January 26, 2015

Monteporte 46 - Celebration with the Disco Gnomes

We follow the underground pathway for a bit longer, and eventually come to a small building area known as Crossroads. We're met by a gnome in armor, with a golem of some sort, 10' tall or so. For moral support.  

They discover (because we tell them) that they've come home, to Crossroads. A celebration must ensue! 

They take us to their main city, PrinceTown, which +Ken H lovingly rendered in full detail. The primary city is under a large metal dome - defensible and artistic. It is smooth, with no visible seams or joins. It looks like one piece of steel. Each door can be seen opening and closing, but the doors themselves are quite thick, and seem to open themselves, automatically.

We had a party, and the mayor gave a speech. The Hobgoblins came, stole their friends, and these heroes, (for a healthy price), rescued them, yea ha! Bless this food, this gathering, and these heroes, etc. Amen.
+Daniel McEntee arrives. We tell him we're at a Gnome feast. He asks if we're on the menu. We say no, and continue.

We gain some knowledge about the map of the Gnome's territories, a large land, and note that we came through Benn's house. The map shows Benn's House to Princetown, and that was about 94 squares. Um. Rough guess about 30 miles, making the extent of the Gnome lands about 10 miles by 6 miles. Making it larger than Rhode Island (kidding. Mostly.)

In any case, we gain knowledge abut the Dwarven Exploration, and the Gnomish History.

Summary of Dwarven Exploration Notes 

The dwarven engineers, builders and miners associated with the Elementalist Monastery left their exploration notes with the gnomes. Here is the summary: 

  1. The elementalist monastery is 5 levels deep. 
  2. There have been at least two previous settlements of dwarves: 
    • There are remnants of a dwarven city that lie below the fifth level of the elementalist monastery. There is no records of this in written dwarven history and the elves simply say that the dwarves were stupid to mine and build in such a cursed area. 
    • There was a later influx of dwarves. They avoided the ruins of the dwarvish city and mined extensively throughout the area. They were a large but disorganized group, which many of them eventually ending up quite deep in the earth. They were able to mine significant amounts of gold and silver, but it was a dangerous place. The smart few left and most of the rest died. There is some belief that dwarves continued to migrate deeper and they are still down there somewhere. 
  3. The dwarves involved with the elementalist monastery discovered a distant gold mine and, with the help of the gnomes, built wagons riding on metal rails to transport themselves and their gold. The elementalists discouraged this worldly pursuit of wealth, but some in the monastic order began to enrich themselves. 
  4. The dwarves discovered several places that were created by outsiders. The first was an area of obelisks. The dwarves were banished from this area by the elementalists. Some dwarven explorers discovered an area with some of the outsider creatures in tanks near an ancient dwarven mining area. This was seen as a very dangerous area and the dwarves destroyed the ancient bridge that crossed the chasm, thus severing access from the elementalist monastery.

Summary of the Gnome Chronicles

The gnomes wrote a chronicle of their escape from the elementalist civil war. This is a summary: 

  1. The human monks in the elementalist monastery fell apart into three factions. One faction had grown rich by stealing from the dwarven miners. Some within this faction fell into the practice of demon worship. A second group was enticed by the powerful magic left behind by the outsiders who had once inhabited this area. They used this power to bend the universe in unwholesome ways. They also became cannibals. A third group wanted to remain faithful to the elementalists’ beliefs and practices. They were quickly wiped out, despite the capable leadership of Cassius. 
  2. The dwarves and gnomes fought alongside Cassius. They were able to drive the demon worshippers off, chasing them to the dwarves’ ancient gold mining area many miles to the east of the monastery. 
  3. The victory had weakened Cassius’ group. He released the gnomes and dwarves to flee for safety. Despite overwhelming odds, Cassius and his group was almost successful in their attack against the cannibal faction. The cannibals had progressed quickly in their knowledge of alien magic and with this magic they defeated Cassius and his followers. 
  4. The gnomes fled through the ant colony to their garden area and then down. The dwarves helped them flee, but the dwarves were hunted down and eaten. The gnomes who were captured were sacrificed in a secret magic ritual known only to the cannibals. 
  5. The gnomes descended deep into the earth until they found a large cave filled with a forest of mushrooms. They carved a small farming community at the western end of the forest. 
  6. Sometime later, a group of stone giants, who also followed in the elementalist way, settled in the remaining portion of the forest. They and the gnomes developed an understanding that was to their mutual benefit.

The mayor notices that Duncan the Gnome has a hat that gives him a royal countenance. He doffs his hat and bows, revealing the crown of the gnomish king! General amazement ensues, and the gnomes ask if Duncan has returned to be king. 

The mayor leans in, and offers 10 gold bars as a reward for returning the gnomes, but he'll personally double it if we leave and not come back.

