Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Updated Dungeon Action Formatting

This is just a quick note. When I originally uploaded my free article, Dungeon Action, my main concern was getting it online as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that meant that the formatting left the article somewhat difficult to read. I have since gone back and fixed the formatting so that it is easier on the eyes, although I still have yet to put the section on Assistance Rolls in its own box. This will eventually happen, but I just don't have time right now to make the table for it. Hopefully, you will be seeing another post like this in the coming weeks about the final changes to the article.

And for those of you wondering what Dungeon Action is, it's a merging of the rules for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and GURPS Action! to provide the tools necessary to run any sot of high-energy, cinematic fantasy game. You can still dive down holes to kill monsters for their stuff, but now you can also adventure in Town, plot against the king, wage war on corrupt lords, rob the Adventurers' Guild, shake down mob bosses, get into high speed carriage chases, conduct psychological warfare, and anything else you can imagine. So without further ado, here is a brief preview:

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.


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 CleanCreate 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 PossessionShapeshift, etc. to pass as cats, rats, or other commonly ignored creatures. Use your initial spell roll, complimented by ActingAnimal HandlingDisguise (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).

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.

If this sounds interesting, be sure to check out the full Dungeon Action article here!

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