Wednesday, August 31, 2022

To Do in Felltower: GM's view

Here is a list I'm offering up to my players as possible places to delve for a B-Team, until the A-Team's situation is resolved.

I'm not vouching for all of these places been safe, profitable places for beginning delvers to explore, just that they are places people can go.

I've left off places where there isn't any known, potentially accessible loot, or ones that are obviously a bit dangerous for even a larger, better-equipped team - for example the giants, or the giant dragon.

These aren't in any particular order except by depth.

With that said, here we go.


Caves of Chaos (likely an empty hole)

Cold Fens (aside from the giants, likely an empty hole)

Level 1


Level 2

Stirge area

Black library

Floorded Prison level (and supposed treasure there)

Level 3

Unopenable GFS door

Gate Level

Various gates

Lost City (likely a marginal delve)

Magical Prison area

Chained doors

Door beyond the iron golems

Pit to level below and dragon

Pit to gargoyle cavern below

Black Reaver-guarded door

Oracular pond

(Key to Orichalcum doors is almost certainly with the A-Team and not accessible)

It's not a long list, although the assorted gates do cover a lot of ground. It's not, nothing, though. Several of them have very certain big payoffs, though, but they will be a risk. I know some other places they do not, and haven't listed them, but who knows . . . maybe my players do know about them and will think of going there, too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

If not Felltower, then what? What!

So it's probably going to be B-team Felltower that we play next.

I'm going to put together a "from the GM's side of the screen" list of things I think aren't done. I'm hoping to avoid adding a new side area, because:

- that's a fair bit of work to write and develop

- I need to tie it in to Felltower

- it will inevitably get visited, plundered, re-visited, re-plundered, and visited yet again sometime when people want to "just check" something (or avoid a harder choice.)

So it's likely to be Felltower itself.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

If not Felltower, then what?

As I've repeatedly noted on the blog, we're stuck in Felltower.

So I've started thinking of what else I could do, other than Felltower.

I figure I have three broad options:

- a spinoff in the same world, using the same rules and options, for characters who can eventually get back to Felltower once we've resolved the "stuck" issue

- an unrelated GURPS game

- an unrelated non-GURPS game

None of them are ideal, and all will require some work.

AD&D module play actually needs more players, not less, so that's not an option.

At the moment, I'm waffling between all three options. The first requires yet another tie-in area, which inevitably will mean lots of side missions and "let's just go there and check things out" sessions. The second requires an entire new plan of game, and writing to support it. The third requires I pick a game system, ensure everyone knows how to play it, and then go from there.

But since we're in limbo, I may as well take a look at a way to play something that isn't. Felltower isn't done, but if it's on hold, I'll not willingly put my gaming on hold as well!

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Best Way Around a Trap is Through It!

This is my group. Yours, too?

The Weekly Roll 128: My Trap Sense is Tingling

We'd usually get a discussion more like this:

A) It's definitely a trap.
B) But what if there is actually cake?

There is never cake.

But what if there is?

You wouldn't want to miss out on cake, right?

Friday, August 26, 2022

Random Stuff for 8/26/2022

A few little bits for today:

- I don't remember seeing this rule on grazes before. I like the idea, but the execution is a bit much for me.


I'll have to play around with something simpler, but not right now. It's probably better to say it does minimum damage before DR on a hit by 0. There, done. I guess I did it right now after all.

- I don't need these, but Doug always puts out quality products. Always.

Solo Scenarios for OSE

That's all for today!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Detect Plot

This is a joke, even though it isn't April 1st.

Back when I ran a campaign that turned from sandbox to PC-initiated actions that became a big plot, one issue was people having trouble seperating "main plot" from "sub plot" and "red herring."

This could have been useful:

Detect Plot (Occasional, Vague) [5 points]

You can use a sense check to feel if something in the immediate area is part of The Plot.

That might have been useful to keep people from trying to connect random stuff to The Plot, and people from avoiding things that were screaming The Plot but they talked themselves out of investigating.

