Monday, February 28, 2022

Psionics & AD&D & that time we had 2 guys with Psionics

There are things in AD&D I never played with, and simply discarded from the start. Weapon vs. Armor Type, for example, and Weapon Speed.

There are things I played with a bit, but not too much or too long, like the aging rules and training costs. Enough to drop them but not really very long.

And there are things I played with for at least a whole campaign . . . and didn't love.

Psionics is one of those.

Unfrozen Caveman Dice Chucker put up a post about how to roll for psionics in AD&D.

Back in junior high school, I ran a campaing for three friends. They ran a fighter (a samurai, pre-Oriental Adventures), a monk, and a thief-acrobat who eventualy dual-classed to magic-users. The samurai and the thief both rolled successfully for psionics. They rolled up their abilities, and used them a bit. We never got to have any psionic vs. psionic combat, though. They fought a bunch of bullywugs in U2 Danger at Dunwater and massacred the whole bunch with a few Mind Blasts. And promptly stopped using their psionic powers after that.

This was a substantial drop in their combat ability. Having two guys with the ability to toss out Mind Blasts plus use other psionic abilities could have been huge. But they just didn't like them. They didn't use them ever again.

I think that's sufficient for me. No matter how the system looks on paper, the actual players I have that had them didn't find them actually fun. They set them aside rather than use them even when, in later sessions, they were struggling to get by. If I ever do get to run AD&D as a regular thing, psionics won't be part of it for PCs. It's just not worth the complication and they didn't prove enjoyable when we actually had them in play.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Felltower Update 2/27/2022

We're mid-fight in Felltower.

Assuming the PCs pull out a victory, then what?

There is still so much to do in Felltower. The draugr are largely a dead end in terms of exploration. They don't block any major forward movement into dungeon. The PCs have already dealt wih many of the related encounters, Sterick the Red being the pinnacle of those.

So I'm not sure what's next.

We have:

- the orichalcum doors

- the various gates, especially the Jester Gate*

- the deeper levels on the giant fantastic staircase

- the beholder/dragon level

- Mungo's level

- and not much else, aside from the orcs. And the orcs aren't really an obstacle at this point, and not really very valuable as a way to get loot.

We'll resolve the next session next Sunday and see if the PCs can clear the draugr out, or are forced away and have to start again.** And once that's done, they're back to the drawing board on what to do next. I'm really curious where they'll start to look.



* Which has gone unexplored for a long time. I expected, honestly, the PCs would jump on it with two feet immediately or put it off for years. We're clearly at the latter stage.

** minus whatever minor damage they can do in terms of swiping swords, axes, spears, et al from the fallen close to the stairs.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Don't "Gift" me free PDFs from DriveThruRPG

The title really says it all, here.

Periodically, people "gift" me a purchase on DriveThruRPG. It's always a free item, or a Pay What You Want item they've presumably paid $0 for.

It's never something I asked for or want.

And I simply do not ever pick the gift up or download the item.

I figure this is just spam marketing at heart. It's junk mail. I don't want to check out your PDF. I don't want to read your product if you have to push it on me yourself. And I don't want someone to figure some free item is a solution to my problems and just send it to me.

Sorry for the rant, here, it's just that I can't believe I'm the only one this happens to. It's annoying. I'd block this on DriveThruRPG if I could figure out a way to do so. It just clutters up my library . . . and I won't check out what I don't know I bought myself.

Anyone have a solution to this spammy way of getting product out that I can take?

Friday, February 25, 2022

Assorted Stuff for 2/25/2022

Random stuff for Friday. I've been quite busy with work and non-gaming projects so I didn't have a lot going on.

- The DCC #100 Kickstarter continues and has added some stretch goals . . . none that interest me so far, though.

- A client of mine just found out I'm a gamer, thanks to talking about music, oddly. She plays D&D, 5e as far as I can tell. But it's cool to know. She'll probably read this after she digs into my blog. I do enjoy telling people to look me up on Amazon.com or a search engine and see what I wrote.

- More Undermountain.

I'll have more time this upcoming week, I think, for gaming stuff. And next Felltower is in a week!

Thursday, February 24, 2022

The "Who's on First" of Shield and shields

In our last session, we had a lot of delays when it came to shields.

Most of it is the lingo. Some of it is the question of rules interaction.

A shield - small-s, physical shield - protects your front arc and your shield side flank hex is legal to block in.

A Shield - large-s, magical Shield spell - protects your front arc only.

If your physical shield is the margin of your successful defense, your shield gets hit by the attack. See Damage to Shields, p. B484.

If your magical Shield spell is the margin of your successful defense, it deflects the attack but doesn't suffer damage.

If you have both, both still apply based on my ruling. This means if you have a 15 to defend, a DB 2 medium shield, and 4 DB Shield, a 14-15 hits your physical shield.

Nothing really tricky here. But people getting attacked on the flank get their Shield DB never, their shield DB sometimes. Some guys got a little confused between "Your shield doesn't help but your shield does." Because you can't hear Bold Font in speech.

I'm wondering if the spell needs a better name . . . or we need another term to discuss physical shield DB?

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker update

I've still been playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

I'm 10th level. I've reached a level tipping point. There are things I have touble with to the point I can't beat them . . . but they're rare. Anything the game puts in front of me, I pretty much can trash. That's fine, it simplifies things for me. But it's weird how you go from "every fight can kill you" to "no fight feels like it can kill you." I won a few fights early with a single guy standing, slugging it out to win the day. Now, it's really uncommon for any of my guys to get knocked out or down unless I'm caught completely offguard. Even then I can generally power through and win without casualties.

