Friday, February 23, 2024

Friday thoughts & links

Links and thoughts for today.

- Still no time to write this week. Lots of prep work for work, basically. I enjoy my job but when I'm working and not gaming, I write less about gaming.

- Starting HP in D&D-based games is always a thing. We rolled when I first played back in the day. We may have re-rolled 1s, because I don't ever remember anyone with a 1. We switched to max HP at 1st level somewhere along the line. I've similar ideas to this one from Aeons & Augauris before,but instead of on your Prime Requisite it's usually based on CON, but that just makes a good CON score critical for all classes. I prefer to play a game with fixed HP per level, or peferably, no levels and just fixed or purchased HP.

This approach might really work for someone reading so I wanted to make sure it was seen.

- Doug's crowdfunded DFRPG solo adventure continues to fund.

Back in the day, we only used the term "solo adventure" for one player with one PC, actually. It wasn't even considered totally solo if you were bringing henchmen (which didn't see much use, honestly, until we were older). But that said, "one player, multiple characters solo" was a thing - UK5 Eye of the Serpent was one of those. Just an aside . . . so when people would brag that they "solo'd" some module - S1, S2, T1-4, etc. I'd always stick a mental caveat that, well, if "solo" was one PC but a pile of leveled NPCs and fodder you could expend . . . it was much like how the Sheriff of Rottingham fights a duel. "So, it's come down to this, has it? A fight to the death. Mano a mano, man to man. Just you and me and my GUARDS!"

- This is amusing. Rust monster pets are a thing waiting to happen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

DFRPG Solo Adventure on BackerKit - Funded!

Doug's new DFRPG item, written by David Pulver, has funded on BackerKit:



The campaign link is here.
It's $10 PDF only, $20 (+ S&H) for PDF + Print, and $15 for PDF + VTT pack for Forge. I'm going for that last pack, because WTH I like Forge VTT.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

No Felltower Today

No Felltower today - we had two players, and two maybes, and it dropped to one yes and two maybes. We did not play.

2024 has not been good for gaming for me so far! We've played only one game session in the first two months . . . and our next one might not be until sometime in mid-March unless we get lucky on the next weekend I'm open to play.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Friday Roundup

Some posts I enjoyed this week, and other things.

- Doors, Our Greatest Nemesis? My players would probably agree.

- So an expensive book is on the way containing very early D&D stuff? Hmm.

- Free Traveller? Tenkar says there is. I think I have those books already, but free is free.

- Not a lot otherwise this week . . . in theory, game is on Sunday! Let's hope so.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

What kind of GURPS posts would you like to see from me?

I haven't been posting as frequently, because we haven't been playing very frequently. That cuts down on my Felltower posts and I end up doing other things - like playing video games - or non-gaming things, which don't get posts here.

I do have an idea for a series of posts, but before I get started, I figured I'd ask the people who read my blog - what kind of GURPS posts do you want to see from me? More Melee Academy style posts? Rules discussions? Potential house rules? Spell modifications? NPCs? Something else?

I feel like I need a theme of material I know is of value to get posting about while I wait for our next session.

So what do you GURPS fans want to see from me here?

Monday, February 12, 2024

Pathfinder: Kingmaker video game silliness

I spent a little time yesterday and today goofing off with Pathfinder: Kingmaker, with my LG Paladin (Holgar Carlson, of course.)

It's a fun game, but it has a few really amusing things that come along with being a video game.


- One NPC gives you a quest to help track down some poachers. You see, he needs evidence that someone is poaching . . . and proof to give to the guards. So you know, I, the BARON, go find the proof for him to give to the guards. Okay, I'm Lawful Good, so it vaguely makes sense . . . although I'm empowered as Baron to pass judgment without "the guards" helping. It was even funnier when Molly, my LE Monk, was my PC. Why would a Lawful Evil Baron not just exercise her right to believe this guy and execute the criminal if I wanted to?

- We stumbled across a few bandits while travelling. I wanted to try using a Fireball scroll with a character who needed a skill check to use it. We stood in plain sight of them, a short distance away, as she read the scroll over and over until finally it worked. We somehow achieved surprise and got a surprise round on them.

No, I'm not kidding.

- there are all sorts of cool magic items with cool powers. I have to look them up in an online guide, because in-game I can't find out what they do. So I Alt-Tab to my browser and look them up. It's just annoying. And it means you can't just stay fully immersed in the game.

- We fought a really nasty group of organized foes, and one of my characters got mauled. We needed to rest up before the final fight. So I left, rested, did a side quest, and then came back . . . and the organized foes ignored the fact that someone had massacred their gate guards and half their garrison and just waited for us to come back days later to finish them off.

They clearly hadn't read How to Defend Your Lair.


Still fun. But video games aren't TTRPGs.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Felltower & the Rules for Monsters

When I run Felltower, I generally play using the DFRPG rules set, with some additions from GURPS Magic, GURPS Martial Arts, and GURPS Basic Set.

But I don't strictly follow the rules, even when I have not house ruled a particular rule to work differently.

Monsters are a great example.

I do monster writeups for myself first, and basically note whatever I think in important and useful in case I can publish it. In actual play, I'm bound by my intentions for what the monster does and what makes sense, rather than the letter of the abilities I put down on paper. If they clash, my intentions win. I'll edit the stats later to reflect what I think should actually better reflect how they play. Ultimately, it's about how I intend them to work.

It's not like the players get to read the monster writeups I use, so they won't be led astray. They will if they depend on a letter-of-the-rules interpretation to make something work, though, and meta-knowledge of the system to base it on. If they use in-game experience and some real-world guessing they'll likely be better off.

