Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sola Scriptura V

Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers

Chapter 5: Gear

Whoa Nellie, this is a big chapter. I have a feeling I'll learn more from blogging this chapter than from blogging the rest of the book.

Strangely for someone who plays fantasy games, I'm not a gearhead. I had no problems using default equipment lists for D&D 3e--in fact, I was pleased to see them when I first got the PHB. After years of picking out each little item of clothing to absolutely no benefit, this was just grab and go. It might be because there's no benefit in game to wearing a hat or a cap or a straw sombrero, and picking that stuff for no one else to notice got old.

We'll skip to the sidebar first, Buying (and Selling) Gear. Mostly, these are the rules for Wealth in Dungeon Fantasy. In case you haven't noticed, the default GURPS Wealth rules don't make a lot of sense in a game where characters are constantly buying, selling, and upgrading their gear.

(Random thought: why aren't the GURPS Wealth multipliers ×2.5 at 10 points and ×6 at 20 points? Those hem a bit nearer to the calculated values of ×10 for every 25 points, and give a slight boon to the players. I wouldn't bother changing them too much for disadvantageous Wealth—few folks are going to game the system with those, as they're not worth enough points, and the rounded values don’t like quite as neat. But intermediary higher Wealth levels? Hell yes. And since Wealth is of most weal at the start of the game, it does a little to discourage Temporary Wealth.)

Anyways, back to Dungeon Fantasy. Wealth, after character generation, represents what percentage of what he can get for selling things he’s found in a dungeon. There is no spot for Status, though Dungeon #3/58: Urban Fantasy II has the “Traits for Town” article, which is mostly reprinted in DF17.

Now on to the Basic Gear. First, we have Camping and Survival Gear. While what these do is obvious (well, aside from the Miniature Sundial, which needs an explanation), the game effects of many of these are in DF16. Without it, you’re left to wing what they do. Personally, I highly recommend DF16, which makes camping and wayfaring as much of a game as combat, but if you’re not going that route, knock down Survival checks one for each piece of missing equipment that you deem needed.

After that are Combat Accessories. These need no explanation, but I don’t see why there’s a whetstone in there. I’ve never heard of a Dungeon Fantasy-esque game wherein someone needs to worry about sharpening his weapon. Do Fine weapons lose their edge if you don’t hone them? This is an anomaly that we should either ignore or house-rule.

Then are Containers. These all have DR and HP, which leaves me to wonder why these weren’t with other items akin to them, like backpacks or sacks. Also, this hasn’t ever been in a GURPS supplement, but a good stat for a container would be its SM, and no container can hold anything bigger than its SM.

Next are Light Sources. There will be more about these when I get to DF2, but how far these shine determine at what distance encounters start. It leaves out the radius for the candles; DF2 says it is 1-yard. The light has weak light (-3) out to threefold this radius, so without magic, Dungeon Fantasy encounters in a dungeon will be at 6 yards from the light source.

Then we have Medical Gear. These are obvious, but this mentions that bandages are basic equipment for the First Aid skill and surgical instruments are the same for Surgery. What is all the basic equipment in here?

Alchemy: Backpack Alchemy Lab (-2 to brew potions in the field)
Armoury, Smith: appropriate Backpack Tool Kit
Esoteric Medicine: Healer’s Kit
Exorcism: Holy Symbol
First Aid: Bandages
Fishing: Fishhooks and Line
Lockpicking: Lockpicks
Navigation: Compass
Surgery: Surgical Instruments
Survival: Personal and Group Basics (Personal for most things, Group for making camp)
True Faith: Holy Symbol

It doesn’t say outright, but I assume the Healer’s Kit works as basic equipment for First Aid. Better, actually; it gives a +1.

Then there is Miscellaneous Hardware, and after that Musical Instruments. Both are obvious, but let me point out that contrary to classic D&D play, a ten-foot pole (and stop using those damn prime symbols, Steve Jackson Games! Nigel will thank you later) is going to be tough to bring into a dungeon. Once a hallway gets narrower than ten feet, you’ll have a tough time bearing that pole around corners.

Another thought: DR and HP for rope. While anyone should be able to cut rope with a knife, the DR and HP of rope will come up in GURPS combat, which is second-by-second. If you’re trying to cut the rope so the Man in Black doesn’t make it up the cliff, it is not inconceivable that you won’t cut it fast enough.

Last up are Tools and Writing Equipment, both varied. The text explains what isn’t obvious. The shovel has a short note in DF16, and DF4 has much more on writing.

