Friday, June 30, 2023

Random Links for 6/20/2023

A few posts to round out the week.

- Paper man death stories over at Pits Perilous.

- an interesting way to reward summaries. I don't, because I don't want to effectively give a reward that my busiest players can't take advantage of. The game is in the session, not between. But I get the idea, and it fits for a lot of people. I think this is an interesting way to do it.

- Maybe I should teach ChatGPT to play Fire in the Lake so it can teach me - I'll have space, and soon I will be able to play a game. Lack of table space won't stop me now . . . so should I use an AI to learn it more quickly after I do the guided solo tutorial?

- I've picked Torment back up, after a break for busy-ness. Not much done, but I'll say a LG playthrough is easier. It's always easy to see the good path and just do that.

- I got a comp copy of GURPS Fantasy Folks: Goblins & Hobgoblins. So that's out. Phil did good work here.

- This podcast makes me very interested in trying Age of Wonders 4. It sounds like a suped-up Master of Magic.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Felltower Merged Unarmed Skills?

Back when we voted on merged weapon skills, we also voted on merged unarmed skills. That won out.

But implementation has been trickier than I'd hoped. I need to basically retool the skills and then add perks to allow for existing characters to use existing benefits that we want to carry through Felltower.

So I've decided that it's not worth changing for the current game situation. We'll continue to use all of the existing unarmed skills, although I'd generally prefer people avoid Boxing because it's quite limited and I think it's the odd skill out for our game.

For the weapon skill merges, check here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

DF Felltower Rules questions - PMW and Enhanced Parry

Rules question for DF Felltower:

Does Enhanced Parry (Unarmed) apply to Parry Missile Weapons?


I don't think it makes sense if it doesn't, given the way parry bonuses tend to work in GURPS 4e and how we run them in Felltower.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Handsome's real-world counterpart

Just so you know, token images aside, I see my scout Handsome as looking like a bottom-tusked slightly green-tinged version of this guy:

That's Al Leong. I chose him once it became clear that with Dishonest Face, Born Goon, and a pragmatically blase attitude towards inflicting harm and doing bad things . . . he was a lot like an 80s or 90s action movie henchman. Al Leong is the henchman of henchmen. Handsome is a henchman with a little too much autonomy and free will.

That's not his only source of inspiration - but it's the only source that came after Handsome was created and I started to figure out his particular attitude problem.

By the way, most excellent Al Leong role? Genghis Khan, dudes!

Sunday, June 25, 2023

DFRPG Felltower Adjacent - Session 1

We played a session of Vic's game today. I won't write a whole summary, because that's a lot of work and won't increase my enjoyment of the game. I'll give a brief summary. If Vic wants to write a summary I'll post it here.

- we met up in a town and headed off to find a missing mentor of our bard. Along the way, despite Per 14, Handsome didn't spot an ambush. Amusingly, the ambushers threw glue at him but missed and glued up our bard, instead.

- we slaughtered the ambushers, all except one. Sadly, they were kobolds. I don't like kobolds. On a 1-10 scale of dislike to like, they're a solid 2. Felltower adjecent doesn't mean you'll see kobolds in Felltower and I'm kinda sad they even exist in the same world as it.

- We made it to town and found there was a bounty on kobold ears of $5 per ear, so three of us went back and took their ears and brought them back. We also got $100 for the live kobold.

- We heard about a kobold camp, but also a ruins where we needed to look for our bard's mentor. We went there.

- We met some folks who wanted to show us a dragon's bones. Our bard told them it wasn't a dragon. Handsome spotted a hidden guy with a spear and went to shoot him, just as one yelled, "Just kill them already!"

- That's how it worked, except in reverse. We killed them all, including a gnome Heroic Pistol Crossbowman. He kept shooting his dinky crossbow with poisoned bolts at a half-orc and a dwarf. Hadn't he read DF3?

