In search of adventure!

As mentioned in a previous post (read it here) I’ve been playing a weekly game of Dungeon Fantasy RPG powered by GURPS using Roll20 to get together as we are dealing with the lockdown here in the UK. It has been an amazing experience mostly because I’ve not actually played GURPS as a player in so many years. It is also nice to have new players and seeing the widely different play styles. Alex, who plays Grobar the Holy Warrior, is a fountain of knowledge and experience on GURPS. I don’t play regularly enough these days and I can certainly say I’ve forgotten more than I knew about the rules over the last fifthteen years. Alex has been a real boon to the party as he makes tactical and rule options for our characters, but in a helpful way not in a rules lawyer kind of way. Ricardo’s character Saskar doesn’t hit as hard as Grobar or Zelenka but his DX is higher and is able to get those rapid strikes “TO THE FACE” (as he shouts) with moderate accuracy. He is also our source of comedy and keeps us laughing with his rapid fire memes on the discord channel. Filipe was playing Roland the mage but commitments has taken him out of the game for what we hope is only a short time. All brought together through Gus, our GM, whos descriptions of our scene draws life to the game. I haven’t had this much fun in years!

getting ready for some online gaming!

Paragons of the Six Divines

Gus told me to design my own religion for the game so I came up with the “Paragons of the Six Divines”. It is a holy order of six immortals who where said to once be mortals themselves, found immortality and through cultivation and their own pure deeds ascended to godhood. As such they don’t appeal to the common man who need gods of agriculture, the forge, war, and other aspects of the mortal realms. The Paragons of the Six Divines are a symbol of what man can achieve through selfless acts of kindness, sacrifice, honor, and truthfulness. What many find unattainable or unwilling to endure. Their order is best known for their charitable institutions; hospitals, schools, and orphanages. These can be found throughout the lands and open to anyone, something that has caused friction with some local customs or laws. However most kingdoms have not only grown accustomed to their services but heavily rely on them which affords the order some grace. Most monks, nuns, and clerics of the Six were residents of the orphanages and grew up within the faith.

Paragons of the Six Divines

Honor – To do what is morally right. Represented by the God Conlaoch

Courage – strength in the face of pain or grief. Represented by the Goddess Parthenia

Magnanimity – generosity. Represented by the goddess Rione

Patience – acceptance of problems and suffering. Represented by the God Vivasat

Justice – just behaviour or treatment. Represented by the God Bran

Truthfulness– the fact of being realistic or true to life; realism. Represented by the Goddess Erosi

Paragons of the Six Divines are extremely popular with orders chivalry. Those that can become living representations of the six can ascend to Sainthood and become Demi-Gods. They are highly respected but few have what it takes to follow their strict regime. Because of this the God Vivasat is the most popular out of the six although each deity has an equal standing in the pantheon. Anyone is welcome to worship although they are more popular with Humans, Elves, some Dwarves, and a few Gnomes. 

Setting the scene

This is where I bore everyone about the back story and adventures of my character. We started out at 150 points rather than the standard 250 points. This is about four sessions worth of info so I certainly understand the TLDR people.

Zelenka Dagian (meaning Fresh Dawn) is a Half-Ogre who’s human mother died giving birth to an ugly half-breed. She died at one of the charity hospitals of Paragons of the Six Divines. Zelenka’s childhood was not without strife, despite being members of the Six the monks were very cruel to Zelenka and many of the other children were encouraged to leave him alone and if they were mean to him the monks would look the other way. They would also “punish his inherent wickedness” at the smallest infraction of the rules. Many would expect such a child to grow up as wickedly as he was treated, and that might have been the case if it wasn’t for the Abbot Svoboda of the monastery and Kateřina Dvořák the Cleric of the county. They taught Zelenka to read the true meaning of the scriptures, how the care for others through sacrifice, being patient and accepting, how truth starts within oneself and in doing so brings honor and justice to the world.

