New Advantages in Delvers to Grow

Gaming Ballistic’s Delvers to Grow by Kevin Smith doesn’t just bring lightning fast Dungeon Fantasy character generation for GURPS and DFRPG, it also introduces a bunch of advantages and perks you may want even if not using the character module system presented within. Some are imports from GURPS not previously available in DFRPG, some are new takes on familiar advantages, while a couple are brand new. All are useful!

But to me, it is even more important how some show that it’s perfectly fine to do some things which are often considered non-kosher by the fanbase, proving that the system is robust and can be further streamlined without breaking anything.

Expanded Bardic Talent

Not content with your bard only able to learn spells from the Communication and Empathy, Knowledge, Mind Control and Sound colleges? Take this instead of regular Bardic Talent and add one of Animal, Healing, Illusion, or Protection and Warning to the list!

Fevered Defense, Mighty Blow, Two-Weapon Training, Walking Armory

The former two perks introduce their namesake extra effort combat options to DFRPG, while the latter two are ports from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 3: The Next Level and Gun Fu, respectively. Naturally, Walking Armory is adapted for the Dungeon Fantasy genre.

Herbaceous Mastery

This allows druids to brew healing potions and natural preparations using the Dungeon Brewmasters rules from Pyramid #3/82, briefly reprinted here and adapted for use in DFRPG. Essentially, it is a maximally limited Quick  Gadgeteer allowing druids to serve as solid party healers.

Heroic Spellslinger and Weapon Master (Missile Spells)

One of the long-standing complaints against GURPS Magic is missile spells taking forever to use in combat. With these two, mages are able to sling fireballs as quick as scouts shoot arrows. While it’s right and proper that they cost as much as the two equivalents for archers, there’s still a bunch of regular spells that can have at least the same effect on a battlefield in roughly the same time, and those don’t require you to invest 20-45 points in order to be able to do so. Still, this is as much as missile spells can be fixed without reworking the core of the magic system.

Rapid Switch

A simplified combination of the Reverse Grip and Quick-Sheathe techniques from GURPS Martial Arts in perk form, this lets you switch between different weapons as a free action, stowing away the old weapon and drawing the new one. It even allows you to switch between weapons not allowing for Fast-Draw as a Ready maneuver.

Master at Arms

Dislike the need to specialize in a single weapon to be an effective combatant? Sad that your players sell all the nice magic weapons you place as loot simply because they lack appropriate skills to use them? Unsure if weapon skill talents are fine? This talent is for you! It does have a solid prerequisite, but it adds +1 per level to all skills allowing attacks and active defenses, at a very reasonable price. Personally, I really hope this will encourage more GMs to allow weapon skill talents, and use more talents in their games in general.

Scroll Scribbling

This leveled perk is essentially a severely limited version of Gizmo allowing you to to prepare temporary scrolls. It’s too slow to use in combat and the scrolls expire rather soon, but anyone can use them!

Soul Warding

Don’t like how Holiness is only useful for some holy abilities? This import from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 20: Slayers for Holy Warriors is a great step in making Holiness more useful. It gives DR against attacks from demons, and you could easily build an equivalent for other thematically appropriate foes.

Vanishing Act

A pet peeve of mine was that Backstabbing could only be used at the start of combat in DF and DFRPG, while GURPS Action, Monster Hunters and After the End have expanded it to be usable multiple times during combat itself. This advantage finally backports this to DFRPG and reduces the penalties for doing so.

Wrestling Master

This is a port from Pyramid #3/111, including an adaptation for Fantastic Dungeon Grappling. I’m very glad Wrestlers were included in Delvers to Grow and otherwise feature prominently in Gaming Ballistic’s offerings. 

New DFRPG Kickstarter: Delvers to Grow

Gaming Ballistic has launched a new Kickstarter project. Delvers to Grow by Kevin Smyth is a DFRPG supplement scratching two common itches: character creation taking too long even with the distilled ruleset and 250-point characters having too many moving parts for players inexperienced with the genre. Both have one thing in common: too many choices, and DtG reduces this down to just half a dozen major ones per character while still producing effective, flavorful characters at 62, 125 and 187 points fully compatible with the DFRPG profession templates.

Delvers_Mockup_SMALL
Art by Ksenia Kozhevnikova.

I had the privilege of running a bunch of playtests at the 125-point level, and I can confidently say that DtG delivers what it set out to do. It was a meatgrinder scenario where characters would die often and each player would create several different characters during a 4-hour session. Some players reported character generation time (including gear and spells) as low as 10 minutes, even complaining that half of that was wrangling with GCS or GCA. Now for first-timers this will likely be higher, 30 minutes seems to be an average. Even for those with no prior DFRPG experience whatsoever or those who get overwhelmed with too many options, it shouldn’t take longer than an hour and they’ll have a fully fledged character ready to throw some dice at the table.

DtG achieves this by having each character built from a base template (one for each of three categories of characters  – “strong”, “fast” and “smart” – at each of the three point levels), up to four 25- or 50-point profession and “upgrade” modules, and two -25-point disadvantage modules. Finally, each character chooses a couple gear packages and in case of casters, one of several spell lists available for each profession. Unlike the 250-point profession templates, you get no more than a couple choices within each of the base templates and modules, and many of the modules offer no such smaller choices at all. If this seems too constraining – it really is not, because the way you can mix and match the modules results in a wide variety of builds even within a single profession. You can always loosen it up if more customization is desired – DtG is simply a tool to speed up character creation, not a prescriptive rulebook to follow to the letter or else.

Aside from being a great DFRPG resource, DtG left an important impression with me. While the endless options and fine granularity of GURPS character generation are one of the main reasons why it’s my favorite game, over the last year or two I grew to like “profession” templates very much as a tool for illustrating character archetypes, effective builds and even setting flavor for any given game. I like the chunkier, simpler evolution presented in DtG even more and will seriously consider it for all my GURPS material going forward. And if anyone asks me what should be done to get more new players into the GURPS ecosystem, my first answer will be “this”. So much this.