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Old 04-09-2018, 11:13 AM   #41
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

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This is what CRPGs call an 'escort quest' and most gamers hate them with a burning passion. I doubt it would be any more popular in a tabletop game.
Part of the frustration in a CRPG is that it takes more sophisticated AI to be a not-enraging escortee than to be a random monster, but they get barely any better AI (if not actually worse, due to the developers inexperience writing AI for this kind of character).

As an example: Escort Quests in World of Warcraft were horrible for the longest time because the NPC used the generic "patrolling monster" AI, and marched robotically [1] along a fixed path at a fixed rate, regardless of whether you were anywhere nearby or were stuck behind fighting monsters, if monsters were blatantly visible up ahead and attacking, if a gigantic demon T-Rex were trashing the zone at the time, nada.

Salt liberally with usually having a very limited set of dialogue that they spout inanely and repeatedly, and with little relationship to events in the environment, and eventually you want to stab them in their little low polygon pixelated faces.

Totally brainless, to a level that it's extremely difficult to replicate by a GM if the NPC is meant to be some kind of "person", even one with a low sense of self preservation and poor obedience.

[1] Word used deliberately. Not even as smart as a roomba.
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Old 04-09-2018, 11:38 AM   #42
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

Yeah, CRPG escort quests are not the same thing at all. I've played many (far too many) CRPGs, and those sorts of quests aren't really what I've been writing about here. There, you basically have a squishy monster magnet over whom the player has zero influence. I'm talking about an NPC who could be persuaded to go along with plans through good roleplaying rather than mechanical Influence rolls, which is essentially not within the realm of even the best AI at the moment.

"Okay, this plan all comes down to you, Mr. Blue. When the monsters show up over there, you have to pull this rope back here right on cue, or we're doomed. We'll leave Father Aesculapius with you to watch your back, but that's all we can spare – you're going to have to hold out with almost no support. Our fate is in your hands!"

Of course, the rope mostly just triggers a trap that gives the group a small advantage. Its real value is keeping Mr. Blue 20 yards back from the battle lines. And Father Aesculapius is there to buff and heal Blue so much that he'd have to actively try to die. But Blue doesn't need to know any of that, and his Indomitable won't matter because he has Gullibility and the explanation seems to make sense.

I'm really talking more about a character who would be an NPC quest-giver but who wants to come along for the ride rather than sending the PCs off to do their work. The NPC would participate, just not all that usefully. But in pure GURPS terms, the NPC could still be worth quite a few points in the form of Contacts, Indomitable, Multimillionaire, high Status, Unfazeable, and hopefully a bit of Luck.
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Old 04-09-2018, 12:00 PM   #43
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

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*reduced to tears laughing* Evil twist if the PCs started selling off the heirlooms for cash-money: They're all needed to tackle the Big Bad - to get to the big bad, to defend from some horrible weapon, to crack some impossible defense, to match it in mobility, whatever.
Love it!
And spot on for the difference between a CRPG moronic AI vs, what the GM can do with a buffon like NPC.
I dont think I ever ran a safari type quest but I have done the escort type stuff and usually the PCs like it.
Its more fun when one of the players want to kill the nuisance and the rest try to convince them they cant.
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Old 04-09-2018, 01:50 PM   #44
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

Now I've finished the book, I suspect that Caverntown is where the Gnomish Army Knife originated. Swiss tropes probably work for the place in general, actually.

There's also a delightful scam to be run in selling "special" Adventurer's Guild memberships to "select" (new in town) delvers.
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Old 04-09-2018, 02:58 PM   #45
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

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*reduced to tears laughing* Evil twist if the PCs started selling off the heirlooms for cash-money: They're all needed to tackle the Big Bad - to get to the big bad, to defend from some horrible weapon, to crack some impossible defense, to match it in mobility, whatever.
As long as it doesn't end there with TPK and the players need to track down and reclaim the sold heirlooms – I bet some player would be like "I'm glad we sold those, I love this campaign, I don't want it to end just yet."
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Old 04-09-2018, 04:26 PM   #46
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

Reminds me of the Eye of Larn in the Larn roguelike game (very old).

