Wednesday, June 29, 2022

GURPS Space Bundle of Holding

Maybe there will be a Dungeon Fantasy Bundle of Holding next. Who knows?

Monday, June 27, 2022

GURPS Bundle of Holding

There is a nice Bundle of Holding up for GURPS, if you'd like to get started for a generic game, with a High Tech package to go with it:

None of my books are in it, so feel free to expand out your options by adding on GURPS Martial Arts!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Felltower & Modified Evade Rules in Actual Play

How has my Evade House Rule worked in actual play?

Short answer? Well.

Long answer?

It essentially boils down to paying 1 extra movement point and making an unopposed DX roll against a friendly, or paying 1 extra movement point and making an opposed DX roll against a hostile. Or a concerned friend, I suppose.

It's worked out very well.

Too often in the past, PCs would essentially form a combat line and then have their second, third, fourth rankers just walk through each other like they weren't there. Even invisible friends who were concentrating on a spell and had touch-based magical defenses on them were evaded with total ease. You just got right by and did your thing. You could easily down a foe in front of you, and then step back, and have your friend step up and take your spot - or the friend step through stationary you with a Committed Attack and attack someone else. All on a one-second time scale where your buddy is a tiny fraction of a second slower than you. Bleh. It felt stupid. So stupid, in fact, that if the back guys did it the players would groan about how it wasn't realistic that that guy could do that, not this turn anyway.

Instead, the addition of the DX roll - penalized for big friends - has helped immensely. It's rarely missed, but it does mean the clumsy sorts or risk-averse aren't keen to move through occupied hexes.

The additional cost means a hallway of friends actually slows you down, which by the rules as written it does not . . . not at all. That also means rushing foes don't always get to just fill in a gap, either, with a back ranker . . . but well-coordinated foes often can, which makes for an interesting differentiation between enemies.

The one addition I've made is that you need a roll to detect an invisible friend - Hearing-2, penalized for combat noise - to attempt to avoid them unless you're certain where they are (it happens), or they hear you and move out of your way.

All in all, it's added a lot of versimilitude and interesting tactical choices to combat without any real addition to the rules, just an expansion of two basic concepts - Evade, and the Bad Footing extra cost of movement when your footing is poor or limited.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Random links & thoughts for 6/24/22

It's been a pretty busy week. That said, I did get some gaming-related stuff in.

- I've been noodling around with a DF-centric skills post, but just haven't been able to focus and finish it. It was almost an article but Pyramid 3.0 folded too soon and GURPS PDFs since have been crunch-light. I want to finish it but I have too much going on! Hopefully next week.

- I'm mostly done reading The Traveller Book. I really like it, although it's fascinating how complicated the starship combat rules are. Also, that they are 2D is still boggling to me. I know 3D on paper would be even harder, but abstract would do away with any issues from that. I know I say that you need to see what's a problem in actual play, but geez, I don't know that I could ever play these.

- Ogre is on sale on Steam for $7.49. It still feels like a lot to pay to play it. Worth it for that much, or is it frustrating to play or have a terrible AI?

- This post on Runequest combat has useful comments. As I own RQ 2nd edition now, I don't want to lose it.

- My players know many of these already - 12 Habits of Highly Effective Murderhobos.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Felltower Status

Felltower current status:

We're still between sessions, but still mid-delve. The players - at least a couple of them - are discussing either a do-or-die attempt to destroy the norkers and norker-alikes in the room with them . . . or surrender. So Option A, surrender. Option B, do-or-die. Option C, just declare everyone tried B and died and move on. I added my own commentary, which basically was this:

- Surrendering might not be as simple as throwing up your hands and giving up, but it's also not an automatic death sentence. It will be a death sentence if you make it so - fake surrender, I surrender but then grab a knife and fight my way out, or your guy is just so predisposed to be impossible to safely keep prisoner that no one would take you prisoner. Avoid that, and I can assure you out of game that I won't just kill your characters out of hand. It's the start of negotiations, except from a very bad place.

