Sunday, November 23, 2014

Game log for 23 November 2014

The characters

Anêr, human swashbuckler
Yémos, human cleric
Mayhem, short human barbarian
Caleb, human wizard

As they walked over a hill, they heard a shrill voice scream out, "Kill them!" They looked down, and it struck them that they knew that voice. It was the voice of the woman whom Anêr crippled a few days before.

Sure enough, she was standing on her crutches, and her four friends were coming for the heroes. Two of them started charging up the hill, and two more nocked arrows. Caleb and Mayhem got ready to fire back, while Yémos cast Shield on both Mayhem and Anêr. As the two sides came to meet each other, and one missed Mayhem, while the other felled Yémos. Mayhem missed his shot, but Caleb singed one and Yémos gave one a cut on his face. Mayhem pulled out his axe.

After a few seconds, both the fighters in front had fallen to Mayhem, and he charged down the hill, Anêr after him, while Caleb fell to an arrow. One of the archers ran, while Mayhem and Anêr took down the bigger one. They nabbed the woman on crutches, who spat in their face. Thus, they bound her face as well as her limbs, and took her latest haul: 250 copper farthings, 25 silver pennies, and 9 gold pieces. Then they awoke their fallen spellcasters, stopped the bleeding of the bandits, and brought the whole lot to Ōndrûnks.

There, they sold the equipment of the bandits for 900 copper farthings, and bought some rations. The guards took the bandits, and Yémos looked for a new tent, but there was none for sale. They spent the night in Magog, smelling the apples. The next morning, they checked out the peasant hovel of Bîs, the bandit leader on crutches (which they heard from Bîs, the owner of Magog, and as gainsaid to Bîs, the big archer among the bandits), but there was no booty there, only a few crops in the garden.

They passed through Lúrās, where folks gave them dirty looks, went through a short rain shower, passed a man pushing a lumber cart on the road, tried to buy a tent in Lûtē Downs but again could not, then made it to Mīstássun. There, they went to Caravan Outfitters, a shop with incense burning in the Market Ward near the West Gate, and there bought a tent, some Minor Healing potions, and paut.

Having made it into town still early, they ate dinner at The Pantry, looking for Nabbrášus, hoping she would work as a new patron. There Arrūnús, the owner, told them that Nabbrášus hasn't been there since she met them, so after dinner, they followed Arrūnús's directions and went to her home in the Merchants Ward. On the way there, a humming man with only two teeth bumped into them, and Anêr grabbed his hand when it was near his coin purse. After some chatter, where the man said that he was not trying to rob them, they let him go. They made it to Nabbrášus's home, where an orc with a tattooed lip and a slave collar told them to come back the next day, as it was late.

That night, they went to crash on the floor of the Scarlet Harlot. Yémos was casting Watchdog on their belongings when Praidīvós came into the tavern, and asked for his demon blood. After some shouting and Yémos telling Praidīvós about their plight at Dībités Rock, Praidīvós stormed off, saying he was going for the guard. Thus, the gang went outside the gates, and Mayhem found a good spot for a camp where they spent the night.

The next day was 8 Blôs, and they went to the home of Nabbrášus the next morning, and signed a contract with her to help out for three months at her mines in the Áos Hills. She paid them the first week's pay, 25 silver pennies each, right away, and from there, they went to go train.


When all was said and done, they had 20 character points each to spend, so we talked for about an hour about how to spend them. Caleb looks like he's becoming a member of the Order of the Sun to help with his blasting skills. He needed to spend only six points: two on skills, three on spells, and one on the style's perk. Mayhem will goose up his Weather Sense and Outdoorsman, and learn Fast-Draw (Axe). Anêr is learning Weapon Master (Rapier), which will give him two more points of damage. Eric couldn't figure out what Yémos would do, and truthfully, I didn't have good suggestions. I didn't charge them training costs since it seemed mean at this power level to make them spend money to be able to spend their character points.

I'll find out what they're doing over the next few days with a few die rolls. Once they get to the mines,  they'll go down into them, which will become a more traditional dungeon game for a bit. I'm going to think of old school elements over the next few weeks. In three weeks, they'll set forth, and likely in the next session or two, they'll go into the mines. I know I want to look at intelligent swords. I don't know if I want to go the megadungeon route. Mines lend themselves well to this, but also to many small dungeons. And they have so much invested into traveling gear and skills at this point that spending too much time in a dungeon seems like a waste.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Central hex crawl link repository

I'm trying to put together a good list of hex crawling resources on the web. I'll update this as I get more things to put here, and have better comments. I'm doing this since it took me awhile to find all these myself, and, after I started writing this post a few weeks ago, Christopher Rice posted his to-do list for a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign that, based on the list, seemed akin to mine. So Ghostdancer, this is for you, among others.


Trollsmyth One series heavy on theory. Gives you a good understanding of a hex crawl, but isn't heavy on mechanics. I often use his monster motivation table in part 17.
The Alexandrian Another series heavy on theory. Alexander has some mechanics with his.
Rob Conley Once you go through the theory to understand what you're running, go through this to start designing the sandbox. It kind of peters out about 60% of the way through, though most of the rest is easy to guess.
Hex-Based Campaign Design The Welsh Piper has a pretty good set of tables for the fixed encounters.
Twenty Quick Questions for Your Campaign Setting With the two above it, you'll narrow down what you need to write. I wish someone could come up with twenty questions as great as this list for other topics.
Improving the Hex Key Format Something that has bugged me for a bit, which is the best format for all these entries.


These are mostly bunches of tables. You want tables. You will have trouble finding enough tables. They help when the players go off the rails, and since you're not laying down rails, you'll use them constantly. The first set is mostly for the sandbox, and the second set is for dungeons. Finding a dungeon will break up a boring trek. Most of these are NOT free, though some are cheap.

Yes, I shelled out for lots of these, over a period of about two years.


d30 Sandbox Companion A masterful assortment of tables, and no, I'm not overloading it with praise. If anything, it needs a sequel to add even more of its amazing set of tables. I use this PDF more than any other, and it's my go-to source for road encounters. Cheap.
Ultimate Toolbox This was my earliest set of tables, and I used them quite a bit in early design. As a side note, I had the original Toolbox at my side when I ran D&D a decade ago. Not cheap.
Kellri's Old School Reference The fourth one is the gem you need. Generally handy, though it suffers from a bad PDF index and from coming from many older books. You need to look hard in here. Free.
Ready Ref Sheets The granddaddy of all of these, some of the tables are still handy even today. Some of them are better done in the d30 Sandbox Companion. And some of them are best left in the Seventies. It's also a great bit of gaming history. Cheap.
The Wilderness Alphabet Written as an above-ground answer to the Dungeon Alphabet (below), it does give a bunch of tables for rolling up random items in the wild. It would benefit from a publisher to give it better formatting and artwork. Cheap.
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures I'm not planning on pimping my preferred system (wait, I just did that), but this is handy for actually handling play in the wild. I ran my campaign for months before it came out, so you can do it, but this makes it much easier. OK price. Something of a modern, focused Wilderness Survival Guide.
D&D Expert Set It still has its uses. It brings me nostalgia more than any product here, other than maybe the Wilderness Survival Guide. Cheap.


Tome of Adventure Design I got this in a Bundle of Holding throw-in, and for something I didn't expect to use, I use it a lot, especially for its dungeon design tables. I got it too late for its sandbox design tables to be handy, though, truth be told, I'm listing stuff with better such tables. Not cheap.
d30 DM Companion The dungeon version of the d30 Sandbox Companion. It doesn't do much when everyone is above ground, but has loads of handy tables for when they're underground. I'm often surprised by what I find when I go looking in here, and it isn't a long book. Cheap.
The Dungeon Alphabet A good book of dungeon ideas. It's a spur for ideas down in the dungeon. OK price.
Tricks, Empty Rooms, & Basic Trap Design What it says on the tin. Incredibly handy for what it does. It has frigging drawings of the kinds of pit traps, man. That's just neat. Free.
D&D Basic Set I still use its dungeon stocking table. Cheap.


Hex Crawl A blog that its author seems to have forsaken last year, which is a pity since we need more of its tables and ideas. 30aug2016 The author has truly forsaken it AND its domain registration.
Run a Game: The Hex Crawl Another theory resource like the first two, this one is short.
are phantasia: Hexcrawl Resources A list of other resources, including a thread I started in the Steve Jackson Games Forums.
Gnome Stew Old School Fantasy Hexcrawl Resources Yet another list of resources.


