Tuesday, August 31, 2021

What everyone is at for the next Cold Fens session

These notes are for us, each written by the appropriate player, so we know all of this stuff for next session.

Heyden has 21 (of 25) HP, 8 (of 14) FT, DR is -2 to all locations except -3 to hands.
Heyden has Resist Poison for about another 50-55 mins?
Heyden is using Draugr broadsword and large shield.

HP = 15/15; FP = 8/13; DR -2; Resist Poison, ST+2 potion, Swords out.

Gerrald Terrant has levitate, invisibility, missile shield, & dark vision. and is at 15 FT, 3ER. and has staff out

Rahtnar is at -3 hp and is using a shield and Ulf's axe.

Crogar crogar has 6 FT & 21 HP. has shield and axe in hand.
Crogar crogar is also at 5 DR
Crogar crogar has resist poison

"Mild" Bruce McTavish:bruce has 6FP at 40 HP DR 2
Magic greatsword in hand

HP 12/12 FP 10/12. ER 2/8, Power Item 20/25, DR is down 2 all over, Resist Poison is on, See Secrets is on (2 spells up), Used Staff on Ulf, Bruce, Crogar, Gerry, and Wyatt. Used Faith Healing on Heyden. Has Shield in one hand, paut in the other.

And we're all set for the next session's fight. Assuming they get past the doors.

Monday, August 30, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 158, Cold Fens 16 - Sakatha's Lair Do-or-Die (Part I)

Game Date: 8/29/21-8/31/21

Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (336 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (350 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (418 points)
     Rahtnar the Skeleton (~125 points)
Heyden, human knight (308 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (354 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (362 points)

We started in Swampsedge, with the PCs having purchased potions and paut and rations . . . and two replacement boats, since one was a bit too small for their 7-man crew plus potential loot.

They headed out. They headed south into the swamp.

The trip to the island took 2 1/2 days, dealing with nuisance insects, stinging wasps, and even 11 leaping leeches that swarmed the group (they didn't last long but some damage, including four of them on Crogar doing ~10 HP injury). They got mildly lost a couple of times due to Bruce's poor navigation (he has Navigation-12, but even so, he just rolled very poorly), and lost an hour to a big downed tree snag. The second day featured bad storms which slowed them down. But in the end, they made it to the ruins mid-day on the 31st.

They ran in to avoid the nymphs, and did the "coin trick" to open the trapdoor. Down they went.

They moved through the deserted corridors and rooms, eventually reaching the temple. Wyatt recalled there was a secondary temple, according to the session logs, so they took a detour to check that for holy water. They found nothing - it had been thoroughly looted and its contents trashed and destroyed by the previous group (mostly by Dave.)

They splashed half of their holy water on the secret door in the temple after Ulf outlined it with chalk. They rushed through.

Beyond they found another room, triggered a mechanism behind a destroyed fake door and opened another secret door. They found a counterweighted trap door down. They headed down the big staircase, careful to avoid the 5th step. Ulf had See Secrets on this whole time, but saw nothing special about the steps to indicate a trap.
At the bottom, they moved over to one of the mounds on there side of a large, flowing river and Ulf pulled people in it, one by one - into a High Sanctity area covered with a Holy Avoid spell for non-holy people. Ulf cast a bunch of Affect Spirits spells, and then let some expire after casting them on magical weapons, and then cast again on non-magical ones.

All prepped, they headed to the river where it met the wall (and came flowing out of it, not from under it.) Bruce prodded for the bottom with an 8' pole and then a 10' pole, but found nothing. He stuck his glove into the water but still didn't hit bottom . . . and his glove came out dry.

Not willing to climb down into the "river" and risk climbing in the face of wights, they headed to the center of the river. After a few moments, a boat appeared. They called to it, and eventually the boat came. They climbed in, and the boat headed off to the other side.

And halfway across . . . the boat, and the "river" underneat their little craft, disappeared. They fell down and into a lined pit full of extremely corrosive acid!

(Bwahahahahahahahahahah. Sorry.)

None of them were blinded by the splash and none swallowed any. They climbed out as fast as they could. For a couple, this was 1-2 seconds. Ulf got lucky and climbed out quickly, losing a bit of DR and some HP in the process but otherwise making it out. Gerry was able to concentrate on Levitate and pulled himself out, again with some lost DR and HP but not too much. Crogar and Heyden also got out in reasonable time, and both turned to help their friends despite the additional injury from sticking their hands back into the acid to grab arms.

Bruce, Wyatt, and Rahtnar, though, got badly hurt. Wyatt and Bruce were eventually pulled out, after Gerry used Levitate to pull out Rahtnar and Ulf put Resist Acid on Wyatt.

All out, they surveyed the damage. Everyone had lost DR - some 1-3 each, mostly. Lots of equipment went down. Bruce lost his knives, potion belt (and potions), backpack and its contents, and all of his clothing and boots. His swords barely survived but are pitted and damaged, and they're just about all he has now. Heyden lost his pouch, potions, javelins, and so on (oddly his golden sword never came up . . . I think we didn't assess damage on it.) Crogar lost his clothes but not much else. Wyatt had most of his gear packed in his frame pack, and that barely held out and so he didn't lose his "fighting loadout." Scrollcases, spellstones, lightstones, potions, etc. all went into the acid, never to return. Rahtnar lost his axe and armor and came out with only a badly damaged shield.

Once out, they gave what was left of a pole to Bruce. They found the river still "flowed" around them, but the current was unclear (and Bruce felt none) and its origin and substance unclear . . . just that they stood around a lined pit in the "dry" air. They sent Gerry up to look around and see which was was the wall, and headed that way after Bruce prodded the "water." It was safe to walk in and breathe, but felt odd and restricted vision. They moved as a group holding a rope, avoiding another pit thanks to Bruce prodding ahead.

They reached the wall and started to climb. They tried to get up all at once, but with two people Invisible, Gerry using Levitation on two (Crogar and Bruce), one using Walk on Air (Invisible Ulf), and two climbing . . . all while unable to see each other . . . that proved impossible.