Rest assured the ones I wrote up for publication are supposed to work as written. But in my games, they're not always finished writeups . . . and I'm reluctant to share my notes until I know how they should work.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Links for 2/9/2024

Here a few things you might not want to miss this week:

- Trollsmyth is thinking about one-roll combat. Not one-roll attacks, but one-roll combat. Like a wargame, in a way, where you settle an enagement for both sides with one roll.

- A review of N4 Treasure Hunt, which features 0-level characters who achieve 1st level as they adventure. I enjoyed this one a lot, and we used it for AD&D and for GURPS a few times.

I stole one of the idea from it - the twisted wish - in Felltower.

- Here is a look about an alternative to Battlesystem for 1st edition AD&D mass combat. The article he mentions, "One Roll, To Go" was extremely helpful in semi-mass combat in my campaign back in the day.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Assorted GURPS Magic / DFRPG Spells questions and answers

I'll use this post to track all of the weird spell rulings I make that don't otherwise have a home.

Does Wizard Eye have 360 degree vision?

No. It has a facing just like any other character would; if you want 360 degree vision cast the appropriate spells on someone.

How much concealment does See Secrets eliminate?

I cap concealment penalties at -10, so it cancels -10. As always, you must be able to see to take advantage of this spell; a secret door will stand out clearly, but if it's behind a curtain it will not, because the curtain breaks your line of sight.

What temperature do Fireball spells burn at?

It doesn't matter - we resolve it all by HP of damage vs. DR/HP of the targets, and the usual rules for setting things on fire (Exploits, p. 68)

Monday, February 5, 2024

Early Champions Bundle

There is an early - 1st, 2nd, and 3rd edition - Champions Bundle over on Bundle of Holding.


I'm considering getting this. The regular, not expanded version.

I own almost all of the Champions books in the original mix - maybe all of them, I'm not certain about one enemies book. I don't own the screen. All of them are paper, not PDF. I own almost all of the adventures - I'm only missing Stronghold, that I know of.

I didn't get the play very much Champions back in the day . . . but getting the 1st edition boxed set was extremely formative in my gaming experience. I just loved making up super heroes and super villians, and plotting a potential game. I just couldn't get people on board . . . they either wanted to play Marvel or DC superheroes, but not both, and usually not their own made up ones. Plus I'm not as good at plot and story and character as I am at mechanics and open settings and game balance, so I don't think I'd be a great GM. But I loved the system and deeply enjoyed making up NPCs. I liked the adventures, and read them several times. So this is very much in my nostalgia wheelhouse. The question is, do I need them on PDF?

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Felltower - a little work

I did a very small bit of Felltower work today:

- I updated the VTT.

- I updated the rumors. There are only 8; the PCs just haven't done very much so I don't have a lot to comment on. Plus I think we're getting to the point where people accumulate them but don't really act on them, so they're almost a distraction more than a valuable way to feed information (not always clearly or accurately) to the players.

- I made sure my maps and notes are in order.

Next game is - tentatively - 2 weeks from today. We haven't confirmed it yet.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Saturday Long Read: Lich Van Winkle on Story

If you've got a chunk of time (like, ACOUP blog post chunk of time), this is a worthy read:

Yes, you ARE telling a story.

But you aren't composing a novel or reading a script. (Not during an RPG session, anyway.)


As someone who lived through a lot of this - with "hack and slash" becoming pejorative, then back to "story" becoming pejorative, and numerous ricochets between, I was interested. It's a long read but worth the time.

These days I play loosely plotted, hack-and-slash games, but I'm okay with it being a story. Most of the dumb and fun setting details we have - Cornwood, the Iron Church, Dwarven as a dead language, etc. - emerged in play but provide the details to the story of the sack of Felltower that helps make it interesting. I don't go for backstory beyond a sentence, maybe two, but front story? Sure, it's not great literature or a prize-winning novel, but it's a story nonetheless. And my "war stories" posts tend to get a lot of hits and comments. Go figure. People want to follow along with the story of my minimally-plotted game. So this resonated with me.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Random Links for Friday 2/2/2024

Fun stuff from around the net and blogs. YMMV.

- This Jon Petersen post is fascinating - D&D turns 50, and hit points and to hit rolls turned 200.

- Nice Swordfish II model!

- I put an update in this Hasbro D&D IP post - basically, Hasbro denies this, according to PC Gamer. We'll see where it all ends up eventually.

- The Giant Groundhog of Felltower saw its Animated Shadow and it says early spring. I'm hoping we'll get some games in before the frost drops off.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Hasbro selling D&D IP?

This came up on my news feed:

Hasbro Seeks to Sell IP “DND” and Has Had Preliminary Contact with Tencent

Short version? Hasbro is trying to sell the D&D IP, and Tencent has a line on buying it.

I'm not sure what this would mean for WOTC, the 50th anniversary of D&D, and all of that, if true.

(Editing later: Tenkar has a take on it.)

(Editing on 2/1/2024: PCGamer says that Hasbro says they aren't selling.)

Monday, January 29, 2024

Wayne's S2/S4/WG4 Playthroughs

I follow Wayne's Book's T2K blog . . . but I totally missed him doing playthroughs of three of my favorite old-school AD&D modules using D&D5.

Here is the first post for each of them:

S2 White Plume Mountain

WG4 Lost Temple of Tharizdun

S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

Each of of those three modules was hugely influential on me. How I run the bad guys in a coordinated fashion, and have real buried weirdness in hidden spots? WG4. How I make crazy magic items? S2, which I've also run for some of my current group. And for a direct lift of one level for my own game? S4.

Great stuff. I spent my free time reading through these today.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

No Felltower Update

Sunday is my usual Felltower update day . . . but I'm fully ready for the next game, which was originally scheduled for today. It looks like it'll be more like 3 weeks from now thanks to Super Bowl Sunday, so no Felltower until then.

