GURPS in Fallout, or Fallout in GURPS

When I decided to run another Fallout game, I wasn't sure if I wanted to use GURPS, Fudge, or the Fallout PnP game. I eventually decided to go with GURPS because I'm most familiar with it, and I felt that the "grittiness" of the system mixed well with Fallout.

There are some really great resources that others have put together for a GURPS Fallout game, and while looking through many of these I noticed there were a lot of folks trying to emulate the "perks" and other traits from the games in GURPS.

At first I was caught up with this idea, and started looking at what perks I wanted to bring over as meta-traits for my game. But after awhile, I started to feel that this idea was a bit silly.

Video games have been trying to emulate the table top for a long time. The original Fallout game was going to use GURPS, before the SPECIAL system, and even that has a lot of similarities still to GURPS. The Perks and Traits from Fallout are just takes on Advantages and other traits that can be taken in GURPS. They are far more restricted and limited though, as you'd expect in a video game.

So, why are we not trying to emulate in a table top RPG a system that was designed to emulate table top RPGs? This is chasing our tails!

I had to ask myself, do I want to use GURPS to play Fallout, or play GURPS in the Fallout setting? GURPS allows both, but in the end, I'd rather just use the setting and not worry about a set list of meta-traits.


GURPS Fallout Character Survey

For our next game we decided to play Fallout. Instead of the typical character creation session, I decided to give the players a "Character Interview" and then build the characters myself based on their results.

While I'm not 100% pleased with the final survey, it worked well enough for us to build characters. In the future I may revisit this survey and expand on it. Most of the questions come straight out of Basic Set, so I don't take full credit for this.

Below is the basic form, but I used Google Drive to host the form and record the responses. That can be seen HERE.

Generalized Utility Record and Personal Summery

Basic Information



How would your rate yourself? (Total should be around 40)
Strength (1-10)
Perception (1-10)
Endurance (1-10)
Charisma (1-10)
Intelligence (1-10)
Agility (1-10)
Luck (1-10)


Father's Name:
Father's Job Assignment:

Mother's Name:
Mother's Job Assignment:

Describe your relationship with your parents.

Assignment History

What training have you received?

Do you have any self-taught skills?

What is your current job assignment?

What other job assignments have you held?



If you can name and describe other vault dwellers you could call friends:


If you can name and describe other vault dwellers you could call enemies:

Close Professional Associates::

If you can name and describe other vault dwellers who are your close professional associates:

Background and Interests

What were the most important moments of your life?

How would you describe your own code of morality?

What are you deep held beliefs?




Other Interests:

What motivates you the most?

What are your plans for your life in the vault?


GURPS Lost Mine of Phandelver

So, awhile back I decided to run the Lost Mine of Phandelver (the D&D 5th edition starter box adventure) using GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. Why GURPS? I've covered that before. So, I just wanted to go over the general experience of running a 5e adventure with DF.

Since this adventure was for "first level" adventurers, I decided to use the Dungeon Fantasy on the Cheap with a slight modification. I gave the players 150 points for the 100-point templates than told them to ignore the Disadvantages. After they created these characters, they could then buy disadvantages that fit the character and use the extra points to improve other stats. I found taking this approach created characters with fewer and more interesting disadvantages.

Previously I had been a player in a group that ran the LMoP, and what impressed me the most was how much the actual play of the adventure went exactly the same. The first few sessions played out with only minor differences. The "combat balance" felt about the same, and the player dealt with the enemies at the same speed.

The player's choices did diverge quite a bit, especially as the game went on, but the play "felt" the same. In some cases, enemies were defeated much faster than in the 5e game due to GURPS's rules such as major wounds, and -HP.

Here might be a good time to mention that I found converting 5e monsters to GURPS very easy. I had difficulty in the past converting D&D 3.5 monsters, but not this time. I don't know why that was exactly, but it may have had more to do with the lower level of the monsters (and fewer special cases and abilities) than the edition. Still, I found converting Str directly to ST, and the other attributes' modifiers as straight add/subtraction from 10 for the corresponding GURPS stat, to be very quick in converting stats.

Things went very well and the game had some interesting actions by the players (they basically sold the Cragmaw Castle to the Dragon...). But as we neared the end, I knew that the difficulty was about to ramp up.

The adventure seems to have 3 level ranges it deals with: ~1 for the hideout and town, then ~2-3 most everything else, and level 5 for the mine. Even though the players did many of the optional side adventures, and gained a good amount of CP, I had a feeling that the final mine was going to be a bit much for them.

I was almost wrong. The players took the shortest path to the "end" and might have been able to take out the big bad, but after the jelly attacked their goblin pal, and a few bugbears fled into the darkness, they got worried about a flank attack. So, they backtracked to the beginning got a bit worn down by some minor pests, then found themselves in a big dark room filled with ghouls.

Paralytic Attacks = dead PCs.

I treated the paralyzing attack as a stun, and gave the players a HT roll to recover, but the attacks kept coming. The Orc bard held out the longest, but eventually fell.

Overall, the game went very well. While it didn't end "successful", I think it was a success. It played very well and was probably the most fun I had running DF. Maybe in the future I'll revisit some of the published adventures for 5e.


Updates soon...

It's been awhile since I've posted anything, but I have several new post inbound. Here's a quick rundown of what I've been up to:

We tried a few different campaigns out, with a lot of false starts.

I ran the Lost Mine of Phandelver (the D&D 5th edition intro module) using GURPS DF. I'll probably write up my general impressions on how things went soon.

Then we had a few other false starts, before...

We decided to go back to Fallout! I'll be running my first session of that game this week.

There has been a lot of other stuff going on in my life that has made things a bit crazier than normal, but hopefully things have settled and the updates will resume.


Skill +

One of the most common criticisms of GURPS is that it has too many skills. It is hard to argue against this with the huge number of skills found is Basic Set. Then there is skills that require specialization which can make some character types need dozens of skills.

