Thursday, March 31, 2022

More Bite Size Backstory

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least, that's my best advice.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker - endgame?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Fire in the Lake Update

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 28, 2022

Games Diner Rations for DF

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

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

Dungeon Dining: Exotic Eats and Remarkable Rations for Fantasy Travelers

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

Sunday, March 27, 2022

King(maker) for a day

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

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

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

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

and that's it.

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

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

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

Nevermind . . .

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

Oh well.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Tiny crew Felltower tomorrow?

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 25, 2022

Random notes & links for 3/25/2022

Back to the weekly links.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Dungeon Fantasy Companion 3 is out

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

The book contains several articles I wrote for Pyramid magazine:

Quick Equipment Kits (Pyramid 3/106)

Simple Spell Components (Pyramid 3/113)

More Mythic & Magical Monsters (Pyramid 3/108)

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Weapon Specialization & Magic Items

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Felltower Rumors update

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Short posting break

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

DCC Dice experience?

I pledged to the DCC 100 Kickstarter.

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

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

Does anyone have any experience with those oddball DCC dice?

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

I just want some input before I put money down.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Nordlond Bestiary available in PDF

In case you missed the announcement:

The Nordlond Bestiary is available

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

Unboxing Video from Doug:

Bestiary Unboxing

Monday, March 14, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Felltower Update

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

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

- work on the rumors

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

- make some modifications to the dungeon based on intelligent monsters

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

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

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Game Inspiration: Sung in Blood - Airships & Sorcery

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

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

( affiliate link)

The Setting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 11, 2022

Links for Friday 3/11/2022

Just a few links as I had little free time today and none tonight:

- Poll Time at Grognardia. What are you playing right now?

- The DCC 100 Kickstarter will be over in 4 hours.

- 690 orders for Fire in the Lake and still I wait. Not a shocker considering the other games ahead in the queue . . . but c'mon, I don't want the other games. I want to play this one!

- I'm still playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker but I haven't really had time to make a lot of progress. Still fun. Just long.

- It'll be a few weeks until the next Felltower due to schedule things, and anniversaries and Easter and such. But we'll get a game in probably in a couple weeks before we end up needing to jump around again.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Updated GURPS Game Aid for Foundry & Me

I can't help but feel like this is somehow due to me:

I have to admit, it'll be useful to be able to set the turn order using what's now, in 4th edition, a non-standard turn order approach. Heh. Thanks to Chris Normand for the update and shout-out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

DCC #100 - Last 48 hours

Only about 48 hours to go in this - I'm hoping for a big push to $200K so I can get something else tossed into the boxed set. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

How the draugr fell & loot

So the PCs finally destroyed the 33 elite draugr warriors in Felltower.

Why now, finally?

The main difference, in my opinion, was a combined set of three overlapping factors:

- significantly higher PC point totals

- willingness to make it a straight fight

- stronger will to win

PC point totals were much higher. Wyatt's player has the numbers on this, but it's 75-ish points if I recall correctly. Almost all of the PCs were much more powerful this time. The one that wasn't was Sir Bunny, who's relatively new, but he still held his own. The draugr did not change in power. It's just that skill 18-ish draugr were a terrific threat until the average PC had skill 20-ish and most of them were in the 25+ range thanks to potions enchancing DX. And some of the PCs - especially Wyatt - are built to fight humanoid foes with eyes and brains one-on-many. Tack on the ability to use significantly more and better buff magic on everyone and that effectively raises their point value.

A Straight Fight was acceptable to the PCs this time. Previous fights all broke down because they PCs insisted on only fighting the draugr with some kind of battlefield modification to force the druagr to accept damage for no return or to fight outnumbered against the PCs. That ranged from creating a magical wall with arrow slits, using magical servants to sneak up and spill alchemist's fire on the draugr, plans to sneak up and destroy them one by one, attempts to "raid" the draugr to kill a couple and drag them off so they could kill them one at a time, etc. We had hours of discussion that boiled down to "what spell will destroy them without damaging their equipment?" We had endless discussions about "what if they roll a 3?" and how to prevent that by not letting them melee. Even in this fight, the PCs were so worried about spear throwing they built tactics around standing and exchanging missile fire. But in the end they accepted that it would be a melee, and they wouldn't be able to make every character, in every second, fight at worst one-on-one. They accepted that they'd need to fend out multiple attacks and backed up this acceptance by minimizing flank attacks but not refusing to risk them.

