Thursday, January 30, 2014

Casting Lots - Part I - Game Session 3




Angelique Ashur, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 3:00 pm
41 Hours Since Kidnapping
510 South Bolingbrook Dr., Bolingbrook, IL 60440

The PCs finish a fine meal of beer-battered French fries, micro-brewed ales, and chicken from the Hole in the Wall diner while they figure out there next move. After much discussion, they decide to follow up on the address that their witness revealed.


Angelique Ashur, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 3:00 pm
41.5 Hours Since Kidnapping
11218 South Helena Dr., Palos Hills, IL 60465

One the way to the supposed Black Sun cell’s location, Angelique calls SDI but loses signal on her cell phone, she then tries to call Jestinius, but loses signal again. Annoyed she telepathically blasts Jestinius who calls her back immediately and informs her she has given him a nosebleed. She explains that she wants some back up for the situation they’re about to get in, and he asks her to pull over (which Jonathan promptly does when asked), and they wait by a nearby gas station where the plate-glass window shimmers and becomes mirrored long enough for Jestinius to walk through. He gets Alex to sit in the front seat and Angel, and he go to the back. Oddly enough he notices that Angel’s been cursed and gives Jonathan an annoyed look. He removes the curse, and they set off for suburbia. Four blocks from the address, Jestinius gets Jonathan to stop the SUV, and he exits the vehicle promising to “cover them.” The rest of the PCs pull up down the street of the location. Jonathan distracts the house occupants, while Angel and Alex check the back entrance and Sergei launches himself onto the roof. Angelique uses her telepathy to confirm that the Black Sun is indeed in the house and finds that they’ve taken the houses occupants (a man, his wife, and their daughter) hostage. Angel uses her TK to remove the plywood that covered the upper left window and uses her abilities to levitate the family out after freeing them of their bindings. So skillfully do both the family and Angel act that their guard doesn’t notice them missing. Downstairs, Jon has talked his way into the doorway and scoops out several machine gun nests, in addition to bombs (homemade claymores) on the windows. He telepathically sends this information to Angelique, who shares it with the others, which was lucky because Sergei nearly opened a window. Checking it for a booby-trap the ninja opens the window and sends a throwing star into the throat of the cultist in that room, silencing him before he can scream – though he doesn’t go down immediately. Sergei moves into the room quickly and with a single action,  cut’s the man’s head off. Putting his sword away, he grips the head by the hair and prepares to launch it at his opponent. Meanwhile in the room where the hostages where Angelique has flown in through the window and Alex has climbed the outside. She then sneaks up to the guard just outside the door and after grappling him with her hair knocks him out, but before anyone can react. The two remaining cultists on that floor toss grenades in each of the directions that Angel, Alex, and Sergei are before using a wire to snap shut the doors from the outside. Sergei launches the head at the cultist who threw a grenade at him, just as he grabbed the headless body and pressed it over the explosive effectively neutralizing it. Angel tosses the grenade back outside the room using her TK to thread it through the rapidly closing door. Though it doesn’t kill the cultist that threw it at her, it does knock him back. Losing her temper, she flies into a berserker rage and launches herself at the cultist twisting his neck until it snaps before hurling a psychic assault at the cultist blocking Sergei in the room. The cultist goes down almost immediately as he suffers from a seizure. Suddenly, a tear, in reality, spears at the front of the stairs going down, a huge bloated human-shaped hulk appears and begins to release a wave of green mist, which poisons any in it. Sergei launches himself at it, performing his secret move: the Shijuushi Ōda or Ninety-Nine Strikes he literally dices the creature until unidentifiable chunks. The PCs make their way down stairs where Jonathan has disabled three more attackers and after an anticlimactic fight, the cell’s leader is knocked unconscious before he’s tied up. Total dead number four, with at least one needing serious medical attention, and the remaining six unconscious and bound. Once all the supernatural elements are gone (Jonathan and Alex “bake” the crime scene) Alex calls in CPD and tells them that the situation is under control. When the CPD arrives (including a full SWAT team) they are dismayed to learn that the house has been rigged, and Jonathan and Alex move around to each booby-trapped window, door, and exit to remove them. Jonathan steals several of the explosives leaving a few to be bagged as evidence in addition to the two M60’s he took from the nests, leaving parts of one gun in all three areas. Alex asks his fellow officers to keep the Feds out long enough for him and his “consultants” to go over the scene. Jestinius comes in flashing a (quickly conjured) badge and helps Angelique seek out any supernatural traces in the home. Not finding anything of real interest, they decide to interrogate the cell leader back down town for more information on the kidnapped boy and what they (the Black Sun) want with him.