- It won't be a game-ender. That's unless people prefer their guy just go away (or retire after rescue, or something like that.) But this isn't the same as option C.

- Gerry is welcome to try to escape. He doesn't have the energy to take anyone with him, as far as I know, and that would more than double the difficulty. It's likely to be tough, anyway, and impossible if he runs into a locked door or someone has See Invisible, or can smell him or otherwise sense him. Attempting and failing might come with costs - either after capture or instead of capture (i.e. they kill fleeing Gerry, or kill someone else in retaliation.) You just don't know your enemy well enough for me to give any hint, here.

I'm happy to run any of these.

- Option B is tough. It might be a winnable fight, but you're in a bad position. If you win, great. If you lose, it does impose additional costs on top of capture for any living. This *can* be a game-ender for the characters involved. Not every foe likes to leave people dead-but-resurrectable and easily recovered. For example, every delver ever except Vryce. But on the other hand, if you win, it's a victory and you just continue on.

We'll see what they do. I suspect it will be Gerry making a run for it and the rest try to surrender. Norkers don't seem to be like gnolls or trolls, though, so they probably won't butcher the PCs if they throw their hands up. And if they do surrender, what next? I have ideas, but much of it depends on the how and why of the PCs, and what they choose.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Nordlondr Ovinabokin: Bestiary and Enemies Book - Arrived!

Hurrah! This arrived!

It arrived right as I headed out to martial arts class, so I haven't had a chance to do much besides flip around and look at a few entries. I have been able to do so on PDF for a while, but the joy of a hardback monster book is worth waiting to experience all at once.

I'll get started alongside reading The Traveller Book.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Intermitant posting warning!

I'm pretty regular about posting here at Dungeon Fantastic, but at the moment I have a bit too much going on to assure myself time for a daily post without going full throw-away post on most days.

This should clear up in a couple of weeks, if not sooner . . . and then occur again mid-July.

Apologies for the lack of content . . . I'll try to get something gaming related up daily but I can't promise much during those two periods.

You may ponder what I am doing like so, on the +1 IQ Rock of Thinking:

Or on the HT-roll inducing Tree of Woe:

(or alternative, on Neil's crucifix, if you can somehow get the last nail in.)

Monday, June 13, 2022

UK Steve Jackson on fantasy wargames

This is a cool find - an introduction to "fantasy wargames" by Steve Jackson - the UK Steve Jackson, not the US one.

An Introduction to Fantasy Wargames

Pretty neat.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Top Felltower Lies

Top Felltower lies players tell each other, and themselves.

I present these with no comment. They're more amusing without extra content, I think. To my players: Did I miss any, guys?

10) There is no way we could win this fight.

9) There is no way they could kill my guy.

8) My character would see that guy doing that.

7) We'll research that in town.

6) Some collector in town will want to pay extra for this.

5) They would have attacked us anyway . . .

4) We'll take them by surprise.

3) We'll discuss that by email between sessions.

2) We'll go right there and not get distracted.

1) We'll check that on the way back.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Friday, June 10, 2022

Random links for Friday 6/10/22

Yet another busy week - so much so that gaming reading was slow and intermittant.

That said:

- I'm still reading my way through The Traveller Book. I'm really enjoying it. I forgot how Endurance ties into hand-to-hand combat in Traveller. It's been a long time since I played out a session.

- James M on lethality. Felltower is pretty lethal.

- Still no Fire in the Lake.

- I love this Razormouth.

Sadly not much else of note. Too busy.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Fireball to the Face!

Last session, the PCs tried a Fireball spell to the face of a foe. That normally doesn't do more than hitting some other location.

It does seem like a flame attack to the face should have some special benefit, right?

Here is an option.

An attack to the Face with a burning attack may briefly cause blindness. Any attack that hits the face causes a Will roll to avoid flinching and closing your eyes - giving the defender a -2 against any attacks until the end of their next turn. If the attack actually causes damage, this roll is the lower of Will or HT. Only beings naturally immune to flame will ignore this - you may have Resist Fire on, but the subconcious doesn't trust easily.

