Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Blackbirds RPG book reveal

I can't seem to share it here, but my buddy Ryan posted on his Instagram an image of a hard copy of his Blackbirds RPG.

From the May update on the Kickstarter, it looks great:

The only thing I wish, like with my own books, was the author's name on the spine. It's not common on RPG books, but it's something I like . . . looking at my bookshelf and seeing the names of my friends who are now published authors.

Still, it's attractive:

Monday, May 30, 2022

Sample Character: Alexander Lascelles Jamison

I like sample characters and examples of play. Growing up as a 9-10 year old trying to learn to play games, these were a window into a world I wanted to be part of.

I still love them. I couldn't wait, upon re-reading Traveller via my first read of The Traveller Book, to get to Alexander Lascelles Jamison.

I wasn't disappointed re-reading him.

Some reactions:

- andi jones pointed this out at a game session along time ago - ALJ is 38, and when we started gaming this was so old. It was hard to imagine even playing somone who was 20. In my 20s, "35" was code for a character who was a long-time old-timey vet. 38? 38?

Doesn't seem that old, now. Stopped seeming that old when I hit 30, actually. It seems like a good age to go solo and really go for it in the Traveller universe.

- What's the average human lifespan in the TU? It lacks a lot of modern technology, being a now-retro version of the future, but it does have some pretty good medical tech. How long do people live? You must retire after 7 terms unless you keep rolling 12s on Reenlistment, which is 46. That implies you have a relatively low lifespan for such good technology.

- I like how much emphasis they put into the number rolls. When the player rolls a 5, +2 DM for intelligence, to get a 7, the minimum to join the Merchants, he "just barely manages" to talk his way onto a merchant ship crew. A 3 (+2 for intelligence = 5) on 5+ survival roll means he experienced danger, but a 9 (+2 = 11) means a quiet 4-year period. The rolls tell the story just as the results do. Something like this is fun, but I'd rather hand-roll (or VTT-roll) up a guy and have the numbers matter.

- I know there is a house rule somewhere for surviving a failing Survival roll instead of being dead (and thus needing a new character.) Anyone know of a published one?

- I never really deeply loved randomly rolling for skills. Don't get me wrong - it's fun as hell, and it keeps everyone from min/maxing around certain weapons and skills . . . but it does seem like you should get to choose some. If I set out at 18 to be a pilot, I could have had a pilot's license by now. I learned a lot I didn't expect to learn, but I also learned things I set out to do. I didn't randomly roll "Japanese" on my language list - I had to make that happen and did a lot of work and spent a good bit of time and money to make it happen. I'd like some of that.

- I need to did up my GURPS Traveller book and look at conversions. It would be a lot of fun to make people roll up Traveller guys and then manually convert them - probably with customization - to GURPS since it's an easier game system to run at this point.

- I'm still a litttle annoyed with the merchants for forcing ALJ into retirement. One more term and one more roll would have paid off that ship!

- Maybe Kevin Murphy could play ALJ in the Traveller movie.



- I have no idea how to pronounce "Lascelles" but I know I'd do so differently than 10-or-11-year old me would have done so.

I really enjoy this game, for as little as I got to run it.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Felltower - Little Notes

Here are a bunch of little notes about Felltower, Stericksburg, and my DF campaign. Some of these you'll already know. Some are absolutely new to this blog.

Where did you get that from?

Felltower unabashedly has bits taken from other places. I make little claim to have created all of this ex nihilio, even when I use "a diety did it!" as an explanation.

- Baron Sterick's name and origin story is cribbed from a story from Doug Cole.

- Felltower came as a name suggested by Doug Cole, too. And then my players went and felled a tower in their first session of the megadungeon. You can't make this up.

- Leaving Stericksburg, you cross the Old Stone Bridge across the polluted Silver River. I made that up . . . as far as I know. But as a kid, then twice as an adult, I read (and really liked) Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks.* In it, I found this passage:

Late that afternoon, they arrived at the legendary Silver River and came upon a company of Dwarf Sappers engaged in the construction of a footbridge at a heavily forested narrows.
- Terry Brooks, Elfstones of Shannara, p. 97 (mass market paperback)


Well, okay then. Dwarf-made bridge across the Silver River. Damn, nothing is unique, is it?