Angelique Ashur, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 3:00 pm
44 Hours Since Kidnapping
11218 South Helena Dr., Palos Hills, IL 60465

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Diablorising Ritual Path Magic - The Necromancer - Part I



Before I write anything else, let me first say that recreating spellcasting classes from the Diablo series is probably best down as powers (in fact, I'd probably use PK's Sorcerous Empowerment article). That said, ritual path magic can work quite well too! A few quick notes. First, in the Diabloverse, it’s probably wise to put most things that would be considered Greater effects into the Lesser effects category. Raising the dead, flinging fireballs, etc. are all common enough that I’d make them Lesser effects. I’ve intentionally left this out so the example spells can be used with the standard system with minimal issues. Second, casters in Diablo are specialists through and through. Therefore each caster has his own version of Magery with a limitation “[Type] spells only, -50%) making Magery [5/level]. Path skills are also kept the same, but ambitious GMs may wish to define a single, special Path skill for all of a caster’s magic. For example. Path of Necromancy might cover ALL of a necromancer’s magic and have Expert Skill (Thanatology) as its core skill instead of Thaumatology.

This will be the first of a series focusing on the spellcasters of the Diablo II game series. First up is everyone’s favorite: The Necromancer!

Summoning Skills

Most of the spells and abilities listed here involve the creation or summoning of minions.

Skeleton Mastery: This is simply higher levels of Magery using the Horde Size rulesa from Zombies. Basically, read the Necromancer’s Magery on the Size andSpeed/Range Table (p. B550) and then read “Linear Measurement” in “skeletons” rather than “yards”: So Magery 1 equals 3 skeletons, Magery 2 equals 5 skeletons, and so on. GMs may also allow a Skeleton Mastery perk that increases this, but does nothing else.


Raise Skeleton
Spell Effects: Greater Create Undead.
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This ritual creates a skeletal minion from a nearby body,  regardless of what corpse you create it from, it looks like a human skeleton. You may only have a number of skeletons equal to your Skeleton Mastery (See above). Add more Subject Weight for more skeletons. Each skeleton is about 20 lbs. It lasts until destroyed or the caster returns to “town.” Duration uses Conditional Termination (Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 18).

Typical Casting: Greater Create Undead (6) + Duration, Until Destroyed or the caster returns to “town” (14) + Subject Weight, 30 lbs (1). 63 energy (21x3).


Clay Golem
Spell Effects: Greater Create Matter + Lesser Create Mind.
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This ritual summons a clay Golem (see Powers: Divine Favor, p. 18 or Magic, p. 59 if you don’t have that book). It lasts until destroyed or the caster returns to “town.” You may only have one golem (including variations) active at one time.
Typical Casting: Greater Create Matter (6) + Lesser Create Mind (6) + Duration, Until Destroyed or the caster returns to “town” (14) + Subject Weight, 30 lbs (1). 91 energy (27x3)*.


Golem Mastery: This trait is a leveled perk. Each level allows a more powerful golem. It has six levels. The Clay Golem spells’ energy uses the Golem from Powers: Divine Favor and uses another point value for the base golem. Level 1 is 75 points, Level 2 is 100 points, level 3 is 150 points, and so on.


Skeletal Mage
Spell Effects: Greater Create Undead.
Inherent Modifiers: Altered Traits, Innate Attack
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

As for Raise Skeleton, but adds one of the following innate attacks:

Roll 2d      Result
1-4, 1-6     Toxic Attack 2d (Cyclic, 10-second, 5 cycles, Resistible, +125%; Resistible, HT-1, +25%) [16]
5, 1-6         Fatigue Attack 1d (Freezing, +20%; Side Effect, Slow Move, 0.6, +30%) [15]
6, 1-3         Burning Attack 1d+2 (Surge, Arcing, +100%) [17]
6, 1-4         Burning Attack 1d+3 (Cosmic, Higher Incendiary Level, +50%; Incendiary 2, +20%) [15]

Typical Casting: Greater Create Undead (6) + Altered Traits, Specific Random Package (16)* + Duration, Until Destroyed or the caster returns to “town” (14) + Subject Weight, 1,000 lbs (4). 72 energy (24x3).
*Cost was derived from the average cost of all abilities.