- We didn't kill one halfling who surrendered, after Handsome tried and failed to kill him (a clean miss, my only clean miss.)

- We turned the halfling in to town as a bandit, sold everyone's stuff, and saved the mentor of our bard.

- Handsome had a pretty good hit ratio. 14 shots, 13 hits, 3 of them dodged. So 10/14 damaging hits. That's because Scouts are good and I preferntially shot at foes least able to see the arrows coming.

- XP was 5 for sufficient loot, 1 xp for fulfilling a quest goal, 1 xp for the bandit fight = 7 xp. MVP was Handsome for killing a bunch of guys and for my crack about the idiot assassin trying to poison the two guys with Resistant to Poison 5.

I bought Slayer Training (Bow/Vitals) for 3, +1 to Bow skill for 4, and learrned Carousing because Handsome is a party orc.

Rules question of the day - is cancelling a spell a free action? The rules don't say it is, but they don't say it isn't, either. I'm 99% sure we've played it as requiring a Concentrate action, but it was run today as a free action. I think it should require Concentrate, since it's a non-trivial thing to do.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Random Links for 6/24/2023

I was unfortunately too busy yesterday to post, so we'll have to post random links and such today!

- Doug has launched a new TFT Kickstarter. I have zero interest in TFT, but Doug has a business stake in it, so I'd be remiss if I didn't pass along the word in case you have some interest. Plus it's written by David Pulver.

- I've been playing a LG playthrough of Planescape: Torment. It's both more limited than, but more rewarding thing, a CE playthrough.

- Vic is running game tomorrow, so we'll see Handsome the Half-Orc in action.

- There is a Cowboy Bebop RPG? Interesting. I'm curious how they handle the economy. I can't see how I'd need this, as it should be easy enough to run in GURPS 4th edition, but still, it's interesting to know it's out there and I like Cowboy Bebop a lot.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Swords & Wizardry revised reviews

Here are two reviews of the revised Swords & Wizardry. I got this from the Kickstarter, and I downloaded the PDFs, but I'm waiting on my hardcopy to sit and read it. I know I'll enjoy it better that way.

But these two reviews want to make me skip ahead in my reading list:

S&W Complete Revised

Recommended: S&W Complete Revised

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Sharp Swords vs. Spears according Roland Warzecha

Is a wooden sword just a sword, but doing crushing?

GURPS says so.

It's one thing that hasn't sat well with me for a while Per the rules, it's basically just turning the weapon to crushing. Same weight, fraction of the cost.

But it doesn't affect anything else about the weapon at all. I just don't buy that. One thing that supports that idea is this interview. I'd heard it a while back (say . . . 2020?) but I couldn't find it again. I mentioned it to Doug, who knows Roland Warzecha, and he said, "That sounds like something Roland would say." Sure enough, I found it thanks to him.

RW: Exactly. And then we know about the physics of this or we know how to move a sword efficiently. You called it a labour saving device at one point. So if you know how to effortlessly use that implement, then you can get a much better idea of swordsmanship. Also, you understand why it has been such a popular weapon for such a long time. Because that’s another thing that people misconceive. I remember in my re-enactment days, people said “The spear, that’s the Gatling gun of the Viking age. It’s super efficient.” I thought it was really funny, but then I thought, hmm, it’s kind of strange that they were so obsessed with swords all the time when the spear was so much greater than the sword. It almost seems like in history, anybody who is able to pick up a sword, picked up a sword. One really interesting experiment, I ran at one point – we were talking about swords earlier on and how it really helps to better understand swordsmanship – so there was this experiment with my friend Mikkel Mønsted. He was a really good spear fighter. He was using a blunt two-handed spear and I was putting on the mask and some additional protection and I had a sword and a buckler, a blunt sword. There’s one 15th Century depiction of that kind of match, this kind of setup. So we wanted to see how it actually works. If you have a shorter weapon, you have to shorten the range as quickly as possible so you get into your killing zone, so to speak. While the other one with a longer weapon can take it easy, just retreats so that you impale yourself. So you have to make a charge. And eight out of 10 times he just poked me in the face. It was really easy. I mean, I would bind his spear, trying to it keep it safe while I entered and he would just gently rotate and disengage. Also, a good spearmen can change the length of the spear pretty easily by withdrawing it. It’s a great weapon. But then I traded my blunt for a sharp.

