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Old 10-09-2017, 11:30 AM   #11
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

My surface level experience with GMing this with
  • 3 players who have never played a tabletop RPG at all
  • 1 player who is a novice TTRPG player
  • 1 player who is a GURPS veteran

I found the following:
  • Many of the new players still found the templates completely inscrutable, some things that I thought were extremely obvious were not so, apparently (for example, often choosing far less/far more advantages/disadvantages than the point budget allowed for; navigating the clerical spells was annoying for me, and near impossible for the player.)
  • Maybe it's a reverse psychology thing, but when I specifically recommended against Martial Artist and Bard for new players, two of the newest players very enthusiastically chose them anyway. The bard player actually dropped the game before session 1, but the Martial Artist is still around. I hope that he understands that he won't be outdoing a lot of the other players for a long time. Sometimes people don't mind, and the Martial Artist has some awesome potential, and a player that's got some good system mastery can get a lot of mileage right out of the box, but it can be difficult to be immediately at par with some of the more straightforward occupations.
  • After the character sheets were made, the game went very smoothly for the first session, if a little slow. I am not that surprised. The mechanics of the system are incredibly straightforward (I always thought GURPS was as well) once you get past the character sheet bit.
  • The veteran player absolutely trounced the simple encounter I set up, but the others all got a chance to roll attacks and defenses and notice things like "shields are good" and "10 dodge is walking on a knife's edge."
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:56 AM   #12
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

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Originally Posted by finn View Post
I just run my first DFRPG game today. I run "I Smell a Rat" with only a little modification. I will discuss some of the content of the adventure, so people should stop reading this post if they have not played or read "I Smell a Rat".

The PCs were 4 sample characters from "Delvers to Go". A Human Cleric, a Half-Ogre Barbarian, a Halfling Thief, and a Half-Elf Wizard.

Two of the players where well experienced in GURPS 3e but had limited experience in 4e. One was completely new to GURPS. The last one had played 2 GURPS Lite games in the past.

I ignored some rules from the system: Facing, Deceptive Attack, Faint, and Rapid Strike.
Removing facing cuts out a good chunk of the value of Expert Backstabbing, which the thief in Delvers to Go has and makes clever tactical movement of little value (which you may consider desirable). Deceptive Attack, as you noticed is very valuable for allowing high-skill PCs to speed up fights by bypassing defences. Feint, likewise. Rapid Strike allows high-skill, high-damage PCs to mow down mooks. Loss of Rapid Strike won't affect this party too much, but it will affect a swashbuckler or knight quite a bit (because a chunk of their Weapon Master's value is in reduced Rapid Strike penalties).
Quote:
I kept Shock, but simplified Major Wounds/Stun/falling to "If you take more than 1/2 HP damage in one turn, you have a -4 penalty to your defenses the next turn". I really wanted to lower the number of times you roll against HT.
This lowers the value of High Pain Threshold and high HT, and also makes it harder to put mooks down quickly (and more worthy NPCs, for that matter).

I'm not sure what you intentions were, an overall effect of these changes is to reduce the power and flexibility of dedicated melee combatants.
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Last edited by Rupert; 10-17-2017 at 02:02 AM.
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Old 10-17-2017, 07:48 AM   #13
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

Rupert, what you point out in your first paragraph are all true. However, please note that half of the players where knew to GURPS or 4e, and I wanted to jump into the game right away. I did not intend to nurf the PCs, so if one of the PC was a knight or a swashbuckler, I would have introduced Rapid Strikes.

The thief did perform backstabbing when it was clear the enemy was showing its back to the thief, but I will reduce the element of GM fiat for the next game.

I cut down the number of combat options in the start of my previous (short) GURPS campaign, and gradually introduced what I cut out. I never reached the point to adding facing, but we had much tactical fun. That is why I was comfortable in cutting down combat options in this game.

Cutting down on combat options is also recommended in How to be a GURPS GM, and facing is a option listed under "Most Options, Slowest Play, Greatest Detail".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
This lowers the value of High Pain Threshold and high HT, and also makes it harder to put mooks down quickly (and more worthy NPCs, for that matter).
The "mooks" went down quick enough with my simplified rule. High Pain Threshold was much appreciated by the PC Barbarian too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
I'm not sure what you intentions were, an overall effect of these changes is to reduce the power and flexibility of dedicated melee combatants.
My intentions where to cut down on rules I had to explain and the new players had to remember, as well as reduce the number of dices that had to be rolled.

It worked well enough that the players enjoyed and we are actually scheduling the next game so the PCs can clear the rest of the dungeon. I will introduce more option in the next game, the most important ones being Deceptive Attacks, and better details for backstabbing.
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Last edited by finn; 10-17-2017 at 07:50 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 10-17-2017, 08:31 AM   #14
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

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Originally Posted by finn View Post
I will introduce more option in the next game, the most important ones being Deceptive Attacks, and better details for backstabbing.
I'd also add in Rapid Strike. It's what will let your Barbarian clear mooks faster.
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Old 10-17-2017, 02:29 PM   #15
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

Hmm, interesting comments about the adventure's design. I ran two groups through the adventure at Gen Con. It was impossible to keep people from taking the cellar apart looking for things – in fact, that slowed up the session quite a bit!

