Monday, January 31, 2022

Pathfinder vs. Felltower - expectations & behaviors

So I've been playing the hell out of, and largely enjoying, Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker (hereafter, Kingmaker) shares a lot of the CRPG behavior that I see bleed over into approaches to tabletop games.

So let's look at the example of Kingmaker vs. Felltower, in terms of what is expected and the behaviors that work. Some of these change if you're running a hardcore-mode Pathfinder game, but I'm not and I don't think that's the CRPG default.

Kingmaker: You really need to do certain things in order to maximize the benefits of them. You also benefit from completing everything. The goal is to maximize the benefit out of everything you encounter. There are tradeoffs - sometimes you'll get more XP and less loot by avoiding a fight, say - but in general, you try to do as much as you can. You clear maps, clear dungeons, make sure to fight everything you can and find every coin you can. You never have enough XP or enough money to do everything so you eke out everything from the smallest weed to the biggest suit of armor and sell them or use them.

Felltower: Doing everything is too much. There aren't enough gameable hours in a session. People do try to maximize every coin - we even have a player who spreadsheets out treasure and the sale value as we play in order to ensure they can make decisions to maximize everything. PCs hunt down foes that carry gear to sell it, and want to strip the corpses of everything to sell - and sell the corpses, whenever possible. Some of that is totally reasonable economic behavior in-game.

Kingmaker: Quest payments. You can usually get paid to do something profitable to you. It's rare you don't get a reward from doing things besides the doing of the thing. It's sometimes in extra XP, not just paying in cash and magic items or special items. Some special items are "collector" items and are worth extra for finding them, if you find the right person. So far, no one has demanded I give them what I find, even when they pay me to go find something.

Felltower: Almost no one will pay you to do things you profit from. No one has a burning need to have you clear the dungeon. Only a small handful of people are willing to pay extra for special items; in general, collectors don't exist. A 1,000 year old $20 gold coin is worth $20, just like a newly minted kingdom coin. Some items are only valuable to certain people, but even then, it's not a challenge to find them - you just sell them in town and the price is the price. No amount of roleplaying and "I find a collector!" matters. The number of people willing to pay above-face-value for items is tiny - less than five instances in 11 years of play. I've had about 11 years of players looking for quests and payment for doing things they already plan to do, and expect to get the most profit from.

Kingmaker: You win a lot of fights by saving and re-playing the fight. You rush the monster, you get waxed, you re-load, and then you move into the same room, only this time you've used just the right buffs, advanced just the right characters to certain spots, and so on. You can't easily break off a fight, so you just fight it out and then re-do it for better results. You can general piecemeal foes, too, taking them one group - fighting one part of a fort doesn't automatically cause everyone to pile into the fight. You can even kill half of a dungeon full of intelligent foes and leave for a week and come back . . . and the other half is just waiting.

Felltower: You can't do that. There is no save and re-playing anything. I get players who try to effectively do this - "trigger" an encounter, then retreat, and come back another time with just the right spells, equipment, and plan . . . and do it again when that doesn't work (see: The Draugr, the Six-fingered foes, Sakatha's tomb for most of the sessions, the giants . . . for example). That doesn't always work. Some monsters are stuck where they are, so you can do this. But many learn. They adapt. They adjust. Some of them take their loot and just leave. Oh, and you can't clear a group of foes one area at a time and stay just far enough from the others that you don't trigger them and activate a larger fight. Yet, naturally, the "come back later with a perfect plan" approach dominates.

There are more, of course, but I have other work to do tonight. It's funny how I essentially play out my CRPGs in exactly the way I don't want to play TTRPGs. I'd say ironic, except that I'm really approaching different games with different approaches. How you get the maximum fun out of CRPGs insn't how you get the maximum fun out of TTRPGs.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Felltower: Dungeon Draw day

I'm pretty much spending my free time today playing around with Dungeon Draw for Foundry.

It's rough going, but I'm hoping I can get a solid, usable battle map out of this.

Dungeon Draw

I got distracted by this, though:

Dungeon Map Doodler

So we'll see if I get anything done for real. I need to - there are a few big battles I expect to have in Foundry for DF Felltower and I need to have an accurate map for them.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Snow day Saturday Pathfinder Kingmaker

I'd be lying if I didn't say I spent my snow day playing a lot of Pathfinder. It's not all I did . . . but I spent a good deal of time on it.
My guys are 8th level now, and only since level 7 have wolves and worgs become reasonable foes. Before that, I spent a good deal of buffs trying to avoid getting destroyed by them. You see, they get a free "trip" attack if they hit you. If you trip, you can only Stand Up before doing anything . . . which provokes an Attack of Opportunity, which they get lots of because they run up and surround you. So, you get hit, you fall, you try to stand, and you die. Only once I was high enough level - and armed with ridiculous weaponry like flaming swords and acid bows and corrosive axes was I able to defeat them with only a few trips here and there.

Now Will-o-wisps are my worst enemy. They tend to attack by surprise, and get a surprise round attack that consists of a lightning stroke. And then they go before my guys routinely, and get another. And THEN they get to move into melee and attack again. When it's 3, 4, or even 5 wisps, and they all target my lead character, it's brutal. By brutal, I mean fatal. I had my main guy at 100 HP and with a full Protection from Electricity spell on him get taken to negative HP and killed outright before I could act. Yeah. I won the fight and brought my guy back . . . but I literally went into the fight expecting the wisps and buffed the guys out the wazoo against their best attacks and died while trucking around with 100 HP. So that's not a lot of fun.

I'm still enjoying the game, but it's really tough to figure out what's next - and believe me, there is a useful order to do things in. Checking some companion guides, I see I permanently missed out on one guy because I short-circuited the troll adventure by directly going after and destroying the trolls. Yeah, I didn't realize I needed to wait. It's a lot like Planescape, where my first playthrough was good, but I missed a lot. My second was much better. I don't know if this one will get a second.

I don't want to waste time, but then again, I don't want to miss out because I go squish monsters too soon.

I also realized that a lot of random encounters drop useful goods, like masterwork weapons, which sell for 100 each. I avoided all fights I could early on, to save resources. Clearly I should have been taking the fights on as the profit would have paid for the rations, potions, and scrolls needed to clean up after.

Live and learn. Still fun, except when wolves attack - I mean, now, when wisps attacks. Sigh.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Friday Links 1/28/2022

Friday stuff!

- Unfrozen Caveman Dicechucker has been writing about how to play AD&D for people coming to it new.

This post is Part IV

This particular line made me laugh out loud, so I commented on it as follows:

"But then there's a column labelled "Speed Factor." Nowhere is this explained but that's ok because if you use this information while playing a game called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons then you are, by definition, playing 2nd edition."

PVD: Heh. It's explained in the DMG, p. 66-67. But this made me laugh out loud.

