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Old 05-20-2014, 06:25 AM   #1
Onkl
 
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Default [DF] Of course...

Hi guys

I love Dungeon Fantasy, my players love Dungeon Fantasy. So far we've played two DF campaigns and two campaigns which borrowed a lot from DF. I admit, I am a DF fanboy. Now I've stumbled upon a post by our grandmaster of all that ist GURPS, Kromm himself, where he points out that there are some unspoken defaults that go with Dungeon Fantasy. Below you can find the post I am talking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm
DF assumes that all GMs know how to run and pace hack 'n' slash: of course locks and traps and barricades have anti-magic to make thieves useful and keep wizards in line; of course you have to drag the heroes along at high speed so that FP rarely recover and thus become a precious resource; of course dungeon ceilings are too low for flight; of course you have to house-rule a lot of stuff to suit the exact party composition; and so on. It is therefore a better match to old-school Rule Zero GMing.
Now, for the most part I have run DF with the knowledge I gained from computer RPGs. While the games have been successful in that everyone involved had fun, after reading above quote I think I might have missed a few "givens" of a hack and slash campaign.

My only experience with Pen and Paper RPGs come from less than ten AD&D sessions played as a teenager (more than twenty years ago), lots of book studying for and little playing of GURPS 3rd Edition and now six years of playing fourth in differing settings.

I do enjoy reading the Dungeon Fantastic blog of Peter as well as the No School Grognard blog of Mark. I have raided both for ideas but still feel like I am missing some basic points about Hack and Slash adventures which the mentioned authors don't write about because - and that's what I assume - that stuff comes natural to them.

Since I am a GM who doesn't know about all the assumptions Kromm talks about in his post I would like you to tell me what the default mode for running and pacing a hack and slash game and campaign are.

Thank you very much

Onkl
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: [DF] Of course...

Things I've learned from 5 years of playing and running DF:
* Ambushes are deadly. A bunch of mook monsters with crossbows who can take aimed shots at the PCs from behind can be a TPK. Be very careful with hidden/invisible monsters if your PCs don't have countermeasures.
* Use low-sanctity and low- or no mana zones liberally. Wizards are balanced on the implicit assumption that their toys aren't going to work all the time. They should run into that problem at least once every adventure. Same with clerics.
* Anything that needs to be secure needs to be protected against magic: made of meteoric iron, in a no-mana zone, protected by Mage Lock and various warding spells, whatever.
* If you have a flying PC, read the rules on flight vary carefully. An SM0 delver with Winged Flight needs at least 6' of clearance on each side, to the back, and over the head in order to fly. Flight should be useful but it shouldn't be always available. Wizards using Flight to scout should remember that you can't see mana zone boundaries in advance, and they are liable to drop out of the sky at any time.
* Spellcasters get less abusive if there's a time limit and they can't futz around, casting spells all the time and recovering. Up the difficulty of the out-of-combat challenges if there's plenty of time.
* You'll need to revise a lot of spells, more or less as needed, to deal with the PCs. Problematic spells include but are by no means limited to Shape Earth, Alter Terrain, Hang, Delay, Reflex, and Bless.
* Most delvers have no good way to deal with diffuse foes, so don't overuse them. On the other hand, they're a good challenge, so don't avoid them either.
* If you have an Elven Scout (you probably will), make sure that he understands how you're interpreting Sense of Duty (Nature).
* Any monster that attacks with an unarmored limb is pretty much not a threat unless present in overwhelming numbers: it's too easy for warrior types to parry and cripple the limb.
* If you're adopting published adventures from other game lines, you'll need to throw in a lot of curses, riddles, evil runes, and obstacles. Go crazy with that stuff.

More as I think of it.
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:45 AM   #3
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Default Re: [DF] Of course...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post
* Any monster that attacks with an unarmored limb is pretty much not a threat unless present in overwhelming numbers: it's too easy for warrior types to parry and cripple the limb.
A quick fix here is to treat the unarmed attacks of monstrous beasts (but probably not mundane animals or people) as Strikers. This is especially appropriate if they've got inherent DR and/or oversized claws.
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: [DF] Of course...

I think I've literally never seen or heard of a campaign trying to implement Kromm's premises...
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:09 AM   #5
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: [DF] Of course...

I do a lot of what Kromm suggests. Not all of them always, but lots of them.

* Meteoric locks to annoy wizards.
* NMZs and changed Sanctity levels to annoy spellcasters.
* Low ceilings to make flight a problem and limit the utility of Levitation as an attack spell.
* Need for speed areas where you can't rest between repeated fights.

And others:
* Monsters that can't be easily killed just through sheer damage and/or have special vulerabilities.
* Combined-armed foes.
* No care to balance.
* House rules to make the game play the way I want.

If you don't mind making up new guys if the fights are too rough, it's an easy game to run IME.
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:34 AM   #6
Kromm
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Default Re: [DF] Of course...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post

Things I've learned from 5 years of playing and running DF:
In the campaigns that inspired me to write DF, certain of these have been especially big deals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post

Ambushes are deadly.
Yes! Many PCs rely heavily on active defenses to survive. Some have phenomenal DR, but most don't . . . and unless the attackers are stupid, they'll attack everyone, perhaps even focusing on the softer targets to remove them from the equation. That often means everybody but magic-plate-armor guy going down early. This can be a chance for the heavy fighters to show off their mettle (and metal), of course.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post

Use low-sanctity and low- or no mana zones liberally. Wizards are balanced on the implicit assumption that their toys aren't going to work all the time.

