Friday, September 30, 2016

Carpe Blogiem: The Final Hours of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter

We've done so good, but I wish we could do more. So spread the word. Tell others. Buy games for people. We need to grow the fanbase of GURPS. We've needed to do it for a while, but I'm putting out the call now. I'm telling you that if you like GURPS you need to get out and run the game for people who may not know it. If you cannot physically do this you need to use one of the many VTTs out there. Roll20 is free and has a easy learning curve. Maptool and Fantasy Grounds are a bit tougher, but have lots of support for their GURPS users. So you got that? Go run. Go play. Go proselytize. Make them interested. You can do this. I have faith in you. I'll also personally put it out there if you need help with something get in contact with me. I will do my damnedest to help.zx

Now, to my thoughts. *exhales* This might be a little long and rambly. I've not slept in a while. I've been hitting up every single person I know (which is not inconsequential) to back the kickstarter and spread the link. I did ok. I wish I had did more. I went all over the place to try and get the word out. Got lots of stores making orders. I hope it was enough. I worked so much getting posts on the blog, working social media, doing some legwork for some other folks, and preaching the kickstarter that last Thursday I collapsed from sheer exhaustion. It wasn't any thing major. I'd just put a lot of miles on in a short time and had not slept. I'm not young anymore - though still apparently utterly invincible. But it was enough that I passed out for almost a full minute. When I woke up my mother was very concerned and asked when I ate or slept last. It'd been a while. I was in full on writer's fugue. I didn't even know what time it was. I'm telling you this not for any kudos or sympathies, but to elucidate how much this game means to me. I spent days awake and working to do my best to help push us to funding and beyond. Now with the kickstarter in it's final hours I worry did I do enough? Could I have done more? I won't know that for some time - if ever.

So as the timer slowly ticks away in the corner of my browser window I try to think exactly what GURPS means to me. Honestly? GURPS saved my family. It saved me. It gave me a career path I would never have chosen if I had another choice. I would have just gone back to the things I did before (which I can't do now). I doubt Steve Jackson will ever know what his company did for me. He must hear it from lots of people how his games have affected lives. But for me it's personal. My family was on the verge of starving, having mandatory utilities shutdown, and our home taken from us. We were, in a word, screwed. But then I submitted that one article to Steven Marsh/Pyramid and a while later I was published and had a shiny check in my hand (which I then cashed and used said cash to trade up for a few things to pay the bills). It would be several months later when I submitted another. But I never stopped submitting things. I figured if it was wanted it would be taken, otherwise I only wasted my time.

My grandmother was sick and my mother working herself to death. I myself was still extremely ill from the massive septic infection/DKA I'd suffered 10 or so months before (being near death does that I guess). Walking was hard and physical labor was just impossible. I was a broken man with no way to support the people I cared for most. But I could write. I could do that. And I did. I spent hundreds of hours writing and trying to teach myself grammar, style, and voice. It was - and remains - the hardest thing I've ever done and I'm still not even remotely up to par. I'm still learning (or getting it beat into my head by Elizabeth McCoy). People seem to like what I do so I keep at it.

GURPS remains a good chunk of my paycheck these days - but not the only one. (Hey, have you seen my new book? Maybe go buy it?) It's also my hobby and my passion. It's the spark that fires my imagination and the flame that burns in the forge of my mind while I'm wordsmithing.

I get occasionally mocked (often lightheartedly) that I have an article for "everything." And that's...fair. I kind of do. I love the system. I love the company that puts it out. I love that other people are as equally passionate.

When I saw they were doing a Kickstarter for GURPS I put in as much money as I had and planned to put in more. (I ended up backing at the $550 level so I'll hopefully see some of y'all at Gen Con.) As some of you may have guessed, I was one of the lucky few that got a peek at the DFRPG. It's amazing. The new rules are so streamlined it feels like a new edition of GURPS. The way magic has been handled is everything you could have wanted for a revised system. And the slam rules - man, those are great. (No I won't tell you how they work. And none of this is anything that Kromm or others hasn't said. I wish I could say more, but I can't.)

If you like Dungeon Fantasy and GURPS or just "old school" gaming you'll like this. So go back it. Spread the word. Make it a big finish. Show Steve Jackson Games we want GURPS. Show that we want more standalone boxed sets like the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game. 

With that I'm taking a break as of Sunday this week. (Patreon patrons you'll be getting your content per normal.) I'll be back Tuesday, October 11th with more posts and new content. Thanks for reading, thanks for backing, and thanks for making GURPS what it is.

I'm going to go veg on X-Com (I've never played it and I figure now is the time t try it out and see if I can relax.)


Christopher R. Rice

Thursday, September 29, 2016

GURPS101: Dungeon Fantasy Sensory Power-Ups

Today is GURPSDay and the penultimate day before the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game Kickstarter closes. So I figured I've give a nice crunchy powers on Power-Ups in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy.

The Five Senses
Any delver can benefit from the following sensory power-ups.

Ears Like a Bat
10, 22, 37, or 45 points for levels 1-4,
additional levels costs 4 points per level

Your hearing is incredibly sharp! At level 1 you gain a +5 to all Hearing rolls. At level 2, you automatically know the distance to whatever source of noise you are hearing with a successful Hearing roll and treat your Hearing as a targeting sense. By taking an Aim maneuver, you can “lock onto” any subject and determine its precise range and speed. This gives a +3 to hit that target with an aimed ranged attack. Level 3 gives Discriminatory Hearing (p. B49), while level 4 gives you a +8 bonus to analyze and recognize targets (but not to sense or track them!). Additionally, all attempts to memorize new signatures succeed automatically. At level 5 (and beyond), double the distance at which you can clearly hear a sound (p. B358).

Advantages: Level 1 is Acute Hearing 5 [10]. Level 2 is Precise Hearing [10] + Targeted Hearing [2]. Level 3 adds Discriminatory Hearing [15]. While level 4 adds the Profiling enhancement for 8 more points. Level 5 adds a level of Parabolic Hearing a level at a time [4/level].

Eyes like a Hawk
10, 20, 24, or 27 points for levels 1-4,
additional levels costs 5 points per level

You can see for miles. At level 1 you gain a +5 to all Vision rolls. At level 2, you take Long-Distance Modifiers (p. B281) for Vision penalties and treat your Vision as a targeting sense. By taking an Aim maneuver, you can “lock onto” any subject and determine its precise range and speed. This gives a +3 to hit that target with an aimed ranged attack. Level 3 gives you a +4 bonus to analyze and recognize targets (but not to sense or track them!). For example, you could memorize a face automatically just by seeing it once. Level 4 gives you 10x magnification (this lets you ignore -6 worth of penalties due to Size Modifier). At level 5 (and beyond), you ignore -1 in Vision penalties to range all the time (double this if you take a second to zoom in). This also gives you a +1 Accuracy per level with ranged attacks as long as you take an Aim maneuver.

Advantages: Level 1 is Acute Vision 5 [10]. Level 2 is Long-Range Vision [10] + Targeted Vision [4]. Level 3 adds Profiling Vision [10]. Level 4 adds Microscopic Vision 1 [3], while level 5 (and beyond) adds a level of Telescopic Vision a level at a time [5/level].

