Adventuring in Nordlond

We had the inaugural session of Kyle’s campaign, which he’s calling the Nordlond Sagas. Not Kickstarter related entirely, but not unrelated either. All the PCs wound up taking a racial package out of Norðlondr Folk. So we have no pure humans. We have an Elfàrd Wizard (me), a Himneskur (god-blooded) knight-ish character built with Five Easy Pieces , a boar-folk barbarian from the neighboring realm Brionnu (Celtic influence), a Raven-folk priest/rogue/face character, also from Five Easy Pieces, and a triger barbarian.

Note: Five Easy Pieces is from Pyramid #3/113, and gets a lot of use with this crowd.

My wizard (whose name is Daingeannruadh, and goes by Daingean…isn’t that much better?) is an exercise in me getting to know the magic system better. I tend to like fighty characters, but as an author, I need to be more aware of how magic works. And today was a great example of that.

We started on a ship bound for The Citadel at Norðvörn. That’s N-o-r-ALT240-v-ALT246-r-n for those curious. This is precisely how I started my own one-shot session for the playtest game of Citadel back in FnordCon 1, and for the same reason. We were on a gigantic knarr – a 115′ long cargo vessel, and we were attacked by a 45′ long longship filled with a captain and 15 attackers. I believe the final tally was the chieftain, 8 bandits armed with axes, 3 bowmen, and 4 spearmen. All were based on the bandit “template” from Hall of Judgment, I believe.

Short version: we wiped the floor with them. That’s not unsurprising. Some details, though:

  • We saw the other ship coming. That gave us about 30 seconds to prepare. Which means that our Raven-folk had a few spells to throw first, and so did the wizard. My spell list is a bit eclectic, but I led off with Grease, which wound up neutralizing quite a few folks in the prow of the ship. Lots of failed DX rolls and slipperiness, and those NPCs are on the steep end of the bell curve. A -2 to DX and -1 to defend goes a long way, and extra movement cost plus more penaties for unfavorable terrain when your friend goes down in front of you is a good way to start.
  • The three meaty folks (two barbarians and a knight) took the fight immediately to the other ship, which suffered from narrow confines (maybe 2-3 yards across at the widest, mostly 2), and pinned most of the raiders to their own ship. This prevented a lot of flanking and kept the number of bad guys who could take flank and rear shots to a minimum.
  • We got peppered with arrows to no avail, but the bowmen didn’t really figure in the fight much.
  • After building it up for a turn, I dumped a bolt of explosive lightning into the rear of the ship. It deep fried the primary target – who I believe was already down – rolling 9 burn damage, which left 3 in the second ring, and 1 in the third. There was a friendly in that ring, but his DR 1 bounced the zap. The rest – maybe four or five targets, had to check for stun, and I think two not-the-chieftain guys went down to physical stun. That’s basically “out of the fight” for many.
  • After that, I charged up a deathtouch and attempted to get close enough to use it. I wound up using it, but rolling crap for damage.

We cleared the ship, and claimed it as spoils of war. The captain of our own boat took slight exception to that and wanted (and got) a cut. We let the raven-folk with high Wealth deal with that; always let the face do face things.

Lessons learned as a wizard?

  • The battlefield prep spells are a good use of time.
  • I have a lot of stuff in my grimoire that isn’t combat related, which is fine, but once the fight is on, I have to be careful
  • Power Items are not Power Stones. They can only be recharged in town, and do not represent a free energy reserve. So my order of operations needed to be ER and FP first, power item last. The GM let me ret-con this.
  • I wound up burning through a total of 11 FP on the three spells. Technically I burned 14 FP: 2 for a 2d deathtouch, 6 each for 2-hex grease, 6 for 3d-3 explosive lightning, but 3 back because of skill level. That burned through my ER and all of my FP before I drop below 1/3 of FP to leave me reeling. That was efficient.
  • It also means that in combat, I get 1-3 key spells with which to shape the fight, and then I’m done.
  • I forgot to take shortsword to use my Wizard’s Baton, which lets me attack with things like Shocking Grasp and Deathtouch at Reach 1 instead of Reach C. My original plan was to use a spear and buckler, but I’m not really strong enough to do that, and you can’t use a spear as a Wizard’d Staff. So a bit of “oops” character sheet tweaking is needed
  • Before the game I made a grimoire of all the spells I know, by simply copying the stuff from spells into a word file, and printing that out. It saved TONS of time . . . but even better would have been to excise some of the rules. Area effect. Cost reduction due to high skill. And explosive damage. Huge time-savers to have that to hand. And this is why PDF also adds value beyond print.