I think my players will think this is a good idea, right up until a dragon breathes on them and the large-area attack means they have to blink and get momentarily blinded from the attack even after it fails to penetrate DR. Heh. But it's at least a brief idea to play around with, if it's your sort of thing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

I wish I could link to "Digging Yourself out of a Corner"

Way back in the day - I want to say in 1999-2000, I wrote a Pyramid article that covers exactly the situation the PCs in Felltower are in, now. It's from a GM's perspective, and it was called Digging Yourself out of Corner. I wrote it after someone threw out the old, "Let's see you do better!" after I critized the (I considered poor) advice of a major game designer who was writing for Pyramid at the time. So I stepped up.

The intro is available as a sample here.

Sadly, that's all that is accessible.

I have a HTML rip of the page from back in the day. I'm not even sure I'm supposed to, but I did write it, and I do have the .doc format file around on one of my drives. I'm just bummed that I can't share it, refer to it (and point a link to the full version.) I hate to do a post saying, "I wrote this thing and you can't see this thing." Sadly, it is the situation here. I wrote the thing, it covers this ground, and it would be a useful read for everyone involved in the session and many reading about it. It would be excellent if SJG could just make these things available in some fashion, even paid. A lot of my work languishes in limbo, not available but not free for me to release, either.

I will say I'm not going to use GM fiat here. It's not that kind of game or situation - I didn't inflict this and regret it, I just reffed it in my view. But it does explain some ways that situations like this can be resolved with GM fiat, and some ways that are really just acknowledgements that all NPCs are not murder-hobos like their opponents often are!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Felltower: From the Jaws of Defeat comes . . . what now?

As noted last time, the PCs are in bad shape.

Aldwyn is dead.

Ulf is unconcious from injury, and effectively out of FP anyway.

Varmus is low on FP and hurt.

Gerry is effectively out of FP.

Bruce and Crogar are badly mauled.

Wyatt is fine, but armed with an axe.

"Tough Skeleton" is damaged but okay, but also effectively just a placeholder - it's only been attacked when there is no other possible living target.

All of the PCs are nude. They have no potions, power items, spellstones, or their usual plethora of backup weapons. They have nothing but their wits and skins and what they can take from their enemies.

And they're at their wits end. They've gotten desperate - punches to the groin, fireballs to the face (which does no extra anything, but does give a -5 to hit), and the like. It's a bit of flailing.

They're in a bad situation, as seen here:

Crogar and the tough skeleton are in the upper left, with Crogar in close combat with a norker he can't seem to Evade - it's not likely, anyway. He'd need to win a contest of DX with the norker getting a +5 . . . even a DX 9 foe would have better than 50/50 odds to beat him. They have a bit better than that.

Bruce is under a pile of norkers.

Wyatt, Varmus, and invisible floating-flat-against-the-ceiling Gerry are off to the side, having broken briefly free of the press.

They're outnumbered 17-18 to 6, with only 4 having useful combat contributions and only 3 being fighters.

So now what?

Possibilities include:

Surrender. It's possible - even likely - the enemy leaders will want prisoners. The PCs might be able to convince the norkers of that.

Gerry will try the ol' invisible wizard slink. He might make it. He might not. Wizards in GURPS are very easily able to evade capture in these circumstances, and generally are extremely hard to keep prisoner because of their ability to rip off spells. Gerry being a Mana Enhancer means this is going to be worse - and that's instantly detectable by anyone with Magery, so that won't be a secret. So he might not want to risk being a prisoner. It's possible he could swear not to try to escape in exchange for not being mutilitated or killed . . . any reasonable foe would want assurances. We'd have to play this all out.

In any case, it's unlikely they'll just be freed outright (possible, though), so a rescue mission featuring new characters might be required.