Some folks find Wildcard skills a good solution to reduce the number of skills needed and simplify the game, but I've never liked Wildcards skills. Some are "job" or class based skills that are not always clear what skills they cover (For example, guess what Barbarian! covers. Did you guess any combat skills? Well, you're wrong it has none.) Other wildcards are "category" skills that cover a group of skills that you can guess at. I prefer this second type, but find that the very hard skill cost x3 tends to make these skills super expensive, especially when many of the skills covered default to each other.

I've been playing around with an idea I like to call Skill+, or "Skill Plus". A Skill+ skill that covers a group of skills that are closely related and default to each other. Let's say for example Sword+ would cover Broadsword, Force Sword, Rapier, Saber, Shortsword, Two-Handed Sword, and the Art and Sport versions of these skills too.

Now I could have just made a Wildcard skill called Sword!, but this would make a very expensive skill vs. just buying up one skill and relying on defaults for the rest. Since most of the sword skills default to each other at -4 or less, these means that for 16 points (4 levels at max cost of 4 CP) or less, the player could increase all these skills (with one being four levels higher). But instead of finding the most common default and buying that up high, why not just have all the skills "default" from a meta-skill ... that is what Skill+ is about.

But what should the default be? Since this skill is designed for all the other skills to default from it, I think the most fair thing is to use half the average cross skill default. So sword skills would default from this skill at -2. But since the main skill has no use, why not just have the -2 built in... or bought off?

At first I thought to just advance the skill by two difficulty levels. In this case making an average skill into a very hard one, and give the skill the -2 built in. But, this may cause problems with Hard and Very Hard skills.

The other option, and the one I am leaning towards is to front load the cost of "buying up from default." Skill level cost caps at 4 points, so two levels are 8. So here is how the skill cost progression works:

Sword+, DX/A, Starting at Att-1 for 9, then 10, 12, 16, etc. (level cost + default buy up of two levels for 8 points).

I think this system works well as something between the standard skill list and Wildcard skills. If I find the time, I'll go through the skill list and create a list of skills+.


GURPS Misconceptions: Rules required

A friend of my mentioned that in his D&D 5th ed. game, a player was running from an enemy and wanted to shoot him in the leg to insure his own escape. D&D to my knowledge doesn't have any rules for hit locations, but my friend just ruled on the fly and the game continued. The reason that my friend mentioned this though was because he started to think of all the things that would have been needed to resolve that in GURPS.

That made me start thinking. In other games systems when a situation comes up where there isn't a rule to cover it, the GM rules on the fly using his or her best judgment. But GURPS has rules for just about everything. Because of this, people think that when a situation comes up that those rules cover, then those rules must be used. But the fact is, there is no reason why a GURPS GM can't just rule off the cuff.

GURPS is simple and GURPS is complex. How it plays in individual games is entirely up to the GM. Just because there is a rule to cover a specific situation, that rule doesn't need to be used if GM and players don't want it! Remember "And all the detail is optional – use it only when it makes the game more fun." (Basic Set p.8)

So, if hit locations add too much complexity to your games, don't use them. And if later a player wants to shoot a perusing enemy in the leg, rule on the fly. If you know all the modifiers off the top of your head (-2 or -BULK from Move and Attack, -2 for Leg, and Range penalty), then use that, if you'd need to look it up ... DON'T. Just make it up and keep playing.

I must admit that I've often found myself saying, "I know there is a rule for that" and started searching my books. This is a habit that I am still trying to break myself of. I'm starting to think that having to use an existing rule is almost as bad as forbidding an action when there isn't a rule that covers it. In both cases the GM can just guess at a modifier/target number/whatever, and let the play continue.

Rules should be there to help the GM and players, not get in the way. They should make interacting in the shared imagined world easier and create expected results from character actions. And whether a rule simply doesn't exist to cover a specific situation, or isn't know, or is being ignored, it doesn't matter. The play should be the same: the GM makes a call, the dice are rolled, and the game goes on.


The Disadvantages of GURPS (Part 2)

My first post on my problems with Disadvantages generated a lot of responses. In it I went over some ideas how to deal with this issue in brief, but after the responses, I wanted to speak a bit more about them. So, here are some are some ways that GMs might limit disadvantages:

1. Limit the number of disadvantages. This is a simple solution that can keep down the number of disadvantages that player take. A hard limit like 3 or 4 could be used instead of or in conjunction with a disadvantage point limit. Another option to add to this is to separate disadvantages into "major" and "minor", and limit the number of each. Major might be any disadvantage that give 15 points or more.

2. Set number of disadvantages. This is similar to the option above, but the disadvantage numbers are set in stone. Players must take a set number of disadvantages. If the "major" and "minor" options are used, then there may be some sort of give or take: "2 major, or 1 major and 2 minor". To keep things very simple, a GM might even just have players take one disadvantage only.

3. Disadvantages give point in play. This options players may take disadvantages, but they do not get any points for them in character creation. Instead, players are rewarded by the GM with extra CP for any session which a disadvantage comes up as a hindrance to the character. This requires more judgment calls on the GM, deciding when exactly the disadvantage has caused a setback that is worth the bonus character point.

4. Disadvantages are flavor only. With this option, disadvantage don't give any extra CP to taking them, nor do they earn a player extra CP in play. They are taken for flavor and roleplaying. Good roleplay should still reward a player extra character points, so disadvantage could earn the player more CP, but this option is not a set mechanic like the one above.

5. Just lower the disadvantage limit. This maybe the simplest solution. If -80 points in disadvantages is too much to keep track of, then lower to it -50, or -35, or whatever. A limit set too low might prevent players from taking some of the higher priced disadvantages, so you might want to allow for players to exceed the limit by taking only one disadvantage that has a price greater than the limit.

6. Only allow disadvantages from the character concept. Have the players write up a backstory, fill in a character interview, or use some other system that creates a solid picture of the character that can be used to then create them in full. Then any disadvantages that are bought must be justified through this process.


The Disadvantages of GURPS

GURPS is hands down my favorite system. I love looking at other systems and rules, but I always compare them to GURPS and they have always fallen short against it.

