Tuesday, February 28, 2023

DF Felltower: No Treasure Changes

During our changes vote for Felltower, I proposed this rather big change:

Are you in favor of the changes to the monetary system (magic 10x more expensive, loot 10x more)?

Details here & below:
10x Loot in Felltower

Effects on Play & Rules

- Starting Wealth and Trading Points for Money are unchanged.

- Findable loot will be approximately 10x as much as before.

- Jewelry, gem, luxury good, and coin values will not change unless they are permanent or temporary magic items.

- Permanent and temporary magic items, items that convey spells (scrolls), spellstones, potions, etc. cost, and are worth, 10x listed or $200/point of energy.

- Potions sold in town are sold at $1,000 per as their base value (subject to Wealth sale percentages) regardless of the potion.

- Power Item recharging is $50/point.

- Spells cast by NPCs cost $200 per point, or 10x list cost (so $150,000 for Resurrection, or $10,000 for Remove Curse, $1,600 for Analyze Magic).

- Loot Thresholds for XP are 10x higher.

- Upkeep costs are unchanged.


This should make magic items more scarce, since comparable (or nearly so) mundane items are cheaper.

Orichalcum is still restricted for purchase. You can't just order any. That's a Felltower feature.

Because it's mid-game and would require a big change, I wasn't going to implement it without a unanimous vote in favor.

It fell one vote short. It's too bad. I think it would make for a good switch for a future campaign, but without full support of the current players it wasn't going to implement well here.

Monday, February 27, 2023

New DF Felltower player - teasing hint post!

We've added a new player to our DF Felltower roster.

It's a tryout, as usual. Our rules are simple - anyone can suggest a tryout. The GM gets to agree or disagree. Anyone is allowed to veto the player (so far, never an issue).

Once we play, after the session, if everyone who played agrees we should keep the player . . . we keep the player. This was trivial in person - when Vic started, about halfway through the game one of the vets said something like, "You'll get used to this the more you play" and a relative newcomer agreed. It was a clear fit.

So this could be a one-shot. Also, people have tried our game and decided it wasn't for them - it's why you haven't seen Naila River appear in play. Some people decided it was for them and then added 1d2+1 kids to their marriage, or moved away, or got a crushingly busy new job, or all three (Honus's player, for example.)

It's kept our game in harmony. We've even had a few suggestions veto'd by the person who brought up. "Hey, I know a guy . . ." turns into "I'm not sure I want to spend 9 hours with him on a Sunday" turns into "maybe not."

But I like this guy's odds because a) I've gamed with him, b) several other of my players have gamed with him (seperate from me, I think), and c) he seems to know GURPS pretty well and d) has played DF before.

I'll do a reveal Sunday (if I write the summary then) or Monday (probably) after our next game. Unless it goes badly, and we'll forever refer to the Unknown Player who Didn't Make the Cut. We'll see!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Revised GURPS Magic: Great Haste (for DF Felltower)

After some discussion and a vote, we had a (nearly) unanimous vote in favor of this change.

The only vote that wasn't "yes" was an "other" vote expressing concern that I'd increased the Casting Time to 3 seconds from 2 seconds. That just goes to show how people get used a specific power level - it's always been 3 seconds . . . it's just that most casters have a 20 in it in DF Felltower, and thus cut the time like so: 3/2 = 1.5, round up to 2.

Either way, even one No vote wasn't going to veto this change. We were going with a simple majority for these and this is how we ended up.

Great Haste (Revised)

- 3 seconds, 5 energy to cast; 10 second duration (unchanged)
- Subject's Move (or Step, for Step & . . . actions) is doubled
- Subject gains Extra Attack 1 (on Attack actions) or Extra Concentrate 1 (on Step and Concentrate)
- Subject gains +2 to Active Defenses
- Subject loses 2 FP after 10 seconds, unless subject is the caster.


We'll give this a go, and if it turns out to suck, we'll dump it. It is more complex than the original spell, and I expect it will cost time every turn for a while as people say, "I used to get a bazillion attacks and that would be useful here as I do this, and this, and this, and this, and this, then this, and then had a second turn, but now I can't, so I'll do this and this instead." But I think it's a better rule for us in the long run.

I think the drop in FP costs means it's more likely to get used over and over, which is fine, without the usual Lend Energy dance in the middle of a fight. Bad enough after a fight. It also answers the stupid "Can I use Great Haste as an attack?" concept, where you cast Great Haste on a foe, keep away, then throw it again and again - essentially, a cheap way to inflict a non-resistable 5 FP loss on the foe. You can still do that, but even a normal human will take 5 castings and 1 minute of castings by a 20 skill caster to drop to zero. It becomes a non-issue.

This will affect Frenzy, the magical axe in DFT3, when and if the PCs finally figure out where I stashed it in Felltower.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Revised Higher Purpose for Felltower

One concern we've long had in DF Felltower is that Holy Warriors are basically out-done in offensive combat vs. their chosen foes by, well, basically every template with Weapon Master. That is, Barbarians, Knight, Swashbuckler, Scout, Martial Artist. Defensively, that +3 for 3 levels is pretty sweet, but "I'm harder to be hit by my chosen foe!" isn't really that exciting, especially if your chosen foe recognizes this and just ignores you.