One-Page Wilderness System This one might be the most important one. It lets you run a hex crawl somewhat like a dungeon. I use a variant of this to handle wilderness encounters away from civilization (the d30 Sandbox Companion handles encounters between settlements). And the advice on clues is fantastic. I even imported clues into random encounters in the dungeon.
Cities Alright, you buy this one, but I use this for the town encounters. Cheap.


Hexographer It's free for casual use, and is good for the drawing-impaired among us, including me.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Munchkin Treasure Hunt

On Tuesday and Wednesday, my beloved Orioles played their way out of the World Series. But after those games, playing Munchkin Treasure Hunt lifted my spirits, even though I did about as well as the Orioles.

My helpers those games were my daughters. For the first game, only my youngest daughter, Sophia, played against me. Sophia is an incredibly cute 6-year-old who is truly smart though still new to reading and math. For the second game, her older sister Hannah also played. Hannah is 8, and a bit geeky as she likes both Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings, and, like her sister, is both truly smart and adorable. Their cousins, however, have spoiled anything to do with zombies for them, and both are scared by anything to do with them, even Sophie, who usually isn't scared of anything.

None of this mattered, however, since the girls had fun. Sophia beat me in the first game, though near the end, things got too easy since we missed the rule about a limit of two permanent items. Hannah won the next night. Both had a blast, though Sophie didn't take too well to losing to her sister. She isn't a great winner or loser. And Hannah, when I just asked her, liked that she got to fight the zombie, so no fear.

As for the game itself, Andrew Hackard tells the basic game play in the video. You roll a die, choose a direction, move your game piece, and do what the square on which you land tells you. If you move into a monster's lair or the entrance, your movement stops and you fight the monster in that lair, if you didn't go into the entrance. The game board has little in the way of writing, making it easy for young readers to know what to do. To fight a monster, you draw a monster card to modify the monster's level, then roll a die. If your level is the same or higher than that of the monster, you win and draw treasure cards. If you lose, you must run away. Whoever has the highest value from her treasure cards at the end of the game wins.

There are six monsters on the board. Two—the Witch and the Goblin—fight at 5 + the value on the monster card (which is always positive), and beating them gives two treasures. Two others—the Zombie and the Ogre—fight at 8 + the value on the monster card, and beating them gives three treasures. The last two monsters—the Troll and the Dragon—are the toughest, and give five treasures. The Dragon fights at 12 + the value on two monster cards, while the Troll fights at 10 + the value on a monster card + a die.

In play, I spent my time moving back and forth between the weaker monsters to build myself up. Maybe I was too wary, since my kids went for the Troll and Dragon earlier than I did, and they did beat me. However, most players will try something akin to my strategy, since going at the Troll or Dragon is suicide until you get more treasure cards.

Now, those treasure cards. Like in regular Munchkin, treasure can boost your level in a fight. Most treasure cards are one-time only cards, while a few are permanent. Like I said before, you can only have two permanent treasures in play at any one time, and if you run away, you must get rid of one of your permanent treasures, if you have one in play. Sophia says she that hates losing her permanent treasures. Almost every fight needs a treasure card to help you beat the monster.

The cards are small, and the words on them aren't big. The typeface wasn't that clear, though I had no trouble reading it, and neither did my daughters, to the best of their skill. This wasn't a problem for my 8-year-old, but Sophia, my 6-year-old, couldn't read the instructions on cards, which did hamper her when using cards like Sticky Fingers, which lets you play a one-time card and take it back.

The humor of grown-up Munchkin is there, just not adult. When you fight a monster, it is always modified due to the monster card, so you are always fighting silly combinations like a Snotty Witch or a Hairy Troll or a Boring Stinky Dragon. Kids like this better than we do, of course, but the treasure cards are just as fun. You fight a monster with the help of a Foam Bat or Something You Just Found Under Your Bed. And we all know the awesome +5 bonus that That Look from Mom gives is accurate.

Missing from the game is the cutthroat attitude of grown-up Munchkin, which makes sense, since these are kids. Any parent will know that we don't want to deal with a crying elementary school student because his sister played the Wandering Monster card with Tiamat just as he was about to kill the Lame Kobold with his Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment and get to level 10. There is a way to help others, though only with players whose pieces near the lair where you're fighting. I do think kids picking up full Munchkin after this will be amazed to see the viciousness, however.

In short, this is a fun game. Kids who are starting to learn reading will need a little more help, and there isn't any kind of messing with the other players, but otherwise, the game is what it says on the box: Munchkin for kids. And we know what fun Munchkin is.

Game log for 19 October 2014

Dramatis personae:

Yémos, a cleric

Anêr, a swashbuckler
Mayhem, a barbarian
Caleb, a wizard

Quid occurrit:

Oh, they've been through the forest with a pony with no name,
And they're about to step into the rain.
Name the fucking horse! — Richard Jeni

The pony got the name of either "Greymare" or "Bill" when the group found him, wandering outside on the afternoon of 3 Blôs. They chose to head northeast to Káddrakos.

After a few hours of walking, though still before nightfall, six wolves suddenly set upon them. The pony, whatever her name is, stepped back, while the wolves rushed to the two fighters afore the others, and got little nips at them before they could gather their wits about them. Anêr and Mayhem started taking swings, while Yémos cast Shield on Mayhem, and Caleb cast Explosive Fireball. The wolves started biting at their legs, and one ran around towards Yémos. Mayhem got a killing blow, and as it died, the wolf turned into a hairy man.

Not quite.

Caleb threw his Explosive Fireball, but it didn't make the werewolves panic, as it would true wolves. Still, it killed another wolf, but the living wolves cripple the legs of both Anêr and Mayhem, Anêr dropping his sword while trying to parry the blow. Another took a bite out of Yémos's chest, and he falls down.

Now, the wolves tried to drag off the three heroes. They bit on the heroes and started to pull them off. Anêr grabbed his sword and stabbed at the wolf. The wolf must let go of Anêr to get away, but did and then bit on him again. Mayhem swung his axe into the wolf dragging Yémos, while Caleb tried to lob a Fireball at the last wolf, who had run after the now-spooked pony, but he missed.

After a few more seconds, Mayhem and Caleb, who had run up to the others, killed the wolf on Yémos, while the others howled and fled. After a few minutes, Caleb caught up with their pony, then brought her back and did some first aid on the others. Both Anêr and Mayhem found they can walk on their legs, so Mayhem set up camp and shelter.

The night went without issue, though Yémos didn't sleep well. He healed Anêr and Mayhem, then the others loaded him onto the back of the pony, and grabbed their gear. Early that morning, a beetle almost as big as the pony set on them while they walked to Káddrakos. As they tried to kill the beetle, Anêr ran around to the back of the beetle, and it let out a cloud of harmful mist, which makes both Anêr and Caleb, who had run up to the beetle to stick his sword between its plates. Anêr, however, stayed in the mist, and put his sword through the plates in the back of the beetle, killing it.

Yémos healed both Anêr and Caleb, though his spells didn't work well on the latter. Mayhem went hunting while Yémos healed, but didn't catch anything. Yémos cast Create Food on the bug, which gave them both two meals and the farts, much like the bug, though not deadly farts.

They didn't make good time due to the wounds to both spellcasters, so they set up camp that night, still a few miles from Káddrakos. Mayhem set up the camp well, but he couldn't make a good shelter from the reeds and sticks in the grasslands. The next day, Yémos healed Caleb, and that afternoon, they found the body of an orc in leather and bearing a shield and axe. Yémos figured out the burnt Celtic cross on the shield of the orc marked him as one of the Vile Brand band, and they found eight silver pennies on his body. They easily found his cause of death: vines covered him, and had strangled him.

That night, they made it to Káddrakos, storm clouds overhead. Anêr and Yémos went to the Church of Bagóbros, and there, a plump gnome woman named Dīrónē leaned up from her cobbling and healed them for a few pennies. They asked Dīrónē of any quests. She told them that she had heard of a dragon in a ruin in the hills to the northwest, and told them the tale of Atilíā, a thin gnome woman from Dīrónē's youth. She was a peddler who had sold a stone statue of a baby, who, when dipped in water, turned into the lost son of the Duke of Magápos. A few months after this, the other gnomes found Atilíā's body in the middle of the road, stakes nailed in her hands and feet.

Meanwhile, in the Winking Friar, Vískōl, the barkeep, was glad to see them. Allikolía, the one-armed gnome ranger, was not there. In the small crowd of drinkers was a hobbit with deep-set eyes, who talked loudly about going to sell leather to the army in a keep in a land filled with dead trees. When they figured out about whom the hobbit was talking, Mayhem went up to him, and the hobbit mocked Mayhem for being a barbarian, then let him know that, if the wizard in the keep had money, he'd be happy to do business with him.

