Friday, February 15, 2013

Levels in the temple

One of the advised conceits in D&D is the correspondence of dungeon level with character level. If you're level one, you should stay on level one of the dungeon. If you're level two, venture down to level two, and so on.

This is violated quite a bit, especially later on, but it's still at least implicit in 1st edition. Needless to say it doesn't work in GURPS, since GURPS doesn't have levels.

It can be broadened out to say, "Further down means more dangerous," and fortunately this is the way the Temple operates; they expect you to be around level six or seven by the time you hit Temple level three. So how am I going to salvage this in GURPS? I don't quite know.

I've spoken before (as have many others) about the difference in the power curve between GURPS and D&D. In fact, it's more accurate to describe them completely separately. Nevertheless, I want to preserve the feel of the temple, transitioning down to tougher monsters as the party grows stronger, and having the party grow stronger, rather than presenting a roughly homogenous difficulty that only slowly grows.

The first part of this is figuring out the rate of advancement. For my game, I want the PCs to hit 250 points, the base point value for the DF templates, by the time they finish level 2 of the Temple. This strikes me as fairly fast advancement (though it remains to be seen if I'm mistaken about that), since the PCs are starting at 150 points. Nevertheless, I can tie point rewards to geographical features. For example, once the PCs discover the secret room on Level 1 (disclaimer: I'm not looking at the map at the moment; I don't know if one such exists) they get ten points. If they recover the treasure horde in room 136, it so happens that's enough to earn them 5 points when they go back to town, for paying off their debts. You get the idea. Extra rewards (for roleplay, awesomeness, or whatever) will be above and beyond, so that it's possible to advance faster if they play well, or slower if they play poorly. (One could argue that I should place more points, because the assumption is that the PCs won't find every treasure, but looking at

Every twenty-five points is a 'level', for purposes of building new characters. If your character dies, your new character gets his last point value that evenly divided by 25. (So, if your character had 186 points, your new one gets 175. Don't die.)

So much for characters. Unfortunately I doubt I'll be able to give too much in specifics on this blog, but one of the stats to write down for treasure hoards, secret rooms, and other desirable areas is character point value.

For monsters, the process is a little more difficult. I want to maintain roughly the same constitution in the temple; if AD&D players are fighting githyanki in the temple, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy players should also be fighting githyanki. However, numbers obviously need to change; HP does not an interesting encounter make. However, I discussed this in more detail in a recent post.

Still, I'm hoping that skill level may make a difference. I understand that 14 is the minimum level to challenge 250 point DF characters. Maybe 12 will work with less skilled PCs. Still. I understand there's a fairly hard lower level of skill that matters. Hmm.

Unfortunately, it looks like what I'll need to do is put together a skeleton crew ("This room has at least one ogre; this room has at least a roper and three trolls.") based around what the module says, then tweak it in play to actually fit. Unfortunately I don't have the experience to do otherwise. This is distasteful to me, but there it is. I suppose it's all right so long as I haven't given any hints of a contrary nature about what's to come if I bump the bugbear count from two to fourteen before the PCs hit the room.

I can at least map out relative difficulty levels in the module from room to room and use those to guide my placement, if nothing else.


  1. I really like the idea of tying advancement to a mix of items rather than monsters killed + treasure (as in AD&D) or the basic GURPS award.

    I am interested to see how all of this works in actual play, particularly the start at 150 points instead of 250 recommended in GURPS DF.

    1. That's one of the things I look forward to seeing as well, and reporting to you guys. Either way, another data point helps, right?