Monday, May 31, 2021

Where is the loot in Felltower from?

The delvers in my Felltower campaign have been fairly hit and miss with loot. Sessions with a lot of loot, sessions with moderate amounts of loot, and numbers without any loot.

Still, characters have generally steadily climbed up the XP ranks as the required loot hadn't really been that high, often by some combination of moderate loot, sold equipment and magic items, and so on. So much so that I recall someone specially saying something about "farming orcs for XP" - going to fight and kill orcs because, hey, every 4th or 5th one has a good-quality broadsword, that's $240 each one, plus the rest have a mix of axes ($16), spears ($16), bows ($40-80), and armor, plus some actual coinage on each one.

That's an implicit criticism of the lack of look in Felltower and the associated areas. I decided to give it a look from this side of the screen.

When I first launched the campaign I didn't put in enough loot. I went through and added more, and then did another pass or so to add more. I created loot tables that reflect how much cash value a given pile of loot should have - you can see them in DF21.

From my side of the screen, in order of total value:

- jewelry/gems/coinage (all saleable at 100% of stated value in my game, everything else is subject to the usual rules.)

- magic items

- luxuries (tapestries, furniture, paintings, wine, etc.)

- weapons and armor

- scrap & monster body parts

I think one of my players can probably run numbers on what the PCs actually took home. I am curious if it matches the above.

For so many delves, it's been more like this:

- sold magic items

- weapons and armor

- scrap & monster body parts

- coinage

- luxuries

So much so that my players tend to look at plain furnishings, wall decorations, random geological formations, wandering monster body parts*, etc. as loot. If I put a box of hardtack somewhere, I sure as heck better know how much it weighs, how big it is, and how valuable it is as the players will likely have their delvers haul it back as loot.

Part of this post is me wondering what I see on my side vs. the players see on their side. The other part is to reiterate that Felltower isn't really designed as a stingy game. It's a lethal game. If you try to play it to avoid the danger, yeah, it'll be stingy as the real loot is protected by monsters, traps, and concealment. But I will say there is a lot of it where I did place it. A while back we had a discussion of how I distribute the treasure out, and in general the players liked the way it's spread (or actually not spread) throughout the dungeon.

It's just that I see the coins and jewelry as the bulk of the value, the magic items next (assuming you sell them), luxuries next, and then everything else tapers off from there down to minimal value. It seems like the delvers perceive it as magic items, weapons and armor, etc. and then coinage and luxuries down at the bottom. I think that can color the organization of delves, too - if you think the money is in broadswords and helmets, selling off magic items you don't need, and monster bits with a sprinkling of loot, what kind of things are you going to aim for? You're going to look for fights - and refuse to avoid them if they even have a chance at loot - instead of focusing purely on finding the big raw loot payoffs. Even trying to find gold and silver with Seek Earth only results in the closest, not the biggest, so you're no more likely to find the 100,000 coin hoard than the 1 sp some guy has tucked in his boot for luck.

I'll have to sit down and think more on how I can make the game more find-the-treasure centric and less realize-the-value-of-your-kills centric.

* Even of monsters not considered valueable. We've been through this so many times I made up rules for it. Yes, you can see deer bits and cups of ooze or whatever but if a choice body part of a rare monster is only $100-200, you're not going to get more than piddling pocket change. It's why you are delving and not killing squirrels to sell the tails to Mepps.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

DF Felltower: Loot Thresholds Change

We're officially switched from the "hybrid" method for loot thresholds to the one described in DF21.

So instead of this:

Method 3

Required Profit (Tiered, 100, then 50 point spread)
Up to 249 Points: $100 each (1/5 Struggling)
250-349 Points: $200 each (1/5 Average)
350-399 Points: $400 each (1/5 Comfortable)
400-449 Points: $1000 each (1/5 Wealthy)
450-499 Points: $4000 (1/5 Very Wealthy)
500+ Points: $20,000 each (1/5 of Filthy Rich)
Every Additional 100 Points: x10

. . . we're using this:

Method 2 (aka the rules that made it into DF21)

Required Profit (50 point spread)
Up to 249 Points: $100 each (1/5 Struggling)
250-299 Points: $200 each (1/5 Average)
300-349 Points: $400 each (1/5 Comfortable)
350-399 Points: $1000 each (1/5 Wealthy)
400-449 Points: $4000 (1/5 Very Wealthy)
450+ Points: $20,000 each (1/5 of Filthy Rich)
Every additional 50 points: x10

This does mean the PCs need to take home more loot. Very suddenly, the big boys will need more loot.

Yes, yes indeed.

I have been putting a lot of loot in the dungeon. I've gone back multiple times and upped it. There is a lot. The PCs haven't been able to track down so much of it.

So be it.

I'm just tired of 325-350 point delvers taking home $200 and getting 4 xp for it. They could literally explore one new room, and each kill one sword-armed orc and sell his sword and shield at 40% and get 5 xp. 20 delves, 20 rooms, 20 orcs, and 100 xp. Eh. That's my fault. So is 400-449 point PCs taking home $200 and getting 2 xp a session. 449 point guys solo killing one orc and heading home with his gear shouldn't be getting any XP, nevermind 2 points for loot.

I can see the point of players who have trouble locating loot. But they've spent a good chunk of time not being very effective at finding loot, and a fair bit of time generating 5 xp from searching 1-2 new places and divvying up loot finely so most or all of the PCs get 4 xp for loot from selling scrap, assorted weapons taken from fodder foes, and a few bits and bobs from here and there. And that's from PCs routinely spending huge amounts of resources to get that loot, and then divvying it up to maximize XP.

I'm okay with unequal loot distributions, but it's annoying just how often a miserably poor delve is "good enough" for guys with 70, 80, 90 xp over starting.

I had briefly considered saying loot couldn't be unequally distributed, but it's not really the issue. The issue is being able to get full xp for a session for getting a disappointing amount of money for a disappointing amount of scrounged loot. PCs shouldn't routinely be hauling home scrap, selling random old weapons, and taking home pocket change and turning it into significant permanent power gains.

Will you add more loot? Will I be adding more loot? Not really. I already put in a lot - but the PC's habits have been built around minimizing risk while maximizing the ability to take home just enough loot. So be that, too . . . just that this means $20K for the really high point PCs and $5K for them to even get 2 xp. There is a lot of loot to be found, and while it's not necessarily easy to be found it's out there and it is known . . . but avoided, because it's risky. This is yet another push towards risk. The game is really geared to tactical caution and strategic risk-taking, but it's played wuth tactical risk-taking and strategic caution. This may help.

How did your players react when you discussed this? We didn't. I just up and decided this. I'd been thinking I mis-set the XP thresholds for years, now, and I finally made the decision.

Any other big ideas? Maybe. It might be interesting to do XP for loot based on 3 sub-tiers. Instead of 4 xp for full loot and 2 xp for 20%-99% of that, 0 below that, you could do 4 xp for meeting your threshold, 2 xp for meeting the next threshold down (ranging from 1/2 to 1/5 of your level), and 1 xp for the level below that. So 250 point guys could get 4 for $200, 2 for $100-199, 1 for $1-99. 450 point guys would be 4 for $20K, 2 for $4K, 1 for $1K. That one I will put up to the group.

Something like that couples really well with awarding XP based on the total, not the split, too - but I don't want high-point delvers essentially dragged down by bringing along henchmen or lower-point PCs. That would bother me even more than the split-to-the-single-dollar handouts my players do to maximize the xp gained by the group.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Moriarty passed away

I was going to post something else, but Gavin "Moriarty" MacLeod passed away. Anything "Kelly's Heroes" is on-topic for this blog.


Here he is:

I do need to make time to assemble and paint my Oddball Sherman.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Random Thoughts & Links for 5/28/21

Just a few thoughts before I go finish my manuscript.

