Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Spell Rulings from DF Session 179 - Healing & Crippling, Panic, Stop Bleeding & toxic wounds, Mage Sight

Here are some spell rulings from Dungeon Fantasy Session 179.

Healing spells and Crippling Injuries

You must completely heal all injuries on a target before a crippled limb can be used again. You cannot "target" healing on a crippled limb. Full HP back or any crippling remains in effect. We're not doing individual wounds, but rather single pool HP, for simplicity. This is a downside - the upside being you don't need as many healing spells on a given target to heal them back up or to track individual injuries.

Note: You can allow for localized healing on a target if you can touch the injured limb. In that case, healing more than HP/2 or HP/3 for a limb or extremity would be sufficient. I will not plan to do this in DF Felltower. I can already see how many questions it will cause and how many hairsplitting "can I touch his right arm from his back left flank hex in combat?" I expect a vote would be 100/0 in favor by the players as it only helps PCs and doesn't hinder them in any way shape or form, yet also allows them all of the upsides of single HP pools.


Panic is a maintainable area spell. Does this mean anyone who enters the area for 1 minute is subject to the effect? Or that you can maintain the effect on those in the original area of casting? The former is the only ruling that is consistent with other Area spells. Every subject who enters the area is subject to the spell and must resist.

Stop Bleeding

The spell cannot be used as "Bandaging" to heal 1 HP of injury from non-bleeding wounds. While the spell may sound much like a magical version of First Aid or Esoteric Medicine, the name and intent matter. It cannot be used to heal 1 HP from toxic injuries, direct injury from spells, HP loss due to depleted FP, etc. but only from effects that logically carry some bleeding - most, but not all, cases of cutting, crushing, impaling, piercing, corrosion, and burning injury. That it can also stabilize a Mortal Wound does not contradict this.

Mage Sight

Ruling: before anyone suggests casting this, they must read the spell entirely and not attempt to add additional powers on it. Seriously, that's my whole ruling. Silently reading the spell before saying, "Will Mage Sight tell us anything? Can I roll Thaumatology to see if casting Mage Sight would help here?" will save me lifespan.

And that's it for spell clarifications for last session.

Monday, January 30, 2023

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 179, Brotherhood Complex 3, Part I

Date: 1/29/2023
Game Date: 1/29/2023 left Stericksburg, delved on 2/1/2023.

Ambassador Durinn, dwarf cleric (264 points)
Belmek Battlebeard, dwarf barbarian (255 points)
Desmond MacDougall, human wizard (285 points)
Kaylee, half-elf knight (250 points)
Lenjamin Gundry of Cornwood, human knight (250 points)

The PCs gathered in Stericksburg and headed out to the brotherhood complex, aka the Unopenable Doors.

Low-Key was sidelined with the Dwarven Sprue, a respiratory condition endemic to the area during the winter months. The others headed out to try to plunder the Brotherhood Complex. There weren't any rumors as the area between Stericksburg and the complex is relatively safe, and the immediate area around the complex is very low traffic. There just isn't anything to hear.

The PCs carefully inspected the cave and tunnel as they went through, wound their way into the complex, and came to the doors. Desmond stood before them and proclaimed, "I am of the Brotherhoood. By the Brotherhood, let us pass." Nothing happened. "Me" not "we," pointed out Durinn. Desmond repeated it correctly and they headed in. They carefully went through the illusionary wall, sending Belmek first. He felt around carefully with his booted foot for a tripwire or bear trap, but nothing was found.

Once down the stairs, they moved into the wide hallway where they'd had battles on two previous occasions. They moved forward, debating going "south" (down on the visual of the map, not actually south) or towards the barracks, "just to make sure."
Almost immediately, they were jumped by cone-hatted cultists on both sides. These guys were in full cult regalia - cone hats with face veils, burgundy and black robes, black shoes. Two had crossbows, the rest clubs and shields. They rushed in and attacked as Belmek, Lenjamin, and Kaylee formed a line.

Desmond quickly cast Panic on a small area with three of them. He critically succeeded, forcing all three to run. Before one could turn and run, Lenjamin attacked him . . . but critically missed and dropped his warhammer. The three fled into the darkness. The fight quickly turned on the cultists, who fought hard, with no quarter asked, until the remaining seven were down. Three of them went down in one series of swings - Kaylee was swamped with foes and decided to cut her way out. (Kaylee's player was groaning about how Cleaving Strike would be helpful - so I said you can just AOA without it.) Kaylee swung at three of them (AOA Double, splitting one into a Rapid Strike) and cut one's leg off, the top of the second's skull off, and the third's arm. The last survivors went down a second or two later; one was cold-cocked with a solid hit from Desmond's staff - from behind, of course. It was a quick fight - about 10 seconds - but loud, as the cultists yelled and called out "For the Brotherhood!" as they struck.

The PCs debated looting the bodies, chasing the cultists, or going "south." They did so for a couple minutes, while Durinn checked the bodies for easy loot. He found nothing he could easily grab aside from helmets, but taking out a sack, filling it, and then tying it off was more time than they wanted to spent. The elected to go "south."

They headed around a pool of still water and headed to the nearest door. Belmek pried it open, and then wound their way around a long corridor. At the end was a door; they forced it open and found a room lined with clothes pegs with robes and hoods. Durinn cast See Secrets and they began to pull robes and hoods off the walls and toss them on the floor. As they did, this lunged out from behind a robe that Desmond pulled off the wall:

A spectre! It clawed at Desmond, who, despite being occupied with pulling robes off, simply used Blink and defended against it. The spectre followed up and struck him several more times, wounding him with its life-draining touch for 10 injury. It then concentrated on a spell as Belmek ran in and hit it - to no effect! Durinn successfully turned it, but only 1 yard's worth. It cast Death Vision on Desmond . . . but rolled a 17 and failed! As it tried again, Durinn put Affect Spirits on Belmek's axe. Belmek hit it and wounded it, and a second later it vanished with a little "whoosh" noise.

They healed up Desmond and finished their task - they checked for secret doors and found nothing.

The group moved back to the wide corridor and headed "south." Down the long corridor they went, bypassing a door spotted off on a side offshoot. Suddenly they found themselves faced with a dead end, after seemingly having much corridor ahead of them. They were just suddenly at the end. So they turned around and headed back . . . and found themselves suddenly at the dead end again. A teleport trap!

Queue the usual solutons - looking for pressure plates, debating if Mage Sight would tell them how it worked (it doesn't do that, but it's always suggested), trying to go "along the walls" or "up the middle," stepping one by one up hexes and chalking the spots to see where it triggers, Levitating low and then high - nothing worked.

Eventually they decided to try Dispel Magic - and then sent Belmek through. It worked! So they moved out . . . and found themselves, sans Belmek, at the dead end.

Aargh. They rested a bit, and then did it again - but this time everyone ran up the hallway. Out of the trap!

They turned left down a side corridor and moved along it. Durinn and Desmond rushed ahead, with Belmek, and they blundered into an evil runes trap. Durinn was injured but the other resisted the Dehydrate attack. They backed off and went the other way.