Do-or-die. We could play out a session as they fight more. They might pull out a victory and then figure out a way to escape.

Die. We could declare them all dead. That's the most likely statistical outcome to fighting it out at the odds as they are. It'll get worse if/when the enemy gets the door open again and more rush in. This is the fastest option, and means we can move right on to new adventures. The downside is the new guys are 250 points.

The hoped-for result of the enemy giving their stuff back, letting them go and giving them a reward-based mission, and then giving away enough info the let the PCs come back and kill them is not a very likely one.

I'm curious where my players will go with this. Or what others think of this turn of events.

Monday, June 6, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, Session 171, Felltower 121 - Second GFS - Part III

Actual Date: 6/6/2022
Game Date: 4/10/2022

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

We started off in combat, with the PCs facing out with a swarm of norkers and some unarmed norkers with hunched posture, green-grey splotchy skin, and softer hide.

Right away, the PCs were looking to get out of the fight. They backed off, carefully, holding a tight line with Bruce as a bulge in it, as Ulf began to call on the Good God for help, spending 5 character points to boost his roll by +5.

And it came! Ulf made his roll by 3, asking for the Good God to put the fear of the Good God into the norkers.

It worked. For three seconds, the norkers and norker-alikes backed off and away from the PCs, unwilling or unable to attack. They made sounds of consternation and confusion.

The PCs made it back to the mouth of the hallway behind them, just inside the room, and formed four across - Crogar, the skeleton, Bruce, and Wyatt.

The spellcasters had continued to back off slowly, Varmus creating a fireball to tote with him as he went.

Then after a few seconds, the norkers and norker-alikes charged them. They ended up in a brawl in close combat, with a rank of norkers behind them. At that point, Ulf ran to the levers for the door and grabbed the left and middle ones. He then threw the middle one down. The door shut . . . partway, and then swooshed back up. With all of the melee in the way, it couldn't close.

So they fought a few more seconds, and layed down Stench and Blackout (Gerry) and two layers of Create Fire (Varmus). That plus some shoves drove the enemy back . . . and Ulf threw the switch and the door closed. He collapsed unconcious just as he did it. (Dramatic, eh?)

The foe left behind an axe that Wyatt had kick-disarmed out of the hands of a norker. Gerry Apportated it over to himself and then handed it to Crogar.


We stayed in combat time as the PCs set up for an attack. Wyatt ran around to a wall looking for the levers - but they were gone! Turns out, he'd remembered the wrong wall (see below.) Ulf tried to throw another lever, and got fried with black fire . . . and was stuck to the lever!

He yelled in pain and Wyatt ran over and tried the third switch. No effect. So he tackled Ulf aside with a Flying Tackle, yet couldn't get him free of the lever. Another yank and he was free. Varmus, meanwhile, found the six levers on another wall. So he threw the only one that was down, up, and then threw the rightmost one from up to down. He was fried by black fire. Wyatt ran over and slammed him, hurting him but freeing him from the handle.

They milled around for another 10-20 seconds or so . . . checking walls for levers and doors . . . before the door opened again.

Beyond was a single downed norker, but then a rush of norkers and norker-alikes swamped into the room. The PCs left the flaming hexes undefended, and the enemy rushed right through - the chitinous hide of the norkers made the fire not much of an issue for a partial-second exposure. The others clearly didn't like it but ran through it anyway. The others didn't seem bothered by stench, either.

The fight broke down into two knots. Bruce and Wyatt to the PC's right, trying not to get surrounded, and quickly backed by Varmus. Crogar and the skeleton to the left, surrounded by foes. Crogar cut one unarmed type down, unclear if it's dead, but then tried to jump over a norker crouching to pick up an axe dropped with a critical failure. He failed. He tried to evade again, but still failed.

The PCs continued to fight, with Wyatt dodging around and having a hard time inflicting solid damage on either kind of norker, Varmus throwing a few ineffectual Fireball spells, and Bruce kept trying groin punches to no effect as the norkers dodged most of his attacks. Wyatt kept slashing at random and trying disarms.