Blood Golem
Spell Effects: Greater Create Undead + Lesser Create Mind + Lesser Transform Spirit.
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This ritual summons a Blood Golem. Use the statistics for a clay golem, but every time the creature attacks, you gain 1d HP as it transfers the life force it stole from its target to you.

Typical Casting: Greater Create Undead (6) + Lesser Create Mind (6) + Lesser Transform Spirit (8) + Damage, 1d (0) + Duration, Until Destroyed or the caster returns to “town” (14) + Healing, 1d (0) + Subject Weight, 1,000 lbs (4). 114 energy (38x3).


Summon Resist: This is a perk with unlimited levels. Each levels adds Altered Traits, DR +3 (Magical Elemental Attacks only, -40%). This increases the cost of Clay Golem by 18 energy per level, Blood Golem by


Iron Golem
Spell Effects: Greater Create Matter + Lesser Create Mind.
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This ritual summons an Iron Golem. Use the statistics for the Clay Golem (see Powers: Divine Favor, p. 18), but add the Body of Metal meta-trait (p. B00) or use the statistics for Stone Golem (Dungeon Fantasy 3, p. 26; but add 7 to DR).

Typical Casting: Greater Create Matter (6) + Lesser Create Mind (6) + Duration, Until Destroyed or the caster returns to “town” (14) + Subject Weight, 3,000 lbs (5). 93 energy (31x3).


Fire Golem
Spell Effects: Greater Create Energy + Lesser Create Mind.
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This ritual summons an Fire Golem. Use the statistics for the Clay Golem (see Powers: Divine Favor, p. 18), but add the Body of Fire meta-trait (p. B00) or use the statistics for Stone Golem (Dungeon Fantasy 3, p. 26; but add 7 to DR).

Typical Casting: Greater Create Energy (6) + Lesser Create Mind (6) + Duration, Until Destroyed or the caster returns to “town” (14) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs (3). 87 energy (29x3).


Revive
Spell Effects: Greater Transform Body + Greater Control Mind.
Inherent Modifiers: Altered Traits, Extra Life.
Greater Effects: 2 (x5).

This ritual temporarily brings another being back to life, giving it the Extra Life advantage for the duration of the spell. The statistics of each creature will use the native template of whatever it summons. This spell includes a Greater Control Mind effect so that the revivified being must obey the commands of its creator.

Typical Casting: Greater Transform Body (8) + Greater Control Mind (5) + Altered Traits, Extra Life (25) + Duration, Until Destroyed or the caster returns to “town” (14) + Subject Weight, 1,000 lbs (4). 280 energy (56x7).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Casting Lots - Part I - Game Session 2



Angelique Ashur, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 11:30 am
36.5 Hours Since Kidnapping
5841 S Maryland Ave., Chicago, IL ‎60637

Angelique has Rebecca taken to the University of Chicago Hospitals (her old place of employment before becoming part of Victor’s Sleep Disorders Institute Staff) to be examined. She has both Jonathan and Sergei remain with Rebecca to guard her, while she calls in the disgraced ajatas Akshan who brings himself and a brother guardsmen to watch over Rebecca. Sergei remains with Rebecca until the guardsmen get there, while Angelique and Jonathan make their way to CPD HQ via freerunning/parkour.


Angelique Ashur, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
37 Hours Since Kidnapping
3510 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60653

Alex tries to interrogate one of the abductors, but gets nowhere and waits for the others to get back. Since the abductors all say that the Pale Riders put them up to kidnapping Rebecca for information, FBI Agent Winslow is elated and begins the process of acquiring a warrant to search their closest clubhouse (the Hole In The Wall Truck Stop, Bar, and Diner). Though Jonathan manages to get one of the abductors to talk and admit he’s a part of the Black Sun cult, he has another mysterious seizure and dies. Angelique and Alex have a better time as they manage to get a cult member who doesn’t seem to have been “afflicted” as the others have. They offer the (now) scared teenager (he’s barely seventeen) complete immunity for his crimes and witness protection if he tells everything he has seen and where they might find members of the Black Sun to which he readily agrees. Angelique, unwilling to just send him off without some form of magical protection, casts a spell (with Alex’s help) that will make divining spells or supernatural scrying impossible. They succeed so well that little do they realize the repercussions their efforts will have1. Before they can go to the location that their new witness shared with them, Alex (and the others) is requested to meet with Mr. Van Dorian (the III) who is waiting outside. Alex then hands off heading to the location to Det. Eckhart, his partner. After a short drive in his limousine, he explains that he’s willing to do anything to get his family back and that the kidnappers made another demand that his board of directors isn’t willing to make: the kidnappers want his synthetic diamond technology. To show them what he’s talking about, he directs his drive to the Van Dorian Technologies building in downtown.


