In a wild and likely unlawful combination of Throwback Thursday and GURPS-Day, I present something that I thought had been lost years ago.

This was a head-poundingly complex shot at taking the old 3e rules (you can tell because of the Acc 10 assumption for the rifle) and asking the question “where does each bullet go?”

This result shown is almost regrettably good from an illustration perspective. There’s a circle, which shows the actual point of aim of the weapon. There’s a line with three purple asterisks in it, which accounts for trigger jerk and the march of the barrel in a relatively random direction as recoil pushes it around. The assumption is clearly linear. And the red dots are actual bullet strikes, which vary around the notional aimpoint due to uniform scatter.

I had thought this lost, and didn’t have that much interest in recreating it, certainly not with the assumptions present in this older 3e ruleset.

Were I to try this again, I’d make much more extensive use of the Size and Speed/Range table, and fold in the kind of modeling that +Mark Langsdorf did in his calculations on how many shots hit with Rapid Fire. Even my own averaged numbers when I looked at shotguns take a shot (ahem) at this, lacking only the step of tracking each bullet.

Parting Shot

Why would you do this? Good question. Does it add significantly to the game? Only when you’re in conversations about where misses go, or combined with overlays (or underlays?) of character models to allow picking out hit locations. It’s fun, but ultimately usefully abstracted.

Still, here’s the raw sheet, if you want to hack at it – just post the results.

+Peter V. Dell’Orto  makes some good comments about the
campaign over at Dungeon Fantastic. Some are worth dwelling on in particular.
Group Movement

The reason I picked six squad members, and in
this case it was two NPCs and four PCs, was to give three pairs of two. The
team moved either solo or as a full group, as Peter noted, but it would be
trivial to assign a buddy and move in fire teams. The group movement and
Teamwork perk (likely the first thing that each team member will buy on return
to claim character points) will allow moving in pairs well, providing mutual
Limb Armor

He notes, correctly, that anything other than a
torso hit is a near-instant cripple. I’m firing blasters at them, for 3d (5)
tight-beam burning. At that level, the wounds are no different than
a heavy pistol even on unarmored sections. Getting shot at all when a limb
crippling threshold is something like 6-9 HP of injury is going to suck no
matter what, though I need to reread the section on crippling thresholds for limbs.

The Armor Divisor does make protection rather
pointless for this fight, it would seem, but Armor as Dice is always all-or nothing, and it’s not an accident I chose 3d (5) vs 10d armor . . . but I did forget about limbs.

Smoke and Cover

This is a bigger deal in Real Life than it has
been in Alien Menace so far, and I need to change that. The soldiers in
my game (real life) tell me that finding natural cover is a lot easier than one
would think. I know it’s dealt with a bit in Tactical Shooting, and so I’ll
have to look it up.

Part of this is sheer laziness. I forgot to put down rocks and stuff on the map, or make the walls sufficiently tortuous to hide behind.

Group Movement Again

The reason for the turn-based thing is really to
make movement at reasonable speeds take longer in in-game time. A combat walk
at basically Move/3, plus a second or two to do other things, including the famous XCOM “Overwatch.”

In one moment of
fast awesome, Ianali, +Christopher R. Rice‘s medic, did a move and “Instant Action,”
taking -10 to instantly apply a field dressing to the downed Ethan and bring
him to 1 HP from negative. He covered 5 yards and applied the dressing in one second. He paid the points for it
and we’re playing an Action-based game, so good. But in most cases, such moves
like that fit better into a five second time span than into one second.

Character Sheet Nonsense and VTT Foibles

I clearly need to re-export Peter’s character.
All the HT-based crap is, in fact, irritating.

I’m with him on screen real estate. I
have two 24” monitors, and feel it’s
not enough! Fantasy Grounds stubbornly refuses to relocate full-screen to the
second monitor, so my video feed always has me looking not-at-the-camera, which
I find rude to my players (whom I’m sure don’t care).
GURPS firearms combat has so many usual modifiers
(AoA, Braced, Aim, Range, Size, Cover, etc) that what I’d really like is a
table with checkboxes on it. The variable Aim rules we’re using would make this
trickier, but with several checkboxes that might be persistent, and the right
links to your Guns skills, you could just drag from that little helper into the
chat window. That’s much easier than the hotkeys on the bottom, or the small
dots you can add to the Modifier box in the bottom left of the screen.
It might already exist, but something that
allowed you to say:
/die 3d6 vs 15 MoS 3 would be a handy
mini-script. Roll 3d6 vs a target number that’s all-in value of 15, with an
extra “success” granted every 3. The default value of MoS if it’s not entered
would be infinity – you either succeed or not.