- I was looking at the pricing for spellstones that duplicate potions . . . ones that slipped my notice. Like an Invisibility spelltone for $400, when an Invisibility potion costs $2,450. Sure, the potion losts 1dx10 minutes, and the spellstone 1 minute. But no one buys an Invisibility spellstone for anything but ephemeral combat advantage or protection, and no one drinks an Invisibility potion for long-term exploration, either. So the spellstone is very likely underpriced.

If you had the elixir, you could sell it for $2450 x 40% = $980, which nets you 2 spellstones and $180. A wealthy delver with a solid Merchant skill can turn it into 6 spellstones, and that's definitely more useful.

I'm looking at others - some seem like economic issues (one is underpriced vis-a-vis the other), others don't. Haste, Strength, Wisdom, and a few others need side-by-side comparisons. I should have just said no to special-order spellstones. It's been a nonstop headache . . . and the PCs depend on them to win fights, and so the boss fights tend to be harder because the foes need to be able to counter such items to be relevant, which only pushes the arms race of getting them.

Advice to new DF GMs - don't allow people to just buy spellstones, potions, etc. at whim. Just don't. The game becomes about them.

- Here is a nice look at some new advantages in Delvers to Grow.

- A look at "Cleave."

- Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord is a brutal, brutal game to start. I started laughing when I was reading about his high-stat, well-equipped badass. Yeah, Wizardry rips through delvers like crazy. You need to just gut it out, get a few guys up levels, and then use them to support up the guys with potential. And survivors have potential all on their own. It's a tough, unforgiving game.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

GURPS writing update

My solo GURPS book is almost done.

I'm basically moving things around at this point before I submit it for review prior to official submission.

My hints?

It's connected to stuff from Felltower.

It's Dungeon Fantasy.

It's not that long - think Megadungeons more than Martial Arts.

It's a topic I think GURPS hasn't really given sufficient wordcount to for fantasy gaming.

I'm excited to see it hit "print."

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Giant Brothers

The PCs tangled with a pair of giant brothers in our most recent session.

It did not go particularly well for either side.

The giants ended up blinded, fleeing, with their dire wolves slain and their weapons and armor abandoned.

The PCs ended up with a dismembered and dead cleric, a dead apprentice ally, their boats smashed, and a lot of magic resources expended - and had to spend $30,000 in town to bring back their slain from the dead.

Both sides experienced what might be called a Pyrrhic victory - another victory at that cost might break either side.

How did two giants hang with a bunch of delvers backed by a pile of magical consumables?

I built the giants as experienced adventurers, really, who had taken their home by violence force against the original inhabitants, and hunted and slew as they saw fit.

So I made them the kind of guys, skill and advantage-wise, that could do that in a world where:

- there are archers and swordsmen who can take your eyes out casually,

- foes with trememndously high skill aren't terribly usual,

- and access to magic is a prerequisite to success.

So the giants have Luck. They seem to have some access to magic, and use it. They are wiley and experienced, and fight as if their opponents are lethal foes bent on killing them and as if those opponents have earned the gear they have.* They're used to people trying to defense-swamp them after a Feint, a typical combat move. They have skill and know how to use Rapid Strike, Beat, and flanking to their advantage. They're not afraid to cut and run when the odds make it clear that death will follow sticking around. They, like PCs, deal with other people's stuff like spiteful wolverines. It amused me that the PCs were busy smashing things the giants used to "deny them the assets" and the giants smashed the PC's boats and denied them their transport home. Also that the PCs used buffs, potions, and teamwork and the giants did, too.

Yeah, it was a hard fight. These guys are boss monsters individually, each capable of fighting multiple PCs. Obviously they did better as a pair against a half-dozen delvers. Even so, they couldn't hang forever, and the usual swings of dice luck in a combat told for them in both directions. Some critical misses (and critical defenses) against them, one critical defense that cause Wyatt to drop his weapon . . . but it was the 2nd in a combat of left/right/left/left and so the right sword was dropped as the left unaffected, and so on. Plus buffed airborne Wyatt is extremely dangerous, and in GURPS DF smothering a foe with multiple strikes is the way to go, unless the opponent has a high Dodge. If so, it's just crit-fishing (i.e. hoping for a critical hit by choosing a 16+ to hit). They did okay all told, and I'm a bit surprised the PCs didn't do better.

* The PCs are very well equipped. Most of their magical gear is Ornate, they wear epic plate (ornate), Wyatt has a clearly special corselet, Galen carries a dragonhorn bow and wear's thieves' mail, Crogar has a well-made axe, Galen shoots Cornucopia arrows, etc. It's blindingly obvious this not a rag-tag group of wannabes, but a hard core group of wealthy delvers.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Delvers to Grow + Crypt of Krysuvik - under 12 hours!

Only about 12 hours left in this one:

You can get an excellent book on low-powered DFRPG delvers, with some things you'll regret missing . . . and a cheap add-on of an adventure that Marshall "Aldwyn" LaPira co-wrote with me.


Monday, May 24, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 153, Cold Fens 11 - Part II

Dates: May 16th, 2021 - May 18th, 2021
Weather: Sunny, warm to start.

Aldwyn Hale, human knight (340 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (170 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (336 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (490 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
     2 skeletons (~35 points)
     Rahtnar the Skeleton (~125 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (343 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)

We picked up where we left off, with the giants about to continue attacking the PCs.

The first giant (the not-Great Hasted one) and the hasted one both piled shots onto Aldwyn, and landed a couple of hits to a random location - torso, naturally. Aldwyn was badly wounded and knocked into the wall.

The dire wolves snapped and lunged at Crogar, who dodged their attacks.

Ulf zapped the Great Hasted Giant (GHG from now on) with his Wand of Holding. That failed to paralyze it. Aldwyn went to drink his Great Healing potion but it had smacked into the wall with him . . . his DR 12 prevented any injuy to him but didn't help the potion vial - he rolled a 1 and it shattered as if on a fall. Varmus tried to Counterspell Missile Shield on one of the giants and failed. Gerry tried to counter Great Haste and also failed.

Galen dropped his dragonbone bow and unlimbered his wussy backup bow - a ST 17 composite bow. Wyatt used his Great Haste to ready and crush some spellstones - Blur 5 and Walk on Air.

Meanwhile, Crogar shook his shield off - it took a couple seconds - and then grabbed his axe lanyard, then snapped it off, then readied it. That and dodging dire wolf bites took all of his time.

The first giant swung at Wyatt, I think, who Dodged acrobatically. The GHG used his first turn to swing three times at Ulf. Ulf dodged one, was critically hit with the second, and the third missed. The second shot was to a leg (random roll) and did 26 damage (yes, on 7d+11). That was still enough for a double dismemberment, hacking both legs off. Ulf fell, stunned. The giant then switched his attacks to the body and hacked Ulf twice more, putting him well past -5xHP and just a bit shy of -10xHP. Ulf fell, bisected at the torso and legless, dead.

The dire wolves snapped at Crogar, who defended easily.

The wizards kept throwing counterspells, but couldn't manage to take down either Missile Shield or Great Haste. Gerry used Invisibilty to conceal himself and moved around after it dropped from his counterspelling attempt. Varmus then switched to Spasm on one giant, and then Itch on the other. Galen shot down one of the wolves, wounding it badly, as Rahtnar the Skeleton ran up to attack the other and missed. Somewhere in this part of the fray, Aldwyn swung at a giant and was critically parried, sending him to the Critical Miss Table . . . and he rolled a 15 and crippled his weapon arm.

The first giant kept swinging at Wyatt and/or Aldwyn, but not to much effect. The GHG decided enough was enough with Varmus, who kept hassling them with spells they had to resist. So he took three swings at Varmus, and killed him outright, and then went back to attacking the fighters.

Wyatt, meanwhile, managed to run up in the air at the first giant, and stabbed out one of his eyes. A moment later he stabbed out the other. Galen shot down the dire wolves, with a little help from Rahtnar the Skeleton.

The giant howled in pain and yelled out something, and backed off from Wyatt. The other stood still for both of his turns, and then the first giant turned into a watery form - Body of Water, presumably. His armor and sword fell to the ground.