Not recommended for actual play, but if you use it, I want to know how it went!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Felltower: Here I Am, Stuck in the Dungeon With You

One of the goals of Felltower from back in the day was to end the game in town. As much as possible, we did so.

The goal was really simple - to allow people to drop and out, and play the game, without what happened in our last game - critical players.

We had players who we couldn't play without. The tracker's player missed game? Not a big deal, it's fine, someone could run him. The spearmaster? More complex, but sure. The wizards? Maybe one, but not both . . . especially one of them. The fencer? Yeah, sometimes, but she was often plot-critical.

This game, not so much.

Until now . . . when we've got a few PCs stranded in the dungeon, and a dilemma - a choice between a fight to the death they're losing and surrender. But at least one of the conscious PCs wants to try to escape.

We can't play until this is resolved, because many players are involved in the session, and they block off a big part of the dungeon that hasn't been repeatedly looted and searched and explored. And we can't play without the ones who want to try to escape . . . because no one else wants to be the one to try and fail.

So we're stuck until we can get all of the critical players into a game session, in a summer that has been trash for gaming anyway.

As a result, we're in limbo. I'm unhappy about this because it's what I specifically tried to avoid and yet here we are. Once we get unstuck, I feel like I can get games going again - we only need 2-3 players at a time. It's just we need a specific mix that's been hard to get going.

Ever have this happen, in that you build a game around avoiding a situation yet end up in it anyway?

Monday, August 22, 2022

What's an edition, anyway?

D&D is going to have a new edition. Or maybe a revision of an existing division extensive enough to be a new edition. It's not necessarily clear at this point what will happen or what the company intends to happen.

But what counts as an edition?

Looking at GURPS, it's had a few iterations:


1st edition

2nd edition

3rd edition

3rd edition, revised

3rd edition, revised, plus Compendium I and II

4th edition

Officially four editions. But two were so close to each other as to be difficult to easily distinguish (1st and 2nd), or so close that it was just relatively minor changes (3rd, 3rd revised). Or a new but compatible edition in reality but not in same - 3rd revised plus compendia. Others might disagree with how I count - and I wouldn't have counted the compendia as a new edition at the time, but they seem so in retrospect. And I clean missed out on 2nd, so GURPS Update rolled around and I found weirdness that didn't quite line my games up with 3rd edition, since I was still on 1st.

D&D has some of the same issues with counting editions. So does Traveller, to the point that I don't even quite know where I'd begin.

I'm mostly curious if the new D&D is compatiblew with the exiting 5e stuff - there is so much out there. We'll see I guess . . . but to me it doesn't seem clear what's what.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Felltower: Encounters?

If I did an "encounters" series for publication, here is what I think would make nice little drop-in encounters:

- the Choke Brothers

- the twinned temple

- the flooded prison (a big project - it's an entire sub-level)

- the draugr (also a good "boss" monster writeup)

- the mummy's tomb

- the obsidian golem hallway

- the stone golem pedastals

- the doomchildren gate

- the dead lizardmen temple

I've already done one - the big PHB cover fight - and had it published. A couple others - Sterick, Sakatha - are just taken from other people's published materials. Are there others that people really found interesting?

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Random Links for 8/20/2022

I was away from the blog (okay, just really busy) for a few days. So let's get to what I read this week that interested me.

- Grappling in 6e.

So, two things:

"D&D One" is on the way, apparantly - here is a link to the playtest packet.

Also, the rules sound interesting, although I'm not sure why you're not at disadvantage to attack a person grappling you, too. Having been grappled, as recently as yesterday, I'll say that it's hard to attack someone who is grappling you . . . more than attacking someone who is not grappling you. But I may be misreading. I haven't played this out. I have opinions but I'm not a D&D player in general, so I won't stick my nose in, in all likelihood.

- Rob took a deeper look at D&D One than I did.

