Friday, January 31, 2014

Megadungeon Reflections: GURPS rules & Play Issues

The other day I reflected on what I'd change in my megadungeon, or consider changing, if I re-did it with what I know now after running 30 sessions in it.

Here are things I'd do differently from a rules/play perspective. Some of these I've discussed before, but this is the latest-and-greatest and tries to pull them together. I didn't list things that I changed along the way, because you can always assume that I'd have changed it earlier (such as how some spells work, say, or the duration on Shape Stone) if I could. These are things I don't think I can just go back and change without some grave damage to the game as currently going.

Definitely Change

Uniform Enchantment Costs

I'd set all enchantments to a uniform cost. No more smoothed casting costs for Quick & Dirty enchantments at $1/point, Slow & Sure at $20. I'd just set all of it to $20/point. Even a lowly Fortify +1 spell would cost $1000 on a full suit of armor.

This would make the better non-magical armor and weapon enhancements a much better deal.

Gameworld Coupled Enchantment Maxima

I'd couple armor and weapon enchantments to the value of the underlying weapon in some way. Probably the "one enchantment or enchantment level per prefix" approach.

More Loot From Day One

I'd have put in more money from day one, since for a while delving was like a minimum wage job - you could get by on it, if someone else paid your bills for you. Not good for delving. I fixed this later, but it really was a mistake I should have fixed way earlier than I did.

Heavier Money

I like my 250 coins to the pound game, but man, it would have been fun to have 50 coins to the pound for the same value, so big hauls of treasure were a serious weight consideration.

Technical Grappling

I'd have incorporated at least parts of TG from the start, so we could have learned its ins and outs by grappling with monsters.

Now, admittedly, it came out well after my game launched, but I did have my playtester copy and access to Doug, who'd certainly have been happy to have an ongoing playtest the whole time he was finishing the book up. Still, some of the way this was meant to be a game we played for a while until we got bored meant we tossed a lot of stuff to the curb. It's only now it's clear how useful this would be as a basis of grappling in a game where the monsters are ridiculously strong and the heroes very powerful.


Revised Talent Costs

I would use the talent costs from Power-Ups 3 instead of the costs from Basic Set. For the Barbarian and Scout, especially, this saves some real points.

Wildcard Skills

I'd give these a harder look, although I might make them a bit narrower. Not "Knight" or "Barbarian" but "Melee Weapons" and "Missile Weapons" or things like that. Ones that made broadly skilled (but not crazily broadly skilled) guys a little easier to do and hold their ground a bit better against specialists. And if not Wildcard skills, I'd look at Talents to cover these.

More Characters Per Player

It would have been really interesting to have required people to make up both a 250-point and a 125-point character, and either play one or the other each session. Build in a backup, so to speak. DF15 wasn't quite ready to go during the planning stages of the game, though, but it would have been nice to start the idea of a pool of characters off as a standard, with differently ranked guys so we could mix in power levels. I'm not sure how this would have worked, but at least half of my group has played in my old pirate game where we had multiple PCs per player and different point levels for each of them. I'd also let them make up some hirelings themselves and throw them in as findable NPCs (and I may still do that.) It would have been fun to try!

I'd also consider Vryce's player's argument that Sacrificial Parry is way too good regardless of cost, and either ban it outright or more strongly limit it - perhaps say it counts as more than one parry for multiple parry purposes.

To be honest, there are a couple more things I'd do but that I'm in the process of addressing (and hope to get into Pyramid Magazine) so I can't write them out here. But they have to do a bit with combat and loot, if that helps any.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Striking ST (Surprise Attacks Only) ruling

This one is for reference by my players, since at least one has access to Striking ST (Surprise Attacks Only).

Short version - it only works when the target is both surprised and unable to defend. If either is not true, sorry, it has no effect. That's why it has a (steep) discount of -60%.

The whole thread is here (and dates back originally to 2009!)

The (most relevant) post is this one by Kromm.

Q&D DF Shields and Bucklers

(Admin Note: Tomorrow I'll follow up on yesterday's post.)

GURPS has a lot of optional detail. One detail that's not especially optional is shields vs. bucklers. But for my own games, I don't split Shield into Shield (Shield) and Shield (Buckler). I find that too fiddly and nitpicky.

Instead, here is how I split it up for my DF game. Some of this is the actual RAW (rules as written) but some of it is a bit of a simplification.

Shield - a shield has straps, and is used by strapping it to the arm.

Ready Time - A shield takes 1 second to ready per (base, non-magically modified) DB.

Dropping the shield - Dropping a shield takes 1 second per (base) DB of the shield. This can be done with one arm, because I'm generous. In the meantime you get the DB but cannot Block as it is no longer ready. If you change your mind you can use one Ready action to get it fully back into action.

Critical Failures - On a critically failed Block, the shield becomes Unready. It cannot be used to Block, but the DB still applies normally. It can be re-readied in one second with a Ready action.

Buckler - a shield is held by a handle.

Ready Time - A buckler takes 1 second to ready, regardless of size.

Dropping A Buckler - Dropping a buckler is a free action.

Critical Failures - On a critically failed Block, a buckler is dropped. It is on the ground, and takes the normal amount of time to re-ready like any other weapon on the ground. Optionally, roll to see if it is face up or face down. Face down bucklers can be readied in 1 second with Quick Ready, or 2 seconds with a normal Ready. Face up bucklers take 3 seconds to ready, including 1 second to flip it over.

How does this work in play? - Very well. I don't, by the way, use the face up/face down rules. But otherwise, it's as written here. It works very well, and it's very fast. All you need is one skill (Shield, no specialties) and to know what the shield is and how it is held. Done and done. People choose shields, generally, because the extra time to get one ready is generally out of combat. But bucklers are faster in return for a risk of dropping it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Megadungeon Reflection: What I'd do differently in my megadungeon

A discussion by email with Douglas Pearson led me to this. I mentioned that I'd apply some of what I learned by doing my megadungeon differently, if I could do it again. So what would I do?

If I could do it again . . . let's break this up into "definitely do differently" and "might do differently."

Definitely Do Differently

More Notes On The Maps

I've done this subsequently, but not initially. My maps were direct copies of the style I used when I was mapping dungeons back in elementary school. As such, they depended heavily on map keys. It's better to make the maps visually communicative than visually impressive. It's a tool, not a piece of art, even if some people's maps are art as well (cough, cough, Matt Jackson, Dyson Logos).

Easier to Explain Rooms

Honestly, the crazy room shapes and double-L rooms and 40x50 rooms with a 10x10 block covered up and an attached triangle-shaped room were fun to draw. But they take freaking forever to explain to people. My vocabulary has not been up to the task. Next time, none of that crap. A bunch of easy to explain room shapes 90% of the time would be better. Sure, have some weird ones. But make them exceptional and interesting (even if just visually). But the easier they are to explain to mapping players, the better. The fun is exploration and fighting stuff and taking their treasures, not trying to explain how that room is shaped because you used a 25 degree angle wall to slightly open out to the left before it jughandles around into an L-shaped connecting corridor. Gah.

Mark How Doors Open

I remember how they open, which direction, etc. from repeated play and notes. But damn, I wish I'd just used proper marks for doors. I've marked the newer maps this way.

More Stairs/Chutes/Elevators/Etc.

I think both I and my players would be happier if I had more ways to easily change levels in my megadungeon. I mentioned this before. I have some places with very easy multi-level access. But allowing easier transit would make for, in my opinion, a dungeon experience that provides more choices and yet easier choices for the PCs. They'd be confronted with "go back, stay here, or go further?" much more often. It would also make it much more difficult to fully clear your six, making for more risk at the some time as giving more potential reward (and making it possible to vary your path on the way back to avoid ambushes, too.)

More level changes possible right away, that's what I would do differently.

Not A Mountain

A mountain seemed like a good idea. It isn't, because all too often I've had to think "Well, wouldn't this level extend off the side of the mountain?" Yes, and I've had to re-orient too often. A low hill with extensive tunnels under it would have been fine, because I wouldn't have to consider height and all of that stuff.

Easier Access Into The Dungeon.

I love my megadungeon. I especially like, conceptually, the idea of the fortified entrance. I haven't seen one that quite did what I made. But I was tempted when I wrote it to make a big central room with lots of staircases and choices. Hallways in all sorts of directions, a big damn staircase down connecting a few levels together immediately, and plenty of choices. I didn't for a few reasons.

One is that I wrote my megadungeon for immediate play. I was still writing when the players arrived, and still writing as they explored it (and I'm still writing now). So "you have free access to all of 4 levels" means "I have to have 4 levels completely stocked up, along with all places you can get from them, right now." That wasn't possible. So I had to make at least the upper levels restrictive.

I also had a story - the dungeon was built as an underground fortress, which was connected (either deliberately or not . . . ) with deeper levels. It was stormed and looted. Later folks built a castle on top, and that was sacked as well. So the entrance would naturally be fortified, and choices limited to restrict where successful attackers could get for at least a short distance past the fortifications. So I came up with this:

Pit, pillboxes accessible only from the second level, anti-magical surfaces, multiple choices all fortified heavily, smoothed-over metal doors, and no cover once you start coming down the stairs. It's cool and fairly unusual in a megadungeon entrance.

But it does restrict options. It means you need more access points into the dungeon, that make sense to be open despite being part of a fortification, and the players are much more limited in where they can go.

Easier access would make it easier to explain all sorts of folks in the dungeon, too.