The first giant made a beeline for the entrance ("In a straight line? While blind?" queried one player - yes. They play by the same rules as PCs, so yes, movement direction isn't vision-hindered.)

The second fought another second or so, and then Wyatt managed to blind him in one eye. He, too, turned to a watery version of himself and his weapons fell. Unlike the other, he fled through the leathery curtain.

The PCs split up - Crogar, Gerry, Galen, and Wyatt ran to the entrance. The Wyatt ran the other way, to chase the other fleeing giant. They shot the fleeing giants with arrows and Aldwyn tried to shield bash the other, but nothing slowed them down (but did seem to hit them and work - Diffuse on high-HP creatures is tough to overcome.)

Unfortunately, they found neither. The one who ran out into the rain was gone by the time they got out into the sheeting precipitation, and even Keen Vision and See Invisible and Dark Vision didn't help see very far. The other left some damp footprints, but the whole cave is always a bit damp, so they weren't easy to find. Wyatt had been expecting a "slime trail" of water, but the giant was merely made of water, not leaking fluids, so it didn't slowly break down as it moved.

They ended up cautiously searching and policing up the area. Gerry insisted they get out ASAP, before the giants could heal up and come back. They moved as quickly as possible . . . kind of. They ended up waiting for the temporary cripples to heal, examining some loot, and such. Aldwyn drank potions with Gerry's help, finally getting himself fully healed. They checked the giant's gear, and found the armor and swords were all magical. They also found an empty potion jug - a big one - near the GHG's position.

They searched around the caves a bit. Galen checked for the giant and found it had gone around to the tunnel they'd found the first time, and then out to a boulder-blocked passage. The boulder had clearly been moved recently, and had evil runes on its inside surface. They left it alone. They sent him to watch after he checked the kitchen chests - finding smoked alligator intestines and iron cups and plates, respectively.

In another cave area, they found casks, barrels, and bottles, and a second "trophy room," decorated with shields, two elf skeletons on the floor, four suits of plate armor with more than a bit of rust on them, a collection of battered helmets (some with heads still in them), etc. They opened up a big iron chest and found a lot of weapons, and had Aldwyn come in and evaluate all of the broadswords for quality before deciding to take all of them anyway (this took 11 minutes for 11 swords.) They checked the front room - also decorated with trophy skeletons. In the alcoves were the bones of 2-3 dozen ogres, clearly hacked to death with big swords. (None were in any condition for Zombie.)

Come 40-45 minutes later, they took the giant swords (around 85# each), their gloves and boots, and the dragon skulls, as well as the corpses of their buddies, to drag back to the boats. They also took the broadswords from the chest. Aldwyn cut all of the straps on the armor, which was clearly heavy dragonhide. They talked briefly of tossing oil on it to burn, but no one actually did that. They also took a quick look at the altar but didn't really have any time to search it - they were hoping for a hidden cache of unholy water.

So they rushed out to the boats in the heavy rain, which was starting to slowly taper off. Soaked and exhausted, they reached the shore . . . and found their boats destroyed. The skiff was gone, with only a few pieces of wood floating around - and a few choice pieces clearly left in view to make sure no one wasted time wondering what happened. The other boat was reduced to 1/3 of a boat, the bow, smashed by a large rock that had crushed through the concealment. The rest was also floating wood bits. The skeleton left to guard them was pieces of broken bone scattered around, its gear equally in the muck or water.

So they had to decide what to do. In the end, they threw the swords into the water, along with the dragon skull helmets. They tossed the boots far from one another in the water, and stashed the gloves and their broadsword loot. They waded into the water along the coast and began to walk north.

Their plan, basically, was to walk home. Galen could guide them with Absolute Direction, but they'd be slow. So Gerry put Haste on almost everyone to help them slog along at 0.6 mph.

Basically, they slogged through the water to the above-water bits, hiked on them as long as they could, and waded more. They stopped for 4 hours of sleep once and then a full 8 hours the next night, but otherwise kept going. They were eaten by bugs, blood-drained by leeches, caught some diseases, had their food ruins and gear soaked and mucked up. At one point Aldwyn was dragged under by a giant Wels catfish before Galen took a shot at it and critically hit it, driving it to let Aldwyn go. (They got lucky on lethal encounters, actually, but travel at night meant constant bugs and constant drains on resources and time.)

They did reach dry land after almost 40 hours of solid slogging, bug-bitten, drained, exhausted, and Aldwyn hacking up his lungs.

They hiked straight to Swampsedge and collapsed there.

Galen forked over $30K in gold, silver, and gems to the church to fun the Resurrection of Varmus and Ulf. Two rolls at 13 or less . . . both made. Ulf gave Galen what little money he had as an installment on the rest. Varmus just said, "Thanks." Wyatt opined this would come back to haunt him, but who knows? Callous city-folk haters probably don't want thanks from city-dwellers, or care how they feel.

They sold off the broadswords and a few ornate daggers and small knives Wyatt swiped from the giants' trophy room, and netted a few hundred each and around $800 for Gerry and Galen. Ulf healed his own legs with Regeneration.


- I was surprised at how this turned out. I expected the PCs to win. Also, when they did, the PCs were in a big rush to get out - not so big of a rush that they didn't take 45 minutes to leave the caves, but in too much of a rush to really thoroughly search. With people down, a couple of dead, and a lot to do, they ended up not being able to search too thoroughly. So they got out only with some difficult to carry loot, and couldn't keep it. I won't explain how the boat stuff happened, or when, but they didn't have a backup plan. Wading through the fens worked . . . but it cost them misery, leeches, disease, wet gear, and suffering.

- I swear I roll a 7 (lose your balance, turn ends) or an 8 (weapon unready) basically all the time on the critical miss table, so much so you'd think they turned up on a 7-15 or something. I don't have a good explanation for this. I don't think I've ever rolled a 15 (strained shoulder) this campaign more than once but the PCs had two of them this combat alone! Vic is very familiar with this one, having had it multiple times on one PC. So when people roll a 15 he just blurts out what it is.

- the Luck reset really helped the party, as it often does. It didn't helpt the giants, because they didn't use (or need) Luck the first part of the fight. I rarely give NPCs Luck, but it fit for these guys. They are veterans with a record of successful slaying, and you can't get out of that whole without some Luck.

- My players are all remarkably close-mouthed about stuff they do. Examples, "I ready a spellstone." "I crush a spellstone." "I Fast-Draw a potion." Of what? I know they want to keep it a surprise and all, but as the GM, I actually need to know what you're doing. They're the same with maneuvers. "I run up 3 hexes and attack." Okay, so a Move and Attack, then? How about declaring that? If it's All-Out Attack, I need to know that. Also, All-Out Attack (what)? "I concentrate on Counterspell." On what now? The target affects the time to cast. I'm not suspicious that they're readying "a spellstone to be decided on later when I see what happens," I'm just assuming they're being lazy about keeping me posted and/or want to surprise me and each other with their awesome selection. "Ha-HAH! I have a spellstone/potion/scroll/spell that solves this tactical conundrum! Witness it as I unleash it!" Heh.

- With the blinded giant running, yeah, maybe realistically he should have possibly missed the door, or face the wrong direction, or stumbled, or something. Maybe. But in my experience players generally expect that NPCs should be limited by what's realistic and believeable based on their own information about the situation. They also generally expect that PCs should only be limited by what the rules limit you to. In other words, if it's not likely, NPCs shouldn't be likely to pull it off, but if it's at all possible, PCs should be able to do it routinely. Or with a fairly easy roll. At least that's how my cynical GM ear hears the arguments.

- We briefly talked about Varmus and Ulf getting killed. Ulf stood his ground because he saw himself getting attacked as a way to spare the fighter-types from taking hits. It worked, but it killed him and had I rolled better on the third strike on the first turn, he would have been at -10xHP and not resurrectable. Varmus just took too much of a risk to try to get off some spells with a low likelihood of success. They both got killed, which, net/net, I don't think was a good result. I don't think baiting PC-killing strikes you can't stop so the guys who can stop them don't get hit is a good strategy. It may have worked here, kind of, but cost a huge issue in getting home safely and $30,000.