Other fun bits? The Hrafnarfolk with the rogue specialty liked to backstab, and he used Wait to hold off “until the end of my turn” and then AoA, followed immediately by a return to his own turn where he could act normally. That’s a Kromm-approved bit of “how to backstab” and it comes with potential drawbacks. A Wait is always risky, as the situation can change. Anyone who can respond right then to the AoA can strike during a turn where he has no defenses. So if a nearby foe is also Waiting, or can respond with an attack that requires a defense roll or Quick Contest . . . Hrafnar gets tagged. Otherwise, he stabbed at least one person in the eye, and another in the neck.

The triger claimed the other ship as their own by peeing on it. I broke into a bit of Tom Petty: “and we’re pee . . . pee brawling!” But having a three-headed tiger person claim the ship via combat urination was inspired.

One of the bad guys crit-failed at least once, maybe twice, with their weapon. That left me pondering if one could have a weapon that was cursed that emerged in play. Like an Unlucky Weapon instead of a Named Weapon, though both of those things are not canon for the DFRPG. Daingean said he didn’t care that he wasn’t a bard, he was telling stories about the cursed sword.

“It was an axe.”

“Who’s telling the story here?”

“I’m just saying, it was an axe.”

“And it was cursed!”

“He dropped it.”

“It was cursed to be dropped!”

“He’d just had his leg pulped by Chuff.”

“That’s pretty cursed!”

“…okay, that I’ll grant.”

One last thing. Chuff, the triger-folk barbarian, hit one of the bandits on the head (DR 2, also DR 2 for the skull) for 20 points of damage . . . and rolled a double-damage crit. So doubled to 40, down to 36, ×4 for skull . . . 144 points of injury to the skull, which is a full 12× the starting HP of that target. That’s dead no saving throw dead.

All in all, a good starting session. Fights with many fighters last a long time, and it was tough to keep several communications channels going at once. MapTool worked flawlessly. Kyle brought some really good maps.

We also had a good chat about the ship itself as spoils of war. The thing was a 45′ longship (15m) in terrible condition. Even so, some googling gave an estimate of 28,000 to 40,000 hours of labor to make a 30m ship (The Sea Stallion) using traditional methods. That puts the cost of such a ship pretty far up there, and scaling down to a 15m vessel is probably on the order of “how much square footage reduction for the hull?” Half the size is about one-quarter the surface area. Fewer trees, fewer fittings, etc. Even so, new it’s probably 7-10,000 hours of labor. We looked in Low-Tech companion and decided that the prices there seemed well-enough underpinned; my initial estimates of cost were based on extrapolating from D&D books, and probably wound up high by an order of magnitude.

Even so: the ship would have likely been worth a whole lot, new. It’s portable (if also poorly maintained) loot. And apparently there’s a story behind it, which we’ll find out in due course. Maybe next session when we pull inti Ainferill.

Another Wizard’s Tale

Over at Don’t Forget Your Boots, they’re also playing in Nordlond. The latest recap features two things of note.

The first is the first-ever use of the Nordalf Warrens that I’ve seen. Those are murder-holes, and while stuffed with treasure, they’re a rough go because while nordalfs (think goblins, small ones) are tiny, there’s always lots of them. And they can use their fae veil and ways in and out of the Svartalfheim fae realm to pop up all over a party with no warning unless there’s another fae-derived person present, like a half-elf or elf.

The other, though, was that the party involved killed the high alfar / Winterfae who was the source of all of this. They did it in a few rounds, and didn’t suffer much for it.

That’s all good, and puts to rest a real pest.

But this particular Faerie, Elunad, isn’t really a fighty-combatant. She also has the entire Mind Control college at Skill-30; her lowest spell colleges are at Skill-22.

And I think the “only” thing she did was throw down a Darkness spell. My NPC notes give her some totally cheating abilities, like two power items rather than one, and something like 175 Fatigue Points on tap if she’s well-rested. And she’s unencumbered with DR 10.

But Charm-30, Mass Daze-30, Mass Sleep-30, or Terror-30? Compartmentalized Mind 1 so she can fight AND cast each turn. And Great Haste so she gets two maneuvers per turn?