That night, it rained, which made the roads bad. Mayhem, however, thought he knew how to get to Ōndrûnks without going through too many puddles, and so they set out. However, that morning …

Extra ludum

This ends on a cliffhanger since it was five minutes to four, and we were going to go at four-ish. I gave out two character points since I let the werewolves fail their second morale check, which was a gimme. The next encounter is five bandits, and I have some time to roll them up: 9 November.

It's hard for me to believe it had been so long since they had started a walk and set up a camp that I had trouble remembering the rules in Dungeon Fantasy 16. It took a minute or two to get through that again.

The most creative idea that happened was that, while the wolf was dragging Yémos, Eric wanted to cast Create Food on the wolf. After all, the spell doesn't say you can't cast it on still-living matter. It seemed so wrong but so clever that I wanted to find a way to let it work, but I couldn't. The Butcher spell in GURPS Magic: Death Spells is Very Hard and needs Magery 3 to work. Prerequisites aren't a big balancer, but this is a guideline that says you just can't do this. Still, it was a great idea.

And what do werewolf bites do, anyways? Do they turn the victim into a werewolf? Or into a furry?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Game log for 12 October 2014

Dramatis Personae:

Yémos, a cleric
Anêr, a swashbuckler
Mayhem, a barbarian
Caleb, a wizard

Quid occurrit:

After backing away from the hellshots, they go into the hallway and open up an old armory. The swords here are rusted and the leather armor is rotten, and nobody can guess the age of the weapons, though they're still usable. Mayhem picks up a few arrowheads, hoping that maybe a fletcher can work with them.

They leave the old armory. After passing a hallway that they think would go to the hellshots and a tapestry that hides an empty room, they open another door. Here, there is a stairs, a door to the right and a passage to the left. Near the door to the right is an iron ring with a rope tied to it, and the rope rises into the air and hangs in midair.

After checking out the rope, which Caleb sees is magic, they check out the door, and see that it is trapped. So instead of trying to open the door normally, they try prying it open at the hinges. Yémos and Mayhem get the door open, and the floor under them lowers to a slope, making them tumble past the door and down the sloping hallway into water. Both keep afloat, and Anêr tosses them some rope to bring them up. As that hallway goes underwater, they choose to go to the hallway on the other side of the room.

They walk down the hallway and take a turn to the left, and walk into a room with five fellows in leather armor and bearing shortswords. The leader is a baby-faced woman with milky white skin, and wild light auburn hair to her ears, but with wooden teeth. She's wary, and asks the heroes about a bunch of wizards who "make the crystal jelly." She and her gang want to reap a bounty on their heads. Nobody knows anything about that, so after Yémos reasons with her, the two groups tell the other the way each came to this room. The bounty hunters go the way the heroes came, and the heroes go through a door.

They walk up a short flight of stairs, and find themselves in a room with old pews and musical instruments, as well some fluid dripping in a corner. However, the four ghouls eating dead bodies of men catch their eyes. After a few insults towards the heroes, the ghouls agree to let them go past, though Anêr faints from the ghouls eating men's bodies and Caleb swears off any raw meat ever again.

They go past a hallway to the right, and heed the bounty hunter's words and go left. There, they find a table with a mortar and pestle on it, a door, and a suit of plate holding a halberd next to the door. Yémos looks at the halberd, and sees that it has blood stains on it. So for the moment, they look at the table, and find jars under the table. One of the jars has coins (47 copper farthings and 6 silver pennies) in it, and Mayhem opens it, letting the spores from the old herbs in it into the air. He takes 4 FP of damage while Anêr, downwind, takes 1 FP.

Next, they check out the door again, and see the tripwire at the doorway leading to the suit of plate. Thus, they get the door open without triggering the trap, and step into a roughly-hewn room with many barrels in it, and eight big centipedes. They scuffle as the centipedes come towards them, and one bites Mayhem, and the poison saps his DX. After a few seconds, Caleb gets off an Explosive Fireball, which makes the centipedes scatter.

The heroes go on past the centipedes, and find themselves at a small drop off, which they climb. From there, they start to go up, and, after a nasty fight with some hellshots after walking for about a half hour, they make it to the cave where they met the dwarves a few weeks before, and from there to fresh air.


I was generous and let them find their pony wandering around, albeit without her saddlebags. Regardless, they need to make their way back to Mīstássun without the demon blood, which has many clear issues. Back to hex crawl mode.

Three character points all around.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

And Now for Something Completely Different

Our game tomorrow is off since my father wants to take my family out, and so I played a game of Dagger with the girls. It didn't go all that great, since I had skeletons on the walls in the dungeon (which I made on a random generator), which leads me to ask both my readers what would be a good scenario for children? Even the littlest bit of horror scares the shit out of my oldest (but she likes the Hobbit—go figure).

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Game log for 31 August 2014

Dramatis Personae:

Yémos, a cleric
Anêr, a swashbuckler
Mayhem, a barbarian
Caleb, a wizard

When we last left everyone, Yémos and Anêr were knocked out, and Mayhem was hurt. The guards of Dībités Rock led the heroes into the keep, to a heavy door. The guards opened the door, pushed down a ladder which they used like a stairs, and led the captives down the ladder at sword point. The guards then pulled up the ladder and bolted the door shut. Oddly, the captives still had their weapons and most of their gear.

The first deed they needed to do was heal the hurt. Caleb bound Anêr's wounds and he awoke, but nobody could rouse Yémos, who had the healing spells. When Anêr awoke, this chat happened:

Anêr: Is there any part of me that doesn't hurt?
Mayhem: Apparently your tongue.

They passed the night next to a fountain among the buildings of the dungeon. Yes, buildings. As best they could tell, there were buildings here, the wreckage of an old keep upon which someone later built the new keep. Only Caleb could find a meal of bland mushrooms among the wreckage; everyone else ate rations. The next day, they tried to heal Yémos again, and at last he awoke, and he cast Major Healing on both Anêr and Mayhem.

Anêr and Mayhem started checking out the buildings. The first one the tried was locked, so they moved onto the next one. It was an old stable, and wide open. They poked a mound in the middle of one of the three stalls, and out came two big rats, covered in a white mold. Four more came out of the other stalls, and all struck the two delvers. Anêr and Mayhem fought them off, but took enough wounds to set back much of the healing they had done. They brought the spellcasters into the stable, and Yémos cast Create Food on the dead bodies of the dead rats. While eating this lunch, they heard an unearthly screech from inside the underground keep.

They shut the stable door, and passed the next two days without any pain, making short trips out to forage for mushrooms. The second night, they heard some scuffling outside, but nothing came to them. Now on their fourth day down, the new moon having passed, Yémos at last cast Major Healing on himself, and they choose to brave the wreckage. They checked out a well a few yards away from the stable, and threw down a pebble. They heard the pebble hit solid rock at the bottom a few seconds later. They talked about lowering themselves into the well, but instead to check out the locked building.

Mayhem chopped down the door, and they found the building was an old guardhouse, with its arrow slits and chairs near them. The first and second room of the small guardhouse were empty, but the third one had a small chest in the middle of the room. Yémos walked up to it to check it out with his staff, but he didn't make it—he poofed. After some prodding, they found out how the trick worked around the chest, and soon all of them were in another room.

The room held an altar to Ažbrátōr, god of death, who had once been the leading god of the lands of men. Caleb guessed that the altar was the means of teleportation, and they walked out into a room that had carvings of men throwing a ball through a hoop, much like the hoops in that room. They opened a door, and saw a dozen little beings, a cross between a norker and an earth elemental, with red skin making plates. They wisely shoved some stone rubble up against the door, then awaited the onslaught as the little guys battered open the door.

This is a norker from the Fiend Folio.
The hellshots look a lot like them, but naked.
One by one, the little buggers shot out into the room, slamming their bodies into their foes for their first strike, then fighting with their little spears. Yémos buffed both Mayhem and Anêr with Shield, and they fought six of them before the others shut the door.


The fight against the norker/earth elementals—"hellshots" is my name—was more of a comedy of errors at the end. Mayhem and Anêr did take out the first few fast, and the others got wise and shut the door, but after they did so, there was a series of critical misses and critical failures on defense rolls on all sides. Caleb kept failing his Lend Energy roll to give Yémos a lone Fatigue Point. The last guy held out until we broke to leave, and we agreed to have him die anyways, since he didn't do too much damage.

I'm starting to want to learn a few better tactics, since swarms of goblin-like beasties gets repetitive. At this point level, the players can't take them out fast.