- They tried to destroy the armor, which was interesting. Ruining the straps was a great idea, but it's not going to destroy an enchantment (that seems too easy). They took the boots and gloves because . . . I'm not sure why those. They threw the boots away, but kept the gloves. They mentioned cutting them down into human-sized gloves, but that's going to take some doing. They don't have dragonhide ready to turn into armor. They have dragonhide armor with dragon scales. They'll need that cut down to a size and scale-size appropriate for a SM 0 person from an SM+3 glove. That's going to be costly and waste a lot of material, and also reduce the value of the material. Doable, but costly and it won't be as good as what it came from. Who needs heavy leather gloves? It's not clear.

- Wyatt was MVP. He defeated the giants, but all it took was Great Haste, Shield 5, Blur 5, Walk on Air, Haste 3, and probably other spells I'm forgetting. So that's all of this giving foes -5 to hit and +8 to defend. I'm not complaining, just saying - the PCs tend to depend on a lavish amount of magic to defeat foes. Interestingly enough, the giants never got double-teamed at any point; it was literally all Wyatt that drove them off.

- Gerry opined that the giants probably are dead, unless they have a large cache of healing potions, or one is a cleric, and that they can manage to coordinate blind.

- I think it's odd that using SM for melee means giants are easier to critically hit (Wyatt rolled a 5 at one point with a 15 skill, taking -10 in penalties . . . he had 22 +3 for SM = 25.) It probably shouldn't, much like Telegraphic Attack. "Hard to miss something that big" shouldn't mean "makes it impossible for something that big to defend." I may need to change that, as it doesn't actually make any sense to me. The idea that it's easier to critically miss against small folks does make sense to me, though, for reasons I don't feel like typing out right now.

- I'm not sure what the players want to do next.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Pre-summary for the Cold Fens 11 Part II

We played today.

Long story short:

- it got bloody both ways.

- eyes were taken.

- limbs were lost.

- misery was suffered.

Writeup tomorrow.

And a rules change, writeup for that next Sunday. Heh.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Tomorrow: Concluding the Brothers vs. the Delvers

Tomorrow we'll resolve the fight with the giant brothers.

- Honestly, I was a bit soft. I tried to incapacitate two PCs instead of killing one for certain. And for experienced fighters, it's the swashbuckler not the knight. How do you know it's a swashbuckler? Because he's got a pair of longswords and no shield, heavy torso armor and little else, and runs headlong into a fight and attacks a whole bunch of times?

Anyway, I was soft. Let's see if I can bail it out for the brothers after that mis-step. After all, in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, it's incredibly easy to spring back from anything that isn't either instantly fatal or that lops off a limb. I may seem mean, but look at this way - the PCs busted into these guy's home looking for money. They'd cheerfully slaughter them and then justify it later. Once they realized these guys are dangerous, they started to say, geez, we should ally with these guys. As soon as the tide turns, they'll kill them all, sparing none, and refuse to negotiate . . . then loot everything, sell their bodies for parts if they can, ttry to make bows out of the teeth from the dragon skull even though you can't do that, and summon and interrogate their spirits. So let's not make the NPCs out to be worse than the PCs here.

- I still haven't done this up as a battle map. I can't express how much time that takes me, and how much time per player turn of combat this adds to the time. People really do take extra time to determine every single hex and the value of going there. They really do try to find a way to magically face two directions at once. They work strenuously to get a flank on a foe in a situation they'd claim was unrealistic to be flanked in as a PC. It adds a huge amount of time. If I put up a map, I'd expect the fight to take the entire session at least..

- The giants go first next turn, a lesson I'd learned in the past for split fights. XP will be for one delve. The fun will be for two . . . and the we're off for a number of weeks!

- If and when the PCs win, will they push their luck? They keep talking about the dragon but also keep ducking it, and keep talking about Sakatha's island but also keep ducking that, too. What next if they pull this off?

Friday, May 21, 2021

Random Links and Thoughts for 5/21/21

Some posts for Friday.

- The Delvers to Grow Kickstarter is still ongoing, with only 4 days left to expand the funding and backer base.

- Woohoo, I got into the GURPS Elves playest! I wasn't really doubting I would, but I am still happy that I did, if that makes sense.

- I got Kromm's new book on demons. I'll read it this weekend. I'm sure it's good. I'll find out after I read it how much fits Felltower and its already-established demons.

- This isn't gaming, but it's awesome - the Akira Bike Slide and its copies.

Akira has a special place in my memory. The comics were groundbreaking in the US. I finally got to see the movie when I was in Japan. I was really struggling with my Japanese . . . and to my happiness and relief I could understand the characters in Akira without subtitles. They spoke like my MMA gym buddies spoke, and so I was used to listening to that level of (im)politeness in Japanese. Also, it was really cool. So Otomo Katsuhiro has a special place in my regards, right next to Matsumoto Leiji. And yes, I put family names first for Japanese people. The opposite sounds weird to me now.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

You're Only Making it Worse - Very Low Skill Attacks in GURPS

I've been thinking on my player's argument last session that trying shouldn't make things worse. Or at least, that trying in very bad circumstances shouldn't be more likely to make thing worse than to succeed.

Giving sufficient penalties - say, a -4 or more for being grappled, plus -10 for darkness, plus -4 for posture, can mean you can't really do anything at all without almost certainly critically failing. With a -18, a 12 skill plus an All-Out Attack (Determined) and Telegraphic Attack gives you a net 2, so you succeed on a 3-4 and critically fail on a 12+. You need an 18 skill to get to an 8 or less with those two.

I think my players would say they're not opposed to penalties, just to nonsensical situations where trying makes something worse. But trying often makes things worse in real life. In my experience in combat sports, I've learned that doing the wrong thing hard is worse than not doing anything, and often, your opponent is putting you in circumstances where they need you to try to do something to allow them to continue. Sometimes doing nothing is the best move - the cost to you to do nothing exceeds the cost to the enemy to keep doing what they're doing. A classic example is a grappler who is expending energy (FP in game) and position (spending CP) to try and finish a move. If you can defend it, you're better off just waiting them out. Or in our last game, a giant frog trying to bite your head off, unable to let go, while your friends come to help you.

I think the only way to make this incorrect, and make it so trying is always worth it, is one of two ways:

- a hard cap on penalties.

- removing the 10+ failure means critical failure approach.

I don't think the first makes any sense without a hard skill cap. If you cap penalties, you must cap skill (not bonuses, skill) so you can't just outspend your potential penalties.

I don't think the second passes a reality test - if it's possible to have a higher chance of a spectacular success than a spectacular failure, then the reverse should be true. And catastrophic failure shouldn't been too limited, otherwise a merely hard task is effectively the same as a truly impossible task. Plus, it means that there is little problem with repetitive tasks as you can't really make it worse.

So that's why I think that the rules as written approach makes good sense and reasonably models reality enough to keep as-is.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Battletech: Archer + Marauder = Happy

With a break between writing projects, I decided to play some Battletech.

My gripes are still the same - the lack of morale means every fight is until the death. The whole phased movement starting only with combat means I often move into contact with the enemy, and then have to let them move up and shoot me first. It's just annoying.

I've been playing missions, having fun with the events, and otherwise progressing along.

I have finally gotten two of my three favorite mechs. What are my favorites?

- BLR-1G Battlemaster. I rarely got to use one on the tabletop, but I loved it. So good at close range, so versatile. But I haven't found more than 2 wrecks and I need three. I found one hulk for sale to complete it, but it cost 1.3 million C and I had only 2.1 million C at the time . . . I didn't want to risk running out.

The two I have are:

- an ARC-2R Archer, with 2 LRM 20s and a pile of ammo. And four medium lasers . . . two of which I swapped out for more ammo.