Then we get to Special Orders. First up is Adventure-Wear. Appropriate for things like an anti-garrote collar and a quick-release backpack, these have long explanations. Note especially the helmet lamp. Not only does this free a hand, but this also has a five-yard beam of light. That’s longer than the strongest Continual Light. So, if a monster is coming from straight ahead, encounters will happen at 15 yards, which will give everyone a good chance to draw before he gets near.

Then we have Camping and Survival Gear. Again, there are details for these. Draw heed to the compass. That’s right, basic equipment for Navigation is a special order. I’ve been too kind with those Navigation rolls.

Then there are Combat Accessories. These more and more look to turn faux-medieval combat into more modern fights. A crossbow sight? A crossbow sling? Good thing a crossbow shoots much slower than a Colt .45. Also, there is a dwarven whetstone here that gives a bonus to first strikes. Fine, but it still doesn’t tell me what the human one does in game terms.

Covert Ops and Security Gear. This is a list made for Thieves and Ninjas (when we get to Ninjas in about 70 installments). Putting these in the special orders reinforces the idea that a Thief needs to make a Streetwise roll to get her lockpicks.

Then there are Esoteric Supplies, which are for mostly for Clerics. Here are the holy symbols. I wonder if blessed and high holy symbols give their bonuses to all Holy abilities, not just True Faith. I gather they do.

There are three items under Information, but they’ll have more detail in DF4.

Last, there are Optics. We have the ones that ape modern gear (bull’s-eye lantern, corrective spectacles, telescope), and the ever-handy mirror. Maybe I’ve played too much Dungeon Robber, but maybe outfitters in towns plagued by murder hoboes would sell Van Helsing Kits, with mirrors, wooden stakes, silver daggers, garlic cloves, and such. 

After all this, we get to Weapons. Admit it, this is what you wanted. There aren’t any weapons in this, but instead there is a list of modifiers to weapons. Some stuff, like Balanced and Fine, are common to GURPS weapons in general. (Cheap isn’t listed. Most weapons goons have will be Cheap, though not likely those of player characters.) Dwarven and Elven make the ethnic cool axes and bows, respectively. Silver stabs werewolves, while meteoric and orichalcum are tougher. Ornate ramps up the cost, mostly to ramp up FP in a power item. There’s also a blurb about making weapons bigger for barbarians. I use the ones in GURPS Low-Tech Companion 2 instead, but that’s neither here nor there.

Then we have Shields. Most of these are near the modifiers for weapons, which makes sense, since in a sense, a shield is a weapon mostly used for defense (it’s “parry,” which is a block, takes precedence over its shield bash). There is not a blurb about shields for giants, which I gather would have the cost and weight modifier of their armor. There’s a note about not using shield damage. Not only does shield damage add complexity, but also the shield damage numbers in the Basic Set are too high to be meaningful. I’ve always thought the authors took the table from the GURPS Basic Set Third Edition and left it without realizing that the edition changes left it useless.

Last of this trio is Armor. These again are akin to the modifiers for weapons, though there are some different ones. The ethnic cool modifiers for dwarven and elven are for plate and mail armor, respectively. There’s also dragonhide, which quickly gets out of the way the age-old question of what happens when we start wearing the hide of the dragon that we just killed. And there’s the obligatory “Armor for Giants” blurb.

Now, a sidebar, for Power Items. The idea of these is that a caster has a doodad that lets him give a little oomph for a spell. This helps with the idea that a caster has an item for which others know him, like a staff or a sword. A byproduct of this is that when dealing with enemy spellcasters, taking their power item is not only unpleasant to them, but can also be a sign that you’ve beaten him: “Bring me the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West!"

Back to the gear. Next up are Concoctions, which are Chemicals (and are “anachronistic science:” acid, alchemist’s fire, glow vial), Natural Preparations (anti-toxin, garlic, wolfsbane), Poisons (which do what you’d expect), and Potions. The last one is about what you really care. They’re a little different from the ones in GURPS Magic, and I would think that the ones in that book that aren’t in here would work fine. Somehow, a potion of dragon slaying wouldn’t be out of place.

Last, we have a list of Magic Items. There’s a list of common enchantments for Magic Weapons and Armor, and these are the typical enhancements for extra damage and DR. There are also a dozen Other Items. Some of these are common wizard tools in any game that they’re not too wondrous (Wizard’s Staff and Wand). Four more are alchemical amulets (Ironskin, Moly, Salamander, and Serpent’s Amulets), and three more are one-use items from Spell Stone (Gem of Healing, Necklace of Fireballs, Siege Stone). The last three, which are first from the magic of alphabetical order, are the Boots of Balance, which grant Perfect Balance to the wearer, the Bottomless Purse, which is a little Bag of Holding, and the Cornucopia Quiver, which keeps you from running out of arrows. They’re the norm for this genre. See DF8 for much more.

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