• Medieval gamers

    What’s interesting about roleplaying games

    We interrupt this site’s regularly scheduled posts about weapon stat trivia and other simulationist drivel to bring you long-simmered higher-level thoughts on gaming itself. The following likely offers nothing you haven’t thought yourself or heard before, but that’s okay. For the interested, here are a few things that I’ve always found particularly interesting about RPGs. They’re a whole new type of game That’s a rarity. Think of the types of games you play at a table. Not specific games, but broad, top-level categories. There are card games, of course, in a zillion variations. Countless board games, too. To avoid getting too broad, we can consider strategy games like go and…

  • A year of daily GURPS tweets: #DailyHouserule (GURPS/DFRPG)

    I’ve been assembling a collection of bite-sized house rules, tips, and tricks for GURPS and DFRPG, with the intent of tweeting one a day for a year. I’ve got enough entries now for nearly three-quarters of the year; the rest are falling in line smoothly. When to launch these daily tidbits? January 1 would make all kinds of sense… I realized one day in late January. So I launched on February 1, the Chinese Lunar New Year. That works too. I’ve got over a week of house rules and tips posted now, and it’s going fine, so here’s the blog announcement. Interested? Just follow @gamesdiner on Twitter, or follow my…

  • Bridge battle

    Game design musing: Simplifying ST-based thrust and swing damage (GURPS)

    Here’s a small simplification GURPS could make: Replace the two damage scores (thrust and swing) attached to ST with one damage score. Huh? You mean do away with GURPS’ distinctive difference between a weapon’s swing and thrust damage scores?  No, nothing of the sort! That thrust-vs-swing distinction adds fun considerations to the choice and use of weapons. It’s one of my favorite features of the game’s combat system, right up there with defense rolls. Let’s keep it! But I think the game could remove the small complication of two damage scores if it wanted – not from combat, but from character stats.  I’ve made mention of this somewhere in the…

  • Fight

    Game design musing: Swing vs thrust damage: What’s the difference? (GURPS)

    Welcome back to Dork Labs (a name you can count on to mean “spreadsheets will follow”). In writing an upcoming post involving strength and damage, I had reason to revisit an old question of mine: in an ideal GURPS, how much should ST-based swing and thrust damage differ? It’s by no means a pressing matter at anyone’s game table, but on the off chance that someone finds this of interest, and continuing this site’s hallowed tradition of yammering incessantly about all things ST for reasons only Yog-Sothoth can divine, here’s what the numbers show. Swing vs thrust, by the numbers The table below is self-explanatory. At left are ST-based thrust…

  • Game design musing: Meeting weapon ST requirements (GURPS/DFRPG)

    Hand-held weapons in GURPS and DFRPG have a ST requirement. The rules let Striking ST help meet the requirement. But they should give that honor to Lifting ST instead. You: “Cool! A topic that’s both trivial and boring!” Yep. I seem to be outdoing even myself on that front here. Grognard gamers who recognize this as some long-retired, fiddly rules ephemera will be happiest heading back to the gaming table and playing things however they always have. Newcomers to GURPS/DFRPG (or RPGs), meanwhile, are encouraged to skip this because it’s terribly unimportant. (Just play the rules as they’re written, and revisit this page some day after you, too, have become…

  • Delvers to Grow

    Grow a delver – fast! – for the best dungeon RPG out there

    I’m late wth this post; the Big News in question is a Kickstarter campaign with 60 hours to go. But better late than an ogre punch upside the head (or something like that), as they say. Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG) is the best dungeon RPG out there, for a ton of reasons. Its competition in the market includes a lot of truly great games (including a really big name or few), but DFRPG out-dungeons and out-dragons them all. (Yeah, that’s an opinion. Got lots more where that came from.) Characters in DFRPG are rich and detailed (like this guy!), and that’s a beautiful thing. Creating those unique personas can…

  • Books we want: Character journal for DFRPG (plus TFT Deluxe Character Journal: A review)

    I earlier took a look at three dungeon planner products for mapping out fantasy adventures, and added thoughts on what I’d pack into an ideal planner for a game like Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG). Let’s look at a similar product: the character journal. Picture a slim notebook that includes all the offerings of a full-featured character sheet, plus more space for back story, adventuring records, artwork, and . . . hmm, what else? That’s the topic. Edit 2021-02-07: My local gamer culture has always seemed to focus on the term “character form” instead of “character sheet”, but I know many people use the latter, as do the GURPS/DFRPG sheets…

  • Tiny DFRPG idea: A better Green Thumb

    Following up on Tiny GURPS/DFRPG idea: A better Outdoorsman, let’s take a brief peek at the somewhat wan Green Thumb advantage in the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG). in GURPS, this 5-point Talent boosts a nice five skills: Biology, Farming, Gardening, Herb Lore, and Naturalist. In DFRPG, a shortened skill list means means fewer boosted skills: just the trio of Herb Lore, Naturalist, and Pharmacy (the skill of making mundane herbal medicines). These are good skills, but the DFRPG advantage has a wilted feel. Let’s give it some water and sun. Cultivating Green Thumb I’d like to see a more verdant Green Thumb that rakes in two more skills to…

  • A modest proposal: Friendlier character trait blocks in GURPS

    Players of GURPS know that the RPG has a simple rules set at heart, yet its reputation as complex lingers on. True, the system does have rules bits that delve deep into detail, though those are typically optional bits. The system also covers a vast breadth of topics, which many gamers unfortunately confuse with complexity. And there are perhaps a few spots where the game presents an appearance more daunting than the reality. Here’s a quick look at an example of the latter. It’s a small part of the game that doesn’t involve “complexity”, yet can induce a moment of dizziness even in me at times. I’m talking about long,…

  • Books we want: The perfect dungeon planner (plus three dungeon planners: A review)

    Steve Jackson Games (SJG) recently dropped two nifty dungeon planner products, one for its (GURPS-derived) Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG) and one for its (GURPS-spawning) The Fantasy Trip (TFT) system. Around the same time, a Kickstarter campaign let me pick up a system-agnostic adventure planner from a different (but not unrelated) source: the Dungeon Crafter’s Sketch Book by Philip Reed, CEO of SJG and launcher of many personal RPG products on Kickstarter. Dedicated planner books, for a task that graph paper and any old notebook have always handled just fine? Let’s see what these products bring to the table. And after that, let’s indulge in unhinged thoughts on creating the…