Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Possible Felltower Rules Changes

This might be a good time for rules changes, since we're essentially starting over.

Here is what I'm thinking.


Eliminate Trademark Move.

I've found that Trademark Move just doesn't do what it's supposed to. The purpose is, to speed up combat, you get to spend 1 point on a specific sequence of combat actions and get a +1 with all components of it. You keep using it, and thus the GM and player are on the same page and everything moves along more quickly.

Much of the time wasted in fights has to do with the players working out odds and consulting obscure rules. To combat this, the GM may suggest or even require that each player work out a few “trademark moves” that cover an entire turn’s worth of actions, and write down the effects in advance.

- Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons

In actual play, this is 1 point for +1 to one particular combination which the player in question chooses from a menu of options. They pick whichever is their best option for that time, which may or may not be the +1 Trademark Move. It's essentially a one-combo +1 to skill for 1 point, with none of the game-speed benefits it's meant to bring with it. At best it has no benefit on play speed; at worst it slows things down as people compare move to move to move to pick the one that fits the best.

So it's gone.


Fix Great Haste. This is a great time to fix Great Haste. We have literally no one with it at the moment or dependent on casting it. It's a game-play nerf, but it's also a huge time suck in actual fights pretty much except for casters.

We just need to settle on what it does, and any costs that come with it. Maybe it does less but doesn't cost the target any FP. We'll see.

But I'd really, really like to take the time to fix this while it's not a "but I need this to do the thing I do every fight!" issue.

Magic & Money. It might be a good time to throw down a big change on money, like I've thought about before. That is, rescaling magic and money costs. Paut at $1350 will probably produce squawks but in the long run that's not a change . . . it's just not being made as cheaply as swords and such are.

(Amusingly, one of my players suggested this today whilst this post was being written, but after I'd put this on the list. Great minds, etc.)

Fixed Feints. I mentioned this back in the day, too, in the same post.

I'd consider doing Feints as a fixed contest. Win, get a result, lose, don't. No margin of error to worry about. The Rule of 16 is another way to do it, but often necessitates more steps.

(Editing later - forgot one)

Eliminate Signature Gear. I don't think Signature Gear really fits Felltower as conceived and played. I'm not too sure about Weapon Bond as it means people tend to hold on to old weapons forever because they put a point into it, but that's a personal choice. SG just forced me to make sure an item sticks around and is accessible even when circumstances and play style dictate that it would not. I'm leaning more to yes than maybe on this one, to be honest.

We'll see if I do any of the maybes, but I'm thinking about them, at the very least.


  1. I feel like Trademark Move would work well with an absolute "you have ten seconds to tell me your action, or else you Do Nothing; stalling just causes your time to run out" rule. Players might take it just to have a go-to. I'm sure that a strict time limit will stress some players out, but not nearly as much as their characters in the fight! That said, you have the experience at the table that overrides my hypothetical speculation.

    I'm sure Signature Gear fits some genres and campaign settings, but I don't generally play in those settings. The only reason I've seen to use it in my games is to define items that can be duplicated across duplicates for characters with that ability, and it made me feel icky to do so. I wish it were more clearly labeled as a strictly optional rule, and I'm not at all sure why it was included in DF. It certainly doesn't fit the sort of fantasy that I'd associate with underground, lootable "dungeons".

    1. There are a few people who do use them that way, and use them as the default. But even that's not really speeding a damn thing up . . . so away it goes!

  2. " I wish it were more clearly labeled as a strictly optional rule..."

    All rules are strictly optional. Just disallow whatever you don;t want to use, add in what you think is missing. That's how GURPS runs best.

    "...and I'm not at all sure why it was included in DF."

    Not everyone runs "paper-mans" Dungeon Fantasy? DF is literally the rules Kromm (aka Sean Punch) was using in his long-running fantasy game he was running.

    1. A) I know, I know, I know. It just seems like that one is more optional than most.

      B) Which doesn't answer my objection. Okay, Kromm used it. But why would he? It doesn't fit his stated objective, which was to get the same feel as a particular style of fantasy.

  3. Pretty sure the objective was "Make GURPS fantasy dungeon delving the way I remember it" ("I" being Kromm).

    My second ever D&D character was built around having a specific set of armor that 'leveled' up (as in gained magic abilities instead of being swapped out for new gear constantly) as the character did and was almost impossible to lose, and the few times he did lose it, we were able to recover it. It was basically Signature Gear in Moldavy's Basic D&D (with some sort of GM controlled leveling mechanic - pretty sure it was "Okay, instead of putting this armor in the adventure, I'll just add that ability to his armor after the adventure.").

    That was in 1982, is that old skool enough? My point here being the same as the one above: "Not everyone runs "paper-mans" Dungeon Fantasy", or more directly, not everyone's "old school" was the same.

    Peter's is vastly different than mine (IIRC), my original group didn't use printed adventures*, his group seems to have used them exclusively. He's currently (for over a decade) run a megadungeon where Sig Gear is a really poor thematic fit, inversely I refuse to run megadungeons, they run completely against "as little prep as possible" ethos.

    * Pretty sure I run exactly as my original GM did (just GUPRS, where he disliked GURPS and preferred D&D), though I never did find out if he did prep or not, I know he only used pre-made adventures for idea mining, which is all I use them for.

    1. I had a longer reply that answered your aggressive tone in kind, but I just want to address your two main points briefly.

      First, your gift from your DM was not a normative experience even at such a late date as 1982. That said, it was common enough that there's a short story parodying the trope in Dragon magazine #66, "Friends in High Places". In that story, such a thing is attributed to an extra-gaming relationship between one of the players and the DM. Most DMs at the time, though, seem to have been less interested in favoritism of that sort.

      As a result, your DM's gift still doesn't answer my objection. Your invocation of Mr. Punch probably does, but it only goes to explain why so little of the DF line (and almost none of the DFRPG) has interest or value to me.

      Second, you bring up "old school" (or "old skool", I guess), and that phrase as a style of gaming, as opposed to a formalized nostalgia, doesn't apply to anything as late as 1982. As a formal movement, "Old School Rules" attempts* to examine the ways that games were played in the original groups around the core Twin Cities/Lake Geneva crowd in order to learn why the rules were written and the structures of the games were established in the sometimes baffling forms they were. For that purpose, anything that comes from the wave of players who learned without direct contact with those early tables is not valuable to the purpose. Other than that and the nostalgic approach, I am not sure that the phrase has any sort of value beyond being a sort of gaming one-upmanship ("I play Old School, you're just a newb" sort of nonsense). That sort of "OSR" (often occurring before that term was widely applied, to be sure, but occurring in the same online venues as the later applications) has had tangible benefits such as codifying the "West Marches" style of campaign, untangling the intentions of difficult texts like the Dungeon Masters Guide, and so forth.

      *There is another main wing of that broad movement, of course, which fits your experiences well. It's primarily nostalgia-based and interested mainly in keeping to the first set of rules most people from the later wave encountered, which is the B/X edition of D&D. Nostalgia has value, to be sure, and it has had such tangible benefits as starting up the "artpunk" movement in gaming.

    2. Discussion is fine, but don't get into an uncivil argument over gaming.

      Especially over the deletion of a 1 pt. perk that consists of less than 0.25% of the point value of maybe 2-3 PCs in my campaign.


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