Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving! Here is the monsters and treasure list

I've been a lazy rotter on keeping up my game logs. I've been playing and I have four sessions worth of notes to type up, but my excuse is … grad school. Now, one of those sessions was in July and I haven't had a busy semester, but that's the excuse I'm using, as lame as it is. I'll have to come up with a new excuse once I've graduated.

The sessions have been a little different, a lot of weird town and road adventures (using the Mythic Game Master Emulator as something of a Ouija board) with Roman retiring Xóran and playing his information broker Aramis for a session, until he got caught breaking into a house and doomed to death. Oops.

But that's not about all this. This is about usable content for the rest of you. I present the latest version of my big monsters and treasure list. It's so big I'm doing it as a PDF; yes, Emily, if you want it, I can send you the latest revision for the sortable list.

EDIT: Oh, bloody hell, here's the damn Excel file.

Anyways, the details:

Monster. While this should be obvious, I tried to add every version I could of the mix-and-match monsters (dragons, slimes). This means there are many entries.

Page. A legend. I hope I got all the sources I've used.

Class. This is the monster class, like Animal or Mundane. I have the Terrible classes from the "Dire and Terrible Monsters" article in Pyramid #3/50: Dungeon Fantasy IV. I think I should have those as Dire instead, though I transcribed as the article has it, as it convention for librarians. I added (Swarm) to those monsters that are swarms after the conventional class, usually Animal.

IQ: Duh. I use this as a guideline for assigning treasure.

# App. That's "Number Appearing." You roll this number of dice to see how many the players encounter. I changed a few monsters to have more appearing to make sure that the encounter is at least a small challenge for 125-point characters and at least a footnote for 250-point characters. For those monsters that have lairs (see next entry), one-fifth of them are the average squad outside the lair, so divide the number in-lair by 16.5 to get the number of dice you need to roll for those encounters. Twofold a squad (so, two-fifths) will be out of their lair if your players run into them while they are active.

Lair. If this is N/A, then the monster doesn't make a lair and all are appearing. If this is always, then you've hit the lair and all are appearing. If this is a die with a minus, like 1d-3, then you roll one six-sided die and subtract 3. If the number is negative, you've stumbled upon their lair. If this number is zero, you've hit a squad of them, and the lair is in the same 5-or-6-mile hex. If this number is positive, you've hit a squad of them, and the lair is that many 5-or-6-mile hexes away. If you're not using outdoor hexes (boo) or a different size hex, fivefold that positive number is how many miles away their lair is.

$. How much the monsters' treasure is worth in GURPS $, minimum zero. This is treasure in the lair and does not count pocket change.

Items. How many magic items the monsters have in their lair. Minimum zero, of course. Does not include gear of leaders.

Strategy. Raider, Hoarder, or Incidental. See earlier versions of this for details. Gleefully swiped from Adventurer Conqueror King.

Change. Pocket change an individual monster has in GURPS $, minimum zero.

SM. Size Modifier.

HSM. Horizontal Size Modifier. That's the size of the monster when you take morphology traits like Horizontal and No Legs (Sessile) into account. See "Combat Writ Large" in Pyramid #3/77: Combat for more detail. Also handy if you have a specific room size in mind to know how much clearance Clarence the Dragon needs.

Hexes. Number of hexes the monster takes up. See "Combat Writ Large" in Pyramid #3/77: Combat for more detail.

Skill. Effective skill while grappling. See Fantastic Dungeon Grappling for more detail.

Damage. Damage in control points for grappling. See Fantastic Dungeon Grappling for more detail.

CM. Control Maximum, which is like hit points for grappling. Again, see Fantastic Dungeon Grappling for more detail.

OR. Offensive Rating. See "It's a Threat!" in Pyramid #3/77: Combat for more detail.

PR. Protective Rating. See "It's a Threat!" in Pyramid #3/77: Combat for more detail.

CER. Combat Effectiveness Rating. See "It's a Threat!" in Pyramid #3/77: Combat for more detail. Yes, I really figured all these. I'm sure I made loads of mistakes, though I did go through many of them twice.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Game log 23 June 2019: If the Tiger Mom irks you, wait until you meet these cats

Dramatis personae

Xoran, fox-man ("rúskwē") swordsman
Mayhem, pint-sized barbarian
Josiah, a wandering minstrel he
Ash, knight
Nikotsu, mercenary
Caleb, wizard
Maquia, huntress cleric
Kôštē, NPC cleric

Quid occurrit

After the ordeal, the heroes start to heal up. Ash pours his healing potion down the throat of Kôštē, while Nikotsu goes into Kôštē’s pouches and grabs one of Kôštē’s potions and also pours this down Kôštē’s throat. Maquia casts Major Healing on Kôštē, which at last wakes her up, giving them two healers to try to heal Caleb.

Alas, once healer cancels out the other when Maquia fumbles on her Major Healing spell after Kôštē cast hers. This sends Caleb to the brink of death for a minute or so while Kôštē and Maquia each cast Minor Healing on him, then pour a potion down his throat. Mayhem tries looking for healing herbs but can find none, but at least the other spells had stopped Caleb from drooling blood.

After about an hour, everyone but Caleb is awake and mulling around, Josiah and Ash go into the lean-to hut next to the Abbey, and find twelve bedrolls in use and three smoking jackets. There are other bedrolls not in use, which they gather were once those of the dead bandits who are stacked on the other side of the Abbey. The humans’ bodies have big purple buboes all over them. They shows the bodies to Maquia, who recalls that the death god Ažbrátōr had cursed the Abbey to give a sickness to anyone who dared to go inside.

That is enough for Xóran, who hates Ažbrátōr. “I’m going in; it’s my duty.” He starts to walk inside the Abbey, and says, “If I go in there and I get cursed and the curse doesn’t get lifted I’m going to kill each and every one of you.” Josiah goes with him, and when they walk inside, purple buboes start to show up on Xóran’s body. Josiah itches a little, but no buboes show up on him.

The two keep walking to the middle of the Abbey, and see a big bronze font in the middle, with a pillar on each of four corners, making a square with the round font in the middle. Above the font, they see a big canvas which old nails hold to the rafters as it sags downwards. Both start to go near the font, and as they do, hot oil shoots out at them. Both get out of the way, and see there is no oil in the font.

Josiah climbs up a pillar. He takes out a nail and the corner falls, and he can see the glow of the painting on the canvas. Xóran calls out, “Hurry up, I’m turning into a frickin' blueberry here!” Josiah goes up the next pillar, and pulls out another nail, making the painting fall down. A bunch of gold coins falls into the font, as does a silver bracelet and a burlap sack. Josiah goes up the third pillar and again takes out a nail, but when he does this to a fourth, he leans too far forward and hot oil shoots on him. He grimaces, but doesn’t fall, and undoes the last nail.

