Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GURPS101: Accessibility Modifiers For Number of Skills

Just a quick post on the number of skills in GURPS by their controlling attributes and then computed into Accessibility modifiers for advantages (GURPS Powers, p. 99). What can you use it for? No idea, but is probably will be useful at some point. This intentionally excludes required specialities for skills as that may fluctuate depending on the genre, TL, etc.

Accessibility Modifier of Skills by Count
The GURPS Basic Set has a grand total of 277 skills. Of those, 146 of them are IQ-based, 93 of the are DX-based, 12 of them are Per-based, 13 of them are HT-based, and 13 of them are Will-based. Using GURPS Powers we get the following then:
  • "Accessibility, Only IQ-based skills" (-20%)
  • "Accessibility, Only DX-based skills" (-25%)
  • "Accessibility, Only Per-based skills" (-40%)
  • "Accessibility, Only HT-based skills" (-40%)
  • "Accessibility, Only Will-based skills" (-40%)

So what if you want to have an Accessibility for two (or more) attributes? Just combine the total number of skills and divide by 277. For example
  • "Accessibility, Only IQ or DX-based skills" (-5%)
  • "Accessibility, Only DX or Per-based skills" (-25%)
You can even group them by "physical skills" (DX and HT skills) and "mental skills" (IQ, Per, and Will).
  • "Accessibility, Only mental skills" (-15%)
  • "Accessibility, Only physical skills" (-25%)

Picking Over the Bones
Note, the skill counts are from the Basic Set alone - I sincerely doubt it'll affect the numbers above. This was a quick post designed to be helpful to GMs building powers. Did you find this useful? Would you like to see more posts like this? Less?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Boil and Bubble: Sorcerous Video Game Spells I

Ohhhhh, yeah. It's that time again. The time for me to scavenge treasures from the past and turn them into Sorcery spells for GURPS. So what's up first? Well, I asked three random folks what spell they'd like to see for Sorcery and these were the things that popped up (and interested me).

Cureja - Final Fantasy
Keywords: Area (Fixed), Obvious.
Full Cost: 138 points.
Casting Roll: IQ.
Range: Line-Of-Sight.
Duration: Instantaneous.

You instantly heal everyone within 4 yard area that you can see 20 HP. You may selectively choose who is healed and only injuries are cured. Disease, toxins, afflictions, etc. are unaffected.

Statistics: Healing (Area Effect, 4 yard, +100%; Injuries Only, -20%; Increased Range, LOS, +40%; Nuisance Effect, Cannot spend FP to increase effect, -10%; Ranged, +40%; Reduced Fatigue Cost 10, +200%; Selective Area, +20%; Sorcery, -15%; Variable, Area, +5%) [14/die].

Gra - Phantasy Star ("Black Hole")
Keywords: Area (Special), Obvious.
Full Cost: 73 points/level.
Casting Roll: IQ.
Range: 100 yards.
Duration: 10 seconds

This conjures a tear in gravity that damages everyone in the a specific area. Consult the table to determine the effects:

Area                Effect
1-yard              1d crushing damage per level which erodes DR like a corrosion                              attack (p. B00) and the below effects.
2-yards             -1 to all Vision rolls per level and any ability that relies on vision                          and the below effects.
4-yards             Target must make roll vs. your level of this spell x 5 or be pulled                            forward. The maximum weight you can affect at level 1 is 5 lbs.                            and it moves at a rate of 5 yards/second. You can affect higher                                weights, but it's slower: 10 lbs at 4 yards/second; 15 lbs. at 3                                  yards/second; 30 lbs. at 2 yards/second, and 50 lbs. at 1                                          yard/second. Higher levels increase the ST of this effect adding 5                          a level. Use the chart on p. B17 to determine your maximum                                  weight and the rate that it travels.

Additionally, you may choose to vary both the damage, Vision penalties, and TK effect if you wish.

