dfrpg

Tabletop RPGs other than GURPS and diving into the OSR scene

What a hefty title! As I type this out, I’m listening to Mörk Borg by GNOLL—that’ll be important a little bit later. As I’ve talked about in at least one of my monthly updates (including last month’s in which I shared a link to a thread about alternatives to GURPS), I’ve been experiencing GM fatigue, burnout, whatever you want to call it; but I also think I’ve been experiencing some kind of GURPS fatigue. (Maybe I just need to put more points in HT.) As much as I love the system, I think it might be too much for me—at least, for right now. The way that my group plays (and I tend to GM) is looser and more narrative and more focused on what feels right even though we all so much adore that GURPS is so great at simulation, which is really cool, but it kind of begs me to overthink things a lot. At our core, I think my group is more of a Fate group, but that’s not the right system for us either because it’s too loose and things start to feel very same-y after a while. (And I’m only talking about our experiences, of course.)

So, what do I want? Well, it would be something a lot like Fate (flexible, narrative, player-focused), but it would feel less like a toolkit, it would put a greater emphasis on equipment, it wouldn’t be so narrative-focused that it kind of waves away magic, and it would scale well in size and power level (which is why I thought “Knowing Your Own Strength” from Pyramid #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV was such a good start at this for GURPS). I really enjoy not having HP (which is why I really like “Conditional Injury” from Pyramid #3/120: Alternate GURPS V), classes, and levels.

Well, what else is out there? As I said, I have some experience with Fate, which I really do like. For a party-ish pick-up-y game, I’ve played lots of Everyone Is John, which is also fun, but is obviously not the kind of game I want to play for anything more than a session or two. Of course, there’s always Dungeons & Dragons, and I’ve dabbled in 3.5e, 4e, and 5e. I’m glad I did because it allowed me to find Eberron, but even D&D feels like too much while also feeling restricted. (Again, to me. I’m definitely not saying it is, and your mileage may greatly vary!) I’m not a fan of classes and spell lists, and I really think that there are just better alternatives even if I want that same D&D feeling (without going full Dungeon Fantasy RPG, of course). I also tried out the first edition of Pathfinder way back when, and that gave me similar feelings.

Now, as we’ve recently been playing Deadlands in my group, I know that Savage Worlds exists. As I’ve read over SWADE, it seems like it wants to be what I want: fun, fast, and furious. Better yet, PK has some great house rules and gives the system a nice recommendation: “Despite its quirks, Savage Worlds may be the best universal system when it comes to balancing groups of wildly disparate abilities and power levels.” That really speaks to me, and I even reached out to let PK know that said review convinced me to give it a go. Which I haven’t yet. But I’ll surely get there! Now, Savage Worlds still has a spell list of sorts with its powers, but they’re much more generic and there are guidelines on how to reflavor them, which is great. Plus, there’s a wonderfully-made Eberron conversion for SWADE, which means I can play Eberron without D&D and also without doing the heavy lifting of converting Eberron to a more palatable system (for my particular tastes).

Some other options I’ve found:

  • Numenera and the Cypher system in general seem pretty promising, and I’d definitely like to actually give it a go at some point. Numenera was actually the first tabletop RPG that my partner played—thanks to some random frat party.
  • Call of Cthulhu and the Basic Roleplaying system also seem interesting. If our group was more into horror, it’d probably be a higher priority.
  • Big Eyes Small Mouth and the Tri-Stat dX system, the Hero system, and Mutants and Masterminds are all recommendations I’ve been given, but they feel so close to GURPS that I’d rather play that instead (though, I will say that all three of them handle powers and balance quite a bit better).
  • Powered by the Apocalypse feels like an okay narrative system, but I don’t think we’d like it.
  • Genesys seems really popular for this kind of play style, but I don’t like the funky dice.
  • Cortex Prime also feels promising. It seems like it falls somewhere between Fate and Savage Worlds, which sounds right for us. I’ll definitely be giving this one a try.
  • Blades in the Dark is relatively new (to me, at least) tabletop RPG that I know very little about, but it seems like people on the internet really like it. Industrial fantasy sounds up my group’s alley, so this one has to get a try at some point.
  • Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine is another game that I’ve heard about only recently, and, while our group doesn’t ever really do the whole slice-of-life thing, we all enjoy Studio Ghibli movies, so it seems worth checking out for that feeling.
  • The Fantasy Trip is supposed to be something like GURPS 0e, and it has gained a fair amount of support and popularity since its revival in 2019. So, of course I have to check it out.
  • Everywhen just popped up on my radar, and I’ve seen a lot of reviews talking about it as if it’s the middle ground for other people who have likewise pendulum’d between GURPS and Fate—just based on that alone, it seems like it’d be worth a try.
  • Mörk Borg then showed itself to me. (Really, I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it even though it was just a few days ago. Perhaps it was the will of SHE.) A rules-lite over-the-top doom metal fantasy game that leans into itself while simultaneously not taking itself too seriously that hasn’t been out for long but already has a great community? Fantastic. Now, I’m not usually a fan of d20 systems (as I’m a true believer of the 3d6 bell curve), so that says a lot. Plus, the game is gorgeous. It feels like someone tried to turn in one assignment both to their art and game design class. Now, the art (and the dozen fonts) can detract from the experience of reading it, but it has a handy more-easily-readable guide toward the back of the most important rules. I judged a book by its cover, and it has already paid off.

Let’s leave the bullet point and talk even more about Mörk Borg. (I love the colors, and my site is currently pretty much themed for it.) It’s fun, fast, and furious—so, watch out, Savage Worlds. But what exactly is Mörk Borg? Like, what makes it tick? Where did it come from? Why does something like that even exist? What had I been missing in my GURPS-centric world? It turns out I had been missing a growing community filled with indie tabletop RPGs and zines. Why let Wizards of the Coast or some other big company have all of the fun if indie hobbyists can do it better? A big part of this seems to be OSR, which is Old School Revival (or Renaissance or Roleplaying). I am just a wee baby, so I would rather let Questing Beast explain what OSR is. Now, I guess Mörk Borg isn’t actually “true OSR”, but it is definitely OSR-ish or OSR-adjacent or whatever. (And I guess that would make The Fantasy Trip something like GURPS OSR.) Still, the spirit of OSR tends to capture what I’m looking for, especially those that focus more on narrative and eschew classes (and, yes, I know that Mörk Borg has optional classes, but it also has an optional non-class-based feat system).

So, I stumbled into a whole new facet of my tabletop RPG hobby, and I hope this mania simmers and leaves me with a steady rekindled flame of passion. Especially because I’m going to be running Mörk Borg in about a week and a half.

Some games that I’ve stumbled upon so far (not all OSR or even adjacent):

  • The White Hack (a streamlined and innovative OSR-compatible retroclone)
  • The Black Hack (a more-recent streamlined and innovative OSR-compatible retroclone)
  • Macchiato Monsters (which is like a fusion of The Black Hack and The White Hack, and it is very high on my to-play list)
  • Beyond the Wall
  • The Legend of Zelda: Reclaim the Wild
  • Legend of Zelda RPG (which was made by 4chan, I guess)
  • OSRIC
  • Lamentations of the Flame Princess
  • Maze Rats and also Knave (which are made by the Questing Beast, look amazing, and are very high on my to-play list)
  • Into the Odd and also Electric Bastionland
  • Jump the Shark (another silly one-shot micro-RPG)
  • Over Arms (which is inspired by JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Persona—count me in!)
  • NUMA (which is about frog samurai—count me in!)
  • Pacts and Blades
  • Into the Bronze
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics
  • OSE
  • Prole and also Tunnel Goons
  • Acres Past (the game formerly known as Acres Wild)
  • Night Yeast (a cool zine)
  • Dissident Whispers (a great BLM-supporting anthology)
  • Troika
  • Torchbearer
  • Swords & Wizardry

Really, I can’t vouch for any of these too terribly much, and this list is likely way more helpful for me (to keep track of all of this stuff) than it is for you. Still, there’s some kind of lesson in here about how I’ve been into the tabletop RPG hobby for over a decade and have only just now stumbled across these games thanks to chance and GM burnout. I’m excited to do something different. Well, more than something… There are a lot of games on my list. The good news is that I’ll probably never burn out on a system again. Oh, but—one last thing—I can vouch for Mörk Borg. I ran a quick one-shot duet with my partner, and we agreed very quickly that it feels nice and fun.