My issues with healing are over; I can reliably heal everyone all of their HP, as high as they are. I've got a bucketload of potions I bought that I don't need and don't use. I'm laden with scrolls I won't use, but they're so light I keep them just in case I need some specific spell to solve some issue.

I'm still enjoying it, but struggling in some respects. Knowing what I do now about Kingdom management, I could more easily and smoothly level my kingdom up. I didn't realize I needed to improve certain aspects of my kingdom before others in order to unlock abilities and advisors, who then could speed up development. Had I known, I would have had different priorities back when I had more time.

It's a good game, though, and I feel like there is still a lot to do. I hope that's the case . . . I'll be bummed if I'm not around or at level 20 when all is said and done.

For people who've played, I've just passed the Gates to the Valley of the Dead and I'm heading into the tomb beyond. Should be fun, hopefully it's hard without being a slog!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Rules & Rulings from Session 166

Here are a couple of rules and rulings from Session 166:

- You can attack out of close combat into another hex. I've allowed PCs to do it, and NPCs to do it. I do reserve the right to judge certain attacks impossible . . . the old "rush into close combat and attack past the guy in front of me to hit his friend behind him" one is right out. Generally, you have to attack past a lower foe (less SM or kneeling/sitting) or out of your weapon side front arc hex.

- I don't allow kneeling with a crippled leg. I'm not sure offhand if the rules allow it, either. I don't.

That's really it for rules . . . pretty straight forward session.

Monday, February 21, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, Session 166, Felltower 120 - Draugr Do-or-Die (Part II)

A continuation of the delve started two weeks ago in Session 165.

Game Date: 2/20/2022

Characters:
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)
Sir Bunny Wigglesworth, human holy warrior (281 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (378 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)

We picked up where we left off last session, with the characters in mid-fight, the draugr about to go to complete their 7th second of combat.

The draugr were pushing into the PCs, with one having broken through to the back. Aldwyn moved to engage that one after the draug attacked Varmus, who Dodged thanks to his Shield spell. They managed to cut down a couple more, with Wyatt - Great Hasted - stabbing eyes with heavily deceptive attacks four-five at a time on one draug at a time until he fell.

Several of the draug were blind at this point from Wyatt's eye stabs. They began to fall back. The PCs kept fighting the ones close to them, refusing to budge from their formation even to follow the injured. Aldwyn chased down his foe all the way back to the stairs - the draug clearly falling back to draw Aldwyn out of the fight and use up more of his magical buff time. Once he killed that one, he headed back to the fight at full run.

The brawl continued, during which Sir Bunny had his shield arm crippled for a split second - by the time it was his turn again, Ulf had healed it fully and he passed his HT check for cripplingFor a brief time the PCs had driven back the draugr. Several of them threw spears at PCs, but they were dodged or blocked. Sir Bunny put his shield away and got out his crossbow, with Crogar waiting by his side. Bruce followed the draugr out. He didn't rush them or charge, just moved out.

As this was going on, the bank rankers called to their friends and said they were slower (and fought worse) dead than alive.

Varmus threw in a 9d Explosive Fireball and burned a couple of draug badly. Wyatt rushed out, again under Great Haste. With Run and Hit, he dashed out, stitched four attacks into a target, then moved to another, launched another four, and then ran back to his buddies. He did that for a couple of seconds as the draugr broke lines to allow their blinded bretheren into the back ranks. Once they managed to get mostly formed up again, they charged with shield rushes, swamping Bruce, Aldwyn (who'd run up), and Wyatt. Wyatt managed to cut his way free. Aldwyn managed to back off. Bruce had a leg crippled and dropped. Wyatt tried to help Bruce but the charging draugr drove him back. The draugr kept pounding on Bruce while he was down. He fended off a few attacks before passing out from a skull hit from behind. After that, they just kept chopping him - it turned out, for several seconds after he'd died [I didn't notice them saying he'd died, just asking what a critical success on a death check did.]

The PCs fell back as the draugr kept up a wave of shield rushes. They managed to knock over Sir Bunny and Aldwyn, and kept hacking and slashing at them and forcing their way to surround PCs. The PCs kept fighting back the oncoming draugr, and managed to keep them off Sir Bunny and Aldwyn long enough for them to stand. Wyatt kept blinding draugr and killing them as well with 4-5 eye shots per foe per single turn, and he gets two with Great Haste. The draugr just couldn't leverage their ST for beats as Wyatt rarely stayed in one place, and the others rarely parried with the same weapon they strike with.

As this went on, Varmus tossed a 6d Explosive Fireball and scorched a few more foes. Wyatt began to victimize foes that were already attacked by others, which sped up his ability to defeat them. At this point, Wyatt blinded one of the draugr, who called him a "Right bastard!" and then exclaimed, "Well, at least I don't have to look at you anymore."

We ended there, with the last of the healthy draugr piling into the PCs and the blinded ones and broken-armed ones in the back. 11 or so are still active, so we didn't have time to play that out

Notes:

I'm tired all the way to my bones with Great Haste granting Altered Time Rate. It greatly increases the amount of time combats take, focusing it on one person. Wyatt gets 9 attacks and moves twice, and Sir Bunny gets one attack and a step. For example. It's just tiring. I don't think my players love it, either. They'd probably be on board with changing it, except that unless you get ATR out of it, spellcasters lose out and will veto changes that do so.
It just makes the turn-taker's turn too long and too complex, and doesn't do much for the fun of those not accelerated.
The usual "complete understanding of the battlefield" stuff happened. When Sir Bunny's arm got crippled, Ulf moved up invisibly and cast Major Healing for exactly the HP needed to fix it, despite being visually screened from the action by intervening 7' tall armed guys fighting in a confused and close melee. So the cripple lasted for a tiny fraction of a second. By the time the next turn came up, he was already healed completely. I keep these written down for when my players say, "I don't think that guy should be able to know that" when an NPC acts on complete battlefield understanding, too.