- Akratic Wizardry has a bit on the OSR that I found interesting.

- Warren "Mook" Wilson passed away. He was, amongst other things, the author of How to Be a GURPS GM

- Want to be Legolas? Sean Punch and I made that easier with GURPS Martial Arts . . . and here is the breakdown on how to do it:

GURPS 101: A Complete and Illustrated Guide to Being Legolas

- I ran a GURPS campaign set in the Known Worlds, so this bit of history interests me:
Piazza Thread: Original Known World Campaign Documents

Fun stuff.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Pathfinder Kingmaker update

When I last left Pathfinder, I had insufficient rations for no reason I could see after wiping out most of the trolls in their lair.

I ended up restarting from a slightly earlier save, doing some odd tasks for a week, and then coming back after the trolls.

I was a slightly higher level - 6, not 5 - and loaded with the spells I knew I'd need.

I also found a completely ridiculous corrosive damage bow in the troll lair that I'd missed on my previous delve.

I didn't even need my extra rations. I did end up using something like 25 potions of cure light wounds, 4 scrolls/potions of cure serious wounds, and 8 potions of cure moderate wounds to make up for a few nasty critical hits.

But I went into the final fight with a good mix of spells . . . and crushed the head troll (although he did severely beat up my best armored fighter) and his ally. It wasn't even a worry, although it wasn't easy. As far as I can tell, I short-circuited a whole series of events that would have happened had I just let the menace sit. But that didn't occur to me . . . someone came and said trolls were attacking my kingdom. I chose the Lawful Neutral option of saying I'd handle it. And then I just went and did that.

So that's cool, actually. It's still frustrating in some respects, like when my guys that need a 2+ to hit miss 1/4 of the time (you know, exactly the odds of rolling a 1 in 20 . . . heh) or when healing potions roll 2s over and over (5 potions for 10 HP isn't really fun). But it's okay. I do like that your actions have consequences and you aren't locked in to events.

I'll keep playing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Felltower - Are the elementals still in those Pentagrams?

Last session, the PCs summoned some elementals in summoning circles - basically, a Pentagram spell. They left the elementals there.

Elementals can leave after an hour . . . but what if they are stuck in a Pentagram?

The PCs just don't know.

It's a big question, actually. Can a Pentagram basically contain a summoned creature forever? Or do they just get to leave after a time?

It's an unresolved question. So is the idea of casting Banish at a creature in a Pentagram. How do they interact?

I have answers for some of these, but the PCs do not. I'm curious if others have answered these questions in their own way in their games.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker - Where'd my rations go?

I played a lot of Pathfinder: Kingmaker yesterday. I had 3 hours of free time, and I spent them all playing the game. I fought a bunch of trolls and fought my way to the boss . . . who then pasted me so hard it wasn't funny (two highest AC, highest HP characters killed in two turns without me landing a blow.) So I realized I needed to rest and change up some spells, re-memorize the ones I'd used up, heal up HP, etc. Yes, rest in the dungeon for 8 hours upstairs from the boss, who won't move or notice that I killed off every other living thing in the place. But whatever.

I went to rest and found I couldn't - I was short on rations. Sure enough, I'm short - you can see it here:

The darker one is the game I'm about to load:

But this second save game is the same day, 3 hours earlier, just before entering the wilderness location where this all happened:

These save games are 3 hours of game time apart; I didn't rest in between at all. Even if I had, how did I go from 7 rations to 3? Resting in the dungeon would cost 4.

Is there some in-game ration cost for time indoors or in ruins/dungeons? Are my guys nibbling on them? I sure as hell didn't drop them . . . and an earlier save game (not pictured) has me with 4, not 3 . . . so some rule, or bug, is devouring them.

So now I'm stuck - I need to fight my way out of the dungeon, through multiple fights at point blank with no breaks between, so I can escape to some area and hopefully rest, so I can come back in and finish the dungeon. I'm not looking forward to that. Nor to abandoning this mission, restoring from a save game, getting extra rations, and then coming back in and trying it all over again.

Does anyone know - is this a rule or a bug?

It's very disappointing. All of that work - it was fun, yes, but it took real time - is probably gone as I try this again . . . and I'm nervous that it will happen again. I'll ditch my quest and get more rations if necessary and then come in . . . but this shouldn't be - or should it, and I'm just suffering from a lack of a manual explaining that delvers get the munchies in dungeon combat and eat up camping supplies?

PS - Yes, I have using rations during camping turned off. And we do hunt . . . so I have no idea.

Monday, January 24, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Session 164, Felltower 119 - Beyond the Repelling Doors II

Game Date: 1/23/22

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 (340 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (378 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)

We started out in Stericksburg. The PCs picked up a few spellstones - they must have spent many tens of thousands on them by this point - and headed out. After a long discussion they decided the best bet was to try the area beyond the repelling doors again. They don't have all of the answers but they were sure they could get enough answers to advance their cause.

Basically, they headed right down to that area. The dungeon is largely abandoned on the upper levels at this point and even random encounters are vanishingly rare.

Once there, they used Hide Thoughts to get into the area. Gerry used blood to open the first doors.

They then summoned an air elemental in the Chamber of Breezes to open more doors. They found the Chamber of Passion - a fire elemental. They summoned one and opened more doors. They found their way to the Chamber of Illumination. That took light - Gerry tried Light but failed, so he tried Continual Light at maximal brightness. That worked.

They found another chamber - the Chamber of the Soul. It had a skull on a glass pedastal. In its mouth was a 10 carat (!) sapphire. They decided it must be a Soul Jar and left it alone - especially because the doors in this room were all open already.

In the "end" chamber they found a 8 x 4 x 3 metal box floating in the air. It had its own call for activation but they couldn't figure out what to do with it.

They moved back to the Chamber of Tears. They summoned a water elemental but nothing happened. They asked it to open the doors for them. Nothing happened. They re-read the runes for clues but there wasn't one.

Then Ulf asked Varmus to punch him, "not too hard," in the nose. Varmus hit him as hard as he could and rolled 2 damage. Ulf teared up from the pain, and flicked the tears into the summoning circle with the water elemental. The doors opened.

They found the Chamber of Strength, but couldn't summon an earth elemental.

It's around now they gave up and headed home, having gathered a good amount of useful information.


Short session - we wrapped up around 2-3 hours earlier than usual. But there wasn't anything to do that wasn't a big "to do," and nothing small worth doing.

Ulf's player made some comment about "keeping this information secret." Sorry, not in this game. Well, maybe I can let them, but then it's off-limits for any PCs not currently present to know this stuff, and there will be no rumors or in-town support that comes from people hearing about the stories and talking about them. It's not a good precedent and has more downsides than upsides for the PCs, but I may allow them to do it if it's really important to them.