- a MRD-3R Marauder. My favorite mech. I actually really like the redesign they did since they can't re-use the Robotech mecha images. It's just a very cool looking mech, and it's quite effective. One AC/5, and two arms each with one PPC and one Medium Laser. If you moderate your PPC fire you can keep up a sustained barrage, and a close-range Alpha Strike can do a lot of damage. Given an Ace Pilot - so I can shoot, then move - it's been really effective at staying at optimal range and just hammering my foes.

Here is what they looked like in Battledroids, way back in the day:

Coupled with a mech equipped with one of the over-powered guns of the "LosTech" - old Star League Defense Force tech - it's kind of unfair. PPC fire to make a mech unstable, the archer to slam it down to knocked down, then an aimed shot with a Gauss Gun to finish the mech. It's not always one turn, but I can systematically gut mechs if I set up a good firing line. I couple it with a solid spotter mech with some good armor, and it's been fight-winning.

As the missions have gotten harder, it's been harder to keep my mechwarriors healthy. For a while, every single mission featured a head hit and a wounded mechwarrior. I had a one-mission break recently but I don't expect it to last . . . I just found an unexpectedly weak mission available and got to stomp some smaller mechs with my three heavies and one assault mech.

Still fun. I do have to remember when I'm equipping mechs that this is Battletech, not Mechwarrior, which I played to death back in the 90s. In that game, PPC shots were slow. My lost buddy Ed used to call them "blue fuzzy pillows" and dodged them with ease. Marauders were not a good choice there. Here, they're excellent but costly for heat.

It's an enjoyable game if you like mech combat.

(Editing later - I did one more mission - and salvaged a Battlemaster! Woohoo. My lance will now be a Battlemaster, a Marauder, an Archer, and a Highlander - a new build I really like.

Also a gripe there - they call my group a "company" but I can only deploy a lance - 4 mechs. 12 is a company. I should really have a Command/Assault Lance, a Fire Lance, and a Recon Lance, and get to use them together sometimes.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 152, Cold Fens 11

Somewhat short summary today, as not a lot happened worth recording until the very end bit. Also, I have other writing to do tonight. So this might be brief and sketchy.

Dates: May 16th, 2021 - May 18th, 2021
Weather: Sunny, warm to start.

Aldwyn Hale, human knight (340 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (170 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (336 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (490 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
     2 skeletons (~35 points)
     Rahtnar the Skeleton (~125 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (343 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)

We started off with the party in Swampsedge or in Ulfhollow ("Ulfhalla"), where they spent the week. Bruce was called to chop things at his job, so he couldn't make it. Heyden was out sick. Otherwise it was the same group as last time.

The PCs headed out along the northern edge of the Cold Fens. Once they reached near their exploration area, they headed in.

They poled around for most of the first day, passing through some explored areas, getting eaten by bugs (some doing FP loss, mostly, once doing damage) basically nonstop, and otherwise poking around. The weather was fine, however, and remained so most of the trip.

At one point, they saw two root-and-muck human-like figures - shamblethorns (aka "shambling mounds.") They rapidly poled away, just making enough speed to keep away from them. Not for terribly long, though. Within a couple of hours they had to camp . . . and the shamblethorns attacked in the morning. The PCs were lucky - Varmus, Ulf, and Gerry were able to spot them coming (some great rolls, there.) They quickly woke up the crew and chopped the shamblethorns into pieces in a few seconds. They hacked off a few limbs, but they extruded new ones as fast as they could take them off. But still, damage told, and they quickly finished them off. Varmus tried to set one on fire with Create Fire but found that fire isn't a good answer to wet muck-and-vine monsters in a damp, rainy fen. Galen, meanwhile had been off scouting, and returned hours later to report back no signs of trolls or rocky ground to explore for a troll temple.

The next night they had a similar issue - a giant frog attacked them. It was during Ulf and Crogar's shift. It leaped out of the darkness after everything went a little too quiet around them. Crogar was caught a little off-guard and it knocked him down with a heavy slam. Crogar tried to cut it with his axe, but was impeded by position, his shield, and the frog itself, and missed. It clamped down on his head, completely engulfing it. Sadly, it couldn't seal off his air, nor could it usefully harm him. So it just kept holding on. Crogar tried to punch his way free, but between being supine, the grapple, being unable to see, etc. he couldn't land an effective blow and in fact only managed to punch something hard (a root, he thought) and narrowly miss hurting his hand. Ulf meanwhile blasted it with a Sunbolt, hurting it badly, and Galen shot it a few times and killed it. They pried the frog - dubbbed the "Frelmet" by Aldwyn - off of Crogar.

They also had biting insects that night, keeping people up and short on sleep. This is aside from bugs, noises, a brown spider of some kind crawling on Varmus, and other heebie-jeebie inducing swamp mucking. Galen wasn't impressed with the party's outdoorsy toughness.

The PCs basically poled around the mucky swamp, exploring spots of "dry" land where they could. They skirted the fog, and eventually decided they needed to check out the foggy island - "Sakatha's Island." So they headed there, and worked their way along the foggy coast until they needed to camp.

They decided to set up a Sanctuary to rest. So Ulf did. And rolled an 18. The door appeared. Everything seemed fine, so they all went in as usual. (I had Ulf's player roll 1d. On a 1 or 6, something would happen. 2-5, just something less nasty. He rolled a 2.)

Once he closed the door, the Sanctuary collapsed, dropped them all injured to the groud, stunned and puking in some cases. Ulf's attempts to create a new one failed.

So they sent Galen in to scout. He found an excellent camp site, but also a trail, and clear evidence that trolls had been there in the past (but not at all recently). Ogres, too, seemed like they'd been here, also not that recently. He also smelled woodsmoke - faint, but it was there. He scouted down the path and found, eventually, a hill with a dozen menhirs in front of it, most toppled. He also smelled the smoke nearby, clearly coming from a cave in the side of the hill.

He also found signs of wolves - dire wolves - coming and going into the caves. But only two or three.

And on one of the toppled menhirs was a clawed hand mark - six feet from claw to base. Galen recognized that as a sign of the Troll Father. Also, one of the menhirs had been plastered with thrown rocks, some big ones, and another had two old depressions in front, as it it had been pushed over by something two-legged and big.

Galen returned to the boats, as rain began to fall steadily.

They decided they needed to head in and deal with the trolls - if they were trolls (Wyatt expressed doubt that trolls would use fire, as it can kill them.) They moved stealthily to the cave.

Galen check the entrance - it was closed off by a rusty chain and leather curtain - suits of mail, cut into strips or sheets and bound together with leather, all rusty.

They moved up, used Silence on the mail curtain, and then pulled it aside. They went inside.

They found a largish cave with an altar with a crude statue of a troll on it, about 3' tall. (For once, no one shot oor attacked a statue they found.) The walls were decorated with skins, skulls, and bones of all sorts of animals. Two alcoves were full of humanoid bonues, but big ones. There were two curtains out - one leather, good quality but old, and another a tapestry, long-since faded.

They rushed through the tapestry, after Galen heard some voices beyond it. They found the remains of a fire in an alcove, bit slab tables with flat boulder chairs, and seven cowering goblins. The goblins surrended as fast as they could. Galen made out, "Don't kill!" and "Please!" and similar things. Ulf cast Gift of Tongues on himself and spoke to them. "Do any of you know Galoob?" "I'm Galoob!" said one. Not Galoob Jah, clearly, but still. They blathered all at once, in a panic, that "the Brothers" left, they were prisoners, they were kitchen help only, they didn't want to die, the brothers left, they went thataway, they want thisaway, they ran, they're hunting, they're hiding, etc. Ulf said, "Do you worship the Good God?" - "OH YES! He's so good, we worship him, yes, yes, oh he's so good!"

They decided to tie them up, after Ulf briefly considered that this was a 2 1/3 second problem for Galen to solve. So they tied them up, instead - Wyatt did that, and the goblins did their best to help tie themselves and each other up.

