Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Rules & Rulings from Session 185

Some rules and rulings from Sunday's game session.

Throwing Art & Damage Bonus

This was a sizeable issue. I believe Vic ran this as follows:

- allows you to throw anything.
- weapons without a stat line get to use a similar weapon with no penalties.
- Range bonus and damage bonus apply to any actual weapons even if not normally throwable.

That's not how I read DFRPG Adventurers, p. 34. I read it as follows:

- allows you to throw anything.
- actual thrown weapons with a ranged weapon stat line get a range bonus and damage bonus.
- weapons without a stat line are improvised and are thrown like a similar ranged weapon, but do not get a range bonus or damage bonus.
- said weapons usually have a -1 to -3 penalty to hit, which Throwing Art ignores.
- said weapons use whatever the similar weapon's attack types (see below) but if their own similar attack does less damage, use that instead.

So a thrown kama has the Acc and Range of a hatchet, and does sw/cut. I allow sw/imp because I've played around with actual kama and that's a more plausible missile attack than the cutting, but letting it manage to cut isn't crazy either. Again, I've played around with actual kama.*

Now, I did argue duing Vic's game that Hanari should be able to throw his katana and inflict cutting damage, because I thought that would be awesome and it wasn't my call. He allowed for it. Would I? Generally not. A spinning sword is going to do crappy cutting damage, if any, because all that spin around a balanced blade can't be good for preserving any kind of force or impart it to the target. Their is a reason that sw/thrown weapons are all top-heavy weapons. Anyway, in my game, no. Throw your sword point-first; I may allow "tip slash" damage if you want to crease the edge along a target, though. Ask when it matters.

So I had to put my foot down and not allow a thrown Long Knife to do sw-1/cutting; it's thrown like a lowsy large knife. I understand the logic - it doesn't have an entry for throwing, it's thrown like a similar weapon, and if he could throw a katana for cut in a related game he should be able to do so here. But I intend to be strict on my stance.

FWIW I checked with Kromm, and his response is consistant with my interpretation for DFRPG, our base rules set. GURPS Martial Arts, p. 220, has different rules, but DF Felltower is cored by DFRPG at this point, with expansions, and the simpler rules in DFRPG win out here.

My player took it very well, but I know he put a lot of work in making weapons stat up nicely in GCS and then in Foundry and now those stats are inaccurate.

Balanced and Throwable

Does the Balanced prefix make a normally non-throwable weapon into a throwable weapon (and thus able to get those range and damage bonuses)? No. It provides +1 to skill. The name implies "balanced for throwing" but the name isn't the game effects. I mean, "Fine" means "+1 damage and harder to break" for swords but they aren't ornate, which is what "finely made" might mean in reality. Names are just names to imply a game effect.

I don't allow a different prefix to make weapons throwable, nor do I allow a non-prefix cost change. Stick with what's on the charts, there are plenty of weapons there. The game is about delving and exploring and killing monsters and finding gold, not optimizing custom weaponry to add options to an already broad list of effective weapons. My player's spending habits for their PCs disagree but here we are.

FWIW, one important caveat - Weapon Master matters. That's per weapon, and it doesn't matter how you use that weapon. Damage bonuses from WM do get included for throwing normally non-throwable weapons if the WM advantage covers it.

Shoot it off your own face

What's the penalty to shoot a spider, or stirge, or whatever, off of your own face?

-10. Only a critical miss will result in shooting yourself.

How did we come up with that?

Because reversing your bow so you can shoot something on you, in such a way that overpenetration or a miss has a minimal chance of hitting yourself, seems really hard. Stupidly so.

Does Heroic Archer reduce the penalty? No. It makes it possible. I won't even allow someone without it to try. It's stupid and illogical and makes no sense to even work, nevermind hit with full damage and be doable on a 1-second time scale with no special moves to ready anything. Heroic Archer means you can try.

That ruling makes me happy, and the couple times this has come up Scouts haven't hesitated to try. So I think that's a vote in favor!

* You can literally buy one out of a bin in Japanese hardware stores. Weaponized kama, no, but tool ones, sure. I didn't buy one, I grew morning glories and they didn't need much pruning.**
** My job successor threw them out, because she was a late riser and said the pots only had vines and never flowers. Timing matters. RIP flowers.

Monday, October 30, 2023

DF Session 185, Felltower 125 - Return to Felltower

Sunday's game was day one in Felltower proper for all of these PCs, and for two of the players. It was nice to get back to the tangle of tunnels that is Felltower.

Date: 10/29/2023

Weather: Light rainy, cool.


Chop, human cleric (298 points)
Duncan Tesadic, human wizard (297 points)
Hannari Ironhand, dwarf martial artist (290 points)
Persistance Montgomery, human knight (298 points)
Thor Halfskepna, human knight (297 points)
Urbaine Fabre, half-elf bard (298 points)
Vladimir Luchnick, dwarf martial artist (250 points)

On October 28th, the group arrived from West Adventurewood,* where they had put down some weird monsters not actually appearing elsewhere in Felltower or its environs. They quickly found places to stay in town, placed a bunch of special orders. They heard a number of rumors - the orcs are gone, a cone-hatted wizard took a bunch of animals up the mountain and didn't return, and that things have been quiet since the adventurers weren't around . . . that kind of stuff. The next day, the 29th, they headed into Felltower.

They carefully scouted the ruins, and found the way down. They created a bunch of light stones, and then Duncan buffed up Vlad with lots of Keen Senses spells and then Invisibility. He rolled an 18 on the Invisibility spell . . . he was sure he'd messed up, but gotten lucky because the spell clearly worked. Hurrah! No worries then, time to move on.

Vlad scouted the entranceway, and checked the pit - nothing dangerous, just the usual dirt, leaves, bones, and bits of damp junk. Unable to jump across, he came back. They tried the trapdoor, but it was closed and zapped Urbaine's Created Servant, destroying it. They headed into the main entrance.

After some discussion, they pitoned in two ropes on the left side, Hannari jumped the pit, and hammered in two more. They they crossed; Urbaine almost fell but was dug out by Levitation, which Duncan pulled off only after a 17 cancelled all of his Movement spells. Oops. A couple walked/climbed over (+3 for the ropes, minus encumbrance) and the rest were brought over with Levitation, including their servant since it carries Urbaine's backpack.

They checked the portcullises and found them all down. The right one was down, the left down but badly bent, as if something strong spread the bars to squeeze through. They spent about 30 minutes or so of time on the right side, first lifting the portcullis, then nailing it up, and then working on the door beyond. The door is metal, without visible handle, lock, or hinges, and meshes well with the metal wall it is mounted it. The stone around it is worked and -10 to affect with magic. They tried their best to crowbar it open, and failed. So Urbain cast Create Object and make a pickaxe. One solid whang from Thor did about 12 or 13 damage or so and didn't even mark the metal.

They have gave up and checked the other side. It would be a tight squeeze (Escape +5, minus encumbrance) so some squeezed by. Urbaine wanted to bend it further apart since it was too warped to lift anymore. Thor tried a pull or two but didn't manage much; Persistance was too weak do bend it at all. They gave up when it became clear this was a bit of a project.