I'm still pondering the future of Felltower. There is a lot to do, but I'm not sure how much will get done. I've tried to put in some smaller encounters with sufficient loot that we don't need 7-8 players with 300 point characters to clear them . . . yet that's what the group wants in order to attempt them. If I cut down the danger level a bit, I expect they'll just sweep up multiples of them - ye olde bottom feeding problem, which comes with a loot-based XP system. I'm still pondering how to make sure this keeps working without, basically, providing assured loot for assured low risk, which isn't very Felltower. Hmm.

Anyway, thoughts don't translate into doing actual work on the dungeon, or a worthwhile update besides this.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Pathfinder: Kingmaker random notes

I'm still playing my LG playthrough of Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

How's it going?

- I cranked up the difficulty of the monsters a bit. I didn't increase the damage they do.

- Owlbears are pretty horrific foes. I've seen them knock down a 100 HP PC with a high AC in one turn. As in, straight from "fine" to "dead." And that's against a heavily buffed and maximally equipped PC.

- My favorite weirdness? I can show up tired to my capital, select "Support the (whichever advisor)'s Endeavors" and spend 14 days on that . . . and finish the task exactly the same amount of tired. Not more tired, not rested. Hah.

- Blindness spells are permanent. So if you fail to resist one, you need to have a cleric ready to cast a Remove Blindness. If you don't, you have to clear spells, rest, then go out in the wilderness and cast, and hope it works, and so on. I honestly checked off the rules option to make the game easier by removing such things on rest. It's cheap, in a way, but it's an annoying way to spend time memorizing spells and casting them over a few days of game time because some random bandit cast Blindness and my guy rolled a 1.

- Speaking of 1s, they come in runs. My hasted archer attacked 4x last fight and needed a 2 to hit on each one. He rolled four 1s. Okay. So that's like 1 in 16,000, right? It's happened multiple times. Also, critical hits do more damage but critical misses don't seem to do anything.

- Leveling up is cool, but man, it takes a lot of time to go through everyone's level up process, then pick spells to memorize, then rest so they can get those spells . . . I've leveled up and then said, screw this, I'll do it tomorrow and stopped playing for the day.

- I had an aritsan come to me and ask for 3 books. I had them all, because I always keep all books. I mean, I had them in my backpack. He asks for them, and leaves, and then I need to travel 22 hours to where he lives to bring them to him. Have to love scripted processes.

Still fun, especially now that I'm around level 8 so I don't spent so much time sucking against high-AC foes. Good time killer.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Random Links for Friday 1/26/2024

So what don't you want to miss, in my opinion, for this week?

- CRPGs aren't a replacement for tabletop. Yeah, tell me about it. The number of times I've cleared a fort protected by intelligent, organized foes one encounter at a time with 8-10 hour rests in the middle in CRPGs is >0, in TTRPGs 0.

Computer RPGs Just Aren't . . .

- A blog on writing a fantasy gamebook? Interesting.

- This caught my eye mostly due to the tables . . . the dragon concept is suitably meta-weird.

- OD&D debuted, and effectively changed games, 50 years ago today.

You can get OD&D for all of $10 in PDF. It's an interesting read . . . worth plunking down the money and the time. I'm so glad I sprang for a physical copy way back when from Mail Order Hobby House.

- Goodman Games is launching a sequel to the very excellent DCC #67 Sailors on the Starless Sea.

- You can get Mordheim (the computer game) free on GOG for a little bit. I grabbed it, but I haven't played it yet, as I'm wrapped up in two other video games at the moment.

- No game Sunday after all. Next game is in maybe 3 weeks or so? We'll see.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Felltower Files Updates

Today, I did a few updates:

- I updated the Gazeteer

- I updated the monsters encountered list. It should be up to date.

- Next game is scheduled for Sunday but we have a few people out . . . we'll see if the others want to delve.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Magic Loot of Felltower, the Cold Fens, Lost City, and the Caves of Chaos

Out of curiousity, I decided to pull a list of all of the magic items I have marked down as being taken out. I removed common consumables from the list. Many of these were sold, others lost in the dungeons, some taken by PCs that have since retired, and still more are just . . . gone . . . because no one kept track of them.

A few notes:

- This might be missing a few items I overlooked as I passed through looking for bolded, strikethrough items.

- This is just for information purposes. I won't answer to the current location or disposition of these. A good number of them were sold, though, and more are back in the dungeon thanks to people dying there.

- I do expect some of my players to read this and want more information. This is it.

- I left on the oddball potions and the best of the healing potions, and the scrolls. I don't really put in many scrolls.

All that said, what's been pulled from the dungeons?