GW: Aha that’s very different as you can actually bite his weapon.

RW: Exactly. And what was more I didn’t have to look. I realised ,when I was using the sharp, that earlier on, to get an idea what is happening in the bind I had in my peripheral vision, tried to take track of where the spear moved, because I couldn’t sense it through the blade. Now I could focus on my target and anything that happened in the bind just happened and I felt, because I got all this tactile information, and disengaging was less easy for him because there was no slippery sensation anymore. It was crystal clear information coming from the bind and that completely reversed the outcome. It was like three to seven or so, but almost reversed the outcome. And because the active sensing is only for me, the wooden pole doesn’t have that, so this is something that a sharp blade gives you. You can sense actively, you have different means of controlling the bind and getting sensory tactile information from it. And that is exclusively for the sword. So I think this is this is one of the reasons why the sword is good.

That's GW - Guy Windsor - and RW - Roland Warzecha om The Sword Guy Podcast episode 8.

You could apply this to GURPS, if you like - reduce the effectiveness of wooden swords, or increase the effectiveness of edged metal ones, in the bind and parry. You could give it an edge in any skill vs. skill contest (Feints, Beats especially) as well vs. a wooden weapon.

It's an extra complication, but games either privilege swords over all - like D&D games, where swords are the best tool for butching unarmoured foes or cutting up iron golems or anything in between - or weaken them to the point that axes and maces and spears suddenly seem like the best weapons. Yet, as RW says, anyone who could use a sword got a sword. Rules that gently nudge you that way without making them super-weapons is helpful.

I'm not sure how I'd want to put this in . . . but it's one more thing I would consider as a factor in weapons rules if I could write them all from scratch.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Next Felltower?

Just a quick note I meant to put up on Sunday - we're playing Felltower on 6/25.

It will be my first game with Vic GMing. It'll also be my first game in the setting (hah!) that I threw together for Felltower back in 2011.

And we'll be giving a new player a tryout, as well. One of Doug's recruits. It's like when Vic brought his kids, or when andi brought along Galen's player, Mike, and look how that turned out.

Heh. Actually to be fair it's my recruits who've been the spottiest, but I also recruited the most long-term players as well. The game isn't for everyone for always, even if it is clearly for some people forever.

I'm looking forward to having Handsome in play and seeing how it all works out. DR 0 and a handful of arrows will either get my paper man killed or net him the start of his fortune. He's betting his life on the latter. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Outline done

Doug and I put in our latest project outline for final comments, got a few that didn't require any changes at this stage . . . and now we play the waiting game.

We'll see if it survives contact with The Powers That Be or if we'll need more revisions. But it's in, finally!

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Why no PC half-ogres in Felltower?

DF Felltower has a rather restricted list of races and templates for a DF campaign.

It's pretty typical early AD&D fare, largely - two varieties of elves, half-elves, half-orcs, one kind of dwarf, halflings, and a Felltower-specific but GURPS-derived goblin race.

But no half-ogres.

That's despite half-ogres being an AD&D race - if you used Gary Gygax's rules from Dragon magazine. And despite years of me using half-ogres in my games, ranging from my GURPS Forgotten Realms game that ran for most of the 90s to the game that followed that. They've had a long and positive history in my gaming.

But not Felltower.

One reason is that they didn't appear in DF3, and I didn't feel like adding on too many races. I eventually added goblins, true, so it's possible a new race can be added.