When Josiah gets down, Xóran says that while he may not live much longer, he will now call Josiah by name as he has earned his respect. They bring the loot to the door, and, after trying to push over the font and finding himself unable to do so, Xóran asks Ash to bring him a dead rabbit. Ash quickly finds and kills a rabbit, and tosses it inside. Xóran cuts open the rabbit’s body and cuts it up, and throws the bits and blood all over the font. He then walks back to the doorway and lets Maquia try to cast Cure Disease on him.

Somehow, the buboes go away. Xóran walks outside and breathes the fresh air, glad to be still alive. Xóran opens the sack, but when the others try, they cannot open it. Again, Xóran opens it, thinking it only opens for him.

Ash, Josiah, Mayhem, and Xóran light fire to the Abbey, and as they start to walk away, they see two rakshasas and six bandits watching them. Xóran says, “Sorry, was this yours? I guess we lit it on fire.”

One rakshasa laughs. “Thank you stupid fools for getting our treasure for us!”

Xóran scowls. “Great. Well, if you want your treasure then I guess you had better come and take it.”
Taking on two rakshasas and six bandits.
That's Xoran out in front:
"Bring it on."

So begins the fight. First one rakshasa breathes fire, but everyone gets out of the way. Everyone else moves to engage until the other rakshasa breathes water, freezing Ash and knocking down Maquia. Xóran and Josiah start to fight the fire-breathing rakshasa, and Xóran tells Nikotsu and Mayhem to “Brace the left flank!” Josiah’s blow hits the rakshasa while Nikotsu starts to fight a bandit.

The rakshasa scoffs at his wounds and smacks Josiah, but doesn’t live long enough to enjoy his cut, as Xóran kills that rakshasa with his magic sword to the skull before stunning a nearby bandit with his roar. Josiah wounds two bandits with fast blows before Kôštē casts Minor Healing on Josiah. Two other bandits and Nikotsu trade misses, while the last bandit smacks Ash in the face, dropping him to the ground.

The still-living rakshasa misses Nikotsu. Mayhem plants axe into bandit’s skull: “My great axe is ready to talk to you!” The bandits miss Josiah and Nikotsu and a third bandit’s blow doesn’t get through Mayhem’s armor. Nikotsu takes out bandit with a sword blow. Kôštē casts an especially blessed Major Healing on Josiah, bringing him back to full health.
Xoran and Josiah flank the rakshasa.

The rakshasa and Nikotsu trade misses, but Josiah takes out one bandit, making the other bandits flee. However, Kôštē thumps a bandit in the back with her staff as he runs past. Yet again do the rakshasa and Nikotsu trade misses while everyone else starts moving into position to help take out the rakshasa.
Xoran killed the first rakshasa with his magic sword.
Josiah cleans up the right flank; Xoran charges the left flank.
Only Xoran's sword can kill the last rakshasa.

Xóran gets near the rakshasa who tries to hit him, but Xóran whacks him instead. Mayhem tries to get in on the fun, but hits his own leg with his axe, making him go nuts. Nikotsu, however, does get a hit on the rakshasa, which smacks down Mayhem trying to hit him from the ground.

Bandits running
The rakshasa's three remaining bandits bolt and run.
This creature is as good as dead
That’s the last deed of the rakshasa, as Xoran’s magic sword finds its mark in its fur. Mayhem snaps out of his berserk rage, while Kôštē gets off another especially blessed Major Healing, this time on Mayhem.

Res aliae

We were a little short today, as Steph (Mayhem) is working in the summer and Hannah (Nikotsu) had the flu (which we later found out was an ear infection). So Sophia (Maquia) handled Nikotsu in combat while Roman (Xóran) and John (Ash/Caleb) handled Mayhem. Sophie will likely handle Mayhem until Steph comes back, as Maquia in a fight mostly heals and shoots.

Oh goodness, were the critical hits and misses fun. Maquia’s botched Major Healing spell let to a miss by 1 on an HT roll, making us break out the moral wound rules until Brandon (Josiah) just had Kôštē try to heal Caleb again, which fixed the damage. Mayhem of course smacked his own leg, but Kôštē (Brandon was running her) had two straight critical successes on Major Healing spells.

Xóran defiling the font didn’t do anything that anyone could see, but was entertaining enough to earn him a couple extra CP. He took a few pictures. I'm including them, with his captions lightly edited for grammar and stuff.

Hue and Cry

Because I realized I had need for something like this, both through play and through chatting with someone outside my group, here are rules for handling reinforcements when you fight part of a group of monsters inside their lair.

Hue and Cry: Not all monsters will be in their lair at all times. While this makes it easier to fight a small group, the others may show up and fight later! When fighting some monsters in their indoor lair, make a Per or Per-based Observation roll for the monsters; add any bonuses for Acute Hearing or similar Hearing-based traits. On a success, a number of monsters equal to one plus the margin of success will show up in a minute, and they will be aware there is fighting. Any not showing up in this group will show up in 1d hours, and will be unaware there is a fight. On a critical success, that number of monsters will show up in 3d seconds, with any not coming in this group will show up in a minute; all will be aware there is fighting. On a failure, all of the monsters will show up in 1d hours, unaware of anything amiss.

Outdoors, folks are usually farther away, leading to a lower chance of someone being around to hear the fight. Faster monsters wander farther than slower ones. Thus, take the lowest encumbered Move of the monsters, not including any bonuses for Enhanced Move, and look it up in yards on the Speed/Range Table (p. B550). Apply twofold this as a penalty to any Hearing-based rolls as above; don't apply a bonus for Move less than 2.

Roll Per or Per-based Observation as for indoors, with the penalty above for distance. On a success, half of any monsters out wandering will show up in 1d/2 hours (keep fractions), and will be aware there is trouble. The other half will show up in 1d hours, unaware of anything amiss. On a critical success, half the monsters will show up in 3d minutes, and the other half will show up in 1d/2 hours (keep fractions), all aware of the fight. On a failure, nobody will be aware of the fight; half will show up in 1d hours, as will the other half (roll separately for each half). Divide any times for monsters who are aware of trouble and using Enhanced Move to fight by one plus the level of Enhanced Move.

Signaling: Any monsters outdoors may try to signal their fellows out wandering. Use the rules for Signaling on p. 28 of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures. Assume that each half of those monsters are 1d times Move/2 miles away; roll separately for each half.

Either indoors or outdoors, if the delvers start fighting any reinforcements, make another Per or Per-based Observation roll for anyone else still not in the room or lair. Handle as above, except this goes for all monsters that would show up as reinforcements, not half or margin of success plus one. This keeps the GM from having to roll for smaller and smaller groups!

The upshot of all this is that players never should be sure they have cleared the room or lair, which is as it should be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Game log 9 June 2019: We want violence, we want guts, we want your team by the nuts!