Someone - I think Sir Bunny - tried the old "cowards!" insult in here. It failed, because the draugr are fighting extensively magically buffed superbly equipped delvers in a battle to the death, delvers who insist on making the enemy come to them and won't respond to insults, and they understand this. It's a battle in a war, not a duel, and cowardice is why you do as you do and not as your foe describes. Plus, the delvers have been going for decapitations and blinding, and so the draug don't feel compelled to not kill a fallen foe . . . who the delvers will demonstably heal back to full, awaken, and send back into the fray. Of course, it's 33 on 10, but those 10 are lavishly supported by magic, and the draugr don't have Code of Honor (Chivalry). All of that screams ruthless battle to the death on both sides, and not so much concern about the other side's perception of your bravery.

Bruce got out a little too far in front of the "formation" and got himself killed. Actually, from my side of the screen, there were a few seconds there when the draugr were trying to let their blinded buddies pass through when they were scattered and very vulnerable individually. Bruce moved up . . . but cautiously. Crogar waited in the back. Bunny decided to switch to his crossbow. Wyatt swooped in and took a few stragglers out. Varmus chucked a fireball and did some damage. There wasn't any followthrough. Had the PCs attacked at that moment, they'd easily been able to double-team a few of the draugr and get them down, and the back-rankers would have been fouled by the blinded feeling their way back and unable to jump in. It would have come with some risk, but considering that the plan as executed ended up with Bruce dead and the PCs getting swamped by draugr, I'm not sure the plan as executed was safer. It's only been near the end of the fight that they started to double-team draugr, with Wyatt piling onto draug who already retreated, or had done multiple defenses.

The draugr have tried to gang up on the PCs, but mostly it hasn't made a difference - with all of the front-line fighters having Shield and Blur 5, they're at -5 to hit and the PCs +5 to defend, which means defense-swamping just isn't relevant. Only Bruce was swamped, once, and it took a lucky shot to put him down. Otherwise, the draugr largely haven't been able to penetrate defenses without a critical hit or a critical miss.

We had one VTT incident and one maybe. The incident was me accidentally deleting a draugr during his turn. So I had to finish the turn and then come back and add in the draug. That wasn't good. The "maybe" is one of my players swears a draugr slammed Crogar, and then got to go again later. I think he just conflated two turns, but he's generally reliable about these things. But I was literally clicking "Next turn" on the combat tracker and resolving the guy that came up next. That guy doesn't come up twice. So I don't think that could have happened. He goes near the end, not the beginning, of the order, so he couldn't have slammed on the same turn.

MVP was Wyatt for killing most of the draugr they've killed so far, and for trying to rescue Bruce.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Draugr II pre-summary

We played GURPS today. We didn't complete the draugr battle - we got off slow due to being new yet two weeks rusty with VTT.

We did manage to get through ~13 turns of combat - almost twice as many as last time. Things are slow with a high-resolution combat system, 40-odd combatants, and a VTT that is very good but doesn't natively deal well with things like multiple combatants in a hex. Oh, and many combatants with multiple turns due to Great Haste.

We left it with:

- one casualty amongst the PCs, and several crippled limbs

- a lot of blind draugr effectively out of the fight

- more than a dozen draugr down and "dead"

- and the PCs still in a relatively good fighting situation.

We'll resolve it in two weeks, regrettably - I think the PCs have this in hand but it's still potentially coming with losses or a defeat. But it's late and so we'll play more another day.

Longer summary tomorrow.

Draugr II today!

Our intrepid adventurers will try to finish off the draugr today.

Or panic and flee, trying to drag a body or two with them to loot.

We'll see which one - and it'll be the former, if Bruce and Wyatt have a say in things.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

DCC #100 Kickstarter revisited

I ended up backing the DCC #100 Kickstarter after all. I decided that the price wasn't within impulse buy range, really, but I do have some gaming funds to spend . . . and I really like the idea of a spinning wheel dungeon. I've seen one before, but I lack the skill to make one.

Here is that one I'd seen:

The Rotating Labyrinth

That said and seen, I decided to go in on it for a print copy + PDF. I got in for $55 as part of the first 48 hours.



I'm especially tempted by the $30 + $0 shipping package for people new to DCC. You get a pack of DCC dice, a DCC rulebook, a DCC adventure of their choice, and a GM screen. That's not a bad add-on. I may need to do that, and probably pass on the copy of the DCC rulebook (I have one) to one of my gamers. I'm not sure, yet, but it's such a nice package to put together.

Cool stuff. I think I'll be happier with it than without it.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Assorted Links & Thoughts for Friday - 2/18/22

Here are a few things that caught my eye this week.

- I like these debriefs on play:

Undermountain Level 3 Play Report
"When those inhabitants are highly intelligent, organized, and dangerous, watch out, players"

That quote accurately describes my game. The PCs can still win - they're essentially meant to - but you'll earn it, especially if your opponents are intelligent like you are. Or more likely, like you're not. ;)

- Talk to the Lynx.

I am not sure how I missed this, but I appear to have missed this. This is my kind of post:

d20 Unexpectedly Intelligent Monsters in the Monster Manual (1977)

I love this list. Yes, you can talk to mimics and otyughs.

- One step closer to Traveller - a man-portable mass driver. The Arc GR-1 test fired by Ian from Forgotten Weapons. Forgotten Weapons is an incredible wealth of detail about firearms of all kinds.

The gun

Yes, you need to boot your gun. I can't wait until you can remote hack sidearms.