Another reason, and the big one, is that for a megadungeon game with extremely limited town issues, they're basically a point crock. In this case, they cost less than the sum of their valuable parts do individually, and their disads mostly retrict things that don't actually limit the character in any way that matters. You suck in town? Yeah, sure, so do half-orcs and barbarians and most scouts. And that's about it. Folks can do your town things for you. In the meantime, though, they're a very affordable way to get a pile of ST and so on.

That's also because DFRPG doesn't use SM for PCs, so they're SM 0. They don't even suffer from the downside of size. They're just human sized social problems with a lot of ST and HT for 20 points. Yeah, -1 IQ, but big deal - make a knight or a barbarian who doesn't really care about a -1 to skill rolls they don't intend to make a lot of and you're fine. Spend 5 on Per and/or Will if you really care.

For me, that's an issue. Purely social issues with lots of stat upsides. The similar half-orc spends 20 points for +1 HT (nice, but not huge) and Night Vision and some resistance bonuses and gets social issues. So some nice upsides, with downsides that aren't a big problem. But net/net, your character options get limited for a few things you can just buy on several templates. The half-ogre . . . eh, +3 ST for 20 points makes it a must-have for strong fighters and barbarians. They'd quickly become a standard for shirtless savage barbarians. Non-half-ogre barbarians and knights would likely become exceptions. It's just too much value for certain types.

And that's swayed me against adding them.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

On the template, but you don't want it?

I finally got around to reading Doug's post about his half-ogre knight, who isn't Felltower compatible since half-ogre isn't on the race & template list.

One thing jumped out at me:

"What do I maybe NOT need that’s on the template?

Born War-Leader is on the template. Based on how we have been playing … only Tactics really gets frequent use. And it’s got Born War-Leader 2 on the template. I feel like I might be able to use 5 or 10 of those points elsewhere, and more efficiently. Like Striking ST 2."

He might be right. People use Tactics, sometimes, and not much of anything else it adds to.

So why take it?

In Felltower, there are three reasons:

1) It's on the template, and required template buys are required template buys in Felltower. You can customize disads quite a bit, but with rare exceptions (Thief, mostly) you must buy what is on the template and cannot buy what is not on the initial template listing in DF1 or DFRPG. You can't pull off things you don't want, or don't intend to use. Or, for that matter, add power-ups beyond quirk-level ones or add lenses.

(And yes, someone is considering making a guy for Vic's Felltower side game, apparantly, who is starting with a lens. It's not a character that is going to port seamlessly to Felltower because it's violating a hard-and-fast rule I instituted to avoid munchkinning and rules mastery builds.)

2) Only some things get used, but it's on the player to use what the PC has. The GM has a role to play here in making skills useful and eliminating those that are not. But if something has potential use, and the players don't use it - by preference or ignorance - it's still in the game. A template that requires it still requires it. A potentially general-use skill needs to have some player intent to use it. Otherwise, the points are wasted by player decision.

3) Once you start allowing people to remove traits from templates, you end up with templates that are much looser. Once they loosen up, it's a short step to "total customization" and weirdness about what Power-Ups you can take. If it's any, then we're away from the rigid DF constraints that have fostered a lot of interesting approachings to chargen and personality of characters, and just plain GURPS. That's very cool but it's not DF Felltower.

So although 10 points in BWL might be less useful to this knight or that knight, you're stuck with it . . . and have to find a way to make it useful.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Random Thoughts & Links for 6/16/2023

- It was a busy week for work and other things, so I really had very little time to post. So little that I didn't even notice I'd missed every day since Sunday.

- Outline work and review by peers continues.

- I finished Planescape: Torment again. I ended up as - I think - a level 13 mage, level 13 thief, and level 30 or something fighter. Yes, seriously. Maybe more - I got a huge whack of XP at the end for something but it was all scripted endgame after that so I couldn't even level up. I had 433 HP, I think, before even that. I had one fight I started at 313 HP and ended at 20 HP at the very end, so it was all needed.

