Inspired by Douglas’ cool post on organization of disadvantages, I also follow a certain way of thinking about disadvantages.  Buckets of Points (Pyramid 65) presents an option for giving players different amount of points for different amounts of positive traits, skills, attributes, advantages etc.

While I do not strictly budget disadvantages, I have for a long time regarded them in the same way, and believe that it helps to keep in mind three buckets when choosing disadvantages for a character, allowing a character that has characterization but is not a menace to society for DM or player!

  1. DM facing Disadvantages – These are disadvantages such as Enemies, Weirdness Magnet, Klutz, Unluckiness, Dependents . . . disadvantages that rely on the DM having something happen to the character.  These are the first sort of disadvantages I felt needed to belong in a bucket of their own for two reasons
    • Being DM facing, they place an extra level of burden on the DM keeping up with them across an entire party of characters, and I could feel swamped as a DM when to many of them reared their head.   
    • Since they are something the DM directly implements, they are a nice tool the player is kindly providing to the DM to help guide, flesh out and make interesting scenarios in the game!
  2. Player facing Disadvantages – These are disadvantages such as Intolerance, Lecherousness, Honesty, Bloodlust . . . disadvantages that are reliant on the player roleplaying them to be implemented, rather than on the DM.   Since these are roleplaying focused, they add quite a bit to the flavor of the character, but can add quite a bit of load to the player to keep track of playing a lot of them.   The DM can of course fit challenges appropriate to these disadvantages into the game, but they are dealt with by the player and thus can be far less of a load on the DM.  This is the second category I felt stood out, and in one of my campaign notes I specifically requested players take primarily ‘player facing’ disadvantages, which at the time I considered everything not DM facing!
  3. Game facing Disadvantages – These are disadvantages such as Reduced Stats, Vulnerability, Maintenance, Bad Sight – disadvantages which are primarily in terms of game mechanics which just exist, not reliant on the DM putting them into play, nor reliant on the player roleplaying them.   They can provide interesting challenges to the player to deal with, and the DM can incorporate them into scenarios, but since they are straight game mechanics they add very little load to player or DM.   They are often not as interesting for guiding the game or characterization however.   I originally considered these to be ‘player facing’, but now believe they fit into a category of their own.

One consideration is that disads can jump boundaries based on the perspective of the DM and implementation, a particular example being Vulnerability.   I tend to view Vulnerability as pretty much Game facing and as a DM do not worry about it, as I figure that in the course of DMing I will throw a miscellany assortment of damage types along, and that Crushing, Fire, Unholy, or Antimagic or what have you will come up in due course.   But for other things, particularly lower frequency items such as say Silver or Jade, the DM must remember to actually appropriately outfit enemies with them as suited to the commonness chosen for the vulnerability.   Thus it can also be DM facing.   

While I have never advocated a particular budget of points between the three buckets, I believe it can be important to keep a balance between them, and that the balance can shift between different games.   For instance, with a large party, fewer DM facing disadvantages might be chosen, as with several party members the DM could well get swamped.   The opposite with a smaller party . . . . a single solitary PC could do well to have Enemies, Dependents, and so forth oh my!

For a decent sized party, I would recommend no more than a couple DM facing disads for any given party member.   Several more player facing disads can be appropriate can be proper for each character as the player is focused on their own character.   Game facing disads can be added pretty freely, as they help make things interesting without loading anyone down . . . . having played and DMed in a number of games with more generous disadvantage limits I find them quite indispensable in such situations.

Since that is rather dry, let us look at an example of an actual character I’ve played.   Said character was expected to be played in a party ranging from 2 to 5 or so party members.

DM Facing Disads

  • Duty (Council of Archmages)
  • Flagrant Aura
  • Supernatural Features, overly warm

Player Facing Disads

  • Obsession (Become a member of the Council of Archmages)
  • Callous
  • Honesty
  • Truthfulness
  • Curiosity
  • Overconfidence

Game Facing Disads

  • Dependency, Mana, Constantly
  • Increased Consumption
  • Restricted Diet, Mundane Food
  • Vulnerability DN, Antimagic  x2
  • Lowered Per/Will
  • Lowered ST

Thus, following the ideas of breaking the disads into the three buckets, you can arrive at a fairly well characterized character with all manner of interesting bad things about them, but without burning out the DM or player with the load of them all!  This approach is based around sharing the load between DM, Player, and leaving it up to the game system, and I think it works out pretty well.