Having a multiple choices (which of the staircases down into the dungeon do you take?) right from the get-go would been nice.

I don't regret my choice, and the reality of needing to limit movement to limit the amount of prep I needed before we could play made this approach make sense. Plus it makes for some unique issues (the way the players have interacted with the orcs in order to ensure easier access to the dungeon but also conceal their activities has been fun.)

Might Do Differently

Even Bigger

It would be tempting to do the megadungeon as a super-dungeon, much like Beedo's Black City. That would make it easier to put very disparate groups down in the dungeon, because they could be very seriously separate.

Wizard Did It

My life would be much easier if I had a Zagyg or Hallaster or W*E*R*D*N*A who'd set the whole damn dungeon up as a test. That lets you explain anything, from crazy puzzles to ridiculous traps. I may do this in miniature but it's too late to do the whole dungeon that way. I could spare myself a lot of headache with a Megawizard in my Megadungeon.

A Bit Of A Trek

Putting the castle a half-day's walk away was fine, and made perfect sense in the game world. But instead of "camp at night and enter in the morning" all it did was have people get up pre-dawn and leave the moment the gates open and explore in the afternoon. Forcing people to deal with the surface at night would have been a nice feature.

The other option would be no trek at all - the dungeon is downstairs, like Undermountain or anything in Petal Throne.

All are good, though, and I don't regret my choice. I would just consider a different one. I kind of liked the walks back and forth to the Caves of Chaos.

Next time (maybe tomorrow, we'll see) I'll take about how I'd run my game differently - different rules options, different game world decisions, etc. Today, it's just how I'd make the maps and labels different in my dungeon.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When Did Player Stop Be Synonymous With Characters?

Back in the day, game books referred to the players. Not the players and their characters, just the players. It was a synonymous term with "player characters."
[Editing later: This is clearly a bit inaccurate. Both were used from extremely early on . . . but it wasn't a rigid distinction of terms, where you'd have to use player to me the actual person, and character for the alter-ego, not ever use one term when you meant the other.]

Later, it changed to "players" for the actual people playing the game, and "characters" for their imaginary alter-ego / paper men in the game. You go and say something like "One of the players died in my game last night" and you get this mock-serious reply of "Oh, your players die? Your games sure are lethal! Hahahah" etc.

When did that happen?

For examples:

1974's D&D, Book I: Men & Magic has an "example record of a character" named Xylarthen, followed by the line "This supposed player would have progressed faster as a Cleric [. . . ]"

In Strategic Review 2/2, last issue before The Dragon #1, Gary Gygax wrote an article that was reprinted in volume I of the Best Of The Dragon issues, called "D&D Is Only As Good As The DM." In it we get this gem of a quote:

"Second, absolute disinterest must be exercised by the Dungeonmaster, and if a favorite player stupidly puts himself into a situation where he is about to be killed, let the dice tell the story and KILL him."
Good advice, certainly, but nowadays we think of player as the person not the character.

Even then you had people saying "character" not "player" but the terms would get mixed together pretty frequently.

But after a while, that stopped.

"Player" started to mean the person, and "character" the imaginary alter-ego. I'm curious about when that happened. I don't have time to dig down and research it, but I've kind of mulled that one over for a while. When was it clear you couldn't co-mingle the terms usefully?

Flame Retardant: I am not interested in this as a "bad thing" or a "good thing" but just from a more historical perspective . . . when did it make that interesting linguistic shift?

Monday, January 27, 2014

More Mini Painting

Although I say mini painting is a fair weather activity for me, that's not 100% true. It's just largely true that I put my paints away in the fall when it starts getting cold, and then generally leave them until spring. But occasionally I get the bug to paint a bit, and start to eye the temperature and humidity for unseasonably warm days to run outside and spray-seal or prime minis.

In the past couple of days, I managed to:

- finishing base painting 15 minis. All of them are basically fodder (no individual types), and they have the paint that'll stand up to an Army Painter Quickshade coat. No detail work that'll get obscured by pigmented varnish, no drybrushing, etc. So I'll coat them when I can. After that, I'll do the final detail work on top of the varnish, and then wait for another good weather day to go finish them.

- started on another quick paint job. Another monster from my original Bones set.

- did some base coating work on a couple of orcs and a couple other monsters. One orc is waiting for Army Painter shading, although I may just experiment on him with black and brown washing - it depends.

- put a couple more base coats on parts of the way-too-detailed Overburdened Henchman mini that is taking me forever to paint.

I' making good progress, and I'm trying to avoid letting any of these minis go from "bare" to "partly painted" and then into the "finish someday" pile. I have a few of them staring at me already and I don't need more.

Where are the pics?

Bad news everyone! My good camera is still out of commission with a dead proprietary battery pack and no working charger.

But . . .

Good news everyone! The missing piece to the charger to the old-but-good camera I use has been located. Once I go pick it up, I can get back to snapping session photos, finished mini shots, and adding pictures of the minis I use to the DF Hirelings posts.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Roll20 Re-Take

So Douglas Cole and +Nathan Joy and I played around on Roll20, all as co-GMs, to try out some GURPS combat on it (some new rules, lots of old rules, and a new-to-some interface.) Last time we did it, Doug I just banged our heads against Roll20 for a while, This time, we could apply what we knew and what we learned from the various tutorials we watched.

Doug also did his homework and made up a battlefield, a (albeit enclosed) featureless plain this time, but next time I think we can add poor terrain at least in spots.

Still there are things we need to work on.

Some annoyances/to-do things

- it's annoying that the edit box brings up stats in a different order than they appear on the tokens themselves.

- it would be nice if you could change how tokens move, In GURPS, figurs automatically face the hex

- we have to figure out how to make a prone guy occupy more than one hex. People go prone in GURPS, and they

- multiple figures in a hex sucks right now. You just get a literal pile-up, and have to cycle through characters to find out who is there. It would be nice to get a partial overlap in some way so you can get through characters more easily. In a grappling fight, or in a very close melee, you end up worse off than you would with minis or just imagination or notes on paper. Annoying.

- we need to figure out statuses better. They could be very useful for "grappled" or "stunned" or "used AOA."

- I need to start uploading maps, filling out NPC stats, etc. for my own practice if I'm ever going to run my game online.

We took forever on each turn, either because of interface issues or working out rules questions. But that was the whole point - it was practice for Roll20 and checking if possibly-wonky ideas we have for rules approaches actually work according to the stuff we wrote down.

It was a lot of fun, but the lack of native assumptions for GURPS (shared use of a hex, facing changes, all rolls are d6 based so it's weird to put "6" after die roll requests) makes it a little less than optimal. More work to do! Not a bad way to celebrate the release of D&D 40 years ago.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

D&D's 40th Anniversary

So tomorrow is the day any people are celebrating as the 40th anniversary of D&D. It seems likely that the last Sunday in January 1974 is when Gary Gygax first had his open-invitation D&D game going, according to Jon Peterson's research.

I figured I'd reflect a bit on the game I played, but I won't have much time for that tomorrow - I'm testing some GURPS stuff with some of my fellow authors.

I started back in 1981 with the Moldvay Basic Set, or at least that's the first copy of the game I owned. My uncle had a copy of the Holmes Basic Set and the Players Handbook, and it's possible he ran me through a game before I got my copy . . . but I don't think so. I think my first game was after I'd read the book and my mom got a friend's sons to teach me.

I showed up with my elf, Goldleaf, which they promptly converted to a F/M-U/T in AD&D rules and then ran me through B2 The Keep on the Borderlands.

From then on, after learning how to read a map key from them, and armed with a photocopy of the A&D NPC Record Sheet, I proceeded to start running the game for my cousins and friends. I used Moldvay but with lots of messed up rules knowledge gained from a soon-purchased Dungeon Masters Guide and memories of how I was taught to play. I also played in my uncle's weekend game, at least on the weekends I was around. He was running B1 In Search of the Unknown, with Moldvay D&D (I think - I have his GM folder to this day and it's in there), mixed with AD&D and the critical hit charts from Arms Law/Claw Law from ICE.

What a mess.

But it got me playing, and I never stopped playing RPGs. I ran big games, small games, even solo games for my cousin or ones where he had 2 PCs and I had one of my own (an MU named after Neves who got to 11th or possible 12th level honestly, and then bumped to 17th level so we could play out some extremely high-powered games without spending way too long leveling up).

I played a lot in school, too, playing after lunch and often again after school. I wrote about that here.

I occasionally made my own stuff, but like I've said before, the gold standard were the modules, and that's what we used. Homebrew stuff was frowned upon, and not the least because elementary school kids don't exactly come up with gems of balance and appropriateness that really add to the game. The one monster I can recall statting up and using was the karkadann, based on a picture in a book on mythological creatures. That monster made its way into GURPS, too, just like all of my AD&D memories have in some way.

But although I didn't stop playing RPGs, by the time high school rolled around I'd tried other systems and finally decided I was done with AD&D. 2nd edition came , but I'd already moved on to Rolemaster. I never did come back except in very occasional games that always ended up as one-shots because we never played again after that one session. Not until Tenkar's S&W game did I play multiple sessions with the same GM and same character with a D&D-based game.

It's still how I got started - not 40 years ago like the game itself, but 33 years ago this coming December. Fun stuff. I just wish I got to smite more actual dragons in all of those dungeons I rooted around in, or ran.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Review: Moleskin Maps Series

By Matt Jackson
Published by Chubby Monster Games
Price: Pay What You Want

The Moleskin Maps books contain nothing but maps, and lined sections for detailing those maps.