I still think I just thought of this. It's a throwaway reference. But it stopped me when I ran into it when I was reading the book.

- The surface is a map from the Judge's Guild Castles II book.

- The need for a megadungeon owes a great deal to this post, and stories of the really old days. I didn't run a megadungeon back then - we didn't run them back in my day - but here we are.

- The Jester Gate was a very, very early add. One of the first things I wanted to add was a gate like the ones in Greyhawk that led places like Dungeonland.

- Not really a little note, but man, this campaign should have had a dead pool!**




* The only Terry Brooks book I actually like. I think Elfstones is an excellent book. It benefits from having a backstory in Sword of Shannara, which I gather is very, very derivative. I've tried to read later ones but wasn't drawn in. This one is just good, in my opinion. It's worth a read even without the book before and after it in the series. I may have to go back and read Sword at some point, and re-try Song, but maybe not.

** A captain dead pool! Nah, maybe not.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

DCC Bundle of Holding

So, for about $50, a bit less really, you can get 50 DCC modules on a Bundle of Holding:

50 Dungeons

The earlier you jump in, the less the total needs to be - but of course, you can always err on the upside and donate some extra funds.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Links & Thoughts for 5/27/2022

Here is some fun for Friday.

- I like house rules posts, and roundups of house rules even more so. Rules I Don’t Use, Replace, or Revise is a good one. I especially like to know what people have tried and then abandoned - that's how rules systems get better, as you cut away what's not working.

- Here is a rules post from Chris Rice, as well.

- And from Kalazz.

- And Cole Jenkins.

- I love me some Gamma World, even if our GM is too busy to play GURPS, nevermind run Gamma World. So here is some musing on a Gamma World campaign.

- I still want to run a Gamma World-DF crossover. But I want to play more AD&D first.

- Commanding armies back in the day, from acoup.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Signature Gear, Weapon Bond, and teleport traps

My players recently stumbled into a teleport trap in Felltower that teleported them, but not any of their gear. How would that affect - and be affected by - equipment traits?

Signature Gear

In Felltower, this means you can eventually get it back. It won't be destroyed - but it might get used. It won't disappear forever - but it might be hard to recover. And so on.

So with a naked teleport trap, your gear exists . . . but I won't make exceptions to get it back to you. Serendipity could potentially make for a coincidental recovery, but it would really depend on the circumstances. Otherwise, just know it is waiting for you.

Weapon Bond and Equipment Bond

This doesn't provide any plot immunity for your weapons. I won't treat an item with Weapon Bond or Equipment Bond any differently than any other piece of equipment. Points in these traits can be wasted if that piece of equipment is destroyed or stolen and unable to be recovered. Purchasing a +1 to a specific weapon or piece of equipment for 1 point is an economical investment compared to 4 points in a skill . . . but it comes with some risk and downsides.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Minis I don't need: Aztecs

Thanks to Chain Links and Concrete for finding more minis I don't need but want:

Aztec Warriors

I really like the look and arms of aztec soldiers. I don't have any need for them - in fact, given a VTT, it's easier to have a picture than a mini. But they'd be so cool to have on the table.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Stuck Door post

I don't want to lose this post of d100 stuck door explanations:

d100 Why is this door stuck?

As someone who makes people roll door-forcing rolls according the official rules, and his own house rules, I like this.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Traveller Book - arrived!

There was a major sewer issue in Stericksburg, today, which precluded me from getting more than a few free minutes today. That said, my copy of The Traveller Book showed up:

Shiny and new!



The printing is very well done, from what I can see. Margins aren't too tight to the binding - which renders books functionally unreadable for me as I'm too frustrated to keep reading. The type is clear, the pictures aren't too fuzzy or black (although they seem a bit darker than I've seen in Starter Traveller.) I was surprised to see red as well as black and white. I've added this to my "to read" list, right near the top. I'm excited to see how Traveller was in one book I felt even back in the day I should have picked up.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

It's good to be the king: Felltower & Status & Reputation

In my post Additions to Felltower - DF23 and DFRPG DTG I mentioned that we may use Rank or Status, if my players desire it.

So far, none do. But I gave Status and Reputation some thought about how they work.