I gave out 5 character points for the last two sessions together.


This looks like a cross between a norker and an earth elemental. It is about four feet tall, with its red skin making plates.

ST: 6
HP: 9
Speed: 6.00
DX: 13
Will: 16
Move: 6
IQ: 8
Per: 13
Weight: 180 lbs.
HT: 11
FP: 11
SM: -1
Dodge: 9
Parry: 10
DR: 4

Slam (14): 1d crushing. Reach C.
Spear (14): 1d-1 impaling. Reach 1, 2.

Traits: Berserk (12); Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Speed 12); High Pain Threshold; Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Indomitable; Infravision; Social Stigma (Infernal).
Skills: Brawling-14, Spear-14.
Class: Demon.
Notes: Unwilling to negotiate. Truly evil. It will try to slam (All-Out Attack (Strong) giving +2 damage) with its first move, and make as many All-Out Attacks (Strong, mostly) as it can. Notable equipment includes:
  • Cheap Spear (SM -1), $10, 2.6 lbs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Evaluate as Deceptive Attack

I thought of this after last GURPS Thursday, but since Christopher Rice is at it, I thought I'd throw this out there, no real testing.

Evaluate as free Deceptive Attack.

You can either take the bonus to hit (obviously, if you're striking from behind) OR give a penalty to your foe's Active Defenses. It's simple, though I have no idea if it's balanced. Maybe I'll try it this Sunday, maybe I shan't. They could well have more combat than normal.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Game Log for 3 August 2014

Cast of characters:

Yémos, human male cleric of Dōsaútōr, goddess of magic (146 points, Eric)
Anêr, human male swashbuckler (146 points, Eric)
Mayhem, short human male barbarian of the Dragon Claw Clan (146 points, Chris)
Caleb, human male wizard (125 points, Chris)

We started on the early evening of 27 Žneâns 5812, in the town of Mīstássun. Yémos asked Praidīvós where the best place was to buy a pony, and he told Yémos to walk for a couple miles outside of town to the hamlet of Šlešûmos, where its lord breeds and sells steeds.

Mayhem went to the armor smith, Alliólē, who agreed to cut the mail hauberk and coif down to Mayhem's size for 13 silver pennies and the spare links. She bade Mayhem to pick up the mail the next day.

That night at the Scarlet Harlot, they found the scorched table now better than ever, and a woman in a face mask soothsaying for a copper farthing. Anêr plunked down his farthing, and the woman whispered:
Where things are grown, a beast with a brain will try to kill thee. 
Justice must be served with irony.
The rest of the night was merrymaking, and Yémos cast Watchdog and they go to sleep.

The next morning, they woke up to find there had been a shower outside that night. No sooner than they turn a corner, they looked between two buildings and saw a male orc with a weather-beaten face mugging a young man with a pointed beard. They walked up to the orc and stood around him, and he suddenly thought better of mugging the youth and turned to run. Mayhem tried to trip the orc as he fled, but the orc jumped over his foot as he ran away.

Dīpátōr, the young man, was thankful to the gang for saving him. Yémos asked Dīpátōr where he could buy a pony, and Dīpátōr, like Praidīvós told him to see Kúktos, lord of the hamlet of Šlešûmos. He also told the gang that he would gladly give them a free meal at the Pantry, the tavern of his family, where he is a cook.

Our heroes went to the hamlet of Šlešûmos, two miles south of Mīstássun. There, all the serfs were friendly, and a drunkard told the heroes to go to the manor house. There, they met Kúktos, the red-haired Dēspótēs (lesser lord) of Šlešûmos. He sold them a grey mare for 17 gold pieces and 10 silver pennies, down from his first offer of 20 gold pieces, throwing in a bit and bridle, and some old saddlebags. Kúktos told them that the pony rubs against fences and sometimes will stop while bearing a load, though a carrot can help get her to go again.

They went back to Mīstássun and ate a late lunch at the Pantry, which is also in the Market Ward, but near the South Wall of the town. There, among the trinkets on the wall, they ate a beef and wine pie, and Arrūnús, the lopped-eared father of Dīpátōr, gave the heroes a bottle of wine.

Also eating there was a rich woman with a tall neck and paling fair hair and her guard. Yémos asked Arrūnús who she is, and he told him she is Nabbrášus Zúbra, head of the Zúbrēs clan that owns the Zúbrēs Mines in the Áos Hills to the north of Rēláistis. Anêr walks up to her and introduced himself. This impressed her, especially as she knew of Anêr and his friends saving Dīpátōr from the orc mugger earlier. She said she would be happy to give a job to a strong, brave young man like Anêr.

That afternoon, they finished training, and Mayhem picked up his armor. They spent that night in the home of Praidīvós, who told them of the armor and shield of Kīrid that folks say are in a tomb in the Áos Hills. When Praidīvós was young, he went hunting for them, and went into a tomb that he thought had those artifacts. However, he and his friends were wrong, and instead of finding the armor and shield, he fled, lucky to have only lost his right hand instead of his life, unlike his friends.

The next day, they packed up their pony, still not having a name they wanted to give her, with the flour, sugar, and cinnamon that Praidīvós had bought the day before. He told them he had cast Preserve Food on the flour, and that it would last a week. They left town, and Mayhem thought rain was coming, so they moved with that in mind. However, no rain came that day until after they had made camp and a caravan of serfs had made camp next to them. Kûltōr, the leader of the serfs with wood sticks in his beard, said they were coming home to Drūkûros after helping the lord of Vēristrés Castle sow his fields. He told them that a man of the Queen's came to Vēristrés Castle and tried to throw out Kaggrétōr, rightful lord of the castle. Instead, Kaggrétōr and his men threw out the Queen's man and told him to go back to Gōkésun.

The next day was clear but chilly, and that morning, outside Ōndrûnks, a scrawny peddler named Praidīvós (no, not the same one; this is a common name) tried to sell them a little musical box that played "Old King Cole." As none of the gang had need of a musical box, they passed on it and ate lunch at Magog in Ōndrûnks.

They passed the night in Bóllā, which has no tavern or inn. Instead, they spent the night in a serf hovel, and the serf clan told them of the sightings of big spiders. The town watchman had even gone mad when he saw one bear off a pig.

The next day was uneventful, and they spent the night in the woods near the caterwaul's cave. The day after that, they walked past the goblins' cave, and outside were three men with broadswords and no armor. One, whose beard had dyes of many hues, spoke for them (the others had a black eye and a wrinkled face), and told the gang to go away.

Early that afternoon, they made it to Dībités Rock. When they rapped at the door, Aidīvós, the majordomo, told them to go away, after making sure they did not have the druid or the testicles of any fauns. When they did not, out came Aidīvós, four guards, and Praitanêr, who bade the guards to kill the heroes. (Praitanêr's face was scorched when he greeted the gang.) Things went badly from there. Aidīvós crippled Anêr's arm, and Mayhem's axe flew out of his hands when he tried to strike Aidīvós. Within seconds, Anêr and Yémos had passed out, while Caleb told Mayhem to surrender, with Praitanêr promising to sacrifice them.


Lots of reaction rolls today. The one for Nabbrášus was outstanding, while the one for Praitanêr was truly awful, -1 after his -6 reaction penalty to everyone. He's a Paranoid Loner! You have to take the good with the bad, and he was upset after the PCs didn't find the fauns, but chatted with the druid instead.

So, what do I do with them? Ideas off the top of my head:

  • Follow through on Praitanêr's threat to sacrifice them, and make them make new characters. It seems both logical and unfun.
  • Let them try to get out. Unlikely, and again Praitanêr might send goons to follow them. Also, Anêr's right arm might be bum; we didn't bother to roll to be sure. (Yémos did heal him right back up to full HP as soon as he could, before both dropped, of course. He took 12 HP to the arm when 6 HP crippled it, but I didn't have it lopped off since it was exactly twice the minimum and again, it seemed unfun at the time.)
  • Let Praidīvós bail them out. However, he isn't a Patron, and it seems anti-climactic. Needless to say, they won't get any character points if this happens.
  • Make them prisoners for a long time.
So I'm asking the few readers of this blog to post in the comments what they think should happen to these guys, and I've asked my players as well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Game log for 20 July 2014

Cast of characters:

Yémos, human male cleric of Dōsaútōr, goddess of magic (Eric)
Anêr, human male swashbuckler (Eric)
Mayhem, human male short barbarian of the Dragon Claw Clan (Chris)
Caleb, human male wizard (Chris)

Everyone started at 125 points, but had 21 to spend.