Anything that needs to be secure needs to be protected against magic

Wizards using Flight to scout should remember that you can't see mana zone boundaries in advance, and they are liable to drop out of the sky at any time.
Yep. It's possible to overuse countermeasures against magic, of course, but bear in mind that Magical is a -10% limitation – explicit on powers, implicit on spells – and read as Accessibility, a value of -10% implies "the ability works 69-81% of the time" (Powers, p. 99). Thus, it's absolutely fair for about 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 events important to the adventure (locks, monsters, obstacles, traps, tricks, etc.) to compromise magical powers in some way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post

Spellcasters get less abusive if there's a time limit
More generally, it's important to track limited resources. Resource management is a big part of the genre, and always has been. If the PCs can fully recharge between combat encounters – and safely rest for hours after that big Shape Earth spell or whatever – then magic becomes far too powerful. At a minimum, rest periods should be subject to rolls for wandering-monster attacks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post

Any monster that attacks with an unarmored limb is pretty much not a threat unless present in overwhelming numbers
I tend to err on the side of treating all monster attacks as weapon attacks, I must admit. If there's ever a new edition of GURPS, though, I'm going to side with the gamers saying that parry damage should be greatly reduced, rather than just play forward the rules – which date to Man to Man – that say to use full damage.
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:42 AM   #7
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Default Re: [DF] Of course...

Really, themes seem to matter more to play player-base than mechanics. People react well to humorous topics and poor to overly serious ones.

Giant bat bites a char with a crit to the neck and they pass out with horrible rolls. They vow to hunt every bat and make tons of bat related comments, which has everyone laughing. Happy campaign.

Dungeon crawling with hack & slash, traps, etc, fun but less entertaining.

So I spend more time working up encounter humor and uniqueness in the personality of the things given.


Some things I learned over the last couple years and might be specific to my group:

* Short and to the point dungeons are widely preferred (They like to change environments alot).
* Lots of personality and feeling in whatever is being done so people can feel more immersed.
* Any challenging encounter needs to risk the character's life, but without really shutting down any of their abilities. (They like the thrill of plotting and scheming how to deal with things).
* No railroads on plots/schemes/stories/etc at all. If they manage to deal with a villain without a fight, they'll do it!
* Interesting new creatures to encounter instead of tried and true Tolkien/D&D-esque stuff.
* Morally gray situations left and right (My players like their char's conscious to be pricked about hacking something in front of them to bits).
* Strangely, my players don't like loot as much. They like the feel that their char is the power, and not the gear they're carrying around. So expect people to be in the same cruddy leather they started in XD Though consumables tend to be okay.
* Oh, and my players don't like resource tracking.
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:46 AM   #8
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Default Re: [DF] Of course...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
I tend to err on the side of treating all monster attacks as weapon attacks, I must admit. If there's ever a new edition of GURPS, though, I'm going to side with the gamers saying that parry damage should be greatly reduced, rather than just play forward the rules – which date to Man to Man – that say to use full damage.
Same on that note. I just hand them all strikers and move on. Generally I try to have attacks that play into fun stuff in GURPS rules and exploit them a bit to educate my players to study the books, they seem to enjoy it.

Such as high speed flying enemies with thrusting talons, swooping in to get a lovely bonus to their otherwise piddly thrust damage :)
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:49 AM   #9
Kromm
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Default Re: [DF] Of course...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post

I think I've literally never seen or heard of a campaign trying to implement Kromm's premises...
I've been playing GURPS since 1986, and I haven't always been the GM. I've played in extended fantasy campaigns with two GMs who didn't know each other (in different cities, with different groups) and two other GMs who each knew and were inspired by one of the previous GMs, as well as in fantasy adventures with countless referees at conventions. I can honestly say that all of the following were enforced in all cases:
  • Significant challenges regularly came with anti-magic.
  • FP recovery on the fly was limited or forbidden for extended periods.
  • House rules were made to optimize the game to the party.
The first mirrors the quick-and-potent counterspells, regular presence of Magic Resistance on monsters, and anti-magic zones in published adventures in That Other Game. The second emulates the effect of limited spell slots in TOG. The third was pretty much universal in gaming when I entered the hobby in 1979 . . . maybe it's out of fashion in 2014.

Of the things I listed, only environmental controls on flight are my idea (and mlangsdorf mentioned those, so I doubt I'm alone). That's mostly because flight was never a common shtick for PCs in the games in which I've been a player, but did come up a lot in campaigns that I've GMed.
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Old 05-20-2014, 12:06 PM   #10
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Default Re: [DF] Of course...

I tend to use flying enemies sparingly and give a bit of a warning to the PCs before they face one or make them fragile enough where chucking rocks at them is probably enough to take them down.

It's one of the things that can seriously just make being a PC the opposite of fun (See removal of ability's usefulness). You got a sword, and something can fly around freely doing things to you, it'll frustrate you more than challenge you.

That being said, if I ever brought a dragon into play, that's all they'd do is fly around and ignite fire. But dragons deserve to be respected.
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