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Thu, Jan. 18th, 2018, 04:14 pm
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Wrestler lens

Precis - A 50-point "cross-training" lens for the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy wrestler -- the template from the new issue of Pyramid.
One of my players came up with this simple "cross-training" lens (in the vein of DF3) for the wrestler -- a brand-new template from this month's issue of Pyramid. The Notes are a bit complex, but they have to be to keep this to a single lens, since it can interact oddly with certain templates (e.g., to prevent a shirtless savage barbarian-wrestler from ending up with DR in the teens).

Wrestler Lens (+50 points)

Attributes: +1 ST [10].

Advantages: Enhanced Parry 1 (Unarmed) [5]; Lifting ST 3 [9]; Damage Resistance 1 (Tough Skin, -40%) [3]; and Wrestling Master [10]

Skills: Brawling (E) DX [1]; Immovable Stance (H) DX-1 [2]; Push (H) DX-1 [2]; and Wrestling (A) DX+2 [8].

Notes: If you're already strong, you only need to buy enough ST and Lifting ST to get your effective ST to 18. If you already have 3+ levels of DR (Tough Skin) from a professional template -- not your race -- don't buy any further "wrestler" DR, from this lens or later on (your maximum from this profession is 3). If you already have any of the skills here, use the given points to raise them if possible. Any points left over after following these instructions should go toward further Lifting ST (up to 6) and Wrestling (no limit); if 1-3 points remain, use them to raise the other skills and/or to add Parry Missile Weapons.

The wrestler deserves some unique power-ups, but for now this template has access to Bear Hug, Bone Breaker, and Extra Option (Beefcake Protection) (all from Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians) and Rolling Throw (from Pyramid 61).

Wed, Dec. 27th, 2017, 12:26 pm
Loot Crate Review: December 2017 ("EXPLORE")

I'm reviewing (in brief) each month's standard Loot Crate, so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Loot Wear Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

(Sorry for skipping November -- though I doubt anyone else is reading these anyway, so that's more directed at myself.)

Loot Crate: December 2017 ("EXPLORE")

First, a note. They've gone from including a full "magazine" (booklet) in the box to just including a single postcard-sized checklist of what's in the box, with a link to an online version of the full booklet. I am 100% okay with this. Every month I read the booklet once and then throw it away, so why not save paper? The only weird bit is that neither version mentions the A.C. figure for some reason! So strange. Did they not have the right to sell it or something?

Destiny 2 T-Shirt: I'm not a fan of the game, and this shirt is only for fans of the game -- because on its own, it's kind of ugly and plain. I have friends who do like the game, but not sure if any are my size. I'll call this $5 for regiftability.

Assassins Creed Black Flag Edward Kenway FIgure: Really cute and kawaii, which is just weird for this game and character, IMO. I don't like it, but I'm sure some ACBF fan will. I'll be selling it to McKay's and estimate I'll get $6 for it.

Star Wars Adventures "Destroyer Down" Graphic Novel: I realize that everyone but me loves Star Wars, so this is probably worth $8 to most of you -- it's a 60-page graphic novel about Rey's origins or something. For me, I'll be selling to McKay's for an estimated $1.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Mini Wall Calendar: A 2018 calendar (with a single page at the end previewing 1/19-4/19) with surprisingly good production value. It's not just "pic above, calendar below," but has a cool design style throughout. We'll probably use this as our house calendar despite the small size. Worth the full value of a small wall calendar: $8

DLC: At first I was excited -- 90 days of free Pandora Premium? Awesome! Except no. First off, it's a 90-day trial and they demand your credit card. Second, it's only available on their mobile platform, where I mainly use Pandora at home. Lame. I feel that this is disingenous enough to take off -$2.

Retro Rocket Pin: I actually really like this. It's super simple, just a thin rocket ship, but it really works well. $2

Star Wars Spaceship-Battle Box: Obviously I didn't like this one, but I don't think even Star Wars fans will. Yes, you can turn it inside out as a gift box, but if you do the artwork is only on three sides, which isn't very impressive. $0

Total Value: $20 (100%)

Sun, Dec. 24th, 2017, 07:49 am
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Songs of Inspiration and Despair (new bard power-ups)

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy bards are arguably missing one of the most basic power-ups attributed to their profession: the ability to craft songs that inspire a particular person to do better or doom them to failure. Each "Greater" song complete supersedes the lesser version, but you can take the two different types of songs (Inspiration vs. Despair) as alternative abilities.