Gourmond's Gustation
4, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 points for levels 1-7

Your sense of taste is amazing. At level 1 you gain a +5 to all Taste rolls. At level 2, you gives Discriminatory Taste(p. B49), while level 3 gives you a +8 bonus to analyze and recognize targets (but not to sense or track them!). Additionally, all attempts to memorize new tastes succeed automatically. At level 4, you can taste things at range. This allows you to ignore the effects of tasting something, while giving you a chance to identify it. For example, you could taste food to see if it was poisoned without exposing yourself to the poison itself. You can do this out to a maximum of 100 yards. This takes normal penalties, but halves your margin for all purposes if it's beyond 10 yards.At level 5, your range is increased to 20 yards before it's halved. Level 6 makes it 50 yards, and level 7 allows the full 100 yards.

Advantages: Level 1 is Acute Taste 5* [4]. Level 2 adds Discriminatory Taste [10]. While level 3 adds the Profiling enhancement for 5 more points. Level 4 adds Ranged Taste [1], while level 5, 6, and 7 add Increased 1/2D to Ranged Taste for 1 point.
* Cost was derived by adding a -60% limitation to Acute Taste and Smell for 0.8 points per level.

Mole's Touch
10, 20, 25, 36, 43, 61, or 82 points,
additional levels costs 5 points per level

Your sense of touch is very sensitive. At level 1 you gain a +5 to all Touch rolls. At level 2, you gain the Sensitive Touch advantage (p. B83). Level 3 gives you a +4 bonus to analyze and recognize targets (but not to sense or track them!).  For example, you could memorize the pattern of someone's clothing. Level 4, means you ignore -1 worth of penalties when you can't see a target, but must do fine work, and ignore up to -2 in penalties due to haste (See Time Spent, p. B351). Level 5 ups this to -3 and -5, while level 6 means you never take penalties for not being able to see your target and you can perform touch-based tasks in 1 second with no penalty. For example, you could attempt to pick a lock in combat as an action. Level 7 gives you High Manual Dexterity (p. B59) a level at a time.

Advantages: Level 1 is Acute Touch 5 [10]. Level 2 is Sensitive Touch [10]. While level 2 adds the Profiling enhancement for 5 more points. Level 3 adds Stethoscopic and Ultrafine to Sensitive Touch and Microscopic 1 to Touch, for 11 points. Level 4 adds Work by Touch! (WC) Skill-4 [6], Speed Touch (WC) Skill-8 [0], and Efficent (Speed Touch) [1]. Level 5 increases Work by Touch! (WC) Skill-2 [12] and Speed Touch (WC) Skill-5 [12]. Level 6 increases Work by Touch! (WC) Skill-0 [18] and Speed Touch (WC) Skill-2 [27]. Level 7 adds High Manuel Dexterity a level at a time (up to six levels) for 5/level. These levels stack with those gained from occupational or racial templates.

Nose like a Bloodhound
7, 10, 25, 33, or 40 points for levels 1-5,
additional levels costs 4 points per level

Your nose is incredibly sharp! At level 1 you gain a +5 to all Smell rolls and use the Long-Distance Modifiers (p. B261) for smell rolls. At level 2, you automatically know the distance to whatever scent you picked up with a successful Smell roll and treat your sense of Smell as a targeting sense. By taking an Aim maneuver, you can “lock onto” any subject and determine its precise range and speed. This gives a +3 to hit that target with an aimed ranged attack. Level 3 gives Discriminatory Smell (p. B49), while level 4 gives you a +8 bonus to analyze and recognize targets (but not to sense or track them!). Additionally, all attempts to memorize new scents succeed automatically. At level 5, you can smell your target's emotions (treat this as Empathy, p. B51) as long as they are within 2 yards of you. At level 6 (and beyond), double the distance at which you can smell a target's emotional state.

Advantages: Level 1 is Acute Smell 5* [6] + Long-Range Smell [1]. Level 2 is Precise Smell [2] + Targeted Smell [1]. Level 3 adds Discriminatory Smell [15]. While level 4 adds the Profiling enhancement for 8 more points. Level 5 adds Emotion Sense for 7 points. Level 6 adds Area Effect to Emotion Sense doubling the range, for 4 points at a time.
* Cost was derived by adding a -40% limitation to Acute Taste and Smell for 1.2 points per level.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gamemaster's Guidepost: The Ecology of Giant Spiders in Dungeon Fantasy, Part II

Guest Post by Anders Starmark

A continuation of Ander's previous post on the ecology of giant spiders.

Spider Webs
The spider can cover a hex in webs in one minute. A strand is about 0.4 inches thick, with DR equal to the spider’s ST/3 and HP equal to the spider’s ST. The strands are very sticky, and anyone who touches one is stuck. A stuck person cannot select the Move or Change Posture maneuvers or change facing, and is at -4 to DX. Spiders are not affected by their own webbing. 

To break free, the victim must win a Quick Contest of his ST or Escape skill vs. the web’s HP. Each attempt takes one second and costs the subject 1 FP. Alternatively, he may try to destroy the webbing. Spells hit automatically; other attacks are at -4. The web can only be damaged by burning or cutting damage. Magical weapons do twice normal damage to the webs. The web is normally used to spin webs, but the spider can also try to shoot a strand towards their target.

A person can try to pass through a web without touching any of the strands. This is a DX-10 roll; +2 for each Size Modifier lower than 0; -2 for each Size Modifier higher than 0; +1 for each strand that has been destroyed.

Example: Heather Halfling encounters a giant spider’s web with DR 5 and ST 15. If she wants to pass through the hex, she has two options: 1) destroy the web with her trusty sword, or 2) try to pass through the web without touching any of the strands. She tries option two. With a DX of 14 and Size Modifier -2, she needs to roll 8 or lower (14-10, +4 for Size Modifier). If she destroys two strands, the target number goes up to 10.

Unfortunately, she rolls a 12 and is stuck. She can now try to break free using her ST 8 or her Escape skill of 14. She chooses the latter and is free of the web. However, she is still not through the web.

Spider Venom
The spider’s mandibles are covered in a yellow-green slime. This is a powerful, paralyzing poison. A person who is bitten must make a HT roll with a negative modifier equal to the spider’s age category. On a failure, he is paralyzed for a number of hours equal to the margin of failure. On a failure of 5 or more he first falls unconscious for as many hours as the margin of failure, and is then paralyzed as above. On a critical failure, he goes into a coma.

AGE CATEGORY 1: BABY (<20 yrs)
Baby spiders are approximately two feet in diameter and live in flocks of 3d individuals. They are essentially large, dangerous animals. However, they are also fairly cowardly and flee if the enemy seems too much to handle.

