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These two servant zombies are meant to be part of a roleplaying game that I am planning (yes, I am burning time). Their names are Marlamas and Uthon, and they are in the service of the Hierophant of Harnolsipor's third chapter.

Mostly they are living in the zombie stables where they are feed horseblood to keep them awake and agile. But sometimes they are out on service with the servants or troops of the Hierophant.

Not that they are able to notice the difference.

#art #drawing #mywork #krita #rpg #penandpaper #roleplaying #GURPS #zombies #servant
 

GURPS: the RPG that got me back into RPGs


I've been thinking a lot about GURPS (the Generic Universal Role Playing
System) mostly because I've been thinking about the system and what I
want out of a role playing game.

I ran into GURPS in the late 2000s, just after JoDee and I got married.
For whatever reason I was primed to look at Role Playing Games again and
GURPS stood out as a role playing system that could do literally
anything. The rules were really comprehensive and I enjoyed the idea of
rolling under a particular number for success. The advantages and
disadvantages system made sense for me and I could see beauty in how it
balanced taking the bad with the good.

I got hooked on the books and started purchasing them at a fever pitch.
I waited with bated breath as e23 reprinted digital copies of
supplements that I didn't get to purchase when they were new. I scoured
eBay for GURPS lots. I adored that GURPS books were usually based on
earth (as Ken Hite always says: "start with Earth!". Over time I built a
library of GURPS books that I was proud to have.

I evangelized the system wherever I could. If someone asked for a system
I would think about it for a bit but generally recommend GURPS as
something to try.

I built characters. True, I didn't build great characters (that comes
with practice and patience, something that I'm not particularly great
with) but I still enjoyed seeing how the various pieces fit together. It
sparked a part of my game design brain that had laid dormant for a
while.

As time progressed though I started finding other systems. Fudge was a
system that I had previously ignored (Fudge Dice? Why should I buy
different dice! Pshaw!). That lead me to Fate. I also looked at True 20,
D6, Basic Roleplaying System, and many others that I've either forgotten
or briefly encountered. For me learning about these systems was more fun
than playing the games.

But something happened. As I started discovering other systems I started
feeling like GURPS wasn't the end-al-be-all system (Actually that would
be EABA, the End All Be All system, but that's a joke that I'll leave
for now). I found whenever I wanted to play GURPS that it took more time
to try to build a character, and those characters (because I wasn't
skilled in making them) didn't really capture what I wanted them to do.
I found myself at odds with the system where the balance that I
previously enjoyed was now hampering what I wanted from a character.
(Again, this is totally on me for not practicing this).

I also lurked a lot in the Steve Jackson Games forums for GURPS. One
thing that I kept seeing were questions on how to model things in GURPS.
Those topics were never interesting to me. I know for some they want to
know in excruciating detail how the Blues Brothers car manages to fly
through the air the way it does. For me it's OK to say that it does and
move on. That was my first insight into why I was starting to move away
from GURPS: GURPS answered questions that I wasn't interested in
answering.

The second thing that I started noticing is that I was gravitating more
toward open-licensed games. Games like Fudge, True 20, and early
versions of Fate had an Open Gaming License. This license allows for
folks to reuse parts of the game engine without having to negotiate a
separate license. Later, Fate Core adopted a very permissive Creative
Commons License. The license also introduced me to games like Eclipse
Phase, Dungeon World, and many others. GURPS on the other hand has a fan
license that was very permissive for the time, but feels restrictive
compared with the Open Gaming License and the more permissive Creative
Commons Licenses (eg: excluding the "no-derivatives" licenses).

What I've learned in the 10+ years is that while I still have a soft
spot for GURPS it really hasn't matured with me as I have matured. The
questions it answers are not the questions that I find interesting
anymore, and the style of role playing that it offers doesn't excite me
anymore.

I used to get excited when a new line of products for GURPS was
announced. After taking a break from the product newsletters I realized
that my enthusiasm was inertia, and I was trying to pursue nostalgia for
those moments when opening a GURPS book was akin to opening a new world
for me to explore.

I still adore the world books of GURPS (they set a really high bar for
research and excellence) but it's time to let other folks enjoy this
system. As someone who has a hard time letting go of things that I've
invested time and effort into learning and acquiring it's hard sometimes
to realize that they're no longer giving you any joy. I think it's time
I let myself find joy in the other systems I've already embraced.

