Saturday, February 6, 2016

Second draft is in

The draft of my latest DF book pass through peer review and playtest (a lot of playtesting thanks to Chris).

Last night I finished up the edits, made a few last wording tweaks and rules tweaks, and sent it in.

I have no idea when it will come out, but hopefully earlier than year than later this year.

Now I need to get back to the proposal grindstone and get to work. Although I do have an idea for a shorter book, if they'll accept it . . .

Friday, February 5, 2016

What should go on my new GM screen?

I've disassembled my GM screen for my GURPS game.

Basically I use my old AD&D (early and later edition) and 3rd edition D&D GM screens as the physical basis, but then tack on copies of GURPS materials.

Right now, this is what I'm thinking of putting on:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

DFT2: Epic Treasures is out

Everyone's favorite Iron llama has a new GURPS book out:

It's a sequel to DFT1, but it's more of a spiritual successor to Dungeon Fantasy 6: 40 Artifacts than to either DF8 or DFT1.

Matt put up a couple notes about it on his blog, too.

Revised GURPS Magic: the Charm trio

The "charm trio" here are Loyalty, Charm,and Enslave. I've revised them a bit for my DF campaign.

First, some revision background.

Overall, the approach is pretty workable - one spell to ensure loyalty, one to ensure a much stronger charm, one to ensure total control - with no limits.

In practice they're a bit weak for their cost until the top end, when it gets extremely strong. Not only that, but they have some odd cost/casting issues.


Loyalty is probably closest to the "Charm Person" spell of D&D its descendants. The subject becomes loyal to the caster, but has a chance to break the spell if ordered to do anything against his or her beliefs or that is too risky.

What's odd about it, mostly, is cost. It's 2 to cast, 2 to maintain. Double cost if the subject doesn't know the caster, triple if it's a foe. Those types of costs aren't forbidden in GURPS Magic and it's not an issue here, until you look at Charm. Charm is a flat cost on anyone, and it's 6/3. So except for non-hostile people who know you Loyalty isn't such a great deal. The costing based on familiarity is something I don't really like - skill penalties for people who don't know you, sure. That's how a number of other spells work.

Duration is 1 hour. Not bad. It oddly takes Bravery as a base spell, which means Sense Emotion->Fear->Bravery before you can charm people. Okay, but oddly again Loyalty is a prereq for Emotion Control, which is Bravery with less specialization. What a mess. I'd think Emotion Control would be a better prereq for Loyalty than the other way around - before you can make someone your loyal friend, you have to be able to make them friendly. That's a messy fix, though, but I do think it's potentially useful to think of Loyalty as needing a weak will to get through.


Now we're getting some serious charming. This isn't "loyal friend" but "faithful slave" and no risk is too great.

The cost is odd compared to Loyalty. Why not 6/6? It's better than Loyalty cast for 6/6. It's only a 1 minute duration, which makes all the nonsense about being unwilling to discuss loyalty to the caster and such less important. It's not like there is a boatload of Charm-25 folks out there who can keep this up on anyone for any length of time.

It's one second longer to cast, which is good.


This is the top end charm. It's permanent, it's flawless, it's only 30 points, and it comes with a mental link thanks to its Telepathy prereq.

I never liked that Enslave gives so many extra benefits - you get a flawless eyes-and-ears possession out of it with none of the usual costs and problems of such a spell. It also has a flawless telepathic connection. Instead of being a permanent and very strong charm, it's that plus a whole side benefit of a permanent mindlink that's actually better than Telepathy can give you. A fully loyal subject means you can put such spells on the target with ease at another time - it doesn't need to come with them in this over-amped package.

There used to be a whole thread - on GURPSNet-L or the forums, I can't recall - that basically supposed a magical military force would be based on using Enslave to link everyone together into a cohesive whole. Yeah, that'll work - and who relinquishes total personal control of the military? It sounds more like a great explanation why the Great Witch-King of Blackguardia controls every single person in his whole territory. Good campaign backstory, iffy idea in practice. Or at least, if you assume the guy with everyone Enslave doesn't just rule the whole world.

