Sunday, October 31, 2021

Additions to Felltower - DF23 and DFRPG DTG

Here are some additions to Felltower from recent books.

Dungeon Fantasy 23: Twists


Felltower delvers are eligible to buy Strongholds. These can be explained in many ways - inheritance, purchase, taking over control of an abandoned area, etc. In all cases the appropriate costs must be paid - $10,000 per person. While some of the benefits of a stronghold are already folding in "town" benefits, PCs with a stronghold will get:

- cost of living mitigation

- access to skill-appropriate equipment per DF23 p. 6. Note these just remove the penalty for lack of equipment - you don't get a bonus.

Other additions? We may use Status and Rank, if enough players desire it. The other stuff isn't really appropriate.

Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Delvers to Grow

I've discussed these a bit before.

Herbaceous Mastery - available for druids.

Scroll Scribbling - available for anyone with the appropriate prereqs.

Vanishing Act - thieves only, may not be usable in all circumstances (especially in tactical combat)

We've discussed Master at Arms but I don't want to use it as written and discussions haven't gone anywhere. So it's still a maybe.

I decided Soul Warding would result in endless questions - does it apply now? How about now? And now? And this time? And hey, did you remember to include your Soul Warding DR? Etc. Not worth it to me.

For now, at least, those are the additions to Felltower.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Short posting break

Sorry guys, busy day today, tomorrow, and into Saturday as well. I'll miss a few days of posting but should be back with a Felltower-related post as usual on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

My take on take-backs

This post over at Monsters & Manuals prompted this response:

No Take-Backs?

It itself is a response to this post:

Game-enhancing powers, game-ruining powers, and yet more magic items

In any case, this quote is from Monsters & Manuals:

"Is it ever legitimate for a DM to say to the players: "This power you now have is ruining the game by making everything too easy and I should never have made it possible to have it. Let's say that tomorrow you wake up and it mysteriously no longer works"?"


In my games? Of course it is. It's a game. We're playing it to have good times with one another as our paper men do imaginary things to other paper things. Sometimes when we do this, we make decisions over rules and results and powers that have repercussions we don't expect.

Sometimes those are awesome.

Oftentimes, they suck the fun out of something. Or they, retroactively, destroy the canon of the game by making something we've already decided is this way or that not actually valid given this new thing.

In the case of awesome, we keep them. In the case of the others, we talk them out and figure out a better approach that doesn't make the game less fun. Generally we'll let results stand - almost always in my DF game. But we'll go back and revise powers. We'll revise rules when they don't seem to do what we want - like our XP rules or spell learning.

Remember when we changed missile spells to have larger explosion radii and a whole bunch of NPCs got blown up? But then we realized it wasn't really so great. We changed the rules to a different set. We didn't take away the ability but we nerfed it a bit. It needed doing.

Importantly, we do these by consensus whenever possible. Sometimes it's clear to me that it'll screw up the game from my side of the screen, and I'll just go and change it. But if at all possible, I'll do a 'take-back' with the whole group on board. We all want a challenging but fun game. If something we've put in the game makes that less so . . . yeah, we'll change it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Attempting to finish Darkest Dungeons

After a good, solid year off, I decided to reinstall Darkest Dungeons and finish it.

Where I left off, I needed some specific guys at level 6 to attempt the Dark Dungeon itself. But, they needed time off to recover from stress. Plus, one guy I specifically needed have been killed and I couldn't seem to find a replacement. The other missions mostly required me to assemble a sub-optimal team and basically kill time. I have no stomach for that.

A year later, though, I did.

I started back up, killed time with a mission or two, and then attempted the first dungeon mission proper.

That didn't go well.

Two tries later, I'd lost 7 characters and made no progress. I was able to get a few missions in and level up some other guys.

I won't lie . . . those two TPKs (a near one followed by a full one) almost caused me to quit again. But I decided to set it aside that day and come back to it.

I tried again. I won this time, but of course, the final enemy critter - a boss's underling - with 1 HP left, killed one of my guys dead outright. Sigh. I got revenge but what the heck.

I've been doing a few other missions, trying to assemble a good crew for the next dungeon mission.

I'll finish the whole thing out over the next week and be done with it. It's a fun game except when it feels like the game is just piling on - like when you've got 3 full HP low-stress guys and the bad guys just pile on the same wounded, high-stress PC over and over and over again no matter what you to do self-mark or what have you. Maybe it just seems that way? Worth what I paid for it but still I'd like to check off the game as complete.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Holy Water - a list of what it doesn't do

In GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, Holy Water is all of $15 a vial, $7.50 for clerics. It's expensive for water, even by 2021 standards, but it is cheap as dirt compared to potions and other concoctions. Even a 1d6 healing potion costs $120, and mild poisons - easily resisted and doing minor damage - range from $20 per dose.

Yet, despite that, my players are convinced - half-seriously, half-kidding - that it should do more. Much, much more.