- More weapon skills combinations for DF.

- The Book of Weird. Always read what Matt Riggsby writes.

- This is awesome. Dave's not here, man.

- It doesn't sound like evidence supports the idea of Mongols using silk shirts against arrows. Oh well.

- I do kind of eyeroll internally at Sparta-themed clothing and gear and comparisons that people use to imply toughness. As Vlad says:

"Most people seem to take pleasure in feeling superior to someone. I'm not like that, which pleases me because it makes me feel superior." - Vlad Taltos, in "Jhegaala"

Here is a re-look at a look at Sparta that can explain why.

- Even more electromagnetic firearms - a for-sale coilgun. The host of that Youtube channel has an impressive knowledge of firearms. I've learned a lot (and burned a fair bit of time) watching his videos.

Enjoy these for now!

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 22: Gates for sale

I think I totally missed this. But DF22: Gates is available for sale on Warehouse 23.

It's $4. I don't get royalties on it - it was a flat-rate contract - but I do get enjoyment out of people reading it. So if you missed the 2021 PDF Challenge and want to include gates in your DF/DFRPG game, have at it!

Monday, August 15, 2022

Logistics, Foraging, and Murderhobos

In gaming, we call adventurers "murderhobos." Essentially, nomadic travelers who pillage and kill their way around the countryside, yet somehow claim they're doing good.

As acoup makes clear, in the past, the term for these types was "soldiers." Armies did the same - traveled to their destination (where they intended to rape, pillage, and kill) and along the way they'd "forage." By forage, we mean rape, pillage, and kill. Pretty much all that murderhobos don't do in game is the sexual assault portion of the whole deal. But otherwise, it's take what they can, kill when that facilitates taking, and self-justify all of it along the way. Those who resist are foes, those who don't should have resisted. And they expect a reward for doing so and expect anyone they "help" - as defined by the PCs - to provide anything they need on top of the reward.

ACOUP has a nice little series going about this - logistics for ancient/medieval armies.

Part II deals with "foraging."

Logistics I
Logistics II
Logistics III

With games, though, we tend to gloss over the effort it takes to travel. Small groups has less issues. We also tend to just let PCs buy some "rations" and check them off as if everyone can just eat pre-packaged perfectly-sized meals three times per day and march at maximum efficiency.

In reality, though, it's more than a little nastier than that.

Food for thought, on the subject of how you get food for armies.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Felltower Bosses - What's in, and What Issues

The most votes on what I should publish for Felltower are boss monsters.

There needs to be a list of what's in, and there are some issues. Let's tackle them in turn.

What monsters go in?

I'm sure these are the bosses people would expect to see:

Durak, the Lord of Spite (and his boars - his doomchildren are from DF2)

Mungo the Giant Troll

The Dragon

The Evil Tree

The BIG Dragon


The Draugr (Added 8/15/22)

Baron Sterick the Red (Added 8/15/22)

. . . and who else, then? The gnome? The lizardman chieftan is already published. And there are other bosses awaiting discovery.

The issues on doing a boss book are really threefold:

- Art. You can't have boss monsters without boss art.

- Big reveals. My players will end up reading the book. Most of the bosses they haven't permanently disposed of, so I'd be revealing details they don't know.

- Publisher. I can do some of this myself, but not with GURPS stats. So I need to convince SJG to publish a stat-heavy book (which they haven't done a lot of) or convert this to DFRPG and a different world system and see if it falls under Doug's license.

There is a minor issue in that I'd need to rename a few things. Sakatha is a direct copy of a monster from a TSR adventure, even if what I did with him was somewhat different. Durak and Mungo are based on minis, one from TSR and one from Paizo.

Let's see what's doable here. This would be a fun book to do, but at the moment there might be too many issues to easily do it.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

"Red" Grant in 007

I just watched "Dr. No" and "From Russia With Love," the first two Bond movies. I never saw Dr. No beginning to end before; I'd seen From Russia With Love more times than I could easily count.