In the end, Bruce and Crogar were desposited on top as Ulf walked up and Gerry floated up. And the wights on the far side, 10 in total, saw them and rushed them. In a nasty brawl in close Crogar and Bruce managed to cut a few down but got mobbed in close. They kept fighting but lost FP from strikes (and even from a bare-handed wight parry) and Bruce rolled an 18 and dropped his sword. Gerry pulled him up out of the fray, and the remaining four wights mobbed Crogar. He was pulled up, too, just as Wyatt reached the top and stood up. He drew his swords and attacked, and in a couple of seconds put them all down.

They skipped burning them because Ulf said they didn't need to (relying on a 4 on Hidden Lore).

They healed up a little and restored FP and moved on.

They hurried along the wall to the triangular structure they sought.

Once there they followed the wall to the doors and called out, "Hail Sakatha!" The doors opened.

Beyond they found a trap-lined corridor, blocked to one side by a solid stone block.
Ulf outlined the trigger for another trap, and they bypassed that. Standing around in the hallway, Wyatt handed out some Universal Scrolls of Resist Poison, and he put it on himself, Gerry on Crogar, and Heyden on himself.

They tried the next door with "Hail Sakatha" but it didn't open.

Wyatt tried again - still no. Ulf said, "You have to say it with feeling!"

Wyatt tried that and it worked.

Beyond they found a triangular room with a long table and chairs and a throne, set with lizard man delicacies - other than a few rare fruits, it was mostly meats, animal heads, bats, weird birds, etc. They looked for the trap door, which they found under the table. As they investigated, lizard men stepped out of mosaics along the wall, holding platters with more food. They offered it up as the PCs ignored them, and pushed the table and chairs aside. They found the trapdoor.

At this point, Ulf asked if they wanted to duck into a Sanctuary and rest for a few hours. After remarkably little debate, they went for it. Ulf created it, they piled in, and he pulled it closed. It dumped them back out with a sickening twist, leaving them on the floor, disorientated and injured (all except, oddly, for Rahtnar skeleton.) Ulf and Gerry felt something . . . like they were being watched. Gerry said it might be some kind of scrying.

They went back to the trap door, opened it up, and climbed down - with Ulf bowing and making solicitous gestures - and closed it behind them.

They found themselves in a room with two large block doors opposite the stairs they'd walked down. They got ready, called out "Hail Sakatha!" and . . . nothing. There were basins once filled with unholy water on either side of it, but which were dry and empty.

We left it there, with the PCs unsure of how to proceed. They tried "Hail Sakatha!" to no avail. They have more unholy water, if sprinkling that on the doors would help. But that would mean no way back . . . they're not sure what to do.


I don't think I reminded anyone to pay upkeep. So this is a reminder for next time. "But I stayed at Ulf's house!" is not a valid way to avoid it, especially not since everyone goes any buys stuff in town and thus must be in town to buy that stuff. Plus upkeep isn't free even if you have a dirt plot and a shack to your name.

Ulf, after a lot of waffling, bought Turn Zombie-20 for 2 points. It's a very restricted spell - in my game, if not in the RAW, it only works on animated undead created with the Zombie or Mass Zombie spell. That's it. Not wights, draugr, vampires, horde zombies created by infectious attack, etc. He took it anyway, just in case.

Heheheheh, free boat ride! I didn't think they took the boat before, but they did in one session, and managed to cross safely. Not this time. What was the difference? It's unclear from their side of the screen. I think they lack enough information to really know but probably can hazard some guesses. Anyway, yeah . . . I'm still not sure why "climb down into the "river" and then climb back out the other side" was the plan for several past delves but the existance of a steep dropoff and climb stopped them this time. Oh well, it cost them a lot of gear. I didn't expect the acid traps to ever work again after the first time. Guess not. Only a few things proved unaffected - the Mythic Corselet and the Finger of Necros were fine. Everything else took damage . . . lucky for Heyden his Belt of Might was sturdy enough to make it through.

Thank goodness for the weapon damage tables I did up for Low Tech Companion 2 (p. 22-24), and for the Object HP Table table in Basic Set, pg. 558.

The wights didn't do much damage, which isn't a surprise, as the group is very high point for a bunch of guys mostly a threat if you lack magical weaponry. The acid really mauled them and cost them a lot of equipment. I expect at some future date the group will come back here in a clean-up delve with Resist Acid and try to fish for potions on the assumption that crystal vials wouldn't corrode like everything else. We'll see.

MVP was Wyatt, since his player did a lot of prep work to get everyone ready. And also slew wight Bjorn, Hannibal, and El Murik.

We'll also have to see how this all turns out - they're badly damaged (you'll see the status tomorrow) and lost a lot of gear, but still have their main stuff. Their foes - if similar to last time - are tough and numerous. Should be fun!

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Cold Fens pre-summary

Fun Cold Fens session, featuring:

- New boats!

- Heavy rains!

- Leaping Leeches!

- Hailing of Sakatha!

- Boat ride in a dungeon!

- Acid Swim!

- Wight Fight!

- Party reunion!

- And penetrating to the very antechamber of a TPK . . .

- Wyatt was MVP, if that's not a big spoiler . . .

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Game Prep Day

We're playing tomorrow.

I'm uploading maps to Roll20, since we're still stuck on that until the end of this Cold Fens kick my PCs are on. It's a completely non-enjoyable process. I expect to need a couple of them for tactical fights as I can't see a way to "theatre of the mind" some of the fights. Honestly, with a smaller group, back a few years ago, we played mapless for lots of fights. I know, though, that's ultimately unsatisfying for my players. They're willing to do mapless, as long as it's mapless tactical combat (with steps, Retreat, facing, flanking, etc. etc. etc.). It's a key benefit of GURPS, but it's not a strictly necessary one, but becomes so if everyone insists on ekeing out the benefits of it as a basis of all combat.

So, I'm here on a Saturday afternoon uploading maps.

