RPG Stuff

End of May report

Oops! It’s already June 1st. My GURPS/Fate game was pushed back from Saturday to Sunday this weekend, so I ended up forgetting to write this post yesterday.

Of course, there are other things going on right now. Like, a lot. And I’m tired of people acting like this is a political issue too. You know what I’m talking about. Justice for George Floyd. Police brutality, racism, and murder are not political issues. And, if they are for someone, then that person’s politics are tainted. I feel fairly confident in saying that. I’ve also seen some of what’s going in first-hand in Columbus. It’s been really strange for me, coming from a smaller town. Big city protests are so different. Anyway, here’s a reminder that these things are not binary: I support the protesters and their message 110%; I have seen continuing police brutality during these protests about police brutality; I understand the rioting because people are frustrated that their voices aren’t being heard, so this is how they yell; and I think most of the looters are opportunistic idiots. I feel that so much nuance is being lost in the way that the internet (and people parroting the internet) talk about things. It’s rather unfortunate. Also, on that last part of my stance, I’ve heard what I believe to be a false equivalency about ‘a few bad cops’ giving all cops a bad name and ‘a few bad rioters’ giving all protesters a bad name. It’s not equal in my eyes. Law enforcement is an institution, they are expected to uphold the law (and should be held to higher standards), and they are expected to keep each other in line. Protesters are a sea of individuals with a largely common message, but they are not an institution in themselves.

I don’t even know how to transition after saying all of that. As I said in my fourth life update, my arm is just about back to its old self, and I am in physical therapy for pelvic floor dysfunction. A lot of other small things have happened (like getting my keyboard), but the details are in that post, so I’ll move on to my progress over the month. Well, first, let me say that, even though May was such a weak month in terms of blog content, it’s not a bad thing right now. This time, it’s a good sign. In spite of the craziness going on in the world, I’ve been enjoying my life as much as I can, and I have finally found my GMing spirit. As the honeymoon phase starts to die down (and I settle into things again), I’ll be talking way more about what’s going on right here on my blog.

Conlang stuff report

I took a look at how I want to handle adverbs and prepositions. I only worked on my conlang for a couple days this month. Right now, I’m actually waiting for Globasa to firm up a little more, so I can steal borrow some more ideas. I am trying a more cautious approach rather than just jumping into things only to radically change things again a short while later. Right now, I’m happy with that approach, but we’ll see if the conlang bug bites again.

RPG stuff report

I’ve dumped using Fate Condensed on its own, and I have integrated the Fate framework into GURPS. Aspects are actually a really handy way to cover my ass for rules that I can’t remember or that would take too much time to look up. Really, it just helps me drive GURPS in a narrative manner, which is really nice because I love GURPS and its complexity, but it can bog me down a lot, which is a me thing. Some people can just gloss over rules or make things up on the fly, and I can too, but I always feel guilty for doing that, and I feel a lack of structure when I do things like that. My integrated system gives me the structure by using Fate‘s narrative framework—as I said. It’s not perfect, but I’ve cobbled together 6+ pages of rules, and I hope that I can eventually share them in some form without having to worry about infringing on any properties. (With the power of logarithms, I’ve even finally been able to incorporate “Knowing Your Own Strength” and “Conditional Injury”, but more on that later too!)

Hand in hand with finally having a solid system (for me, personally, of course), I am finally running a really solid setting: Deadlands. I absolutely love Weird West stuff. It’s one of my favorite genres right now, up there with New Old West. I have the third edition GURPS Classic: Deadlands book for a nice and easily convertible reference point, but there are so many great adventures for Deadlands Reloaded, and I have had a blast converting and running those. It has taken away a lot of the burden of being the (forever) GM, but, even more importantly, because it has done that, it’s given me a lot more space to actually be creative. If I don’t have to worry about setting up the quest, the location, and most of the characters, I can dedicate a bunch of my prep time to creating cool things on the side. Spoiler alert to my players, but, yes, I plan on having a Weird West version of Metroid’s own Samus Aran appear.

Have I forsaken Norðlond? Oh, no. No. Absolutely not. If the Native Americans in Deadlands are trying to get back to the Old Ways, then who says that’s not happening in other (perhaps colder) parts of the world? Norðlond is definitely up next after I take off my Deadlands training wheels. I’ve mentioned my own campaign world that I’ve called GURPS Project Sirocco, which was going to squeeze in Norðlond as part of that, but, as I said, it may just become part of Deadlands now. We’ll have to wait and see! Really, it would make sense either way as both approaches give Norðlond a (semi-)post-apocalyptic magic-comes-back kind of scenario.