Parting Shot

I don’t disagree
with any of Peter’s points. The interface uses an intensively click-driven
system that requires a lot of assimilation, and doesn’t yet provide enough GM simplification
tools for speed of play increase. To me, that
is where a VTT would shine . . . but the “you can’t code GURPS IP directly into
the program” bites you there. Hard.
What would be
the intermediate step, perhaps, would be some sort of user-configurable
persistent modifiers box as I suggest above that allows multiple clicking. The
format of it would be similar to the encounter creation tab that the program
already uses. You could click the flag for “Ranged Firearm Attack,” and a list
of “the usual suspects” would show up. Click the ones that usually apply: AoA,
Brace, Reflex Sight. Type in the SM of your target, the penalty due to range
(and if Targeting were enabled, this would be a great auto-populate option for
both range and size!), Aim bonus (this could autopopulate from the weapon, but
my system uses a die roll, so that would break for me), etc. Add weapons that
use this by dragging them from your sheet by the usually ubiquitous grey box,
and then you can use that to make the process quite simple.

I’m not really very good with character templates and fiddly bits. Rules are my thing, or at least I think they are. So when it came time to add some powers to Cadmus, the Warrior Saint I play in +Nathan Joy‘s Dungeon Fantasy game, I enlisted help. Emily Smirle and +Theodore Briggs pitched in and suggested a Summonable mount. Em started me down the right path with the Stallion template from DF5: Allies (a great book), and I tweaked the point value to be 50% of Cadmus’ current 415-point total.

It’s Higher Purpose, so to speak, is to bear Pharasma’s holy cause into battle. It does not eat, sleep, or communicate with other animals.

This changes the cost of Animal Ally, I think:

Spirit Horse Ally: Bestial [-10]; Mute [-25]; Wealth (Dead Broke) [-25]. [-60]

Typically Dense Unreadable Statblock: Spirit Horse

ST: 30[100]*† HP: 30 [0] Speed: 6.25 [0]
Lifting ST: ST 40 [15]*†
DX: 13 [36]† Will: 11 [25] Move: 8/24 [10]
IQ: 6 [-80] Per: 12 [30]
HT: 12 [20] FP: 12 [0] SM: +1
Dodge: 10 Parry: n/a DR: 4 [20]

Bite (14): 1d+2 crushing.
Kick (14): 3d+2 crushing.

Advantages: Acute Hearing 2 [4]; Claws (Hooves) [3]; Combat Reflexes [15]; Doesn’t Eat or Drink [10]; Enhanced Move 1.5 (Ground) [30]; Night Vision 3 [3]; Peripheral Vision [15]; Ultrahearing [5]; Walk on Air [20].
Disadvantages: Spirit Horse Ally [-60]; Careful [-1]; Quadruped [-35]; Vow (Only attack demons, spirits, or the undead), [-10]; Weak Bite [-2]. [Total -108]
Skills: Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-15; Intimidation (A) Will-1 [4]-12; Mount (A) DX+2 [16]-17; Running (A) HT+1 [4]-13; Survival (Plains) (A) Per [2]-12. [Total 30]
Techniques: Kicking (Brawling) (H) [3]-15.[Total: 3]
Class: Spirit.

* Cost reduced for Size (-10%).
† Cost reduced for No Fine Manipulators (-40%).

Design Notes

The only skills I thought I wanted him to have are Intimidation, Mount, and Running. Survival is pointless (he goes away), and Brawling means a spirit could alter the natural course of things. Maybe it can only use certain skills like Brawling and whatnot against undead, spirits, and demons. That would work. I’ll add a Vow and keep the brawling.

Restricted Diet as a Disad would be replaced with Doesn’t Eat or Drink, a 10-point advantage.

Given a 205-point budget, I think that gives me 45 points to spend.