The bishop himself, Casimir Sedlák, was well pleased with Zelenka’s progress, “Although a bit dim he would make a proud member of our Holy Order” The bishop fully intended for Zelenka to be added to the ranks of Holy Warriors. At sixteen Zelenka was already six foot and a naturally built warrior. Instead of a cleric’s staff he was taught the polearm by sergeant Borek Mazal, now retired but famed for his Poleaxe squad “Deliverance of Mercy” or just “Mercy” for short. At the battle of Passhead Valley Sgt. Mazal commanded 20 pikeman and held off a hoard of 70 goblins long enough for the village to be evacuated. In reality it was thirty but the story keeps growing.

Zelenka had no interest in causing harm to others if he could avoid it and wanted nothing more than to stay in the cloister on a sunny day with a book or scroll, or to work in the hospital tending the sick and wounded. The Bishop persisted that his place was with the warriors and so his training in arms and armour continued. When Zelenka finished his studies at the age of twenty it became apparent to everyone, including the Bishop, that Zelenka had an aptitude for not only healing but a strong connection with the Paragons of the Six Divines (I increased his Power Investiture) compared to the other deacons. Although gentle, honest, and true to his studies Zelenka didn’t have the mental capabilities as the other deacons (IQ 11 instead of 14-15) but was nonetheless ordained a Cleric of the Six.

Upon receiving his new status he was given a gift from his mentors. A fine silver plated, dwarven made Bec de corbin (thus reducing the penalty of not being able to parry after an attack), and a suit of leather armor.

Two months after being ordained Zelenka received a dream message about a monk of the Six who always kept himself in a deep cowl and never showed his face. Zelenka was tasked with finding his resting place and bringing the monks remains back to the monastery. After spending weeks in study he finally found enough clues that Zelenka was positive of the monks locations. He appealed to his superiors to get him funding to retrieve the remains but he was denied. Zelenka wrote to the Bishop himself but was dismissed as “An overactive imagination induced by the stress passing the seminary and now lack of direction and focus.” Zelenka was then tasked with hospital duty for the next several weeks to focus on those with real needs.

After one long day of healing Zelenka returned to his straw pallet, exhausted and fatigued. Rolling on his side and about to blow out his candle he spies a letter on the floor. In his exhaustion he did not see it upon entering his room. Curiosity got his groaning body out of bed and opened the letter. It was from an unnamed benefactor who was not only going to fund his expedition but was able to get him a signed letter from the Bishop allowing him to proceed with his quest! ” goddess Rione be praised”

Long story short he met Rowan the Mage and Saskar the Knight (Horseman from the North) and hired them to accompany him on the week long journey into wild country. Once a price was agreed upon Zelenka purchased the needed supplies and a pack donkey to carry it all. The trip out was uneventful, but did give the three newbie heroes time to get to know each other. Their weariness of a six foot, eight inch tall Half-Ogre soon gave way to his honest and kind nature.

They reached the area and scouted it out. The visions led Zelenka to believe they needed to go into the mines but it was getting late and they decided to scout out the ruined town nearby first and make camp. That night they were ambushed by the Undead, two of us being prone and Saskar on watch. Long story short we got our buttocks handed to us with everyone taking damage and Rowan being knocked unconscious. I failed to heal anyone in the party but myself, so as a Cleric I realise the fault was not with me, not with the dice, but obviously my companions were not pure at heart so my Gods refused to heal them. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

We rested for a day do to our injuries and fortified our little encampment as best we could. Once we are healed up with take to the mines. We agreed to take donkey with us as we didn’t want to leave him to be victim to the undead in the ruined town. Heading into the mine we notice that there are rooms, crypts, a chapel all carved out as well. Showing that this was once a very thriving mining town! I ask that we go to the Chapel first and I see a altar to the Paragons of the Six Divines with two suits of plate armor on either side of it. When we step in the suits come alive and take an attack stance then start to move toward us!

Zelenka shows no fear, for these are certainly constructs to protect against the unfaithful! Taking his holy symbol he fearlessly (yes I made my roll) walks to the animated armor and recites his prayers. The suits at that point stop all hostilities and collapse in a heap. One of the suits chest plate and lower legs will just fit Zelenka, but the arms, shoulders and upper legs are too small. Zelenka takes one of the shields from the holy armor and straps it to his back. He feels he should learn the shield sometime in the future (or if I can get my ST to 18 I can use the Bec de corbin with one hand!). Zelenka spends some time at the altar praying before heading to the crypts.

