Friday, July 14, 2017

Dungeon Action

By Timothy Ponce

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy is all about killing monsters and taking their stuff. It thrives on tactical decisions, die rolls, and letting the chips fall where they may. But what if a gaming group thirsts for more thrilling, movie-like action? Such games can benefit from more abstraction, fast-and-loose gaming, and typically, more social situations. Thankfully, GURPS already provides a line that covers this style of play!

GURPS Action explains how to run games straight out of the movies, but its core assumptions include a modern setting decidedly not suitable for most Dungeon Fantasy, and much of its advice applies only to handling technology absent in traditional fantasy – dungeon or otherwise. By combining parts of both sources that best suit fantasy action adventures, this article provides the best of both worlds: a framework for handling social and urban mini-adventures as preparation for the primary dungeon delve, and it does so with style.

This article heavily references GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, GURPS Action 1: Heroes, and GURPS Action 2: Exploits, and access to the entirety of both entire lines is highly recommended.

BAD Dungeons

Action introduces BAD (Basic Abstract Difficulty; see Action 2: Exploits, p. 4) which simplifies many of the penalties suggested in GURPS Basic Set. This concept suits Dungeon Action games perfectly: it speeds up play and gives a generic difficulty that can vary from area to area or level to level. Use BAD as suggested with a couple of exceptions:

• Monsters should always retain their normal statistics, but if a particular monster needs to use a skill not normally listed on its template, assume it has a score equal to the controlling attribute +the absolute value of BAD.
• Set Piece Challenges, like those described under BAD Ideas (Action2: Exploits, p. 5), should not use BAD, but rather their own statistics.
• Traps created using It's a Trap! (Pyramid #3/60: Dungeon Fantasy III, p. 17) add the absolute value of BAD to rolls to determine Trap Quality.

Dungeons Full of Action

Both Action and Dungeon Fantasy explain how to handle a variety of dungeon delving-related activities, such as breaking in and acquiring loot, but Action offers far more detail on social aspects of adventuring. This is intentional! Dungeon Fantasy abstracts "town" to a place where PCs roll a few dice to buy and sell things, rest, and find information and jobs; in Action, those tasks are part of the excitement!

While, the following sections explain how to handle those situations from Action not covered by Dungeon Fantasy, the two rulesets overlap on a couple of topics:


Getting In (Action 2: Exploits, p. 18-23) and Breaking and Entering and Dungeon Design (Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, p. 7-8 and p. 16-19) cover how to get into places and the sorts of physical obstacles PCs are likely to encounter. In all cases concerning structures – e.g., doors, bars, traps, etc. – use the rules from Dungeon Fantasy, with the single exception that BAD determines the quality of devices. For example, in a BAD -5 dungeon, Lockpicking is at -5, but the lock's HP and DR remain unaffected.

Getting In also covers getting to the dungeon, which is thoroughly covered by GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures; use those rules whenever applicable. It also includes a few useful rules for climbing and parkour, namely Tossing Lines and Rappelling (Action 2: Exploits, p. 19) and Spinning (Action 2: Exploits, p. 20).

Remember that in all cases, characters who excel at the necessary skills for a situation can use Got You Covered (Action 2: Exploits, p. 5) to assist their less talented companions. This helps keep the party together and shines the spotlight on characters built for such challenges.


Grabbing Goods (Action 2: Exploits, p. 23-24) and Searching the Bodies, Dead Monster Bits and Loot (Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, p. 13-14) address acquiring things that don't necessarily belong to the delvers, but Dungeon Fantasy clearly focuses on finding, identifying, and carrying off cartloads of loot. When the goal involves picking pockets or planting objects on others, use Lifts and Pulls (Action 2: Exploits, p. 23), and monster hunters (Pyramid #3/47: The Rogue's Life, p. 20), justicars (Pyramid #3/10: Crime and Grime, p.4), and kidnappers will all find Live Capture (Action 2: Exploits, p. 24) useful. Always apply BAD to Search rolls to locate deliberately hidden objects and people.