So no one could map, but people instead took meticulous notes about room locations, relative positions of doors and hallways, etc. Sigh. So, mapping except in name. It's not like people tried to remember where everything was, they literally told me what they expected to find in rooms complete with locations of all exits and navigated that way. Should I basically just say, hey, it's virtual, you're all welcome to map out-of-game and use the map in-game even if no one in-game is mapping? I'm okay with notes to remember things, but this felt like it crossed a line. At one point I told the guys navigating that I was talking to the tops of heads on Zoom as they looked down and talked me through their path. All glyph readings are taken down word for word, too. Maybe I should require someone in-game to be taking time, have hands free, and let it go from there. I'll have to think about this because it feels like people are violating what's meant to be a central conceit of the game - you can't have maps or rubbings or copies of things unless your PCs make them in game.

There was a brief discussion of going to the weird altar on level 2 and hoping Varmus could touch it, have 1d30 of his silver coins converted to gold, and that would be loot. That was shot down - it's only a 1 in 6, and then they'd expect Varmus to split his coins with the party, who'd want to give all of them to one non-Varmus guy to ensure someone got at least 20% of loot threshold. That's both extremely unlikely and ridiculously gamey. It's not Varmus wouldn't share but even a maximal roll would have meant very little actual money and not enough to go around . . . and it would take everything to go right for that.

The plan for next time? Go for the draugr. It would have been today but Galen was out sick and Crogar had plans with his other friends, so they want to go when they're back. We spent a good ~30 minutes on the usual "We can use Create Fire and Alchemist's Fire and then a miracle occurs and the draugr do whatever we want and we win!" planning. I dropped out of it after that. Heh.

XP was 1 each for exploration and 1 xp for Ulf for the tears idea.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Felltower pre-summary

We played a short-ish game of Felltower today.

The PCs:

- heard rumors

- headed down to the repelling doors and the chambers beyond

- cast a few spells to get through more doors

- and found they're still a bit short of completing the puzzle

They headed back to town after this, empty on loot but full of useful info.

Full details tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Felltower game prep

Felltower tommorow!

- I'm still struggling with mapping in Foundry. Rob Conley helped me a lot, but there is a gap between help and results when it comes to me. Heh.

- I've gotten another PC loaded properly into Foundry. It took some wrestling with GCA to get a talent correct, but I finally did it. I really need to sit down and convert everyone to GCA5 from GCA4. It's much better but still a bit of a foreign language to me.

- I'm still not sure where the PCs are going, but Galen is out sick with Gnollvid-19. His high HT means he'll recover fine but he's still out. Good thing he didn't pick up Trollvid during the Troll Wars!

- Gerry has 47 points saved. If he can swing 3 points this session, he'll get Mana Enhancer - our very first PC with it!

Should be a fun game, unless they scrape up 2 points and then vote Gerry MVP based on "He'll be MVP when he gets Mana Enhancer and we're in a NMZ!" Heh.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Random Links for 1/21/2022

Random stuff for 1/21/2022

- Still playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker. It's amusing that you become a Baron and then suddenly have a town and a well-appointed and luxurious throne room built for you. I honestly visualized taking over the wooden fort of the Stag Lord and building out from there. The sudden jump to prosperity is . . . odd.

So is choosing to "Skip Day" three times when wounded and time advances and events happen . . . but you don't sleep or heal. I had to go to my bedroom and sleep and then skip ahead.

Still enjoying the game.

- I love the incredibly narrow focus of this game, and the detail it goes into:

Raid On St. Nazaire

- John Arendt has more on his Undermountain campaing:

Setting up Undermountain: Rules and Philosophy

- Dragonsfoot Thread: How many AD&D players knew of OD&D?

I commented as follows:

I started with Moldvay Basic Set, but played Holmes and AD&D immediately. AD&D even before I played my own Basic Set. That was 1981. I got Eldritch Wizardry and Blackmoor from a hobby store because they were cheap, and then the white box reprint from the Mail Order Hobby Shop. I still have it. So yeah, I knew about OD&D. Didn't play it, but knew it.

Oops, dead PC:

Double Damage and "Instant Death"

Thursday, January 20, 2022

"The Use of Medieval Weaponry," D&D, and GURPS

I was given this book for Christmas. To be fair, I asked for it as I'd heard the author interviewed on a podcast and it sounded interesting.

The Use of Medieval Weaponry by Eric Lowe.

It's basically a primer on the weapons commonly discussed in the existing, written records of martial arts instructors of the time. It's by a HEMA instructor - that's Historical European Martial Arts, called WMA or Western Martial Arts previously. Overall, a good book, and if you're interested in non-gaming weapon use written by a former (?) gamer, it's a good read.

It's the gamer part I want to talk about here.

"The real genesis of this project is in games. When I was a teenager, my friends and I played a lot of tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons. We were storytellers, and we crafted long-form collaborative storytelling experiences that spanned years of real-time, full of intrigue, emotions, and derring-do."
- p. 2

Eric Lowe doesn't mention again the games he played . . . but I'd be surprised if they were not all D&D-based games.

So much of the back-references to games sound very, very D&D.

"When I was young, I was under the impression that shields were rather useless [. . . ] as I could plainly see from my roleplaying games, they offered very little in the way of actual protection (about as good as light armor, so I thought). Why anybody would give up a two-handed weapon just to wield a shield was quite beyond me."
- p. 71

No armor + shield is AC 9 in AD&D, AC 8 in D&D . . . the same as the lightest of armors.

Meanwhile, he quotes Domingo Luis Godinho, the fencing master, as saying, "It is queen."

GURPS pretty much feels that way, too. Shields are so effective defensively that Man-to-Man originally made Block Shield/3 instead of Shield/2, because they were too effective (see the Q&A in Roleplayer #1). But that effectiveness is accurate. They don't necessary work the way in game they might in reality (restricting a lot more targets than just the shield arm and shield hand), but they're a game-changer for defense. You don't give up a two-handed weapon to take a shield, you give up a shield to take a two-handed weapon. GURPS Martial Arts and GURPS Low-Tech had to sweeten the deal for two-handed weapons to make them even a reasonable choice in the face of shields behind available.

So I'd wager real money Eric Lowe isn't also talking about his GURPS days.

Given a choice between light armor and a shield in GURPS, I know my players - and I - would choose the shield.

"[ . . . ] spears hit very hard and very fast [. . . ] this surprises non-fencers [. . .] Perhaps, like me, they grew up with games telling them that swords and axes do more damage than spears."
- p. 182-3

Again, D&D or D&D-like likely here. Spears do 1d6/1d8 in AD&D, 1d6 in D&D. Longswords do 1d8/1d12, hand axes 1d6/1d4 and battle axes 1d8/1d8.