The gun on the range.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Dover's Den Beat House Rules question

I was looking at the (eye-wrenchingly white-on-black) Dover's Den GURPS rules today. On it, there is a house ruled version of Beat. Here it is:

Beat: Setting up a Beat works as per MA100, that is, you must first successfully parry or be parried by your foe. Thereafter, you may attempt a Beat on your turn by making a Feint maneuver. Resolve the Beat as a Quick Contest between the Melee skills of the two combatants, with the initiator of the Beat using his ST-based combat skill, and his opponent using either his ST- or DX-based combat skill. If the aggressor wins, the margin of victory is applied to both the target's next defense roll and attack roll with his weapon, as with a feint. If the margin of victory is 5 or greater, then the target's weapon becomes Unready. This effects only apply to the weapon struck in the beat. While Beat follows many of the rules of Feint, it has a distinct technique apart from Feint (called Beat). This technique also defends against Beats.
Reasoning: Beat as written was only useful to characters with higher ST than DX, but had numerous drawbacks. Moreover, I couldn't make sense of what the mechanics were actually meant to simulate (if you're knocking a weapon out of line, why don't they suffer a penalty to their attack as well as their defense?). This version makes Beat an attractive option for nearly any character (though still benefits strong characters), but is balanced by its drawbacks.

Looking at this . . . I'm not sure I'm following, exactly. To me, this reads as Beat as written, except that:

- it also affects the defender's attack roll

and

- it also has a chance of making the defender's weapon unready.

Otherwise, it's just Beat as written.

The wording of it, though, makes it sound like it'll be more useful for strong characters but not only for strong characters . . . but mechanically it seems the same as Beat in the books. There it is ST-based vs. ST or DX-based, requires a parry or to be parried, and reduces only the defenses of the weapon beaten. It doesn't add any downsides for the attacker, only upsides, yet "is balanced by its drawbacks." Unless an implied inability to use this against Dodge is what is meant . . . but that's unclear.

So my question is, what am I missing or misreading above?

I should just email Mailanka but it's way easier for me to find stuff discussed on my blog than sitting in my email mailbox. Plus someone else might just point out my declining reading comprehension ability.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

DCC #100 Kickstarter

So, color me curious. This should go live soon . . . a boxed set for DCC, with a puzzle dungeon.

I'm not sure I'll pledge - it'll probably be more money than I like to spend on stuff I won't use . . . but I like the idea enough to take a look. Here is the pre-launch page:

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

GCA 4 to GCA 5 switchover plans

GCA5 officially came out. I've beta-tested it for a while, although I've been pretty unhelpful on the beta list (Sorry Armin.) I was beta-testing GCA well back before version 4, too. I'm not even sure how far back . . . the 90s, maybe? You'd have to ask Armin, I don't have access to my emails pre-2005 anymore.

GCA 4 is great, but old. It is really showing its age. I'm ready to switch over to GCA 5.

The tough bit for me with GCA5 is that we're using a mishmash of rules, so I have:

- a mix of proper GCA files

- a few hand-made modified files

- several files that are technically incompatible

. . . all on the master copies of live characters.

A couple of my players keep their own characters on GCS, instead, which is fine . . . but my GCA copies of the PCs are the official ones.

My current plan is:

1) Read the manual. I'm going through it from the start so I don't miss anything.

2) Make some new characters. Not Felltower PCs, but some plain Basic Set and the DF characters to get used to the system.

3) Test-port a few characters over by hand - re-create them or open the file and see what happens.

We'll see how that goes, but it feels like a solid plan. GCA 5's layout is just different enough that it throws me off, so treating it as new software is probably the way to go. And I'm a few versions out of date on the beta version, so it's best for me to just start fresh.

I'm looking forward to seeing what it does for my campaign management.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Missing Nazi Gold & Adventures

Being a being fan of a) Kelly's Heroes and b) adventure seeds, this video from Mark Felton really got my attention the other day:





A secret hoard of Nazi gold is a useful tool for:

- being a target to steal or recover

- explaining a sudden amount of wealth used for nefarious purposes

- acting as a good start point for a post-WWII adventure game, either serious and gritty (using GURPS World War II and Espionage), or lighter (using Action or Cliffhangers.)
. . . and probably for other adventure seeds, as well.

This video provides a lot of information about specifics of gold recovered (useful for that military briefing to kick things off) and missing (same.)

Oh, and gold that just up and disappears without a trace, but with a thin official explanation for the missing gold? Time traveling thieves are clearly to blame, if you want to use GURPS Time Travel.

Fun stuff.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Forge/Foundry Tips & Tricks Post

This is a repost from my player Jon L, who has been messing around in Foundry in DF Felltower to try to learn the system.

Here is what he has so far. I had to change the format because I can't import the formats he uses in his emails.

1) Adding a mod to the Marco Bar from the Chat Log.

If you see a mod in the Chat Log that you want to keep, just L-click and drag it to the Macro Bar.

Example: the -2 Bad Footing I added at the end of last game in the Chat Log can be dragged right into the Macro Bar.

2) Saving a built up Mod Bucket.

You can save a bunch of repeating mods from your Bucket.

Once they are all entered L-click on the total mods amount shown and drag that to the Macro Bar.

Example: Wyatt kept using +1 SM, +3 DX Potion/Layered Armor, -2 Bad Footing, -10 Deceptive 5. I put all of this in my Bucket, then dragged the combined -8 into my Macro Bar. Now I just click that one item and get all those each time.

(Peter's note - that is +4 for DX, -1 to DX for layered armor)

FYI, when you do this it will initially show up in the chat log each time you click the new Macro. To remove this, edit the Macro and add an exclamation point (!) in front of each line of the Macro code.