This is a problem, and it’s my problem. I don’t think I gave enough ‘do this first’ advice to prospective GMs for using a foe that powerful. Elunad should virtually drown her foes in magic, likely two to four times per turn. Doing so from under cover of Darkness? Sure. But she could also do a pretty good Invisibility, a powerful Windstorm, or with so many FP on tap, throw a hell of an explosive fireball if she wanted to. At Skill-30, her energy costs are reduced by 4 anyway, I believe.

But ultimately, for foes like Elunad and Ynfalchiawn from Citadel at Nordvorn . . . I need to provide some go-to advice for GMs who might not have the entire spellbook memorized or lots of time to prepare an epic fight. Pyramid #3/61 (“Way of the Warrior”) has an article by me on “Takedown Sequences,” which are basically well-drilled self-defense moves. If I’m going to put in a villain who relies on specialty magic with huge amounts of energy reserve to play with, the GM needs more help than “start with Great Haste.”

So also, lesson learned.

Game on!

 

I joined Che Webster this morning on his Roleplay Rescue podcast.

He’s in the UK, so the best time for us both was 6am for me, noon for him. It is, after all, a work day.

This means there were a few times I lost the thread; too much blood in my caffeine stream. But by and large, we had a great chat.

Topics?

  • We talked about the Nordlond Sagas adventures
  • This lead into sandbox vs railroad/roller-coaster [1] discussions
  • We touched on The Fantasy Trip and the adventures produced by the Four Perilous Journeys campaign
  • There was a lot of discussion on how RPGs are not TV, and while adventure movies and television have great elements to be mined, translating that into RPG awesomeness requires a different lens

The conversation was pretty wide-ranging, and there were some really fun moments; Che’s a good interviewer and the topic was interesting to both of us.

Look for it in about a month.

user avatar

Reviews Starting to come in!

Over at GreysonWHY, we have

Quick Review(s) of The Dragons of Rosgarth, Forest’s End, Norðlondr Fólk, and Hand of Asgard from Gaming Ballistic for the DFRPG

Then high praise over at Don’t Forget Your Boots. To the North!

If you write a review, let me know. If you use the character-building books, let me know. If you play the adventures, link up your session summaries if you write them!

If you’re interested, you can find the books set in Nordlond on the GB Store:

Adventure/Setting

Rules/Supplement

 

Over on the SJG Forms, user Dalin wrote up a perfectly blushingly glowing play report on The Citadel at Nordvorn:

This past weekend, three of my players and I retreated to a small family cabin in the snows of northern Minnesota to launch our new Norðlond campaign. I’ve been buying Doug’s great DFRPG products since the first kickstarter, but have only run bits and pieces as one-shots with side groups. (I snagged a few monsters and sample characters for other adventures, too.) My main group just wrapped up their previous campaign, so we decided to dive in whole hog.

I wasn’t sure where to begin and, with my school rapidly retooling for distance learning, I had little time to prepare. It came down to skimming/rereading my Nordlond material (Hall of Judgment, Citadel at Norðvörn, and the prerelease PDFs from the Nordlond Sagas kickstarter) and hoping something would click.

As I headed into the weekend, I expected that we would begin with Hall of Judgment as an introductory scenario. The players, however, wanted to get to know the wider setting before diving into an adventure, so we decided to begin with some vignettes along the Jotunnáin river. This led me to pull out the Citadel at Norðvörn. This was the book that I was the most unsure about. I loved reading it as a setting book, but I wasn’t sure that I would be nimble enough as a GM to flesh out the various plots on the fly. I should never have hesitated.

It was awesome. Seriously. I’ll post more about it in this thread as I have time, but we probably played for 15-20 hours over the weekend and there was no shortage of material. The vignettes idea faded away as the group became absorbed by the plot threads in the small town of Áinferill. The NPCs were rich and evocative. The maps and pictures in the book made great game-aids, and my players were fully immersed. It grew naturally from low-stakes roleplaying with minor NPCs to an epic quest into the Dragongrounds. There were moments of comedy, pathos, and edge-of-your-seat action. It was some of the most rewarding gaming that I’ve ever experienced.

I don’t get a lot of feedback on my stuff, least of all play reports. So hearing that it went well, and that more detailed reports will follow, fills me (and Steve Jackson himself!) with joy.

If it seems interesting, The Citadel at Nordvorn is not hard to get in PDF or Print!

Gaming Ballistic products are now on DriveThruRPG. One of my goals entering 2020 was to host PDF versions of my products on DriveThruRPG. The reach is so large that even with the cut they take, hopefully it will balance out. Of course, if you’re already here, you might simply go to my web store – we small-time publishers can use all the direct sales we can get!