They headed to the door they'd passed earlier. As they tried to force, it, though, crossbow bolts came out of the dark. Two missed, but one hit Belmek. It came from the "south." He ran that way, the others following as fast as they could. He was hit with crossbow bolts the whole way, blocking a few as well, but his native DR kept most from hurting him too badly. At the end of the hallway was a semicircle of foes at a bent intersection. Most had swords out, three clubs, and two had two-handed weapons and plate peeking out from their sleeves.

Belmek halted and waited for the others to arrive. Lenjamin arrived first, and they stepped up together, backs to the corner wall. The cultists rushed them. In a brawl marred by critical failures, the cultists started with a few. One ran at Belmek who knocked him down. Another ran up and fell while trying to attack. Another dropped his weapon. Belmek and Lenjamin attacked those around them - Belmek concentrating on the ones who'd fallen, trying to finish them. The cultists moved to cut them off from the oncoming friends. Durrin ran next to Lenjamin and put his back to the wall. The two armored cultists - revealed by the combat tracker to be Brother Cedric and Brother Alester, of whom they'd been warned - attacked Lenjamin. Alester attacked with his dueling halberd. Cedric ran up with his two-handed mace to engage from another angle.

Kaylee ran up to the fight. As she did, though, Cedric moved to engage her - as was their plan. Another cultist ran up and slammed down Desmond, standing over him. Kaylee tried to parry someone and critically failed, flinging her sword into the wall behind her. Cedric attacked; she tried to Dodge his flail strike but her left arm was crippled by the hit. More cultists ran through the gap to cut off the PCs from Desmond and from Kaylee's sword.

Desmond threw up a few Mental Stun spells at his foe, succeeding each time - critically the first. But his foe just kept recovering immediately or just about so. He was unable to do more than just lay there trying to get breathing space.

Belmek and Lenjamin layed about them, putting down a few of the cone-hatted swordsmen. Belmek critically missed and unreadied his axe; he simply dropped it the next turn, fast-drew a replacement, and attacked. Lenjamin exchanged ineffective blows with another cultist. Then Brother Alester spiked him in the vitals with the backspike of his halberd. Lenjamin was badly injured, and stuck! Belmek attacked Alester and crippled his arm. B.A. dropped his halberd and rush off toward Kaylee. Lenjamin kept fighting on against the cultist facing him. Durinn defended and cast healing spells on Belmek, Lenjamin (with the halberd still in), and Kaylee. Kaylee drew her knife and rushed into close combat with B.C., who promptly head-butted her. She parried that, and tried to cut him back. She cut and dodged and moved but was soon penned in on all sides by cultists. Meanwhile, Lenjamin critically failed an attack and tossed his hammer over his head - past Belmek, and it landed on the skull of a cultist fighting Belmek! It did 7 damage (15/2 round down) which became 4 injury . . . but the cultist made his HT roll and stayed up.

We ended it there - Belmek up, wounded badly. Lenjamin needing a new weapon, Durinn penned in next to them. Kaylee mobbed. Desmond still on his back trying to Mental Stun his way to safety. And a good number of cultists down - but an even larger number still up and fighting fanatically against them.


- Ah, the door pass phrase. Desmond's player said, "I got it wrong but Desmond would have gotten it right." Nope, that's not how it works in DF Felltower.

- Of course, the PCs mocked the guys who fell victim to a critically successful Panic spell as cowards. It's a group with a strong Bully streak in it.

- Looting bodies isn't as quick as PCs would like. They'd generally like to have people with purses on their belts, within easy grab. I assume a quick search of a person takes one minute, including checking for and in purses, pockets, around the neck, etc. A full search - to thoroughly loot someone - takes longer. So you can't just have the bodies hit the floor at second 10, loot the bodies in seconds 11-20, and then run, say.

- Desmond blinked to get away from the spectre. I probably shouldn't have allowed him to try. He's out of combat, no Combat Reflexes, and grabbing robes off the walls and throwing them to the floor. As he does, a spectre behind one reaches out and attacks him. He Blinks and then defends. Seems iffy, right? GURPS is, by default, very generous on the defense. I get the whole, "A kid with a pointed stick can kill you" thing about GURPS, but in reality, it's much more often, "A spectre attacking at point blank by surprise while you're occupied doing something else in a big rush can be defended against without much problem." Players like this, as they're rarely in the position of attacking by surprise. I've complained about this before - and it's kind of annoying. It's too easy for PCs to get one or more very high likelihood of success rolls to get out of the bad effects of poor decisions. I need to use the surprise rules more vigorously, and ignore the complains of people who rationalize that "we're in a dungeon, so how can we be surprised by danger?"

- I made some spell rulings - they'll have to wait until tomorrow or Thursday, though. Stop Bleeding, Panic, healing spells and crippling injuries, and Mage Sight, for a few.

- Charging the ambush worked, mostly because Belmek has like 6 natural DR and the crossbowmen didn't have any bodkin points. It wasn't the best way to deal with ranged fire. Several good Per rolls allowed some blocks, too.

- I say this many times, but I'll have to do something about it - I need rules for a weapon staying stuck in you. It's unreasonable and damages suspension of disbelief when Lenjamin has a 7' halberd stuck point-first in his vitals, dragging on the ground, and he fights with no penalties to block, swing, move, etc. And he's had the wound mostly healed around the impale, which is just bizarre. There needs to be some kind of reasonable penalty. I'll come up with ideas and post them later this week.

- MVP was Kaylee for her "triple murder" stroke. I decided after the session to give an Awesome Bonus - +1 to all PCs - for the really fun brawls they got into. They certainly aren't trying to back off and fight later. The first was a walkover with some unfortunate rolls. The second is a chaotic disaster as the PCs try to fight as a team against foes equally fighting as a team . . . but it's awesome. Plus, everyone was on target, there was little unhelpful helping, and lots of interesting combat moves. I give those rarely but this feels like a session that earned it. So, 2 xp to Kaylee, 1 xp to everyone else.

- Overall, great session. It was a lot of fun. I wish we had time to finish the fight but it was late. I hate to end during a fight, but we'll play next week and finish out the session. May they all be this loaded with enjoyment, if not more!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Game summary preview

We had only a crew of five today, as the Dwarven Sprue took out Low-Key.

We had:

- a big brawl with full fanatic freaks*!

- ghost in a closet!

- teleport trap tricks!

- and another, bigger brawl, with even more fully fanatic freaks!

Sadly we couldn't finish the fight before we had to close up, so we'll wrap the session up next week and hopefully have Low-Key arrive just in time to loot the bodies.

Fun, fun session. Seriously fun. So many MVP moments we had to pick the best of a lot of options - everyone was a potential MVP at least once.

* "That guy's got to be a full fanatic freak or he'd have split town twenty minutes ago!" - Oddball

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Game Prep

Felltower tomorrow!

Well, the Unopenable Doors tomorrow, anyway.

I'm a bit under the weather, so I didn't do too much at all today. But I did manage to get it all set up.

- restocked the dungeon with foes and treasure and provisions and whatnot. It's been a few weeks since the last time a bunch of murderous hobos bashed their way in.

- updated all of the VTT components that I could

- got a lot of rest so my voice is up to the task of GMing!

