Sunday, July 30, 2023

Artifacts of Legend & Artifacts of Saga arrived

These showed up yesterday. Thank goodness for delivery notifications, because the delivery person stuck it partly into the mailbox in a way where you couldn't quite see it . . . I had to fish around to free it up from where it was jammed. They were unharmed, just slightly too big to drop down in the box.

Now comes the process of reading them and seeing what can be useful for Felltower.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Quotes from Felltower Adjacent session 2

We had a pair of fun quotes in session 2.

KS had this one about wizards only following, "the guidelines of physics."

That would have earned my vote for MVP except he blew it with a bad pun later. Are there good puns? They rank on a scale of badness, but it wasn't good.

"I throw my kama. Would that be cut or implale?" - JL
"Impale." - Me
"You're going to punctuate him." - Doug

I think "the guidelines of physics" will last a long, long time in our games. That's a keeper.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

DFRPG Felltower Adjacent - Session 2

Highlights of Session 2 of our Felltower Adjacent campaign.

Session 1 is here.

- we started in town, laughing at Nick the Halfling in his miniature pillory. "We" was Handsome for the latter part.

- We'd heard rumors of bandits, a death cult near a waterfall, and the usual kobold troubles. We voted for death cult, but assumed they'd all be connected. Our bard investigated and town and despite being a dirty half-elf sufficiently charmed an elf druid into telling us about the death cult.

- We tracked down the bandits, and lo and behold they were kobolds, and at a waterfall with a circle of stones outside of it.

- Handsome and the curious bard checked out the kobolds and hatched a plan. He'd Pied Piper them, invisibly going to them and then singing to lure them out of the trees where we'd ambush them.

- We did that, except our knight decided to hide behind a tree well forward of the rocks near us, so they only kinda came into ambush before they spotted him and were not even a little surprised by the others' attacks.

- We killed about eight kobolds, Handome accounting for four of them on four shots.

- We found a nearby cave and an entrance behind the waterfall. Our cleric, martial artist, Handsome, and our wizard went through the cave, the other three through the waterfall (two knights and a bard.) Inside we found lots of chanting kobolds, who then starting yelling something about "Irontooth."

- We killed lots of them, until a wizard threw a fireball and got everyone to dive prone in one side of the fight, and Irontooth showed up - a goblin rage barbarian, who shouted at us and knocked us down. Handsome shot him from prone because Heroic Archer. That sent him berserk, and he charged.

- Eventually in a messy fight the kobolds were all killed. Persistance, one of our knights, charged the kobold mage, who had Flaming Armor on. But Chop, our cleric, put Resist Fire on him, and he beat the kobold to death in a split second with his two-handed flail. Meanwhile Handsome shot the eyes out of Irontooth and our martial artist sliced at him with a katana and wounded him a bit, but shirtless savage prevented most damage. Handsome shot him again and then everyone else decided to jump in. The bard taunted him, the wizard stabbed him with a longsword (twice, even, once using All-Out Attack), and our other knight chopped his neck twice for lots of damage. The goblin tried to slam the wizard and missed, narrowly avoiding real disaster . . . and so Handsome shot the goblin down from behind. He babbled something about Franz* and Lord Orcus and then died.

- We looted them, found a big ivory statue of Orcus, and took a chest mostly full of copper for our trouble.

- We cut their heads off, Handsome split them all with an axe (death cult, Orcus is undead friendly according to our cleric), and cut the tattoo off of the goblin.

- We spent 3 hours and the cleric used Exorcism to purify the evil ring of stones outside.

- We went back to town and turned in kobold ears and sold stuff. We netted 8 xp (5 xp loot, 2 xp for a big fight, 1 xp for purifying the unholy site) and $612 each.

Handsome is saving his points for one of Combat Reflexes, Luck, or Extra Attack. Probably that's the order of priority. Point awards are more standard DFRPG and thus a lot more generous than my standard.

* But not Hans.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Assorted Links for 7/21/2023

A few things for tonight:

- There is a Kickstarter for a 10th anniversary special edition of Castle of the Mad Archmage. And here I just finally caved and got a copy. It's revised and $20 for the PDF.