Reputation

In Felltower, Reputation is almost always Everyone, All the Time. I have no plans to use smaller subsets of recognition, either of groups or of frequency. I do expect people min-maxing town benefits to ask, but those two things are largely inappropriate for a megadungeon-centric game like Felltower.

Reputation works in and out of the dungeon. Every 5 point level gives a +1 to reaction rolls and +1 to rolls in town of most kinds. This also works in the dungeon, too. Not that people generally talk to the dungeon dwellers, but somehow it does matter that you have a reputation. There may be some mystical or supernatural effect that covers this.

Buying a Reputation means earning a reputation. You can either buy it when you've done some in-game deed that the GM feels deserves recognition, or pass on the option and forever lose the opportunity.

Status

In Felltower, Status provides in-town and in-dungeon benefits.

In town, Status gives a +1 to all rolls in town.

Otherwise, Status works as in DF23. While the weapon carry rules do not matter, the inherent Claim to Hospitality (for example) does matter.

Certain in-game objects will only work - or only work to their utmost potential - when used by someone with the appropriate level of Status. These will largely be obvious. (I say this to avoid my players reading this, deciding Status +4 or something must be the solution to some puzzle that isn't a puzzle that they've found, and push to get Status +4 to try some door/secret door/magic item/etc. It is not.)

Purchasing Status, like purchasing Wealth, has a cost. The minimum point value and cost rules from DF23, p. 5, are in effect.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Order updates

I didn't do anything significant gaming-related today. Too much work.

But, a few updates on things I ordered:

- My POD copy of The Traveller Book has finally shipped, hurrah!

- Fire in the Lake is up to 893 orders and is still At the Printer.

- I finally got a replacement copy for some of my Michael Moorcock books that I loaned out to . . . someone . . . at some time. They've been out of my grasp since before COVID was a news story about some overseas outbreak. I finally just plunked down the money for the books.

I'm excited to receive the Traveller Book and give it a cover-to-cover read. I haven't done any reviews recently on Dungeon Fantastic, so no promises, but I might try to get one in. If you have specific questions about the Traveller Book, let me know and I'll make sure to answer them.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Link for Friday 5/20/22

Just one link for the week:

- Video: What games get wrong about war

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

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

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Rulings from Session 169

Just a couple of quick rulings from Session 169:

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

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

That's pretty much it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

Good stuff.

US Army Sniper Breaks Down His Field Combat Gear | Loadout

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

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

Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Foundry VTT issues I'd love to have resolved

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 16, 2022

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

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

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)
Wyatt Sorrel, human swashbuckler (379 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (366 points)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Felltower pre-summary

I'll be brief:

- we ended mid-fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We ended there.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Felltower preview

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 13, 2022

Random links for Friday, May 13th, 2022

Just some links I found interesting:

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

A first stab at the megadungeon campaign

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

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

Orc Captain (with a whip)

- Another oldie. Spartacus mini battle!

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

- Acoup is always a good read.

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

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

Thursday, May 12, 2022

More Mana Enhancer thoughts

This expands on my prior post:

Mana Enhancer & No Mana Zones & Felltower

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Scratch-built dino-monster

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

My Son's Scratch-Built Slaughterspine

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Trogdor Expansion

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

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

Let Strongbad explain what it's about.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Current Video Game: Syndicate Plus

My new time-wasting distraction has been chosen:

Syndicate Plus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 8, 2022

A Grim Accounting: Felltower Graveyard stats by player

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the winner is . . . VL.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Traveller Adventure not in POD?

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 6, 2022

Links for 5/6/2022

A few links for Friday:

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

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

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

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

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

- I might need this book:

(Amazon.com affiliate link)

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

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

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

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Simplified Task Difficulty

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

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

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

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

Let's simplify that to 5.

Net conditions are:

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Silly Star Wars crossover thought

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Sports in Fantasy Games

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

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

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

Not much else.

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

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

Monday, May 2, 2022

Conflicts of Felltower

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

Good vs. Evil

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

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

Caution vs. Confidence

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

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

Old vs. New

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

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

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

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Known factions of Felltower

What factions exist in Felltower?

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

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

Orcs

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

Six Fingered Cultists

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

Gith

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

Mungo and the Trolls

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

Sirkar

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

Apes

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

Navigators

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



Anyone I miss?

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

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

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

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