Don't Forget Your Boots

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Tag: behind-the-scenes

Who Looted The “Fine Turnip”? And is it magical?

Inspired by a post over at Dungeon Fantastic, I got to wondering how my players record their loot.

I’m the kind of guy who tries to fill the dungeon with “interesting” treasure, rather than just piles of coins. Sometimes, I feel like it’s a little wasted, since I expect the players will end up classifying everything as either “stuff to keep”, “quest coupons”, or “pawnable”. There’s some value in that extra level of detail beyond what the players care about, as camouflage for clues and so forth, but in the end, that gorgeous piece of treasure is going to turn into a pouch full of coins, which will itself turn into a barrel of beer and some enchanted ironmongery for the knight. At any rate, I know my players would be happier if the treasure came pre-sorted into bundles of magic items and stacks of coin.

So, I wondered: what have they been writing down, when I describe the loot?

Luckily, I can check. My group elected one player (Rho/Kadabra/Mississippi Jim’s) as the keeper of the list of shared treasure. (They also elected him chief mapper, and thus far, he’s been handling the selling of loot back in town. Really, they decided that he was going to be the guy with the pencil and the calculator.)  He keeps his party notes in a particular notebook, which goes in the party folder, which gets stored on my shelf in between games.

What I found in the notebook surprised me.  At first, I thought I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for.  All I found was scratch paper and rough maps. Finally, I discovered a couple of lists, folded up in the back of the notebook.

The answer to the immediate question is, yes, my players write down “comb 1500 silver”, just as Mr. Dell’Orto observes. Drat, they’re not taking notes on all my boxed text. Oh, well, that’s pretty much what I expected. So long as they’ve got enough notes to let me track down which item they’re actually talking about, they’re OK. If they find one harp on a given trip, they just need to know “the harp”; if they find two, they need to be able to tell me if they’re selling “the one with the carvings” or “the one glowing with obvious magical power”. If that gets noted as “harp” and “glowing harp”, great.

But then I took a closer look.

It seems that someone found a “fine turnip”, right around the time of the fight with Ghorbash. I’m not sure who put points into Connoisseur (Root Vegetables), but they estimated its value at $10 million.

I bet Gabby made off with it.

 

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Danger, nostalgia detected! Time for looking forward! (Or, how did we get into this mess, anyway?)

Once the second season of the Space Cowboys game came to a dramatic conclusion, we found ourselves adrift. We wanted something more gritty, with more combat. We kicked around various ideas, and for a while, it looked like we were going to dig into a Mystic Martial Arts game — the kind where the fate of the world is decided by a bunch of scruffy street fighters engaging in fisticuffs.

But, then, some of us got to talking about video games. I had just picked up one of the Fallout titles for the first time. One thing led to another, and I suddenly found myself agreeing to run a low-down, nasty, survivor-horror, post-apocalyptic game. The easy example these days would be the zombie apocalypse, in the style of the “Walking Dead”, but I swore I wouldn’t use zombies; one of the players had already staked out that scenario, and I didn’t want to poach it.* In fact, as the idea rolled around, I think one of selling points became the uncertainty of the nature of the end of the world as we know it.

As I studied the problem, I came to certain conclusions. If we wanted a game of survival horror, where one might kill another for a can of beans or a pair of shoes, it would be important to emphasize food and water. We had never really used the starvation rules, so I went to review them. This led to a realization.

We hadn’t even been using the Fatigue rules.

Oh, yeah, we tracked Fatigue in combat for Extra Effort and so forth, and we had seen a Fatigue-draining attack or two, so we used that much of it, at least. What we didn’t do was closely track the recovery of Fatigue. I had skimmed the rules, without actually doing the math, and just handwaved it. All the games were modern enough, it didn’t seem far-fetched for someone to sit down and take a break, even in the face of exciting events. To take an example from the Space Cowboys game, if Osolo felt a little winded, he would sit down and peel potatoes for a bit.

So, long story still fairly long, we decided to set up the Dungeon Fantasy game to ease in to the bookkeeping required to run a good post-apocalyptic game. As a step towards starving characters, we’re running characters who have to eat. As a step towards characters who get exhausted, we’re running characters who get tired and have to rest. As a step towards characters who engage in desperate, no-holds-barred struggles at the drop of a hat for the lowest of stakes, we’re running characters who have to be more involved in a fight than just taking cover and firing a gun.

