Tuesday, June 28, 2016

19 June 2016 game log

Dramatis personae

Yémos, cleric of the goddess of wisdom and magic
Ash, squire
Kim, procurement expert
Anêr, swashbuckler
Mayhem, short barbarian
Caleb, yellow-robed mage


Villûdē, guide

Quid occurrit

Yémos cast Minor Healing on both Ash and Anêr, but didn’t risk healing Mayhem again. Instead, everyone went to bed.

That morning (23 Skraptôs), about an hour before daybreak, Caleb spotted a bear on his watch. It was the male of the pair they saw earlier. He roused the others and they got up while Caleb readied a Fireball. He lobbed it at the bear, but missed, and the bear kept coming slowly towards the camp. The others got ready, and once he got near enough, Anêr struck. That just made the bear mad, and he tried to hit Anêr, but instead put his paw on Anêr’s rapier.

Anêr beat up on the bear, landing three straight blows, though when he was done and the bear fell over, Yémos took mercy on the bear and cast Minor Healing on him to keep him from bleeding out.

That night, a star shot through the sky as they slept. The next morning, Mayhem at last woke up. He was groggy and bothered as he hadn’t eaten since right before the ogres bothered him. At midday, they reached the raft, and had to spend the rest of the day fixing it.

Villûdē let the gang know she was low on food, so they spent the day after gathering food. Mayhem didn’t hunt, but instead spent all day eating. Kim had a mishap with one of her traps and got hurt, and Yémos, who had a good bounty, gave a bunch of his food to the guide.

The next day they spent drifting through the swamp. There was a rain storm in the morning, slowing their drift. The morning after, Yémos at least fully healed Mayhem. In the middle of the morning, they saw a mammal the size of an ox with an eight-knotted tail and long, reddish hair on its body. Caleb knew it to be a santer, some beast he saw drawn in a book, but knew nothing else about it. Regardless, nobody deemed the santer a threat, so they went on their way.

The next was their last day wandering. In the afternoon, they made it back to peat farm, where they spent the night and bought arrows. Ajurêš, the lead peat farmer, reminded the gang that the ibathene was to the east, but was gladdened when he heard the gang had killed three nagas. The heroes spent the night at the peat farm, and the next day set forth, with the trees and ground wet from the overnight rain. When they made camp, Yémos almost stepped in a sinkhole, though he pulled his foot away.

Shortly after midday the next day, the gang was floating through the swamp on its raft, and a gang of nine orcs hailed them. The raft drifted nearer, and the orc leader said to pay up. Caleb asked what that meant, and the orc leader said that meant the heroes give the orcs all they had.

Villûdē started to push the boat to the side, and after a few seconds, the orc bowmen let loose a few arrows, one hitting Caleb, who had cast a Blast Ball and was holding it. Yémos dropped his bow as he tried to shoot back.

Caleb lobbed a Blast Ball, and he heard a buzzing in his ear. “Teach me! Teach me! Teach me!” said the buzzing. The Blast Ball singed a few of the orcs, with the leader getting out of its way. “That was great!” said the buzz.

Kim and Ash took their shots, but didn’t do much. The raft drifted nearer the orcs while Villûdē kept poling it to the side away, and everyone else got ready for another volley. Caleb heard, “That was great!” from the buzz, and said back, “Shut up so I can do it again!” before firing up another Blast Ball. He lobbed it before the bowmen got their volley off, but it missed. The buzz said, “That’s all right! That’s all right!"

At least it was a positive buzz. That was more than the buzz of the arrow of the orc leader, which dropped Caleb unconscious. Kim and Ash got their arrows off, felling one orc. A big orc grabbed him as the leader yelled, “Pull back!"

Yémos touched Caleb in a thoroughly good and wholesome way with Major Healing, and Caleb again heard the buzz in his ear. “That was a tough shot."

Res aliae

What’s the buzz? The players know a bit since I spilled the beans as we left, but I’ll put it up next time when the characters know more. Suffice it to say that it comes from Caleb’s Weirdness Magnet. 

I was lazy on posting this log, even though I started typing it the evening after the game. Going back over it, I'm surprised the orcs failed their morale roll so early. As for posting, I was waiting on the Brexit and my daughter's baseball team to get through its season. The next session won't be until 10 July due to CONvergence. I'm going, they're not.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sola Scriptura XIII: DF 3, Chapter 5: Advancement

Dungeon Fantasy 3: The Next Level
Chapter 5: Advancement

The book rounds itself out with some guidelines about how to award character points. First, it emphasizes that these guidelines are for points for killing and looting, not for good roleplaying. Thus, GMs, it's your job to make sure disadvantages are disadvantageous. I think these should be as game mechanical as possible.

As a GM, I don’t mind some guidelines for reaching goals, though I don’t want a game to be all about killing and looting. Suum cuique.

