Monday, December 5, 2016

Last 24 Hours for Dungeon Grappling

We're into the last 24 hours for Douglas Cole's Kickstarter for Dungeon Grappling.

At this point, it's still $5 for a copy of the PDF, somewhat more for a print-on-demand copy shipped to you.

It will be:

- full of art

- full-color art, at that, hopefully including this (which would make a great cover, actually, for either this book or an album by an obscure metal band that did a Beowulf concept album.)

The rules cover everything from old-school D&D compatible rules to Pathfinder and D&D5, and they're good. They make grappling interesting, viable, and fun. "I grab him!" is no longer an I win button, an I choose to lose button, a game-derailing moment that forces books to be cracked open, or any of that sort. It's direct and interesting and a balanced choice.

Don't overlook this - $5 gets you a lot of book, for a lot of systems, which a simple and elegant rules set within it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

DF Felltower: Magic Item Price Increase

Recently I quietly got rid of most $1 per energy items in my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game in favor of $20/energy and $33/energy costs.

I kept the requirement that magical weapons and armor have cost-positive prefixes to hold a magical charge.

This suddenly means that:

Fortify +1 is $1,000 for a full suit.

Lighten 25% is $2,000 for a full suit.

Cornucopia Quivers are $2,010, not $110.

I didn't change the prices of projectiles, though - they're still as cheap as can be - but they're largely one-shot items

Secondly, I've downrated the availability of most magic items for purchase. This is besides the changes such as getting rid of the Power enchantment and making more things Always On. What this means is that it's harder to special order magic items, there isn't an expectation that something will be enchanted in town automatically, and that magic items are more of a found rarity than a purchased one.

The basic stuff in Adventurers will largely be available. I don't mind if people want to spend $10K getting +2 Deflect on a shield or $5,000 getting +1 Puissance on a sword. That's fine. The time requirement will still apply - so you can't just get your axe or mace enchanted quickly between delves - but it can be done.


For a few reasons. This has long been on my list of things I'd have done differently. Why the change, though?

Because I'd really prefer magic items be found in the dungeon, not purchased cheaply in town. I'd like mundane equipment to actually be useful and sensible purchases. $150 for +1 DR and -25% to weight when a suit of fine armor costs 10x as much as a normal suit means that quality mundane is more expensive than more useful and more effective magic.

It doesn't hurt that the day rate for a bargain henchmen is $30 a day and weekly upkeep is $150. At that pay rate, even they should have magical armor. People don't keep a lot of money on hand because they blow it all on magical gear and then can't afford hirelings. Raising the price won't suddenly put more money in their hands, but making magic a non-trivial cost means you can either get a minor magical boost (Woohoo, +1 DR!) or get a lot of hired help and value in town (Woohoo, +1 DR forever or a henchman for many delves or my weekly upkeep for six weeks?) instead.

I didn't ask my players, I just went ahead and did this. I'd been increasing these costs as new items came up for purchase requests, so I just finished the job. I grandfathered in someone who'd asked months back about one item but otherwise, applied these right away.

My hope is that if the money starts flowing from the depths, and magic items aren't a trivial purchase, one of two things will happen:

- PCs who emphasize maximizing their personal delving power will have to make fewer, better choices over gear.

- PCs who balk at the prices will have effectively more cash to spend on normal equipment, expenses, research, hirelings, carousing, etc. and for reserves in case of disaster. "Effectively" because the amount of money will be the same but the tradeoff will be more even - see my Fortify vs. hirelings and gear and upkeep comparison above.

All this will take is more and deeper delving, of course.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Erol Otus Basic Set Cover - Image Only

The Erol Otus Shrine put up this great image of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set cover, without all of the clutter of title, description, etc.:

My players haven't found this room yet, but it's in Felltower . . .

Friday, December 2, 2016

Use High Powered Monsters Right Away!

In reading some reviews of Volo's Guide to Monsters, I stumbled across one that mentioned the emphasis on lower-powered creatures.* This echoes something I've heard - games spend most of their time closer to "zero" than "hero" so you need more "zero" challenge monsters.

The big, cool, badasss monsters?

They're end-game icing-on-the-cake monsters. Campaign pinnacles. Special moments.

Dungeons first, dragons later, once you're earned them.

I'm guilty of this as well - look at my monsters encountered list in my higher-powered** DF game. Many of them are quite low powered. They turn up the most often. While it's taken forever for my players to fight giant rats, orcs, hobgoblins, goblins, lizard men, newtmen, etc. show up all over the place. Annoying-level oozes slime around the dungeon (and annoying slimes ooze, too.) And stirges, stirges, stirges.

I've tried - a dragon right near an easy access point. Trolls on level 1, along with weapon-resistant gargoyles, packs of wights with an unholy cleric wight, cultists with delver-level offensive firepower, electric jellyfish, a unique demon lord on level 2, etc. etc.

 photo BeforeitGotWorse_zps7109aa1e.jpg

But still, there are so many cool monsters my players have yet to encounter. I'm not trying to husband them for later, but effectively, I have. By putting sufficient obstacles between them I've made them less common.