End of June report

My best friend gains another year under his belt as do I in a few days time. I’m still dealing with physical therapy for my pelvic floor dysfunction as well as shoulder impingement. It feels like the world is on fire with the continuing protests and another surge of COVID-19. I’ll say it: black lives matter, and everyone should be wearing masks. Politics aside, black lives matter, and everyone should be wearing masks. Personal feelings aside, black lives do matter, and everyone really should be wearing masks. I hope that’s clear. I know the internet allows me to more easily see bad news, but it really does seem like humanity is in short supply of reason and empathy. I’m sure it’s always been that way, but, as I said, it’s just even easier to see on the internet.

Life has felt extra weird and out of my control for the past month—probably even before that, but I’ve really been feeling that way lately. Here’s to hoping for some good things ahead.

Still, I managed to get out quite a few blog posts in a short span of time, even if three of them were about coffee recipes. It makes me happy, and I think that counts for a lot.

Conlang stuff report

My conlang has continued to mostly be on the back burner. I did get some extra bits of inspiration from Toaq and Ceqli. And, when I say “extra bits”, I mean some loglang inspiration that might fundamentally change how a certain part of my conlang works. I’m not turning my current greyfolk language into a loglang, but, like I said, I have some really neat ideas.

Speaking of stealing borrowing ideas for my conlang, Globasa turns 1 on July 26th. I’ll do my best to make a blog post for its birthday, especially because that should mark the worldlang becoming much more stable as it goes into Phase III.

RPG stuff report

My GURPS/Fate Savage Worlds Deadlands mess has continued to go really well, which is nice. I’m planning on adopting even more of the Savage Worlds framework. I don’t think I have the Will to ever leave GURPS behind—I love it too much! But even GURPS likes to sand down its own rough edges to streamline play. Even outside of the post-apocalyptic genre, the Boldly Going Forth chapter of GURPS After the End 2: The New World is great for just that. I’ve already taken it much further by just leaning on Fate‘s aspects for so many things, but I ended up wanting a bit more crunch than what that provides. Savage Worlds, in a lot of ways, seems like a nice middle ground, and I think I can adapt a lot of its ideas to make GURPS better fit the play-style of my group.

Also, another GURPS Kickstarter will be launching soon. If there’s enough money put into the project, we’ll be able to grab 12 PDFs for $3. Not $3 each. I mean $3 for all 12 PDFs—again, assuming that the project reaches a high-enough funding level.

Writing stuff report

Well, I’m supposed to start Camp NaNo tomorrow. It’s gonna happen, but I think I’ll at least be off to a rough start. In April, I got 10,000 words (which was my goal) in only 20 days; so, I’m not too worried about taking some extra warm-up time.

Alternate attributes and skills in GURPS

When GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes came out, I was thrilled. Right now, sitting here and typing out this blog post, I’m still thrilled about its existence. It’s everything someone like me could want! By “someone like me”, I mean someone who tinkers with tabletop RPGs past the point of frustration out of unnecessary perfectionism and perhaps a bit of masochism. I’ve been a follower of the Divine Order of Splitting Per and Will from IQ for a long time.

If you’re feeling particularly devilish, you can even apply this to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. I do, but I also tinker with every single thing I get my hands on.

Alternate attributes

On the forums, Kromm had also mentioned a whole set alternate attributes here and here in a discussion that came out of “The Fifth Attribute” from Pyramid #3/120: Alternate GURPS V, which was about adding an additional attribute to GURPS (called Quintessence) to cover supernatural stuff. Basically, the idea was to split Perception and Will from IQ to make them their own attributes. Then, split IQ into a social intelligence attribute as well as a general intelligence attribute, and split DX into a full-body coordination attribute as well as a manual dexterity attribute. So, you get four physical attributes and four mental attributes, and there’s room for supernatural attributes, but I later decided against them because I still feel that’s better covered by optional stuff like Talents and Energy Reserve. Of course, if one is going to boost Will to an attribute, it makes sense to give it an analogue to Fatigue, which is nicely covered in “Mad as Bones” from Pyramid #3/103: Setbacks. In the article, it’s called Stability, but I like calling it Anxiety. Furthermore, I also use “Conditional Injury” from Pyramid #3/120: Alternate GURPS V with “Knowing Your Own Strength” from from Pyramid #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV as I recently detailed in this post, so I use Vitality instead of HP.