That said there are some things that erk me a bit about GURPS ... like Disadvantages. I like the idea of disadvantages. I like that they give a way to build more rounded characters that aren't just a collection of "ways this character is better than others". But often I find that disadvantages are taken not to fill a concept, but for the points.

When I come up with a character concept, I think of the character's strong points first. If there is some sort of "tragic flaw" or other drawback it tends to be one thing, or a few very closely related things. But once it comes time to build the character with a point budget, I will look for additional disadvantages in order to have the points to spend on the character's strengths.

Even the official templates seem to reinforce this approach. Dungeon Fantasy, Action, and Monster Hunters have templates where the full disadvantage budget has been spent.

Now maybe, some GMs have no problem keeping track of all of their player's disadvantages and can make sure that they all come up in play and are worth the points they got for them, but I must admit that if each player has a half-dozen or so disadvantages, I can loose track.

And in play, characters tend to focus or become known for one or two disadvantages, while others become little odd-ball traits that the character has... but don't feel like they define the character. When a disadvantage is "working" it can be THE defining trait of a character, but again this tends to be one or two. The rest of the disads are forgotten till they come up, then just serve as minor annoyances.

This leads to another issue with disadvantages, the value of a disadvantage may not reflect the actual level of difficulty or interference that it causes. Even within the same campaign, a disad might go from something common to almost never coming up. Such as the character with a fear of water and an adventure hook that leads the party from the ocean to the desert.

Other systems avoid some of these issues by doing things like limit the number of disadvantages (not just the points, but the total number), one "major" and two "minor" or something like that. Another interesting option is to not give any points for disadvantages, but instead reward players with bonus character points when a disadvantage comes up in play.

Still, I do like the idea behind giving points for disads. The real solution is to do something like "narrative" character creation or the character interview to create a solid concept before any points are stent. Then make sure that every disadvantage is justified by the character's concept and background. Of course, this takes much more time, and is sort of the antithesis of the template system.

I wonder if a more guided interview customized by genre might not be a better system for GURPS genre books than just lists of templates....


One-way Dungeons

As both a player and a GM, I've always liked the "one-way" dungeon for a lot of reasons. First, let me define what I mean by "one-way dungeon". I've seen other names, but I don't know if there is an accepted term, and I like one-way dungeon the best anyway. This is a dungeon where the players start past the point of no return. They could be locked in, trapped by a cave-in, or wake up at the "bottom" of the dungeon. In all cases, the only way out is to explore forward.

Part of the reason that I like this sort of set up, is that some of the first dungeon crawls I played were set up this way. While I played some D&D games when I was a kid, they were not dungeon crawls, and my first exposure to this was games like Eye of the Beholder. More recently, games like The Legend of Grimrock and it's sequel give a similar setup.

No going back

Honestly, locking a person into a dungeon is the only reason most sane people would willingly continue down halls filled with monsters, traps, curses, and other means of a horrible end. It is a survival aspect, you HAVE to deal with these challenge or you starve in the darkness.

I also like the idea of a scarce resource environment where the players have to search, hunt, and deal with limited food, lighting, and other needs while still dealing with all the other hazards. This fixed ecosystem of supplies creates a tension that doesn't exist, if the players can just turn around and go back to town whenever they want.

Then there is the loot! It is interesting to have to make a hard choice between the gear you know, and what might be a much better sword/helm/whatever, but also having to deal with encumbrance, cursed items, and knowing that it might be a long time dragging all this stuff around.

Now, some players hate the idea of being trapped. It removes player choice and freedom. I get that. But every once in awhile, I want to feel trapped, to be pushed to explore deeper not just for curiosity's sake but as a means of survival.

What I think I like most of all though, is that the locked dungeon is just simple. There isn't the question of where to go, or if it is time to turn back. There is just the tunnel... and what lays beyond.


Recap: Nexus 5 - Raiding the Castle


Brother Pick - Arakun Initiate
Clink - Arakun Brute
Tion - Arakun Apprentice


The party decided to scout around the castle and get a good look at what there were facing. They left there extra gear and Pick's dog hidden in the woods and made a wide circle around the hill the castle was on. The hill was steep going on the north and south sides, But more gradual along the east west, where a path cut through the trees,

The path went along the southern edge of castle from the east. At one point it went under a walkway that connected the main castle wall to a small tower. Then the path split to a small trail that continued on to the west, while the main path turned north along the western side of the castle. It then ended at a set of large doors. Just before the walkway, a large portion of the wall had been destroyed leaving a pile of rubble to cross. This would have been easy enough to climb, but was right in front of the walkway, where the party spotted two goblins keeping watch.

After some discussion and throwing out various plans, the party decided to try and sneak up to the eastern wall, north of the path. One at a time they dashed to the wall, checking if any alarms were raised. Once there, Tion decided to tempt fate and cast Stone to Earth on the wall using ambient energy [I'm using Threshold-Limited Magery with the standard FP casting, but thresholds are 0 by default].

With his first casting, Tion made a one yard area into dirt, but the magical backlash will be causing nightmares for 21 days! After they dug out the dirt, they found there was still more stone wall beyond. So again Tion cast using the ambient energy. This time he gained Radically Unstable Magery for six weeks!

The party dug out the remaining part of the wall, but when they got through the found themselves in a large room facing an Ogre and two goblins. The Ogre was facing away, but the goblins saw them come through and demanded that they come out and surrender.

For the next few seconds, things were confused. The ogre and goblins readied weapons, Clink tried to bluff the goblins, Pick readied his weapon and shield, and Tion cast a Stone Missile. The demands to come out of the hole and drop their weapons continued. Clink throws down his weapon and shield, but the stand off continues.

The group then decides that it is best to make a run for it, so Clink grabs his gear and Pick grabs Clink and pulls him back. One goblin goes to sound the alarm, while the other enters the hole after the Arakuns. Tion throws his stone, and Pick attacks, as Clink re-readies.

The ogre tried to enter the hole just as the goblin was trying to back out, causing some issues. When the goblin did back out, the ogre reached in and took a few hits of his own as he tried and failed to grab the arakuns.