This is where we had to call the session.



- Quote of the day, from Ulf's player, "Felltower is all about safety."

- We had a lot of weird VTT issues today. One especially irksome one was that whenever I, the GM, did anything, I did it as the last person to do anything before me. You rolled and then I roll a die to see what happens? Shows up as you did it.

Another is that if you target a foe, it tells you their name. And you can see who is in the initiative order . . . even guys you never saw in the fight. So I, as the GM, can't put everyone into the fight and then dramatically reveal them. Nope. They show up, by name, on the list, and you know when they get to go. "Hey, there is a leader type . . . and he's going this turn." Great. Another reason to prefer tabletop.

- At some point, in the player's minds, there were some tiny lightswitch-like "switches" and big-ass "levers." There never were such. There were just panels of three or six 4-5" long bronze-like metal levers. Not easy to see in dim light, but not that big. Either way, it's a Ready to grab a lever/switch (I use the terms interchangeably) and a Ready to throw it. You can do two at a time if the setup is reasonable.

- I don't often ask for guidance on the prayer option, but Ulf spent 5 points on the roll and I wanted to have some idea what he wanted other than "miracle us out of here!" or "miracle them out of here!", both of which require criticals. He made the roll by 3 and asked for the Good God to make the foe flee with fear. So what the hell, I gave them three seconds of backing off and being unable (or feeling unwilling) to attack.

Unfortunately, the PCs didn't take very good advantage of either opportunity. With the three-second window, they backed off and formed a line at the door, which was good, and layed down Stench and later Blackout and Create Fire. But they really backed off slowly. I understand the caution, but the spellcasters also mostly backed off slowly, taking All-Out Defend (Dodge) and refusing to turn away. An out-and-out run for the switches could potentially have closed the door before they needed those spells to seal the deal and let them close the door.

After that, it was just a case of throwing switches . . . and not remembering which switches to throw. Or choosing to throw different combos. Either way, they didn't throw any combos that would "move the room" as they now feel it is doing. I thought they'd figured it out last time, so I was a little amused when they showed it was just lucky random actions and no one remembered what they were. To be honest, I couldn't tell them what they threw. I didn't keep track of all of the combes they went through in order, because I didn't need to, so I can't even have given someone an IQ roll to remember where the switches were. The fact that multiple people threw switches at different times is as good an explanation for that as any.

There was also an issue of Wyatt going to the wrong wall to throw switches. I didn't correct him, and he's sure the switches were described as being there. It must have been a miscommunication last time, and cost them a little time.

So now they're in a really bad spot. Only two PCs are armed - Wyatt with an axe, and Crogar with an axe - and they cannot seem to make any headway against the norkers and their soft-shelled buddies. They've put one down probably and one down maybe, and it cost them Aldwyn, all of their FP, Ulf, and heavy damage to Bruce, Varmus, and moderate damage to Crogar and the skeleton. They lost any tactical cohesion on the second attack, as it took them slight out of position. We played all of the turns in combat time, so this wasn't the GM declaring they were out of order. They were where they wanted to be. Their own fire prevented them from blocking the doorway with three, and they only had three guys for four hexes and left two mostly open except for fire.

So now the question is, what to do?

The players are legitimately considering options including surrender, just declaring everyone dead instead of spending the time on it or surrendering and hoping for the best (certainly they all won't just be killed outright, I'm willing to vouch for that out-of-game, too.) We'll have to game that out as Gerry will try to escape, since he's floating around invisibly. So that's a game session no matter what, I think. But it's clear they feel pretty defeated. I get why - they have two sub-optimal weapons against foes with enough native DR to make most of their attacks only somewhat effectual, and no supernatural help, and no one to spare to play with levers until they've downed a good 17-18 foes.

So we'll see.

MVP was Ulf for his dramatic actions, prayer, and quote.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Felltower pre-summary

Summary will come tomorrow, but:

- the PCs managed to hold the line against their foes . . .