We head into the crypts and disturb some kind of creature that is unknown to any of us. Zelenka casts Sense Evil while Saskar and Rowan prepare for battle. The creature is truly evil and severely damages Saskar! Zelenka uses Turning to keep the monster at bay while Rowan and Saskar dispatch it!

Foul undead creature!
Zelenka casts Banish! Get behind me foul creature!

Down it’s putrid hole in the ground filled with rubbish and rot Zelenka uncovers a Vellum Scroll in an older dialect. There is some kind of prophecy written on it. When Zelenka reads some of it an ArchAngel appears before Zelenka (and Zelenka only, maybe he is dilusional? Nah.) and tells him of the prophecy and charges Zelenka with a holy mission! During his trance like state the head of Donkey comes flying into the room. and we are beset on by a Minotaur and a Giant!

We chose our tactics better than our first battle with the Skeletons and dispatched the pair although we took considerable damage. Saskar, who took a liking to donkey, kills the Giant in a revenge fueled rage.

R.I.P. Donkey

We didn’t get enough time to lick our wounds as the commotion brings in a stranger to investigate the noise. Enter Grobar the Holy Warrior on a quest to put the undead where they belong! Back in the ground. What better way of doing that than his very effective Combat Shovel (DF Adventures page 102)! After some time to size each other up we decide its in our best interests to align ourselves and clear out this undead and monster infestation. It doesn’t take long either before we are set upon by more skeletons!

Grobar looks a bit like this but skinny

Pushing forward through the skeletons we are ambushed by evil dwarves with crossbows. They really beat the crap out of us. However we were able to rally ourselves at the last minute, Rowan gets knocked unconscious again, Grobar scrambles up the cliff face to take out the Dwarven crossbowmen and Zelenka grabs Saskar and throws him like a sack of rice up over the cliff face. The pair of them easily dispatch the crossbowman (crossbowdwarves?) and the evil cleric dwarf gets away by escaping down a deep pit.

What do you get when you have a Knight, a Holy Warrior, a Wizard, and a Cleric? Four characters who step on every trap!

Mind you I’m writing this weeks after all the events of several gaming sessions and I can’t seem to find many posts with battle pics for the next part. However we find the tomb of the Hooded Monk and the sanctity of his tomb is AMAZING for my cleric! We get attacked by Drow and Drider but with Zelenka able to regain his fatigue almost instantly they were not as serious of a threat as I think they would have been away from the are of high sanctity! Thank goodness for Contingency Casting (DFA20) as well!

Ricardo captures Zelenka’s battle prowess in these memes LOL!
Zelenka fails his fright checks! Earth Elementals are scary!
More fun memes from Ricardo!

Our next threat is an Earth Elemental and Zelenka freezes in combat! It is up to the rest of the group to dispatch the rocky creature! Its at this point that Rowan leaves the group as Filipe has real world obligations to attend to. We hope to see him back soon!

Dynamic lighting now used!
More comedy by Ricardo. Fork in the Road!

Gus starts experimenting with dynamic lighting and it certainly adds a new element to the game! Because of my nightvision 3 I can see farther than the other players and it was very immersive having them ask, “What do your elf eyes see Legolas?” Well more damn Skeletons that is for sure.

Dark dungeon with skeletons! Loving it!

During this battle our rolls were spot on, some of us still took damage but Zelenka was able to dispatch three of them! Not single handedly of course. Saskar and Grobar soften them up. Sometimes going last isn’t a bad thing! “One of the skeletons drop an unholy mace. We left it where it laid, mostly because when Saskar tried to lift it he could not budge it. Not nasty enough to lift the unholy mjolnir!

We’re so tactical we weaponized tardiness

Ricardo
Thank the divine there was only one and he didn’t cut anyone!

Our next victim, um I mean opponent is a Bleeder. We were honestly extremely lucky with the dice! It didn’t inflict any damage to us otherwise we might have been in some trouble! Also there was only one and not a Bleeder horde!