So I put a few questions to a vote, and the results were unanimous - everyone liked a modified version of Higher Purpose.

Here is what we are going with, going forward, in DF Felltower.

Higher Purpose (Slay Truly Evil)
10/level, maximum 3 levels

Gives +1 per level to all rolls directly against anything Truly Evil, as normal Higher Pupose would. Gives +1 per die to damage rolls (including CP) against the same.


This will cover a lot of ground - Demons, Elder Things, and a large swath of Undead plus some oddball things in between.

One of my players asked if you can still get Slay Undead or Slay Demons. I'm going to say no. Slay Undead is largely redundant - only mindless undead aren't covered by Truly Evil. Slay Demons is completely redundant. We could do (Slay Truly Evil) and (Slay Undead) with different coverages, but I'm reluctant to deal with potential overlap and costing issues.

Unholy Warriors get (Slay servitors of Good) for 10/level, and that covers Truly Good plus any who directly serve said Good (lookout clerics and holy warriors!)

There are no "whatabout" exceptions here. It's 3/level even if somewhere else allows higher levels, Holy Warriors can't get Weapon Master, so the only issues should be with multi-profession folks (Lenses), and we can deal with that then. I'm not sure I'd love +5 per die to damage but what the hell, it'll be 50+ points for a limited target selection with a specific weapon type. In this type of game, is that really a problem? I think no.

Holy Warriors will use the current template but swap 5 points out of their Advantages pool to cover this.

We'll allow retroactive respec'ing of Holy Warriors already made (should just be Sir Bunny Wigglesworth right now) to allow them to convert their existing (Slay Undead) and (Slay Demons) to (Slay Truly Evil) on a point-cost basis. So if you have Higher Purpose (Slay Undead) 2 for [10] and Higher Purpose (Slay Demons) 1 for [5] you have 1 level of Higher Purpose (Slay Truly Evil) for [10] and 5 points saved towards a second level.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Short posting break

Folks, I'm away Wednesday-Friday-ish, so I'll probably be back to posting this weekend. Sorry for the break! Gives you time to catch up on other people's posts and my old nonsense.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

New monsters I need to stat

These minis are pretty horrifying, and really would make good encounters in a demi-plane off of Felltower.

Or just in Felltower.

Crab Link

and this one

Gross! I love them.

Now, to stat them up!

Monday, February 20, 2023

Pathfinder bundle

Pathfinder 2e has a big Humble Bundle:

Click here if you're interested - it's $28 for a 25-book bundle, or $5 for a much smaller bundle of just the basics.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Next Felltower in 2 Weeks

No real Felltower news this work, nor work on the dungeon.

Next game is likely in two weeks - 3/5 - so I'm leaving it all to lay until just before next session.

I'm finalizing my thoughts on Holy Warriors and Higher Purpose, though.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Pathfinder: Kingmaker concept transfer to tabletop

I'm replaying Pathfinder: Kingmaker on two concurrent playthroughs - Molly the Lawful Evil monk, Holgar Carlson the Lawful Good Paladin - to experience the story and the options from two more paths than Otto the Lawful Neutral fighter experienced. One of those reasons is that you get to simultaneously deal with ruling a land and adventuring in that land.

Ruling a territory is often called an "endgame" for D&D and D&D-inspired games. You adventure a bunch, then you grab some money and found a kingdom (OOTS spoiler alert!), and that's that. Or, in the style of very old play, you keep playing but also deal with the upkeep of your kingdom, and delve in dungeons to earn the funds and power that'll help you keep your kingdom intact and growing.

In Pathfinder: Kingmaker, you get the kingdom right away. You need to adventure to keep the kingdom up, and keep the kingdom up to benefit your adventuring. You pretty much rule a kingdom from like, 3rd or 4th level onward.

I think this is a nice campaign approach. The trick is, alternating kingdom-level decisions with adventuring decisions. You need to alternate choices you make for the kingdom - which cost in-game but not out-of-game time and in-game resources - with actual adventuring, which costs you in-game time (delaying kingdom decisions, sometimes) and potentially earns you in-game resources.

This would need some work, but having downtime between delves where you have to decide what the kingdom should do, solve some problems as a ruler would, and make decisions about the direction of the land you rule. Those will also drive adventures, where you have to solve some problems with the sword, the gun, or face-to-face roleplaying diplomacy.

This way you get the effect of rule, but don't get bogged down in the micromanagement of a kingdom and keep those players who'd rather just smite things involved. Yet you tie it all together with the higher-level kingdom stuff.

I'd need to think of how to do this well, but the basic framework for it has existed since back in the day - Gangbusters! is a good example of a place for this, especially criminals. I think this would be a good way forward for our Gamma World game, if we ever play it again. I'd have to think how I'd run this as a GM and see if we can't give it a go someday.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Friday Random Links & Notes 2/17/2023

The usual random bits.

- James Mal's Top 10 non-D&D games. GURPS isn't one of them, but he's written a GURPS Traveller book and Traveller is #1, so maybe that explains that.