Friday, January 27, 2023

Random Thoughts for 1/27/2023

Another busy work week and little time for gaming. I need "busy work week" but with "with plenty of time for gaming!"

That said, I did get in some gaming and reading.

- I'm still playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker in bits as I have time here and there. I've missed a quest I did last time, but otherwise have been a lot better about doing things in order and not short-circuiting the process. So I'm more appropriately leveled for my missions. That offends my old school mentality but also means I don't have to reload from saves after I get massacred by monsters as much as before, either. I'm still being very much Lawful Evil and it's fun, especially when I know it's a choice that leads to things I purposely avoided doing before. Plus it's fun to annoy my good-aligned companions. I tend to bring the callous (Amiri, Harrim) and ruthless (Ekundayo) and the evil (Regongar, Nok Nok) with me more often than not.

- I have a table for Fire in the Lake, but I need to get rid of my broken printer first and re-position it. So I should be set up soon for a playthrough - finally!

- I like these cross-edition analysis posts on D&D from Delta. This one is on advancement. I especially love the Gygax quote from The Dragon saying you shouldn't be higher level than their guys because you haven't played as long or as much.

- I think this Back of Beyond wargame is pretty awesome. I keenly await the next installment.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

DF Felltower - Continual Mage Light answers

A question came up about Continual Mage Light in DF Felltower.

Does Continual Mage Light count as a "spell on"?

No, it does not, just like Continual Light, although it doesn't specify that. The spell otherwise works as written.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Video Game Magic Item Plentitude

The treaure expectations in video games vs. tabletop games has been on my mind as I re-play Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

From the very start of the game, I expect to find a steady stream of magical items. They'll increase in value, scaled to my current level. I won't find a +5 sword until I'm pretty high level. You're never going to be better armed than your level, even without level-restricted items (like in Diablo, or Borderlands 2.)

On top of that, I expect to find enough items that every possible magic item slot is filled. Have two ring slots? Everyone should end up with two magical rings. Everyone has a magical cloak. Everyone has magical headgear, a necklace, a suit of armor, a pair of magic boots, and magical gloves. Everyone will have 1-2 magical weapons and if they use a shield, a magic shield. Churn of items is not necessarily high, but it continues along, and spares are ruthlessly sold so I can buy better items (or consumables, if your game needs them.) I have no idea what my characters are like at their base stats, because they all have stat boosters. They have so many layered item bonuses I need to actually swap items to figure out which one is better. I have to look things up online to figure out how they interplay because I have so many.

Sure, we ended up with a of magic items during my Unearthed Arcana-era high school AD&D game. But not that many. You'd get that one guy with three rings trying to explain how he could wear them all, but lots of guys with no magic rings. Everyone would have a magic weapon because you need them to fight some foes. But you wouldn't always have one of everything you could use.

Games ramp up the magic items because they're fun to find and use, for one. They also have no consequences outside of the game. You can't really figure out some way to use extra magic weapons to decorate your palace guard with +1 swords and spare Belts of Giant Strength or Rings of Protection. You're just limited.

But I routinely have more magic items on one character than you'd see on a party of 3-4 in all but a semi-legendary Monty Haul style game.

It's just interesting to me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Kingmaker: Sometimes Being Evil Has Benefits

Evil sometimes comes with shortcuts.

Confronted by angry peasants who want blood because they're not happy with how quickly you're dealing wiht an outbreak of monsters?

Hang every other one of them!

Problem solved in a lot less skill checks and carefully chosen words than my Lawful Good guy needed, for sure.

Will this have consequences? Consequences, shmonsequences. I'll be higher level by the time that happens! Bring it!

Monday, January 23, 2023

Revised GURPS Magic for DF - Choking

This isn't really a "revised" spell, so much as it is a clarification.

The Choking spell from GURPS Magic, p. 40, works by Suffocation (p. B436). It does not, despite the name of the spell, include any other form of injury or impairment from choking. This specifically does not include Choking as defined on p. 66 of DFRPG Exploits. You cannot breathe or speak, per the spell.

This basically means that you don't get a free stunning effect from this spell. It just works as written. You could make this include the effects of choking, but you'd want to increase the cost - probably to at least 7, maybe 8 points. It's still very dangerous, but not as much as the name - and the condition which was defined long after the spell was named - implies.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Not Combining Certain Skills in DF Felltower

I keep looking for spells and skills to merge in DF Felltower. Not willy-nilly - I'm not just going to merge things to merge things. But where I think the overlap is so strong that there isn't a purpose for my current game in having more than one skill or spell, I'll merge them.

But I have given thought to a few and decided it was too much. Here are three of them.

Merging Observation and Search

This one isn't going to happen. Observation is basically passive spotting based on a skilled understanding of how to do that. Search is actively looking for things on a person (or in a place, at least in my games.) Combining the two seems a little much - at that point, am I just creating a 4-point verion of the 5-point trait Perception? Seems like it. So no, I rejected that one.

Merging Animal Handling by removing specialties

Another one I gave some thought. Do we really need multiple specialties? The skill doesn't come up that often; shoudn't I consider making it all one skill to roll against?

So I did consider it. But then I decided it would be a little too much. I'd have players wanting to use this on every animal - mundane, giant, dire, mutant, or even animal-kinda-looking ("Dragons are animals, right?") Having a lack of a restrictive niche, I decided, was opening it too widely to possible over-use.

Merging Cure Disease and Neutralize Poison

Neither of these spells comes up all too often. They do very similar things in overall effect - they essentially get rid of a cyclic effect on the PCs centered on metabolic damage. But basically for that reason, I left them seperate. They don't come up that often. You can easily get by with 1 point in each. Making them one spell (Cure Metabolic Hazard?) would be all of saving one point and some extra bookkeeping and rulings to make it happen. Not worth the trouble.

Any skills or spells you had considered merging and then decided against?

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Warehouse23 vs. Shopify?

I took a quick trip over to Warehouse23 just now, checking my library to see if I owned something already or not.

There is a link to SJG's "new store." This takes you to a Shopify page.

So . . . is this a replacement for Warehouse23? Will my files transfer over? Will I need to create a new account? Hmm . . . I need to dig around and find out. Has anyone done so yet?

Friday, January 20, 2023

Random thoughts and links for 1/20/2023

Today was a day filled with technical complications to finish out a busy week. So I didn't really get to peruse as many blog posts as I usually do. Or do as much writing or game prep. Lucky for me, game is next week. That all said:

- I did some actual basic groundwork for a new writing project. So basic it was mostly, "Hey, we should start on some basic groundwork, right?" But it counts. Any start is a start.

- I still prod at my remaining non-voting players about voting in the two DF Felltower rules change idea polls I made. I still get no response. We don't quite have as many people as I'd like to start instituting the changes. Maybe I'll make them do it right before we play next time.

- I managed to get a little game prep in, but there wasn't too much to do. I love when I've done my homework early.

- the flat universe of Traveller is still cool - Aramis sector. Good descriptions make me want to go places. "The Travellers Aid Society has posted Reacher an Amber Zone, as it can be dangerous for offworlders to leave the starport." Hell yeah, that means when you arrive, you are damn well going to have to leave the starport to get something done before you can leave. "The only guy with the widget to fix your ship is so-and-so . . . and he just disappeared, widget and all, outside of the starport. And your cargo has to get offworld in a week or it'll never make it to market on time. Suit up and go look for him."

