Saturday, July 31, 2021

Corporate Car Wars

Shaun M Wheeler brought up playing a corporate autoduelling campaing in the comments on Thursday's post.

Back in the 80s, we played a lot of Car Wars. When Autoduel Quarterly 4/4 came out, with "Corporate Car Wars," we had to go for that.

Or at least, I had to, and I dragged my friends along.

"Corporate Car Wars" was written by Mad Al Loud of the Canadian Autoduel Association - that's the actual author credits.

The concept is simple - corporate teams of autoduellists. Instead of the "lone duellist" approach of standard Car Wars, or perhaps a driver and a gunner, you run a whole team of skilled duellists with a corporate pool of money to support them. You fund vehicles out of that pool, recoup prizes based on the competition size, and sell off (or keep) vehicles to keep the books balanced as you head to the next event.

I loved that the article was written very much with a "here is how we play" approach. There's an address for the Black Death Autoduel Association if you want to write to them and compare corporate league scoring. There is discussion of why they made rules such as Prestige Rollback to deal with long-serving popular duellists. There are examples, not of "maybe you can . . ." but rather of "we tried and enjoyed . . ." scenarios.

It was amazingly fun to read, and fun to actually play. While our game derailed after a few events - mostly because of a small number of players and one guy winning all too often (okay, me) and an argument about a result of another game (between one of my still-occasional players, and me). So the whole thing kind of ran down. Which is too bad, because I really liked the structure of play.

If you're the kind of person who still sits in traffice behind a tractor-trailer and thinks, "That's the only vehicle besides a bus that can mount a Tank Gun," and you like organized structures for play . . . go find a copy of ADQ 4/4 and read this article. It's inspirational and fun even if you don't get to play the game itself or use a different edition. Re-reading it really made me miss Deluxe Edition Car Wars in a way that the new editions simply don't.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Links & Thoughts for 7/30/2021

Random stuff for Friday!

- Know anything about Naruto and GURPS? One of the commenters on my previous post would like some help.

- I blame and credit this game series for my interest in, and knowledge of, the Sengokujidai. Even that I know the warring states period as "Sengokujidai" and learned words like "jidai" long before I even knew "konnichiwa." Arigatou Koei-san-tachi!

- Next time I play a historical game, I want to involve Rome. This series, and this post especially, will be really useful - The Color of Purple. Not a terrible shock to my adult self, Rome was a heterogenous mix of people even before it turned into an even more heterogenous mix after conquering basically everyone they met and incorporating them as citizens (eventually.)

- Once again we're having trouble getting a proper group together, so we may play on Sunday but it's unlikely to be AD&D. It's possibly going to be alternate PCs for a squad delving into Felltower. The question is who and what - and at least one player has no extra PCs. We'll see if we're playing at all, after all.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

GURPS books I'd like to see - July 2021 edition

Here are a few things I'd like to see for GURPS.

- I'd really like to see some additional sourcebooks on Japan. We have GURPS Japan, which is Edo-period with some supernatural stuff thrown in. It's fine, but my first interest in actual Japanese history sprung out of the game Nobunaga's Ambition by Koei, which takes place in the Sengokujidai.

Before that you have all of the bloody battles and political fights of the Heian period, the war between the Minamoto and Taira, the legends of Benkei and Yoshitsune, etc. All the good stuff that happened long before Sekigahara in 1600 effectively unified Japan.

I'd be happy to write this stuff but I can't read sufficient Japanese to tackle historical research with any kind of speed. So it's better that I act as a peer reviewer than a solo author.

- GURPS Martial Arts support, with new styles or with campaign settings much like Gladiators. I could write this stuff if I didn't basically have a full time job and a half, which kills a lot of my time for research.

- Short DF Adventures like 2-Page Dungeons, soon to be released. Again, I'm not the ideal author for this, but it's useful stuff to have and I'd be willing to support it with my money and time.

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 Con 15 (14+1) and 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 156, Cold Fens 14 - 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.
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