Battle: Losing, fleeing, or beating up a few fodder monsters is worth nothing. From there, it goes up, to hordes of boss monsters being worth 3 points. Each death docks the group a point.

So kill, don’t be killed, and don’t be a wuss and run. That’s the goal. I’d say that overcoming, not only fighting, the foes should be the point. Or points. Anyways, if PCs get what they want from such foes without swinging a sword or casting a spell, that should be the same point value.

Impressive Feats: This is for overcoming other challenges. They’re all a point; boo on saying that negotiation or trickery that avoids a deadly foe is only worth a point. I don’t care how they get the stuff, just get the stuff! If anything, tricking Orcus into giving you his wand should be worth more than killing and looting him. It's clever play.

More interesting are the ideas of “bonus areas” or “quest items.” What is a bonus area? I keep thinking the Secret Cow Level in Diablo II, or rooms 9-13 in Caverns of Thracia. A quest item? I think of Wave, Whelm, and Blackrazor from White Plume Mountain. Neither term came into my gaming world until this PDF, so maybe someone has other ideas.

Completion: Basically, making it through the dungeon and everybody getting at least $150 each (after paying off any backers and topping off power items) gets 5 points apiece. For a game about looting, that seems like something is missing. There's some points dinged off for dying and for not clearing the dungeon, but if the gang walks away with a $50,000 haul, that's supposed to be its own reward. 

At the bottom right is a sidebar about Changing Professions. If you're buying power-ups off a template whose multi-class lens you've bought, you have to spend points on all the basics of its template before getting its power-ups. 

This dovetails well with the start of the next section, Adding New Abilities. There's a short blurb about niche protection. Basically, it means that PCs can have the abilities on their template, and any template whose multi-class lens they have bought. If you want other abilities, buy another multi-class lens. Then we get a short shopping list.

Attributes and Secondary Characteristics. You can always buy them. I'm a little queasy about that, since back in the 3e days, we'd always buy up attributes over skills then lament on rec.games.frp.gurps how all the characters looked alike. I haven't seen any problems in play nowadays, however.

Advantages and Powers. Only take the stuff on your template. Sounds fair to me. It points out talents specifically, which are a cost-effective way of boosting your character's might.

Skills and Spells. Only take the stuff on your template. Personally, I have a Call of Cthulhu/Runequest-inspired take, that if you make a default roll in play with a difficulty modifier of no higher than +0, you can spend a point on the skill during the next downtime, if you have a point. I'm also liberal with who can take Survival, since it's a big deal in my game. If you didn't start with it, you'll be making enough default rolls against it (even if only to forage) that you'll be able to justify spending the point.

Lens Omissions. If you took a multi-class lens, you can buy the mandatory advantages and skills of the full template that weren't on your lens. Indeed, if you're going to be using your second profession often, that strikes me as a good idea.

Power-Ups. You can buy buy all the power-ups on your template, not your lens. 

New Capabilities. I'm not sure why, but the stuff in Chapter 4 "transcends profession." I can see this for Psionics, but not for something like Spell-Archery, though the prerequisites for Spell-Archery are such that only a few delvers can even thing about taking it.

Last are Training Expenses. It's a scheme for an amount of money per point spent that discourages cost-training. It encourages buying up attributes since those are free, which again makes me queasy. I've been off-and-on with requiring these. I have no trouble charging money for utterly new abilities, like a new spell, but if you use a skill or ability often in play, I don't see the need for training costs. Maybe when raising a skill above the 4-point level (attribute+2 for Easy skills, +1 for Average, +0 for Hard, -1 for Very Hard), as that means a lot of skill and training.

Game log 4 June 2016

Dramatis personae

Caleb, yellow robed wizard
Mayhem, short barbarian of the Dragon Claw Clan
Anêr, swashbuckler
Yémos, cleric of Dōsaútōr, goddess of magic
Ash, squire
Kim, obtainment specialist
Villûdē, swamp guide

Quid occurrit 

20 Skraptôs; hot day.

The gang went back into the thick woods. As they stopped to set up camp for the evening, Caleb spotted 10 orcs. The orcs and heroes moved slowly towards each other, owing both to wariness and the thick underbrush. After a few seconds of aiming, four orcs let loose their arrows, with one hitting Mayhem and another grazing Kim. Mayhem steeled himself, and Caleb let loose a Blast Ball. Two orcs fell, and the burst was so big that even Caleb himself got a little singed, though his armor took the heat, so to speak.

Seeing a spellcaster take down two of their gang, the orcs made like Sir Robin, and bravely turned their tails and fled. Ash sniped one in the back as he ran off, and Yémos bound the wounds of the two orcs who fell unconscious. Kim, however, looted their bodies, and from them got five copper farthings, and, worth even more, six arrows. She was running low.