Dramatis personae

Xoran, fox-man ("rúskwē") swordsman
Mayhem, pint-sized barbarian
Josiah, a wandering minstrel he
Ash, knight
Nikotsu, mercenary
Caleb, wizard
Maquia, huntress cleric
Kôštē, NPC cleric

Quid occurrit

It is easy going from camp near the river. On the second day, they see the man who told them about the slave rebellion a few months earlier, but they doesn’t go near him nor he near them. On the fourth day, they make it a mile or so from the ogres’ old cave, and Mayhem finds a trail going to the west, which they follow the next morning.

About the middle of that morning, they see a cross of sticks near the trail, and Maquia looks and spots an old building with overgrown vines all over it. This, they guess, is the Abbey of the Respectful Warrior. They walk the last half-mile, then make a scouting group of Xóran, Josiah, Mayhem, and Nikotsu.

From a ways away, they see three goons wearing tattered crimson sashes—one woman and two men. Josiah roughs up his looks and walks up to the woman, telling her that he is trying to get to town from his farm, and that he is lost and has coins. The woman says that Josiah has indeed had a bad time, but, “You know town is a long ways away, right?” She then asks him for the rest of his money and waves the other two goons to come up to them. “Let’s relieve him of the rest of his stuff.” 

Xóran hears this, and shoots the woman in the chest. She falls, and yells, “Help!” Josiah pulls out his sword and tries hitting the two other goons, but doesn’t hit. Nikotsu, however, does with the arrow she lets loose into a goon, dropping him. The goon rushes forward (Josiah’s bastard sword makes it easier for him to hit them than for them to hit him), and Mayhem and Nikotsu also rush forward. Josiah easily takes out the other goon, with him passing out in Josiah’s arms after he cuts off the goon’s leg.

The other heroes dash to link up to their fellows. Mayhem makes the sound of a dragon, thinking that there are more foes in the lean-to and hoping to buy some time. However, little Mayhem cannot make the big blot-out-the-sky shadow of a dragon, and three more goons in tattered crimson sashes burst out, along with a tiger walking on two legs: a rakshasa. Maquia tells Xóran that only magic weapons or spells could kill the rakshasa, so Xóran turns his eyes and magic sword towards it.

The rakshasa, however, leans forward and out of its mouth comes a mighty wind. Kôštē, Caleb, and Ash all are unable to get out of the way, with Caleb falling over. Josiah blocks the wind from hitting him with the passed out, one-legged bandit who is bleeding to death. The wind blows off the poor bandit’s skin and flesh, leaving him a bunch of bloody bones.

Everyone standing then moves to fight other than Maquia. Caleb casts an Exploding Fireball through his pain, Kôštē heals Caleb through her pain, and Maquia heals Kôštē.

Josiah gets the first blow, hitting the rakshasa while everyone else is still getting ready. Kôštē heals Caleb, who starts to stand while holding a big ball of fire in his hand. Even Maquia moves forward, hoping to get near enough to cast Might on Xóran without failing. The tiger-man, however, gets a hit on Xóran that the fox-man never sees coming and into a chink in his armor, and he falls, seeing his own blood on the ground.

Xóran, however, is able to see through his daze, and his non-magical sword hits the cat on its rump. Josiah also smacks the rakshasa on the leg, which doesn’t bother it as much as it would have a man. The bandits and Ash make it to the fray, trading misses, but Nikotsu reaches over with her big sword and cuts a bandit. Kôštē again heals Caleb, who now is standing.

Xóran misses the rakshasa from the ground and the rakshasa misses Ash with its sword. Mayhem, however, cuts the head off of one bandit, while the other two bandits miss Josiah and Nikotsu. Josiah drops his shield and tries to hit one of the two living bandits but fails, as does Nikotsu. Ash hits the rakshasa, though its wounds still don’t bother it much.

And now Caleb leans back to throw his Explosive Fireball. Which he drops at his feet.


Both Caleb and Kôštē take the full blast and Kôštē passes out. The ground under Caleb opens up into a 10-foot pit, into which Caleb falls.

Maquia, however, doesn’t stop, but steps nearer the fray and casts Major Healing on Xóran, healing him from a few yards away. The rakshasa tries to hit Ash, who parries, while Xóran stabs it twice with his magic sword through the lung, making it fall dead onto Ash's shield. Mayhem and Josiah try to take out the bandits but miss. One bandit misses Mayhem, but the second cuts Xóran on his neck. Both Ash's and Nikotsu's swords don’t land on bandits, Caleb passes out while trying to sit up, and Maquia's spell fizzles while trying to heal Xóran. A bandit's shield again blocks Mayhem's axe, but that is his last deed, as both Josiah and Ash fell them both.

Res aliae

Going through the log, I see that we didn't have folks stunned after failing major wound checks. This helped the players a bit, mostly Xóran, though he passed the HT roll on the blow to his neck right before killing the rakshasa.

Caleb's critical failure on trying to lob his spell was the highlight of the afternoon. At first, I was being kind and didn't think dropping his spell would do anything, but one or both of Roman (Xóran) or Brandon (Josiah) said that should totally be nasty, and you know what? They were right. Then one of the same two guys said that was Caleb's Weirdness Magnet going off and I pointed out that it wasn't, so had the ground open up under Caleb to have his Weirdness Magnet go off. The moral of this tale is that other players are nastier than the GM, who mostly cares about keeping the fight moving.

I think it was Roman or Steph (Mayhem) who said that this session was gorier than usual. My 11-year-old wasn’t bothered, and was proud of the crit she scored playing her sister’s fighter shooting the goon. As for me, I deemed the extra gore “perfect.”

Getting to the Abbey went quickly, as I had prerolled a whole bunch of random encounter checks. As I excel at this kind of prep instead of running at the table, this was a good idea.

My youngest daughter ran both Maquia and Nikotsu, the latter for her sister. She was bored as is her wont.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Game notes for 17 March 2019, 14 April 2019, and 28 April 2019: The Trifecta

Dramatis personae

Xoran, fox-man ("rúskwē") swordsman
Mayhem, pint-sized barbarian
Josiah, a wandering minstrel he
Ash, knight
Nikotsu, mercenary
Caleb, wizard
Maquia, huntress cleric
Kôštē, NPC cleric

Quid occurrit

Maquia, a cleric, and Nikotsu, a swordswoman, chance upon Josiah’s farm, having heard about the ogre and his sword. Josiah doesn’t have any armor. Maquia recognizes the goo tree. There they go into the mine and down the lit-up tunnels and find the heroes. Ash hears them as he’s on point, turns off some torches, and he and Xóran get ready.

They go back to Fort Rénnutēs. Josiah has to ask his father if he can go and take his armor. His father says sure, but he isn’t his son. Instead, Josiah came to him as a baby, and his adoptive father has some old mail armor for him. Ash tries fitting the cheap heavy mail for Josiah. Then they set forth for town, and it takes seven days. Not much happened other than Caleb twisting his ankle, but Maquia sets his wounds.