Each map comes in two sizes. One is a "One Page Dungeon" style version. This consists of 3.5" x 4.5" copy of the map in the corner, and a series of lined boxes to fill in vital information - Background, Key Locations, GM Notes, up to 4 Wandering Encounters, and 2 bits of Treasure.

The second map size is a full 8.5" x 11" version, suitable either to mark up as the GM, pass out as a treasure map to the players, or further blow up for use as a battlemap.

All of the maps are gridless and freehand. Notations are in Old Gygaxian - S for secret doors, smaller and smaller hash marks for stairs down, rectangles for doors, etc.

Each of these products has 11 maps in this style. They are a mix of caves/underground locations, campsites, and villages/towns.

Since these are "Pay What You Want" you can pay $0.00 and download them for free, but then always go back and pay some more when you realize how cool they are. (I won mine as a prize, so I feel less morally obligated to do this - but I'll cheerfully give Matt Jackson money for other stuff based on these.)

I highly recommend checking these out. Personally I'm not a huge fan of gridless maps - it's harder for me, as the GM, to describe stuff without clear measurement markings on them. But they are very attractive, and it's worth it for me to just dig out a ruler or stick an overlay on the GM's copy. The price point can't be beat, the quality is high, and they're so attractive you'll find yourself want to start filling in the sheets just as you flip through.

For more reviews, check my Reviews page!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

GCA file list for Felltower

As requested earlier this week, here is the file list for my Dungeon Fantasy game, Felltower.

I use the following, in this order. Anything in italics is a custom file.

GURPS Basic Set 4th Ed.--Characters.gdf
GURPS Magic 4e.gdf
GURPS LT Weapons for DF.gdf
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1 - Adventurers.gdf
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 3 - Next Level.gdf
Peter's DF Magic Armor Mods.gdf
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 4 - Sages.gdf
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 5 - Allies.gdf
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 12 - Ninja.GDF
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Remove Unnecessary Traits.GDF
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11 - Power-Ups.gdf

I use a custom file with my own house rules on magic armor costs, which you can generate based on this post:

GCA Coding my enchantment house rule

And I also use a custom file containing just the weaponry that I allow from GURPS Low-Tech, too. I should probably find a place to post those.

Some of what is there is for templates, some for races, and some for gear - the Scholar one, especially, has a lot of gear my players like to buy and use.

The Power-Ups one is last because it was beta when I added it, and I didn't want the "Remove Unnecessary Traits" file to screw anything up.

Here it is, unformated - you should be able to cut and paste this into a GDF file, if you like. Just take everything between the " marks but don't take them.

files("GURPS Basic Set 4th Ed.--Characters.gdf", "GURPS Magic 4e.gdf", "%user%\GURPS LT Weapons for DF.gdf", "%sys%\Worldbooks\GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1 - Adventurers.gdf", "%sys%\Worldbooks\GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 3 - Next Level.gdf", "%user%\Peter's DF Magic Armor Mods.gdf", "%sys%\Worldbooks\GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 4 - Sages.gdf", "%sys%\Worldbooks\GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 5 - Allies.gdf", "%sys%\worldbooks\GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 12 - Ninja.GDF", "%sys%\worldbooks\GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Remove Unnecessary Traits.GDF", "%user%\GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11 - Power-Ups.gdf")

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Green Is My Orc: Reaper Pro Paint vs. MSP

So I made myself start painting, cold or not. Ability to go outside and dip or matte finish minis or not. I wanted to get some of the extra fodder minis I ordered from Miniatures-Giant* covered with paint. It's that or put down some white Bones with their painted kin, which just loses some of the impact. Plus, it occasionally prompts Dryst's player to announce "I fight this battle under protest!"

I also decided to do the old boil-and-bend on some bent Bones I have, including some orcs. And then I figured, while the mass-painted fodder is letting a coat dry, I'll start to do up some of my new orcs.

Which Green For Orcs?

I busted out my new paint pot, 09034 Muddy Olive, chosen based on this color equivalency chart.

Sadly, 09034 Muddy Olive is more like a dark forest green than the more olive-y 08049 Troll Flesh. Annoying, because that's the color I used for all 70+ of my orcs. I picked up Muddy Olive to replace the dried-up Troll Flesh pot I had. I'm trying to get a closer match on my orcs than I can get otherwise. I have a lot of orc minis, and a lot more (all the ones from Bones Kickstarter, with duplicates I traded for), and I'd like the new ones to look like the old ones.

Any help? What's the best match for Troll Flesh, which is now out of production (and tended to dry out way too fast, anyway)? For now, I'm using Anita's 11119 Olive Green. It's a bit light, but the right "shade" of green, so I can darken it with Army Painter Quickshade or a black wash. I'm also trying the slightly darker and more forest-green-y Apple Barrel Colors 20756 English Ivy Green.

Still, it's nice to be painting again. Even if I'm just clearing out fodder.

Orcs Are Like Green Pirates - Well, at least my orcs are. I like to paint them as if they wear whatever strikes their fancy, which might happen to be a great mix of colors that really highlights their weapons and armor and flesh tone. Or more often it's a terrible mix of colors that shouldn't mix. Some pieces are bright and new, some worn and ratty, often on the same guy. It's a great excuse to pull out any color and use it on bits of cloth, shield decorations, and hats. It makes it fun to paint them and extremely easy to tell them apart. "Uniform" means "more or less the same weapons" in Orcish.

So it's fun painting again, even if I can't finish the job.

* By the way, they got me my backordered minis very quickly. Thanks guys!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Roll20 Headaches

I want to like Roll20. But every time I try to do something with it, it's a bit more obstacle than it is a help. Case in point, Doug Cole and I have been working on something. Because we're both solidly in the "test it in actual play" camp, we wanted to give it a try yesterday.

We had about an hour to play. We spend 50+ minutes puttering around before we managed to get a map with a couple of tokens on it, and some terrain. And then not enough time to actually play out even a single roll.

Because so much is restricted to the GM, which in this case was Doug, I couldn't even help out. The lack of a "sandbox" mode where everyone has control is kind of annoying.

I really need to sit down and watch the various how to videos on Roll20. But it's frustrating to need to dedicate time to learning the tool instead of actually using it for play.

I was so hoping to get in a good test session and all we did was learn enough of Roll20 that - crossing our fingers here - that setup next time will be short and leave us time to play.

Anyone have specific suggestions for "How To" videos or posts for Roll20?

Editing Later:

These helped a lot:

Roll20 GM Overview (Updated)

Roll20 Player Overview (Updated) (video)

Roll20 for GURPS (wiki)

Monday, January 20, 2014

How I Stat Hirelings in GURPS DF

I have done a series of posts featuring the NPC hirelings who have made it into sessions of my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign. They are collected here.

Tne thing about GURPS is that it front-loads character design. You need to do a fair amount of work ahead of time, even with tools like templates to speed you along. Yet I am often called on to stat someone up right now without slowing my game down. "We find a torchbearer." "We need another shieldbearer." "We need missile-firing guys, no matter what the weapon." Or I suddenly need some bandits or something else, and want some uniqueness to them.

So how do I do that? Here is my plan of action, in order. This all assumes you have GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen. If not, you can get close with any template based system or with DF On The Cheap.

WYSIWIG Equipment - What You See Is What You Get

We use miniatures for our games, even if only to visualize a character but more often to actually play out battles. So when called on to provide an NPC, I first select an appropriate miniature, Cardboard Hero, or counter. Whatever you see on that figure is what the character is equipped with.

We will make exceptions for "logical" stuff, like ammunition for missile weapons (often lacking on minis - they have a bow but no quiver quite often), a pouch or bag, a helmet (lots of helmet-less guys), or mismatched armor (we'll assume a match) or clothing. But for gross characteristics and weaponry, it's purely WYSIWIG. This is why Deadeye Slim has a knife as his melee weapon, why Lucky Pete had one hand, and

For PCs we'll forgive anything, really - Red Raggi's mini has an eyepatch and no shirt or helmet, yet Raggi has two eyes and wears a mail hauberk and helmet. Still the mini conveys a lot and we know what he's really got. For short-hire NPCs we just have no idea.

Eyeball the encumbrance, and if you're not sure, set it to the next level up and assume they've got some extra stuff. That'll cover them if they get handed loot to carry, like my players always do. "The sling guy can carry these twelve broadswords we just found." Or grab a loadout and check - it's what DF13 is for, doing all that work for you. Don't sweat it if they slightly over or under shoot their actual pool of money. It usually doesn't matter.

Pick a Template

The real upside to templates is they are pick-lists. So pick a pick-list from the evocative and descriptive names, and go from there. Missile troops are Archers, lightly armored types are Skirmishers or Killers, armored types are Brutes or Squires, low-rent versions of any are Guards. That's what they are there for.

Just the Basics to Start

Templates have some basic skills, and some discretionary ones. They also have discretionary points. The best thing I found is to quickly assign out the larger discretionary pool of points, pick a big defining disadvantage or two, and skip the skills until they come up in play. The group is climbing? Decide then if the NPC has it or not. Fall in the water? That's when you decide if they can swim or not. Etc.

You don't even need to look it up - decide yes or no, then assign the skill at Stat+0 and you're probably close. It doesn't really matter if you "break" the template by picking something wrong - customization is totally fine and makes the NPCs more interesting.

