Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Character Creation

Biff Bam: "Ok I'll be helping with character crEEPation, did you all bring an algebraHAic calculators?" 

"Monty Python Mishaps In The Deepest Pit Of Homebrew Hell" by Al Bruno III

Build all characters on 125 points. Ideally, these characters should be built with a template, either from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen, or from Eric B. Smith's "Dungeon Fantasy on the Cheap." Three of my starting players built characters from DF 15 templates, the fourth took an older character and we spiffed him up.

There are five things I would like in each character:

  • Two associated NPCs. Think of them as unreliable Contacts, or not-too-clingy Dependents. They're for light roleplaying near home, and for feeding adventures to the group.
  • Two threads. These are small personal plots for the character.
  • What that character would do if his player doesn't show up that week.

The threads and NPCs also let me roll up scenes with the Mythic GM Emulator. Anyways, for each of these, this gives the character a bonus character point. If you advance one of your threads in a session, you get another character point.

Having a description and backstory is worth 5 character points. Be detailed, but not too detailed, and don't have a backstory dependent on being in an utterly far away land. If any of you have read "The 7-Sentence NPC" from Dragon #193 (summary; it's also the basis for the NPC details in the D&D Dungeon Masters Guide 4th Edition), that's the level of detail I want, and the level I have for NPCs.

Finding a picture for the character is worth a free character point, two if you drew it yourself. If another player in the game drew it for you, you get one point, he gets the other. Bringing a mini for your character is worth a point, two if you painted it yourself. No points if Chris brings you one of his; that's what Chris always does.

Most of the standard Dungeon Fantasy character creation rules apply, though I do allow the Scroll spell for wizards, and Area Knowledge has its usual use from other GURPS games.

Giving me a log of the session is worth a character point, as is drawing a map of wherever you looted.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hexcrawling Rules

I'll be sure to update this post periodically, but these are my rules for hexcrawling.


The character's effective Move after encumbrance is how many 5-mile hexes he can move in a day. A group moves at the speed of its slowest member. Once a day, everyone in the group makes a Hiking, Running or Skiing roll, depending on which way of moving that he is using. A success lets the character move another 20%; a critical success lets the character move another 40%. A critical failure drops the character's move by 20%.

The premise for the 5-mile hex is, other than that the Judges' Guild used them, that a normal man, without burden, can walk 25 miles in a day. That means about 10 hours of travel, per GURPS High Tech p. 55, 8 hours of sleep, and 6 hours of setting up camp and other things. A 6-mile hex will work if you accept that a normal man can walk 30 miles in a 12-hour day. Four-mile hexes are just too small.


The rules for weather in GURPS Basic Set: Campaigns aren't workable for this. On a hot day, you fail a HT roll and you lose FP, so you have to stop and get your FP back. That's lots of rolling for no gain.


Per p. B430, when the effective temperature drops below the bottom of a character's comfort zone (for humans, this is 35° F), his movement for the day drops by 10%. For every 10° below 35° F effective temperature, that is another 10% drop in movement.

If a character has an encounter at any point, he then makes the HT roll as described on p. B430 to see if he is down any FP at that point. The usual modifiers apply.


Per p. B434, when a character gets to the top 10° of his comfort zone (which, for humans and the like is 80° F), instead of losing FP, the character moves 10% slower for the day. For each extra 10° of temperature, the character moves an extra 10% slower. This is to assume that when a character starts to overheat, he ducks into the shade, and that's where the time is lost.
If a character has an encounter at any point, he then makes the HT roll as described on p. B434 to see if he is down any FP at that point. The usual modifiers apply.

Rain and Snow

When on the ground, rain and snow modify the terrain as p. B351: rain and light snow halve speed, snow deeper than ankle-deep quarters it. Roads don't matter; none of them are any good. Rain goes away after the day; snow stays until the temperature has been over 35° for 10 days with no snow. When falling, rain and snow halve movement for a time equal to the number of half-hour cells (I'm using the d30 Sandbox Companion) for non-severe storms, and stop it for severe storms. Or, in short, it's -2.5% per half-hour cell of non-severe storms and -5% per half-hour of severe storms. You can round to the nearest 10%, so a half-hour of light rain is no big deal.


Low atmospheric pressure happens at 6,000 ft. (And please, Steve Jackson Games, stop using the prime and double prime symbols, and write out "ft." and "in." It is much easier to read. Ask Nigel Tufnel.) Unlike cold and heat, the rules on p. B429 work well, since they handle effects for a whole day.

Weather Sense

Once a day, one character makes a Weather Sense roll. A success means he knows what the weather will be for the day, and can negate 10% of penalties for each of heat/cold and rain/snow. A critical success means he can negate 20% of those penalties, while a critical failure slows down all travel by 20% (if there's a rain storm, the group walks right into it, or if it's a sunny day, it keeps trying to prepare for rain).