They spend a week in town. Nikotsu sells their booty, leaving with enough to live well, while the others listen for leads on work. Josiah hears of a big dungeon in Dībités Rock in the woods, Ash hears of bandits and demons at the Abbey of the Respectful Warrior in the hills (not far from where they had fought the ogres, as it happens), and Mayhem hears of a dragon to the north of the woods who sits on a bow that never misses. The gang chooses to go for the dragon, with Maquia staying behind after slapping Xóran once she learns of his wariness towards blondes.

They set forth on the road both north and west, and run into seventeen giant bees, all of whom they either kill off or send flying away. Caleb gets a meal off a bee’s flesh, while Mayhem gets a dose of bee poison. Caleb talks about going after the bees instead of the dragon, but nobody else is interested. As Xóran says, they’re not going to try to kill the dragon, but instead want to take its hoard.

The next day, they go into the woods, after Maquia, having forgiven Xóran, shows up. They go into the woods, and see husks of white rope. Mayhem and Xóran, among others, know this to be the webbing of giant spiders, so stick to the north of there. The land slopes downward, and they reach a watery spot with caves and broken tree limbs on the ground. Xóran smells something odd, but they keep going, and Caleb doesn’t see anything in the caves.

That night, they make camp, and while on watch, Maquia spots two man-sized lizards that look like wingless dragons—tarakks. She slips behind a tree, and warns the others. Xóran slips into the night, and the heroes take on the tarakks. Aside from Nikotsu taking a breath of fire, they win unhurt, and Xóran takes their flesh for food.

Mayhem is easily able to find their tracks, and thus comes up with the idea of tracking them back to their lair. The heroes easily find the lair, a burrow on a hill, and again beat the tarakks, this time four of them. Xóran slips into their burrow after getting an Armor spell from Caleb, and finds the tarakks’ loot: copper, silver, and a gold button.

That night, they again talk about what to do next. Caleb keeps babbling on about the bees, and Maquia says that they should give in just so Caleb would shut up about them. Xóran, Mayhem, and Nikotsu want to go after the werewolf, and want to get back to town to get silvered weapons, as Caleb says that’s the only good way to hit them. Either way, they think that they don’t need to take on the dragon now, as they have loot and the dragon would be suicide.

They set forth back to town. They keep away from a herd of bison in the hilly land, but while camping, Xóran and Nikotsu see four jackals skulking around their camp. Again, they make short work of them, then keep going for town the next day, staying out of the woods after they see three giant spiders in there, watching them from their webs but not springing out for them.

That evening they make it to Ābûsun. While walking into the market village, the Town Watch stops them, and tells them that they must get sleeping space and drinks at the taverns or leave the village. Much of the village is in the trees, but they stay at the Feral Daughter, a tavern on the ground. There, they listen for chatter, and Xóran hears about goblins having an uprising at the mines, and Ash about kobolds hitting Kerváron.

Old news.

An elf smoking a nasty herb does beckon Xóran to him. He and Nikotsu come to listen to him. “We don’t see many rúskwi around here,” he tells Xóran, “though Ābûsun is a little more noble, a little more elvish.”

Nikotsu rolls her eyes. “Get to the point.”

The elf smiles at her. “Young lady, your race is always so impatient.” With that, Nikotsu walks away and gets a drink, and Xóran takes the chance and beckons Josiah to bring the white-haired elf, whose name is Alinéllo, a drink. “Anyways, there is an old village which a gang of orcs, the Vile Hand, now have. What you might want to know is that a sword that was well-known in my youth called Grân might be there, and strapping youths like you might want it. You’re better folks than those damn orcs, that’s for sure.” After finding out that Alinéllo is 408-years-young, Xóran gives him silver buckle for the information.

They make it to Mīštássun the next day, and now choose to go to the Abbey of the Respectful Warrior and fight the bandits there for their loot. They follow the river into the hills, and see another campfire to the northwest while camping. However, they stay near the river, and later the next day smoke out a bunch of rattlesnake swarms.

Res aliae

Three logs in one. I'm a lazy rotter, though I did have some school projects going on. Alright, most of that was in May. My excuses suck ass.

Nikotsu and Maquia are two new PCs whose players are not new to me: they're my daughters, aged 13 and 11. Sophie, my younger daughter, did have some issues with how Xóran didn't like blondes after his bad time with the lich (Maquia is a blonde), and stormed off for the last part of the first session, already bored to tears. Amazingly, she came back. She's also played Nikotsu a little bit in combat on 14 April (the tarakks) to cover for her sister Hannah, who was elsewhere, as she'll be this session (mom and grandpa want a fishing partner).

Josiah is the new character of Brandon, who played the late Uruk.

I do have some plans for blog posts besides game logs. Namely, now that some of the Kickstarter Backers have Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2, some of the monsters I had developed for possible publication now have Kromm versions, and if nothing else I'll share my own work.

Friday, March 8, 2019

And another Kickstarter

And there's a second GURPS-related Kickstarter going on right now: Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2. If funded, it also will bring another printing of the boxed set. And my players get more monsters to kill them pretty artwork!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Game log: 3 March 2019: Day of the Triffids

Dramatis personae

Mayhem, short barbarian
Caleb, wizard
Xóran, fox-man swordsman
Ash, squire
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)

Quid occurrit

Kôštē healed Mayhem as the others buried Uruk. Xóran, out of grudging respect, insisted that they bury Uruk with full gear, other than his arrows (which Xóran took) and food (which the others took).

Once they filled the grave in the cave with the draugr, they wandered through the dungeon a bit more. They went back to the room from which they had turned back before, and went through it, taking care to stay away from the basin on the side. They left the room, and Mayhem took care to light the torches in the crude sconces along the tunnel. Once they went down a tunnel without any sconces, and found it to be a dead end. The ogres, while mostly being stupid, didn't waste sconces on dead ends.

They at last made it to a door. Caleb listened at it and, having heard nothing, let the others open the door. Once they did so, they found the bodies of eleven dead ogre women and their five dead children. That wasn't as grim as what else they say: six nine-foot-high green plants walking on three legs. They had no arms but instead three branches, while atop each plant was a funnel with a long lash. The plants were eating the dead ogres with their funnels, and these jerked up when the door opened.

And I really got hot
When I saw Janette Scott
Fight a triffid that
spits poison and kills
These plants were, of course, triffids.

Mayhem, of course, charged into the room. Caleb charged an Explosive Fireball, while the nearest triffid lashed its stinger at Ash, who shot it as he got out of the way of its lash. Another one's lash slapped Mayhem's side, but it didn't hurt him through his armor and tough skin. The others lumbered nearer.