ST 6           DX 13         IQ 4            HT 12
Will 9        Per 9           Speed 6.25 Dodge 9
Move 6
Size Modifier: -1; 50 lbs.
Traits: Chummy; Cowardice (12); DR 1; Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Move 12); Giant Spider; Super Jump 2; Wild Animal
Skills: Brawling-15; Jumping-13; Stealth-13; Tracking-13
Attack: Mandible-15 (1d-4 pi+) + poison

AGE CATEGORY 2: YOUNG (20-60 yrs)
Young spiders are about one yard in diameter. They still hunt in flocks of about 2d+2 individuals and have become bolder as they age.
ST 12                 DX 12         IQ 5            HT 12
Will 11               Per 10         Speed 6.00 Dodge 9
Move 6
Size Modifier: 0; 225 lbs.

Traits: DR 2; Enhanced Move ½ (Ground Move 9); Giant Spider; Magic Resistance 1; Super Jump 1; Wild Animal
Skills: Brawling-14; Jumping-12; Stealth-12; Tracking-14
Attack: Mandible-14 (1d-1 pi+) + poison

AGE CATEGORY 3: MATURE (60-120 yrs)
A mature is a hairy, black beast about three yards in diameter. The males stop growing at this stage and never become larger or more intelligent. They are mostly solitary from this stage on. Most males die when they are about 300 years, but some can live longer. Those females who survive this phase start growing very rapidly.
At this age, spiders mate and lay eggs.

ST 18                 DX 10         IQ 6            HT 10
Will 12               Per 10         Speed 5.00 Dodge 8
Move 5
Size Modifier: +2; 750 lbs.

Traits: DR 3; Magic Resistance 1; Giant Spider
Skills: Brawling-12; Jumping-10; Stealth-10; Tracking-14
Attack: Mandible-12 (1d+2 pi+) + poison

Middle aged spiders are about 5 yards in diameter. At this age, most spiders live in mountainous terrain, hunting by night. Usually they try to ambush their prey from above and drive it into a box canyon or an area blocked by webs.

ST 24                 DX 10         IQ 8            HT 10
Will 13               Per 10         Speed 5.00 Dodge 8
Move 5
Size Modifier: +3; 1 700 lbs.

Traits: DR 4; Giant Spider; Magic Resistance 2
Skills: Brawling-12; Jumping-10; Stealth-10; Tracking-14
Attack: Mandible-12 (2d+1 pi+) + poison

AGE CATEGORY 5: OLD (240-500 yrs)
The old spider is about 7 yards in diameter and prefers to live in the mountains. It often occupies an old orc or dwarf fortress

ST 30                 DX 9 IQ 10          HT 10
Will 13              Per 11         Speed 4.75 Dodge 7
Move 4
Size Modifier: +4; 3 500 lbs.

Traits: DR 5; Giant Spider; Magic Resistance 2
Skills: Brawling-11; Jumping-9; Stealth-9; Tracking-15
Attack: Mandible-11 (3d pi+) + poison

AGE CATEGORY 6: ANCIENT (500-1 000 yrs)
Ancient spiders are truly terrifying creatures, measuring nine yards in diameter. They mostly live underground, but sometimes leave their lairs to hunt on the surface; after all, the food supply underground is somewhat limited.

ST 36                 DX 8          IQ 12          HT 10
Will 13               Per 12       Speed 4.75 Dodge 7
Move 4
Size Modifier: +4; 1 700 lbs.

Traits: DR 6; Giant Spider; Magic Resistance 3
Skills: Brawling-10; Jumping-8; Stealth-8; Tracking-16
Attack: Mandible-10 (4d-1 pi+) + poison

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Gamemaster's Guidepost: The Ecology of Giant Spiders in Dungeon Fantasy, Part I

Spiders in the night

Creeping round the walls

Now you'll feel him
Crawling over you

-Ozzy Osborne

Guest Post by Anders Starmark

Giant spiders are among the most terrifying monsters in the Dungeon Fantasy world. A giant spider is black, with a huge abdomen and eight hairy legs. They have a small head with powerful mandibles and hundreds of glittering compound eyes. It has good night vision, but the eyes are sensitive to strong light and it can be blinded by the sun. Giant spiders therefore prefer to live in caves, jungles or dense forests.

The giant spider is constantly tormented by hunger and is practically always on the hunt. It is a strict carnivore, but will eat almost any animal. However, it is a durable animal that can live without food for up to two months without noticeable problems. Giant spiders hunt in two different ways. They either try to ambush their prey or drive them towards a trap constructed from their enormous webs.

The lairs of a giant spider is typically in an out-of-the-way location. They are often found in the midst of dense forests. One can tell if a giant spider lives nearby by the webs covering escape routes and funneling prey into a carefully selected ambush point. Even if the smaller spiders live in flocks, every spider has its own lair.

Giant spiders are not overly interested in treasure, but the feeding area of the spider may contain the spoils of the spider’s former victims. Some older spiders are aware that intelligent beings like treasure and may use them as bait.

A giant spider’s territory covers about 100 square miles, and no large predators are tolerated within this area. Since the spiders hunt all the time, they often run out of prey and may turn to cannibalism to feed themselves. They may also organize hunting expeditions to more distant areas. There are cases when spiders have attacked elven or human villages that lie far away from civilisation.

Most giant spiders are very adept jumpers. How far they can jump depends on their age category – smaller spiders generally jump farther than older, larger ones. The spider must take a Concentrate maneuver in order to make a jump.

Giant spiders are intelligent, but how intelligent depends on their age. Young spiders are very stupid and essentially animalistic in their behavior. Once the spider reaches IQ 6 it learns the spider language, which is its own tongue. A human could learn the language, but few bother. Giant spider generally make very poor conversationalists.

Monday, September 26, 2016

GURPS101: A Whole New World (of Dungeon Fantasy)

Guest Post by Scott "Rocketman" Rochat

“Where’s Dungeon Master when you need him?”
“Forget Dungeon Master, we need a SWAT team!”

-- Presto and Eric, in “Servant of Evil” from Dungeons & Dragons

The crossworld visitor is a common sight in fantasy fiction. Whether it’s Dorothy arriving in Oz, Lucy coming to Narnia, or Thomas Covenant trying to decide whether the Land is a delusion, we know we’re in for quite the journey – not least because the reader and the character are discovering the world together.

This is not unknown in dungeon fantasy! Those who grew up in the 1980s may remember the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon where an amusement park ride sent six kids into fantastic adventure; similarly, Joel Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame series begins with an RPG group that suddenly finds itself inside the bodies of its characters. The result can be to make a traditional background fresh again, by seeing it through the eyes of a newcomer. (Those of a comedic bent may also find plenty of opportunities to lampoon the traditions and habits of the dungeon!)

In GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, naturally, this calls for a lens.

Outworlder (50 points):
You are a stranger from another world, thrown into the body of a hero.

Attributes: No change
Secondary Characteristics: No change
Advantages: Intuition [15], High-Tech +5TL or “magical item” bought as a Gadget[25]*
Disadvantages: Obsession [-10]
Quirks: Uses “modern” expressions [-1]
Skills: 12 points of “modern” skills, taken at GM’s permission. NOTE: If wildcard skills are permitted, the High Tech/Signature Gear option may be replaced with Lore!-IQ and a suitable Perk.