Angelique Ashur, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 1:00 pm
38 Hours Since Kidnapping
190 South LaSalle St., Chicago, IL 60603

Once on the R&D floor he shows them a flawless synthetic diamond weighing over a pound (2,268 carats). He explains that it takes about 15 minutes per carat and the most they’ve been able to achieve is the current specimen. The knowledge of this is earth-shattering – it could quite literally change the face of the planet and has limitless applications in hundreds of fields. Jonathan even asks him why he doesn’t just flood the market with diamonds after he finishes examining the diamond himself. Victor explains that the technology could be as dangerous as it is revolutionary and he’s not quite ready to share it yet. Angelique quickly deduces that there is more to it and Mr. Van Dorian reveals that they patterned their technology on a large (nearly one pound!) “crystal shard” they found in the impact crater of a meteorite. Angelique asks to examine it and Van Dorian (who has the only access, other than his son who was working on the project) lets her. Careful not to touch it, she quickly figures out that it’s a chunk of a crystal skull – or somehow related. Deciding to jump in she “reads” the shard and gets its full history2. Soon after she has another vision. Though it is perfectly clear it is still vague. In the vision, she realizes that if the Pale Riders are put away now that the future will somehow be darker. Going on this, she promises Van Dorian that she’ll get his grandson back to him alive, and his son and daughter if he can and then leaves.


Angelique Ashur, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 1:15 pm
38.25 Hours Since Kidnapping
510 South Bolingbrook Dr., Bolingbrook, IL 60440

Since her vision revealed a specific time (60 minutes), Angel borrows one of Van Dorian’s security detail’s SUVs and races to the Pale Rider’s local clubhouse – a truck stop, diner, bar, and motel called “A Hole In The Wall.” Once there, there is a slight scuffle between a Pale Rider and Angel, who breaks the man’s jaw. The other bikers draw weapons on Angelique, but before they can move they both have a blade against their throat and Sergei has somehow managed to get out of the SUV without being seen. After a quick exchange with the bikers, it’s revealed that the president of the local charter is Jonathan’s adopted uncle, Patrick “Crackerjack” Mander. To show her sincerity she realigns the biker’s (aka “Handsy”) jaw that she broke and uses a slight amount of magic to fix it before demanding to speak to their boss. She warns him about the impending FBI raid and gets her friend, Sen. McLaughlin, to do a favor. He tries to call the FBI off on their bogus warrant, but Agent Winslow ignores the command and executes it anyways (much to his chagrin). The whole affair is botched so badly that Winslow leaves the state and federal agencies open to a lawsuit that they could not hope to win. Angelique gets the outlaw and the senator to sit down and talk, and eventually, Patrick convinces McLaughlin to take some of his people as extra security. The PCs then spend time eating lunch while they go over their plans.

Angelique Ashur, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 3:00 pm
40 Hours Since Kidnapping
510 South Bolingbrook Dr., Bolingbrook, IL 60440


1 The spell not only shielded its target from any supernatural attempts to locate him (by any method or power), but it actually hid him from death itself (though he doesn’t know it yet).
2 The shard is actually a chunk of an exoplanet made entirely from diamond far away from Earth’s solar system. This exoplanet was actually a sapient hive-mind, but when a chunk was broken off by an asteroid impact billions of years ago it eventually found its way to our solar system and impacted on the planet. It was from this “crystal” meteorite that the thirteen crystal skulls would be formed by the Oneiroi and the First Avatar. From it the shard broke off on impact and land in area which would become the shores of Lake Michigan.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Triple Threat: Jiangshi




The so-called “hopping corpse” of Chinese legend, it has near-glowing green-white hair, long fingernails, and glowing green eyes. In the day it sleeps in a coffin or hides in a dark place like a cave, attic, basement, etc. At night it hunts its territory finding human beings whose “chi” it devours.

