Thursday, April 24, 2014

Half-Levels of Wealth in DF

So, maybe you liked the ideal of batch haggling in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, but either:

- you want less rolls


- you want assured results

and yet you can't afford a whole level of Wealth.

How about this?

Half-Levels of Wealth in DF

You can straddle the mid-point between standard wealth levels. The cost is 5 points, which results in the following levels:

Almost Poor [-15]. Starting money is $350. You receive 15% for sold items.

Almost Average [-5]. Starting money is $750. You receive 30% for sold items.

Almost Comfortable [5]. Starting money is $1.500. You receive 50% for sold items.

Very Comfortable [15]. Starting money is $3.500. You receive 70% for sold items.

Quite Wealthy [25] - Starting money is $12.500. You receive 90% for sold items.

If you allow these as starting levels, it's worth noting you are always better off with 5 points sunk into a half-level of wealth instead of 5 points worth of Trading Points for Money at the top level (Quite Wealthy) but it's a tougher call at the lower levels.

These are available to any starting character with the levels above and below the half-level of wealth.. For example, a Barbarian can start with Struggling or Average Wealth. Using this option, a Barbarian could be Struggling, Strapped, or Average. A Thief (Average, Comfortable, Wealthy) could take Average, Almost Comfortable, Comfortable, Very Comfortable, or Wealthy to start with.

You can buy this after play begins, but as usual, you do not receive the extra starting money, and of course, you cannot trade points for money in DF after your character enters play.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tax Farming the Megadungeon

Here is a quick alternative to the usual "the King takes 10%" approach to taxing the PCs. Something I'm generally opposed to, anyway, as adding limited reality for concrete annoyance.

The idea, basically, is like tax farming. Instead of the government exploiting a population via taxes, they sell the right to collect taxes to private concerns. The government gets its cash up front, the private concerns get what they can.

The Romans did a lot of this with mines, for example, and it's how paying up the chain worked in at least one episode of The Sopranos, too - not a percentage a week, but a flat rate to the guy above you. You come by that money however you need to - but you owe a specific amount.

It's a potentially amusing way to explain why dungeons full of loot are left to private adventurers and aren't just surrounded by the army and systematically leveled like The Black Company and friends did to the Barrowland (a classic 15-minute workday approach, actually, but I digress.)

You pay X, and get the right to exploit a given area.

It would explain the utter hostility of adventurers to each other in the dungeons.

It'll explain NPC tax collecting types.

It'll explain why you are adventurers, but those guys in room 2-14 are bandits - you paid, they're claim jumping.

It would also work well enough for groups splitting treasure - you buy in to the concern, and then take out your share. You've already paid what the government gets, and the rest is yours. And it matters not a whit to The King or the Lord Mayor or the local Shah if you die in a pit on level 2, because your profits are of no concern.

Charging a relatively large fee for exclusive rights would make sense if the government can enforce that (the army is around, say, or there are legal punishments to claim-jumping). Charging a relatively small fee for non-exclusive exploitation rights makes sense if the rate of return is somewhat low (lots of dead, a few rich types) or if they can't enforce the rules. Or have an excess population to bleed off. It's an approach that makes more sense in a settled world (lots of people, too many unemployed youths in the cities and countryside and not enough fund to draft them) and less so in a "points of light" game.

It might be a fun explanation of why the PCs get to keep their whole take, and why "strip it of everything I can take" is such an important strategy.

Oh, and you can make it a yearly thing - pay and exploit, or don't and don't. You'd probably see a lot of expeditions rarin' to go during the Spring start of the looting year, and some desperate types in late Winter trying to get in the last trips they can afford and finally hit paydirt . . .

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Random Thoughts 4/22

Just what I'm up to.

Reading List

I need to re-read Beneath Castle Everglory, a partly finished GURPS adventure, and see if I can't help someone rescue it.

I also need to get my act together and re-read GURPS Banestorm: Abydos, which is one of those supplements I think get overlooked by non-GURPS fans yet which has some really wide potential appeal in fantasy gaming.

I also need to finally read Ken Hite's Qelong, but man, I want to print it to read in my spare time away from my PCs but it's odd size makes laying it out for printing a freaking nightmare.

Painting Pile

I've gotten some painting in - most Bones. Some orcs, some monsters, some demons, and some mostly monocolor human types. Plus the rest of the "terrain" from my original Bones collection. I've got a large queue going for quickshade and blackwashing.