While I'd like to bill my game as pitting your powerful and capable dungeon delvers against dragons, demon lords, flying eye monsters, ghosts, and elder beings and reaping amazing hoards . . . it's all too often turned into the supermodule DULL1-7 Against the Fodder.

And that's my fault.

I need to get better at using things right away.

Not at the end of a long dungeon where it "fits." Right away. Put a beholder in room 1, and then challenge yourself to make a better boss at the end. Use dragons enough that - like in Skyrim - you never take them too lightly but never too seriously, either. If mind flayers are a thing in your game, use their minions in game one and the flayers in game two. When you need a cool monster later, just make one of the others, cooler.

Our Gamma Terra game is a good example - in the first two sessions we played we fought badders and hoops and a mutant wolverine with a force screen, killed the latter with a torc grenade, and got a warbot. In most games I've played, a warbot is something you read about but never, ever meet. A death machine? Legend, not reality. We fly around in one. This hasn't made the game worse but better.

The longer you hold off, the more your players are tempted to hold off - it's so tough, let's wait until we're good and ready. The more you're tempted to hold off - it's so special, I don't want to waste it.

No monster is wasted.

No good idea used is wasted.

No challenge is too soon.

Use them right away.

Players? This means you guys too. Go right after the dragons, the demon lords, the nests of vampire lich trolls you've heard about. Don't put them off until "when we're all powerful enough." That'll be never.

I've said much of this before.

This post is as much a reminder to me as it is to you reading it.

Use the cool monsters right the **** now.

And by the way? Same goes for magic items. I'm sorry it took so long for my PCs to find Gram, and then lost it. I should have just put the Machine of Lum the Mad or Blackrazor or the Ring of Jaylin (one of my players will know what I mean) in B2 and let the players have at it.

* That and the fact that norkers were considered, but reject. Dammit, I love norkers. Great name, cool monsters in the original AD&D form, and they make good menaces in GURPS of all power levels.

** Well, DF-standard, erring on the lower powered side of "higher powered." Cut-down race list, cut-down spell list, cut-down item list, cut-down template list, and more grit than heroism. Had I started out lower-powered, I bet it wouldn't be "wipe out this army of orcs" but even smaller change we'd be playing for. The saving grace is that characters were powerful enough that orcs by the pack are time-consuming but not actually threatening.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Spell: Rain of Lightning

I mentioned how easy it would be to make a "Rain of" spell for electricity when I was talking druid spells. Here it is:

Rain of Lightning

Miniature bolts of lightning rain from the sky into the area of effect, causing 1d-1 burning damage to all within it. Metal armor provides only DR 1; other armor protects fully. Creatures under the Rain of Lightning take damage on their own turns; halve damage (round down) if less than a full second is spent in the area of effect. Wooden shields may be held overhead as described under Rain of Fire (Magic p. 74); metal shields provide no protection! This spell can only be cast outdoors.

Duration: 1 minute.
Base Cost: 1 to cast (minimum 2). Same cost to maintain. For double base cost, the Rain of Lightning does 2d-2 per second.
Prerequisites: Magery 2 and Lightning.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Swords & Wizardry Complete: What does the Robe of Wizardry do?

The other night I took a break from game prep and reading for work and browsed the always-enjoyable Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook.

Besides finding an annoying error (an unbolded magic item!) I really took a good look at this item:

Robe of Wizardry: This robe grants the wearer the ability to cast charm, polymorph, and hold spells with a 95% chance of success. The robes may be tied to specific alignments. Usable by: Magic–Users only.

Okay, I can't parse the intent here. Do I now have:

- All charm spells
- All polymorph spells
- All hold spells

. . . useable as often as I want on a 01-95 on d100? 96-100 I waste my round and fail to cast?

At first glance I thought it might mean those spells succeed 95% of the time - that is, I learn them, I memorize and cast them, and then on a 01-95 they just work, no save. It's not like S&W has a spell failure chance when casting spells normally, so "95% chance of success" has to mean one or the other of "use it" or "use it successfully."

The first is a major item, and probably what is intended. The second isn't quite as major of an item, but it vastly improves your own magical ability with those spells.

If you're tempted to answer this question with, "You're the GM, you decide!" please do not. That won't help. I'm trying to parse the author's intent.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

40% off GURPS PDFs, new hardcopies!

SJG is having a rare, very deep sale on GURPS PDFs:

GURPS PDFs 40% off

The last time they had a sale was 23% off. This one is pretty amazing. Now, this also means my royalties will be 40% less, but even so, if you'd like to support this blog and the game I write for, here are my books up on Warehouse 23:

Peter Dell'Orto's GURPS publications

$3.59 for Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 3. $4.79 for Henchmen. Ninja, only $2.99 apiece!

Even Martial Arts is only $16.79 in PDF, and the Basic Set only $32.94.

The sale runs until 12/15, so move your Wish List to your shopping cart and get going.

Also, hardcopies for some in-demand books exist now:

You can get Ultra-Tech, Magic, and Thaumatology in softcover from CreateSpace.

Why not Martial Arts?

I don't know. Come on SJG, my book has been OOP for a long time and sells steadily in PDF, print it again . . . even I'd like another hardcopy.
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