No one is an atheist in the dungeon…

Greetings, Pilgrims, please come in and have a seat. Perhaps its time we had a talk about the Spiritual. We have concerned ourselves too long with the mundane,and the banal, focusing on material wealth, or worse, the waging of war. Perhaps we should give some thought to what comes after.

Normally, after a game I want waffles, but that’s not what I mean today.

But man, don’t waffles sound good?

Sorry, I digress.

When that party first began to make their characters, I asked if anyone worshiped any particular god, and mostly, I got shrugs. Jianjun’s player knew he wanted to be a cleric of the war god, and went hunting to find one that looked good, finding Erlang Shen. Frau’s player simply asked if there was a god of beer, and I went looking, and found Hanseath. From there, the question went unanswered, for the rest of the players, and I let it go. But I never really forgot about it..

When I started paying D&D, it was just a rule, that everyone worshiped a god, and its what you did. I asked, when I made my first character, why no one was an agnostic, or atheist, and it was explained that unlike in the real world, where religion is a matter of faith, D&D wasn’t. Gods interfere in folk’s lives, they come to earth, and they give TONS of people the ability to work legit miracles. Its not a question of “Do they Exist” it’s a question of “Which one do I hitch my wagon to?”. I liked that. It made it easier that everyone has a good option, thieves have a thieving god. Sailors have a sea goddess. Orcs have an Orc god. It’s great. When I asked Zen’s player again later, she still wanted to be an atheist, because Zen doesn’t deny that there are gods, she just doesn’t care. Zen doesn’t need any all knowing spirit watching out, telling her she’s naughty or nice. She needs a sharp knife, and a full thermos. I liked that answer and left it alone. But I didn’t extend that logic to the rest of the party, and I went back to asking folks who it was, that they tipped their hat to, when they thought about the chances of not making it out of the dungeon.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy has some distinct advantages, not being heavy with fluff. We have rules for the hard stuff, what wizards get, as opposed to clerics, or what a fighter does in relation to a barbarian. But what it doesn’t give us, is the flavor. As written, Clerics worship “Good” deities, demons worship “Evil” ones. That’s all well and good, and there’s always the tasty morsel that is GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 7: Clerics, to fill in some of that, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t really use this book myself. Not to say I don;t enjoy it, because I do, and in The Old Game, I played a cleric myself and wanted to use it, but I use GCA, and coding it is hard..

When it comes time to add the flavor, I say the sky’s the limit! But what do we use? A pantheon of gods is great, but do we use Greyhawk? Faerûn? Dragonlance? Perhaps the Pharaohic or Norse gods?

Why not both

Sure, let’s use it all! Now, I know that seems to crowd heaven up a bit. But we’ve dealt with this before. My cleric back when, worshiped Anubis. Our holly warrior revered Saturn. We didn’t have any trouble, it was just understood by me that his people gave a strange name to Min, and he thought the same of my relationship with Hades. Gods are already aspected in most RPG’s, so it’s easy enough to make the various pantheons work together. You can even throw something new into the mix, I believe my Bard-Wizard worshiped The Godfather of Souls…
When asked during the last game, Grognak’s player seemed pleased enough to worship Crom, No, not Kromm. The Red Lady made no such firm decision, but I’m willing to bet that despite being human, she would be more likely to worship an elven deity, given her penchant for all things pointed ears. (Knowing that Everynne’s Power Item is known as “The Ember of Sashelas”, it’s very possible that she would say her prayers to the elven god of magic, Deep Sashelas herself.) The remainder of our current party, however, makes it a bit more tricky, as both of our holy-rollers worship variations on the god of war.. Perhaps we should delve deeper into the 1-2 combo that is Jianjun and Frau Blucher..

Clerics and Holy Warriors are only one step away, on the wheel of character classes, and DF, there is a wider divide than in some of those other games. In modern D&D, a cleric is a heavily armored warrior of god, calling down holy fire and raising wounded allies from the brink and sometimes past the brink, of death. Paladins are basically fighters that can lay on hands, and smite evil. It’s perhaps a little more in depth than that, but no one can deny those descriptions. In GURPS, a Cleric is basically a holy wizard, not meant to be up front in a fight, despite my poor handling of both cleric and wizard, doing just that, preferring to stand back, and call their miracles from the rear. Holy warriors walk the middle line. Given a wide range of powers, some similar to the cleric, in spiritual warfare, some more meant to bolster their own fighting prowess. They neither excel as well as the fighter in battle, nor the cleric in magic, but work their own brand of perfection in their role, hunting down and destroying Undead, Demons, or both. (Note: I find the Holy Warrior of DF, to remind me more of the ranger, from D&D.. a favored enemy, range of arms available, animal companions, just matches on many points.)
I was thrilled to have both a cleric, and a holy warrior in the party, knowing that they could work side by side, and not step on each others toes, if given enough room. And then, they both chose war gods.. I began to sweat. Hanseath was far different from Erlang Shen, and I hoped that would be enough, but it turned out the players had far different ideas for their roles, and saved me any prodding to preserve shtick protection. Jianjun chose a stoic, reserved god, and his cleric followed suit. While his cleric could march with the army, he was the standard bearer, sending out his blessings, his personal mission was to root out and destroy the true enemy of His Lord, the Demon. (In game, this is reflected by Jianjun’s disadvantages, hatred: Evil religions, and an obsession with slaying Demons, in addition to his stubbornness, and sensibilities of a solider) Frau blusher, on the other had, worships a god of battle and revelry, sent forth oh her quest to spread his name, and help all those in need, be they enemies of her god, or any other within The Church. (Frau has her vows skewed more to enjoying battle, rather than hating her enemy, and a sense of duty to all good gods, calling her to travel the land, helping all those who need it.) A surprising diversion with the two similar builds, that has only deepened as play goes on.
If you looked at the two of them, based on D&D alignments, I would consider Jianjun Lawful Neutral. He understands that battle is a force for change, and that it should remain a mortal endeavor. Frau, is as Lawful Good as ever I’ve seen. She prefers to find joy in all things, if she can, but is never afraid to finish her drink and call forth the fury of her god, if injustice is present. Frau is the more likely to call out her companions for shady dealing, which could become a problem as we move forward, especially with the task they have just undertaken..