Into the room dashed Xóran to smack a triffid, though it stayed up. Mayhem likewise put his axe into a triffid that didn't fall from the blow. Ash dropped his bow and pulled out his sword, while Caleb kept charging his spell. Three triffids struck at Mayhem, though only the one on his flank harmed him, while two more struck at Ash, not harming him. The last one got nearer to Ash.

Xóran swung both his swords at a triffid, taking it down. He screamed for the others to "help Mayhem" as Mayhem swung his axe and lost his balance, leaving himself an easy target for a triffid. Ash smashed his shield into a triffid. This did nothing, but Caleb's Explosive Fireball burnt one to a crisp, burned another, and made the air near Ash and Xóran hot. The one by Ash moved away, while the three on Mayhem each took a smack at him. Two of them hurt him a bit through his armor, while one got its stinger on Mayhem's eye. Mayhem winced from the burning feeling, but somehow kept his sight.

Xóran moved to help Mayhem, who pulled himself upright again after his bad swing. Caleb started casting Flaming Weapon, Ash charged towards the fleeing triffid and traded misses with it, and the three triffids kept trying to hurt Mayhem though didn't. Xóran made it to the triffid smacking Mayhem's side and cut it badly, while Mayhem took down one of the triffids before his face. Ash and the triffid again traded misses, while Caleb got off his Flaming Weapon spell, making Xóran's magic longsword burn with fire. The triffids fighting Mayhem and Xóran tried to smack their eyes but missed.

The fire on Xóran's sword helped him hurt the triffid fighting him, but it was the other sword that ended it. Mayhem moved away towards the doorway. Ash slashed the triffid he was fighting, while Caleb, now weary, fired up a small Fireball. Kôštē the cleric moved from the hallway to the doorway, waiting for Mayhem, and the triffids missed their foes.

Again Xóran charged with his sword at a triffid, but this time, he dropped it. Mayhem stepped back, and Ash lost his sword when the triffid's stinger smacked it out of the way. Caleb lobbed his weak Fireball at the triffid but, still weary, missed. One triffid's stinger grazed Ash's eyes but he kept his sight, though lost his grip on his shield. Xóran parried the stinger of the other triffid, and Kôštē cast Major Healing on Mayhem for the second time that day.

Xóran, now down only to his magic sword, hit a triffid, while Mayhem moved back to help him. Ash gripped his shield anew, while Caleb lit up another small Fireball. One of the two triffids caught its stinger on Ash's shield, but the other hit Xóran in the eye, and its poison blinded him. Kôštē leaned forward and cast Lend Energy to give Caleb a boost.

Although blinded, Xóran fought onward, though his sword work now was like Chris Davis at bat. Mayhem rushed forward to help him, but also missed. Caleb dumped more might into his Fireball, and the triffid pushed back on Ash's shield bash. The shield likewise blocked the triffid's stinger, but Mayhem was unable to get himself between Xóran and the other triffid, and the stinger smacked Xóran, and its poison this time got into the wound.

Xóran staggered around, and Mayhem at last got his axe into the triffid, bringing it down. The other triffid pushed back on Ash's shield, but that was its last deed—Caleb's Fireball struck true, killing the triffid.

The gang sat around for a few days and healed up, eating triffid oil, until Xóran's sight came back.

Res aliae

Steph, who normally plays Mayhem, was gone this week, so Roman, who plays Xóran, also played Mayhem. Brandon, who played the late Uruk, didn't have his new character ready, so he played Caleb, who is usually the one grandfathered-in "extra" character. (Chris played him, as well as Mayhem. He's easy for almost anyone to handle, and for me, the characters let a little bit of Chris still live on in the game.)

The triffid was a monster that I wrote from the John Wyndham book, and it shows why we playtest these things. As I had written it, when it hit the Eyes, it also did damage. This is not only not how it worked in the book, but it's superfluous. It did 11 points crushing to the Eyes, which I realized was a killing blow, not a blinding blow. When you're dead, you're automatically blind, so the roll to resist blindness was silly. While I don't want to coddle my players, this isn't what I was trying to have it do, so I had the damage instead lower the chance to resist blindness, by 1 for every 5 points of "damage." So, rolling 11 on 2d+1 meant that Mayhem resisted at HT-2. Which he made, while the blow that blinded Xóran was a mere 4 on the damage dice, giving him no penalty. Weird how that works out.

Thankfully, it is now back to exploring and travel again. Since we play short sessions and are slow to get going—really slow today since Brandon was late—we seem to have sessions of combat, sessions of exploring, and sessions of roleplaying.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Citadel at Norðvorn Kickstarter

We played Rifts last Sunday and it seems Jerry Bostock, my Jethro Tull-inspired crazy, may be about to make his last stroke, but that's not the reason for this post.

To make a long-story short, Douglas Cole, the one guy with a Dungeon Fantasy Role-Playing Game license, fellow Minneapolitean, and generally hoopy frood who knows where his towel is, has another Kickstarter for his Norse-themed Dungeon Fantasy: Citadel at Norðvorn. Back it.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Game logs 20 January and 3 February 2019: Binder of Glory

Dramatis personae

Mayhem, short barbarian
Caleb, wizard
Ash, squire
Kim, procurement expert
Xoran, fox man
Grymalkus, not quite as whiny as usual cleric
Attikos, holy warrior
Uruk, orc soldier
Kôštē, cleric of farming

Quid occurrit

The gang healed up until noon. Then, aside from Kim and Attikos (who was still passed out), they went down into the cave. They chose to go away from the undead, into another room. After blowing past that door (Caleb critically succeeded twice in a row with the Rive spell), they turned back. (I have no idea why.)

They went back to Fort Rénnutēs, dumping healing spells for two days into Attikos so he'd wake up without dying of dehydration. (I missed having him roll HT to wake up in the evening, though this would have been near result if he had failed.)

On the way, they saw a weird-looking chicken by a cave. As there were few settlements in the hills, they guessed it was a lone cockatrix. Mayhem made a mating call (Mimicry), making it randy and having it come near them. However, as it came nearer, it made Grymalkus and Ash ill. Caleb missed with Fireball, but Uruk shot it twice.

Back at Fort Rénnutēs, Kim, Attikos, and Grymalkus left, while Kôštē the cleric rejoined. The next day, they went a little southwest and tracked down the six orcs who ran from the attack on the fort. 

From there it was mostly a slaughter fest. Mayhem asked, “Where the orc women at?” The orcs, not having seen the gang, turned. Xoran plunked one with an arrow, Caleb started casting Blast Ball, and Mayhem said, “I want some!” The orcs pulled out their bows and falchions, and moved to fight.

Xoran shot the orc again, which rushed Mayhem and missed. Caleb got off his Blast Ball, which scorched all three orc archers, and spoiled the aim of two of them. Xoran dropped his bow, whipped out his swords, and moved to strike but missed, as did Mayhem.