If camping in the cold, make an HT or HT-based Survival (Arctic) roll if camping in less than 35° weather. The daily Weather Sense roll gives a +2 to the group's rolls if made. On a failure, a character wakes up with FP loss equal to points by which he missed the roll. Use usual modifiers in Basic under Cold. He must rest longer to get back this loss, resulting in -10% to Move for each FP lost unless he is willing to always be down the FP at any encounter. Winter bedding like a sleeping fur is considered the +5 clothing; a tent gives another +5.

Same story for camping in heat, except the Survival specialty is Desert. Yes, a tent gives a bonus.

If there is rain or snow during the night, a tent protects against light rain or snow. If not in a tent, the storm length counts as missed sleep. Tents might blow over in a storm: they stay up on 15 or less on 3d in a light storm (10-20 mph), 12 or less in a non-severe multicell storm (20-40 mph), 9 or less in a severe storm (40-60 mph), 6 or less in a supercell storm. They always blow over in a tornado. If in cold weather, the character now makes his HT rolls as wet.


When traveling through civilized areas, an encounter happens on 6 or less on 3d. Two rolls happen: one for the day, one for the night. For savage areas, I use a variant of Roger SG Sorolla's One-Page Wilderness System, with a roll of 12 on the d20 becoming a totally random encounter.

Encounter distance is 4d×10 yards (stolen from the Cook Expert Set). Add the biggest SM on each side to the roll before multiplying.

Surprise is a Perception check, modified by relative SM. If one side succeeds and the other fails, the winning side can move to 1d×10 yards before the other notices. See more details.

Evasion uses the rules for chases on p. 31 of GURPS Action 2: Exploits. Use party size as a modifier from Speed/Range as a bonus for the pursuer and a penalty for the quarry (e.g., a group of four men get a +1 against a lone elf, who gets a +2; when a lone dragon comes and chases all five of them, it gets a -2 penalty, as does the group of 5). Make only one roll a side, likely the best one.

Ugh, I lost some stuff, so here's the order, again adapted from the Expert set:

  1. The GM rolls weather.
  2. The GM or a player (depending on taste) rolls Weather Sense. Since we're talking about travel speed, I can't see too big a deal in a player rolling this, but it seems weird to me.
  3. The group makes Hiking (or Riding or Skiing) rolls.
  4. The GM calculates travel speed. This takes into account the weather, the Weather Sense roll, the Hiking/Riding/Skiing roll, and how well rested the group is.
  5. The GM makes two encounter checks: one for the first half of the day, one for the second.
  6. When going into a hex, there are two rolls the GM makes. The first is a Navigation (Land) roll. If this is failed, then the characters go into one of the nearby hexes, and the GM makes a Per-based Navigation (Land) roll to see if the navigator notices he screwed up. The other is an encounter check.
  7. If there's an encounter, resolve it. If really crappy weather happens, resolve it.
  8. Once the travel day is done, the party makes camp, and makes its Survival rolls to see if they lose HP (2d-4 HP loss on a failure)
  9. After this, it makes its Foraging rolls.
  10. There are two encounter checks, one for each half of the night.
  11. If there's an encounter, resolve it. If really crappy weather happens, resolve it.
  12. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Game log for 26 January 2014


Caleb, human wizard (125 points) (Nate)
Yémos, human cleric of Dōsaútōr (goddess of knowledge and magic) (125 points) (Eric)
Anêr, human swashbuckler (125 points) (Rett)


Mayhem, human midget (er ...) barbarian (125 points) (Chris)

The game starts on the morning of 9 Žnēâns 2852, after Caleb’s and Mayhem’s night at the Scarlet Harlot. Being murder-hoboes, er, wanderers, they spent the night on the floor. The weather is a lovely spring day.

Kôštē, a young female human wizard with cross eyes, starts the day by kicking Caleb (“Kêleb,” in my phonetic spelling, but “Caleb” on the player’s sheet) awake as he sleeps in on the floor of the common room of the Scarlet Harlot. She isn’t thrilled with his discussion of perpetual motion, and is upset that Praidīvós took him as an apprentice even after his spell mishap.

After her pushing, screaming and swearing (mostly swearing), Kôštē tells Caleb that she’ll show how to “do it right” and lobs a fireball at him. Caleb takes the full force of the fireball and falls down (critical failure on his Dodge roll), then crawls behind a table as Kôštē taunts him a second time. Yengrátōr, the barkeep at the Scarlet Harlot, screams out “No blasters!” after all this. Anêr, a young swordsman, gets out of the way.

Yémos comes into the tavern while this is happening, and, after sitting down, stands up again and asks Kôštē if she is a disciple of Dōsaútōr. She tells him she is (“How the fuck can I not follow the goddess?” she says after blowing off her smoking fingers), so he casts Shield on her. While he is casting, Caleb gets to his feet and admits that Kôštē is the better wizard. She walks off after a few more swear words with a smug smile on her face, as Yengrátōr, the barkeep, has his hand on the crossbow mounted under the bar.

Caleb goes up to the bar, and Yengrátōr points out to him and Yémos that Praidīvós wants the other to meet each other. Yémos tells Caleb of the plan to go to Dībités Rock and get the blood of a demon, and has a vessel that Praidīvós gave him for this, a small hollow statue of a balrog that seals at the neck. The two hire Anêr as a guard, and let Mayhem sleep on the floor (his player didn’t show up). The barkeep tells them Dībités Rock is well to the east of Bóllā, in the Eldalîvā Woods.