I don't expect to use more than one, because tactical combat is also slow. There is almost no way I can believe the PCs will swiftly and easily penetrate into Sakatha's lair, pass the obstacles on the way, defeat at least one group of foes in a tactical fight, and then learn (and resolve) whatever is behind that. It's not going to happen. But I don't want to deal with Roll20 map-making any more than I have to, so I'll deal with it all today.

I believe I already have lizard men tokens, I just need to find them. I hope I can - they'll be buried on some map or another.

I just took a few minutes to write this out before I go back to uploading and being frustrated.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Random Links for Friday 8/27/21

Quick random links for today before I go out to commit . . . certain deeds.*

- Mailanka has a review of DF22. What did he think? I don't know, I didn't have time to read it yet.

- Heyden is going Knight-Holy Warrior, but hasn't settled on his advantages and I don't have time tonight or tomorrow to review them . . . and I won't do them the morning of game. Or worse, at the beginning of the session as everyone kibbutzes over how to spend them. He and the other players have had months to work this out, so it'll have to be done for next time.

- Wizardry, with two disasters. Yeah, that'll happen. Wizardry is extremely unforgiving.

- A nice look at Flashing Bladesby FGU.

- The Tomb of Horrors is awful. I loved it. Completely full of spoilers. This isn't one:

"Gygax said that Tomb of Horrors is “a thinking person’s adventure.” And if the person thinking is a dungeon master, what they’re thinking is, “How can I ruin my friends' lives?”

Feels accurate. We played it back in the day.

That's all for today!

Editing later - no, not all. I forgot to post this - Steve Perrin passed away.

* Also known as going to see a band.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

DF, Lenses, Holy Warrior, and Higher Purpose

This came up in email the other day as Heyden is looking at spending his 50-odd points on a lens as a Holy Warrior.

Can he spend some of his 25 points for Holy abilities on the lens on improved levels of Higher Purpose?

I said the following:

"DF3, p. 28, and DF1, p. 22 are the relevant pages.

Higher Purpose is not a listed Holy ability, and in fact on p. 22 of DF1 it's listed separately:

"A further 25 points chosen from among additional Holy abilities or [. . .] Higher Purpose (different from first) [5] [. . .]"

So it's clearly not a "Holy ability." So no, you're limited to 1 level to start with, unless you have other points to spend. Your 25 points can be spent on Holy abilities or skills listed in the lens."

I can see plenty of room to argue this . . . but for DF Felltower, I won't accept those arguments. Lenses are pretty strictly defined, and Higher Purporse doesn't fall under "Holy Might" or the list of "Holy abilities." I think lenses are quite powerful - and come with access to additional disadvantages to make them a positive 60 points rather than 50, for 50 points spent. I don't think they need additional flexibility.

So Heyden will have to spend 25 points, and decide between the powers on pg. 22 of DF1 or the skills his lens comes with. We'll see what he does, if he does this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

NATO - the slippery slope to game replacement begins

Ah, dammit. Now I'm reading this. Next I'll be sorting my countermix . . . and if too many are missing, I might need to replace the set. I hope that doesn't happen with 2nd Fleet, that's way too expensive to replace!

Early highlight? Where the TWW series had strategic nuclear exchange as a potential aspect of the game . . . NATO is a bit harsh:

"Immediately upon declaring Tactical Nuclear Warfare, the declaring player rolls the die. On a die roll of 1, 2, or 3, the game ends instantly and the declaring player loses decisively; [. . . ]"

So sure, take a 50/50 shot of just losing outright, but if you do, you get all sorts of "benefits." Loss of some reinforcements, loss of many movement modes, loss of air power . . . but you do gain very destructive nuclear strikes that you can use against the enemy's nuclear attack points and units. I've played with these rules, and they're brutal. It can be interesting but it changes the game. Much like in TWW, once you start to use nukes, the game revolves around deploying your nukes. It's no longer about anything else. It's still fun but it's a different thing entirely.

And, hey, 50% of the time you've lost. Time to play Greg Costikiyan's "Nuclear Winter."

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Games I Want: New version of NATO

I can't justify buying this at all:

But I really liked the original game. One of my big regrets is not taking care of that set, and losing enough counters to make it impossible to put back together and play. I can't spend a bunch of $$$ on a game so I can play it one last time, when I don't even have the time and space to set up the ones I do have to play - such as Third World War, War to the Death, and Panzer Blitz.

The new version seems interesting - two different NATO setups (1983, and 1988), changed units and such based on more available information, and a modern set of game rules.


If I could fine the space and time to play, I'd get a used copy of the old game, and play that - it's cheap enough, and it's fun enough, if you have space to set it up to play. It's a pretty brutal game. Airpower is abstracted into strike points, which degrade as the turns go on - air power is use it or lose it, as the game assumes you're using it maximally and suffering damage as you do. Units grind out of existance pretty quickly. And unlike in, say, TWW, US units aren't so tough that it's foolhardy to directly attack them with Soviet units.

The game had a really nice feel to it. Three scenarios - strategic surprise (the Soviets attack from a cold, unmobilized start), tactical surprise (the Soviets attack from a partially mobilized start), and extended buildup (the Soviets attack from a fully mobilized start.) In the first, NATO is caught flat-footed. In the second, NATO sees it coming but isn't fully ready to fight when the Soviets jump off into the offensive. In the last, both sides see it coming and are as ready as they're going to get.

My experience was that the odds of the Soviets winning were in that order, too - you'd get torn to shreds in the first scenario, but NATO just wasn't in position to stop you. In the second, it was more of a tossup - the Soviets had more going but NATO reinforcements came in fast and quick. The third I never won as the Soviets. It was too much of a meatgrinder even with all of those troops.

When I first played the game I didn't like it as much as TWW. The more I played it, though, the more I really enjoyed the challenge of the different scenarios and the very different gameplay. You didn't set up for attacks like in TWW, and airpower was much more useful to the Soviets. Smaller NATO units were in real trouble. But Soviet units would disappear in a blur of poor CRT results if you weren't careful. Overall, it was a game I liked a lot.

Hmm . . . maybe $20 and hoping for a place to set it up in the future isn't a bad idea, eh?

