Saturday, December 26, 2015

Game log for 20 December 2015

Qui sunt?

Mayhem, barbarian
Caleb, wizard
Yémos, cleric
Kim, thief
Anêr, swashbuckler
Kúflaug, orc slave

Quid occurrit?

14 Párūs

fter walking about an hour northeast of Rúkranun, they found a wooden totem of an eight-foot-tall kobold holding a spear. There were no tracks around it and it wasn’t there the last time they passed through there.

That evening, a bunch of deer stampeded. Most of the gang made it up a tree, but Mayhem and Yémos each had one trample him. Mayhem’s armor took the hooves, but Yémos needed to heal himself after taking damage.

They made camp. That night, bandits came, and three shot arrows into Mayhem. He held his temper and roused the cry, and everyone woke up other than Kúflaug. Two bandits struck at Anêr, and one dropped him to the ground, but still awake. Some other bandits got near the tent, and tried to steal the horse. Mayhem stepped and felled one of the bandits with a blow. The others saw this and panicked. Yémos healed Anêr and Mayhem.

Kúflaug awoke, and asked Mayhem, “What happened to you?"

Mayhem said, “It was an arrowing experience."

The next day, they went to the trading post. Outside the post, seven men on horses stopped them and asked their business at the post. After telling them, the horsemen let them pass, but warned them not to touch anything. The gang ate stew at the post, and Mayhem bought ten pounds each of grain and iron as gifts for his clan.

They made camp on the plains that night, and Mayhem caught a big fish.

The next day, the gang went east to the river and foraged for the whole day. Mayhem and Kim had big hauls, but Anêr found some bad berries and shared them with everyone. Kim got especially sick.

The day after that, 17 Párūs, they went northwest, and sighted the Dragon Claw Clan’s camp near midday. They told tales, and the chief asked Mayhem if he wanted his initiation. Mayhem agreed, so the next evening, Mayhem, Kim, Kúflaug, and Séttora, a warrior woman of the tribe who lusted after orcs, set out to have Mayhem touch a lynx with a painted hand. Mayhem snuck up to the lynx, baited it with a fish, then touched it when it ran away with the fish.

Quid aliud possum dicere?

This game works best with some kind of destination in the thick of danger, like a dungeon of 2-3 levels or a big lair. Along the way, they loot monster lairs and shallow dungeons. Sticking in the civilized areas and dealing with bandits is repetitive. And I told everyone such, so the idea is to go deeper into the forest, hills, or swamp, which is where danger lies.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lodging for Wayfarers

One thing that stuck out was that I didn't have any rules for finding lodging in a village without a tavern or inn. Now, of course, you don't need rules for these things, but I realized there wasn't a downside to staying at someone's house instead of camping.

To stay at the home of some peasant, make a reaction roll. On a Neutral or better (10+), the PCs can do this. Don't bother rolling for every home in a settlement; this is for the whole settlement. Historically, this is a common way to wayfare; folks seldom left home, and welcomed the tales wayfarers would tell, and the small trade they would bring.

Of course, there are modifiers to this reaction roll. For each day after the first, apply a -3 to the reaction roll; the wayfarers eat the food, and the tales get old. Apply another -3 if there is a tavern or inn in the village, as if there is, that's where wayfarers should spend the night. The weather can affect this too: use the weather modifiers for Survival and Tracking in DF 16, p. 30, but reverse the signs, as bad weather makes folks more likely to help.

(Incidentally, these rules will work fine for classic D&D if you make the reaction penalties for extra days and the presence of a tavern -2 instead of -3. I'd make them -4 in d20 or D&D 5e, since a reaction roll is on a flat d20 (it's a Charisma check) instead of 2d6 or 3d6. Folks in classic D&D let you stay on a reaction roll of 7 or better, 10 or better in d20.)

A pickpocket shouldn't happen often, maybe only on a 3 on 3d. If you want to have the Bloody Benders happen, that shouldn't be a random roll, and needs to be role-played.

Game log for 6 December 2015

Dramatis personae

Anêr, swashbuckler
Kim, thief
Mayhem, barbarian
Yémos, cleric
Caleb, wizard
Kúflaug, orc slave

Quid occurrit, nullo pugnante

The gang chose to walk towards Mīstássun to sell its gear, and left Drūkûros. About an hour after leaving the village, seven men, dressed in leather and armed, came from their left, and skulked after them from afar. After a few minutes, the men took off, leaving the heroes to make it to town, though not before they foraged for a few meals.

They went to the Pantry to spend the night, and Arrūnús, the owner, was happy to see them, though his son wasn't there. It was a small crowd, but Kim made some ado as she bumped into a woman with Stahl ears, dressed for wayfaring. The woman stood up and said that Kim tried to pickpocket her, and a big man with a birthmark on his mug who was sitting with the woman stood up, and smacked Kim. Arrūnús came over and asked everyone what was the matter, and, when he found out, told everyone to watch it. Aside from the others, Arrūnús said to Yémos and Caleb that he thought Kim was indeed a pickpocket and had tried to steal from the woman.

Kim never bothered to let Arrūnús know that he was right.

The next day was the 11th of Párūs, which was a sunny day albeit with a chilly morning. Yémos went out to look for herbs, and found enough to make a healing salve to make later, when he could learn how. Mayhem took Anêr and Kúflaug fishing, and he caught enough fish for ten meals.

Kim went out to learn how to forage better, but as she made her way to the gate, a gang of four men in armor stumbled towards her. "Hey, baby" said one. "Come over here. I've got Vecna's Dong."

Kim went on her way, saying nothing, but the men followed her outside the gate. She stopped by a tree, and pulled back the branch. "What do you guys want?" she asked.

"I want the babe with the hooters!" said one of the drunk fighters (was it the same one? who cares?), and they came nearer. Kim let go of the branch, and it hit the drunk fighter in the kisser. He fell over, and his friends fell over themselves laughing. Kim went outside and learnt a bit about foraging and living off the land. (Metagame: I let John put an unspent point into Kim's Survival (Plains) at this time, since he'd been trying to come up with a good reason to get the skill.)

Caleb went looking for a library or a wizard, and asked others in town. He found out from the townsfolk that there were two in town: Dénnos, who was interested in arts and giants, and Prainêr, who knew about lost civilizations and politics. Caleb chose to go to Prainêr, a man with tattooed forearms. He brought Prainêr drawings he had made of runes in the mines, and told him of the statues of the man, the woman, and the demon. Prainêr knew that these runes were from a folk who lived before the dawn of magic, and showed Caleb a book he had which had a bit about this. The book showed men leading apes, apes leading men, and, yes, lizard men ruling men. Prainêr knew the demon was a common motif in their work (he thought they may have worshipped demons), but didn't know about the statues of the man or the woman.

That evening, the fishermen were coming back, and three scrawny dogs followed them, begging for food. Mayhem took the innards out of one of the fish, and threw them to dogs, who ate them up. Back at the Pantry, he gave the fish to Arrūnús, who gave them to his son to cook for the heroes and for themselves, and let the gang stay the night for free.

The next morning, they awoke to rain outside. After a bit of rain, Mayhem and the others went fishing again, now with Kim and Yémos, and again caught enough fish for ten meals, which they brought back to the Pantry for another meal and free night's stay. Kim tried selling the hematites, the mace, and the goblet, but only got an offer of 15 silver pennies ($60) for the lot, which she thought was low so she kept them.

Caleb went back to Prainêr, and brought with him the platinum box with the eyeball stones. Prainêr looked at the runes on the box. He couldn't read them, but showed Caleb that they matched up to some runes in what his book said might be a list of kings. Caleb looked through the book himself, and saw the man and the woman of the statues, which the book said were gods named Ἀπόλλων and Ἀθηναία, whatever those meant. It also had a drawing of the big winged lizard man on the throne, which Prainêr said the ancients called the Immortal King. He didn't know much about the Immortal King, but said at least at one time, the Immortal King was of flesh and blood. Prainêr asked to buy the box and the eyeballs, but Caleb wanted to wait, and went back to the Pantry, wisely sidestepping two hookers bickering.

The gang set out the next day, wanting to get to Mayhem's tribe before too long. The weather kept them from getting too far, and they ran into a merchant woman with an upturned nose named Lúbolē, who sold Kim a pound of soap for 8 pennies. Kim said the soap was for Mayhem and Kúflaug, though neither of them knew much about it. They made it as far as Lûtē Downs before the storm started, and ran into Gên, the woman with the long face and the lip ring to whom they had spoken a few months before. As Lûtē Downs had no tavern, Gên and her husband Šērêš, a hunter with a five-o'-clock-shadow, let the heroes spend the night.

Res aliae

There wasn't anything in the way of combat, other than Kim's failed Pickpocket roll, which led to a mandatory 1d HP damage and a reaction roll from Arrūnús. There were a few times they didn't go for combat, like when they saw the gang of scroungy guys on the road, and when Caleb didn't get in the way of the screaming whores.