"Oh, well, we didn't have enemies until you guys showed up."
"That you knew of. Your people were getting eaten."
"We have strong allies in the Stone Giants. We give them food, they give us stoneware."
"But they were eating your people."
"We had no enemies until you guys showed up."

I start to wonder if we're going to have a re-run of "how many five-year-olds can you beat up?" Do you know how mayors and other politicians react when you threaten to take their power away?


There are wood golems and guys in armor around too. The conversation starts to get heated, pointed, and Luven starts sizing up the opposition. There are about 25 gnomes in armor, in groups of 3, each with a construct per group. . 

Duncan offers that we can ask for the current offer plus a few constructs to help us remove the "menace" and ask if any young gnomes would like to enter service to "our royal self"

Duncan stands up, exposes his gnomish crown, and offers up a mighty speech. He totally nails his Charisma check, +2 for leading gnomes, as the gnomes rename the town Kingstown. The mayor takes off his sash, goes down on one knee, and offers up his sash to Duncan.

"OK, we'll finish the feast and hold court in the morning! Where can we sleep?"
"Somewhere with really thick walls and squeaky floors," says Nosphryc, sotto voce.

All hail King Duncan! And Queen Breena! (Wait, what? What about the bear!)

"Yay! We have a king! That's come to stay with us! Forever."
We keep expecting Ken to ask us all to roll up new characters. You didn't get a TPK, it was a TPP - Total Party Politicization. Keeping the TP in politics, as if it needed the help. "If you have an election lasting more then four hours, you should seek Clerical help!"
Duncan decides to retire and become king! First time we have a mid-game character loss due to becoming royalty! He decides to make up a Eldritch Knight at 5th level.
"I want to go to the crappy town where I'm a hero."  - Hoban Washburne
We each get 3,900 x.p for delivering the rescued gnomes...Duncan gains an extra 5,000 for becoming king
 Nosphryc is about 1200XP shy of next level; a T-shirt appears on the screen:

January 22, 2015

Grabbing Parry, Giants, and Giant Robots

Had an interesting question from +Mark Langsdorf about a situation that arose in his Mecha Against the Giants campaign. 

A SM+2 mecha (6 tons, ST85, Basic Lift 0.72 tons) wanted to curb-stomp a downed giant leader. That leader is SM+4, weighs 12 tons, and is ST160. He's also got Wrestling at DX+4, which is a +3 bonus per ST 10, or basically +30% to ST.  The giant has a crippled leg (and a wounded arm) as well. If they actually grapple, the giant will be at +2 to DX and +30% to ST or Trained ST when grapplling due to the difference in relative size modifier.

They're using the Technical Grappling rules for extreme grappling awesomeness. 

So here's the situation: the mecha kicks at the giant, and the giant successfully performs a one-handed grabbing parry. The question was, basically, what the hell happens, and what should the giant do next?

January 20, 2015

Blogging from 38,000 feet and 534mph

Speeding along here on an A330-200 on my way to Hong Kong. Out my window is Kamchatka. A forbidding and beautiful land. I know it's all that when it comes to playing Risk, but after actually flying over it, I think there needs to be a house rule here - every turn you have armies in Kamchatka, you lose half of them. It also takes two turns to move through it. Because look at that terrain.

(OK, I'm kidding. But seriously . . . I'd hate to drive tanks and stuff across it. It made me nervous to fly over it!)
I've gotten some good note-taking done, but a tablet and spotty satellite connection are no way to try and write them down. I'll likely hook up the laptop when I land, after I do some real "work" and then probably NOT sleep. Heck, I don't get much sleep anyway.

What was I musing about? A new variation on Attunement for D&D5 that riffs off of my old post, +Ken Hs thoughts, as well as +Peter V. Dell'Orto . I think something like attunement could be a valuable roleplaying aid, and am working some systems. Definitely have some of it worked out, but I need to write it all down and see what it looks like and if it'll be fun in play.

I also began some thoughts on wealth, income, and assets in GURPS. I've been noodling on this for a while now, and I think it's time to write stuff down.

Finally I really, really need to find my runaway muse where it comes to a column I'm supposed to be writing. I have a good outline, but I need to take that outline and make it into topics worth exploring ad reading. I know that writers, actors, and other creative types have this issue all the time: "why would anyone ever read this stuff?" But I think the topic is worth exploring . . . but it's not speaking to me yet. Once it finds a voice, I can write stuff down. The outline is dry - maybe that's the problem?

Anyway, more in a bit.

+Peter V. Dell'Orto  took over Nosphryc in the +Ken H's Monteporte campaign, but failed to kill him off, which I can only assume means he wasn't really trying hard enough.

January 15, 2015

You got your GURPS in my D&D!

Over on Google+, +Benjamin Baugh was thinking about damage reduction in place of increased hit difficulty for D&D armor.