Hitting ST 30 for 100 points (+15 from now) and +10 Lifting ST (+15 points? Same modifiers as ST?) would be ST 30, Lifting ST 40. BL 320 lbs. I like that.

DX +1 is an easy 12-point add, fits within the budget, and helps out lots of stuff.

Attribues: 176
Advantages: 105
Disads: -108
Skills: 30
Techniques: 3

Total: 206.

Cadmus value: 415; 50% Ally. on 15- wouuld be a 12-point power, I believe, as a Summonable Ally.

Parting Shot
If Nate lets me have this guy, it’ll only eat up 12 points of a “you get to spend 50 points on otherworldly cool powers” budget. The request/demand was that we get some 3D mobility. The spirit horse can carry 320 lbs, which includes Cadmus and a bunch of his gear (Cadmus ain’t light), but not my goal of throwing wounded companions over the saddle . . . not at full speed, anyway.

This lets me take Cadmus into the fight, he improves my Riding skill by +2 due to averaging (and that will need to go up even more if Cadmus isn’t going to be hampered in combat by the lower limit of Riding and Weapon skill). The horse, much like Shrivener (Cadmus’ Named Weapon) is only able to attack spirits, demons, and the undead. The mount is fast enough with a max speed of Move 24, and able to accelerate at 8 yards/sec/sec.

I’m open to any tweakage, and of course, feel free to steal the horse for your own games if you want!

Tonight we rejoined Our Heroes in the ice caves on a far off world. +Tim Shorts couldn’t make it, so we quickly recruited +Jake Bernstein, who joined +Peter V. Dell’Orto+Christopher R. Rice , and +Nathan Joy in the quest to kill the aliens and take their stuff.

The Long Fight

No play-by-play transcript as I usually do when I’m playing, because my mind is on the game and keeping it moving. Or trying to.

The basic play of the night was one long gun battle. We went into XCOM Time, and I thought as a GM that it worked really well. It gave each side time to do what they needed to do, and allowed us to cover a lot of in-game time in five-second chunks, which worked.

We did go back to one-second turns as soon as anyone’s Wait was triggered, so no real loss in fidelity there. Just a decent way of keeping the sides close.

They set up a brutal ambush against an enemy that is coming at them in waves. The NPC Christine Brinkman had been left as a rear guard, and manged to make an awesome Per roll, spotting the SM -4 bad guy drone a long way away. Aim, Brace, Reflex sight, and a very good Aim roll put her on target, and she totally drilled the drone. That left quite a bit of time for the team to get set, and they set up a brutal, and effective, ambush when the remaining drones came around the corner. The first two, I think, bit it hard, and the third was appropriately riddled with holes, but after putting a blaster bolt through Dragonskin armor on Jake’s character’s torso, which is 3d (5) against 10d armor (1d injury per hit). He also got nailed once on each leg, though, and that was more serious. We resolved the crippling injuries (in reality, Jake worked out the details of his own injuries while I continued play) and he’ll be off his game for 3 months!

Ianali was able to sprint over, and accept a -10 to his First Aid roll (plus some rerolls) to get him back up to 1 HP, which kept him out of the “rolling for KO each second” bad place.

After the first wave it, they set up and waited for the next wave. It came cautiously, and the drones staged their own ambush, using some Sectoids as bait. Christopher’s character Ianali tried to take one alive, carefully blowing off one leg (yowch), but then the guy with the grenade launcher opened up on the wall, pulping that guy and rendering the second, hidden next to a wall, unconscious. Three 40mm HE grenades will do a number on a small, unarmored alien worker.

As the good guys came around the corner, though, one of the floaters tagged our grenadier on the torso and arm, which burned through his armor and did some real damage. Three grenades later and two of three floaters (these were much smaller and unarmored than the disc they met coming in to the caves) were damaged but still functional, the third untouched.

Rules, Concepts, and Speed of Play

The new rules we’re using for aiming are working really well.

The “XCOM Time” seems to work

Fantasy Grounds lets you put down and leave range estimating lines on the map, and these are great for “cross this and my Wait triggers!” notations for laying ambushes and whatnot are great.

We’re half-using +Mark Langsdorf‘s rules on rapid fire, though I think maybe we weren’t using them as correctly as I’d like. I think that, in retrospect, the RoF bonuses using the Size and Speed/Range Table might stack up too quickly.