Bone Golem are nasty!

Our last session and final creature was a Bone Golem! That thing messed us up for sure! Zelenka failed his fright check, and his Willpower rolls and was out of action for four full rounds! During that time Grobar and Saskar inflicted considerable damage on the beast but both ended up getting stabbed and injected with venom. Grobar was knocked out and Saskar could barely stand. Finally the sight of his dying companions snapped Zelenka out of his shock and he used Contingency “Awaken” Both make their HT rolls and are up and ready for more! With that we dispatched the Golem and collapse into a weary heap to rest and heal.

Zelenka was late again to the battle but to quote Ricardo again

We’re so tactical we weaponized tardiness

Ricardo
Alex gets into the spirit of posting memes on discord!He titles this one “Saskar vs. Bone Golem”! LOL

Inspiration Pad Pro 3

I thought I wrote about NBOS Software‘s Inspiration Pad Pro in the past btu I can’t seem to find it. Between 2013 – 2016 I was writing GURPS Random generators with IPP. I don’t know what kind of code they use for it as I’m not a programmer, but there is instructions and you can get it for Windows, and Android.

IPP lets you code random encounters, treasure, or if you are really ambitious complete NPC’s. I have played around with it starting out with just skeleton guard encounter. I didn’t want every Skeleton to be a carbon copy so the stats might vary by one or two points. This affects weapon damage and Willpower checks just like normal as I was able to code it all properly.

Want a random race but with Dungeon Fantasy Knight template? No problem. Again slight variation on the stats to make them more random then static. There are still a few code errors in this one but to be fair it has 76 races from GURPS Fantasy, Dungeon Fantasy, Banestorm, etc. and 88 Templates from the same books. A bit over ambitious I will admit.

Having some success at two random drop down boxes I tried doing one with three! This was for my GURPS Fallout campaign I ran. Drop down box options are Race, Occupation, and Difficulty Level. However with some help from the NBOS Forums I was able to add in HP trackers as well. This way when I printed them out I just needed to tick the boxes as they took damage. Also colour coded for Reeling, collapse, death checks.

Having a bit of success with that I coded up some Dungeon Fantasy Goblinkin (not DFRPG). Choosing from Gobiln, Orc, Hobgoblin, and Half-Ork. Occupation of Normal, Guard, Archer, Spearman. And finally a difficulty level of None, Stunted, Irritable, Veteran, Enforcer, Savage, and Boss. Again I have a few coding errors in this as it was never finished (Orcs seem to be suffering some stat loss somewhere). However with a bit of work it could easily be perfected, also it was a copy paste from the Fallout so there are some remnants from that such as the Larvae Spit and the Flight option. Opps.

Inspiration Pad Pro is a useful tool depending on how much work you want to put into it. It has been awhile since I coded anything for it so I will have to relearn much of it. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t deal well with negative numbers well. Not for the subtracting but for showing a – symbol in the results

It can be used for random loot, magic items, encounters, not just NPC’s and monsters.

Nordlond Sagas for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG

Back in September 2019 (read it HERE) I posted about Gaming Ballistic‘s latest Kickstarter which would eventually get 420 backers pledging $24,912 to produce four books for the Norðlond Sagas. These books are

The Dragons of Rosgarth

112 pages written by Kyle Norton & Douglas H. Cole. Full colour softcover book with lay flat binding. Essentially it works just like a ‘Hollow’ in a hardcover book allowing the book to lay almost completely flat without putting undue stress on the spine covering. I’ve had some considerable training in hand bookbinding. I’ve taken several workshops and completed Level One and Two training in London City & Guilds courses in bookbinding. That being said I’m very pleased with the binding and sewing of these books.Sewn signatures will last much longer than just glued sheets as are done in a Perfect Bind.