The next day, they walked to the southwest. It wasn't as hot, and all was well until almost midday, when they saw an old friend. 

Oh, alright, it wasn't a friend at all, not unless the hydra had become friendly in the last few days, which it didn't.

Anêr made it up to the hydra, and struck true. Alas, it only made the hydra mad, and it bit both Mayhem and Anêr. Kim shot back, but the arrow bounced off its scales. Mayhem missed his strike, and Caleb cast Fireball.

At this time, the hydra started to glow red.

Anêr tried to strike again, but he dropped his sword, and both he and Mayhem took the burst of light from the hydra's body. Anêr dropped his buckler as he tried to keep away two of the hydra's bites, but luckily, the hydra's bite didn't make it through his or Mayhem's armor. Caleb lobbed his Fireball, but it missed. Anêr grabbed his backup rapier in time to parry the hydra's next bite, but the one after that got to his skin. Kim took a shot and missed, but Ash shot true, and Mayhem at last caused some mayhem, and his axe pounded the hydra.

The hydra started to back off, and Anêr got a sword blow to land. Then Mayhem landed another one, then Caleb hit with a Fireball, then Anêr hit, then Kim, then Ash, then Mayhem, then Anêr … there were a couple more blows, but the heroes let the hydra withdraw.


Mayhem had a plan. He led the gang to the southeast along the path of the hydra, until it's slinked back into the swamp. The swamp was a bridge too far for Mayhem, but at least they had an idea of where the hydra's lair was. They set up camp for the night, and spent the next day foraging as Villûdē was low on rations. 

The next day, which was nice other than the short rain shower in the morning, they headed back into the deep woods, now wanting to get back to their raft. Around midday, they saw two big badgers fighting, and chose to stay away.

They made a camp that night, and were eating dinner when two ogres came from the south. The heroes readied their weapons and everyone got nearer each other. When they got near enough, the ogres yelled that they found dinner, and the heroes shot. Ash hit, but Caleb, Kim, and Yémos all missed, while Mayhem's shot bounced off the ogre's hide.

Anêr and Mayhem grabbed their rapier and axe, respectively, and got nearer, while everyone else tried to take another shot. Caleb's Fireball singed one, but again the shots otherwise no good. Kim had trouble getting out an arrow fast, and tried to switch to her sword, but dropped it and fell flat trying to get it.

Anêr, Ash, and Mayhem all traded blows with the ogres, and the ogres got the better, knocking both Ash and Anêr back with their big axes. Yémos cast Major Healing on Ash, who stood dazed. Kim got up right before Mayhem got a good whack on one of ogres. Ash's sword didn't get through the hide of one, then another smashed Mayhem back a few feet.

That made Mayhem angry. And when Mayhem gets angry, Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset. And when Mr. Bigglesworth gets up set, ogres die.

Yémos made it over to cast Major Healing on Anêr, and Kim dropped her sword again when she moved to stab an ogre. Ash hit an ogre, and parried his blow. Mayhem moved to get back at the ogre who smacked him, but the ogre again knocked Mayhem back.

Caleb, however, had better luck, and hit the ogre tangled up with Ash with a Fireball, taking him down. Ash moved to get behind the other ogre, but his blow didn't get through the ogre's hide. The ogre, however, kept fighting Mayhem, but neither hit. Kim got up and Ash put his sword in the ogre's back, but it still wanted the puny barbarian dead, and knocked him back with an axe swing.

Yémos cast Major Healing on the downed Mayhem, who luckily saw Yémos as a friend and crawled back to the ogre and whacked his foot, knocking him to the ground. The ogre tried to crawl away, but Kim, Ash, and Caleb (with Acid Jet) kept whacking the ogre until he passed out. Yémos bound the wounds of both, and of Mayhem, who had passed out from his many wounds.

Res aliae

The ogre brought another Austin Powers reference: "Why won't you die?" Somehow, both the ogre and Mayhem made all their health rolls to stay alive at negative whatever HP they were. I think the ogre passed out at -67 HP.

Luckily, Mayhem lived, but not luckily, he's out for a bit. I don't have how far down he is handy, but the limit from magic in a day is 11 HP before you start taking penalties to the spell rolls, and even then you're still slowing your travel as you cast and rest. Hopefully, they can get back to their raft without any more issues.

I've been working on something for outdoor encounter distances, which will be another post. I did a lot of Quick Contests of Perception, which wasn't what I wanted to do but I forgot the random part of my system, which is actually easier than that.

Chris though like an old-school player (which he is; he bought the three little brown books back in 1974) when he let the hydra go. Monsters have lairs. Lairs have treasure. A wandering hydra has no treasure. Whacking the hydra then trying to find the lair later is like finding a needle in a haystack. Alas, the lair looks like it's in a swamp, which has loads of problems for movement without a raft.