What I wanted was something where 3-4 shots (the usual number in “burst fire” got you your first bonus, but like Mark, I think that the SSR table is core to GURPS and should be used where possible. However, this means that with a gun with RoF 12, you are (with the RoF bonus) +4 to hit, which is just as good as Aiming using RAW with a carbine wit Acc 4. Unsighted firing at RoF 12 is simply NOT as good as aimed fire with the same rifle. So that bears more consideration. Maybe halve the values, rounding up. It will be self-limiting, as most normal rifles will be able to do this for 2 seconds and then a mag change. Peter’s character, with his 100-round drums, is better off.

I used the “always add 10 to Per rolls, but full size and range penalties apply” rule often today, and it works great. It’s how Christine was able to nail the first floater drone, and how one of those drones missed seeing a PC at a critical moment, in a believable way.

Lessons Learned

My map is too big, and I probably have too many enemies for the style of play I want to have for this campaign. This mission was designed to be one session long (notionally), two at the most, and we’ll finish in three. That means we can spend 6-8 weeks of real-world time (allowing for cancelled sessions) on what might be considered one to three firefights.

Fantasy Grounds Woes and Woo-hoos

Some of the teething issues with the interface have gotten better with use. It still does suffer from some issues, though, that make for some frustrations.

  • Clicking on the chat window does not bring it to the top of the screen
  • The absence of Fog of War and sight lines really is an issue to the type of game we’re playing. 
  • Invisible icons are really invisible – even to me – as they’re set to a too-high transparency factor. There needs to be a way to make them indicate being invisible but not quite so hard to see on the map
  • The mouse wheel is still too all-powerful, and scrolling within the combat tracker can cause some of the boxes and values to increment if you’re hovering over them. You really have to be careful of where your cursor is when you’re moving that wheel
  • It would be nice if, as you advanced the combat tracker, the GM map auto-centered on the active icon
  • Every time a player dropped due to a lost connection – and that was less but still present this game – he was able to rejoin but I had to reshare the map each time
  • HT needs to be on the combat tracker (if it’s there I didn’t see it) since you often have to roll that in combat. Same with Per, actually.
Some things that I’d really like
  • There seems to be D&D style 90-degree cones for pointers. I’d like to be able to tune those to arbitrary width. so it’s easier to assess sight lines and aim lines
  • I know it’s a lot, but some of the interface choices remain unintuitive, and could use a re-think
  • The vision lanes that I have in MapTool (blocked out behind) with terrain features that can’t be seen through are awesome and really allow the GM to just play his side without worrying about who’s visible but unseen. 
Parting Shot

I think today went pretty well, and the rules being used are working for the benefit of the game, not a distraction. 
Smaller maps, perhaps fewer but more capable foes (though what’s going on now isn’t bad), and a slightly different capabilty set for my bad guys will help out.
It should be fun to finish up this mission. Of the six troopers that went in, two have been badly wounded by blaster fire, and there are still several drones active. The cave has barely been explored (and I say this because of an accidental full-frontal map reveal in a previous game; they know how big the place is).
I will give serious though to how I can guarantee we finish up next time.

Last content post I alluded to a situation where as many as six characters (4 players and 2 NPCs) were advancing cautiously in anticipation of encountering bad guys. This got tedious doing it player by player, turn by turn. On the other hand, you never really did know when the bad guys might pop out, so doing things in Combat Time seems right.

It’s slow, though, from a player’s perspective. And I don’t think it has to be. I’m going to try something different, and the current game setup should be pretty conducive to it.

But first, a word on movement speed to set the stage.

Combat Sprinting

GURPS movement is fast. Oh, it doesn’t seem fast, because you only move a few yards at a time, and in a spread-out fight, it can take a subjective forever to get from skirmish area to skirmish area.

Even so, the ability for GURPS PCs to cover distance in combat is pretty impressive. A typical person with -1 or -2 Move due to encumbrance is “only” moving 3-4 yards per second. A crawl! Except that’s 6-8mph, which is a decent jogging pace, and you can start, move, and stop perfectly balanced in one second.

For heroic PCs, they probably have a base Move in the 6-8 range, and good ST. I’d expect Move 5-7 is the norm even counting encumbrance for the PCs in my game right now, and that’s 4-6 minute miles.