Two orcs hit Mayhem, which just made him mad. Ash blocked the blow of the third, and the archers drew their falchions. Caleb fired up Sunbolt, and Xoran got one in the neck. Mayhem, now mad, took out two with neck shots. The orc archers chose to keep fighting, however, and moved to fight. Xoran took out another, and Ash poked the last one in the neck. He kept fighting, however, and Xoran missed him as he moved to fight. Mayhem, however, wasn’t so unlucky, and lopped off his head before killing the last orc.

They set went north from there. After passing a hole one day, they came to a big cave the next, where Uruk stomped a rattlesnake to death.

The day after that, they made it to the ogre cave early, but after first finding a rock covered in odd oil (which Caleb held back from burning) then a falling rock smashing into Uruk. Uruk led everyone to the room with the undead, and opened the door. He announced, "Remember me, bitches?" Nothing happened, so he smashed open the first casket.

The dead body in the casket was a draug with an axe, which it swung at Uruk, making him go berserk. The other caskets opened, and the heroes went into the room. Mayhem smacked his axe into the neck of one of the draugr near the door, while Uruk hit draug that had made him mad. The draug smacked Uruk right back, while the one near Mayhem reached up and hit Ash, who was standing nearby. Unlike most other blows, this one got through Ash’s armor. The other draugr sat up.

Xoran, Mayhem, and Ash all tried to take out draugr, and all three failed. Uruk, however, hit the one on him, while Caleb shot Acid Jet at the nearby coffin, which had the draug that Mayhem and Ash were fighting. The one by Mayhem and Ash missed Mayhem, while the one by Xoran dropped its axe as it tried to hit him (critical success Parry). The others stood up.

Mayhem at last took out the draug by him, and Xoran got in two neck shots on the draug near him. Uruk got a good whack on the draug fighting him, while Caleb started casting his old friend, Blast Ball. The draug by Uruk hit him, while the others got out of their caskets.

The draug fighting Xoran at last stood up, just in time for Xoran to take off its head. Mayhem tried hitting the hand of a draug near him, but it blocked his axe with its shield. Uruk flailed at the draug fighting him but did nothing, and Caleb lobbed his Blast Ball, but the draugr near ground zero got out of the way.

The draug on Uruk kept hurting him, while the one fighting Mayhem lost its balance from Mayhem’s parry. The others rushed in to fight, and missed; Ash at this time smashed one in the head, which didn’t seem to do anything. Xoran turned and tried to take off the leg of a draug that had rushed to fight him but didn’t get through, while Mayhem again had his try to take off the draug’s hand blocked. Ash missed the skull of the one on him. Uruk dropped his shield and axe, then grabbed the hand of the draug fighting him. Caleb again fired up Blast Ball.

The draug on Mayhem hit him and wrecked Mayhem’s grip on his axe, though he somehow held on. Mayhem went berserk, either from was the pain or the bad grip. Xoran parried both of the draugr fighting him, but a blow from one got through Ash’s armor. One by Uruk harmed him, but whose hand Uruk was holding couldn’t break free.

Mayhem got his axe ready, and both Xoran and Ash missed the draugr by them. Uruk twisted the hand of the hand of the draug up to its head, then crushed in its skull with his hands. Caleb lobbed Blast Ball and scorched two draugr from behind.

The draugr by the upset Mayhem and Uruk both hurt them, but the one on Ash met his shield and the one on Xoran met his swords. Xoran then use one sword to fake out the draug while planting his sword in its neck. Mayhem at last got his axe to the draug’s hand, crippling it and making it drop it axe. Ash feinted with his sword, while Uruk grappled the other draug by him. Caleb low on fatigue, lit up a small Fireball, while Kôštē, holding the door nearby, cast Lend Energy on Caleb.

Mayhem’s armor and Ash’s shield took the blow from two draugr, much as did Xoran’s swords from two more. Uruk’s draug was unable to break free of his grip. Xoran again tricked a draug with a feint, and then took it down with a neck blow. Mayhem, in his rage, saw this, and did the same feint and neck blow takedown trick. Ash’s feint also worked, and he gave the draug by him some nasty neck damage, though it still stood. Uruk again crushed the skull of the draug he grappled. Caleb threw a Fireball at a draug, but both it and Ash got out of the way.

The draug on Ash tried for his open face, but missed, while the one still fighting Xoran had its blow land on one of his swords. Xoran tried to hit the neck of that draug but missed, while Mayhem’s axe met the shield of another draug. Likewise, Ash also missed. Uruk then grabbed yet another draug, and Caleb cast a bigger Fireball.

The draug on Ash swung a bit low and hit him on the Armor of the Ape, not hurting him, but knocking him back a few feet. The one Uruk was grabbing slowly wiggled free. Xoran got one draug in the chest with a stab, but it still stood. Mayhem’s axe again met shield while Ash’s sword again met steel. Uruk imposed more grip on the draug he was grabbing, while Caleb’s Fireball again missed both the draug and Ash.

The draug grappling with Uruk again started to work free while the one fighting Ash lost his grip. Xoran lost his balance as he tried to stab a draug, while Mayhem and Ash both missed. Uruk grabbed the draug tighter, while Caleb fired up yet another Fireball.

The draug with Uruk tried to wiggle free, while the one fighting Ash smacked him in the face, taking him to the ground. Xoran stabbed a draug’s head from behind, taking it down, and Mayhem planted his axe into the torso of another, taking it down.

Uruk crushed the skull of the last one. He looked up, and fell down, now dead from his wounds.

Res aliae

The fight was against 8 draugr. They were helped by the first few draugr having to fight from lying down, but the ability to do 4d6+2 cutting damage has a way of equalizing that.

Mayhem and Uruk both went Berserk. Uruk took so much damage that he dropped dead of the fatigue loss at the end of combat. (He was spending fatigue on mighty blows.)

Xóran learned the worth of feinting. With two swords, this is a great idea, especially since someone with Broadsword-20 has more skill than most foes. He also didn't get a scratch on him owing to parrying with two swords.

Grappling is a good idea against draugr with 27 HP, but not foolproof. They can impose 2d6+3 control points right back. But it turned their shields into liabilities, turning their main defense from a Parry or Block of 12 +2 DB for the shield to a Dodge of 11 -2 DB for the shield.

Ash also took damage, namely smacks to the face but also 4d6+2 cutting to the body. Having a DR 14 breastplate may be great against bandits, but not against someone with ST 22.

Having these guys go down at 0 HP made this fight much easier. With their obscene HT 15, they could have functioned below 0 HP had I chosen not to call them meaningless mooks. Having said that, I see that I missed that they shouldn't have been able to parry as much as they did, having axes.