Writing stuff report

I didn’t work on my story at all, unfortunately. All of the story-building parts of my brain have been hard at work on tabletop RPG stuff. Next month, however, is another Camp NaNo, and I plan on participating. I’ve got some ideas stewing in the back of my brain, though!

End of April report

COVID-19 is still here, but my new mechanical keyboard isn’t. What a way to start this report! Truly, I feel so grateful to be safe and healthy, but I have grown ever more frustrated and weary with the world, especially my country and the people within it. Don’t worry. I won’t get too political—well, not yet, at least. However, I think I can fairly argue that one person’s freedoms and rights end where another person’s freedoms and rights begin. My expectation to not get sick can be greater than another person’s freedom to not wear a mask. It’s not tyranny. My expectation of safety on the road is more important than another person’s freedom to go 20 over or another person’s freedom to drive while intoxicated. Furthermore, it goes beyond that too. A law requires a person to wear a seatbelt while driving, but that doesn’t affect other persons (very often, that is). Yet, that’s not tyranny either. A person has the right to be dumb and reckless. A person has the right to say racist things. However, actions also have consequences. I was so frustrated about protesters that I even made two whole tweets on an otherwise empty Twitter account.

I have good news too. My arms has been feeling much better after slowly starting to work it out at home more. My symptoms from my infection still come and go, though, which is a real bummer, but it’s never as bad as it used to be. I have another appointment in a couple of weeks to see what can be done. I finally started playing tabletop RPGs again, which is so nice. I’ve been keeping up with therapy, and I even get to virtually meet with my old Al-Anon group from Bloomington. I’ve also been writing a lot. Anyway, where’s my damn keyboard?

Conlang stuff report

Oops. I have barely half an entry in my project document for this month, which I wrote yesterday, and the previous entry is from March 9th. It’s actually been nice to take a break. My next step is to really focus on function words again. I want to make sure I have a robust set before I start adding a bunch of content words. I also think I need to renew my Language Creation Society membership, so there’s another oops. As I spend less energy on writing and gearing up to start playing tabletop RPGs again, I expect to have much more energy for conlanging. It’s really nice to be able to switch between a few really core hobbies.

RPG stuff report

Well, I created a flexible powers/magic system for GURPS called Modular Powers that I ended up reworking into my Wildcard Power Pool system. I’m still having some internal conflict about game design, but that’s really only because I’m trying to bridge GURPS and…

Fate. Yes, I’ve jump-started my tabletop RPG hobby with Fate. It’s a generic and modular system like GURPS, but it puts the narrative first. It’s also not as exceptionally detailed. However, the positive way to put that is that it’s very streamlined. Of course, the first thing I did was hack in a logarithmic system for damage. It actually works very well. It’s not a crazy assumption to say that Fate could work on a +6 = ×10 scale. (I don’t know math. Please be gentle.) That allowed me to squeeze in some ideas from Knowing Your Own Strength and Conditional Injury, and, because it establishes that bridge, it allows me to convert between damage in GURPS to damage in my Fate system along with being able to say how many characters points a stunt or a skill level is worth in Fate (which seems to be ~16.67 points). It’s easier to start small again. It’s easier to take off the pressure of wanting to be perfect at GURPS because I love it so much.

Also, I virtually attended FnordCon. Here are my highlights:

  • Kromm said that coronavirus is not related to 5G, and I’m pretty sure he works for the Illuminati, so I think he would know. Conspiracy de-confirmed.
  • Kromm also said that he really likes Fate, so I feel like I have his indirect blessing.
  • They talked about doing a Space Opera line like DFRPG.
  • Douglas Cole mentioned doing some Secret Wars Mission X stuff after Norðlond. He mentioned it being inspired by X-Com games, so that’s interesting. Not my typical cup of tea, but I usually drink coffee anyway, so I’m happy to try new things and support his stuff.
  • In response to a question about what gives GURPS players the most grief, Kromm said something along the lines of when people ask a question on the forums only to receive 600 replies but zero actual answers. I can confirm.
  • Steve Jackson was asked about ways to make GURPS more narrative-first, but he said that GURPS isn’t really the best fit for that. He basically said that, if you want to play Powered by the Apocalypse, then play Powered by the Apocalypse. Though, Douglas Cole added that it is still very possible to sand off all the splinters (paraphrasing his actual words) to make GURPS a bit faster, lighter, and narrative-forward if not first.
  • I also was allowed to record Steve Jackson telling my best friend’s dad to clean up his house, which is the highlight of highlights.