Song of Inspiration
18 points


As an action, you may encourage one of your allies via song; he must be able to hear you. Roll against Musical Instrument or Singing as appropriate, then divide your margin of success by 2 for non-combat tasks or 3 in combat. Your ally applies the result (minimum +1) as a bonus to a single skill or attribute roll that he makes on his next turn; he must choose before rolling. (You may later upgrade this song to Greater Song of Inspiration 1 by paying the 6-point difference.)

Advantage: Visualization (Bard-Song, -30%; Blessing Only, +0%; Hearing-Based, -20%; Reduced Time 6, +120%) [17].
Perk: Rules Exception (Minimum Visualization bonus is +1). [1]

Greater Song of Inspiration
24 points for level 1, plus 5 points per additional level


You may use the rules above, or give the bonus to all of your allies within a certain distance: Level 1 affects a two-yard radius, level 2 has a four-yard radius, level 3 covers an eight-yard radius, and level 4 (the maximum) influences a 16-yard radius.

Advantage: Visualization (Area Effect, 2 yards, +50%; Bard-Song, -30%; Blessing Only, +0%; Emanation, -20%; Hearing-Based, -20%; Reduced Time 6, +120%; Selective Area, +20%; Selectivity, +10%) [23].
Perk: Rules Exception (Minimum Visualization bonus is +1). [1]

Song of Despair
28 points


As an action, you may perform a dirge about how a particular foe (who must be able to hear you) is doomed to fail. Roll against Musical Instrument or Singing as appropriate, then divide your margin of success by 2 for non-combat tasks or 3 in combat. The foe applies the result (minimum -1) as a penalty to a single skill or attribute roll that he makes on his next turn. You choose what this applies to; if there's any doubt, it applies to the first such roll he makes on his turn. (You may later upgrade this song to Greater Song of Despair 1 by paying the 6-point difference.)

Advantage: Visualization (Bard-Song, -30%; Cursing, +100%; Hearing-Based, -20%; Reduced Time 6, +120%) [27].
Perk: Rules Exception (Minimum Visualization penalty is -1). [1]

Greater Song of Despair
34 points for level 1, plus 5 points per additional level


You may use the rules above, or penalize all of your enemies within a certain distance: Level 1 affects a two-yard radius, level 2 has a four-yard radius, level 3 covers an eight-yard radius, and level 4 (the maximum) influences a 16-yard radius. You may designate what the penalty applies to, if not, it affects the first roll each makes on their next turn.

Advantage: Visualization (Area Effect, 2 yards, +50%; Bard-Song, -30%; Cursing, +100%; Emanation, -20%; Hearing-Based, -20%; Reduced Time 6, +120%; Selective Area, +20%; Selectivity, +10%) [33].
Perk: Rules Exception (Minimum Visualization penalty is -1). [1]
Precis - Two new power-ups for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy bards, giving them broad means to inspire or doom others.

Sat, Oct. 21st, 2017, 03:59 pm
Lootcrate Review: October 2017

I'm reviewing (in brief) each month's standard Loot Crate, so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Loot Wear Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

Loot Crate: October 2017

"80s" Ghostbuster T-Shirt: I like what they did with the colors, but I'm not really a big Ghostbusters fan. I'm torn on this one. $8

Stranger Things Diorama: If I were a fan of the show, this would probably be nice, but it's definitely a "fan-only" thing, so I'll trade it in and expect to get about $5.

Thor vs Loki Phatmojo Scene: Adorable! Chibi Thor and Loki fighting over a chibi Asgardian throne! I probably wouldn't buy it on its own, but I'm glad to have it. $10

Buffy TVS "Mr. Pointy" Bookmark: Neat, inexpensive, "filler item" idea -- a laser-cut wooden bookmark that looks like her stake. I like it, but can't give it a super high value. $2

DLC: As far as I can tell, all we get is a "free gift for Marvel Puzzle Quest" that's nothing more than what already comes with MPQ! That's so disingenuous that I'm taking off value: -$2

Vampire Pin: An ugly, generic vampire. Why? $0

Mjolnr Box: Much like last year's "Harley's hammer" box, this one becomes Thor's weapon. I like the idea, but wish the art were better. $2

Total Value: $25 (125%)

Wed, Sep. 20th, 2017, 12:47 pm
Lootcrate Review: September 2017

I'm reviewing (in brief) each month's standard Loot Crate, so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Loot Wear Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

Loot Crate: September 2017

Wallace Corporation T-Shirt: Huh? Oh, it's from Blade Runner. I'm not enough of a fan to know the name of the company. I'll probably re-gift this. $0

Star Trek "Mirror Broken" Comic: The origin of Mirror Universe Data . . . man, that is a really specific origin story. Not something I really wanted, so I think I'll keep this sealed to maximize its trade-in value, which I'm guessing will be $1.