I wish nothing but good things to the people who still enjoy GURPS and
enjoy playing it. It's a solid system that truly shines for the
questions it does answer and the experience it offers. For the curious I
would suggest checking it out to see if it offers you any of that joy.
GURPS Lite is a quick way to get a small taste of the system and its
capabilities. GURPS is what got me back into this hobby and I am
eternally grateful that it provided me an excellent on-ramp. But now I
wish it every critical success (roll 3d6 = 3) as I choose a different
path to explore.

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#Adayinthelife #GURPS #RolePlayingGames
 

The Fate Accessibility Toolkit, or why it'll take me a while to really play GURPS again


First off I would like to state that I have loved GURPS as a game. I
have evangelized it for a while and still consider it one of the most
solid systems for modeling games that focus on physical reality.

That said I think that the Fate Accessibility
Toolkit
is going to
make playing GURPS a lot more challenging for me simply because it
pointed out one of the things that I just accepted about the system as
true without really questioning what I was accepting.

The Fate Accessibility Toolkit is a supplement for the Fate Roleplaying
Game. It was pitched by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry to Evil Hat
Productions
as a bridge that "brings characters
with disabilities into your game and supports players with disabilities
at your table." Too often roleplaying games with disabilities tend to
focus on what a character can't do (losing a limb, temporary blindness,
loss of sanity, etc.) and not what the character is still capable of
doing. Disabilities in games tend to sideline characters until they are
"made whole" again, either through fantastical medicine or through some
other form of treatment.

At the beginning of the book Elsa makes her purpose very plain: "As a
game designer, I feel like the biggest gift I can give to players is the
ability to see yourself in the universe you play in. We aren't yet at
the point where disability inclusion in games is universal. It’s not
seamless, and it could be. Disabled players still can’t just play
disabled characters because the tools aren't there: it’s negative point
scores, possibilities for death just because you use a wheelchair—in
fact, there aren't even mechanics for how wheelchairs work in most
games. They’re vehicles, and they should have their own rules.". This
reminded me a lot of my experiences creating a character for GURPS. In
order to stay below the magic point number I had to take some
disadvantages to offset the advantages, quirks, and skills that I wanted
my character to have. A disadvantage like "Bad Smell" is 10 points. "Bad
Eyesight" (needing glasses) is 25 points, but "Blindness" is 50 points.
"Flight" as an advantage is 40 points (assuming that your GM and your
character can support it). "Mind Control" as an advantage is 50 points.
So GURPS as a game considers blindness as a high-level disadvantage.
"Deafness" is a 20 point disadvantage. (Never mind that GURPS also puts
all of their mobility disadvantages under the "Klutz" disadvantage).

I'm not here to pick on GURPS in particular. GURPS has a long history of
trying to model the world we live in and a "give and take" idea of
balance in the system. It's an idea where you are not going to create
perfect characters and each character will have interesting flaws that
the GM can use in the game. But what it does is it sends a signal to
those who are disabled that what they're going through is simply there
to help keep characters from being too powerful and too perfect.

I'm looking forward to reading more of the Fate Accessibility Tooklit. I
recommend it got all game designers and folk who ae welcoming to those
who aren't like them. Evil Hat is trying to raise funds to purchase
artwork for the book so please consider picking up a copy of the book
for your collection.

accessibility-toolkit

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#Adayinthelife #RolePlayingGames #Fate #GURPS
 
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Sunday 7th May 1854 - Day 5 part 2

Mythical London Shared Universe.


Dramatis personae:
Kerryn - [Leece]- Adventurer who has lived among the Inuit.
Augustus Abelgoff - [Rob]- Antiquarian, surveyor and amateur mountaineer with experience in Scandinavia.
Sam (Samantha) Drydale - [Elaine]- Hunter and explorer with arctic experience.
Chris Heyerdahl - [Richard]- Hunter and prospector with arctic experience.