They forced the door beyond open - it was much more loose in its mounting, clearly having been heavily battered by something strong. It was still a working door but a crowbar fit in easily. They opened it and moved on.

They avoided the nearby sunken temple, and smelled spoiled meat and cooking smells in a nearby room . . . or close to it, anyway. They moved on quickly, reasoning that it was long past and anyway nothing on the upper levels would be worth looting since it had been cleared many times in the past.

Next it was down a long hallways, passing mostly closed doors. One door was open, so Vlad peeked in. He saw a child-sized figure huddled in a corner wearing a cloak pulled up to its head, as is sleeping. He looked in . . . and rolled an 18 on his Per check and a huge spider jumped on his face and started to bite him. Despite his dwarven resistance to poison he suffered pretty badly from its two bites. He tried to shoot it off his own face (we call this a -10, per prior rulings, with the extra penalties coming from having to reverse the bow draw and shoot in a way to not hit yourself except on a critical failure.) He just missed. His buddies ran up and saw a spider biting an invisible target. Thor burned it off with his flaming sword, and Persistance smashed it to bits.

The child was a halfling adult, long dead and dried to a husk, possessed of nothing of value. Realizing the Invisibility spell was still on, but clearly not working right, Duncan waited until he needed to maintain it and let it fade. But it wouldn't; he paid his FP and it was still going against his plans. So he concentrated, spent 1 FP, and rolled against his original skill to cast it. That worked, and he was able to force it away. It was clear that only they couldn't see their scout this whole time. Sigh.

They moved on, setting off an alarm by passing through one room. They hurried on, and briefly looked at the painting and mosaics in the hallway ahead before someone noted the map said "pits." So they pulled back and went around.

Soon they found webs in a hallway, so they cleared that with the flaming sword, again.

Another hallway they passed was full of webs, which means spiders and treasure (I think this was the logic), so they moved in. They cleared the webs with the sword, again, and ran into two humongous spiders. They killed them in a crisp fight, which went poorly for the spiders because they didn't gain surprise and faced armed and armored Thor. Hannari wanted them preserved for draining their venom as loot, but that didn't happen. One was mostly intact after an eye shot from Vlad, but when they moved on past it, it woke back up. Persistance (I think) bashed it to pieces.

They found a large room full of webs and hundreds - call it 300-400 or so? Spiders ranging from quarter size up to fist sized. Duncan used Create Fire to fill a 9' diameter circle and Shape Fire to sweep it back and forth across the room, torching most of them. They found no loot.

Further on, they explained to the newbies (Aren't they all newbies?) that there was no point in investigating the room of pools because all the good stuff was done, and the pool of dreams was a distraction. Then they ran into a patrolling back pudding. They pounded on it until it stopped moved, with Thor facing it down with his shield so it couldn't reach anyone. He dropped his sword in the fight, which has happened enough that he renamed the sword something like Slipgrip.

Eventually they found their way to the second level, and found the hidden room with the red six-fingered handprint. A few of them touched it - Urbaine, Vlad, Thor, and they suffered the usual damage, FP loss, and DX and HT penalties. Past this they listened (presumably for the stirges mentioned on their map), and heard nothing special besides the usual rat noises, distant clunks and echoes, etc.

Moving up the hallway to the right, they spotted a black hemisphere on the ceiling of the room ahead, marked with runes. They backed off, explained that these shoot black fire, and shot it apart with Vlad's bow.

They worked their way to the GFS, passsing the room marked "Teleport Room," despite a couple guys with Curious.

Next, they headed to the magic altar, planning to have everyone touch it hoping to get some silver turned to gold. Getting there was tricky - part of the way was blocked by plugs of shaped stone, and another by mold. Brown, nasty, sharp, jagged, spore-spewing disease-spreading mold. They spend some time trying to figure out how to clear the mold, set it all off and Purify Air to pass by, and so on. In the end they gave up, created a few shovels, and cleared a nearby plug of rubble with the help of Shape Earth. Beyond it they found a hexagonal room with a rotating six-fingered statue. Thor touched it, but it didn't zap him, which they ascribed to his touching of the red hand print. Urbaine turned the statue and was zapped, but doing so didn't do anything. ("Because it's for a puzzle treasure room and we looted it," said some PCs who didn't loot it.)

They touched the altar when they reached it - at least, everyone except Chop, who was suspicious of anything not of the Good God. A couple of them had their lost health restored, Thor and someone else got Danger Sense, Duncan's weapons are all Puissance +2 - all for the next 24 hours. Hannari had 42 silver pieces turned to gold pieces; they'd hoped for more people and more coins.

They headed to the staircase and down, carefully checking for traps, and trying the door on the middle landing to no avail.

At the bottom, they opened the door and discussed where to go; they had only one immediately option, which was forward. Ahead was a square room with four exits including theirs. In it were a trio of ratmen! Two hurled crystals out of their bodies at Vlad, slicing his arm and foot. He shot one, badly wounding him, and called for help. The PCs rushed forward.

In a brief but blood combat, they cut down the two crystal-studded ratmen and a fritzing, fading, phase ratman, but not before the armor-piercing crystals and armor-bypassing blunt claws of the ratmen did some damage. The ratmen went berserk when injured, which kept them fighting furiously even in the face of piles of damage. A fourth ratman, with an electric aura, zapped Persistance and Thor as they tried to cut it down. It had called an alarm before running into the fray, however, and they heard barking and growling.

They quickly started to try to form up to fall back to the doorway as they saw a dozen gnolls rushing them.

Duncan quickly asked if they wanted him to end the fight with a wall of stone. They demurred, wanting to fight the gnolls and grab their equipment for sale.

We ended it there, as it was late (around 8 pm, we started at 11) and the fight was bound to be long.

* From the town of D'Andy Fortheditionburg. They do things differently there.


- I told everyone to pay upkeep. I'm pretty certain no one listened, but I'll need to double check. At least one of my players just does those things automatically, but I think some people just overlooked it in the excitement of the switchover. Same with special orders - I know people made them, but I think I saw literally one roll made in Foundry, so I suspect people have a bunch of back-rolling to do for their orders.

- Lots of VTT problems today. One very big one.

- The delve was interesting. It's been ~15 months or more since any PCs delved into Felltower. All of the PCs were new. But it pretty much went exactly like any delve prior to the last TPK. Scout the main entrance, try the spiral staircase trapdoor, try the shortest route to level 2, argue about the importance of staying on target but getting diverted by small stuff, touch the hands, touch the altar, and down to the "apartment level" aka "level 4" and a rush at the end of the session to get into a fight because maybe what they fight has loot. The only difference were the PCs, not the delve. It was purely institutional memeory driven. Everything was even expressed as, "We've done (this and that)" not "We've heard . . . ," which was somewhat disconcerting. I won't say it was wasted time, but there was a lot of time warning new players about Durak, the Lord of Spite, and his warning sounds, how previous fights went against him, the story behind the orcs, how the red hand marks on the walls work, etc. I have zero problems with institutional memory, but it did take some of the game time up going over history. And it felt pretty ridiculous to have new PCs lecturing new PCs as if they did all of the things.

