Designer’s Notes: Dungeon Fantasy Video Gaming

Pyramid_3_72_alternate_dungeons_1000Overall writing this article was fun. I got to mix two of my favorite things: RPGs and video-games. Who wouldn’t want to do that? I also wanted to do something so out there and cool that Steven would accept it – with his “Well, I can see why ‘traditional’ dungeon-fantasy campaigns wouldn’t want to do that, but that’s cool idea, and I want to put it in my campaign.” I tried hard to strike a balance of playability and complexity. I think I achieved that, but only time will tell otherwise. Overall it took me about 50 hours of writing, editing, reviewing, and revising to get this in top form. This was also one of the articles affected by a rogue third-party macro for Excel that made my life hell for a few months. I had to go back and check every single article I’d submitted (not a inconsequential amount!) to see what had been changed. The macro had just completely killed some sentences by getting rid of pronouns like “he” and nuking contractions. It was a miserable month when I found out and I did my best to fix the problem which results in about a hundred man-hours of extra work.
Anyways, back to DFVG – did I mention it was fun? Because it was REALLY fun. I got to go back over the tropes covered by some of my favorite video games like Disgaea, Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Thief, and even Vagrant Story (Gawd how I love that game – if you’ve never played it, I feel sorry for the hole that you carry around in your soul that only it can fill). One thing I didn’t come up with was the title head for the tropes > rules section, “Video Game Achievements Unlocked,” but Nikki Vrtis did – and I freaking love it. I just got to call that out. It was perfect. Thanks again, Nikki (and Steven)! I feel that with my article you could probably emulate just about any “rogue-like” fantasy game using GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. Now, for the outtakes (the real reason you’re probably reading this):

Closing Thoughts

This probably got removed because it was a bit superfluous: 
“Why videogames? Better yet, why try to emulate a videogame in a tabletop role-playing game? Why not just play a videogame? The answers to these questions vary from person to person, and GM to GM. But most likely the answer is: because it would be totally cool. Obviously, many things that work in videogames are not going to work in a tabletop game, but as this article proves – some do.”

Geo Effects
Named after the trope of the same name, probably the easiest way to represent this is to use Mana Levels for everything and discard all other “energy types” (e.g., Sanctity). Therefore chi-based powers get a -5 penalty in Low-Geomana areas and those who have purchased clerical spells, but lack Power Investiture can cast them in areas of “High Geomana.” The GM could also come up with a chart that gives specific bonuses in specific areas of his campaign world – but that would be a setting design decision rather than a hard and fast rule.

Got My Teamspeak On
Playing modern cooperative games often involves the use of VOIP programs (like Teamspeak or Skype) and allows the players to more coordinate their actions. In GURPS, this is best defined as the Telecommunication (Telesend) advantage (p. B91).

Teamspeak!: Telecommunication (Accessibility, Only other members of my party, -30%; Broadcast, +50%; Can tell if sending is successful, +10%; Long-Range 1, +50%; Reliable 10, +50%; Secure, +20%) [90]. Note: Allows players to telepathically communicate with members of their delving party without actually speaking.

If all player characters or important NPCs have this ability, this is simply a design switch.

Hot Swappable Character Party
In many RPG video-games there are a pleothra of characters you can choose from – but only a limited number at a time (typically about 4, which is also a typical average size for a gaming group…). To emulate this each player creates anywhere from 2 to 6 characters that they’d want to play and then picks off one to start. At any point later on the player can ask the GM to “swap” a character with any of his others. This may be combined with Dots on a Map, Quick, Save the Game!, or both representing a need to be at a “save” or “warp” point before a character may be swapped out.

Where’s My Pallet-jack Thingy?!
In some games despite a character’s immense strength or lack of physical capabilities lifting a box is always the same and can be done by anyone – with enough time. Don’t try. It won’t work. What you need is a pallet-jack thingy! When this feature is active, specific objects are designed as “Puzzle-based” which means that they can be moved by anyone with no rolls – it merely takes time. Figure out how long it would take a character with ST 10 to move the object and then multiply that time by 10. See p. B352 for more details on lifting and dragging. If a object couldn’t be moved by a person with ST 10, instead scale up the ST until it’s at the bare minimum to move it and then add 10% to the final time per point of 10 the required ST score was. This costs the normal FP. For example, a box that weighs 500 lbs. that needs to be pushed one hex would require a ST of 18 to pick up and shift one hex in 1 second for 1 FP. If it’s a “puzzled-based” box then ST wouldn’t matter, but it would take 18 seconds to shift one hex and would still cost 1 FP.

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