Now that I really think about it, I guess I should’ve made a post-FnordCon post, but oh well! This is good enough for me.

Writing stuff report

I participated in the April Camp NaNo, I set my goal for 10,000 words in a month, and I hit my goal on April 20th. So, yeah, I’m pretty content with that. I worked on a continuation of the story I wrote last November, and it’s still coming along quite nicely. This is a small report for what was a good amount of story, but I think I’ll talk more about it when the first draft is actually finished.

Wildcard Power Pool: a revised take on my Modular Powers system for GURPS

Two weeks ago, I posted about Modular Powers, which is a system for flexible magic/powers that I worked out for GURPS. Since then, I’ve received a good amount of feedback, and I think I can just go ahead and simplify the system even further while giving it a more appropriate name.

Wildcard Power Pool is 2 points/level. This must be taken in conjunction with a base ability, and the level of the Wildcard Power Pool cannot exceed the point cost of the base ability. The base ability can be a raw advantage or it can be a modified power, but, if the base ability has a Power Modifier, the Wildcard Power Pool abilities must have the same Power Modifier. To use the Wildcard Power Pool, choose any other ability whose cost, after all enhancements and limitations, is not greater than the level of the Wildcard Power Pool. Only one of the base ability or the Wildcard Power Pool ability can be used at a time, and switching between the base ability and the Wildcard Power Pool ability or between Wildcard Power Pool abilities can be done at the start of one’s turn as a free action. To use multiple abilities at once, one can buy multiple Wildcard Power Pools.

Wildcard Power Pool can only be modified by the Limited Scope limitation (and I prefer the version from Ritual Path Specialists from Pyramid #3/66: The Laws of Magic as a basis)—e.g., Limited Scope, Abilities related to Druidic magic, -20%; Limited Scope, Abilities that create or control fire, -50%.

Furthermore, the base ability may be changed as part of advancement. As long as the level of Wildcard Power Pool is equal to the cost of the base ability, the points in the base ability may be spent to purchase a more expensive base ability. Optionally, if the level of the Wildcard Power Pool is less than the cost of the base ability, the difference between the cost and the level is the temporary cost of the previous base ability until the level of the Wildcard Power Pool is equal to the cost of the previous base ability. For example, if Zambazor has Flight [40] and Wildcard Power Pool 30 [60], but he wants to upgrade to a more expensive base ability, he must also pay 10 points (the difference between the 40 points in Flight and the 30 levels of Wildcard Power Pool) to keep Flight as part of his pool of available abilities. If Zambazor takes a higher level of Wildcard Power Pool, the original cost of Flight should be lowered in the same way.

Design Notes

Obviously, I started with Modular Powers. I turned the base Modular Abilities into Modular Abilities (Slotted Cosmic Powers; Physical, +100%; Reduced Time, +20%; and Trait-Limited, Alternative Abilities, -20%) for 14 points for the base cost, + 10 points/level. It’s important to keep Reduced Time for instant configuration because you already have to spend a moment switching between powers anyway. It also makes the cost a bit smoother, which is nice. If you have Flight [40] and you can take Alternative Abilities up to 8 points, then you need Modular Powers 8 [94]—remember that 14 points of that is from the base cost, so the remainder is 80 points.

If you turn Wildcard Powers from GURPS Supers into a Wildcard Power Pool that costs 2 points/level, it comes out to about the same price without the base cost. If you have Flight [40], you need Wildcard Power Pool 40 [80].

At that point, I can just say that the Wildcard Power Pool requires an Unusual Background (that I would personally make equal to an extra level of power Talent for the character) to make it cost the same as Modular Abilities. Or, of course, I could just drop the extra cost. If you want to require the Unusual Background, go ahead!

This works better. Instead of using a simple ability to justify a complicated one, it seems much easier to use a complicated ability to justify a simple one. There’s no need for base costs or extra modifiers or even a new power Talent, but the math is all the same!

