Campaign Planning Form: Hunter Zero

We my group is taking a break from DF and going to run something else. We met and discussed what possible games to run, and this is what we came up with.

This form is a modified (and reduced) version of the Extended Campaign Planning form from How to be a GURPS GM.

Campaign Planning Form

Campaign Name: Hunter Zero
Genre: Monster Hunters
Tech Level (TL): 8 (modern)

Power Level: Heroic
Realism Level: Cinematic

Synopsis: I group of exceptional persons aided by a mysterious benefactor hunt down the horrors that hide in the shadows and prey on humanity.


Books Used:

Rules Options:
  • Buying Success (B347)
  • Player Guidance (B347)
  • Fright Checks (B360) - only for extreme or cosmic horror.
  • Flesh Wounds (B417)
  • Miraculous Recoveries (MH1:31)
  • Destiny Points (MH1:23)


Starting Points: 150
Disadvantage Limit: -60 (-55/-5)

Suggested Character Concepts: Commando, Security Expert, Researcher, Leader
Secondary Concepts: Driver, Face, Demo, Medic

Attribute Options:
  • ST: 8-18
  • DX, IQ, HT: 9-16
  • HP, FP, Will, Per: -/+ 3
  • Basic Speed: -/+ 0.75
  • Basic Move: -/+ 1

Social Traits

Low/High TL, Status, Wealth: Not used
Wealth: Starting gear will be provided for. After words PCs each get a budget to spend from the patron. Wealth levels are not used.

Cultural Familiarity: Anglo, Central Asian, East Asian, Eastern European, Latin American, North African, South Asian, Sub-Saharan, West Asian, and Western European

Languages: English (required), any other modern language

(see trait list)

Required Advantages:
  • Patron ("Zero", Modest Budget, Light Influence) [10]
  • Zeroed [10]


Recap: DF Sessions 22 & 23, Zerst 03

2014.07.31 & 2014.08.07

Aldred - Human Wizard
Fo - Minotaur Barbarian
Sir Loam - Arakun Knight
Barnabus - Human Swashbuckler


3A:137, Third Spring, 14th day:

A few days after their return from the mines, Aldred (and many other folks in town, they were later to find out) had a vivid dream. In it he saw a dark passage and a door which was being pounded on. A voice warned that an evil had awoken and would be rising from the depths.

The party started to search for information about this dream and where the "depths" might be. Aldred did find that there was an old set of tunnels and dungeons that formed a large complex under the town, but the only entrance that he learned of was under the Castle Von Dark. Other than that, there was no mention of any "evil" force that he could find.

Barnabus, tried hitting up the folks in the tavern, but didn't find any information on what might be going on. With no clear goal, and no desire to head back to the mines, the party took another week to search for more info and rumors.

During this second week, many new faces showed up in town. Adventurers and wizards who had the dream or heard of it filed into the town looking for fame, fortune, or whatever might lay in the dungeons below.

The party ran into Adalorn again, who offered to pay them if they were to help him scout out a well. He had not found a way to open the door in the Goblin Mines, yet, but the writing on the door had given him some measurements and he thought he had found another entrance. After explaining that he wanted to search for the old dwarven ruins for treasure when he first started, but now that every wizard in the land had that strange dream, he knew there would be competition.

Now he figures that if he could buy up the property around a reliable entrance, adventurers would pay for the chance to explore (and avoid some of the more dangerous entrances) into the dungeon. But before he bought up the property, he wanted a bit of scouting. After a bit of negotiating the party agreed, to check out the well.

They found the old well and Adalorn helped lower them down to the bottom. The well was 100 feet deep, and other than some wet sand at the bottom, the well was dry. The stones on the west side of the well's bottom were loose, and Fo was able to clear the stones finding a room beyond.

This room had an old drain were a trickle of water from the well dripped down below. They had found the dungeon, or at least part of it. Knowing that they would soon be competing with other adventures, the party decided to explore and maybe find something valuable.

There were two passages on the west wall, the party took the southern passage which led them into a hexagonal room with some old graffiti on the wall. Written in common was, "Welcome to the Heart". They examined this room finding 4 triangular pillars, a statue with three key holes under it, two passages to the south, and one to the north (and one to the east where they came in).

The continued north and passed through a room where each corner had walls of glass and was filled with some sort of liquid. Further on they found a room with two dwarven statues and a strange alter. A purple light shimmered over the alter, and as Aldred approached it he disappeared. Fo and Loam followed, while Barnabus kept back.

The others appeared in a dark room, and after getting the lights back on, found a room where the walls, floor and ceiling were all carved with spiraling grooves. They picked one of the three doors out and found the hall 45 degrees off from the room (they later realized that the room was 45 degrees turned compared to most of the rooms and halls. The hall went on for awhile before they found a door to the left (south wall).

Barnabus after waiting for a bit, decided to head back to the well and head out.