How do I justify my pre-order of Fire in the Lake? Hey, leave me alone, I can't be fully consistent.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Sakatha Showdown?

This coming Sunday we'll play DF again. The PCs have acquired, finally, a vial of unholy water. It should be effective in passing through the secret/supernatural doors in Sakatha's tomb.

This was the first unholy water they found since the evil temple in the Lost City, which Sir Bunny destroyed in combat because they were floundering for a way to destroy the unkillable priestess and jumped to the conclusion that it was the unholy water. And, amusingly, made a hard fight harder by being adventurers and trying to destroy the evil idol in the temple mid-combat because, you know, that was clearly the trick to the evil monster, too. Ah, the fun I have as a GM. Generally I don't like to punish adventurers for having adventures, or taking risks . . . but I do like to take advantage of the tendency of PCs to want to be like rabid wolverines or spiteful malcontents - destroy everything, touch everything, and spoil everything for anyone who follows. At the same time, I try to reward people who approach a task with some logic and thought, which is why, yes, there was a hidden cache of goodies (baddies?) in the altar in the brother's lair.

I digress, though.

It does look uncommonly like an attempted showdown with Sakatha, the first since Session 66.

I say attempted because my group is still my group, and I can see a bad combat result - a lopped off limb, a dead PC - cause a "well, we tried, we'll have to get more unholy water and come back when we're stronger" result. I hope not, but I've been wrong most of the time I see a showdown coming. Prove me wrong, kids! Prove me wrong.

It should be doable, for a number of reasons:

- the original dungeon was scaled for a group of 250-point guys getting rolling, and I'd assumed the'd be around 275 points or so when they reached the apex of the mission. The current group is all in the 300+ range (the lowest is ~325) and has two PCs above 400.

- the original group was smaller, as well.

- the original group was dramatically less well-equipped. The current group has a lot more magic items, more DR, better weaponry, larger power items, and a huge pool of healing items compared to the original group.

- the current group is better informed. Thanks to surviving Gerry and the ability to go back and read the summaries, the group has a better idea of what's coming.

It might not be, for other reasons:

- this group is extremely reluctant to engage in do-or-die missions. The closer to victory they get, the more cautious about pushing their advantage they get.

- past failure adds caution. Any prior failure has meant that the PCs are more careful and more concerned about repeating the loss.

- past failure adds difficulty. The enemy didn't grow weaker by massacring a party without any casualties of note . . . especially since there are a lot of undead there.

- the usual mix of "stay on target!" versus "Ooh! Shiney!" can derail the mission in either direction - passing on important things because of the former, or getting distracted by being thorough because of the latter.

- GIGO. Not all of the summary information is really accurate. It's just what I remembered to write down, based on how I remembered it, and not actually necessarily true. It's most true or close to it, but information is missing, details are off, and the closer to the end of the summary it is the more likely I was rushing through it to finish writing. More than once the PCs have based something on a specific summary detail, only to find out the detail wasn't exactly that they thought it was . . . or they made assumptions based on a summary item without realizing it wasn't ever quite stated to be the case.

I'm interested to see how this will come out. Again, I'm hoping for a decisive strike despite the tendency of the group to shy away from efforts that aren't attrition battle attempts, but we'll see. The PCs could have won with better choices with the original group, I'm certain, so they should be able to do so with this group . . . but we'll see!

That's a reminder, actually. I need to write my "attrition is the lack of a strategy" post. It's not a new idea, or my idea, but it might not occur to everyone. At one point it was a revelation to me.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Delvers to Grow & Felltower

Felltower is a hybrid DF/DFRPG game.

That basically means we use the DFRPG rulebooks as far as they go for rules, costs, etc. But we supplement them out with the other GURPS books that include things we've already had in DF. We also pull in new material from new DF books (say, DF22: Twists) as needed. It's a mishmash.

So what to do with Delvers to Grow?

Can a player make a "Fast Hero," or "Smart Hero," or "Strong Hero," and run that character in DF Felltower?


No more than they could make a Squire and tack on a 125-point upgrade from DF15 and run that character. They are all off-list.

In my experience, allowing such as an add-on means a handful of players who have the time and inclination to iteratively make characters and think about some pre-planned route to Ultimate Power will make guys this way. They'll figure out some sneaky way to combine a few Power-Ups and benefits of a template with another and make some kind of hybrid character that gets the best of both worlds for their specific aim. The guys with less time, or who focus on the gameplay instead of the chargen, will be left out. I will inevitably have to dedicate more of my time to the systems and question-response of guys kitbashing new templates. That, to me, defeats the purpose of allowing them.

We will use some of the bits of DtG in DF Felltower, though. But which bits?

Many of the Power-Ups are just renamed existing powers. I suppose I could allow you to take "Fifth Level Fighter" instead of Extra Attack 1, but why deal with two names for one ability? It is really just the New Advantages (pp. 33-35) that are of true interest since we're not using the core of the supplement.

Here are the ones I have specific thoughts on. The others are largely just DF approaches ported over to DFRPG.

Herbaceous Master - this might go a good way toward making druids a little more AD&D-ish, and have healing and not just nature and animal powers. Under strong consideration.

Heroic Spellslinger - No. This doesn't fit the vibe of Felltower at all.

Master at Arms - I like this, a lot. It's been revised since the first draft I've seen. It's under strong consideration, but I need to play with the math. It's trivial to have 25 points spread over 4 skills (Brawling, Wrestling, one melee weapon, one missile weapon or Shield) and then it's always better to buy this up than to buy up those skills. I've proposed a couple of variant, limited Felltower-only versions of these, but despite supposedly great interest I've had exact zero comments on them. Still under strong consideration. Probably would be limited to the templates that could get it in DtG - the "strong" delvers.

Rapid Switch - no. We have Quick-Sheathe and Fast-Draw that, in combination, do this already. Bad enough it works 98.1% of the time, I don't need to make it cheaper and 100%.

Scroll Scriblling - no. I think it makes making a quick "Universal Scroll" to transfer casting costs and critically maintainence costs and penalties to a non-caster much too cheap.