11 thonged spears, SM-1 - Penetrating Weapon (3), Puissance +1 (both only when thrown, one shot)
Black-painted star-motif Light Shield - Deflect +1, Lighten 25%, Fine
14 Arrows +1/+1
Fine Brass Knuckles, +1 Puissance
Fine Balanced Dwarven Mace, Puissance +1
3 Undead Hunting Talismans (see Demon Hunter's Tassals)
Bat-winged fine greathelm (Fortify +2) (treat as Ornate +2)
Long Bow (ST 17, Elven, Accuracy +1)
Two vials of Thieves’ Oil
Meteoric small falchion
Scroll (Wizardly; Charged, skill 18, Jump 5, Heat 5 cycles)
Hooded Robe of Protection (blue, with silver and gold stars on it) enchanted with Fortify +2 (DR 4) and Clean (easily cleaned).
Fine staff w/Staff
8 blocks of Incense of Meditation
1 Fire Fountain
Potion of Great Heal
Potion of Gaseous Form
Wand of ice daggers (21 charges, no recharge)
Fine Dwarven greataxe (Accuracy +2, Puissance +2)
Minor Ring of Wishing (appears to be a gold ring with three diamonds. As a Great Wish, but only about 1/3 power - equal to a 300-point spell casting, diamonds disappear as wishes are used, last wish turns ring to lead)
Deadly Ring (special, see file - appears to be a gold ring worth 800 sp) (Also in DFT3)
Iron Ring of Endurance (DF8, pg. 38 - 1750 sp, holds 6 FP)
Amulet of Fireballs (DF1, 10 uses, 7200 sp, 0.25 lbs.)
Gem of True Healing
Clerical Scroll (charged, skill 15) of Restoration
Cleric Scroll (charged, skill 15) of Great Heal
1 Hero’s Brew
Dwarf-sized Scale Armor (Lighten 50%, Fortify +3)
Four blocks Incense of Choking
A beaker of potions (Healing - dispenses 1 major healing potion per day, until 15 potions have been dispensed)
Shortsword (Fine, Accuracy +1, Puissance +1)
Wand of Electricity (5 charges left)
Flying carpet (one man size, Move 15, max 200 lbs)
Potion of plant control
Sterick's Armor
Magebane
Shieldslayer
Boots of Walk on Air
Scroll of Protection from Weapons
Potion of Giant’s Strength
Potion of Treasure Finding
Ring of Animal Friendship +2
Sigurd’s Sword (aka Balmung, aka Gram)
Dueling Halberd (Dwarven, Balanced, Accuracy +1, Puissance +1)
Lightning glove
Wand of Fireballs
Transparency Potion
Amulet of Shapeshift Other (Fish)
Fine Thrusting Greatsword Puissance +1
Belt of Might +3
Staff of Healing
Sling (Made out of fine leather, Accuracy +1)
Headband of Mind Shielding
Salamander Amulet
Fine SM+1 Mail with Fortify +3 and Lighten 50%
SM+1 Axe Accuracy +1 and Puissance +1
SM+1 Broadsword Accuracy +1 and Puissance +1
Valmar's Sword (Fine Balanced Longsword with Puissance +2, Continual Light,)
Laccodel’s Rune
Elf-sized heavy elven mail Fortify +2
Bronze Corselet Fortify +1
Cornucopia Quiver of Arrows
Bottomless Purse
Mythic Corselet (Spiritual)
Fine Thrusting Broadsword w/Puissance+1
Necklace of the serpent (a silver necklace with a green jade symbol of two snakes facing each other over a rising sun.)
Crystal Ball (+2, 20,000 sp 4” ball, $40,000 with enchantment)
6 Javelins of Shock
5 Javelins of Penetration
7 Javelins of Fire
Scroll (Cursed, inflicts a fatal fungal disease, die in 0+HT days, resists healing with skill 20)
Scroll (4 wizard spells, charged, skill 15 – Aura, x 4)
Iron Lamp
Fine Thrusting Broadsword, Puissance +1, Flaming Weapon
Scroll of explosive fireball 6d6 (charged!)
6 arrows +1/+1
Protection from Good Supernatural Powers amulet +3
Balanced Fine Spear (Puissance +1)
Light Plate (+1 Fortify, 75% Lighten, Ornate +1)
Medium Iron Shield (+1 Deflect, 50% Lighten, Ornate +1) (with big demon face carved into it)
Gold and Silver Amulet of Evil: 10 FP power item, gives wearer +3 vs. Good Supernatural Powers and Deflect +1 vs. Holy attacks and acts as +2 Holy Symbol.
In it are a suit of Vineshield, two Clouds of Fire Potion of Puissance
Luck Charm (One shot Luck, then it becomes dust)
Potion of Great Healing
Mana Gout potion
Hero’s Brew potion
Bracers of Shock
Clerical Scroll of Resist Disease-20, Stop Paralysis-20, and Banish-20
Ring of Strong Will
Fine Silvered Huge Machete w/Demonhunter Talisman on hilt (3750 sp, 4.5 lns)
4 vials of Oil of Puissance
Ebony Death Goddess Statuette
Necros’s Finger
Hooded Robe of Protection w/Fortify +3
Helm of Command
Targe of the Tiger
Black Knife is Fine, non-metallic (it’s obsidian), Shatterproofed, Puissance +1
Hooded Robes of Protection with Fortify +1
Several suits of Magescale
Universal Sword
Ring of Protection
Staff of Nature



Friday, January 19, 2024

Links for Friday 1/19/2024

Just a few links today.

- Low-powered GURPS magic for a new campaign.

- OD&D as the Fountainhead.


- Sleeping dragons

Have to love the assumption that dragons have epic hoards, but often are sound freaking asleep on them.

- Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Comes to Devastating End After 30 Years

Okay, so a campaign reset off a "tpk." Interesting reset in any case. I've heard of similar, before - one of my friends played in a Rolemaster campaign set in the world after the previous players lost vs. the BBEG. Seemed pretty cool.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

A Portable Bridge for DF Felltower

My players, like the original group back in the days of Raggi's Roughnecks, want to build a bridge.

Sadly, the notes about the cost and weight of that bridge are gone - they're not on the blog that I can find, and I can't find any notes in my email that details the cost. I know it was based on a GURPS Low-Tech ladder, but more costly. One of my players started there.

A wooden ladder costs $10 and 2.5 lbs x the square of the length in yards. So a 24' ladder is $640 and 160 lbs. By my figuring, a ladder isn't quite the tool for the job . . . and isn't designed to lay flat with a potentially heavy weight (say, a knight or barbarian carrying a fallen friend, or a pair of delvers with a heavy chest or stretcher between them) right in the middle.

So I just double the numbers to $20 and 5 lbs, ending up with $1280 and 320 lbs for a 24' portable bridge, with minimal spacing between planks, side rails, carrying handles, and loops on the ends to fit over iron spikes to keep it from shifting. It's a two-person job at least to carry it, four is better, and it's potentially looped for six to carry it.