Here is what the Macro code looks like once saved:

!/clearmb <-- this clears the Macro Bucket and overwrites whatever is in there with the code below.
!/r [+1 SM Bonus]
!/r [+3 Agility Potion/Layered Armor]
!/r [-2 Bad Footing]
!/r [-10 Deceptive 5]

3) Targeting Shortcut

Double R-click on the target and the targeting icons appear.
Double R-click on the target again and they disappear.

4) Facing

SHFT+arrow-keys - while a token is selected to face it in cardinal directions.
SHFT+scrollwheel - to do this with the mouse.

***

That's helpful to have, so I asked to put that on our blog.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Last Wills & PCs?

My dearest next paper man,

By the time you read this I will be unresurrectably dead. I hearby leave you all of my stuff, my stuff's stuff, anything I might even have the vaguest claim to, and all knowledge and understanding of my adventures as I, myself, posses. This will also functions as a letter of introduction to my former adventuring companions, who will immediately like and accept you in a way they won't with any NPCs. Happy adventuring! Avenge me!


A staple of our AD&D days was a Will, leaving your gear to your next guy. The party collective style of adventuring group wasn't a thing - your stuff was yours, and for your current and future paper men. My stuff was mine, and for my current and my future paper man.

This is certainly because our official TSR character sheets had wills on them.

But does anyone use them now? My gamers sure don't. It's not "that kind of game" in a lot of ways, but it's especially not the kind of game where these paper men have families, dependents (except for the much-discussed Mrs. McDougal, wife of Desmond McDougal), or lives outside of delving. No one dies and leaves their money to their kids. They die and leave it to the other delvers, along with their stuff. Magic items pass from hand to hand - the staff of healing that Ulf carries has been handed down from one cleric to another (and lost and regained) since 2011-12. Money only serves for adventuring purposes. Nothing leaves the collective unless lost, expended, or sold.

But no wills - it's divided as the players see fit, with the input of the dead guy (possible with Summon Spirit, but done regardless).

Does anyone use these kinds of things these days? Is this a relic of the past or something people still use in the present?

Friday, February 11, 2022

Random Thoughts for 2/11/2022

Here are a couple of links: - There will be a Bones VI. I still need to sell my Bones V collection, but I've been too lazy to list it on eBay.

- Rob Conley's fun project: game binders.

And two thoughts:

- Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a lot of fun but it's consuming too much of my time. I'll put a limit on my play.

- I need to comb through my "Magic Revised" posts and update the PC-facing document for it.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

GURPS book sale

I'm not sure of the occasion, but there is a GURPS (and other stuff) sale at Warehouse 23:

Warehouse 23 Sale

My books are linked here:

Peter Dell'Orto's stuff

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Pathfinder Update

I've still been playing Pathfinder.

Some spoiler-filled bullet points:

- I've gotten to level 10 and now most fights are pretty routine. I had one or two that turned into massively nasty brawls, but I generally fireballed and fought my way out of those.

- I've got this weird magic item that does damage to those "adjacent" to the user. It seems like "adjacent" is "everyone in the whole fight." That works for me.

- It's amusing that you can get basically anyone to follow you with the right choices. I'm LN, but I have two CE companions and a LG one. I have them adventure together. They don't seem to mind.

- I've gotten so many magic items I can't keep track. I have potions and scrolls I've been carrying the whole game because I can't seem to use them fast enough. At level 10 with a 10th level cleric, healing isn't an issue anymore.

- I have so many belts and rings I can't keep track. I think I need to spend an hour and strip down my whole party and re-equip them from scratch to maximize who has what.

- The main issue is time. I've got more things to do than time to do them, which is appropriate. Some things are just mind-boggling, like many missions where I need to go visit someone . . . can't they come to the capital? It's a day's walk away, and frankly I have stuff to do. So do they, but they're the ones asking favors.

- The romance options are kind of fun. I did one with one companion, but then decided another was more in character so I broke the first one off. The really amusing one is Amri, but she doesn't seem to be a romance option. A crazed barbarian woman who tells ridiculous stories? Heh. Best one of the group.

All in all, good fun.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Reflections on Foundry VTT & GURPS

Sunday was our first session with Foundry VTT with combat. Naturally, we christened it with a fight between seven PCs, one Ally NPC, and four skeletons against possibly as many as 33 foes. So, 40-45 combatants in one fray, in a large room, with buff spells galore.

What did we think?

Overall, it went well. There were a lot of teething pains for players and GM alike, but overall it went well. We got faster and faster with turns as we went.

- Turn tracking does speed-based. We do round-the-table initiative. So I actually have to work to make that happen.

- I love that it does the damage for me. I insisted on everyone putting their equipment into either GCS or GCA or both. It really needs to be GCA, since I use GCA and the official character sheets are in GCA. But several players keep shadow sheets in GCS as well. But the upside was that when someone hit in combat, I could drag the damage over to the target and let it do the math. It did so accurately. Very helpful. I didn't have sheets of scrap paper tracking dozens of foes and their lost HP . . . Foundry does it for me. Making it quiet, not open, by default would be nice.

- You can tag a token with lying down, or sitting, or whatever, but it doesn't change their posture on the character sheet. I'm not sure why.

- It's a pain to keep the turn tracker open, see the map, and have a character sheet open. I can pop it out, but I have to minimize it to use it on my 15" laptop. So there is a lot of clicking from one thing to another to another.

- Penalty buckets aren't persistant. When a PC attacks an NPC four times with identical modifiers, and I need to make four Dodge rolls, it sucks to have to apply all of the modifiers each time. I ended up doing it once, and then rolling unmodified and manually deciding if it worked or not.