Note that this is not a complete write-up of the character’s “modern” self! In a typical Dungeon Fantasy world, many abilities will be irrelevant, from Driving to Cultural Familiarity. (Even modern languages are likely not to matter unless more than one character takes this lens; most “crossworld” fiction and games instill knowledge of the local speech.) The breakdown is as follows:

Obsession – This is the heart of the character. Most crossworlders want nothing more than to return home – or say they do – and most of their adventures will at least nominally reflect this.

Intuition – Unlike someone inside the world, many contemporary people – and especially gamers -- will “know the tropes” of a Dungeon Fantasy environment. At times, this will allow them to guess uncannily well about the next thing to do!

Hidden Lore – This skill is for someone who was explicitly a gamer before coming to the world and has read enough gamebooks and supplements to know several of the world’s “secrets.”

High TL – This alternative to Lore is only allowed if the PC has chosen TL skills and the GM wants the PC to potentially change his or her world. If High TL isn’t going to make a difference, it shouldn’t cost points.

Gadget – For those who are supposed to have less or no knowledge of their world, the gift of a suitable magic item is not only traditional, but can aid survival! (“Fear not, ranger ... barbarian ... magician ... thief ...”) If not already known, the story behind the item may be the subject of a quest all its own.

Quirk – Even when speaking the local tongue, many crossworlders seem to keep their old idioms and expressions as a characterization tool.

“Modern” skills and High TL – This must be done with the GM’s permission, since this can be the most disruptive part of the template – the GM doesn’t have to allow any abilities that will break his world unless that’s what he wants! As an example, Lou Riccetti of Guardians of the Flame brings an undergraduate’s knowledge of civil engineering to a fantasy world and uses it to become the core of a revolution against slavery. (A GM who really doesn’t want to permit this can put the points into more “acceptable” areas, particularly gear or Allies.)

Note that the lens does put the Dungeon Fantasy environment at risk of becoming a straight “fantasy” campaign. For those willing to roll with the effects, though, it may be the “something different” that the dungeon-delvers need.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Carpe Blogiem: Thoughts on the Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter

Guest Post by Denis McCarthy

As a fairly die hard Dungeon Fantasy GM, it should not surprise anyone that I am a big fan of the kickstarter.

My dungeon game pre-dates both Dungeon Fantasy and 4e, and I have updated it as the new rules were released. In it's current incarnation I have been running it for over 3 years as a play-by-post here, feel free to drop by and take a look under the hood, or even join the game.

The ability to port backgrounds from other genres and even game systems was one of the things I most enjoy about GURPS. I had issues with the primary mechanic of level based games, and consider GURPS to be the best system on the market. The depth of world books has been so useful to me in this process; for several years I ran a game of Lovecraftian investigation using GURPS Horror, and GURPS Cthulhupunk I blended in things from the GURPS/Whitewolf crossovers. 3e had, for the most part, only lists of suggested skills and advantages for a character type, and the first templates I had to work with at the time were from Sean Punch's GURPS Undead. I spent a lot of time working and reworking characters from the templates in that book. I have spent considerably more time doing the same with Dungeon Fantasy templates and lenses, and have built a number of my own in order to assemble the cast of characters my players meet.

The toolkit that Dungeon Fantasy provides makes it so much easier to quickly build npc's, and the organizational structure of the books smooths over a lot of the mechanical things needed to run a game.I anticipate that the boxed set is going to further streamline the character generation process.

Those who follow my blog will know I have been working up a set of rules for very low powered play as a means of introducing the game to non-GURPS players, but I know the Dungeon Fantasy RPGt will do this so much better!

The Hurt Locker: Forging in the Dungeon, Part II

Guest Post by S. A. Fisher

A continuation of the previous post (Part I is here) on a new variety of Artificer; the ironmonger.

The Forge and Bellows
Once he has basic tools and fuel, the ironmonger will also need a forge and bellows.

Bellows: the simplest bellows for a portable forge are bag bellows. These are two bags made from goatskin and sewed up airtight. Each of the skins has a wooden air nozzle which feeds into a y-shaped wooden, ceramic, or metal pipe. Pump the bags in an alternating fashion (1 FP per 10 minutes) and the resulting air-blast is powerful enough to heat iron to a welding temperature, and even to smelt small amounts of iron if necessary. The bags and nozzles can be rolled up and put inside a backpack. In a pinch, the smith might even be able to use a waterskin or treasure sacks to cobble together bellows. Weight is about 3 lbs. per bag, 6 lbs. total. Cost per bag is $20.

Forge: The simplest forge is a hole in the ground, and it’s the sort of forge many smiths in developing countries still use today. The hole needs to be big enough to hold the metal being forged, the fuel, and to accommodate the air blast coming into the forge. A hole about a foot across and a 6 inches deep is sufficient for a small makeshift forge. Next to it dig a second smaller hole just big enough to accommodate the nozzle of the bellows, and connect the holes with a small tunnel. If the ground is too hard for digging, build a small campfire circle with rocks, stacking them high enough to make a bowl shape, but leaving a small space into which the bellows pipe can be inserted. That’s all that’s needed for a forge! The ironmonger can make a serviceable forge from a lot of different things -- a discarded rusty helmet or metal bucket, a pile of bricks, or by digging up some clay soil, peat, etc. An ironmonger needs about an hour to setup his forge and get the fire ready. If he’s in a hurry, roll skill, and for each margin of success subtract 5 minutes; each point of failure means he takes 10 minutes longer. Critical failure means he takes 2 hours.

From Raw Material to Masterpiece
Once the ironmonger has his tools and fuel, he’s ready to start hammering…all he needs is raw material. In general, anything steel or iron can be shaped with his basic set of tools.

The ironmonger starts his work with ingots of iron ($7 a pound) or steel ($20 a pound), or with scraps of raw material he can scrounge for the scraps as he goes along. This stuff is surprisingly common in dungeons! The typical fantasy dungeon door might have several pounds of scrap iron in the hinges, straps, lock, etc. Old rusty goblin axes, knives, and arrowheads can be collected and re-forged into much better weapons for the party, and so forth.

Once he has all the elements ready he can begin forging. Each forging attempt requires an Armoury skill roll and takes one hour (and an hour’s worth of fuel!) per 3 lbs. of total weapon weight or fraction thereof. Swords are trickier – they take three times as long and are -2 to skill. Note that crushing weapons, axes, and polearms, can use iron raw material, but swords, knives, and impaling weapons, like spears, need steel. This all assumes the ironmonger is working from prepared blanks; if working from scrounged materials apply a further -2 to skill and double the time, cumulative with the above penalties.

A successful roll produces a good quality blade, arrowhead, etc. The ironmonger can spend extra time to increase his effective skill. If he has an assistant the helper should roll versus DX, ST, or an applicable skill; this is a complimentary skill roll. Failure produces a clearly flawed weapon; the GM may choose to treat the weapons as cheap and/or unbalanced, and the ironmonger will know! Critical failure produces a secretly flawed weapon which will break on its very first use in combat!