A Stronger Will to Win is very heavily Wyatt, in my opinion. Wyatt pushed hard and often for this fight. He pushed back hard on any discussion of retreating or breaking off the fight. He didn't Leroy Jenkins the fight, but he argued strongly in favor of risk being a necessary part of the job. Minimizing risk was fine, but being unwilling to take risks wasn't on the table for him. So I credit him for making sure no one vetoed the draugr or insisted on "let's pull back" when losses were suffered. Even when Bruce went down, no one peeped about getting his body and running. It wasn't only him, but as the GM, I noted he consistently argued for the risk being worth the reward and insisting on taking that risk.


So what was the loot?

33 gold eagles ($100 each)
32 silver and gold necklaces ($500 each, although 9 were badly damaged)
1 gold necklace with three rubies ($1000) that is also a Salamander Amulet.
32 suits of (Basic Set era) mail (they believe all) with Fortify +1 and Lighten 25% (+$2000 base value for the enchantments.)
1 suit of fine (Basic Set era) mail with Fortify +3 and Lighten 50% (+$26,000)
67 spears
~30 shields
31 oversized balanced broadswords
32 oversized balanced dwarven axes
1 oversized fine balanced broadsword with Accuracy +1 and Puissance +1
1 oversized fine balanced dwarven axe with Accuracy +1 and Puissance +1

The armor is mostly ~80% intact for pricing purposes, weapons ~70%. So the PCs stand to get a bit more for waiting until they can Repair them (note - this will cost some materials cost, worth ~10% of the base cost) and cast Analyze Magic without paying $400 per casting to verify the enchantments they believe are identical accross the board.

So that's what they ended with.

Monday, March 7, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, Session 168, Felltower 120 - Draugr Do-or-Die (Part III)

A continuation of the delve started weeks ago in Session 165 and continued in Session 166.

Game Date: 2/20/2022

Aldwyn, human knight (360 points)
     Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice (180 points)
Gerrald Tarrant, human wizard (420 points)
     3 skeletons (~35 points)
     1 tough skeleton (105 points)
"Mild" Bruce McTavish, human barbarian (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 - the PCs fighting 33 draugr in a crypt in Felltower. About 2/3 of the draugr were either down or totally blinded. The remainder attempted to back off and re-form a cohesive fighting position. The PCs kept up the pressure - Aldwyn rushed them, and Wyatt continued his Great Haste-powered Run and Hit swoop in, Feint and stab to the eyes, stab a few more eyes, and then run back out. Aldwyn methodically advanced on them. Crogar held the line with Sir Bunny, the first unwilling and the second unable to advance on the draugr.

The casters kept at it - Ulf moved up cautiously (and still Invisible), Gerry kept putting on Great Haste, failing once and then succeeding on Aldwyn, and Varmus creating and then building up to a 9d Explosive Fireball. He threw that shortly after at a group of re-froming draugr, only to have one he tried to throw it past block it with his shield, taking the brunt of the blast on his shield and only having one other (badly) scorched from the 39 burning damage blast.

One draugr tried to drag Bruce away, but he was immediately dispatched by Wyatt. The others formed up even as Wyatt took them out one by one. Crogar rushed them, finally. In a short melee, Crogar was attacked from behind and wounded, but only mildly. He fended off others trying to slam or hit him. Wyatt dodged a shield rush and let one past him - the leader, it turned out - who had otherwise been holding his own against Wyatt's attempts to kill him.

Aldwyn and Wyatt fought the remaining draugr in place, as Crogar rushed back to aid Sir Bunny and attack the leader.

Crogar hacked away at the leader, overwhelming his defenses with waves of strikes with Great Hasted, repeatedly cutting him in the torso. This wounded him, but he had was too high HT and too many HP to fall from that. The remaining draur were finished off by Wyatt (mostly) and Aldwyn (who decapitated one and wounded another). Then Wyatt swooped in, as usual, and stabbed the leader repeatedly in the eyes until he dropped.