The first step in any Dungeon Action game is to investigate what the party is up against. Such preparation is crucial to party preparedness and allows them to formulate a plan.
Information Gathering

Where Dungeon Fantasy relegates all intelligence gathering to a couple of die rolls, Action makes this part of the adventure. Most of the advice in Gathering Intelligence (Action 2: Exploits, p.11-14) applies, with a couple of changes:

Physical Searches allows searching corpses with Esoteric Medicine, an appropriate specialty of Hidden Lore, Occultism, or Thaumatology, but Deduction is only possible with Intelligence Analysis. Any number of knowledge skills may come into play for complimentary skill rolls! Use Hazardous Materials (Magical) to safely gather magical substances and Alchemy to analyze them; the latter may require [an alchemy lab. Lastly, the See Secrets spell can be extremely potent for physical searches, but remember that it only works on intentionally hidden objects.
• Audio Surveillance and Video Surveillance are perfectly possible with spells like Far Hearing for Listening, Memorize for taking mental snapshots in conjunction with Photography, and Projection filling the role of Endoscopes.
• Bugs, Beacons, and Wires; and Intercepts (Action 2: Exploits, p. 12-14) do not apply as written, but see Magical Surveillance (below)!
Dumpster Diving is particularly appropriate during excursions to sewers or while sifting through trash heaps in slums – beware of slimes! Area Knowledge (Town) and Urban Survival make good complimentary skills for knowing where the best tidbits should be.
Files and Records are only useful where large repositories of information exist. Thankfully, fantastical cities always seem to possess extensive libraries (see The Golden Geniza of Ezkali, GURPS Pyramid #3/38 – The Power of Myth, p. 4), vaults of dusty scrolls, secret collections of forbidden books, extensive government archives, etc. Gaining access to such repositories may require Social Engineering (below) – especially Making an Impression (Action 2: Exploits, p. 15). Forensic Accounting makes sense for finding clues in government spending (don't forget to use a complimentary Administration roll to navigate the forms!), complicated mafia bookkeeping, or even just to audit a wealthy merchant's assets for signs of any evil plans. Quick Searches can benefit from a variety of complementary skills – basically any knowledge-based skill the player can reasonably justify – especially Wildcard skills such as Businessman!, Hunter!, Lore!, or even Servant! (see GURPS Power-Ups 7 – Wildcard Skills, p.  28-35)! In all cases, any number of information spells can yield valuable information, too.

Character Knowledge is excluded in Action, but should definitely matter. Any character may roll against any knowledge skill – Architecture, Expert Skill, Geography, Hidden Lore, History, Occultism, Thaumatology, Theology, etc. – as deemed appropriate by the GM – to already know a bit of information. Remember that ruling out possibilities ("Well, it definitely isn't demons!") is as important as knowing the answer!
• Magical Surveillance can grant access to otherwise unattainable information. Glass Wall allows mages to use Observation and Lip Reading to spy through solid walls, and Far Hearing to eavesdrop on any visible conversation without the need for Lip Reading. Wizard Eye and Wizard Ear serve as an Audio Bug or Video Bug, except they move under the mage's command. The mage rolls against Stealth to move the eye or ear without it being noticed or Camouflage to hide it; both move silently. Remember that the -7 from SM applies to the Quick Contest to spot it. Naturally, employing an Invisible Wizard Eye or Invisible Wizard Ear negates the need to hide it unless magical vision comes into play. Trace allows a mage to track a target as if he were using a Tracker, and Divination can replace almost anything under Gathering Intelligence altogether!

Information gathering is an excellent place to make extensive use of the PCs' secondary and background skills, either directly or as complementary skills to other rolls. This lets characters leverage their place in the world against the challenges they face. For example, a former street urchin knows where the nobles dump their trash, and prissy noble can access esoteric government budgetary records and decipher them with ease. Also, remember to keep a running tally of all results; these rolls are all complimentary to the Intelligence Analysis roll to deduce what is going on (see Plan!, below).

Social Engineering

Dungeon Fantasy delves little into the social arena, so use the rules from Action for Social Engineering (Action 2: Exploits, p. 15-17) with the following exceptions:

Bribery works like normal, except the bribes and bonuses are as follows: $30 for +1, $150 for +2, $600 for +3, and $3,600 for +4.
Making Them Talk – excluding Polygraph and Truth Serum – works as is. Use the Polygraph rules to model the use of lie-detecting magic, except roll against Truthsayer, plus any complimentary skill modifiers from Body Language and Detect Lies. For truth potions and infusions, use Truth Serum, but roll against the higher of Alchemy, Herb Lore, and Pharmacy (Herbal) to brew a dose, and replace Physician with Esoteric Medicine to determine appropriate dosage. Getting someone to imbibe a concoction can prove difficult; if Influence skills and trickery fail, use a grappling skill to pry open his mouth and force it down. See Concoctions (below) for an alchemical example.
Magic can greatly aid Torture, both by boosting survivability and extending consciousness via Vigor and by wracking the body with Agony, Choke, Hunger, Pain, Thirst, etc.

In Action, Brainwashing takes too long because even technological means are slow, but in Dungeon Fantasy, a wide range of spells – such as Command, Enslave, or Loyalty – can accomplish this in little time. Brainwashing remains a mundane countermeasure to such magic, in addition to the typical host of counterspells.

Characters should take advantage of Fitting In (Action 2: Exploits, p. 16) to further emphasize their place in society – the thief epitomizes lowlife, while the aristocrat (GURPS Pyramid #3/64: Pirates and Swashbucklers, p. 4-5) should be at home in high society. Also, remember to keep a running tally of all results; these contribute to ACT (Action 2: Exploits, p. 17), just as Information Gathering rolls do.


Whether it's in a seedy tavern, a quiet inn room, or around a campfire half a day's walk from the dungeon, adventurers would do well to plan out their next steps before truly beginning their delve. The rules in Planning (Action 2: Exploits, p. 17) codify the entire pre-delve information gathering mission into a tangible modifier for future rolls during the delve itself. Not only does this help mitigate BAD later on, but it can help reveal just what the players are up against. This way they don't bring a wooden stake to a werewolf hunt!

Remember that pulling together the plan requires Intelligence Analysis or its default (IQ-6). This roll takes a penalty determined by the GM – usually at least equal to BAD, but it is offset by ACT.
Sometimes hirelings and allies lack delving-critical skills. Make use of The Training Sequence to temporarily teach hirelings and followers skills they may need; for example, a holy warrior may teach a gaggle of guards Physiology (Demon). Any skills bestowed on Allies last for the duration of that specific adventure unless bought with points (via PC point increases or buying up that Ally to a higher percentage of PC point total).


Whether it is executing a plan or trying to collect vital intelligence, at some point, the party must take action. The following sections cover a variety of tasks that Dungeon Fantasy either lacks or handles differently.


The rules for Chases (Action - Exploits, p. 31-36) offers an excellent mechanic for handling any sort of pursuit, be it on foot, horseback, chariot, or even ship. Use it. Replace any skills for operating technological means of transportation – Bicycle, Driving, Parachuting, or Piloting – with those for low-tech conveyances – Boating, Riding, Running, Shiphandling, Swimming, or Teamster.
Out of the Frying Pan...

As mentioned in Multi-Party Chases (Action 2: Exploits, p. 34), the chase rules are intended for use with a single pursuer and quarry, but when you've got to run through a dungeon, it isn't hard to pick up extra trouble. The easiest way to handle this is to resolve each chase separately, but allow the quarry only one maneuver. If the relative position of the pursuers matters, treat multiple groups in the same range band as at Close Range (see Simplified Range, Action 2: Exploits, p. 31 and 36) to each other (and within range of getting caught in area attacks together).

