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.