Once forged the weapons must still be hafted, hilted, etc. This is non-forging time, and does not use fuel. This can take up to twice as long as the forging time, but often a makeshift weapon gets a field expedient solution; half an hour per pound for a basic finish. It’s ugly, but functional. These weapons are battle ready, but not “shop” ready, as they are not fully polished, sharpened, fitted with sheaths, etc. They should be treated as cheap quality weapons if they are sold. Much polishing and shaping will be needed before the final product is presentable as a “work of art.” Crude and serviceable is fine deep down in the dungeon, though.

Note that an ironmonger can also repair broken weapons. This takes just half the time (and fuel) necessary to forge the same weapon. Non-forging time is as usual, however.

In addition, the ironmonger can attempt to make better quality weapons. This is -5 to skill, and takes five times as long, for a fine quality weapon. It is -10 to skill and it takes 20 times as long for a very fine weapon. A balanced weapon, whatever its quality level, takes twice as long. These improved levels of quality require steel ingots or steel scrap; no iron or iron scrap can be used! Note that cheap weapons can also be made, at half the usual forging time and +4 to skill.

Of course, the ironmonger need not restrict himself to making weapons – he can make other tools (for himself or others), or iron goods, instead. If so, the rate of production is the same (one hour per 3 lbs.) but the skill rolls depend on the item being made; this will most likely be Smith for basic iron goods (chains, nails, wedges, hinges, locks, lockpicks, etc.) or Machinist for tools. Most of the tools and goods produced are, like the weapons, pretty crude. They are serviceable, but sooty, smudged, dented, scratched, with hammer marks and no finish work. They will sell as cheap items, if a seller can be found.

What about armor? The same rules apply for armor, but the speed of construction for metal armor is much slower. Plates and mail rings are easy to produce, but finicky to fit to a living being, and thus require a lot of pounding and fuel, and accordingly take time to fit and assemble. The time is 10x longer (thus it’s 3 lbs. per 10 hours). Otherwise, that’s it. No other changes. Quality armor uses the same rules as weapons, above.

An ironmonger gadgeteer has a great advantage – he can make any tools he needs given time and raw materials. Yes, given a few weeks he can build a full workshop, with attendant bonuses to skill, in the dungeon of his choice, beginning with just the most basic tools. If the ironmonger pulls such a stunt, however, the GM is within rights to send a party of angry townspeople and guildsmen with torches and pitchforks to shut him down! Ironmongers are itinerant adventurers, after all. It’s fine to run a campaign about the adventures of an ironmonger and his shop, but probably only after everyone else in the party is ready to settle down with their towers, taverns, magic shops, etc.

If you haven't seen the Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter go check it out.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Hurt Locker: Forging in the Dungeon, Part I

Guest Post by S. A. Fisher

The Artificer template in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Sages serves as the dungeon delving party’s engineer – it’s his job to use technology to overcome the party’s challenges. The ironmonger is a specific type of engineer detailed in this post. His most potent weapon for this purpose is his use of Gizmos and Quick Gadgeteer, which can be used to produce the necessary smithing equipment (below).

A Word on Skills
The GURPS skill for working iron and steel is Smith (Iron), but that’s not where it end. In GURPS the skill for making weapons and armor is Armoury (Body Armor) and Armoury (Melee Weapons), which default to Smith (Iron) at -3. The skill for making tools and machine parts is Machinist, and for ironmongers who want to smelt iron into steel, Metallurgy is the skill to use. Also it is safe to allow Armoury a -3 default to the non-Armoury craft skills such as Carpentry to make bows, Leatherworking -3 for whips or leather armor, etc.

These skills are important and should be considered primary skills in the Artificer template, instead of Engineer (Gadgets).

The Backpack Toolkit
The backpack toolkit in Dungeon Fantasy 1 includes several small portable items that form the basic tools of the Smith skill. The ironmonger may want to forego buying, and carrying, an expensive tool kit and simply buy a couple of the heavy items, below, to save money. He then can use Quick Gadgeteer or Gizmos to make up the difference, building tools on the spot! The full kit includes:

Anvil: traditionally this was hammered into a large stump, a block of wood, etc. It’s simply a large chunk of iron about the size of a big sledgehammer head, with a long shank extending below it perhaps a foot or more in length. It is flat on top, and round or beak shaped. To use it, the smith takes out the stake anvil, pounds it into the stump, and he’s ready to forge. A small stake anvil might weigh 5 lbs., which larger ones as much as 15-20 lbs. A typical portable one is $60 and 10 lbs. It’s generally not eligible for use as a Gizmo.

Hold Downs:
This is a spring steel c-clamp which attaches to the anvil and the iron work the smith needs to keep steady while he smacks. Referred to as the smith’s “third hand” or “assistant” they are mighty useful. Hold downs the right size for a stake anvil are about 2 lbs., and good for use as Gizmo.

Tongs: these are large pliers capable of holding the hot metal piece being forged. A real blacksmith shop will have dozens, perhaps hundreds, of tongs for very type of metal shape and size. A portable smithy will have to make do with just one or two sets of tongs, perhaps with jaws that can be fitted with accessories. At 2 lbs. these are good for Gizmos.

Formers: These are chunks of iron that have been cast or forged into useful shapes, such as a hollowed out space for a spoon, ladle, etc. Red hot metal is placed into the form and hammered until it takes on the shape. A few common formers can save the smith a lot of time, energy, and fuel. Big “swage blocks” weigh over 100 pounds and have dozens of formers cast into them, but small ones, even pocket sized, are also common. At only 1 lb. each these are good for Gizmos.

Hammers: Like tongs, the proper smith will have a dozen or so different hammers. But a portable smith may have to get by with one. A 2-3 lb. sledge, $30, is a common size for an all-around blacksmith hammer. A generous GM might let a Gizmos stand in for a hammer, if necessary.

Hot Cut-Off: this is wedge-shaped tool, with a hardened cutting edge and shank. The shank fits into the anvil and the sharp wedge end is used to cut hot iron. Simply place the bright orange heated iron over the edge where you want it cut and then tap it with a hammer (carefully!) until it’s cut halfway through. Next, grab the metal with tongs and wiggle it back and forth until it breaks. 0.5 lbs. Good for a Gizmo.

Files, chisels, and punches: Files are used to shape metal and come in versions which are coarse, fine, long, short, etc. Punches are used to make holes in hot metal. Chisels come in a variety of lengths and sizes and can cut hot or cold metal. Each is 0.25 to 1 lb. and are good for use as Gizmo.

Quench bucket: A smith needs something to cool the metal in, and for tempering a blade. A wooden bucket is very handy for this purpose ($15, 4 lbs.) but a water-filled helmet, a flowing fountain, spring, or just a hole in the ground filled with water will work.

Treadle Grinder: This is a small grinding wheel which can be attached to a post, stump, table top, etc. It has a hand crank, but it can be attached to a leather belt and a simple foot pedal, too. The smith turns the grinding wheel and it shapes and polishes metal. In a proper shop this would be a big wheel, perhaps pedaled by an assistant or powered by a water wheel, but a portable version like this is handier for an adventuring ironmonger. $10, 8 lbs.

