Saturday, April 30, 2022

Does a megadungeon require factions?

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

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

Do you actually need factions?

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

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

- a random collection of monsters

- a fortress of a single, associated group

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

Just a thought.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Links & Thoughts for 4/29/2022

Stuff for 4/29/2022

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

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

The Book of the New Sun

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

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

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

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Felltower break?

So we're having some Felltower scheduling issues.

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

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

So I have some marching orders for work . . .

Quick Show & Tell Report

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

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

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

You have to educate your clients, I feel.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Show & Tell at work tomorrow

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

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

- plays 5th edition D&D

- loves punk rock, including the Dead Milkmen

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker - won!

I finished Pathfinder: Kingmaker today.

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

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

Still, good fight.

Trying to avoid too many spoilers here, though.

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

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

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

I enjoyed the game right up until then.



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

Good game overall. Long, though, very long.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker - Progress!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 24, 2022

No Felltower today

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

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Lost Tomb of the Bitchin' Chimera!

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

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

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

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



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

Thanks for the gift guys!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Quick Links for 4/22/2022

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

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

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

Labour Conflicts

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Evading (Invisible) Friends

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

Unseen Occupant

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Delving in the Dark: Looking ahead to next session

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

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

By interesting, I mean slow and difficult.

They have:

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

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

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

- no map

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

GCS & Foundry VTT questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 18, 2022

More Minis I Don't Need: Cybermen

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

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

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



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

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Felltower Prep

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

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

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

So I have to do it by hand.

Today is where I do some of that.

* Indirect and obscure Sam & Max reference there.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker

I'm still trying to finish Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 15, 2022

Links & Random Bits for Friday 4/15/2022

Stuff for Friday 4/15/2022.

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

- A nice post here on model scale.

- ACOUP evicerates Expeditions: Rome:

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

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

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

- More Black City summaries.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Mana Enhancer & No Mana Zones & Felltower

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

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

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

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

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

Note

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

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

Not Yet in Play:

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

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

In Play:

Nothing yet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Equipment losses in Ukraine, documented

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Felltower: What can you Zombie?

Expanding on a question in play and in the comments.

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

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

- is above -10 x HP

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

- hasn't already been undead from another other source

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 11, 2022

Notes & Rulings from Felltower session 168

A few rulings and issues and notes from last session.

Walls

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

- put down vision-blocking walls

- put down visible terrain walls

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

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

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

As I run, I look!

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

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

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

Seems workable.

Teleport Nude

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

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

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

Sunday, April 10, 2022

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

Game Date: 4/10/2022

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 (349 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (375 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (379 points)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wyatt started to pry out stones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We left it there for now.

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

Felltower today

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

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

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

Friday, April 8, 2022

Links for 4/8/2022

Links for this week.

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

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

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

- D100 Terrible Things Behind that Door from Elfmaids & Octopi

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

- I like these maps of the starship Warden.

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

Thursday, April 7, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 21: Megadungeons on sale in Warehouse 23

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

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

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


Well, hurrah!

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



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

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Grognardia & the Cold Fens

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

Retrospective: Tomb of the Lizard King

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

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Pathfinder: Kingmaker . . . geez, long ending

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

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

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

Still fun . . . but geez, long.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Big Ogre Battlemats pre-order

In case I got this email but you did not:



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

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Felltower, Players, and PC Bite-Sized Backstory

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

What are those limits?

Fun first

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

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

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

And it's got to be fun for everyone.

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

Keep it Short and Punchy

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

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

Don't make us stop looking.

Throwaway Details

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

Don't Force It

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

Cool is What You Do, Not Who You Are

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

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

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Photobucket hosting ending

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

I'm going to let them delete it.

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

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

Friday, April 1, 2022

Random Thoughts & Links for 4/1/2022

Here is some stuff I liked this week:

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

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

Bones VI Kickstarter

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

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

- Have hours to waste? Dungeon Robber is back!

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