We had to break because one of the players had a personal issue, so I didn't give character points yet. I do need to come up with rules for asking for lodging when there is no tavern; that will be another post in a bit.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Back this Kickstarter: Lairs & Encounters (for ACKS) by Autarch

No, no game today; it's not our week. Instead, my daughter is cleaning the living room looking for a Pokemon library book she lost, and taking her own sweet time. But back this Kickstarter. Back it now:

For those who don't know, Adventurer, Conquerer, King System (ACKS) is like B/X D&D, though with a wonky attack system (I prefer 3e-style DCs for all that stuff, and yes, I have played ACKS as written). Whatever. The real kicker is that the authors (mostly Alex Macris) have gone out of their way to make a very cohesive system for campaigns, especially for hex crawls and setting up domains. Any game inspired by B/X (which is my favorite OSR D&D, though I use liberal amounts of AD&D as well) or an akin system can use this.

It's at about 70% and still has a month to go, so it will fund, barring a true disaster, so get in to preorder.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Game log for 22 November 2016

Dramatis personae

Kim, a thief
Mayhem, a barbarian
Caleb, a wizard
Yémos, a cleric
Anêr, a swordsman
Kúflaug, an orc 

Quid occurrit 

Evening of 7 Párūs, in the Blind Arrow

Caleb kept coughing while it rained that night. A squat woman at the table next to them pointed out the gang, then whispered about something; nobody bothered to find out what.

The next morning, the barkeep, a woman with big hoop earrings, bade Caleb to get out of the Blind Arrow after hearing him cough. He went to the northeast statue, and found that it was stone and chipped. It was of the child Yémos, one of the founders of the village back in 2164.

A well-dressed elf with a blue Mohawk came up to Caleb, and asked if he was going out to work. After Caleb coughed, he elf shook his head. He said his name was Téreru, and he wanted to know why Caleb and friends were there. Caleb said he was only passing through, and wanted to know what books the elf had. The elf didn't know too many, but said that Denôma the sorceress, a hedge wizard, might have good books on magic, as Téreru was only a dabbler.

Kim went out to look for chocolate, but only could find wine. She looked at the southwestern statue, and found it was of stone and moist from dew, and of the poet Eldrêdos, who also founded the village back in 2164, 688 years ago.

Yémos looked at the statue in the northwestern corner, and found it was of another village founder, Dīdótē the bard. Moss was all over it.

Mayhem went fishing in the village well, and Kúflaug went with him.

That night, a man with a splotchy birthmark on his face came up to the gang, and asked in a whisper if anyone knew of a healer or a cleric. He pointed to a big gash on his neck, and said it was from a "mishap." Yémos first dressed his wound, then cast Minor Healing on it, healing much of the damage. The man, who said his name was Kaússōl, was thankful.

Caleb's cough got a little better. Was it the booze? Regardless, Yémos healed him too, and Caleb at last breathed easy.

The next morning, the ground had mostly dried up, so everyone chose to head out after tying up loose ends. First, they looked at the last statue in the southeast corner. It was of Vídē the scholar, who helped found the village, and bird guano covered it. Then, Caleb went looking for Denôma the sorceress. He found her home easily enough, but nobody was home.

Not long after leaving Térrivīš, they went saw a big gang of folks, which was going north to Térrivīš and its oxen were dragging wagons with cages of apes. The heroes gave this crew a wide berth.

The heroes went south with no bother, and camped along the road that night. Early in the evening, Anêr heard a rustling in the grass. Not far away he could dimly make out the shapes of men. Anêr yelled the alarm, and the others started to awaken. After a few seconds, there was a barrage of arrows flying at them, and one hit Anêr in the leg. He pulled out the arrow and came out to meet their foes, who were seven bandits.

As the two sides came nearer to each other, Caleb lobbed a Blast Ball at two in the back. It was one of the biggest blasts he had ever cast (he had a critical success on the casting roll, so it was maximum damage, 18 on 3d). This killed one of the bowmen, and singed two others.

From there, it was the heroes cutting down bandits. One of the bandits rushed behind Kúflaug and stabbed him in the back, but Caleb zapped him with a Sunbolt. Anêr took out two, as did Mayhem. The last two ran, but Mayhem killed one as he fled.

They looted the bodies, and found 7 farthings, 26 pennies, and 8 gold pieces ($271). The next morning, they walked to the village of Drūkûros, and Kim sold the gear for 220 pennies ($880). They bought lunch, and more rations.

Res aliae

Two character points.

We thought Eric was going to join us, but something came up. May he have enjoyed it. He tends to lead the group when hexcrawling, so he is great to have around.

There was a revision in my disease rules that makes it easier to heal if you get bed rest, but harder to heal if you go adventuring. That's why Caleb stayed in the Blind Arrow, but the barkeep didn't have a good reaction roll.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Game log for 8 November 2015

The characters

Kim, thief (John)
Yémos, cleric (John, temporarily)
Mayhem, barbarian (Chris)
Caleb, wizard (Chris)
Anêr, swashbuckler (NPC)
Kúflaug, Orc slave (NPC)

The events

Getting back to the 4th of Párūs, Kim doesn't get the deal she wanted for the cult's items, as the merchant only offered her 40 silver pennies and 10 copper farthings ($130), but she did peddle the weird armor for 92 gold pieces ($1,840). The group chose to first spend that at the Wishing Well tavern over by the West Gate of town.

On that rainy night, they heard a well-coifed woman over at the next table babbling loudly how she didn't think the Lady Lummenólē was all that bad. Kim thought a bit, and remembered that Lummenólē was the Lady of the village and a cleric of Lutōdîvē, the goddess of love. Yémos let Kim know that the followers of Lutōdîvē were a bunch of perverts. Kim shrugged and went on to picking the pockets of the patrons, getting 15 farthings that night.

The next day, they awoke to Caleb coughing. Yémos tried to diagnose what it was, but only could dodge phlegm. They asked the barkeep, who said that there were two clerics in town: Ōrrášus, cleric of Bagóbros near the tavern, and Lady Lummenólē, who lived in Castle Rēláistis, in the southeastern corner of town. Lummenólē was the mightier cleric, but Ōrrášus was nearer and more likely to see Caleb.

So, they walked out into the rain to the Church of Bagóbros, god of crafts and wealth. There they saw Ōrrášus, a tall, pudgy man wearing a dark brown wig. Caleb asked him for help, but Ōrrášus only stared, blinked, then told Caleb not to cough on him. Caleb asked again, and Ōrrášus told him he'd take a look, for a donation, so Caleb handed over 10 farthings. Ōrrášus rolled his eyes, but did look at Caleb, asking him to cough and looking down his throat. Ōrrášus said that it wasn't deadly, but that Caleb should get a few days rest.

So they went back to the Wishing Well, though not after a wagon drove past them and splashed mud and water onto Kúflaug. Caleb rested at a table in the tavern, while Anêr watched Caleb. Mayhem and Kúflaug went fishing down by the docks, and Mayhem got one trout. Yémos and Kim went looking for nuts and berries outside town.

Caleb didn't get any better that night, and the barkeep asked Caleb to say he got his illness from the Pink Moose tavern, lest anyone think Caleb got his illness from the Wishing Well. Kim had seen enough, and he and Yémos take Caleb by the arm to see the Lady Lummenólē. Outside the tavern, a gaggle of pilgrims called loudly for help going to the church of Rōripermónē, the farming goddess, in Órkōn Wall, about five miles away. Kim and Yémos, however, kept dragging Caleb.

After about an hour's walk around the village, they reached Castle Rēláistis, decked out in flowers. Kim holds back a sneeze from the lovage among the flowers, and they ask the two guards before the gate to see the Lady Lummenólē. Again, their first try to get in didn't work, nor did Caleb's coughing, but the guards also opened the doors for 10 farthings. They bade Caleb, Kim, and Yémos to hand over their weapons, and told Caleb to keep away from them.

They walked upstairs as the guards also bade, and waited outside a door, hearing the grunts, screams, and moans of orcs and a woman. After many minutes, two orcs walked out, and asked the gang, "Are you next?" The heroes walked into the room, and met Lady Lummenólē, a slim middle-aged woman, beautiful albeit with silver-grey hair, and wearing little clothing.

She gave Caleb the same diagnosis as did Ōrrášus--more rest--then asked where Caleb had been. He told her he had been at the mines, and no, he had fought no zombies, only skeletons, hobgoblins, and lizard men. She perked up upon hearing about hobgoblins and lizard men, and asked if he had brought back any of the latter.

She had her cook give the heroes a meal of beef stew, then they went on their way back to the Wishing Well, to meet the others who had went fishing again. Caleb kept coughing, and by now his chest was hurting. Yémos cast a Detect Poison spell on Caleb to be sure, but found nothing. They went to bed on the tavern's cots with the rain pouring.