Turn-Based Overwatch Movement (XCOM)

So PCs can haul ass in GURPS if they choose . . . but mostly that’s too fast for a real-world advance. I can maintain a brisk walk of up to about 4mph (only move 2), and above about 4.5-5mph I have to break into a trot. Basically I think you can probably go up to about 40% of your Move without the disruption of actually jogging or running, at which point shooting is pretty much spray-and-pray.

So here’s what I’m going to propose. During XCOM style movement, the clock ticks for five seconds, and this allows the following:

  • Movement up to your full encumbered Move
  • One of Evaluate, Aim, or Ready (1 second worth)
  • Wait

You may also stay in place and do a few different Long Actions

  • Reload (if it can be done in four seconds; this is about right for a non-rushed “pop mag, grab another, insert, re-ready).
  • Long Evaluate – Claim an appropriate bonus for taking extra time to look for stuff
  • Both of these are assumed to be 4 seconds, and end with a Wait . . .
  • If you’re feeling crazed, you may also take a long action of Only Movement. You get 5xMove and it takes the full five seconds, and you do NOT get a Wait. You’re exposed. “Like a nerve.” This includes the impact of a sprint bonus, and is one second of regular move, three seconds of sprinting, and one second of Move/2 for deceleration to a standstill.

The breakdown here is more or less three seconds of Move/3, and some looking around over your sights for a bit or getting something out of an easily accessible place on your LBE. The long actions allow some people to hang back and look around, or do a reload without the risk of a Fast-Draw, etc.

Turn Based

In the X-COM: Enemy Unknown game, first the team goes, and then the Aliens move. If you have “Overwatch” set (the X-COM equivalent of a Wait) you can attack. Most players will want to end in this state unless they don’t have to.

Each turn is based on your side. Any Waits terminate when it’s your side’s turn.

As soon as anyone’s Wait is triggered, Combat Time starts at the 1-second scale, starting at whoever’s Wait is triggered, and then cycling through. Waits from previous turns are preserved – if a Sectoid gets to go before you and walks into your Wait, that’s good for you, bad for him.

Parting Shot

The point of this one is to basically allow everyone to move their tokens simultaneously by up to their Move, but not play “let’s screw the players” by having them walk into an ambush that they should have seen.

This makes time go by at reasonable rates, but without assuming that everyone’s moving around like Usain Bolt, fully armed and crackin’ to shoot some Greys.

Hopefully it’ll compress that intermediate stage where no active enemies are in sight, but caution is warranted. It also creates a nice delineation between “Players’ Turn” and “Now GM Does Bad Guy Stuff.”

The list above is deliberately restrictive. It also doesn’t play to any individual character’s strong suit or abilities. The list should remain short for sanity’s sake, but has plenty of room for customization. I’d have no real issue with each player coming up with their own list of their favorite actions, so long as they break down neatly into (say) two categories, and can be fit into five seconds without any risk of failure.

  • Series of actions that end in a Wait
  • Series of actions that don’t end in a Wait

People with Fast-Draw or other “instantly cool” abilities will be a little bit stiffed by this; that can either be worked around, perhaps. Maybe treat them like Combinations, where if your intended action (say, a F-D-based speed reload followed by running like hell down the hallway) fails, your entire action stops right there. You neither reload or move. You’ve been stymied.

We’ll see how it works. I hope it speeds things up without notably impacting Combat Time. If not, tweakage will occur.

I can already see some things people might want to do (the sniper says in place while the team moves . . . what’s the benefit there? Probably a bonus to Per rolls for sweeping the area), but overall, I think it’ll split the difference between “move freely on the map!” and “OK, your turn. Now your turn. Now my turn, and a few more. Now your turn . . .”

A quick post.

I’ve been getting ready for the follow-on session to the incomplete Alien Menace starter this weekend. We had to cancel last time due to sickness, ComiCon, and general beat-down-ness.