Soul Warding - interesting. I think this is a good one for Clerics and Holy Warriors.

Vanishing Act - yeah, I've had some rules in effect for this for thieves for a long time. Galoob the thief did this in a fight years and years ago.

Walking Armoury - NO. Totally does not fit the vibe of Felltower, and players already "forget" about weapons when they're inconvenient. They'll crawl down tunnels, backflip through small gaps, drop prone and roll to avoid blows, and then stand up and one-second ready a 7' harpoon on a line conveniently already lanyarded to a belt and throw it. Do I want to expand that nonsense to weight?

Weapon Master (Missile Spells) - No. I don't think this is a good idea unless you're playing Gauntlet. The only Gauntlet-like thing in Felltower is "Wizard is about to die."

Wrestling Master - doesn't make sense given our version of the TG rules. I may have to tweak it so it does.

So that's the look so far. Some of these may show up, depending on how it all falls out.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Thieves

On Friday, Dr. Kromm revealed this tidbit:

• We made tentative plans for the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Thieves playtest . . . look for a call for playtesters in early September.

This book is overdue, and no, I didn't write it. I know who did, but it doesn't seem like Dr. Kromm revealed that information, so I sure won't.

I will absolutely get myself into the playtest, and force some free time to contribute to it. I think Thieves are a good template but need some support. I've written a bit myself.

For those who look at my campaign and say, you sure don't need a Thief, I would say that you only see part of the story. A thief-less group sometimes fails to solve things that a group with a thief could, and sometimes totally fails to notice this fact. From my side of the screen, the lack of a thief - and the lack of a mindset of people who will use the skills on such a template - has cost the group. Lockmaster isn't everything, and a Swashbuckler with Luck and good lockpicks can only get so far.

So I'm really looking forward to this book.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Random Links for 8/20/21

I've been too busy - but good busy - to do a lot of reading, but I did see this stuff that I wanted to share:

- A Metamorphosis Alpha Humble Bundle.

- War in Victoria II is really interesting. I had Victoria I, but I found the conflict resolution system a little lacking. So I didn't stick it out too long. I remember getting into a war with China over a province of Korea I wanted for my European power - the Netherlands, I think - and beaten the living tar out of them, but being unable to get them to hand over the Korea province despite me controlling a big chunk of China and mauling army after army . . . because for some reason it wouldn't get listed as a demand I could make. Aargh. Anyway, clearly I didn't get over that frustration.

- Speaking of video games, I'm trying to remember the name of one. It took place in the Renaissance, in Italy. You got to expand trade routes and build up your (or maybe your family's) power though overland and sea trade, could get one of three government positions, become Pope, and price and sell indulgences (which could eventually trigger the Reformation.) You could hire mercs and pirates and whatnot to fight, well, mercs and pirates, or to attack your rivals. I can't remember the name and I can't find the box or documentation in my collection. It was probably a 90s or early 2000s game, likely the former. It wasn't one of the Patrician games, because I had and played II and III and it's not them.

Nevermind, I remembered overnight that it was probably called Merchant Prince, and here it is: Merchant Prince gameplay

- Here is a handy guide to being (or fighting) giant-sized folks in GURPS.

- a look at Pool of Radiance and Ruins of Adventure, the module of the same thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Tidbits about the Cold Fens giants

Here are some more tidbits on the giants from the Cold Fens. They're clearly not standard GURPS DF/DFRPG giants. Or at least, they aren't just that.

- the PCs can't quite figure out which giant is the wizard, but the consensus seems to be the one wearing "white" armor - actually a light, dirty grey - and not the one wearing "black" armor - actually a very dark grey/brown/black color.

- they lost their gloves when the PCs took them and disposed of them in town (I can't recall how) after their first fight. They now wear mail gloves. The PCs had planned to attack their hands, but didn't follow through on that during their second meeting.

- they have only seen a handful of giant footprints - and then only when one stood on clearly soft ground and used great strength, such as toppling a menhir or lifting some heavy weight. Otherwise, they move without making any footfall noises of any kind. This had lead to conjecture that they are physical manifestations of . . . something. Wyatt suggested maybe it's connected to the altar. Wyatt also suggested it was clearly an "18th level goblin wizard" who created a Perfect Illusion of them, which just goes to show that a) Wyatt is the new Dryst, who made random stuff up all of the time, and b) Wyatt doesn't know that wizards don't have levels.

- they're Lucky. Both of them have displayed uses of Luck.

- they're tough. Both of them wear dragonhide armor, and have dead dragon bits in their lair. Nothing the PCs could just grab and sell for a mint, rather just the worthless stuff, but they've either purchased two suits of dragonhide armor and killed a small, third dragon, or killed at least three dragons.

- the one in "white" has a magic sword.

- they have some ability to spot invisible foes.

- they're solid trapmakers, but err on the "brute force" side of traps. No snares for them, it's deadfalls, pits, and bent-back trees for the win.

- they have access to healing, including repair and/or replacement of lost eyes.

Whatever they are, they aren't plain dumb big guys like Crogle was.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Crypt of Krysuvik and Delvers to Grow

These came the other day - my author's copies of Crypt of Krysuvik and Delvers to Grow*

Hurrah! They look good and the Delvers to Grow books are well-written and have some interesting rules ideas in them for people seeking new Power-Ups.
* Technically copies because I'm an author of something else on the Kickstarter. I had no real input on these.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Wyatt's Song

Here is Wyatt's Song about the giants. How this didn't earn MVP, I don't know. I mildly corrected punctuation, but otherwise this is how it was written.

Giants in the Kitchen with Wyatt, Giants in the Kitchen I knooooowww, Giants in the Kitchen with Wyatt, cutting off his leg ho-ho!

No one's in the Kitchen with Ulf, No one's in the Kitchen I knooooowww, No one's in the Kitchen with Ulf, bleeding all over the floor!

It's perhaps the best, and perhaps the only, song written about the Cold Fens in my campaign. Hopefully it'll be the last, or we'll go all Dragonlance and end up releasing a song book.