Physical basic attributes:

  • Strength [ST]. ±10 points/level. Almost the same, but it’s logarithmic.
    • Vitality [VT]. ±2 points/level. Replaces HP for use with logarithmic ST.
    • Striking ST, Lifting ST, Arm ST, etc. are all in there, but I don’t really allow them to be bought up from where they are. If I did, Striking ST would probably be ±2 points/level with Lifting ST at ±6 points/level.
    • Basic Lift [BL] is covered too, obviously, but I usually just call it Lift.
  • Agility [AG]. ±10 points/level. Covers Agility and Flexibility from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
  • Dexterity [DX]. ±10 points/level. Covers Fine Motor Ability and hand-focused Coordination from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
  • Health [HT]. ±10 points/level. Almost the same. Covers Athleticism from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
    • Fatigue Points [FP]. ±3 points/level. Unchanged.

Mental basic attributes:

  • Charisma [CH]: ±10 points/level. Covers Creativity, Social Intelligence, and softer Naturalistic Intelligence from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
  • Intelligence [IQ]: ±10 points/level. Covers Knowledge, Logic, Practical Intelligence, Technical Ability, and harder Naturalistic Intelligence from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
  • Perception [PR]: ±10 points/level. Replaces the secondary characteristic. Covers Awareness and eye-focused Coordination from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41). I use PR-based aim rolls in a similar manner to “On Target” from Pyramid #3/77: Combat, and PR rolls work with “Dodge This” from Pyramid #3/57: Gunplay.
  • Will [WL]: ±10 points/level. Replaces the secondary characteristic. Covers Intrapersonal Intelligence from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
    • Anxiety Points [AP]: ±3 points/level. Analogue to FP.

It’s not perfect, and there are better names for these attributes, surely, but I wanted to stick with what was already familiar. Charisma [CH] could be something like Character [CH] (but that’s tricky since characters are called… characters) or Personality [PR] (but that would require me to rename Perception). Intelligence [IQ] could easily be Knowledge [KN], but I wanted to keep it the same.

Secondary attributes:

  • Contacts: ±10 points/level. Works like Resources (below), but it covers social connections like the Contacts advantage. (I’m still ironing out how it works, but it should work similarly to the Contacts skill in the Fate Condensed system.)
  • Resources: ±10 points/level. Works like the Social Standing attribute (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 26).
  • Reflex [REF]: ±30 points/level. Covers Dodge, Block, and Parry. It is not formulated on any of the basic attributes like Basic Speed was.
  • Movement [MOV]: ±5 points/level. Replaces Move. It is not formulated on any of the basic attributes.
  • Size [SIZ]: ±20 points/level. Replaces Size Modifier. Negative points for a higher Size because it comes with so many inherent disadvantages like making you easier to hit, making you need to consume more, and making you spend more money on scaled equipment.

In the GURPS Basic Set, you need 70 points for a +1 to attributes, secondary characteristics, Basic Speed, etc. In the system I have outlined above, you need about 100 points. So, my system is about 50% more expensive; of course, a typical character only seems to have about 50% of their points tucked into their attributes, so this will end up being a +25% increase to template costs.

Alternate skills

I didn’t with attributes. For how I play GURPS, it has way too many skills. I like the condensed skills from Savage Worlds and Fate Condensed. Similarly, GURPS has Talents and wildcard skills, and the Wildcard Skills found in “Pointless Slaying and Looting” from Pyramid #3/72: Alternate Dungeons and “Pointless Monster Hunting” from Pyramid #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV are pretty great treatments of how to cover an entire genre’s worth of skills with wildcard skills. However, wildcard skills are prohibitively expensive—no, skills in general are too expensive! Even if I slightly overstuffed some Talents, it would cost about 225 points for a +1 to all (standard) skills—using wildcard skills would put it at about 228 points for that same +1. With my system, you could instead go for +1 AG [10], +1 DX [10], +1 HT [10], -1 FP [-3], +1 CH [10], +1 IQ [10], +1 PR [10], +1 WL [10], and -1 AP [-3] for 64 points, and that still gives you the benefits of claiming the boost to those attributes themselves. That tells me that skill costs should be half or even a third of what they are to stay somewhat competitive. I went for the drastic third, which would make a wildcard skill equivalent to just a VH skill, and that would make a 15-point Talent a 5-point Talent. (It’s worth it to re-evaluate other advantages like Daredevil and Higher Purpose too).