I would like to thank starslayer for looking at the first draft of this and helping me improve it, and in particular for bringing up the vulnerability issue.

I’m gearing up to play in a DFRPG/DF game (I think DF) with Christopher Rice. My character will be a classic Elf Scout, with an extra 100 points baked in from the start for Reasons. He’s definitely a bad-ass.

That being said, the way that you pick disads in GURPS can be rough. You need a lot of them even by default at 250 points, with the basic templates calling for-50 points in disads, which could be as few as 3 15-pointers, or as many as 10 5-pointers. That can be a lot of boolean menu-picking.

The issues usually comes in, for me, in the number of them I have to play. The current guy has about 100 points of disads. Some of them are racial and have to do with the campaign background as an elf. Some are job-related as not just a warrior, but a leader of warriors. Some of them are pure characterization. Each one adds something to the character, but there’s a lot to keep track of, and many are similar.

Aspects of Pointless Dungeons!

This won’t surprise anyone. Similarly-themed disads are a LOT like Aspects in Fate. They define how you act, both good and bad. In “Pointless Looting and Slaying,” Sean Punch put in “Heroic Flaws,” of which you take five. Each is a short, pithy statement that is basically a weak Aspect. As I know Sean either plays or has played Fate, I’m somewhat sure this was intentional.

But the concept of having 3-5 things that drive your character makes a lot of sense if you’re forcing yourself to write down or codify your behaviors for the purposes of tracking in a point-buy system. If OSR guys find themselves grunting “just roll 3d6 in order and go kill some orcs, for f**k’s sake,” this is me acknowledging the value of your character is what your character does, go play it.

Still, what I realized as I looked at my paper dude is that he really has a few archetypes going on here.

Duty and Honor. He feels honor-bound to respect, protect, and watch out for friends and foes, within limits. As a soldier, he trusts  comrades in arms with your life, and expects the same. He will fight to kill any enemy, but respects opponents nonetheless, acting with honor even among extreme violence. His blood-kin are his lifeline and reason for living, and strives to be worthy of the respect they’ve given you”

High Strung and Lethal. Combat is for keeps, and he’s been born and bred for it. He’s impulsive and bloody-minded, and has run into too many foes that regenerate or otherwise won’t stay down to not ensure that each foe is down, permanently. Living and training among a society of powerful magic-users means he uses injurious techniques without much thinking about it, since, well, when he was a kid, the training master was a ridiculously powerful mage that would just make it all better.

Damn Elf. Dragons and their kin hate me, and I hate them right back. I glow with unmistakeable power, and that power makes me think I can do anything, and especially do more than those damned city-dwellers. I’m right, of course, but with patient teaching, one day they’ll learn something. One day. For some reason, this attitude rubs folks wrong. Who knew?

The first and third each encompass something like 40 points in traits; the middle one is maybe 20. But they’re a darn-sight easier to remember than the traits that make them up individually.

Pointless Redux

Sean’s article from Alternatte Dungeons (Pyr #3/72) may be one of my favorite GURPS articles of all time. The general concept in reducing the required granularity of choices by making each one more meaningful (and “Under the Hood,” the component GURPS parts are all there) is something I would have LOVED to see as a different way to approach the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

For Disads, treating each Aspect or Heroic Foible (to borrow both from Heroic Flaws from #3/72 and a term for something similar Christopher used in the Ceteri campaign) as basically the equivalent of a 25-point cluster of disads, and scoping them so they’re about that influential, means that you can create memorable characters with a minimum of fuss.

Indeed, the division in Pointless Looting and Slaying of stuff you can do into Major and Minor abilities (roughly 20-25 and 10 points, respectively) keeps the flexibility and modularity that is GURPS, but greatly reduces the front-loaded chargen for which it’s justly (in)famous.