Monday, August 16, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 157, Cold Fens 15 - Hexcrawling the Cold Fens (Part II)

Game Date: 7/25/2021 - 7/27/2021

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)

We started off in the swamps of the Cold Fens, with the PCs heading towards the giant's lair.

The plan was to scout it out, move inland, and then come at them early in the morning to surprise the nocturnal giants.

That is more or less what they did. They moved inland, and quickly found a deadfall trap. They spent a good deal of time on it after Galen climbed up the tree to identify its trigger mechanism. They then put Silence down and triggered it with arrows. This cost them a good 20-30 minutes, though, mostly spent deciding how and if to disarm it. The mist really slowed them down, as they can't see more than a few yards clearly in any direction and not at all past 6-7 yards even at the best of times. They found yet another trap soon after - a pit, with a dead maned rat at the bottom, and a bent-back spiked branch ahead. They used Silence and set that trap off, too.

Once past it, they reached the giant's lair and backed off. They entered a Sanctuary and Ulf put Vigil on himself and Galen. Galen stayed outside all night, watching the cave. After a few hours of nightfall, they came out. They moved out into the night to the east, laughing and joking with one another. They were armed with swords and one carried a large rock. They were soon lost to the night and mist.

Galen stayed observing, and smelled smoke from the cave. He took a scout around the entire hill, and found a "back door" blocked with a mossy boulder but no other way in.

Come nearly morning, the giants returned, without rocks but one had an animal carcass over his shoulder and a bag of other animals over his shoulder. They headed in. Galen noted they now had mail gloves, and their mail curtain had been replaced with a single heavy animal hide curtain with no central divide.

In the morning the others came out of their Sanctuary. Galen briefed them, and they waited until 10 am and then headed in.

They made Galen, Ulf, and Wyatt invisible and buffed them with some other spells. The plan was they'd go in and kill all of the goblins while under a Silence spell. They headed to the curtain with Ulf dragging a stick to leave a mark so they'd know where he was. Galen had See Invisible on, and Wyatt followed the stick mark.

They moved in, sans light, sighting by the firelight flickering around the edges of the curtain to the kitchen. They reached it and heard goblin voices.

Ulf cast a 4-area Silence just this side of the curtain, covering much of the kitchen. They pushed the curtain open and saw two goblins. Galen shot them both down. Three others on the far end, outside of the Silence, could be seen to be yelling. Galen shot them all down, too, over the next couple of seconds, as Wyatt rushed the north exit to prevent them from fleeing (in case Galen missed them or another one.) Five down, two to go? But where were the two?

They split up a bit. Ulf stayed near the curtain. Galen moved forward in the Silence. Wyatt faced the curtain, listening.

Then the southern curtain opened up, and out charged the two giants, swords out, fully armed and armored. They started swinging at Galen. Galen dodged back and away, and managed to get behind one of the tables. He shot at them as he moved, but his arrows simply missed - Missile Shield, in all likelihood.

Wyatt didn't hear them - they were in the Silence - but caught them with a glance back a second later. He ran back after crushing a Walk on Air spellstone. Ulf backed off to the curtain. He was afraid to turn his back, so he ended up taking a few seconds to get there and grab the curtain.

One giant, in the black armor, kept after Galen. The other moved up and waited. As Ulf moved the curtain, he slashed across the hexes where anyone touching the curtain should be. Ulf dove prone under the blade.

Wyatt arrived just as the black armored giant moved away from Galen and toward the curtain. He was also still Invisible and used Run and Hit to stab the giant's eyes out. It was still up, but blind. It retaliated by attacking where he was, but Wyatt was able to avoid the attacks.

The white-armored one two took swings at Wyatt and rolled a 4, which Wyatt cancelled out with Luck, causing a miss. The giant's other swing was also a 4, though, and it chopped off Wyatt's left leg.

The white-armored one held his sword up to his eyes and it glowed. Wyatt tried to attack him but the giant defended, and then it stabbed still-invisible Ulf in the vitals. Ulf went down to -54 HP . . . with automatic death at -60. He narrowly avoided dying again.

The black-armored giant drew out a potion.

Galen ran up behind the giants and past them. As he did, he chopped the potion bottle and broke it. After that, he managed to get out of the curtain as Wyatt used a Levitation stone and then floated up, still prone, and attacked the giants.

Galen ran out and called for help. The others began to run in. Ulf remembered he could cancel a spell, and did so on the Silence.

The white-armored giant tried to kill Wyatt while backing off, as the black-armored one blindly stumbled to the north curtain.

The other PCs arrived, using spellstones and casting buff spells as they came. When they arrived, the white-armored giant had ducked out, following his brother.

Galen ran after them and opened the curtain, nearly getting stabbed by the white-armored one. He followed as he ran - and the giant quickly outpaced him . . . plus, in the dark, Galen couldn't see much once the curtain fell.

The eventually followed them to the boulder-blocked exit - it had clearly been moved and put back. The giants were gone.

The inside of the rock had runes on it. Gerry identified them as your standard "evil runes." Dangerous, permanent, and possibly passable with a password . . . which probably isn't knowable without divination magic.

They returned to the kitchen and then to the "main room." There, they pour 4 minor and 6 major healing potions into him, getting him mostly healed up. They searched the altar while discussing how to go about looting the place before the giants returned.

They found the statue on the altar was magical, and Bruce picked it up, all 500 pounds or so of it. Underneath was a cavity with a jug and two flat rocks carved to resemble crude claws. They took them all. Ulf tried Gift of Letters on the carvings but they weren't in trollish, despite the statue being a crude troll-like figure that was probably Old Father Troll. They put the statue back, since it clearly couldn't be broken easily. Dismissive Wave didn't clear any curse from the area.

As they did so, though, the curtain to the NW opened and in rushed the two giants, straight at Crogar, who stood guard in the middle. They were both Great Hasted. Crogar fought them off for a couple of precious seconds, while they destroyed his shield and cut off his left arm. He kept them occupied as Gerry buffed him with Shield +6. Bruce tried to flank them. Wyatt used another Levitation stone and floated at them. Aldwyn rushed them. The others mostly stayed away, although Ulf moved up closer as is his wont. Varmus tried Counterspell and failed a couple of times.