The unexpected part, I’d say, is how everyone has taken to the DF game. I expected it to be more of an exercise, then on to the main event, but from the reports I’m receiving, it seems like this one has some legs.

I dunno, maybe, someday, we’ll take a break from DF and check on the apocalypse, just long enough for the cannibalism to set in, and then come back to the dungeon. Who knows how it’ll go?

 

* … and I still want to play it, so I wouldn’t want to sate everyone’s appetite.

Not really Dungeon Fantasy, but, here’s what we’re gonna do…

In a fit of nostalgia, I went looking at the archives of notes from previous games. I was reminded of the evolution of things.

We got the Weird West game going around 2010. I started sending out a simple synopsis email, just as a reminder to everyone about what had happened in the previous session. I wasn’t very organized about it, so I’ve only been able to recover a portion of the story. The fragments that I’ve found wouldn’t be worthwhile to share. They’re indecipherable if you weren’t at the table.

After the Weird West game, we switched to the so-called “Dirty Supers” game.  It was a home-brew setting, 500 point characters, aimed at street-level superheroic action.  The reminder emails expanded into something more elaborate, around this time, but there’s one vital clue that says they were just reminders and not a real synopsis: I neglected to write up the last session. Embarrassing.

That was followed by the Space Cowboys game. The idea was that it was the game of a TV show that never was, a sort of mix of “Firefly” and “Cowboy Bebop”. For the first time, I wrote up the games as if they were stories. The first season of the show took us through a year. For a change of pace, we turned to a 1200 points Supers game set in the Marvel Universe, where all the characters were members of the Avengers Academy, in the days leading up to the “Fear Itself” story-line. Once that ran its course, we returned to the Space Cowboys game for a second season, and that brings us to the current Dungeon Fantasy game.

The bottom line is, I’ve got something like three years’ worth of game reports that I could post… and that’s exactly what I intend to do.  They’re not Dungeon Fantasy, but I think they give some insight into where the group is coming from.

Inconvenient Reorganization

To begin with, my plan was to keep a document with my map key and print out sections as needed. That plan started showing strain almost immediately, when I saw how much paper I was actually dealing with. Eventually, I realized I would have to juggle even more than that, what with re-stocking and the expansion of options as the characters explore and learn their way around.

Rather than kill trees at that rate, I have decided to go mostly paperless. I plan to print the maps, but keep the key on my tablet. I’ve already loaded it up with PDF versions of the rule books.

The price is reorganization. It seems to be easier to go between two files than between two pages within the same file. So, I’ve been slowly sorting my monster rosters into their own documents.

Saturday is on track to be the first game under the new system. We’ll see how it goes…

Goofs

We made two big mistakes last time, which might explain a couple of “WTF?” moments for the close reader of Session #1.

First, clerics can’t cast Concussion. We have no idea how that slipped in there.

Second, shields do not provide DR, which means The KotBO should have changed his name to “Gimpy” after the troll bit his foot off. This appears to be a mis-reading of the table with shield stats from the basic book.

Our rule, though, is to play it as it lays, so the results still stand. The goblins were stunned, The KotBO still has his foot… but now we know better.

 

Party shrinkage

We knew that Tobey’s player was going away. The first session of this campaign was also her last game with us, as she up and moved far, far away only days after. The bad news is, the group lost its only wizard.

The good news is, Tobey’s player has agreed to continue to participate remotely!

So… days after leaving the dungeon at the end of Session #1… Tobey’s entourage arrived, having been previously delayed. As it turns out, he’s some kind of prince among pixies and comfortably well-off. After giving the bartender at the Mangled Puppy a good tongue-lashing, Tobey obtained a house in Tembladera, and is busy converting it into a pixie palace.

He also dabbles in sponsoring dungeon delves, for his research.

Now, the unexpected drops in: we’ve also had two players (Alric’s and an as-yet characterless ‘nother) forced to cancel for next time. By my count, that leaves us with three players.

BUT! This isn’t the disaster it would have been, only a few months back. One of the ideas of the Old School Dungeon Crawl was that the party changes. If the party lineup changes, they just need to change their tactics. At this point, for instance, one imagines a frontal assault would be poor tactics. (I could be wrong, though. They’ve surprised me before.) And that’s not even bringing up the possibility of hired henchmen…

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