How do you know you do this?

This one is generally very clear - you refuse to take opportunities or shift to something else until your original plan is done, or until it becomes completely untenable.

So which is better?

Like the choice of being frozen to death or burned to death, neither is really what you want. Neither is better than the other - they're both mistakes. One is an inability to stick with a plan. The other is an inability to be flexible in the face of changing circumstances. Both are built on logical fallacies. There is a third option - always keeping the goal the goal. More on that tomorrow.
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