So, worship is fun, and for most, is little more than flavor text on the character sheet. If anyone decides later to play an Unholy Warrior, or excommunicated Demonologist, that could change, when it comes time to dole out healing. I’m curious to see if these feelings change moving forward. I’ve heard rumors that Frau is looking to take on an acolyte, but it remains to be seen what form that will take, and if more divine influence will change the parties outlook. Who knows, Zen took on an illusionist, maybe Frau will enlist a priest of Tyr, and add a third flavor of war god to the mix. Let’s hope not.


Nice Greatsword, are you overcompensating for something?

Welcome back, readers! First, let me say, I’m pleased that you have stuck with me thus far, as we’ve talked about the tools used by both wizards, and barbarians, and yet, we have continued to step over dollars, to get to dimes. It is time we tackled the meat of the arms and armor discussion, those things favored by Fighters, paladins, and thieves, not to mention basically anyone in this fantastic world, looking to defend themselves.

I should first start with what we DO know. Wizards tend to favor the staff and baton, which makes sense, not only as a trope, but also mechanically in GURPS, as a character that invests fewer points into the martial, benefits from the staff’s better parry score. (Note: for info about parrying scores, and weapon skills, see GURPS Basic Set 1: Characters p208.) But knights like swords, dwarves have their axes, even those strange druids use a Sickle.. Why, and whats the difference? What makes one better than the others? That’s the tricky question.

A staff isn’t a bad cheap weapon for anyone with only a few points, but it does limit you to Crushing damage, much the same as you get from punches, hammers, maces and the like. Crushing damage is fine, it certainly kills things as well as anything else, if not as quickly.. As we start to look for improving out damage, which, let’s be honest, is the whole idea, right? We can look to three other options, cutting, piercing, and impaling. Each of these has its place, though in fantasy, we deal less in piercing damage than higher tech games do, so I’ll deal with that first. Piercing is typically small parts that enter you, making small holes, like one would expect. Some arrows do this, but arrows and bows have yet to make much of an appearance in our game, and I think that I can leave them for their own post. Short version, Piercing is mainly for bullets. Cutting and impaling both give you a modifier on your damage, if any of it gets through your targets armor-style defenses, and that can make all the difference, when bringing down a foe.

Cutting weapons are the bread and butter for a civilized fantasy world. Swords, axes, many polearms, are all fine examples. If it could cut off an arm in a movie, it’s right at home here. Impaling weapons are the ones that jam a big part of themselves into you, and then hopefully, pull it back out, doing more damage when it happens, in many cases. Grognak’s warhammer, and the spiked end of Brody’s burner both do this, and while Grognak’s never had trouble yanking it free, with his ridiculous strength, it’s possible Brody may have to lug around the unlucky goblin from time to time, who refuses to come free.

Swords, being the shining example of the fantasy weapon, can double dip, if made right. Cutting when swung, but impaling when thrust into its target. It’s a delicate dance, because often swinging gives more raw force, but impaling can leave greater injury, to certain locations. In the former campaign, the archer was fond of putting an arrow in her prey’s eye, which worked to great effect.

Now that the lesson in games mechanics is out of the way, let’s discuss the fun part, what we can get our hands on, and what we can do with it, once we have it.


Swords are popular for a reason. (Note: My Sifu has said this bit before, and while its good info, I don’t see it exactly the same way. Read his bit, and then understand that what I say is the law in my game.) Swords are the height of technology, giving you options in the attack and damage department, and can range in price and size, from low, to incredibly high. As I see it, Elves made the first swords, and if you asked one, still make the best ones. It’s hard to disagree, seeing as they have hundreds of years to master their craft at both the creation and use of the blade. The flip side of that, is that elves take them very seriously, and do not share their secrets, nor do they make anything but the best. If you want and elven blade, you had better be friends with an elven smith. Good friends. (Note: Elven blades aren’t a specialty found in the GURPS books, but I found a ruling from Kromm, and I’m moving forward with it, because I think it fits, and the flavor was just too good.)

Humans might have been late to the party, but they make up for it with enthusiasm! Humans will make all manner of swords, cheap, expensive, and in between. Despite not being elves, a human can make you a blade fit for a king, and charge you the ransom of one for it.

Dwarves. Dwarves can make swords, and I’m sure they do, but from what I read in the many GURPS books, and my experience in fantasy, I’d have to say that Dwarves really feel more at home with the Axe/Mace skill, and we’ll get to them soon..

Gnomes, halflings, orcs, and the rest aren’t particularly known for their swords either, thought many have carried them, or their ilk, in game and literature alike. Orcs tend to fond of the greatsword, and I seem to recall a hobbit having a particularly fine elven short sword, in some book or another.. Hmm what could that have been.. Swords can be small, short, broad, and great, and for most definitions, also include daggers and larger knives. There are a special range of swords known as Fencing weapons, these tend to be on the very light end of the scale. Just because the name is one thing, doesn’t mean that’s its skill. Zen’s fancy new backsword uses the Broadsword Skill, which, incidentally she didn’t have, before finding the sword. Swords main drawback, is price. If you want one of even decent quality, its gonna cost you.

Options for swords are many, Cheap, Fine, Balanced, Elven, and even Very Fine, are available, it should be noted that only swords can carry the Very Fine title, and can be made from most metals found in the land. People will enchant a sword with any number of beneficial spells. Extra damage, a boost to your skill, even the ability to cut through armor. One could even wreath a blade in flame, or lightning, both short and long term. So many choices, so few hands….

-Axes, and maces, and flails oh my!

Axes might not be as popular as swords, in the myths. Maces even less so. And yet, I’m certain that they outnumber swords, if only because they were tools first, and weapons second, every smith, farmer and woodsman has at least one lying around. Don’t let that fool you. In GURPS, the high damage weapons are often in the Axe/Mace world. Frau started out with a mace, mostly because it was cheap. Despite crushing her foes, she upgraded pretty quickly to the axe, and I’m betting that’s where she’s gonna stay. No surprise that Frau happens to be a dwarf, and dwarves, love them some axes. Beside the heavy armor, which we will get to at a later date, Dwarves only specialize in the creation of axes and maces, which tells me, at least, that it was their weapon of choice, and after a bit of trial and error, they fixed the one downside to a big heavy weight on a stick, it’s inability to parry, and started mass producing them. The Family here is as broad as swords. And extends from the simple knobby club, to misused chair, to Tetsubos, and greataxes all the way up to, but not including Flails, which we will get to next, as it’s pretty clearly the next step in the weapon’s evolution. In addition to the Dwarven upgrade, unlike Elven blades, which is a widely known technique, axes and maces can be fine, or balanced, made from all manner of materials, and even equipped with an additional head, such as Frau’s hammer/axe, and Grognak’s Axe/Pick. Versatility comes at a cost, as it takes time to switch between sides, but it can be a lifesaver in the field. Enchantments are the same options as swords, thankfully.