- I'm struggling through extended solo play of Fire in the Lake. It's complex. I'm thinking I need to find a good playthrough video and play along for a little bit to get the hang of it. One suggestion I've read is to play a short game and not use events, just operations, for all of the factions, to get a feel for the operations. I'm not sure which I'll do but man it's dense stuff once you are loose on your own. Still interesting, though. Partly this makes me wish I'd started with something simpler, but honestly, Andean Abyss and this one are the most interesting to me and neither is supposed to be an easy starting point.

- I've had little time for gaming or reading as I'm prepping for a big trip and working around that. That said, we're gaming Sunday, or so I hear.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Did anyone GURPSify Hammer's Slammers?

The other day, I was searching the library catalog for Gene Wolfe books. One thing that popped up was a Hammer's Slammers compilation, to which he wrote an intro. I grabbed it, both to read the intro and to read any Slammer's stories I'd missed. There were a couple, surprisingly, and a novel that I missed as well. Lucky for me I didn't miss Rolling Hot, which is just excellent.

That got me thinking, did anyone ever think out what Powerguns would be like in GURPS? They're ammo fed, not battery, but they're energy weapons. No recoil, fire in straight lines, and otherwise act like energy weapons. They tear people up rather than torch them . . . so, lasers? Blasters? Plasma weaponry? I'm fuzzy on what they should be in GURPS terms.

There is a Hammer's Slammers RPG using Traveller, though, on DriveThruRPG. I didn't notice it until now, though.

I'm certainly not going to run a campaign with a Dutch mercenary tank unit using powerguns, but if someone has noodled around on the details of how they'd do the equipment in GURPS I'd like to see a link to it!

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Fire in the Lake - 8-turn Tutorial

I just finished the scripted portion of the Fire in the Lake tutorial.
Sorry some of the pictures are a bit unclear, I'm still getting used to the lightning in my new gaming spot.

Here is a brief look at important points to understand the game.

- There are four sides. The NVA, the VC, ARVN, and the US. Each has their own victory conditions.

- The victory conditions of your "ally" doesn't match yours. They have partial overlap - both the US and ARVN benefit from pacified, controlled provinces. The VC and NVA both benefit from occupying territory and controlling it. But they also diverge. You can't have a joint victory. And sometimes your actions to help yourself can push your ally toward victory before you.

- Most of your actions come with a cost - resources (the US and ARVN spend from the same pool, the VC and NVA have seperate pools), reduced support (VC taxes drop support but raise resources, say, while US airstrikes remove enemy units and indirectly improve control but breed hostility from the population), or opportunity. Some actions require you to expose "underground" guerilla units to accomplish them, which open you up to destruction, but staying hidden eliminates your ability to take some actions.

- Often what you do to improve your position undermines your ally - the NVA can convert VC to NVA, the US can force ARVN to spend resources and take actions, and so on.

- There is very little randomness to actions. You roll for effects sometimes, but the core effect generally just works.

- The game is card driven, and acting costs you the chance to something the next turn, often a chance at a good card. You can see the next card coming and try to plan accordingly. Basically only two factions get to act or pass on a given turn. Going makes you ineligible the next turn, unless there is a coup.

- There are a series of Coup cards, which force victory checks and reset the game's rhythm.

In country:

I'm still in Saigon. So are 1 US base, 2 US troops, 2 ARVN troops, and 3 ARVN Police. The area is under COIN (counter-insurgency) control, with passive support from the population of 6. You can see VC and NVA (blue and red, respectively) out provinces.

I Corps becomes a battleground. The NVA infiltrated in 6 units of guerillas. Airstrikes and reinforcements would reduce this down. The province is under NVA control because they outnumber everyone else there - including the VC, importantly.

You can see Hue, the cirle overlapping the province. It's full of US troops, ARVN, ARVN police, and one VC unit that just caused a terror event.

I'm still having trouble recognizing the place names . . . that'll come. Hue, Saigon, Laos . . . those are easy. But Quang Nam vs Quang Ti vs. Quang Duc . . . tougher. I have to search the map until I find them.