Statistics: Crushing Attack 1d (Area Effect, 1 yard, +25%; Cancellation, +10%; Cosmic, Erodes DR, +100%; Increased 1/2D, x10, +15%; Link, +10%; Magical, -10%; No Blunt Trauma, -20%; No Knockback, -10%; Persistent, +40%; Underwater, +20%; Variable, Area, +5%; Variable, +5%) [14.5/die] + Obscure 1 (Vision; Cancellation, +10%; Extended, All, +100%; Link, +10%; Magical, -10%; Ranged, +50%; Variable, Area, +5%; Variable, +5%) [5.4/level] + Telekinesis 5 (Area Effect, 4 yards, +100%; Attraction, Ranged, -20%; Based on IQ, +20%; Cancellation, +10%; Dissipation, -50%; Increased Range, x10, +30%; Link, +10%; Persistent, +40%; Requires IQ Roll, -10%; Sorcery, -15%; Variable, Area, +5%; Variable, +5%; Visible, -20%) [51.25/level].

Kabuff - Dragon Quest
Keywords: Area (Fixed), Buffing, Obvious.
Full Cost: 64 points.
Casting Roll: IQ.
Range: 100 yards.
Duration: 3 minutes

Everyone within a 4 yard area gains a +1 to Active Defenses, +1 to HT rolls to survive death or KO, and DR 4 with the Force Field enhancement (p. B00).

Statistics: Affliction 1 (Area Effect, 4 yard, +100%; Defense Package, +530%; Selective Area, +20%; Sorcery, -15%) [14/die]. Notes: "Defense Package" is Damage Resistance 4 (Force Field, +20%; Magical, -10%) [22], Defense Meta-Trait (Magical, -10%) [27], Hard to Kill 1 (Magical, -10%) [2], and Hard to Subdue 1 (Magical, -10%) [2].

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Carpe Blogiem: Author, Patreon, and Blog Highlights - August 2017

Here's the highlights for me from August 2017.

Authorial Highlights
  • I had to backburner projects for Combat and Hot Spots and Locations for another article I needed to work on right now. I shifted an article from one theme to another which freed up space in my Thaumatology queue for something that S. A. Fisher and I are writing (FANTASTIC stuff! Seriously, it's really neat). This still leaves Action, Alternate GURPS, and After the End - all of which I have ideas for or partially completed items. I didn't get the one article submission in I wanted, but lots of stuff came up and really - GENCON.
  • I rejiggered my workflow for a while (though it didn't last long enough for me to see if it's an improvement). We'll see.
  • My article "Deathtraps" came out. It's essentially the traps I didn't want to put into the DFRPG: Traps book because they were a bit too complex or just too kill-y. You can find my Designer's Notes here.

Blog Highlights
  • Hurricane Irma has impacted the revamping of the blog (my designer lives there) and instead of a September deadline it's looking more like October. 
  • I got to play around with the Wordpress.org interface and I'm finding it almost superior to Blogspot on ease of use. We'll see.
  • I've continued plodding along with articles being delivered on Tuesday and Thursday of every week.

Patreon Highlights
  • The Patreon revamp is finished and I didn't hemorrhage pledges or patrons as much as I feared. Thank you everyone for sticking with me. I won't disappoint you!
  • I got 1 new patrons in July and $6 of additional pledges for Patreon.
  • This month's patreon specials consisted off a new Sorcery spells and a way to treat fake IDs using Alternate Forms.
  • We reached a new goal! "Set the Balloon People Free!": Patrons will get the option to release one previous special or current special to all patrons and all non-patrons once every other month or release that month's $1 special to everyone. This kicks in next month so y'all figure what you want.
Miscellaneous Related News
  • I continued work on a fiction piece I'd like to self-publish later this year.
  • GenCon was amazing in every way shape or form. I'm going back next year - this time under my own steam. Being able to meet people in person and talk with other industry folks just blew me away.
  • There is a kitten who is trying to get adopted by me. I'm worried it might have FIV, but I'm probably going to trap it and take it to the vet to get checked. If he's FIV-free...he's coming in the house and will be trained like I trained Nimbus. That way my kitteh boy has a companion.
  • Mom continues to convalesce at my sisters and will likely have a surgery to fix her knee soonish.
  • +Emily Smirle joined my C-Team after +Mavrick Fitzgerald had to bow out. Sad that Mav is gone but hey, WE GOT EM!