Humans, orcs, dwarves, and many other races, understand the benefits of a simpler weapon, not to mention a much reduced cost. A Maul only sets you back $80, and gives you swing damage +4, for the trouble. It may only be a big rock on a stick, but it does the job!

Flails, aren’t really axes or maces. They are their own special kind of weapon, but I find it easier to talk about them together. A flail, is a handle, with a chain or rope, on the end of which is a heavy thing to hit people with. If you’ve ever played Castlevania, you are familiar with the GURPS Morning Star, which is probably the best example available. Handle, chain, spiky ball. A thing of beauty. One smaller flail is known as the Nunchaku, and most of us have seen these in the hands of a giant reptile (no, not the one who hates Tokyo). There aren’t a ton of weapons in the skillset, a couple single-handed, and one double, but they have the distinct advantage of being hard to defend against. You can dodge just fine, but parrying and blocking get tricky. I myself played a Gnoll Knight who used a big flail to great success, swinging it over the heads of my shield-bearers and ally in front of me. Good times. Flails can be given all the same benefits as any axe or mace, and enchanted thusly. Gnolls are the only race generally associated with the flail, unless you count the Belmont Clan, but I don’t. Anyone CAN use one, but it tends to be a stylistic decision, more than anything else.

Playing a fun character rather than a min-maxed munchkin, tends to make a better game for all involved, but maybe that’s just me. I game to have fun, and I realize not everyone has their fun the same way. Right then, moving on.

-Fresh baked miscellaneous?

There are always more weapons. Whips, spears, polearms of all makes and models. Even the Kusari from the mysterious east. All of these are available to adventurers in the game, some can be a bit harder to find, depending on who you are, but they are out there. I’m sure that if Zen decided she needed a Dragon Hide whip, she could drum up someone to make it for her, like you do.. But where’s the fun in that?

-But I don’t want to spend a fortune on that!

Way back, when I started this game, I told my players that if there was something they wanted, some special bit of cool or rare equipment, all they had to do was tell me, and I’d happily craft one up, and cast it out, somewhere into the world. Frau’s player made just such a request, and good to my word, the item is out there, waiting to be found. There are even rumors in the drum, waiting to be pulled out, with hints as to its location. Intrigue! I’m still happy to do this. Jianjun wants a spear that burns demons? No problem, maybe it’s guarded by a statue of a lion, deep in a jungle temple. The Red Lady seeks a bloodstone necklace that protects her from fire being used against her? Of course! Defeat a pack of lizard-men in the old lighthouse! Perhaps Brody seeks a long-lost dwarven Teddy Bear that sings battle songs to make him brave? There’s one rumored to be in possession of a local lord whose daughter has run off. It’s just that easy. Maybe you can’t afford that magic dagger, doesn’t meant you cant have one. That’s part of my job as GM, and frankly, a part I really enjoy. I know there are things out there now, that while the party might not know they want, I know they do..

Part of why I write these posts is to give my newer players a chance to learn what options are out there. Maybe you don’t know that potions are used as grenades, but you’d like the idea of having some around. Maybe you didn’t know that they could use Nunchucks. Unlike me, not everyone enjoys reading the Pdf’s on the- Bus.. yeah, that’s it, bus.. And I understand that. I’m the freak here, but I;m ok with it.

Now, you will notice that I only mentioned Brody and his burner once, and briefly, at that. There is a reason for this, and its simple. That is secret knowledge, and these posts are meant mainly for mass appeal. The party has certainly asked the dwarf what the heck he’s been carrying around, and I’m sure he’s given them the rundown, but we’ll see more of his tools as we go.

Well, thank you for joining me on this long-winded and meandering trip. The more I fill out the basics, the more I can answer questions if and when they come and build on them from here. Maybe next time I’ll bring out a few magic weapons, giving an idea of what’s out there. Or, maybe’s ill write a scathing piece about elves and how those pointy eared freaks think they’re better than everyone.. but probably not.. I still want a good bottle of that elven brandy, after all..

Days & Nights, Nerds!


These are the people in your neighborhood 2: Electric Hullabaloo

I thought it time to revisit the movers and shakers about town, see some new faces, and put names to some we’ve seen before.

Ah what a lovely spring day in Arica, let’s take a walk into the market square, and see who we can meet! Market day is always Odinsday here, some foreigners might call it Wednesday, but that’s just crazy talk. There’s always a brisk trade in the shops, and you can find most things any day of the week, should you possess the skill to hunt a bargain, but Market day brings folks from all over, even those dealing in the strange, and sometimes, in the forbidden. In a town run by wizards, you see more of these things than one might imagine.

Lord Derby Eland – Lord Eland is the proprietor of Arica’s most successful mageware shop, (The aforementioned “Eland’s Enchanters Emporium”) despite having, as is often said, no magical ability of his own. Regardless of his standing as a wizard, Eland is a highly skilled merchant, with a reputation that he can discern an ancient artifact from even a skilled forgery, at 100 yards. Many would-be thieves have sought to sell Lord Eland a stolen bauble here and there, and yet, none ever seem to return from his premises. Never found without an immaculate suit of clothes, and perfectly coiffed hair, it is clear to all who meet Lord Eland that he is a man of means, and he prefers to associate with such.

Lady Kefira Grayward, Paladin of Torm (300 Point Knight/Holy Warrior) – Lady Kefira, born the 6th child of local farmers, was decided to be one mouth too many, and was therefore given to the church for a life of service. Taking quickly to the ideals of the church, though not the devotion of the nunnery, Kefira arranged to train as a page, and later squire to several local knights, showing both humility and aptitude in the task. When she reached age 14, rather than take her holy orders, she petitioned the high priest for leave to become a knight herself, and serve the church in this way. Sponsored by local legend Godwin Longblade, for whom she had squired years earlier, Kefira was granted this boon, and began to train as a warrior. Completing her training a full year earlier than expected, and gaining fame for a valiant battle during a recent siege of the town, she was knighted shortly thereafter. When not away on duty, Lady Grayward is often found training the younger squires and knights, and working in the smithy, which she claims deepens her devotion to Torm.