Larn had a super-weapon that killed with a single hit. It was super expensive.
Larn had a two stage dungeon. In stage 1, you went into a dungeon to find the Eye of Larn. Said eye sold for enough to buy the super weapon. However, the stage two dungeon had a bunch of invisible monsters, and you could only see them with the eye...
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Old 04-09-2018, 07:35 PM   #47
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

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If the Great Cavern were a true hemisphere with the city sitting on a plane slicing a sphere in two, that would make the ceiling ~1,600 yards tall (i.e., equal to the cavern's radius). However, "the cavern floor [...] meets the dome's descending sides at an acute angle" (The Great Cavern, p. 6), so it isn't that spacious. That is, the cavern floor isn't a plane that slices a sphere in half. While the ceiling and walls describe "the surface of a vast hemisphere," it's never stated what percentage of that hemisphere is open space.
Ok, I've geeked out on this more than usual. I created a Google spreadsheet that does all the dome math for different radiuses and heights. It even produces a graph that approximates the shape of the dome. (Though, the graph scale needs to be tweaked if you adjust the radius.) The default radius of 1600 matches Kromm's details and I've put 1400 yards as the starting height. You can edit the values to adjust. If you want to mess with the rest of the sheet, feel free to make a copy. Here it is:

Caverntown Dome Calculator
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:03 AM   #48
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

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Bonus points if – after a dozen quests – said NPC happens to mention the dungeon in the basement of the family mansion, doubtless horribly dangerous and filled with 101 reasons why his dead ancestors needed those heirlooms ("Bother, my map dealer is away for the month. I suppose we could go take a look at the boring old dungeon in the cellar.").
Your mention of "family" here suggests other potential plot complications. Perhaps Mr. Blue has relations who don't want him indulging in his mad, near-suicidal quests. They would be opposed to the delvers and might make life difficult for them. Meanwhile, another faction (the Sackville-Blues?) might stand to gain if rich Uncle Blue were to die, so they might encourage the delvers, downplay the danger of a perilous quest, or sabotage gear. This campaign would provide plenty of action for the more socially oriented characters.

One could also, of course, have competing delvers in the mix. Could be another team slaying the dragon before you arrive, spoiling your photo op. Or delvers hired by one of the two family factions ("bring Blue back alive; we don't care what happens to those ne'er-do-wells" or "make sure Blue gets eaten by the dragon, preferably with all witnesses").

So many fun opportunities with this!
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Old 04-10-2018, 07:59 AM   #49
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

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Your mention of "family" here suggests other potential plot complications.
Of course! And anybody rich, well-connected, and living in the ancestral mansion has not just family, or even Family, but FAMILY. Your ideas of overprotective family or envious family, acting directly or indirectly, are great. A few further options:

Shady Family. They don't care about Mr. Blue's welfare; they care about his assets, but they're already the true masters of the clan wealth. They use their naïve relative as an inoffensive front and fall guy for illicit activities, and are torn between wanting to eliminate his canny adventurer "friends" before they spot the shadiness, and wanting to exploit those people in some fashion. The PCs may find their golden goose unable to pay them . . . or meet relations who obsequiously laud the party's efforts as Mr. Blue's minders as they quietly provide Mr. Blue with new quests that see the delvers serving sinister purposes (like recovering the Forbidden Tome, which will be "stolen" the day after Mr. Blue puts it in his library). Mr. Blue's heirlooms might be dangerous items these criminals want to see tested at a safe distance.

Family Shades. Maybe Mr. Blue retains wealth and influence despite his uselessness because he's the last living member – and thus heir – of a great family. Old houses have ghosts, however, and heirlooms such as holy swords and forbidden books suggest the rest of the family didn't die in bed. That is, the Blues aren't dead, just not quite alive. This might be irrelevant at first . . . but then great-grand uncle doesn't want the PCs using his sword, or Mr. Blue is manipulated into the Forbidden Tome quest because undead granny in the attic wants the book for reasons. That dungeon in the basement could hold endless generations of zombie or wraith ancestors who can only be laid to rest on home soil by a descendant's hand: "Blue, we need you on the front line with that sword!"

Political Blues. The Blue clan might have a history of filling important roles over the centuries: commanders, guild masters, high priests, etc. That's how the family got rich and well-connected. Now out-of-town relations want to secure control of the town as part of a larger power play, and intend to put Mr. Blue in some influential post (perhaps even Mayor), propping him up with their competence. The PCs might be invited on board directly and hired as bodyguards, in which case their future holds extra money (whatever Mr. Blue pays and the family's thanks) but also extra danger (assassins in town) – and extra consequences for failure (if Mr. Blue dies, they lose their meal ticket and acquire an enemy). Or they might be left in the dark, facing extra danger from assassins and family enemies with no idea why.

If the campaign is going to be built around this NPC, it could be fun to use it all at once. The Tiffany Blues just want Mr. Blue out of the way to get at his money. The Federal Blues want to keep him around a political tool, while the Byzantine Blues want to keep him around as a criminal front. The True Blues despise all of the above (and probably the PCs), and actually care about Mr. Blue. But whichever faction is currently in the lead, the Midnight Blues are down there in the basement, waiting patiently.
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Old 04-10-2018, 05:04 PM   #50
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Default Re: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown

Just posting it here before I forget.
Small typo on p. 37, on the 4th bullet in the aside. "rotherhood."
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