In the end, the leader fell, and no more able-bodied draugr stood. One had one arm, the remaining 12 or so blinded. We handwaved Wyatt rushing them one by one and stabbing them to incapacity.

With the draugr fallen, they quickly divied up tasks. Varmus and Gerry checked the sarcophagi. Wyatt and Aldwyn stripped the draugr, taking their mail off, gathering the weapons, and so on.

Someone - Ulf? - briefly suggested "taking off their helmets, cutting their heads off, and burning them before they regenerate." But that wasn't feasible. They had mail hoods, not helmets, sawing heads off was going to take time, and burning them would involve Varmus and he was busy. Besides, even if the draugr could come back, it wasn't a quick process. They had hours if not days before there was any issue, if there even was one.

In the end they put Sir Bunny to watch the stairs, dragged the dead around, and so on. This is what resulted:

- they found 2 gold eagles ($100 gold coins) in each sarcophagus - clearly coins for their eyes.

- Varmus found the centermost of the sarcophagi had a bone scroll case, a dried pot of ink, and an old, frayed quill.

- Varmus found (Made Per by 8!) a faded inscription on the whitewashed walls of the crypt room. It was written in Theological Common, which Ulf read as:

Cursed be those who were buried here, may judgment find them wanting.
Cursed be those who lay, that they may never rest.
Cursed be those who were placed here, that they may suffer eternally.
Cursed be they until the world ends, and cursed be any laid here forever after.

It seemed clearly laid down by clergy of the Good God. Possibly the reknowned Monseigneur Sarducci.

- the whitewash with the cursed inscrition had a few flecks missing, showing something red underneath. Eventually Gerry flaked this off (Hazardous Materials skill) and found a red hand. Gerry and Aldwyn touched it and suffered HP and FP loss and general shakiness.

- the sarcophagi were old, much older than Sterick's time. They were also whitewashed and had Sterick's heraldry painted on them . . . over runes and motifs associated with the six-fingered ones and the cone-hatted cultists who associated with them.

- they gathered up ~67 spears, 32 swords (one especially nice), 33 axes (ditto), 32 necklaces of silver with gold medallions with Sterick's Axes and Tower heraldry (9 badly damaged by fire and battle damage), 1 necklace of gold with rubies (the leader's), 33 suits of mail (one especially nice), and around 30 shields. All of the weapons and armor were damaged, and the swords and axes roughly sharpened off the stone edges of the sarcophagi and badly nicked from battle damage.

The scroll tubes were eventually opened by Gerry, who stripped to his underwear and put all of his gear a distance away. They had two (not especially good) poems, written in a shaky hand by someone unused to writing. They read, in older common:

Thirty-three did guard you, bravely did fight,
All have been felled, and laid rest in their tombs.
Below you wait, down the narrow stairs.
We could not defend you, and now none can reach you.
Trapped but undefeated, sword and axe by your side.


You dwell in the center,
Tricks and traps to distract,
Foe’s pawns set to guard.
Five trips through doom,
Sixth time will reach you.
Your city, trembling, awaits your return.

They eventually burned the bodies (Varmus just went ahead and did it with Essential Flame without waiting to see if anyone else wanted to help), gathered up Bruce, and left.

(I didn't ask anyone to specify, and no one did - so I don't know who carried over 1,500 pounds of armor and weapons, plus Bruce, plus Sir Bunny . . . )

They decided they needed to check one of the other staircases near the draugr crypt. So they went down it, and investigated the niches with the urns another group had found years before. Their map claimed there was a "black hand" there. There was not. There were red hands. The red hands there, however, were painted decorations and not a supernaturally-powered one. They found the remanants of a stone golem, bits of skeleton and a broken sledgehammer and knife, and so on. They wanted to "just check" one niche by smashing it open and investigatingt the urns their notes say are there, but had nothing like a stone-breaking hammer, just a wooden mallet for driving in spikes. They decided not to Summon Spirit on the skeleton (thankfully - this takes a lot of real-world time as they organize for questions) and headed out.