As they finished this, and checked another curtain only to find a tunnel that Y'ed out in from of them, they heard howling. Close, and loud, and IN THE CAVE.

They armed up and spell'ed up, crushed spellstones, and otherwise got ready to fight. They waited a little, and then realized no one was coming. The wolves went silent, but the goblins wailed and cried. Wyatt had wanted to gag them, with the usual handy 'cloak' and 'cloth' and other things delvers don't have on their record sheets, so the goblins were free to yell. They did, calling for help, saying "Don't kill!" and just crying out in fear and alarm.

The PCs decided to stack up, nice and tight, and move in formation through the curtain and into the cave beyond. They did so. As they did, a large figure - a giant - tossed a 150-pound boulder at one column of them. He hit, and one by one they all Dodged (sigh).

Crogar stepped up and waited, as Aldwyn charged. Wyatt followed after he crushed a spellstone or two (Haste, Shield) and was Great Hasted. They rushed the giant - a nearly 20' tall one with a dragon skull helmet and scale armor, and a two-handed sword. Galen shot him in the eyes. All three shots missed . . . Missile Shield. The giant looked down, effectively giving him a good view of melee foes but presenting his skull helmet to Galen's shots, so he can't crit-fish his eyes.

The PCs rushed into melee, and engaged the giant. He swung his two-handed sword twice, but Aldwyn critically blocked, and the giant lost his balance. Aldwyn cut him, as did Wyatt, but even with wyatt's Coup de Jarnac they could only slightly injure the giant. They couldn't reach his neck or eyes; he's too tall. They forced the giant to circle back and away. Ulf and the wizards moved in closer to cast spells. Aldwyn critically blocked another attack, and the giant againt was off-balance. Wyatt feinted the giant but it wasn't impressed by his 14-point margin of success.

Crogar swung at the giant, and rolled a critical hit! That was enough for his Curse, which ended, turning his success to ashes - he strained his shoulder. (I had him roll until he got a sufficiently nasty penalty . . . "dropped weapon" is meaningless with a lanyard.)

The suddenly, Wyatt and Aldwyn were cut from behind - an a second giant appeared, as the attack ended his Invisibility. He attacked again - he was Great Hasted. He cut Wyatt down on the first hit, knocking him into the other giant and Wyatt fell. Aldwyn stumbled forward but managed to critically Dodge as he was aware of the second back shot. The giant lost his second attack as his weapon needed to be re-readied.

They eventually got a look at both giants - two 20' tall guys with milk-white skin, silvery white hair, and black eyes, clad in dragonscale armor (greenish-black, and greyish-black, respectively) and wearing dragonskull helmets.

(That's Roger Raupp, if I'm not mistaken, from Dungeon Magazine.)

Crogar, meanwhile, was attacked by the dire wolves, who pushed under the curtain and rushed in. They pounced on him but he managed to dodge back and block one.

Wyatt, down but not out, pulled out a potion and drank it, healing most of his HP (it was a Greater Healing). Aldwyn did the same, I think.

Galen went to shoot the dire wolves but critically failed - a 17 - after using Predictive Shot to take himself down to a 15. Oops. He rolled a 3 on the critical miss table, and his string broke - his bow, shatterproofed dragonhorn couldn't break. Varmus and Gerry quickly started casting Counterspell, to get rid of Missile Shield and Great Haste respectively.

We left it there, as it was late in the real world.


- So the PCs reached the island last session fairly early, and then turned around and left. A good case of "we seek adventure" becoming, "we seek a very specific kind of adventure, stay on target, don't deviate from the mission." I was ready for this fight last session, and it seemed like it would happen early. But no.

- We had a big rules discussion about Crogar's position with the frog. One player argued that it doesn't pass a reality check that Crogar was, at one point, at higher odds of making thing worse by struggling than he was just sitting there - all the penalties mean that even an AOA (Determined) plus Telegraphic Attack weren't enough to get him more than a 1 or 2. So he'd crit on a 3-4, crit fail on an 11+. That seems steep, but he was in a position fatal for almost anyone, and still had a tiny chance of success by punching his way out. My own real-world experience is that, yes, something you're in a bad spot and it's worse if you try to get out. Sometimes, the other guy wants you to struggle so you open yourself up to exploitation. Sometimes the best thing is to just wait it out.

Also, most of the time people try to find a "rules" solution, not a "real world" solution, and then argue the rules don't give them sufficient chance. Crogar had options, but looking at his skills, decided that Axe/Mace and then Brawling were his best options. Not, say, taking his time to somehow get the shield off, drop the axe, and then try a close-combat weapon, or try to get his hands in to open the jaws (grapple back, and yes, you can get messed up trying and failing), or anything like that. He was in the worse possible situation - pinned and and bitten around the head - and still had some bad options but better ones than he chose. That's not on the rules.

Finally on this, I think people really don't like when negative penalties stack too high. I always get push back when people try something risky with high penalties, like hitting a thing that's on them with a large weapon at full strength, or dealing with the above grapple, or doing crazy things in darkness with insufficient ST or hands on a weapon, and so on. It often feels like people want PCs with very high skills who deal with a fairly low maximal cap on penalties they can suffer. High penalties are fine as long as they still end up with 16+ skill. So I feel, anyway.

- Speaking of rules, the next person who says "I run up and Wild Swing" is just going to do that. I'll rule it a Wild Swing. It's been 10+ years, guys. It's Move and Attack. A Wild Swing is something else. It's really annoying.

- That 18 on Sanctuary almost dumped them . . . elsewhere. Had the second die been a 1 or 6, not just 2-5, then, well, they wouldn't have been in the Cold Fens. There would be a way back to either there or Felltower, probably the latter, because all weird places tie eventually to Felltower.

- The giants, and their place, have been waiting in the Cold Fens since the day we opened it up. One player noted that it might have been lethal to find. Yeah, true, but my game isn't fair. The giants are from an old issue of Dungeon magazine. If you recognize them, mention it sometime later. My players won't look them up but why tempt anyone? I love that picture, too . . . and I ruled they have limb and hand armor, too, otherwise their armor just means hand shots all day.

- Wyatt's player was happy, as he'd spent 15 points on Coup de Jarnac months ago and finally fought armored guys worth using cutting attacks against. Why not eyes? Because the eyes are 6 hexes off of the ground.

- The giants hit 3 or 4 times. None of the damage was average or higher - 7d+11 is 35.5 average damage, and Roll20 gave me 31-34 damage. Not horrible, but I've grown to expect that monsters will underperform their actual potential. 18-53 damage = 31-34 always.

- Meanwhile, we had multiple criticals in a short span - 3 defenses by Aldwyn, 1 hit by Crogar, 1 hit by a giant . . . and I managed to roll identical critical miss results on the giants every time until the third time. I'm not blaming Roll20 for this but it's odd how often rolls clump.

- I really need to think about a way to deal with "throwing at a tight group." Right now, if everyone can see the attack, as far as I understand the rules they can all defend. So four guys in a row standing 3' apart (4 hexes in a row) dodged a 150 pound stone thrown at the lead guy. Each one just dodged and that was that. Well, one had Missile Shield, but it's silly to visualize. Plus the "hits the wrong target" chances are lower than their Dodges, so it's even less likely they'll get hit. For some missiles, especially, it's odd to be able to Dodge and stay in the same hex, even if they aren't so big you can't Dodge at all.

- The PCs are trying use Counterspell to undo the spellcasting of whichever giant is the wizard. We'll see how that goes. We had the usual groans of "it takes too long, it costs too much!" Yeah, those might be true. In another campaign I might make counterspelling even easier than I do, and faster. But yeah, it's hard to usefully Counterspell a Great Haste on an opponent. It's why no one tries that on the PCs, honestly.

- Healing is extremely, extremely rapid in GURPS DF. Wyatt and Aldwyn took people-killing hits. Both are basically fine. It's hard to knock someone out - even just stun them - with blows that can kill. GURPS DF guys are not fragile at all. The giant should have gone for limbs, but I guess I was being a bit soft. He should have multiple attacked the neck or legs. I won't be soft next time.

