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Old 05-09-2021, 09:41 AM   #1
DouglasCole
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Default Delvers to Grow: Get to the table fast

The main thread is here in the GURPS forums, but I was asked to drop a shameless plug here in case there are people who read this forum but not the GURPS one. (there's also a few active threads on reddit, notably this one and this post by Rob Conley based on his original blog post which is getting some good activity).

Inspired a lot by Action 4, Pointless Looting and Slaying, and Five Easy Pieces to various extents, the author (Kevin Smyth, who also wrote Nordlondr Folk and Hand of Asgard) took the best of the concepts from those works and applied them ruthlessly to form 62, 125, and 187-point templates that encourage only a few choices.

The result is Delvers to Grow, now funding on Kickstarter.

As the participants in the meatgrinder can tell you, these are not false choices, limiting choices, or cookie-cutters. These are the benefit of a real expert in character generation and playing a LOT of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG putting a lot of experience and no small degree of angsty stress over getting it right guiding the new player (or the experienced one - like me - for whom the character generation metagame is less interesting than playing with friends).

As has been said elsewhere, the result is that character generation along the suggested niches takes as little as five minutes, pretty much always less than 20, and the Meatgrinder squad was making new characters at the table when their old one died. In some cases they had a new character ready to go that instant (because they saw death coming), and at most they missed one turn.
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Old 05-11-2021, 01:49 PM   #2
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Quote:
This is a word-for word repost of a blog post by "The Chaotic GM." He's a Patreon member of mine, and I've been part of several forums he's been on (SJGames, Discord, my own Gaming Ballistic forum on Discord, etc) for a while. He always gives great, constructive feedback. He'll tell you what he likes, and what needs to change.

So, without further ado: The Chaotic GM's thoughts on the draft manuscript from Delvers to Grow.
Gaming Ballistic has launched a new Kickstarter project. Delvers to Grow by Kevin Smyth is a DFRPG supplement scratching two common itches: character creation taking too long even with the distilled ruleset and 250-point characters having too many moving parts for players inexperienced with the genre. Both have one thing in common: too many choices, and DtG reduces this down to just half a dozen major ones per character while still producing effective, flavorful characters at 62, 125 and 187 points fully compatible with the DFRPG profession templates.

I had the privilege of running a bunch of playtests at the 125-point level, and I can confidently say that DtG delivers what it set out to do. It was a meatgrinder scenario where characters would die often and each player would create several different characters during a 4-hour session. Some players reported character generation time (including gear and spells) as low as 10 minutes, even complaining that half of that was wrangling with GCS or GCA. Now for first-timers this will likely be higher, 30 minutes seems to be an average. Even for those with no prior DFRPG experience whatsoever or those who get overwhelmed with too many options, it shouldn’t take longer than an hour and they’ll have a fully fledged character ready to throw some dice at the table.

DtG achieves this by having each character built from a base template (one for each of three categories of characters – “strong”, “fast” and “smart” – at each of the three point levels), up to four 25- or 50-point profession and “upgrade” modules, and two -25-point disadvantage modules. Finally, each character chooses a couple gear packages and in case of casters, one of several spell lists available for each profession. Unlike the 250-point profession templates, you get no more than a couple choices within each of the base templates and modules, and many of the modules offer no such smaller choices at all. If this seems too constraining – it really is not, because the way you can mix and match the modules results in a wide variety of builds even within a single profession. You can always loosen it up if more customization is desired – DtG is simply a tool to speed up character creation, not a prescriptive rulebook to follow to the letter or else.

Aside from being a great DFRPG resource, DtG left an important impression with me. While the endless options and fine granularity of GURPS character generation are one of the main reasons why it’s my favorite game, over the last year or two I grew to like “profession” templates very much as a tool for illustrating character archetypes, effective builds and even setting flavor for any given game. I like the chunkier, simpler evolution presented in DtG even more and will seriously consider it for all my GURPS material going forward. And if anyone asks me what should be done to get more new players into the GURPS ecosystem, my first answer will be “this”.

So much this.
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Old 05-12-2021, 08:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Delvers to Grow: Get to the table fast

Roleplay Rescue Podcast: Delvers to Grow
I recorded a podcast with my friend Che Webster, who runs the Roleplay Rescue show.

Listen to it here: Delvers To Grow With Doug Cole (Bonus)
This is, unusually for me, a pretty hard sell. This was at Che's request. He got an early copy of Delvers to Grow, and after making his first character in 14 minutes on his first read-through, wanted to have me come on and pitch it pretty hard.

Well. I can do that. And I did.

As always we had a great conversation - he's an excellent interviewer.
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Old 05-12-2021, 09:54 AM   #4
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Over at Kreios' Lair, he continues to document the blind-test for Delvers to Grow. I'm going to link it here:

Delvers to Mow Down II: Grinding More Meat

Go read it for a pretty darn entertaining look at what happens when the GM really is out to get you, and the price of failure is a few moments delay to quickly make a new character.