Sadly, the el-cheapo brush I'd been using for over 10 years now had a run-in with some still-wet superglue and died horribly. I've had to demote my old W&N Series 7 to el-cheapo bruth, but I still never find myself taking out the new No. 7. Most of my painting is done with craft paints and cruddy brushes, and my techniques have kind of adjusted to that.


I threw in for the Lost City of Barakus, because it sounds cool and there is a S&W version for only $15. I might get $15 of use out of it, too.

There is also a Snarfquest re-print Kickstarter, but I already have the old one and I don't need another. Still, if you don't, you might want one.


I've made some serious headway on my re-stock of my megadungeon for next session (should be this weekend) and stocking some of the deeper levels that are coming into reach.


I started the Alien Menace game and we're taking another delve into the Castle of the Mad Archmage this Friday.

Otherwise I've been busy with work, school, study, and training. And the NHL playoffs, too, mixed in to the bunch.

Monday, April 21, 2014

More thoughts on my Alien Menace PC

Just some notes-to-self about improving A.B. Karabus after the first session of play.

My character portrait:

- I need more Move. Or Speed. I have Basic Speed 6.5, so 10 points for a 7 would be nice. Or 5 for Basic Move 7, either way. My goal is an encumbered 5+ Move.

- I need to learn Observation. I forgot to take it. I took Cooking, but not Observation. Or Orienteering. Oops.

- I, amusingly, have something like 22 points in melee skills and less than 22 points in ranged weapon skills. That's Karate, Wrestling, and a little Axe/Mace (for a hatchet) and Knife (for a Large Knife). But my idea is that when I need my unarmed/melee armed skills, I need them badly and no one can provide fire support. The skills on the page are probably the best rolls I can get, while my ranged weapon gets Acc 5, +4 with full ROF, etc. to counteract the range penalties. In melee, it's Trained ST 19 vs. whatever the universe can bring.

- If I'm going to shoot on the move, I need to learn CQB for my SAW. Bulk -5 is not conducive to hitting anything.

- I need to modify my quirks a little to reflect actual play.

- I need to write a pithy statement on my helmet. I think I'll mimic one of my players from his X-COM: UFO Defense days and write "Aliens Welcome" on the front. Or maybe "Welcome Aliens." That second one makes me laugh when I read it, so probably "Welcome Aliens."

- I should really line my helmet with tinfoil. You know, just because.

- I do need to note my Acc, Reflex sight, and other mods for shooting.

- I have to sit down and read the Fantasy Grounds FAQs and such. The smoother I can make my end go, the easier it is on the GM.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Some Grenadier & Reaper & GURPS on eBay

I have some auctions up on eBay.

Click here for all of them, including two dolls I'm selling on someone's behalf.

For the gaming specific ones:

Grenadier 5001 Dungeon Explorers (complete)

Reaper Gauth (complete)

GURPS Castle Falkenstein (because I have two, and I'm not sure why I need two.)

Alien Menace, Session 1: First Contact (Notes)

Last night I played in Douglas Cole's Alien Menace game.

Doug did a far better job of summarizing the session that I could hope to:

Alien Menace Introductory Session

Basically we met each other, met our employer, saw the "drop ship" and interstellar submarine, and heard audio that beat out even the nest episode of most later Star Trek (at least to me). Then we got dropped off and showed aliens what six highly dedicated troopers can do with careful movement and overlapping fields of fire. Oh, and automatic grenade launcher fire.

Go read his summary, and then come back here and read these notes - they won't make much sense without the summary.

The Game

- Just as a side note, I've been to Changi International. Nice airport. When I arrived on the last flight it was dead - even the customs folks were gone and I just walked right out after passport control (one guy on the late shift). So it was amusing to arrive there.

- We christened the Oliver Industries island "Danger Island." Doug keeps referring to it by its code name, Morning-some-or-other island. Not us. Aren't players mean?

- Naturally when food was offered A.B. loaded up on steamed veggies, brown rice, and steamed chicken. Clean food, no drinks. Once we finally arrived at Danger Island, he wanted to see the gym (training plus a rehab facility) and lifted, because it was leg day.

- A leader with Born War Leader 4, Tactics, and Combat Reflexes? We roll 1d+7 for initiative on Partial Surprise situations. +8 if I'm smarter (IQ 11, so it's only likely vs. robots.) I see some bad guys being caught flat-footed.