On the flip side, Gaming Ballistic goes to great lengths for print copies to get offset print runs, or if the demand isn’t there for a full run, then higher quality digital printing.

With that in mind, the following titles are currently available in PDF via DriveThru:

D&D/OSR Products

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG

The Fantasy Trip

More will come later as the PDFs are finalized.

It’s another GURPSDay, and here’s the last few weeks of posts! My 8th Kickstarter, Norðvorn Sagas, launched on September 10, and funded on the 17th! We are now at 125% funding with more than three weeks to go. Given the trajectory of Kickstarters, we’re estimated by BackerTracker to hit over $30,000, well past the highest stretch goal. With help, we may even do better. This was helped a whole lot by a surprise addition.

The Hand of Asgard presents additional options and guidelines presented for Clerics who choose to devote themselves to the worship of just one instead of the pantheon as a whole. Also included are more than twenty new Holy Might abilities available for Asgardian Clerics and Holy Warriors to bring the word . . . or the sword . . . to those that need it. The book is 16 pages long, in 8×10 format. It is available as an add-on to a pledge level, rather than as part of an existing pledge.

 

In any case, we’re here for GURPSDay, so scroll all the way down (the random order is, well, random). Catch up and get some repeat views and if you missed some. They’re in reverse chronological order, so if you’re up-to-date, just skim off the top!

News for Gaming Ballistic:

  • The proof of Dungeon Grappling to finally finish all the physical rewards for Citadel at Nordvorn came in brilliantly (if months late). I got 100 of them printed, and the’re on the way to me (PubGraphics expedited the printing). They should be in the mail Tuesday. Finally.
  • I ordered all physical goods for Four Perilous Journeys except for the international card decks and counter tiles. Still working on CE Mark issues; need to chat with folks. Might have found a better option for the cards, but not the cardboard chits.
  • All five files for Four Perilous Journeys were accepted and the books will be ready to ship by October 4! 100 of each book will go to the UK for international distribution, and the balance come to the USA.
  • I announced the approval of the Nordlond Enemies Book (tentatively titled Norðlondr Óvinabókin) as my next approved Dungeon Fantasy RPG project. I’ve actually got an idea for a companion book that should be a very tasty treat.

GURPSDay is in its sixth – GURPSDay started in February 2013,  a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. Things have slowed down a bit, and I’ll be considering how to revitalize this weekly activity. I’d like to see an average of 100 posts here per week – one per blog, ish – so we’ll see what we can do to get creative juiced flowing.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! Aug 30 to Sept 19, 2019”

user avatar

Notionally, the Dungeon Fantasy RPG is about, well, dungeon delving. That’s the core function it’s built to support. That said, Hall of Judgment was mostly an overland trek, with the main encounters being a ruined village and of course the Hall itself. The norðalfar lairs were legit underground dungeon-type stuff.

The Citadel at Norðvörn was a setting, completely without labyrinthine delving of any sort. I have played great games with it, and more than once. The Dungeon Fantasy RPG supports it just fine.

One of the fun things that made it into Citadel at Norðvörn was a village generator. Euan Hastie, a gamer and farmer from New Zealand, had a huge pile of research into modern and ancient farming methods and yields, and he and I worked really hard together to simplify all the data, make it sensible-enough and interesting, and present it in a way where “you wander into town” became something different for each town.

Presented below is one of several village he’s made. There will be more, posted, as this one was, to the Norðlond Sagas crowdfunding campaign as an update.

 Steingarður (The Stoneyard)

Assumptions

  • Very Fertile, but with infertile hills
  • Cool not cold
  • Norman/viking

The center of Norðlond west of Konungsborg (the capitol) boasts some of the most fertile soils known to the realm. The costs of two centuries of war with the Neveri clansmen to the south have prevented the Norðlonders from fully exploiting this boon, but it is still a land of plenty.

Away from the rivers and cities, venturing into southern Norðlond, the village of Steingarður sits where the hills meet the plains. The community is well established but has become something of a backwater in recent decades. This is the type of place a wandering knight might call home. It is a community of some 750 people, with a lackluster inn and sundry support services; one can assume a strong cooperage and enough of a smithy to keep the instruments for harvesting and transporting grain in good order.