Some things I realized:

  • It’s really handy to have pre-planned encounters. +Eric hil walked me through how to generate those, and there’s a specific order to it. Follow it in +Fantasy Grounds and you will do well. They show up by holding the CTRL key.
  • Each type of bad guy should have a characteristic behavior when they attack and defend. That speeds up your choices by restricting them, and creates patterns for the players to detect and exploit
  • Slow, steady advancement with lots of Waiting and waiting in GURPS requires a unique, yet to be determined “speed up the clock” mechanic. I think I have one. I’ll publish it when I do.
  • Along with characteristic fighting styles, I need to make a note about what each bad guy will do when confronted with sensory input. How will they react to seeing a PC? Hearing footsteps? Hearing explosions? What about other senses?

All my baddies are placed, but I need to get their behaviors settled in my head before we start on Saturday. That just requires a bit of time.

I also need to start carrying around my Book of Pretentiousness again. I have had a few ideas slip away that shouldn’t have, and it was way better to capture them in that journal. Plus, the babes dig it.

We picked up more or less where we left off, with Cadmus having his shield hand crippled and his right leg terribly injured . . . but a quick healing potion fixed the HP loss bringing him back to 15 HP (of 18 total).

We more or less kept making incremental gains, slowly eliminating some of the big hitters, and Cadmus rolling sideways to make a big hit on Bormurg, the leader/spellcaster. That was good for 15(2) cut, but he had to spend both his recently-refreshed destiny points due to the worst-timed critical fail ever.

He then got nailed by a few guys from behind and a crit, knocking him down to 0 HP; he made his HT roll and fast-drew his second major healing potion, which brought him back up to 11 HP.

Having enough of that, he rolled back again and changed facing. Staver nailed a nearby goon, leaving, for a change, Cadmus with only one foe. So he found himself momentarily yeti-less. Or at least yeti-limited.

So that was a good thing, but then Nate reminded me that my Righteous Fury was about to run out. That’s going to leave a mark, yep.

People are mainly flocking to Thumvar, as the most dangerous combatant on the board. For a brief moment, it appears Cadmus is clear of the foes . . . so he tries a backward extention (acrobatic stand), and naturally critically fails the roll. That’s like the third one this game for him. Sigh.

One guy comes his way, and bashes him in the torso with something heavy, with 2 HP of blunt trauma getting through his DR 12.

Staver steps up and flings two arrows at random locations on two different targets, hitting both, one in the foot and the other in the left leg. They both fall over and are incapacitated. Thumvar manages a runaround and strikes a troublesome foe to the skull from above and behind, killin’ him quite dead.

Cadmus’ Righteous Fury runs out, and he chooses to kneel; that’s as far as he can go, since his leg is crippled. That helps a bit, getting his penalties to be a bit lower. That’s all he can do. He’s also now at 5HP instead of 9HP, which is uncomfortably low.

Hiro comes up and gives the Blessing of Hachiman to Thumvar, granting him +4 to all weapon skills for the next 10 minutes. That’s going to get ugly.

A Yeti Brute takes a chop at Hiro, who fails to parry the flail, but a timely sacrificial block with Weapon Master (Shield) saves him from harm. Staver literally runs, screams, and leaps, firing two arrows at the last two remaining Yeti Hunters, hitting one for 10 (2) impaling. “You know he dead.”

Thumvar comes up and kills another with a mighty double-shot to the torso, doing enough damage to bisect the poor guy. Shiba continues to spring towards the battle.

A Yeti Hunter tries to fire an arrow at Thumvar’s flank, and Thumvar’s trusty shield Returns that Missile right back at him . . . but he dodges, falling to the ground in desperation.

Hiro pulls out the Breath of Fujin, an air jet spell that lands for 41 cr, double knockback, nwd. 82 knockback, and 8 blunt trauma.

The bad guys continue to flail at Thumvar ineffectually. Both Shamans gesture and cast something. At Thumvar. Ah, a giant hailstorm, with 2 1d-2 crushing attacks to random locations each turn. Cadmus is nonplussed.

We discuss healing, and decide that healing potions will trigger a HT roll to undue crippling, but not heal any HP of damage. HT for a basic potion, +2 and +4 for the next two strength levels. Nice rule, we think.

Staver lashes out with two meteoric iron barbed bodkin arrows. He gloats . . . briefly . . . since he doesn’t recognize them as meteoric, and so ignores them. He just takes an arrow to the vitals and falls over dead.  Let this be a lesson to everybody about the dangers of arrogance.