Those are the stats I'm going with unless someone can provide me with specs that make sense and an explanation of why that is so. "That seems expensive and heavy" isn't convincing. It's a custom job, since there isn't much call for man-portable 24' briges in general situations, and the weigh doesn't seem crazy for a reinforced bridge designed for heavy loads. If someone else knows better I'm all ears, but I'll need something to back up the numbers.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Pathfinder: Kingmaker again

I'm not sure why . . . but I got sucked back into Pathfinder: Kingmaker yesterday. I had a little time, decided to see where I was with my last LG Paladin save game . . . and spent a few hours playing through it.

Even with the repeated playthroughs (this is #3, if you count my LE Monk who's on the last stage but not complete as a full playthrough), the game is still fun. I'm not masochistic enough to play it as a chaotic character, choose bad advisors and inflict random harm, mostly because that gives so many sub-optimal results. But it's interesting to go for the "best" ending with regards to one of the big NPC interactions in the game.

I need a little distraction from other work . . . and this fit the bill. I'd be at Vice City except I needed something I could pause a lot while doing other things, or I'd be going all Vercetti during my spare time.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

More notes on Session 190 - and Felltower in General

More notes on Session 190.

- I'm not saying this very old rumor is true, but I'm not saying it's not true, either. I'm just saying that, it's been said that "If you kill a troll with fire, it’ll come back as a ghost troll. You need to kill them with acid."

- The PCs pretty much mauled, probably killed, a pudding thorugh a lot of melee damage and some fire damage. The tough bit with oozes, slimes, puddings, and jellies in my experience is that in D&D there are special ways to kill them . . . and in GURPS, most of those ways suck against oozes, slimes, puddings, and jellies. Also, they tend to have other resistances on top of that. I don't blame the players for trying, but Sean Punch didn't program in a lot of easy ways to deal with his monsters.

Ultimately, they're a mix of predators and scavengers, and Felltower has plenty of places for both.

- The PCs had to deal with several entrances that have suffered from prior play.

The bugbear caves? My notes say Dryst collapsed that.

The well? The PCs used it to raid the orcs and helped damage it, and the orcs took care to block it off from there.

The main entrance? A mix of PCs, hobgoblins, orcs, PCs, other monsters, and PCs have mauled, mangled, and damaged the entrance until it's like it is. They narrowly voted against breaking the locks on the remaining intact door to make it easier to get in. That might be true, or it might not. Time will tell.

The spiral stairs down? It was locked by no fault of the PCs, honestly, although careful reading of the rumors, the game logs, and checking the dungeon might explain what happened. I'll admit I know the answer and the clues are quite weak - they weren't meant to be such. Anyway, there is a clue in an earlier delve how this ended up all rusted up and destroyed.

The cave mouth? The PCs don't want to go for the chimera and stone bull without a couple specific additional characters.

The river entrance? Rarely spoken of, probably because it goes so deep into Felltower that no one is sure what "level" that is.

Tough go, getting into Felltower these days. I've said that I should have made it more accessible but the PCs closed half of the entrances through their own intentions of making it easier to get in. Ironic.

- Nothing like a pointless fight to discourage exploration. In a way, that's what Wandering Monsters are for. I'm sure some of my players see them as a Fun Tax. They're mostly intended as a Don't Mess Around and Don't Brute Force Through Doors and Walls Tax. And a dose of logical consequence. The game is on Hard Mode after all. Still . . . I get the frustration of fruitless encounters. But I'm not sure from my side of the screen how to deal with frustration causing the PCs to derail their plans. Fruitless fights cost game time, and naturally the goal should be to avoid them rather than engage in them. Not always possible - the trolls came after the PCs, not the other way around - but it can be. Even if I took wandering monsters out, well, the PCs literally walked into the pudding and crushroom "lairs." It's tough to make fights appropriately difficult but always enjoyable to engage in and yet not all just be loot pinatas that reward fighting everything and anything.

I tried just giving extra XP for deeper exploration but the PCs speed-ran all the levels they can easily access to get them all in one session. I don't think there is another good way to encourage exploration of deeper levels or genuinely new areas beyond just giving XP for doing so.

The start-and-end in town thing also eats up time . . . but we've played that way for years and still had significant exploration of levels deeper than 1-3, and some gate transits that forced extensions.

- More than once, I've been asked, "Are we really going to sit here and ______ or can we fast-forward it?" Usually this is, "and roll to bash this door down" or "calculate how long it takes to dig out this well/through this wall/down to another level/shift earth into the dungeon/shift earth out of the dungeon" or something like that.

The default answer is YES. Yes, 100%. Especially if it's time spent digging, building, shaping, bashing, or otherwise dealing with obstacles with brute force and FP powered by casters using Lend Energy to keep laborers going or laborers getting energy siphoned off to keep casters going. I'm not fast forwarding things meant to avoid exploring dungeons and fighting monsters. I will always, always, always volunteer to speed things up that need to be sped up, or which will have no interruptions or consequences for failure. I'll just do it. No need to ask - the answer will be no, we're not speeding it up.

- All in all, this seemed like a fun session to me, but then it ended with an unhappy group after blundering into the pudding.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Arden Vul Bundle of Holding

If you want a megadungeon to just buy and run . . . this one is on sale at Bundle of Holding:


$25 for a full megadungeon complete with .png maps for uploading to a VTT seems pretty good. I hadn't really heard of this dungeon before, but I'll thinking of giving it a look. If I can get 4-5 useful ideas out of it, that's worth the price to me. There is a free preview if you want to check it out first, and the maps are always free.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

DF Session 190, Felltower 128 - Exploring Level 1

Date: January 14th, 2024

Weather: Sunny, cold, occasional snow squalls.

Characters
Chop, human cleric (308 points)
Duncan Tesadic, human wizard (305 points)
Hannari Ironhand, dwarf martial artist (297 points)
Thor Halfskepna, human knight (304 points)
Vladimir Luchnick, dwarf martial artist (255 points)

The group gathered in town and exchanged the rumors they'd heard. They then headed up to Felltower. Given the lack of Persistance - a heavy melee hitter - and Urbaine - who could sell the big hoard they saw at 100% instead of 40% - they decided to head to Felltower's main entrance.

First, though, they wanted to dig out the well entrance. They brought a pair of picks and a pair of shovels. Once at the castle, they preceeded to start digging it out. The mix of earth, stone, and wooden rubble fill made it tough. After an hour of digging they figured on at least 12 hours of digging to get to the bottom, plus a number of hours to clear from the bottom to the tunnels on the side. Shape Earth could help, but is costly and a lot of casts given Felltower's restrictions (a 1-second, not 1-minute, duration.) Plus some of the stones were wall pieces, and thus of varying levels of magic resistance.

Next goal was to open the trap door entrance from the surface, able to be unlocked from below. Next they crossed the pit, and explored the secret passage behind the "apartments" near the stairs to level 2. They managed to get in there and check the armory mostly looted way, way back in earlier delving by another group. The weapons and armor there were in terrible shape, and worth so little they didn't take any. They exited the area via a complex of rooms; in one, they found a broken bed, 8 holes about 1" diameter and 2-3" deep in the middle of the floor like someone tried to drill down, all in no discernable pattern. They also found gnoll tracks in the dust, quite old.

They made it out to the hallway and then took the long way around the big room and mural-covered hallway. "Just to be safe" they checked a few doors. Thor forced one and was hit with two dropping pink slimes - oozing and corrosive. They burned off 1 DR of his armor before Chop put Resist Acid on him. He then burned them off; they smelled of greasy beef. There were five more beyond the door so they shut the door and moved on.

Eventually they reached the "noisy room," and they decided to veer off to open the metal door just inside the entrance. Forcing two doors on the "noisy room" was pretty loud. They got there and found it wouldn't open because it's double locked. Hannari spent extra time and picked one lock. As he was picking the other, Chop heard something trying to sneak through the noisy room. He called out an alert, and the "sneakers" charged - three trolls!

The PCs stood ready, Thor using a Wait to chop the first troll to come within 2 yards of him. The first of the three charged, right into the hex with an invisible, floating Duncan (who was using Walk on Air and 1 yard off the ground.) Thor couldn't see Duncan, and rapped off two shots at the neck. One hit the troll and decapitated it; the other hit Duncan and put him to -20 HP (-22 after burning damage) and two death checks. He blew the first one by 5 and died with a brief exclamation of pain.

The other two trolls charged. In a short melee, they managed to claw Thor and wound him slightly, but otherwere were cut down. Chop aided the cause with a Command to get one to attack his friend, briefly, which slowed them down until Hannari could stand shoulder to shoulder with Thor and help with the butchery. Hannari then threw three Alchemist's Fire grenades, one every 30 seconds, to roast the downed trolls (since they do an average of 75 HP each, and you want 220 injury to ensure a troll is destroyed.) Chop used Resist Fire on himself to go into the fire and feel around for Duncan - he lucked out and found him in 1 second, and put Resist Fire on Duncan.

They pulled his corpse free and used Tracking to see if they could follow the trolls back to their lair; Vlad found they had some black smudges they'd left behind. They led to the mosaic hallway and then he lost track. Vlad moved ahead and hit an NMZ / NSZ and lost his spells on, including both lightstones, clerical and wizardly. He broke out a glow vial and moved ahead, carefully feeling around with a foot before he'd put it down. That revealed an illusion-covered pit of some kind. So they decided to go around and check two-three rooms that the trolls could have come from. But "on the way" they wanted to check the triangular chamber off to the side . . . "just to be safe." There they stumbled on a resting black pudding, which rushed them.

It took a bit of time, but they pounded the pudding down pretty hard; Hannari used his new wand to scorch it but found fire wasn't any better than other forms of damage. They beat it until it stop moving and then beat on it some more. What can you do, with a pudding like that?

They have up on finding the troll lair and headed to the trap door entrance.

They found it . . . and found the reason it wouldn't open. Their notes say there is an "airlock" handle on the door that controls the bolts that shoot out to the sides to keep it closed. That handle was gone . . . along with part of the hinges and much of the inside of the trap door . . . rusted off and what remained thick with rust. It was closed and would need the metal bolts cut somehow, and the hinges fully banged away, and then the trap door lifted out from above. A construction project they were ill-equipped to try.

So they headed home, carrying out Duncan's corpse.

Notes:

- Since we finally have Invisibility sorted out in our VTT, this kind of thing happens. Thor's player had no idea where Duncan was . . . and his Wait trigger and response was set. He did one-shot kill a troll (temporarily kill, anyway) along with a wizard. Had he, say, been aiming at the legs, this wouldn't have been a problem. But neck on a Size Modifier +1 troll? Oops, that's right through where Duncan was desperately trying to retreat to avoid getting slammed. And schwing! Dead wizard.

- I'm amused to note that they stumbled into that same pudding twice; a few sessions back they stumbled into it, beat it up, and left it for dead. They did the same today, but after a much larger load of damage.

- The armoury loot is technically not loot for XP purposes - it's an exploited hoard left behind; loot must be found and exploited in one go . . . no taking half the hoard each time to maximize XP or anything like that.

- They debated breaking the locks on the metal door to the entrance room, but decided it would take too long and they didn't have the tools . . . and they want to see if something locks it again. If so, they'll break them.

- Duncan had about $8K and Percy $12K, and Percy had left instructions for this money to be available for in-town stuff like this . . . so they could get Duncan a Resurrection spell. I make the player roll for it, with skill 15. His player rolled a 10 and Duncan was back.