- bending the bars was a good demo of how I GM. Urbaine's player pointed out the bars had DR 9, and some HP, and Thor did 2d damage, so eventually he'd manage to bend them further, so did we need to game that out or just move on? Game it out. Make the rolls, or do the math on how long it'll take to inflict damage based on 2d vs. 9 DR and the HP I'd track and spend the time while I roll to see if anything happens along (and likely from outside, not inside the doors they wanted open.) That's how Felltower goes. I wasn't terribly sympatheic because they could already squeeze by, they just wanted to remodel the dungeon for better fleeing potential, and I don't handwave dungeon remodelling as a campaign style decision.

- Create Servant and Create Object are extremely useful spells in megadungeon delving.

- I can't run fights in the VTT without putting down tokens for enemies. When I do so, no matter what, someone will move their token, make sure of the facing, base their range or reach based on the tokens on the page, etc. They just can't help it.

- Once again the mold was a problem. No one has an easy way around it, and the hard ways are all time consuming and resource expensive. There was talk of taking a specimen home to get fungicide made for it, but - importantly - no one actually made the rolls to do this.

- Duncan offered to end the delve with a wall of Created Earth so they could escape. They have enough loot for 20% of their threshold, or 2 xp, +1 for each of touching onto levels 2 and 4, for 4 xp. Instead they wanted to reach their loot threshold, gaming on a quick win for 3 xp more. Probably not the worst move, but with so many items on special order (armor, weapons, ammo) I was actually a little surprised they didn't just go for the quick exit and back to town to return more prepared.

- MVP was Duncan for that amusing 18 on Invisibility. Heh. I love 3-4 and 17-18, they're such a fun chance for me to unleash creative nastiness - either pro- or anti-caster, when they occur.

Rules & Rulings Post

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Felltower game pre-summary

We had part 1 of a delve today.

It featured:

- seven PCs

- a bit of exploration of level 1

- a spider

- many spiders

- a pudding

- breaking stuff

- and a big brawl with ratmen and then gnolls.

. . . and a metric ton of old-timer explanations coming from the mouth of PCs on their first delve. Heh.

More details tomorrow.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Random Links for Friday 10/27/23

The usual collection of posts I wanted to share but had little place for.

- I always liked the Cromwell tank, because they were pretty effective in Panzer Leader. So I like this mini and this post.

- Starships, usuing the GURPS Starships system, for players who probably won't use starship combat. I know the feeling.

- I'd like to read these books, but 55GBP is pretty pricey.

- Game is Sunday. Naturally I have some game prep to do, but mostly I answer player questions and wait on players to update their guys and their tokens. I think people are largely Felltower compatible but I'm 100% certain I'll find weirdness or issues when we start play.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Felltower Rules Questions: Rapid Throwing & Throwing Art

Two rules questions came up.

Rapid Throwing

We're not using the handfull of missiles Rapid Fire with Thrown Weapons rules from GURPS Martial Arts, p. 120.

We do allow the rules under Rapid Strike with Thrown Weapons . . . sort of. You can use a Rapid Strike with the usual penalties, but not Fast-Draw or otherwise ready a weapon in the middle. So you can't thrown, draw, throw unless you have Extra Attack.

You could carry two thrown weapons, one in each hand, and throw both. Or carry multiple smaller weapons in one hand and throw them as a Rapid Strike.

I don't have anything against the rules in my book, I just don't want to deal with the complexity for this game.

Throwing sling bullets?

Can you throw sling bullets with Throwing Art? Yes. It's basically a metal pebble of the specified weight, and is thrown as such. They do thr+1, as a small stone would, piercing because Throwing Art makes that kinda make sense for a metal bullet (remember, we do crush for stones with slings, not piercing, because GURPS got that wrong IMO.) Range is STx2.5, per Exploits, p. 22.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

More VTT notes

The /mook generator in Foundry is pretty nice. It's also completely maddening.

I struggle to define some of the odder attacks my monsters use. Often, simple english is easy, say, "Flame touch. Does 1d-3 burning damage to everything it touches or which touches it." Fine. But /mook wants to know the skill level, doesn't recognize the syntax, etc. So I end up basically fumble around for a while trying to word and re-word every attack until something works. Or I just pull everything that isn't a basic attack out of the attacks, stick them in notes, and hope I remember to check the notes in play.

I have a similar issue with pictures and tokens. Token Stamp 2 is fine, but I do need to find a picture for everything, edit it, stamp it, download it, upload it, ensure the token actually shows up, etc. It's a lot of programming work, essentially, and grunt work, to get a monster in.

Meanwhile I get my players sending me their paper men, updated, now with a new piece of equipment, now revised with a new token to reflect their new armor, etc. etc. Those are easier to put in, but still takes work.

If I have time after all of that, I can do some actually maps to play on. I can't do as many as I'd like, so I have to find some more time.

It's the technical stuff - instead of drag-and-drop monsters, even a slightly odd power and a lack of a good image to upload turns it to 15-20 minutes per monster.

Fun, fun, fun. Not the good kind of fun, though.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Nothing much, just VTT work

Little to post today - I'm just loading up monsters in Forge for Felltower. It's kind of a pain, although I'm grateful for the GCS files for many monsters out there. I need to make pictures, tokens, etc. for everything. It's just a royal pain. I envy people who play a system that has official, thorough VTT support!

I have some PCs to upload, too, but I keep getting "revised" guys, so I'm going to put them all in the morning of the next game.

A one-roll hoard generator and VTT support would make my job so much easier; much of my work is not updating Felltower but ensuring I don't have to halt game to make tokens and monsters.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Noble Knight Clearance Sale

Noble Knight is having a big clearance sale. Some of the items are mildly discounted, but many have pretty steep discounts.

I've found there sheer volume of sale items makes it hard to browse, but still . . . sale RPG items.

There is basically no GURPS stuff, but still . . .

Here is the main sale page:

Clearance Sale

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Felltower quick update - items on the move?

I had a short window to do some work on Felltower today.

I found this list of lost items helpful:

Lost Items of Felltower

There are a lot of items just sitting the in the dungeon, too. The PCs gained - and lost - and in some cases re-gained and re-lost - dozens of significant magic items and interesting non-magical items in the dungeon.

The changes in the dungeon also afford a chance for items to change locations. Some of what was lost might end up with someone or something else. The dungeon doesn't stay static. There are a few ways that come up.

Long Overlooked

Some long overlooked items move around. What this can mean is that items long overlooked sometimes get discovered by new or old inhabitants. That's pretty rare, though. Generally, if something is so well hidden that PCs wandering around knocking on walls, casting See Secrets, casting Seek Earth for valuable metals, etc. couldm't find it, it's probably so well hidden that inhabitants and NPC delvers lacking this kind of perserverance are less likely to find them.

But it does happen.

Lost and Found

More commonly, items that the PCs just dropped - usually when dead - tend to travel around a bit. Many stay right where they fell. Most, even. But not everything that butchers a PC party keeps treasure. Sometimes, they leave it for scavengers. Sometimes, they take it and use it. Sometimes, even, they trade it for something else (goods, different items, as tribute in return for diplomatic gains, etc.)