Once back in the wall, the players decided to not make a run for it, and thought they could hold off the attack, They started to push their attack back into the castle. Tion drew power again for another Stone Missile, and caused himself to have nightmares for an additional 22 days. But the stone hit and the ogre ended up backing off and passing out from his wounds.

A warg and another goblin came charging in a few seconds later. Tion drew power to cast Great Haste, but failed. Which became a critical failure [this resulted in a new -15 disadvantage Weirdness Magnet]. A second attempt at the spell worked, but the backlash left Tion mentally stunned.

While the party was holding their own at the wall, just about the whole castle was alerted and goblins came pouring out. While some came to the room where the party had initially tunneled in, most had gone outside the walls and circled around behind the party. Tion tried to hold off any attacks from behind with a rain of stones, but they could see archers setting up on both sides. And one goblin threw some sort of vial that broke and released gas into the hole.

At this point the Tion wanted to get Great Haste on the whole party and make a break for it, but he had tempted fate enough and was already in bad shape. The party threw down there weapons and surrendered.

The goblins were so upset and confused by all that had happened, that they didn't bother to question the party. They just took their weapons and tied them up. Then they threw them into one of the castle's towers to try and figure out what exactly had happened.

With all the confusion, the goblins weren't thinking clearly [failed IQ roll] and none of them were casters, One or two were magically attuned, so they knew that Clink's sword was magical, but didn't know how. So they began to argue how they "little rats" had managed to dig through stone.

Back in the tower the players found a large sack that was moving around. Sure enough, they had been thrown in with the seeker! After managing to untie their bonds, Tion rested up and casts stone to earth. Then rested again. Luckily the goblins decided to rest and wait till the morning to decide what to do with their prisoners, So, Tion had time to rest can cast again, then they scrambled out with the seeker.


Notes: Going in I wasn't sure how the players were going to approach the castle. They didn't have any skill at deceit (Fast-Talk, Acting), and were not particularly skilled in stealth. If they had just charged into the the castle courtyard and attacked, it was likely to be a TPK. Still, three heads are better than one, so I was interested to see what the players came up with.

I was not expecting them to just "punch through the wall". This was a good plan, but unfortunately, they picked what might have been the worse place to do it. The ogre was the "big scary guy" that the goblins kept in the back. The seeker would have been in this room too, if the ogre wasn't keen on eating it before it got delivered to the Shadow King.

Once in, and the bluffing was clearly not working, I figured that the party would make a run for it. Regrouping and trying a new approach. But there wasn't a clear plan of action, as the situation was evolving moment to moment.

A few lucky GM rolls did save the party from worse fate thought. The Goblins were more interested in Clink's sword than questioning the party, and they still wanted to keep them alive to answer questions in the morning (or feed them to the Ogre, which they would find amusing).

While the players made it out alive and found the seeker, they have had some major setbacks. They lost their carried gear other than armor, Tion has two new disadvantages. The nightmares will fade in 43 weeks, but that is going to be in play for the rest of this campaign. On top of that, he has Weirdness Magnet that he's stuck with (he can buy it off for 7 CP after two weeks). And his power tally is going to take some time to wind down.


Recap: Nexus 4 - To the Castle


Brother Pick - Arakun Initiate
Clink - Arakun Brute
Tion - Arakun Apprentice


With the revelation that the seeker was in the hands of minions of the Shadow King, the party needed to plan out their next move. It was very late, so they camped for the night outside the cave, and in the morning decided to head to the human town of Westgate. This town was in the same direction that the seeker was taken, so the party felt it best to head there instead of backtracking.

In town they resupplied provisions and Clink got the short sword identified. It is Short sword of Accuracy +1. Clink also resisted the urge to take a shiny new dagger from the shop, knowing that humans are not too kind to "shoplifters" especially arakun ones.

After town, they decided to waste no more time and began again heading toward the seeker. On the second day of travel, they came upon a camp of ratlings. Once again, they tried to sneak up, but found that they are not stealthy as a group.

The ratlings charged and Tion smashed one with a stone missile. The other ratlings ran, and the party seemed to think things were over, but a second later the ratlings turned and renewed there attack. This continued for a bit, Tion used rain of stones, and more stone missiles, Pick smashed with his mace, and Clink charged and finished off the lat of the bow ratlings. After each fell, the group would flee for a moment, then return. This delayed the fight some, but kept the party from being surrounded.

Back at the ratlings' camp, the party found a chest of coins and some sort of map, but not for any place that they recognized.

The last part of their journey was uneventful, and at last they found they came to a ridge. beyond they saw a road head up to the north then swing back to the west. There, on a steam hill was the ruins of a castle. Along it's battered walls were the banners of the Shadow King.


Notes: This was a short session, but there was a lot of "pre-game" stuff that happened so it was later than what it might otherwise have been. Still, we did end a bit early instead of getting into what might become a long encounter.

I'm really excited to see how the players deal with the castle.


Recap: Nexus 3 - Minotaur to Bugbear

Getting this recap out a bit late, but still before the next session!


Brother Pick - Arakun Initiate
Clink - Arakun Brute
Tion - Arakun Apprentice


3138 AP, Second Fall, 7th (continued):
The minotaur did not seem happy to see the party, and demanded their names and what they wanted. They introduced themselves. and asked about the 'seeker', which didn't do much to gain the Minotaur's trust. In fact, he believed that they might be working for the Shadow King.

Eventually they mentioned that they had met Fennor, and were trying to keep the 'seeker' safe and prevent it from falling into the hands of the Shadow King. With that the minotaur, Paul, told them that he had sent the 'seeker' away with his assistant to a cabin in the woods to keep it safe, in case any minions of the Shadow King found the ranch. The party decided to try and catch up with the assistant.

They left back to the forest, but just before they got there they were stopped by a man who had said that he saw them leave the ranch, and that he saw Paul's assistant, Farn being followed into the woods by several gecklings.

The party realized that this might have been the same group they saw previously and decided to try and track them down.