For Any Game…
ST: 20                    HP: 24                   Speed: 7.00
DX: 12                   Will: 14                Move: 5 (5 if jumping straight up; 20 if jumping across)
IQ: 10                    Per: 13                  Weight: 150 lbs.
HT: 12                   FP: N/A                 SM: 0
Dodge: 12             Parry: 11              DR: 3

Draw Breath (-): The vampire must first grapple the target; if he succeeds he may immediately drain 1d FP or HP from his target,.
Talons (14): 2d+1 imp. Reach C. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part.
Grapple (14): Made as a Move and Attack. No damage. Reach C.

Traits:  Combat Reflexes; Compulsive Behavior (6) (Count small objects); Dark Vision; Detect (Breath); Doesn’t Breathe; Dominance; Draining (Human Chi; Illegal); Dread (Consecrated Incense); Dread (Own Reflection); Dread (Peach Wood); Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Injury Tolerance (Unliving); Nocturnal; Social Stigma (Monster); Super Jump 3; Supernatural Durability (Fire and Lightning); Supernatural Features (No Body Heat, Pallor); Unaging; Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Human Chi); Unhealing (Partial); Unnatural Features (Greenish-white hair; Long fingernails); Weakness (Salt; 1d/minute); Weakness (Sunlight; 1d/minute).
Skills: Brawling-14; Jumping-18; Stealth-14; Wrestling-14.
Notes: Sterile. Neither has nor uses FP, but can burn HP for extra effort. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check GURPS Horror, (p. 139) Jiangshi have a modifier of -3.


For Dungeon Fantasy…
ST: 20                    HP: 24                   Speed: 7.00
DX: 12                   Will: 14                Move: 5 (5 if jumping straight up; 20 if jumping across)
IQ: 10                    Per: 13                  Weight: 150 lbs.
HT: 12                   FP: N/A                 SM: 0
Dodge: 12             Parry: 11              DR: 3

Draw Breath (-): The vampire must first grapple the target; if he succeeds he may immediately drain 1d FP or HP from his target,.
Talons (14): 2d+1 imp. Reach C. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part.
Grapple (14): Made as a Move and Attack. No damage. Reach C.

Traits:  Combat Reflexes; Compulsive Behavior (6) (Count small objects); Dark Vision; Detect (Breath); Doesn’t Breathe; Dominance; Draining (Human Chi; Illegal); Dread (Consecrated Incense); Dread (Own Reflection); Dread (Peach Wood); Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Injury Tolerance (Unliving); Nocturnal; Social Stigma (Monster); Super Jump 3; Supernatural Durability (Fire and Lightning); Supernatural Features (No Body Heat, Pallor); Unaging; Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Human Chi); Unhealing (Partial); Unnatural Features (Greenish-white hair; Long fingernails); Weakness (Salt; 1d/minute); Weakness (Sunlight; 1d/minute).
Skills: Brawling-14; Jumping-18; Stealth-14; Wrestling-14.
Classification: Undead.
Notes: Sterile. Neither has nor uses FP, but can burn HP for extra effort.


For Monster Hunters…
ST: 20                    HP: 24                   Speed: 8.00
DX: 14                   Will: 14                Move: 5 (5 if jumping straight up; 20 if jumping across)
IQ: 10                    Per: 13                  Weight: 150 lbs.
HT: 14                   FP: N/A                 SM: 0
Dodge: 12             Parry: 11              DR: 3

Fright Check: -3

Draw Breath (-): The vampire must first grapple the target; if he succeeds he may immediately drain 1d FP or HP from his target,.
Talons (12): 2d+1 imp. Reach C. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend).
Grapple (16): Made as a Move and Attack. No damage. Reach C.

Traits:  Combat Reflexes; Compulsive Behavior (6) (Count small objects); Dark Vision; Detect (Breath); Doesn’t Breathe; Dominance; Draining (Human Chi; Illegal); Dread (Consecrated Incense); Dread (Own Reflection); Dread (Peach Wood); Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Injury Tolerance (Unliving); Nocturnal; Social Stigma (Monster); Super Jump 3; Supernatural Durability (Fire and Lightning); Supernatural Features (No Body Heat, Pallor); Unaging; Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Human Chi); Unhealing (Partial); Unnatural Features (Greenish-white hair; Long fingernails); Weakness (Salt; 1d/minute); Weakness (Sunlight; 1d/minute).
Skills: Brawling-16; Jumping-18; Stealth-16; Wrestling-16.
Notes: Sterile. Neither has nor uses FP, but can burn HP for extra effort. Use the skills listed under Undead Spirits in the Know Thy Enemy box in Monster Hunters 1 (p. 16). One Jiangshi is a fair fight for one or two champions.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Gamemaster's Guidepost: How Tough Is It?



Because GURPS is a point-buy system, figuring out what constitutes as a “tough” opponent can be difficult. Not only difficult, it can be downright arcane. There are situations where a 500-point character can have barely any impact on a combat (lots of social and mental advantages), and a 100-pointer absolutely dominates it (purely combat-oriented advantages). There are no rules for doing this at the moment, just hard-won knowledge. That said, I do have a few guidelines I use:

  • Figure out the minimum, the average, maximum amount of damage each character can do. For example, if a character has a ST 14 and their typical weapon is a Broadsword, their minimum is 3, average is 8, and maximum is 13.
  • Take note of their best attack skill and Active Defense.
  • Take note of their Hit Points, Damage Resistance, and any other defensive or combat trait (High Pain Threshold, Regeneration, etc.) that can affect a typical combat; which in my experience is between 3 to 15 rounds (3 to 15 seconds). Remember any equipment as well.
  • Figure out what combat effects any exotic or supernatural powers might have on the combat. If a character can use Mind Control to make your opponents fight among themselves, this will have a significant impact on the combat!
Once you have all this information, do the same for any NPCs you’re going to use in the combat. Then go through the process above, but total all the PCs and NPCs on their side to figure out the approximate value of their collective damage-dealing, damage-taking, and chances of hitting their targets. Do the same for the NPCs. Once you compare the numbers you’ll be able to guesstimate how hard a given battle might be. For instance, if the PCs collective damage-dealing capability is 9 points (or about 2d+2) and the NPCs damage-taking capability is 7, it’s going to be a relatively easy battle.

Remember, these are only guidelines and the best determiner of how tough a combat is going to be is your experience with your players as their GM.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Casting Lots - Part I - Game Session 1



Franklin Kasseal, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton
June, 18th, 2001, 12:00 am
24 Hours Since Kidnapping
676 N Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611

Alex gets a call at midnight telling him he needs to come to police headquarters first, and then to a crime scene at the Omni Hotel in downtown. When he gets to HQ, he is told by his supervisor, Marilyn Rivers, that he and his partner Robert Eckhart have been assigned to act as liaisons to the FBI on a case that just got dropped into their laps. Apparently 24 hours ago (10:00 pm on Saturday June 16th) Jackson “Jax” Van Dorian the V was kidnapped from his family’s estate. His mother and father were taken as well, but judging by the amount of blood left behind by both of them they are presumed dead. The crime scene at the estate was spotless and sealed off when Jackson Van Dorian the III called in Elene Rivers and her team of professionals (3:00 am on Sunday June 17th). They made contact with the kidnappers, and negotiated for the release of the Van Dorian’s kin, but when they went to the drop off, no one was there. They were found dead in their hotel room at the Omni Chicago six hours later (9:00 am on Sunday June 17th) by a housekeeper at which point the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation got involved. Since then the Omni’s Penthouse (25th floor) and the 24th floor have been awash in personnel from both departments. Since Van Dorian the III is friends with the mayor, a task force has been created to get his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson back in one piece.


Angelique Ashur, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 3:30 am
27.5 Hours Since Kidnapping
3518 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60609

Angel receives a call from Victor Halusko letting her know he has a case for her and her team. He gives her the address and then a a knock on the door can be heard. When she heads to the door a bicycle messenger hands her a series of documents and then leaves. Angel calls Sergei and then rushes Jonathan to get ready. Fifteen minutes after she received the call, she’s rushing out the door.


Angelique Ashur, Franklin Kasseal, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 4:00 am
28 Hours Since Kidnapping
676 N Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611

Once the rest of Victor’s team is there (Angelique, Jonathan, and Sergei) they begin to examine the scene with a eye towards both the occult and the mundane. Collectively, they determine the following:

Each member of Elene Rivers team (including her) was decapitated with some kind of saw (probably a hacksaw) post-mortem and had their heads nailed to the wall (probably with the same odd octagonal shaped hammer). The nail was first inserted through the tongue and then continued through the back of the skull.
Each member’s eyes were removed and instead replaced with two tarnished and fire-blackened silver coins.
Her team was taken by surprise, probably due to some sort of paralysis or obfuscation spell. The bodies were only found when the maid came to clean the room and those on the 24th floor heard nothing out of the ordinary.
• Six hours after the initial exchange, Elene’s team was killed. The kidnappers could have clearly taken the money or even asked for more, but they didn’t. They left it.
• Though they have no proof, both Angelique (who has a vision about them) and Alex (who has been hunting them down over the last year) believe that the Black Sun cult are behind the kidnapping.