Now what about the content of The Dragons of Rosgarth? The events that unfold in the books expand on what was hinted at in Hall of Judgement. It takes place in Isfjall roughly 300 miles east of Norðvörn where we were first introduced to Douglas Cole’s “Not Really Icelandic” fantasy setting. You are given enough background information to set an adventure that will span a hundred mile journey with enough to keep the players busy. Background information for the main NPC’s is provided making it easier for the GM to direct their actions. Over 20 new monsters in the Bestiary, some of which I hope I never have to come across as a player (I’m looking at you Stothtroll!). The story line is not linear which for a GM makes it much easier to run. Nothing is worse then trying to herd players down a single path.

The artwork is lovely and the maps are by Monkey Blood Design who I’m particularly fond of his works. On a side note I was very pleased that the May 2020 Cartography Annual from ProFantasy was done by Glynn Seal! I have read most of The Dragons of Rosgarth before my physical copy arrived but it is more enjoyable to have the book in your hand rather than on a backlit screen. I can’t thumb through a pdf with as much enjoyment.

Forest’s End

92 pages written by Merlin Avery. Same binding quality as The Dragons of Rosgarth. My only issue with the pages is the border graphic. It’s sharp contrast is distracting when reading. I’m dyslexic and things like that and page colour really matter. Maybe if it was more of a solid colour than the flames and black from the background graphic it would have been a bit better.

Forest’s End is an adventure book with dungeons! I’m really torn between wanting to run this and wanting to be a player in it! The information provided within makes it easy to use with the other books in the series. I would be nice to be able to purchase posters of the dungeons with 1″ Hexes much like the ones from “I Smell a Rat” that came in the box set of DFRPG. Obviously the cost and logistics of such an option would be a nightmare but maybe the option to purchase the images and getting them printed online or locally could be an option for the future? Who knows, I will suggest it though.

Lots of little gems in the book as well, such as new traps, random tables, and 20 Monsters and NPC’s. I particularly like the Blóðughúfa (redcap) as it represents how horrid and evil faerie can be. GURPS Faerie is one of my favourite books which heavily influenced my first GURPS Fantasy campaign in which I replaced having Gods with Fey.

Norðlondr Fólk

16 page booklet by Kevin Smyth. This stapled booklet is on heavier paper than the previous two books. Lovely full coloured pages with amazing artwork on each page.16 templates to use with your Dungeon Fantasy RPG games. Obviously geared toward Norðlond Sagas, they can be used in any DFRPG setting. Lots of beast races such as the “Not Really Egyptian” Cat-Folk, Björnhjarta (Bear-Folk), Gullinálmur (Boar-Folk), Úlfblóðugur (Wolf-Blooded), Hrafnar (Raven-folk), and the very odd Triger-Folk.

A delightful section on Half-Breeds which takes me back to 2008’s Dungeon Fantasy 3 The Next Level (has it really been 12 years!) with races as Dragon-Blooded, Eldhuð (Demon-Blooded), and Himneskur (God-Blooded) with it’s clever artwork.

We also get a more Norðlond version of Dvergr (Dwarves), Elfàrd (Elves), Gnomes, Vandræðagemsi (Fae Gnomes), Half-Ogres, Half-Orcs, Neveri Halflings, and Hálfálfar (Half-Elves)

The Hand of Asgard

Like Norðlondr Fólk, The Hand of Asgard is a booklet of 16 pages stapled together also written by Kevin Smyth. Thick full colour paper of good quality and with some lovely artwork. The Hand of Asgard is a must for GM’s and any player wanting to play a Cleric or Holy Warrior. Kevin Smyth adds both Cleric Spell list and Holy might and suggestions for Holy Warriors as well. There are no stats for the ten Gods listed, I mean they are Gods after all! However there is a lovely surprise of Valkyrie’s in the back of the book!

To be honest I was unsure of how useful The Hand of Asgard was going to be at 16 pages but there really is 16 pages of very useful information to use. It isn’t just a fluff piece.

I have not been this excited since opening up the Dungeon Fantasy RPG box set back in October 2017. Gaming Ballistic have continued to offer a quality item that makes me feel like I’m 10 years old again playing D&D with my school mates. The Norðlond Sagas for me are like Forgotten Realms of my late teenage years full of information on the culture, area, and history which lays the foundation for adventures for years! Hints of “Not Really England” and thoughts of “Not Really Japan” have been mentioned (although nothing concrete or binding). Personally I’d really like to see a “Not Really China” Wuxia setting for DFRPG set in a Three Kingdoms period or Warring States.