The giants kept fighting, backing off towards the front door, using their reach and multiple attacks to try and smother one foe at a time, but were forced to contend with two. The black-armored one crippled Bruce's arm, narrowly missing a dismemberment (by 1 point of basic damage!), but otherwise they didn't harm the PCs. The PCs didn't land any blows back. They kept backing off and then suddently started to hit, and then run back on their second turn. They reached the curtain before the PC. The black-armored one held the curtain for his brother, who ducked out. As he did, Galen, who'd been loosing 3 arrows a second the whole time, finally rolled a 4 and beat his Missile Shield.

They fled in two directions, the black one stumbling out one-eyed, and into the mist.

The PCs quickly beat it themselves, covered their track as they moved away and then popping into a Sanctuary in what Galen decided was an unlikely place for the giants to look.

They stayed 24 hours and then popped out, bushwacked to the north, and began to hike home.

I handwaved the hike home because of real-world concerns.

They made it back to Ulf Hollow in a few days, and then used Regeneration on Wyatt and Crogar.


- the PCs wisely suspected Watchdog or something similar, and put Mage Sight on Gerry. But Gerry didn't go in and couldn't see in, so they don't know if that's what woke the giants. It's possible they just sleep lightly and in their armor, like PCs do. They just don't know because they didn't leverage their ability to check.

- again the giants proved a problem. The giants are canny. They fight and act like delvers - they use magic liberally, they fight in a coordinated fashion, they flee when it's not going well, and they heal up entirely (somehow) between fights. Only equipment costs - like the gloves the PCs disposed of in town - seem to be an issue. The PCs don't seem to have an answer for dealing with this any more than the monsters in Felltower and elsewhere have a solution for dealing with the PCs - where even killing a few of them doesn't change anything. The giants, same. It's a conundrum. I have thoughts but I'm reserving them for now.

- We had an interesting Luck interaction, which deserves its own post.

- We determined that if you're in a Sanctuary, you can't maintain spells on someone outside of the Sanctuary. You're in a different world, and thus when the spell needs more energy to maintain you're not there to provide it. So it just ends.

- I handwaved the trip back because I had a lot of stuff to do last night that couldn't wait. Real life saved the PCs some trouble. It happened back in the day, too.

- XP for both sessions was 2 for exploration, 0 for loot.

- MVP for the session was Crogar for fighting off Great Hasted giants solo for several seconds, at the cost of his arm and shield. It wasn't Wyatt, despite writing a song about the combat, which I shall post tomorrow.

- Gerry's player (and Wyatt's, and Galen's, and others) deserve a mention for not telling Ulf's player that he could just cancel Silence. They just waited, especially because they knew he couldn't be told because he was under Silence. It's tempting to just say it out loud, rationalizing that "he'd know that." Anyway, lesson learned - know your abilities!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Cold Fens today

After a slow summer so far for gaming, we're getting back after it. Cold Fens 14.

Here is a summary of last session.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Delvers to Grow: Omnibus - Arrived!

This came yesterday, so I've got that going for me.

Short version, it's very attractive. I wish it had a lay-flat binding, because I hate weighting both pages of a book when I want to reference it hands-free, but it's fine otherwise. It's solidly put together. I'm glad I went for the omnibus edition so I could have one volume - labeled on the spine - for my desktop GURPS reference books.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Intermittent posting

I meant to post this yesterday - I've got a busy week or so, and I will be only posting intermittently this week and possibly into next.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Random Links Bonus: GW article

This should have made yesterday's post, but I only saw it today - an interesting enough article about Games Workshop in The Guardian:

How Games Workshop grew to become more profitable than Google

Better late than never, I guess?

Friday, August 6, 2021

Assorted Stuff for 8/6/2021

Friday is time for random stuff.

- I don't talk about reading, much, but after plowing through some assorted books and some Chandler, I wanted something light to read . . . and dug out the latter volumes of the "Spellsinger" books by Alan Dean Foster. I'm not a "furry" fan but I liked these books, and if you like furry worlds this isn't a bad one . . . although it's deliberately punny. Given the central conceit of the books, the number of music references ADF got wrong is really stunning, from mis-attributed song credits to mis-spelled or just badly wrong band member names. Still fun stuff if you've got GURPS Furries and want a world with Marxist monsters and turtle wizards and people summoning up giant monsters with Beach Boys songs.

- Many nuggets of information in the Ballistics Report.

First, go read it.

Lots of good information in that. If you're waiting on another Peter Dell'Orto / Marshall LaPira project, it'll have to wait a bit. I enjoyed working with Marshall and Doug on the Crypt, but really, adventures aren't my thing. They are Marshall's, though, which is why I took on a project to co-write one with him. Also, I wanted to get his foot in the door as an author, since I'm a low-risk choice (I meet my deadlines and I turn in what I contracted for.) Now that he's established his CV enough for a solo project he's going right ahead with one. I'm looking forward to seeing what he has in mind.

- Doug mentioned this, which is good, because I don't pay attention to Kickstarter updates particularly closely. Email me if you want my attention and my money. Still, I read Doug's blog so I heard about Dungeon Fantasy Companion 3. I'm not privy to what's in it, but it's quite probable I have stuff in it. I get - and answer, and then forget the details of - emails from SJG occasionally about re-use and suchlike, so I'm crossing my fingers that I have stuff in there and a print comp copy due to me. Here's hoping. If not, I'll just buy one.

- Next game is scheduled for 8/15, so we'll see what game that will be.

(Almost forgot this one!)

- Acoup has a post which basically concludes with an explanation of how modern munitions deployed by a modern army would trash zombies. Very GURPS, actually - zombies won't do well against armor or Paveway munitions.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Quick Review: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Encounters 4: Ring Fort

Today, let's look at:

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Encounters 4: Ring Fort by Douglas Cole, Jarl of the Dungeon Vikings.