- Doug has A.B. down as hitting with 7 out of 12 shots - it was 5. Still, with 5d+10 penetrating (we're using armor as dice)

- Armor as Dice means either the GM rolls your damage, or tells you the armor. Kind of meta-disappointing.

- My choice of a LMG variant a lot of ammo was solid. ROF 12 is tough with a 25-shot magazine, kinda low with a 100-shot magazine. It doesn't shoot well on the move (my last move was shooting on the run with it and missed entirely) but when crouching and aiming it did well (5 hits out of 12). Suppression effects might kick in, too.

- I like using the Speed/Range table for rapid fire, too, and I'll use that in my games in all likelihood.

- we had a lot of interface teething, which slowed us down.

The Interface

Oh, Fantasy Grounds, how you love the all-powerful mouse wheel. That button controls so much that it caused us nightmares.

- The map - you can't drag it to see more or less, just point at the right spot and scroll. Since we all had control of the tokens, this would also spin facing on our guys. And other people's guys.

- Dynamic lightning/dynamic fields of view are really needed, too.

= it needs snap to grid, with a lockdown of hexside to hexside (important for GURPS.)

- the interface is beautiful, but the chat window had tiny text, and it was often too easy to miss it when dragging and dropping dice. It wouldn't automatically add up dice, either, so you'd shoot for 5d+10 and have to roll, then right click and hit "=" to see what it equaled.

- the support for dragging GURPS weapons and skills into the chat box was nice, but keeping the sheet, the chat box, and the map in view at once wasn't practical, so I'd have been faster with a paper sheet in front of me.

- there are non-d6 polyhedral dice that you can't hide when you don't need them.

- the lack of video meant I was clicking back to Google Hangouts and then to FG to play.

- let's say little of the time Doug deleted the map by accident and how it came up without any Fog of War (or any enemies). It didn't make him happy as funny as it was for the rest of us.

- my record sheet picked up some oddities in translation, too - like how I had 1 point in HT-based Guns/Rifle and HT-based Tactics. What?

All in all, it's a pretty interface but man it got in the way much of the time.

Some of it will get better as we learn the system, but man, I was expecting less headaches and less serious damage from hitting the wrong key.

The GM

Doug is a pretty good GM.

I gave Doug some GMing advice, which he foolishly asked for. It boiled down to:

- don't tell us any details we can't observe with our character's abilities. Just tell us to hold on a second and then advance the bad guys (if any) or just pretend to be doing that.

- don't fill us in ahead on stuff that doesn't matter now.

- rolling hidden dice without us knowing why conceals when you are really rolling. Do that.

- the GM is always right, and when GMing for a crowd of four regular GMs, you can be assured we won't complain for a second. At least not during play.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Who will face the Alien Menace?

Tonight is the inaugural session of Douglas Cole's Alien Menace game.

My character is A. B. Karabus, from Passaic, NJ. He's 6'4", 260 pounds, and carries a squad-support sized version of the teams 6.8mm weaponry, because he has ST 17. He's also the team leader, became someone needs to be and he's got Born War Leader 4.

Why ST 17? Because I couldn't afford a 20. Don't ask such silly questions! He's got Bad Temper, too.

He's loosely based on a certain A-Team member, the Swede from Heartbreak Ridge, Animal Mother from Full Metal Jacket, Salvador and Brick from Borderlands 2, Lieutenant Breckenridge from the John Mackie book series "The Rat Bastards", a small homage to Roadblock from the old G.I. Joe toys, and a real life acquaintance of mine who is over 6', over 260, and has six-pack abs. I'm not that much of a mountain of meat, but I tend to have a hey-diddle-diddle-straight-up-the-middle approach to problems. Snipe it or stomp it, done.

(Click here for an animated gif of him in action!)

To be honest, I have approaching zero experience with gunplay in GURPS 4th edition. 1st-3rd, yeah. 4th, almost none. I played a session of GURPS 4th reviving my old Armageddon character, Bota Khan, but he's no fair comparison to gunplay at reasonable skill levels. In Armageddon he was a master of weaponry (by dint of long play) and lavishly equipped with super-tech weaponry. In GURPS he had Guns-24 or 25 or so and a recoilless weapon with ridiculous damage. It's not an experience I could really draw on. So I am really looking forward to figuring out the best way to defeat the Alien Menace with the heaviest MG I can carry.
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