So congratulations to Douglas H. Cole, Kyle Norton, Merlin Avery, and Kevin Smyth on four wonderful products! We hope to see more in future! Also a thank you from this fan to Steve Jackson Games for signing off on these great books, I also hope to see more DFRPG from SJG in the future.

Dungeon Fantasy RPG

I’m playing a weekly game of Dungeon Fantasy RPG powered by GURPS. We are using Roll20 to play the game and it has been a learning experience as I’ve not played GURPS in some time.

I decided to try something that I’ve never done before and I’m playing a Cleric. However I wanted to do something unique so I’m playing a Half-Ogre Cleric that uses a Bec de corbin, a type of Pole Axe (permission granted from the GM to switch Staff with Poleaxe). I’ve selected it to be Dwarven, Fine, Silver plated, Power Item with 7 FP. This will offset the unbalanced penalty allowing the character to attack and defend normally.

It has been years and years since I have been able to play GURPS as a player and it took some getting used to. That and playing with new people meant learning how to interact with their specific play styles, characters, and tactics. It has been a fun experience and has sparked a renewed interest in gaming.

It has been over five years since I used Roll20 and there have been a few upgrades since I last used it. One thing I am particularly fond of is the GURPS character sheet which really speeds up the gaming.

Once the information is filled out it is just a matter of clicking a button to run a macros of your dice rolls including modifiers

Of course I still much prefer to play in person as you don’t have audio issues, drop of internet, and other technical glitches. However with Covid-19, lockdown, self isolation it really is the best option. Plus there are not that many players in my location so being able to play with people at least in the same time zone is helpful! The plus side with the lockdown is more people are home and they are happy to find days to play when I have a day off as I’m still doing shift work and don’t always have the same days off from week to week.

Other news

I’ve received my Kickstarter pledge from Gaming Balistic’s “Nordlond Sagas for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG” and I’m very pleased with the resuts. I’ll make a different post about those books.

I finally broke down and ordered Amazon PoD copies of Companions 2 and Magic Items 2. Now I was extremely critical about the first Companions PoD book (read it HERE). I stick by what I said and I’m still annoyed that SJG do not even attempt to find an EU and South American publisher for easier distribution of their printed products, but I’m not an expert in these things I’m just a customer.

That being said Companions 2 and Magic Items 2 were much better quality then Companions was by a long shot. Full colour pages, better quality paper, much more what I have come to expect from Steve Jackson Games in the past.

Much better quality print

Now the content is of both books are great resources for those playing Dungeon Fantasy RPG. Companion 2 gives 16 magical items, 6 new monsters which includes Adventure Seed ideas and the option to play a Centaur as a delver! Also 14 NPC villains with optional new Racial Templates, Advantages, Traits and a Spell. Certainly makes it worth having in your library. Magic Items 2 has 48 pages and 44 different magic items to entice or harass your players with.

Combining both books together opens a world of possibilities. I was very inspired to use Lady Aimara DFC2(50) and possibly the sword Xingyung (DFMI2 46) in a Wuxia inspired adventure.

I certainly hope we will see more Dungeon Fantasy RPG powered by GURPS in the future!

Nordlond Sagas for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG

Gaming Ballistic is at it again, not just once but THREE times the product in their latest KickStarter! Nordlond Sagas consist of The Dragons of Rosgarth, Forest’s End, and Norðlondr Fólk. Three exciting books to add to the wonderful Nordic base world of Norðvörn.

The Dragons of Rosgarth is written by Kyle Norton (Dungeons on Automatic) and is an adventure and setting expansion that sounds to be epic!

Forest’s End is a set of adventures with three dungeons. Written by Merlin Avery the Forest’s End hints at some exciting times around the table with dice and mates.

Norðlondr Fólk will add 16 different playable racial templates to supplement that fit the theme of the Gaming Ballistic line of books. Written by Kevin Smyth the Norðlondr Fólk is sure to add a more nordic feel to your games!