I stuck with Chaotic Evil and chose the nasty solution to anything I could, unless it was clearly a terrible decision or wouldn't accomplish my goal. I did screw a few things up, though. I saved a lot of consumable items for the end battles, but almost all of them take place in worlds where buff magic can warp, so they were less than useless. That sucked. I also didn't realize you need to pick one class to level to 7 and then 12 first, or lose benefits. So I leveled up thief to 12 first even though I intended to play as a fighter. Oops. The economy issue was typical, though - I had not enough money for a while, and then ended with over 130,000 copper and nothing to buy.

I'll play it again soonish, and probably try a Lawful Good guy again because there are many LG-only excellent items. Probably because sometimes the LG solution isn't the best solution. You have many restrictions if you try to hew to the good.

- I didn't get any other gaming work done at all this week, and I barely kept up with reading blogs. I'll try to catch up next week when time - hopefully - remains as open as it looks right now.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Handsome's disads

Here is what I went with!

Bad Temper (15) [-5]
Compulsive Carousing (6) [-10]
Greed (12) [-15]
Obsession (Demonstrate his bow skills in dangerous circumstances/out-archer enemy archers) [-5]
Social Stigma (Criminal Record) [-5]
Vow (Own no more than can be carried) [-10]

Total: -50


"Tomorrow never comes."
Born Goon*
Dishonest Face
Prefers to loot, not buy, non-archer gear

* I love this one from PU6
** aka quirk-level stubbornness.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Writing update

Doug and I put our ms outline in front of a bunch of peers, and we're getting review comments. By and large they're very useful - and we're sorting out what goes where.

Needless to say, this is occupying the center of my gaming attention.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Random Thoughts & Links for 6/9/2023

- Holy grud! It's a CityBlock minis case for Judge Dredd!

- Doug's Kickstarter funded! Hurrah! How was it hard to fund magic items books? There aren't as many GURPS book buyers are there are GURPS book wish listers, I think.

- I killed some time playing Planescape: Torment today, just because I needed a break from the outline. There is a respawning monster-filled area so I just level my guy up there a bit. And did one quest (the maze) but sadly I remembered the solution so it was trivial to do that. By the way, I'm so lazy about leving up I leveled up in Wizard by meleeing things with a magic dagger.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Writing Update

Gaming today literally consisted of one thing - working on a submittable outline with Doug. News when we can reveal what it is - and that's a ways out from now.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Should I take Odious Personal Habit or Social Stigma?

I'm finalizing a slightly revised version of Handsome, the half-orc* scout.

Right now, he has the alarmingly standard Odious Personal Habit (Dirty Bushwhacker) disad, for -5 points.

Do I keep that? It's on-template and nice for a scout.

Or do I go where I'm leaning, and get Social Stigma (Criminal) instead?

Right now, with just Social Stigma (Savage), he's stopped from entering town on a 6- and has -2/-4 to negotiation rolls (more with Unattractive!) Do I just push that to -3/-4? Well, more with his appearance?

Or do I go with a -2 to in-town reaction rolls and most in-town rolls?

The second is demonstrably worse. But makes sense given that he's a greedy jerkoff with a bow. It won't hurt him in the dungeon but will make his social life in town even worse.

Decisions, decisions!

* Which parent was which? Both were half-orcs.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Hommlet (and beyond) game summaries

I missed the launch of this series, but now I'll all caught up - T1 The Village of Hommlet, played with what sounds like 5th edition D&D.

I enjoyed the summaries . . . I ran that module often back in the day. We never really intereacted with the villagers.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

My PC for Vic's Felltower Sessions

I wrote up my character for Vic's Felltower side game.

Handsome is a half-orc scout.


ST 13
DX 14
IQ 11
HT 14
Speed 7
Move 7
HP, FP, and Per all 14.