- the Rolemaster Robin Hood setup in this looks very cool.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Final Thief changes

Here are the final changes to the Thief template from DF1 for DF Felltower.

- Perfect Balance is optional; if not taken, spend those 15 points on any other advantage(s).

- Eliminate Shadowing, saves 2 points.

- Eliminate Smuggling, saves 2 points.

- Reduce Urban Survival to 1 point, saves 1 point.

- Eliminate Filch, roll points into Pickpocketing.

Use the 5 saved points to increase any skills.

We should probably make Pickpocketing a technique of Sleight of Hand but have not done that so far.

And that's that!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Fiddly puzzles

I was playing a little bit of Pathfinder: Kingmaker earlier, and I hit a snag in one area - a puzzle I can't solve. I mean, I know the solution, but I didn't have the magical effect needed to solve the puzzle. I was able to figure out what it was but not do anything about it.

I just said out loud, sarcastically annoyed, "Yeah, I'm sure people sit around and say, I sure wish games had more fiddly puzzles that depend on having the right spell memorized."

I do my flat-out best to avoid those kinds of puzzles. I don't really mind actual puzzles. I don't enjoy them in video games, where I tend to enjoy accomplishment more than the tasks needed to accomplish the goal. Quite the opposite of tabletop, where I enjoy the path and the solution even if I seem rushed to find the solution.

That probably seems a bit of a contradiction given the puzzles I've used in Felltower. I don't really see it that way, though. I've had some puzzles that require the players to figure out what to do, and then do it. I don't assure them they can do the thing. But I don't require a certain spell, or skill roll, or whatever, to solve a puzzle. I don't really plan on a specific solution. I do admit some of my puzzles have and will frustrate the living hell out of my players. So much so they spent character points to find out the solution to one, and then still couldn't solve it. Although I maintain it's not a puzzle.*

Whenever I get annoyed in a video game, I take a mental note of what I dislike.

- am I stuck because I can't make a certain roll? Not fun.

- am I stuck because I can't figure something out? Not fun, but not automatically bad.

- am I stuck because I don't have some item that I was supposed to keep or get? Bad, even if sometimes the getting can be fun.

I try to avoid all three of those in my face to face game, with the "key" exception to the last one. Sometimes, you do need a key. But you won't need to make a particular roll, or have a specific spell handy, or otherwise need to jump through hoops in some special way in chargen in order to win the day. It might be a player facing problem, it might be character facing, it might be both, but it won't be "guess the right spell" or "roll the right skill roll." I don't find those to have entertainment value that outweights the frustation.

* Although, as Joe Walsh says, it's hard to leave when you can't find the door. Sometimes you can find the door but step two isn't really leaping out to the players.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

SJG Tiktok on GURPS

So, this:

SJG Tiktok on GURPS

Seems post-worthy for a GURPS blog.

If you have comments on their question I think that's the place to do it. I'm not sure anyone deeply involved in SJG decisions looks at my blog comments!

Monday, January 16, 2023

Review: How to Defend Your Lair

Time for a review of something I felt had an impact on my gaming. For more reviews, check my reviews page.

How to Defend Your Lair
by Keith Ammann

Keith Ammann's new book is a GM tool to help a GM make NPC lairs better. More logical, more realistic, and based on principles of real-world (and yes, magical world) security practices instead of dungeon and adventure design principles. How would a big bad evil wizard actually protect his spellbooks, or his treasury, or his life? How would the ruthless assassin's guild head protect her assassins, her big book of client names, and her escape route? GM long enough and you can come up with some ideas. With this book you can organize the approach based on real world principles and a sensible and logical approach.

It's very good stuff. The book consists of a look at concentric security all the way from detecting threats to reacting to them, to responses after, and escape when things fail. Patrolling, gathering information, how to secure your front and back doors, etc. - it's all there. And it is sufficiently generic that only a cursory knowledge of D&D 5th edition will be enough to make use of it. You'll learn when mounted and foot patrols make sense, how to arrange your reaction force, what kind of numbers are needed to provide how many patrols in a given time window, etc. It's both concrete usable information and higher-level concepts so you understand how and why.

The end of the book is a bunch of example lairs. They're all good. I won't spoil them except to say that you'll need your thinking cap on to penetrate security on them.
Two things I found less than valuable in the book - interrogation, and value assessment.

There is an entire chapter on how to interrogate people. Interesting, and based on what I've read from actual interrogators, it seems workable and accurate. However, what are you going to use this for? You'd need captive players and a lot of interest in doing one on one questioning of them by the GM to get them to reveal information. In the hands of a player, this might make for more compelling questioning than the usual ". . . or we'll kill you!" threats and poor questions. But I don't see that coming up. So if a GM really isn't going to get to use this, and it's a book aimed at a GM to make NPCs more believable and effective, it's not really valuable enough to justify a whole chapter. Again, it's good stuff, but it doesn't belong.

I'm also a little less sold on putting number values on what is valuable to create a score. The author recommends that for every item of value, you assign a score based on different value measurements - basically how much the possessor values the thing or fears losing the thing. Okay, great. But do I really need to know if something is a 6, or an 8, or a 9? I can see a simplified system working better - rank the things the NPC has in rough order of value. Then just protect them in that order. Don't protect item #3 less than item #1 on the top 5, say. It's an attempt to put a number on a subjective value and do something with that number. It just doesn't seem necessary to get the job done.

How adversarial is it? I'd say, little to not at all. It's not set up from a "GM vs. players" approach, in my opinion. It's more like making the NPCs use the most effective and logical tactics and strategy to protect their lairs. Nothing is stopping you from making the foes easier or harder even as you do so. Or from having NPCs use the wrong tactics because they'd lack the understanding (or personality) to use the better ones. It feels more like making sure the GM is making decisions from a position of knowledge than from a position of opposition.

This book can make a good player tool, as well, if you're not the type to figure out how to run effective fortified-area penetration missions but want to know how. Although the entire perspective is from someone trying to stop penetration, if you know what they're afraid of happening, you can try to make that happen. And detect more easily when someone hasn't figured out their vulnerability!

Overall: I like the book. I'm very glad I purchased it and it is having a positive effect on my gaming. Recommended.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Recruiting PCs and NPCs in DF Felltower

In DF Felltower, two things are true about recruiting:

- there always just enough 250 point guys in the world to justify a new PC, but not enough to justify recruiting a 250-point NPC to aid the PCs

- there are plenty of 62 point schleps out there willing to join bandit gangs, pirate crews, militias, cults with funny hats, and other organizations that fight delvers.

It's never an issue when a PC dies and someone wants a new guy. Fine. Or someone just wants to make a new paper man and play that guy for a while. Also fine! I won't argue unless there is something odd about the character. No "in town helper" guys - you can't make a 250-point optimized loot seller who sits in town and takes a percentage to resell loot, or a 250-point healer to fix wounds for free, or anything like that. Your delvers only help play when they actually get involved in play. But I'm not going to say no when you want a new guy, in general.