Long Gone Lonesome Blues

Some items are loooooooong goooooone. Sold in town, dropped in the dungeon in places unconducive to their survival . . . and sadly, yes, in the clutches of retired PCs (or non-retired PCs run by players who aren't interested in coming back.)

Having a list of these has helped a lot. I know one of my players does, too, more as a checklist of things to find than my list of things to chuckle over.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Random Links & Thoughts for 10/20/2023

Let's wrap up the week here.

- I'm still reviewing and doing the things needing doing for Felltower. The VTT is the chunk I want to do the least . . . so I'll put that off until last.

- I played big chunks of Fantasy General for a few weeks . . . I have no idea how much longer the game is. Am I on the last island? I don't know. I've maxed out almost all of the unit research, and the foes are pretty tough. It's just weird not knowing where am I in the whole process. Still fun . . . but I needed to take time off after one more big battle this past week.

- Interesting discussions and ideas popped up in the comments of my Retreat post. I'm intrigued by some of the suggestions, although my goal with that system is to simplify decision making. It's always tricky if a "fix" adds a decision fork to replace a decision fork; I'm not sure it helps speed it along.

- I might be unavailable all weekend. If so, see you all Monday.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

GURPS option: Ditch Retreat, or Give the Bonus Always?

I don't think it's a secret that I hate Retreat. I didn't always; in fact I used to love it. I still think it makes a lot of sense. But the longer I've run game the longer I've spent watch it be the be-all and end-all of tactical considerations. Mapless combat becomes "invisible map" combat as everyone wants to take a position where they can't be flanked but also can Retreat without letting anyone break their defensive line.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Thinking about this for my DF game, could I get rid of it?

I see two options:

Option 1: No Retreat.

In this option, it's just gone. Delete it, with the possible exception of "Dodge and Drop" for explosions. Yes, you can still dive flat to get away from an explosion. Maybe Duck Behind Cover - something I allow now, which is Retreat if you can fully move behind cover to try to avoid a missile. You could still use Acrobatics for a +2 or -2, because that's not tied to Retreat.

Otherwise, it's gone. All defenses are "flat" - as written, no bonuses, no defensive movement from your hex triggered by a potentially successful hit.

Pros: Simple. Increases the number of effective blows in combat. Speeds up defense calculations.

Cons: Likely to provoke vetos by any and all players who "need" Retreat. Might slow the game down as people claim to need more time to decide where to step or move because they're unable to count on Retreat if they need it.

Option 2: No Retreat but the bonus applies.

In this option, you don't have Retreat - with the possible exception of Dodge and Drop, which only provides the ability to dive a hex away and end prone from an attack.

However, the bonus you would get is baked in to defenses, as such:

Dodge - based on 6 + (Speed * Encumbrance).
Parry - based on 4 + (Weapon skill/2).
Fencing Parry, Karate Parry, Judo Parry - based on 6 + (Skill/2).
Block - based on 4 + (Shield skill/2).

This applies to all monsters, too. All monsters get +3 to their base, figured Dodge (to account for 6+ instead of 3+ base). So a Foul Bat would have a 12 Dodge, but 14 while in the air due to the height advantage (9 + 3, + 2), and a Dire Wolf a 12 (9 + 3). An Eye of Death would have a 15 (12 + 3), potentially a 19 with height advantage and Aerobatics. Your average 10/10/10/10 human now has Dodge 11 - Speed 5, no encumbrance (6 + 5).

You could say that anything that gets rid of Retreat also gives a -3 or -1 to the appropriate defense (say, Move and Attack), to even it out a bit and keep that steep cost for such an attack still the case.

Pros: PCs get to keep their higher defenses, and as a matter of fact routinely have higher defenses more than under the standard rules.

Cons: High whiff factor, and increased need for Deceptive Attack and Feint to hit even fodder monsters. Most foes will Dodge more than 50% of the time against an unenhanced attack. Have to modify every GCA, GCS, and Forge VTT entry for everyone and everything.

Thoughts on these?

If/when I run a future game, Option 1 is going to be the standard. Everyone will have to know that going in. But to get people on board with it for an ongoing game, option 2 might need to be considered.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

My response to Alex's comment

My response to Alex's comment seemed long enough, and detailed enough, to warrant a post.

You seem to have painted yourself into a corner. The majority of the headaches are self-created or player-created.

I agree, 100%. I posted my Felltower Regrets just out of potential utility to myself or to other GMs in the future. I wasn't expecting anyone to show me a way out - and honestly, I'm not sure I want one. I wouldn't do it this way again does not equal I don't want it the way it is now. It's not everything I would want a future megadungeon to be but I do think it's where it should be based on the constraints imposed on it by choices I'm comfortable with.

At least for the self-imposed headaches.

You have a much stronger insistence on ecological consistency and logic than most dungeon crafters, and definitely megadungeon crafters. But because of this you face problems with every proposed change that ripple effects touch numerous clusters of rooms and their creatures.

Yes. It's a constraint based on the original design decision. Many of the reasons I shot down my player's suggestion (and that of commenters) about how to "fix" the problems I built into Felltower were the issue with contradicting the original design constraints. I'm a big believer in the value of constraints and letting those constraints cause emergent results. The dungeon has a strong ecology, and what happens in it - and to it - centers on that. As such, I think it's more responsive to player interaction than it would be had a gone the Prime Mover approach, where a wizard or cabal or god or whatever is in charge of the dungeon. It's a lot more dependent on what the players do, and less easy for a GM to stick a finger in to change things to achieve a specific effect.

That's all deliberate. I chose my constraints, built my dungeon, and I'm hewing closely to those constraints and seeing what happens. I think it's more important to stick to those than choose the easy route just to make something come out the way I'd do it given a chance to start over.

I can't tell you not to do that since it is a big part of how you operate, but I can point out that you're doing this to yourself and many megadungeons work fine with a bit of underlying logic and connection but not sweating every detail and the players are fine with that. It's part of the megadungeon conceit.

I'd argue it can be part of the conceit, but it doesn't have to be. I can sweat endless details and make that work. It limits my ability to keep changing the environment that has already been explored, yes, but it suggests lot of effects that add to the immersive and enduring nature of the game.

I can live with that. I'm not going to avoid talking about where those choices took the dungeon, but I am going to keep living with those choices. Again, that's why I posted my regrets and "why nots" but didn't ask for people to help me dig out of this corner I've painted myself into. I don't really want a reason to change anything beyond what can be sustained within the constraints the campaign is built around.

Now, the problem with players cutting off ways between levels I wouldn't mess with. Try to undo or bypass their efforts and they'll just try harder to break your dungeon. If they really want ways down then remind them more ways were there and PCs blocked them, PCs could go unblock them if that's what they want.

Now, here, I strongly disagree. **** the PCs and their efforts. If it clashes with what the ecology of the dungeon demands, too bad. If they knock a door down because they hate it and there is a dweller in the dungeon that would rather it be fixed, it'll get fixed. They can block stairs and others can open them up if that's useful for that individual or faction. The PCs can do what they want, but so can the NPCs. That's one of the upsides of my constraint-centered approach. It has to make sense . . . and letting the players determine what's blocked or not, without input from the logic that underpins the actions of the NPCs, would not do so.