Modular Powers: a new flexible powers/magic system for GURPS

Modular Powers is 20 points for Modular Powers 1, + 10 points/level. This advantage holds points of Alternative Abilities for a main ability bought at its full cost. For example, if you have Flight [40] as your main ability, an Alternative Ability would cost up to 8 points. So, Modular Powers 8 [90] would cover the cost of any Alternative Ability to Flight.

Modular Power Talent is 10 points/level. This is the power Talent for Modular Powers. Modular Power Talent adds to every roll made to use the main ability or any of its Alternative Abilities or to use any of those abilities well.

Modular Powers and Modular Power Talent can both be modified for Limited Scope and the Cosmic Power Modifier, but only Modular Powers can be modified for Power Modifiers other than Cosmic. For Limited Scope, you could use the version of the limitation on Sorcery or I would personally recommend using the version from Ritual Path Specialists from Pyramid #3/66: The Laws of Magic as a basis as it is much more nuanced (though, I would only allow it down to a certain level or you’re just better off buying a non-flexible set of powers). The unmodified scope is enough to cover anything the GM agrees could be used as a power in the setting. For example, an Alternative Ability to Flight in the above example would not be limited to abilities related to Flight. Instead, Flight could be thought of as a defining ability for that character out of a pool of any possible power. (In fact, now that I think about it as I’m typing this, I’d probably allow a +1 to that one ability for free or at least have that as an option for a perk—call it Signature Power.) If the abilities should only relate to Flight, then something like Limited Scope, Only for abilities directly related to flying (-50%) should be applied to Modular Powers and Modular Power Talent.

Furthermore, the main ability can change as part of advancement. As long as you have enough levels of Modular Powers to cover the cost of your old main ability as an Alternative Ability, you can put those points toward the cost of the new main ability. For example, if you have Modular Powers 8 [90] and Flight [40], you can reallocate all 40 points for Flight to your new main ability because you are able to cover its cost as an Alternative Ability. If you do not have enough levels of Modular Powers, you may only reallocate the points that can be covered by your level of Modular Powers, but you may still use the old main ability as an Alternative Ability. For example, if you only had Modular Powers 4 [50], you would only be able to reallocate 20 points of Flight as you can only cover 20 points as an Alternative Ability, but you may continue to use Flight.

Optionally, for simplicity, you could drop the idea of a main ability altogether and add Modular Power Pool at 5 points/level while requiring characters to have the same level of Modular Powers and Modular Power Pool at the same level. The only reason I didn’t bake the cost of Modular Power Pool into the cost of Modular Powers for this option is because Modular Power Pool shouldn’t take any modifiers as it’s really just a nameless main ability.

I would use this system as flexibly as one would use Wildcard Powers from GURPS Supers. For the above example using Flight, I would be willing, as the GM, to guesstimate what feels like a 40-point ability rather than calculate new abilities during the game. This kind of flexibility is the very reason I sought to create a powers/magic system like this one.

And that’s it. It seems simple, but it took me a lot of tinkering to get all the way back around to what amounts to an alternate version of the system from GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery.

Design Notes

GURPS Thaumatology introduced me to the idea of ‘magic as powers’ or ‘powers as magic’, which is a nickname for an advantage-based power system. Since I first discovered this idea, I have always preferred powers and magic as powers to the system laid out in GURPS Magic because it made it easier for me to easily create new spells, which is something I really wanted. As I discovered other flexible narrative-focused RPGs like FATE, I wanted to bring that flexibility to GURPS. As a GM, I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time creating spell after spell, I wanted to be able to say, yeah, that sounds like it’s worth about 50 points and you have the ability to cast 50-point spells, so it works. Well, that brought me to Wildcard Powers in GURPS Supers as well as Using Abilities at Default in GURPS Powers. (It was also heavily inspired by the flavor of GURPS Powers: Divine Favor, which allows a character with Divine Favor to call upon their deity for a prayer/power, but that works in quite a different way.) The idea of Using Abilities at Default and improvisation became a core part of the magic as powers system of GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery, which I really loved. Still, that flexibility still paled in comparison to what I could do in FATE and what Wildcard Powers allowed.

My first thought was to create a flexible magic system that allowed one to use an ability at default based on the power Talent itself. Of course, there was already a thread about that very idea. Feelings were mixed, and it didn’t end up feeling like the solution I wanted.