Also, no matter how many orcs you butcher, there are plenty of orcs who want to join the orcs. They're not going to die like those last two, ten, fifty. No way. Need more bandits? Plenty of guys ready to sign up! Cultists? Does it come with a funny hat and some coins? Sign me up!

This doesn't mean I automatically replenish losses one to one. I tend to make a formula. But until you destroy a group's center of gravity, they will keep recruiting. I was inspired for this by adventures like WG4 The Lost Temple of Tharizdun and T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil, which had specific guidelines for not only replacing losses but expanding the garrison of the locations. I always liked the idea of places that lived in the absence of the PCs. So my groups do that - and some of them slink away in the night with their loot when attacked ineffectively. And yes, some can't replace losses and just get ground down by attrition.

Even so, the second rule applies - there are a lot of schleps in the world to replace losses.

While this means PCs could, potentially, put together a small army of 62-point guys, given sufficient payment and inducement. But it would take some work to do, and continuous money to keep them together. Delvers don't have much of an infrastructure to recruit and maintain groups. They just don't. The few delvers that could, generally don't, and irregular pay, regular danger, poor treatment by the delvers, and ridiculous casualty rates take care of the rest. They can still be recruited delve to delve with some notice, mostly because I need to generate stats and VTT tokens and names for the new guys.

But yeah, want a new paper man? You got it, there is a 250 point guy out there and it's you. Your bandit foes need some more guards? There are a lot of 62 point guys out there all ready to sign on for glory! And thus the cycle of gaming continues . . . which is all these truths are about.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Doug's OGL post

I've perused a few posts on this whole OGL revision that has come along. As I'm not someone who published under the OGL, I don't really have a lot to say about it.

But Doug does, and I found his interleved reply well worth the time to read.

Gaming Ballistic and the OGL Press Release Reaction

Friday, January 13, 2023

Random Thoughts and Links for 1/13/2023

Random stuff for Friday.

- Here is a Fairy Tale version of Japan based on the literal prefecture names. New Lagoon - aka Niigata - is my other home. I lived in Turtle Ricefields in New Lagoon. It's hot and wet in the summer and freezing cold and snowy in the winter.

Anyway, good stuff. I need to move back permanently soon.

- The simplicity that is AD&D known spells! My first AD&D character - Goldleaf the elf, a F/M-U/T, used this rule to learn 5 spells. That was the only time we ever used it. I don't even need "we" there, as the guys who taught me to play had me do that and I never DMed, or played with a DM who used, that rule. It's not that it is complicated, it's just not really something that any later materials assumed mattered and it sure didn't maximum enjoyment of your gaming experience. It's a nice concept, and maybe people play by it and love it . . . we never saw the need.

- I had to re-up for Forge today. $47.99 for the year of hosting is well worth it. I don't regret a penny of it. The one time we needed support it was provided quickly and effectively with no bother. I highly recommend them as a VTT host.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Revised GURPS Magic: Blink

We play Blink differently than written. We make the destination hex random. We roll to see what direction the caster shifts, and the caster moves only as many hexes as necessary to end up in an unoccupied hex.


Because I've been dealing with Blink abuse since way, way back in the day. In my experience:

- it's a hideously abusable spell. Wanna teleport somewhere? Have a friend hit you and pull his blow so it can't hurt you. Blink away to where you want to be, whether off of a pressure plate trap, or out of a pit, or beyond a door, or the other side of a wall.

- limiting it to "hexes you can see only" helps but, hey, Wizard Eye and scrying and Glasswall.

- limiting to places you can walk to without aid helps more, but then makes it fail in weird ways, like being surrounded.

- limiting it by random works better, because it's much harder to abuse.

Ultimately, in DF, it is a Teleport spell in a game world that says Teleport costs 100 points as an ability, and you get a limited version for 99% off.

Casting cost is still 2 because:

Parry-like Blocking spells are 1 (most limited)
Dodge-like Blocking spells are 3 (most useful)

Can't choose location is one limitation, needs Body Sense is another, but a positive is you are teleporting out of the hex you were in. So -, -, + = one -. Having limitations on the effect of the Dodge is -1, so cost is 2.

So that's why it is as it is. Yeah, Phase is better. It's also 3 points, and it does leave you in the hex you are in, making it less potentially useful than Blink.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Pathfinder: Kingmaker update

I spent a little of yesterday and all of my gaming-directed free time today on Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

I'm still playing my Lawful Evil Monk. I use retraining to respec, though. I found a nice build that uses Rogue and Scaled Fist Monk to make a good bare-handed fighter. This one is doing much better than the fragile and low-damage previous character. At least now with Sneak Attack and Disorienting Attack I often put the enemy in a bad way. I still need more AC.

My playthrough approach on LE is this:

- choose the Lawful Evil option unless choosing something else is far better.
- otherwise go lawful before chaotic and neutral before good.
- choose the Evil option unless the Neutral option seems closer LE (it happens.)
- avoid the usual "Just attack!" Chaotic Evil action.
- pick fun stuff my good or neutral guys wouldn't.

So I've done stuff like double-tax a petitioner and piss off my neighbors, butcher a diplomat who insulted me when I caught him out in the field fighting a random encounter, and destroy both sides in a conflict. Fun stuff. I expect there to be hell to pay for a lot of this, but the advantage of being LE is that hell is kind of your thing.

I still do "good" things that clearly come with XP, though. And I've sided with good people over evil people who annoy me because annoying me is dangerous and should be.

I'm trying to avoid short-circuiting adventurers like I did last time by being too direct. Thanks to a prior playthrough and better understanding of my options, I'm finding monsters that stomped me hard the first time - wisps, wolves, and alchemists - are not so hard now. I know better how to prioritize wiping them out.

Fun stuff. I can't wait to take more of the evil options I turned down last year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

More notes on DF Session 178

More things about DF Session 178.

- I love how the legend of Cornwood grows. Using "of Cornwood" to describe a PC goes back to Aldwyn. His player wanted to come from the game world's equivalent of Britain. Someone - either he or I, I recall - said that would be Cornwood. And it went from there.

Lenjamin is run by that player's little brother. He's our second Fancy Man of Cornwood. He's pretty interested in "invading" Cornwood. There is some discussion if this means just going to visit, and that Cornwoodians* call going back home to visit the family "invading" or if it means he's a horrible traitor. We'll see! It's not terribly likely I'll send them to Cornwood. But it would be fun.

- Gormundel was the bandit wizard in Sakatha's tomb. The PCs don't know this, but he's gone now and there is no harm in them knowing. Actually, I had a roll for people to recognize him, as after fleeing the original PC attack on the tomb he moved to Stericksburg. But as an excommunicated wizard with a criminal record, he didn't stay long . . . but was there long enough to be a known threat to the peace. No, there isn't a reward on his head. He left and that's all anyone wanted him to do. Still, it was fun. He chose poorly in terms of rooms . . . he had no where to flee.

He also had a lot of useful spells, but all of them would have given away his location. He was hiding hoping the PCs wouldn't follow, or would get stuck, or whatever. He's a tall guy, out of shape and pudgy, but not too big to squirm through the hole. Had he revved up with some of his fire spells, it might have gone badly for Connor, but it wasn't to be. Connor just kept too close. Had the PCs hesitated and argued a bit longer about who should go and should they go . . . going would have become likey impossible or at least costly in casualties. You can't win a fight that needs boldness with caution.

