Friday, May 20, 2022

Link for Friday 5/20/22

Just one link for the week:

- Video: What games get wrong about war

One game I really enjoyed, War in the East, is especially bad on the "exact detail" level. You know to the tank, the squad, the truck the capacity of your army. But it is good on all of the others - morale, non-combatants, supply, lack of knowledge of enemy formations, difference between killed and wounded. The biggest trouble you have as the Germans in WITE are trucks, roads, and enough construction troops to upgrade the rails quickly . . . and the cost of swapping to better leaders over the better politically-connected. The Soviets suffer more from lack of good leadership early and the difficulty in organizing your forces in the face of German man-to-man superiority. And trucks. No one has enough trucks until long after the issue is mostly decided in one way or the other. Not even then for the Germans, in my playthroughs.

Tabletop games are especially notable for the "100% kill" issue. RPGs tend to assume only extermination is victory, many foes must be killed to defeat, and indeed often you can't get maximal XP (the minimums standard of PC expectations) by killing them all. Add that to the total knowledge of your own capabilities, down to precise knowledge of your chances of success, etc. and the usual lack of morale . . . and you get something very different from reality, no matter how realistic or not the system purports to be.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Rulings from Session 169

Just a couple of quick rulings from Session 169:

- Attacking into Close Combat is -2, but generally doing some other DX-based activity while in an already-occupied hex is -4. Rules-specified different penalties supercede this, but if not, in general expect a -4 for "while I step into close combat" or "while standing in a hex occupied by another combatant."

- You can attack to grappple a dropped weapon if it's your turn, the weapon is dropped on your turn, and you can reach it. You can't lean into another hex to get it, bobble it with a foot into your hex, or attempt to grab it if it is not your current, active turn unless you took an appropriately-triggered Wait to do so.

That's pretty much it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Loadout videos for U.S. Army specialists - Cav Scout, Dog Handler, Sniper

I mostly do my links on Fridays, but these have a central theme. These are loadout videos done by Business Insider over on YouTube. They feature U.S. Army soldiers discussing their carry loadouts. I found these interesting, plus potentially useful for gaming.


- PCs tend to heavily pack (or overpack) weapons. These guys tend to heavily pack uniform kit - socks, boots, camo gear, etc.

- Some very plain bits of civilian gear show up. For example, the same Lumocolor pens I use for my Chessex battlemats are carried by the Cavalry Scout for his maps.

- Packing order is generally critical in my own experience, and that seems reflected here.

Good stuff.

US Army Sniper Breaks Down His Field Combat Gear | Loadout

Every Piece Of Gear In An Army Cavalry Scout’s 72-Hour Bag | Loadout

Every Piece Of Gear In A Military Dog Handler’s Field Bag | Loadout


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Foundry VTT issues I'd love to have resolved

Here are few things that trip me up in Foundry VTT with the GURPS module:

- light sources. I really want to be able to turn on light sources for DF and have them just show up . . . and show the dim areas - where there is a penalty to rolls - to clearly show up. Otherwise, everyone assumed bright = bright, and -0. That's not ideal.

- walls. I'd love the "walls" layer to be visible while I'm on other levels. Or just have an option to make walls visible to players, not just block light.

- visible margins. I'd like to have an option to make a roll, hide the roll, but reveal only the margin of success to the players. Something like, "Norker rolls . . . makes it by 4." That way I can roll contests and have visible results, but not visible skills.

Overall, though, as we've gotten more skilled with the system, it's become much easier . . . and it's a versitile base VTT with an excellent rules package on top of it.

Monday, May 16, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, Session 169, Felltower 121 - Second GFS - Part II

Actual Date: 5/16/2022
Game Date: 4/10/2022

Aldwyn, human knight (360 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice (180 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (420 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
     1 tough skeleton (105 points)
"Mild" Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (349 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (379 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)

We began where we left off, with the PCs cornered in the depths of Felltower by an onrush of a gigantic hallway-filling white-tinged blue ooze from behind and by three identically-colored but smaller oozes from their left. There were no other exits.

They quickly headed towards the three smaller oozes, who rushed them and went right up the ceiling - heading for the wizards and skeletons. The big one oozed up just as quickly. The front-line fighters tried to stop the small oozes but they were able to evade right past. Varmus throw an Explosive Fireball at the giant ooze but it burned the skeletons a little and didn't harm the ooze at all. Wyatt and Ulf pulled out hairs - Wyatt head, Ulf beard - to cast Continual Light on, but never managed to do so.

Invisible Gerry ordered his three normal skeletons to fight the oozes. They did, and blocked access to him and Varmus at least briefly. The PCs then ran, leaving the skeletons to fight the oozes. They managed to hold off the oozes for a few seconds, which was enough for the PCs to get a lot of space between them and the oozes. They ran around left and left, and then ran straight ahead to avoid ending up in the dead end they'd emerged from. The two smaller oozes were pursuing them again from behind and the big ooze coming from their left - it had moved to get them from the other direction (!) and left them no choice but forward.

Ahead they saw a room but no exits, and ran in, hoping for side exits. Instead, they saw six small levers on the far wall. Ulf and Wyatt started their usual "let's not just flick things randomly" but then Gerry moved up and did that, flicking the left switch down and then the one next to it down. There was a black wall suddenly in front of the entranceway, then it was gone, and the oozes were gone. Thanks to Dark Vision Gerry could see the hallway out led to difference places.

The barbarians heard a scraping noise they said was clearly claws on stone, so Gerry threw some more levers and the black came back. This time, they were in another room - a larger one. They were further from the levers, but they were still there . . . just in the middle of a wider wall. There were also three switches on the right wall.

Some investigation showed them a secret door - detected largely thanks to See Secrets, and careful and specific examination by Gerry revealed the middle switch of the (new) three was the most used. So they flicked that and the secret door, to their original left, opened up, revealing a hallway to a T intersection. They stopped and did some energy transfers, and Ulf cast Seeker a couple of times on his lost clothing and shield. Both times it revealed the path from where they were to a not-so-distant location. Ulf tried to explain the path to the group, and Wyatt tranlated it into much clearer directions.

That done, they headed out and turned left . . .

. . . and saw things. To the left they just turned to, there were a bunch of norkers, but with worse posture, more gangly arms, and no weapons. To the right, there were norkers and one of them (thanks entirely due to mapping and lighting control setting issues in Foundry VTT) saw a gith with an axe (which once I rectified things, they could not see any longer because he was out of their vision range . . . I miss an actual tabletop.)

Initiative fell with the (waiting) foe, who rushed them while they were still in "turning the corner marching order" and before the PCs could neatly set up to defend a choke point. The foes rushed in.

In a close-in brawl, the norkers were able to really bring it to the unarmed PCs. Wyatt kicked on but hurt his foot. Varmus put Flaming Armor on Aldwyn, but the flames didn't disuade the axe-wielding armed norkers from attacking him. They did, and managed to land a few blows and put him down on his back. A seemingly endless randomly swung set of attacks hit his groin more often than not (ouch) and cut him down. Bruce tried to beat one of the unarmed guys to death but kept feeling a tingling even as his fists did little or nothing to them. Crogar kept dodging, as did tough skeleton. Gerry threw Flash and dazzled a bunch of foes and blinded a couple. The PCs backed off a bit. Aldwyn was eventually hacked to death, just as Bruce grabbed one of the unarmed guys by the torse, then lifted him and pitched him sideways into another norker. Neither fell, however, thanks to a good pair of DX rolls.

Gerry put Levitation on Aldwyn just before he died, and as Bruce cleared out he pulled Aldwyn to the ceiling.

Wyatt kicked to disarm against a blinded norker, and rolled a 3, and then handily won the contest of skills with his potion-enhanced DX 20. The axe went flying into the tough skeleton's hex. Wyatt stepped in and kick-flipped it up into his hands a second later.

That's where we had to leave it, with the PCs backing off and getting pushed into by their armed foes, and Wyatt finally armed.


- the PCs did a lot better with the oozes than I expected. The lack of a Rule of 16 with spells meant the high skill levels of Gerry really could hold out well. Even so, he lost all three of his lesser skeletons. It'll cost money to replace - and equip - three more in town.

- those mana-eating oozes are basically manaplasms. Sean Punch specifically calls them out as unfair in lots of ways. I agreed, so I use them in bunches plus a giant one with more power and juiced their stats up a bit. It's that kind of game.

- Wyatt rolled a 3 on the "to hit" to disarm. That meant no defenses, but I didn't allow it to be an automatic disarm. Maybe that was insufficiently generous, but I doubt anyone would accept a more generous ruling in favor of a foe. He wanted to kick the axe out and then catch it - but he didn't want to step into the hex. He also wanted to kick-flip the axe into his hand, but at reach one. I shot both down. Yes, it would be cool. No, it wouldn't make any sense based on reach, and allowing it would allow it to be a regular thing - that you can kick-ready a weapon from "nearby" not just in actual reach. Generous ruling always come back to bite me as standardized tactics. Point of fact - there was a lot of "shouldn't their axes be totally burned up by now?" after 2-3 seconds of single hits to a foe inflicting 1d6 damage on those axes. Enemy axes are extremely fragile, but fully lootable at max value, and PC axes are immune. Eyeroll here.