In GURPS, though, a spear in two hands does thr+3/impaling. It takes a bastard sword in two hands, a greatsword, or a longsword in two hands to do thr+3/impaling. It's on par when used one-handed, but that's also the case if you take a second hand off of a spear in reality. It loses a lot - probably more than the +1, honestly.

It doesn't do as much raw damage as a full swing by any of those weapons, for sure, but its wounding potential is much higher given an unarmored opponent or lightly armored target location.

This isn't to say GURPS is perfect - it's not - but it is clear that it's not the game he's comparing things to. GURPS Martial Arts allows you to do more of the actual historical stuff than Basic Set allows, but still doesn't quite get the rhythms and nuances of swordfighting as discussed in this book or the original sources. Still, it's interesting how your expectations of real martial arts can be shaped by the rules of the fantasy one you played. I don't think a GURPS native would think spears stab less well than a sword or a shield isn't worth its weight.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Royalties & GURPS Martial Arts

One reason I like royalties, the main reason even? They keep on giving.

GURPS Martial Arts came out in 2007. It sold very, very well - enough that I blew right past the advance and into royalties right away. That was lucrative and satisfying.

2007 was 15 years ago. But I still got royalties this past quarter on 50 copies of GURPS Martial Arts sold as Print on Demand through Createspace. That's besides the steady trickle of PDFs it sells month after month after month.

It's been about 16 years since I wrote that book. So much research in 2004 and 2005. Lots and lots of writing in 2006, and playtesting after that. All that work is long done - yet I still keep getting payments for the work.

That is why I like royalties. If my work has lasting value, I get lasting payments. That's so much more of how I like to view my work.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Why must you sell loot for XP in DF Felltower?

Why do PCs need to dispose of loot into cash in order to get the XP value of it?

It provides the following benefits:

PCs don't get to have their cake and eat it, too. They can't keep everything that might be of value, use it, and gain XP for having done so. They can't use things until they tire of them and then turn them into cash, having always gained all they could out of it. They need to make decisions about the need for loot vs. the optimum usage of gear they find. Since, in my games, the players always opt for a cooperative communal ownership model, this makes it less likely they'll hold onto random items just in case someone later makes up a new character who just happens to use it.

This in turn saves me a lot of headaches:

- massive lists of gear found;

- people forgetting what's been found and what's been sold;

- not having the weirdness of "hi new guy, want this +2 katar we found 47 sessions ago that you happen to have Weapon Master for?" which mysteriously never happens with NPCs;

- having to know the actual market value of everything, including things no one would sell (Shieldslayer, Sterick's armor, weird unique potions, etc.) and report it to the PCs so they can gain XP from it;

- not having to make weird rules about what "counts" for loot and what doesn't to avoid the former problem ("Okay, magic items don't count." "But what if we sell it?")

It also provides a lot of versimilitude in actions. PCs generally make hard choices about what to keep and sell, and make decisions for long-term item usage over XP, XP over long-term item usage, and so on, for purely gamey reasons. But in game, it's delvers coming to the surface with a valuable item, looking at each other, and saying, we need cash . . . let's sell this and hope we find better some other time. That feels right.

This is also why old loot doesn't count for XP - you can't take "just enough" out of a hoard and come back for more next time to make your threshold. You can't seed the dungeon with loot by bribing monsters and hoping to seize the loot back again. You have to deal with right now, right now.

So overall, it's a game construct that drives less bookkeeping and interesting decisions.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Economic impact of money on the megadungeon town

I saw this post over on Tenkar's Tavern today:

Do You Hand-Wave Adventuring Economic Effects?

Short answer: no, but without inflation.

Longer answer:

I'm sympathetic to the idea that a lot of money hitting the market at once causes inflation. So does limited supply of goods. If both happen, zowie, your per-unit spending value drops. You may have 1000 gold instead of 10 gold, but 100 gold buys less than 100x what you used to be able to get for 10.

But it's a pain to put into play, without a computer, and no one likes it, even with a computer.

So I largely do the following:

- a big dump of like goods means each is worth less. PCs have tried to trickle-sell items to make up for this. They are able to do so, although my XP awards system discourages this, and I won't allow for Excel spreadsheeted sales trickles to allow for extra income over time. They can hold back and sell later and hope for a higher price, but again, my XP award system discourages this.

- I do random, big fluctations in prices and availability. Boom, magic items cost more. Bang, potions cost more (my players from my old GURPS game remember the magical disaster to caused a potion price rise.) Snap, the prices for certain services go up.

- I also kept track for a while of loot that hit town, and let spent money in town - not just held on to, but spent - increase the local economy. Over time, more good became available for purchase. The PCs basically "unlocked" access to better goods and services - the more expensive ones - by spending money in town.

I can report these all worked fine.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Felltower & weapon metals

Playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker has reminded me of some elements of D&D. One of these elements are metals.

Cold Iron doesn't exist in Felltower. In the game, it seems to largely serve to injury faerie-type creatures. It was a metal type that got some random mentions in AD&D, too, that I recall, but it wasn't very defined.

Felltower features the usual DF metals:

Meteoric Iron

It also features, although not commonly, bronze weapons and armor as well.

Orichalcum is in short supply - the PCs bought up some items made of it, mostly knives (which are still affordable even with a +29 CF.) Its main value is that it won't break on a parry. The PCs haven't knowingly met anything especially vulnerable to this metal type; it's not clear why anything would be.

Meteoric isn't uncommon, but is sufficient rare to be cheap and always require a special order. Its main use is to frustrate defensive magic. The PCs haven't knowingly encountered anything especially vulnerable to this metal type; presumably beings with some kind of sensitivity to a lack of magic could be affected more than usual by it, but cases are likely to be extremely rare.

Straight-up steel is the main metal. It's common, and almost nothing takes extra damage from steel.

Silver is excellent against were-creatures and presumably some other beings as well. In general, if it shifts shapes, silver might help.

Bronze is uncommon because working with it is a speciality task. It is useful against rust monsters (for sure) and rust slimes (presumably), but suffers against steel and orichalcum.

That's about it for metals for weaponry. "Cold forged" weapons or "iron" weapons aren't getting you much of anything. A being vulnerable to "iron" is just as vulnerable to steel.

Felltower is pretty much vanilla DF in that regard.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

More Pathfinder!

Yes, all I did today was play Pathfinder. At least, all the gaming I did today was playing Pathfinder.

So what's up?

- lots and lots and lots to do. Lots of freedom. And yet, it's possible to do things in the "wrong" order. In one area an NPC warned me about another NPC being ahead. He was not. He was somewhere else I'd bypassed . . . which I found out when I went back.

- there are fun bits, like exploiting the perk of having an undead companion ("disarm" death traps by setting them off, she's dead already).

- there are annoying bits, like seemingly having to leave Oleg's outpost to re-equip all of your companions.