Part I
Part II

I like a lot of those on that list. I especially agree on Gangbusters!, which is really only hampered by being class-and-level. It's really hard to deal with having to give reporters levels and such things. It would have been better entirely skill focused but in general TSR didn't do without classes and levels back in those days.

- Doug asked me a question about my Q&D grappling rules that provoked a "huh, I hadn't thought of that." Now I have to think of that. And figure out what to do or not do about that. Damn questions!

- Orc minis! I like my orcs green, but I like these orcs.

- I always liked the catoblepas. I used one, once, to great amusement. So I like this tactics article for them.

- In Pathfinder notes, I'm still Team Evil, specifically and aggressively Lawful Evil. So imagine my surprise when being Lawful and Evil caused me to have a conflict with a LE potential ally, who rejected me as weak and unfit as a ruler. This is the Lixia / Hellknights quest line, for people who've played. Very annoying. I went out of my way to try to nuture this alliance but apparantly if you choose anything but the exact right answer at the right time for the right conversations, you are just 1 calorie, not evil enough. Aggravating.

I killed them off for this, of course. What did they think, annoying the evil Queen Molly? I kill people just for the XP, even when they don't annoy me. I'm to blame for my actions but seriously, they could have thought this through.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

GURPS First Edition, Reviewed

I wasn't aware of this, but stumbled across it in one of those instances where an algorithm was correct, but way late, in what I'd like.

Roleplay Rescue: GURPS First Edition

It's not a really in-depth review, but still. This is the GURPS system I started with - basically Man-to-Man with the rest of the system included as well. We played without magic in a fantasy game world until GURPS Fantasy came along with skill-based magic. Fun stuff - we played for years with 1st edition, and then later used GURPS Update to sort-of jump to 3rd edition. So any look at this original set, which set me off down a road of editions of the game and eventually a sideline writing for the system, is a look I want to highlight.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Missing a Leiber Book, Huh

I was going through my books and dug out all of my Leiber Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser stuff, because, mostly, I was re-reading old Glen Cook stuff and he mentioned Leiber a lot.

Here is what I have:

I disliked Knight & Knave of Swords so much I don't own a copy. But I also seem to be missing The Swords of Lankhmar. I'm not sure why; I'm sure I owned all seven (two duplicate others) at one point.

I think it's time to fix this! It's not my favorite, but it's sad to see it missing from my collection and not handy to read from when the mood strikes me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Last Wills for PCs?

Back in the day, our character sheets for AD&D were from TSR. Most of them had a little section on the back for a "Last Will."

We used them then, even though we had a pretty low-lethality game compared to how I do things now. In campaigns, it was rare for a PC to die. In our early games, it was more common, but I never saw a will successfully used to transfer anything to a new guy. Playing much of my very early days (and more here) in elementary school was not conducive to such play.

I'm curious how people have had this work out in their games. I don't use it in DF, mostly because I game with actual lawyers and managers who do long-term risk mitigation strategies in play already. My head hurts considering how they'd angle this. And it would be one more thing to keep track of. But color me curious . . . who wills the wills?

Monday, February 13, 2023

Notes to Self for DF Felltower

Just some notes to self from last session:

- several PCs took damage from corrosion from Desmond's Acid Ball spell. We need to deal with armor repairs for anyone who took 5+ points as that reduces DR.

- we still haven't had the two other regulars vote in our rule change poll. I'm going to ask them by voice next time, and a week later just make changes based on the existing votes. At the moment that means it is looking like Great Haste gets a bit nerfed but easier to adjudicate, and Feints may change . . . and weapon skills migh not. We'll see.

- I need to go through the map to make sure there aren't any wall gaps like last time.

- I need to make sure people are buying replacement rations. They did it the first two sessions, but I suspect people decided "that must be part of upkeep." Not the case for distance travel (which also encourages staying in Felltower, which is part of the point.)

I wanted to get these down here so I could remember them better than if I email them off to the group.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

DF Felltower & the Brotherhood Complex

Just a few notes on DF Felltower & the Brotherhood Complex.

- it's known to be days away from Felltower and Stericksburg. That said, rumors say that there is an entrance from the Brotherhood Complex to Felltower dungeon itself.

- it's peopled by the cone-hatted cultists, who call themselves the Brotherhood. Presumably this is the Black Brotherhood, who dwelled in the dungeons that are now known as Felltower dungeon back in the day. They may or may not be direct-line descendents, spiritually or literally, of the Black Brotherhood. This may or may not matter, but either way, they clearly intend to be taken as such.

- it's not known how they connect, exactly, to the six-fingered vampires, aka the Gith, who they do and do not resemble. Do, in their choice of cone hats and veiled faces and evil acts, and do not, in their lack of a sixth finger, their tendency away from gold-and-costume jeweled armor and slender weapons, and their lack of use of servitor races.

- the Brotherhood Complex, as it is known, boasts a tapestry that shows the Black Brotherhood's fortress complex atop Felltower mountain in its old glory.

So far, that seems to be the overlap.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

This and That Game Prep

Very little gaming today, or gaming things to write about.

I pretty much:

- did a little work on a project proposal

- played some Pathfinder: Kingmaker, which clearly had an upgrade since I last played it. I don't recall my town ever changing its in-game appearance when I upgraded to a capital. Or having a "library" showing all of the backers of the Kickstarter.