Powers my players have ascribed to, or suggested for, or claimed are logical for, holy water:

- it acts as Paut for clerics and holy warriors

- it acts as a healing potion for clerics and holy warriors

- it's poisonous to evil creatures

- it damages evil creatures on contact, instantly

- it removes curses

- it exorcises evil from anything it is poured on

- it repels evil creatures

- it turns unholy water into holy water

- it neutralizes poison

- it refreshes good creatures, restoring FP and acting as Essential Water

- it turns your mother into a basketball . . . not wait, that's SPACOM.

For my players - anything I have missed?

See also: GURPS 101: Item/Spell Effects or Creature Weakness

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sakatha Spoilers

Since Sakatha has been defeated, and his lair is gone, we did a little spoiler-filled recap at the end of the game session. I rarely do this except post-campaign, but I think it was appropriate to do it now since nothing from it will impact play.

One reason I made Sakatha a load-bearing monster was because I didn't want the party to keep coming back to the Cold Fens over and over and over again, "just making sure" and "maybe we missed something" and "this time we'll check with a guy with See Secrets and Per 19, not just Per 18" in the hopes of findng something. So I set it up so that can't happen once the main guy is gone. I made it a relatively slow collapse so the PCs would have time to loot, but not to linger. Had I made it shorter, they wouldn't have had time to loot. They barely did, and really maximized "guard the group" over "get the loot." The next load-bearing monster (there are others) might not be so forgiving. You can't always search the room with a maximum bonus while everyone heals, recovers FP, and otherwise takes their ease until fully ready to delve.

Sakatha's Trident was an oversized balanced trident with Accuracy +2 and Puissance +2. $40,800 base value, saleable for at least $16,320. Broken by the PCs because delvers always assume you need to break stuff to win fights. It was useful to disarm him, but they had all the tools to defeat him without this step.

Speaking of killing Sakatha, my players especially depend on getting foes to reveal their weaknesses. They'll threaten or attack a foe, and hope that will prompt a foe to give a clue to their weak point. This can work sometimes, but doesn't always. It works less often than it succeeds. They also want to get feedback on success instantly. They'll fill a foe's hex with fire, and, before anything else happens, expect the foe to give away how vulnerable they are to fire so they can pile more on. I feel like I say, "It's a one-second turn" so often I should have it on an audio loop. Sakatha didn't give much away. And why should he have? My players will likely chime in here saying they didn't really expect him to, but they had to try, and had to observe just in case . . . but that's rationalizing behavior despite a lack of success in doing so. These are the same guys who want to Dodge shots when they have Missile Shield up so the enemy thinks they don't and wastes attacks. This also assumes the foe knows something to give away - picture Achilles, confident that he's unkillable, not realizing his heel is vulnerable. Would he flinch badly at an attack on his heel, or just arrogantly attack you back until that last lucky shot that puts him down?

Further, speaking of killing Sakatha, clues to the best way to kill him were upstairs - murals on both of the triangle side rooms in the triangular building, and in a cryptic note about Sakatha held by the bandit wizard. He left it behind accidentally, but the PCs literally never checked the hallway where the secret door was after just moving through it quickly once. So that was never found. They even skipped that side hallway during a session when they otherwise went everywhere else with Galen (Per 18) with See Secrets on.

Speaking of that bandit wizard, had they managed to crush the bandits a session or two earlier back in the day, and get the wizard, they could have found the loot of the bandits. They didn't, and the wizard left with the loot. And wearing Hooded Robes of Protection. Caution costs chances.

And missed treasure? They never tried to track down where the wights came from, either to finish them after a victorious fight or after exterminating them. In fact, they moved fast to avoid them specifically, even after wiping them out . . . and "avoided" them by traveling the exact same way to and from the triangular building ever time. Anyway, there was a clear "lair" for the boss wight. In it were a skeleton (I won't say of whom or what) with some mundane loot and an Necklace of the Serpent in the form of a silver necklace with a green jade symbol of two snakes facing each other over a rising sun. El Murik's player would have loved that. There was also, in one of the acid vats, a suit of corrosion-proof mail - which eventually made it into DFRPG Magic Items as an armor enchantment. Plus, their mundane gear was recovered and thrown into a side room the PCs never bothered to find.

There were other treasures, magical and mundane, and some fun challenges. Mostly, though, there were a lot of missed opportunities. Often lost due to a little too much caution when caution wasn't called for. Again, this stuff is why I made Sakatha load-bearing. I didn't want to deal with this place being a permanent campaign fixture for parties unwilling to delve deeper in Felltower. The looted-out Caves of Chaos and repeatedly sacked Lost City still get some "we should go and check this out" discussion, and I wanted this off the table.