Wooden R2-D2 "IncrediBuild" Kit: Sometimes I feel like I'm the only geek in the world who doesn't like Star Wars. So, more than most crates, it's important that you assess your own value here. For me, it's the trade-in value which I'll peg at $5.

Alien "Queen Takes Bishop" Mini-Fig: A very cute figurine depicting a cool scene. I don't plan on keeping it, but it's definitely something I appreciate. Trade-in estimate of $3.

"Loot Bot" Pin: Surprisingly adorable! I probably wouldn't have bought it on its own, but I'll wear it. $2

DLC: Not working! Supposedly, there's a Ghost in the Shell comic, but it isn't up on the site yet, and no indication of what the other DLC might be. $0

The Box: Cog Crispies: This may seem weird, but I love this box! It's a faux cereal box that may be the greatest gift box ever -- so much detail, from hilarious Nutritional Facts to games on the back. I'm really impressed. $5

Total Value: $16 (80%)

Wed, Sep. 6th, 2017, 07:47 pm
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: The Sorcerer revisited

Antoni Ten Monros' Pyramid 3/82: Magical Creations introduced the sorcerer to GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. It's a great article and well written template, but with the benefit of a few years' hindsight, I have some suggested changes to help maintain game balance. Please note that this is not errata, as nothing in the article is a mistake; think of this post more as clarifications and suggested house rules. In particular, this is how sorcery works in our DF games.

Rituals and FP Cost

Alternative Rituals (Sorcery, p. 7) are in effect. Optionally, the GM may allow the additional rituals from "Super-Sorcery!" (Pyramid 3/105: Cinematic Magic) on a case-by-case basis; note that this is a permanent change to how your character works magic.

However, experience has shown that it can be unbalancing for sorcerers to invoke alternative rituals to cast repeated spells with no FP cost in a fight. Because of that, the following rule is in effect: Every sorcerous spell with no FP cost takes the longer of normal casting time or (1d+1)/2 seconds to cast (round up). Roll for this when beginning to cast; if you don't like the result, you can abort, wasting your action this turn. In most noncombat situations, you can simply ignore this limitation.

Damage Limits

Instead of limiting dice of damage by Sorcery Talent, your limit is 1 + (Sorcerous Empowerment level)/2. Round down. (Exception: If your Sorcery is Limited in any way, round up; this makes focused blasters more viable.) A spell can do up to 1d+1 damage per level and still respect this limit; past that, the GM will need to adjust the limit proportionately.

Sorcery Max Damage Sorcery Max Damage
1 1d (2d*) 7 4d (5d*)
2 2d 8 5d
3 2d (3d*) 9 5d (6d*)
4 3d 10 6d
5 3d (4d*) 11 6d (7d*)
6 4d 12 7d

* If your Sorcerous Empowerment is Limited.

Secret Teleportation Spell

This can't be learned as a normal sorcery spell and should cost the full 100 points. (This might qualify as errata; I need to discuss it with Kromm.)

PK's "Costs Fatigue" House Rule

Per my house rules, Costs Fatigue should be -10%/level instead of -5%. Therefore, the version bundled into the Sorcery power modifier needs to be weakened slightly. As such, all indefinite spells cost 1 FP every 10 minutes instead of every minute.Precis - A few suggested changes to the sorcerer, a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy template from Pyramid 3/82: Magical Creations.

Tue, Aug. 22nd, 2017, 03:33 pm
Loot Crate Review: 2017 August

I'm reviewing (in brief) each month's standard Loot Crate, so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Loot Wear Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

Loot Crate: August 2017

Adventure Time "Nice King" & Gunter Figure: This depicts the Ice King in a rare moment giving love to Gunter. I'm a huge AT fan, so I'm glad to get this, though it isn't a scene I'd have chosen to display. If you loved the scene, double the value. $10

Legend of Zelda "8-Bit Map" Link: This is brilliant. I don't normally include links, but here. Turning the original map into the original Link works so well, and really appeals to my old-school gamer side. $25

Lord of the Rings Color-Changing Cup: I'm surprised by how much I like this. It's so classy and simple, the glass is heavy, and it's tinted with this cool amber oumbre. Frankly, even if the Elven runes didn't change color (white to red), I'd have wanted this. $15