- One player, especially - Wyatt's - insisted that people do things themselves. This was very good - we lost some time because of people fumbling to end their turn, or move their guy, or whatever - but it meant people learned how to do it and sped up as they went.

- I have no idea how to set it up to do slams . . . especially DFRPG style. Maybe I need to add it in as a weapon, but then I need to find a way to add in a damage bonus that will change based on current move.

- we need to figure out an easy way to put in changes to ST, DX, and defenses as buffs are very common.

- it's hard, with identical foes, to find which guy to mark as dead in the turn order. It would be handy if I could do that off the counter.

- there is no "crippled limb" marker. I put something on a draug with a crippled arm just to remind me he lost his arm.

- there needs to be a way to make a token into two hexes for lying down.

I'm sure we'll notice more things. Overall, I was very impressed, and even my most critical players were positively impressed. We just need to get smoother, and figure out what tools we need to use and how.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Rules & Rulings from 2/6/2022

Yesterday was session 120 of Felltower and, naturally, we had rulings to make.

DFRPG Slams & Shield Rushes

A few on this:

- A shield rush adds +DB of the attacker's shield, and gives -DB to the damage the defender inflicts. It doesn't say it provides DR, it says it reduces damage. So I ruled that this matters for questions like "Who did less damage?" and "Was this twice the loser's damage?"

- This didn't come up, but you can't shield rush with a buckler, or block a slam with a buckler (at least in my games the latter is true.)

- A block that is made by more than the DB stops a slam entirely. I still think this should not be true, but here we are. An easy, better solution would be that a block just takes the hit on the shield DR so you get hurt less, but might get knocked back. I'd prefer that, with maybe a critical block fully stopping the slam without harm.

- You can "just put my shoulder into the slam" against a foe's slam, but that's exactly the same as failing to defend. You don't do more damage, get a bonus on DX rolls not to fall, etc. You just take it.

Wait Tricks - So I pulled a Wait trick yesterday. I know this is legal, but it didn't sit well with one of my players. I think I got it from one of my players in any event:

Draug's turn: Wait, action is Attack, trigger is the guy right in front of him (Crogar) trying to attack someone.
Crogar's turn: Attack, but Draug interrupts and attacks him.

Why this way? Because of Retreat Tricks. I've long since learned from my players that sometimes you want someone to hit, so you can Retreat and move yourself into a better position to avoid other attacks or block off a gap or something. Behind Crogar was an open hex the other draugr needed to pile through. Had Crogar realized this, the attack could have let him block it. So pausing a beat on the attack so your friends can pile through an open hex? Pretty gamey, yeah. But my players do this kind of thing all of the time - the side-step to allow an Invisible friend to pass by, the three-man shuffle to allow everyone to attack on a two-hex front in one second, etc. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. I could make this kind of Wait illegal, but how? I can't make the Retreat Tricks illegal without making perfectly sensible things illegal. It's just the usage that was too cute . . . but legal and mimics the kind of fighting tricks people are really after when they push for tactical combat over theatre of the mind.

Attacks of Opportunity

No, we don't do anything like this. No, we don't use the various Interdiction power-ups. No, no, no, no, no. I will not ever be swayed on this. It's a one-second time scale and you want free attacks on people that pass through your Zone of Control? No, that makes no sense at all in my experience of the world.

But so some 7' draug can accelerate from 0 movement to 6-7 yards per second and run through an opening created a fraction of a second earlier by someone? Yes. PCs do this all of the time - see Retreat Tricks, above - so the enemy can, too. The game is played - whether we like it or not - as if everyone has just about full understanding of all of the moving parts of a giant battle, with zero lost time to process any of that or act on it. You have an action economy - you can only do so many things - but not an awareness economy. Foes who save part or all of their actions to take advantage can do so. PCs already do this, so I'm not opening a can of worms, here. I'm just also taking advantage.

Bladeturning

Only works on attacks that hit past defenses; resisted by the attacker's DX or ST.

A good alternative would be to leave it alone, but say it converts the attack to crushing without making the foe's weapon unready. Not really much better from a "too many rolls" perspective but at least I don't need to track weapon re-readying.

Mostly stuff I think we already "knew" but people do still ask.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Session 165, Felltower 120 - Draugr Do-or-Die (Part I)

Game Date: 2/6/2022

Characters:
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)
Sir Bunny Wigglesworth, human holy warrior (281 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (378 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)

The PCs started out in town, gathering rumors. One old man warned Aldwyn to heed the name of Frenzy's last owner - Asif Kinslayer - and stay away from the axe he seeks. They got a rumor about how you can't heal anyone at the greater depths in Felltower.

They spent a bit of time (see below) organizing for the draugr. Once that was done, they headed to the dungeon with some litters, sacks, a couple of wheelbarrows, and other implements of loot-carrying. They headed to the second level via the main door as the trap door isn't big enough for wheelbarrows to fit down easily (nevermind back up!)

Once near the draugr crypts, they ducked into a side room to stash the wheelbarrows, etc. and discuss tactics. They were very concerned with getting the draugr to engage, and with how to deal with their spears. They were pretty sure they'd either take them by surprise, and could initiate a fight with alchemist's fire on some open sarcophagi, or they'd have to exchange fireballs vs. spears to wear them down. There was a lot of if/then discussing (always amusing to a GM, since 9 out of 10 none of them every come up as discussed.)

Eventually they made it down to the crypts, clearing out the smoke with Purify Air and then downing potions at the bottom of the stairs. Waiting for them were the draugr.