Ring Fort provides a Viking ring fort in full detail for use in DF. It has a map of the fort and town, details about the physical structure and layout of the fort, and detail on the inhabitants. Sections discuss using the ring fort as a "town" for DF, and have enough details if the PCs assault the place (well, not specific loot details, but still) or had to fight out of it against some monstrous threat.

Details are excellent, down the number of men and their equipment, locations of importing businesses in town, and names and personalities of peoples. The place is ready to go with little in the way of needed detail to make it game-ready.

Amusingly, there is a quote from a Japanese used here on a Viking fort. That just struck me as funny. Maybe we need DF Encounters 5: Himeji-jo? Hmm . . . I've been there at least once . . .

Overall, it's a useful supplement. The map is attractive, but I do wish there were battle maps of the gates - the most likely places for combat if the GM uses it as a battle location and not just as "town" outside of the "dungeon." Still, it's a good resource to have if you need a wilderness town for PCs to interact with, provided you're okay with it being Viking-themed or are willing to reskin everyone as orcs or generic Olden Tymesfolk or whatever. A nice addition to the Encounters line.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Quick Review: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 4: Two-Page Dungeons

Today I'm taking a short look at another 10-pager from the 2021 GURPS PDF Challenge.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 4: Two-Page Dungeons, by the awesome Tetsujin no Llama*.

This book consists of four five two-page adventures for GURPS DF:

From a Sinking Ship

The Blasphemed Shrine

A Cold Day In

All Along the Watchtower

The Floor is Lava

The names do justice to the dungeons. They're generally very short, use vanilla critters from exisiting books, and require more time to read than to set up and play, given existing characters. They're well-written and interesting little bits of delving, too.

I'm sure some wag will point out that GURPS is so damn complex it requires two pages while old-school games can do one-page dungeons. Each of these, though, has a few nice things that take up space, like:

- an easy to read layout

- a small encounter area with sufficient detail to run the game . . . provided you go get the monster stats from the appropriate books

- a nice full-page map, full-color, that can be zoomed in on and printed out to make a battle map for minis

Overall, it's a well-done book. I'm not sure I can expect to use anything from it, since most of my players will also own it, but it's good material for them to use on their gaming groups in turn.

* Larger than a frog, but also iron.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Quick Review: Dungeon Fantasy 23: Twists

Here is a very brief look at the 10-page PDF GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 23: Twists, by Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch, creator of the DF line.

This book covers "twists" to change the heroes-clear-dungeons approach common to a lot of DF games.

The twists come in three categories:

- landholdings and status for PCs

- really scary evil

- high tech and ultra-tech

Each section is a couple of pages of advice on how to implement these things in your game. They aren't heavy on "crunch," but rather on page numbers, plus some numbers. For example, status effects are spelled out and benefits given, costs for castles and strongholds provided (but DR, HP, size, etc. is handwaved a lot), etc. There aren't any example ultra-tech weapons, but there are page refences to the relevant rules, advice on controlling such items (with more references), and penalties for using items, defaults, tables, and spells on tech.

It's all concise and easy to read, and if you've got a use for any of the three bits the whole PDF is worth the cost even if you won't use the other parts.

Felltower and DF23

I'm likely to use the first two parts. I already do use some of the second part. It's not really new to my game, but does provide some useful ideas for expanding the "really scary evil" bit. Damnned immortal souls? Yeah, although the PCs like to pat themselves on the back for killing Evil Sterick, his backstory (known to them) makes it clear that he wasn't alwasy that way, and then suddenly things went very, very bad and so did he. It's not an isolated case . . . and DF23 gives me some more ideas on how to make it clear that's the case. The third bit . . . not in Felltower, but I do want to run a DF game that features high-tech at some point. Going back to the landholdings and status - yes, if PCs want to invest the money, they can absolutely do this. I finally have some easy numbers to use in terms of points and dollars to charge for the benefits you get, and have the benefits spelled out. I'm in.

Good stuff.

GURPS PDF Challenge 2021 - arrived!

I'll post more later, but I just received my PDF Challenge books . . . so I'll be reading DF23 ASAP. Hopefully I'll have time to share my thoughts tonight!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Where are my current games at?

This is just a quick post mostly for myself to talk about where my campaigns are, and why.

Felltower - currently laying fallow right now, as the party has spent a good bit of time exploring the Cold Fens. This means some restocking of the dungeon, as it will have been months since it was last explored. I've done some of this, but I need to do more. Some of the new denizens may bring treasure, but they will be heavily outnumbered by the types of creatures that don't. What the orcs, cone-hatted cultists, and others living in the dungeons have been up to is known to me but I haven't done the nitty-gritty of writing it down on the actual dungeon key.

Cold Fens - current being explored, but the group is paused mid-delve against the giants. After that, the survivors may explore elsewhere. They repeatedly bring up "going after the dragon," but don't actually know where that is.

Gamma Terra - in hiatus right now, as our GM has very little time to develop material for play. I'd really like to play this, but it's not an option right now.

AD&D - keeps getting pushed off. I'm not sure now when we'll be able to play.

Low-Point DFRPG - proposed as a game, but no details have been nailed down yet. I'm a player, not the GM, so I'm not sure of the status of this.

That's about it for my tabletop RPGing right now.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

No Game Today

Sadly, we ended up with no game today.

This was for several reasons:

- a short crew (just 4-5 people)

- half of the crew didn't have any backup characters ready

- no one had an idea of what to do, except a single vote for the Jester Gate, which I shot down because it was brought up less than 24 hours before game, and I didn't have time to finish prepping that for a "maybe we'll do that." I specifically didn't want to play if much of the session was going to be people floating and shooting down ideas.

In a way, this is all ironic. The game used to be a full crew at 4-5 people, everyone had a backup character ready, and no one wanted to have a risky delve with brand-new guys because they're not tough enough to risk the stuff that the regular crew is also too careful to tackle . . . because of fear of loss, presumably. So game was torpedoed by all the things it's fundamentally designed to avoid - needing a large group of people, needing your "A" character, and having something specific to do. Oh well.

I got a lot of non-gaming things done, which was useful, but wasn't Felltower. Oh well.
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