For a while, I just used the skills from Fate Condensed, but that wasn’t enough after seeing what other people posted in this thread. Someone mentioned “Niches” from GURPS Template Toolkit 1: Characters (p. 35), which is a really solid framework for creating wildcard skills (or just VH skills in my case) to cover every skill. The only changes I made were merging Animals and Plants into Nature while splitting Combat into Melee and Ranged. Oh, and I renamed several of them to fit what I wanted a bit more. In Malainka’s review of GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, they talk about whittling down the skill list to about 13 of what it is, which, of course, seemed to fit nicely with my own vision. That’s also really great stuff, and, if I wanted more granularity than the broad niches, I would absolutely pick up the work they did.

Going back to the niches, there are 30 of them, but the above talk about 228 points of wildcard skills for a +1 to everything only points to 19 wildcard skills. The niches have plenty of overlap, and I allow them to be used very flexibly and in a complementary way, so I’m fine with there being 30 of them. If you wanted, you could raise it to an H skill instead of a VH skill to compensate. I also heavily use Talents. If niches/skills are vertical lines, then Talents are horizontal lines, and they intersect at the true specialty of a character, which I really like. A cowboy might have decent Melee, Nature, Outdoors, and Ranged niches, but it’s the Cowboy Talent that helps them excel specifically with bowie knives, cows and horses, working on a farm, shooting revolvers, etc. Really, wildcard skills and Talents follow almost the same cost progression, so I usually treat a 5-point Talent as a +2 to an extra ‘niche’ with a little bit of a reaction bonus tied in there. (If a 5-point Talent covers up to 6 skills, a 2.5-point Talent might cover up to 3 skills, which is about the same breadth as one of these niches; so, 5 points is enough for a +2 to something with the breadth of a niche. So, Cowboy Talent [5] gives +2 to doing cowboy stuff, and it helps with cowboy-related reaction rolls.)

Let’s get to the implications. Skills are typically a pretty small portion of a template; so, even though their cost is being divided by a third, it’s only about a -12.5% decrease to template costs.

Using them together

Overall, that means this will net a +12.5% increase to template costs. I should further explain that the increase is for total positive points—e.g., a 250-point template with -50 points in disadvantages is really worth 300 points. Using these systems, 300 points would become ~337 points. Then, of course, factor the disadvantages back in for 287 points.

You’re not going to come out with super clean numbers in most cases, unfortunately, and some templates in a genre have different pools of disadvantages. I’d eyeball it like this:

  • Templates in GURPS After the End go from 150 points to 175 points, which is a decently pentaphilic number, but I’d even go up to 200 points if feeling generous.
  • Templates in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy go from 250 points to 287 points, but I would just round that up to 300 points (or back down to 250 if you want weaker starting characters).
  • Templates in GURPS Monster Hunters go from 400 points to 506 points, which makes it pretty easy just to call that 500 points.

I’m throwing that out there because I would get so stuck on saying that the relative costs are set in stone by the gods of GURPS themselves, but they’re not. They’re based off of good estimates and pentaphilia—I mean 250 points obviously looks better than 287 points. However, if you’re handing out points at the end of the first session, that perfect number is going to break right away.

What about everything else? At this point, I’m pretty comfortable making stuff up on the fly, so I’m not terribly worried about converting monsters and whatnot before I use them. They don’t really have points anyway, right? Though, for logarithmic ST and VT, I obviously have to convert some of that stuff, and I tend to just convert GURPS damage wholesale into my system.

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.

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.

Other Quick Reviews:

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.

Other Quick Reviews: