Skip to main content

Dungeon Fantasy RPG PDFs to Backers!

It is, at long last, out! Sort of! PDFs of the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game have been released to Kickstarter backers. I don't think it'll be generally available until next month, but since it's in the wild in at least a limited way, I feel I can talk about this a bit more like a customer than someone involved in the project.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG is a complete fantasy tabletop roleplaying game. It's based on GURPS 4th edition rules, but it's a stand-alone game, requiring no other books, or even prior knowledge of GURPS. I've already made some general comments elsewhere (I got an advanced peek for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I was called on to write some follow-up material coming out later). I'll expand on that here.

For those unfamiliar with GURPS, it's a point-buy system rather than randomly rolled, class-and-level, or life path, and pretty much everything in play boils down to "try to roll a target number or less on 3d6," with various ways of figuring out how to get to that target number. GURPS is one of a number of "universal" games which came out in the 80s, and it gained a following for being comprehensive in scope, well edited, and, for books with scientific or historical content, highly accurate and informative. It's in its fourth edition now, so it's refined and very stable. The DFRPG is a stripped-down version of that, an implementation focused on dungeon-crawl fantasy gaming. GURPS tends to have some front-loaded complexity involved, but this cuts through at lot of that, letting you get to actual play, which is usually pretty smooth, quickly, and it doesn't miss a single opportunity to provide useful advice and convenient references to keep the action moving. It keeps a lot of the flexibility and useful detail, but strips out a lot you don't need for a fantasy game. The one box contains a complete fantasy RPG, requiring no books from the orthodox GURPS line.

For those familiar with the GURPS product line, this is the oft-mused-about "GURPS Medium," heavier than the free GURPS Lite, but much lighter than the parent rules. The bulk of the material is a distilled version of the rules in the Basic Set, plus GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2, and bits and pieces of some other books. The result is maybe two thirds of the size of the Basic Set volumes. Things it doesn't include are:
  • Rules not directly relevant for adventuring in pseudo-historical drag. No TLs or equipment from after the Industrial Revolution. I've said elsewhere that DF is set in TL Olden Times, and this set continues to embrace that. It's a pulp fantasy/video game comprehension of technology, not bothering to make much of a distinction between, say, Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance technologies.
  • Rules not directly relevant for dungeon and wilderness adventures. It does retain a core of rules for social interaction (influence skills, reaction rolls) so adventurers still have a framework for negotiating with merchants in town and demon princes in the dungeons, but don't expect the level of support that you'd find in, say, GURPS Social Engineering. 
  • Fiddly customization systems. Orthodox GURPS provides vast scope for fine-tuning abilities, like adding enhancements and limitations to advantages and disadvantages or techniques to skills, or the Affliction and Innate Attack advantages, which essentially frameworks for abilities rather than abilities themselves. Those are dispensed with here. There are a number of profession-related abilities which, if you were to look under the hood, would be revealed as the products of those systems, but here it's just "Here are some abilities; now go do something with them."
  • A setting. Sort of. There are a number of tropes in play. Good and evil objectively exist and can be detected in certain kinds of entities (though usually not humans and other such mundane persons). There are horrific Things From Beyond Time And Space, distinct from the Devil and his minions, and nature has a power of its own (it's a common joke in DF that there are four moral orientations: good, evil, bunny, and squid). Clerics worship gods who grant them their powers. A mysterious East from which martial artists derive is suggested though not required. There are kings running the show in civilized areas through their enforcers, though there's a lot of dangerous territory outside of their jurisdiction. However, no specific kings, empires of the east, demon lords, or anything like that are mentioned. The game tells you what kind of place it is without giving you a specific place. That, you still make up yourself.

And one of the lovely things about this, at least for people like me, is that it's still GURPS. The box set stands by itself and requires nothing else to play, but it is nevertheless 95+% compatible with the rest of GURPS. Want more treasures? Just pick up the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8:Treasure Tables PDF. Want more detailed and finely tuned combat abilities? GURPS Martial Arts will let you layer techniques and styles on top of existing skills. Want to roll your own Expedition to Barrier Peaks? Nothing's stopping you from tossing in stuff from GURPS Ultra-Tech. But you won't need to. If you want to, you can begin and end with the box set and have a perfectly good time.


Popular posts from this blog

Writing GURPS Adventures

Someone over on the forum asked for advice on writing adventures for GURPS. Or more specifically, in context, writing GURPS adventures with an eye towards publication by SJ Games, which is a very different animal. Whatever method and structure you have for writing up adventures for your own use is, of course, the best and you should use it for your own purposes. But we're talking about commerce here, not just art, so this should be thought of as advice on how to do business with a particular publisher, not generally useful advice on how to write adventures.

I need to start by defining a term. SJ Games means something specific by "adventure." As the wish list uses the word, an adventure has a plot, or at least something plot-like in it. It presents a specific problem to solve through a progression of encounters. They are not sandboxes. Sandbox-style adventures, with their multiplicity of possible PC objectives, are, in the terminology of the wish list, locations. There ar…

Writing Historical RPGs, Doing Diversity

For a few years now, I've been seeing things like this and reading pieces elsewhere about apparent conflicts between historical accuracy in historical or pseudo-historical fantasy games and issues of deep interest to some parts (and some potential parts) of the modern gaming audience. I tend to write things which are both connected to history and are written to enable the fantasies of modern people, some of whom have a specific interest in not reproducing problematic parts of the past and present in their recreations, so it's something which touches on stuff that I do. And I think I tend to move and write in circles where this tends not to get much thought or attention even though I write for a game which makes accuracy a priority, so while none of this is new to people who grapple with these issues regularly, I'm thinking maybe I should say something about it to get it into spaces where I work.

So, how do I approach the demands of both accuracy and diversity in the stuff …

Selling Priceless Items

As part of something I'm working on, I've run into the question of "how much can you sell a priceless item for?" If you come across, say, Excalibur or the Ark of the Covenant in the course of an adventure and you want to sell it, the question becomes less how much people are willing to pay for it and more how much people are capable of paying for it. This is different from selling a large hoard of loot. If you come back to town with a wagon full of potions and magic swords and the like, merchants can split it all up into smaller lots broker multiple small transactions. Here, you have to find one person or entity with a large sum of money. So here's something I'm toying with for DF:

Any item designated as "priceless" has a base value of $1m for purposes of figuring resale value. All modifiers for the seller's Wealth and that sort of thing still apply. That's the maximum value one can get in a typical Town. If the seller chooses to do so, howe…