If a chase picks up a "bigger fish" who pursues the pursuer, split the chase into multiple chases and use the advice from Three-Way Chases (Action 2: Exploits, p. 34).

Remember that all multi-party chases will require many GM judgment calls and probably a little fudging. GMs should always defer to what is fun over what a specific rule states in such affairs. This is Dungeon Action – it's all about being Awesome.


ID cards rarely turn up in fantasy games, but that doesn't mean there's no need for other forms of Deception (Action 2: Exploits, p. 26-27). The following adjustments tailor its tasks to the fantasy genre:

Cleaning can help dispose of corpses and evidence of a struggle or crime. To plant evidence or alter a scene to read differently – e.g., make a robbery look like vandalism – roll against IQ-6, since there is no Forensics skill, but don't worry! With a lack of Criminology, anyone trying to determine what happened merely by looking at the scene rolls against the better of IQ-5 or Psychology-4. And don't forget such useful magic as Clean, Create Acid for dissolving corpses, Create Water, and Purify Air to wash away the fetid stench of zombie!
Cover-Ups aren't usually orchestrated by action fantasy protagonists, but a group who wants to mislead their adversaries can use the advice given (and the voice of a trusted agent or bard) to hide their true intentions from their rivals and foes. Convincing the right people – caravan drivers, foreign visitors, innkeepers, etc. – is key to disseminating stories throughout a region anytime news must travel by mouth.
Fake IDs may sometimes grant delvers access to places they typically couldn't reach, be it the royal library or the Evil Overlord's hidden layer. They may sometimes need to spot fake IDs, as well. To create a fake, use a forgery kit and roll against the worst of Forgery or the relevant craft skill to duplicate signet rings and seals, and simply against Forgery to write fake documents. Validating Tokens requires a Quick Contest of Vision (when comparing a token to existing records), Heraldry (Seals) (for validating seals, signets, and stamps), or the highest of IQ, Administration, Literature, etc. (when examining a token's contents) versus Forgery.
• Falsifying Records is often required to mislead enemies, alter public opinions, pass forgeries, and other deceitful activities. Use Paper only, and remember that topic of the falsified or altered document may set a skill cap based on its contents: Geography for regional accounts, Hidden Lore for esoteric subjects, History for seemingly accurate historical records, Literature to mimic well known authors, Poetry for crafting "legitimate" epics or torrid love poems to the king's wife, etc.
Fooling Polygraphs applies to thwarting Truthsayer in its role as a magical lie detector. A person not magically compelled to speak the truth may make a Quick Contest of the best of his Will, Will-based Body Control+5, or Will-based Fast-Talk, both modified by half the margin of success of a Hide Emotions spell, versus the caster's Truthsayer skill. Success on the subject's behalf gives the caster the impression he is honest; a tie or success on the caster's part gives an accurate reading of the subject's truthfulness.
Impersonation needn't be restricted to humanoids; druids can use spells like Beast Possession, Shapeshift, etc. to pass as cats, rats, or other commonly ignored creatures. Use your initial spell roll, complimented by Acting, Animal Handling, Disguise (Animals), Mimicry (Animal Sounds), and Naturalist, in the Quick Contest when actively observed.

Two new sections are worth mentioning:
• Heraldry: If you want to pass as part of another family, clan, tribe, etc., you will require more than just a cunning disguise. You will need the proper insignias, banners, colors, crests, etc.; these often serve as identification. Forging these requires the usual Forgery roll, but Heraldry serves as a potential complimentary skill.
• True Names: Most people go to great lengths to conceal their true name, because it more than identifies them – it defines them. The perk Known Name (see p.00) grants you knowledge of a single, specific entity's true name and all of the power that carries. Hiding your own true name requires potent magic beyond the ability of most mages, but some people and things may lack true names altogether (see Zeroed, p. 00).