- did some VTT updates. I really need to get a printer, or at least a scanner, and use it to start putting sections of upcoming adventures into the VTT.

- read a short story that I want to discuss eventually as "gameable fiction."

And that's about it. Slow day.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Random Thoughts & Links for 2/10/2023

Here are some links and thoughts for Friday.

- I enjoyed these two looks at a boardgame of the Battle of Poltava. I've long been very interested in Russian history, especially the reign of Peter I, first emperor of Russia.

Battle Of Poltava

Battle of Poltava 1709

Both give a good look at how to use game design and rules to channel a game down a specific path. Historically, the Swedes wanted to bypass some Russian redoubts and assault the Russian main force . . . but units misunderstood their orders and tried to assault them, throwing the plan off and - eventually - helping the Russians to achieve victory. The rules of this game force you to play out that misunderstanding, yet don't essentially force you to lose.

- I love these posts. I especially love how unfair the stats are. You need +1 weapons to hit Iuz, but he can create an Anti-Magic Shell at will which will make your weapons no longer magical . . . so you can't hit him. It's only a fair-ish fight if he decides he wants one, and only as long as he wants it to be.

Let's Fight Iuz

- The March Harrier campaign has begun. And much like - okay, exactly like - my two Traveller campaigns, they feature Vargr and the party almost immediately thumbs their collective noses at local authorities and culture and resorts to crime. My experience with Traveller is this:

"We're running a merchant campaign."
"Okay, we casually resort to crime in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . go!"

March Harrier Session 1
March Harrier Session 2

- I like weird henchmen. d4 Caltrops aids in this.

D100 Henchmen Foibles

- Little things I didn't know. I was re-reading a Glen Cook short story compilation. In it is a short story set in the Dread Empire that he wrote while staying with Fritz Leiber, while Leiber was writing "Swords Against Death." I quoted from The Bazaar of the Bizarre from that collection a week ago. He mentioned them featuring each other's characters in their stories. So is it possible that Zindahjira, the Silent One - described by Aristithorn of Necromnos as "Biggest windbag in the trade" - is Ningauble of the Seven Eyes under a different name? A thin thread . . . I'd be curious to ask Glen Cook that.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

DF's Last Resort: Praying to God

"Pray to God."
"Praying to God!"
- Spaceballs: The Movie

In GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, you can pray to your (or the) god(s) for help. It's a roll, and you can sacrifice character points - unspent xp, as we call them - on a bonus, at a 1:1 for a +1.

What's it do?

Per DFRPG Exploits, p. 90, or GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, p. 15:

Success means a fortuitous coincidence saves the supplicant; e.g., the hero’s pack snags, stopping a fall. Critical success means a miracle; e.g., teleportation to safety by the delver’s god.

That's pretty thin guidance. Success seems to undo a single bad roll. Critical success gives you extreme benefits. There is no other listed guidance in any DF supplement that I know of.

Here is what I actually do in DF Felltower.

- I allow any success to provide an actual miracle. The Good God intervenes in a noticeable way. Healing a combatant, causing a magical effect that disrupts the enemy, or allowing a success with an inappropriate skill to succeed in helping in a situation (such as healing a Mortal Wound with First Aid.)

Note - per the rules as written, this is very generous.

- I allow critical success to basically reverse the problem at hand, and quite possibly tilt it in your favor. This can be healing all friendly combatants, mentally stunning all enemies, whisking the PCs to safety, etc.

This seems more in line with how it's written.

Note that in no case does the rule state, or imply, that spending xp automatically ramps up the effect. You can spend 10 xp and all it might get you is your backpack snagging you so you don't fall into the lava stream below.

Even so, there are issues I stumble over:

- What do the PCs wants? The players tend to ask a pretty broad, vague request that I have to decide on. Even so, specific doesn't help, because then it tends to be a little too specific. "Good God, please heal Kaylee's arm and help us win this fight" - what the hell kind of prayer of desperation is that? It's basically leading the GM and making it a mechanistic roll. "I have a 7 or less to get the Good God to heal Kaylee's arm, and on a critical we get massive healing!"

- Does the prayer actually solve the problem? The problem with the Last Ditch is that things are already really bad when you ask, so a simple coincidence isn't really going to do so much. And a solution may not be a helpful solution. PCs might not be ready, physically, to take advantage of a divine lull in attacks. The players, mentally, might not be ready to react quickly to a narrowly created opportunity.

It feels like success should give you some real concrete game-changing benefit . . . but it's hard to time that. It's hard to ask at the right moment and get the right roll. If it doesn't, are you really benefitting? Or are you just asking for help and secretly praying (a prayer within a prayer) to get a 3 and have your diety save you completely, like a Wish?

I don't have a lot of answers here. I have no issue with how I've run it so far . . . except a disatisfaction with the results. As often as the PCs pray, they are more often just delaying disaster to later in the session. And, possibly, just hoping for a 3 so they can escape completely from a bad situation.

It's been an interesting part of the game but less impactful than I would have thought it would be.