Simone De’Scoiattolo, Perfected Sifu, Students of Fluidism A well known local wizard of indeterminate middle age, Simone is one of few such illustrious members of high society that has no interest in claiming the title of Lord. A highly respected teacher, and ranking member of the Fluidist philosophical order, De’Scoiattolo is nothing so much as well liked. Friendly and kind, Simone takes the root of his philosophy to heart, refusing to be part of the rigid structure that society clings to, preferring to follow his own heart. Always seen with a smiling face, and adorned the flowing blue robes of his order, Simone is never without a faithful apprentice in tow, all of whom are considered among the most fortunate, to study under such a knowledgeable master. No Student remains long, as the Sifu considers only the brightest young men for training, and seems to change them with the seasons. None have failed to reach great heights, however, as even a short time with Simone can teach more than a lifetime with another tutor. In addition to his deep knowledge of the arcane, Simone is also the finest Alchemist for hundreds of miles, and, it bears noting, the finest dancer as well.

Annabelle Lutin (125 Point Druid Initiate) Though not a resident of Arica herself, Annabelle is one of the most sought after vendors in the city. Bringing all manner of vegetation and herbs to market, Annabelle lives deep in the forests, preferring nature to the bustling city life, the fact of which she is known to share with all she meets. Perhaps the most skilled herbalist around, she is sought equally for her medicines and poultices, as she is her fine vegetables. Annabelle has been known to sign on with adventurers or work for members of town, but only when their cause is in defense of nature. She claims not to care about the money, but never turns down coin for a job done. Kind and always cheerful, some folks avoid her, citing her flighty nature, and tendency to talk more to plants than people. These prejudices are easily overcome, however, when they have need of her considerable skills.

Zayn & Jaynia – Identical twin High Elves, it is hard even for constant companions to tell brother from sister, as even their adventuring gear is the same, both outfitted in long blue robes and carrying matching pristine white quarterstaves, carved from dragonbone. The only saving grace is that one carries a spellbook, and the other a holy symbol. Both are members of local adventuring party ”The Wyvern’s Wing” and have been making a names for themselves as capable adventurers, over the last year.

      • Zayn (***1 Point Wizard) The elder twin, Zayn is the more bookish of the two, preferring study over socializing, he rarely involves himself in others business, unless it is his sister. A capable mage, trained in the old world, Zayn prefers water magic, and has been seen studying in the libraries of the local Fluidists. Rumor has it that he will petition for membership soon. Zayn has no trouble working as part of the team, when given a job to do, though he tends to butt heads with its leader.

      • Jaynia (***2 Point Cleric) If Zayn is quiet as a mouse, his sister Jaynia, is bold as a lion. Cheerful and friendly, The priestess of Deep Sashelas is often the spokeswoman for her party, using charm and her elven beauty to their advantage. Zayn finds her work with The Wyvern’s Wing exhilarating, spreading the word of her God, as she supports her comrades with his miracles. She excels when working with her brother, as they have trained for years to at as one. She has recently been in talks with the church about taking on an apprentice, but has yet to find a candidate.

Welton Rightlarder (125 Point Servant3) – New to town, and already on the move, this dapper gnome has come from the new world to ply his trade to one of the local lords, if he can convince one to hire him. What Welton’s trade turns out to be, is professional manservant to the stars. His resume states he is well trained in cooking, sewing, and the ”Gentlemanly Arts”, and is also capable of maintaining one’s arms & armor, as well as performing any odd task that may be asked of him. He has been staying at the local in, waiting to find his place, picking up work here and there as a cook and bartender.

Well, I hope this quick addition to our cast was enjoyable. As always, if a player has a particular need for an NPC, I’m willing to roll them out, given a few days notice. There are certain to be more such posts as we go along, and I continue fleshing out the world. Come back and visit again!

Adios, Nerds –


1 This point total is redacted, your security clearance is not high enough.

2 This point total is redacted, your security clearance is not high enough.

3 Servants are normally 62-Point templates, this is an improved version, with 63 additional XP.

Dungeon Fantasy Interlude – Rude, Crude, and maybe a third thing, but probably not: A barbarians guide to arms & armor!

Hello again, friends!

You may have noticed a lack of recap this week, which is sadly due to illness. That doesn’t mean I’ve put my GURPS books on the shelf, however, as they still liter my kitchen table, as is is proper for a gentleman!  In the free time from planning the session, I’ve turned my eye to the needs and wants of my players, and decided to take a look into Grognak’s world this week, and find out exactly what he was up to with those shinbones, iron ingots and such.

You’ll recall last session, rather than partying and gathering rumors at the bar, Grognak spent his days sweating over the forge under the steady eye of Jianjun, crafting his new precious, The Gatecrasher.  Popular with the local barbarians and less sophisticated fighters, a Gatecrasher is an oversized greataxe, outfitted with the spike from a warhammer on its back side. (Note: despite its name, a Warhammer is more akin to a mining pick than what The Mighty Thor carries. I didn’t write that up, it is the will of Kromm, and that’s good enough for me, if a bit misleading.. Let’s move on.) Giving Grognak the ability to switch between cutting and impaling damage at will is of great use, especially coupled with his new investment in the perks; Grip Mastery, Reach Mastery and Weapon Bond – all focused on the Two-handed Axe/Mace, as is his way. In addition to the extra spike, Grognak loaded up on mundane improvements, making his Axe both Fine and Balanced, as well as Dwarven. (I have decided that the “Dwarven”on weapons can denote a style, as well as nation of origin, dwarves just get the discount. More on this in a future post.)

With high prices still a sticking point to the party, despite good paydays of late, Grognak went shopping with both power and price in mind. Spending several of his XP, the barbarian learned the way of the forge (SK: Armory: Melee Weapons) to save the 20% by crafting the weapon himself, as well as the Perk: Crude Armorer, from the James Beard Award nominated GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians , which allows him to craft “Crude” items, saving an additional 20%, and giving the visual appeal his refined pallet requires. Crude weapons don’t appeal to the upper crust, and thus don’t sell for much, but are every bit as capable in the field.