The next morning, Caleb still was in pain, so Yémos cast Major Healing to ease his pain. With that, the gang set out, keen on keeping Caleb away from the smelting in Rēláistis. They chose to head south, to the wooded village of Térrivīš.

In the woods, about midday, the gang met an arrow at each one of them, with both Anêr and Kúflaug taking one to their chests. From out of the trees came nine bandits, with three of them holding back to reload their bows. The archers fled after one of Caleb's Blast Balls, which downed two thieves, and Anêr's sword downed a third. The other three bandits held fast, and fell at the hands of the heroes. Yémos, feeling for them, bound the wounds of the downed bandits, though he couldn't save one. All stripped the six bandits of their goods and wealth, and kept going to Térrivīš.

In Térriviš, a wooded village with a statue at each corner, the heroes unloaded the gear of the bandits and got 957 farthings and 193 pennies ($1,729) for all of it. Then, they went to the Blind Arrow tavern for the night.


I had rolled for the bandits in the d30 Sandbox Companion, and came up with a number of bandits equal to the size of the party +3, with a level of average party level -2. I applied the latter to the skill levels on the templates in the back of Mirror of the Fire Demon, so wound up with many unskilled goons. I forgot to apply woods cover to their skill for their first shot, but that would have been cancelled out by their Accuracy bonus, which I also forgot to apply; big whoop.

But the real takeaway was just how much treasure they had. According to the d30 Sandbox Companion, I came up with 2,000 cp, 2,000 sp, 500 ep, 6,000 gp, 500 pp, and 12 gems. Even lobbing off a third for the guys who fled, it was still high. I think it's based on Treasure Type A, which is a lot (12,000 gp or so), but meant to be for a whole gang of bandits, which is 20d10 bandits in the Monster Manual. (I'm working on a bunch of posts that will touch on bandits in AD&D, incidentally, so for once, I can remember the Treasure Type of bandits and brigands off the top of my head.) So even lowered from there, the players were amazed, so we all agreed that the loot included what they would get from selling their gear, which I ruled Kim would make sure to do due to the last two blog posts becoming house rules.

That's the lesser issue from the session. The bigger one is that I gave a PC an illnesses. The players have had warning for the last three months or so that I want to try this out, so it was only a matter of enough game time passing before they found out who got sick. The players know what it is, too: histoplasmosis, aka spelunker's lung. It's a bother that someone can get if he goes into caves wherein dwell many bats that shit on the cave floor. Given that description, I'm amazed that I've never seen this in a gaming product before. I found it while researching a Pyramid article on illnesses, and picked it as a test case.

I'm pleased with how it went down. It took awhile for the players to realize that the weather was giving Caleb penalties, and after a few game days I broke down and told them I was applying Rēláistis's Hygiene modifier of -2 to Caleb's rolls since it was low owing to all the smelting that happened there. It led to exploring and roleplaying, but didn't give too much of a problem, since even Minor Healing can heal the HP loss. Caleb still needs to roll for a bit, however, but hopefully the fresh air will help now.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Even MOAR points!@@!@!!

Compulsive Lying: Like Lecherousness, Compulsive Lying is a -15 point disadvantage that needs some reasons to justify its high point give-back.

The easy way to do this is to assess a -3 reaction penalty, which turns Compulsive Lying into an Odious Personal Habit with a roll to resist it, much like Bully. Half of me says this is the right way, but the other half of me says this is the quick and easy way, and the quick and easy path leads to the Dark Side. You can handle it so an NPC rolls against IQ (that's 10 if you don't know) to know if you're lying. If he doesn't make his roll, he has a -1 reaction penalty to you, but if he does, he reacts at -5. Treat the self-control roll as a bonus to the NPC's roll, a la the chart with Phobia (p. B149), with the negative sign read as a positive bonus. The advice given in GURPS Social Engineering (pp. 35-36) is mostly for someone practicing deliberate deception, rather than someone who just can't tell the truth for the life of him.

Something about this seems unsatisfying. I've known folks with this disadvantage—I suspect we all have—and much of the time, their constant lies are only annoying, but sometimes, they make big problems. I'm torn between what the effects of this are in real life, which are unquestionably worth -15 points, and the smaller in-game problem that you're unable to convey facts to NPCs, which is a -5 point disadvantage, maybe -10, which is how the Basic Set treats it.

Gullibility: The game effects of this are wholly unlike Unluckiness, which I consider the definitive -10 point disadvantage. Again, Unluckiness doesn't kill you or even directly hurt you, but it happens in every session.

Gullibility, however, won't happen every session, but when it does happen, it can kill you. If we think there's a trick every session, then a self-control number of 12 means you'll fall for it one session in four. I'm not sure there is a trick that will trigger this every session, but if you say that Gullibility also gives a penalty to resist illusions equal to the Phobia self-control penalty chart (p. B149), this becomes fully worth the -10 points.

Klutz: This is a small physical disadvantage, but the issue is that it's an extra roll each game day. Its effects are akin to Unluckiness, so I don't see how this is too much to make it at the beginning of the session, then maybe again later when there's a new day or some other significant happening happens. It would be boring to roll this each day of wilderness travel, especially when the typical 250-point delver taking this will have DX 12. Maybe roll it once for being in town at start, once for the trip to the dungeon, once each level of the dungeon, once for the trip back, and once for ending in town.

Laziness: Just a reminder that after I published my article, Peter V. Dell’Orto added some suggestions for this one, to which I linked in an edit.

No Sense of Humor: Since the lone game effect of this disadvantage is the -2 reaction penalty and the disadvantage is worth -10 points, it applies all the time. This overrides what the text in the Basic Set says. Maybe it won't apply when talking to the King, but that's a special effect at the GM's whim. This is another Odious Personal Habit in all but name.

No Sense of Taste/Smell: While I don’t think there need to be any more game effects, this is a disadvantage that might be worth more than its -5 points suggests. No potion tasting for you. No detecting poison gas traps. If a GM plays his dungeon right, this one can be nasty.

Short Attention Span: This one makes Absent-Mindedness seem harmless for guard duty. Rather than making both a sense roll and a self-control roll to detect an ambush, make the sense roll at a penalty equal to twice the penalty a Phobia of the same self-control (p. B149) roll would give you: -2 for 15, -4 for 12, -6 for 9, -8 for 6. Also apply the normal Phobia penalty (not twice it; see p. B149) to any spell with a casting time longer than a minute. And you’ll need to make a self-control roll to ever take extra time to do something.

Squeamish: I know I talked about this one last time, but the self-control roll will need to happen to go into a sewer. Like Phobia (Open Spaces) or a conflicting Vow, this one could make someone not do anything during an adventure, or at least split the party, so a GM will have to think about what to do with a character stuck outside a sewer.

Trickster: For the most part, this disadvantage seems fine as written. Indeed, reading it, it seems to be fun to play even if it might get you killed, like Berserk. My issue is more like the one I have with Klutz: a day isn’t always a great span of time for this, especially when trekking through the wilderness with nothing more harmful than a deer coming into your sights. Think of having a schedule for this akin to the one I wrote in Klutz, or, if you do roll daily, having a trickster who finds no one to outwit to be grouchy (see Fanaticism). Being -1 to IQ-based skill rolls is deadly in the wild, wherein Survival, a Per-based skill (and thus affected), is the one that keeps you alive.

Lessons learned by this exercise:
  • The table for Loner (p. B142) or Phobia (p. B149) is your friend if you want to get rid of rolling things twice.
  • A whole bunch of GURPS disadvantages are only small variations on other ones. There are many Odious Personal Habits hidden under other names. If there ever is another revision of the GURPS game, it would be a good idea to systematically go through the disadvantage list and just list these under 
  • Some of the prices are whacked out. Lecherousness, I’m looking at you.
  • I wish I could get a good hour with the full HackMaster book rather than the free Basic PDF. There are a few good ideas for Odious Personal Habits in the Basic PDF, if nothing else: Close Talker (you have no concept of personal space), Foul-Mouthed (alright, I’ve seen this fucking Odious Personal Habit before), Needy (which is kind of like Chummy). There’s also a good table of Superstitions (Delusions) and a list of Allergies: Animal Dander, Food, Insect Stings, Mold, Pollen. The HackMaster d20 has an interesting list of Quirks and Flaws: Flatulent, Sound Sleeper, Sleep Chatter, Nervous Tick, Male Pattern Baldness, Narcolepsy, Jerk, Loud Boor, Inappropriate Sense of Humor. It seems like one of those games wherein I never would run the game myself, but can gleefully mine it for stuff to use in games I do play, like GURPS or D&D.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Getting Your Points' Worth

I'm a Loony. I don't think GURPS has enough disadvantages.

Disadvantages were one of the things that drew me to GURPS 25 years ago. Teenage I liked the idea of PCs being greedy or horny and playing this, and here was a system that had mechanics to encourage this. Adult I still likes this.