Some things limit my options, some limit theirs. It's our game, after all, so we all have to live with the decisions we've made . . . and with the undoing of them by NPCs if that fits the baseline campaign decisions.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Felltower XP System Notes

In light of an effective Felltower restart, and the higher XP handouts from Vic's game, I think I need to slightly revise my XP awards rules. Not by a lot - I stand by the system in DF21 and here.

But I do think some additional opportunities for XP would be welcome and appropriate.

What's Old is New(ish)

I won't give XP for "new exploration" for old areas already mapped - sorry, that's the downside of getting a full map of the dungeon to work with. No, not even if you choose to set fire to the map and start over. There is stuff to do on the upper levels but let's not pretend "re-check and see what moved in" is "new exploration."

But I will give +1 XP to all PCs when they first reach a "new" depth. Pretty much, when they go down stairs/holes/etc to subterranean levels beyond the first.

For example, show up game one, get to the "apartment" level by going down to the apetrium and then the GFS to the bottom? +2 XP each, one per level. Find the level(s) in between? +1 each. I'll let people know when they've found a new area . . . after the game. Can you just poke your nose down on that level and come back? Yes. Can you send a Wizard Eye? Sure. Can just the scout go? Sure. But that will "use up" the bonus and I'll only apply it to PCs that actually went down there in person. Commit to exploration.

Special Places

I'll tag a few more special places that have been overlooked in the past as new areas worth not only new exploration, but also +1 xp. Again, this is a post-game bonus. But hopefully this will drive a little more exploration.

Gates will still be a +1 per PC to those first passing through a given gate; like the level changes, above, these will be for all gates as a one-time thing. Some gates have been closed, and others opened, so we'll see. I still need a heads-up (or an in-game setup delay) for new gates, but yes, next trip through the Icy Gate or the Air Gate or whatever is worth a +1. Go explore and get points.

Finally, with a bard with Wealthy, I think loot thresholds will be easier to meet. Exploration bonuses won't be, not for a while, but a motivated crew willing to push hard for loot and willing to go new places should get 4-6 xp per session for a while without heavy risk. But it won't be forever - the lower levels will need to be dealt with, or the gates entered, or both, if people want to keep on at that pace. Fortune favors the bold . . . and death comes for everyone, cautious or confident.

Monday, October 16, 2023

How did we handle the GM's guy? Vic's PC

Vic took the reigns and ran games for us for a little while. I was able to play, and the other players were able to take their future Felltower PCs out and get them some much-needed loot and XP before coming to the megadungeon.

But what about Vic?

I wasn't planning on handing over Handsome to Vic, and anyway, I don't think a difficult, criminal, all-offense no-defense half-orc scout was really for him, either.

It's not exactly fair to start him with a plain 250 point guy, though. I wasn't really keen on giving him XP, either - we've had a very firm 250 point starting point for everyone, for all PCs, and making an exception for a co-GM seemed like a bad precedent.

The average take in cash and non-magic gear for the PCs was about $10-12,000. So I simply gave Vic a one-time, one-PC dispensation to spend an additional $12,000. That's equal to half of their cash/gear take, and half of their points but all traded for money. I let him buy normally-purchasable magic (which one or two additions).

He ended up going with a dwarf scout with a nice bow and some solid armor.

I like the approach better - I'd feel odd with giving out XP for nothing when I've held a very hard line on that for 12 years. But I don't have much of an issue saying, hey, you get some extra money. It's about the same as if the PCs had found about $2K more each and decided to pool it buy the new scout some gear. Had that happened, I would have had no issues whatsoever.

That's how we did it - 250 points and $12K to spend. As a one-time dispensation I can live with that!

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Felltower Restart Stockup Notes

Yesterday I posted about some VTT issues for Felltower.

Let's look at the in-game restart issues

I posted in September about some regrets about how I launched Felltower. First, one of my players suggested that now is the time to take care of these regrets. He's right about the first one, but the second is quite a bit harder. Why is that?

Making the upper levels a little more starting delver friendly is fine. It wasn't something I did back then because we wanted to start play now and I didn't have a megadungeon ready for the first few game days. But now? Sure, kind of.

By "kind of," the upper levels still need to mesh with the lower. They need to thematically fit. I can't just do some half-assed "bandits moved in!" thing that makes no sense. Or do a reboot and put old monsters back. Either would work but would feel forced in a way that the dungeon hasn't felt from the outside.

The other issue is that the players will, in my experience, always bottom feed. As long as there are weaker monsters on the upper levels with sufficient loot to take home maximum XP - or probably any XP - bottom feed on them. The delvers will want to fully "clear" the upper levels and maximize the loot taken from them. They'll take a low-risk chance at 1-2 xp over a moderate-to-high risk chance at 4-5 xp. How do I know? 12 years of people doing that, even when the actual players changed. Doing the minimum to get the maximum loot is actually even celebrated across the blogs as a real, proper, old-school thing to do. And I blame video games, as usual, which usually expect that you'll have done everything possible. Heck, in Vic's Game, we found a clear way to get to the final boss area . . . and immediately people argued to go do the side areas first. You know, because that's how it's done - clear everything up, then get the boss. So while I can and will restock appropriately, it won't stay available as a starting area. It will get cleared unless my players read this and make a concerted, universal attempt to get deep, fast instead of clear shallowly, slowly.

So there is that for 1.

What about making the bottom levels more accessible? Or adding more access between upper levels? Yes, as my player suggested, I could do non-euclidean stairs, magical modifications, and other changes to re-map the upper levels.

But damn, that's a lot of work. I've looked into it before. It's actually easier to start new levels from scratch than it is to modify existing ones. Just mechanically, I'd need to duplicate the upper level maps, then erase sections and re-draw them, and then essentially re-key them. A lot of descriptions and encounters are based on relative location to other encounters. If I move the stairs, or make the lower levels more accessible, then the encounters and traps and monsters around them need to change. They wouldn't all just be the same. Even a "magic earthquake creates a new way down!" would cause a lot of movement of dwellers, who would then displace others, which would displace others, and so on. It's quite possible, but it's not simple. And if you define "lower levels" as the area where the Masters live, then I'd need to change multiple levels above. So, sadly, no, changing Felltower from a restricted set of upper levels to a smoother path down would actually, at this point, be pretty much the same work as starting a new megadungeon. Maybe a bit less, but it would require so much cross-checking that it would be a lot more tiresome than just making a new one. At least with a new one, I could just let my idea run free without cross-checking to ensure I didn't do too much violence to existing material.*

All of that said, restocking is underway.

Monsters have moved in, moved elsewhere, or moved out. Treasures have been brought in, redistributed, or taken away. Traps set up, disarmed, or done away with. And tricks galore still abound. Much of the very special things on the upper levels have been dealt with permanently by earlier delvers, but then again some problems the earlier delvers had to cope with are long since taken care of. There have been some big changes - and a group that either expects the place to act as if no time had passed, or that so much has passed that the dungeon is "new" again, will have some trouble.

Felltower, renewed, should prove interesting. No less dangerous, but ready for a new crop of delvers to die in explore.