Between sessions, while discussing the upgrade with Grognak’s player, both of us slightly intoxicated, he was asking me about ways to make his weapon better, and maybe magical. I told him pretty flatly, that magic weapons are expensive, and even with his coinpurse full, he wasn’t that rich… Yet.. I did, however, slip with a secret way to make his crafting easier, by way of paying a wizard, and while he agreed to take that bit of advice, he was unable later to recall the exact trick I had divulged. Good for me, bad for him.. I was good to my word, and let him use this shortcut, but failing an IQ check later, neither Grognak nor his player recall the steps to repeat the feat. Yes, this is shady business on my part, but as a player, I’d be happy to share my tricks, as a GM, they have to do the research themselves. So, in the end, he ended up paying $20 for the Fine improvement, rather than the $1296 it would have been, traditionally. Perhaps one day he will remember how, and share it with his friends.

If you recall, way back in session 3, The Red Lady attempted to cast Flaming Weapon on Grognak’s old hammer, only to be shouldered aside by Jianjun, who informed her that doing so would destroy the warhammers wooden handle. This is true, apparently, and I might not have known so, had he not brought it up. Thankfully, Grognak specified that the new handle was to be made from bone, and therefore no longer in any such danger. I expect we shall see many a flaming axe, in the future.

The books with GURPS are clear that the cost deferment for self-creation of arms and armor, is 20%, but I find it difficult to find a ruling about how long it takes to do. Failing to find any firm ruling, I have looked to others such as myself, and have instituted rules thus1.

  • A melee weapon is created in a time which equals its weight (in kilograms) times 16 hours. A long-range weapon takes a time equal to its weight times 24 hours. Thus, a two-handed sword takes on average 40 hours to be created (about 5 working days), and a composite bow takes 96 hours (12 days).Armor takes a building time equal to its weight in kg times 2 hours, if made of metal, or four times its weight if made of leather or fur. Thus, a steel breastplate takes 36 hours to be created (about 4 1/2 days), and a leather armor takes 40 hours (5 days).The same time to create armor is used in the creation of shields.

    A character can change the creation time of weapons or armor to get a bonus or penalty in their creation roll. A 100% increase in the creation time grants a bonus of +1, and each 8% reduction in time yields a -1 penalty. Thus, a character with “Armoury” at skill level 10 could create a two-handed sword (which takes five building days) of fine quality rolling against 10 if he spends 16 days more to create it.

    The maximum bonus or penalty that can be achieved with time modifications is 10, which corresponds to a 10-fold increase in time or a decrease of 80%.

Sadly I found this ruling in its entirety too late to save good Grognak some time, but we will play it correctly going forward. If he reads this, I’m sure he will understand, running a DF game is new to me, and it uses only some of the standard GURPS rules.

Speaking of smithing going forward, there are a few more items that might interest our brawny brother. And let’s look at some of them now! All items herein are oversized for SM +1 adventurers. Weight and cost are adjusted for this.

  • Horned Helm – For all of you Lost Vikings fans out there, we have the classic look, A simple Pot helm, with horns added to give it that authentic viking feel! The helm protects only the skull, with DR 4. Horns can be either decorative, or functional, giving you a bonus to your head-butt attacks, Either variety gives you a bonus to intimidation, but make it easier for foes to grapple you by the head. W/ Small Decorative horns, $220, with Small Functional or Large Decorative, $280. Large Functional Horns will set you back $520. Oh, but the fun you’ll have!
  • Bear Skull Helm – To commemorate any mighty foe fallen, skilled barbarians can craft a helmet from the dead beast’s own skull! DR wont be quite as high as good steel and leather, but it will give you a reaction bonus with animals, monsters and anyone of the “Savage” variety. Those in civilized society have an adverse reaction, bu who needs them? This example is made from the skull of a Dire Bear. Helm gives DR 3 to the face and skull, and counts are Crude. – $192. Never let a fallen beast go to waste! Speaking of…
  • Dire Bear Cape – Is your savage warrior friends with an arduous archer? Clean kills mean more spoils! If you manage to bring down such a mighty foe cleanly, take your time to skin the beast, and preserve the fearsome hide for yourself! A heavy cloak made from a whole Dire Bear skin counts as a barbarian sized heavy cloak, that while being Crude, also counts as a +1 Fetish, highly prized, with the right crowd. Pair with the above helm, for an impressive visage.
  • Dragon’s Head Helm2: For the truly exceptional barbarian, we have, direct from the finest northern smiths in Tembledera, a helm crafted from young dragonhide, and styled to resemble a dragon’s head, complete with small combat horns. Provides DR 4 to the face and skull, and counts as Ornate +2. $2,000; 1.5 lbs. Warning, everyone will want one, excluding any dragon you might meet..

Tales tell of a version of the Dragon’s Helm which breathes fire, but surely nothing so fearsome could exist.. Or could it..

There is room for me to include all manner of barbarian weapons in today’s post as well, but I feel that I’ve given you a decent amount to work with here, and I am planning a post focusing on martial arms coming soon enough, in its entirety, I have just not reached the end of my research.

For many more ideas, I still recommend checking out the elder tome GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians, because, again, I can not say this enough, any roleplaying book that lets you pay points for your beard, is WORTH READING.


Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to weave some sticks and bones into my beard, and drink some mead.

Later on, Nerds


1This article uses material from the GURPS/Smithing article on the RPG Wikia Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

2 Though very similar to one used in The Other Blog, this build is slightly different, and thus has adjusted costs. My compliments to the Sensei.

Who says murder hobos cant be pretty?

And welcome again, faithful readers, to another thrilling installment of our 70 part in-depth look into fun with math! Or, as I call it, GURPS. Let’s go!

As far as socializing goes, thus far, our party has gotten by on luck and a prayer, but not without ruffling their share of feathers. “Town” as a concept may be safe, but the quick lie, and 1000 lbs of backup that do so well in the wild, don’t exactly get you invited to dinner with the local lords, who have both the interest, and coin, to fund a party for longer, bigger, and most importantly, more profitable delves! At some point, someone is going to have to do some talking for the group, and currently, this A-team has more “Howling Mad” Murdock, and not so much Templeton “Face man” Peck. It’s not that no none in the party can talk to people, day-to-day, they have obviously been able to buy gear and secure lodging. But if a crazed dwarf covered in facial tattoos, and a 7’10” tall Grizzly Adams follow Zen into tea with the duchess, it makes her job harder, if she’s trying to impress.