Thumvar does a 2-yard flying step, gaining altitude, and does an awesomely successful double attack, including a critical success. He defends vs. the shield, but spends 3 destiny points to make Thumvar’s crit into a failure. Still, he’s defending at -9 and fails to defend. Thumvar rerolls a bad damage roll, and hits for 11 cut . . .which bites through his outer armor, and drags to a stop on something hard (really strong body hair!).

Shiba repositions ready to protect Cadmus and smackdown Yeti 2, and a Yeti Hunter actually manages to throw an arrow Staver’s way that forces him to defend. He blocks.

Cadmus’ turn. He uncripples his leg. Next turn he actually gets to stand up.

Bormurg is pissed off, and steps and swings at Shiba’s flank . . . critically succeeding, forcing Shiba to spend two destiny points to make that into a regular success. With a flail. Gets hit, no, a third Knight point turns that into a successful defense.

One of the shamam’s forms wavers, ans turns into wispy airiness. This will prove his undoing, I suspect.

Staver finds himself behind Bormurg, and nails him once in the vitals from the back and once in the brain, since the double-armor-divisor on the arrows. He throws back his head, and the blue light emanating from his visor streaks out of him. All of a sudden, Tatiyana, the witch we thought we killed – in fact, that STAVER killed – before, comes out of Bormurg’s dead body and streaks over to the altar. She extends her arms, and with a sudden screaming surge, a full gale-force hurricane force blizzard wind picks up. Visibility is zero. Range weapons useless (-2 per hex). And anyone flying rolls acrobatics to land, which both guys do. The guy who turned into a body of air? Whoosh.

She sure looked really dead earlier, so we’re voting that she’s undead. Heh. Undead. And I thought I was going to be useless this fight.

An eddy develops around Thumvar, and is -2 to all DX rolls due to the wild winds. Hiro drops to his knees, and casts a Lesser Strengthen Spirit spell which makes all of our weapons affect insubstantial.

Then a lightning bolt crashes from the sky, seeking Thumvar. He dodges. A wind, freezing wind, blasts into Hiro from the side, pushing him counterclockwise.

We all move steadily towards Tatiyana. She tries to strike Thumvar with lightning, Thumvar retreats towards her, avoiding the overhead lightning blast. Another roaring dust storm at Shiba, which he avoids. She casts . . . something else.

Shiba runs up to her, and nails her in the foot with a telescoping blow from his sword. It knocks her down, but doesn’t shut off her spell. She throws wind and lightning at the usual suspects, doing nothing. Staver hits her with an arrow. Thumvar steps up, and triggers Tatiyana’s wait. She kicks out at him with a Deathtouch enchanted foot, but he parries.

Thumvar does a nice dual-weapon attack, she tries a blocking spell to command him to drop everything, he resists despite huge penalties, and he kills her deader than hell.

We win!


Now, we just have to get out of here, get the caravan to the big city, and then LOOT. Plus an upgrade. 75 points of powers. Mwa ha ha.

Also, Cadmus’ DR12 on head/neck and DR9 everywhere else was routinely surpassed in this fight. There were many moments that he hit 0 HP, or slightly negative, and only the fact that I stocked up on 4 Major Healing potions (house ruled to 2d+6 HP restored, plus the modification about crippling, above) kept me both alive and in the fight.

This weekend ComiCon came to Minneapolis, so my whole family went.


The costumes, of course, were great. Day 1 I just wore my Gaming Ballistic sweatshirt over a Superman T-shirt, since my daughter was dressed as supergirl (since Supergirl is often portrayed as blonde, she kills this one). I had one guy take her picture, and then say that I needed to be dressed as SuperDad. I pulled up my sweatshirt. He was satisfied. 

Also, talkging to Adam Baldwin (!!), his associate did notice the GB logo, and we talked AR builds. 

Brief interludes with Sean Astin and Nathan Fillion, but nothing like my two conversations with Adam Baldwin, who as I mentioned was a super-nice guy.

Day 2 I decided to stick an old friend down my shirt, and of course this got more comments and “Can I take your picture?!” moments than when my daughter, on day 3, insisted I go full Batman. 