The Fuel
The ironmonger needs a fuel source to produce heat. The very best fuel for Dungeon Fantasy ironmongers is the Essential Fuel version of coal (assume the coal used this way is being used in a machine – the forge!). It costs $1 a pound and burns for 10 times as long as normal coal; 1 pound lasts for two hours of forging. The next best fuel for ironmongers is the Essential Fuel version of charcoal. It costs $1 a pound and burns for 10 times as long as normal charcoal; 1 pound lasts for an hour of forging.

Normal coal can be found inside caves and dungeons, or simply lying on the ground; a small makeshift forge will use about 5 pounds of coal an hour. It costs $0.50 a pound. Normal charcoal is $5 per bushel (20 pound), but each bushel lasts only an hour on a makeshift forge. Of course, if a wizard is in the party, perhaps the ironmonger can convince him to cast Essential Fuel on this normal fuel!

If no wizard is available, the ironmonger can make charcoal from any wood items in the dungeon (furniture, a door, etc.), or from wood in the wilderness, etc. The simplest method to make charcoal is to dig a deep hole in the ground, start a good hot campfire inside it, then fill the hole with wood. Carefully cover the hole with dirt and let it burn. This will produce a lot of gasses and smoke as it “cooks” the water out of the wood, leaving behind pure carbon. The next day simply dig out the charcoal. This will yield charcoal equal to about 1/4 the weight of the wood “cooked” in the hole. This does produce a lot of smoke, though, and might draw unwanted attention. Charcoal making can be a source of income if the ironmonger is in town, or something to do to pass the time when the party is recovering from injuries, etc.

Stay tuned for Part II! If you haven't seen the Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter go check it out.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Designer's Notes: Low-Tech Transportation


First, let me preface this with the following: Steven Marsh was even more of a freaking hero than normal. That man is the Patron Saint of Long-Suffering Editorial Work. Seriously, we need to get him canonized or something. I turned in a draft that could have been better, but the timeline just wouldn't allow it. This is also the impetus of my new rule: If I don't have at least two months of fine-tuning on a super-crunchy article I will not be submitting it. It was too much headache for the editorial staff and way too much pressure. I don't mind a challenge, but when it spills over on others - that bothers me. Immensely.

That out of the way I really must say that this was half of an article (this article in particular - see the Designer's Notes here) that I cut out to make its own thing. This was the first time I'd ever did this. I think in part, this was why it contributed to the somewhat-disaster that the first copy was. I ironed out a lot of those kinks, but some persisted like delaminations in a freshly forged knife. I'm not proud of that. I screwed up. That sucks. But every time you screw up, it's not that you didn't succeed that it's important, but rather that you continue onward and remember what you did wrong so you don't do it again. It's cliche, but true. It doesn't matter how many times you fail at doing something, only that you don't actually give up doing it.

So research on this was a right royal pain. I'd been gifted with many books from folks on the internet (thanks everyone that sent me research material!) which set the backbone of the article. (Note: I love digital books, being able to scroll and search are heavensent. Especially when doing research.) I must have spent days of man-hours reading and taking notes. I had some very thorough helpers (thanks Travis Foster and S. A. Fisher!) as we checked and rechecked various numbers from the article vs. historical examples. In the end, I settled on a playable solution. Gameable assumptions. Something the GM (or player) could use in just about any low-tech setting. I know that's not going to prove popular with some folks and I think it was the right call to make. A big example of this is the use of a draft horse vs. a large mule in Transportation by Beast section. Historically, mules and donkey's seem to have been the go to beast for moving wares. I went with the draft horse for pure game-mechanical reasons: it's the same cost as a large mule, has a higher move, and a high ST. (It's also pretty common to see a horse vs. a mule in movies and such.) No player in his right mind is going to choose the mule over the horse. It's just not going to happen.

I'm pretty proud of the optional rules for riding too. The amazing and talented Elizabeth Platt Hamblin is a copy editor for the medical research field and owns several of her own equines. While she's not a gamer (that I know of), I trust her opinion quite a bit. I took a few liberties with mechanical effects, but I think it's a good balance between real life and what we see in popular culture.

One thing that did make me nervous were the rules for foundering. I must have spent 8-10 hours on that box alone...

The original version had lots and lots of equations and every single reviewer said it made their eyes bleed. So I switched over to tables at more or less the last minute. As Lucius Fox said in Batman Begins...
Bruce Wayne: Am I meant to understand any of that?
Lucius Fox: Not at all, I just wanted you to know how hard it was.
What else? Oh, I wanted to cover a more realistic treatment for food for horses and oxen, but I just didn't have the room and LTC3 covered them pretty decently. So, a couple of quick notes:
Horses: This varies according to the activity level of the equine. In general, active horses need about (Total Body Weight x 0.014) in hay and about (Total Body Weight x 0.006) in grain. This is usually broken into two discrete feedings (morning and night). Nonworking horses (those who are stabled, but still get regular exercise) need about (Total Body Weight x 0.016) in hay and about (Total Body Weight x 0.004) in grain. Sedentary horses (those who are stabled and not exercised) need about (Total Body Weight x 0.018) in hay and about (Total Body Weight x 0.002) in grain. Total water intake on a daily basis is about 7 gallons for a 1,500 lb. specimen. Adjust from there based on weight ratio. For example, a sedentary horse that weighs 1,200 lbs. would need about 21.6 lbs of hay and 2.4 lbs. of grain, as well as 5.6 gallons of water. 
Oxen: Oxen need about (Total Body Weight x 0.012) in hay or grass and about (Total Body Weight x 0.006) in grain or corn silage. This is usually broken into two discrete feedings (morning and night). Total water intake on a daily basis is about 4 quarts per 100 lbs. of weight (twice that in hot or very dry climates). For example, an oxen that weighs 1,400 lbs. would need about 16.8 lbs of hay and 8.4 lbs. of grain, as well as 14 gallons of water
One thing I really wanted to cover (and didn't) was the amount of food a person needed, as well as how they could overeat to be better equipped to deal with the leaner months. A somewhat bashed together example would have been:
Humans: A human needs about 2,500 to 3,300 calories per day depending on activity level. A sedentary subject needs around 2,500, a "normal" activity level is about 2,700, and a "high" activity level is about 3,300. Food, as a very rough estimate has about 4.5 calories per gram which translates to about 1.25 lbs. of food per person, per day. (I ignored age, but that too has a part to play). Divide that by three to determine the weight of an average meal. This can change radically depending on exactly what is being eaten. Fat is 9 cal/g, alcohol is 7 cal/g, protein and carbohydrates are 4 cal/g, organic acids (often found in food preservatives), sugar alcohol/artificial sweeteners are about 2.4 cal/g, and fiber are about 2 cal/g. For example, a diet high in fat and carbohydrates is going to have about 10.8 calories per gram and thus be about 0.5 lbs. of required food. This can vary according to weight as well. In general, 150 lbs. is an "average" weight and food values can be increased based on the subject's weight ratio to that score. Water is a bit easier. On average, most people need about a half a gallon of water per day (about double in very hot or dry climates). This can change according to temperature and weight. As a general rule of thumb figure the weight ratio from average and add another 10% increase for water for every 5 degrees above 80 F the current environment is. Diseases such as diabetes, gout, polycythemia, and so on can add another 10% to 30% as well. For example, a 250 lb. man who is highly active will need 3,300 calories per day. Since he's got a "balanced" diet he needs around 1.62 lbs. of food per day and needs around 3.34 quarts of water per day.
I didn't include this because, honestly, there is so much wiggle room and even a generalized set of rules wouldn't cover everything. Moreover, I couldn't decide how to turn FP loss into weight for starvation that I liked. Best I could figure would be something like 1 FP equals about 0.62 lbs. of mass loss for the average guy (adjust for weight ratio for larger or smaller). This would be instead of losing FP, with every loss of 6.2 lbs. also knocking down a point of FP from starvation. That would then go on to give you an idea of how to put on weight for the lean months. But like I said, I couldn't make it work the way I wanted so I left it out.