I was recently talking to another GM/Player I know, who was lamenting that his group is strong on “Gaming”, but reluctant to get into “Role-playing”, and the module he’s running requires both. If this confuses you, please, allow me elaborate. When The Red Lady met with the trio of wizards, way back in Episode 3, I knew that the wizards wanted her book and had information to trade to get it if they had to, but really, they wanted those girls.. And they wanted them bad. I was curious to see how she would deal with them, and was looking forward to the exchange. I wanted her to Role-play.. All she knew, was that the wine was free, and she wasn’t giving away her new book!

In other games, all that the GM cares about, and the players want to know, is “Do I roll Diplomacy Skill or Merchant for this?” They don’t care about haggling with lecherous wizards, they want to get the quest, click accept, and get to adventuring. This, is how we define “Gaming”, for this example at least.. Sometimes, this just has to happen. Maybe it’s someone who isn’t that great with words, and wants to play a bard. Maybe I want to play a genius and have an IQ of 11.. On a good day. Sure, your character can do things you can’t.. That happens all the time. But the effort makes it personal. I’d always prefer a player tell me the lie they give a guard to let them past the city gates, than just rolling fast-talk, even if they still have to roll, a good lie is more likely to work, and a great lie, is more likely to get a bonus.. I reward the role-play, its how I do. Not that I’m always good at it..

In the previous DF game, our party met with a manservant of a local lord, named Mamu. Mamu informed our group that his lord, Dekter Strang, a local wizard of some renown, would be interested in offering the party a variety of assistance, foremost being some work, for coin, and also, perhaps the loan of other monies, to be repaid with interest. The party, or perhaps just me and by extension my character, eyed this Mamu with suspicion. Our GM was known to be crafty, and I’m known to be straight up paranoid, so the theory was; this guy is up to no good, and looking to get us involved in some kind of pyramid scheme possibly with real pyramids, so no thank you, sir!

By the next session, it had been explained.. This Mamu should basically have a golden question-mark over his head. A quest-giver was a game mechanic, not intrigue and deception. I/We had been Role-playing maybe a little too much for this instance. Strang would go on to be a major influence on the party as we went, and while still basically being an NPC, was actually played remotely, by a friend of the GM. I’m actually considering using this model of remote-play myself, but we shall see.

Long tangent over, I debate how well expecting the interactions from the party will go, not for lack of skill or interest from the players, but ironically, because of the mechanics that GURPS has for such things, mainly, “Reaction Modifiers”. Actually, despite none of the characters being focused on the schmoozing, giving careful look to the party’s sheets, they actually aren’t on bad footing.. Most of the group stands between about a +5 and a -4 for reactions, with Frau Blucher being at the top with a possible +9, all things being in her favor, and Grognak at the bottom end, at a -5 if it’s a bad day. These are all conditional modifiers, however, not one person in the group has an all-the-time bonus. Standard bonuses are from appearance, charisma, voice or fashion sense etc. (And yes, I do see fashion sense being worthwhile in the Dungeon Fantasy game. My bard wore a spider-silk tuxedo.). None of the party’s detractions are enough to get them barred from town, which is nice, because having to make plans while one of you group lives in the sewers, is a pain.

The party gets their bonuses mostly from talents, Grognak getting a whopping +4 for those who see him use his Outdoorsman skills (Mind you, +4 is what Captain American gets as a reputation bonus for being Captain America) and several of the group get a +1 from anyone in the bar, when they party.. However, lords and those more sober-minded, see this as a drawback, so it’s all about picking your audience. The church looks favorably on Frau and Jianjun, and for somethings, their bonuses can translate into higher rewards and sale prices, if they were the ones doing business.

There are two other bits of game mechanics in play, or maybe just two sides of one. Zen, despite being sneaky and adorned in black leather, has the Perk, “Honest Face”. This isn’t powerful enough to give her a bonus to reactions, but it does mean that she’s never picked out of a crowd, or a lineup. Good thing to have, if you might be carrying, or covered in stolen goods. Brody, on the other hand, has the Quirk, “Dishonest Face”. Covered in tattoos and burns, he is always picked out of a crowd, even when he’s just out taking his caveman for a walk.. It’s a damn shame..

All said, I want to run the game people enjoy playing. I would prefer that they enjoy exploring the nuance and depth of a cast of dozens, developed over months of painstaking work. OK, maybe not that deep, but any time you put in the work, its nice to see it pay off. In the end however, its their game, I’m just reacting to it. I recall years ago, in a HERO System Supers game, our group threw the GM a curve-ball when we asked a former foe, Foxbat to join our party, hoping to bolster our ranks. The GM called a 15 minute break, went outside to smoke, and figure out how to pull out of this descent into madness. (Note: Foxbat did join us, only to make us later curse his sudden but inevitable betrayal.)

Sometimes, they have to get the quest, and my job is to get them there. Whether it’s a spirited debate, or they make their Savoir-Faire roll, it’s going to happen, and the quest awaits. However, it’s not my job to warn the party when the right person doing the talking is going to get them a better deal, or when they can haggle for a better price. It’s not a requirement for the story, or their survival, just a bonus. But the possibility is out there. Or, you know. Just buy up your merchant skill, and wealth. That works too.

Buy a fella a drink some times, Nerds, I can go on for days. Thanks for listening.


Dungeon Fantasy Interlude: Is that a wand your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Let’s just get it out in the open. If GURPS has one standard complaint, and trust me it does, its overabundance of options. It’s true that being given 10,000 random Lego bricks and told to build something can be daunting, if what you are used to is getting the 150 exact bricks you need, and detailed instructions. GURPS is the same. Before my DF game, I ran a short-run 400 point “Vigilantes” game, with 2 of the 5 players having only played Pathfinder, and that only twice. The results were a mixed bag, with some folks happier than others.

When I decided to put together the DF game, I chose it for several reasons; A, its fun, and I just played it myself so it’s fresh in my mind. B, its got hard Limits, and depth. Being heavy on templates, but still deep with options, its a great way for new players and veterans to get what they want from a game. & C, Fantasy is the standard. Even if you’ve never rolled a die or owned a players handbook, you know that orcs are green and wizards shoot fireballs. Easiest way to get new players is to not scare them.