Traits include Strongbow, Flawless Nocking, Flawless Fast-Draw, and Overdraw, a power-up that hasn't seen print yet.
At the moment with the limited set of disads in DFRPG he has Greed, Bloodlust, Bad Temper (because I do), and a Vow to own nothing more than he can carry, because I don't want to have to deal with a long equipment list like my GT guy Hillbilly has.

My original plan was some torso armor, boots, and a helmet. But since I don't have funds for a cornucopia quiver, I decided to chuck $500 at a Dwarven whetstone to sharpen my impaling and cutting arrows. So all he has is some basic delving gear, a hatchet, a knife, a longbow, 50 arrows, and a will to kill someone to take their armor and helmet. Torso armor and helmet, anyway, and maybe boots and gloves. We'll see - No Encumbrance is 34 pounds and I'd prefer to stay there for Dodge 10 and Move 7.

I may change that decision back. But with a ST 15 longbow I do 1d+3; sharpened up they'll do 1d+4, and I can get +2 with Overdraw for 1d+6. Should be sufficient to start with.

My shortlist of power-ups to get is Slayer Training (Bow/Vitals) for 3 points. I should be able to do that in a single session, and cut Vitals penalties to -1.

Overall I'm pleased with how he came out. I wasn't originally planning on HT 14, which I feel is excessive, but scouts have HT 12, Half-Orcs get +1 for HT 13, and Scouts buy up Speed from 6.5 to 7 for [10]. I saved 5 already there, so why not take the other 5 out and combine them for +1 HT and the same Basic Move? The math just worked. I should have taken Fit and asked constantly "Does Fit add to this roll?"

I gave him some fun quirks. I may noodle around with his disads some more, because I'm tired of every scout feeling the same. But -50 is hard with their selection and there isn't really much else that suits them. And I wanted something that bound my guy to the part - Code of Honor (Outlaw's) - without Sense of Duty, which I find suicidal sometimes.

We'll see if anything changes. But he looks fun to play right now.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Scout weirdness

I was looking at the Scout template in DF, and in DFRPG. Here are a few things I found odd:

- you can choose a sword, staff, or spear, but not an axe, as your melee weapon. So I can't do a woodsman with a trusty hatchet, but I can do a hunter with a trusty falchion.

- I'm kind of curious why you need to choose disads from two pools on the scout. It makes a lot of sense on templates that have a required subset of disads to make the template work - martial artist, cleric, holy warrior - but seems odd here. Admittedly it's hard to do, but I can see making a scout who is a Loner with No Sense of Humor, with a Soldier's Code of Honor, a Phobia of crowds, and a vow to own no more than what can be carried. That's -50. Are the seperate -15 worth really that mission critical? If you take Bloodlust or Sense of Duty as part of those -15, do you really need some of the rest to make up the points? It just seems arbitrary in a way that forcing a cleric or martial artist to take specific disads doesn't.

- It amuses me that you spent 4x as many points on Shadowing as Stealth. Maybe because I don't run games with Shadowing but it feels less mission critical for any of the suggested types of scouts.

So, obviously I'm making a Scout.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Three quick links for 6/2/2023

- Dredd posters!

Miniature Dredd Posters

- In theory, I like geomorphs. I love looking at them. I never actually use them for dungeons - not since way, way back when I was 9 or 10 years old. I always liked a complete dungeon or making the whole thing from scratch. Still, these are attractive:

Dyson Logos Dungeon Geormorphs 4

- I'm sad reading the numbers and names of the fallen, but it's remarkable that a year has gone by without the last one changing. And sad, that this is remarkable.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

DF Felltower, Martial Artists, and "The Path"

DFRPG Companion 2 introduced "The Path" for martial artists.

After a player inquiry, I think yes, it should be fine for Felltower. We'll allow it and see if that's something that works out. It doesn't seem unbalanced when you compare with Shirtless Savage for Barbarians, anyway, so why not? 4 levels of Uninterrupted Fury does seem a bit much, but costs 80 points so I'm not sure it's unreasonable for the cost.
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