We start again on the morning of 24 Žnēâns. After looting the lair of the caterwaul, they walked for a bit, then ran into a big sinkhole, bigger athwart than a football field and deep. The group chose to walk around it, though it saw the tunnel in the middle, and made a note of it for later. The rest of the trek to Káddrakos was easy, and they made it to the gnome village before sundown.

Once in the village, the nervous little watchman told the gang that if it wanted to stay for the night, it should head for the Winking Friar, the village tavern and one of the few buildings in he village that could handle the "big folks." In there, they get room (on the floor of the common room after shutting for the night) and board (beer, lamb stew with odd spices and fruits) for 15 copper farthings each from a barkeep, a gnome man with no eyebrows. Yémos paid him 15 silver pennies for the whole group.

A chandelier is the centerpiece of the Winking Friar, which was busy with gnomes eating, drinking and playing games. The group sat at one of the "man tables" in a corner and watched a bunch of gnomes play a game they called Pencils and Paychecks. While the gang ate, a gnome woman named Allikolíā, who had a prosthetic arm with a slot for her crossbow, came to the group and asked, in a scratchy voice, if it was going into the woods, and offered her services as a ranger if it did, as she knew the woods. Alas, they were going back to Mīstássun. She took it glumly, but said she would gladly go with the group if it wanted to go into the woods again; that a werewolf had pulled off her arm did not daunt her.

That night, Anêr found a gnome passed out on him; he rolled the drunk gnome under his head and used him as a pillow. The next day, they bought rations from the innkeeper, the village housewives, and a one-eyed peddler with big fetishes that he said came from giants who live in the swamp. They truly smelled of swamp.

They left the village for the trek though hilly land to Ōndrûnks. The weather was still nice. At midday, they ate lunch by a pyre for someone who had died a few months ago. While Yémos did not have the strength to cast Final Rest on the body, it looked burnt enough that even if someone did try to animate it, it would only be a weak skeleton. They reach Ōndrûnks as the sellers were taking down their stalls. Yémos asked one when the next market day would be, but the man wanted money for that datum. So, they went to the Magog tavern for the night. (And the GM got his "Supper's Ready" reference!)

There, they feasted on rabbit in applesauce and drank hard cider. Bîs, the barkeep, said that she didn't think she would see them again. Anêr said it was good to see her too, "sweetheart." She warned them about talking about Dībités Rock, and flaunting any wealth. The villagers ate, drank and played games her too, but a nearby card game burst into a fight, ending with someone borne out after the knives came out.

After all the bustle, Yémos made sure to cast Watchdog before going to bed. A tattooed lady saw this and came up to him, and asked, with her lisp, if he could cast it on her stuff too. Alas, Yémos did not do so, and so the woman slept in another corner. Yémos awoke four times that night from when creeps triggered his Watchdog spell.

The next day, the 26th, was also nice, and not long after setting out did five goons try to rob the heroes. Two got off surprise shots at Anêr and Yémos, but Anêr's Combat Reflexes let him snap to his senses and get out of the way, and Yémos's mail stopped the arrow.

The heroes let the bandits draw near. Three of them rushed towards them, while two archers loaded their bows for another shot. Yémos cast Shield on Anêr for two points, taking most of his Fatigue, but he didn't need it. As soon as one bandit, a woman with high cheekbones wearing cloth armor, got near him, he stabbed her in the leg, and the others fled.

Yémos interrogated her, and learned that the bandits camped not far outside of Ōndrûnks, and they had followed the heroes through the morning. The heroes took her weapons—a cheap smallsword and a pistol crossbow—and her grappling hook and rope and her money (53 farthings), bound her wounds, and left her. They made camp a few miles outside Lûtē Downs that night, and on watch, Mayhem spotted two goons looking to strike their camp, but they ran as soon as they saw he had seen them.

That next day, the 27th, was about the same as the last few, and that morning they passed through Lûtē Downs. After their midday meal, they ran into a well-heeled man with five guards coming from Mīstássun, who stopped them and tried to buy or sell magic weapons. The gang didn't have enough money to buy, and had nothing to sell, so the man, who had wooden teeth, turned to the northeast to make a sale.

Once back in Mīstássun, they sold the thief's weapons ($160, I don't care about its coins), and set up times to train on new skills (Mayhem wanted to learn Fast Draw (Arrow) while Yémos wanted to learn Bow). They bought a tent with their earnings, and took care of a day's worth of living expenses (that's $20/day for each adventurer). That evening, they went to Praidīvós's home, and talked to him about him not giving them payment. After some words, which were not always nice, Praidīvós said he would have flour and cinnamon ready for them to take the next day. Also, they sold him the gems they found in the lair of the caterwaul.


I need to have a camping log sheet for all those little camping rolls that we have, though now that the gang has bought a tent, that's one roll down.

They did most of their leveling up in Káddrakos, though for the new skills, I made them go to Mīstássun where they can train. They're off-template skills, so it's $80 a character point. I have no idea how long they need to train. A few days, I suppose. For stuff they already have on their sheet and are using I let them go up for free. Mayhem got Survival (Wilderness) and Stealth (he'd been rolling on a default for those), two levels of Axe/Mace and a level of Outdoorsman. Anêr got some Strength, and I don't recall what Yémos got.

Eric is especially keen on buying a beast of burden. With the money they got from selling Praidīvós the gems from the caterwaul's lair ($742), they might have enough left over, but we were getting up from the table. But they'll need it. They'll be hauling about 75 pounds of flour, sugar and cinnamon as well as their gear.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Game log for 22 June 2014

Cast of characters:

Yémos, human male cleric of Dōsaútōr, goddess of magic (Eric)
Anêr, human male swashbuckler (Eric, NPC)
Mayhem, short human male barbarian do the Dragon Claw Clan (Chris)
Caleb, human male wizard (Chris, NPC)

18 Žnēâns 2852, deep in the Eldalîvā Woods (2418)

The group made camp and a lean-to, and passed the night smoothly. The next morning, the day was pleasant, though Mayhem felt crummy that day anyways (missed a daily HT roll). They didn't make good headway through the woods, though much of that was from the density of the trees. They needed to forage for food, since Caleb's rations were out. Yémos got some nuts and berries, and Mayhem and Caleb got a few little rabbits. Luckily, nothing struck them through the day or through the night, in spite of their badly-made lean-to.

The next day was more of the same: a nice spring day, wandering south through thick woods, while Mayhem and Caleb had some bug bites while sleeping. They ate their small game and berries, then made camp and went to bed.

Between midnight and daybreak that night, however, Mayhem spotted a being walking towards their camp. He roused Anêr, then tried to sneak up on her. She turned and pointed at Mayhem with her spear. She asked him who he was, and he said he was Mayhem.

"The Mayhem?"

She was none other than Alligên, a woman of Mayhem's Dragon Claw Clan. She was wiry and her face was narrow, her dark brown skin was pockmarked and she had braided her brown hair and dyed it green. The two were far kin, Mayhem thought a third cousin or something.

After chatting a bit about bygone days, she got to asking why he was in the woods with the "townies," who had woken and come towards them. Mayhem told her that they were looking for a druid and some fauns at the behest of Praitanêr. This didn't make Alligên too happy, and she told Mayhem that she was the druidess.

Alligên would not help the gang, though nobody held that against her, though they thought she needed to settle down and maybe find a boyfriend. She did tell Mayhem that the men of Dībités Rock had to be following them, and of some of the other pitfalls of the woods, like the werewolves, the ettercaps and their big spiders, who had left the spider silk strands they found the afternoon of the 18th. Mayhem asked her if she could talk to the ettercaps to see if they would help for a snack of some bandits, but she would not, and said the spiders would eat them if they tried to do it themselves. She then stormed southward, and the gang went back to bed.

That morning, the 21st, Yémos took a look to the west, where Alligên had said the ettercaps dwelled, and saw nothing but thick woods. They instead slowly went to the southeast, caught their game, and went to bed. Luckily, nothing bothered them that day, nor the next, as they headed back towards Dībités rock, but staying to its south.

On the morning of the 23rd, they passed by a two-foot wide hole in the ground, and an hour later, saw a gang of six monks and a fighter taking down a bunch of man-sized spiders. Yémos knew their reddish tabards and bejeweled swords meant they were followers of Punšástōr, god of war. The man in mail armor and an old wig spoke to them, and asked them what they were doing so far out in the woods. Yémos said they were only wandering, to which the bewigged man said, "Yessssss, bullshit." Since nobody could think of anything else to ask each other, the two gangs split and our heroes wandered westward for the rest of the day. They were now out of food, and that night, the grind of the day kept Yémos from conjuring enough food to feed everyone.