Thoughts (and prayers!) welcome in the comments as always.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Pathfinder: Kingmaker update

I've played a bit of Pathfinder: Kingmaker with my evil guy, Baroness (soon to be Queen) Molly.

I'm 13th level now, mostly monk (I think Rogue 4, Monk 9) going bare-handed. It's not a bad build, although the damage isn't quite what it would be with a good weapon.

Playing Team Evil has been enjoyable. I've managed to get an evil bad guy to be my advisor (we're using each other), annoy my neighbors, and get some powers I'd missed by playing neutral-to-good.

On the other hand, being evil has its costs. I ruthlessly executed someone who could have been useful. Lost out on a craftsman by being evil to him when he showed up being annoying. And I wasn't sufficiently evil enough with one of my companions to push him to the "bad" ending for his character. Oh well.

I hit a bit of a snag at the moment - a mission to do that will take a lot of time, and I just don't love my mix of potential companions. I really enjoy two of them as personalities - Jaethal and Harrim. But I find them vastly inferior as actual companions. Jaethal the undead Inquisitor is a second-rate fighter and second-rate ranged fighter, and tends to get mauled. So she's around for Perception checks and Arcane rolls. Sadly, Linzi the happy and annoying Bard is better for that. Harrim is just not a good cleric for some reason, and if you make him a Mystic Theurge he's not much better.

I literally make every part myself, Ekun (ranged and survival), Nok Nok (stealth, trickery, and general murderous mayhem), and then I need a buff character, and a healer, and a skill monkey, and need one of them to be any required PCs. Oh well.

Still, Team Evil has been enjoyable overall and a useful distraction when I need a little time away from non-gaming endeavors.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Battle of Five Armies in Minis - now $5K off list price!

I posted about this mini set in 10/2020.

The Battle of Five Armies, for TSR's Battlesystem, in 15mm minis.

At the time it was $12,995. It's now at the low, low price of $7,955!

"Complete Contents of this breathtaking display include:

1200+ Skillfully Painted Orc & Goblin Infantry
90+ Skillfully Painted Orc & Goblin Cavalry
700+ Skillfully Painted Dwarf Infantry
250+ Skillfully Painted Human Infantry
90+ Skillfully Painted Human Cavalry
140+ Skillfully Painted Elven Infantry
30+ Skillfully Painted Elven Cavalry
6 Custom-Painted Giant Eagles
17 Additional Custom-Painted Figures to Represent Named Characters
Over 250 Pieces of Painted Foam & Latex Terrain, Some Custom Molded
17 pages of GenCon Registration Paperwork
14 GenCon Prize Vouchers
6 Pre-Addressed GenCon Correspondence Envelopes
19 Pages of Handwritten Scenario Notes"

Pretty awesome. And on sale!

Monday, February 6, 2023

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Session 180, Brotherhood Complex 3, Part II

Date: 2/6/2023
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)

We picked up where we left off - in close combat between a dozen or so cone-hatted cultists and the PCs.

The usual confused brawl resulted.

The cone-hatted cultists pinned all except Desmond up agains the corner point of the intersection. Desmond was a half-dozen yards away confronted by two cultists, one wounded and one unharmed. Kaylee, with a crippled arm, brawled with Brother Cedric (flail) and Brother Alester (knife, after losing his halberd when his arm was crippled) along with another cultist. Durinn stood next to him, facing one cultist. Lenny next to him, at the point of the corner, facing 2-3 cultists while trailing a halberd out of his vitals. Belmek was facing three cultists, all lightly wounded.

(I'll deal with the fight in sections to make the summary readable and writeable.)

Desmond fought with his cultist foes, desperately parrying and retreating, trying to cast spells to take them out - he used Tanglefoot on one, but couldn't take advantage from the man going down to get further away. He used Terror later, to try and scare them, but didn't make the roll by much and they resisted. He managed to strike one in the groin during the fight, but not hard enough to really matter. Meanwhile, they used All-Out Attack (Double) to pound on him. His Magescale deflected most of the blows, but not all - and a few Blink spells off of HP - leaving him wounded. Eventually, one (the unwounded one) got a shot in and rolled "hand." Desmond doesn't have much DR there, and - whack! - his hand was severed. He lost the ability to use his staff effectively. Even after that, though, it took a number of seconds to run him down and strike him down. They managed to crippled both of his feet and cut him more, sending him to below -1xHP. He rolled a death check and failed by 2. Mortally wounded! One hit him a few more times before his buddy noted that Desmond was a goner. (I had them roll Per - one rolled a 17. The other made it.)

His foes ran back to the fight - one quickly, the other slowly.

In the center brawl, Kaylee was steadily getting beating down. Prone, and unarmed, she scabbled for a potion and then for a knife. This took time, as she was underfoot of Brother Cedric with his flail. Meanwhile, Brother Alester kept kicking at her, mostly ineffectually but every once in a while doing 1 injury through her armor. The other cultist just banged away with his sword, hitting Kaylee over and over, sometimes getting through armor and sometimes not. He switched to All-Out Attack (Double) and then later (Strong) to bang through her armor while she was unable to strike him effectively. Kaylee tried to get up but fell a couple of times from critically missed Dodges. It got ugly, quickly. Soon her right hand was also crippled, too.