- I'd advise my players to read the rules about handing items to other characters, since they're bound to want Wyatt to pass the axe to Crogar or Bruce.

- MVP was a toss-up between Wyatt (for style points in combat) and Gerry (for basically doing everything else - skeleton use, levers, Flash spell, etc.). So they rolled a die and Wyatt won.

- The game should have been much better, but we had three issues: an inability to get the manual initiative order to work, the weird lack of some actors (monsters) that I know I put into the system in the past week . . . and mapping issues. I went in and put in most of the missing actors during the session but it slowed us down a bit. Next time it'll run more smoothly.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Felltower pre-summary

I'll be brief:

- we ended mid-fight

- the PCs managed to temporarily evade the oozes, but at the cost of a number of skeletons

- they stumbled across some levers and in desperation flicked a few

- they ended up elsewhere, so they flicked more levers and ended up even more elsewhere

- the ended in yet another room, flicked some other levers they found, and headed out a secret door opened by one

- they used Seeker on Ulf's stuff and found it was outside the secret door

- they headed through and were attacked from both directions by norkers, some Gith shadowing the norkers in the background, and some somewhat softer-skinned norkers with stooped postures, green-and-light-grey patched skin, dull eyes, and longish arms.

- in a big brawl they managed to back off to form a line but at the cost of Aldwyn getting hacked to death.

We ended there.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Felltower preview

Tomorrow we'll be playing Felltower with a reduced crew, but sufficient for the job.

The big question is, how can they get out? They're in an ooze-filled level with no gear, no non-magical sources of light, and no idea how to get out. Or where their stuff is but only a big clue where it isn't - the last room they were in.

So once they escape - somehow - they need to get to their stuff, or get to new stuff, or get to home. One or more of those.

Frankly I'm really curious how it will go. But I'm still not looking forward to the slow slog of a potential fight in the dark. Still, answering the weird questions is what gaming is all about.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Random links for Friday, May 13th, 2022

Just some links I found interesting:

- There was never much followup on this post, but I did bookmark it a while back and re-read it this week:

A first stab at the megadungeon campaign

- The Duellists is one of my favorite movies of all time. It got a mention in GURPS Martial Arts, and I think it's great viewing in general and for excellent sword fights in specific. Here is a Youtube video on the subject of the historical story that lays beyond the inspiration for the movie.

- I like this conversion of a mini. Great stuff.

Orc Captain (with a whip)

- Another oldie. Spartacus mini battle!

- Same with this - Morale rules in Basic D&D. I like that system, too, and I don't always remember to check morale. To be fair, though, most of our GURPS DF fights last less than 20 seconds, with the PCs attempting to inflict 100% casualties - 100% kills - on the opposition, so there isn't much time to realistically realize things are going wrong and then attempt to disengage or flee, and neither works any better than fighting on.

- Acoup is always a good read.

Collections: Ancient ‘Tanks’? Chariots, Scythed Chariots and Carroballistae

Fun fact . . . Egyptian chariots could be as little as 35 kg. That's a checked bag in first class, not a vehicle.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

More Mana Enhancer thoughts

This expands on my prior post:

Mana Enhancer & No Mana Zones & Felltower

No rulings, here, just a few things that occured to me as potential issues:

Recover Energy works fine, because you're the subject of the "spell." But what about Lend Energy? Can you give FP away? I think probably yes, by touch only, in an NMZ.

Regular Spells with a touch target are a big question. Can I Shape Earth and move a bunch of earth around in an NMZ? If I'm touching it, probably, assuming I go with the ruling on touch spells working on a touched target.

If I don't, then Mana Enhancer really only allows for self-subject spells - Levitation, Invisibility, etc. but not offensive or friend-aiding use of any kind. That's a very simple ruling, and has a lot of attraction for that reason, but it's also pretty limiting. It's a 50 point advantage, so I'm hoping for a generous allowance but one that doesn't create an endless series of wedge-able edge cases that get turned into no real disadvantage to being in a NMZ.

Final thought for the day - if Magery is an evil trait, is generating Mana personally make you a source of evil? We'll have to see how Ulf feels about that.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Scratch-built dino-monster

This would normally wait for a Friday post, but I don't really want to wait:

My Son's Scratch-Built Slaughterspine

Seriously, that's awesome. I can't do that. I'd put one in my game.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Trogdor Expansion

I'm going to pass, for now, but there is an expansion for Trogdor!! The Board Game.

Magicks and ‘Mergencies Expando Deck for Trogdor!! The Board Game

Let Strongbad explain what it's about.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Current Video Game: Syndicate Plus

My new time-wasting distraction has been chosen:

Syndicate Plus

I'd first heard about this game when it came out in the 90s, when my friend Ryan V. had it. He talked it up something fierce, so I've always wanted to play it. He's the same one who talked up Borderlands 2, and convinced me to get that . . . and Fallout, back in the day. He's been pretty influential on my video gaming now that I look at that list.

Anyway. Technically this is "Plus" because it's the original game plus an expansion pack. I'm playing the original game.

I finally fired it up with intent, and gave it a go. I'm Bota Khan of Khan Industries, a reference to my character in Ryan's Armageddon game.

I've played a couple of missions so far. It's interesting, with caveats:

- I have no idea what the hell I'm doing.

- I sometimes have no idea what controls do what. In one mission I got into a car. I got it to go, but I couldn't figure out how to get out of it. Let's try that on the next playthrough.

- I've entered buildings to capture a target but had to navigate by the small large-area low-res map. There doesn't seem to be a way to see inside of a building. Odd when inside is a target with a bodyguard and I need to shoot one and kidnap the other.

- I don't really get the value of the research I'm doing. Or what I choose does.

That said, it's not unattractive, it's not hard to navigate around, and I am interested in the concept. I'll keep at it, but it's feeling a bit opaque at the moment, even with the manual open on another screen.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

A Grim Accounting: Felltower Graveyard stats by player

Here is the Felltower Graveyard . . . but I lumped the characters together by the player who runs the character. Let's see who is having the worst time of it, shall we?

AD, 4 losses
Volos, human wizard, PC, gored and speared by The Lord of the Maze
Nakar the Invisible, human wizard, PC, drowned and eaten by razor fish
Dryst, halfling wizard, neck snapped by a demon-ape and burned to death by his own alchemist's fire.
Rahtnar the Vegan, died days after injuries from undead lizardmen, a toxifier, and traps.

AJ, 6 losses
Fúma, human thief, PC, choked by a "hireling" - a throttler
Kullockh, human scout, PC, eaten by razor fish
Asher Crest-Fallen, killed and partly eaten by trolls.
Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior, killed by undead lizardmen priests.
Quention Gale, human druid, killed by Baron Sterick the Red.
Monseigneur Morgan, human cleric, killed by a Charmed Alaric.

ML, 1 loss
Inquisitor Marco, human cleric, PC, drowned and eaten by razor fish

VL, 9 losses
Bjorn Felmanson, killed by undead lizardmen.
Hjalmarr Holgersson, killed by an arachno-warrior in the lost city.
Hjalmarr Holgarsson, killed in Stericksburg by a cursed ring found in Felltower.
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight, killed by Baron Sterick the Red.
Hjalmarr Holgarson, human knight, paralyzed by a beholder and presumably slain.
Felix Aurelius, human cleric, neck snapped by an obsidian golem.
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric, throat bitten out by Sakatha.
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric, slain by Heyden the Ebon Page.
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric, bisected by a giant.

TP, 4 losses
Al Murik, killed and eaten by trolls.
El Murik, killed by undead lizardmen.
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian, killed by Baron Sterick the Red.
Mo (his momma call him Kle). human barbarian, slain by a beholder's death ray.

MD, 2 losses
Vryce, killed and partly eaten by Mungo the Troll.
Vryce, human knight, put to sleep by a beholder and presumably slain.

JM, 3 losses
Hannibal the Flammable, killed by undead lizardmen.
Hasdrubel Stormcaller, human wizard, killed by Baron Sterick the Red.
Ahenobarbus the Lacerator, human swashbuckler, decapitated by Baron Sterick the Red.

JD, 2 losses
Dave the Crippler, human knight, cut in half by a black reaver.
Jaspar, human swashbuckler, petrified by a beholder and last seen standing in a tunnel.

ML, 3 losses
Gwynneth, elf wizard, killed by a Ravening Eye.
Gwynneth, elf wizard, slain by a beholder's death ray.
Aldwyn Hale, human knight, poisoned and squeezed to death by a naga.

JL, 2 losses
Rolan, elf scout, paralyzed by a beholder and taken by gargoyles, presumably slain.
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler, mobbed and slain by Demons from Between the Stars.

OL, 3 losses
Alaric, human scout, knocked out by Jaspar and killed by gargoyles.
"Mild" Bruce McTavish, human barbarian, impaled through the vitals by Sakatha.
"Mild" Bruce McTavish, human barbarian, cut down by Sterick's draugr bodyguards.

And the winner is . . . VL.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Traveller Adventure not in POD?

So, why is The Traveller Book available as a POD, but The Traveller Adventure is not?

I'm not even sure why that would be the case. Isn't the formatting you'd need to do to put out a proper, well-formatted PDF just a step or two away from doing a POD?

I'd be very happy to also have a copy of The Traveller Adventure. Maybe then I could run a side campaign of 1st edition Traveller.