A few hours after nightfall, Yémos saw a big cat the size of a man. He roused the others, who remembered it to be the caterwaul they had fought on the 12th. He cast Shield on Anêr, and the gang plugged their ears before the caterwaul's howl. However, the howl still struck Caleb with fear, and, with the wear of the day, the bad sleep from not building a right lean-to the night before, and missing dinner, Caleb passed out from fear. The caterwaul came nearer the gang, and pounced on Anêr. However, he did not do enough harm to knock down Anêr, who tried to strike back, but the caterwaul swatted away his rapier. Mayhem came and tried to strike its flank but missed, while Yémos came nearer. Now Yémos and Mayhem could see why the caterwaul was so eager to pounce: he had a big hard-on.

The horny cat tried to claw Anêr, but Anêr swatted his paw. He tried to strike his body as well but missed, but Mayhem stepped forward and buried his axe into the caterwaul, killing him. The next day, they ate Hello Kitty steak (as Eric dubbed it) for breakfast, found the cave of the caterwaul and its gems, and made their way northwest to the gnomish village of Káddrakos.


The characters got 6 character points. The gems in the caterwaul's smelly cave was the first big haul they had, since they ran away from the evil cleric in the goblin caves and striking Dībités Rock would be suicide.

We gave the rules on GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures a workout, which did take up quite a bit of time at first. This does make camping and navigation much harder without good gear; Eric said he wanted Yémos to buy a tent when they got back to civilization. Foraging was a big concern since they were running out of food. I'd like to cut down on the rolls, but taking extra time doesn't give more food, it only makes you more likely to find one meal, so there's not a big carrot there, much less a big deer.

A big takeaway from this is that the Survival skill is boss. It lets you forage, move farther, set up camp, and set up shelter, and those are only the daily rolls. If you run with wilderness exploration at all, not having Survival is like putting a gun to your head and hoping no one pulls the trigger. It's even better of you have Survival for the right terrain: Mayhem has it for Plains, which befits a barbarian from the hills, but they were in the woods.

If the weather looks good at dawn and nobody in your group has a good Weather Sense skill, don't try to make that roll. Mayhem is the only one who has it, and it's only a 9. They are in spring, before the rainy season, so failing the roll takes away more than making it gives them.

I also found to speed things up that only the slowest men in the group, Yémos and Caleb, should roll Hiking. Mayhem and Anêr walk too fast to have even a critically failed roll do anything. We wound up often having a fractional hiking pace, so they hiked for 10 hours to get a round number of miles (mostly 9 or 11, as it happens: both Caleb and Yémos have laden Move 2), then they forage for an hour in the morning and another in the afternoon to get the full 12 hours.

The daily HT roll for comfort had some oddities, but made for an interesting situation when both Yémos and Caleb, the two spellcasters, failed their rolls by 5 and 6 respectively on the 23rd. This meant they were down many FP when it came time to fight the caterwaul. When Caleb failed his Fright Check, he lost enough FP to put him to 0 as well as being stunned, so he was down for the count before anything started. It gave a bit of randomness and drama to the fight. No, I don't know that a caterwaul would have fought like that, but I rolled that he was looking to mate, and I wanted to have at least one fight.

I remembered to roll for disasters most days, but none came up. I made a roll for both the ones that weather affects and the ones it does not, but none of them came up to the 5 or less on 3d that I had set. I wanted to set the woods on fire, man!

One thing that even with simulationism, you have to look at a roll to make things interesting. I normally would not have had the druidess out at night, but I had her show up anyways when I rolled her to make things less of a grind. And I do know why she was out at night, rest assured. It was Chris who came up with the third cousin bit, I only had her as one of the same clan. She is also about the only NPC with whom Mayhem would have a bonus to his reaction rolls.

A bit of chatter that isn't in the log is that Yémos and Mayhem thought it better to get the food that Praitanêr wanted from Mīstássun and bring it to him rather than bring his bandits to the fauns. I have no idea how that will work out, being that wizards are quick to anger and that adventurers are crunchy and taste good with catsup, but it does give the wizard and bandits what they want, in a way.

Monday, June 9, 2014

We didn't get to play Sunday

The title says it all. One of the two main players, Chris, is in a rehab center with a bad foot. Don't ask, don't tell. Eric, the other player, and I went over a bunch of hexcrawl stuff and GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures, which both of us bought. He wound up agreeing with my idea for a daily list of things to handle, which is below.

  1. GM determines weather (Nasty Weather, DF 16, p. 30) and disasters (Disasters, DF 16, p. 32).
  2. HT roll for comfort (Harsh Climates, DF 16, p. 30).
  3. Roll against skill for movement (e.g., Hiking, Riding, Skiing) (Trudging, Trotting, and Trundling, DF 16, p. 21).
  4. Roll against Weather Sense to mitigate weather (Nasty Weather, DF 16, p. 30).
  5. Calculate movement rate (Covering Ground, DF 16, p. 23).
  6. Roll for morning random encounters.
  7. Roll Navigation in secret each time group goes into a new hex. GM makes Per-based roll to see if the group realizes it's off-course. Roll for random encounter in new hex.
  8. Roll for afternoon random encounters.
  9. When done for the day, resolve foraging rolls (Food and Water, DF 16, p. 42).
  10. Set up camp (Camping, DF 16, p. 24).

The number of rolls is more-or-less the same, with the HT roll for comfort taking the spot of the Survival roll to sadistically inflic damage. In the stead of random generic damage, there are disasters. There's no specified rate of how often they happen, and I thought a 6 or less on 3d (or about 10%) would be good, but some happen more often in bad weather and some don't, so I'm going with a roll for each kind, 5 or less on 3d. I have tables for each terrain kind; here are Woodlands, which are what will kill the players in two weeks:

1d  Static Woodlands Disasters
1    Disease (generic; roll HT or suffer -1 to all attribute and skill rolls for 1d days, or -3 on a critical failure)
2    Fire
3-4 Stinging Plants
5-6 Swarm

1d  Weather-Affected Woodlands Disasters
1-4 Falling Tree
5-6 Sinkhole

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures: A Review

This is one dense supplement. It is in three parts. In the first, "Who Goes There?" Sean Punch updates what has come before (all supplements, but nothing from Pyramid articles) for the wilderness. It gives ways to tweak each template for wilderness adventuring ("From Delvers to Outdoorsmen"), and that has a hidden gem on page 5, "Wilderness Training." While he gives it as a 15-point lens to boost any delver's wilderness skills, it also works as a list of which skills you'll need in your hexcrawl. 

In the section for tweaking buddies, "Allies," there's a new henchman template, native guide, that you can put afore your delvers and take damage first, after leading everyone to the dungeon. And there's more about furry friends too. 

In the third section in this part, "Equipment," he talks about gear, including the gear about which I wrote not long ago, as well as some new thingies.

The second part, "Braving the Wilderness," is the meat of the book. There are 26 pages of so much crunch that Nestlé is getting free advertising. The first section, "Travel," is relevant to me. Of course, I care about hex crawling, but at no point does he write about hex crawling; travel stays in miles. It might be best to set hexes to "effective miles" to handle this best. Say, a five-mile hex with a road (1.25) costs 4 miles; with some hills (0.50) and no road, it costs 10 miles. It's easier math with 5-mile hexes, but 6-mile hexes match the idea of Move=hexes. 

The next section, "Camping," does add a bunch of new detail over which I skipped before. It isn't too much, however. It's only about a page.

The third section, "Exploration," handles a bunch of little tasks, like scouting ahead and getting lost. On that last one, this is something else that using a hex grid could help, since it lets the GM know where a gang of murder-hoboes wander when lost. There's also a bunch of little movement nuances which won't suit every terrain or game. 

The fourth section, "Dangers," has a short weather section. To adhere to it, I rated the 64 days of weather I had already rolled with one of the four levels. There are also the afore said ways of Mother Nature fucking over PCs, six traps, and almost four pages of combat notes. 

The last section in this chapter, "Mother Nature's Bounty," has ways of getting food, loot and gear out of the wild. Of note is the "Despoilers" sidebar, since it touches on how Mother Nature herself can take offense and go on the offense. I had wanted something like this for my game, and was winging it. There isn't a formal rule, so I'm still winging it, but with a little more guidance.

The third part is "Outdoor Adventures," and gives guidance about how to use what you've just read. "What Could Possibly Happen?" has a list of ways to adventure in the wild. It only loosely touches on hex crawling and other location-based adventures. Most of it is handling wandering and hacking monsters from point A to point B, then using a wilderness as a dungeon.