I liked it then, I like it now, and when it comes to sitting at the table, I know that I will be able to reflect my character’s actions in the three traits above in every scene and interaction.

Now I can go slay some dragons. Best if I find ’em and do ’em first. I’ve got my Elvish Longbow chucking quarter-pound arrows for 2d+5 impaling damage each. Or I bring the armor-piercers at 2d+5 (2) pi.

It’s the only way to be sure.

This is a shout-out to all 1,600 or so folks that backed and received the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Why am I shouting? I want your war stories.

As far as I can tell, Sean and SJG did a great job condensing the GURPS rules into “just what’s needed for dungeon delving.” The fact that various folks each have a slightly different “but I’d have included X” comment speaks to hitting the bulk of the answer.

There are a lot of hidden gems in there. Extra explanatory detail on (for example) how All-Out or Move-and-Attack interact with other combat options.

That’s all well and good, but the quality of a game is how it plays on the table, not how it reads.

So I want your stories. Write up session reports. Note cool things that happened. Tell the adoring public what fun was had, and where you’re going with the game next time.

If you have a blog, throw it there and contact me at gurpsday@gmail.com and get on the script list to have your stuff summarized. If you don’t, contact me or someone whose blog you read and have them host it for you.

But pony up your actual plays. Let’s see what’s going on in that beautiful black box.

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic.

We’re currently drawing content from 96 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer to having 100 GURPS blogs.

We still need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Feb 16, 2018 – Feb 22, 2018”

Thanks to all for coming by and reading the DFRPG post yesterday. While it wasn’t my most successful post ever (that honor belongs to my post on shields last year), it was very well read, and I hope that encouraged you to poke around the site more.

Two things I wanted to touch on here before I leave this topic for a while.

DFRPG and New Customers

In brief – the fact that the GURPS Basic Set was in the top earners for 2017, to me, indicates that one of the primary purposes for the game (the #1 purpose of course being to get a self-contained game out into folks’ hands to play) was actually accomplished. New people got into GURPS well enough that the Basic Set was on the list of top earners for the first time in a while that I can remember.

I suspect that many of those folks are branching out from the DFRPG, but of course I have no data there.

Internal not External

I’ll reiterate that I believe that there was no dissembling when internal delays and development costs were the issue, and that indeed, as a few commenters noted on my blog, the SJG Forums, and various social media groups . . . since all the numbers I crunched could not only have been crunched beforehand, they didn’t even really need the Kickstarter to crunch ’em, wasn’t the “failure” fore-ordained.

Not only is the answer “basically, yes,” but Steve himself said it:

It’s worth excerpting because it’s key. The visibility to this would have been high. They’d have crunched ’em before, during, and as they were about to go to print. Nothing about the status was hidden to them as things progressed. As cost and time overruns happened, “what success needs to look like” would have been updated too. Continue reading “DFRPG: New Customers vs Cost Overruns”

The Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying game (DFRPG) was a nifty experiment, which aimed to deliver something that games based on GURPS sorely needed: an entry point to the game that was ready-to-run as-is.

Not telling anyone anything they don’t know, but games Powered by GURPS are subtractive. Much like the cliche about making a sculpture being removing everything but the subject matter, playing in a campaign is a matter of deciding what flavor of game you want to play, and then subtracting out all of the core and supplements that aren’t the game you want to play.

I’m going to refer to the whittled down versions of the rules as Powered by GURPS, so that I can distinguish between the entire GURPS line, the Dungeon Fantasy sub-line, and the altered and updated Dungeon Fantasy RPG rules that take the approach I mentioned. Take the core of GURPS, throw out what you don’t want, tweak the rest, and then play. So when I say that you’re playing Powered by GURPS (PbG) you’re using 3d6 roll low, four attributes, roll high for effect, all d6s of nearly any flavor. That’s the engine, while the DFRPG or any particular campaign is the game. Perhaps this will be a distinction without a difference, but for my own sake and for clarity, I will make it for this post.