When they got back to the place where they had followed the tracks before, they found that it was too dark to find the trail again. Brother Pick decided to try and find Farn with the Seeker spell, and was let through the woods, the camp site they found before and finally to a cave.

The cave was dark, so Pick also conjured up some light on to Clink's Sword. They ventured in and found several dead Gecklings around the remains of a small campfire. Checking the bodies they found that they had been mutilated. They didn't find any sign of Farn or the Seeker, but they did see some blood leading off further into the cave.

Further in the cave opened up to a wide area. In order to keep from getting lost, they decided to keep to the right wall. As they ventured further in, they were attacked by several giant rats. Despite they group quickly finding themselves surrounded, they were able to defeat the rats, without injury. After the battle, they still heard rats scurrying in the distance, but didn't run into any more as they kept moving along the right wall.

They came to another narrow area, where they could smell some foul odor from the east, but as the wall curved south, and avoided whatever was causing the smell.

Just as they were moving south, the party spotted a change in the ground and realized that a pit had been covered to make it look like the cave floor. The party was able to move around the pit, and continued on, as the wall curved all the way around and started moving back to the west.

Further in they did not spot another trap, and were nearly smashed by two great stones that swung out from the cave sides. Lucky, the trap was designed for larger pray, and barely missed the arakuns' heads.

A sound of something coming from further down the cave was heard, and the party decided to hide and cover their light. They heard the thing check the trap and rushed in to attack while it was confused at the lack of enemies.

Once the light was on, they found a bugbear, who was caught off guard and they were able to charge in while it was stunned. Tion had already had a stone missile ready and it hit the bugbear square in the chest and sent him stumbling back. Clink started slicing the monster up, and Brother Pick charged him, jumping onto his weapon arm.

Pick "rode" the arm, while attacking with his mace, Clink continued to strike, and Tion threw another stone missile just as Pick fell off. These short few seconds though were too much for the shocked bugbear, and as he tried to regroup and attack, his wounds finally overcame him and he fell to the floor. The party left him bleeding and found his lair further down.

The bugbear's lair was covered in filth and bones, but here they found Farn tied. up. They also found some coins, potions, and a magic sword in with the bones.

Farn, thanked the group and asked if Paul had sent them. He told the party how he and 'Mr. Hoppy' were captured by the gecklings, but then the bugbear had attacked them while they were resting. The gecklings were killed, and the bugbear took Farn (who was already tied up). Mr. Hoppy, the seeker, got loose from the bag when the bugbear was searching the gecks' stuff.

Pick used the seeker spell (with the aid of a ribbon that Farn had) and saw the rabbit being shoved into a bag, by a goblin. The goblin then mounted a warg and rode off toward a dark castle in the distance, banners of the Shadow King on it's walls.


Notes: This session started out with another awkward social situation, where the party needed to get information, but hadn't yet developed a trust with the NPC. Things worked out, but it took a bit of time.

The cave was another example of "over prepping" as less than half was explored by the players. Still, they are not "fortune hunters" at this point, so finding what happened to Farn as quickly as possible was the best outcome for them.

Yes, the gecklings were the same ones they found earlier, and yes they could have found Farn (and the seeker) back last session.

Combat was interesting this time, thought I had several other encounters that I sort of wish we had gotten to play just to see how the party dealt with some different situations.


Recap: DF Nexus 2 - The Dark Woods


Brother Pick - Arakun Initiate
Clink - Arakun Brute
Tion - Arakun Apprentice


3138 AP, Second Fall, 3rd:
The characters got back to town and had Mother Kind look at the druid's crude map. She was able to give them some better directions and clear a few things up. It looked like this trek was going to take them several days so they bought up some rations and decided to rest up and head out in the morning.

The first day of travel kept them in the familiar areas around Appleton, so and it was uneventful.

During the next day though, they found themselves in a dark and unfamiliar part of the woods. The forest canopy had gotten very thick and blocked out much of the sun. Here again, they found large webs filling the trees and branches.

Continued on, they didn't hear the quiet sounds above until several giant spiders dropped down all around them.

They readied their weapons as the first round of spider attacks came at them. Clink attempted to block just as he had gotten his shield ready, but ended up throwing it from himself.

Tion decided to take out the two spiders in the back with a rain of stones. Unfortunately, the heavy canopy hindered the stones quite a bit at first.

After the first couple of seconds of confusion and a few mishaps, the group found their footing and did fairly well. Tion parried one spider, then dodged another, just as his rain of stones made their way through the leaves and webs to strike the spider he just dodged dead. Pick smashed down one spider with his mace and Clink gave a few good cuts to one of the others, while parrying an attack from a second spider.

A few spider bites made it past the party's defenses though, and their SM-2 mail didn't protect well against the impaling attack from the spiders' mandibles. Pick was quick with a heal on Tion so no one ended up being terribly hurt.

They managed to finish off the spiders, noting afterwords that some were clearly weaker than others. After healing up they continued on. The rest of the second day and night were uneventful.

On the third day they found what might have been some sort of camp site, or the scene of some sort of conflict, none of them were skilled trackers. Still, the groups curiosity got the better of them and they decided to follow the tracks off into the woods.

Clink did a pretty impressive job following the tracks, even without any formal training (great roll on skill default), and they camp up on a small camp of Gecklings. The small lizard creatures were just sitting around. A couple looked like they were keeping (very poor) watch, and another couple were in the far side of the camp near a small canopy.

The party, having discovered what the tracks were made by, decided to head back to their own mission, and managed to leave without being seen. But they didn't manage to retrace their steps very well, and spent most of the remainder of the day just getting back on track.

Now back on track, they tried to make up some lost time. In the afternoon, they were surprised when an elf stepped out from a tree just a few feet in front of them. He was dressed in dark greens (which matched his hair), and carrying a elven bow and sword.

After appearing, he asked the arakuns what they were doing in this part of the woods, warning that it was a dangerous area. After some initial distrust on both sides, the characters mentioned that Durid Oak and after showing the map, the elf decided to help them. He lead them through the rest of the forest and pointed out a house and fenced off area across the field.