Now, over the years, I can see some of the downsides. Disadvantages can get forgotten by both players and GMs, leading to free points for folks who take vague disadvantages. Also, I'm running Dungeon Fantasy, and frankly the advantages are of more use in a game that always involves NPCs in genuine social situations. Mind you, I tend to run my game with Dungeon Fantasy as a base and pile world detail onto it, but the issues are still there.

And so, for my benefit as much as anyone else's, I'm writing this post. I should note that I combed through the GURPS Basic Set and GURPS Social Engineering to write this, and took a look at HackMaster Basic as well. I'm taking the common law attitude that other rules systems may give guidance. If you know more such systems than I and want to share it, please, let me know. I'd like to look at the full version of HackMaster, or Hero to get more ideas.

Absent-Mindedness: This is a 15-point disadvantage. To give everyone a good idea of what that means, Unluckiness says the GM can fuck over a PC once a session.

That’s Unluckiness, a 10-point disadvantage. So a 15-point disadvantage needs to be tougher than that.

Now, back to Absent-Mindedness. First of all, note that the GURPS Basic Set points out that the penalties apply to guard duty. Second, if you want a little more bite, since the absent-minded wizard might shirk guard duty anyways, think of the HackMaster approach: take away a small item. Doing this the GURPS way, make an IQ-2 roll in secret to see if the character didn’t bring along a small item. If he fails, roll randomly to see which item he didn’t bring. Don’t tell him until he tries to use the item. This is like the way in the Basic Set, but moves the roll to the beginning of the session, which is easier to remember.

Bad Temper: There are two issues here. First is that Basic doesn’t define what lashing out does. Selfish (p. B153) comes to the rescue: the target gets -3 to reactions towards you. Anyways, the next issue is a stressful situation. I’d say this is an IQ-based skill roll, or a DX-based skill roll for skills modified by High Manual Dexterity, done at an overall penalty. Down in the dungeon, you’re likely not near too many NPCs while picking that lock, so failing a self-control roll means the character stops using the skill, bitches at whoever set him off or is nearest to him, then must make the skill roll at -2. I suppose you could make a skill roll to let you make a skill roll instead of one roll at -2, but that’s irritating.

Also, GURPS Social Engineering (p. 70) notes that someone with Bad Temper must make a self-control roll when taunted, with a penalty equal to his margin of defeat. 

Berserk: As well as the normal issues in Basic, GURPS Social Engineering notes that someone with Berserk has the same problems with taunting as someone with Bad Temper does. Hmmm … this sounds like kender versus barbarians might be an interesting fight idea.

Bloodlust: Failing a self-control roll means the character will strike at a downed foe, even when that foe isn’t a threat. If you’re playing with most foes going down when they go below 0 HP, let the player dispatch a downed foe on a Melee Weapon roll; don’t bother with damage. This kills the foe right this second, meaning that’s the only wasted second.

As well as losing time in combat, this disadvantage will make it hard to take prisoners. For starters, many of them will be dead, and nobody is going to surrender if he sees that some blood-crazed murder hobo will kill him anyways.

Bully: When can he get away with it? That’s a good question. Most prisoners, I’d say, and many NPCs. Regardless, however, the reaction penalty handles most of this disadvantage, which is mostly an Odious Personal Habit with an action associated with it.

Charitable: You know you won’t be killing any downed foes, right? You need to make a self-control roll to not help any downed foe who isn’t still obviously dangerous. You can make some rational assessments: this mostly applies to Faerie or Mundane foes, and nothing known to be Truly Evil. Add the foe’s SM to the self-control roll to keep Charitable PCs from helping downed dragons. If you’re not a skilled healer, you’ll just make a First Aid roll (even at a default) to bandage, which will mean that your foes will be alive the next time you would trigger this encounter.

Colorblindness: Among other issues, this will make assessing gem worth hard. Make this an automatic failure on any Merchant roll to do this.

Compulsive Carousing: Most of the partying will be done in town. Increase cost of living as Compulsive Generosity.

Compulsive Gambling: Most of the gambling will be done in town. Increase cost of living as Compulsive Generosity.

Compulsive Inventing: The disadvantage of the artificer. Basically, roll self-control any time an artificer can solve a problem without inventing something. Failure means he goes for the invention anyways. Think of Twist in the Fresh Beat Band, for those of you with young kids. I think of the original Marina in that show myself, albeit for other reasons.

Compulsive Vowing: This little disadvantage brought this all along. I have a character in my game with it, and frankly, it’s a bothersome little disadvantage. If you don’t want to ban this silly disadvantage, the character will vow to see through whatever mission he is undertaking. If for some reason the character has to do something else before the mission’s end, he is -1 to reaction rolls for each self-control roll level (use the table on p. B142 for Loner) as he’s a pissy Anakin Skywalker-wannabe. No, not Darth Vader; that would make him cool.

Cowardice: Well, you do realize what happens in Dungeon Fantasy, right? Just letting you know before you take or allow a PC to take this.

Moving on, a character with Cowardice needs to make a self-control roll to go into combat with someone of a bigger SM, or if outnumbered more than 3:2, or when facing someone obviously better skilled or having tougher weapons. Also make a self-control roll to keep from running when you take lose more than half your max HP.

Curious: I don’t have a good definition of a mystery, but a character with Curious will drink from that magic fountain, or listen at that ratty door or peep through that hole unless he makes a self-control roll. He won’t try to trigger traps for no good reason, however.

Disciplines of Faith (Ritualism): The character needs another hour each day for these rituals, whatever they are. Effectively, they’re like Chi Rituals, just not as often or as silly.

Dwarfism: Having run a PC with this, I say to remember Reach penalties, and the penalties in Pyramid #3/77: Combat. Otherwise, this becomes a free +1 to hit, which isn’t much of a penalty.

Fanaticism: This is going to be a problem disadvantage, so think about it for a second. Unless your Fanaticism is for finding monsters in dungeons, killing them, and taking their stuff, you’re going to be sulking about every mission, and logically finding a way not to go on it. (And if it is, then this is free points.) If this doesn’t bother you, consider any fanatic unable to dedicate himself to his mission is grouchy.

Grouchy: You’re not getting your way, and you’re gonna let everyone know. Until you get back on track, you are -1 to all IQ-based skill rolls, self-control rolls, and reaction rolls.

Keep in mind that if your Fanaticism doesn’t come up, you just gave yourself -1 all the time. I don’t think that’s too fun, but suum cuique.

Gluttony: You need extra meals each day. How many? See the reaction penalty for Loner NPCs (p. B142), and read that as “extra meals” instead of a reaction penalty. You will have extra meals with you, and if you don’t, you will stop and hunt or forage. If you cannot, make a self-control roll each day. If you fail, you will be grouchy (see Fanaticism).

Greed: Another 15-point disadvantage, so it’s supposed to be a bother. If you find that you’re not going to earn enough loot to pay off your sponsor, rest for a week, and top off your power items (DF 3, p. 42), you will steal from your teammates on a failed self-control roll. You should steal from them in advance to keep from having to pick their pockets, which they might find out. Text or pass notes to handle this.

And if the guy who wants to take this disadvantage is that guy, kick his ass to the curb. The player’s ass, that is. Unless everyone is cool with the inevitable player vs. player conflict this will bring, ban it.

Honesty: Among other things, someone with Honesty will heed the laws in town and not behave like a murder hobo, including the weapon laws, and not murder prisoners. It's a pretty restrictive Code of Honor linked to a reaction bonus for playing it.

Impulsiveness: Whenever you're not outnumbered, not facing obviously better foes, or facing foes of a SM bigger than you, you need to make a self-control roll to keep from rushing into combat. Obviously, they have to be unfriendly, otherwise there would be loads of dead serfs.

Intolerance: This is a GURPS disadvantage that isn't too disadvantageous to PCs as written. You don't like orcs? Well, you're going to kill them anyways. To make this make sense, any time you have to work with a target of your Intolerance, you are at -1 to IQ-based skill rolls, and any DX-based skill rolls affected by High Manual Dexterity. (Whenever I talk about these DX-based skill rolls, I'm talking about the skills involved, whether or not you actually have High Manual Dexterity.) Touchy folks who see your bigotry will react at -1. 

This will affect the marching order. After all, if you hate halflings, and you have one in your party, are you gonna let him get behind you? They have dirty little fingers and dirty little minds. They're gonna get you every time. (This actually happened in my game. Likháfrikh, the dwarf engineer, hated the goblinoids whom he oversaw. So if both he and Kúflaug, the PCs' orc slave, went into the dungeon, I made sure he didn't march before Kúflaug.)

Jealousy: This is truly not disadvantageous as written. Its game effect is a reaction penalty for NPCs who have the disadvantage. So, treat this as Intolerance (Anyone better off than you). The targets of your Jealousy will always react to you at -1, rather than touchy folks reacting badly, as your body Common will be apparent.