- Attacks of Opportunity are really annoying. My worst foe so far? Wolves. They often - I'd say usually - knock down my guys on a hit. When you stand up - the only thing you can seemingly go when down - you provoke an Attack of Opportunity. So much so that knocked down PCs in a fight vs. wolves are basically dead. I played one fight against a wolf pack with a worg, uhm, 11 times? We all got killed in all 11 of them. Okay . . .

- It's odd how many little things you have to control manually, like doing a Coup de Grace (not automatic against a sleeping foe, for example, you need to select it), or using Mobility to try to evade better when necessary. By default, you just do default-y things.

- the perspective makes some attacks less helpful. I've put Grease down on NPCs and then my guys fall down trying to melee them at what I thought was the edge. I've manuevered carefully to be out of the cone of a cone attack and yet all of my guys are somehow still in it. I've basically given up on some of those attacks.

Overall, a lot of fun, except when I decide to reload from a save and ram my head against the same fight over and over. It's tiresome. Hopefully I'll figure out a way to deal with those issues as I master the system a bit more.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Random Thoughts & Links for 1/14/2022

It's Friday, time for some random stuff.

- Three Smoking Dice is putting up some orcs.

- I'm still waiting on almost everyone's equipment to plug into GCA and then into Foundry. Sigh. We won't have any reason to play if we're not taking advantage of the combat engine, in my opinion, but our usual laggards are lagging. Sigh.

- This webpage shows Edestekai as orange and green. I personally haven't found any color descriptions of them. I'm still going with my current paint scheme. Especially after seeing this uninspired one.

- A nice look at the Dungeon of the Mad Mage. I liked it, although I haven't played it.

- This is awesome - colonial skirmish Cthulhu.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Two Optional Hit Location Rules

Here are two untested optional rules for hit locations:

Revised Miss by 1 hits Torso: For swinging attacks, a miss by 1 against the skull, face, or neck hits the torso instead. For thrusting attacks, a miss by 1 against the skull or eyes hits the face, a miss by 1 against the vitals, or neck hits the torso. For either type of attack, a miss by 1 against the groin hits the either leg (1-2 and 3-4) or the torso (5-6); optionally, make it torso by default.

Why? This removes the oddness of trying to stab someone in the eyes and hitting their torso instead. Also, of swinging at the groin and hitting the torso only. And the leg never taking the shot for a groin miss is just odd.

Shield Arm and Hand. The shield arm or hand can be hit randomly, past a (strapped-on) shield. However, the roll must be confirmed. If the original "to hit" roll would have hit the arm (-4) or hand (-8), it hits. If not, re-roll. A second result of the same arm or hand hits it regardless!

A hand-held buckler only protects the hand in this manner.

Why? It's weird that the shield and buckler don't actually make getting hit randomly in the covered locations less likely.

I have no idea how these would work in actual play.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A Pathfinder a Day

I didn't have much time for gaming stuff today - only about 30 minutes, very near the end of my day.

I spent all of it playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

I'm getting a bit more of a hang of the game. I had to, in the end, restart, and make a slightly different character to better fit what I needed long-term and short-term.

I also found I hadn't given enough thought to the development of my companions. I spent a bit of time reading about builds and feats and class level benefits. So where I'd just leveled up a fighter companion as a fighter, I instead leveled her up as a Rogue so I could get Sneak Attacks when she fought side-by-side with a friend. I knew what the benefit of "stances" were for barbarians, so I chose a stance instead of a different feat for my barbarian. And so on.

A few things still get me:

- the maddening frustration at guys who have a 3 to hit and miss 4 times out of 5.

- dealing with fear spells, which usually take out my best guys pretty quickly.

- optimizing healing. I won a single fight with a lot of potions but then rested 12 hours with casters with lots of healing and still ended up wounded badly. Okay, fine, but I have no idea if that's normal or bad rolls.

- a tiny, tiny, tiny event log window that scrolls most of what I want to see up before I can find it, and a very fast scroll speed on it so I can't just go up a little bit.

- PC names covering up die rolls.

- trees blocking my vision to my combatants.

- and making sense of the use of recipes. Okay, I can learn to cook with all of these bits I find, but it doesn't count as food?

Overall, still having fun, but it feels like I'm wasting a lot of time recovering from getting mauled and in traveling, without a good plan of where to go next. I just guess at what's a safe side mission. Last time around, I guessed wrong twice in a row and ended up with lots of bad stuff as a result.

Still fun. A little frustrating on the interface.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Edestekai WIP

I finally got back to painting these two Edestekai from Star Frontiers.

Not a lot done, just put on the fringes and outlined the eyes. Next, I need to decide on an eye color. I'm thinking white with a purple iris. I think that'll pop nicely and say "Alien!" more than anything else.

Maybe dark brown for the spear and a spearhead of bronze, then some bright metal colors for the ornaments and the headdress of the leader.

Should look nice. No idea what to do with them - in DF the PCs would just stab them in the eyes and that's that. I need to save them for some Sci-Fi game in the future, perhaps.

In any case, here they are:

Monday, January 10, 2022

WIP Viking drinking

I think I got this from a Black Tree Design set, but I don't think they sell the set anymore if so.

He's probably going to be a Tavern Level patron in Felltower or another potion taster.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

How goes Foundry VTT Felltower?

We're playing our next session of Felltower in a couple of weeks. From now on, barring issues, we'll be playing in Foundry VTT hosted on The Forge.

How is it going?

- Mapping is a big of an issue. As in, I need a way to create battlemaps and upload them, or create them in Foundry. I found Dungeon Draw and I hope to have time tomorrow to spend learning to use it.

- I'm slowly getting the PCs uploaded. We've got a few issues, mainly being that I keep up-to-date copies of people's character, but not of their equipment. Which means I can't easily track damage or DR for them. To fully take advantage of the VTT I need those. So far, I still need about 5 or 6 players to send me their equipment so I can put it in GCA and upload it to Foundry from there.

- I sent around a video showing the basics of PC management and combat, but I have no idea who, if anyone, watched it. I hope some do, because I'll be a newbie at the system, too. I can't reasonably GM a game, help players, make sure they're doing what they're supposed to, and run the enemy, and teach people how to do something I'm not fully fluent in at the same time. I'm not sure I can do half of those together smoothly.

- I need to upload more creatures, but I'm loathe to just upload everything and potentially flood the server with material I won't use. So I do need to know what the PCs are doing next. They're stuck in a bit of a circule - a large contingent want to go after the 33 draugr, again, but only if Heyden comes with his Holy Warrior lens. I gather that Heyden doesn't want to go after the draugr until he's got enough points to buy the Holy Warrior lens and then max out Higher Purpose vs. undead. So it's a bit of a conundrum. If I knew, it would vastly simplify my game prep. Otherwise, I need to prep for the draugr with a combat map, and also prep for "anything else."