Well I’m very excited to see these and I was surprised at three books! I was only expecting The Dragons of Rosgarth not three books! It is currently only $1,500 away from meeting its goal and I would be brilliant if it reached the goal of $29,000 for the extra 16 pages added to the books.The last Kickstarter raised $26,000 so it isn’t outside the real of reason.

UPDATE!

A fourth add on book has been offered! “The Hand of Asgard” The Aesir—are more than just mythological, ineffable entities: they walk among the people of the world, offering their wisdom and might to those they find worthy. This book offers detailed information on the denizens of Asgard, the divine realm worshipped by the people of Norðlond and its surrounding regions.

This is really fantastic and unexpected. For $13 add on you can get this in print and pdf.

SJG Print on Demand

Two years ago I posted about the Steve Jackson Games (SJG) Print on Demand (PoD). You can read it here if you would like. I was pleased just to be able to get GURPS books because lately you just can’t. I’m afraid my bitterness has increased since then. The closing of Pyramid, the lack of GURPS products being released, and now the latest Kickstarter (DFRPG Magic Items 2) will only ship to the USA only. Everyone else will either have to make arrangements to have it shipped from the States to their home or purchase it from SJG Amazon Print on Demand service.

Now two years ago I thought that was great despite the black and white pages. Since then I’ve taken several courses in book binding and I can now tell how inferior these PoD are compared to normal SJG printing. Now personally I would prefer hardcover as they just last longer than a paperback but I’m being told by everyone that I’m being unrealistic.

So lets compare the PoD compared to the books that cam with the DFRPG box set.

Now the Companion is Pod and Exploits is from the box set. The covers are comparable but there is more of a gloss finish to the Exploits. They have comparable gsm (read below for gsm definition). I don’t have a lot of complaints about the covers.

Companion Cover
Exploit Cover

“GSM is an acronym standing for ‘Grams per Square Meter’. Quite simply, it allows print buyers and print suppliers to know exactly about the quality of paper that is being ordered. The higher the GSM number, the heavier the paper.”

Now that isn’t strictly true. You can have higher quality paper in a lower gsm to a higher gsm. Mostly it lets you know how thick/heavy the paper is in a generic sense. So the paper of the Companion is thicker at 0.10 mm and the exploits is 0.9 mm thick. However the Companion is less dense or more porous. It would, in my opinion, tear easier than the paper from Exploits which is a gloss paper and better quality.

Companions isn’t horrible, but it is more like a high quality colouring book. Not even as good as a cheap paperback from a book store.
Exploits paper is comparable to the GURPS Hardcover books which have lasted me almost 20 years with hardly any wear or tear.

Now here is where I really get critical. Exploits is either Saddle stitched or Loop Stitched. Meaning they used some type of thread to keep the pages together in groups called ‘Signatures’. Companions is Perfect bound. Perfect Bound is when they take single sheets of printed paper (2 pages) or one sheet folded (4 pages) and bind them together with a thermal glue into a book. A very good quality thermal glue should last a few years. It is fairly flexible. A cheap thermal glue will dry out, crack and fall apart. I don’t know which type that Amazon uses but I wouldn’t push my luck by stressing out the spine at all.

Companions on the top, Exploits on the bottom.

As you can see from the top book, which is Amazon’s Print on Demand Companions it is a folded sheet of paper (4 pages) stacked and glued together, sparingly at that. Now the bottom book is Exploits from the box set and bound in China. You have 4 sections (roughly 28 pages), sewn together then perfect bound with a generous amount of adhesive.

Exploits stitch hole. I can’t actually see any thread but it is apparent they have stitched in some manner otherwise the other pages would fall out. I’m not an expert on Perfect binding techniques.
PoD Companion just goes straight to the adhesive.

So what it comes down to is that if SJG is using the same printers then those in the States, or able to get ahold of the Magic Items 2 books being shipped to the States will be getting a better quality book for $18. How much will those outside of the U.S. be charged for an inferior PoD? Companions is $19.95 for 78 pages. That is only 30 more pages then the Magic Items 2. So those in the States get the PDF and the print book for $18.00 but those of us not in the U.S.A. Have to pay $10.00 for the PDF then probably another $15.00 for the PoD which will be a less quality product for much more.