Kleptomania: Another -15 point disadvantage that isn't too disadvantageous in DF. To fix this, for starters, you will  Shoplift or Work the Crowd (DF 2, p. 4) every time you are in town. Also, like Greed, you will steal from your teammates in dire straits. Indeed, you're not going to try to get more money in advance, but you'll pick their pockets regardless. Come to think of it, you'll do this when you're not in dire straits too.

Don't let That Guy take this one.

Laziness: You are at -4 to Scoring Extra Cash (DF 2, p. 4), and any extra cash you do get is halved. You are -2 to Finding a Quest (DF 2, p. 4). It seems like there should be more, a penalty to guard duty or something.

EDIT: And Peter Dell'Orto has something more. The short version: you're useless in town. My comments below might be adding too many Odious Personal Habits to it, however.

Lecherousness: The more I read, the more I don't think this should be a -15-point disadvantage. Heck, in Dungeon Fantasy, this could be -5. What are the effects in play? Well, you're more susceptible to seduction (GURPS Social Engineering, p. 29), but so what? It's not like there will be a succubus on every damn dungeon level. You get to act like a horn dog at the table even more than usual.

There has to be some penalty for taking the saloon whore John Norman-style. So, if you have any level of Lecherousness, you need to make a HT roll at the start of every session when you started in town (or after any downtime in town). Ignore any result other than a critical failure. On a critical failure, you have Chronic Pain (Severe, 1 hour, 12 or less), Social Disease, and are down 1d HP. The Chronic Pain and the Social Disease last until someone cures you, usually by casting Cure Disease; the lost HP heals normally.

Mind you, we're talking about a -15 point disadvantage, so the occasional rendition of "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?" isn't enough. This is Warren Beatty-level fucking. So, if you don't get no satisfaction for a day, make a self-control roll lest you be grouchy (see Fanaticism above).

Consider hiring a boytoy/kept woman as a hireling to offset this. Hmmm … I now get why Dave Arneson kept pleasure slaves on his equipment lists.

Loner: This isn't a big disadvantage, only -5 points, but it seems kind of out-of-place in a DF game, with its emphasis on teamwork and niche protection. So, read the reaction penalty as space in hexes you need while working on an IQ-based or DX-based-with-High Manual Dexterity skill roll. If you don't have it, you are at a penalty to work equal to that reaction penalty. Feel free to lower that if the conditions are partially met (say, nobody can give you more than 2 hexes of space and your self-control roll is (6), so your penalty is only -2).

Miserliness: You won't buy weapons unless they're Cheap, so you will have broken swords littering dungeon floors everywhere. If there's Cheap armor in the campaign (make it cost 40% less but weigh 50% more), you'll only buy that too. You need to make a self-control roll to spend money on someone else or pitch in money for a group purchase, and you'll do this only if it's needed. You'll need to make a self-control roll to buy something that costs more than 20% of your starting wealth on yourself.

None of this applies to gear you find in the dungeon, which is one more reason to become a murder hobo.

Obsession: There are two levels here. The -5 point level isn't much of a problem. Kill all dragons? You strike them first in combat and when you hear that one is in a dungeon or a lair, you go there.

Many of the -10 point ones are more of an issue, since they involve career choices and how you'll spend your points. So, self-control rolls will need to happen when you try to spend them on traits unrelated to your obsession. The GM should give you some leeway here. If you want to be the best swordsman, buying more ST or Enhanced Parry are definitely related to that, as well as your sword skill. IQ and Magery are handy for anyone wanting to become a lich.

On the Edge: You need a self-control roll to flee combat, or not engage whenever anyone threatens you. Unlike Impulsiveness, the idea that you could lose doesn't bother you, so you aren't any more likely to flee dragons than rabid puppies.

Overconfidence: If you have points in a trait that could solve a problem, you need to make a self-control roll not to try to use it. Use the overall task penalty as a bonus to the roll, so if it involves climbing a slimy, moss-covered wall and you have Overconfidence (12), you'd roll at 14 instead. This cuts the other way too. If you have to climb a wall with ample hand and foot rests (+4) to get past a big fan with razor-sharp edges that will slash anyone who fails his Climbing roll, your self-control roll would be 8 ("Aw, that primitive trap? Of what are you scared?")

Paranoia: Like Bully and Stubbornness, this is more-or-less a glorified Odious Personal Habit with some role-playing advice.

Phobia (Crowds): Big masses in combat will set this off.

Phobia (Open Spaces): This will slow wilderness travel to a crawl. Rather than rolling all the time, treat the Fright Check penalty as a penalty to wilderness travel speed equal to 20% times the Fright Check penalty, unless you're in a carriage or boat. If combat or anything else interrupts this, you'll be at a penalty equal to your Fright Check penalty. Foraging and hunting are impossible for you.

Phobia (Sun): This is on the suggested list of disadvantages for Clerics of the Night, and all I can say is WTF? Travel during the day will be like Phobia (Open Spaces), and you'll need to make self-control rolls to leave the dungeon unless it's night or overcast. Like On the Edge, this one might be under-priced. Not even That Guy would take it.

Pyromania: I'm not sure there needs to be much guidance here. Like Compulsive Inventing, you need to make a self-control roll not to use fire as a tool to solve a problem if it is a viable solution. I suppose there needs to be a chance not to set a forest fire during travel, say self-control+3 each day.

Selfish: This one's listed effects (self-control roll or lash out after a perceived slight) won't happen too often in Dungeon Fantasy. You'll likely share badly, and insist on getting first dibs on game and healing. It's kind of a reason to be an asshole. If That Guy isn't the one taking it, explain to the player that the other characters might well lower his cut of the take as a way of getting even for his being an asshole.

Selfless: By contrast, this one will cause problems for the character. Make a self-control roll to move to the front of the line in healing if you need to (say, you've lost an arm, while the other guy took a 2 HP blow to his chest), or not be the one to go hungry when group rations are short.

Squeamishness: Treat as a Phobia around Slimes and corporeal Undead.

Vow: Like Obsessions and Fanaticism, it's boring to say that a character just won't go along because it conflicts with his Vow. If this would be the case, which hardly applies to every vow (things like fighting only with one sword or not speaking ever wouldn't take apply, for example), treat the character as grouchy (see Fanaticism) until he can steer everyone back to taking care of his vow.

Weirdness Magnet: I think it's safe to say that more pixels have been spent trying to handle this disadvantage than any other. Let's break what it does down:

  • It has a -2 reaction penalty to everyone who knows you're a weirdness magnet and who knows what that is. That is hardly everyone; I'd call this worth -5 points, and the penalty applies to generally learned folks, not most bartenders or peasants.
  • Then we have "weird shit happens to you, but won't kill you outright." That's like Unluckiness (Limited, Weird shit only). Elder Things will target you first, monsters will be weirder (see below). Since Unluckiness is a -10 penalty, this has to be worth less than that. It isn't quite Unluckiness since the weird shit isn't necessarily bad, but that's our base.
  • The paranormal seeks you out. This is related to the kind of, sort of Unluckiness (Limited, Weird shit only) and is part of the explanation thereof, but isn't quite. Kromm has a good explanation here of the game effects of this.

For the monsters, I'd recommend giving a chance any random monsters are modified by a prefix (see GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1 for many of them). For my campaign, I came up with rolling 2d. On a 2 or 3 (or 1 in 12), a random monster will have a prefix if nobody with Weirdness Magnet is around. On a 2, 3, or 4 (or 1 in 6, or twice as likely), a random monster has a prefix if someone with Weirdness Magnet is around. I give the same chances for whether or not a monster is Giant or Dire (see Mailanka's Homebrew Monsters thread), with 1 in 6 any Giant-or-Dire monsters being Giant. (Heck, I even give the same chance that a monster will have one of the templates in thread, which just make monsters tougher.)

Xenophilia: You need a self-control roll to not try to offer friendship to any Elder Thing or other unworldly thing not directly threatening you.

EDIT: There's a sequel.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Game log 11 October 2015


Kim, thief (John)
Yémos, cleric (John, at least for now)
Mayhem, barbarian (Chris)
Caleb, wizard (Chris)


Anêr, swashbuckler
Kúflaug, orc slave

They saw the hobgoblins vanish. Caleb held back the yen to step on the tiles afore the statue. Instead, they got off the daïs and walked along the north wall. As they got past the east edge, they saw some movement and then some strands of web. They chose instead to walk south, along the edge again, and Kim found a panel with the carvings of a god fighting a demon that was but a few millimeters back. After Caleb poked it with his smallsword and found it did nothing, Kim pushed it open, and found a stairs going down.