- I'm rather liking this area. Yes, it's heavily pulled from a published adventure that I quite like. I got rid of the bits I didn't need - including a way cool puzzle monsters because I don't need another puzzle monster - but kept the core bits I enjoyed the most. It's odd how much high level adventures - and it is one - adapt well for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. You just have to use more "worthy" than "boss" monsters along the way.

- We've been playing GURPS for years and some spells still invoke questions. Odd ones, in a way. Desmond wanted to use Create Earth to fill the hex one of the knights was in with dirt to trap it. Uh, no. It takes a full second to appear and the knight could just walk out. I'm not sure why that's still a question. It's a pretty basic thing - a spell that instantly and completely trapped a foe with no resistance roll or defense roll should cost more than a few points to cast, right?

- Next game is likely in 3 weeks. Gives the PCs time to recoup and the cultists time to recruit some more guards! They'll need them. They're down 11 so far, plus a triger and two mechanical knights.

* Cornwoodiots? Cornies? Woodites?

Monday, January 9, 2023

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 178, Brotherhood Complex 2 - Iron Knights

Date: 1/9/2023
Game Date: 1/9/2023 left Stericksburg, delved on 1/12/2023, returned to Stericksburg 1/14/2023.

Ambassador Durinn, dwarf cleric (250 points)
Belmek Battlebeard, dwarf barbarian (250 points)
Connor "Low Key" O'Neill, human thief (250 points)
Desmond MacDougall, human wizard (278 points)
Kaylee, half-elf knight (250 points)
Lenjamin Gundry of Cornwood, human knight (250 points)

The PCs gathered in Stericksburg and headed out to the brotherhood complex, aka the Unopenable Doors.

They took a few days to travel there - there really isn't a better base than Stericksburg, other than some remote farms and smallish villages still miles away. Once there, they checked the entrance, sending Low Key in to check for traps. He found none, and no one has enough Tracking to see if use patterns changed.

They headed in, and used the passphrase to open the doors, and headed right down. They explained to the new guys how their extensive expirimentation with the statue enabled them to pass through the illusionary wall.

Once though the illusionary wall and down the stairs, they moved to check the triger's lair. Once it again, they heard it roaring - it wasn't dead (Durinn suspected maybe undead, but wrongly.) They advanced slowly on it, using Opportunity Fire to cover the area. They closed in on it, but as they did, they saw three guards rush in from the darkness deeper in the complex. Also, they heard clanking, whirring, and metal-on-stone clangs.

In moments, they faced three guards with swords and shields and robes and two metal-armored men with metal shields and all-metal one-handed warhammers. Belmark threw his axe at a guard but missed. Lenjamin threw a hatchet at the triger as it rushed out as well, and also missed.

Attacked from two directions, Lenjamin found himself pounced on by the triger - and Dodged out of the way, leaving the triger to circle around and attack Desmond. The armored knights met up with Kaylee, who crippled the pick arm of the lead one with a massive sword blow; it cracked at the elbow and dangled loosely. The other clanked up to Belmek.

Desmond Blinked away from the triger's next pounce and put Loyalty on one guard, just after he'd fumbled an attack and his weapon became unready. Connor rushed one and critically missed, falling and dropping his sword. Belmek feinted the same guard for a -1, the guard critically missed Connor and went off balance, and then Dismond put Mental Stun on him.

The triger closed on Desmond and bit him three times, landing two solid chomps onto his groin. He wasn't hurt thanks to his garishly painted Mage Scale, but he was grappled. Meanwhile, the guard he'd cast on ran over to protect him, as Desmond called for him to do. Kaylee crippled the other arm of the knight, as the other spiked Lenjamin and wounded him badly. Lenjamin tried to parry, of course, but strained his shoulder, crippling it for 30 minutes! Then for some reason it just stopped moving. Lenjamin tried to pull himself off of the pick, after Durinn healed him. He got partly off. Another pull a second later finished the job.

Belmek butchered the other two guards - the wounded one, and another one - with axe blows. The crippled knight kept shoulder checking Kaylee, who eventually managed to hit it a couple more times and drop it. She then turned and cut down the triger before it could do Desmond's groin any lasting harm.

Belmek chopped the other knight down a second after it started moving again. Like the first, it collapsed like a marionette with its strings cut.

With that, the fight was over. The charmed foe, Oliver d'Guard, was questioned by Desmond in his folksy, mostly scolding way. "Listen sport, in my day (yadda yadda yadda) . . ." The equipment was policed up. And the knights examined. They were clearly constructs. They smelled of oil, had protruding bolts, and limbs too thin to have someone inside. Lenjamin recognized them as mechanical knights, a form of built-from-parts golem somewhat common in Cornwood but not elsewhere. They're a staple in the armies of King Titanius Anglesmith. Desmond took a look with Physiology (Constructs) and determined that they don't have any notable weak points. They also don't have any weapons that aren't part of them, and their steel armor is low-grade and salable only as scrap.

They dragged the two dead guards to the triger's den, checked that for loot and exits (and found none), and left the mechanical knights in place.

They checked the guard room and ensured there was nothing there, and then followed Oliver's directions towards a room with his leaders - Brother Alester and Brother Cedric. He knew little else - he'd only joined the cult five days before, and they didn't involve him in anything yet, or allow him deeper into the complex. One of the other guards was equally new. They couldn't find what he was talking about, and he said he was sure the Brothers came from that way but must have been wrong.

So they wandered around, carefully mapping. Long story short, they found a lot of empty rooms. Often small, sometimes larger, and usually locked or just jammed shut. Durinn had brought a crowbar, and Belmek went around prying doors open. A few locked ones were easily taken care of by Connor "Low Key." They also found a gurgling, bubbling acidic pool, which they avoided. And closer to the entrance, a puddle of water that water spell expert Desmond declared was an ordinary puddle. They spent a good 40 minutes or so wandered around before they decided to check a hallway they'd bypassed earlier. Belmek ran ahead . . . and was zapped by a spell, which he resisted. Desmond couldn't see anything that set it off, so they sent Connor ahead. Zap. He critically failed a resistance roll and took 15 injury from Dehydrate. It was a set of evil runes. They could avoid them by not going that way, or just hope to resist. They had Belmek and Connor back out, and healed Connor up.

Oliver had told them they were told not to go that way, but I don't think anyway was listening by that point. They pried open a few more doors, ignoring "the shitter" that Oliver pointed out. They made their way back to where they started.

But coming from another angle, they saw a large tapestry on one of the walls - a good 30' by 10' or so. It was heavy, clearly well-made, and in fine condition. It depicted the mountain of Felltower, with a squat black fortress on top . . . the old Black Brotherhood fortress, which was destroyed long before Sterick arrived. (Amusingly, in the VTT, the players lined themselves up in front of it like museum goers. We joked that previous delvers had stolen the bench.)