Friday, September 8, 2017

GURPS101: FP Cost Limited by Margin

So one of my players and I got to talking about how you might design an ability where the FP cost were variable depending on how well you rolled to activate it. This got me to thinking - how the heck could I do something like this? I eventually came up with a conclusion that wasn't uber clunky and thought I'd share.

To do what is needed you'll want the following three modifiers:
  • Reduced Fatigue Cost (+20%/level) (p. B108)
  • Limited by Margin (varies) (Pyramid #3/9: Space Opera, p. 16)
  • Optionally, Costs Fatigue and/or Requires (Attribute) Roll for traits that lack those two things (p. B111 and GURPS Powers, p. 112)

Now, with a bit of mathamagic you just combine these modifiers in a workable way to get the result you wish. First, if the ability doesn't have a activation roll and it's meant to be an active ability add Requires (Attribute) Roll. If it doesn't require FP to use add whatever level of desired amount you wish with Costs Fatigue - I wouldn't go over 10. Next, add Reduced Fatigue Cost modified by whatever level of Limited by Margin you wish. Do note that this can increase the cost of abilities that do note natively require FP.

A few examples:

Burning Innate Attack  4d (Costs Fatigue, 2 FP, -10%; Reduced Fatigue Cost 2 (Limited by Margin, Full-power at 2+, -10%), +36%) [26]

Healing (Reduced Fatigue Cost 10 (Limited by Margin, Full-power at 10+, -50%), +100%) [60]

Picking Over the Bones
The idea is sound, but due to some oddness with Costs Fatigue you can get an ability that is worth more character points than not having it. I think one way may be to simply treat "Reduced Fatigue Cost" as worth +5% when combined with "Costs Fatigue." That seems sooooo much fairer to me. In that case, that innate attack might look like this:

Burning Innate Attack  4d (Costs Fatigue, 2 FP, -10%; Reduced Fatigue Cost 2 (Limited by Margin, Full-power at 2+, -10%), +9%) [20]

I think that is much fairer in price even though it amounts to what is effectively a feature for the ability.

What do you think? Silly? Stupid? Did I go to far? Not far enough?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Organizing Your Gaming Notes

Any gamemaster (or writer) worth his salt always has more ideas than he has time. These ideas may be half-baked, over-cooked, or perfect and fully formed like Athena on paper from your Zeus-like noggin. It's just a hazard of the mindset - too much stuff floating in our heads and too much "what if" thinking - if you're like me anyways. So what do you do when the Best Plot Ever (TM) comes into your head while you are showering or driving? I've got a few ideas, tips, and tricks and I thought I'd share.

Getting It All Down
Making notes is an art form. There is a process to it. A flow. It's different for each person because each person thinks and learns differently so you'll need to tweak the process. At a minimum I suggest the following:
  • A catchy title to sum up the note.
  • Three to five sentences to encapsulate the idea.
  • Keywords related to the note.
  • Anything else related such as a diagram, math, etc.
Bad notes are worse than no notes and can lead to lots of frustration when trying to remember that brilliant idea. Take your time when making notes. Be precise. Use simple, clear language that you can understand later on and never abbreviate things. If you can't get it down immediately a few quick notes are fine, but then go back over and write it all down so you can use it later.