Grognak’s player, who had been a pop-and-locking martial artist in Vigilantes, knew right away “I want to be huge, and just smash people!”. Barbarian was exactly what he wanted, and he’s never looked back. The Red Lady, on the other hand, had played a high-ST hand-to-hand fighter, but found it repetitive, and wanted to branch out into a wizard. I knew this would be exactly the opposite, but brought its own set of complications.

Wizards, of all the templates in DF, can suffer from an overload of available options. Early on, she had little idea of how things would play out, so we started with the standard Fireball-flinging mage.. Granted, fireball has actually become her signature spell since then, but shes learning that there are a lot of other places wizards can put their points, to allow them to perform the miraculous. Now that the group will have a tag-along magic user as well, I thought it time to talk a bit about the things wizards need, which maybe aren’t as apparent as the spellbook.

Today, to do just that, we’re taking a trip to the Ye Olde Magic Shoppe, “Eland’s Enchanters Emporium” (formerly “Wally’s Wizard World”, formerly “Tim’s House of Magic & Pies”) the only place in Arica to outfit your mage about town.

OK, honestly, with high enough of a skill level, one doesn’t even need to point and chant the words, you can just stare into space and make things explode. But for those of us without a skill of -20 in lightening bolt, the tools can help. And let’s be honest, everybody in the dungeon needs at least a bit of armor.. Everybody.

Wizards can use one of a few different weapons out the gate, so unless you want to spend points and money in taking up an axe, this is going to suit most of them fairly well. If you are choosing the smallsword option, you can feel free to follow suit of warriors, and study the standard equipment lists. I’ll get to magic swords eventually.

Staves, & wands & batons, oh my!

“Staff” is the most basic of weapon enchantments, allowing casting through any staff, baton, or wand, on which it is enchanted. The enchantment itself costs $30 and is easily purchased in town. (Note: normally, I require at least a +1 CF on any item before it can be enchanted, but this one spell is the exception. Anything can carry “Staff”, even cheap, throw-away staves.)

The standard “Wizards Staff”, is nothing more than an off the shelf quarterstaff, with the “Staff” enchantment cast on it, costing $40. Not a bad investment for any adventurer, with the added bonus of remaining affordable even with some embellishments. (A cheap price tag can be an issue later, but we’ll get back to that.) When a staff is used to cast your spells, it negates up to -2 of range penalties, if any exist. And with Regular spells at -1 per hex, this can make all the difference!

Batons, despite being shorter than the staff, are a bit more expensive, starting at $20, but are a good option for the wizard who doesn’t mind mixing it up with a bit of swordplay, as it uses the Shortsword skill, and can still do a fine job in the magic department. Batons, when used for casting, negate only -1 of range penalties.

Wands, are basically useless as weapons, maybe as a fist load if your GM is softhearted. (Hint: I’m not.). But they DO give you the ability to extend your reach a bit, using the Knife or Main-Gauche skill, if you had to reach into a melee and give someone a boost, or zap them. Wands have no bonus for range, sadly, due to their short size. All in all, having a weapon around to cast through, is a good idea, no matter which you choose.

Wizards who have the coin, and want a better weapon, can easily upgrade. Fine and balanced staves, giving a bonus to both hit and damage, are easily affordable. Given just a bit more money, can can find a staff loaded up with both military and mundane upgrades. Shall I show you something in your size? (Note: All weapons below are enchanted with “Staff” unless stated otherwise.)


  • “The Lemon” – $34
    Perfect for any wizards first Staff. This cheap old reliable can be carved from any rotting wood you might find in the forest, given nothing in the way of detail or upgrade, this budget-friendly model is likely to break if its ever used to do anything other than pointing and waving about. Cheap, but good enough for government wizards..
  • “The Grandolph” – $260
    Just like grandpa used to carry! Carved from rare white ash, this remarkable walking staff is topped with grasping twist of branches, holding a 3 carat milky white Chalcedony, usable as a low-cost power item, and easily used as the focus for a Continual Light spell. Counts as Ornate +1.
  • “The Grande Dame” – $760
    Like a little black dress, this elegant Wizards staff goes with everything in the closet! More for show than combat, this magical accessory is carved from Ivory, inscribed with arcane runes along its entirety, tipped and capped with silver bands, and topped with a 4 carat Onyx, set into its head. Sure to turn heads at the ball, and the dungeon alike. Counts as Ornate +2, and is likely to get you robbed.
  • “The Slayer’s Choice”(tm) – $5410
    Built for the serious adventurer, this model has it all! Crafted from specially treated dragonbone, this fine, balanced quarterstaff is extensively engraved with sigils and runes, capped with sterling silver, bringing both power and pizzazz to the party. In addition to it’s standard staff enchantment, this model comes complete with the Puissance enchantment as well, packing that extra punch a true connoisseur requires. Can be set with the owners choice of gem(s) at additional cost. Counts as +2 Ornate, +1 to hit and +2 to damage.

Batons are equally as upgradeable, and perfect for a gentleman wizard trying to look sharp in the tower & the dungeon. The party recently took a solid silver model off Arcanoth The Unknown, not long before his untimely demise.. Here’s one quality example owned by a Bard-Wizard from the north.

  • “Mississippi Jed’s Walking Stick” – $1060
    Carved from beautiful Southern Magnolia, this 3′ long walking cane is both fine and balanced, tipped at the bottom and capped at the top with silver, the handle cast the image of a fist, inset with an $800 ruby, set into the fist’s pinky ring. Good for the throwing of lightning and the smashing of goblin’s bones, you’ll look good doing it all!  Counts as Ornate +2, and acts as the wielders power item.
    Now, a fine weapon is great, but a wizard can’t go digging in the depths naked. We have laws about that kind of thing..

Standard robes for a wizard, cleric, druids, hippies, that kind of thing, are easily come by. In standard white, robes are $72

If you want them dyed, that’s simple enough, a dull colored robe, Brown or Black will set you back $180. Bright robes, Red, Purple, Blues and the like, are $360.

Now, perhaps spun wool, and cotton weave aren’t your thing, Silk or satin robes are also available for $216 in white, and $504 for vivid colors. We can also custom embroider the designs of your choosing, for a nominal fee, if course.

And last but not least, we have the truly exceptional, Robes spun from Giant Spider Silk! Sold dyed any vivid color of your choice, these are a steal at a mere $7488! get yours now while supplies last!

Any of the above regalia can be enchanted with additional protections, by your local wizards guild.