"That is the Bunny Ranch," he told them, which is where they would find the seeker. They thanked him, and asked his name before he left. He told them that he was known as Fennor, then disappeared back into the woods.

It was sundown, when the party reached the front door of the modest cottage and knocked at the door. A loud stomping preceded the door being flung open by a huge minotaur!


Notes: This session had just one combat, but the group handled it fairly well. They did miss the PER roll to spot some loot in the webs and didn't attempted to search around. Next time I'll try to be a bit more colorful with the descriptions of the area to give some subtle clues that there might be something worth searching for.

Again the party an "observation" encounter, but didn't get much information this time around. But this is probably not the last we are going to hear about that group of gecklings.


Dungeon Fantasy and Threshold-Limited Magery

I like some of the ideas behind Threshold-Limited Magery (aka Unlimited Mana). Particularly, I like that it lets mages always have a chance to do something (albeit with some risk). One of the things that annoy me about the standard FP magic system is that you can cast yourself to exhaustion and then there isn't anything else you can do.

But, using TLM has a several issues especially with Dungeon Fantasy type games. DF can be about frequent combats with a bit of rest between each. The standard magic system works great for this. Casters can blast, buff, heal, etc. till they are tapped out. Then can rest for a few minutes then are back at full strength to do it again. Sure power items and other secondary pools might not recover that quickly but the point remains.

With, TLM, things are quite a bit different. Players can run from combat to combat, without the need to rest and recover, and pull off big flashy effects. The down side is that after a several castings they are going to be nearer to the limit and nothing other than waiting days for your tally to wind down, which might not be an issue with long down time and travel times between runs. The way I see it, TLM makes dungeon runs easier earlier on, but as the players keep going, they will get to a point where the best option is to just leave.

At first, I was going to have both systems available for character to pick, but now I am concerning using a mixed system. The idea is to have the standard FP based system, where the players can use FP to power spells, but this switches over to TLM when they get to 1 FP. At that point they can keep casting, but all cost (or additional cost if they still had some FP to burn) goes to the Tally. This system has a Threshold of 0, so after burning down FP casters are risking backlash with just about any casting. FP (and energy reserves) still have their normal regeneration rates, and tally is reduced by 8 each morning.

So this system takes the most interesting part of TLM (risking backlash for the ability to keep casting), and replaces the least interesting part of the FP system (running out of energy and passing out).

I'll run this by my group and see if they want to give it a try. I'll post what I find if we do start using this.


Recap: DF Nexus Session 1: Something Wicked in the Wind


Brother Pick - Arakun Initiate
Clink - Arakun Brute
Tion - Arakun Apprentice


3138 AP (after portal), Second Fall, 3rd day:

So, my players decided to all make Arakun characters, so we are starting in a small Arakun village called Appleton. The town was hopping with a local celebration. The Arakuns decorate the trees with various knickknacks and baubles and let the young gather them up, while the adults drink and eat. Three brothers (our PCs) were setting around drinking. Tion was telling stories of his grand adventure (which weren't true) and Brother Pick was doing his best to remind the revelers that they need to praise Nocta (the Arakun patron god).

During all this, a chill wind blew into the town. Pick felt a dark presences in the wind, and Tion felt something shift in the magical energies around. Other sensitive Arakun were effected and the town wise woman, Mother Kind, was shaken.

The characters asked her what was going on, but she didn't know more than they did. She did suggest that they go out and find the old hermit, Druid Oak. She gave them directions and they gathered their things. Then they were off into the woods.

While trekking through the woods, they group heard some voices. They were off the paths so they decided to be cautious and sneak up closer to see who was in the woods and hear what they were taking about. They got close and found a group of halflings that looked like a rough bunch. They were talking about joining up with the Shadow King.

Rumors of the Shadow King had reached Appleton, but this warlord in the northeast seemed far enough off that it wouldn't bother the small Arakun village. They had heard that he was recruiting for an army and attacking human villages in the north. These halflings seemed to think that the Shadow King was going to be victorious over the humans and wanted to join the "winning side".

The brothers decided that it was best to avoid these halfings and continue on. Unfortunately, they made a bit of noise on their way out and the halflings heard. They continued on there way as the halflings disappeared into the woods. The group didn't see anymore of the haflings after this.

The players also traveled through a dark area of the forest where there were large webs spanning between the tree branches. Again, they made it through without any issue, and finally arrived at the huge oak tree that was the home of Druid Oak.

A great booming voice came from the tree as they approached, and after introductions and offering to share some wine, an old dirty looking Arakun came out of a large hole in the tree and greeted them. He invited them up to his home in the tree, which was just a dirty hollow and they had wine and discussed the dark presence in the woods.

Oak told them that he felt it too and had learned "from the trees" that the Shadow King's minions had entered the woods. They were looking to find the location of the Torch of Unlife. This is an ancient relic that was said to give the wielder the ability to animate any number of remains into powerful undead minions. The torch was sealed away long ago and powerful warding magic has kept it from being found, but there are some things that can find it.

The players decided that they needed to find out where the torch was and prevent the Shadow King from finding it. Oak crushed some dried flowers and bits of dust into a bowl and then blew it onto the faces of the brothers. After studying them for a second he decided that they were fated for this quest.

He then told them that in the north woods there is a mystic animal. This "seeker" has the ability to find lost artifacts like the torch. The players were given some directions and a crude drawing of the seeker, which it turns out is a bunny rabbit. They thanked Oak, then headed back to town to gear up and begin the quest for the seeker.


Notes: This was a short session just to kick off and get eveyone into character. The players did a great job at role-playing. The interplay in the party and with the sort of silly characters was very entertaining.

I'm a bit concerned that the whole party is made up of a race that is designed for thieves, but they are anything but. We didn't have any combat this session, and I worry that the brute is going to find the small size, low ST and HP is going to not work very well, but we'll see what happens.

DF Setting: Nexus

After deciding to return to a Dungeon Fantasy game, I gave some thought to what I wanted to the setting to be like. I looked into some of my old settings, but felt they would not mesh well with the assumptions of Dungeon Fantasy (very few "monsters" or reasons for "dungeons"). Then I thought about drawing up a new setting, and even created a questionnaire for what my players wanted to see in a setting.