After this they noticed they'd walked past a hallway and headed down it. It had a door - Belmek was all about opening doors today. He failed to force it. So Desmond used Glasswall to see through it. Beyond was a hexagonal chamber with stuff all over the place, and a man in robes with a shield and staff! The wizard ran over to a wall near the door but out of immediate sight. Desmond moved but still couldn't see him. So he moved and Kaylee and Belmek teamed up to force the door open. This time, it worked, breaking the light bar holding it closed and rushing inside.

No wizard.

So Durinn cast See Secrets and spotted a secret door near where Desmond last saw the mage go. They quickly opened it and raced through a rough-hewn natural cave in pursuit.

On the far end, they found crates and barrels and a trio of casks. They poked and swung around and behind them, and then into a pit behind the crates. Nothing. Belmek jumped down and found a one-yard-diameter hole heading out of the pit. Connor jumped down, put his knife in his teeth, and crawled through about 40-50 feet or so of narrow passage. (Having Flexibility helps a lot; it wasn't even a roll for him, while others would need Escape)

At the other end he popped out into the bottom of a pit. Standing on the edge was a wizard (Gormundel, although the PCs didn't know that except from the combat tracker) standing just in front of a pair of chests to either side of him. He saw Connor and carefully stepped back and then backed up. Connor jumped up and rushed him, passing between the chests. As he moved to do so, Gormundel yelled, "NO NO NO NO!" Connor yelled "YES YES YES!" but felt pressure and a snap - he'd run through a tripwire. Gas began to billow out of one of the chests - greenish, fast-moving stuff.

He moved after Gormundel, who turned and ran. He threw his knife, and rolled a 4! Sadly, he also rolled only a little damage, and it bounced off of the wizard's robes.

Connor wasn't cowed, though, and he readied his shortsword and rushed forward, just ahead of the expanding gas. The wizard disappeared. Connor tried hunting him in the area with hearing (the wizard was breathing hard) and guesses to his location, but mostly swung and missed. The gas expanded further. Then suddenly it stopped, and then a moment later more disappeared, but only on one side. He heard the wheezing of the out-of-shape wizard and decided to rush down the gap. He ran into the wizard but didn't knock him over. A second later, though, he managed to knock him flat. From there, he dropped his sword, grappled him, and took about 10 seconds to finally wrestle him into submission. The wizard's Invisibility broke when he attacked to break free. Then he sat on him and pulled out a knife, pulled his hood back, and cut the man's throat over his repeated calls not to do so.

The wizard dead, he stripped him of gear, and then got on to the chests. He checked them for more traps - avoiding the settling gas was easy, the wizard had gotten rid of a lot - and found nothing else. He opened them and found one empty except for an empty animal membrane bladder for gas. The other had ~1600 cp and ~3000 sp (So around $4600). The chests could fit through the hole, barely. So he put one down the hole, tied rope to it, and dragged it out with the loot and wizard's stuff.

They debated going back to get the wizard so someone could learn Summon Spirit and question him, or just taking his head for that purpose, but that's not a thing people in town are keen on. So they decided it was possible but not a good idea. They went back to the wizard's room and looted it. Connor blew a self-control roll on Kleptomania and pocketed the few gold coins and other small change he found there, succeeding on Sleight of Hand just well enough to avoid Durinn noticing.

They headed back to the entrance, dragged the triger out with them, and headed to the hills.

They failed to skin the triger, ruining its value as loot. But they took other things home - a set of Hooded Robes of Protection with Fortify 1, a staff with Staff on it (sold), a potion belt, some paut and healing potions, and some cash. They also disarmed and robbed Oliver, Desmond scolded him, "Listen Oscar, you need to make better life choices!" and then let him go. Soon enough, though Desmond missed old Omar. Er, Sport. Or Kid. Whatever. They hiked back to Felltower.


- the first fight started with so many critical failures by PCs and NPCs alike that we joked that "one side's coach has to call a time out." This wasn't how they wanted things to go. Once the triger grappled Desmond, Durinn was briefly close to a knight, Connor was prone, and Lenjamin spiked, Belmek's player quipped, "Exactly how we drew it up." Heh. They did have everyone in the fight overmatched, though, except maybe the triger, but animals have their own problems with heavily-armored folks with weapons.

- (Cornwoodian) mechanical knights are a new monster. I'll see if I can't work their stats out into some kind of publication. If not, I'll post them here. You can see from the action above that they're well armored but not overly sturdy, and hit pretty hard. Like many golems, they're from the golem (there they say "robot") ruled kingdom of Cornwood.

- Having a thief is helpful. You can do most of what they do another way, but everything is harder. Suddenly the group didn't have to have a high-HP guy try for traps because he can survive it, or hack down locked doors, or strip down one of the warriors and have them squirm down a narrow passage in the face of opposition. It was just simple tasks for a thief. The thief's lack of Wrestling made his task harder, and so did his low damage output, but he still did fine.

- There are active, intelligent foes in the dungeon. They've been attacked twice. What will they do to deal with a third attack? It's tough when you don't have the initiative, and yet need to stay where you are. What will they think up?

- They gave the Hooded Robes of Protection to Low Key. Technically, this has no effect except to give him DR. It doesn't seem like good clothing for some thiefly activities, though. Also, he now resembles a cultist when he wears them. But no one else who could benefit from a 25 FP power item could wear them. Oh well.

- XP was 4 for loot, 1 for exploration (not too many areas of real consquence - I don't count empty rooms), 1 xp MVP for Low Key for solo'ing the wizard Gormundel.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Unopenable Doors Pre-summary

Six delved into the Unopenable Doors area.

We had combat with guards, an old monster, a new one, and a wizard.

We had many thiefly exploits.

We had Belmak running around as fast as he could crowbarring open door after door.

And we had Desmond making a friend the old fashioned way - trickery and scolding!

Good stuff. Summary tomorrow evening.

Felltower today

We should have a solid crew for Felltower today.

I expect Desmond (Wizard), Lenny (Knight), Durinn (Cleric), Kaylee (Knight), and newcomer Connor "Low Key" O'Neill (Thief.) I'm not sure about two of our other players - I think they're out but I'm not sure. I don't have new characters for them in either case.

I did a bit of prep yesterday but forgot to blog about it. Mostly noodling around the edges of Foundry VTT and my Forge hosting to make sure everything is right. It might be. We'll find out today.

Second trip to the (all-too-openable) Unopenable Doors!

Friday, January 6, 2023

TSR Collector's Items at Noble Knight Games

This is pretty cool - Noble Knight Games has some very rare D&D items.

Included is a 1st printing woodgrain box Dungeons & Dragons set . . . which, if you scroll down to the bottom for prices, is offered for $27,995.00. Yes, almost $28K. I could sell my entire collection of RPG material - all of it, including minis, paints, brushes, really old books, out of print and hard to find editions, etc. - and not get $28K. I'd be afraid to even touch it.

It's all very cool, though.

Check it out here.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

A GURPS Traveller campaign

I'm excited by this:

GURPS Traveller: March Harrier Campaign Intro

I can't commit to the the game - I have too much going on with work and training and writing and other projects. But I do love Traveller so I will avidly follow along with the game.

I'm reposting it here to amplify the reach of the signal, in case anyone reading this blog but not always this blog missed it. I missed it until today myself!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023


One of my players has suggested this tool for uploading maps to Foundry VTT - Dungeondraft.