- MVP was Thor for being a damage-dealing engine. And for being a good sport about Vrycing a fellow PC.

- Seems like next time it'll be the stone bull and chimera; they're not willing to go without at least two knights. And they want to track down the possible places the trolls could have come from and get their loot, too.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Felltower Preview

Tomorrow we're having a relatively normal-length session of Felltower.

I think the plan is to go right to the cave mouth, expend a huge load of potions and spellstones, and kill the monsters at the cave.

In prep, I:

- checked and updated the modules in Forge VTT

- updated the rumors

- planned and plotted some tactics for monsters


We'll see how it plays out tomorrow!

Friday, January 12, 2024

Random Bits for 1/12/2024

Random stuff for Friday

- Fun quote from Keith Ammann, over on a page about the origin of Daemons, er, Yugoloth:

And finally, Dungeon Masters get to make this stuff work however they want to. [. . .] All of this is made-up, and you’re at liberty to make stuff up as well.
Yep. I enjoy a debate now and again, and I'll quote rules and pages to people who say X is actually Y instead, but it's your game and you can do things how you please, so long as your players will put up with it.

- There is an Ogre Miniatures Backerkit crowdfunding campaign going on. I'm good - I kept the only ones I want, which is basically one of every Ogre, from Ogre I to VI and the Paneuropean Fencer in there, too. So I'm not seeing anything better by getting the plastic . . . but it's a better deal than the metal ones, were. It's already funded, if that helps you decide.

- These looks at Polyhedron are pretty interesting . . . I disliked most of the contents of Polyhedron when I finally got it as an RPGA member. I have to look and see if these are available anywhere - I'd like to read James M. Ward's articles on Gamma World. I especially thought this was interesting:

Ward begins the article by explaining that "90% of all the adventure that goes on in the GAMMA WORLD game" is instigated by cryptic alliances

Interesting. That's now how we played . . . but I think that's probably how I'd run it now. You'd get the usual "Rites of Adulthood" travels . . . but most of the game would be Cryptic Alliance vs. Cryptic Alliance fought out in the borderlands between that that no one has real control over.

Here are some thoughts I had:

Rise of the Belief State

More Thoughts on Cryptic Alliances

I really miss andi jones running 20th Homeland / Gamma Terra. He ran a truly outstanding Gamma World campaign. I was quite invested in it, and I'd play again in a heartbeat.

- What's Doug up to? He reveals it here.

- $18 for 38 Pratchett books. I'm debating this one. I like several of these books a lot - Small Gods, Reaper Man, the Colour of Magic - and the others are often a bit too British for me. And that's coming from someone who has early memories of watching the Unexploded Scotsman Disposal Squad in action as a kid. It's a good deal, though . . . might be too good to pass up. And they're all good, even if I'm not always in the mood for them. Just $1 for Colour of Magic is worth it, and that deal comes with two extras.

- Fifty Years of D&D. Interesting, as always.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Potential changes to Fear, Panic, and Terror

Back in my post on Panic, one of my players / GURPS book author Kevin Smyth had this to say about a possible way to handle these spells:

"Fear: Regular; R-Will; Base Cost 2 to cast, 1 to maintain; Duration: 1 minute.
If the subject fails to resist, they become afraid of the caster. In combat, they suffer a penalty equal to their margin of failure to take any action against the caster other than 'run away'. Outside of combat, the caster gets a bonus to Intimidation rolls (but a penalty to all other social rolls) equal to their margin of success.

Panic: Area; R-Will; Base Cost 3 to cast, 2 to maintain; Duration: 1 minute.
As Fear, but over an area. The area is not persistent; the duration applies to subjects in the area when the spell is cast, but new subjects can enter the area afterward.

Terror: Area; R-Special; Base Cost 4; Duration: Instantaneous.
Subjects in the area must immediately make a Fright Check.

This makes Fear useful, brings Panic in line with your goals, and sets up Terror so it's not resisted twice (my beef with Terror is that you R-Will... then Fright Check, which is R-Will *again*) - it's not quite a buff, since it takes away the -3 penalty on the Fright Check.
"


These spells are still wierd. One is a one-person spell for scaring someone kinda, the other an attack spell to chase foes away, and the last inflicts a fright check.

Fear isn't bad. I don't have a problem with Fear or see a need to upgun it even for additional cost. I do think it should be an Intimidation roll itself.

Panic needs some tweaking.

Terror doesn't seem very useful. I don't love the idea of automatically inflicting Fright Checks; what about Magic Resistance? Does that add double the level to the check? Does it exceed the cap for Fright Checks? Or does it reduce the roll on the table? And do we even need a spell that inflicts a Fright Check? Just because a check exists doesn't mean a spell needs to be able to inflict one, especially in DF. Monsters can just get the Terror advantage, and PCs don't cast this spell.

Here is a possible way to handle them:

Fear
As written, but also acts as a successful Intimidation roll as under Taunt and Bluster, Exploits p. 58. Fearlessness adds to to Will to resist it.

Panic

As written, but note that it affects subjects within the target area immediately, and then persists on those who fail to resist, per Spells p. 53. This is also subject to the usual rules on turning and fear for Felltower; treat failing to resist Panic as inflicting a -4 on all skill rolls if the subject chooses to stand and fight (or is forced to.)

(In general, Fodder will flee. Don't use this on orcs and rats and wolves and goblins in the hopes they'll fight back at a -4.)

Delete Terror.

That might be workable. I need to give it some more thought.

Monday, January 8, 2024

Margin of Success vs. Fixed Effects

The more I play DF Felltower, the more I have found myself leaning towards fixed effects instead of Margin of Success effects.

I find fixed effects compelling for a number of reasons:

- it's usually faster. You have a certain effect if you win a contest or succeed in attaching some effect to a foe. You only need to know, binarily, success or failure. You don't need to know by how much; who won is usually obvious and margin isn't terribly important.