The death of Uruk

Psycho Dave: “Weasly your character is dead, since there are no clerics nearby you may add your character sheet to the binder of shame.” 
Me: “What exactly is a Binder of Shame? And why is it so large?” 
Psycho Dave: “Every D&D game has many binders but each D&D game must have a Binder of Shame and a Binder of Glory. The player characters that die heroic deaths are saved forever in the page protectors of the Binder of Glory. The characters that suffer, humiliating, soul-crushing deaths go into the Binder of Shame. It’s a sign of quality GMing to have a Binder of Shame three times the size of your Binder of Glory.”

Uruk goes into the Binder of Glory.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Hex Ed: Wilderness Hex Crawls in Dungeon Fantasy

Well, here's a promised full article that never ran in Pyramid. This one is in part my try to make my own version of the One-Page Wilderness System using only d6s. This is somewhat informed by use, advising folks to not to fill every hex with an encounter, leaving the lesser encounters up to pure random rolls. Honestly, I use the original system myself, with my only tweak being a 12 is a purely random encounter. Yeah, it's a d20 roll, but so what? I also always make the standard four rolls for morning, afternoon, evening, and night encounters, not the two recommended here, which was hewing nearer to Kromm's recommendation to one random encounter a day.
Regardless, I think all encounter rolls need to hem to the idea that not only do you need truly random encounters, but you also should have a roll to trigger any nearby encounter. This goes back to early D&D, with the roll to see if someone comes out of a castle if you pass within a few hexes of it.
Not long after writing this, I understood what Rob Conley meant when he told me that getting lost rolls were more trouble than they're worth, and went to a failed Navigation roll lowering how far you get in a day, and something you roll only once a day. I am leaving the rules for getting lost for those folks who want them, however, as I did use them early in my campaign. I also have better ways of handling % In Lair, which are elsewhere on this site. For encounter distances, see the post about the ibathene.  

With GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures, Dungeon Fantasy comes out of the dungeon. A hex crawl can make a wilderness like a dungeon, but more open-ended.

A hex crawl is a set of adventure sites in a wilderness that delvers can explore. Unlike a dungeon, these sites are not linked together. Indeed, the dwellers in those sites may have little to do with each other, and could well have their own dungeons.

Hexes in a hex crawl are like rooms in a dungeon. Hexes show where things are, and give limits to movement and sight.

Making a Map

For a hex crawl, you need a map with hexes. Hexes can be of any size, which is typically a number of miles. Most hex maps have hexes that are 4 to 12 miles across. Bigger hexes won't have many encounters from nearby hexes happen, while smaller hexes will have many more. You can get your map however you like, whether you make your own, you download it from the Internet, or you take it from another game. The original Dungeons and Dragons game took its hex map from Outdoor Survival, an Avalon Hill game.

When making a hex map don’t worry about filling every hex with an encounter if you are using smaller (4 to 6 miles) hexes! Only worry about the bigger encounters. Empty hexes can be like empty rooms in a dungeon, which give a break. You need not fill more than a third of the hexes, and can get away with filling a sixth of them. Fill them with settlements, lairs, landmarks, you name it.

Beasts can move between hexes. They're even more likely to do so, since there aren't walls and doors to get in the way. Hexes can even have dungeons in them, which let you run a dungeon crawl inside your hex crawl.


In a hex crawl, “lairs” are all nests, buildings, caves, dungeons, and other places in which dwell monsters and other foes. For each monster lair, note the following:

  • How many monsters are in the lair.
  • How much treasure is in the lair.
  • Whether the lair is hidden.
  • Any special defenses the lair has, like traps or guard beasts.
  • Whether the monsters leave the lair.
  • If the monsters leave the lair, how many of them are in a group, how far (in hexes) do they wander, and when in the day they wander, typically day or night.

A lair itself is a place that might need a map, especially if you think the players might spend a lot of time there. Lairs often have non-fighters, like children or elderly, guard beasts, slaves, prisoners, or whatnot. There might be other lairs nearby, and they might be foes of the monsters in the first lair. The whole lair can be a dungeon, which is a nest of smaller lairs.

Moving from Hex to Hex

The rules for Travel (Wilderness Adventures, p. 20) handle most movement issues. Each hex has a cost to move through it. This cost is equal to the size of the hex in miles, divided by the travel speed for the terrain (Wilderness Adventures, p. 22). Each hex should have only one travel speed. A boon of hexes is that you need not worry about mixed terrain, since each hex has its own modifier for this worked out beforehand.

The delvers’ final travel speed (Wilderness Adventures, p. 23), multiplied by the daily travel time (Wilderness Adventures, p. 23), gives the total movement in miles they can go for the day. This is the budget the delvers can spend to move through hexes. To move from a hex, the delvers must spend the cost of the hex in miles. If the hex has a bigger cost than the delvers have miles of movement, they stay in the hex. Keep track of the number of miles they spend each day, since they can put many days’ travel together to push through a hex. Sometimes, it is best to make a hex map of a bigger hex if the explorers are moving around inside the hex and you need to keep track of where they are in it.
Example: A band of explorers have Move 2, which means they move a mile each hour. They take out two hours for foraging, so they get 10 miles of movement for the day. The band wants to move through a 5-mile hex of dense forest, which is ×0.20 to travel speed. Thus, the hex has a cost of 25 miles. It will take the delvers two-and-a-half days to go through the hex.

Getting Lost

When hex crawling in the wild, with no landmarks or road, make a Navigation roll to go into each hex instead of each day (Wilderness Adventures, p. 22). Success means the group makes it into the hex with no problem, while a critical success shaves off a mile of the effective width of the hex. A failure means the hex costs more to go through: raise the cost to move through the hex by +20%. A critical failure means the group has wandered into one of the two hexes to the sides of the hex into which they wanted to go. Pick one of them randomly, or the one with terrain most like that of the hex they wanted. A Per-based Navigation roll means someone has figured out that the group is in the wrong hex.

Ignore the above whenever the characters can see where they want to go! It’s a little hard to miss the big mountain or the hustle and bustle of a town from six miles away.


Check for encounters whenever delvers go into a hex, and one more time for each day and night. Roll a d6 twice to find out which hour of the day or night; if the second die comes up 4-6, add 6 to the first die to find the hour.

For 4 to 6 mile hexes, roll 3d on the table below. The extra roll for each day and night happens in the hex in which the delvers happen to be at that hour.