Light Bulbs Love To Turn On At the Worst Times
They really do. In the shower? YUP. While driving? OH, YES. While having a dream where you see yourself standing in a sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you? No? That just me then? Ok, let's move on. Ahem. Anyways, the thing here is that the idea shows up when you least expect it - much like the Spanish Inquisition. So what can you do as a young vibrant stud of a GM (or writer)? I like to use the following methods:

  • Get a crayon (you can use a grease pencil, but crayon is better) in a bright color (e.g., red) or black - you can always bet on black, Wesley said so - and keep it in the shower, bath, pool, etc. Got an idea? Make quick notes on what it is so you don't lose the thought and then go back and fill them out later as noted above.
  • Get a voice recorder (or Voice Recorder app - they are VERY common. I like Tape-A-Talk , those EverVoice looks useful for Evernote users) and actually use it. Voice notes can be extremely helpful, the only issue is transcribing it later on.
  • Keep a pocket notepad, pencil and/or pen on you at all times. Again, this is low-tech. You can use note-taking apps on your smartphone or tablet to do the same thing - I like Evernote, but Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote do the same things.
  • Keep detailed notes on your computer (back up often!) or in a notebook (make copies!) so you can access them later. Keep them on your phone if you can using any of the above mentioned apps. Basically, have them with you when you need them. This is one of the things that smartphone has fundamentally changed for me. Access to all my notes right when I need them? Heck yes.
  • Keep post-it-notes or similiar in multiple rooms of the house you frequent often to make quick notes when you need them.

Picking Over the Bones
I'm sure there are things out there I'm missing - but these are my go-to-practices regardless of what I'm writing. It could be for my games, for Pyramid, for this blog, fiction - whatever. It pretty much works for anything.

What things do you like to do? What are your best practices? What software, devices, etc. do you use to keep your ideas?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

GURPS101: Alternate Forms as Fake IDs

One of the more interesting ideas I had lately was treating Alternate Identity as if it were an Alternate Form. I figure I'd go through the basics of the concept and see if it's worth developing further...

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Boil and Bubble: Utility Spells for Sorcery Part I

GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery is one of those magic systems that looks simple on the outside, but hides a deep well within. Since at its core it basically is what makes GURPS great - the ability to modify a trait to suit the needs of the designer...

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gamemaster's Guidepost: My Rules For Spending Points

Some people let you spend willy nilly. Some (like myself) will only let you spend points at certain times. Some are point nazis ("Ve must spenct zee hours and zee points! SCHNELL"). However you you do them is all gravy with me. But this is how I do it for pretty much every single game I run:

So my general rules for advancement - regardless of campaign, genre, or point total (though I rigorously enforce #2 in games with points over 1,000):
  1. The character points gained per session for the first 3-5 sessions are between 3% and 10% of points of average or beginning point total, with a variance of about 50%. After that it drops to 1/5th that rate. If you want slow advancement using the lower range, faster, use the upper. About 5%-6% usually suits just about any game. So a a 200-point game you might see 10-12 points for the first 3-5 sessions, and then 5-10 points from there on. This isn't absolute as I like to write specific rules for point gains for given settings based on the setting rules, its background, etc. Also note, a lot of this assumes some sort of point economy like Impulse Buys. When that's out of the picture I'd probably cut the initial points by half again, but I rarely do that so I usually ignore that part.
  2. No character may upgrade until say so is given. Period. I do this because it's weird as hell to suddenly be better at Guns/TL8 (Pistol) and the time elapsed in the campaign could be less than 10 minutes between sessions.
  3. Character points gained can only increase skill, attribute, or advantage by a level at a time. In some campaigns, skills can be bought up to attribute instead of a level at a time when initially bought.
  4. Disadvantages can only be bought off at one trait (a level if applicable) at a time. Doing otherwise is probably ok for some things - otherwise your character is just changing to quick to be recognizable as what he or she started as.
  5. The first three gaming sessions you may spend points freely on things you character would have, but both you and I have forgotten. For example, if you're from a fishing village and don't have Fishing. (You may also shift points around a bit, but that's a whole other thing.)
  6. If I offer to allow you to buy a attribute, advantage, skill, etc during game you may immediately spend points to do so and treat whatever as if you had it. This is usually the result of a critical success (almost always a natural 3 or 4), being impressive or awesome in some way that just stops the game (I like to encourage this), or when I allow quick learning under pressure to come in ("You're traveling in the jungle with a professional guide who is showing you the ropes, spend a point if you like.")
  7. You can earn extra points by acting in genre, working with your teammates, or in general just being awesome roleplaying. Again, I like to encourage these things so I bribe players to "Do the right thing."
  8. Probably other stuff I'm forgetting specific to certian genres.