Durinn fended off the cultist on him while getting off healing spells . . . sometimes. He managed to heal up Lenny a lot, Belmek (I think), and Kaylee once as well. But he was low on power and getting hurt. The cultist on him managed to land a blow and cripple his right arm - his shield arm. His defenses compromised, he still managed to parry (!) and dodge Brother Cedric's flail. But then another blow came through and hit one of his legs - cutting it clean off. His HP were negative and he was rolling each turn to stay awake. In desperation, he prayed for help from the Good God, sacrificing 1 xp to get a +1 . . . a net 8 or less. He prayed and asked for any aid from the Good God, especially for Kaylee to get back into the action (more or less.) He rolled an 8! The Good God bathed Kaylee in light, and she was fully healed, and her crippling injuries were gone!

Lenny, meanwhile, anchoring Durinn's side, was hampered badly by the halberd in him. He fought well, and eventually managed to cut down one of the two cultists facing him, wounding him enough that he eventually dropped unconscious. The other kept him busy most of the rest of the fight, but he made sure no one could double up on Durinn or get to Belmek's flank.

Belmek kept fighting with three foes. He systematically worked them over with Rapid Strike, often Deceptive -1, and eventually managed to cut them down, one by one. It took a while - they defended well, and often, and mostly stayed up while wounded. One kept standing and fighting while heavily negative until he finally just dropped unconscious after desperately trying to kill Belmek with a gaping chest wound from an axe.

Around now, the healed Kaylee was - unfortunately - beaten right back down to negative HP. Brother Alester started to slash away with his knife, wounding her little by little. The sword-armed cultists hammered at her as she got up. Brother Cedric pounded her back down with his flail. She managed to fall on her back, and reach over with All-Out Attack (Long) and grapple Brother Cedric's left leg. She kept trying to improve her grip - first 7 CP, and then 14 CP! Despite repeated strikes - one on the neck from a sword and a big gash in her back - she held on. Durinn passed out around now, and Lenny started to take shot at Cedric, who parried with his flail. Belmek started to come around to help. Brother Cedric tried to break free, but couldn't.

Kaylee passed out soon after, letting Cedric go. Brother Alester moved over to engage the rushing Belmek, slamming him but failing to knock him down. Belmek cut him down in a short exchange of blows - a knife doesn't match an axe. Lenny and Belmek managed to cut down Brother Cedric next. As this happened, one of the two cultists who defeated Desmond. The other said, "Hold them off, I'll get the others!" and ran off.

About 5-6 seconds later, Belmek and Lenny cut down the last of the enemy. Lenny had Belmek pull out the halberd, and then went around stabbing everyone not a party member in an eye with his sword. Lenny asked if they should chase the guy running away. Belmek said no.

Belmek grabbed Desmond and Kaylee and put the flail and knife in his backpack - the flail chain-first with the handle sticking out. Lenny grabbed Durinn and his leg, and the dueling halberd. They hiked north, collecting the crowbar they dropped earlier.

Then they blundered into an evil runes trap - Lenny and Durinn were able to resist the effects, however, thanks to a poor roll on behalf of the runes (made it by 0 vs. HT.) They backed out and went around another way. They hauled out the map, saw where they were, and headed out.

Once out, they kept hoofing it. They got to their camp. They fed Durinn potions until he woke up. Then the group policed it up as best they could, and then hiked off even further so Durinn could heal Kaylee and then use Suspended Animation on Desmond.

After some further patching up, they headed still further out, and then home. They weren't hassled by any cultists, but it's not clear if the cultists couldn't, or didn't, or their caution getting away was the difference.

They made it back to town. Their loot was the knife (normal), a dwarven duelling halberd, and a flail. None magical or with other prefixes.


- I expected this fight to take 1-2 hours of real time, get finished off, and then they'd delve more. Nope. Despite a lot of Critical Failures by the NPCs early on, the PCs just couldn't get on top of the fight. It turned into a slog.

- We went with 1 CP per # of weapon weight. I said, for simplicity that's -5 for offensive, -3 for defense. My players said, okay, perfect, so that's -3 on this one defense because a -5 to an odd-numbered skill is only -2, but -3 on this other one because you have an even numbered skill. You know, we'll just use -3 for simplicity = no one actually listens. Next time I'm saying -1 per 2# of weapon weight, rounded up, halved penalty to defense, rounded up. For ST 20+ halve the penalties first.
- Rolls vs. Stunning & Knockdown are pretty reliably nothing. Most of the time, even a crippled limb doesn't stun anyone. All of the PCs are HT 12+, with 13-14 net HT rolls, plus HPT for the fighter-types. NPCs are usually 10-12, often 11-12, so less than 1 in 3 cripples or major wounds result in stunning. And most of the stunned just miss one second. We play without the automatic knockdown off of it, and automatic weapon dropping (mostly because of player preference back in the day), so it's not a big deal most of the time. Probably should be more so.