S: Dad, today’s Wonder Woman day. Who are you going to dress up as?
D: Well, I was going to dress up as Dad.
S: No. You’re going as Superman.
D: I don’t have a Superman costume.
S: Then Batman. Get your batman T-shirt, a pair of black pants, and your cape and boots.
D: I guess I’m going as Batman.

Short stack had a great time too, and on day 3, dressed as Wonder Woman, two very kind teen agers asked her for her autograph. She’s four, but wrote WONDR WOMAN * (with a little star!) by sounding out the words, so there you go.

The food was terrible.

On the last day, I made it into a panel discussion with former Lois and Clark star Dean Cain, and I asked him a question about how he felt “filling the tights” and taking on the identity of an American icon. Maybe the American hero. His answer was good – he identified personally with those qualities, and the scripts he was given oozed the right stuff.

Oh, and since I was dressed as batman, he quipped, “Uh-oh. A question for superman from the dark knight.” I replied “Yes, we have a long and complicated history.” Crowd enjoyed it.

But then he mentioned the most recent movie – and he hit something I’d have loved to ask a follow-up question on, which I hit in my review: “Is all I could think about watching the most recent movie was all of the people who probably died in the destroyed buildings in metropolis.”

YES. Precisely. That, even more than him stealing stuff early in the movie, left me the most uncomfortable. Not sure Kal-El could have chosen the battleground differently – he went where the giant death machine was, and where his foes were – but still. I have to imagine Dean or Christopher would have taken the fight to somewhere less inhabited.

Anyway, a good time.


This weekend I achieved closure on a few writing projects. Two Pyramid articles, both inspired by my Alien Menace campaign. The two together would be about six Pyramid pages total if published. Was good to cross them off the list, though.

The game was cancelled this weekend, though. One player was sick, another just kinda thrashed after a hard week. I was thinking I’d be at ComiCon (turns out I was back in time). So we’ll play again mid-May. I did get all the game prep done, so I can instead work on other things or plan ahead for the next mission.

I learned a lot from the first one about the size of the challenges, too. To do a one-session, four hour game, you probably want the maps smaller in physical area than the one I laid down. But keeping that moving is another story, and another post.

I have one more article in my “must finish soon” pile, and then I can start a new set of projects.

Parting Shot: Pictures

My parting shot for this one is pictures from the event. 

ComiCon came to Minneapolis this year, which made it easy to go. My daughter is a big fan of superheroes and costumes, so for her it’s a three-day non-stop fun fest.

Me too.

Got done with work early, grabbed Short Stack and my wife, and we headed out. Met some friends that I’d not seen in a while: +Jason Ritenour+Gaea Dill-D’Ascoli  (recently returned from a long stint in the Peace Corps), and +Beth Teutschmann, the ever-awesome.

We wandered for a bit, and then Alina reported that the lines for autographs for Adam Baldwin and James Marsters were short – getting to this thing on opening Friday is a good idea.

Meet Adam Baldwin

I enjoyed meeting him, but I want to dwell on the experience for a bit. Not directly as a fan meeting an actor, but about how Mr. Baldwin comported himself – and to give the game away, he’s a gentleman in all respects.

He spent a very long time chatting with the people in front of me. They were dressed up as a few characters from Forgotten Realms, and when they looked at me like “what do you know about that,” I mentioned that I’d just finished the Erevis Cale trilogy – so they were pleased they didn’t have to explain it.

But Adam expressed real curiosity about the costumes, and the people. Sincere conversation.

When it was my turn, he gave me his full attention, and said “Hello, I’m Adam.”

Of course he was . . . but he deliberately wasn’t going to assume he went without an introduction, and he took time to give me a proper firm handshake. I told him I had very much enjoyed his work, and mentioned that +Peter V. Dell’Orto was actually using “Animal” as a model for a gaming character.

I mentioned I’d not heard of The Last Ship, and he gave me a brief pitch. Action-adventure about a Navy crew . . . oh, just watch the trailer.

At that point, Alina and my supergirl-costumed daughter joined us, and the four of us chatted for a bit. I mentioned it was nice to find a real firearms fan in Hollywood, and he noted he was trying to improve his shooting.

As we departed, he quietly said “God Bless,” almost certainly to my wife, since June is going to be a happy time for us. But it was charitable, subtle, and heartfelt.

As I said: a gentleman. I was glad I took the time to meet him.