I mean, or GURPS Traveller, but part of me really likes Traveller chargen and the damage system of Traveller - which leads to more incapacitation than automatic death, in my experience. But I have the tools on hand for either.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Links for 5/6/2022

A few links for Friday:

- This post convinced me to finally add a copy of The Traveller Book to my Traveller collection. I have the Deluxe Traveller books, the much less good Starter Traveller books (I still feel a little ripped off by that . . . it was $12 when that was a lot of money for me to save up . . . I should have gotten Deluxe for $20 a few months of saving later.)

It didn't hurt that I had a gift card just sitting here collecting literal dust.

I will probably never play Traveller, but, like Star Frontiers, holds a special place in my heart. Both really fit what I like to see in my "hard" science fiction. I was really happy to get a chance to do some editing on some Traveller books for GURPS, too.

On a tangent, Star Ace is what I like to see in "soft" science fiction. Kelibor are so fun - giant psionic bears - but so, so costly in GURPS terms.

- I wondered how Bones VI was doing. It's over. I just lost track of when that would be . . . I was out, anyway. It looks like it did about half of what Bones V did - ~9K backers and $1.7 million vs. ~18.5K backers and $3.3 million. I wonder if that's a blip or a market or demand change.

- I might need this book:

( affiliate link)

You know, for times when you can't remember how Dorcas connected to Severian or what cacogen means. A searchable Kindle or PDF version would be most useful, a print book most enjoyable.

- Just a note that I almost forgot to go check Forge for updates. I try to regularly update just because I don't want to suffer old bugs longer than necessary.

- I'm thinking I should finally re-install and play Torment: Tides of Numenera. Maybe after the NHL playoffs.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Simplified Task Difficulty

I may have posted on this before, but I couldn't find a similar post when I searched.

One thing that can slow down a GURPS game is calculating modifiers.

One simpler way to set a penalty is to just choose a total level of difficulty from the Task Difficulty list (Basic, p. 345-6)

The TD has 21 possible levels: +10 through -10.

Let's simplify that to 5.

Net conditions are:

Nearly Perfect: +8
Great: +4
Good: +0
Bad: -4
Really Bad: -8

If using these levels, do not use any other modifiers except those that are specifically inherent to a character. If your character gets a specific bonus from a paid-for advantage or a specific penalty from a disadvantage or quirk (or vice-versa), include that. Otherwise . . . this is it. You can't fish for any other benefits.

This wouldn't fly well with a group used to dealing with specific penalties and bonuses, and who have designed characters around those specific bonuses. But for a group used to playing a bit fast-and-loose with modifiers, this might make the process of figuring out what to roll against much easier.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Silly Star Wars crossover thought

I work in a place that has TVs running in the background all day. Mostly I ignore them, except to look up at hockey highlights, market news, and Bassmasters on Saturday morning. But on 5/4, they play some station that shows Star Wars all day.

It brought me back a little to playing Star Wars with my cousin as a GM.

It also occasioned the thought that a good Jester Gate location for Felltower would be a pistine forest full of litle hairy cannibal ninjas so badass they're shocked and saddened when they suffer a single casualty wiping out an entire army. Like Horde Pygmies, but way more lethal. They'd have the Bulletproof Nudity trait, too, obviously, n the form of Bulletproof Cuteness.

I'm not saying I'd do it, but I would do it. What kind of treasure to appropriate to hand out to the few, haggard survivors would be a good question. Uhm, getting to visit some friendly ghosts? That would fit the best.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Sports in Fantasy Games

Looking back on my games, I haven't featured a lot of sports. Not even the sportified version of combat sports - touch duels, jousts, etc.

We've tried, but generally it's fizzled. We've had PCs fight in pit fights, but inevitably the same guys who want their PCs to fight in them also want to kill their opponents, kill anyone who doesn't want them killing their opponents, and then kill their way out of town. So it goes from "sport" to "murder" in a few turns of combat.

We have had forced competitions, with foot races, obstacle courses, and odd skill challenges.

Not much else.

The Dread Empire books featured "Captures," a game that's very much like a variant of Calcio Fiorentino. So is the Game of the Juggers, actually. They'd make good sporting events in a fantasy world.

I've just had trouble featuring them in a game and then getting players to treat them as something other than a lethal encounter with a thin veneer over the top. Anyone have any better luck with a game within a game?

Monday, May 2, 2022

Conflicts of Felltower

So Felltower has some factions, but it also has a little bit in the way of conflict arcs.

Good vs. Evil

There is a very, very strong Good versus Evil conflict in Felltower. It's central to the game design. The PCs generally are on the side of good, although not always. But there is capital-G Good in direct and indirect conflict with capital-E Evil. Some of that evil is consciously fighting against civilization and good, and some of it just is in a way that is orthagonal to Good . . . Elder Things often fall along that line.

Although we joke constantly that Magery is an evil trait, there isn't a "religion" versus "magic" conflict in the game.

Caution vs. Confidence

The game demands confidence, and risk-taking. The game punishes hubris, and thus caution allows one to live long enough to take risks. Overconfidence is an easy -5 points but it could cost you your character; Cowardice is an easy -10 and it could cost you any real success.

This does show in NPCs, too. Goblins - and some of the monsters and factions - show a bit too much caution. Conversely, NPCs such as Sterick as a good example of when confidence becomes hubris, and he ended up paying for that. Maybe not in the way a reader or player might think.

Old vs. New

This one is less obvious, but there is a conflict between the new and the old in Felltower. Many, many things in there are old. Some are ancient. Many of them conflict with newer things. There is a confict between the needs of the veterans and the newbie PCs, too, even if they're on the same side. They have different needs, driven by the XP system. Those in the dungeon are often in conflict between the needs of those who have been there a long time, and those who have more recently arrived.

This is also expressed in aging and passing of the guard. Some things are holding on for dear life; others are in ascendence. Again, this is less obvious, but it's quite real.

We don't have any conflict between civilization and barbarism - fantasy style, anyway. We don't really have Law vs. Chaos, except embedded in Good vs. Evil. We also lack any conflict between nations. If I can think of any conflicts I'm missing, I'll add them in a future post.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Known factions of Felltower

What factions exist in Felltower?

Some of these may be one faction, seen by the PCs as different groups. Some may be the same group, seen by the PCs coming at them from different directions and thus as seperate groups. I'm presenting them as I think the players perceive them based on their discussions. I make no claims to the accuracy of this. Some of this is dead on, some of this is wildly and dangerously inaccurate, and some of it won't ever matter for play.

This is current as of 5/1/2022 - I've left off groups that were exterminated. No one cares anymore what the Choke Brothers or the trolls on level 1 or the hobgoblins were up to. They've been dead since before most or all of the current characters were generated.


The orcs claim to be seeking something in Felltower. Rumor has a lost orc chief or king buried in the dungeon.* At one point they seemed to be attempting to control access to the dungeon (and the then-PCs actively abeted them and encouraged them in this), but have not contested access to the depths in a long time.

Six Fingered Cultists

Not seen in a long time in the dungeon, but still around in Stericksburg - they even have a temple with cult-only access in town. Probably one with the Gith.


Named by the players from an assortment of rumored names. Also known as the six-fingered demon elven vampires. Control several levels below the second Giant Fantastic Staircase. Goals are unknown, but they do have allied creatures - norkers, golden swordsmen, obsidian golems, iron spectres, and possibly certain oozes.**

Mungo and the Trolls

Mungo lives in the depths with a lot of trolls. As in, maybe two dozen, maybe more. Mungo the giant troll wants food and treasure.***


Live on the frost world. Little is known about them.


Slave-trading Roman-esque apes. Happy to trade slaves and spices but not seemingly interested in hiring delvers to kill things for them. Used to trade primitive ape slaves to the hobgoblins in return for money (and possibly other things) and willing to do so with the PCs. Goals in Feltower unclear, and they don't seem to have any on the surface.


Encountered on the frost world. Unclear what they want, other than money to provide a service.

Anyone I miss?

Note: I didn't include any singular monsters. They aren't factions. Even a singular monster with some allies doesn't count, except Mungo, who has expressed a clear request for specific things. So I didn't forget the dragons, or the beholder, or the gargoyles . . . they don't, at a glance, seem to be part of a "group." The beholder, especially, is based on an early D&D/AD&D interpretation, not a peri-and-post-Forgotten Realms interpretation, so they're smart but aren't Lawful Evil masterminds. It's not likely to be a "faction" but could be in some way part of one that can handle an Elder Thing force of chaos.

* And they steadfastly refuse to hire the PCs to find it for them like good video game NPCs, thus, in true game logic, making it totally justified to exterminate them. Heh.

** I need art, a royalties-based contract, and a little free time to make a Monsters of Felltower book once I'm okay with releasing stats. I have a good number of critters I've made for the game . . . and golden swordsmen, obsidian golems, iron spectres, and the gith (not my name for them) amongst them.

*** Meaning it's utterly impossible, in true delver fashion, to negotiate with him, as he won't take junky rations in return for treasure and won't give up his treasure. Double heh. Heck, this crazy guy wants treasure himself. It's really impossible to understand . . . heh heh heh.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Does a megadungeon require factions?

Just a random thought while I was noodling around with my megadungeon.

I was thinking about one of the features of megadungeons - the faction.

Do you actually need factions?