"Under a Big Sky" goes in another way, that of world building. This is nothing that has been in a DF supplement before, which was intentional. If you're in a dungeon, who cares about the rest of the world? With the rest of the world an adventuring locale in of itself, it needs some love.

"Wilderness Woes" talks about how the players can handle how the world causes damage. It's a look back at the big uncharted wild through which the rest of the book has trod.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Game log for 25 May 2014


Yémos, human male cleric of Dōsaútōr (goddess of wisdom and magic) (125 points)
Mayhem, dwa- er, human male barbarian of the Dragon Claw Clan (125 points)


Anêr, human male swashbuckler (ran by Yémos's player) (125 points)
Caleb, human male wizard (ran by GM) (125 points)


The game opens in the early morning of 14 Žneâns 2852, right after Mayhem killed the guard with iron plates for earrings. The other guards broke and ran (failed a morale check), and Mayhem shot the wounded, rough unshaven archer as they fled, killing him too. Caleb missed with fireball and set some brush on fire, though it didn't spread. Anêr and Mayhem tried to heal Yémos; Anêr failed, but Mayhem staunched his wounds, but Yémos is still out. They loot the bodies, finding 5 copper farthings on each body as well as armor, shields, bows and swords. Anêr put the mail from the guard with the big earrings on Caleb, as it wouldn't fit Mayhem, while Anêr took a bow and some arrows.

At daybreak, there was a short rain shower, but otherwise the weather was fine. The gang watched the keep, and saw some bustle, but no one came out to the thicket until evening, when six guards came and brought back the two bodies they had left out. The night was quiet, though only Caleb got a good night's sleep and healed a bit.

On the 15th, the day was again a nice one, and the morning was quiet. However, at mid-afternoon, two wolves, as big as ponies, came into the thicket, and both sides spotted each other. As the wolves walked towards the group, Mayhem and Anêr took shots, with the wolves getting it through their brains that the gang was shooting at them on the second volley. Mayhem at last hit for damage on the fourth volley, and the wolves made it to the bit of thicket where the gang had made camp.

When the wolves made it to the camp, Anêr lunged (All-Out Attack (Long)) and missed, while Mayhem put his axe into the flank of the wolf he had shot. Caleb missed with his big fireball. Then one of the wolves clawed Anêr, and the other clawed Mayhem. Anêr stabbed the wolf on him, but he wasn't strong enough to get through his thick hide, while Mayhem missed the other wolf. Caleb stepped back and started to cast fireball again.

The wolves kept up their fight, and one tried to claw Anêr again, who instead stuck his rapier into the wolf's paw. The other wolf clawed Mayhem. Anêr tried to stick his rapier into the wolf's eye, but missed, while Mayhem, mad from the claws, put the other wolf out with an axe smite. Caleb cast fireball, and held it in his hand to aim.

The last wolf kept coming at Anêr, but when Anêr stepped out of the way of his claw, the wolf fell to the ground. From there, the gang made fast work of the wolf, with Mayhem getting off two blows, one of which was the last. Mayhem could not get good pelts off the wolves, but did get seven meals of meat from their fleshy bodies, which were about 400 lbs. They spent the rest of the day smoking the meat and healing each other.

That evening, three thouls came to the camp, two of whom the group had met a few days before. Anêr hailed them, and the two groups chatted. The thouls asked for the wolf carcasses and pelts, and Anêr let them have them. The thouls did talk about the wizard or necromancer—they didn't know much about him—in the keep, though neither side told much about the other.

The night was quiet, and the group rested from its rough camping (Mayhem failed the daily Survival roll and everyone took damage). On the morning of the 16th, a pleasant spring morning, Yémos at last awoke, and drank the potion of Minor Healing in his sack. With everyone awake, the gang chose to break the seal on the letter that Mayhem had brought, and read it:

Esteemed Praitanêr, Master of Dībités Rock,

I need the blood of one of your summoned demons for an item I am forging. The cleric of Dōsaútōr has a suitable vessel in his sack to hold the blood. Usual payment offered.

Praidīvós of Mīstássun

After trying to seal the letter once again, the group chose to go up to the keep, and went over its moat by way of the drawbridge as a bunch of surprised peasants and guards saw the battered crew. Two men came out to greet them along with six guards, with four more around the heroes. One man wore one of the black with red trim sashes and was bald but not old, thin but not weak, and wearing armor. The other wore leathers but with cloth coverings of red with green trim, and had greying red hair. When Yémos offered the letter to Praitanêr, the red-haired man told the bald man to read it, who put down his visor, opened the letter and read it for a second before handing it to Praitanêr.

After some asking, Praitanêr laughed when he found that the gang didn't bring the "usual payment," which was bread, cinnamon rolls, and flour. Furthermore, it had killed two of his guards (and the woman in leathers and wearing metal plate earrings, wife of one of them, scowled when Praitanêr said this). But he gave the gang a deal: he would let the heroes heal up for the next few days at the keep if they handed over their weapons for the time of their stay, then go south and find a bunch of fauns and a druid for him. After that, he would give it the blood. The group agreed, and it rested for the next few days.

On the evening of the 17th, Praitanêr gave the heroes a tour of his tower, showing off the fake woods and the keepsakes from his late wife. When Yémos asked about the dying woods, Praitanêr said it was "a small price to pay for power." Anêr sold the manticore stinger to Praitanêr for 9 pieces of gold ($180).

The next day, the 18th, was a fine one, and the group got its weapons from the guards, and started south, as Praitanêr had said the fauns and druids made camp somewhere to the south-southeast. After trekking a few miles, the group chatted, and agreed that Praitanêr was up to no good, and wanted to kill the fauns and druid since he was harming the woods. That afternoon, they saw three wolves who followed the group from afar for a few hours. They heroes didn't strike the wolves, thinking them agents of the druid. That evening, they made their way south to thicker woods, and made camp, and Yémos scrounged up enough food for a meal. In these thicker woods, they found what looked like thick ropes, but didn't have the weavings of normal ropes, instead being whole. They pulled down one, and it had no knot nor loop, but instead had stuck to the tree.

We broke there.


A very good session, as we seem to have most of the kinks of play worked out. Five character points all around. Next session is hopefully in two weeks. Remember, making a log is worth character points. Also, drawing pictures of your character is worth it too, and I'll give points as well for making a picture of an NPC. After some chatter, Yémos and Anêr need to figure out their home town. Ideally, there's a short battery of things you should have written down about your character.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Weather or not

I'll start with an essay before I get to rules, which is why do we bother with the weather at all. Trudging through a snowstorm isn't too high on the cool scale in an RPG, unless the snow can fight back. (Now there is an idea, but to make it work, we have to have players interact with normal snow, so back to the essay.)

The first reason why we bother is a bit of hue to the game world. Verisimilitude. Giving us more of a reason to care about the game world by making it more true. It gainsays why we talk about how a monster looks, since we want to get a game edge by whacking its eyestalks or not hitting it with a fireball since it's made of water. It's a clear sign that you're dealing with a world with more to it than the dungeon of the night, and it's a way to tell one day from another. This reason has nothing to do with the game at hand, but rather to get the players to show up for the next game. If we want to have a weird weather effect in a game, it's much more effective if we have days of normal weather against which to gauge the weirdness.

The second thing weather does is it changes how much a group can move. Did I say "changes"? I meant "sometimes lowers." We assume that characters walk to the dungeon on a nice day with nothing to hold them back in the tavern aside from a hangover. (If it's a lovely day and you're down in a dungeon, you might be a munchkin.) If you're keeping track of game weather, on days with crappy weather it will take the group longer to get from place to place, like from a town to a dungeon. There will be days where it can't go anywhere. A good GM will have some adventures for when a group is stuck in town.

Coming from the last thing weather does we get to a third reason to keep track of weather, which is to make the game more about resource management. Some old-school types say RPGs were all about this back in 1980, which is horseshit since it was about fun, but there is fun in getting away with a trick in resource management. ("Hey, when we get out of sixth hour, let's get to Chuck's house fast so we can tick off our arrows and rations!") If a group of players scoffs at its GM as he makes them tick off rations and doesn't bother buying more since that cuts into how much treasure it can haul, then on the way home from the dungeon, it will either starve, which is truly not fun, or it will spend its time hunting and fishing instead of getting back home, which means it has more chances for a random encounter.
El Disgusto: "Camping? Why would I want to go camping? Nature kills! Haven't you learned anything the wilderness encoutners tables?" -- Al Bruno III, A Night at the Inn, a Day at the Racists
Some things that come from this. One thing is that a GM can be kind in giving out boosts to overland movement, since if a group moves too fast later, the GM can slow it down with a blizzard. If he's truly feeling like a dick, he can mess it up good with a tornado. Another thing is that if you have rules for this, players will build characters to exploit those rules. That's alright, since they're building characters that do something other than kill. Not that there's anything wrong with killing, of course.