So, I started thinking about Wildcard Powers again. I realized an inherent issue (from my perspective) of Wildcard Powers (and, by extension, Using Abilities at Default), which was that Flight! [160] would be way less flexible than Control Time! 1 [160]; for example, I could get Flight out Control Time! 1 but not Control Time 1 out of Flight!. So, I started a thread about it, and it came down to the idea of Wildcard Powers not being very realistic for a reason—I mean, Superman was able to fly fast enough to turn back time; so, Flight! [160] should be way more flexible than I am giving it credit for. That’s an extremely fair point. Though, I later realized that the flexibility is probably more related to the power Talent than the ability itself. I’d find it easier to justify a more flexible scope for Flight! [160] if I had the Kryptonian Talent versus just a plain-old Flight Talent.

Well, Christopher Rice has a blog post (Call of the Wild) about assigning different multipliers to Wildcard Skills based on their breadth, so I figured I could do the same to Wildcard Powers. It’s also important to note that the base multiplier for Wildcard Powers is ×4 instead of the base ×3 for Wildcard Skills because Wildcard Powers allow/require one to use the base power while using the improvised power. (I was starting to come up with a very similar system to the one found in this thread.) So, I tried to figure out how to tie the cost/breadth of the power Talent to the multiplier for Wildcard Powers.

But I was already hatching a different idea. A Modular Ability is expensive because it can hold a certain number of flexible points. What if I extended that to include Alternative Abilities? So, if I have Example Spell [10] and Sorcery 2 [30] and paid full-price for both, could I just use my Sorcery 2 to improvise any 10-point spell as a 2-point Alternative Ability? That seemed like it would probably be very broken, but the math lines up with Wildcard Powers. Example Spell [10] plus Sorcery 2 [20] (ignore that I took out Sorcery 0 [10] for now), is 30 points, which is the cost of Example Spell ×3, which is the base multiplier for Wildcards. Of course, Wildcard Powers uses ×4, but, again, that allows/requires the use of the base power with the improvised power. Now, that pesky Sorcery 0 [10] was starting to look like power Talent 0 because the base cost of a Modular Ability reflects the breadth of abilities that it covers, and I had already devised that the breadth of the power Talent should theoretically determine the breadth of Wildcard Powers or Using Abilities at Default. This pretty much lined up with Modular Abilities (Cosmic Slotted Power), which has a base cost of 7 points. To make it equivalent to Sorcery, I modified it by Limited, Advantages Only (-10%), Physical (+100%), and Reduced Time 1 (+20%) turns it into 14.7 points, which rounds up to 15 points, which just so happens to be the cost of Cosmic Talent. Coincidence? Probably I think not! Sticking Magical (-10%) back in there turns it into 14 points, which is still close, but I wanted to leave out a Power Modifier for the base build.

So, I called it Modular Powers and Modular Power Talent.

Modular Powers is 10 + 10/level points just like Sorcery, and I would be more than fine with someone buying Modular Powers 0.

Modular Power Talent is 10 points/level. It can also be modified for Limited Scope, but it is not modified for Power Modifier unless it is the Cosmic Power Modifier (which explains why Cosmic Power Talent is 15 points/level).

I could have gone either way with Limited Scope on the Modular Powers advantage itself. Modular Abilities don’t tend to get a big reduction for Limited Scope, but Sorcery sets a weird precedent. If I didn’t want the Modular Abilities portion to get limited or enhanced (except for by relevant Power Modifiers), I would turn Modular Powers 0 into Modular Power Talent 0 because that zeroth level should be modified as the base cost of Modular Abilities is dependent on scope.

Even if it’s not perfect or RAW or whatever, all new rules start somewhere, and I think the math ended up being quite fair. Really, I just recreated Sorcery with some extra rules and flavor—you can apply the same idea to Sorcery as I did above.

End of March report

Well, COVID-19 is here, and it looks like it’s going to be staying a while. My arm is actually still recovering, but it’s definitely feeling better. As I’ve done more stretching, the symptoms from my infection have also started to go away, which is nice. There’s a new loveseat in the living room, I have a new mechanical keyboard on the way, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a fantastic way to pass the time while trying to shrug off politics- and pandemic-related dread.

Conlang stuff report

I created a way to say hello, reworked the monosyllabic roots, reworked the numerals, and talked about my process for creating disyllabic roots for the greyfolk language I’m working on. Oh, and I took a deeper look at natural semantic metalanguage. That’s about it. Everything is in place, and, when I’m ready, I can start deriving a bunch more words.