Every quest doesn't have to be about slaughtering orcs in their homes; it could be about sealing antediluvian horrors inside ancient tombs! Other times, the Evil Overlord has already constructed a doomsday device, rebuilt a tower fortress, or otherwise needs a large scale structure for his plans. Destruction (Action 2: Exploits , p. 24-25) offers two pages of interesting ways to make large things into piles of small things. For flammable constructions – e.g., wooden orcish forts, hobgoblin trebuchets, etc. – any pyromaniac wizard or elementalist should look into Arson, and no demolisher (GURPS Pyramid 3/36 – Dungeon Fantasy, p. 4-7) in his right mind (if such a thing even exists!) would skip the rules for Blowing Stuff Up. Artificers can find an entirely new niche when exploiting Sabotage and Setting Traps – a section scouts and thieves can also exploit to great effect, too. Even wizards can get in on the action:

• Sabotage: While the Making and Breaking College is an obvious fit, a variety of Technology spells find new use here. Glitch and Malfunction can cause all sorts of machines to work incorrectly – millstones get jammed, rudders lock, etc. Machine Control can allow a caster to cause a machine to operate inappropriately by manipulating the controls himself; e.g., pulling the lever on a drawn crossbow at an inopportune time, releasing the ratchet holding an anchor in place, tugging on the reigns of a draft team, etc. Stop Power can stop any machine from functioning, even low tech ones. For example, a water wheel keeps turning, but inexplicably, it doesn't drive the bellows to which it is attached; or no matter how a ship is positioned, the wind refuses to fill her sails. And Shape Metal can cause all sorts of trouble if creatively applied to anything that incorporates metallic components – e.g. extruding copper nails so they don't securely fit, transforming a spearhead into crinkly foil, or making a helmet too large for its wearer.

Getting Away

Typical dungeon delvers leave nothing but bodies behind, but characters in a Dungeon Action game may need to be more subtle. Thieves, in particular, benefit from Getting Away (Action 2: Exploits, p. 27), but bards, swashbucklers, and any other roguish types would do well to exploit these rules to avoid unnecessary trouble, too. Indeed, entire parties may need to conduct their delve over multiple trips, in which case, escaping safely and unseen may be paramount. See Chases (p. 00) for more information on cheesing it.

Providing Security

Almost all of Providing Security (Action 2: Exploits, p. 27-30) is useful for delvers at some point in time, from protecting their dungeon-bound caravan to escorting wounded companions to safety. In fact, the only section not applicable is Electronic Security, but see Magic Security, below. Use Bomb 

Disposal in one of two ways:

Mundane Bombs should be handled normally, with no access to Electronics Operation (Security) for locating them.
Magical Bombs include any sort of rune, charm, or magical trap that might be "detonated". Use the same rules as for Finding Bombs, except Ritual Magic, Symbol Drawing, and Thaumatology may all serve as complimentary skills, and Magery can make detecting the presence of magical traps trivial.

Defusing such magic should begin with Analyze Magic to identify which spells comprise the trap. Next, diffuse the bomb with any of a targeted Counterspell, creative use of Suspend Spell, or Dispel Magic. Regardless, the person doing so should beware other hidden spells set to go off should the original one be tampered with.

The following section largely replaces Electronic Security:
• Magic Security may be accomplished using the usual spells from Information Gathering (p. 00) to perform area surveillance, Sense Observation to detect spying attempts, Converse to encrypt spoken conversations or Message for long distance chatter, Scryguard or Scrywall to prevent magical surveillance, or Scryfool to broadcast false information via enemy "bugs." Detect Magic and Mage Sight can help locate bugs, as can See Invisibility (Magic). Additionally, Know True Shape, Sense Foes, and Watchdog are of particular use with Checkpoint Security (Action 2: Exploits, p. 29).