With that in mind, here is a screenshot of the stats of Robert Shaw's character from From Russia With Love from the James Bond 007 game from Victory Games - Donovan "Red" Grant.

I doubt I could ever run this game well, but man, I wish I could . . . and I'd love to play it run by a GM that really understood the genre well.

I'd post Jaws, but I don't own either movie he's in . . . suffice it to say, he violates several rules on his own.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Thoughts & Links for 8/12/2022

Busy week, again.

- Feel free to opine in on what I need to focus on writing for publication from Felltower.

- Oooh, new DF game afoot?

DF Novices

- andi jones would like this:

Gamma Eats

One of my favorite Japanese foods would be good Gamma World food - cheese flavor Calorie Mate!

- News about Bat in the Attic games that I'd missed earlier.

- I still have people work to review . . . I'll do that this weekend.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Felltower - What to Write followup

Here is what I was suggested for Felltower bits people want to see:

- Boss monster stats

- Monster stats

- House rules

- Encounters

- Puzzles, traps, etc.

I think some of them are easily doable. I'll just need to see what I can write up and publish. Monster stats are always tricky, because I re-use monsters all of them time. But some are known enough to the PCs that I can probably reveal them. I've done a room writeup - there is one in Pyramid - so I'll look at more of those.

Thanks for the helpful comments - I'm happy to take more requests. The more votes for something, the more likely I am to consider it important.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

What Felltower Stuff to Show?

I've posted some house rules from Felltower, our summaries, and whatnot.

SJG has published four books with elements of Felltower in them:

Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 3

DFTT3: Artifacts of Felltower

DF21: Megadungeons

DF22: Gates

Plus an Pyramid article or two featuring elements of the game.

So what else do people really want to see? I don't have control over what SJG will publish, but I do have control over what I write up at least. I figure only a few things are off limits:

- PC writeups. Those are PCs in my games but they aren't my PCs.

- Maps. Too much of a nightmare to turn my hand-drawn maps into publishable format.

What would interest you guys the most? Let me see if I can turn some energy into turning that out.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Game Inspiration - Cliffhangers & Anna May Wong

I just watched two movies that really make me want to run an early-20th century adventure game:

Both star Anna May Wong, which is how I ended up watching them. I'd seen her in Limehouse Blues (also a good one), and someone lent me a copy of Shanghai Express (her plus Marlene Dietrich) so I watched that, finally, last night. That in turn led to Lady from Chungking (1942).

Both Shanghai Express and Lady from Chungking take place in China - one pre-WWII, in 1932, and the other in 1942.

Shanghai is a genuinely excellent movie. Lady is not, but AMW is good, and it's got a plot like a game session.

The action is realatively small-scale, and involves only a few people at a given time. Firepower is there but low, and mostly turns up in the hands of the main characters when it matters most. Both would make good game sessions (or a multi-session trip, for Shanghai Express) or short multi-session adventures. Very straight-up adventure with only a few characters to keep track of and lots of stuff to do, and choices to make. If I had the gamers available to run a short pre-WWII China-based Cliffhangers game, I'd be all over it after watching them.

You can probably find all three online - I found Lady from Chungking on Youtube and Limehouse Blues on Vimeo or Dailymotion a long time ago . . . not sure, now.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Today's task: Reading others' work

I only had a bit of time for gaming stuff today, so I:

- read and commented on someone else's draft materials

- and skimmed but didn't in-depth read another person's draft materials

. . . both for DF-y stuff. Which would be a leak if anyone knew what the heck I was talking about.

A word to any writer - always, always, always have other people read your work. Especially people who are familiar with the system but not with what you've generated for it. It's not helpful, it's required to ensure you put out good work. Let the typos and weird grammar and semi-comprehensible first draft rules I put up here be an example for all y'all!

Sunday, August 7, 2022

What happens to Felltower during a hiatus?

As the subject says, we're on a hiatus - what happens?