All in all it took me about 60 hours to write, 70 hours to edit, 50 hours worth of research, and 110 hours of revision. There must have been another 20 hours or so of looking over the semi-final PDF as well. I'm pretty proud of this one. It's out of my normal wheelhouse, but it was something I wanted to do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

GURPS101: Dungeon Fantasy Sharpshooter Power-Ups

Guest Post by +Hal Batty aka Wavefunction

A while back, while constructing some styles, I came up with a few different techniques for crossbow users, so after seeing Merlin’s super cool Sharpshooter template, found here, I had no choice but to write some power-ups for it.

Sharpshooter Power-Ups
Sharpshooter power-ups focus on precision and power.
  • Arm ST (Both Arms) up to 4 [5/level].
  • Enhanced Tracking (Multiple Lock-Ons, +20%) [6/level], with no upper limit.
  • Gizmos up to 6 [5/level].
  • Lifting ST up to +3 [3/level].
  • Telescopic Vision up to 6 [5/level].
  • Two-Weapon Fighting [6], for dual-wielding pistol crossbows.
  • The Crossbow Finesse perk (see GURPS Power-Ups 2: Perks, p. 7).
  • The Flawless Fast-Draw perk (see Pyramid #3/61: Way of the Warrior, p.13).
  • Weapon Master (Crossbow) [20].

5 points
Prerequisites: Crossbow Finesse.

You can draw your bow to it’s limits, and beyond. Using overdraw adds +2 to damage, or +1/die, whichever is better, but it requires a roll against the bows HT (usually 12, but 10 for a cheap version, and 14 for a fine one), failure means the bow breaks. Repairing it will take 10 minutes and a successful Armoury (Missile Weapons) roll.

Perks: Unique Technique (Overdraw) [1].
Techniques: Overdraw (H) Crossbow-0 [4].

Under the Hood (Overdraw)
Overdraw is the simplest of the three power-ups.

Drawback: Chance of weapon breakage. This is the downside to using Overdraw. +1.
Extra Damage: +2 or +1/die. Here’s the upside. -4.

Penetrating Shot
20 points
Prerequisites: Weapon Master (Crossbow).

You fire a bolt so precisely that it cuts through armour and flesh (but not magical protection) with ease. Halve your foe’s natural DR, and the DR of his armor against this shot, this is a feat of precision, like targeting chinks in armor, you can’t do both. If the bolt isn’t stopped by the target, then it keeps going! Check for overpenetration (see B408), but halve the target’s effective cover DR. If the attack penetrates it may hit whoever’s behind them, make another skill roll at a range penalty based on the distance to the next target. You may hit up to two additional targets in this manner, however you can only claim the aim bonus against one of them, unless you have Enhanced Tracking.

Perks: Unique Technique (Penetrating Shot) [1].
Techniques: Penetrating Shot (H) Crossbow-0 [19].

Under the Hood (Penetrating Shot)
This technique is based heavily on Coup de Jarnac, with some tweaks to make it fit the concept.

Drawback: Limited target selection. All the targets selected must be in a straight line. +1.
Drawback: Successive attacks contingent on previous ones. If the bolt fails to penetrate, then it won’t hit any additional targets. +1.
Benefit: Effects natural DR. Lets the halved DR from targeting chinks effect natural DR. -1.
Benefit: Effects overpenetration. Lets the halved DR from targeting chinks effect overpenetration.-1.
Benefit: Fully bought off penalty. Allows us to fully buy off the penalty to target a hit location. -1.
Benefit: Stacks with other sources. Means that the armor divisor stacks with other sources. -1.
Hit Location: Chinks in armor. Halves the target’s armor against this attack. -10.
Rapid Strike. Lets us attack two additional targets at no penalty, normally this’d be -12, but Weapon Master halves it to -6.

Rapid Reload
10 points
Prerequisites: Heroic Crossbowman and Fast-Draw (Ammo) 16+.

You can reload a crossbow quickly. With a successful Fast-Draw (Ammo) roll you can reload a hand-drawn crossbow as a free action. This power-ups includes Quick Reload (Hand-Drawn Crossbow), don’t buy it separately.

Perks: Quick-Reload (Hand-Drawn Crossbow) [1]; Unique Technique (Rapid-Reload) [1].
Techniques: Rapid-Reload (H) Fast-Draw-0 [8].

Under the Hood (Rapid Reload)
I did something unconventional with Rapid Reload, I don’t advocate it in general, but I think it works fine in DF within predefined technique packages.

Benefit: Rapid Strike on a ready. This is to let us attempt a rapid strike to eliminate a ready maneuver, not something that’s normally allowed. -1.
Rapid Strike. This bit buys off the penalty to perform a rapid strike itself. -6.

Sharpshooter Perks
1 point/perk

Crossbow Safety
Prerequisites: Crossbow at 20+.

You can carry a drawn, loaded crossbow, without any risk of it going off at an unfortunate moment. This lets you ready a heavy crossbow out of combat time, then draw it in combat when the situation demands a little extra firepower.

Predictive Shot
Prerequisites: Crossbow 16+.

Through awareness of your target’s movements at the split-second before you pull the trigger, you can predict where he’ll attempt to dodge to. For each -2 to the roll to hit that you accept (down to a minimum effective skill of 10), your target gets -1 to his Dodge.

Quick Draw
This perk lets you purchase Fast-Draw (Crossbow), which extends the usual benefits of Fast-Draw to crossbows, i.e. with a successful roll you may produce any crossbow you have on your person as a free action. However, it grants no special ability to reload a crossbow quickly, for that see Rapid Reload, below.

Too Many Weapons
Prerequisites: An effective Lifting ST of 16+.

You can never have too many weapons, or at least that’s your motto. While every weapon you carry counts towards your encumbrance, you don’t have to worry about where you’re putting them, or whether they’re readily accessible, so you could carry as many as your Basic Lift will allow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Aeon A-Team S01E03 - We Are Everywhere

Dramatis Personae
Aysella Shinjitai aka Marionette (played by +Ann LS): a telekinetic who can detect Kyberian Energy, and boost or dampen other metahuman powers.
Hobs Ini-Herit aka The Alchemist (played by +Christian Gelacio): a straight-up matter controller with super-strength and devastating good looks.
Roth Reynard aka Red Zone (played by +Troy Loy): a super-genius with flame powers and a fear of heights.
Samuel Donick aka RePlay (played by +Curtis Johnston): A telepath who can do your standard mind-tricks, but is exceptionally good at altering memories.
Jacob C. Wikvaya aka Shaman (played by +Thomas Phelps): A plant, animal, and weather-controller. Also a criminal-mastermind (but not by choice).