The rest of the group entered the door and found a room with stone tiles on the floor, each with an engraving of a scorpion on it. On the far wall they found more writing that read, "If a return trip you make, the scorpions will awake." Other than the door they came in from, there was a passage on the southern side of the west wall. From this they heard foot steps. They decided to hid in the hall and wait to ambush whatever was heading down, but it seemed to move off after a bit.

Then they moved on to find the hall turn to the south then back to the east leading back to the room with the drain, and finding Barnabus in the well just beyond about to leave.

With the party all back together, they still wanted to explore and try to find some treasure. They retraced their steps, back to the altar and this time all teleported to the spiral room. From here the found one of the doors (leading east) was locked. They took the door to the north.

This passage was a bit more uneven and crumbling. As they approached a turn to the east, they heard some soft sounds of panting and something moving around. They took the corner, and from somewhere deeper into the passage they heard, "Halt! Who are your?".

They learned that this part of the dungeon was claimed by a tribe of goblins. Sir Loam questioned them about passages deeper into the dungeon, band the goblins indicated that it was back where the party had come from.

So they returned to the spiral room and Fo began to bash on the door. Being a dwarven door, he found that he was going to dull his axe before breaking down the stone of the door.

[We ended the session here and picked right back up the following week. Fo returned to town, as his player was out this night.]

The party decided to head back down the hall and found that it dead-ended shortly after the scorpion room. So they entered the scorpion room again, and once in the room was filled with scorpions that began to crawl into their armor and sting them. They rushed through and then stripped down to remove the scorpions. Loam too a few stings, but once out the rest of the scorpions disappeared.

Back in the drain room the party evaluated where they had not yet explored and decided to take the first passage south of the Heart.

This twisted to the east and lead to a room with large (10 foot) tiles of alternating black and white. The whole room was diamond shape making it get wider then narrower as you moved from west to east. There was something written in elvish on the wall, but nobody could read it.

Testing the tiles they learned that the tile would light up as you moved on it and remain lit till you too a misstep. Then you were hit by magical lightning. It took them awhile and greatly injured the party, but the eventually figured out that they needed to move like the knight on a chess board. There was a door to the east and one to the south, which they learned unlocks if you move to it correctly.

Heading south they came to an open area with a passage to the west, and a bit to the east a door and a wide passage that lead back north. The door had written on it (in goblin), "Dregur's Unrest". They decided that this should be avoided and instead too the wide passage to the north.

This area had some low flame torches lit on the side of the hall and continued on north for awhile. The party found a passage to the east but as they got near, further north a group of six bugbears turned the corner.

Aldred threw a glue spell on the floor and caught up most of the bugbears [crit on the spell, so they were STUCK]. Aldred suggested they flee, but the others felt that they needed to finish off these monsters and attacked.

After a few thrown vials of acid and feeble attempts to move, the bugbears began to call for help. Loam finished off a couple, and Aldred cast flight on Barnabus (who didn't have a 2-hex reach weapon). Barnabus meanwhile took his blanket out, lit it and threw it over a bugbear.

This one sided fight continued on for a bit, then one of the bugbears escaped and took off running. Barnabus caught up to him as he turned the corner, and found that 9 more bugbears were heading towards them. The party decided to finish off the stuck bugbears [for some reason]. And while this was happening heard some steps coming from the other side hall.

A couple of turns later the group had to deal with the bugbears rounding the corner, and a group of 3 orcs and 3 goblins entering from the other hall.

The group was quickly surrounded, and Aldred took a few hits that were leaving him severely injured. Sometime during this fight he had cast flight on Loam, too, but not himself. The party knew they needed to escape and right now. Aldred (after a Blink to avoid death) held his staff horizontal above him, and the other two grabbed it and flew out of there as fast as they could. They retraced their steps and flew up the well.

They had escaped, and were alive, but didn't end up with any treasure. What they did have was a pretty good understanding of some of the major dangers in the dungeon under Zerst. They got their pay and an offer of a bonus if they kept quite about the well for a bit. It was time to rest and heal up.


Notes: The players didn't get a lot of action beats till the end, but it was still interesting to see them explore and deal with some of the dungeon features. There is also a lot of things that were left for follow up sessions.


My struggles with Dungeon Fantasy (part 3)

Over the last couple of weeks I've been struggling with working on my megadungeon. It feels like a chore and I am just not excited about it anymore. While trying to figure out why I was in this funk, I realized that there are many problems contributing. Here is what I've found.

Working Against my GMing Style (again)

I use to be terrified by improvisation. I would create pages and pages of prep notes in my early games because I wanted to make sure that every patron at the tavern had a name, job, etc. But I also hated doing a bunch of work that was "wasted" if the players didn't talk to that NPC, or whatever. After awhile I gave up on trying, and just would roll with the punches. Now I prefer to have just the key details and let the players figure out who's important and who isn't.