And they are off with those directions. The only thing of note that happened on this first day was that they passed through the village of Lûtē Downs. This village is a short walk (read: in the next hex) from Mīstássun, and when they got there, the men were out in the field. They ran into a woman with a lip ring who often dropped in a word of some other tongue—nobody knew which one—who didn't know anything about Dībités Rock, but warned them that the folk of Ōndrûnks, a market village on their way, was filled with nothing but thieves.

They camp the night on the road. The next day, the weather is also pleasant, and they pass through the tiny village of Lúrās, notable only for its temple to Rōripermónē, an onto Ōndrûnks, a run-down market village that smells like apples. There, in the dark tavern Magog (how did I miss cracking a "Supper's Ready" reference in play?), Bîs the barkeep, a woman in dangling earrings and speaking in a whisper, smiled when Yémos asked about Dībités Rock, but instead bade them to get a drink. Caleb bought a cider for a silver penny, but not much more came out of her. They went on to Bóllā, where nothing happened other than Caleb buying dried fish for rations.

Were you there to watch the earth be scorched?
Did you stand beside the spectral torch? 
They try going east, but when they set up camp, they learn that they went too far south. Still, the night is safe, and the next day is also the same weather as the last. They go east and a bit north to make up for their wandering the day before, and heard a loud rumbling in a glen. Anêr snuck up, and saw that it was a big sleeping quadruped with spikes on its tail. They chose to sneak away, but Yémos stepped on a branch and the manticore woke up and charged at them.

Luckily, they were far enough away to buff themselves up, so the battle went smoothly. Yémos cast Shield on Anêr, who also got a Haste spell from Caleb. The manticore's spikes flew but didn't hit Caleb, while Yémos smacked it a couple of times with his staff when it got near. Caleb smoked it with a fireball he had been readying as the manticore neared, and Anêr got the killing blow with a stab.

Metagame notes

I gotta get my GURPS legs again after playing so many D&D retroclones as of late. I can remember the basics, but little things like how much extra smack you can get out of an All-Out Attack isn't something I want to have to look up. Only two of us present had GURPS experience, and we were both rusty, though I'm glad Eric remembered to use All-Out Defense and All-Out Attack. I was using Defensive Attack from memory with the manticore when he was hurt; I didn't bring along Martial Arts, and don't plan on it for awhile, if ever.

Everyone got 3 character points. There was no treasure (the manticore wasn't anywhere near its lair), but there was good interaction with NPCs, which is my strong point as a GM. Improv is my weakness, so that's part of why I'm getting rid of plots, at least at first.

While Chris's barbarian, Mayhem (or Mêhem, I guess) being stuck back in Mīstássun is an issue, a barbarian is the easiest to have wander into the woods without much harm. Besides, they had an easy time of it, so he would too, following behind.

None of the characters (or players) knows where Dībités Rock is, so I expect some wandering. I think a dungeon would be good to find in this. And there are many monsters in the woods.

The manticore was more of a pushover than I thought, though they only found one of them and he didn't pull out after his first time taking damage, which was a fatal mistake on his part. He was pissed about being awoken from his nap, so he got a permanent one.

The hexcrawl rules seem to work, though there hasn't been any bad weather yet. I'm glad the rainy season is still a few weeks away, since this lets me work out some kinks. The terrain has been all plains or light forest, neither of which will do much to movement. The game stopped after the fight with the manticore, and the group still has two hexes it can trek for the day. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Game log for 12 January 2014


Caleb, human wizard (125 points) (Nate)
Mayhem, human midget (er ...) barbarian (125 points) (Chris)


Yémos, human cleric of Dōsaútōr (goddess of knowledge and magic) (125 points) (Eric)
Anêr, human swashbuckler (125 points) (Rett)

On Žnēâns 2852, early evening, Caleb comes to the Scarlet Harlot in Mīstássun. Here, he plans to meet with the wizard Praidīvós, who has offered him an apprenticeship. However, the wizard was not yet there, so Caleb chats with the local wizards in the Scarlet Harlot about perpetual motion, household use of Fire spells, tossing dwarves, the demon in Dībités Rock.

Two drunk wizards try to toss Mayhem, a short barbarian of the Spider Tooth Clan, but he punches one. Both are too drunk to do much after that.

Suddenly, a madman runs up to the table with the wizards, and up to Caleb. He starts screaming and babbling about the demon to Caleb, then runs away into the street.

At last, Praidīvós, an older wizard missing his right hand, comes into the tavern, and asks Caleb to cast Ignite Fire. The first time, Caleb has a backfire, which scorches the table and makes a gnome hiding under the table run out after scorching it. The second time he heats the wizard's beer.

After accepting him as an apprentice, Praidīvós tells Caleb to meet a cleric, Yémos, the next morning in the Scarlet Harlot.

Metagame Notes

This was mostly a character creation session. Since Eric and Rett couldn't make it anyways, we didn't get much playing done.