Maybe if they put as much enthusiasm into GURPS as they do trying to resurrect Ogre and Car Wars of even half as much effort as they do Munchkin they might have better success trying to get GURPS out to a new generation of players. It won’t work if they start out with making it inaccessible.

This isn’t a criticism of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy but of SJG and it has only been increasing over the years do to the lack of effort and attention given to GURPS. Yes I’m bitter, I may or may not be reasonable in my criticism but customer expectation is what decides a chunk of sales. It’s just my opinion.

UPDATE

Although nowhere on the Kickstarter page mentioned the PoD version of DFRPG PoD would be colour instead of black and white like all the other SJG PoD, Phil Reed has confirmed it will be available in colour

The book is color, yes, both when as a Kickstarter reward item and when ordered through the ongoing GURPS On Demand program that is described here: http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/ondemand/

The Citadel at Norðlond

Gaming Ballistic has started its deliveries from their latest Kickstarter, The Citadel at Norðlond. This is their second kickstarter to sell Dungeon Fantasy powered by GURPS. Both have been very successful and a third is in the works.

Unlike Hall of Judgment, The Citadel at Norðlond is not a stand alone adventure but a sourcebook with enough information to run campaigns for many gaming sessions. It has something for just about everyone from political intrigue to good old hack and slash. A good GM could easily use the many factions to cause tensions within the group, or to just harass them on their journey. Evil cultists, Dragonmen, Fae, and more abound in and around Norðvorn.

I really like the representation of the Fairy in this book. My original Dungeon Fantasy game from ten years ago had Fae everywhere. It was a real hassle for the players to go anywhere as they had to stop and give offerings to each area for safe passage. That setting had no Gods, just Fae, everywhere. In your house, the inns, outdoors, etc. So I was very pleased to see them represented, although differently, in The Citadel at Norðlond.

There are other things then fairies to worry about in this setting and plenty of opportunities for the players to get in trouble. Douglas Cole has not only given you fuel for the fire by providing you with the information for all the factions and political turmoil, he has provided everything for a rich setting. Names and proper pronunciations, holidays, towns, traditions to really get the players engrossed in a fantasy viking region. Even if you don’t play GURPS (but why wouldn’t you?) The Citadel at Norðlond would be a great setting sourcebook for any rule system.

The Citadel at Norðlond and Fantastic Dungeon Grappling to add new combat options for Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Now all we have to do is sit and wait for the third Kickstarter which I believe is going to be The Dragons of Rosgarth

2 DFRPG Kickstarter Successes

Both Steve Jackson Games and Gaming Ballistic had successful KickStarters this month! SJG had the Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 & Game Reprint with 1,019 backers pledged $54,741 getting one stretch goal allowing for 4 more pages and a journal. There were many add-ons as well which I took advantage of.

Gaming Ballistic had The Citadel at Norðvorn600 backers pledged $26,030, hitting four stretch goals! Each one expanding the page count and the final stretch goal for an offset print run! Plenty of add-ons for this KickStarter as well!

I think the message is clear that there is enough interest in DFRPG and GURPS to keep things moving forward. Douglas Cole from Gaming Ballistic has already hinted at the next installment! I wonder what will be next from SJG?

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Laminating

I finally bought a laminator. I went ahead and got the A3 size (297 x 420 mm or 11.7 x 16.5 in) so I can make laminated book covers for my handmade books. However I found another use for it as well. I.D. laminator pockets are A7 size (74 x 105 mm or 2.9 x 4.1 in) and fits my playing card size Combat Maneuver cards perfectly.

The biggest problem I’ve had with them is they don’t slide like normal playing cards. Well now they do and they are protected from spills as well! Now to spend most of a day laminating enough for all eight players! I’ve also ordered a corner rounder so I can trim off the excess plastic so they fit in card cases.

You can download the form fill pdf’s to make your own cards HERE

A3 Laminator
Will round corners at 3mm, 5mm, and 8mm