I'm not saying they aren't useful or good. The question is, are they required? Can a dungeon be "mega" even without disparate and presumably competitive groups?

My line of thought is that no, you do not need them. They've helpful and make a dungeon a lot less boring, but I don't think they make a dungeon mega or not. They might be necessary for a sustained game. They make it more interesting. They keep it from either being:

- a random collection of monsters

- a fortress of a single, associated group

I suppose you could do a dungeon without them. Monsters in groups, say, as well as individuals, but without a lot of social interactions for PCs to discover and exploit. You pretty much get the Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, with foes to fight and a boss at the end but no seperation of monsters into groups.

Just a thought.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Links & Thoughts for 4/29/2022

Stuff for 4/29/2022

- With Pathfinder: Kingmaker done, I have a little more free time. I'm spending it on professional development work, mostly, but also on Felltower and reading some game inspiration-al material.

- When I saw the title of this post, I thought it was a Gene Wolfe reference. Sadly, it is not:

The Book of the New Sun

. . . and speaking of reading, those are approaching the "re-read soon" pile again. I really like those books. They're dense but seem better to me the more I read them.

- Fire in the Lake watch - At the Printer and 788 orders.

- This is an interesting post on classes vs. skills. Or, why skills, anyway. I always prefer skills, but still.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Felltower break?

So we're having some Felltower scheduling issues.

Next game might be 5/15 - 2 weeks from Sunday.

I plan to use that time to develop a bit more of the dungeon. I should do some final prep on the Jester Gate, too, since it's probably about time for them to go through it. It's not a one-use gate, in any case . . . but it's probably a one-use destination.

So I have some marching orders for work . . .

Quick Show & Tell Report

So my client was overwhelmed by The Tomb of the Bitchin' Chimera. I basically made her day.

Of course, I also ruined her day by telling her that getting a copy of it will be difficult. So it goes.

Interestingly, she wasn't familiar with any of the silly stuff from old AD&D days - Dungeonland, Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, Isle of the Ape (not silly, but the inspiration was pop culture), etc. So I may need to see if I have loaner copies of those to let her read.

You have to educate your clients, I feel.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Show & Tell at work tomorrow

I'm bringing Lost Tomb of the Bitchin' Chimera to work tomorrow.

I need to show it to one of my clients, who:

- plays 5th edition D&D

- loves punk rock, including the Dead Milkmen

I'm still looking it over, myself, but I need to catch a reaction. I'll try to get one up ASAP, plus a more typical GURPS-related post for Thursday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker - won!

I finished Pathfinder: Kingmaker today.

I was right, yesterday. I was cleaning up minions before a big boss fight. The boss fight was good, although like most fights at this stage, I had no idea what was going on much of the time. Way too many spells, rolls, and effects going on at the same time. Most of the time I just didn't know what people were up to, or what spell affected who and why, or how to remove it.

I did find that Dispel Magic is stupid, though - the bag guys put an effect on my main guy, so my cleric tossed Dispel Magic on him, and it knocked off one of his friendly buffs instead and my guy was still incapacitated by the hostile effect. Seriously?

Still, good fight.

Trying to avoid too many spoilers here, though.

I was disappointed with the very end of the game. I won the last battle, made some decisions . . . and then got a storybook flip through of what happpened. But none of it was really interesting. Blah blah this person good at job, this person bad, this country did some thing and apparantly my decisions affected that, blah blah. I didn't really care much. I just flipped through. I'm not sure why but I didn't feel invested in it at all.

I was also disappointed that I didn't get to keep playing at all. I had a couple of unfinished side quests and I'd have liked to have finished them. I even got some XP in the final battle - rather a lot - but it didn't really matter. I'd never get to realize the benefits, so it was meaningless. My character had a romance with one of his companions, but all we got was a "they lived the best life EVER!" thing . . . a conversation with the actual character would have had some meaning.

And then it dumped me to the main screen. That was that. It was disappointing. Why hand me loot and XP and all of that when it doesn't matter even a little bit? It just wasted time from my actual life and did nothing else. Hurrah, 61K XP for something, a few more K of gold, a +5 weapon . . . I don't get to do a thing with any of it.

I enjoyed the game right up until then.

I do plan to play again - maybe as a Lawful Evil monk. I like fighters more than casters in any case, and it might be fun to use some of the weird monk stuff I found. I think if I play very evil I might just get a worse ending or the same one. So I may need to take one of my earlier saves with my good guy, make some different choices, and then see if I can get an improved ending. We'll see. That's for later, much later.

Good game overall. Long, though, very long.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker - Progress!

I spent a couple hours yesterday and about the same today (albeit broken into chunks) on Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

I'm basically trying to finish the game, and having a big multi-part battle with what has to be the end boss.

- I had a chance to stock up a bit, and probably should have done even more stocking up. But I bought a few Heal scrolls and a bunch of Heal, Mass scrolls. These have helped a ton. I should have, honestly, bought 30 or 40 of each and just spammed them out during fights. It's a great spell.

- Most of the fights I'm having are pretty nasty brawls, with lots of foes with multiple attacks that teleport in reinforcements. I'm enjoying them . . . and I enjoyed the ones before that where I had a horrid curse on me that cause me to roll 1s 40% of the time and foes to roll 20s 40% of the time. Why? Because I feel like I roll 1s 20-30% of the time already - it's rare for my 6-shot archer to hit with all six shots in one round even though it says he hits on a 2+ on a d20. So it didn't feel like such a debuff.

- I'm 19th level, and if I can't get to 20th somewhere in this fight I simply won't get there at all.

- I think I may have made an in-game choice that cut off the best possible ending, in that I don't understand why I wasn't able to get an NPC to do something that should be totally obvious to do and should be desired by that NPC specifically. I'll read spoiler-filled walkthroughs after and see what I missed. I used a few already to make sure I didn't waste hours of time (and thank goodness I did - some stuff I needed took a lot of trying even with guides and maps.)

Overall, still a lot of fun. I'm glad I got it and I'm glad to play it.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

No Felltower today

Sadly, no Felltower today. Continuing to have scheduling issues. We should be playing next week.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Lost Tomb of the Bitchin' Chimera!

One Saturday I took a walked to Zipperhead, I met a boxed set that almost knocked me dead!

Somehow, I had no idea there was a Kickstarter for this. As much as we're cookied, tracked, and so on, despite me posting about RPGs, dungeons, Kickstarter, and The Dead Milkmen, I didn't get a glimmer of a hint that there was a Kickstarter for a Dead Milkmen-themed RPG product. I even took a walk to Zipperhead one Saturday in 1999 just because of the lyrics from Punk Rock Girl. I mean come on!

But my fellow gamer, and the person who introduced me to The Dead Milkmen back in High School with "Big Lizard in My Backyard," found out about this. And he and my gamers conspired to get me a copy.

My copy includes maps, a dice bag, dice with the grinning dead cow logo on the 6, and a couple of little extras.

I absolutely want to run this . . . but I think only one of my players would get even 1/10th of the references. He'd get them all. The rest would really wonder about that Wurster kid and why it's a Burrow Owlbear and why there is a Tiny Town. Humor is tough. But this would make a good alternate destination for a Jester Gate.

Thanks for the gift guys!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Quick Links for 4/22/2022

- Fire in the Lake 3rd printing is At the Printer! Hurrah!

- I've been told I have a gaming-related present coming to me tonight. I'll post about it tomorrow if I have time.

- Gerry is lucky this hasn't happened, yet:

Labour Conflicts

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Evading (Invisible) Friends

Here is a quick but often-needing addition to our Evade house rules.

Unseen Occupant

If the hex you entered has an occupant that you cannot see, you must make a Hearing-2 roll to sense them before you enter. If you do, you may attempt to Evade normally. If you fail, you must attempt to slam the occupant at your current move. The occupant can still attempt to avoid this normally.

A friendly occupant can call out loudly to let you know they are there - this gives a +5 to your hearing roll (or more, depending on volume). This also gives the same bonus to anyone attempting to hear or locate that occupant.

(This is meant to avoid the "I whisper just loud enough for him to hear but not to let anyone hostile know where I am" move.)

Notes: We haven't tried this yet, but it should clear up the issue of people backing up into invisible friend's hexes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Delving in the Dark: Looking ahead to next session

Next session will be Buck Naked & the Ooze Level part II.

Running a session of naked delvers in the dark will be interesting.

By interesting, I mean slow and difficult.

They have:

- a few sources of light, mostly magical, and a known threat to magic

- a few sources of light, some holy, and an unknown threat to holy-powered magic

- no weapons, armor, or anything else . . . and diffuse foes

- no map

The problem I mostly see is the combo of darkness and the map. If they lose lights, I still need a map to keep track of where people are, because they'll certainly conceive of plans and "just making sure" questions that depend on exact positioning. If I give them a map, I remove the effect of darkness and give them a map to use to navigate. I can only trust the latter in any case to player fairness - given a wholly remote group, I have no idea who has a map of where they think they are to use to guide their movements around.

And fighting a diffuse foe with no weapons will be slow. It's unclear if the foe can harm them . . . but equally it is unclear how they get past it.

So while the actual situation provides very limited options, I expect it will take a very large chunk of the session to resolve, probably making this at least a three-part delve.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

GCS & Foundry VTT questions

Asking here first, because I like my blog to have a list of what I'm working on so I can refer back more easily.

I've found that thanks to all of the monster modules for GCS, it's the easiest tool out of the three I have (GCA5, GCS, /mook) to put in opponents. It takes a bit of time to put in a new monster but in the end I have a more useful file.

With that in mind, I am trying to figure out:

- How to put in an Affliction as a rollable attack, either in GCS (so it imports easily into Foundry) or directly in Foundry

- How to put notes in GCS that transfer to Foundry . . . right now I just put them into Foundry but have to remember on each monster

- How to put default token features (like sight, lighting, etc.) onto all of my Foundry tokens as they are made

Nothing huge, here, but everything I can do to speed things up will save me in the long run.

Monday, April 18, 2022

More Minis I Don't Need: Cybermen

I've been watching The Invasion, an eight (8!) part Doctor Who story from the Patrick Troughtan years. It features a lot of fun stuff:

- the second appearance of Lethbridge-Stewart and the first appearance of UNIT
- the last time UNIT had first-rate resouces
- Cybermen

I grew up with later-era Cybermen, who pretty much would walk slowly, do little, and die if you so much as waved a gold coin somewhere near them. Those of earlier stories - Invasion and Tomb of the Cybermen, especially - are pretty creepy and dangerous. So naturally that means I want some cybermen minis that I have absolutely no use for and no time to paint:

I mean, they'd paint up quickly, right? Silver paint, black wash, deploy on the map . . . and these are pre-gold-allergy Cybermen, presumably. Or could be if I run them. They could fight my Daleks!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Felltower Prep

It's Easter Sunday, so I have a bit of a slow morning.

I'm spending some of it doing Felltower prep for our new session, tentatively entitled, "Buck Naked and the Ooze Level."*

I'm also trying to finally get some of the more complex enemies into Foundry VTT. It's not easy because I do stuff like ranged Maledictions with tiered effects (Fail by 5+, fail, succeed, critically succeed each with different effects), attacks with followups, DR-bypassing attacks, etc. So I'm combing through the finished examples I can find and seeing what worked there. I'd pay good money for an official GURPS package for Foundry VTT that had everything - all of the DF monsters, all of the DF rules set up, etc. - but I can't see SJG working with the current designers of the unofficial package and making this happen.

So I have to do it by hand.

Today is where I do some of that.

* Indirect and obscure Sam & Max reference there.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker

I'm still trying to finish Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

- This late in the game, finding some coins and salable gems feels silly. Not inappropriate to the location, but silly. I have 1.7 million gold on me - like in Wizardry, it's weightless - but here are 23 more coins. Hurrah!

- My current annoyance is dealing with one location with multiple states - depending on how and where I entered. It's hard for me to keep track of, even with paper notes.

- Gaze attacks are annoying. We all know that. Couple that with the usual "I don't know the rock-paper-scissors of counter spells" and I'm spending much of my time with 1/2 of my party paralyzed or fleeing in terror or confused or something. It's too late in the game for me to figure it out, it feels like. I really need to go find a place to rest, replenish my spells, put "Freedom of Movement" on everyone, and move on.

All of this is slowing me down. It'll be fine, but it's still making it slow. It also saps my attention faster than other styles of play, so I play for maybe 20-30 minutes and then stop, even when I have more like 90-120 minutes to play. I just can't sustain the attention with so much else going on (work, continuing education, Felltower, dwelling projects, etc.) on top of it. I play one fight and then I'm basically done for a while.

I still enjoy the game, and I want to find out what happens, but I don't feel at the moment like I'm accomplishing much. So I am trying to take one bite of the apple at a time, then set it down for later.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Links & Random Bits for Friday 4/15/2022

Stuff for Friday 4/15/2022.

- Nothing earth-shattering here, but good stuff on skill systems over on Blood of Prokopius.

- A nice post here on model scale.

- ACOUP evicerates Expeditions: Rome:

"[. . .] if the goal here was a narrative embedded in Roman history in a real and deep way, the game exposes a grasp of Roman history on the level of a garbled undergraduate course half-remembered a decade later." Ouch. I didn't spend that much time on Roman history, except for one specific period - a 300-level course on Augustan Rome (we had to learn the names of all of consuls and tribunes, so it was pretty detailed) - but I'd love a game that treats it with more historical accuracy. It would be nice to learn as I play. This isn't the one, clearly.

I don't cleave to historical accuracy in my Felltower game, but man, I make it totally clear I want fun over versimilitude, and versimilitude over truth. I don't sell it as truth.

- I'm having trouble putting in Maledictions into the /mook generator in Foundry VTT with the GURPS module. Anyone have a good example of a text writeup that /mook will just take as an imported line and work?

- More Black City summaries.

- There is an interesting reading list embedded in Ultima Underworld II. I've read all of the real books on this list except The Princess Bride and Pale Fire. I'll read the latter - Lolita was worth the time, even if I'm more of a Dostoevskii sort when it comes to Russian literature.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Mana Enhancer & No Mana Zones & Felltower

Gerald Tarrant now has Mana Enchancer 1. The game features No Mana Zones. What happens when Gerry is in on, and he personally is only in a Low Mana Zone?

We've already begun the "but what about?" hypotheticals and edge-case seeking.

Mostly that's interesting, but as always, I'm hestitent. I'm leery of a ruling that lets an innocuous use stand, which then logically justifies allowing an edge case, when eventually gets used as a wedge to allow an abusive case to follow.

This is especially true with magic, where edge cases abound and abuses can fundamentally change the way the game works.

This post will be a place to collect all of our rulings on the subject. I expect there to be a lot of them, as every edge case is explored.


All of the following discussion assumes you've read, and are familiar with, and are looking at, the description of Mana Enchancer in GURPS Basic Set. It further assumes a level limit of 1, per Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups, and no implementation of additional advantage-specific or general enchancements or limitations.

All of this is subject to pre-play review and post-play revision. I can and will revise after problems arise in play, if they do.

Not Yet in Play:

Melee spells will probably work as written. You cast it on yourself, and finish the spell with a touch of a target. While the target is not carried, it seems logical that the spell effect can still transmit by touch. Possible concerns here: spells with positive permanent effects, like Lend Energy.

Caster as Subject spells will generally work, but only on the caster. Spells that effectively create something around the caster - Shield, Missile Shield, and so on - will still work since that effect is limited to the caster and items carried.

In Play:

Nothing yet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Equipment losses in Ukraine, documented

This website tracks losses to equipment in war. This link is for the current conflict in Ukraine.

Since part of my interests are WWII and modern warfare, I've been all over this site for prior conflicts. I do periodically lose track of it, so I'm linking it here so I don't lose track again. It might be useful to you guys as well.

Attack On Europe: Documenting Equipment Losses During The 2022 Russian Invasion Of Ukraine

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Felltower: What can you Zombie?

Expanding on a question in play and in the comments.

You generally you can cast Zombie on an appropriate subject that also:

- hasn't been decapitated or otherwise mutilated beyond ability to function as a zombie

- is above -10 x HP

- hasn't been subjected to a Final Rest, Holy Warriors "Rest in Pieces" perk, or similar effect

- hasn't already been undead from another other source

- doesn't have some other effect that makes Zombie impossible.

This still leaves a lot of dead bodies that Gerry can use Zombie on. But it does mean that the usual adventurer means of killing things - massive amounts of fire, decapitation, lopping legs off to reduce combat efficiency, endless torso shots to whittle a foe down to automatic death, and skull shots - also tend to make for less zombies.

Equally, repeated damage to zombies means there is a limit to their utility. You can't fix them (except between sessions, given sufficient time, equipment, and money), and you can't bring them back to animation after they get put down on an adventure, either.

It's still a very useful spell. For GMs thinking about including this in their games, do note that this means you need to be able to convert anything you put into an adventure into a mindless undead servitor version on the fly and run it for the PCs. They'll find a way to animate it - orc, owlbear, giant, bugs, spiders, wolves, anything . . .

Monday, April 11, 2022

Notes & Rulings from Felltower session 168

A few rulings and issues and notes from last session.


I still struggle with walls. I really need to master the tools I have right now so I can:

- put down vision-blocking walls

- put down visible terrain walls

- have areas big enough that my players can freely move over a large area, if a fight spills out that way

This is on me. I'll complain when my tools suck, but these tools don't suck, they just aren't very intuitive. I have not put in the time to make them work better for me. I need to make sure to do that.

As a stopgap, Vic made a "cobblestone" image I could use as a blank. I will make a light grey field I can use instead so I can just lay down hexes, and see if the wall images someone else gave me might serve until I master Dungeon Draw.

As I run, I look!

My players are big fans of "I take a quick look . . . " Basically, it means, they want a Perception check or an automatic success of vision while they still take their full action. So it's "I look left and right and then attack in the center with my full complement of attacks" or "I run past this hallway at Move 11 and look down it without actually losing my full Perception roll to spot anything in front of me."

So how to resolve that? I decide it's a flat -10, plus an additional -5 per direction. Looking left and right and then back to center to do your thing? -10, -5 = -15. Looking right as you spring past the hallway but keeping an eye forward? -10.

An object in plain site is generally +10, so this cancels that out. A man-sized object is +0, so a Per 10 guy has a 50/50 shot of noting a normal, unconcealed human with a quick passing glance. If he's trying to scan left and right, he has a 5 or less . . . not likely. A direction is basically a hex-line, although that naturally means a cone-shaped sight line. You can easily miss something by trying to look in many directions at once.