Back in town they sold the jewelry and converted the coins and paid to identify items - one sword and one axe was magical, so was all of the armor, and the leader's amulet. They got an estimate of rough price they could expect, and then voted (6-1, Varmus the only no) to keep all of the "regular" mail until Gerry can learn Analyze Magic and Repair so they can net a couple thousand each more. Aldwyn is keeping the 32 suits in his room. Crogar kept the axe and leader's mail, and they sold the sword and are still deciding who gets the necklace, which turned out to be a Salamander Amulet.


- In the end, the draugr were destroyed. They weren't able to cope with the massive qualitative advantage of the PCs - each combatant PC had all of higher skill, better defenses, and more magical support than the draugr. Most of them also had more Luck, did more damage, had game-changing advantages that let them do things the draugr couldn't reasonably attempt (Run and Hit, Extra Attack, Slayer Training), were almost all under Blur and all under Shield, . Oh, and only one melee PC had less DR than the highest DR draugr (the leader). Otherwise, the draugr gave up everything except HP and numbers in this fight, and in GURPS DF, HP and numbers don't amount to much once you add in Luck and Great Haste. The ability of the PCs to move into and out of range made Beat impossible to use, Slam was useful but not fight-winning, and Close Combat wasn't a big help, either. All of the plans of using fire to channel the enemy, shield-users to stop waves of spears, mow down the draugr at range, use Explosive Fireball to do something other than just damage . . . weren't used and weren't relevant.

This isn't a complaint, but it is an example of what happens when you put off something until you have overwhelming force - it might take some time, but you can only lose through very bad decisions. They still lost Bruce due to bad decisions, and rolls going against Sir Bunny cost him a leg (until they got back to town.)

But it's worth noting only one draugr landed a single blow this session, hit the Neck by luck, and did woeful damage (13 on 4d6+4 for 12 injury). Crogar wasn't even hurt long enough to be injured on his own turn. And yeah, after a long time of "we can't win this in a slog," they won it in a slog. I stand by my earlier assessment.

"I've said this before, here and to the group: I personally don't think the draugr are a puzzle. I think they're going to be hard battle."

- Run and Hit and Great Haste is supremely lethal in tandem. Wyatt had two swords, Extra Attack 2, and Two-Weapon Fighting. That's 4 strikes. Add in Great Haste and he can run in 6-7 yards, Feint and toss off 3 attacks, then Feint someone else and toss off 3 more, and then run away. (I'm pretty sure he ended up with nine attacks over two turns, but I'm not sure how - I'll have to double-check. I might be misremembering times when he was so close he could All-Out Attack (Double) as the first maneuver, instead, but no one ever tells me what Maneuver they're taking unless it's Wait. Except for Gerry's player. He always states his Maneuver.)

- Naturally, people wanted to roll against things for details on how to kill the draugr. Sigh. They've already done these rolls over and over and over again with every character, and keep coming back to the same answers. It's enough to make me wonder if I want knowledge skills in my next game done in this style.

- I don't mind them keeping the armor to sell later. They keep good records these days. It's just an example of giving an inch ("You don't have to worry about your stuff in town") and taking a mile ("We store nearly 2 tons of mail safely in town for when the sale market is better.") Given the nature of a group, you can set the game to be beer-and-pretzels pickup delve games and have it turn into a mercantile loot maximization game. I'll have to calculate the lost material costs to repair the mail. And with Repair soon to be in play, I'll need to know the % damaged and sale value of everything in the dungeon again, since they'll take every single thing that can be fixed and see if the raw material cost stacks up to the sale cost. This is also why I don't do market fluctations, as it would strongly encourage this. I have a rule idea for that, but not one I could use without my players trying leverage it.

- the loot, by the way, is a pretty good haul. It would have been a tremendous haul earlier, and provided cues to what's ahead in the dungeon. The Salamander Amulet (not sold in town!) would be a tremendous item. Now it's just one less spell up for one of the casters in the face of fire. So it goes.

- XP was 4 each for loot. MVP was Gerry for spell support. ("I used 10 paut," was his argument for this.)

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Felltower pre-summary

We finishes the fight against the draugr tonight.