Finally, the marshy part of the Cold Fens, the lair of Sakatha, the name, and very much of the main details of the area came directly from I2 Tomb of the Lizard King by Mark Ayres. In it, Sakatha is a vampiric version of the Lizard King from Fiend Folio. I liked the idea a lot, but I didn't need another vampire. I needed a demonic lizard man to match the depictions I'd had on the wall near the temple in Felltower. So I changed things around to make it so.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

D&D fixed HP & a path untraveled

I missed this post or I'd have included it in my Friday roundup. Instead, it gets a Saturday afternoon discussion.

Arneson's Hit Points for Characters

My first thought on this was how much GURPS is like this.

Back in the day, in 1st-3rd edition (revised) GURPS, you rarely got additional HP. Your HP equaled your HT, and it was rarely to have access to the Extra HP advantage. Getting up your HT wasn't cheap, either, costing from 20 to 50 points per point of HT in play, thanks to a rule that doubled the cost of attributes bought up after character creation ended.

GURPS 4e pushed up the ease of getting more HP, tying them to ST and removing that doubled cost . . . and reducing the cost of extra HP, as well. In GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, getting more HP is pretty standard - you can have a fair amount - potentially 26 HP, more than twice that as a starting normal human and twice that normal human's maximum. Barbarians and other races can push this up - a human barbarian with the Mountain of Meat perk from Barbarians can have 50 HP.

Even so, the "standard" way of staying alive longer in GURPS is to armor up (to reduce damage), and more importantly, get better at not being hit. A HP 10 guy with Skill-21 is just as fragile as a HP 10 guy with Skill-12. You're just a lot less likely to get hit in combat because you're more likely to successfully defend. You'll still die just as hard from 10 HP past your DR to the vitals, but it's less likely to happen.

It would have been interesting if that was the approach that D&D took and keep early on, instead of this world of escalating HP. I basically live in that world as a base standard (again, not in DF, where it does get harder to kill characters) but most games do not. Interesting that escalating HP wasn't the only way D&D could have gone.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Friday Links & Various Thoughts 10/22/21

It's Friday, let's link to things.

- A look at the Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan, a favorite adventure of mine.

In Search of Tomoachan

- James Mal takes a loot at While the Gods Laugh, an excellent but IMO very formulaic Elric story.

I wish I could remember who borrowed my copy of Stealer of Souls. I haven't had it in my hands in so long that I needed David Pulver to look up a line for me so I could quote it in a GURPS book.

- Here is a look at full time RPG jobs and the amount of sales to sustain them. It's probably reasonably back of the envelope accurate.

- Well, hell, let's go!

Why Travel to the Grand City of Epic Grandness?

- I've done a lot of work on Felltower - rumors, checking maps, restocking, etc. It's almost ready to go for the next game.

- I think it's very odd that people can't buy DF21: Megadungeons yet, but you can get some of the other $3 PDF books. I have no knowledge of why this would be the case, but it bugs me every time I go to link to it.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Ogre (the video game) on sale 60% off - worth it?

Steam has a sale on the Ogre video game by SJG/Autarch.

It's 60% off, so $9.99 instead of the usual $24.99 (and the usual $12.49 when it is on sale.)

Ogre on Steam

Any opinions on it? Worth it for single player? Many of the reviews I've read highlight the AI as especially bad. If you've got experience to support that or to the contrary, I'd like to know. I would like to be able to play Ogre on my PC, but if it is going to be a case of whupping a dumb AI over and over . . . I'll pass.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Battletech: Stalled

I'm a bit stalled out on Battletech. Not the core missions - I won the campaign - but the flashpoints series.

I'm currently on a mission using a special-purpose electronic warfare mech. I've tried it twice. Once I lost and stayed until the bitter end. The second time I got kind of bored and gave up on it.

I had to stop at this mission a while back when I got busy. Now that I'm busy and I just want to drop in and blow stuff up - but have it matter in a cumulative sense - I'm finding this mission a little too different than I liked from Battletech.

For you readers who finished this mission, does it pick up after this? Or is this the first in a line of missions using this special EW mech? If so, maybe I'll just start up a new, different campaign.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Jon Peterson's Game Wizards - arrived

This arrived Sunday, during game.

( affiliate link)

I haven't started to read it yet - I'd just started reading a fiction book and I want to finish that before I move on to a non-fiction book. But I'm looking forward to it. I'm pretty sure everyone involved will come off badly, but what the hell. It's better to know more of the facts and something closer to the truth than what I know now. My initial impression from a leaf through it is positive. It's attractive and it's hard to not start reading random bits.

Haul from Sakatha

Here is what the PCs took home from Sakatha's lair (remember 1 sp = $1 in DF Felltower, and gold is $5000 per pound) last session:

Sakatha's gold crown, cut in two ($16,000 worth of gold)

4 gold bracelets worth $1000 each

Girdle of Savage Might

4" Crystal Ball, enchanted with Crystal Ball-15 ($40,000)

23,010 sp ($23,010)

1,361 gp ($27,220)

51 pieces of jewelry (av. $200 each)

100 assorted gemstones (av. $100 each)

6 Javelins of Shock

5 Javelins of Penetration

7 Javelins of Fire

Two scrolls - one turned out to be cursed, inflicting a fungal disease on Gerry . . . it took Remove Curse and Cure Disease to remove it. The other was a charged wizard scroll with Aura-15 (x4)

Iron lamp sealed with magic symbols of sealing.