Hurt Them Plenty

If there is one thing that defines dungeon delving, ti is ultra-violence. Unlike normal Dungeon Fantasy,  Dungeon Action games should focus on the action itself and less so on tactical battle maps. Use the normal rules from Dungeon Fatantasy 2: Dungeons regarding fighting, but keep it abstract; tracing everyone's exact location slows things down. Instead, use range bands for ranged combat (see Simplified Range, Action 2: Exploits, p. 31 and 36), and generally avoid Tactical Combat (p. B384-393) except in special situations, like boss fights.


The templates offered throughout the Dungeon Fantasy line specifically exclude a variety of traits as useless or not particularly fun. While fitting there, many of those find use in Dungeon Action games. The easiest way to rectify this is to simply give an additional 15 points to be spent among the following skills and advantages and to let players substitute any disadvantages here for optional ones on his template. Alternatively, the GM may require characters to purchase social traits with existing points or points gained from quirks; this will detract from delvers' standard roles.


A number of advantages are only relevant when social situations come into play. As such, Claim to Hospitality, Contacts and Contact Groups, Fashion Sense, and Social Regard should be made available to players designing their own characters or adapting existing ones to a Dungeon Action game.

Additionally, the following new and existing advantages are available:

Business Savvy

5 points/level
This new Talent gives +1 per level (maximum four levels) to Accounting, Administration, Gambling, Merchant, and Propaganda. You gain a reaction bonus from anyone you do business with. This is a slimmed down version of Business Acumen.


p. B54
GMs should consider allowing players to buy Favors with unspent points in play, especially if using GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys. Favors also make excellent rewards.

Legal Enforcement Powers and Legal Immunity

p. B65
Many Dungeon Action games grant Legal Enforcement Powers and Legal Immunity, both with Informal (see GURPS Supers, p. 33) as a campaign feature. This allows adventurers to apprehend mooks and minions, interrogate criminals, start bar fights, damage civil property during fights in town, etc., all without repercussions. If this is not an underlying assumption, the players should be forewarned. Full versions of both advantages are suitable for town guardsmen, bounty hunters, secret police, spies, etc.


p. B29
Anyone who belongs to a guild, military or paramilitary group, organized religion, or works for a government has Rank – even if only Rank 0. This confers the usual benefits, but also permits Assistance Rolls (see p. 24 and 25).

Start Box

Assistance Rolls

Assistance Rolls rarely make sense in a dungeon unless contact is made via magic or psi powers, but so long as the group is still in town and in the good graces of their patron or organization, they're reasonable. Examples include the following:

Backup: NPCs at most equal to the PCs in number built as 125-point henchmen arrive quietly in 1d+10 minutes (in town) or 1d days (outside of town). They are lightly armed, generally unarmored, and should sport specialty skills, rather than a combat focus.

Cash: As per GURPS Action 1: Heroes, p. 24.

Cavalry: As backup (above), but fully armed and armored with a combat focus. They're not quiet. AR is at -5 if made "just because." +5 if you were sent into harm's way.

Equipment: Goods worth no more than the cash (above) you can acquire. This can replace lost gear, supplement expedition necessities, etc. You can requisition gear worth double this if it's for show and you'll return it in pristine condition, but if it isn't, you're liable for its full cost! You must pick up the gear in person or wait 1d days for a courier to deliver it. AR is at +5 if gear is vital to a mission on behalf of your organization, or at -5 if the gear is flagrantly self-serving and unnecessary.

Henchmen: A 62-point henchman for day at Rank 0, three days at Rank 1, a week at Rank 2, a month at Rank 3, a season at Rank 4, or a year at Rank 5+. You must pick up your henchman in person.