Characters like these, aside from someone else's copyright.
(Why I linked, rather than copied.)
They walked down the stairs, and found themselves in a room with 12 wooden boxes. One of them had strange markings on it. They pulled out their crowbars and opened the boxes, and found:

  • 180 crossbow quarrels
  • 3 kits for making a crossbow that shoots many quarrels at a time, albeit with unreadable instructions
  • 60 spears, 30 of which were rusted
  • 20 bronze swords
  • 20 fireworks
  • 10 shuriken
  • 4 shields
  • 1 nunchaku
  • 1 sword with a 40 inch long, thin blade
  • a suit of odd armor, which Caleb felt was magical

Anêr took the sword (we're treating it as a balanced edged rapier), Kim took a firework and the nunchaku, and Kim and Caleb split the shruiken. For the moment, they left the armor, and walked down the hall leading out of the room. They found two sets of doors after some turns. The ones farther down the hall wouldn't open, but the doors nearer from where they came opened easily. Behind them was a monitor lizard. A 40-foot-long monitor lizard, whose eyes fluttered open when they opened the door.

A little longer than this.
They shut the door, and turned back.

Kim and Caleb made some signs saying "treasure" out of the opened boxes and made them lead to the lizard's room. Then, they took the armor, one crossbow kit, and some quarrels, and left. As they walked back, they felt a strong gust of wind on the first floor. Caleb thought it was strong enough to have been an air elemental.

Back at camp, they stowed the armor, as they could find no buyer there. They showed the crossbow kit to Likháfrikh, but he couldn't put it together either. He did think the armor was sweet, however.

That night, it rained. Thus the next day, the first of Párūs, was wet, though warm. Caleb tried putting the crossbow together, but couldn't quite figure it out. But soon, Péllē called the gang to her office, and gave them the 500 silver she had promised for the hobgoblin slaves.

The next morning, Anêr the boatman awoke the gang, and bade them to go to Péllē's office. There, they found Péllē bound and blubbering, and Lôā the baker sitting quietly. Anêr bade everyone to sit down, and then accused them of helping Péllē to steal from the mining company. After telling him they had not stolen anything, Anêr told the gang that they were in league with Péllē in selling off the hobgoblin slaves, as she had given them 500 silver pennies for the sale. After more denials, Lôā spoke up, and, through her brogue and stuttering, said that she knew they were not working with Péllē, but owing to the issues, the company was buying out their contracts, and sending them out on a barge right away. She told them to keep the 500 silver pennies as the buyout, and let them keep Kúflaug as well, as he knew too much about the hobgoblins' lair in the mines. As for the caverns of Thracia, she said the mining company was sealing off the way into them, to keep the hobgoblins away from the rest of the mines.

Anêr the boatman, some ogres bearing ore and Péllē, and the heroes spent the next three days going back to Rēlaístis. After some guy in cloth armor and a spear watched them as they walked to their barge, not much happened in these three days, other than Mayhem keeping everyone away from a hornets' nest and Anêr the swashbuckler falling down a sinkhole.

Now in Rēlaístis, they shackled Kúflaug, as village law bade. Luckily, it was market day, and Caleb got 260 silver pennies for the armor. After this, they bought more gear: another tent, fishing gear for Mayhem, survival gear for Kúflaug.

More … stuff (think of Chuck Barris)

The players wanted to maybe trek to Mayhem's tribe to see it on the summer solstice, its holiday. To do this, we had to get them away from the mines, wherein they were starting to hit things that would beat them silly without many more points. As it happens, I had the sale of the hobgoblins on the calendar, and knew this would be a spot where they could go back to hex crawling. It took a little bit to get back to the step-by-step adventuring, but luckily, I somehow rolled now encounters, though at last got some mishaps, those being the hornets and the sinkhole.

Two character points. Not much happened, but they did get good loot and found the hidden stash of cool Asian gear from the Far East.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Game log for 27 September 2015

Dramatis personae

Caleb, wizard (Chris)
Mayhem, short barbarian (Chris)
Kim, thief (John)
Yémos, cleric (Eric, who was absent; John handled)
Anêr, swashbuckler (Eric, who was absent; NPC, but Chris made most of the rolls)
Kúflaug, orc slave (NPC; Chris handled most of his rolls too)

Quid occurrit

They rested at camp for two days, until 32 Blôs. On the 32nd, they asked Likháfrikh, the dwarf engineer, about building the bridge athwart the chasm, and he wouldn't do it. "I can't waste the orcs," he said. "One of two things will happen. The first is that the hobgoblins kill all the orcs, so we lose the orcs. The other is that the orcs join the hobgoblins. They'll have a few fights about who leads whom, with the big, dumb hobgoblins trying to tame the not-as-dumb orcs, and maybe there will be a pissing match. I've seen them do it, too, they stand a few yards from a wall and see who can piss the highest. Anyways, with this one, we're down the orcs too, and now they're fighting against us. I don't blame you for wanting that bridge, and I'd risk it if there were ore down in that room, but I have a mine to dig up."

The gang also asked Likháfrikh and Péllē, the slaver, about the "tribe," and neither knew about it. Péllē said that orcs and goblins down south in Natālūna were in tribes, but by now they would have forgotten all tribal ties, and anyways, there were men in this tribe. Men in the same tribe as goblin-kin would be so odd as to be unbelievable.

So with that, they went back into the dungeon. Not much happened as they made their way back to the rubble under the chasm. From there, they crept along the north wall to the stairs, and saw the two hobgoblins who fled a few days ago: a skinny one and another one with perfect white teeth. (How a hobgoblin has that, I have no idea.) They moved towards the stairs, and Kúflaug saw that both hobgoblins had arrows ready, and warned the others. The bowmen let out an arrow at each of Kim and Anêr, and hit both, with Anêr taking the arrow straight to his ribcage. Yémos cast Shield on himself, and Caleb cast Fireball and step forward.

Anêr and Kúflaug moved nearer, while Kim shot the skinny hobgoblin, who fell off the edge of the ledge in his pain (the wound was 12 HP after DR and impaling multiplier, and he critically failed his HT roll after the major wound, so I thought it would be fun to have him fall off the ledge). Dr. Teeth the hobgoblin turned and ran, while the skinny one tried to get up, but Kim and Mayhem ended his life. Yémos cast Major Healing on Anêr, while Kim looted the hobgoblin's body, finding a whopping one copper farthing.

The heroes went up the stairs, and moved along the north wall again, Kim still at the fore until she stepped on the trap door and fell into the spiked pit. Luckily, she tumbled away, so she didn't take as much damage as she could have, and, after Caleb trying and failing to cast Levitate on Kim from above, Mayhem lowered a rope and Kim climbed up.

Once around the corner past the trap, they saw a marble statue of a young man. They went to check it out, and Caleb saw writing on the bottom of the statue in a strange tongue. He couldn't read it, but knew that others had seen these writings and put them in books, with notes that nobody could read them without magic (I likened them to Linear A in our world: we know it's a tongue, but nobody can read it). Kim found a spot in bas-relief on the west wall (psst, Jennell Jaquays: that's the west wall, not the east—there is no wall to the east!), a drawing of the man of whom someone had made the statue, that stuck out from the rest, and pushed it a bit, hearing something click. She told everyone to step aside and pushed it, moving to the left as she did so. This wasn't enough to keep away from the two spears that shot out from the mouths of the beasts on the bas-relief, though her armor stopped one. Still, she fell, and Yémos had to cast Minor Healing on her.

Now the door was open in the wall, and they saw a hallway behind it. They went down it to find the big demon statue that they had come through the floor in the room with the chasm. They could see that it had big amber gems for eyes, and its open mouth smelled of methane. As much as she wanted those gems, Kim held back, as did everyone else. The looked around, and could see the frescoes on the wall to the south. The frescoes were mostly of lizard men, and the lizard men were sacrificing men to a big, winged lizard man sitting on a throne. The gang chose to go back, not willing to let the statue do whatever to them.

Back outside, they looked to where the hobgoblin had fled: up another short flight of stairs to a raised base, with eight pillars along it. They could see nine hobgoblins among the pillars, doing a bad job of hiding themselves. The heroes went to the stairs, and Kúflaug and Mayhem went up the stairs first. Anêr held back to let Yémos cast Shield on him, while Kim aimed at Dr. Teeth, who popped out. Kim's shot missed, while Dr. Teeth missed Mayhem, and his arrow flew past and hit Caleb. Another bowman with long earlobes shot at Anêr, but the arrow missed him, as well as Kim and Yémos.

Yémos cast Shield on Anêr, and Caleb passed out as he tried to muster up the strength for a Blast Ball. Anêr, Kúflaug, and Mayhem all moved up the stairs, while Kim readied another arrow. Three more hobgoblins, one with a cleft lip (making him ugly even by hobgoblin standards) and two with stud earrings popped out from the pillars and took shots at Kúflaug, two hitting. Dr. Teeth and Mr. Earlobes dropped their bows and readied their halberds.

Yémos cast Major Healing on Caleb, who knelt and looked up for a spot where he could throw a Blast Ball. Anêr and Mayhem went up the stairs, while Kúflaug passed out. Kim took a shot at Dr. Teeth, but missed again. The two hobgoblins with stud earrings and the one with the cleft lip dropped their bows and readied their halberds, while Dr. Teeth moved to the top of the stairs. The one with the long earlobes took a swing at Anêr, now at the top, but Anêr parried.