Encounters (4-6 mile hexes)

Roll (3d) Result

3-8 Nothing happens.
9 Clue to an encounter keyed to a nearby hex. Roll 1d, and count the hexes clockwise starting from the top-right hex. If this hex has no encounter, or the encounter keyed to it does not wander between hexes, nothing happens.
10 Clue to an encounter keyed to this hex. If the group is not moving or there is no encounter in this hex, nothing happens.
11 Random encounter. The GM should have a table of random encounters that are the lesser encounters in the wild. These foes can have a prefix (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1, pp. 36-38). You can roll randomly for these. Roll 2d. On a 2 or 3, that foe has one of the prefixes in that tome. If one of the delvers has Weirdness Magnet, the foe has a prefix on a 2, 3, or 4 instead. You should make a list of which prefixes monsters can have, and roll to see which prefix the monster does have. For monsters with lots of treasure or a complex lair, it helps to write up a lair before the game.
12 Encounter keyed to a hex two hexes away. Roll 1d, and count the hexes clockwise starting from the top-right hex; roll another 1d, and if it comes up 4-6, count another 6 hexes clockwise. (If you have a d12, you can roll that instead). If this hex has no encounter, or the encounter keyed to it does not wander two hexes away, nothing happens.
13 Encounter keyed to a nearby hex. Roll 1d, and count the hexes clockwise starting from the top-right hex. If this hex has no encounter, or the encounter keyed to it does not wander between hexes, nothing happens.
14-16 Encounter keyed to this hex. On 16, this happens near the monster's lair if the group was moving; otherwise, it happens outside. If there is no encounter in this hex, nothing happens.
17-18 Roll twice. Both results happen at the same time.

For 8 to 12 mile hexes, roll 2d on this table instead:

Encounters (8-12 mile hexes)

Roll (2d) Result

2-4 Nothing happens.
5 Clue to an encounter keyed to this hex. If the group is not moving or there is no encounter in this hex, nothing happens.
6 Clue to an encounter keyed to a nearby hex. Roll 1d, and count the hexes clockwise starting from the top-right hex. If this hex has no encounter, or the encounter keyed to it does not wander between hexes, nothing happens.
7 Random encounter. See the notes for 11 above.
8 Encounter keyed to a nearby hex. Roll 1d, and count the hexes clockwise starting from the top-right hex. If this hex has no encounter, or the encounter keyed to it does not wander between hexes, nothing happens.
9-11 Encounter keyed to this hex. On an 11, this happens in the monster's lair if the group was moving; otherwise, it happens outside. If there is no encounter in this hex, nothing happens.
12 Roll twice. Both results happen at the same time.

Clues are just that: hints that are about the encounter in question. These can be sights, sounds, smells, droppings, tracks, dead victims; you name it. The only need is that they have something to do with that encounter. If the players want to find out what left that clue, let them make a roll. They might roll against Heraldry (for an old banner), Naturalist (for droppings), or Survival (for an old camp). A critical failure gives wrong information ("Wild horses can leave claw marks too."). If the players want to follow the clue, let them make a Tracking roll to their way to the lair. A critical failure means they go the wrong way and alert one of the other deadly beasts in the wild.

The GM needs to put the lair of a random encounter onto the map when he rolls the encounter. To do this, roll 1d-3. Add the Size Modifier of the monster, or the Basic Move if it is lower than the Size Modifier. Subtract one for each of Bestial or Loner, and add one for Flight. If the tally of this roll is positive, fivefold that in miles is where its lair is; roll 1d for direction as in #6 above. (If using 4-6 mile hexes, skip multiplying it by 5, and read the number as hexes.) If the roll is 0, then the monster's lair is in this hex, but the encounter doesn't happen in it. If the roll is negative, the encounter happens near the monster's lair.

For a hex with a keep or a settlement in it, roll on this table before the group reaches the keep or settlement. The result on the table happens before the group reaches the keep or settlement. The keep or settlement is usually the keyed encounter for the hex. If the result is an encounter in the hex, then it will be guards or dwellers from the keep or settlement.

Let’s Split

Gamers have long held splitting the party to be dangerous. In a hex crawl, if a party splits up, like in Scouting (Wilderness Adventures, p. 25), each group coming from the split makes its own encounter rolls. Since each group will be smaller than the party as a whole, it is less able to fight whatever shows up.


Encounter Distance

When starting an encounter, each side makes Perception checks to see who is surprised. Let each player roll for his own character. For NPCs, roll against their highest Perception, and give them a bonus for the number of them there are. Use the “Size” column of the table on p. B550, but read “yards” as “NPCs.” For in-between numbers, use the lower bonus.

If no side is surprised or both sides are surprised, let the encounter start with 6d×2 yards between the two sides. If one side is surprised and the other is not, let the side that still has its wits about it choose what to do about the other. It can get to 3d yards from the other side before the other side becomes aware of it. If it wants to get nearer, it needs to make Stealth rolls, opposed by the higher of Hearing or Vision. Again, let the players make their own rolls. For the NPCs, roll against the highest number. The number of NPCs is a bonus for spotting stalkers, but a penalty for stalking. Use the same bonus as to Perception for surprise when spotting stalkers, but treat it as a negative to Stealth for the stalkers.

Finding Dungeons and Lairs

Most landmarks are easy to find. After all, what good is a town if nobody is there? But some spots, like dungeons or lairs, are hidden. If they were not, someone else would have already looted them! To find a hidden place, make a Tracking roll, and apply the Long-Distance Modifiers (GURPS Magic, p. 14) for the hex or other area size. (For 4- to 8-mile hexes, this will be -4; for bigger hexes up to 30 miles, this will be -5.) This is a thorough search, and the time the search takes is the same time it takes to move into the hex. Having a good map gives a bonus, and anyone with Area Knowledge for the place in question can roll against that instead. Failure means the delvers do not find the place, but may look again. Critical failure not only means they don’t find the place, but also that they alert whoever lives there! Anyone who fails can try again as much as he likes until he finds the place, gives up, or a grue eats him.

On a Clear Day You Can See Three Miles

A human can see about 3 miles in clear land. If one climbs a tree, he can see 9 miles. In hilly land, about 200 feet from sea level, he can see 19 miles. In mountains, about 1,000 feet above sea level, a human can see about 42 miles.

Realistically, size changes this. A smaller creature has its eyes lower to the ground, and can't see as far; a half of a mile less for each Size Modifier below 0 works for PC races. For each Size Modifier above 0, a creature can see another mile. For all but pixies and leprechauns, this isn't a big deal, and pixies can fly to make up for being vertically challenged. Don't worry about size if the looker climbs a tree or is on a hill, since the height of the tree or hill is now what is key.

To tell what something afar is, the delver makes a Vision check, as on p. B358. This is at +10 most of the time, since it is in plain sight. The relative Size Modifier of the target to the looker is a modifier to the check, as is terrain. For all but Mountain or Underwater terrain, dock another -2 for being in hilly lands.

Vision Modifiers

Terrain Modifier
Arctic -2
Desert -2
Island/Beach -0
Jungle -7
Mountain -4
Plains -0
Swampland -7
Woodlands -6
Underwater -8

Further Reading

Conley, Robert. How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox. This is a step-by-step guide to making a sandbox fit for a hex crawl.
Sorolla, Roger S.G. One-Page Wilderness System. This is the inspiration for the encounter table; the original has a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.