End Box


p. B28-29
A character's Status grants him a number of benefits, from reaction bonuses to invitations to exclusive parties. Most characters will be Status 0 or higher – less than that typically means you are a bum, laborer, serf, or slave. Status 0 represents typical freemen, guild members, or wealthy peasants; Status 1-2 are upper middle class merchants, craftsmen, and poor nobles; Status 3-4 often lesser nobles and courtiers. Status 5-6 is typical greater nobility, high officials, peers of the realm, and at Status 7, the King.


p. B100
You are the nameless wanderer, the mysterious wizard, or the assassin who’s forsaken his sense of self in favor of an ever-shifting visage. Divinations reveal nothing of you, and Information Gathering (p. 00) attempts yield no results. Any new records of you are lost or mysteriously vanish. This can be a function of fate or mere luck. If you lack even a True Name, take the following new enhancement.

New Special Enhancement

Nameless: You have no true name. As a result, you are completely immune to all affects that rely on true names to function. If you merely lack a true name, this is worth +0%, but if this stacks with the usual effects of Zeroed, it is worth +100%.


The following disadvantages help seat characters socially.


p. B133-134
Delvers with Duties should feel their impact, but because adventures may result from that duty, this can be lost in the action. Follow the advice for Duty (Action 2: Exploits, p. 45), but instead of cutting PCs out of replacement budgets – which don’t exist in Dungeon Action –, impose fines (government penalties), damage belongings (thieves' guild enforcement), cause inconveniences (being blacklisted or intentionally gouged by merchants), etc.


p. B135
Adventurers in Dungeon Action games may acquire a variety of Enemies, from rival delving parties, to government-created adventurer oversight committees, to aspiring evil overlords. Enemies may provide the basis for an adventure, but be careful not to use this too often; enemies can provide distractions, side quests, misinformation, traps, etc. as well.

Mistaken Identity

p. B21
This can range from being a nuisance ("Hey, aren't you that bard from that play?") to truly inconvenient ("You stole my sheep! You've got a lot of nerve!"). Even noxious mistaken identities ("There's the guy who keeps raising zombies in the graveyard!") confer mild perks. For example, those zombies might mistake you for their master!


p. B152-153

Secrets can range being descended from Elder Things to being an infamous assassin to being the rightful heir to the throne. The consequences of revealing your secret will certainly make life in town more difficult, but even monsters may react negatively – divine servitors of Good always target you first, evil wizards always try to turn you to their side, orc tribes keep taking you hostage in exchange for a kingly ransom, etc.


The following skills find new use in Dungeon Action games.


p. B174
Whether its laundering your loot to dodge taxes or pouring over tomes of budgeting records to root out corrupt noblemen, Accounting is the skill for you. It is particularly useful for Forensic Accounting (Action 2: Exploits, p. 14).


p. B174
This is the skill of cutting red tape, extracting information from reports, and navigating large organizations, be them governments, guilds, or otherwise.


p. B186
A useful skill for anyone who enjoys ancient tomes or hiding their own research, Cryptography has a place among sages and most magic users. Aristocrats and fighters use it to pass secure messages, and buccaneers and thieves use it to less scrupulous ends.


p. B194
Primarily a skill for the demolisher (GURPS Pyramid #3/36: Dungeon Fantasy, p. 4), thieves use it for disabling explosives contained in traps, and buccaneers (GURPS Pyramid #3/64: Pirates and Swashbucklers, p. 5-7), dungeon artificers, fire elementalists, and wizards all use this skill to create bombs. Even some fighters handle explosive siege ammunition during their careers.


p. B200
This isn’t just about keeping your inn room clean; it’s also about cleaning up evidence, dead bodies, bloody demonic seals, etc. Any time you want to cover up involvement in something messy, this is the go-to skill.

Intelligence Analysis

p. B201

This is the skill for putting two and two together. Use it whenever you try to use information and clues you have gathered to figure out what is happening, where it is happening, who is involved, how they will do it, and why they want it to go down. This is particularly crucial for Planning! (p. 17).

Tools of the Trade

Dungeon Action games require access to new gear not normally useful in Dungeon Fantasy games.

Special Order Gear

Restraints & Live Capture Gear (Pyramid #3/47: The Rogue's Life, p. 21-22) offers a lot of useful special order gear. Some other valuable items include the following:

Counterfeiting/Forgery Kit. Basic tools for Counterfeiting and Forgery. $100, 5 lb.