- pray for divine intervention to get a brief respite . . .

- fight their way back to the room they arrived in and close the door!

- then lose track of the levers, get Ulf zapped, Varmus zapped, and then fail to find the way out before the door opened again and their foes poured through.

We left it in mid-session again, with the PCs doing quite well considering the circumstances, which are disastrous . . . net/net they are doing badly.

Full summary tomorrow.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Felltower Game Prep notes

We're playing our next session of Felltower tomorrow, continuing the naked brawl from last time.

- VTTs are great, but it's not the same as tabletop. I really need to sit down and map out every possible place a fight can take place, in to-the-hex accurate detail. Setting up for a fight takes more time than in person, even during the game session, even after I've mapper. It's not ideal.

- I'm still struggling with special attacks in Foundry, so I've taken to just ignoring them and I'll resolve them by hand when they come up. It's too hard to do otherwise.

- I am doubtful the game tomorrow will resolve this delve based on the length of the fight last time.

So we'll see how this goes.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Links for Friday 6/3

Links I enjoyed this week:

- Holy hell, don't charge anti-tank missiles without infantry support. I'd say this rules system accurately models history.

Seven Days To The River Rhine: The Sand Will Remember...

- Play styles from Lich Van Winkle.

- I didn't play much Wizardry after I, so I had no idea you get to play W*E*R*D*N*A in the 4th game. Very cool! It even features characters submitted to the company from earlier games . . . so you fight actual Wizardry characters as encounters.

Return of WERDNA

- I haven't watched this yet - James M. in a panel discussion. I'll probably rip the .mp3 audio from it and listen to it in the car. I can't watch a screen of talking people for very long.

- I really want to get back to playing Gamma World.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

GURPS Language Rules notes

Players often try to get in a lot of information in negotiations, even with Broken fluency.

But Broken just won't do it.

You can't communicate very much with it, just big, simple concepts. "Surrender!" might be fine, but "Give us your treasure or we'll kill you" might just come across as "treasure" and "kill." Or it might come across as just one of those . . . or neither . . . if you mispronounce the words or forget that word order matters in this language. Or not even know that. That's why it requires an IQ roll in stressful situations (per B. 24). Negotitations always count as stressful situations.

You need a pretty good run of IQ rolls, backed by lots of simplification of what you want, to get places in Broken. In my experience, Broken's main use, besides as a stepping stone to Accented, is so you can get some of those big concepts. You probably won't drink the bottle labeled "POISON!" or open the door saying "DANGER!" (or maybe you will anyway, but you get a chance to choose.) It's one point written, one point spoken. It's 2 points. A full 4 is what you need for most purposes, and 6 for unpenalized wide use.

It's useful to have . . . but it's not a substitute for better language skill.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Defensive Aura of Nobility

I know GURPS has a rule like this, but I can't find it anywhere.

This is mostly tongue in cheek, but it might work. Plus it lets me quote the extremely quotable English Bob, who pretty much just has amazing lines from start to finish.

In any case, let's go nuts with one of his lines.

Aura of Nobility
"Well there's a dignity to royalty. A majesty that precludes the likelihood of assassination. If you were to point a pistol at a king or a queen your hands would shake as though palsied."
- English Bob, Unforgiven

Sufficient status is defensive - a serf, a commoner, a plebian just can't willy-nilly use violence against knights, dukes, and kings. Against an armed, higher-status foe, you suffer a -1 to hit and -1 to defend for every 2 levels of Status above your own, round up. For example, a Status 0 commoner would be at a -1 to hit or defend against a Status 1 or 2 noble, -2 against one of Status 3 or 4, etc.

Against an unarmed noble, you are at -1 per rank of Status above your own. A Status -2 serf would have a -9 against a Status 7 royal! Unmarred by a threat of reciprocal violence, their dignity and majesty can overwhelm a potential assassin.

This hasn't been remotely tested and is likely completely unfair. Enjoy!
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