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Old 03-05-2021, 07:28 AM   #11
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

I would look to Monster Hunters for monsters. They are made for higher-powered characters with more effective weapons.
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Old 03-05-2021, 08:16 AM   #12
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

Fair warning, these type of campaigns can be a bit prone to derail depending on the players.

If the players don't expect to face a "fair challenge" you might find them trying to do everything except for the dangerous stuff. Instead of "Oh, damn there is someone else here, we need to be careful" you can get "Oh, damn there is someone else here, we should bolt out of here!".

Obviously on the flip side, the type of player that will charge the king's guards because 'yolo' would have a 0-day life expectancy in this type of campaign, but then again, those types of player characters rarely live long unless the GM fudges things in the player character's favor.

Anyway, you need to make sure you have players able to handle balancing risk-vs-reward, so they don't either run away all the time, or the party keep getting themselves killed.
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Old 03-05-2021, 08:28 AM   #13
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

I'd run the game less as "Dungeon Fantasy" and more as "Monster Slayers". The PC's are a mercenary company that specializes in taking out extremely powerful monsters that start menacing towns. It would have DF and Fantasy style monsters, but play somewhere between Monster Hunters and military play. I'd want to build in a method for recruiting new members of the company to speed up character replacement, and I'd expect the finance and equipping of the group to be a sizeable chunk of play.
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Old 03-05-2021, 08:34 AM   #14
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

The Felltower campaign at times seems like that
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Old 03-05-2021, 10:43 AM   #15
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

Originally Posted by Kalzazz View Post
The Felltower campaign at times seems like that
Yeah, and it has a lot more pc deaths that I would have expected in a DF game.
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Old 03-05-2021, 01:20 PM   #16
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

I would argue that "underdogs who succeed through superior tactics" is in many ways the default for Dungeon Fantasy. Typically, it's assumed the PCs will use force concentration (don't split the party!) to overcome superior forces through defeat in detail (an adventure involves a series of separate combat encounters rather than one big fight). If you read professionally published adventures, they tend to be careful to justify this approach, for example using unintelligent monsters, monsters supernaturally bound to specific rooms, monsters who hate each other, and of course the good old "the Big Bad is overconfident". One way to up the challenge is to make the PCs work for it—making them use hit-and-run tactics, force them to finish fights quickly before reinforcements arrive, and so on. Though if the thing you want is for PCs to avoid combat, the thing I'd do is choose monsters with great combat stats but mediocre IQ, Will, and Per.

Last edited by Michael Thayne; 03-05-2021 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 03-05-2021, 03:59 PM   #17
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

It could definitely work. The theme of underdog stories tend to be one of out-thinking enemies with a healthy dash of luck. So opportunities for stealth, luck and/or impulse points (Pyramid #3/100) would all be the levers you want to work with. You'd want to really brush up on perception checks, and ensure the dungeon has few or no chokepoints that force a fight. Disguise would also be a good aspect to keep in mind, or having a contact on the inside. The goal may not be to kill everyone, it might be to steal the MacGuffin, sabotage a ritual or assassinate one specific person.
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Old 03-05-2021, 04:16 PM   #18
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

Underdog is relative, mainline DF characters can very easily be underdogs to appropriately strong or numerous enemies. Situational aspects can also make that so, such as having to defeat a specific enemy or steal/restore/break a specific object where accomplishing that goal is not a pure test of strength or maximizing chances on an attack roll and so forth.

I would really point out the easy trap that many folks who advocate for "underdogs who outsmart the enemies" campaign styles is that in literature relies on the plot armor to give the characters the right opportunities and in gameplay relies on the players to actually be really clever.

I tell you what, being clever after some nachos and beer on a saturday night is hardly easy.

You, as the DM, need to identify not just what provides an unconquerable challenge for the players but also identify the ways that it CAN be overcome and give your players the necessary breadcrumbs and nudges to get them thinking in the right path. It's easy for a DM to come up with enemies with a great-to-perfect defense. It's quite a bit harder to write in the fatal flaw and then let the players SEE that flaw and exploit it. Your buddies aren't Odysseus, or John Wick, or Sherlock Holmes, even if their characters are. It's Bob who rides a bike to work, and Alice who has a kite hobby. You need to make REALLY good use of perception, IQ, and tactics rolls to clue the players in to things that their really smart characters would notice that they don't because they're very normal people.

Also, in the stories you cited as examples, I would point out that while the characters aren't monsters of combat and thus classically "underdogs", they are not underdogs in all areas. Odysseus couldn't go toe-to-toe with the Cyclops, but he was far FAR smarter (mythically so) than the Cyclops, ergo had the "combat" rolls been based off of IQ and mental skills it would have been a rout for poor Cyclops. Sam and Frodo were exceptionally quiet and unnoticeable, Holmes is simply three moves ahead of his opponents and sets up the police to show up before he has to throw any punches. CoC is a bad example because there is no winning there, but that's the point :)

I guess the point is, when running an "underdog" game, identify in which way the characters are actually underdogs and ensure that the encounters and situations are set up so that they CAN be overcome in clever ways, and that the enemies are slouches when it comes to things other than smashing.
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Old 03-05-2021, 05:36 PM   #19
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

I think there is an adventure idea in DF 15 Henchmen that might give you an idea.

The adventure starts with the PCs as normal 250 point heroes. Let them battle their way into a dungeon, with the mission of recovering a MacGuffin. But as soon as the MacGuffin is removed from the pedestal it is on, a curse trap goes off, and all PCs are reduced to 125 point (150 point if you are feeling generous, or 75 point if you are not) characters (i.e., using the templates from DF 15). They now need to get out of the Dungeon and back to town, with reduced capabilities.
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Old 03-05-2021, 06:04 PM   #20
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Default Re: [DF] The Underdog Campaign?

Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
From my experience, "LitRPG" and "underdog" don't really go along. I mean, the main character might technically start out as an underdog, but events will rapidly conspire to change this (be it because the character has a skill/power-stealing/absorbing ability, they get lucky and take out an enemy worth obscene amounts of xp or find a ridiculously-overpowered weapon, they become BFF's with an overpowered dragon, or whatever). Still, a Dungeon Defense game like that in GURPS could be... interesting.
That entirely depends on which ones you read. Ironically, fanfic tends to do better here...

But also this is getting off-topic.
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