Lord of the Rings Isengard Art Print: I realize that art prints are actually fairly expensive, but I've never understood why; they're just printed pictures on paper. And I found this one kind of dull and lifeless. Obviously, track down a pic before deciding for yourself, but I'm giving this one away. $0

"Loot Crate Coat of Arms" Pin: Cute, if a bit generic. I get where they were going with the "all-pewter" design, but it makes it very hard to see any details. $1

DLC: A skin for the video game Gigantic and an issue of the "Ladycastle" comic. The former isn't useful for me and the latter just wasn't good at all, though at least I now know not to waste my time on the series. $0

The Box: Cardboard Shield: Has a shield you can punch out and decorate yourself. Really basic, but might be fun for kids if I had any. $0

Total Value: $51 (255%)

Sat, Aug. 19th, 2017, 06:47 pm
After the End (Dragon House Campaign)

Precis - Setting info for a new After the End campaign. A world ravaged by cosmic rays, disease, and aliens, oh no!

(Setting info for a new After the End campaign -- a world ravaged by cosmic rays, disease, and aliens! And yes, the aliens here are stolen from the Traveller RPG, though heavily adapted to fit the needs of this setting.)


  • Dallas Briggs: Hulk/Melee Specialist + Hardy (Nick)

  • Edward Calloway: Tech/Inventor + Experienced (Wayon)

  • Karylee Riley: Doc/Medic + Blessed (Rabbit)

  • Lydia Thompson: Scavenger/Looter + Tech/Repairman (Amanda)

  • Michael Hollister: Trooper/Soldier + Trader/Sweet-Talker (Josh)

  • Zoie Elisa Benson: Hunter/Survivor + Learned (Lynne)

Setting

Hazards: Mutants (Cosmic Rays). Disease (Mega-Virus). Aliens; Gangs, though few in number and hated; Paramilitaries (X-Factor).

Primary Cause: Cosmic Rays

A pulsar from a distant galaxy hit Earth. It wiped out all radio/wi-fi and fried most computers and complex electronics. It mutated prions (below) along with the DNA of complex life, though effects of the latter would take a generation to appear. It irradiated certain minerals in specific situations (e.g., under high pressure against a trapped pocket of water) to produce muonic compounds (where an electron in one of the compound’s elements has been replaced by a muon).

Secondary Effect: Mega-Virus

The pulsar radiation mutated prions so that they could survive as microscopic airborne “spores,” which could be inhaled by new subjects. This allowed a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases to spread as quickly as viruses, inflicting everything from Fatal Familial Insomnia to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease on a large portion of the populace. These specific diseases are no longer an issue (everyone alive today descended from an immune survivor), but weaker, mutated strains are.

Secondary Effect: X-Factor

Because muonic compounds are used in ultra-tech “hyperfusion” reactors, a few alien groups have made a living “chasing” pulsars so they can mine these compounds. As a useful side effect, they can often find additional resources and/or make new scientific discoveries from the indigenous flora and fauna. At least three alien species are known to currently inhabit Earth: the K’kree (“Centaurs”), warmongering six-limbed bovines who detest any race that, like humanity, kills other beings for food; the Fteirle (“Aslan”), humanoids who vaguely resemble lions and seem to have a wide range of motivations; and the Droyne (“Chirpers”), small, winged, humanoid lizards who tend to keep to themselves and exhibit hive-mind traits. (All three have variant DNA and are thus immune to Earth diseases.) In addition to these aliens, the Vargr (“Canids”) have become a presence on Earth; these are semi-upright, barely sapient, mutated wolves whose evolution was almost certainly accelerated via alien interference, though it is unknown which alien species is responsible.

Technology and Timing

The End came at some point in the mid-21st century (early TL9). That was about three generations ago. The aliens have demonstrated TL10^ tech, with the occasional experimental TL11^ gizmo. Most of their gear is designed to self-destruct if used by a member of any other species (or, in some cases, anyone who isn’t an authorized user). Some hardened computers survived, and new computers have been created, but they’re rare outside of alien enclaves.

Campaign Scope

The PCs are based in Drumlin, a walled settlement of about 800 people in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. (Its specific location is unspecified, to avoid becoming slaves to Google Maps.) The mayor, Carmella Hahn, manages to keep the populace in line through a combination of charm, good sense, and strict laws. The Drumlin militia, headed by Captain Jerome Flannery, help to keep the town safe.