If they're non-human, assume that eats up their discretionary points from advantages and just forget them. It'll probably work out in the long run.

Two Quick Rolls

Roll Loyalty (per DF15 p. 30) and on the Random Hireling Trait Table (p. 31) and note the results. They'll matter. Feel free to just pick one off the table if it matches the mini. It's fun to pick or roll Secret Menace, and even funnier when the Secret Menace gets whacked with a critical hit on turn one of his first fight and dies.

Pick a Name

Anything will do, in most games. I grab random names out of the air or from games Vryce's player's son is playing on the old game machines our friend collects. Thats how we get gems like "Zed Shieldbearer" or "Grace the Slick" or "Gort of the Shining Force." If a counter I use has a name (say, from my old Cry Havoc sets), then it keeps that name.

And GO!

It took me longer to write this than it'll take you to follow these steps.

That's really it. You can write down what they do and what gets tested in play and then fill in the template later. if you ever have to. Anything defined in play is true, regardless of templates, points, or anything else. Should have had Stealth-14 and you said 12? This guy sucks at Stealth or he learned from experience and now he's got a 14 for the next trip! Hurrah! Should have had a 12 and you said 14? Damn, he's good! And so on. It doesn't really matter. These guys are extras and walk-ons, not the stars. Consistency with actual play matters more than fidelity to what should have been if you had more time to get ready.

And that's how I get these guys.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

DF Felltower Henchmen: Deadeye Slim

No game this week, so it's another Felltower NPC this Sunday.

Deadeye Slim is based on 125 points and the Archer template from Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen.

For more pre-made henchmen from my game, check the DF Henchmen page.

"Deadeye" Slim the Slinger

Slim is well named - he's pretty lean and skinny. "Wiry" is how he describes himself. He's a crack shot (really) with a sling, and he's strong, too, giving his sling bullets some pop. He tends to hunt on his own in the mountains to keep up his skills, but his desire for gold often overcomes his distaste for the company of others.

ST 13 HP 12 Speed 6.00
DX 13 Will 10 Move 7
IQ 10 Per 12
HT 11 FP 11
Dodge 10 Parry (Knife) 11

Large Knife (16): 2d-3 cutting Reach C,1; or 1d impale; Reach C.
Sling (17): 2d piercing or 2d crushing. Acc 0, 260/325.

Traits: Combat Reflexes; Greed (9); Reduced HP -1 (included above); Wealth (Struggling); Skinny; Weapon Bond (Sling); Wounded.
Quirks: Carves "Deadeye Did This" into sling bullets; Delusion: anything can be killed if you sling at it hard enough; Loner.

Skills: Armoury (Missile Weapons)-10; Brawling-14; Climbing-13; Fast-Draw (Bullet)-14; Knife-16; Knot-Tying-13; Navigation (Land)-10; Sling-16; Stealth-13; Survival (Mountains)-12; Swimming-11; Weather Sense-9; Wrestling-12.

Gear: Boots (Feet DR 2); Clothing; Large Knife; Light Leather arms, torso, legs (DR 1); Personal Basics; Pouch w/20 sling bullets and 10 stones; Sack; Sling.

Notes: He's dropped his HP from 13 to 12; this fits the theme of "wiry but fragile" that keeps him in the rear ranks and not mixing it up. He's not quite maxed out his disadvantages, either, but makes up for that with his quirk. He also breaks the template a bit by choosing Knife as a main melee weapon; this can be treated as a new option on Archer:

3. Knife (E) DX+3 [8]-16.

Mostly that's not on the actual template because it's a really bad idea. But the mini I chose has a sling and a knife, so therefore Slim has a sling and a knife.

He spent some discretionary points on improved Basic Move.

Also, in my own games, I make sling stones do crushing damage and sling bullets do piercing, instead of both doing piercing. This gives the sling a little more flexibility as a weapon.

His mini, which I can't find a picture of at the moment, is the "thief with sling" from the old AD&D Monks, Bards, and Thieves minis set.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hand-Me-Downs and Expired Potions

So there was this great line accompanying this illustration over on Blue Boxer Rebellion:

"Hand-me-downs and expired healing potions. It's a lifestyle."

Hand-me-downs? Expired healing potions? Sounds like a great deal for the miserly adventurer.

Hand-me-downs: You can take any starting gear (what you start play with) at 20% off as a "hand-me-down" from a retired (or "dead") or better-heeled adventurer who has moved on to other things. However, for each piece of hand-me-down gear, the GM secretly rolls 1d. On a 1, that piece of gear is going to fail this adventure and will let you down in a crunch - when it really matters. If a parry roll calls for breakage, it fails. If you depend on the rope, it snaps, etc. Treat this the same as Unluckiness, but it counts for uses of that particular piece of gear, not to the character overall. But hey, 20% off.

Expired Potions: Costs 40% of list ("over 50% off!" says the sign). Sold As-Is! No Refunds! When you drink it, roll 1d.

1 - potion is spoiled and is dangerous to the imbiber! Treat it as poison. Roll HT; failure results in 1d damage, success reduces this to 1 point of damage.
2 - potion doesn't work at all.
3 - potion works at half effect (or half duration, if the potion makes more sense)
4+ - works normally.

Healing potions of all sorts are a bit safer - roll at a +1. They won't be poisonous, but they might not work well.

Optionally, you get an additional -10% discount off the base price for each -1 to the roll, with a floor of 10% of base cost. This can make healing potions poisonous!

Also optionally, allow an Alchemy roll to taste-test to check the potion, per DF2 p. 14. Sorry, no sampling until you've purchased it! Again, No Refunds!

+Doug Anderson, thanks for the inspiration!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

DF Felltower Gear: Meteoric Iron Bullets

My players asked for these, since (now) ST 18 Vryce uses a sling as his missile weapon.

Meteoric Sling Bullets and Prodd Bullets. Normal cost for this ammunition is $0.10 a pop, so meteoric costs a relatively astronomical $2 per bullet.

Notes: This is kind of cheap for what it does, but I figure, you can use the little meteoric leavings that just won't quite make a knife or sword and is thus otherwise less than easily salable. So the smith has got to be feeling like you offered money in return for hauling away his trash for him. It also assumes iron bullets would cost the same as lead ones, but I'm okay with that, too, since lead isn't terribly cheap either. If you're not, up the price a bit. You could make these +199 CF ($20 each) and they're still a bargain for a delver with wizardly enemies. But I'm not into raising the price of these just because the final cost isn't that high.

As usual for Meteoric, these bullets will shoot right through Missile Shield or Deflect Missile, and ignore the DB bonus from the Shield and the DR bonus from the Armor spell. They don't ignore the DR bonus from Fortify in my game, however, because of prior rulings that Fortify fundamentally strengthens the underlying material, it doesn't provide some kind of magical force field that meteoric could ignore.

By the way, this worked fine when they used them, too.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Power-Ups Rulings from DF Felltower

Here a few more rulings I've made for my game, specifically on new Power-Ups.

I wrote or helped write a lot of the Power-Ups but they don't all fit the flavor of the game I'm running. Others I thought would be fun to tweak.

Wizard Hunter: This advantage from Pyramid 3/61 is available in my games, but you must float your skill to the lower of Perception or Dexterity to take advantage of it during an attack.

Notes: This is to add some depth to the ability. The "lower of" aspect is to prevent a DX 15, Per 20 Scout from having a better chance to hit through a Missile Shield than someone without one.

And to answer one of my player's questions - no, this does not affect most Blocking spells. It would bypass Iron Arm just like a meteoric weapon would, but similarly it wouldn't bypass Phase or Blink. The wizard still gets to defend if you bypass a defense such as Missile Shield or Force Dome. Wizards aren't stupid, they know this exists, and they don't need to know you know it to assume that some people do and act accordingly. Those who use Iron Arm to defend should know better.

Unarmed Master: I have a genre switch already in my games that means that martial artists don't need this to prevent themselves from getting hurt when attacking or parried. But despite that, this advantage's cost is unchanged. The benefit of this advantage in my game is the stackable striker. Striker + claws + Seven Secret Kicks/Fists of Power + Karate damage bonuses = awesome.

Mifter Teeth - This is available, but you can't double-draw arrows this way, so you're limiting yourself to single shots.

Notes: I think that makes this less of a no-brainer and more of a "do I want more defense or more offense?" But yeah, silly as this one is, if you really want to shoot bows with your teeth, go for it. Don't critically miss and roll "hit yourself."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Felltower Myths: The Legend of the Magic Sky Fish

A while back, I forwarded this awesome post from roll1d12 to my players:

Xenophobia in the Underworld

One of my friends, Mike, who plays Galen, commented that #1 was arguably true from the perspective of the razorfish and the armored shark that live in some water in Felltower's depths. The same ones which had eaten more than a dozen adventurers and hirelings.

Here was my response:

"From the razorfish perspective, you guys were proof that there is, indeed, a Magic Sky Dwelling Fish God who occasionally rains food down on those who worship him. Generations of razorfish will tell the tale of the Miracle of the Scouts and the Wizards, and how there was so little to eat and then the Sky Dwelling Fish God gave and gave and gave. So much that not all of the food could be eaten, and the Sky Dwelling God took some away to teach them the importance of eating more quickly."

That's the basis of a whole religion, right there, if it wasn't for razor fish having IQ substantially less than 7 and not much of an oral tradition. Besides the tradition of eating people.

Still, I just like saying "The Miracle of the Scouts and the Wizards."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: GURPS Vikings

This is another review of a piece of gaming material that I like a lot. It's for GURPS 3rd edition, which is no longer the current version of the game. SJG has been releasing their old back catalog on PDF.

Technically, I'm reviewing the softcover version of the book, which I received back in the day as a credited playtester. But it's available in PDF now, and it's been over 12 years since I read the material thoroughly, so I decided it was worth a close re-look at it.

GURPS Vikings, 2nd Edition (for GURPS 3rd Edition)
by Graeme Davis
Published 2002 by Steve Jackson Games
$7.99 PDF

As you might expect, this book covers Vikings. Like any GURPS historical book, it covers the period with an eye to a) accuracy and b) using said accuracy for gaming. It also specifically covers inaccuracy, with a list of 10 viking myths (horned helmets, big axes, dragon heads on all of their ships, lawless, etc.) and how wrong they are (and a suggestion for using all of them for a silly campaign).

The book ranges from the beginning of the Viking age all the way to the end. It discusses the whole range - social mores of the various societies and their differences, social rank, trade, raiding, law, duels, honor, and more. It deals with both locals and how foreigners are treated. It covers the original pagan religions and their temples and beliefs, and Christianity, and how they interacted. There are Norse sames and nicknames, too. It's brief to list but everything is gone over in sufficient detail for immediate use in a game.

There are also some really nice maps - one big one, and one smaller one centered on Scandinavia. There is one depicting a hex-mapped steading, too, which can be blown up and printed out if you need one for a fight.

Suggested campaigns range from thoughtful, historical all the way to high-action mythic and everything in between. Nicely, several campaigns are suggested, both in story-arc fashion as well as shorter adventure seeds and nicely sandboxy setups - mythic troll wars and one of exploration especially.

Rule-wise, it includes a few nice tidbits:

- a naval travel section, with sufficient rules to deal with storms and travel times and travel difficulties.
- a legal framework for resolving a case before the Thing. Great for when you want the dice to decide how the Thing decides the case.
- details on the magical items of the gods in GURPS terms.
- cost and details on ships, complete with speeds in real-world terms (mph not knots, though, since mph convert to GURPS's yard-based scale more easily)
- cost for livestock and home items, too - important in a low-tech gift-heavy economy.
- 3e Mass Combat details for the troops. These will need some adaptation for 4e's Mass Combat.

There are a fair number of critters in it, too - including multiple Norse undead. Not just draugr, but also a number of other tomb guardians and discussion of sendings (a summon spirit sent to kill and/or haunt someone). There are also trolls and troll-wives, various spirits, giants, and the various legendary critters (Fenris, Jormungand, Garm, etc.) Normal creatures, including new world animals the Vikings may have met in Newfoundland, are also covered.

Any complaints? - The focus is squarely on Vikings, although - to me oddly, it doesn't cover Beowulf. I know Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon story, but it's a story about Vikings, with classic literary examples of Norse honor and expectations, and about a hero fighting monsters and a dragon. If Beowulf doesn't fit in here, where would he go? Even more oddly, a movie based on a book based on Beowulf (The 13th Warrior, one of my favorites) is listed in the bibliography.

There is a weird bit of rules-error on two of the magic items, too - a reference to Fortify on a weapon (Shatterproof is for weapons, Fortify is for armor). A weapon with potentially more than Puissance +3 is there too, although +3 is the rules limit and it doesn't mention that's deliberately so.. I should have caught that in playtest, since I was a playtester and rules detail is supposedly my strong point.

Couldn't I just buy a history book? Yes, of course, but GURPS Vikings is written by a gamer for gaming. So the details really concentrate on what will matter to a player or GM in a Viking game. The book answers questions on trade, combat, exploration, society, honor, and what-not with an eye to playing. There is some coverage of basic history, but again, with an eye to gaming. So it's organized topically, and details that adventurers would find noteworthy are highlighted.

Even if you don't play GURPS, only a passing familiarity with it is enough to tell you what the rules mean, and give you a framework to hang your own rules over. If you can't use the storm table for naval travel or the status list showing the relative level of folks in society to one another without converting them, they are nonetheless there and easy to use for inspiration.

How is it for 4th edition? It's a fine sourcebook. You can use most of the monsters with minimal conversion - you'll want to drop their HT a bit and scale their ST to weight or lifting capacity instead of using 3e's much higher numbers. Or not, for supernatural types.

Is it worth $7.99? Yes, I think so. It's worth more than that if you're going to run a Viking game of any kind, and it's probably pretty much worth the cost just for having realistic Vikings in your game world. If you're doing that and running 3rd edition GURPS, it's a steal at the price. Recommended.

Looking for more reviews? I've got your reviews right here.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

DF Felltower NPC: Picksticker Paul

Here is another DF NPC from my Felltower game. This is Pigsticker Paul, a spearman. He's only made one trip with the PCs, and didn't make out so well. But he lived, and he's still around and looking for work on occasion. He's based on, loosely, the Guard template from Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen.

"Pigsticker" Paul

Paul is a dark-skinned man from some exotic southern land, which he never discusses, nor why he's in the cold north. He's hoping for a real job in one of the guild- or noble-funded armed forces in Stericksburg, but he mainly gets menial or excessively dangerous work. So when he's around he'll volunteer for just about anything that involves the possibility of treasure.

ST 12 HP 12 Speed 6.00
DX 12 Will 10 Move 6
IQ 10 Per 10
HT 12 FP 12
Dodge 9 Parry (Spear) 10 Block 9 (if equipped with a shield)

Balanced Spear (15): 1H: 1d+2 impaling, Reach 1; 2H: 1d+3 impaling, Reach 1,2*.

Traits: Striking ST 1; Social Stigma (Minority Group); Temperature Tolerance 1; Wealth (Poor); Weapon Bond (Pigsticker).
Quirk: Bad hangovers; Strong silent type.
Skills: Boating-12; Brawling-12; Knife-12; Seamanship-10; Spear-13; Shield-12; Wrestling-11.

Gear: Clothing; Personal Basics; Pouch; Balanced Spear ("Pigsticker".)

Notes: Paul doesn't wear armor. Or shoes (he's converted from a Foundry pirate mini), even in the cold weather. He also refuses to throw his spear, because it's one of his only possessions and he's not trained to. He knows how to use a shield but generally eschews one, mainly because he's poor enough that he's sold off one for food money whenever he's had to. He only refuses to part with his spear, Pigsticker.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Random Roundup

Here a few quick bits that don't quite rise to the level of a full post but I wanted to post regardless!

Melee Academy and GURPS 101 Call For Topics - This is your chance to tell the bunch of us who write those what you'd like to see. It's equally a call for you to join the fun and write posts on those subjects as well.

Pyramid Writer's Group - SJG's Pyramid magazine is a good place to get work published, but writing to SJG's style can be a bit hard at first. So Christopher Rice and others have gotten together a (private email) group to help writers put their articles into shape. Here he is, talking about it. They've already gotten some articles into the pipeline. I'm not involved for reasons of busy-ness plus laziness, but folks with heavy SJG writing resumes are! It's unofficial and not affiliate with SJG, but the guys in it are trustworthy and know their stuff.

Transhuman Space: Wings of the Rising Sun came out. I can be really picky about stuff based on Japan, because I lived there and I speak some Japanese (although incidentally I'm not in general an anime/Japanese pop culture fan.) But this one I like. I wish I'd realized the author lived in Japan. I could have perhaps played some face-to-face GURPS games while I was living there. Well, when I eventually move back, perhaps. This is in my queue for a deep read-through after I finish up on GURPS Vikings and my DCC Christmas loot . . . well, maybe before, if I count it as extra credit Japanese study.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What GURPS Magic spells do your players like?

I'm curious what spells in GURPS Magic your players seem to favor excessively, or always put on the "must have" list.

For mine:

Healing spells and Recover Energy are always taken if they are allowed. You simply are much less valuable without the latter, and healing is too valuable to be without in some fashion. In DF, healing spells (normally a wizardly prerogative in GURPS) are off-limits to non-clerics, so we don't see any on mages. But Recover Energy, always.

Great Haste. This is the number one spell I see taken. It's extremely valuable as a force-multiplier on your best fighters, and on the mage himself (who then casts twice as fast for a while.) It's so must-have that players occasionally feel limited in their magic choices - you can't make a mage without it, basically. Sometimes they do, briefly, and then end up leaning it. Few prereqs, extremely effective.

Teleport. If this wasn't allowed in DF, they'd have it there too. Cheap and easy and terribly effective. My last game was largely centered around teleportation and Gate magic.

Seek Earth. It's rare for my gamers to be without this spell. They figured out early on it was good for hunting treasure, and good for hunting bad guys with steel weapons, too.

Seeker. Another one they used so often I had to get very strict about it, and I still get a lot of vague seek requests or oddly phrased targeted requests. Still, it's how my players have determined where a lot of missing items have gotten off too. Great for "bring the widget to the quest-giver" scenarios for the players.

Levitation. Not as much anymore, since I nerfed it from its "cheap and easy win button" application, but for a long time Levitate was the primary combat spell in my games. Non-flying enemies without significant resistance were neutralized, just like that.

Shield. It's a rare fight without someone getting Shield +5 cast on them, or even higher thanks to higher Magery or Power Investiture. The massive jump in defenses allows for standing up to big crowds and holding your own against even offensively superior foes, and if they can't hit you they can't hurt you.

And I won't even start on Create Servant.

How about your guys? If you use or used GURPS Magic, what are the "can't live without" spells of your group? If you're not using GURPS Magic, feel free to comment, but I'm a wee bit less curious about spells I'm not using in my game . . .

Thursday, January 9, 2014

GURPS 101: HT and FP

This is part of a multi-blog series on the basic and secondary attributes in GURPS. If you're new to the system, what are some things you'll want to think about? GURPS is point buy, so it's not up to the dice, but rather up to you and your point budget to decide. Today we'll cover HT and FP.

Also see posts on Gaming Ballistic, Ravens 'n' Pennies, and the GURPS 101 page.

How much HT do you need?

My usual answer has been "as much as you can afford."
But unlike ST, DX, and IQ, there is a level of diminishing returns on HT. While ST, DX, and IQ all give your some straight-up abilities and lots of rolls to do good things and avoid bad, HT is largely giving you some straight-up abilities and rolls to avoid bad stuff.

Not only that, but the penalties to those rolls are fairly restrained.

Rolling to avoid death is a really important roll, even in a game with fairly trivial consequences for death. But it's got its own inherent margin of error (Mortal Wounds), too. I covered a lot of this ground already, writing about Death Checks in GURPS 101: Dying is Hard to Do.

The steepest penalty to Unconsciousness rolls is -4 (at -4xHP or below - see p. B419).

The nastiest poisons in the game rarely get as bad as HT-5 or HT-6, although they can be worse on occasion. Generally, though, beyond that level you tend to see more "No resistance" type stuff, so your HT doesn't matter.

Lots of advantages add directly to some HT rolls (Resistant to Disease, Resistant to Poison, Resistant, Hard to Kill, Hard to Subdue, Magic Resistance) or all HT rolls (Fit, Very Fit), too, and are so inexpensive for what they do they're a better choice than pure HT for those narrower purposes.

On top of this, HT isn't expensive and it is a pretty solid deal. It's 10/level, for a +1 to a lot of important (even life-or-death) rolls, one FP (see below), and +0.25 Basic Speed.

Basically, when in doubt, take HT 12 for 20 points and move on. Get a 13 if you're really hard to kill. A 14 if you are basically unstoppable in a Rasputin-like way, and above that doesn't matter so much. In a game with supernatural threats, you might want a bit more - err on the side of 13 instead of 12, 14 for really hard to hill, 15 for the unstoppable sorts. You do end up playing chicken with death, though, since you tend to stay up right until you go to negative five times HP.

What about magic? A number of spells do get resisted by HT, but the Rule of 16 (discussed before under IQ) helps you here. Combined with advantages like Fit and/or Magic Resistance, HT-resist spells are not a crushing threat, so it's not that useful to try to "max out" HT just to deal with them. Still, a solid HT score is very helpful against supernaturally-based physical threats.


You get FP on a one-for-one basis with HT, plus extras are 3 a level. The usual cap is 30% more than your HT, although there are other ways to get more FP if you really need them, such as Energy Reserve (GURPS Powers, p. 119.)

Are you using Extra Effort in Combat (p. B357), or not? If you are, FP is important for everyone. You can't have enough, and everyone should think about possibly getting more either directly or by improving HT. If you can't, it's much less important.

Are you using supernatural or exotic martial arts abilities? If you are, you need FP even if other people don't need to worry about it.

FP are only 3 points each, which is a steal when you're in a long combat and using magic or supernatural powers. But in general, it's hard to run out of FP in a normal game, unless you're in a long series of long combats. It's rare in my own games for PCs without non-supernatural powers to invest in extra FP.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Revised GURPS Magic: Mass spell casting times

Another thing I changed in my incremental revisions to GURPS Magic for my DF game is the casting times for Mass Daze, Mass Sleep, and Mass Suggestion.

Right now, Mass Sleep, for example, costs 3, minimum 6, time to cast is 1 second per point of energy. Therefore it takes 6 seconds to cast Mass Sleep on a 3-hex diameter area (aka area 2.) Want to hit a whole combat spread across 5 hexes? That's area 3, 9 seconds. Diameter 7? That's area 4, 12 seconds.

12 seconds is a lifetime in GURPS combats, and it's a resisted spell, and not cheap (12 points is more than a normal human's entirely allotment of Fatigue Points), so it's not even a fight-ender unless you roll very well and/or your foes fail badly. That's long enough that it's better to just Great Haste several of your friends or hit the area with Stench or Create Fire.

I'd suggest time to cast is the same as the minimum energy cost.

Mass Daze: 4 seconds
Mass Sleep: 6 seconds
Mass Suggestion: 8 seconds

None of them are especially fast, but combined with the revisions to the spells I suggested yesterday, this makes them much more viable. Mass Daze can take out bunches of foes long enough to go for a Telegraphic All-Out Attack to a vital spot on each, and Mass Sleep can put many opponents out completely. Serious casters will get skill 20+ and halve the time, too.

That makes them viable offensive spells. Plus, generally big spells are more expensive, not slower. There are a few exceptions (Windstorm is one), but they more than make up for it with fairly extreme effects.

We have been using these rules for a while, in case anyone was wondering why Mr. NPC Wizard got off such a big spell so quickly in my DF game.

Sharp-eyed folks will notice there are four Mass spells in GURPS Magic - the last being Mass Zombie. I didn't mention it above because I feel like it's an exception. It's meant not as a combat spell, but as a big, slow spell meant for waking up the dead on a battlefield or in a cemetery, and raising a (temporary) army of zombies to beat on your foes. It's not a combat spell, it just has to compete with Zombie, not things like Create Fire or Rain of Stones.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Revised GURPS Magic: Sleep vs. Daze

So an NPC wizard threw Mass Sleep on the PCs in my game the session before last, and put one to sleep.

There is an oddity in Sleep, which is it's not an especially deep or magical sleep by its wording. It's just sleep, with the caveat that slumping down doesn't wake you up. You can contrast this with Daze, which leaves someone standing oblivious to all but who is much harder to rouse.

Let's compare:

"Any injury, or successful resistance to a spell, causes the subject to snap out of the daze and return to full alert status."
GURPS Magic, p. 134

"He can be awakened by a blow, loud noise, etc., but will be mentally stunned (see Effects of Stun,p. B420). The Awaken spell (p. 90) will arouse him instantly."
GURPS Magic, p. 135

Nevermind the Morpheus (aka Sleep) elixir:

"The subject must roll vs. HT-4 or fall instantly asleep. He sleeps for 16-HT hours, and may not be awakened by nonmagical means during that time."
GURPS Magic, p. 218

In a way, this makes Daze cheaper and more effective, which a problem for three reasons:

- asleep folks should be less aware and harder to arouse than people merely out of it.
- Daze is a prereq for Sleep, implying strongly that Sleep should work better than Daze.
- Sleep costs more to cast than Daze, further implying strongly that Sleep should work better than Daze.

Plus you can add on top the idea that the elixir version is vastly more potent than any spell, which isn't that uncommon in GURPS Magic but isn't something I am a fan of, either.

Yet for all of that, you can (by the spell as written) wake someone up with any damage, jostling, loud noises, or the Awaken spell. Sleep does last (potentially) much longer, as much as 8 hours, but it's a vastly more fragile spell to put on someone. It also gets rid of a potentially interesting use to cast on already-sleeping subjects to keep them under more deeply.

It's also a bit of a mess when combined with the wording of Awaken.

"Sleeping or unconscious subjects get a HT roll to awaken, at a bonus equal to the caster’s margin of success.
GURPS Magic, p. 90

Awaken can un-stun folks, too, but says nothing about Daze's effects. Nor is it 100% clear if Awaken's wording trumps Sleep's wording - does Awaken automatically wake up a Sleep spell victim, or does it allow a roll per Awaken's wording? I know my players favor automatic, but they use Awaken and not Sleep. They also argued that injury from low FP (losing HP instead of FP) was injury, and that all injury automatically wakes you up. I can see the logic in it, but then that means people under a Sleep spell wake up with a snap when hurt, breathing carbon monoxide, the poison fumes of a Stench spell, etc. but people who are just asleep without magic may not, or exhausted without being asleep might not, either.

I like the built-in duration effects of Morpheus, but not its inability to be countered without magic. It's too limiting, meaning only PC parties with a wizard with Awaken can shrug this off yet a wizard can't put someone that deeply to sleep. I think that makes the elixir a bit unfair, even for the cost.

Naturally, I'm going to unify the results a bit.

Here is the re-wording of the relevant portions of these spells for my game:

Daze: Any injury (even a 0-HP slap) or successful resistance to a spell, causes the subject to snap out of the daze and return to full alert status. A sufficiently loud noise (a Thunderclap spell, for example, or a nearby explosion) may allow a HT roll to snap out of it, at the referee's discretion.

Sleep: Any injury (even a 0-HP slap) or successful resistance to a spell, causes the subject to wake up, but he will be mentally stunned (see Effects of Stun, p. B420) unless woken with the Awaken spell. A sufficiently loud noise (a Thunderclap spell, for example, or a nearby explosion) may allow a HT roll to snap out of it, at the referee's discretion. The victim will sleep for 1 hour for each point by which he failed to resist (minimum 1 hour.)

Morpheus: The subject must roll vs. HT-4 or fall instantly asleep, exactly as the Sleep spell (see p. 135)

Awaken: Sleeping or unconscious subjects, including those under Daze or Sleep spells, get a HT roll to awaken, at a bonus equal to the caster’s margin of success.