Yémos moved over to Kúflaug, while Caleb cast a Blast Ball. Anêr stepped and stabbed Mr. Earlobes, and Mayhem put his axe into Dr. Teeth. Kim got her arrow ready. The hobgoblin with the long earlobes stepped back and tried to hit Anêr, but Anêr's rapier flicked away the halberd, which strained the hobgoblin's arm. Dr. Teeth missed Mayhem, while the other three moved nearer. Four more hobgoblins watched the fray, arrows nocked, but dared not shoot through their friends.

Yémos cast Major Healing on Kúflaug, and Caleb let loose a Blast Ball behind the hobgoblins. None fell, but their backs took a good singe. Anêr stepped and stabbed the hobgoblin with the long earlobes, who fell dead. Kúflaug knelt, and Kim aimed at Dr. Teeth. Mayhem stepped and swung at one of the hobgoblins with stud earrings, but he stepped back. Indeed, all the hobgoblins stepped back, and the ones holding back ran to a statue in the middle of the dais.

Yémos got out his bow, and Caleb stood up. Anêr and Mayhem rushed after the hobgoblins, but missed. The hobgoblins kept stepping back, while the four before the statue vanished. The gang's last strikes failed (though Caleb's second Blast Ball did singe a few hobgoblins), and the hobgoblins made it to before the statue, and vanished into thin air.

Res aliae

I gave out 4 character points. They didn't find any loot, but they did open a "bonus area." Everyone at home: that's room 53. Hey, I gave them a hint! They also found a teleport pad, though didn't use it.

I haven't heard from Eric, so I don't know if he's coming back. I do hope he's doing alright. If he won't come back, we'll have to do something for clerical help.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Game log for 13 September 2015

Dramatis personae

Anêr, a swashbuckler (John, running for Eric)
Yémos, a cleric (John, running for Eric)
Kim, a thief (John)
Mayhem, a barbarian (Chris)
Caleb, a wizard (Chris)


Likháfrikh, a dwarf engineer
Kúflaug, an orc miner

Quid occurrit

Back to the fight.

Anêr took a stab at the face of the hobgoblin with a bulbous nose, but the hobgoblin parried. Then Kúflaug took a step and swung at the other hobgoblin with a halberd, with plates in his earlobes, but missed, as is his wont. Mayhem, still on the ground, grabbed the leg of the hobgoblin with plates in his earlobes, who tried to swat him away with his halberd, but could not. Likháfrikh stepped next to Anêr and swung his axe at the bulbous-nosed hobgoblin, who got out of the way.

The two hobgoblin bowmen nocked arrows, while the hobgoblin with a little man on his leg changed the grip on his halberd. The big-nosed hobgoblin stepped back and took a swing at Likháfrikh, who got out of the way.

Yémos stepped over and cast a Major Healing spell on Caleb, whose eyes fluttered open to hear Yémos whisper, "Whammy." Caleb rolled onto his butt and looked up the stairs, wondering which hobgoblin to zap with a spell. At the top of the stairs, Anêr again missed the big nose on the hobgoblin. However, Kúflaug at last hit the hobgoblin with the plates in his earlobes, and when he fell to the ground, Mayhem wrenched the hobgoblin's leg. Likháfrikh took a step toward the big-nosed hobgoblin, who couldn't parry the blow, and fell down.

The big-nosed hobgoblin sat up and looked, while the one with a Mayhem on his legs tried to stop being a hobgoblin with a Mayhem on his leg, but couldn't get him off. Yémos stepped back to Kim and cast a Minor Healing on her, but she still lay still. Caleb cast a Fireball, still looking up the stairs for a target. Anêr, however, took out the target at his feet with a stab, while Kúflaug did the same to the one at his feet. Mayhem grabbed his axe, and Likháfrikh rushed towards the scrawny hobgoblin bowman in the corner, and whacked him with his axe. The two hobgoblin bowmen saw how the score had changed, and pulled away. Mayhem came to his senses, and Yémos healed some of his wounds.

The gang chose to get out, with Kim still knocked out. They made it up the stairs, with Kúflaug bearing Kim over his shoulder. At the top of the stairs, they heard a man's voice down the hall call out, "Hey, who goes there?" There was a soft light a ways away.

Mayhem yelled back, "Who you?"

The man said, "We are with the tribe."

Anêr boldly said, "I am Anêr the swordsman!"

The man said back, "I do not know you in our tribe. We shall beat you!"

Anêr, however, had a plan that wasn't as dumb as his statement. As the hidden door to the room with the statue and the pillars was but around the corner, he hid Yémos's light, and everyone moved around the corner and opened the door. The light came nearer, and Anêr yelled, "Go down the stairs!" before shutting the door with everyone in the hall. The gang heard the footsteps go around the corner and down the stairs.

In the narrow hall leading to the big chamber, everyone rested 45 minutes until Yémos's strength came back. Once back, he healed Kim again, and she stood up. Caleb held back from the yen to look at the flaming statue again, and then, everyone went back to camp.

Back at camp, they told Péllē the slaver about the flaming statue, and she said, "Well, there's some odd stuff down there. Was it made of copper?" Caleb thought it was made of some kind of metal, while Likháfrikh shrugged. Everyone spent the rest of the day and the next doing light work and looking over the slaves.

Scio neminem ex uobis hoc legere posse, ergo aliquid scribo iocosum

I gave out 10 character points for the last four sessions together, as I hadn't given any for some time.

I'll fess up: I thought about going easy on them with the hobgoblins to keep away a total party kill, but I chose to keep the hobgoblins fighting. (My plan to wuss out was to have the bowmen withdraw to get help.) I'm glad I didn't go easy on them, and, lucky for them, the dice went their way this time, and they rolled well for the NPCs, too.  (The players pick most of what the NPCs do in a fight.) Then again, they had been making critical miss after critical miss the last time we played, and the hobgoblins no longer had the boon of surprise. (And the bowmen had to reload.)

Paying more heed to the lighting and the other little bits and bobs has made for a better dungeon crawl. The lighting played well with the tribesmen. Neither group was near enough to the other that it knew anything about the other because the edge of the lights didn't get near. Thus, the players chose the trick of ducking behind the hidden door (to 27A, for those playing at home) after the two groups parleyed for a few seconds.

One thing that keeps getting to me is I never can recall wrestling rules, and they came into play today. I should do a mock combat or three to make myself learn them better.

We broke off early. The buses held up Chris so we were late starting, and John was half-asleep the whole game so he couldn't go much longer.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A couple of NPCs

There is no game today, since I took my family to the Minnesota State Fair, where we fought Sweet Martha and her killer calories. I'm taking a page from the master of Dungeon Fantasy game blogging, Peter Dell'Orto, and posting a couple of NPCs who have been fighting alongside the PCs. A couple of things from their character sheets are lobbed off, since they have yet to affect play, or are a special number like Loyalty that nobody other than I should know.


Likháfrikh is a dwarf from Mōr-Nembe who has been an engineer at the Zúbrās Mines for four years. His snub nose peeks out over his big, bushy brown and auburn mustache, and he is strong and muscular. He is missing four teeth from the left side of his mouth. As an engineer, he’s unremarkable. He likes going into the mines himself and bossing the slaves, as the danger gives him a thrill. Likháfrikh likes to have others around and likes chatting with them, though, like most dwarves, he trusts neither elves nor goblin-kin. He knows the built-up spots of the mines well, but sends orcs or goblins into the unknown spots, and makes them bring back news. Better they die than he. He likes to be known to be good at his job, and talks up even his small deeds in the mines to anyone who may listen.

ST: 13HP: 13Speed: 6.00
DX: 12Will: 10Move: 5
IQ: 10Per: 10SM: 0
HT: 13FP: 16DR: 5/3*
Dodge: 8Parry: 10UBlock: n/a

Great Axe (15): 2d+3 cutting. Reach 1, 2*. 
Punch (14): 1d crushing. Reach C.

Traits: Alcohol Tolerance; Chummy (12); Code of Honor (Dwarf's); Dwarven Gear; Greed (12); Lifting ST 2 (ST 15); Night Vision 5; Obsession (Mine safety) (12); Pickaxe Penchant 1; Resistant to Poisons (+3); Risk-Taking Behavior (Goes into the mines and works with the slaves); Stubbornness; Wealth (Comfortable).

Skills: Area Knowledge (Zúbrās Mines)-12; Brawling-14; Carousing-13; Climbing-12; Crossbow-13; Engineer (Mining)-12; Fast-Draw (Arrow)-12; Forced Entry-14; Intimidation-10; Lifting-13; Prospecting-14; Survival (Subterranean)-11; Traps-10; Two- Handed Axe/Mace-15.
Class: Mundane.
Notes: Reacts to others at +2. Armor not compatible with human armor. He speaks and reads Dwarfish and Mannish at Native, and speaks Goblin at Broken. Gear includes:
  • Fine Mail Hauberk (covers Torso, Arms on 1-3 on 1d, Legs on 1-3 on 1d), $1,575, 26.25 lbs.
  • Great Axe, $100, 8 lbs.
  • Hardened Leather Gauntlets (covers Hands; gives Ham Fisted 2), $13, 1.5 lbs.
  • Leather Boots (covers Feet; DR 2/1 against impaling), $80, 3 lbs.