He did a little tutorial which makes it seem pretty effective. It's $19.99 . . . and if it will allow me to scan my Felltower maps and turn them into maps, it's worth it.

Of course, I'll need to find someone with a scanner, deal with my maps being 11 x 17 in some cases, and otherwise spend a bunch of time putting my stuff up. But it's something I'm giving some serious thought.

Anyone have an opinion I should know before I buy it?

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

A Gate is a TPK?

"A gate is a TPK. The Scry Gate spell can keep it from being an instant TPK but unless there's a known route back it's still a TPK."
- Willian Knowles

I'd wondered about the lack of gate usage in the past year or so of DF Felltower . . . and William Knowles commented on it. I think this is a very interesting perspective. I think there isn't a factual basis to support it, but I wonder if it is something that drives Felltower's PCs away from gates.

So let's take a look at the numbers, and the idea.

How have the TPKs in Felltower happened?

Here are the TPKs and near-TPKs that have happened in our game, per the DF Felltower Campaign Page:

Near-TPK - Mungo vs. Vryce II - not a TPK, but very close. Several deaths and only a few bodies recovered.

Effectively a TPK - Cold Fens Disaster - only one survivor, Gerry.

TPK - Eight Entered Felltower - Sterick whipped the PCs, but some would be brought back with Resurrection aided by a Wish.

Near TPK - Beholder Fight I - Only one survivor, Galen.

Could have been a TPK - Second GFS, Part IV - the PCs surrendered before this became a TPK.

TPK - Beholder Fight II - but then this happened on their second mission for their new masters, The Masters.

None of those involved a gate, except somewhat indirectly (the second GFS was a teleporter trap that led to capture, which led to a TPK.)

How did the gate expeditions turn out?

I think rather well, in some cases, and in others were a bit of a dry hole.

Olympus Gate - only two delves, but both were pretty awesome. Just an editorial aside, but these were two of my best gaming sessions as a GM in Felltower.

Forest Gate - a real toughie, but ended in victory for the PCs and some nice rewards.

Lost City Gate - lots of sessions, from this to this, were going there by gate. Generally the PCs smashed it up and looted the hell out of it.

Ape Gate - a dry hole for treasure, but it remains a place the PCs want to return. I've cautioned them that they can't go there purposeless and expect a purpose, so I'm effectively walling this off with my words.

Icy Gate - two sessions, which didn't amount to much but did get the PCs some ice wyrm tooth knives.

(Forgot this next one when I first posted)

Air Gate - the PCs briefly fled through the "air gate" to avoid Durak, the Lord of Spite. Nothing came of it, yet.

And that's it so far. Ranged from mildly positive to very positive results for the PCs.

So I think the numbers say that gates aren't TPKs. They're meant to be more dangerous (Forest Gate, Icy Gate) or interesting (Olympus Gate, Ape Gate) or convenient (Lost City Gate) and often more rewarding (Forest, Olympus for sure.) But interesting they haven't really killed off many PCs.

For Want of Scry Gate

The point about Scry Gate is true, though - without it, the PCs don't know what's beyond it. The players have right cause to suspect that gates could kill them outright, dump them into volcanos, or be one-way gates to horrid places they can't handle. But they've also been told by the GM that gates won't be instant death, they can be one-way but there will be another way back, and that they should just learn Scry Gate or buy some scrolls of it. So it should be a non-issue. There is meta knowledge and in-game knowledge to show that gates aren't just doors but they aren't death, either.

So I have to disagree with the comment, although it did occasion a fun post to write. I think I can safely say that gates in Felltower are dangerous, but aren't TPKs. Based on the history of the place, the route back is more dangerous than the route in . . . the way back has been in all but one case to Felltower.

I have to think the avoidance of gates has to be something else!

Monday, January 2, 2023

Pathfinder: Kingmaker II

I decided after all to play Pathfinder: Kingmaker again, after being reminded of it when I did my year in review.

- I went Team Evil for this one. Lawful Evil, because being Lawful is more useful when being a leader. It's been fun to choose the evil path. I rarely do, and this game doesn't stomp on you for being evil. You pay for it, but you get a lot more options. I won't get to experience what's possibly the best ending - I'd need to play a Good-aligned character and make a lot of specific choices. That's interesting but I started neutral and ended up good last time, so it's just too close to what I did before. So it's Team Evil this time!

- I've been trying an unarmed monk. It mostly sucks. Not entirely . . . but hit chances aren't great and damage has been low. I'm not certain how to get around this. I ended up finding a pair of flaming nunchaku - seems dangerous, but here we are anyway - and trying those. Not much better. I'm level 5 now, and mostly my main character inflicts a little damage here and there and gets stomped flat. Not enough HP, not enough AC, and not enough offense. I'm not sure it is going to get better. I may have to respec to something else - maybe make a pure caster (a wizard or sorcerer) because I already did a fighter last time. Seems odd to do but I'm not replaying a bunch of hours to get around the weirdness of an allowed in-game respec.

- It's still amusing how difficult some encounters can be . . . but I've had much less trouble with wolves this time. I'm not sure if I played with the settings or something, or there was a patch, or I'm just a combo of luckier and better. I have a better approach to dealing with wolves this time, actually, and I put off encounters where I knew I'd fight them until I was a few levels up. That helped a lot.

Good game, worth the second playthrough. I should finish off the Stag Lord later today, or tomorrow if not, and then see if I lose momentum as it comes to the kingdom management. Maybe not - I enjoyed that a lot, last time.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

2023 Felltower Plans

It's 2023 now. We started Felltower in 2011 to play something until we had a better idea. Clearly, we're not going to come up with a better idea.

Where do I want to see this megadungeon go in 2023?

Back to the dungeon!

We've got a temporary side trip from Felltower. It's a connected area, even if it's not technically in Felltower. But I designed it to be quickly and easily "completed" so we can get back to the dungeon.

We'll have to see how fast the players go back to it . . . but I think I did a good job on this one. I've been holding it in my back pocket for a while but decide to bust it out. Why now? I had no other ideas . . . and it was no longer viable as a quick side trip but viable as a side area. That statement should make more sense once we're deeper into it.

Deep into the dungeon

According to the players, they've reached level 7. I won't say what I call it, but they did make it deep. I'd like to see the group make it to there this year. It probably goes without saying, but I'm trying to kill them off. The dungeon denizens are, anyway. If they make it - and I think they can, and I hope they can - it'll be over the dead bodies of NPCs trying to stop them. I think they can make it down deep.

At least one gate

I can't control this, but it would be nice to see a delve focused on one of the gates. I can't believe I centered at least one whole level on a large array of gates and - in 2022 - no one willingly went into any of them.

I have no plan on how to make them more attractive. They're dangerous but potentially full of loot. You'd think that would be a draw in and of itself.

Better use of the VTT

Once I get a new printer/scanner, or figure out to use the one I have occasional access to, I intend to do a better job of getting Felltower into a VTT setup. That way I can smoothly transition to fights and save us some time.

That's the plans for this year. Not resolutions - I don't control enough to make any promises - but nonetheless, let's look back in January 2024 and see how the game did.
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