Now for some rules. There are two spots in the GURPS rules for weather to give general effects: overland movement (mostly Hiking, p. B351) and the daily Survival roll (p. B223). I'm worrying about how common weather happenings change those, and not true fuckyouupforlife things like hurricanes or tornados or lightning strikes. My rule-of-thumb for things like those is if you get caught in one of them, you die. Someone who wants more detail can write his own rules for them, though death will be the most common result.

I've talked about movement in another post, but I'll post the same stuff again so I can have it all together.


Per p. B430, when the effective temperature drops below the bottom of a character's comfort zone (for humans, this is 35° F), his movement for the day drops by 10%. At 35° below that (0° F for puny humans), movement drops another 10%. For every 10° below that, that is another 10% drop in movement. If a character has an encounter at any point, he then makes the HT roll as described on p. B430 to see if he is down any FP at that point. The usual modifiers apply; roll 1d-2 FP if he failed the roll.

Keep in mind that movement happens in daylight hours, so for handling movement speed, look at the high temperature, not the low. Unless for some reason a character needs to get hustling at 3 a.m., we don't care about the low here.

Survival follows an akin pattern. If the low temperature for the day is below a character's comfort zone (35° F), his Survival roll is at -1 for the day. If the high temperature is also below a character's comfort zone, his Survival roll is at another -1. If the low temperature is 35° below the comfort zone (0° F), the Survival skill is at another -1, and it's at another -1 if the high is also lower than 35° below the comfort zone. So, on a day when it is at -5° F at daybreak, then rises to a balmy 20° F, the Survival roll is at -3 (both the high and the low are below the comfort zone, and the low is below 0° F), and the characters move 10% slower than normal (since it's below 35° F). That's assuming they're human and there's no snow on the ground or falling, of course.

If a character gets wet, then all penalties for cold are twofold. Feel free to screw over any character who goes ice fishing, then jumps in the lake, crawls out and goes sunbathing. That's pretty much killing yourself.

If the characters are making rolls against Survival (Arctic), then cold is the default assumption. Thus, there are no penalties to Survival for cold until the magic thermometer drops below 0° F (or 35° below a character's comfort zone, if you insist). This isn't for going through the woods near Verbobonc in December, but for truly being in an arctic zone. Also, this little boon is null and void for any characters who get themselves wet or don't dress for the weather.

A last note about temperature before we move on. When we say "temperature," we mean "effective temperature," which includes windchill. I'd eyeball what the windchill is instead of going through the math to keep play moving.
"Watch out where the huskies go and don't you eat that yellow snow." — Frank Zappa, "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow."


Per p. B434, when a character gets to the top 10° of his comfort zone (which, for humans and the like is 80° F), instead of losing FP, the character moves 10% slower for the day. For each extra 10° of temperature, the character moves an extra 10% slower. This is to assume that when a character starts to overheat, he ducks into the shade, and that's where the time is lost. If a character has an encounter at any point, he then makes the HT roll as described on p. B434 to see if he is down any FP at that point. The usual modifiers apply; roll 1d-2 FP if he failed the roll.

For Survival rolls, it's an akin tale. If the high is above the comfort zone (90° F), then Survival rolls are at -1. If the low is also above the comfort zone, then Survival rolls are at a further -1. If the high is higher than 30° above he comfort zone (120°F), that's another -1 to Survival, and it's yet another -1 if the low is also higher than 30° above the comfort zone. These penalties get another -1 for every 10° higher than 30° above the comfort zone.

Like cold, there's a Survival speciality that assumes heat. I lied. There's truly two such specialities: Desert and Jungle. There are no heat penalties for these specialities until you get to 120° F (30° above the comfort zone) so long as you dress for the weather. Sadly for munchkins, this likely means no armor.

Again, "temperature" means "effective temperature." For heat, this includes humidity, though this isn't as big a deal as windchill. It doesn't play into deserts at all; if it did, you wouldn't be in a desert.
"Hot, hot, hotter than hell
She'll burn you like the midday sun, yeah." — Kiss, "Hotter than Hell"

Rain and Snow

First, a little rant about precipitation in roleplaying games. Every goddamn weather chart I see is geared towards having me roll up how much rain or snow falls in terms of how many inches (or whatever it is for you metric folks). I don't give a shit about how many fucking inches of rain have fallen! Nobody in a roleplaying game gives a shit about how many fucking inches of rain have fallen! We care about when the rain falls, how long the rainfall lasts, and how hard the rain falls while it's falling. We want to know how it makes life hard for characters.

When on the ground, rain and snow modify the terrain as p. B351: rain and light snow halve speed, snow deeper than ankle-deep quarters it. Roads don't matter; none of them are any good. Rain goes away after the day; snow stays until the temperature has been over 35° for 10 days with no snow.

When falling, rain and snow halve movement for a time equal to the number of half-hour cells (I'm using the d30 Sandbox Companion) for non-severe storms, and stop it for severe storms. Or, in short, it's -2.5% per half-hour cell of non-severe storms and -5% per half-hour of severe storms. You can round to the nearest 10%, so a half-hour of light rain is no big deal.

Rain can have a penalty on Survival. For a light rain—an hour or less of non-severe rainfall—there is no penalty. For moderate rain—more than an hour of non-severe rainfall—the roll is at -1. For heavy rain—an hour or less of severe rainfall—Survival is at -2. For a downpour—more than an hour of severe rainfall—Survival is at -3.

For snow, sleet or hail, these penalties are harsher. For a light snowfall (or a sleet storm, or a hailstorm)—an hour or less of non-severe snowfall—there Survival roll is at -1. For a moderate snowfall— more than an hour of non-severe snowfall—the roll is at -2. For a heavy snowfall—an hour or less of severe snowfall—Survival is at -4. For a snowstorm—more than an hour of severe snowfall—Survival is at -6.

Weather Sense

Weather Sense is a complementary skill for both movement and Survival. The GM makes the roll. On a success of any kind, he tells the group the weather for the day. On a failure, the GM tells the group the weather for the day before. On a critical failure, make something up, but don't tip off that you're making something up. Tell the players the opposite of what the weather will be or something.

A success knocks off up to 20% of weather-related penalties to movement and -2 to Survival penalties from weather. A critical success lets you ignore up to 40% of weather-related penalties to movement and -4 to Survival penalties from weather. A normal failure has no penalties, but a critical failure lowers movement by 40% and gives a -4 penalty to Survival.

Rolling the Weather

You need a way to roll up the weather, and I don't have one. I'm not about to write one, but I'll make a list of ones I know:

d30 Sandbox Companion. Since you already have this, you can use the weather system in there, though you should nerf gap between the high and low, at least in temperate climates (the normal gap is 15°, and the gap on p. 12 is about 40°-45°). I roll a d5 for variation, and add +1 to the roll if the average temperature for the day before was more than 10° below the monthly average, and -1 to the roll if the average temperature for the day before was more than 10° above the monthly average.

What, you don't have this? Get the hell off my blog and buy it. You need it if you're running a sandbox game, or almost any fantasy game. It's only $5. You have no excuse other than abject poverty.

Wilderness Survival Guide. If you want to waste loads of time rolling up weather, this is made for you. I have it for loads of reasons, but when I was in junior high, I tried rolling up a day's worth of weather with it and it killed a half-hour. I don't think I could stand to do that on the fly, but it does have loads of little goodies in it.

Dungeon Masters' Guide 3.5e. The last version (I don't count the homesick abortion that is 4th edition) has an easy weather system. The system is free on the web, linked above, and is good enough for game purposes. I'll link to Pathfinder's version, buried down the page; I think it's the same.

Empire Weather. It looks like something out of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and it's free. It's bare-bones and vague, and at some point, I'm sure you'll need to override a roll.

HârnWorld. Ah, made by a company that likes diacriticals on funny made-up words as much as I do. I've never tried it, but Hârn stuff is good if you buy into whatever assumptions N. Robin Crossby made with Hârn. It isn't cheap.

Wolfram Mathematica. If you want to ape a real-world spot, you could look up its weather from the recent past.

Look outside. No link for you! Stick your neck out the window. C'mon, I know folks say outdoor air hurts nerds. It isn't true. Really! Trust me!