This obviously strikes a chord with this GURPS (and D&D) player, and I replied:

Even if you run screaming from the game, the implications of negated attacks and armor as damage reduction/resistance are fully fleshed out in GURPS. It assumes that an attack "good enough to hit" is only the first step, and there are two different opportunities to negate it - a defense roll and the "damage soak" provided by armor.
Lots of concepts implicit in the rules that you could choose to ignore or map to D&D mechanics.
In fact, I think I'm going to yoink this thread and see what I can make of it. :-)
Rather than write a post that says "do this," I'm going to start with thinking about the kinds of things that might have to be true in order to map a GURPS-like combat sequence to D&D mechanics.

Why Bother?

Well, firstly, I obviously like the GURPS sequence of attack-defend-penetrate armor-resolve injury. I feel that it involves more player agency, since the defense roll also comes with a plethora of tactical options, including yielding ground, special parry types, damaging parries, and the ability to do a "riposte" that sacrifices the ability to defend this around for an extra increase to hit in a following round. 

So yeah: if you just like roll 1d20+bonus vs. your AC, by all means keep doing it. I do it five times a month and have a riotously good time, so this is in the nature of a thought experiment.

January 13, 2015

Attunement in D&D5e

In Monteporte 44, the session began and ended with animated discussions on the rules for attunement to magical weapons. +Rob Conley had created a chart or an excel file listing all the weapons that required attunement from the DMG, and we played around with the concept a bit. We all, I think, liked the general concept of attunement, but were all equally bothered by some of the implications. In addition, since Monteporte was migrated over from a game with different assumptions than went into D&D5, there were many more magic items than seemed typical for a D&D5 party.

Attunement (DMG pp. 136-138)

The basic concept behind attunement is simple. To use a weapon with magical properties in a magical way, you have to spend a period of time - a short rest - bonding with the item in an appropriate way. If you don't do so, the items functions like a normal, non-magical item of that type, but no nifty stuff can be generated from it. A Sword of Sharpness might act like a regular sword and would cut things just fine, but no other magical abilities would be present, and I'm not even sure it'd damage creatures that are only damaged by magical weapons - the text seems to suggest not. A suit of plate armor that requires attunement would still give you AC 18 for wearing it, but whatever powers it has would not be available to you until attunement is complete. A wand or ring, which otherwise serves no purpose than to give you certain powers, is basically useless. Maybe you could use it as a napkin holder or a stir stick?

January 12, 2015

Monteporte 44 - Attunement and Grimlocks

We begin with some bookkeeping - we need to pick the three magic items we've attuned to, which limits the other players more than Nosphryc, since he only has three magic items. Good news is that reading the descriptions of the Sword of Lendorth and Amulet of Ren again, which provided two key abilities that I can draw upon for the undead guys:

  • Amulet of Ren: +1 to AC versus undead; First attack by an undead creature in a turn is at disadvantage (happens once per turn)
  • Sword of Lendorth: Long sword, +1 to attack and damage; +3 to damage versus undead; You gain a bonus action every turn when fighting undead



We start out recovering from the fight, and then proceed to explore some more, following the evidence of foot traffic, assuming traffic is treasure. We decide we'll use the Lens of Finding in each room to ensure that we don't bypass any secret doors. It'll slow us down, but worth it to ensure we don't miss anything.

We wander for a while, well, purposeful wandering, and come to a T intersection. We can see evidence of a room to the left, so we head that way. Another couple of splits, that seem to head back to an intersection we've passed before.

We come to a standing pool in the middle of a small room. The pool is elevated a bit from the floor, maybe a foot. It's also about a foot deep.

We investigate the pool a bit, checking it for any auras or vibes. As we get close to it, examining the pool, we can tell that the stonework around the pool is itself magical - but not the water. We check out the pool with the Lens of Molnar, and we find that the stone creates and purifies the water within the basin. We replenish our fresh water supplies, and warn Luven not to pee in the pool. Let's see if Luven's Mighty Wand can dispell the magic! Let's not.

We proceed on, and the room to the south contains six rings and eyebolts, that seemed to be for holding animals.

We proceed onwards . . . and walk right the heck into an ambush. Eleven humanoids, with spiked clubs and loincloths. Mixed male and female. They are Grimlocks, a type of creature we've not yet seen.


Apparently not vegan.

We are not surprised, but split initiative. Luven hits for 12 HP, which does not kill anyone. And we get rushed by another ten guys from behind.

Nosphryc nails one with a critical hit, using his Archery feat to take -5 to hit and +10 damage. Blasts him for 24 HP, killing him. The second is actually a critical miss, alas. The guys only seem to have about 9-16 HP, so he'll be splitting his attacks on the guys coming from behind.

Breena rages. She puts one down, and badly injures another. Adzeer throws down a Guardian of Faith - an indistinct sword and shield that wards off hostile creatures, who will take damage if they come too close. Kinds of a Patronus charm, but an angry one.