The DFRPG went through Kickstarter, and the campaign went well, raising over $175,000 from over 1,500 backers. It suffered some delays in production. It was promised in May 2017, went to the printers at the end of April 2017, and started shipping to US backers in September (I actually got my copy in August, as a top-tier backer that went to GenCon to play with the ever-delightful Sean Punch). So the entire thing was about 4-5 months behind schedule, and the planned development time was 8 months, and a total of about a year was realized.

A lot was riding on this experiment, as “we’ll see how the DFRPG sales go” was the answer to the oft-repeated question to inquiries of “what about [this other genre]?!”

The game that was produced is gorgeous, exceeding the usual production values for GURPS books and PDFs in its use of interior color printing, and shipped with five books, the largest of which was 128 pages. It also came with dice and a few full-color printed maps for the included adventure. While it was available bare-bones in the Kickstarter for $50, the retail game hit the stores at MSRP of $60.

So . . . how did it go? It went well and not well. The game sold through its initial (reduced) print run, but was declared a failure in the 2017 Report to the Stakeholders, which SJG publishes each year to let the gaming customers know what’s going on.

There were bright spots and dark spots in the report for the DFRPG and the reports that followed, and I just want to muse on them a bit.

It must be noted: I am speculating ruthlessly in the following post, and I have no special knowledge that I’ve included in the post that would lead me to believe my numbers are accurate. I’m guessing. But a game that relatively quickly sells out its first print run apparently will not be reprinted, despite being #6 on the revenue charts . . . that means a cost/revenue imbalance on the cost side of things, and in the game industry, that’s not that hard a place to arrive at.

Continue reading “Dungeon Fantasy RPG: Aftermath of Report to the Stakeholders”

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. That makes GURPSDay 5 years old this month! Today I’m back from Thailand and while jet-lagged a bit, I’m still mostly functional. I have, on the other hand, been forgetting what the heck day it is all day long. It did not helpeth me that my work computer was still set 13 hours ahead, so I was confusing the heck out of folks – and myself – talking about “tomorrow a Saturday dinner,” since tomorrow is in fact Friday. Shudder.

For that reason, I did include two weeks in today’s script pull, just to ensure we time-travel back to my first day in Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima).

We’re currently drawing content from 96 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer to having 100 GURPS blogs. Picked up another one today: Michael Thompson’s Traveller Adventures. Welcome!

We still need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Feb 1, 2018 – Feb 15, 2018”

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. That makes GURPSDay 5 years old this month! Today is the second GURPSDay in a row done with me in Thailand and my wife manning the CMD prompt to run the script, so yay for awesome redheads who are very regrettably 13,330 km away.

We’re currently drawing content from 95 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer to having 100 GURPS blogs.

 

We still need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Feb 2, 2018 – Feb 8, 2018”

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. That makes GURPSDay 5 years old this month!

We’re currently drawing content from 95 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer to having 100 GURPS blogs.

We’ve got some interesting things coming in 2018. GURPSDay is often reshared and followed by some of the nice folks at Steve Jackson Games, and I made a suggestion to Kromm and Steven that has drawn some interest.  We’ve even come to an agreement on what form that will take. I will post about it in more detail later today.

One way or another, look to see the return of the monthly Blog Challenge. And another monthly activity whose destination is Pyramid Magazine! More on that in late February.

We still need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Jan 26, 2017 – Feb 1, 2018”

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. Last week, Emily added some error checking to the code, and so I’m confident that all but one of the blogs will pull properly. So yay, progress.

We’re currently drawing content from 95 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer to having 100 GURPS blogs.

We’ve got some interesting things coming in 2018. GURPSDay is often reshared and followed by some of the nice folks at Steve Jackson Games, and I made a suggestion to Kromm and Steven that has drawn some interest.  We’ve even come to an agreement on what form that will take. I will post about it in more detail later today.

One way or another, look to see the return of the monthly Blog Challenge. And another monthly activity whose destination is Pyramid Magazine!

We still need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Jan 19, 2017 – Jan 25, 2018”