Oh sure, it's resisted by Will. But you don't have to choose to resist. Best way to Enslave? Cast Loyalty or Charm, and then tell them not to resist your spells. They'll do it. Cast and done, permanent slave.

Anyway, I like the idea of a permanent charm. I like the idea of lasting charms, too. So why not just make that a feature of the spells?

I also like the idea of a lasting Charm - that is, you put the spell on and it lasts until it fails a test.

Here are the revised version from my current game:


As written, but for a higher cost, duration can be made Lasting A lasting version of the spell can be broken with an IQ roll just like the temporary version. A subject who breaks the spell will be mentally stunned (p. B420) for one second, then recovery automatically.

Duration: 1 hour or indefinite.
Cost: 4 to cast, 2 to maintain. Cost 10 to make the spell Lasting, (per GURPS Magic, p. 10).
Prerequisites: Magery 1 and Bravery and two other Mind Control spells or Weaken Will and two other Mind Control spells.


As written, but for a higher cost, duration can be made lasting. If the subject is told to do something diametrically opposed to his or her moral code, or directly suicidal ("Kill yourself!"), the subject may attempt an IQ roll - on a success, the character will refuse the command, but is still subject to the charm spell. Treat this as being mentally stunned (p. B420), but recovery is automatic after one second.

Duration: 1 minute or indefinite.
Cost: 6 to cast, 3 to maintain. Cost 15 to make the spell Lasting, (per GURPS Magic, p. 10).
Prerequisites: Magery 2 and Bravery and two other Mind Control spells or Weaken Will and two other Mind Control spells.


As written, but remove the mental link. The subject does not receive an IQ roll to break the spell. Treat the subject as the faithful slave of the caster.

Prerequisites: Magery 3, Charm, and 10 other mind control spells.

Miscellaneous Rules

Limitations on Control: A caster can only have permanent control (via Enslave) of a limited number of subjects. Find Magery level in the "Size" column of the Size and Speed/Range Table (p. B550) and interpret "Linear Measurement" as "permanently enslaved subjects" instead of "yards." This means:

Magery 3: Seven Enslaved subjects.
Magery 4: 10 Enslaved subjects.
Magery 5: 15 Enslaved subjects.
Magery 6: 20 Enslaved subjects.

There is no limit on Lasting casts of Loyalty or Charm.

Can I cast Loyalty on someone, and then order them to not resist Enslave?

Sure. That's the way to do it. That might seem like it makes it cheap to make slave armies, but it's no more powerful than "Can I kill someone and then Zombie them?" or "Can I put someone to Sleep and then cut their throats" or "Can I Levitate someone who thinks I'm his friend and then drop him off a cliff?" A slow gateway spell into a permanent one is pretty common, and charm-type spells aren't so powerful they need a special carve-out to make them weaker.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Idle thoughts on monster reaction rolls in GURPS DF

Back in the day when I played D&D and AD&D, we rolled for monster reactions exactly never. Well, maybe someone may have rolled one once, while reading the book or something. In play, never.

Which is odd, because in one of the books we used there was a really remarkable rule about reactions.

Yet looking at the Tom Moldvay Basic Set, it's a really critical roll. You should be rolling reactions, at least by a strict reading of the rules, for every encounter with monsters. Doesn't seem to matter which kinds - slimes, dragons, crab spiders, hobgoblins who don't know who Gary is, etc.

Using the chart from p. B24:

Monster Reactions
Dice Roll / Reaction
2 Immediate Attack
3-5 Hostile, Possible Attack
6-8 Uncertain, monster confused
9-11 No attack, monster leaves or considers offer
12 Enthusiastic friendship

It's a flexible table, since you also use it for determining intensity of pursuit, and to allow re-rolls if the PCs try to establish better relations (you can see an example of that on p. B28). Charisma 13+ gives you a +1 to the roll; Charisma 18 gives a +2. A +1 means nothing is going to just attack you immediately, and a +2 skews your results to where a 10-12 is Enthusiastic friendship and a 7+ is at least "No attack." Nice. Especially in a game where treasure provides so much of the XP, the ability to basically waive off monsters with some nice talk is pretty potent.