- it's consistent. For the most part, GURPS inflicts specific effects. Damage may be random, but penalties for conditions (Stunning, Euphoria, Pain, etc.) are fixed.

- it's easier. You need only know a specific effect, and track if that effect is on or off.

I've largely gone to fixed effects whereever I can. Damage isn't fixed, of course, and I don't like it to be. We've moved to a CP-based system* instead of a fixed Grappled condition, but that's still based on the idea that margin isn't important.

We're still using MoS on Feints, against my preference, but hopefully I can get that gone at some point. Lightning spells inflict a stunning penalty with a minus to recover based on MoS, but I'm considering making that fixed, too. I just find a specific effect, or random damage, or a random table result, preferable to MoS.


Does anyone really love MoS and have an argument in favor of keeping it I should here before I change more in the system?






* which I gather isn't as good as Fantastic Dungeon Grappling, but too bad, I like Dungeon Fantastic Grappling better.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Even More Felltower Rulings to Remember

Lend Energy scrolls are available, and can be charged and/or universal.

Lend Energy can only be cast on another person, never on the caster. This is true even in the case of scrolls of Lend Energy. This prevents "lending" yourself FP from your Energy Reserve to allow for never being down FP, only ER, amongst other abuses.

Cancelling Spells is now a free action; this is a change to the RAW from our house rules. Each and every spell cancelled costs 1 FP. You may cancel one at a time; cancelling multiple spells takes a Concentrate action.

Potions sell in town for $100/per, per DFRPG Exploits, p. 76. This is not a change, it's a standard rule, but is often forgotten during discussions of the "value" of found potions, especially if unique. It's also specificially potions, not all "concotions" or alchemical mixtures.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

VTT work today

Nothing exciting for game-related things today. Just did some VTT work, putting monsters into the VTT for later use. Nothing I needed now, but ones that the PCs may meet in the not too distant future, if they go new places where they dwell.

The big issue, as always, is putting special attacks into the VTT . . . and the second biggest issue is images for tokens.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Random Links & Thoughts for 1/5/2024

First Friday of 2024.

- Whose Mechanic is it Anyway?

An interesting idea, here - you track what you want to use. I'd do it differently in some cases, but I like this train of thought.

But then why do players track their HP? It's not in their interest to track them, right? Well . . . I'm mostly joking, but one reason I say, " . . . which kills (so-and-so) instantly" after telling the PCs how much damage they took is to make them prove to me otherwise. You track your HP because otherwise I'll just say you're dead, and you can't prove me wrong. Track your HP and your paper man lives as long as he lives. And if he dies, he dies.

No shocker, in my games every player can list off each wound and how it was healed to prove they're 1 HP above automatic death if that's what it takes.

- Happy New Year, and the annual DriveThruRPG report

- The Gladius! A nice article over on ACOUP. According to this article, the gladius, the classic "short sword," was around 75-85 cm, with a medieval arming sword being around 90 cm. 2 1/2 feet total length doesn't seme that short; it's right around the stick length I generally used when we did FMA stickfighting. They get shorter, later . . . but start out pretty long. I found that really interesting as a detail.

- Still putting tokens but not maps up on Forge. I still need to find a way to scan my maps and make them smaller . . . maybe a lower-res image will keep it working despite the massive size of the map. I'm not really sure.

- First game of the year should be the Sunday after next.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

1d6 Variant Crushrooms

In the last Felltower session, the PCs wounded a Crushroom . . . and it began shrieking!

In Felltower, I like to mix the great old-school misery of shriekers - giant wailing mushrooms - with the new-school misery of ambulatory aggressive carnivorous mushrooms.

If you like old-fashioned killer fungi, you can add all sorts of "fun" features to Crushrooms. Some ideas? Roll 1d.

1) Shrieking. Monsters with this prefix emit a loud shrieking, whistling, hooting, or wailing sound (pick one!) when disturbed. What counts as "disturbed" varies by monster type but being hit definitely counts. Remove Mute, if present. Add Penetrating Voice. Some also have Compulsive Behavior (Shrieking) (9) and just make lots of noise.

2) Corrupting. Crushrooms that bite a limb or extremity can rot it immediately. The victim must make a HT roll or be affected as the spell Wither Limb, including the 1d toxic damage. Crushrooms will spend the next turn tearing the withered limb off and devouring it, giving the victim a chance to escape with the rest of their limbs or extremities intact. This effect is mundane, not magical - ignore Magic Resistance or mana levels!

3) Jumping. Jumping Crushrooms can leap yards equal to their Move. They love to jump on to foes; treat this as a Pounce.

4) Puffball. When injured, the crushroom blows off a bloom of spores in a 2 yard area. Treat as the spell Pollen Cloud, but the effect is non-magical. Lasts 1 second per point of injury inflicted.

5) Hallucinogenic. Anyone touching or touched by a crushroom - being bitten by one counts! - must roll HT or suffer the Hallucinating condition. Every subsequent touch gives a -1 to this roll . . . and who is to say this isn't addictive?

6) Speedy. Nothing says cheating like making a slow monster fast. Doubles the Speed of the Crushroom (and thus Move) to 8.

Of course, you can always make them intelligent, potion-making types, but that's been done elsewhere.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Felltower VTT Updating

I spent a few hours today watching some videos I needed to see, while creating and uploading a bunch of tokens for monsters to Forge.

I still have a lot to go, but most of the foes I often use are up there.

I wanted to do maps, actually, but I don't have a scanner and I just can't get a sufficiently good image with my camera. I'll borrow a scanner and see about uploading some scans soon.

I did manage to take a picture of one level . . . but once I got it uploaded I basically locked up Forge. Oops. I may need to break my bigger levels into sections to avoid that.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...