The PCs advanced slowly and the draugr threw some spears, getting in a solid hit on Crogar and a near one on Aldwyn, whose armor just managed to defeat the incoming spear. The PCs kept advancing in a line - the skeletons and casters in the back, and a line of Wyatt-Crogar-Aldwyn-Sir Bunny-Bruce left to right in front. Ulf healed Crogar after moving up a bit.

But then the draugr charged with a rush - a half-dozen of them used shield rushes to knock down Aldwyn (who'd dropped his shield on a critical failure earlier) and Wyatt. More rushed in to take advantage. The PCs did their best to fight, but inadvertantly retreated and stepped and left a gap. The draugr didn't hesitate, and five of them ran through. They kept pouring through even as the PCs tried to close off the gap.

The draugr that penetrated were slowed down by the tough skeleton, but two of the other three were easily knocked over and then destroyed - and the other just destroyed - with blows from the flats of their swords. One draug joked, "Hey, these guys are even more dead than we are!" Bruce was slammed and knocked down, after first taking a sword blow to the groin. He managed to stand back up, fending off more attacks, as Varmus chucked a 3d Explosive Fireball only to mildly scorch a well-armored draug.

As the draugr swarmed through, Wyatt sliced one twice in the skull and exposed some rotting brains. He turned - now Great Hasted - and blinded one of the guys who broke through. A similarly Great Hasted Aldwyn killed that one as he tried to crawl away (Calling to his buddies fairly casually that he was blinded), and then finished off another one from the flank. Wyatt took another one out of the ones that had broken through.

The PCs managed to semi-solidify their line, driving back yet another half-blinded draug as more poured in. Only about half of the draug are engaged, but the others are waiting within useful reach.

We called it there as it was getting late and we went in expecting a two-parter.

Notes:

Two players were expected but couldn't make it - Galen's player is sick, and Heyden's couldn't get into Forge/Foundry VTT due to an aging computer. We didn't know the second bit until this morning, so it was too late to pivot back to Roll20 for the day. Sucks, but we'll figure it out. We did get Sir Bunny, who we hadn't expected, so that was a plus.

Best laid plans . . . we were hoping to get an early start. We did not - it was 12:30 (90 minutes in) before people were done buying consumables and getting ready. Then it was 1 pm before they got into the dungeon and started their actual combat planning. So we did get an extra hour of combat (we break for lunch at 2 pm), but that could have been more. . . and around 1:15 before they actually headed into the draugr's crypt. They did spend a long time planning on when to drink potions (the very last seconds, nevermind that they last an hour, aka 3,600 combat turns), how to deal with multiple contingencies . . . they were very, very focused on avoiding getting swamped, and forcing the enemy to come to them. Add in the time it took to then modify every single guy's skills and ST and damage right before the fight in FoundryVTT, and we ended up breaking for lunch at 2:10, just as the draugr took their first action.

Ironically, they were very prepared for spears and not prepared for slams, despite really wanting to goad the draugr into rushing them. Oops. It didn't cost them as Aldwyn and Wyatt took matters in hand, but they aren't free from trouble.

I'll give a report on Foundry tomorrow, but overall, it was good. The GURPS module is useful. We only played ~7 seconds of combat (GURPS accurately represents the speed of short exchanges but not of big fights, IMO.) But still, by the end we were ticking along very smoothly, even given the issues of clicking a lot to open and close modifier buckets, character sheets, the combat tracker, etc. Yes, even as pop-outs - we don't all have a lot of screen acreage. I'm on a gaming laptop, but really need a pair of large monitors.

Bladeturning - the PCs were looking at using Bladeturning. The spell is kind of a b.s. spell - it's attacker's DX vs. the Bladeturning skill; failure causes the weapon to be unready. That's really nonsensical with big, strong foes. So I made it DX or ST on the spot. Most of them chose not to go for it after all. I'm glad - it causes an extra contest of skills every single combat interaction and I'd need to keep track of ready/unready weapons over and over. A big nightmare, and again, "realistically," it doesn't make sense that it sucks against high-DX foes but is exceptional against very high strength foes. So, nerfed. And for the players' own good, too, as if Bladeturning becomes a common tactic I'm likely to deploy monsters that use it. I probably should just ditch the spell entirely. It's useful, but annoying in play and to GM and I don't think it's writing. Even so, someone used it in play today. It hasn't come up, as we only apply it on a hit, not an attack successfully defended.

They learned two things about the Girdle of Savage Might - strength potions don't seem to stack with it, and it provided its DR 2 to Bruce even on top of his Shirtless Savage DR. No, those aren't listed powers, but even stuff I make up gets modified for the flavor of Felltower.

The PCs are liberally buffed. Bruce with Blur -5 and Shield 6, Crogar with Bladeturning and Shield 4, Aldwyn Blur -5, Sir Bunny Haste 2, Blur -5, and Shield 4, and Wyatt Blur -5. That's cut down on the amout of Deceptive Attack they need to face.

MVP is Wyatt for essentially turning the back-rank disaster into a managable fight, and dispelling the "okay, let's find a way to grab a body to loot and leave" crowd's power. :)

Felltower Prep

So, I basically spent Saturday doing non-gaming stuff, until a big rush of a few hours trying to wrestle Dungeon Draw and Foundry to my will.

I like Dungeon Draw, but I can't get it to do anything but rectangles. The draugr crypts have angled walls which I couldn't get to line up. They'd move from where I was drawing them to . . . close by, either creating extra open hexes (bad, my players will want to use them and the hexes don't exist) or closing off actual hexes (less bad, in that I can allow people into them . . . I think.)

It was incredibly frustrating. I really need to find a way to draw maps and drop them in, and frankly I just suck at computer and hand art. Robert Conley helped me out here, and I'm going to try his solution . . . but I may need to make some drop-in tile walls and see how that goes.