Picking Over the Bones
I know not all GMs have rules like this - in my case it makes it so that the PCs don't inflate themselves in one area and ignore others. When you can only purchase stuff in a specific way you end up become more balanced a character and that always works out in the end.

What sort of rules do you have for spending points as a GM? Anything special? Anything your fellow GMs can use?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

GURPS101: Attribute Synergies

Another of my "micro-rules" this time expanding on the idea of Complementary Rolls (GURPS Action 2: Exploits, p. 5; GURPS: Social Engineering, p. 21, 31, 48), but using attributes instead.

How It Works
Attribute synergy uses the same rules as complementary skills rolls - make a roll and give a +1 to another roll if you succeed, -1 if you fail, -2 if you critical fail, or +2 if you critically succeed. Any roll can benefit from attribute synergy from another attribute except when rolling that attribute itself. For example, you could use DX to enhance a damage roll, but not ST since damage is based on ST. Most of the time this should be obvious to both the GM and player, but if not using the following.

  • ST cannot be used for damage rolls, anything involving lifting, or "brute force" skills  (e.g., Forced Entry), weapon skills (e.g., Axe/Mace), or unarmed combat skills (e.g., Brawling).
  • DX cannot be used for rolls to keep your balance, movement, active defenses, etc. It also cannot be used for any DX-based skill or skills related to nimbleness or agility (e.g., Surgery or Mechanic to do fine work).
  • IQ cannot be used reaction rolls or any IQ-based skill.
  • HT cannot be used for rolls related to physical toughness (e.g., death checks or rolls for mortal wounds) or HT-based skills.
  • Will cannot be used for any Will-based skill or rolls related to mental toughness or concentration.
  • Per cannot be used for any Per-based skill or rolls related to perspicacity or awareness.

Unlike Complementary Rolls, Attribute Synergy rolls do take any relevant penalties (e.g., Vision penalties when rolling Perception) thus making them a riskier proposition.

Example 1: Ani wants to use her high Perception roll to enhance her damage roll since her ST is not so high. The GM agrees that this should be possible, but gives her a -2 to her roll because of the Vision penalty for not having sufficient light. Succeeding her Perception roll she adds +1 to her damage roll. If she had failed she'd take -1 instead.

Example 2: Shaw wants to use his sheer force of Will to socially coerce the bartender using his Fast-Talk skill. Failing his roll he instead rollings Fast-Talk at a -1 - if he had critically failed he'd take a -2 instead.

Picking Over the Bones
I have no idea if this would actually work in game play. The idea is fairly solid - but it could impact game sessions causing them to slow down as every player ekes out the best possible bonus. One thing that came to mind writing this was the idea that you could take a penalty to your roll to increase the bonus your complementary or attribute synergy roll gives. I'd think each -2 or -4 to your roll would give you a +1 should you succeed, but that might be too low. My gut says at least a -5 per +1 as that's likely less easy to abuse.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Designer's Notes: Deathtraps


My second Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game Pyramid article is out and it's a bit of a follow-up to my book Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Traps. I did my best to keep most of the traps in the book to be somewhat fair. I didn't even both with the article. It was a roster of deathtraps. That was the whole freaking point. Now, I'm not a killer GM or even an antagonistic one - but such dungeon setting pieces have their place. What I tried to do was make them balanced even if they weren't exactly fair. I think I succeeded, but I won't know until play reports trickle in.

I didn't have any leftover bits and bobs for this one as I wrote it short and adapted some pieces from Traps. Anyways, this took me 30 hours to write. It took me about 20 hours to edit, 2 hours of research (mostly double-checking other GURPS books), and about 7.5 hours of revision. I spent a further 0.5 hours look looking over the preliminary PDF for any issues and revising.