But I want to repost his conclusions here, because they're important, and I think they help support the notion that even for expert players, this is a game-changer on how you can approach the Dungeon Fantasy RPG thanks to Kevin Smyth's outstanding work:

Quote:
Conclusion

That was incredibly fun - not serious roleplaying, obviously, but a very nice romp nonetheless. We saw these 9 characters in play:
  • The Knight incredibly survived throughout the game despite his horrible luck (his parries were cursed, he often missed, and he rolled minimum damage multiple times) and almost being cut in half. He was quite amusing.
  • The Backstabbing Thief did what backstabbing thiefs are apparently booked to do in this game: Disappear behind one enemy, killing them instantly, then being killed themselves. This one by being hacked apart by cultists.
  • Thwock the Barbarian, our only surviving start character, showed why you need more armour in this scenario. He was already on fire, though, which hurt his chances and was sliced to death (well, stun) over multiple turns.
  • Olaf Treehuggir (Druid) was already out of FP on the wall and stabbed surprisingly effective with his spear. He was decapitated by a demon.
  • The Wrestler (me) was a very fun character, throwing cultists down the wall all day long. I feel these were pretty unique circumstances. On the other hand, he’s very amusing to play defensively, with at least 8 DR against everything but crushing while keeping no encumbrance. All-out attacks are still a risk for him, but less of one.
  • Sven Wodenson (Martial Artist) was introduced into the fight by killing two cultists, and he continued doing so throughout. He killed at least five cultists. Then, he too was decapitated by a demon after being stunned by the Mage’s concussion and therefore at -5 to defend.
  • Sir Cumstance (Knight) seemed unlucky, too. He was hit early and then soon stunned. He did kill at least one cultist, though.
  • Slickfingers (Thief) is the only character that wasn’t stunned by the Mage. He’s quite damaged.
  • The Mage’s main contribution was to stun almost all of the delvers. He did take out four flying demons, though, which was nice.

I want to stress that this is a very unique way of playing. Being in combat almost constantly, and being mobbed by these cultists, means that you have to prioritize armour and defences to survive. At the same time, since you’re playing disposable characters, you don’t much care about saving them.

From a character building PoV, which is what the book is about, this was incredible. People were building their characters during play, and everyone (except me, because I was trying to post everything live into discord and managed to survive anyway) had characters ready to go the instant their previous characters died. It was extremely fast and streamlined.
This is fantastic work by the author, and I think it's worth checking out. The more stretch goals it passes, the more ready-to-use NPCs get developed to make such things even faster. (I've gotten very good responses from backers for the TFT version of this concept, the Character Collections).

Delvers to Grow on Kickstarter
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Old 05-12-2021, 02:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Delvers to Grow: Get to the table fast

As the player of the amusing knight who managed to survive the entire session with deeply negative hit points, I have to say that it was a blast to play. I haven't played in a scenario this deadly in decades. And I haven't created a character mid-session since my first days of basic D&D.

This book is a fantastic upgrade to the DFRPG line. I suspect that it will be a model for future GURPS books, too.

If any of you frequent ENWorld, I just posted a thread about it over there too. I'm quite excited about the product and want to spread the word!
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Old 05-13-2021, 09:58 AM   #6
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I want to come in hard on this, and be unusually forceful on my pitch here, because I firmly believe what I'm about to say:

This is an absolutely game-changing book for those who like GURPS and the Dungeon Fantasy genre, but find that the 250-point expectation is a higher-power campaign than you like to play, or find that you and your players get frustrated with character creation.

Kevin has penned a system that allows chargen in Powered by GURPS to be fast. TFT Fast. OSR fast. 1st level D&D fast. Five to 15 minutes to a playable, robust, interesting character with only a few decisions required.

It's the best on-ramp to GURPS that has ever been written.

Yes, I think it's that good. I hope you do too.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...wered-by-gurps

(You can do pick-up games at conventions or your FLGS with this book and have each newcomer make a character on the spot. Despite a "Nordlond" flavor to the art and examples, this is 100% exportable to any DFRPG and most DF games with no alteration.)
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Old 05-13-2021, 06:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Delvers to Grow: Get to the table fast

So are they going to make some lower power adventures to play with the lower powered PC?
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Old 05-13-2021, 07:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: Delvers to Grow: Get to the table fast

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Originally Posted by b-dog View Post
So are they going to make some lower power adventures to play with the lower powered PC?
Crypt of Krysuvik is for 125-point adventurers and is part of the pledge.

I fully intend to do more low and mid point scenarios if the support is there.
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Old 05-14-2021, 08:40 AM   #9
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Default Re: Delvers to Grow: Get to the table fast

I'm bad at reading. When do we expect delivery of physical material, should the campaign succeed?
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Old 05-14-2021, 09:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: Delvers to Grow: Get to the table fast

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Originally Posted by Not View Post
I'm bad at reading. When do we expect delivery of physical material, should the campaign succeed?
Campaign Schedule
  • Campaign Launch: Friday, May 7, 2021 (10am Central Time)
  • Campaign End: Tuesday, May 25, 2021 (8pm Central Time)
  • Backerkit Phase: End of May, 2021
  • Production: June, 2021
  • PDF Distribution: July 2021
  • Printing and Physical Good Manufacture: July-August 2021
  • Shipping, Fulfillment, and Delivery: September 2021
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