Maybe it was the way I described area 1(c). The players thought the treasure had to be in the pile of casks and crates. Moreover, the Vision, Observation, or Per-based Traps roll to spot the doorway beyond isn't "only if actively searching," like 1(d) . . . so it's unlikely that six people would fail an easy roll made for them by the GM as soon as they got close. When I ran the adventure, there were multiple successes. Not acting on the information would be the players' decision, but that would be an issue of not getting into the spirit of hack 'n' slash, where it's a given that you'll investigate any secret passage.

Or maybe it was the fact that people fought spiders, used up FP in the battle and while healing afterward, and had to rest. Others wanted to clean out webs to find treasure and/or rats. And while the casters were healing and resting, and the industrious types were clearing the floor, the roguish ones insisted on using that time to search everything, which turned up area 1(d). It's true that this relies on asking the GM to roll, but 1(d) is optional – it's one of those details you can safely miss and still follow the adventure. Still, even at -5, the pregenerated delvers had multiple successes, and both groups ended up reaching the sewers that way.

And area 3(a) was never in doubt. Once the groups knew there were secret doors and hidden passages about, they jumped to the conclusion that there would be more, and started looking everywhere – starting with the walls of area 3 directly across from the exits from areas 2 and 4. Still, I'd accept that the secrecy of 3(a) is perhaps iffy design for a group that doesn't know to search for secrets.

I'd be curious to hear what my Gen Con players thought!
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Old 10-17-2017, 05:37 PM   #16
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

Before entering the cellar, the Cleric in my party cast a daylight level Continual Light spell on the boss of his shield. So the cool ambiance of the darkness was lost (as was the convenient hiding spaces).
It took the party forever to decide to actually burn webs as other solutions weren't very effective.

The biggest obstacle was that the more vocal player (the Cleric) was very incurious and of the opinion that their job was done once the basement was cleared. They went the length of the sewers, came back, suggested Lee hire a mason, and called it a night. It was getting kinda late anyway.

This weekend, I'm running a part 2 that will bring some of the same characters back with some new additions and I'm using a more direct hook related to the deeper reason (and not detailing here because there are spies!!!)

Now, an important note, I'm not a huge fan of running published adventures. I might pillage them for ideas, names, etc, but I rarely run them. So some of the issue here is me.
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Old 10-17-2017, 07:38 PM   #17
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

Quote:
Originally Posted by finn View Post
I cut down the number of combat options in the start of my previous (short) GURPS campaign, and gradually introduced what I cut out. I never reached the point to adding facing, but we had much tactical fun. That is why I was comfortable in cutting down combat options in this game.

Cutting down on combat options is also recommended in How to be a GURPS GM, and facing is a option listed under "Most Options, Slowest Play, Greatest Detail".
I always cut down on these options for beginners, too. I usually play with casual gamers or total beginners (some children, some adults). If I start listing too many maneuvers with facing changes, movement costs, attack and defense penalties, etc., their eyes glaze over pretty quickly. It's the difference between the folks who, when they discover that they can target a foe's eyes, say "eww" rather than "cool!"

I start with broad strokes—basic attack, defense, and movement—and add layers as interest develops. Sometimes I'll introduce new complexity through their opponents' tactics or simply respond to questions: Can I charge at someone and attack?, Can I try to disarm them?, Can I aim at the doorway and shoot any orcs who come through?

If a player were to cry foul because I was nerfing their tactical niche, then I'd certainly reintroduce whatever elements they wanted. I've even run games where tactical complexity was calibrated differently for different players in the same battle.
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Old 10-17-2017, 08:13 PM   #18
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

Playing with miniatures, I've found that I haven't had to "introduce" facing, at least as a basic concept; people seem to like pointing their mini "the right way". The DFRPG movement and facing rules are simple enough that people setting their facing intuitively seem to end up doing it right anyways.

I'll mention things like Deceptive Attack and hit location in passing, but what I do to actually introduce them is to bring in enemies where using those options is a great tactic against them, give them a turn to learn the foes are tricky some how, and then suggest them as a way to get a leg up. I don't recommend starting with enemies using them against player characters, as this can lead to players feeling like you were "hiding" things from them to get an advantage over them.

It's also easier for people to remember the thing if it came with "And then I was awesome!" I don't mind if they don't really learn it better than "that thing I did to hit those swashbuckling goblins" (or w/e) for the first while; all I need them to do is remember that it's a thing and keep trying to use it.
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Old 10-17-2017, 11:42 PM   #19
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Hmm, interesting comments about the adventure's design. I ran two groups through the adventure at Gen Con. It was impossible to keep people from taking the cellar apart looking for things – in fact, that slowed up the session quite a bit!
Of course your Gen Con players were high-level Kickstarter backers, so probably very experienced RPG players, so presumably extremely genre-savvy. To find the problem that finn experienced, you need the opposite kind of players, the ones who don't intuitively search everything they possibly can.
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Old 10-18-2017, 04:12 PM   #20
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Default Re: [Dungeons][DM only]My first experience in DFRPG/"I smell a Rat"

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Originally Posted by dripton View Post

Of course your Gen Con players were high-level Kickstarter backers, so probably very experienced RPG players, so presumably extremely genre-savvy.
Very true! I guess I have high hopes that new players will read In the Dungeon (Exploits, pp. 18-25). :)
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