Time Passes

Just like any other days, days of a hiatus pass 1:1 real:game time. Naturally, the PCs and action in play are frozen in game time. But when they come out of the dungeon, time jumps ahead to the current day.

The real trick is that the PCs will get back on the appropriate game-day, but then basically lose a bunch of time. It happens . . . it's unrealistc but it's the easiest way to deal with the issue. It punishes the players who would like to "realistically" use that time for their PCs to order up armor and weapons and such, but it also relieves those players who don't have the free time for game prep. They don't fall behind. It's worked so far and I don't see why it wouldn't work here, too.

Restocking Will Happen

Just in case I get hit by a blimp* I save this until the last minute. But it will happen all at once, and reflect months of changes in Felltower. Yes, this is the hard way, but here we are.

Rule Changes

Ironically, this is least likely, because I haven't had to the time to really fiddle. I mean, it's possible, but I just haven't been noodling around with the rules too much recently to have plans for when we're back.

Player Changes

Also shouldn't happen. The pool won't change.

Overall, it's just like a short hiatus except we'll need a much bigger restock.

* Which I'm pretty sure is a Bloom County reference.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Creation vs. consumption in RPGs

Lich Van Winkle's recent article is, as they all are, worth a read:

The Commodification of Fantasy Adventure Games

The final paragraph inspired a few thoughts in me.

I'm a creator who is also a consumer. I buy a fair bit of RPG stuff. I use less than I buy, but I do use some of what I get.

I derive a great deal of pleasure from playing games. I also derive a great deal of pleasure from creating for games. I largely sell what I use in my games. Or stuff I'd like to use in my games, on occasion. I've been briefly interviewed on a podcast, had my stuff reviewed, and otherwise gotten some recognition. I've had the great joy of dragging my spouse to a gaming store and pointing out my book on the shelf. I've gotten amusement out of people looking me up on the internet and finding my list of written books. It's even more fun when they know me only as a fighter, or a trainer, or a teacher. I also get a lot of enjoyment out of other people using stuff I made for my game in their games. I've even had the dubious amusement of having people argue with me about the intent behind rules that I wrote and tell me I'm wrong about my interpretation of the intent behind the rules.

None of this would happen if I hadn't been playing games with other people's stuff and with my own. You can see how a slowdown in play due to summer scheduling issues has slowed down my writing here. The play is the thing, and without the play, the supporting material just doesn't flow as freely. I still write - and I'm still creating for game. Playing more will mean more of that.

Oh, and it's terrifically fun, by the way, to quote rulebooks at my players when I wrote that part of the rulebook.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Random Thoughts & Links for 8/5/22

Just a couple this week.

- Maximum & Ideal Party Size. I think we had 10 people once. 4-5 is a good number for engagement and speed of play. But I've had a blast when almost everyone who plays Felltower shows up the same day to play Felltower. It's unwieldy but fun.

- I don't want to lose this link to links about playing Chainmail.

That's it for today.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

GURPS Traveller for 4th edition?

I know this exists somewhere, but I can't seem to find it . . . did someone do a conversion document for GURPS Taveller 3rd edition to 4th edition? Unofficial or official?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Why all the merging?

I posted recently about possibly merging weapon skills in Felltower.

I've waived away skills I felt overlapped too much - no Filch, say, and I made Shield cover all shields, with no difference between a buckler and a proper shield.

I've merged a bunch of spells, too - most of the "Instant" versions of spells and Explosive spells and reverses of spells got merged into one.


Basically, because I think that there are too many skills, and too many spells, splitting hairs a bit too fine. I'd rather deal with broad strokes skills and spells and let the players have wide ability to apply them. Too fine of a distinction and yet get dead-end skills and broad skills that can't do some little thing that's actually important. You get players hunting just the right spell or skill that has wording that covers their specific goal. With wide skills, you get more problem solving and less solution seeking within the rules. In my experience, anyway.
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