Magical Substance Collection Kit. Collection of alchemically-treated vials, spatulas, forceps, and probes that serve as basic equipment for Hazardous Materials (Magical). $150, 10 lb.


Elixir of Truth (Drinkable). Must roll against Will-5 to tell a lie. Lasts 1 hour. $1,100, 0.5 lb.

Moonfire (Grenade). Globe of silver powder floating in a flask of clear liquid that releases a blinding, deafening burst when broken; do not drop. Anyone looking toward the burst must roll against HT-5, +1 per yard from blast. Failure results in a Hearing and Vision penalty equal to margin of failure; any critical failure results in Blindness and Deafness. Roll against HT-5 each turn to recover. $100, 1 lb.

Starmist (Grenade). Glass globe of white putty floating in a small amount of alchemist's fire. When broken, it creates a 5-yard radius cloud of thick white smoke. The cloud completely obscures all forms of vision and lingers for 60 seconds outside on a calm day. The putty emits bluish-white as a candle. $100, 1 lb.

Magical Items

Projection Circlet (Projection). Allows the wearer to project his mind up to 2 yards, as per the Projection spell (Magic, p. 105). $10,000, 0.5 lb.

Horn of Far Hearing (Far Hearing). Small ear horn. By holding the horn to your ear and aiming it, you can hear any sounds whose sources you can see. $8,000, 0.25 lb.

Mask of Purification (Purify Air). Leather mask. DR 2 protects the lower half of the face (roll 1d, protects on 1-4), excluding the eyes. Gives immunity to normal and magical inhaled threats. $60, 0.5 lb.

Cone of Silence (Scryguard). Obsidian cone on a gold stand. Any information spells targeting a 2-yard radius area centered on the cone of silence – or anything therein – must win a Quick Contest against 15. They still detect the presence of the cone, however. $6,000, 2 lb.

Scry Detector (Sense Observation, Seeker). Forked rod. On activation, the GM rolls a Quick Contest of 15 vs. any information spells currently affecting the user. On a success, the caster learns of any, and the GM makes a second against 10 + margin of success of the first roll. On a success, the user learns the location of one person or object spying on him per point of margin of success. $20,000, 1 lb.

Night Shades (Night Vision). Spectacles. Grants Night Vision 9 to the wearer. $4,150, 0.5 lbs.

Ivory Ear (Wizard Ear, Memorize). Once activated, it records every sound it hears until deactivated. Whoever holds it can cause it to mentally replay its last recording. $30,000, neg.

Cat's Eye (Wizard Eye, Memorize). Cat’s eye stone. Once activated, it records everything the "cat's eye" sees until deactivated. Whoever holds it can cause it to mentally replay its last recording. $43,500, neg.

Looking Glass (Glass Wall). Hand mirror. Allows holder to see through a single wall or other barrier – up to 4' thick – against which it is pressed. $12,000, 1 lb.

About the Author

Timothy "Humabout" Ponce studies engineering and serves as a staff writer for the AIAA at UCF when he’s not scaling (artificial) rock walls or crossing swords in The Fencing Knights. His love of science fiction extends back to his childhood and led him to role playing via Alternity as a pastime at track meets. Ever since, gaming has been part of his life, often vying for time with sleep and video games. He couldn't have written this article without the loving support of his other half, Julia. He'd also like to thank to the Pyramid Write Club, but the first rule of Write Club is “Doug will grapple me if I talk about Write Club.”


  1. I have thought about posting some of my older drafts too, but I hold out hope that I will sell them eventually. :/

    1. You know, I don't have the time to do any new writing these days, so I figured I might as well put out what I've got so people can have access to them. I'd like to get back to writing eventually, but unless I'm producing work regularly, I don't want to just have these collecting dust. Part of me always felt weird selling them, anyway.