- Prayers came up again. They're intentionally vague, which makes it harder for the players, but specifics are too transactional. Durinn prayed for help, especially for Kaylee. He made it, and, having been accused of a lack of generosity on prayers in the past, I fully healed up Kaylee. It didn't turn out to be that useful. Kaylee was on her way out of the fight. She ended up staying in the fight longer, but only absorbed some blows that might have gone elsewhere. I opined after the fight that I gave them what they asked for but probably making Lenny fully combat effective would have been more useful - healing him or just getting that halberd out of him. It's always a quandary for PCs, though - do you bail out failure, or reinforce success? Which makes more sense? Which makes more sense given that you don't want your friend's paper man to die? But, prayers - I'll do a post on them soon.

- We had the usual see-saw flow from "These guys are going to murder us!" vs. "These guy suck." I should point out, in fairness, that Belmek's player (who also ran Gerry and Vryce) is pretty even keel. It's everyone else, mostly, who cringes when someone hits a PC but then smack-talks on critical failures by NPCs. Heh.

- I still hate Retreat. I still hate all of the "is this a hex I can Retreat to?" questions. If I was following Marie Kondo's advice I would chuck out Retreat for not bringing me joy.

- Situation awareness in RPGs got called out in the comments on my turn-based post. Deservedly so. When Belmek wiped out his last opponent, Desmond yelled to him to come help. I said, "You can't see him." Desmond's player pointed out that yes, on the battle map, he could ju-u-u-u-st see the edge of Belmek's icon. Nevermind Desmond was in constant frantic combat for his life, with two adult males in front of him intent on, and attemping to commit the act of, murder. Yet he could see well enough to know Belmek was clear of foes and could run over and help him? Also, people would ask, "Is this the guy . . . ?" Answer: I don't know. You probably can't keep track realistically and I sure can't without making a lot of paper notes to match the in-VTT tracking.

- The PCs managed to get a little bit of loot out thanks to those three weapons. Only the halberd - a $600 weapon - was really worth the trouble, but they need every penny - it took like 6-7 Major Healing potions to get Durinn up. I think some of the players wanted the conscious guys to drag away the plate-armored guys, or strip off some of their armor, or grab swords or something, but I routinely ask people who are unconscious to let the conscious guys decide. Nothing breaks my suspension of disbelief more than the players of dead and knocked out PCs planning, helping, and opining on what to do. I mean, c'mon. I know it's a game, but why not let the conscious guys have to decide what to do without knocked-out people suddenly providing advice or requests or suggestions of who to check and which potions to feed to who in which order? Everyone went along with it, quickly, but I wanted to explain why I do it that way.

- XP was 2 xp for loot ($59 each is more than 20% of loot threshold for 250-299 point guys), 1 xp exploration. MVP was Belmek. Kaylee got some votes for keeping folks occupied and then grappling Brother Cedric, but ultimately Belmek cleaning up his end of the fight and then cleaning up the rest of the fight was the vote-getter.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Game pre-summary

We finished up a delve today in DF Felltower. I'd expected it to be a short fight followed by adventuring, but the fight went badly for both sides for a while, and ended up taking up the session.

I'll post a full summary tomorrow, but suffice it to say, the PCs managed to eke out a victory and limp home in terrible shape, and left behind a very large swatch of (unlooted) casualties in the process.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Game Prep Saturday

Game prep.

- I reviewed, again, the surprise rules from DFRPG. I'm going to use them. PCs using light sources, talking (and talking about in-game things is in-game, so you're talking in the dungeon), etc. aren't sneaking. So this is mostly NPCs trying to surprise PCs. A number of rules really favor PCs - healing and FP recovery for two - so I'm not worried. I do expect the usual complaints but the spectre encounter really felt kinda lame when it should have been a really rough go due to deliberately chosen ideal conditions for an ambush.

- Updated a few modules on the VTT and ensured everything in the setup looks good to go. It is.

- Reviewed the dungeon ahead. I think I have everything set up as it should be. We'll see!

- Normally I'd do some reviewing of character sheets, but I no longer keep updated ones for the PCs. GCA4 isn't really playing well with my computer anymore. I don't have the time to convert every PC and custom data piece for GCA5. And my players seem to mostly prefer GCS so they keep their own character records, generally. I can't keep my own files updated and converting to GCS just means I'm duplicating work. So I gave up on that.

- I did some thinking ahead. I figure there are 3-5 more sessions worth of things to do in this complex. So I fully expect 5-10 more sessions, increasingly empty delves. Heh. Hopefully not. But after this . . . Felltower itself awaits.

- I played some video games to clear my head of game.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Random Thoughts and Links for 2/3/2023

Random stuff for the week.

- Not to pat ourselves on our own backs, but we've played 179 sessions of DF in one campaign. That's pretty long. It's probably one of the longest GURPS DF campaigns, and probably a relatively long-running campaign in gaming terms. Aug 2011 - Jan 2023 and continuing, 179 full-day sessions - probably a good 1500 hours of gaming, or close to. Not bad, I think. Clearly, for all of my tinkering, I don't get too bored with a basic central concept. Good stuff. Just really kind of hit me that it's been a fair bit of gaming while I was writing up some notes on Session 179. I think I was prompted for this because of how much fun that session was. I don't know that my previous game was that fun 179 sessions in.