- MVP was Aldwyn for the multiple criticals. Even Crogar's player voted for him in the face of people voting for Crogar.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Writing update

Marshall and I have been making revisions to our book, and handing things in for stuff like art, formatting, further review by the publisher, and fun stuff like that. I spent most of today doing that.

Therefore, I'll finish the summary of yesterday's game session tomorrow.

And then I can get to finishing up my other writing project!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Cold Fens summary preview

I'll try to get a summary up tomorrow, if I have time - I have a deadline on Monday as well.

That said, the group:

- went off to search for trolls

- fought some shamblethorns

- get bitten by bugs

- had a Sanctuary problem

- found the troll temple they sought

- and found it was occupied . . . by a pair of brothers - giants, big ones, with dragonskin armor and dragon skull helmets and giant swords.

They're mid-fight right now, and it's SNAFU. As always.

Cold Fens today

It's gaming day here at Dungeon Fantastic. The PCs are going to go troll hunting, and dragon-avoiding, again today.

As always I'm not sure of their plans - they have a private discussion they may (or may not) be using to plot things out. I'm better off left out of it, as long I know what to prepare for game.

I'm hoping this won't be another fruitless day of swamping around the fens hoping for wandering monsters (yes, some of my players do hope for them) who almost never have treasure (something people generally do seem to expect, somehow, from monsters without pockets wandering around in a swamp.)

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Back, sort of

I have more time to post, so I'll start posting regularly again.

In fact, I tried yesterday, and it took some work. Chrome flagged my blog as dangerous, and when I tried to post, my post was immediately taken down. According to Google, I violated their Malware and Virus policy.

So . . . there went a lot of writing, the first time I had time to do it again.

I'll see if this post works. I have no idea what is causing this issue, and of course, there is no help coming from the big G on why my post linking to other people's blogs and commenting on my writing project status is forbidden.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Random Friday Links - 5/14/21

- Marshall and I submitted our writing project in for editing/review/etc.

- I started back in on my other writing project, which is due in a couple of weeks.

- I liked this post on representing losses and unit damage in wargaming. Ah, the piles of disruption chits in GDW's The Third World War . . . I kind of loved it. But I will admit it's always a problematic thing no matter how you choose to do it.

- I haven't had too much time to play Battletech, but I will say that I was surprised to run into Inferno missile carriers and Schreck PPC carriers. I thought the latter, for sure, was just from some random Dragon magazine article. Still fun, though. I've put a lot of hours in. Not "War in the East" hours, but still.

(I tried to post this on Friday, and it was deleted by G**gle as being flagged as dangerous and violating their policies. I'm a bit nervous trying it again, but I took out my complaints about my site being flagged as dangerous.)

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Great royalty report - thanks!

I'm not sure why this is the case, but I had one of the largest non-book-release sales months in a while. The largest I can remember offhand.

It includes sales of:

19 copies of GURPS Martial Arts

More than 10 copies each of DF15 and Low Tech Companion 2.

And 21 copies of DFT3.

Nice! I'm not sure what occasioned it, but it's very nice to see. Thanks guys!

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Other writing project: Teaser

Now that one of my two writing projects has been revealed, it's time to tease some information about the other.

- it's Felltower-adjacent, although isn't under the Felltower name.

- it's DF, because that's what I write these days.*

- it's concerning a central bit of Felltower.

- it's coming along nicely. I'm half done, which is good, because it's due in a few weeks, but bad because I feel like I have a lot more to say and not quite the wordcount to do it. So I might need to edit it down a bit in the end.

In the meantime, go pledge for a copy of my other writing project: Crypt of Krysuvik

* I'd love to write a few GURPS Martial Arts books, but the issue is research is critical and I don't have the time to do that as much as when I was employed part-time in a library and going to college. What books would I love to write? That's a post for another day.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Writing Project Revealed! - Crypt of Krysuvik

So, this is what my co-author, Marshall LaPira - runner of Aldwyn, Varmus, Gwenneth, and probably other dead delvers I've forgotton - and I have been up to:

In The Hunted Lands northwest of Nordvorn, The bandit Krysuvik is said to have gathered much ill-gotten plunder, and taken it to his grave. It is yours . . . if you can find it and take it. Delvers have tried and failed to find his hoard. But a new clue has come to light that might put adventurers on the true trail of the treasure. The Crypt of Krysuvik provides details for the various locations that contain the clues – and tricks, traps, and monsters – that lead to the treasure. Slay, sneak, and negotiate your way to wealth using your own Delvers to Go or the included pre-generated characters.

Sound interesting? Pledge!

And yes, I've seen Delvers to Grow in draft form. It's good.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Friday Links for 5/7/21

- I'm deep in writing, so not a lot of time to post as I noted earlier this week.

- I do like this series on the Paradox games, although it makes me want to buy EU4. I had EU2 and I loved it. I never did get III or IV, and I own the original Victoria (I think) and I enjoyed that to a lesser extent. Anyway, it's a good look at the idea of a state as an actor, and the security dilemna that leads to zero-sum state expansion. I've tried the "tall" approach where you don't overly expand, and that generally got me bug-squished in EUII, eventually, by nearly equal military technology and vastly superior forces.

- Disadvantage buckets are an interesting idea. I don't think he's right that GURPS determines ST by height, but rather height by ST, but I liked the exploration of the general idea here.

- I can't (won't) spend money on minis I don't need, but I really like these Star Schlock minis.

- I'll respond to comments eventually. Give me some time - a lot to write and busy workdays.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Sporadic Posting Notice

I post daily here at Dungeon Fantastic, but unfortunately I have a lot of my plate right now. So I will post when I have a chance over the next two weeks or so, but probably less than every day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Writing Update

Busy week writing, so my posting here might be intermittant. - I'm 30-35% done with one project. - I'm tackling a major section in the other. - Two projects at one time is helpful for when I need to switch gears, but still, I don't think I'll do this again with these size projects. - Formatting is always the toughest part. - So is, oddly, the fixed, known crunchy details. You can't just write down what you think, you need to go look it up and ensure the wording and numbers are exactly right. "Close enough" is good enough with creative work. Sure, you chose words that weren't as good or elegant as they could be, and that guy would look better with a red shirt than a brown one and you could have had a theme going in the work. But it's not wrong. Crunchy can easily be wrong. - If you combine crunchy with formatting, your time evaporates faster than you can say, "Did I stay up all night playing just one more turn of Civilization?" Still, I like where these two projects are going.

Monday, May 3, 2021

More notes from Cold Fens 10

Yesterday was Cold Fens 10 - Session 151 overall in our campaign.

- There is a fair bit of what might get termed pixel-bitching going on recently. It happened with the orichalcum doors over multiple sessions. It's happening a bit here, too, with the PCs basically trying to "clear the map." They got directions from a slain foe thanks to Summon Spirit, and have been struggling to follow them. So they're just exploring around the un-explored areas trying to find something that might be "rough" and "dry." Any hint of "dry" means a search. It's time-consuming.

I must shoulder some responsibility here, as clearly I'm not providing enough clues to work from. But I do think here they've had a few clear clues - even clear directions - but they managed to not follow them. And not to go places they've seen that are of interest - in the Cold Fens and in Felltower, too. So I'm not really sure what is the appropriate thing to do in order to give the players enough tools make decisions without, basically, telling them what to do. I tend to err on the side of saying less. I need to think on this. Otherwise it might just be moving around the map until they find, by process of elimination, what they seek.

- Speaking of maps, people have mentioned their "map" a few times. The mapper is Ulf, I think, who had all of his supplies waterlogged and his old map ruined by a swamp dump. I'm not sure what map they're really making. Certainly not one I'll let them refer back to, or sell in town!