Now, you might wonder why anyone would bother with silk and satin, the extensive embroidery on robes or the engraving on their staff, if they didn’t have gold coins falling out of their… Hats.. The reason is actually simple. Power Items.

Wizards, along with any other caster in DF, may possess a single item capable of storing magical energy, to be used for spells only. The storage formula and more can be found in the award winning GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 18: Power Items, but it’s suffice to say, the more you spend on your power item, the more Fatigue Points it stores.  Fun how that works!  Any single item can be used, a holy symbol, a ring, even the big gaudy jewel in your wizards turban! Staves and spellbooks are prime examples in DF and beyond. It’s simple to add value to as you go, throwing on gems and the like, as long as you possess the skill or a willingness to pay someone who does. Just remember, if you lose it, your stuck without your backup. Power items can only be recharged in town, at a cost of $5 per point. A point of note, enchantments don’t count towards value, and staves start out cheap, so the price goes up slower than with something like a broadsword.

Hats carry the same options as robes, and if you’re that kind of wizard, you can find hooded robes as well.

I hope this gives you some idea of the wonders out there that wizards can waste- I mean spend, their money on, given the chance. Custom items are always available for those with coin, and the imagination to go with it. For further options in the fall line, feel free to steal ideas from That Other Blog, because let’s be honest, I do. 😉

Thanks for reading, Nerds!


Dungeon Fantasy Interlude: One bourbon, one scotch, & one beer. And for my 2nd course, I’ll have…

Between Episodes 3 and 4, the party took a little time out to initiate Sad Harry as the newest member of the team.

Once it had been decided that Zen would take on the mopey apprentice, Brody informed the group of a solemn dwarven tradition that must be observed, on such an occasion. “To the bar!” Once arrived, the group took their normal table, adding a new seat for Sad Harry, and a stool for Ugh, who was happy to drink from a bowl of beer, and gnaw on bone. Ordering “Dwarven Shots” all around, the party were each given a large tankard of rum, aside from Frau Blucher, whose own holy tankard was filled with what Tessreene informed them was her last bit of dwarven spirits. The bartender then slid into Frau’s lap, and began to nibble at her ear, as the parry began the ritual. Brody informed all gathered of the rules. “Alright, this is simple. Last one standing wins. Drink up!” Everynne and Jianjun declined, citing a preference for wine and tea, respectively, and having no wish to end up stumbling out of the inn, sick.

Excited to have his first drink of alcohol, Sad Harry upturned his mug, took a deep swallow, and…. Fell over backwards,  eyes rolling back in his head, and foam erupting from his nose and mouth. (When I made the HT check to see how he handled the strong drink, the dice came up 18. on 3 dice. A Critical failure, and in my humble opinion, worth adding the quirk “Alcohol intolerance” to his character sheet.) Being a stout dwarf, Brody fared much better, showing no effects, and calling for another round. Both Frau and Grognak coughed and sputtered, failing to maintain their feet, but finishing the rest of their drinks.  Zen was able to match the dwarf drink for drink, but left the battle unfinished as she was responsible for returning the unconscious boy-wizard to bed. Brody, invigorated by strong drink and the victory over his compatriots, left the bar, taking Ugh out for a bit of late night mining. Zen, distracted by a stranger at the bar, left Sad Harry to sleep it off on a table, tipping Tessreene to cover him with a blanket, allowing Frau the chance to escape. Half an hour later, Zen left the bar, admiring her new sword, and sipping on an expensive glass of elven wine. Her new ward forgotten.

I am certain, that this contest will happen again, to its full and horrible conclusion, but I was quite pleased how a short round of drinking went. It also seemed like a fun bit of content for its own post, and perhaps a chance to flesh out folk’s choice of beverage.

Tessreene offers a long list of fun things to imbibe, but here’s a short one of the standards, and a bit of info for those interested about such things.. I’m guessing Frau and Grognak’s players might benefit from this most..

First, who makes what?

Humans, like ya do, make a lot of booze. Ale, wine, and a wide array of distilled liquor. What they lack in centuries of practice and esoteric lore, they make up for with quantity. You can always find human made hooch. The stout humans from the far north prefer to ferment honey, rather than grain or grape, to make Mead. It’s strong and sweet, and often found served by the cup, mug, or gallon.

Elves, the nature loving, pointed ear hippies that they are, make wine. And they make the best stuff available, if you don’t mind paying for the pleasure. While wine isn’t the only thing elves make, it is the most common.. If you know the right people, and have “Lord” or “Highness” before your name, you can, on occasion, find very fine elven brandy, but like the British, Elves save the good stuff for Christmas and Coronation Day.

Dwarves don’t bother with the weak stuff, preferring distilling to all other forms of booze. While Dwarven whiskey and rum are more widely available, made by the dwarven equivalent of hipsters, the stout stuff, called simply “Dwarven Spirits”, is made from mushrooms. Various specimens give you different results, but its all about 180 proof, and the consistency of gravy.  Dwarves don’t mind selling their wares to the rest of the world, so if you’re in a place with a good community, it’s not hard to come by…

People do talk of “Dwarven Brewmasters”, but these shadowy figures are more akin to alchemists than bartenders..  Not that Dwarven potions aren’t all at least 80 proof, because they are.

Now, on to the important part.  Here is what you can buy, most times, from your standard inn, such as the Salacious Unicorn. Note: these are prices for drinks purchased for the road.  The party’s day-to-day drinking is covered in their $150 a week cost of living. 

  • Ale: $5 /gallon
  • Distilled Spirits: $16/pint
  • Dwarven Spirits: $32/pint
  • Grog:  $8/pint
  • Mead: $11/gallon
  • Wine: $9/gallon
  • Wine, Elven: $20/gallon
  • Tea, Black $2.25/oz. – $1/pint
  • Tea, Green $2.25/oz. – $1/pint
  • Tea, Tarbean: $10/lb. – $2/pint

This short list is mainly for the day-to-day, so I can make sure my players mark off what they buy.. There are, however, other more potent potables available, discussed at length in the Grognak’s Beard Award-winning tome; GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 10: Taverns, but due to their specialized nature, and diligent creators, I will refrain from posting them here.
So join us next time on Dungeon Fantasy Interlude, when we visit Eland’s Enchanters Emporium, “The local shop for all you wizard needs” to learn all about staves and wands, and why exactly, you want a robe. Hint; it’s because wizards hate pants..

Thanks for reading, folks.

– Conner