After descending the tower the group (well Augustus anyway) decided to head east towards the presumed source of the beacon (the yellow square on the map). After a short distance one of the keen nosed hunters noticed the small of carrion. Diverting a short way they found the remains of 3 humanoids. Inspection of the teeth suggested they were not strictly human but there was not much else to go on as they had been skinned and stripped of meat.
Heading further East the party stumbled into a scary zone that messed with the danger sense of the two sensitives. Nearby was another empty broken building. Further east another bare circular patch alarmed the sensitives wile a family of oversized rodents chittered angrily at the intruders. A few hundred yards on there was another building which had been modified to provide a defensible campsite. Inside there were signs of viking occupation. Another few hundred yards on and another building. The party bypassed this one. More slogging on and another building was spotted. As they headed towards it there was a scream from the rear and people turned around to see one of the trailing Marines being hacked down by a band of Vikings. A melee ensued and the Vikings were soon downed. Effective use was made of the caplock revolvers and Augustus brought his shotgun into action. Sam got a glancing axe blow to the leg but was in no real danger. The Vikings were, of course, another batch of skeletons that had been hiding in a pit covered by snow. The party took care to truss the fallen marine to one of the ladders an headed back home.

Nearing the tower one of the trackers spotted something odd with a snowdrift they had crossed earlier that day. It seems that the snow had been smoothed over and their tracks had been re-created. Some poking around triggered a noose on a springy rope trap. The party carefully headed back to the wall poking suspiciously at various places that would be good places to set traps. Near the city wall they spotted that the indigenous family had been poking around near the entrance. The party exited the city and rejoined with their guards and were soon heading back to the camp.

#rpgplay #gurps #blackcity

Earlier posts can be found using the #blackcity tag.
 
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Sunday 7th May 1854 - Day 5 part 1

Mythical London shared universe.


Dramatis personae:
Kerryn - [Leece]- Adventurer who has lived among the Inuit.
Augustus Abelgoff - [Rob]- Antiquarian, surveyor and amateur mountaineer with experience in Scandinavia.
Sam (Samantha) Drydale - [Elaine]- Hunter and explorer with arctic experience.
Aseir - [Gary]- A young noble of the Winged Folk (a GURPS Fantasy race) with temperature tolerance and great ambition.
Chris Heyerdahl - [Richard]- Hunter and prospector with arctic experience.

Overnight, the temperature dropped back below freezing and the rain briefly turned to snow before drying up. Kerryn had a restless night as his watchdog alarm kept going off long after the spell should have expired. In the morning he went aboard the Great Western and put together a trade package of attractive foods to possibly make contact with the white haired locals. Then he was off to one of the druids to see if there was a cure for his locked spell. "I don't suppose you know Dispel Magic? No? Hmm, how about Counterspell? Of course not, no-one learns that any more. Okay, try this then, go back to the location, you do remember the location? Good, then re-cast the spell over the top of the original casting. If that doesn't unlock it then go see my colleague this evening."

The party gathered together with their Marines ad headed off back to their entry point of yesterday. Sam noticed that the family of white furred people had been out to inspect the snow fort. After splitting off their entrance guard the party proceeded to the site of the watchdog spell so that Kerryn could re-cast it. The casting went well and only time will tell if it was successful. Then it was off to the building that the group visited yesterday. Almost 30' square with about 10' above the surface and about 5' buried. A ladder was placed against the side of the building and the roof was quickly gained. In one corner, protected by a slanted slab was an opening just over 3' square. Another ladder was set up and the interior was explored. The top floor was divided into 5 rooms and the lower floor was a single room. In the largest room of the upper floor were some human remains wrapped in a cloak but everything was crumbling at the slightest touch. The lower floor was empty and the party spent some time examining the metal door. The metal was silvery with very little corrosion and did not deflect a compass needle. Eventually the corpse was disturbed and crumbled to dust but a belt buckle and a knife were recovered. The buckle looked like viking work but the knife was of the heavy black metal and was an unfamiliar design with a wavy blade.
The party then headed Northeast to another building they could see about 700 yards away. Two (two!!) of the party have danger sense and started getting uneasy as they neared the building. There was some mucking around including a brief scuffle while the party investigated a patch of bare ground that was disturbing the sensitives. Eventually after dragging a ladder on a rope across the patch it was deemed possibly dangerous but non threatening. Proceeding to the new building the party found another square building with the same layout but this time cut off at the first level but with a a basement. Nothing interesting was found inside but some experiments were tried with the door and it slid open for a couple of inches before sticking. Eventually the party backtracked to the first building and pushed on to a third building around an equal distance to the Southwest. This building was a ground floor and basement like the second building but here the door was open by about a foot. Inside the ground floor had been used as a camp possibly within the last decade or two. There were bones from snow hares and the skull of a dog sized carnivore that the naturalists decided was like an oversized weasel. Among the other bones was a possible human femur that had been sharpened on one end and decorated. It was similar to tools that the humanoids were carrying.
After this the party backtracked again to the first building and headed off to the tower. Aseir did some reconnaissance and spotted two statues at the top of the stair and a door that they were flanking. He also spotted movement on the ground to the East and West of the tower. Strangely, all of the humanoids that he has encountered here have well developed and effective responses when they spot a person in the air. After a quantity of mucking about a detail of 4 Marines was left in sight of the base of the stair while the rest of the party headed up. Again everything stopped when they came within sight of the statue with glowing green eyes at the top of the stair. After more mucking about Aseir managed to ascertain that there was a glowing green band around the door and both statues had eyes glowing green. Non-players can read more about the original versions of the statues here. My version are somewhat smaller and have different powers. Incidentally Gary is a stonemason and has a weight calculator on his phone. My version are about two meters across and a similar amount high and come out to around 30 tonnes.
It was determined that the statues can track people out of direct line of sight and divide their attention between multiple groups. At some point the party heard rifle fire from below and found out via a shouted conversation that someone had been creeping around the base of the tower towards the base of the stair.
About this point the session ended. Being GURPS players, the party has a tendency to demand infinite detail for everything they examine. I had to remind them that most locations have only a one line description and while I will build additional detail if requested everything past that first line is not significant. The day will continue next week.
#rpgplay #gurps #blackcity
 
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Saturday 6th May 1854 - Day 4

Mythical London shared universe.


Dramatis personae:
Kerryn - [Leece]- Adventurer who has lived among the Inuit.
Augustus Abelgoff - [Rob]- Antiquarian, surveyor and amateur mountaineer with experience in Scandinavia.
Sam (Samantha) Drydale - [Elaine]- Hunter and explorer with arctic experience.
"Wozzer" - [Matt]- Mining engineer with arctic experience.

The map scale is 3 squares to the mile, the top of the map is east. V is the viking encampment that is being excavated. A is where the marked trail from the viking encampment enters the city. X marks two locations where large statues with glowing eyes have fired on previous mapping parties. The dark grey square marks where a tower is visible.

During the previous summer the first British expedition encountered the Black City while following up on rumours about he lost Franklin expedition. The southern boundary of the city was mapped and a draughtsman was sent up on a kite to produce an approximate map of the rest of the city. Four towers were visible and their locations were carefully plotted as well as the source of the beacon visible in the enchanted telescopes. After mapping the periphery the expedition tried to reach the beacon site but disappeared without trace. The matter would have probably languished there for a few decades except that diviners from the Royal Circle of Druids declared that the city was vitally important. It appears that Queen Victoria whispered into to the ear of Lady Alcyone who virtually runs the Royal Society and a plan for an expedition was hatched.

The plan for Saturday was to make a foray to the closest point of the city and head towards the southernmost tower. When our party arose for the morning it was quite gloomy as low overcast had rolled in and a light drizzle was falling. The winged folk princeling muttered darkly about the dangers of icing up and retired to locate some de-icing fluid which smelt suspiciously like good navy rum. Chris managed to twist his ankle and the druids suggested that he sty off it that day as they had been busy with the healing spells the previous day.
With the idea of leaving a better guard at the entrance of the city an extra 4 marines were attached for the day. Kerryn hitched up his dogs to the sled and the party set out for the city wall. With no visible landmarks the group navigated by compass ending up a few hundred yards north of where they intended. A suitable gap in the wall was located and the heaped snow was shovelled out and a sort of snow fort was created to enclose the 4 sentries and the sled dogs. Kerry cast the Nightingale spell on the gap which would alert the sentries if anyone tried to pass it. Our party had acquired a bundle of thin poles with a brightly coloured flag on each one to use as markers. The first one was planted to mark where they had entered the city and and Kerryn cast a Watchdog spell to let him know if anyone tried to tamper with the flag. Unfortunately he made a critical fumble casting the spell although I assured him that the spell seemed "just fine". Inside the city the drizzle was noticeably lighter, There were patches of snow on the ground but also patches of clear ground. There are a profusion of low bushes several of which will produce edible berries. There are also a good number of snowshoe hares bouncing about. A bit of a search was made of the area and Augustus made a lucky discovery of a near perfect smokey quartz crystal about a foot long and around an inch and a half across.
About 500 yards in the party encountered a building. Windowless slab sides made of black rock with broken walls where the top floor had probably been smashed and no sign of a roof. A scout around the building turned up a door - some kind of metal hatch unfortunately buried in rubble at least 4 feet deep. A bit of experimentation showed a grappling hook could be tossed over the broken walls and it was stable enough to give relatively easy access to the upper story. There was a flat floor (roof?) with partial walls and a more or less sheltered area in one corner with a bit over 3 foot square hole into the building. A few of the party poked around and looked to see what could be seen. Another building was just visible to the Northeast and a third to the Southwest. Their target tower was dimly visible just South of East and to the north an enormous statue loomed out of the misty rain.
Our party squished North to examine the statue. Standing about 10 yards tall the statue featured scales, a fish tail, tentacles and a head with tusks and bulging eyes. Notable there were signs that someone had once attempted to dig down to the original ground level around the statue. After some mucking around in the spoil heaps where a rusty tool fragment was found the base of the statue was cautiously approached and some rubbing were taken of a band of random raised dots that circled the plinth. Similarities were noted to the French system of raised dots used to create writing for blind persons. Our party returned to the building and headed off in the direction of the tower.
Half way to the tower location the mages in the party noticed a distinct bump in the local mana level. This persisted for about 200 yards but no other effects were noted. Now in clearer view the tower is about 100 yards tall and about 30 yards across up to half way and about 20 yards across thereafter. A single external staircase winds up the outside of the lower climbing to the ledge in a single turn {Note to players:Yes, I described it as 60 yards across on the night but I was wrong}. Near the top of the tower there were a number if geometric projecting shapes reminding the party vaguely of gargoyles. As they approached the tower Augustus looked around and announced they were crossing some kind of road that ran Northeast to Southwest. Sam piped up that people were using it because she had spotted a few human-ish tracks in a patch of snow, "Three smallish people or sub-adults and one child heading Southwest".
No-one was visible nearby so the party started to trudge up the stair. As they came around the tower the lead marines spotted a large statue with glowing green eyes positioned at the top of he stair. This was just what they had been warned about so they hurriedly backed up out of sight. Some discussion was had and some attempts were made to toss the grappling hook up onto the ledge above them. As the was nothing for the grappling hook to catch on they kept failing {maybe I'll succeed if I make a better roll}. Coming back down as the base of the stair cam in sight the lead marine spotted "People sir. One large 4 medium and a child sir. White clothes or maybe fur, sniffing around the base of the stair sir." As soon as the party was spotted the child was bundled up and the group retreated to the Southwest. The party continued to descend the stairs and retraced their steps back to their sentry group outside the city where they stopped for a meal before heading home.

Elsewhere during the day:
One of the viking experts organised a sweep along the beach beside the viking encampment and found "at least 40 viking origin stone anchors and a fair quantity of burnt wood fragments among the stones".

Yesterday.
Day one.
#rpgplay #gurps #blackcity #hexcrawl
 

Thursday 4th May 1854 - Day 2 - Mythical London shared universe.


The morning dawned bright and early at around 2am. Some hours later our protagonists arose and started preparing for their first expedition. Kerryn sorted out his dogs and harnessed them to his dog-sled and most of the others prepared their skis. Accompanied by a Sargent and 8 Royal Marines the group headed South to investigate the circular feature Aesir had spotted yesterday. Two hours of tramping, gliding or lounging on the sled brought the group to the site. Along the way some snake tracks were spotted which caused some confusion until Kerryn volunteered that the Inuit have stories about poisonous furred snakes. They also have stories about lots of other monsters too. A bit further on an old set of Polar Bear tracks was seen (I was making rather disappointing rolls on the encounter dice so I decided that missed by one means tracks). The feature was located in a shallow valley in some low hills protected from direct sight if the city. The team first dug a trench through the snow across the feature and discovered a course of laid stones forming a circular feature about 5 yards across. Within the laid stones was a tiled floor consisting of several colours of Pentagonal and diamond shaped tiles. Some magical detection and investigation was done and it was determined that the stones were most likely formed using some variation of earth to stone and they had decayed traces of other spells that possibly indicated it supported some magical structure. While this was happening Kerryn set up to provide hot drinks and lunch. When he chose a flat rock to set up his stove he spotted some Norse runes reading something like "Hrothgar waited here" ... there was some disagreement about the exact translation. This prompted the others to clean up the foundation stones looking for inscriptions. To their surprise they found writing in a script something like Arabic. They took rubbings after lunch and then packed up to head home. Some cursory investigation of some rubble piles was made put people were more keen on heading back to camp.
Back at base camp they reported to Dr Jackson who was well pleased with their efforts. He summoned an middle east expert who had come to look at the coins and he confirmed that the writing was Persian calligraphy contemporary with the coins found in the viking encampment. The text appeared to part of a ritual phase used in enchantments and the summoning and binding of djinni.
I awarded each member of the 1 character point for a successful hex explore.

Day one is here.
#rpg #gurps #blackcity #hexcrawl
 

Wednesday 3rd May 1854 - Mythical London shared universe.


So the players have arrived at the Black City after an uneventful voyage from Liverpool on the SS Great Western which has been purchased by the Royal Society (at fire sale prices) to transport expedition members to the site. The site is on the Greenland mainland near Upernavik. As they approached the inlet they spied a man shaped Inuksuk guarding the location. During the approach one of the organisers gave the party a look through an enchanted telescope so that they could see what attracted attention to the area. Through the telescope a bright beacon reaching into the sky was visible. Waiting in the inlet there were two Royal Navy frigates waiting at anchor. On shore there is a small cluster of tents and industrious construction and archaeology work.
The expedition leaders, Dr. Cyril Jackson of the Royal Society and Commodore George Crozier of the Royal Navy came aboard to welcome the main party and brief the special party of our protagonists.
Kerryn - [Leece]- Adventurer who has lived among the Inuit.
Augustus Abelgoff - [Rob]- Surveyor and amateur mountaineer with experience in Scandinavia.
Sam (Samantha) Drydale - [Elaine]- Hunter and explorer with arctic experience.
Aesir - [Gary]- A young noble of the Winged Folk (a GURPS Fantasy race) with temperature tolerance.
Christopher? - [Richard]- Hunter and prospector with arctic experience.
The site was discovered last year during searches for the lost Franklin expedition. Franklin also had one of the limited supply of enchanted telescopes (Which the navy uses to gauge the intensity of distant storms) and appears to have diverted here and his expedition was lost here. The burnt wrecks of his two ships are occasionally visible at low tides. At this location there is the remains of a Viking encampment of at least 4 longhouses surrounded by a rough wall of stones. A number of finds from last summer were displayed, the prize one being a Viking pattern spear head made of an unknown black metal (it is worth noting we are talking antiquarians rather than archaeologists in the modern sense doing these excavations). Attention was also drawn to the unusually large proportion of 13th Century Persian coins. Such coins do turn up in viking hoards but here they make up over half of the found coinage. A rough map of the black city was produced based on observations from kites and ground surveys. The one party that penetrated the city disappeared without trace. Several places were marked where large statues had fired on surveyors approaching the walls various magical effects. Warnings were made about polar bears and other hostile wildlife including a story of a caribou corpse in the hills that looked like it had been hacked apart by "a party of madmen with axes".
The party gathered their gear and went ashore to sort themselves out and start acclimatising. One of the party immediately decided to take a solo walk about 7 miles along the shingle beach past the city to a small glacier marked on the map. It was only with difficulty that he was dissuaded ( I consider it bad form to kill PCs on the first session ). Aesir did some reconnaissance flights and discovered some previously unsuspected trail cairns leading to a circular structure about 4 miles south of the camp. It was decided to visit there the next day ( I had to hastily extended the map to cover the new area).

#rpg #gurps #blackcity #hexcrawl
 
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