The results of all this is Nexus. This is a bit of a "kitchen sink" setting where just about anything can exist somewhere in the world. This is sort of like the Infinity Unlimited setting, but with "lost technology". There are lots of races, monsters, magic systems, guns, and even some sci-fi elements.

The premise is that long ago, a race of now lost being created a stable network of portals to other worlds. From these worlds other races came and established their own regions. At some point in the past the portal creators disappeared, and later the portals stopped working, leaving the many races unable to return to their home worlds. Rumors of working portals still exist, and many adventurers make a career of just seeking out these portals or other lost magics/technologies.

While most of the world is going to appear as a late middle ages, there could be just about anything out in the "unknown lands". There are even areas that are in "flux" where the portals didn't quit shut down and instead created a strange area that transforms back and forth between the "local" and "other" worlds.

So, as you can see, just about anything can be thrown into this world. This gives me an excuse to freely pilfer from myth, fantasy, sci-fi, and still have everything feel like it is consistent with the world. The starting "known world" is going to be a fairly stable middle ages type area, but even here there can be pockets of non-standard fantasy or sudden new transformative elements.


Back to the Dungeon Again

The last session of Dungeon Fantasy I ran was back in August of last year (2014). Since then my group has tried some other games, with myself or others GMing. Unfortunately, these games have had a lot of issues that have prevented them from maintaining momentum or even just taking off.

So after some discussion ...

... we've decided to return to Dungeon Fantasy.

My DF campaign was one of the most successful and long running games I've had. The game ran weekly with very few interruptions. Character creation, equipment lists, and much of the GM lists and pre-campaing prep is simplified.

There were a few bumps in the road last time though. The biggest is that I never felt totally comfortable with some of the game types that I was trying to run. First was the sandbox "Caverns of Chaos" which ended up being too large for me to properly prep before I knew where the players were going to go. Then there was the mega-dungeon which I was never fully comfortable with, having never run one before.

This time around I am going to focus of smaller "seek and return" type games, at least until the game has gotten some solid feet under it.

I am also going to start at a "lower level" this time. Players are going to use the 125 templates from Henchmen. Then we are going to build towards the big powerful heroes that are face punching dragons.

We'll see how it goes. And I hope that this will also get me back to blogging a bit more often!

See you in the dungeon.


Technomancer Campaign Planning Form

Well the Monster Hunters game never took off so after a bit a of break I decided to try something new. I'm going to be running a "monster hunter" game... but in Technomancer. Here is the Campaing Planning Form.

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

GURPS Technomancer – CoverCampaign Planning Form

Campaign Name: D.E.U.S. Exterminators
Genre: Monster Hunters
Tech Level (TL): 8 (modern)

Power Level: Heroic
Realism Level: Cinematic

Synopsis: Demons, Elemental, Undead, and Spirits. There is nothing these guys won't go after ... if the price is right.


Books Used:
  • Basic Set 1&2
  • High Tech - For additional weapons and equipment options.
  • Magic - For spells
  • Bio-Tech - For Spells
  • Technomancer - Setting, templates, etc.
Optional Rules:
  • Buying Success (B347)
  • Player Guidance (B347)
  • Flesh Wounds (B417)


Starting Points: 180
Disadvantage Limit: -75 (-70/-5)

Suggested Character Concepts: Hellhound, Investigator, Warlock
Secondary Concepts: Alchemist, Criminal, Rescue Team Member, Hacker, Technomancer

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

Social Traits

Low/High TL: Not allowed
Status: Not used
Wealth: Struggling to Wealthy

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 or anchent

(see trait list)

Required Advantages:
  • Legal Enforcement Powers (Bounty Hunter's Licence) [5]


Technomancer: Racial Templates

In preparation for my upcoming Technomancer game, I've updated the templates to 4th edition. This is the first bit which covers the Chimeras and Halflings. If I find the time I might also create a GCA file with these templates in them.

Homo Sapiens Arachnae (Spider person) [71]
  • Attributes: ST +2 (Lower Body Only, -40%) [12]
  • Advantages: Clinging [20]; Extra Arms (+2) [20]; Extra Legs (Four Legs) [5]; Sharp Claws [5]; Sharp Teeth [1]; Speak with Animals (Spiders, -60%) [10]; Innate Attack: Venom (1: (1d Toxic, Cyclic: 1 hour, 5 cycles +80%, Follow-Up: Bite +0%, Onset: 1 hour -10% [7]), (2: 2d Toxic, Cyclic: 1 hour, 5 cycles +80%, Follow-Up: Bite +0%, Onset: 1 hour -10% [8]); Binding: Webbing (ST 12, Area Effect, 2 yards +50%; Engulfing, +60%; Sticky, +20%; Wall, permeable, +30%) [63]
  • Disadvantages: Dependency (Mana, very common, constantly) [-25]; Lunacy [-10]; Social Stigma (Outsider) [-15]; Vulnerability (Silver & DN, occasional, x3) [-30]
  • Features: Centauroid
Notes: In order to mimic the 3rd edition Venom I did the following: 1) "Poisonous" means that there are 1 hours cycles, I went with 5 cycles (it could have been another number, but 5 felt right). 2) "Poisonous" also has a resist at HT - "venom level". 3) Slow-acting adds a 1 hour onset, and makes only part of the damage resistible. I created this as 2 Toxic attacks one w/o the resistance.

Homo Sapiens Canis Latrans (Coyote person) [-14]
  • Advantages: Acute Hearing +2 [4]; Discriminatory Smell [15]; Magery 1 [15]; Penetrating Call [1]; Sharp Teeth [1]; Speak with Animals (Canines, -60%) [10]; Ultrahearing [5]
  • Disadvantages: Dependency (Mana, very common, constantly) [-25]; Lunacy [-10]; Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10]; Vulnerability (Silver & DN, occasional, x2) [-20]
  • Features: Fur, Tail

Homo Sapiens Felis (Cat person) [1]
  • Advantages: Acute Hearing +2 [4]; Catfall [10]; Claws [5]; Combat Reflexes [15]; Night Vision 9 [9]; Perfect Balance [15]; Sharp Teeth [1]; Silence +2 [10]; Speak with Animals (Felines, -60%) [10]
  • Disadvantages: Dependency (Mana, very common, constantly) [-25]; Extra Sleep (2 hours) [4]; Impulsiveness [-10]; Lunacy [-10]; Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10]; Vulnerability (Silver & DN, occasional, x2) [-20]
  • Features: Fur, Tail

Homo Sapiens Raptor (Hawk person) [-21]
  • Secondary Characteristics: Hit Points -1 [-2]
  • Advantages: 3D Spatial Sense [10]; Acute Vision +3 [6]; Claws (Talons) [8]; Flight (Winged -25%) [30]; Speak with Animals (Birds of prey, -60%) [10].
  • Disadvantages: Dependency (Mana, common, constantly) [-25]; Lunacy [-10]; Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10]; Vulnerability (Crushing Damage, common, x2) [-30].Vulnerability (Silver & DN, occasional, x2) [-20].
  • Features: Feathers
Notes: I didn't like the strange “walk on their wings, have arms instead of legs” thing, so I've removed it. My Hawk people are still have legs, but also keep the talon-like hands on their wings. The only real change for the template is that I removed the reduced ground move.

Homo Sapiens Serpens (Snake person) [29]
  • Secondary Characteristics: Basic Move -2 [-10]
  • Advantages: Constriction Attack [15]; Double-Jointed [15]; Extra Arm 1 (Extra Flexible +50%, Lower Body) [15]; Infravision (Temp Disad: Per -4, -20%) [8]; Magery 1 (Communication and Empathy only) [9]; Sharp Teeth [1]; Speak with Animals (Snakes, -60%) [10]; Innate Attack: Venom (2d Fatigue, Cyclic: 1 hour, 5 cycles, resistible +40%, Follow-Up: Bite +0%, Resistible (HT-2) -20% [24]
  • Disadvantages: Dependency (Mana, common, constantly) [-25]; Lunacy [-10]; Reputation -1 (Manipulative) [-5]; Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10]; Vulnerability (2d from silver and DN) [-20].
  • Innate Spell*: Persuasion (IQ+3) [12].
  • Features: Scales
* Includes +1 for Magery.

Notes: To mimic Low-Res Infravision, I added a Temporary Disadvantage of Per-4.

Homo Sapiens Vulpes (Fox Person) [-26]
  • Secondary Characteristics: Hit Points -1 [-2]
  • Advantages: Acute Hearing +2 [4]; Acute Taste and Smell +3 [6]; Alternate Form: Human (Cosmetic -50%, Glamour (Will-4) -10%, Magical -10%) [5]; Sharp Teeth [5]; Speak with Animals (Canines -60%) [10]; Ultrahearing [5].
  • Disadvantages: Dependency (Mana, common, constantly) [-25]; Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10]; Vulnerability (2d from silver and DN) [-20].
  • Features: Fur, Tail
Notes: I tried a few variations to mimic the magical Knack, but there were a lot of issues. Not the least was that there is no "Perfect Illusion Disguise" spell, so this seems like a new spell. Also the wording of the description seems to imply that Fox people only can take one form. With that in mind, I decided to go with an Alt. Form.

Notes: I removed the Vulnerability from the Half-Chimeras. I had thought about creating a 1.5x version (as a -50% limitation), but decided to just drop it instead.

Half-Cat [5]
  • Advantages: Acute Hearing +1 [2]; Sharp Claws [5]; Night Vision 9 [9]; Sharp Teeth [1]; Speak with Animals (Pumas, -80%) [5].
  • Disadvantages: Curious [-5]; Extra Sleep (1 hour) [-2]; Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10].
  • Features: Tail

Half-Coyote [0]
  • Advantages: Acute Hearing +1 [2]; Acute Taste and Smell +1 [2]; Sharp Teeth [1]; Speak with Animals (Coyotes, -80%) [5].
  • Disadvantages: Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10].
  • Features: Tail.

Half-Fox [1]
  • Attributes: Per+1 [5]
  • Advantages: Sharp Teeth [1]; Speak with Animals (Foxes, -80%) [5].
  • Disadvantages: Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10].
  • Features: Tail

Half-Hawk [2]
  • Advantages: Absolute Direction [5]; Acute Vision+1 [2]; Speak with Animals (Hawks -80%) [5].
  • Disadvantages: Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10].
  • Features: Feathers

Half-Snake [18]
  • Advantages: Double-Jointed [15]; Speak with Animals (Rattlesnakes, -80%) [5]; Striker: Snake hair (Piercing, Cannot Parry -40%, Weak -50%) [1]; Innate Attack: Venom (1d Fatigue, Cyclic: 1 hour, 5 cycles, resistable +40%, Follow-Up: Bite +0%, Resistible (HT-1) -25% [12]
  • Disadvantages: Reputation -1 (Manipulative) [-5]; Social Stigma (Minority group) [-10].
  • Features: Scales

Half-Spider [41]
  • Advantages: Extra Arms (4) [40]; Sharp Teeth [1]; Speak with Animals (Spiders, -60%) [10]; Innate Attack: Venom (1: (1d Toxic, Cyclic: 1 hour, 5 cycles +80%, Follow-Up: Bite +0%, Onset: 1 hour -10% [7]), (2: 2d Toxic, Cyclic: 1 hour, 5 cycles +80%, Follow-Up: Bite +0%, Onset: 1 hour -10% [8]).
  • Disadvantages: Social Stigma (Outsider) [-15]; Vulnerability (2d from silver) [-10].


GURPS in 2015

I was going to post about my plans for games in 2015, but since I am still hammering out exactly what our next game will be with my group, I'm holding off.

Meanwhile today's Daily Illuminator is by Sean Punch and has a lot of detail on various GURPS project in development.

Nothing bit looks like it hits right away, but it is looking to be another good year for GURPS support.

Check out the post here.