Severus U. "Sue" Edgeworth (NPC Ally): Young angry man. "Super-normal" who's insanely good at hand-to-hand combat, infiltration, and other spy/military skills. What kind of name is Sue? It's the one he gave himself. Mock it at your own risk.

The PCs have been busy over the last three months. They've incorporated Theia Dynamics as a cover company for their satellite launch. The techies have finished building it and it's been launched with a massive success (Critical successes on financing, concept, building, and launching it). Sentry has been keeping a somewhat low profile (still tagging some crime scenes), but doing things other than stopping crime: they've helped with fires, accidents, and even natural disasters. In short, they have been heroes. 

They've spent the last three months busily tracking down the flow of narcotics in New York City (and the East Coast in general) and more specifically heroin. Heroin use has gotten bad in the last year and it's getting even worse. The PCs know that the Chinese Triads have been importing and distributing it at below market value, but they don't know why. Moreover, in the last week their operations have disappeared off the map.

Java Man With Java Plan
Aysella, Hobs, Roth, and Jacob
A 24 Hour Internet Cafe, 66°F, Clear skies
Wednesday, July 16th, 2003, 8:00pm

119 Knickerbocker Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237

Shaman gets a tip from one of his criminal contacts that Bao Li, an information broker, has a lead on how the Triads have continued to smuggle in drugs while staying off the radar. Tian Dingxiang, the junior Chinese diplomatic attache to the UN is the culprit. Li explains that Dingxiang is the one helping smuggle in the drugs (both personally and authorizing certain ships) and he's been forced to help since they've kidnapped his boyfriend. After several uncomfortable minutes of shameless flirting with Marionette and the others, Sentry agrees to help Li as they set off for the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Back To The Docks
Aysella, Hobs, Roth, and Jacob
Port of New York and New Jersey, 66°F, Clear skies
Wednesday, July 16th, 2003, 10:00pm

E Bay Ave, Elizabeth, NJ 07201

Once at the docks they quickly spot the party boat that Tian Dingxiang owns and spy on it for a while. Inside are several Triad "bodyguards", wait staff, models, and of course, the diplomatic attache. Marionette gets suspicious and attempts to contact Li, who surprises the team with having cracked their comms channel, tells them he lied about his boyfriend being kidnapped. Instead Bao Li makes them a deal: retrieve a small cubic device from Tian Dingxiang for the information. Li also tells them that Dingxiang keeps a notebook in a safe filled with useful incriminating information. This jives with what they learned last time and uneasily the team agrees to stop both Dingxiang and exchange the device for proof on Dingxiang's actions with the Triads. After another quick scouting mission they decide to let Red Zone muck with the onboard computer systems to simulate a breech in the hull (reversing the polarity of the bilge pumps FTW). That done the Alchemist, Marionette, Shaman, and Sue sneak onboard, kidnap the ambassador and ransack his office. They find a suitcase under the bed that's got a biometric lock. Shaman cracks the luck with a little luck and finds a strange orb of some metallic substance inside. The Alchemist uses his abilities to determine what it is (some kind of new element) and then produces a clone of it (made to look like it, but not be it). They find the cube device they are looking for along with a safe that the Alchemist phases his hands through to unlock.

Inside are bearer bonds, cash in numerous denominations and types, passports, and a leather book filled with every sort of black deed and criminal act you could think of. Names, bank info, the works. The Alchemist duplicates everything and takes it all (even with his ability to create gold Sentry can always use currency and it's all likely from ill-gotten gains). He sets the safe back to normal and they leave with Dingxiang.

Heading back to the shore they question Dingxiang with the help of a plant that Shaman whips up on the spot (something that inflicts Ecstasy, Gullibility, and Truthfulness on anyone that inhales its spores). Dingxiang answers everything they ask him and after gathering enough incriminating evidence have him call the FBI and tell them about his dastardly plans (even though he's drugged, it'll leave his system longer before the FBI arrive). The PCs leave and head back to fulfill their end to Li. Red Zone explains that might be bad (the cube is a hard-coded decryption device that can break just about any encryption on the planet by using a quantum filtering method), so the Alchemist creates another duplicate of the device (including the code on the chips!), but makes it so it gets a single use and then self-destructs in a believable way.

Just Here and Then Gone
Aysella, Hobs, Roth, and Jacob
A 24 Hour Internet Cafe, 66°F, Clear skies
Wednesday, July 16th, 2003, 12:00am
119 Knickerbocker Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237

Back at the coffee shop, Marionette (still acting as Sentry's face) gives Li the cube in exchange for the times, dates, and locations of the Triad's next months worth of shipments. Suspicious of the thumb drive he gives her, she asks him to show her on his machine. Laughing he throws the thumb drive behind him and brings out the "real thumb drive." He shows her the information on it and then hands it over. Still suspicious and giving Li a steely glare, Marionette asks if it'll destroy the computer it's used on/erase itself. Laughing again, he throws that thumb drive behind his other shoulder and motions to the huge goon behind his shoulder who hands him another thumb drive. This time he puts the thumb drive in his computer and prints out a hard copy of the information as a show of "good faith."

What follows is an amusing conversation between Li and his brutish looking bodyguard:

"Ugh. Hard Copy."
"Hit F10, boss. It's F10."
"I know that Gunther. I told you that."
"Okay, Boss. Just saying. You know Reynard has problems with printing too..."
"Hush, you technoweenie."

The PCs head back to their base after that and begin examining the spherical object they found as well as the quantum decoder (which is totally not stolen from Sneakers - totally).

The NYPD (specifically Det. Malik and his "new" partner Det.  Heade) get a dump of information on the Triads. The NYPD sets up a taskforce and puts Malik in charge of taking down the Triad's drug trade in the city. Since this is what Sentry wanted anyways, they keep helping to prop up their "blue" "beards," all the while continuing their work within the city.

After Action Report/Rules Notes
My brother missed another game session, but again, he was occupied and not just blowing us off. The players spent a lot of time discussing their characters and how they fit together and in the game world and what sorts of things they wanted to do. I had a nasty glucose imbalance (and I'd been up way late the night before) and had to take a 2 hour nap - which succcckkkkked. That said, the game went by at a great pace and a (good) predictable way. The players had fun and I had more fun setting up some NPCs from another game in the past (C-Team encounter both Gunther and Reynard at one point).

I decided that unless some wonky happened, Season 1 was going to end next game so we could bump up another few years. My goal is to get all the teams at one point in time so I can begin to execute my master plan.

Yes, I have one. It spans my wall like some obsessed conspiracy theorist or serial killer. Eventually, I'll get it digitized with my mindmapping software (Scapple for the win), but till then, it's fine where it is.

Session Soundtrack
"Eminence Front" - The Who (Especially during the boat scenes with the A-Team sneaking aboard)
"Love Song of Kangding" - Traditional Chinese Love Song