Personally, I think that tidies up the effects. Sleep is more effective than before, which suits its cost, but lasts much less than its vague but potentially extremely long current duration. Daze now has more ways out, so you can't have to actually injure your friends to end the spell. The sleep elixir is now identical to the spell instead of being oddly powerful. And Awaken is broader and more effective against any of those three.

Not only that, but this is consistent with how I ran it last game on the fly when I realized the oddity.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Handing My Players the Map

Two sessions ago in my DF game, the PCs found a labyrinth and explored a little of it. Just enough to realize it was dangerous and time-consuming, so they backed off to leave it for the next session.

Last session, they spent most of their time trying to puzzle out the labyrinth. They gamely tried to map it, and because of the difficulty in doing so, ended up spending more time checking their location and backtracking and re-mapping then actually solving any puzzle aspects of the labyrinth.

Part of that was because the maze is a little confusing, but also because it's hard to describe, it's hard to settle on orientation (who is facing where when I say "left" or "right"). Not a little confusion was because I copied the labyrinth from someone else's megadungeon, because I liked it so much. (I can't say which, because it might spoil the surprise if any of my players have read it.) That guy uses a lot of "no thickness" walls - those pencil lines on graph paper than separate one room from another. My tunnel walls are almost all 10+ thick, so it was a real shift when the PCs confronted walls under a foot thick and 10' ahead meant well into the turn, not reaching the edge point.

So I offered them a chance to buy a 100% accurate, but incomplete, map of the labyrinth in town from a sage. Usual price for a sage, but out of game I assured them it would be correct, no roll.

Out of game, this spares me another session of "do you mean your right or our right?" "That can't be, it circles back to the door." "How can that be if I'm facing there?" and so on. It spares my players a session of trying to orient themselves, when their characters could, would, and should have a much better perspective on the maze.

The puzzle of the maze isn't the maze, per se, but the dangers in it and what they expect will be a reward for figuring it out. After all, the wizard they killed was fleeing to this labyrinth, and a rumor they'd heard backs up the idea it might be a good place to check out.

In game, the explanation is that the maze's layout had been drawn in a book, but until the PCs put out some description of the labyrinth it wasn't clear what the map was of. So they paid their money and got a copy of the map, assured to be accurate as far as it goes and done by the designers (or possibly previous users) of the maze.

Honestly, last session was fun but could have been much more fun had they gone in armed with the map. The danger is unchanged, but the out-of-game frustration of maze orientation is gone. It's not like the previous maze they'd dealt with, in which the confusing layout was the point. This has another point and giving them the map makes it easier on all of us to get to the fun.

I just wish I'd decided to do this and taken the time to make the map before last time. But what's done is done, and they've got the map now!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

DF Game Session 39, Felltower 30

January 5th, 2014

Weather: Very cold, heavy accumulated snow, occasionally sleet/ice pellets

Characters: (approximate net point total)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (324 points)
     Father Hans, human cleric (130 points, NPC)
     Shieldbearer Jon, human guard (62 points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (401 points)
     Lucky Pete - one-handed human guard (not many points, NPC), volunteer hireling
     Gort - Dwarf of the Shining Force (??, Dwarf)

Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (327 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (250 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (297 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)

We started the session, as usual, in Stericksburg. The group gathered rumors, bought some gear (mostly spellstones and healing potions), and headed out. They heard rumors, including one about a lost city somewhere deep in the dungeon, another about folks having used sections of the dungeon as burial grounds (complete with traps and occasional eternal guardians), and still another that Prince Valashkabash III of Cashamash offering 10 gold eagles for the location of the orc-king's lost tomb, 100 gold eagles for the orc-king's crown. They heard two about pools - one of the best booze in the world (but only drunk straight from the pool) and another about one you can dip swords in to give them (temporarily) a keen edge.

Raggi wasn't there (12 or less to show up, I rolled a 13), but two volunteers were around - Lucky Pete and Gort. They took them along.

This time they bypassed the orcs, digging out the bugbear's entrance and heading in that way, not wanting to share treasure (or knowledge) with the orcs and aiming to loot the wizard's lair. They took a side route through some secret doors but as they headed to the stairs down they ran into an orc guard post. The three orcs attacked and killed their scouting servant, but as they burst out of the room they ran into Vryce, Gort, and Chuck. In one second one was down, then Dryst silenced the yelling orcs as Gort and Chuck hacked down the other two. Gort got a lucky set of rolls and chopped the orc (barely), who blew his defense, and then rolled "Face" and maximum damage. Chop. Orc dropped.

The PCs looted them of their ready cash (some silver, some copper, one had 3 gold) and then tossed them down a nearby privy. No one mentioned finishing them off, but all had very severe injuries (the face-slashed one was the least injured) and probably didn't survive the 10' fall to the refuse below.

The group headed out and down, especially quickly after hearing orc sounds in the other direction. Once down, they quickly moved into the wizard's area after crowbarring through a barred door in the statue room (while Silenced, to avoid alerting anyone.)

They moved into the "wizard's area" - centered on the lens room and the maze.

First, they investigated the maze, trying their best to map it out. They found a dead end, marked with a glowing rune about 6" tall on the wall (I wrote "floor" last time, in error), in the Elder Tongue, that translated as "transport." They sent a servant up to take a rubbing, trace the rune, and otherwise fiddle with it, without any effect. But then, the decided it would only activate with real person activating it. So they got ready, and Vryce activated the rune after Dryst tried (and failed) to Wild Talent Telepathy so they could find out where he was transported to.

Sadly, it wasn't what it said it was. Instead of transporting Vryce, instead it set off a magical trap which SLAMMED down a crushing force down onto the group. It did 37 damage (10d!) to everyone, large area injury. This spelled doom for a good part of the group. Lucky Pete was slammed down to -24 HP and rolled a 16 on his death check - dead! Gort took a similar amount but thanks to his higher HP total and a better HT, he (barely) made the check and survived. Same with Shieldbearer Jon, who was smitten unconscious but was still barely alive. Father Hans wasn't so lucky, failing his HT check by a lot (he's only HT 10, and that caught up to him) - dead. Dryst (7 HP) had to make multiple death checks, and failed the second by 2 . . . mortally wounded. Chuck (who, along with Vryce, was hurt but not terribly so) rushed forward to try to stabilize him with Esoteric Medicine. He failed.

I ruled they could give him a second chance at a die-or-not HT roll if they got him to full HP. So they crushed a few spellstones against Dryst, and then fed him a Minor Healing potion. He got his roll, and made it. He also made his roll to avoid long-term consequences from his near-death experience.

As they did this, a squishing, slurping noise came close to them - a gelatinous cube was moving in on them! Vryce hacked it apart - it took only a couple seconds, but he managed to hack it apart before it could either move in on the dead/injured or back off once he started in on it.

Meanwhile, Chuck fed Gort healing potions and bandaged up Jon enough to keep him alive.

They left the unconscious Jon and the dead behind and explored more. They had some real difficulty navigating the maze, because it's hard to describe and confusing in layout (everything in the metallic maze looks the same.) They found more of the runes, but touched none - although they had a servant try and determine that, like the other, nothing happened. They chalked up the death last time to a gelatinous cube.

After trying to find all the runes and getting turned around a few times, they closed off their map as best they could and headed out.

They took a detour into the "flaming skulls" room and killed them off. We didn't even roll - they had Chuck and Vryce with magic weapons that seemed to be efficacious against them, and Dryst used Resist Fire on all three PCs (and put Gort to guard the door). Since the skulls couldn't do damage and wouldn't flee, it was just a matter of time. We declared them dead and moved on. They mapped out the area - it was clearly a prison, and See Secrets showed nothing hidden.

They went back to the lens room. They fiddled with the repelling doors (which bounced lightning, and a thrown coin, equally easily). They spent a good bit of time with the lenses, turning them around and setting them up for rebound shots. They threw lightning in a way to hit all the lenses and then into the labyrinth, both with Vryce in there (with Resist Lightning on) and not in there, trying to see where the lightning ricocheted, hoping it would lead them to the true rune. No such luck. Reflecting lightning into the repelling doors didn't do anything, either, and Identify Spell during a reflection came up with an unknown magic.

After a lot of time messing around, they headed it. Chuck's player had to leave early, and it was clear they didn't have any more ideas and no one wanted to explore new territory at the end of a session. They turned everyone invisible (a 4 on one casting helped a lot), and headed out the dungeon carrying their wounded (Jon) and dead (Hans, Lucky Pete) to the surface.

They made it out, spotting some evidence the orc corpses had been removed from the privy. They moved on and out.

Once on the surface they did their best to put snow back in front of the "secret" entrance and then headed back to town.

Father Hans was turned over to the church, Lucky Pete to the poor man's grave pit, and Jon set up to heal.

Not much accomplished this session, but still, it wasn't a bad day of gaming.


XP base is 5 for a trip, -1 for unprofitable, -1 for dead PCs/major henchmen, -1 for minimal exploration = 2 points for this session. No MVP, either, since no one felt like anyone had done anything to deserve it.

The group retroactively gave Basher 50 sp for last session, since they just forgot in the rush to get home.

Ironically, we had some combat rules we wanted to test out today, but nothing came up. The orc fight was too brief for them to come up, the flaming skulls fight wasn't even worth rolling dice for since they couldn't harm the PCs and the PCs could easily harm them.