RPG stuff report

I figured out some more math for the flexible magic system I was creating for GURPS, which I only briefly touched on in my last end of the month report. More on that to come too. Also, I just about figured out how to finally resolve Conditional Injury with Knowing Your Own Strength (as I have attempted previously). And, when I say that I figured it out, I mean that I asked for someone to help me figure it out. I’ll make a post about that soon too, I hope.

Oh, right, and I posted seven reviews of DFRPG products in a single day.

Writing stuff report

April is the first month of Camp NaNo, and I’ll be revisiting (I already have) the story that I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2019. I finally went to start working on it again the other day, and I actually just happened to notice that Camp NaNo was to start in a couple of days, so I guess I’m doing it.

Quick Review(s) of The Dragons of Rosgarth, Forest’s End, Norðlondr Fólk, and Hand of Asgard from Gaming Ballistic for the DFRPG

The Dragons of Rosgarth, Forest’s End, Norðlondr Fólk, and Hand of Asgard are all part of the Norðlond Sagas (Kickstarter) for the DFRPG, which is coming out right about now. Also, I should specify that Hand of Asgard is an extra, but, of course, I had to pick it up. I’m reviewing these books at the same time because they were all part of the same Kickstarter, so it seems fitting to me. First of all, let me just go ahead and say that Douglas Cole has done it again. These are all fantastic products, the art and the maps are as great as ever, and I am super happy to have backed them, and I anticipate that I’d back anything he created for the DFRPG, which is good because he’s working on a bestiary next.

The Dragons of Rosgarth is another great micro-setting and adventure that’s part of the larger Norðlond setting that I love so much. More worldbuilding, more festivals, more information about climate and weather—that’s the stuff I live for. Then, there are detailed factions, which are unique and well-written. But I’m still happiest about all of the dinosaurs in the bestiary. A great book, a neat adventure in a wonderful setting, and I can’t wait to run it.

Forest’s End is another-another great micro-setting and adventure. Of course, I love all of the history, the information about population, a very detailed underworld, and even some stuff about taxes. Yes, Douglas Cole makes taxes fun and interesting. You can quote me on that. There’s a wealth of information on resources, points of interest, services (like magical healing), and festivals and holidays. And it doesn’t stop there. It fleshes out more of how the setting approaches dragons and druids and faerie, all of which are ever so prevalent in Norðlond. A big chunk of the bestiary goes to dragonkin, which is also fun.

Of course, it tickles me that The Dragons of Rosgarth has a lot of dinosaurs while Forest’s End has a lot of dragonkin. No problem with that—it’s just funny.

Norðlondr Fólk is my kind of book. It’s a short supplement that details the races of the Norðlond setting, and a lot of the pages are spent on fitting in the base races in the DFRPG while also providing some welcome norse-themed versions of those races. Sick of how all fantasy dwarves have big bushy beards? Then take a look at the dvergr for hairless dwarves that resemble stone. Of course, I also have a special place for the hrafnar (raven-folk) because they remind me of the kenku in D&D, which is the race that my youngest sister chose when I forced my younger sisters to play D&D with me way back when.

Hand of Asgard is even more my kind of book because it’s a short supplement that deals with the faith, religion, and surrounding culture of the Norðlond setting while providing some really cool abilities for clerics and holy warriors. My review is short, but this book is absolutely packed with great stuff. Plus, you get stats for valkyries at the end.

Many thanks to Douglas Cole (The Dragons of Rosgarth), Kevin Smyth (Norðlondr Fólk and Hand of Asgard), Merlin Avery (Forest’s End), and Kyle Norton (The Dragons of Rosgarth) for bringing these truly incredible books to life.