- What happened to Rahtnar's magic spear, that he picked up in Cold Fens 3? Wyatt's player has gone through the blog and taken notes on all of the magic items found. It's basically missing. Rahtnar seems to have had it going into Cold Fens 8, but he doesn't have it now. The summaries don't mention him losing it, but the summaries aren't 100% accurate. I write them post-game with what I remember. The standard, actually, isn't "if it's not known to be lost, it must still be owned or carried." It's "if it's known known and listed as carried, it's lost." So that spear is in Sakatha's tomb somewhere, or it was lost in the swamp. A fair amount of equipment just has been lost in the shuffle of character sheet re-writes, lost PCs that die in the dungeon without updating me on what they carried, or got sold without anyone remarking on it. That stuff is all just gone.

- During game on Sunday, Aldwyn wanted to spend 1 second pulling his lightstone out from under his shirt.

What shirt?

Aldwyn wears plate over mail over padding and underwear under that. His lightstone is on a no-weight-not-listed "string" that is easily broken (people snap them off to toss sometimes.) And he's got a pile of DR. How do you get a stone on a necklace under your layered armor and yet be easily accessible?

The stuff that really bugs me is this kind of thing. The PCs have everything at the ready, to be grabbed instantly or within 1 second, 2 max, all over their bodies. Meanwhile, they want their DR to fully protect all of this equipment. Maps are sealed up in waterproof scrollcases but are also open for easy viewing. Weapons are strapped down when they fall but in hand when fights happen. Lightstones are easily covered, but also shine a wide light without blinding the wearer. Armor covers everything but nothing is difficult to access because of all of that armor. It really annoys me because it's very video gamey, and very munchkinny. It really snaps me out of the fun of the game because the realistic difficulties that should make running a powerful hero still require some tought to play just disappear. And that's not fun for me as the GM. It's not even fun for me as a player, the rare times I get to play.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 151, Cold Fens 10

Somewhat short summary today, as not a lot happened worth recording. Also, I have other writing to do tonight. So this might be brief and sketchy.

Dates: May 2nd, 2021 - May 13th, 20201
Weather: Sunny, warm to start.

Aldwyn Hale, human knight (340 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (170 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (336 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (490 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
     Rahtnar the Skeleton (~125 points)
Heyden, human knight (308 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (343 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)

We started off with the party in Swampsedge - Ulf, Bruce, and a couple others - or in Ulfhollow ("Ulfhalla"), where they spent the week.

The PCs headed out along the northern edge of the Cold Fens. Once they reached near their exploration area, they headed in.

They poled around for most of the first day, passing through some explored areas, getting eaten by bugs (some doing FP loss, mostly, once doing damage), and otherwise poking around.

One the second day of travelling disaster struck. Rahtnar was polling along the second boat, and rolled an 18 on Boating. The skeletal boatman accidentally prodded something, which surfaced under the boat, flipping it. The occupants hit the water, mostly.

Crogar fell in but swam well (he rolled a 3, and no, it wasn't enough to trip his Curse -3), Aldwyn and Varmus started to drown, Ulf as well. Gerry had Levitation on and just hovered up and out of the flipping boat. Rahtnar sank (Feature: Cannot float). The folks in the lead boat all turned to look.

They saw a hippo-sized thing with a mace-like tail and a horrible head on a long neck. They made their Fright Checks, but took injury as its very gaze took some life out of them.

As those in the water floundered, Gerry (who also made his check) cast Strike Blind on the beast, blinding it and ending its gaze attack!

A split second later, Galen put three arrows into it, two into one eye, one into another, and presumably spitted its pea brain. It had just started a mournful lowing as it was blinded, and the arrows cut that off. Its head dropped into the water, as did the tail.

They used Levitation and a tossed harpoon (tied to Bruce with a line) that Aldwyn could grab to rescue the drowning. It worked well enough. They found "dry" land and healed people up, and tossed some scrolls and maps that had been destroyed by the water. The ones they could save were given to people with actual scrollcases to keep dry. Ulf had stored his in his delver's webbing . . . .

From there, they explored a bit futher over the next couple of days. Bats had flown overhead in a long stream from SW to NE, so they scouted that way a bit, but didn't find a close-by source. They sent an invisible Galen up in the air for a slow spin around, so he could scout out the area from above. He saw a dry "island" off to the southwest with a ruin on the north side, edged with some mist. The saw a larger "island," wetter but still more dry than usual, to the south, heavily edged in fog and mist, about 5 miles in diameter. To the east and southeast he saw the wet, swampy end of the Cold Fens become drier - land punctuated with water rather than water punctuated with land.

They decided the trolls they were hunting, and they'd asked the dead fellow from last session about, must be south. They headed that way, fending off more annoying bugs and lethal ones as well.

They reached a heavy mist, and stuck to the shoreline and they explored around. They decided after a while to get out of the mist, and headed back north. Someone said the big island was 9-10 miles away, this was more like 5, so it must not be this one. But after they headed north, they headed east and southeast, looking for drier land.
Somewhere in here, they found a dry, high ground that had been used as a campground in the past. They camped there, after letting Galen explore on foot solo for a while. They'd use that as a base for a couple of days of exploring the area.

They pushed right up to the end of the western end of the fens, where swamp gives way to marshy but generally solid ground. They circled around and back after exploring for a bit, with Galen avoiding some sunning giant lizards.

Later, as they explored, they spotted a flying dragon to the west (still unable to discern a color). They hid, as it was clear it could have seen them. They hid well, and waited 30 minutes for it to stop looking. It kept diving down at something N-NW of them, but they couldn't see what.

Eventually, though, they gave up and headed back home after a significant amount of exploration and map-completing.


- The PCs asked later if the fog/mist they encountered was supernatural. I didn't allow an additional roll later on. I did have Galen roll one at the time, so see if he could figure anything out about the fog (causes, say, or anything special about it) and he could not. I often make people make rolls for perfectly normal stuff, so rolling isn't a hint. It might be totally normal. You just can retro-investigate very easily.

- The PCs headed right for the foggy island, it seemed, until they reached it and decided it was too close, it wasn't 9-10 miles away, and thus not the destination they wanted. They're unclear if it is Sakatha's lair or not. They're unclear if the island with the ruins is the dragon lair or not. They didn't want to go there and check.

- The catoblepas was good timing. I rolled up a lethal encounter, and that was in the area, and Rahtnar rolled an 18 on Boating. So it make perfect sense that it was in the shallows eating bottom plants, Rahtnar hit it with his pole, and it surfaced and knocked them over. Great convergence of rolls.

- At various points, they encountered biting insects, a poisonous insect (?) that bit Bruce, Crogar picked up dysentary (luckily only him, as no one was purifying water), land-slugs that drank blood like leeches, a venomous snake attacked Varmus and Aldwyn but gave up after a few failed bites at Varmus (his DR 2 was too high), and found some footprints of what was probably those guys they killed last time. Oh, and saw what they think were root-men.

- XP was 2 each for lots of exploration, 0 xp for loot (none!), and MVP was Galen for exploration and killing the catoblepas aka swamp cow before it could make things worse.

- I expected the next session is the Cold Fens, but it's not clear where the PCs intend to go. I'm not sure they had a plan today except to explore every area along what they think the guy they slew last session (and then interrogated) was explaining about the troll cave. They don't really understand the directions they got - how far each way, and by land or by water or both? So they don't really know where to look. Anything that seemed dry, or could be, was investigated. I think they have some places they could explore, and some signs of possible destinations, but they also have some they specifically don't want to encounter. Such as the dragon - Ulf put Resist Fire on himself along with Resist Acid whenever there was the slightest threat of it coming by.

- This was useful - a horizon distance calculator.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Cold Fens Tomorrow

GURPS DF Felltower game tomorrow - and it's back in the Cold Fens for round 2 of "let's find trolls!"

Right now, we expect the same crew as last time, but with an outside chance of a fire & acid using wizard (depending on the availability of a player.) That would be welcome addition to a troll-hunting expedition.

I'm not clear, as the GM, what the goal of hunting the trolls is, exactly . . . besides killing them and hoping they have loot. But the players seem to have a plan, and I'm interested to see where it leads them.
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