This morning I'm trying to do some of the hallway to the draugr as stairs. If I can't, I'll just chop it off . . . again, to avoid issues with movement that shouldn't be unobstructed but appears to be.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Friday Roundup 2/4/2022

- This post on raising the dead has some interesting points. I'm okay with our DF game having relatively casual resurrection - but we've lost a few PCs because they couldn't be found in time, and at least one when the player rolled a 16 vs. a "One Try" 15 or less to bring back the dead. That's sufficient for me.

But the star of the post is a comment about wishes from Geoffrey McKinney:

I'm a big proponent of wishes in A/D&D, and as a DM I am liberal in placing them in my campaigns. I treat wishes 1974 style:

Under the entry for the ring of three wishes in the 1974 D&D rules, Gary wrote: "Wishes that unfortunate adventures had never happened should be granted."

Imagine an unfortunate encounter with spectres in which half-a-dozen 8th-level adventurers are reduced to two adventurers of 2nd level each. A wish would restore four corpses and a dozen lost levels in one swoop. Of course, the wish would also make any treasure gained from the spectres reappear in the spectres' lair, along with any destroyed spectres being restored to unlife.

I am pretty stingy with what a wish can give you that you never had before. (After all, a wish in AD&D will add only one point to an ability score, which I think is reasonable in D&D as well.) But restoring stuff you lost? The wish will restore all of it when used as a reset button.


That's well worth preseving here, just in case the page or comments go away someday.

- I'm still playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker. I spent a couple hours clearing out a location full of wisps, gritting my teeth through every lightning attack and having to put resistance spells on over and over again, even as my fully shielded guys got taken out. It wasn't fun.

Then I found by doing that quest, I'd run out the clock on a more important one.

So I had to restore from an earlier save and do things in a new order . . . and I have to do that tooth-gritting wisp-filled annoyance-fest over again. Maybe I'll set it aside for a few days. We'll see.

- FoundryVTT is still pleasing me . . . but I found that when I create a Scene, I can't adjust the map size as far as I can tell. And the draugr crypts simply do not fit. They're much too longer for a 1 hex = 1 yard combat map. I want the whole thing done because I don't want people doing "off the map" crap, where I get the very worst of theater of the mind - people asking over and over what they can do, how close is this guy, can I retreat, etc. - with the worst of mapped combat - the analysis of every step as if each one was Operation Overlord. My players are likely to have a Cunning Plan that involves Alchemist's Fire, Create Fire, scrolls of Create Earth, cloud spells, flash, nagetteppo, and so on because they're convinced it'll make all of the difference and somehow cause the draugr to make a critical, fatal mistake (I'm not convinced, as you can see.)

Anyway, how do I make maps bigger? I'd appreciate any help!

- I'm still enjoying this series on AD&D. This time - surprise!

- Okay, back to the mapping attempts.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Heyden the Unnamed Knight-Holy Warrior

It's official . . . Heyden the Unnamed Knight, aka Heyden the Ebon Page, aka Heyden the Really Sorry He Worshipped the Ebony Death Goddess, is now a Knight-Holy Warrior.

Full stats aren't available at press time, but:

- He went for 6 levels of Resist Evil (from DFRPG Adventurers) and Blessed (Divine Grace) 2, with 1 point in skills.

- He is now 17/14/11/14 with HP 25, Will 12, and Per 10.

- He used additional saved points to get another level of Higher Purpose (Slay Undead), for 2 out of a possible 3.

They plan a do-or-die assault on the draugr this weekend, so it's a good time to lens out to Holy Warrior for him. Let's see how it works out. He'll be at +2d6 DX for some of the fight and have a +2 to all die rolls against the draugr. Helpful.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Year of the Tiger

It's the year of the tiger, according to the Chinese Zodiac.

We've had very little in the way of tiger motifs in DF Felltower:

- trigers and pentanthers. I like these, even if they really struggle against armed opponents.

- the Targe of the Tiger, a reskinned Ward of the Wolf from Dungeon Fantasy 6: 40 Artifacts. It was destroyed by Baron Sterick the Red*.

I can't think of anything else tiger-themed offhand.

I clearly need to make a Lunar New Year's Resolution to include some.

Well, maybe not. But I do think I need to turn my brain towards making at least one more tiger-themed item to deploy into my game somewhere. It might not be discovered or encountered in this given Year of the Tiger, but I'll make sure to make something that works with the theme. Why the heck not, really?




* And good riddance. I liked the item a lot - enough to use it - but honestly I got tired of my players trying to feed the tiger things, asking if the tiger could eat items, where they went, could they get them back, did it have a name, was it a good kitty, etc. It got old, and I was well pleased that the dice agreed with me. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

In Memory of Bob Wall

This isn't exactly a gaming post, but it kind of is. The martial arts community lost Bob Wall yesterday. Bob Wall was Ohara in Enter the Dragon:



He's a gaming connection because that movie very heavily informed my martial arts experience, which of course heavily informed GURPS Martial Arts. Without guys like Bob Wall, just like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris (who owned a karate dojo with Wall), and other martial arts stars of my youth . . . I don't know if I'd have really relentlessly pursued martial arts. Their willingness in real life to forever branch out - Wall studied BJJ with the Machado brothers - helped keep a continuity in the arts we represented in the book. There was never a clear dividing line between karate in the 60s, kung fu in the 70s, ninjas and kickboxers in the 80s, and BJJ in the 90s . . . there was a continiuity as arts continued to develop, mesh, split, and change each other.

It's a loss for the martial arts community - and the gains and losses there affect what I write and create for game. I need to do a Bob Wall homage . . . maybe I need to stat O'Hara after a quick re-watch of Enter the Dragon . . .

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