So I'm a little stuck on what next. First, learn to map and hope my players send me their info. If not, that's what we're spending a chunk of the game session on - putting in the equipment piece by piece in GCA so I can upload their characters to Foundry.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker - first thoughts

I've been playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

- the controls are a bit . . . annoying. I accidentally zoomed in my combat map and can't zoom it back out. I can't seem to even figure out what the game wants me to press to make that happen.

Camping requires assigning characters, and shows it all on a screen. But then you need to go to another screen entirely to swap who is doing why. Why, even?

Characters selected to grab something or unlock something or whatever tend to run off to do it . . . you need to move the whole group up if you want them ready in case a fight breaks out.

Stuff like that isn't the best thing. I actually resorted to a Waltkthrough and a YouTube Playthrough to figure out some of the commands.

- I do like turn-based combat, since that feels better for a game with a D&D ancestry. Everything has more HP than I'm used to, though - I hit a Kobold for 8 damage and it was still alive. I was like . . . how? Oh yeah, they probably had lots of HP in Pathfinder compared to AD&D.

- Alignment is actually interesting. I'm Lawful Neutral, so I always choose Law or Neutral options, and if then Good options. Given a choice, say, between Neutral Good and Lawful Evil actions, I go Neutral Good. But otherwise I'll choose the LN option regardless. It reminds me of Planescape: Torment in a positive way, and the clarity of what option is what makes it easier to hew to your chosen alignment.

- I like the odd mix of companions I've got, and the balance needed to keep them. I picked up an Evil character I quite liked from the introduction, which is fun because the rest of my party is largely neutral but has a good member, too.

- I've already needed to restore from a save after a clicky blunder killed my party off. Oops.

- I seem to have useful gear that I can't use - I killed a bandit up in a tree fort with missile fire. I have rope. They have a ladder. I cannot get to him. I do not understand this.

- I really like how combat misses are shown - arrows bounce off shields or armor, blows miss or get blocked or hit armor, etc. So my heavily armored tower-shield carrying fighter ally doesn't just get missed, but blocks arrows. Same effect, but it feels good.

Overall, it's enjoyable. I have been blasting through scrolls and potions and whatnot just to avoid having a Scroll of Monster Summoning I when I'm fighting dragons and demons and whatnot.

We'll see how I feel later on, but for now, it's scratching a good itch.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Random links for 1/7/2022

Random links for today.

- Lich Van Winkle has a long post discussing the concept of "amateur thespianism" and Gygax's written thoughts on the subject.

- I've run a hexcrawl and had a lot of fun doing it. But even with small hexes - 1 mile across - there is a lot of space to search. Locations aren't all in the middle, but neither are they all instantly encountered on the edge. So where are they?

This post covers that with a nice method.

- Speaking of hexes, Doug has a nice post linking to hex makers:


Related: Hexomorpho

I need to figure out a good hex overlay, so I can have a map image and then plunk a hex map on it. I probably can do that now in IrfanView or MS Paint or something but I don't actually know how.

- I roll on random tables very seldom, but I do enjoy reading them. This one is useful for vignettes for adventurers passing through town, I think:

d100 buildings & businesses

- I have a lot of time to paint today, but I'm just not feeling it. Oh well. I'll find some other time in the upcoming week.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Harsh Realism for Mortally Wounded

My main grip with Mortal Wounds in GURPS is this:

- loss of limbs - crippling, or dismemberment, are curable, partially disabling, and have lasting consequences.
- mortal wounds are curable, disabling, and have no lasting consequences.
- in a high-magic game, death is curable, disabling, and have lasting consequences.

So basically, it's better to nearly (but not actually) die than to break a leg in a high-magic environment, because it's easier to fix and has less adventure-limiting consequences. Oh sure, it can kill you, but it's hard to die in GURPS. It says if you are stabilized, you're "still incapacitated" but in practice, that's not really true.

Here is what I'm proposing as a way to make it a little more harsh.

Mortal Wounds: As written in Basic Set, p. 423, except as follows. A mortal wound that is stabilized, either from a critical success or external method, removes the need for further HT rolls to avoid death. However, you are incapacitated until your FP and HP are both above 0. Once both are above zero, you and capped at FP equal to just under 1/3 of maximum FP, and thus your Move, Dodge, and ST are halved, for 1d6 hours. After that, roll against HT each hour with a penalty of -2 for every -1xHP below zero you were (-2, -4, -6, or -8) when you became mortally wounded. On a success, you recover and remove this penalty.

Restoration will remove this penalty but will require the victim to rest for 1 hour. Instant Restoration will remove it instantly. Casters healing themselves suffer the penalty for their theshold of injury (i.e. -2 through -8) as well as any other penalties. Remember: One Try!

Bonus harsh realism: Apply the penalties for negative HP thresholds to any attempt to stabilize a mortal wound, regardless of method used - Surgery, Esoteric Medicine, magical healing. Healing up HP before stabilizing may optionally reduce this threshold, but for really deadly games, keep the penalty of the worse threshold reached while mortally wounded until stabilized, even if the victim is healed up fully.

I will try this is my DF game if my players see eye-to-eye with me on this. Or close to eye-to-eye. It seems pretty fair - you can fix it quickly with enough magic, which is true for everything else. Also, it has annoying consequences, so it's not "better" than losing a limb or eye. I like it so far.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Plate-armoured Orc Based & Sealed

I managed to finish this guy off entirely this week:

I'm quite pleased with how he came out, even if the basing material is stacked a little tall.

He'd make a cool NPC in a lower-powered DF game or an Orc PC, in a game featuring them.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker - did I shoot myself in the foot yet?

Over the holidays, Epic Games was giving out free copies of Pathfinder: Kingmaker. So I went ahead and grabbed one. I didn't post a notice here because I only heard about it roughly an hour or so before the giveaway ended.

The plot is exactly the kind of thing I'd like - delvers sent off to clear a territory and seize it and rule it at the behest of a neighboring power with ulterior motives.

"What? Men of power possessed of secret agendas? No! That does not seem possible." -Glen Cook, "Soldiers Live"

Of course, it's amusing to be level 1 and be addressed as one of a group of "only the best." Compared to who, level 0 folks? Come on. I'm level 1.

I've started playing as a human fighter - named Otto, as I always name myself in video games*, although Mirado would have been a fine choice.

So far the game is attractive, interesting, and enjoyable . . . but I've only played a short time. I'm concerned that my lack of knowledge of either D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder means I'm going to hit some pitfalls in character design.

I went for high STR and CON, and then increased my CHA, because I wanted to up Persuasion. In games, I like to:

- kill things

- not die

- notice things

- convince people to let me have my way

Here are Otto's stats. Anything stupid I've done already? I figure I'll go sword-and-shield or other-melee-weapon-and-shield.