- I want all of my weird old books to feel and sound like this in my games:

"The sleekly leather-bound gold-stamped books turned out to contain scripts stranger far than that in the books he had flipped outside - scripts that looked like skeletal beasts, cloud swirls, and twisty-branched bushes and trees [. . .] The books dealt in the fullest detail with such matters as the private life of devils, the secret histories of murderous cults, and - these were illustrated - the proper dueling techniques to employ against sword-armed demons and the erotic tricks of lamias, succubi, bacchantes, and hamadryads."

- Fritz Leiber, "The Bazaar of the Bizzare"

That combo of seriousness and humor fits my current game well.

- This post of Erol Otus pictures is old but brings up a question - why isn't there an Erol Otus art collection book? I'm sure WOTC owns a lot of them, but there must be some way to do an Otus art book with all of his weirdness pulled in from multiple sources. I don't have the know-how or infrastructure to do it. If someone does, this seems like such a nice thing to have.

Lazy Blog Post - Erol Otus!

- These ACOUP posts really entertain me. I don't really mind the technological bs in a series like this. I don't expect any knowledge of weapons, tactics, etc. What did let me down about it was that there were big causal gaps. A lot of "You can't get to plot development B from plot development A but here we are anyway." That really got me. So did the occasional nonsensical explanation - people doing things that couldn't possibly result in the ends they sought. I don't love that every fight is a wuxia fight - you can't beat anyone without a flying spinning running wall-climbing reverse strike. But still, it's part of the genre of modern fantasy at this point, just like everyone wears brown everything was an 80s fantasy thing. Still, I look forward to these posts, and they're a good way to learn about actual historical armor, ships, weaponry, tactics, forging, etc.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Unheld Stuck Weapons Penalty for GURPS DF Felltower

I've been noodling around in my head about a penalty for having a stuck weapon in you, even if you don't have a person on the other end.

Since we used a quick and dirty version of Technical Grappling, we use Control Points (CP).

I had a few thoughts. If you do have a person on the other end, they've grappled you with their weapon for 1 CP for every point of damage inflicted. 8 damage = 8 CP, 4 damage = 4 CP, etc. Perhaps if they let go, for whatever reason, those CP are lost . . . partly.

But how partly is partly?

Option 1: Just reduce the CP in half. Simple, easy. May or may not make sense. A 2-yard dueling halbered sticking out of you that only inflicted 4 damage has 4 CP, but a 1-yard pick that inflicted 5 does 5 CP? The halberd really should encumber you more.

Option 2: Inflict a flat penalty based on the weight and length of the weapon. Perhaps 0.5 x weight x yards of maximum reach, rounded up. That's 1.5 x 1 = -2 for a Reach 1, 3# pick. It's 5 x 2 = -10 for a 10-pound dueling halberd. Seems steep, but not crazy . . . it should be epicly hard to keep fighting with a polearm in you.

Option 3: Inflict CP based on weight and length. Instead of a -2 or -10, those examples are 2 CP or 10 CP. Cuts the penalties in half, quarters them for strong victims.

Option 4: Inflict flat CP based on weight. So 1 CP per pound?

Option 5: Inflict a penalty equaly to max weapon reach x -2, -3 or -4. Depends on how badly you think it'll impede the person.

I'm still debating which option I'll use. But those are the numbers I've got dancing around in my head.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The pervese incentives of I-go-you-go combat resolution for many-on-one fights

I find that RPGs, GURPS included - perhaps especially, give perverse tactical incentives at times.

Take this situation:

You're facing off with three opponents, all armed with similar length weapons to you. You have no advantage of reach or speed to put distance between you and them, or ability to channel them to fight you one on one. Despite this, you manage to put one down, briefly - either through you own attack, or a miss by your opponent, one has fallen down and is unable to fight you effectively. The other two are still armed, dangerous, and close enough to menace you.

The real-world solution is to focus on them in some respect - either defensively or offensively. You don't want to lose track of the fallen foe, especially if said foe has merely bobbled a weapon, or tripped, or otherwise become only briefly out of action. You have two foes to worry about that are potentially lethal.

The in-game solution is to finish the fallen one. Take advantage of the foe's poor situation to finish it off - reduced defenses due to weapon loss or posture, or stunning, or whatever. You need to pounce and finish the foe and make it two on one. Next foe to be disadvantaged is finished next. Rather than priority the most lethal foe, you must prioritize finishing the most helpless foe.

Why is that?

In reality, you don't take turns. You don't swing, then your foes each swing, and so on. All of this is going on at once. A weapon parrying your attack is occupied. A foe trying to attack you is one you need to deal with. A helpless foe is vulnerable, yes, but also the time you take to attack that one - if foes are still in reach - is time your weapon is not spent preventing an attack. A foe can potentially take advantage. In an I-go-you-go situation, however, you have attacks to spend that only impede your defenses if your game system allows you to prioritize defense (A GURPS All-Out Defense.) Even then, you usually don't want that because the upside (better defenses) gives up any chance to reduce your foes' lethal potential.

I think in an ideal situation, I'd have a rulesset that incentivizes more moves that make realistic sense. This is one I've been pondering recently. I don't have a solution for GURPS, but it's something I want to keep in mind as I'm going over rules design for my current game - and for future ones. I'm sharing here so others may ponder in parallel with me.
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