Dante tries to nail one with a firebolt, but just misses (thus establishing their AC as 11).

Luven fires through the ranks, at a disadvantage, and hits anyway with a 16; he does 18 points of damage even including his 4d6 sneak attack. He kills his foe.

Now the grimlocks are up. First all the guys next to Adzeer's guardian have to deal with it - three get more or less vaporized, using up the 60 HP of capacity that the thing provides. That's a nice hit, but still leaves us with six to the south and ten to the west.

Two attack Breena, both hitting. She's a Grimlock magnet, but her damage taken is halved since she's raging. Only 4 HP taken. Two attack and miss Adzeer; all the Grimlocks advance down the corridor, and now Nosphryc is sword-out.

He strikes one twice, killing him. Adzeer casts Spiritual Weapon, and a ghostly blade appears. 
We actually discuss this rule for quite a while. Was not clear to everyone in the same way.
Anyway he hits once with the ghostly weapon, and once physically. A total of 20 HP later, and his foe drops.

Breena takes down two, the second with a mighty blow for 17 HP in one shot.

Dante misses again with his firebolt; he's 0 for 3. Luven klls one for 26 HP - he's very dead - with his light crossbow.

The Grimlocks attack. One hits Adzeer for 5 HP, and two hit Nosphryc for 10 HP total. 

Nosphryc takes down one next to Luven, leaving him room to use his crossbow. He hits a second foe, but not enough to kill him. Adzeer misses with his Spirit Weapon, but hits hard with a melee attack, killing another.

Breena steps up to the plate with a critical hit for 20 HP, murderizing another. She spins, and attacks the one Nosphryc hit, hitting him and dropping him for 13 HP, enough to ruin his day as well. Dante finally connects with a firebolt, doing 13 HP of flaming death. He's toast. Grimlock: it's what's for dinner! Grimlock: the other white meat. 

Hey, that's what they get when their battle cry is "YUMMY YUMMY EAT EAT!"
We speculate that this is either the worst ambush ever, or a clever drain on our resources before a real fight.
At this point, we're down to but four Grimlocks; they flee. One triggers two attacks of opportunity, one from Luven, another from Nosphryc - he dies. Another triggers a spiritual hammer and mace attack from Adzeer, and again takes 15 HP on the first attack, making the second irrelevant. 

Luven decides to give chase; he hits one hard in the back, but doesn't kill him. We joke that the Grimlocks have isolated the gazelle from the herd. Luven kills one on an attack of opportunity as he flees, and then runs down and kills the last one.

Upon searching the bodies, we find many have a rough cloth bag, most with meat in them. One with a pink diamond (worth 5,000gp), and one with a plush figurine. Of a mind flayer. Yikes.

It could be used as a fetish, but Grimlocks were once the slaves of mindflayers, and they still venerate them. So it could be a holy symbol, a security blanket, or a freakin' chew toy. No idea.

We continue to explore, looking for the primary room where the dual-pronged ambush came from. We find it - a 40x120+ foot room with pillars supporting a tall ceiling. We check both the pillars and the walls with the Finding Lens, but it's just a big ol' room, with periodic pile of poo where the Grimlocks did their thing. Luven, with an eye for treasure, finds something sparkly in the poo - he uses Slight of Hand to nab it. 

We contemplate taking a long rest - and decide to take one. We hole up where we fought the southern wave of Grimlocks, making a 300-like wall of Grimlocks 

We let Breena's Bear take a watch, then Dante and Nosphryc, then Adzeer and Luven take their turns, and a long rest is embarked upon. We hear sounds of dripping water and the occasional scuffle, the first watch is as still as death. During the second watch, far off in the distance, there is a horrible wailing scream . . . then nothing. The third watch passes without incident as well. We've passed around magical items that we can't attune to, the most notable being a Cloak of Protection (+1).


It's about 8:30 - we end there. We got 3,010 XP.

We then discuss the attunement rules. We talk about attuning to 2+Proficiency bonus. And a few other options, but no resolution is found just yet.

January 11, 2015

10,000 Hours and GURPS

One of the more persistently annoying, aggravating, or at least frequently misused or abused parts of GURPS are the "trading time for CP" guidelines, which give some pointers at how much study might equal one character point. 

The guideline is roughly 200 hours of study with a decent teacher (or the equivalent) might give you 1 CP in a relevant skill. With really really good materials and realistic training, or just reading from books, there are multipliers provided in both directions.

It's used and abused because, of course, that's not the only, or even the best, way to improve your character. The best way is, naturally, doing ridiculously dangerous activities like killing monsters and taking their stuff.

No, the time spent rules are really there to provide some sort of metric in case you have large amounts of in-game downtime where the players can say "yeah, but my guy is going to spend every waking hour in the dojang, and engaging in MMA training with combat robots. What's my Karate skill when he's done?"