Lucky Pete suffered the fate of all guys I write up stats for, I guess. He had a good run, and he should have been a helpless cripple once before. Still, it's sad to see him go.

Father Hans, too - the group would have gotten his resurrected, but it is 15,000 sp ($15K) to do, and no one had anything close to that. So that was that - it's possible the church might spring for it because he's such a powerful healer (Faith Healing, Power Investiture 4), but his adventuring days are over in either case. The PCs looted him of the potions and potion belt they'd gotten him, but otherwise returned him to the church with everything he came with.

I joked off-hand that I should have had someone sell them a map of the labyrinth for 1000 sp. They said they'd have paid it. That's not actually a terrible idea. The issue with a labyrinth like this is that it's hard to describe, map, and visualize, not that it's so terribly confusing if you're actually there. So maybe I will have someone offer a reasonably accurate map for sale, since it's certainly plausible they exist. The challenge with the maze is the runes, not the layout, exactly. We'll see. Had I done so I expect this session might have been more productive and thus more fun, and I'm sorry I didn't think of this and follow through on it before.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Expunging Unnecessary Die Rolls

There is a nice and thought-provoking post about gamers and RPG design over on RPG Snob.

One thing he mentions is the notion that players do, actually, want to roll dice. Minimizing die rolls can get fetishized a bit in game design, yet rolling dice is fun, fun enough to sing about.

Yet I tend to very strongly take the approach in my games (writing or playing) that you want to minimize the die-rolling.

At the same time, I think die-rolling is a lot of fun, and I like to make things into die rolls when I can.

This may seem a bit of a contradiction. but it's not - my goal is to eliminate all unnecessary die rolls. Die rolls which don't add to the fun.

For example, I created a couple of Perks for GURPS that get rid of Fast-Draw rolls for Dungeon Fantasy archers. Why? Because it was a lot of extra rolls, and succeeding was routine and failure was not-fun. So all the rolls did was take time, and no one enjoyed the game more for them.

I've eliminated some fun die rolls from my games - no more critical hit table rolls, we use a simpler system. But the tradeoff was necessary. We got rid of that fun (roll on the table, see what cool stuff happens!) to speed up play (do more stuff instead! More fights overall!) and found it was a net increase in fun. It's like skipping to hit and damage rolls on helpless foes and declaring them dead - you don't add enjoyment by adding those rolls, so dump them.

At the same time, I've added die rolls to my games. We roll for rumors. We roll to see what gear is around when you go to buy stuff. Why? Fun rolls. Success is good, failure is groan-worthy, and the die rolls all have real impact.

I feel the same about table lookups - if you have a choice between mechanism A (which is complex, and requires a table lookup) and B (which is more simple, and does not), and they are equally fun, go with B. Generally if I'm not sure, I go with B. Better a smoother, faster, simpler system that doesn't make you look stuff up (saves time spent doing bookkeeping, not gaming). A chart lookup can be fun, but it has to be more fun than not looking it up.

So it's not that rolling dice is bad - far from it. But rolling when it's not necessary and you can make a mechanism which does more in less rolls, that's bad. Rolling when it adds fun to roll, that's good.

And that's how I roll.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Writing, Writing, Writing

I've spent a good chunk of the past two days - effectively days off - writing GURPS stuff. Not for my game, exactly, but finishing up two co-writing projects with Douglas Cole.

What started as "I'll do a quick pass over the draft" for an project we're writing turned into hours of writing, then a few hours of Doug writing, and then passing it back to me for more writing. Same today.

It's DF related, as is the other one we finally got into "submit for comment" state. We will see what comes of either of them.

Writing is fun, really, and I love seeing something come together and feeling the words just flow out to make rules read in a sensible and understandable form.

At the same time, I'm glad we've gotten to where we are. One of these has elements I need to playtest heavily, and I already have to okay from my most rules-concerned players* to give them a try.

But man it's nice to thing, okay, "what's next to start?" and "let's see how it plays out in actual use" and not "I need to crank out another 1,000 words on this subject and check all the rules references to ensure consistency."

* I'd say rules lawyers, but they're more like rules advocates for the GM. They typically start sentences with things like "I think the rules let me do this, but they shouldn't . . . " They'll abuse things if I tell them that yes, it's supposed to be abused in that way. If not, they'll cheerfully cooperate on fixing it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

GURPS 101: IQ, Will, and Perception

This is part of a multi-blog series on the basic and secondary attributes in GURPS. If you're new to the system, what are some things you'll want to think about? GURPS is point buy, so it's not up to the dice, but up to you and your point budget to determine your stats. Today we're lookin at the third of those stats - IQ - and its secondary traits - Will and Perception.

Also see posts on Gaming Ballistic, Ravens 'n' Pennies, and the GURPS 101 page.

How much IQ do you need?

IQ, like DX, is a multi-part attribute. In and of itself it is useful, but the secondary characteristics Will and Perception are directly derived from it. It's not cheap - 20/level - so your goal should be to determine how much you need based on your skills.

IQ provides your base for a large swath of mental skills - generally the ones that depend on knowledge (Science skills, Hidden Lore, Lockpicking in a realistic game, etc.) or mental acuity (Merchant, Fast-Talk) or both. It is also the base stat for spells, making it a critical element of a well-built mage.

To some degree you can avoid the need for a high IQ with Talents, which give pluses to skills over and above the base attribute. But for a generalist, or where you have too disparate a skill set, and/or you've maxed out your talent (this happens a lot with mages), you'll want a solid IQ.

GURPS also has a few places where you need to make straight IQ rolls. One particularly nasty example is mental stunning from Total Surprise (p. B393). You need to roll IQ to snap out of the shock of a completely surprising attack. Partial Surprise allows a cumulative bonus to snap out of it (since you're not totally unready for action), and Combat Reflexes can make the rolls trivially easy, but IQ is still a factor. You'll also need to make IQ rolls to avoid being fooled in combat, pull off a Ruse (Martial Arts, p. 00). IQ helps you unjam guns (p. B407), too. The list isn't exhaustive, but those are some examples of why it's useful to be smart - or at least, dangerous to be stupid, regardless of what kind of guy you're making.

In general, a good IQ is important, but plenty of folks get by with little or no additional IQ, simply through using Talents and specializing in non-mental skills. Per and Will are cheap enough on their own if you need a lot of them, and you can save 10 points by skipping out on IQ. But if you're going that route and expect combat, you will need Combat Reflexes to avoid standing around during surprise attacks.

Hey, I'm old-school, so the PC is just as smart as the player. In GURPS, this isn't entirely true. It's bad roleplaying to take IQ 7 and play your guy as a genius. But beyond that, GURPS is a skill-based system so how your guy executes his attempts is roll-based. A smart guy is going to succeed at brainy stuff more often - whether it is deciphering the code, picking the lock, spotting a Ruse, or snapping out of surprise. Like physical actions, GURPS leaves the decision of what to try up to the player but the success of execution up to the PC and the dice.

Now, on to the derived characteristics.

How much Perception?

Perception is what lets you see things, hear things, taste things, and otherwise sense things.

There are also a solid number of Per-based skills. Per-based Traps lets you spot traps. Survival is Per-based, because living in the wilderness is as much what you notice as what you know. Per-based skills like Search and Observation let you scope out the bad guys or find that stuff the smuggler hid so cleverly. Tracking is Per-based, too, and lets you follow folks like Aragorn does in the movies. Per is your defense against sneaky foes, too, as Per will let you see or hear intruders.

Perception also lets you hear invisible foes well enough to take a shot at them (or attempt a defense), see the ambushers so far out it's not an ambush so much as a partly-hidden defensive position, or smell the dangerous gas before it's too late.

Per is only 5/level, too.

So how much do you need? At 5/level it only takes two Per-based skills to make it worth increasing, and the flat bonus to sense checks that gives you is important. No outdoorsy type, sniper, or point man should be without a lot of Per.

Occasionally PCs will sell back some of their Per as a disadvantage - the Wizard template in Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers does that. It's not a bad strategy if your character is meant to be brainy but not especially keen-sensed. But like selling back anything, you should be really certain you don't need it.

How much Will?

Will, like Per, is only 5/level. It is the basis of a few interesting skills, too - largely cinematic martial arts skills like Power Blow, or tough guy skills like Intimidation. If you want to be Chiun, you need a good Will score.

Will is critical for resisting a great many magical attacks and Psi powers. Will lets you shrug off exhaustion and keep going, or stay up late. It helps you resist hallucinations or drowsiness. It resists Influence rolls, and it is the score you roll against for Fright Checks. In a fantasy or sci-fi game with supernatural powers, you are going to be unhappy with a low Will score.

Like Per, you could sell back some Will as a disadvantage, but I've never personally seen in done in my games.

Will and the Rule of 16 - One important thing to know is the Rule of 16. Basically, the avoid "automatic victory over resistance" by getting extremely high Will-resisted attack spells, the Rule of 16 applies. Basically, the attack is capped at 16, or equal to the defender's score. So getting Will 16 makes the best chance of success against you from things like hostile spells a 50/50 prospect. Modifiers can hose you here, of course, but it's worth realizing that extremely high Will is effectively capped in utility, but so is the offense against you.

Overall, IQ is a good buy for anyone with a well-rounded set of mental skills. Will and Per are better purchases, alone or in conjunction with IQ, for folks with a more focused set of mental skills. Or for those who just need to spot things (scouts, guards) or shrug off influence and supernatural attack (everyone in a fantasy game.)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...