* Editing later: I checked the entrances. Felltower had 5 ways into the top level from the surface; the PCs sealed three of the five themselves. It had four ways to level 2 from 1; the PCs sealed off one of them and harassed the orcs until the orcs sealed two of the others off or guarded them heavily or both. It had multiple ways from level 2 to 3; the PCs sealed a couple of them off, too. So adding connections sounds nice but the PCs like to control traffic and close things . . . I can only undo so much of their own insistent damage to the complex.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Felltower VTT Notes

I've a bit of free time tonight, so I'm working on Felltower.

One thing that will slow play down in Felltower - it will have to be TOTM for the most part. The maps are too big, and in some cases a bit too worn, to get scanned, matched to hexes, and then put up in Foundry. How big? At least one level map is 11 x 17, 10' to the sqaure, 10 squares to the inch . . . and goes edge to edge. So we're talking 1100 x 1700 feet, 366 hexes x 566 hexes. And oh, I'd need to put in walls, doors, etc. for all of those. "Just split it up!" sounds good but requires multiple screens per level, ensuring I get the right one, and then transferring the PCs from one to another with cut-and-paste as we go. Freaking nightmare. It would easier if I could just scan them and have them work, but even then . . . the size of the maps will likely choke the system. I had enough trouble with the relatively small dungeons I did put in wholesale into the VTT.

So it won't be as simple as we've had with the players able to move their own characters around.

That does also mean I'll need to be able to draw maps on the fly for combat. That'll slow us down a bit, too.

Frankly, Felltower was designed with a tabletop, a big Chessex hex map, and LEGO walls to drop down around the map before we fought it out with minis. We played differently with the last dungeon I refereed, but that's the anomaly.

I also need to get the PCs into the system from Vic's game, and add Vic's new guy.

Filling the actual dungeon, well, let's talk more about that tomorrow.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Friday Post Roundup 10/13/2023

Random posts for 10/13.

- Robert Conley is launching a Kickstarter for making a fantasy sandbox.

His Majestic Wilderlands book and Scourge of the Demon Wolf adventure are really good; I have no doubt this will be, too.

- CRPG Addict has a post about the earliest CRPG . . . or maybe not, m199h.

- Jeff briefly talks about the bidding mechanic in James Bond: 007. It's one I struggled with understanding when I was younger, but it's a cool one nonetheless. Want to take the initiative? Take more risks. You set the tone for the encounter by being the one willing (and able) to take the most risks.

- New item for GURPS over at Octopus Carnival.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Random questions as we're getting ready for Felltower

Just rounding up some questions I was hit with regarding our swapover to DF Felltower from Vic's Felltower Adjacent game.


- anything with multiple prefixes is going to be a special order - 1d+1 weeks for manufacture or delivery. Getting something with one prefix is immediate, but then upgrading with another prefix will take 1d+1 weeks to do after it arrives, because don't get cute.

- any enchantment time starts after you take delivery of it, it's not concurrent but consecutive.

- you can get a Staff spell on a knobbed club and use that with Axe/Mace.

- You can do the whole rent-some-armor approach by buying and selling back at 100%, but I do apply a "used gear" wear factor on the base price, so expect it to come with some occasional losses per these rules.

- You can't get a Cornucopia of non-ammuniton items. It cannot be cast on a weapon - so no endless streams of daggers, shuriken, axes, swords, whatever. Just arrows, bolts, sling and prod bullets . . . and that's it.

Cose Combat

- we're not using basket hilts, cutlasses, or backswords. If you want to hilt punch in close combat, see GURPS Martial Arts, p 111. Remember that Weapon Master may factor in to the damage if you're hilt punching with a weapon covered by your advantage.

- the other weapons in CC rule worth reading is GURPS Martial Arts, p. 117, Long Weapons in Close Combat.

Welcome to Stericksburg!

- The PCs will arrive in Stericksburg on 10/28, the day before our next session. Special orders can be made then. This does mean that people will need to delve with what they have now, plus any non-special order items. Minor Healing and Major Healing potions, as well as Paut, are available in unlimited quantities for anyone who feels the need to stock up before delving the next day.

- PCs will need to pay one week's upkeep before play on 10/29, to cover miscelleous costs for travel, etc. The usual modifiers apply (extra cost for Compulsive Behavior, having Chi Talent, whatever.)

- Training can take place between, for learning spells, adding lenses, whatever. Pay the cost and pay the points.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Handsome's points and gear haul

Handsome has some stuff, now.

- $9,942.80 in cash, largely in gold (so just under 2 lbs. of coins.)

- a one-shot Resist Fire amulet from the hobgoblin spellcaster.

- a plate helmet from a draugr, giving him skull DR 6 for 5 lbs.

- a fine, balanced, dwarven axe from a draugr, for 4 lbs., replacing his hatchet. He could have had a Butcher Blade from Magic Items 2, but he went with Axe/Mace as an off-template replacement for Shortsword. Oh well, axe suited him better, and we sold the falchion instead.

- a ST 15 Elven Composite bow. Can you get a bow's rated strength modified? I have no idea. I've never allowed it, but I don't know if it's a thing or not. Either way, he can shoot a ST 17 Elven bow so that's on his "wish list" - a Fine, Elven, Balanced Composite bow for $21,600, with Puissance 1 for $5,000 on top of that. Anyway, his new bow is thr+3 impale with a 1d+1 ST rating so 1d+4, +2 for WM, for a 1d+6 base. He can reach 1d+9 with impaling or cutting arrows and 1d+8 with piercing. Good stuff.

- This puts Handsome to Light encumbrance, instead of None. All he needs to do is quick-release his backpack, or simply leave his bedroll behind, to get to None.

I don't think Handsome got anything else . . . not any of the magic swords, armor, potions, etc. we found. But the fact is he doesn't need them. I'd have argued for them if I thought he could use them . . . but it's probably better the folks who continue in Felltower get to use them. He won't, because I won't play him as a GMPC or an NPC, and I'm probably not going to hand him over to someone else to play, either.

Oh, and his points? He ended with 35 saved, so I went Combat Reflexes and Weapon Master (Bow). Why not. He needs more Per and skill, but those are easy purchases as he gets played while those two bigger purchases are out of the way.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Felltower Adjacent Session 6 - Traps & Temples of Orcus

Yesterday was a session of Vic's Felltower Adjacent game. I think the next game will be GMed by me, in Felltower. For the previous session, see my brief summary here:

Session 5

Handsome, half-orc scout (me)
Hanari Ironhand, dwarf martial artist
Thor Hafskepna, human knight
Chop, human cleric
Urbaine, half-elf bard
Duncan Tesdic, human wizard
Persistance Montgomery, human knight
plus some semi-useful dwarves and a goblin

We started off in the dungeon, having looted and sent off the surviving hobgoblins. We parcelled out the magic items, and Handsome put on the amulet from the hobgoblin wizard and restrung his bow. We found the dwarves' gear. Tarkov had armor tailored to him that detected as magical. Aha, prince Tarkov, clearly. We sat around until an hour and then headed deeper.

We found a pair of double doors and unlocked them, then found another pair and just opened them up.

Beyond the doors were a statue puzzle trap. A giant statue of a knight with a sword stood on one side of the room, near the door. On the other side were statues of dragons. (I asked, but never got an answer to, "Are there scorch marks in front of them?" - I found out later no, and why not, but I want to go on record as looking first.)