Other Quick Reviews:

Quick Review of Dungeon Fantasy Companion 2 from Steve Jackson Games for the DFRPG

The Dungeon Fantasy Companion 2 (Kickstarter) for the DFRPG was released not too long ago this year, so I’m finally catching up. It was a ‘Quickstarter’ with no stretch goals, so the turnaround was really quick for this book. I like stretch goals, but it made sense for them to be absent from this book because this book was made up of stretch goals past that were never met. That’s neat in itself. I’d love to see this trend continue; i.e., book with stretch goals, book with stretch goals, book with no stretch goals that includes stuff from previous stretch goals that were missed. I don’t know if it’s because of that or if it’s just coincidence, but this book is my favorite DFRPG supplement that isn’t written by Douglas Cole. It has some magical items (with ways to introduce them), a handful of new monsters (with adventure seeds), and some enemy PCs. That’s great on its own, but it also includes so many new rule tidbits. In the magical items section, there’s stuff like wood as a new armor material (under the Oudou). In the monsters section, there’s stuff like a playable centaur race for PCs (under the Centaur, obviously). But the villains section? That’s where this shines. Each villain is awesome in their own right and comes with an adventure seed, but every single villain comes with a rules tidbit from new racial templates to new abilities for professions to new spells to use. If that isn’t great design, I don’t know what is. Plus, what better way to introduce new abilities and new spells than to have a villain use them first? So, yes, get this book. And, if you haven’t already gotten into the DFRPG, do yourself a favor and get on that right now.

Other Quick Reviews:

Quick Review of Dungeon Fantasy Magic Items 2 from Steve Jackson Games for the DFRPG

Dungeon Fantasy Magic Items 2 (Kickstarter) for the DFRPG came out at the end of 2019, so I’m not too far behind on this review. This review will likely be the shortest because I don’t usually deal my players a lot of magic items like these, but these are really cool and I love anything DFRPG, which is exactly why I backed the Kickstarter campaign. Really, though, the items in the book are really cool and quite memorable, and each item has a paragraph or so about how to introduce the item to the game—e.g., for the Darkrazor, which is a magical straight razor, the book explains that it’s likely to be wielded by an enemy in town than actually found as loot. Neat! Of course, it says much more than that, but that’s just a short example of the greatness within this book. Plus, as always, you can come for the items and stay for the extra little bits of rules. For example, for the Skull of the Cyclops, there’s a box that introduces a rule for a new armor material: bone. I love this kind of stuff, and this is an area where GURPS (and, thus, the DFRPG) really excels. If you want something really fun (and that’s saying something since I’m not a big fan of the standard magic system), check out the new (to DFRPG) spell named Evisceration that gets a box under the Wand of Tentacular Intrustion. Need I say more? It’s a great supplement to a great game!

Other Quick Reviews:

Quick Review of Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 from Steve Jackson Games for the DFRPG

Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 (Kickstarter) for the DFRPG came out in 2019, which makes me a little late to the party, but the… party better not be late… if they want to defeat this monsters? That wasn’t really that good. But this book is! Take the original Dungeon Fantasy Monsters book, add more classics and more original monsters, include more and better art, and then give adventure seeds to every monster. What do you get? A huge success. That’s what this book is. Yes, the deep beyonder is basically an aboleth and the forgeling is basically an azer, and I absolutely love that. I love the twists and interpretations of classic monsters (be it actually like like a chimera or ‘D&D classic’ like the aboleth), and I love the manaplasm and the fly-dragon. What’s not to love? Every monster in here is usable, and, again, the book just hands you adventure seeds (and I believe there are always multiple per monster) to help you fit them in. Okay, I’m in love with the adventure seeds. As I am the forever GM of my group, the adventure seeds are where it’s at, especially because I like to do a monster-of-the-week kind of deal, so the adventure seeds are crucial in saving me prep time. Or, if we just want to keep going, it’s easy to plop down any one of these monsters.

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Quick Review of The Citadel at Norðvorn from Gaming Ballistic for the DFRPG

The Citadel at Norðvorn (Kickstarter) for the DFRPG came out last year in 2019, so I’m a little late to reviewing that as well. It is a lot like Hall of Judgement with more experience and content behind it, and I really couldn’t have asked for more. My favorite parts were (as they always are) the worldbuilding and the information about said world. Furthermore, it gives examples of villages and gives the GM the tools they need to create more villages. I love a good bestiary. Learning more about history and geography and holidays is a GURPS specialty, and I’m glad to see it represented here. And that’s not to say that Hall of Judgement was barebones—it certainly wasn’t! But The Citadel at Norðvorn does it all and then some. With more polish too! I’m talking in circles a bit, though, but it really deserves the praise. Oh, and the bestiary—that’s another favorite. As it always is. It’s great-sized book of great work (and great art!) that fleshes out what is now one of my favorite RPG settings of all time, so, yeah, it comes heavily recommended.

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