(It's also worth considering with wandering monsters - you should be table to talk or bribe or distract your way out of fights about half the time, if you assume 6-8 is going to just force another roll.)

Where is GURPS DF in this?

My idle thoughts are, what if I rolled reactions for monsters every encounter in GURPS? The table split isn't terribly different, ranging from "Disastrous" on a 0 or less to "Excellent" on a 19+. GURPS has more native modifiers to reactions, too, which probably makes sense.

The modifiers on p. B561 range from a +1 to +5 for PC strength, -1 to -5 for NPC strength, -2 for being on the NPC's turf, and -2 for no shared language. Plus the PC's reaction bonuses and penalties, as well - and the NPC's, too. If orcs have Intolerance (Elves) you'll get their -3 on that roll. Foes with Overconfidence might knock your +4 for strength down to +2, or ones with Bad Temper might react well but be ready for any "insult" to set them off.

Appropriate actions would help, too - weapons away and friends words would be a +1 to +2, or use of a social skill roll. Of course it might encourage an aggressive creature who isn't smart enough to recognize "weapons away" as s sign of friendliness not weakness. Weapons out might put an otherwise friendly person on guard - if only because GMs have NPCs react like PCs, who regard any weapons on display as prima facie proof the owner is a violent psychopath who can't be trusted and must be killed.

I'd probably zero out any relative strength bonuses and penalties for unintelligent creatures.

I haven't dug around in Social Engineering yet, but I will. There might be useful material in there. I'm just thinking out loud this morning and I haven't had time to really read up.

It might be fun to roll out any reaction like this, just purely mechanically, and let the results stands and see if you can explain them. That slime isn't hungry, thanks to that 18 you just rolled that drops to 14 for "no common language" and "intruders." It just wanders off somewhere else, and you'll never know exactly why. The orcs might be neutral (say, on an 11) except you look weak compared to them (for a -2) and you blundered into "their" section and try to pass off Broken Goblinese as a way to speak to Orcs, for a total of -6. That's a 5, which is "Bad" and "attack unless outnumbered." Begin combat!

None of this is really "new" for GURPS, it's just me thinking . . . what if I followed the rules-literal reading of D&D Basic Rules and applied that to critters encountered in GURPS? In a way, GURPS is natively a lot closer to OD&D, which has a similar table but it seems to be for NPCs being hired, or monsters being negotiated with and induced into service.

Either way . . .

I'll try this a bit more. I do tend to just decide how the monsters would react and do that. I roll a lot for allied NPCs, of course, because Loyalty is a thing. Which is fine, but it's kind of fun to roll for monsters. Of course, I suspect most of the PCs have stacked up massive reaction penalties because, hey, who cares if the monsters hate you . . .

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Guardians RPG is out

So this just shot to the top of my reading list:

The Guardians RPG, by David Pulver and Thomas Denmark.

It features some grappling rules that riff off of the material Doug and I wrote for Tim Shorts' zine, The Manor.

I'll try to read it through and get a review of it out on the blog. I'm really curious to see the final version of the modified grappling rules, and to see how the authors turned very old-style D&D into a superhero game.

Velo Kalavas (Starslinger/White Star)

This is my Starslinger/White Star B-Team guy. I will be updating this post as necessary, so it'll be a living document. What you see now is current as of the dates listed below.

Last update: 2/2/2016

Velo Kalavas
Human Star Knight
Level 1
XP: 2386 (needs 2500 for level 2)

DEX 13 (+1)
INT 13 (+1)
WIS 14 (+1)
CHA 13 (+1)
HP 6
AC 13 (light armor +2 AC, Dex +1 AC)
Move 12
Saving Throw 15
Attack Bonus: +0

Armor and Weapons:
Normal Clothing
Light Armor
Laser Pistol w/1 spare energy cell
Laser Sword

Other Equipment:
Sleeping Bag
Med Kit
Rope (50')

80cr 7cr

History: Vela Kalavas is a crusty, crunchy old man. He's been a knight of the sword for decades, mostly as a second career. He's had many odd jobs, where he learned life lessons he's happy to share when inappropriate.


Chicago & the Flying Cow
- almost killed by an intelligent space cockroach
- used up med kit
- gained 1250cr
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