  • Light Layered Cloth Leggings (covers Legs on 4-6 on 1d (Shins); DR 2*), $150, 12 lbs.
  • Light Layered Cloth Sleeves (covers Arms on 4-6 on 1d (Forearms); DR 2*), $75, 6 lbs.


Kúflaug is an orc miner. He has a ring in his septum, with a paunchy body, a craggy face, straight dark brown hair over his ears, and an unkempt mustache. He is truly worshipful of Kásnotok (aka Rōripermónē, goddess of farming), and wants to set up a bigger garden for the orcs, and sow some fields. Kúflaug isn't the best miner, but he has been in the mining camp most of his life and so knows the layout well enough. He feels the need to be calm, and bullies others sometimes to get them to calm down too.

ST: 14HP: 16Speed: 6.25
DX: 10Will: 9Move: 4
IQ: 8Per: 9SM: 0
HT: 13FP: 9DR: 2/1*
Dodge: 8Parry: 8Block: n/a

Axe (11): 2d+2 cutting. Reach 1. 
Punch (10): 1d-1 crushing. Reach C.

Traits: Acute Hearing 2; Appearance (Ugly); Bully (12); Fit; Infravision; Lifting ST 2 (ST 16); Rapid Healing; Religious (Kastonok); Resistant to Metabolic Hazards (+3); Sense of Duty (Owner); Social Stigma (Savage); Social Stigma (Subjugated).

Skills: Area Knowledge (Zúbrās Mines)-10; Axe/Mace-11; Brawling-10; Climbing-9; Gardening-8; Intimidation-9; Lifting-13; Wrestling-10.
Notes: Right now, he is carrying a halberd (12 lbs.) and wearing medium leather armor (36 lbs.). He wears an iron slave collar (1 lbs.) and normal clothes. He speaks Goblin and Mannish at Native, but cannot read.

Class: Mundane.


  • I based Likháfrikh off the Dwarf template that appeared in Pyramid #3/50, Races as Professions, and lobbed off 1 from each of his attributes. I also ignored most of the optional picks. I didn't want him upstaging the PCs.
  • I based Kúflaug off the Laborer template from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen. Unlike Likháfrikh, I didn't worry that he would outshine the PCs since the template is only 62 points, and not focused on fighting.
  • Kúflaug's armor is a generic armor that I made from taking the Torso armor in GURPS Low Tech: Instant Armor, and making the weight and cost threefold it so that it covered everything other than the face and neck. Unofficially, I leave gloves and boots at DR 2*, but mostly I don't fret about that since it seldom comes up.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Game log for 16 August 2015

Dramatis personae

Kim, a thief
Mayhem, a barbarian
Caleb, a wizard
Anêr, a swashbuckler
Yémos, a cleric
Kúflaug, a slave
Likháfrikh, an engineer (intrans actum in alterum)

Quid occurrit

Caleb lifted his head to let out an Acid Jet, but passed out from his wounds. Anêr started to stand with his rapier in hand, while a guard poked him with his sword. Another guard tried to smite Mayhem, but slipped and fell. Mayhem had reached his limit, and snapped. He planted his axe into the guard before him.

The two cultist clerics again tried to get Mayhem and Anêr to drop their weapons, and again Mayhem held onto his while Anêr dropped his. Yémos turned around, and started back towards the cleric cultists, while Anêr again grabbed his sword. The guard by Anêr struck him, and Anêr couldn't parry, taking a nastier hit. Mayhem rushed one of the clerics but missed, but Yémos stepped behind the cleric and smacked him with his staff, killing him.

The other cleric, now worried about Mayhem, tried to bid Mayhem to drop his axe, but Mayhem shrugged off his words. Anêr stood up, while the guard before him tried to hit him and missed. Mayhem, now on a tear, stepped towards the standing cleric, and smashed his axe into him, killing him. Anêr tried to stick his rapier into the mug of the guard before him, but the guard parried his blow, then dropped his sword and lifted his hands into the air.

Mayhem snapped back to reality, which was good for the guard throwing in the towel. However, another cowled guard slipped out of the hallway in the back of the room and lifted the lever to let out his trapped fellows.

The gang saw this and ran, grabbing Caleb and Kim and slipping past the secret door, near which Kúflaug was waiting. They shut the door, and Yémos cast Watchdog to keep them safe. Then, they rested for the next 20 hours, with Yémos healing Caleb, Kim, Anêr, and Mayhem. After that, the whole gang went back to the room with the columns and the chasm, and Caleb cast Levitate on everyone to get over the chasm.

Nothing bothered them until they made it to the stairs out of the bat shit room. The bats squawked, and as they started up the stairs, Kim stopped before she stepped into a big cube of nothing. They tried to hustle around the cube, but it could keep up with them. Thus Caleb, the last one, hung back and scorched the cube with a few Fireballs, which left it as a big puddle.

They came outside, and found a sunny morning after a rainstorm. They went to talk to an amazed Péllē, who was thrilled to hear that they met cowled men down in the dungeon. Kim told her they would bring her back one. After talking to Péllē, they talked to Likháfrikh, to see about building a bridge over the chasm. Likháfrikh said he didn't have any workers to spare without maybe getting some ore from the ruins. She also told him about the gelatinous cube, and Likháfrikh said, "That's why we send two kobolds. One can come back and tell us what happened to the other."

The next day, they went back down into the dungeon, and got Likháfrikh to come with them. They went to the side of the chasm, where Likháfrikh said it would be tough to make a bridge since the sides were so crumbly. Then he asked how deep the chasm was. Yémos cast Continual Light on a stone, then dropped it. Likháfrikh looked down at the little light at the bottom. "Yeah, I can see why you'd want a bridge," he said. "That's a big drop."

They also showed Likháfrikh the trapdoor in the floor of the alcove at the end of the room near the secret door, but he could tell them nothing that Caleb didn't already say. Mayhem wanted to light the gas, so he went between the columns to light a torch. No sooner did he get there and pull out his torch did jets of flame shoot up from the holes around the trapdoor, and slowly a big demon-head statue came out of the trapdoor, laughing, its eyes gleaming, and its mouth spewing flames. Mayhem lobbed his torch at the statue, but all it did was bounce off and go up in flames from the smokeless fire shooting out of the floor. And thus, the gang chose to run.

They got out the door and down the secret hall to the main hall, then went downstairs. They saw the rubble by which they saw the battle a few days before, and Yémos found his lit stone. They heard some hubbub to their left, and walked towards it.

They made it as far as a short flight of stairs when arrows greeted them. Anêr got out of the way of two of them, but Kim took both of them, and soon fell unconscious, bleeding. Anêr, Kúflaug, Mayhem, and Likháfrikh dashed up the stairs, while Yémos moved towards Kim's body lying on the ground. Anêr and Mayhem could see that four hobgoblins, hiding behind columns at the top of the stairs, had shot at them, and two were getting out their halberds. Anêr stabbed at one, but he missed, not able to see well. Mayhem tried to strike at another, but strained his shoulder. The two hobgoblins with halberds struck at Anêr and Mayhem, and dropped Mayhem prone. Yémos lobbed his lit pebble to the top of the stairs, while Caleb cast an Explosive Fireball. Mayhem lost his cool, and tried to punch the foot of the hobgoblin before him, but he parried. Likháfrikh, now at the top of the stairs, missed with a blow, while a hobgoblin hit Kúflaug, who somehow stayed standing. Another missed Anêr, while the other two shot at Caleb and Yémos, missing Yémos but dropping Caleb. Yémos healed Kim to get her out of immediate danger.

Pedicabo ego vos

Two important things. First of all, I went over the character sheets, and held everyone to their disadvantages a bit more. This mostly affected Mayhem, who lost some Reach from to his short arms, and Anêr, whose encumbrance knocked down his fencing skills a bit. Yeah, I feel like a shit, but they got points for that stuff. I should have been more diligent. Bad GM.

The other thing? When you drop a lit pebble down a chasm, anyone down there will know something is up, even a hobgoblin. Hell, an ogre would figure this out. Thus, when the hobgoblins saw the lit pebble fall, they were alert, and when they saw the gang come down the stairs, they nocked arrows.

So again we leave on a cliffhanger, but this time, the battle is going even worse for the heroes. Kim had lost 24 HP from those two arrows, and luckily she made her HT roll to stay alive. Mayhem going Berserk (another thing I've been enforcing more these last two sessions, but this one is much more fun in play) makes it harder for everyone to withdraw.