My Fallout game had 3 pages of prep (outside of equipment list and templates), mostly of bullet points of a location, the major NPCs there, what those NPCs want, and what they can give. My Traveller game had even less.

It might be that I've gotten lazy, but between work, family, and my other hobbies, I just don't want to spend 3 hours every night working on my weekly game. It ends up causing burn out.

But DF requires a LOT of prep! For DF I need maps, room descriptions, monsters, traps, loot, and other bits of interest. I like making maps, but as I mentioned before this can be hard to do well. DF2 and DFM1 both have some great monsters in them, but most are designed for a very select environment, or are something that is best used sparingly. The same old pit trap gets old quick, so rolling up new ones and making them fit can be a chore. Loot is always a bit strange to me. The simulationist wants to just roll on a table, but the 4th time you get the SM-2 Bows, for your group of Half-Ogre Barbarians you know how unsatisfying that is going to be for everyone.

And so I am burned out. I've thought about just going to published modules, but that means converting monsters, traps, loot, etc. That is a lot LESS work, but also tends to be much harder to make fun and balanced for my group.

While I think that the core problem is that I haven't been focusing enough on "story", and too much on the bits such as monsters and loot, this still is a concern b/c of the time it takes to get this all done.

Possible solutions: Again, I could just go to published modules, but I have a feeling that is going to bore me. I've never been a module guy, so I don't know if that would keep my interest up.

The other idea is to do "dungeon on the fly". I've never tried to do something like this, but have played with how it could be done. The basic idea is to just improve the dungeon, creating a rough map as the players explore, and just throw cool stuff at them randomly. I worry that this is going to create something that make no sense what so ever, and end up going to the silly side of things.

For the most part, I feel this is a problem that diminish with time. The more material I can create the more I can pull from later. So my hope is that once I've sorted out some of the other problems, this will also become less and less of an issue. That is IF I can get myself motivated to keep adding new items every day, and that will take time.


My struggles with Dungeon Fantasy (part 2)

Over the last couple of weeks I've been struggling with working on my megadungeon. It feels like a chore and I am just not excited about it anymore. While trying to figure out why I was in this funk, I realized that there are many problems contributing. Here is what I've found.

The Megadungeon Misunderstanding

Another big issue that I had was that I wanted to run a megadungeon, but didn't know what one was. I had never GMed, or played in a game with a megadungeon, so my understanding of one was based on what I read (mostly through play reports of others).

I didn't let this bother me because I figured that I could translate my experiences with video games that I thought were Megadungeons, namely the Diablo and Torchlight games. But I was in constant conflict, the ideas didn't seem to stack up correctly. It wasn't until I stared looking more into megadungeon design that I realized that I was just thinking of long or big dungeons, not megadungeons.

Due to this, I've recreated the first floor of my dungeon 4 times. I've redone the side view several times, and I still haven't gotten much done on the first floor in the way of actually detailed and stocked rooms.

I love the idea of a megadungeon, but I'm still struggling on making it work. Part of the reason that I wanted to do one was to have a space that can be "living" and wouldn't require me to draw up a new dungeon every week, but the up front time investment is making it hard to get to the point where I can reuse it. It's also difficult to create large complexes that makes sense, are fun, and provide a variety of options for a group of adventurers.

Possible solutions: Find a copy of Ruins of Undermountain, and convert it? Give up on the megadungeon idea all together?

Honestly, I've already taken parts of Undermountain, and my other "level 1" and merged them together. I now have a dungeon with a central hub area that branches out to other areas. It still needs a lot of work, but it is better fitting with he megadungeon design.

My Take on Evaluate

After +Jason Packer posted the following:
Assertion: The Evaluate maneuver is utterly useless if your skill exceeds that of your opponent, and is dubious at best if your skill exceeds 10.
A discussion followed about how to make Evaluate a useful combat option. Not too long ago I had a discussion with one of my players on the relative uselessness of Evaluate. "Loosing" a turn or more was just not worth the bonus.

After playing around with many different ideas for Evaluate (a per-based contested roll, an option for the Wait maneuver). I decided that most of these add more complexity and still don't do enough to make Evaluate more attractive than other combat options.

Here is a simple option that tries to give Evaluate more value:
For each second of evaluate you get +1 to your attack and +1 to defend against the evaluated target (both capped at +3). Additionally the target is -1 per turn (max -3) to defend against.
So "sacrifice" a turn to gain a small defense bonus, but also a greater chance to hit (and not be dodged/parried/blocked). This might be a bit "overpowered" but taking 3 turns to get the full bonus, while someone else gets to make 3 attacks seems fair to me.


My struggles with Dungeon Fantasy (part 1)

Over the last couple of weeks I've been struggling with working on my megadungeon. It feels like a chore and I am just not excited about it anymore. While trying to figure out why I was in this funk, I realized that there are many problems contributing. Here are my thoughts and possible solutions.