How did it turn out?

You'll find that out tomorrow.

Mostly I want to say thanks to the Forge tech support staff and the authors of the GURPS Game Aid.

We had a major issue this morning - players unable to get in, unplayably slow response times for those in, and the GM - me - locked out of the VTT. It turned out to be an issue between GURPS Game Aid 0.13.8 and Foundry 9. Vic hopped on Discord and opened up a ticket. We got immediate help from someone with Forge, and although it took about an hour, they helped up troubleshoot through a number of steps. Eventually we found it was the issue I mentioned, so I rolled back to 0.13.4 and I was able to get things going. Meanwhile, they updated GURPS Game Aid to 0.13.9. I was able to put that on, and everything was fine.

So thanks to the folks at Forge and the authors of the GURPS Game Aid. We were unable to play and they stepped right up to help out. Great stuff, and it literally saved the game from being postponed for a week or three.

Full summary of the game session tomorrow.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Felltower tomorrow

Just a quick note - tomorrow is Felltower. This will be session three, hopefully three of three, in a fight to the finish (?) with the draugr.

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

Friday, March 4, 2022

Random Links for 3/4/2022

Assorted stuff for Friday, 3/4/2022

- Any victory in Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord is a victory.

- A brief look at the Space Hulk video game.

- I always enjoy perusing other people's house rules. This set of Labyrinth Lord rules for a B2 Keep on the Borderlands game were an especially interesting read for me.

- Nevermind my last update, I managed to unlock my other advisors in Pathfinder: Kingmaker. I'll do it much, much faster next time.

- Minature Tomb of Horrors! I'd run this for my gamers but it would be a slaughter. Exploring dangerous areas in AD&D is an acquired skill and we don't play enough to acquire that skill.

- This is potentially useful as a think-piece for GMs running mooks against powerful PCs. It's mostly of interest to me because my bachelor's thesis was part of a course on how civil wars end, and heavily discussed two insurgencies - Eritrea and Zimbabwe. No, I don't have a copy of it in a readable form anymore. Probably for the better. My writing was even worse then.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

GM's Day Sale

Tomorrow is March 4th, "March Forth," and thus GM's day.

SJG is having a sale:

20% off GURPS Basic Set and "select" GURPS books. Off-hand, I'm not sure which of mine that includes, but here is a list of them:

Peter Dell'Orto's books at Warehouse23

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker update

I had some extra time today and did not feel especially productive . . . so I spent it playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

This is full of spoilers.

- I'm King now. Oddly, I had to make a binding agreement to either ally with my current allies or break away from them before I even took the throne. For some reason that seems weird . . . especially because you're apparantly crowning yourself, no god or gods involved in the process. That's pretty weird in the real world, and seriously weird in a world with very active gods.

My biggest bugaboo now are Permanent Negative Levels. I get them all of the time and it's a pain to get rid of them. It seems like to get my own casters to take them off I need to go adventuring and do it - they can't do it in town. I can pay to have it done in town via a scroll . . . but it's weird my own casters can't do it except in other towns and out in areas.

- I lack an arcane advisor. I don't know why. I must have missed, or be missing, the proper event/task/rank up event to get to it. Which is odd, because I looked at online guides and it seems I need to level up my Divine rank. It's at III, but I get no options to go to IV. I've watched a number of events just tick by without being able to act on them because I lack a Magister. I don't know what to do, here.

- Wandering monsters at the higher end are silly. I got jumped in the middle of a forest by 8 greater water elementals. Yeah, just wandering around. I just kill them off and move on.

- I'm around 14th level. I spend a fair bit of time shuffling magic items around for maximal benefit. Craftsmen make me magic items I mostly sell because they're oddly niche, or too late in the game to matter (like a greatsword that has bonus damage against vermin, yes does less than my mainstay melee weapon even with it.)

- Overall, lots of fun. Very addictive gameplay. I clearly made some big errors early on in kingdom management and I'm paying for them now, but it should means just a sub-optimal end to the game, not a dead end. I'll keep playing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Foundry GURPS update

One of my players sent me this, which I promptly used to upgrade Felltower:

Hurrah, persistant modifier buckets!
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