Sat, Aug. 12th, 2017, 09:45 pm
Rifts 8/12/17

(I'm posting this summary for a player who missed the game. Sorry about the lack of context for anyone else reading it!)

Xavier had gotten a good look at the 1st and 3rd floors, and a quick glance at the heavily guarded 2nd floor. Given his recommendation, along with Lee who found an air-vehicle hangar on the roof, the team decided to enter from the top. Rugby headed out of town to provide a long-range "shell the ziggurat" distraction if they were made. Akira cast True Invisibility and Exalted Conceal Arcana on everyone in the group (for -6 to further Spellcasting rolls!) and amazingly, they were able to fly in on Tiamat without being detected and land (poorly) on the roof.

Xaver opened the hangar roof and Lee took out the guard within. They found a TK Flyer (a mid-sized ornithopter TW vehicle), a closet full of parts (which they loaded into the flyer, with plans to steal it), and a cool astronomical observatory room that Lee rigged to blow up. They headed down to the 2nd floor and were taken aback by the number of guards there, so Ellie teleported everyone directly into what they thought was the main experiment room. It was, but the room also had magic-analyzing runes that alerted the four occupants -- Sir Aloysius Velde, another mystic knight, and two necromancers -- to the teleportation, and they used Exalted Detect Arcana to see the party. A fight ensued in which the party won, using relatively quiet attacks, so while Tiamat held the door, Lee (who'd recorded Sir Velde's voice) was able to impersonate Velde enough to keep the outer guards from entering.

The group looted the bodies and also found a Lightning Rod and Iceblast Shotgun in a supply closet. Then Akira and Xavier double-teamed the arcane lock and got into the deeper ritual room, which had one guard (knocked out by Ellie), a few vampires strapped to upright tables, a bunch of alchemical reagents, and a TW computer mainframe. Akira and Xavier double-teamed the computer to get key info, including how the ritual worked (short version: dose vamp with alchemy, necromancer channels PPE for a ritual, mystic knight rechannels the PPE into the vamp, both now have partial control over the vamp . . . in theory), and that at best they've been able to hold control for a few days, but not reliably.

The team strapped a bag of key reagents to Tiamat, rigged the rest to blow up, and teleported first to the library (where they stole a bunch of books, and Lee rigged yet another grenade to blow) and then to the hangar to steal the TK Flyer (and, yes, rig another freaking grenade trap). With some psychic and magical help from Tiamat, Xavier was able to fly out without attracting attention, and amazingly Akira had kept up both True Invisibility and Exalted Conceal Arcana the entire time, which let the group get away and rendezvous with Rugby.

Fri, Jul. 21st, 2017, 01:33 pm
Loot Crate Review: 2017 July

I'm reviewing (in brief) each month's Lootcrate (standard), so I have something I can point friends to when they're curious about whether to sign up. For the record, I'm also a member of Lootcrate Socks, which I think is an absolute must-have for any geeky sock fanatic; I've never felt like I didn't get my full money's worth there, so I'm not going to review them (consider them to consistently score B+ to A+).

Basically each review is going to state what value I feel that I, personally, got out of the box, compared to the $20 cost of it. The dollar amounts are not MSRP, but instead what I'd have been willing to pay for such a thing (or the value I expect to get when I trade it in).

Loot Crate: July 2017

TMNT Van Classic T-Shirt: Retro and simple in a good way, and I like that the dark-green color both fits the concept and is an uncommon T-shirt color; I have too many black shirts and white shirts already. $20

Bob's Burger of the Day: A box set of recipe cards from the show? Oh hell yes, sign me up! As both a foodie and fan of the show, I rate this very highly; if you're neither, knock it down a few pegs. $15

Futurama "Slurm" Coozies: Does anyone actually use coozies? They seem to exist as just a promotional item. As coozies go, these are cute, though. $2

Rick Sanchez "Peace Among Worlds" Figure: Okay, a custom fig of Rick giving the double-bird is hilarious. I'm only a mild fan of the show; if you're a superfan, you're probably willing to murder for this. $10

Gene Burger Suit Pin + DLC: Like I said, huge fan of Bob's Burgers, so I would've actually bought this pin. I'll actually use the DLC (bonus items for Animation Throwdown), as that game is a decent timewaster, but I wouldn't have paid for it. $3

The Box: Bob's Burger Board Display: As with most LC boxes, this makes a great gift box, but it has a double-use as a (pre-scored) display for the Burger of the Day recipe cards, for when you're cooking with them. Great idea! $3

Total Value: $53 (265%)

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