Life centers around a walled longhouse, built on the end of ridge offering a strongly defensible location and a view over the plains. A man-made channel hugs the side of the grape-covered ridge, supplying the stronghold with water. While not a towering structure the wall is well made from mortared stone. Unlike the north of Norðlond, there are few mature stands of trees; small areas of tamed and managed woods are present amongst the hedgerows and in the higher valleys. A more considered eye notes the young age of the managed woodlands, the consequences of a feud that flared up a decade back.

Goats, wine, and linen are Steingarður’s main source of money as most other goods aren’t worth the cost to transport to the river. Even so it produces the food required to keep forty of it’s soldiers – the armed levy provided by the riddar to King Krail and the Marshal – fed and supplied while they are in the field against the Neveri.

While on average the people here – many of whom are thralls – are not well armed, those who are are usually older veterans. The town boasts more than a few heirloom weapons that are kept in fully functional condition.

Products

Aside from supporting village life, the industry of Steingarður has two purposes: feeding it’s soldiers and providing the riddar with the liquid assets required to maintain his position. The riddar is young, and has only recently assumed the role. In this case, liquid assets are rather on the nose: the two primary exports are 11,000 gallons (roughly 200 barrels, perhaps 60 tons including both barrel and wine)

Notes

  • Poor in wood
  • One of the northern-most wine producers
  • Valuable wine, a desirable product realising 40-50 per gallon.
  • 1 in 3 wine crops fail due to frost unless a druid is present
  • The gardens near the longhouse struggle due to the poorer soil
  • 2000 goats are kept on the rocky hilly area.
  • Wheat crop fails 1 year in 8

Numbers

  • 11000 gallons of wine in a good year, a lot of which is fine quality.

Each acre planted produces:

  • 213 pounds of oats
  • 499 pounds of Rye
  • 495 pounds of Barley
  • 180 pounds of Flax fiber
  • 20 pounds of surplus flax seed
  • 900 pounds of grapes
  • 610 pounds of wheat

Notable surpluses for trade

  • 11,000 gallons of wine
  • 50,000 pounds of grain
  • 240 goats
  • 800 lbs of goat hide
  • 3000 pounds of cloth and clothes

So that’s Stoneyard! A winery that depends on grain and wine for sustenance, with a newbie ruler. The riddar could be a threatened ally, or a ripe plum ready for picking. The village could be something the adventurers just pass through, or perhaps they must take refuge at the village inn, which used to be a thriving place of business but has fallen on hard times.

Look for more villages in coming days. Want more information on Stoneyard? Ask away!

This and more can be had at the Nordlond Sagas crowdfunding campaign, active until October 12.

It’s another GURPSDay, and here’s the last few weeks of posts! I made major progress on Four Perilous Journeys, and for the first time in months I can hit the garage and work on shields and crafting.

Scroll all the way down (the random order is, well, random). Catch up and get some repeat views and if you missed some. They’re in reverse chronological order, so if you’re up-to-date, just skim off the top!

News for Gaming Ballistic:

  • Fulfillment is complete on Citadel at Nordvorn, in that all books were sent out. I presume nearly everyone has received them, and if not, they have tracking numbers and my email address.
  • I’m still working to get a reprint from PubGraphics on Dungeon Grappling. They literally changed their print equipment, and in the last year or so reshuffled staff; I’m not wild about the timeliness of the interactions as of this point, and my need another local POD source. Once the new proof copy arrives, I’ll get the 14 owed books out.
  • Ship approval and print approval for Four Perilous Journeys is done. The counters/chits ready for print. I finished up the first draft of the NPC reference cards and they look pretty good, and I’ve sent them out to about 50 folks for proofing. As these are a licensed product, I also need ship approval from SJG on these as well. They’ll be fully finished by the end of the weekend. Then I can start ordering stuff.
  • I anticipate launching another Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter on September 10, which should go until October 12. There will be three books in it: two adventures and one short supplement. Look for it, and please spread the word.

GURPSDay is in its sixth – GURPSDay started in February 2013,  a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. Things have slowed down a bit, and I’ll be considering how to revitalize this weekly activity. I’d like to see an average of 100 posts here per week – one per blog, ish – so we’ll see what we can do to get creative juiced flowing.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! Aug 9 to Aug 31, 2019”

A friend of mine forwarded this to me, taken at Source Comics and Games in the Twin Cities.

A whole rack, all mine! Dragon Heresy prominently displayed, plus both of the new Dungeon Fantasy RPG products!

I think I need to go there and get a selfie of, as a Discordian put it, my “nice rack.”