Dwarven Whetstone

Fine Thrusting Broadsword, Puissance +1, Flaming Weapon ($22,800) (this was Ashers, and Vryce's before that, from Session 8.

- Sakatha was wearing the Girdle of Savage Might. It didn't detect as magical, because its powers aren't from wizardly magic. Or holy, for that matter. They gave it to Bruce after Crogar passed on it because it wasn't something he'd like to wear. So now Bruce has it. Details are in Barbarians, p. 29. One of my players asked if this was from a book, or from me. Both! So now Bruce is even stronger than before.

- Ulf's player also played Desmond, and wanted them to save the crytal ball, so Desmond could learn Crystal Gazing and scry. Uh, no, they chose $16K over that.

- The javelins will probably show up in some Felltower article at some point. Suffice it to say they're one-shot.
- the cursed scroll wasn't resisted. Yeah, not really fair. Just kidding, of course that's fair.

- that was El Murik's whetstone.

- the PCs never found where the non-magical stuff from their dead PCs was stored. It was there, but they never found it.

- That's about $90K in cash or equivalent to cash, plus ~$16K in a salable crystal ball, plus magic items. And the PCs salvaged Sakatha's broken shield and trident and are thinking to pay for a Repair spell so they can sell them for a small (less than $100) profit. Yeah . . . I don't know.

Monday, October 18, 2021

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 161, Cold Fens 16 - Sakatha's Lair Do-or-Die (Part IV)

Today was Part IV of the do-or-die raid on Sakatha.

Game Date: 8/31/21-9/2/21

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

We picked up where we left off last time. Sakatha turned and bit Ulf - but Wyatt dove in between and saved him with a Sacrificial Dodge, taking a (very weak, 9-10 damage) bite on the torso.

Wyatt backed out a moment later, and re-sized his Universal Sword to a dagger to make it handier to dangle on his lanyard. Ulf, trapped against the throne, was bitten ineffectively by Sakatha. Crogar slashed him twice on the back for no effect. Gerry aimed an alchemists's fire but Crogar kept stepping in his line of throwing.

Wyatt tried spiking down alchemist's fire, which Crogar dodged and Sakatha stepped out of on his turn.

Wyatt then tried spiking holy water on Sakatha, and succeeded in hitting him and breaking it on his head. It annoyed him but nothing further.

Sakatha kept after Ulf, having determined he was the next weak link. Crogar followed. Wyatt spiked an alchemist's fire on Sakatha's back and broke it, igniting him in flames. Sakatha crisped a little but it didn't slow him down at all. Wyatt re-readied his sword and shifted it back.

Sakatha kept after Ulf, and eventually bit him on the neck, and then spun with him in his jaws. Wyatt tried to knock his crown off with the flat of his sword but found it was on too tight to get flicked off with a sword blow. So he and Crogar decided to just hack it apart. They did so as Sakatha kept biting down on Ulf's neck. The first bite did 9 cutting, but then the next three did 17 cutting each . . . 24 injury. The third such bite took Ulf to -5xHP.

Wyatt split the crown in the back and then Crogar in the front. The crown fell, and Sakatha growled in rage. But it didn't last - Wyatt stabbed him three times in the vitals, hitting twice. That did it for Sakatha, who fell and whisped away to dust within a second or so . . . before Wyatt could pose on the corpse.

Sakatha was defeated, but at great cost - Ulf and Bruce slain. They dragged Bruce out of the fires and dowsed the flames. The took some gold jewelry off of the lizardmen guards, an iron key, some orichalcum armor bits, a big girdle, and a key off of Sakatha, and Sakatha's crystal ball.

They spend a good 20 minutes or so healing people up. They bound up Heyden, healed him, and woke him up. Then Wyatt questioned him to see if he was still charmed. Every time he was even slightly satisfied that he wasn't, Gerry would point out that if he was charmed, he'd play it coy and wait for his moment. So they eventually released him but kept him unarmed from then on. I don't think they gave him his weapons back until much later. Also, they told him he'd helped kill Ulf and didn't tell him what actually happened until much later.

They searched the room and a nearby old lab, finding nothing of value. They eventually found a secret door off of the throne room, but couldn't find a way to pry or force it open. The figured it must open using the switch on the altar back in the entrance room (delver logic). So they sent Wayatt to throw the switches on that altar . . . which caused a poisoned dart to launch into his back. It penetrated his armor and scratched his arm, but thanks to Resist Poison he was fine. Eventually they decided to try some passphrases. They started with, "Hail Sakatha!" and variations. The one that worked, in the end, was "Open for Great Sakatha." (Logically, Sakatha would praise himself but not hail himself.) (Amusingly, they almost tried searching the entire ceiling for extended time to find a switch to release the secret door . . . and then would try the passphrases. Yeah, do the hard, slow thing first, then try the easy, fast thing.)