It was clearly a puzzle or a trap, and there was the usual "this will animate and kill us" chorus. We couldn't spot any mechanism to set it off, set Handsome moved in a bit . . . and was promptly clocked by the statue.

Handsome set it off by approaching within 15' of the sucker and got whacked for 14 crushing which sent him flying.

Handsome suggested we drag over some dead hobgoblins, use Levitate to move them around, and see what sets off the trap. The first one got pinata'ed into a spray of gore. Bwahahahahah. So we used the other and avoided the 15' arc and sent it by the dragons. They blew air to knock you into the knight's reach, proving it to be a baseball trap. Splotch.

We got another hobgoblin and manuevered him down to the far end of the room, where four white statues of cherubs with jars of water stood. It passed them, and a forcefield appeared, water filled the area up and splashed around violently until the hobgoblin corpse was in tatters, and then the water drained away.

The group voted to go check out the side area.

We did that and found a stone door marked "Closed." We opened it up, and spotted a gelatinous cube coming. We closed the door. There was talk of backing off but it turned out we, a) had torches, and b) had a wizard with Lightning, and c) you can kill them with melee attacks so why not do that?

We opened the door and waited with torches. The cube came, and Duncan blew it apart with 2 x 15d Lightning spells, doing 44 and 43 damage, between which Hannibal, Persistance, and Thor burned it with their torches. We collected some cube ooze which can be sold in town.

We found 11 sp and 2 gp and some old weapons beyond the cube but no way around the trap. We veto'd a suggestion to triangulate and burrow a hole behind the trap.

We went back to the baseball trap and sent Hanari in and he spiked it in place. We then found a lever to turn it off on the back, then Thor chopped its legs down.

We worked out way around back of the dragon statues and turned them off, not that it mattered.

The fighters dragged the big statue's sword over and stuck it in the flooding area, which did nothing. So we did another hobgoblin, and didn't see any clue to how to disarm it. So we threw a lasso over the front two statues, one at a time, and dragged them down and broke them. IIRC it was Handsome (ST 13), Thor (ST 17), Persistance (ST 17) and one of the dwarves. With them broken the trap was useless.

We opened the locked door thanks to Yegenny's lockpicks.

We find a pair of corridors, straight and right. Ten rune-covered zombies come from both sides, so we split up - three dwarves and Urbaine on one side, and a heavily-loaded flank with Persistance, Thor, and Hanari - two knights and a martial artist.

We fought a bunch of rune-covered zombies that explode when they die. They rushed in close, so they lit some fires as we cut them down. Mostly fratricide caused them problems and the explosions didn't bother our front-liners too much. Handsome contributed with a few cutting arrows, but mostly they blocked them and the one he hit didn't die from the arrow.

Accompanying them were a family of undead - mother, father, little boy, and little girl zombies. They rushed us from the weaker flank. The better fighters moved to help that line as it bowed under pressure. Handsome dropped his bow on a 17 and had to recover it, preventing him from helping in a useful manner until a few turns later.

Eventually we chopped them all to bits.

Finally we found stairs down, and headed down after waiting 20-30 minutes to rest up.

By the law of pre-written adventurers and movie tropes, at the bottom we found a ritual almost complete - we'd arrived in the nick of time!

There was a big room with a gate on one end (with tentacles reaching out of it), pillars down the middle, an altar on one side and a giant statue of Orcus on the other side. Over by the altar were two draugr, two bleeders (DFRPG Monsters 2) (which I thought were Ramex, thank goodness they weren't), a weird undead that hurled black evil bolts, a wizard - Franz Gruber, and an archer. Those of us who prayed at the altar upstairs got Bless +1 for the duration of the fight.

We trashed them badly. Hanari threw a kama at Franz and hit and hurt him slightly, despite heavy magic robes. Handsome drilled him in the vitals with a bodkin, and he teleported away after a flash from his Orcus amulet and ended up in a pentagram in front of the gate.

We charged into the room - Hanari and Thor and Urbaine to the left, the dwarves up the middle, Handsome up the right, Chop and Duncan in the back, and the useless goblin off to the side. The draugr and one of the bleeders headed toward Handsome, another bleeder towards Thor and Hanari, and the weird undead launched bolts from the back. The archer readied her bow.

It all went downhill for the enemy from there. The draugr realized they couldn't catch Handsome, so they veered off and slammed the dwarves and Urbaine. Urbaine dodged and the draugr knocked himself down from slamming into a pillar. The other immediately got tangled up with the dwarves in a melee. Chop put Protection from Evil on Thor (or was it Hanari?) as they dealt with one of the bleeders. Handsome rushed Franz while putting the pillars between him and the archer. She took one shot at him but he Dodged, while putting arrows towards and often into Franz. I was rolling at a 9 for four shots and hit with 3.

The draugr who knocked himself down got jumped by Persistance, who clubbed him repeatedly with his flail. Urbaine did an All-Out Attack and put out both of the draugr's eyes, and was saved from an arrow in the back by his Bless. The black bolts hit Thor a couple times and drained some FP, but he rushed the undead and killed her in short order. Hanari put down one of the bleeders with Persistance's help or vice-versa.

Meanwhile the dwarves mobbed one draugr. One grappled its shield and it dropped it, and then it dropped its sword on a critical miss. The others kept attacking it, and the grappler eventually threw it prone. Chop ran in to engage it. Persistance smashed up the blind one and then joined them in smashing up this one.

Handsome's hapless wizard foe put Darkness over himself as Handsome ran up, still shooting, knocking him prone. Guessing, Handsome aimed for hexes covered by darkness and caught Franz in the line of shot, putting an arrow into what turned out to be his arm. Franz tried a ranged Deathtouch from one of Doug's supplements, but rolled an 18 and hurt himself instead. Handsome ran right through the tentacles near the portal (which I swear were not mentioned until then), Dodging away from one of them and shooting it off with a max-damage cutting arrow attack. Then he jumped through the darkness, putting an arrow into the vitals of the wizard as he entered the dome of darkness. The second bleeder, which had been chasing him, finally caught him and tried to kick on a Move on Attack. The -2 to keep its footing made it fall. Handsome shot it, and Hanari ran up and threw his katana into it and cut off one of its arms.

Meanwhile Urbaine convinced the archer to surrender - it was the suspiciously nice elf woman from town. She surrendered, in return for a fair trial, instead of us killing her on the spot here.

The others were dealt with over a few more seconds. Orcus boomed out from the gate, "You have failed me!" and sucked Franz Gruber's surprised soul into Hell. The gate closed forever.

After that, long story short, we found out there was nothing left to loot, so we took all their stuff, drew a map of the place, and went to town.


Holy crud, Sean Punch was threatening GURPS Undead Waltons back in the 90s on GURPSNet-L and here it is, a family of undead.

Hopefully this is the end of the undead for a bit.

One of the dwarves, Tarkov, had a $30,000 suit of perfectly fitted magic armor. Turns out he was socially well-connected and wealthy and had a reward of $500 each for us for rescuing him. With our bard, we'd have been better off had he died and we sold his armor. Just saying.

We discussed if Protection from Evil covers draugr. I said no - they lack "Truly evil" and aren't undead by direct choice. Other argued they were. I'm sticking to my guns here - Truly evil means Truly evil, and lacking that tag should mean you don't suffer from effects designed to repel that. It's an effective spell, with broad utility, and I don't think it needs to be any more broad. Also I don't allow it for wizards in Felltower, just Bards and Clerics.

We ended up with 11 xp each. 4 xp for loot, 2 xp for the boss fight, 1 xp for the zombie fight, 2 xp for closing the gate, 1 xp for rescuing the dwarves, 1 xp for mapping the dungeon (which was a "quest."). That is a LOT of XP. Literally more than double what a standard session gets under my system. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Everyone likes the rapid pace, I think, but it feels like way too much. In six sessions Handsome earned 43 points.

MVP was Handsome for keeping Franz Gruber pincushioned instead of actually effective during the fight.

Voting on the MVP was tight, which Hanari a close second, because his kama hit really set the tone for the final battle. Had Handsome's arrow not triggered the defensive teleport, it would have been his, but that swayed some voters. Overall, this session really was interesting in that every PC's strengths were showcased - Handsome did scout things and heroic archer things, Hanari demonstrated his martial artist's high DX and Throwing Art, the bard did assistance magic and talked a foe into surrendering, the wizard lightninged apart a gelatinous cube, the cleric healed and buffed and did secondary fighter things, the two knights engaged in brutal front-line fighting . . . literally each one did their template as designed. Good stuff.

Also see Doug's summary.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Felltower Adjacent - pre-summary


- killed a gelatinous cube

- evaded a few dangerous traps mostly through brute force

- killed a bunch of exploding zombies and a family of ghouls

- fought a big boss battle with our final foe, Franz, and his undead and living companions.

Fun stuff, full summary tomorrow.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

DF Felltower Explosive spells

In DF Felltower, we use modified GURPS Magic.

First, all missile spells except Winged Dagger/Poltergeist/Sunbolt have explosive versions.

Second, all missile spells are either case normally or as explosive; you don't learn a second spell.

Explosive spells have the following features:

- a 5-yard diameter area of effect
- inflicts around 1d damage per level of casting
- has some kind of special enhancement
- gets a per-turn discount to casting cost

You can see this all discussed in detail here:

Revised GURPS Magic: Explosive Spells

I want to discuss damage a bit more today.

Damage is 1d plus a special enhancement. If the enhancement is very good, damage is -1 per die. If there is no other special benefit, damage is +1 per die.

Explosive Fireball - 1d per level; potentially starts fires.
Explosive Stone Missile - 1d+1 per level; the special enhancement is +1 damage per die.
Explosive Lightning - 1d-1 per level; the special enhancements are stunning and surge effect, with an armor divisor of (5), hence -1 per die to damage.
Concussion - 1d per level; deafness and possible stunning effect.
Explosive Ice Dagger - 1d-1 per level; special effect is impaling damage.
Explosive Ice Sphere - 1d per level; the special enhancement is a secondary Create Water effect.

I'm not sure why they all have different ranges - it's probably better to just make the whole lot of them range 40/80, Acc 2. I'm inclined to do so but players of casters might complain.

I also think Ice Dagger is a bit weak, because the damage isn't much for penetrating DR. Perhaps higher accuracy (4? 5?) might help, or just giving it a (2) armor divisor.

Friday, October 6, 2023

Links for Friday 10/6/2023

Here a few things I found especially worth reading this week.

- Do you like posts about gladiators?

- I name my game sessions after we play them. Not all of them, but some names have stuck . . . and all of them help me zoom in on some old sessions to re-read.

Name Your Sessions

- Some cool monster ideas in the comments section of this post on ChatGPT.

- This kind of trouble is presumably why Dryst hasn't delved in years - a long-term strike by Created Servants.

Thursday, October 5, 2023


There is a brief GURPS sale going on, 10/5 - 10/9:

Or click here.

Some of my books are in the list, too - GURPS Martial Arts, for one!

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Felltower DB cap

Going down my list of things to do before we play Felltower again, DB.

Looking at my options from here:

Possible Solutions to the Extreme DB Problem

I'm going with:

- DB cap of 8 from all sources.

- Margin-of-DB defenses means some kind of contact for follow-on effects - knockback, detonation of missiles, etc. This specifically includes the spell Shield.

I think those satisfy my main concerns at this point without doing any real violence to the system or existing canon.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Felltower issues to resolve - language costs

I think I've settled on how I want to do language costs for Felltower:

I'm planning on Option 2:

1 point Broken
2 points Accented
3 points Fluent

Written rolled into spoken.

One exception: the Elder Tongue is still broken into spoken and written. It's a gateway to a lot of valuable setting information and access to potential power.

Conventiently this means GCA and GCS point costs are correct - you just need to put down only spoken and we'll know it is also written literacy.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Game Inspiration: The Misenchanted Sword

Thinking more on cursed and semi-cursed magic items, here is one book I found inspirational:

The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evens

The plot is pretty much soldier stumbled across a hermit, who enchants him a magical sword that makes him unbeatable in combat. It has some downsides - he can't get rid of the sword, for one, and it is only undefeatable from when drawn until it kills someone. Then you have to sheath it and pull it back out before you use it again. Oh, and it has limited uses - not a small number, but a finite number of kills.

As books go, it's not the best book ever. But it's a good one, and the ideas in it are top-notch. There are demon-imbued enemy warriors, practical uses for a swordsman who can't lose (he gets pulled aside for special missions, no front line service for this guy), and lots of little details that make it feel like the consequences make sense.

The sword itself is really a lot like the kind of thing I'll hand out. You want it, but then again you kind of don't, but you'll use it, and your character will be different for it. It's not just a better weapon, it's a different experience. That's the kind of thing I am looking for.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Why all the semi-cursed items in Felltower?

Felltower has had a fair number of cursed items, and a number of items that aren't fully free of downsides.

The cursed items are mostly downside, maybe all downside. Any positive effect is just there to convince you to keep the item or use it long enough to suffer the bad effects.

The semi-cursed items are the ones that are largely upsides, but with a noticeable downside. The major magic weapons of Felltower are like this:

Gram helps you kill dragons, but makes you want to go kill them.

Frenzy is a great axe, but it drives you berserk.

And so on.

Why so many?

Out of Game: Because I like them. I grew up with them in my tabletop games - AD&D - and my computer games - Wizardry, noteably. I feel like they add a nice spice of challenge and concern - magic isn't always just a free benefit. And I was heavily influenced by White Plume Mountain and its trio of weapons with nasty downsides. You want them . . . but they'll change your PC or just change your whole PC's life. Nobody with Blackrazor gets to sleep soundly through the night, trusting and trusted by his or her friends. And I take it as a challenge to make an item so good you'll accept the downsides to get the upsides.

In Game: Because wizards are jerks, and magic is hard to control. The first means they set out to make cursed items out of ill humor, general malice, for vengeance, or for some subterfuge. The second means that even when they don't, sometimes that's what you get.

So in my games, you'll get cursed stuff popping up. Rather frequently.
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