Here are a couple of cards - the left is the current, and the VC would use it to terrorize Hue. The right is the next card. At the top is the order of selection, telling you which of the eligible factions goes in what order that turn.

Overall impression?

I like the game. There are a lot of rules, but few come into play any given turn. Turns aren't the slog they'd appear - you are limited in what you can do, and you don't act every turn. You need to plan ahead but you don't get too much of a glimpse at what's coming. I had fun during the tutorial and I'm curious how I'll do playing a faction "against" non-player factions run according to a flow chart. For now, I'll play a short game or two playing all sides just to get familiar with what I'm doing before I try to play a single faction to win.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Swords & Wizardry Revised - arrived!

Well, this is pretty. And soft to the touch, like velour.

We'll see how it reads, but that's a post for another day.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Fire in the Lake setup in progress

Table is ready, game is out, and the board is down flat.

I should be able to start play Wednesday.

I have the card set up for the tutorial. I just need to put down all of the wooden bits. I'm quite pleased to have gotten this far. All of that waiting and now I've got a week and a table and I plan to make the best use of it I can.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

DF Felltower & Hybrid Play

DF Felltower was a purely face-to-face game until March of 2020. We went virtual in response to the pandemic, and played online every session since.

We're well back to the time when we can all get back together in person. It's not going to be an easy drive - it never was for a few of our players who lived out of state. But it'll be better for a couple and harder for everyone else. But still, getting together in person to play would be a lot of fun.

The issue is we now have two more out-of-state people. One of them I think lives in the Great White North. The other lives not far from Frostbite Falls, MN. Maybe. I'm sketchy on their exact locations because I'm not driving to either of them.

What we're trying to figure out is how to do a hybrid session - remote in two-three players, while the rest of us are at the table. If we stay on the VTT but just bring our laptops with us, that's not so much of an issue. Yet it defeats part of the purpose - going back to rolling real dice, pushing real minis around on the table, etc.

Hybrid work conferences are a thing, but they rarely seem to involve battlemats, minis, and dice. Anyone have any experience with doing a partly-remote partly-in-person gaming session?

Friday, July 14, 2023

Friday Random Links & Notes 7/14/23

The usual Friday assortment.

- I was wrong, game is not Sunday 7/16 but Sunday 7/23. Bummer.

- a 62-point DF B-Team. Just so you know, walkover monsters for 250-point guys are not walkover monsters for 62-point guys. But those goblins, they had families! Aahh, screw those guys.

- This is my game, too:

The opponents are intelligent and are going to respond to incursions (or in this case their small army of mooks being slaughtered by invaders). When the players returned after resting and healing outside of the dungeon, the cleric quarters were stripped clean - all their treasures and magic items taken away with the fleeing priests. All that XP from gold escaped as well, making the mook battles even more pointless.

ACKS Greyhawk 14: School in Session

- This post is just a reminder that I need to do an in-depth review of Pirates & Plunder from Yaquinto, an extremely inflential game in my life.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Demons of Old & Chains

Ever wonder why GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1's Demons of Old use chains, not pitchforks?

There are a lot of reasons why it could be.

It could be because Sean Punch doesn't like to stick with pure standard iconography when depicting his monsters.

It could be because flails are pretty damn effective in GURPS.

It could be be because pitchforks have poor armor penetration.

Or it could be because of three words:




Let that possibility shine into your life like a rainbow in the dark.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Next Felltower?

Next Felltower is still looking like September/Octobor.

Next Felltower-Adjacent is Sunday, July 16th.

I haven't the slightest idea what's coming, but I sure hope it isn't more stupid kobolds. I do hope it has vitals because Handsome, best companion and worst person you know, now has a -1 to hit them.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Fire in the Lake . . . soonish

I finally have a table to play Fire on the Lake.

I have the space.

I do not yet have the table in the space, due to some ongoing renovation projects.

But I have dug out my copy of the rules and I've begun to give them a solid re-read, and I expect to get the game set up to play in a week or so. I have time for a short playthrough to get started. I'm excited . . . I've been wanting to play this game since I read up on it and started to really dig into the political state of the area during the war.

It's getting closer!