* Because of Repo Man, which Mo's player introduced me to in high school.

Monday, January 3, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Session 165, Felltower 118 - Beyond the Repelling Doors

Game Date: 1/2/22

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 (340 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (378 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)

We started out in Felltower, with everyone hearing one of three rumors - about a "black mist" "down where you guys have been exploring," and about how orcs and goblins follow some race they call "the Masters," and that mana-devouring monsters - just like wizards - get more powerful by sucking the magic out of things.

They headed out to the ruins of Felltower.

Once in, they went down through the trap door . . . and then walked around underground to the main entrance and crossed it to the other side (lots of this today, honestly.)

They made their way to the second level, stopped to open the secret door near the stairs to the "fresh air room." They went in and checked, and yes, the air is still fresh. No, it's still not higher than normal Sanctity.

At the bottom of the stairs is one of the rotating statue rooms. The door opposite the stairs - site of the famous "naked crowbar fight," was gone and the passage was filled with rubble fill packed in and then shaped solid.

They decided it was too long to dig, but there is a trapdoor on level one. So they went back up, tripped off a crossbow trap (which missed everyone), set off (magical?) alarm bells, and forced their way into the big room with the scorched ruins of . . . lots of wood. They searched and found the trap door. It, too, was sealed - someone shaped the stone door into a solid mass. Ulf put Silence on the center of it and Bruce and Aldwyn and the new skeleton took alternating whacks at it with picks. They broke it apart, and the pieces fell to the (not-silenced) floor below. They put Missile Shield on Aldwyn, then sent down a Wizard Eye to look around - the room was as before, but the two exits not blocked by rubble were blocked with floor-to-ceiling barricades full of dirt. They used Silence again, pounded in some spikes, and had Aldwyn climb down a rope ladder.

At the bottom Ulf used 7 Silence spells to cover the barricade - Area 1 is free to maintain, Area 2 is not - and they broke it up. He used more to cover the next section, and they broke that up.

They advanced on the orc hole cautiously, but no one was around. They made it all the way to the end of the hall to the left . . . and found it, too, was plugged up with stone. They wanted to dig there to avoid going back but some of them remembered their map shows a mere 10', but the hallway is definitely longer than that. So they turned around and retraced the steps to the initial plug in the statue room from hours before.

There they dug, again using 7 Silence spells to cover the area they dug in, breaking up a 2 yard by 2 yard area to walk through (the barbarian hunched.) They needed 5 iterations - 35 castings - to break through. About halfway there, it unraveled. Ulf rolled a 17, and critically failed.

A smokey, shadowy figure appeared behind him in the little mining hole where Bruce and he and Alwyn were crammed, and howled - most shrugged off the terror, but Bruce did not, and promptly passed out. The figure stuck its hand into Ulf's heart. He took some injury, failed a HT roll, and dropped . . . mortally wounded. Aldwyn got his swords out in the tight spot. He stabbed at it uselessly and then also dropped, mortally wounded, as it reached right through his guard and touched him.

Wyatt came running as Gerry yelled, "It's a shadow demon - magic weapons and sunlight!"

Varmus backed off, as did Gerry, and Wyatt engaged it, slashing between its wings and hitting the head twice. Neither blow did much but clearly did something - it was Diffuse but his magic sword could at least hurt it. Gerry put Blur on Wyatt and Shield on himself. It kept trying to hit Wyatt or Gerry, but they managed to avoid it. It dodged many of Wyatt's attacks.

Varmus eventually created a 4d Fireball and threw it at the creature's back . . . burning a huge hole in it! Wyatt finished it off moments later.

It was gone, but their cleric was dying, as was Aldwyn. Gerry defaulted Esoteric Medicine with a 7 . . . used Luck . . . and rolled a 7 on his third roll. Ulf and Aldwyn made their checks to not die in the meantime. They fed five healing potions to Ulf and then pumped him to full on FP with Lend Energy, then used an Awaken spellstone to get him up. He cast Stop Bleeding on Aldwyn, and then they did the same with Aldwyn.

Once everyone was back up, they resumed casting Silence and digging. Eventually, they broke through.

They made their way to the lens room. There, Ulf put Hide Thoughts on everyone except the skeletons. They approached the repelling doors - and were not thrown back!

They checked the doors - no handles, hinges, marks, words, glyphs, symbols - six-fingered hand or otherwise, or other indications of what to do. They tried to force the doors but failed. Ulf whispered something to Aldwyn, who then proclaimed, "All hail the Brotherhood, by the Brotherhood let me pass." The doors opened.

Ulf cast See Secrets on himself but rolled a 17. As far as he knew, it worked, but it had no effect.

Inside was a circular room ~12 yards across. In the center was a blood-stained tripod-based basin. Glowing runes line the walls. They pointedly didn't look at them. They spent some time checking the basin, the blood (old), the amount used in the past (a lot), and the three pairs of doors leading out. Eventually, unable to go anywhere, they had Gerry read the glyphs. He could get the gist of them (a Hidden Lore (Magical Writings Lore)-3 roll). The room was the Chamber of Blood, and it needed the blood of a creature with Magery to open the doors and "activate the chamber." Gerry sliced himself open and let 2 HP worth of blood flow in. He was faint and woozy but the doors opened.

Beyond on either of the left and right side doors were identical rooms. Each had a summoning circle and glowing-glyph instructions to summon an elemental within. One was the Chamber of Tears, and Gerry was able to largely understand it wanted for a water elemental. The other was the Chamber of Breath, and needed an air elemental.

They found a spiderweb of tunnels beyond the center doors, and found a number of identical doors they couldn't open. At each and every door, they tried "All hail the Brotherhood, by the Brotherhood let me pass." It did not work again.

They marked a few intersections with chalk, and eventually found the Chamber of Crystal (aka "the Quartz Room.") It had a big crytal not unlike the lenses, but much bigger (10', not 4'), and humming. Gerry determined it was something like a power item, but how big and for whom he didn't know. It has glyphs which said "From One Must Be Made Many.” They decided this must mean someone must blast the crystal with a fireball or sunbolt reflected off of the crystals outside, since they were "many" and the spell was "one." Gerry argued they shouldn't be casting damaging magic spells at the humming crystal. (They wanted his expert opinion on the amount of damaging spell the crystal could take, but Gerry lacks any materials science skills)

They stationed PCs around strategically, and then set up the crystals. Varmus took a shot with a 1d Fireball, and it didn't reflect. So Ulf tried 1d Sunbolt, which didn ricochet around and then left a scorched, black mark on the humming crystal. Ooops.

They didn't have any further ideas, so they closed the doors and left. On the way home, they stopped at the "Saints" room, had Wyatt pick the lock on the door, and used Seeker on one of the missing heads. Ulf got nothing.

After that, all that was left was a trek to Stericksburg, where they arrived nearly the next dawn.

