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Friday, September 9, 2016

What Do We Find in the Chest? (The Dungeon Fantasy RPG - Article Submitted by Steve Jackson Games)

Disclosure - Earlier in the week, Hunter Shelburne, Community Manager over at Steve Jackson Games, inquired if SJG could submit an article to The Tavern regarding The Dungeon Fantasy RPG (powered by GURPS). I said "send it over and if deemed appropriate we'd run it." We'll I think it's an informative article regarded The Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter, a project I have already backed for $50 and we are "running it." No recompense of any sort was offered with the submitted article, no recompense of any sort was requested nor would any have been accepted. - erik tenkar



What Do We Find in the Chest?

By Matt Riggsby

GURPS has long had a reputation as the Lego-brand bricks of gaming: you can do anything with it, but you have to put the pieces together yourself. It’s actually easy to play once you get to the table (the whole of GURPS boils down to “roll this number or less on 3d6”), but it can be a lot of work to get you there. The Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS gets you to the table, with complete dungeon-crawling rules in a single box.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG contains five slim volumes, covering character generation, adventuring, spellcasting, monsters, and an adventure, and requires no other books. The emphasis is on playing this particular game, not on being all things to all gamers. Part of it is the stripped-down rules set, distilled from the mature, battle-tested GURPS Fourth Edition rules. That doesn’t mean incomplete. Considering the starting point, “stripped down” is still comprehensive, but it’s just rules for fantasy, including what’s useful (monsters, spells) and excluding what isn’t (lasers, automobiles).

Just as important, it provides guidance on how to use those rules for both players and GMs. For example, professions – guided menus for building character types (wizards, warriors, etc.) – don’t abandon you to a list of traits. They provide advice on how to shape the character you want: pick these skills from a short list to make your thief a burglar or those for a stealthy killer. The volume on monsters kicks off with detailed advice on ways PCs can deal with them, only one of which is doing a Leroy Jenkins, and then detailed advice on ways GMs can use monsters against heroes. You don’t have to be a veteran for this.

And there are more subtle aspects which make it an easy-to-use product. Breaking the set into five books rather than one or two means there’s more to pass around at the table. If you’re in a group where most players don’t own the rules, it makes a real difference. There’s no math more complicated than a little multiplication. And professions, which GURPS players will recognize as templates, are reformatted for easier reading.

Finally, it performs a remarkable balancing act, retaining the flexibility of GURPS while remaining true to the specific nature of the game. If you want to build a unique character from scratch, the rules are all there, and still compatible with the rest of the GURPS rules universe. But you don’t have to go there.

If you tried GURPS but left because of the pre-game overhead, this is what to come back to. If you’ve heard of GURPS but were overwhelmed by the size of it, this is where to get on. If you just want a fantasy game that has robust, flexible rules that let you do – or at least try – anything you think you should be able to, and maybe even has some reality checking lurking in the background, this is the one to try. Everything you need is in that box.

23 comments:

  1. For what it's worth, Matt Riggsby is a freelancer, not an employee of Steve Jackson games.

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    1. well, it was submitted by Steve Jackson Games' Community Manager and run past at least one editor, so it was submitted by SJG and written on their behalf ;)

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    2. Agreed 100%! This may have been written by a freelancer, but it was part of the plan and coordinated by Steve Jackson Games. This is pure promotion.

      Awesome to hear that Hunter selected Tenkar's Tavern as one of the sites to run a promotional article for the game. Good choice, Hunter!

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    3. Indeed, a good choice. Let's see if this sells a few boxes. It's at $77,083 as of now and as of the posting.

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    4. Never meant to imply otherwise - just noting that (much like myself doing unpaid interviews with Sean and Phil) a lot of the enthusiasm is coming from the fanbase, who are actively encouraged to climb the somewhat steep hill to become contributors and writers. Fans first, writers second, boosters third!

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  2. (disclosure: I wrote several small things which SJG published and paid me for. And several other small things just for fun which SJG could not pay me for.)

    This is torture. I loved GURPS back when, and The Fantasy Trip before it. And $50 for a core set is a bargain compared to the industry leaders. But I just can't justify it to myself when I have no play group and when I have a kid in high school presenting me with hot and cold running fundraisers 24/7. :/ Even the PDF would be challenging to accept.

    But ARRRRGH. It's going to be great.

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    1. From one Bob to another? Sure you can justify it. Because EVENTUALLY, you are going to have a group and EVENTUALLY you are going to want to run this. You can get it now or EVENTUALLY down the road with an ebay markup as you try to buy the things you missed out on.

      You still might not get it now but justification is just how far you want to stretch. ;)

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    2. Those are fine points, One Bob. I mean, I almost want to run it now. (Actually, what I want to do is Dungeon Fantasy: Cidri.) I don't know how many EVENTUALLYs I can sustain, though, since I haven't had players since 2008 or so. And if I do stretch here, then my Inner Compleatist will take over and drag me to Warehouse 23 for all the other DF goodies.

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    3. Bob, you can always run a campaign for your daughter and friends :)
      For family game night this version is pretty cool, even for the non geeks.

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    4. ... and then someone showed me the DF: Adventurers PDF. I'm cured now. The reality is not the DF I was imagining. (250 CP?!?)

      DF RPG, PbG is STILL going to be great, and the KS is still a bargain. Just not a game for me where I am now.

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  3. I can't believe Riggsby got published on Tenkar's Tavern before I did.

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    1. Ooo. Definite loss of CP (Cool Points).

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    2. I can't believe it either. Must be some kind of illusion. Roll to disbelieve.

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    3. Well...it IS Matt. He's at least part-ninja. (Probably a spice ninja or "spinja", but still a ninja.)

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  4. I've never heard that Lego analogy before. That is a great turn of phrase.

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  5. I've always been more of a hero System guy myself, but GURPS has always been one of those games that I REALLY wanted to like. I think this may be it, I've had a number of the PDFs for gages, and have always hoped for printed books. With my wish come try, I was forced to pledge. ;-)

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    1. Welcome to the club!
      I loved Hero myself, trouble was with anything but Supers it felt too shallow. As Matt said with separate books its easy to pass around the game table to get your group started.

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  6. I have never played a D6 fantasy game b4, but am intrigued by this game. I mean sure I played West End games like Ghost Busters & India Jones but come on who didn't. This has sparked my interest. I wonder if it is being run on roll 20?

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  7. Bob, I have not seen a tabletop (excepting one occasion with my kids a few years ago in over fifteen years, but I have been running DF actively on rpol.net as a pbp for over 3 years. The game is well over 20k posts, and has six different threads of characters running. You can get a group.

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    1. Hi, Denis. "Can get a group," no question. The problem is purely a personal thing. I've almost never played with strangers. And while I can dimly see a group wouldn't be strangers for long, it's still a tough wall fit me to breach.

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  8. It was a hard thing for me to do as well, and the game originally started 2ith some college friends, but the pbp format (and my initial clunky gming) didn't work for them, so it became a game with strangers, but it works.

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