Monday, July 10, 2023

Oh, you game, too? I'm probably not going to say anything about that anymore.

Back when I was first gaming, in the early 80s, there were a fair number of gamers. Not too many, but they were around. When you met them, you knew you found someone with at least an overlap in interest. I didn't necessarily connect up with them all, but they were special. I still remember a teacher of mine gloating about how he killed off his brother and his brother's friends party with a pack of halflings (!). I always remembered him as a killer GM, but also a good teacher who taught me how stocks worked and probably who is direct-line responsible for me learning how to invest.

As the years went on, I generally stopped discussing my hobby with others. Very few, if any, people played the games I played. For a long time, gaming was synonymous with being on the outside, socially. I rarely played with people I met who gamed but I did talk to them about it, even as shy as I could be as a younger person.

Now, I still have that habit. Yet I'm surrounded by gamers. Our sub-group supervisor at work? She players D&D, presumably 5th edition, with her son and her husband, and others. My BJJ buddys' kids, who I generally submit with triangle chokes and Kimura armbars? They play D&D. Heck, they missed open mat the other day because they had a D&D game. I noted that I game on days not conducive to rolling on the mats.

They're not the only people I work with, roll with, or otherwise interact with that game. It's become just a generic hobby. I still hold tightly onto my friends I gamed with them it wasn't just a normal hobby.

I don't have any deep point here. Just a thing to note. People I know for no reason to do with gaming ask me about gaming, or just casually mention playing D&D. It's a different world than the one I grew up in. For the better in my opinion. But it's different regardless of how I feel about it.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Take a Second to Cancel

I talked to my long-time players about cancelling spells in Felltower.

According to them, we're run it as requiring a Concentrate maneuver. You can cancel multiple spells, though.

Your options are:

- cancel one spell
- cancel all spells

You can't prune the list, and pick-and-choose some to leave up and some to end, except one by one.

I'm inclined to leave that for DF Felltower. Vic's Felltower-adjacent game can be run however he likes. It's just when we return to Felltower the rules there - both the ones that enhance Magery (multiple cost reductions for missile spell buildup, simplified missile spell explosion range, expanded spell list beyond DFRPG Spells, combined spells) and the ones that limit it (this one, mostly.)

DF Felltower isn't RAW, so "by the RAW it's a free action" is nice to know but won't change things. Like, say, the multiple cost reductions and different explosion rules for missile spells, the RAW isn't how the game works. It's just the underlying base we use to get started.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Glen Cook Bundle of Holding

Brief return from my away-from-keyboard status for this one:

Glen Cook Bundle of Holding

If you go for the full version, you get:

- the Darkwar trilogy
- the Starfishers trilogy + Passage at Arms (a Star Fishers side novel)
- the Dread Empire series (including the short story collection An Empire Unacquainted with Defeat)
- Sung in Blood, A Matter of Time, The Swordbearer, and The Dragon Never Sleeps

I spent $25.50 for those. Worth it. Sadly no Black Company or Garrett, P.I. books, or oddly Heirs of Babylon, but either way here you go.

My previous GURPS campaign drew a fair amount on the Dread Empire for my approach to the world. My current character, Handsome, probably draws more than a little from the alcholic, murderously efficient unnamed bowman from the Vengeful Dragon from the story "Ghost Stalk" in An Empire Unacquainted with Defeat. I try to hand out all of the candy to the PCs just like in the ferociously fast-paced The Swordbearer. And the Star Fishers books are just excellent stuff. Darkwar gets a bad rep, in my experience, but it's bleak and good at the same time.

I'm an unapologetic fan of Glen Cook's work. I started with The Black Company and never looked back. This might be a good way in for you, too. Or for me, a way to ensure I can read this while hanging around waiting for trains in Japan this summer. Any excuse to re-read The Dragon Never Sleeps is a good excuse.

Now I just need them to do this for Gene Wolfe!

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Very busy week

This week is my maximal busy time outside of gaming, so I won't be posting much for about a week. Then I'll hopefully be back on a better schedule . . . at least until vacation time and more disruptions the following month.

I will keep posting, even if irregularly. I won't miss any half-assed game summaries for sessions I am able to attend!
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