They ordered some scrolls and potions and whatnot, including Summon Elemental scrolls to open the doors and the anticipated other doors.


- Wyatt's player is looking for alternatives to heavy armor on his Swashbuckler, but can't seem to figure out a way to go that keeps him from getting squished from a critical hit or a failed defense but also weighs little. I don't have one other than setting the concern aside, but my group is extremely DR-demanding. Even the lightly armored guys have DR 5+, and many of them have DR 8+ even for non-melee combatants. He's already maxed out his defense-enhancing advantages.

- Gerry got a new skeleton to replace Rahtnar. People started calling him the "big" skeleton. I stomped on that. It's SM 0, and no bigger or smaller than the others. Once it gets called "big" people will want to "just double check" its SM, help by reminding people it is SM +1, ask for a ST discount for it when it is upgraded, get it oversized weapons, want to use it for cover, etc.

- Switching digging places was a classic example of a) thinking there must be an easier way, and b) trading real world time for in-game time savings. It took some in-game time to get to the trap door and hack it open, then explore to the plug, then get back . . . but it took a real-world hour or so of exploration and movement to do, and in the end they needed to head back the way they came anyway.

I offered the IQ roll to remember that their map is wrong just to speed thing along. Otherwise, they were looking at ~10-15 yards of rubble fill shaped into a solid mass . . . all backed up against the dig by the orcs in the orc hole. I'm sure the players were confident they could hold off any number of orcs basically forever, but enforce enough FP loss and they'd lose. So the dig was likely to be a constant battle for no real purpose.

The dig was fast, but it's BL based and Bruce has a 106 BL. Human norm is 20 BL. He's better than 5 workers.

- I almost never use the Critical Spell Failure Table. I just had no good ideas for the result of the critical failure. So I rolled, and rolled an 18 and Ulf summoned a demon. The arguments immediately began - it can't be the worst possible result, because it was a 17, not an 18 on the critical failure. Sorry, tables don't work that way, and the rules nowhere specify that a 17 can't had really nasty, potentially fatal consequences simply because 18s also exist. So I kept it. Ulf's player argued that it was a Holy spell, cast for "good" purposes, so . . . also no. The out in that table entry is way to stop saintly Father Healicus from summoned The Devil while casting Major Healing or Bless or something of that sort, not to stop a delving cleric using Silence to help dig past a barricade to get at potential loot. So no on that, too.

- This one is on me - I let Gerry default Esoteric Medicine. I asked my players to look up the skill and the Healer's Kit, and they reported it didn't say you needed the kit. I looked up the skill but in the interest of time I didn't look at the kit until we had a break later as someone had it in sight. I should know by now - they don't read past the first sentence, and glance around for numbers. What they told me was the first sentence of the description and that is gives a +1 to the skill, and that's that.


What the kit says is this:

"Basic equipment for one speciality of Esoteric Medicine. Required to use that skill - but in situations where it or First Aid would do, gives +1 to either skill."

So it's required. Gerry didn't have a 7, he had a 7 and a -5 for no appropriate equipment for the skill, or a 2. He would have needed to take Extra Time to even earn a 3 and a chance to roll a 3-4. They should have been forced to march everyone home and end the delve right there, except for this error.

A player later argued that the "required" bit didn't make sense, because why is it required but also gives you a +1 to skill rolls? I pointed out that's not what it says; it says that you get a +1 if you have an either/or case of Esoteric Medicine/First Aid being something you can roll. For cases where Esoteric Medicine is the only thing, it is a +0.

I forgot this once before, and the players used that case - default roll without a kit - to justify this one. I won't forget this again. I'm fine with occasional generosity, but this was a bit above and beyond as they lacked any of the tools or other solutions despite facing this situation before.

- So yeah, based on those points above, it seems like my group has completely morphed into a rules lawyer / munchkin group. They do roleplay their guys, but every rule is quoted chapter-and-verse to argue positive cases for the PCs and lots of stuff is scanned, misread, or ignored to avoid negative cases.

- I've said it before and I'll say it again - GURPS is extremely generous with injury recovery. Magic sped the process, but literally all it took was some HT rolls and then everyone was healed and happy and as good as new. I've gotten fairly harsh with guys with -96 HP wandering around just because they didn't fail any HT rolls in combat and have 4 HP left before automatic death . . . Mortal Wounds probably deserve an after-effect, too. You literally were dying with a tiny chance of recovering on your own, and then you're fine? Eh. Magic should help fix that but it shouldn't be a skill roll followed by a few cheap-o potions. At the moment, the only thing that has an actual long-term effect is dismemberment or death. Anything short of that - anything at all - is easily solved by routine means. I don't mind dying being hard, but nearly dying should have a bit more of a lasting effect.

- If you know the answers to the puzzles, please keep them to yourself. This area is meant to be entirely player-facing, and no one in town and no sages have any research to share on this. So there won't be rumors about how to get by, and I won't approve comments that seem to be giving hints.

- XP was 2 each for exploration - new areas plus a rare special area. MVP was Gerry for his Esoteric Medicine roll.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Felltower pre-summary

We played Felltower today. The group:

- dug out lots of obstructions

- talked themselves into more work than was needed to avoid doing the work that was needed

- accidentally nearly killed off multiple party members from excessive spellcasting

- found their way past the repelling doors . . . and found more mystery!

Summary tomorrow.

Felltower today!

Back to Felltower today.

Smaller crew than usual, as Crogar and Galen are away - Crogar had to meet a friend, Galen was sick.

Rumors came up rather short, too, so it seems likely they'll stay on target for attempting to figure out the crystal lenses and getting past the repulsive doors.

We'll see if that's the case.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

DF Felltower FAQ: Wizardly Dispel Magic vs. Holy

The split between "Holy" and "Druidic" and "Magical" in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy is in my opinion less than it seems.

I know in my own game, people see these as very broad, very distinct splits. Since No Mana Zones don't affect Holy spells, and No Sanctity Zones don't affect Magic, therefore, the logic goes, Dispel Magic cast by a Wizard doesn't affect Holy spells cast by a Cleric.

Not even remotely true.

Spells affect other spells' effects regardless of the source.

Levels of mana and sanctity and nature affect the ability to cast or keep spells of that type - they're the source of such supernatural ability.

But Extinguish Fire doesn't care if the fire is holy, druidic, or wizardly (or even non-magical, in this case.) Dispel Magic affects all of those. Magic Resistance gives you a bonus against all three as well.

That, in Felltower, I allow you to buy Magic Resistance that only affects one of the three doesn't mean the default is that they only affect one of the three. In fact, it should remain as firm evidence that the default is mutual effect.

There may be edge cases where this is not true, but I can't think of any offhand. The baseline assumption should be that magic is magic is magic, and affects each other as written regardless of the respective casters' power source.
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