Working Against my GMing Style

This is sort of the root of all the issues, and I've sort of mentioned this before. I'm use to running games with little prep, and the prep I do being focused on characters in the world. With other games, I start with NPCs and factions, I set up conflict and then let the players take sides and direct the events. This is fun for me, but has at times created lots of in-party conflict as the sides tend to be both morally gray.

Part of the reason I wanted to try DF was to get away from this moral ambiguity, and everything that went with it. I thought I'd just have the players "kill things and take their stuff." So, I didn't bother with a lot of back story, NPCs, or much of anything really. When things started to feel a bit pointless or unfocused, I tried to retrofit in some "quests", but these didn't seem to really strike a cord with the players. That is probably because it didn't really strike a cord with ME.

My time and investment were spent on maps and monsters and loot and the dozens of other things that were fairly new to my GMing style (and initially exciting), and not on the things that keep me interested.

I think this is a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I went overboard in trying to do something different and took away one of the major things that makes me want to GM.

Possible solution: I need to spend more time thinking of the who's who of the setting, creating interesting major NPCs and getting them involved in the PC's lives. This can be problematic in a game where just about anyone is a potential target, but every major NPCs needs to have events that kick off when they are helped, killed, or even ignored.

This sort of thing gets my creative side going. The draw back is that it takes time away from other prep work, and I'm not sure I can run a dungeon w/o monsters, loot, etc.


My First RPG

It seems this is a thing going on, so I'll jump on board.

Early Exposure

I was exposed to RPGs for awhile before I played my first game. My older brother had run the game once (I think), but I was still very young and so the bratty little brother wasn't invited. I don't think he kept playing and later I got a hold of the Moldvay Basic Rulebook, and the AD&D (1st ed) Players Handbook. Even before I could read I flipped through these books. I instantly got that it was a game about playing wizards and warriors and fighting monsters and magic and treasures. I was hooked even before I every got to play.

Unfortunately those books eventually became lost and took a back seat in my memory.



On my 11th birthday I got an NES, the next few years I played many "action adventure" and "rpg" video games. I loved Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Shadowgate, but the original Legend of Zelda really struck a cord with me. The exploring of dungeons, gaining new items, and solving puzzles reminded me a lot of the pictures I saw in those old D&D books.

My First RPG

It wasn't until Junior High, that I finally got a chance to play the game that had in my childhood filled my head with vivid images of heroes and treasure. A friend invited me to play D&D, after asking me if I knew what the game was. I said I sort of knew the game and had always wanted to play.

We met at his house and I rolled up my first character. We played using the D&D Rules Cyclopidea. I wanted to play "someone with magic and a sword" so I rolled up an Elf (from the get-go I didn't like "class restrictions"). I don't recall all the details, but I remember the DM setting down one of the six-sided dice on the "6" side, having me only roll 2d6 in order to get better than average stats. Even with what little I knew, I realized that he was tweaking the rules to make sure my character wasn't weak.

I think we were staring above level 1 (or maybe my character was just allowed to start at the other PC's level). I was allowed a couple of magic items, and I asked for a "ring of invisibility!", but instead got some elven boots and elven cloak (which I was assured was almost as good). I also got to pick some skills (it that is what they were called). I remember picking up ventriloquism, and a few others (including lip reading). Then we were off on adventure.

We were traveling up the road (not sure if we had a destination or not), and saw some smoke rising. I told the others that with my elven gear, and lip reading, I could do a bit of recon. I got off the road and approached the smoke to find a bonfire of furniture being thrown out of a cabin. There was a dead man, a woman tied up, and a couple of bandits ransacking the cabin.

I quickly returned to the others and told them what I had seen. Then suggested that I return and use my ventriloquism to throw my voice and convince the bandits that the ghost of the dead man had returned. I goal was to scare them off so that we could rescue the woman.

The plan went round and round for awhile. The other players were unsure if we needed to worry and maybe it would just be better to charge in. Our debate took up most of the rest of the time I had (the others could stay later than I could). So eventually we did charge in, but I had to leave after that.

After this I went out and bought my own copy of the Baisc Game, then the Rules Cyclopedia. Later I would pick up Marvel Superheroes RPG, Cyberpunk 2020, and several others before eventually finding GURPS (Basic Set 3rd edition revised.)

Looking back

For a long time D&D was an almost mythic thing for me. It was strange and mysterious and something that was for a time unattainable. Once I got the chance to play, I loved it but could tell right away that I wanted more. I had gotten use to the restrictions in video games, and so wanted no restrictions in a table top game. Once I learned about classless systems, I was drawn towards them.

Still, D&D was my first (table top) RPG and will always hold a bit of that "magical" something that I first gleamed when flipping through the strange books for that game that I was "too young" to play.