Seems workable.

Teleport Nude

An oldie but a goodie. You know I had to include it somewhere, right?

The PCs might not be in the worst possible place. Prior exploration made them more equipped to deal with this. They've likely been to this area before, they're unworried by the loss of magic, and might even be able to win free. Or not. We'll see. But it could have been far, far worse. It could have been to some deep area of the dungeon they'd never been to, or a sealed room, or above the flooded prison. It's not a perfect trap, but much of Felltower is that way - it's a layer cake where not everything is in tip-top shape or ideal circumstances for delvers or inhabitants. It serves a purpose, and it makes sense given sufficient information . . . which the PCs may or may not be able to acquire.

And it's fun as hell. Plus, we found out Gerry has a massive skull tattoo on his chest. Win-win!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, Session 168, Felltower 121 - Second GFS - Part I

Game Date: 4/10/2022

Aldwyn, human knight (360 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice (180 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (420 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
     1 tough skeleton (105 points)
"Mild" Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (349 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (379 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)

We started off in town. The PCs bought up a large quantity of spell stones and potions, mostly aimed at circumventing the floor on the first landing of the second GFS, where they intended to delve. It took a long time to get everything sorted, but they eventually headed out.

They made their way up to the dungeon and found the trap door shut, so they crossed the pit at the main entrance. They made their way to the noisy room, where Bruce force the doors and chuckled so he could hear it echo loudy.

They headed down to the next level, then to the GFS. They went down that, too, opening it up with the taxidermied hand of a "gith" - one of the six-fingered types. At the bottom they opened the next door, and out into the stale air of the "gate level." The group moved along their usual path, and after forcing a door they blundered into a basilisk. Crogar dropped his crowbar and fast-drew his axe and rushed it, but missed on his Move and Attack. It looked at him and injured him. He swung a couple more times and it dodged, and inflicted more damage on him, as Aldwyn and Bruce rushed up. Crogar managed to hit it three times a second later, decapitating it.

Gerry wasn't happy because he can't cast Zombie on anything decapitated.

They reached the will-wall and found some - especially Aldwyn - couldn't force it. He rolled a 17 and took a permanent -1 to get through it. Bruce decided to use his magical powers (and Laccodel's Rune) to dispel the magic. That worked, and they continued on. They reached the first landing and buffed up. Once through the door, Ulf put up Silence and tried to Sunbolt the black hemisphere on the ceiling of the room. That did nothing. Varmus tried a Fireball and equally did nothing. So Bruce walked on air to the center of the room and bashed it to pieces with his sword. They hurried left.

Nothing came to fight them, so they continued left - Wyatt rushing ahead, followed by Bruce, and the others more slowly. Eventually Wyatt reached a room at the end of the hallway.

In the room he saw patterns of etchings with semi-precious stones at each point of each line. The others rushed up. They quickly determined that there were 150-200 of those stones, the patterns weren't identifiable, and the stones probably ranged in the 20-50 sp per gem range. So an easy 3K - 10K of treasure. Call it 6500?

They set up to watch the room, checked for magic - it was wholly magical - and tried to decide what to do. Gerry argued that they shouldn't touch the stones, as they could clear the area by taking the fight to their foes and then loot. Greed - in the form of "we should disrupt their magical pattern" - won out. They spaced about half the party out of the room to guard - Gerry, two skeletons, Bruce, and Crogar - and the rest went in to pry stones or observe.

Wyatt started to pry out stones.

The guarding guys noticed the room went instantly silent . . . and was empty.

Crogar said they should just do the same and join them. Bruce ran in and got ready. Gerry followed. They tried to pry out a stone.

They all found themselves in the dark, stomachs wrenched by the now-familiar teleportation - Body Sense rolls all around. Ulf felt for his glow vial and found only chest hair. Uh, where was his armor? And shirt?

They were all in the dark, nude. Only Gerry could see thanks to Dark Vision. They were in a 30-35 yard wide cicular room with a 30' ceiling with one exit. He cast Continual Light on one of the skeletons.

Checking the room, they were totally bereft of anything except their own bodies - and the skeleton's bones. The room had writing in a 6" wide band around the room, around 5 1/2' off the ground. Gift of Letters revealed a kind of chant. Gerry said it was like phrases of power in a chant, likely being a way to replicate the chanters in a ceremonial spell casting, centered on transformation and creation . . . turning something into something entirely new. It was totally without any power now, though. Above and below were lead markings they determined were stylized "signatures" in the form of "I was here" and "So was I" writings by many different hands.

They left the room, and found some corridors like those of the level they'd just left, equally bereft of doors. They bypassed a collapsed side passage as they heard sloughing noises. They managed to get to a corner chamber before they realized three oozes rushed from their left, and a giant one from behind. Ulf cast See Secrets despite the Low Sanctity of the area. There was no where else to go . . .

We left it there for now.


- This took a lot longer to play than it sounds. Mostly we started slow and then I had lots of issues with the map as we spent a lot in combat time. It could have been different had they done different things. But I cost us some of the time with technical issues. I have a way to address that that I'll bring up soon enough.

- I can't decide if they've fallen for my least likely trap, or my most likely one. Semi-precious gems studding a wall in a magical room? Which wins, greed or caution? Basic adventurer common sense says, "Trap." Basic adventurer greed say, "Loot." Well, here we are.

- The players, as always, took this well. No one was anything less than amused. There were hanging heads and palms on foreheads, but that's all.

- MVP was Gerry for being right. Not that he insisted, but he did point out that this was a bad idea.

- I have a bunch of rulings to go over . . . and some exasperation with our VTT that mostly stems from me.

Felltower today

We're planning on Felltower today. So far, we have only a few players, but I'm hoping it will expand out.

They don't have any particular plan. The draugr were a great target, but not a blocker for further exploration. They did contain clues to where Sterick was buried, and how to reach him, but they was done a long time ago.

So we will have to see what we will end up with. There is still so much to do in Felltower, just not a clear, shining path forward towards an obvious goal.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Links for 4/8/2022

Links for this week.

- I don't recall, offhand, a more systematic analysis of the purported "sweet spot" of D&D/AD&D than this one on Greyhawk Grognard. It makes a reasonable case for those levels being the ones where you have your iconic abilties but not too much power. Me, I like the high-powered stuff, but I agree that those levels are better for me than the ones below that to play at.

- Grognardia has a bit about Gygaxian Naturalism and the Ecology of the Piercer. Me, I liked the article a lot. I still do.

- This makes sense - smoothing out a hit progression table, this time for OSE. I always prefer smoothed bonuses in my games.

- D100 Terrible Things Behind that Door from Elfmaids & Octopi

Joey, Johnny, Tommy, and Dee Dee were right - You should never have opened that door!

- I like these maps of the starship Warden.

- In case you'd like to see Language Talent in action, here is a guy with roughly 8 native-level languages and around two dozen others.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 21: Megadungeons on sale in Warehouse 23

I'm not sure when this went up, exactly, but I stopped by W23 today coincidentally and saw this note:

Oops! We Overfed The Dungeon
Posted: April 07, 2022

Some GURPS games explore really deep concepts. Some go even deeper. GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 21: Megadungeons provides insight into making really big dungeons, with tips for creating, populating, and enlivening them. Delve deeply into your next campaign with a download from Warehouse 23!

Well, hurrah!

It's $4, and you can finally pick this up if you missed the Kickstarter campaign. I don't get royalties for this - it was a flat payment - but any purchase of a book of mine from SJG helps me get better rates and faster approval on future work. So if this might be useful to you, please pick it up!

If you already own it, please consider giving it a rating. A positive rating might help another decide to pick it up, and spread my work more widely.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Grognardia & the Cold Fens

James Maliszewski took a look at the Tomb of the Lizard King:

Retrospective: Tomb of the Lizard King

That module is, largely intact, the basis of the Cold Fens area in my Felltower campaign. It's always fun to see someone take a look at something you know and used in play.

For my games, see my DF Campaign page and the Cold Fens tag.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker . . . geez, long ending

So I'm still doing the ending for Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

I got sidetracked by some silly quest which - hopefully - nets me allies I could use in the endgame. I've fought a few genuinely tough battles, but I spent like crazy on Restoration scrolls so I could fix even the results of nasty battles. One left most of my party dead and most of them also permanently drained of stats. Six Greater Restoration scrolls later and I was fine. I probably should have purchased a few more . . . I've got nearly 2,000,000 at this point so it's not like I'm going to run out of cash.

But it's just a slog. I'm not sure what's next . . . but I have yet to actual penetrate the main foe's main lair. I figure that'll be a slog, too. Given only 30-40 minutes of gaming time at a clip, this will take a while.

Still fun . . . but geez, long.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Big Ogre Battlemats pre-order

In case I got this email but you did not:

I'm good on battlefields for my Ogres, but if you need a 3' x 3' battlemat, you're in luck!

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Felltower, Players, and PC Bite-Sized Backstory

One of the conceits of Felltower is that players can add to the setting . . . within limits.

What are those limits?

Fun first

The first and most important guideline for adding backstory to the campaign is that it's all about the fun for the people playing - all of us, since it's Our Game. The game is really a pick-up game where the priorities are:

- us having fun together
- exploring a sometimes humorous but usually lethally unpleasant dungeon
- getting loot

. . . in that particular order. Yes, that mixes real-world and in-game priorities and that's okay with me. If something gets a lot of loot but isn't fun, we generally find a way to rule that it doesn't work. If exploring feels onerous in the real world, we handwave the exploration. And so on. The main thing is the fun.

And it's got to be fun for everyone.

So your backstory can't undermine other players or detract from the game itself. No guys who hate looting and exploration. No guys who are ferocious loners. No guys who have some power that makes everyone suffer so they can be great. No guys that come along with a backstory that explains away someone else's events or paints them in a new light.

Keep it Short and Punchy

The longer your bit of backstory, the less likely it'll stick. I'll say it outright - I won't even read it. I don't care. But I'll listen to a sentence or three that speaks volumes. The less sentences, the better. "Father Marco of the Order of Inquisitors" plus "True Faith with Turning" and a vow to use no edged weapons? Great stuff! I can work with that. I've got an order with a set of rules out of that and I don't need much else.

We have a joke related to another campaign run by my buddy Ryan. If I recall it correctly, someone (I know who, but let's say someone) showed up with a new PC and started to read his description of his guy. Another player said, part of the way through a long description of clothing and hairstyle and whatnot, "I stop looking." Our player Jon never fails to bring this up at exactly the right moment.

Don't make us stop looking.

Throwaway Details

Details, if provided, should be throwaway. As in, we should be able to ignore them later if they stop being helpful or funny.

Don't Force It

Don't try to put in backstory, or make backstory stick. If it's good, we'll repeat it forever. If it's not . . . let it die. Don't brainstorm good details for your guy. Let it happen organically, like the time Gerry said he brings his skeletons to church every day, or when Galen mentioned a dryad and "I don't want to talk about it," and so on. It'll stick if it sticks. And humor is hard . . . better to let it just become funny. Don't try to force that, either.

Cool is What You Do, Not Who You Are

Maybe aside from the first point, this is the most important. Don't use backstory to tell me you are cool. Your actions in play make you cool. We shouldn't have to remember you were raised from birth by ninjas after being orphaned by a demon attack on your village to prevent you from dual-wielding kukris in service to the death cult's elite guard of hand-selected black-clad holy warriors on behalf of god. We should just remember you have two blades and holy crap you killed four orcs in one second that time rolling three 3s and a 4. That's what we care about. The backstory is in the back. Remember we remember what we experienced with you, not what you decided explained why your paper man is awesome.

This whole damn post is far longer than all of the backstory of all of the PCs put together should be. All of this would have been better, in play, as "You are what you do, not what you are - so tell use your backstory in one punchy sentence and if we remember it, great, it's canon."

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Photobucket hosting ending

This is an admin note for the blog. A lot of my old posts have Photobucket picture links. Sadly, Photobucket is offering me a chance to either upgrade to a paid account, or delete my account, because I use it as photo hosting.

I'm going to let them delete it.

I can't easily go back and find all of the posts, identify the pictures in them, and replace them.

That said, as I go back and see old posts, I will try to do so. I would like to keep my blog looking nice. But expect a lot of broken links, especially in the early days o the blog. I apologize for that and I will fix them on an ad hoc basis. I will simply use Google in the meantime.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Random Thoughts & Links for 4/1/2022

Here is some stuff I liked this week:

- Bat in the Attic has a nice idea for multiple attacks for fighters in D&D-based systems.

- I'm out on this one, but Bones 6 is available:

Bones VI Kickstarter

I was in on Bones I through V . . . but I still have V sitting in its box, unopened. I might jump in on this if it looks irresistable . . . but I doubt it.

- There is a revised Tome of Adventure Design in the offing, too. I haven't read the previous versions but Tenkar loves it.

- Have hours to waste? Dungeon Robber is back!

- and apropose only that it's April Fools Day, one of my clients revealed (and proved) she could write left-handed and backwards at the same time she writes the same thing forwards with her right. I'd definitely charge a point for that in GURPS.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

More Bite Size Backstory

I've said before that rumors are bite-sized backstory.

We've had more of that come up in Felltower.

"Frenzy’s wielder was a woman named Asif Kinslayer. Heed that name, boy, and don’t touch that axe."

I not only use rumors as bite-sized backstory, though. I also try to include some in the short histories of magic items. Frenzy's history is a good example. That axe is somewhere in Felltower . . . or somewhere you can get from Felltower. Its history is related in short form in its description in Artifacts of Felltower. PCs have heard rumors about Asif Kinslayer and the axe she owned at one point. They've yet to encounter anything associated with Atrugex, but they've heard his name dropped. As the PCs pick up items, and find out their story, they get more involved with the world.

Basically I'm using rumors to set up backstory on items, further information on items to set up more backstory, and the combination of both drives adventuring. Adventuring drives rumors.

My best practice recommendation here is to always include some throwaway-sounding details for your magic item. The PCs don't want the novel version of who used it. They just want enough to have a connection. Three paragraphs about all of the owners of that ring or sword or shield or wand isn't necessary. A punchy sentence or two will do you better. Players will stop listening as they encounter a block of read-through text or close their eyes to a wall of text. But tell them that wand was created by the Dark Prince of Arras, legendary enchanter, and later used (and lost) during the Troll Wars . . . and they're paying attention. The more you imply and the less you explain the better. Let their imagination fill them with wonder and don't smash them down with bite-sized backstory expanded to a seven-course meal.

At least, that's my best advice.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker - endgame?

I played a bit of Pathfinder: Kingmaker. I think I'm nearing the end of the game.

- I've suddenly gotten some very powerful weapons from some of my craftspeople. Not everything - one guy keeps talking about a special weapon but hasn't delivered it, and another about some heavy armor and hasn't brought it. But it's been a noticeable increase.

- I maxed out my kingdom stats and my towns . . . all save one stat, which seems to get the chance to rank up very infrequently (Espionage, FWIW.)

- Events seem to be getting repetitive. I've solved the same problem months in a row, it feels like, and none of them really advance any plot.

- I only have one main quest left active, and one side quest. That side quest is looking like a "completionist" quest after I win the game.

So I'm kind of frittering away some time, waiting for a wave of bad stuff to come that I can solve and win the game.

It's still fun, but it's starting to feel like I've checked off all of the boxes and certain improvements, developments, and tasks have no real relevance to the game. Yet I still occasionally get jumped by bandits or masses of elementals.

When I eventually play it again, I think being Lawful is too damn useful . . . but I'll definitely go evil and see how that works out. Why not? Maybe I'll run a caster, although it's a simpler game as a fighter-type.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Fire in the Lake Update

I'm not sure when this happened, but Fire in the Lake shifted status.

It's at 721 preorders, and went from "Made the Cut" to "In Art and Final Development."

Next category seems to be "At the Printer," then "Charging - In Final Production," then "Shipping Now."

I'm not sure how long this status has been here, or how long to the next bit . . . but I'm excited. I'm very interested in getting to finally play this game!

Monday, March 28, 2022

Games Diner Rations for DF

I found this post pretty amusing, and I didn't want to wait until Friday to post it:

For my Felltower players, no, none of that is in play. Read it and enjoy it, but I'm not entertaining using it in our game.

Dungeon Dining: Exotic Eats and Remarkable Rations for Fantasy Travelers

It's an old post - 2018. But I don't seem to have noticed it before. Or I did and it's lost to my memory and I can't find it on my blog to confirm that I'd seen it.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

King(maker) for a day

I ended up with a day without gaming yesterday. I spent it on non-gaming things, but also took a couple hours to play some Pathfinder Kingmaker, too.

- Like wargs and knockdown, little is less fun than Permanent effects. At 17th-18th level, nothing seems more common than fights ending with Permanant level drain and stat drains and Baleful Polymorph. Fixing them takes a cleric with Restoration (Lesser doesn't do it, and seems largely worthless overall) or Remove Curse. The latter doesn't always work, so I usually save scum until it does, because I can't memorize only Restoration and Remove Curse and cast them until they work. It's just not fun to use the former six times every fight and the latter 4-5 times before it works. It's just not fun. Don't get me started on effects like Insanity or Confusion which don't seem to be fixed by Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Heal, or spells specifically noted to remove emotional effects. I just don't get the the rock-paper-scissors relationship of spells to effects and I've been playing for dozens of hours per week for dozens of weeks.

- Longsword is a terrible, terrible choice for your main guy. I passed up a lot of magic weapons to use:

a longsword +1
a longsword +2
a longsword +2, flaming
a longsword +2, speed necrotic

and that's it.

Considering that I passed up numerous high-powered maces, polearms, bastard swords, greatswords, two-handed axes, and spears . . . I am pretty disappointed that I chose the longsword. Almost anything else would have been a better choice. I'm 18th level, out of max 20, and I'm still hoping I get a good unique weapon. Everyone else in my party has two (2) unique weapons equipped and I'm using a longsword +2, speed necrotic that I bought from a vendor. Come on, man!

- Fights at 18th level are so confusing that I never have a real idea of what's happening. Spells are cast, saves made (or failed), damage done . . . and I just cycle through my guys. Sometimes they go, sometimes they can't.

- I'd still play it again, but clearly you need to know what will happen in the end to make better choices in the beginning. I don't love that. I replayed Planescape: Torment twice more - a total of three plays through - and each was better. But I still felt like I did well the first two times. This playthrough I feel like I either chose a good path through luck or made a bad choice. That's not a great feeling.

Nevermind . . .

Due to some communication issues, we weren't able to assemble sufficient players for Felltower today. We had 1 definite and 1 maybe plus 1 GM. So we bailed. We'll play again in 2 weeks.

Oh well.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Tiny crew Felltower tomorrow?

At the moment . . . we have about 2-3 people for tomorrow. Maybe a couple more, since not everyone commits sooner than the day of.

It's not clear what we can do with that small of a group. We may need to shelve Felltower and play something else - I have an idea in case that does happen. But I'm leaning towards "game anyway."

A short group spending the day gaming is better than a day spent not, right?

But hopefully we'll get just enough people for a delve into Felltower. Plenty of places to go, even with Ulf crossing off most of them as bad.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Random notes & links for 3/25/2022

Back to the weekly links.

- I saw this article on Warren Spector. Yes, the SJG Warren Spector. Warren Spector

- I was a big fan of John Arendt's "Black City" campaign, which mixed fantasy with ancient super-tech. Now, the Great Khan has decided to launch his own campaign based on the notes from this.

That's pretty cool. I'd be weirded out if someon else was running a "Felltower" game, though. Good God, Y'all! I'd have to consult with "Red" Raggi and Ragnarsson & Raggissons, Attornies at Law and see what my options would be. Heh.

All of that said, fair warning - if I ever run an AD&D or D&D-based campaign, there will be a mix of tech and magic. Why not in GURPS? It's actually easy in GURPS, but GURPS also pretty realistically handles the massive difference in killing power between swords and modern firearms . . . which makes for less "sword and blaster" and a lot more "blaster and more blaster." Also, muscle-powered weapons are a poor choice against robots designed to fight against guns. You can see the hoops you need to jump through in our (on hiatus) GURPS Gamma Terra game. In a D&D game, you just say AC 0, immune to edged weapons, and it does 1d12+1 damage with its laser and you're fine.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Dungeon Fantasy Companion 3 is out

As it says, the Dungeon Fantasy Companion is out. At least, it's been released to authors like me.

The book contains several articles I wrote for Pyramid magazine:

Quick Equipment Kits (Pyramid 3/106)

Simple Spell Components (Pyramid 3/113)

More Mythic & Magical Monsters (Pyramid 3/108)

It's packed full of articles by Sean Punch, Matt Riggsby, Christopher Rice, Steven Marsh, and David Pulver, as well. I'm in good company.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Weapon Specialization & Magic Items

Weapon specialization really reduces the fun and value of discovered magic items.

Take my guy in Pathfinder: Kingmaker. He's a longsword and shield guy. I can't use many of the weapons we find at all. I don't use most others because even a powerful mace, axe, bastard sword, or spear isn't going to be good enough to make up for all of the feats and focuses I've put in the longsword. So I use a magical longsword I purchased from a vendor. It replaces the magical one I found very early in the game.

This happens in my GURPS game, too. Magic shortsword with cool powers? Sorry, no one uses a shortsword or is willing to absorb a -2 to skill to default it from Broadsword. Sell it. Magic spear? Backup weapon, or sell it. Weapons either exactly match your specialization or they aren't worth keeping.

One real joy of fantasy games - and post-apocalypse games - is finding some special weapon and getting to try it out. Instead, you end up not using them and regarding them simply as trade or sale goods. The more powerful the weapon, the more likely you sell it - it's worth too much to keep it.

I don't have an easy solution for this . . . I just have been meaning to write a little on this for a while.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Felltower Rumors update

I had a bit of time today to get ready for Sunday's Felltower game.

I put that time in finishing up the rumors. My list was badly depleted, and the PCs hadn't done anything that could really provoke a bunch of easy rumors to have on tap.

They're ready, now. I'm still using 1d12 for rumors. The days of d30 rumors are long gone - I can't easily make up another 18, and deal with the PCs getting an even larger number per-session of unique rumors. They've gotten a huge amount of them and haven't really been able to connect too much to them. They're a lot of fun to see them react to, but they're not always game-useful in terms of what they actually do.

It's tricky making rumors actionable, interesting, and yet not give away too much.

That's all I had time for today - work, training myself, and non-work and non-training tasks have occupied an outscale amount of time. But I'm ready for the next game!

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Short posting break

I'll be away from the blog for a few days - I should be back on Tuesday if not a bit sooner.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

DCC Dice experience?

I pledged to the DCC 100 Kickstarter.

I may choose to plunk in another $30 for the starter kit.

Part of the attraction of paying up another $30 is getting another DCC rulebook, an adventure, and some DCC dice.

Does anyone have any experience with those oddball DCC dice?

I've never owned anything other than the platonic solids - D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20 - and a D30. Do D7, etc. really work out? Are they worth investing in, just in case I play in person? Is the quality okay?

I just want some input before I put money down.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Nordlond Bestiary available in PDF

In case you missed the announcement:

The Nordlond Bestiary is available

I'm still waiting on my hardcopy to really give it a read, but if you can't wait, there it is!

Unboxing Video from Doug:

Bestiary Unboxing

Monday, March 14, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker update

I didn't put in even a word of Felltower work today. I did spend an hour playing some Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

- I've found so many magic items I just sell them off pretty routinely. It's hard to keep track of the interactions, too, so putting a new item on someone takes a lot of swapping things around, and that takes time. I actually spend a significant amount of time when leveling or after finding an item moving stuff around.

- I'm pretty routinely getting problems that my best advisors have a 20-30% of solving without spending Crisis Points. I have zero left, because I used them getting other problems even into the 20-30% range. I can't seem to train my advisors for better bonuses. I suspect this is just the game getting harder on purpose.

- Again I'm stalled a bit on what to do. Lots of little quests that seem disjointed, especially for a 16th level guy with a kingdom. I need to run around and do what now?

- The game doesn't really give me the impression I have an army. I have one, clearly, as they get referenced. But they don't do anything or provide any benefit. Same with my spies, my diplomats, etc.

- Sometimes I get some weird choices. I had one with drug-dealing spies in my lands . . . and I could extort gold, a magic staff, or kill them all (A CE choice.) I'm LN and so is my state. We didn't seem to have a "chuck them all in jail" option or anything like that. Kill them or send them home in return for money or things. That's it? Felt odd as a choice.

So I play a lot right now but I don't seem to accomplish a lot. Hopefully it's just a lull until exciting things happen.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Felltower Update

Since the PCs have finally finished with draugr, we hit the eternal question of "What next?"

Naturally I need to stay slightly ahead of the PCs. What I did was:

- work on the rumors

- restock a few areas that might have had some enemies move in

- make some modifications to the dungeon based on intelligent monsters

I really need to eye some areas they are likely to fight in and create battle maps for them. I can't do that on the fly easily, so I need to predict where they'll go. Some areas are obvious - and there are a number of 10 x 10 yard rooms with corridors at each cardinal point - but I can't cover them all.

Over the next week I'll devote a bit of time to getting that stuff done.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Game Inspiration: Sung in Blood - Airships & Sorcery

I recently re-read one of Glen Cook's lesser known books - Sung in Blood. It's a Doc Savage-like setup - an extremely talented and powerful main character with a cast of interesting sidekicks along for the adventure. It's not a great book. The various sidekicks are pretty vanilla, with only a couple - Chaz, Su Cha, and the Preacher - having enough character to make them stand out. It is vague on details even more than usual for a Glen Cook book. And it's book one of a series that never got a second book.

But it does have a setting that seems potentially fun to game in, and a setup for adventurers that suits how most adventurers behave.

( affiliate link)

The Setting

- it's a magical world, with spellcasters, demons, imps, killing spells, and magical divination and sensing providing a strong role. In either GURPS or a D&D-like system, you could just chuck in your magic system of choice and not do the basic setting concept much damage. Spells are much less buff and more enchantment, information, and area attack, though, so GURPS Magic would probably not work as well as a modified ritual magic system might.

- airships. There are airships, with demons piloting them in some not-well explained way, armed with weapons never quite defined. They have gas bladders full of magical gas - explosive gas, of course - that is enchanted by a magical process.

- airships. I'm going to say that twice.

- a powerful, important city in a nominal kingdom - actually, more of an empire - to adventure in.

- weird semi-human creatures, trained or enchanted animals, and consumable magic items galore.

The Setup
- tough laws on weapons that get ignored on the main characters.

- the main characters are outside the legal and rulership system . . . but have outsized influence and freedom of actions. Kings come and go, but can basically be overruled by the main character whenever he needs to. The king is an ally but a bit reluctant yet not a scheming foe . . . but easily could be. Thus the players could do adventuring stuff, call on help (but not alwasy get it), and suffer few (if any) repercussions for doing as they please during emergencies so long as they aren't murderous thugs.

- plenty of access to interesting gear for the main characters, but they still need the power of the state to really get stuff done.

- main characters with some de facto law enforcement powers, without actually being law enforcement.

I won't say that Sung in Blood is worth reading and meticulously converting; too many details are vague for easy conversion. But it's a setting look and feel that could make for a fun setting. It's a short read, and worth it if you find the idea of an adventuring setting containing the above attractive.
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