Past it was a short corridor. Naturally, before even looking, they cask Dark Vision on Wyatt, gathered up the fallen, armed and formed up - confident they wouldn't be back - and headed in. 10 yards later was a blank wall with a secret door. Past that was a 10' corridor with a demon visage on the far wall. Wyatt walked over, but then the floor opened up beneath him. He managed to get onto the slight ledge and not fall 30' onto spikes. They put Levitation on him. After trying touching it with a coin, which did nothing, they searched and found a keyhole and used a key they'd found on Sakatha.

They opened it up and found a treasure room, with coins, jewelry, javelins, etc. all strewn around. It had the appearance of a neat room that had suffered one hell of a temper tantrum. Basically, they stood guard while Wyatt systematically went through the broken shelves and chests and splintered bits of javelins for individual coins. This took a lot of time (which they barely, barely, had enough of.) Eventually, they got it all and loaded it up, passing it back by having Gerry float Wyatt back and forth. But they managed to grab ~100 pounds of coins, 50-odd pieces of jewelry, a broken iron coffer full of gems (they took the whole thing), an iron lamp sealed with magical runes, a magic broadsword (Asher's old loaner from Vryce, it turned out), and 18 javelins (out of 36 originals).

As this went on, Heyden felt a little shudder. Like a tremor. They decided to get out as fast as possible.

So they grabbed their just-packed loot, carried the corpses, and headed out. More tremors came, each a little stronger than the one before. They were very careful to avoid the traps on the way out, as well. They managed to pass the river with levitation, avoided the undead bats that flew around crazily, avoided the trapped steps on the staircase, etc. They used some demon ichor to get past the secret doors and headed out.

They ran past the watery murder nymphs, who were wailing but not attacking or calling. They saw the water level was much higher than before. They ran as more tremors came. They made to the boats, dragged them free, and poled away as fast as possible - one boat with the living, the one with the dead towed behind. In jolts, a few feet at a time, each about twice as fast as the one before, the island itself sank down. They managed to pole free.

They headed home as fast as possible. The trip back was largely uneventful except for the usual bugs, snags, wasps, and so on. Also, bad weather slowed them down.

Two notable encounters - they heard what they decided was the giants investigating the tremors, and nearly back at Ulfhala they saw the dragon circling the island's location.

They hurried to Swampsedge and had their compatriots brought back from the dead.


- The PCs finally defeated Sakatha. What did it? Hard to say exactly. They stopped attacking him for damage until after they doused him with holy water, then set him on fire with alchemist's fire, then he killed Ulf, then broke his crown. So what was it? One of those? All of those? None of those? It's not clear. If they ever had to fight him again, they'd have to decide which one to start with, or somehow make them all happen again.

- Can you Sacrificial Dodge for someone in close combat? Tough call. I ruled that since Sakatha was stepping into close combat to bite, Wyatt could jump in between and take the hit. He did . . . and Sakatha rolled terrible damage - like 9 or 10 on 3d+2. That was the next to last bad damage roll for him. After one more hit at 9, from then on he did 17 damage per bite to Ulf. It finally turned.

- I'm not a big fan of something my players do a lot - observe the effects of things on a 1-second scale. It was Wyatt this session, but it was, paraphrashing, "I have three attacks. I do X, is there any reaction? If so, then I'll do more of that." That's on one person's 1-second turn, and they want to basically take the shot and then observe the fall of the shot and assess the effects before the net shot comes out of the barrel. It's tied to something else people do - move and take free actions before deciding what their Manuever is. It's the old "I step here, I drop my weapon, fast-draw a grenade . . . that worked . . . and I'll All-Out Defend (+2 Dodge.)" Great, but that last bit is first. You can't see if the fast-draw works, and if it fails take a Ready. GURPS is already very generous with free actions, movement, decision speed, ability to assess the entire situation when making a move - you shouldn't also get to decide after you've seen how part of your move goes what the rest of the maneuver will be. The maneuver defines the rest, it doesn't follow from it. And neither does observing the results of your action.

- Sakatha was a load-bearing boss, but with a slow burn that sped up. Luckily for them, the very first tremor they felt impelled them to get the heck out as soon as possible.

- We had a bit of a debriefing with spoilers afterward. The place was collapsed and things destroyed permanently . . . so why not? I'll go into it myself later in the week or perhaps next Sunday.

- That iron lamp? Ulf is convinced it's a genie. No one else is sure, except for Wyatt, who is convinced that opening it is a risky thing that should be done with preperation and care. They're discussing selling it to Black Jans, as well, which has the advantage of not needing to set a price - Black Jans sets prices himself. There was suggestion of paying for sage research to find out what they can about it, but the iron lamp is fairly ordinary (if old) and the symbols on it are generic (but effective) magical symbols of sealing. It's remotely possible someone has a picture of that lamp in a book somewhere, but that won't necessary tell anything about who or what is in it. They'll have to sell it, or open it, next time. Adventure isn't done by email on downtime.

- Even with 100 lbs of gold and silver coins, several magic items, 150-odd gems and pieces of jewelry . . . they carried Sakatha's broken oversized medium shield and trident home to potentially repair and sell. There is Greed and then there are players carrying home broken scrap to potentially get magically fixed up for sale. Yeah, I dunno. This is why I kind of miss AD&D and its stupidly heavy treasure. One barbarian can carry home an entire dragon's hoard, so why not also carry home this rusty old axe you found and try to get it cleaned up to sell for $16? After all, you can afford the weight! It just feels a lot less fantastic when this happens. Fantasy pulp heroes recover and dispose of fortunes and DF PCs sell scrap because waste not, want not.

- Lots of loot today. Sadly, the PCs destroyed a fair bit of treasure in the process of gaining it - wrecking a magical trident, wrecking a crown (which they sold for gold weight, not as jewelry) . . . even so, they took home ~18K each. More than enough for Bruce and Ulf to get resurrected. Which yes, I allow even when you're decapitated, just not when you're at -10xHP. And I require a roll . . . hence the race to get home. Two rolls at a 13 . . and made.

- XP was 5 each. 4 for loot, 1 for exploration. MVP for this session was Ulf for the idea of breaking the crown.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Cold Fens pre-summary

We finished our Cold Fens game today. Session write-up tomorrow, but for now:

- the PCs destroyed Sakatha!

- they took another casualty

- they burned, wet, de-crowned, and stabbed Sakatha

- they grabbed a lot of loot

- and they ran for their lives as the tomb collapsed!

Good times. Full writeup tomorrow, but if your money was on Sakatha, well, sorry. Maybe you won the over-under on PC casualties.

Cold Fens today - Showdown with Sakatha!

We're playing the Cold Fens today. It should be the final showdown with Sakatha. It's win or die, as I see it. My money is on "win" but "die" is a possibility if the PCs are unable to find a good approach to defeating the foe.

I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Free RPG Day Haul 2021

This was my first actual RPG day, as far as I can remember.

They had about twice this, but I only took what I'd actually want to sit and read and potentially use. So I passed up a Twilight Imperium RPG book, a Zombiecide scenario book, some Star Trek stuff, some furry Red Shield looking RPG, etc. But I did get the last of that DCC adventure, lucky me!

And honestly, if there wasn't going to be two Goodman Games products on tap, I'd probably have skipped. I'm glad I didn't.

I checked the website and lo and behold, there was a game store in the same town as a relative of mine. Highlander Games. As I was in the area visiting, I stopped by the game store as well. In case that sounds suspicious, it wasn't - I had chores to do for my relative, and it was just luck that there is a game store nearby and I'd need to be nearby anyway to help out with heavy stuff.

So I went up and took a look. They have a lot of board games, Magic stuff, some minis - a lot of D&D stuff was sold out, including all the monsters, a pity that - and the Goodman Games 5e versions of the early edition stuff. If I didn't own TOEE I'd have been tempted to drop $100 on it, or a bit less on the Barrier Peaks update.

I didn't end up buying anything, but the store employee and I got into a discussion about Twilight Struggle, COIN games, and the upcoming Mr. President. Twilight Struggle was really tempting. Sooooo tempting. But it's hard to find an opponent/playing partner. Maybe, though, I'll go back and get it sometime.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Friday Random Links 10/15/2021

Random links for Friday.

- Everything my players ever told me about playing Dark Sun made it sound extremely overpowered, a bit of a mish-mash (dystopian post-apocalypse, but with all of the usual D&D stuff there so you could run an elf cleric). But I'd accept random crud like that in a video game.

Reading this is making me interested in playing it if and when it goes on deep discount on GOG.

I'd never play it tabletop but as a video game? Sure, why not. I wouldn't want to run a game for ST 24 half-giant fighter/psionicist/druids but I'll play one on my screen.

- Speaking of Boot Hill, here is a Boot Hill character generator complete with combat resolution system!

Boot Hill Character Generator 1st edition

I don't recognize the guns . . . I'll have to see what edition I actually own. Probably a later one.

- LJN AD&D Action Figures

I had some of them, including Melf before he became Peralay, probably because "Melf" is not a great name for an Elf. Any more than Worf is for a Dwarf or Morc is for an Orc, Mindy's alien friend notwithstanding. I know Melf was an actual character name in Gary Gygax's AD&D game. Still not a great name.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Blackbirds RPG wrapping up

Normally I post about GURPS on Thursdays, but I'll make an exception to post up one last booster for my friend Ryan's Kickstarter:

Here is a direct link: Blackbirds RPG Kickstarter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Boot Hill story

A comment on yesterday's post reminded me of this story.

Back in 4th grade, we were playing Boot Hill at lunchtime in elementary school.

One of my friends (T.R.) was GMing.

Some of us, including my cousin R~, were making PCs. I think R~ and I wanted our PCs to be brothers, but that's not a certainty.

What I do remember is that we got into an argument with the GM about equipment. We'd been kitting out and he said we needed to buy a suit of ordinary clothes with our starting money.

We disagreed.

He was quite insistent.

So my cousin spent $150 on a horse and I spent $150 on guns and ammo . . . FDR6s and 15Rs, I think . . . and we said we'd ride into town naked and shooot down and take the clothes off the first person to say anything about us being naked except for guns and crossbelts of ammo.

Just goes to show that I'm as annoying as a player as I am as a GM.

Looking back on it, I think I still R~ and I were right. There aren't even clothes on the chargen equipment list for Boot Hill. It's all guns and horses, pretty much.

It would have been an eventful first session, had it ever happened. Of course, after that argument, the game wasn't going to happen. 4th grade isn't a great place for establishing long-lasting campaigns based on compromise and careful rules reading.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Equipment every delver has, but not on their sheets

One source of endless amusement to me as a GM is when the PCs go to do some "mundane" delver task, and explain how they'll do it.

"We tie up the goblins and gag them."

"We make a litter out of two sticks and a cloak."

"We burn them with oil."

"We make torches out of old rags and sticks."


My next question is the showstopper. "With what?" or "Who has those materials?"

In my experience as a GM, every players assumes their delver has, as part of some other thing on their character sheet, some or all of the following:

- string
- rope strong enough for the heaviest guy in the party to hang from, but capable of being used to bind hands
- a cloak, which can function as a rainslicker, bedroll, travois or stretcher canvas, useable for disguise, and an endless source of strips for gags and bandages
- a small knife, capable of any and all edged and pointed tool tasks
- some oil, usable for light or setting anything on fire

Nearby, are:
- sufficient burnables to set anything on fire and keep it that way
- especially straight, sturdy sticks ranging from 6' to 10' long, capable of being made into spears or cut into wooden swords
- water, sufficient to put out that fire they just made
- cover capable of hiding the entire party but not of concealing any enemies

Needless to say, none of this is generally true.

Anything else you've assumed you just have as a fantasy PC, or which your players just assume they have?

Monday, October 11, 2021

Games I'll Probably Never Play (Again): Junta

It's been a few years since I did one of these:

Games I'll Probably Never Play: War to the Death

About time I do another.

This one is Junta.

Why I'd Like To Play

I've played it before. It's a fun concept. With the right group, the backstabbing and politicking could be really fun, like in a game of Diplomacy. The setting is interesting, too, with a poorly-run country topped with leaders out only for their own good.

Why I Probably Won't Play

Besides the usual lack of time to play board games?

When we played it, it just didn't play well with the group. Few people were willing to be really cutthroat with each other, and basically just amassed money until the game ended with victory to the one who managed to get the most. There weren't enough tradoffs made . . . it was just a race to victory. We get the same with Munchkin, with a last-turn race with everyone at level 8-9. With Junta, if you just try to amass currency for victory and no one really pushes to use it to set themselves up for more . . . it equally doesn't take advantage of the setting.

Why I Hold On To It

Mostly because I'd like to play it at some point. It's also one of those games that if I have, I may get to play - but I'd never buy it again. I like to flip through it now and again. Still . . . if I sold it, lost it, or traded it, it would sadly stay gone.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Writing project - finished!

I finished my writing project today and turned it in.

As always, it's a bit long. I really need someone to edit my work down. I tend to go from "I'm 10% short!" to "I'm 5% over!" in no time at all.

The project is somewhat Felltower related, although I don't mention the dungeon by name. But what's in it is entirely derived from play experience in this game.

I'll link back to these when it comes to fruition so these don't sit sitting like some weird stub-end posts that reference nothing.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Coincidences & Plots - thoughts on Doug's post

Douglas Cole posted a really good post over at Gaming Ballistic:

Not all Conspiracies are related to the plot

It's a valid and interesting idea.

As Evileeyore says in the comments, though, Know Thy Group. If your group tends to hone in on the main plot, throwing a few red herrings in is a great idea. Make them work for it. Give them chaff to sort the wheat out from.

But if they're bound and determined to connect everything to the plot, know any red herring will slow the game down.

And know if they're likely to grab the first thread and pull on it until it leads somewhere, any false threads will also derail the game.

This might be fun, of course, but it's not necessarily what you are aiming for.

From a megadungeon perspective, at some point - even I can't remember when - I said something like, have everything connect to the megadungeon. There are side quests but they lead back to the megadungeon. Have side dungeons but themes, knowledge, items, and even gates link back to the megadungeon.

That is quite the opposite approach.

That said, I do tend to throw in a lot of little details that aren't part of the plot. Extraneous stuff that comes from . . . nothing . . . just coincidence and random occurance, which isn't part of the plot or connected to anything at all.

Inevitably, that's the stuff my players fixate on to the exclusion of anything like a plot or a goal. So it's a tool, and a good one, but remember a tool can turn on its creator faster than you can say "Skynet."

Friday, October 8, 2021

Friday Links 10/8/2021

Links & thoughts for Friday.

- No, I'm not done with my project yet, I'm still writing. The wordcount in no way justifies the amount of time it is taking.

- I'm a sucker for a pretty tabletop battle. Here are two:



I love the look of 16th century Japanese armoured gunners. If I'd known - or had information on - the Hojutsu team in Matsumoto Castle - I'd love to have included that in GURPS Martial Arts. We did okay for doing research 17-18 years ago.

- When I re-watch movies I've seen a bunch of times, I often look up cast and crew details while I watch along. The Internet Movie Firearms Database is a gold mine, especially since I can't help but watch movies and think of how they'd translate into games. It's also a good way to find out that Crazy Earl in Full Metal Jacket is armed with a Red Ryder BB gun.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Ongoing DF games?

A while back, I had a page with a list of ongoing GURPS Dungeon Fantasy games that had summaries I could link to.

I haven't updated it in a long time. And I know there must be other DF games besides some that I know about - and I'd like to make a new list and have it reasonably current for 10/2021.

If you have, or know of, an ongoing DF or DFRPG game that has summaries I can link to, especially if it's on a blog, let me know in the comments. I'll make a new page out of that and try to keep it reasonably up to date!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Writing Update

I'm busily not writing my next writing project.

I'm actually kind of stuck.

I know what I want to say, and how to say it, but not quite how to organize it.

So I keep noodling around, writing words I will need to delete or recycle into something else . . .

It's honestly the biggest issue I have with game writing sometimes. I have useful things to say and rules to share but not a good way to organize them in a useful, usable way. I know I can get it done, but it's a struggle sometimes getting it down productively.

Still, I have a few days to finish, and I will. I don't miss deadlines. Still . . . not sure when the dam will burst and the words will flow out into a beautiful product. Hopefully tomorrow so I have free time the rest of the week.

As a bonus, here is a circular reference coming - Grognardia talking the Adventure Log, and I threw my article on the topic in the comments.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Jon Peterson on Polygon on his new book

I saw this on Polygon, because the secret internet masters know what to show me to read while I'm waiting for no-gi class to start:

History of Dungeons & Dragons chronicles the battle between Arneson and Gygax

I'll buy the book when it comes out, as sad as it will be to read it. Gygax vs. Arneson and the Satanic Panic . . . the latter was tough to live through.

Monday, October 4, 2021

In memory of Terry K. Amthor

Terry K. Amthor wrote "Cloudlords of Tanara," one of my favorite settings, bar none. I've never run it as written, but if we still played Rolemaster I would certainly do so.

He passed away on September 25th, 2021

Terry wrote one of my favorite gaming supplements - the Cloudlords of Tanara.

His wiki entry.

The announcement on ICE.

Thanks Terry, for the Cloudlords, the Yinka, the mysterious Duranaaki, the rosters of troops, the details of the sandbox, and everything. You set a bar for settings I rarely found matched outside of Twilight: 2000 materials.

I'm sorry he's gone but glad he was here.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Next Felltower/Cold Fens - scheduled

Quick note today, as I spend it otherwise on the Thieves playtest, writing a short project for SJG, and non-gaming stuff:

Next game is 10/17, and we'll wrap up the Sakatha Cold Fens arc then. Either by TPK or by victory. I still bet victory - the PCs are close, so close they could have won it the initial session, but hit a creativity brick wall last time and spend it triple-checking dead-ends to try and find a way to victory. Hopefully someone will have an epiphany, or barring that a plan to systematically go through ways to defeat Sakatha, and we'll wrap it up.

Otherwise some green 250s will have to take on Felltower! It's been left fallow for a while, what might have moved in?

We'll find out the first on 10/17 and the second a few weeks after.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Pirates of Treasure Island minis

File this under "want" and "but have no reason in hell to spend money on."

I mean, not even if I bust out Yaquinto's "Pirates & Plunder" set to play again. I have more than enough painted pirates.

But man this looks excellent:

$127.50 on sale. Not bad at all for 35 minis including a cannon and accessories.

But yeah, even if I had the time and inclination to paint them, I don't need more pirates.



Hmm . . .

Friday, October 1, 2021

Friday Links - 10/1/21

Here are things I thought worth reading this week:

- I don't think I ever heard of Lee Gold's "Lands of Adventure"

- I love writeups involving squaring the circle of D&D magic + wargaming. And the inevitable "realistic" discussion that follows. Anyway, Mass Combat and magic are a fun mix.

- Not a link, but next probable Cold Fens/Felltower session is 10/17.

- I approve of Ork-tober.
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