Alex calls an antiquities dealer he’s familiar with, Killian Pruitt, and he, along with Jonathan and Franklin go to met him. Angelique and Sergei instead head to CPD HQ.


Franklin Kasseal, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, & Maynard “Alex” Hamilton
June, 18th, 2001, 8:30 am
32.5 Hours Since Kidnapping
3271 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL ‎60641

Jonathan get’s Alex to stop back off at the theater first and he makes Killian’s favorite breakfast (French press coffee and madeleine) as a bribe to go with the rare coin he usually asks for in most cases. Back on the road, they make their way to Pruitt’s Pawn and once their bribe Killian with both food and a 3rd century BCE gold Carthaginian shekel. Killian agrees to help them and after Jonathan hands him one of the coins he “borrowed” from the scene he quickly tell them that it is a 1847 Queen Victoria “Gothic” Crown, a rare coin of which only 8,000 were minted. Most of them are accounted for accept for the “lost chest” of two-hundred coins that were paid to a member of the peerage for services rendered. Since Killian knows the whereabouts of all such coins except the lost 200 he assumes that they are from that chest. Rumors had it to be in the hands of a private collector or lost in the Vatican Archives. He does tell them that the coin had been intentionally placed in a fire to char and blacken it, but not melt it.


Angelique Ashur, Franklin Kasseal, Jonathan Valerius Baksheesh, Maynard “Alex” Hamilton, & Sergei Romanova
June, 18th, 2001, 9:00 am
34 Hours Since Kidnapping
3510 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60653

Back at the new police headquarters, the “rounds” are made and the FBI team, CPD team, and Victor’s team are introduced to one another. The FBI believe that the Pale Riders, a local “motorcycle club” (whom they qualify as a gang) with multiple charters per state are behind the kidnapping, but have no proof. The CPD are following the FBI’s lead mostly, but Alex is allowed his own line of inquiry owing to his phenomenal case closure rate of the last 11 months. Taking time out for a late breakfast Angelique, Franklin, Jonathan, Alex, and Sergei head outside to enjoy the remaining coffee and madeleines. Among the picnic tables, they notice that Special Agent Rebecca Ramirez (Special Agent-in-charge Winslow’s “tech geek”) is setting eating a salad by herself. Angelique goes to speak with her (mining for information), but the conversation quickly turns into a genuine one as the two stuffed-animal toting women exchange stories about their various plush animals. Strangely, Angelique seems to take a shine to the woman almost immediately and when she gets up to leave, they exchange phone numbers. As Rebecca crosses the street a black panel van speeds up, opens a side door and a pair of black masked figures grab Rebecca and pull her within. The PCs quickly react, Angelique sends Sergei to follow the van from the rooftops, while Alex commandeers a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda, Jonathan hopping into the driver seat, and they quickly take off. Thanks to Angelique’s mind bond with Sergei, she is easily able to telepathically pick his location up and then send that to Jonathan allowing them to catch up to the van fairly quickly (though Jonathan is going nearly a hundred miles an hour on inner city streets). Once they catch up to the van, their first attempt to rescue Rebecca results in a empty van (they must have switched her at some point!) and a mounted M60 machine gun in the face. Though they take a full burst from the machine gun, Sergei appears, jumps onto the back of the ‘Cuda and flings a series of shuriken that neatly sever the bullets or deflecting them. Eventually, Angel usually her telepathic abilities to stun the attackers and her psychokinetic abilities to stop the vehicles from crashing. When she tries to read the mind of one of the abductors, he began to foam at the mouth and then die. Angelique decides not to question any others and they head back to police headquarters.

June, 18th, 2001, 10:45 am
35.75 Hours Since Kidnapping
3510 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 6065

Thursday, January 9, 2014

GURPS101: How Tough Am I? – What HT and FP Mean To My Players




HT is probably one of the most undervalued attributes in GURPS, in my opinion. It is described in the Basic Set (p. 17) as “energy, vitality, stamina, resistance (to poison, disease, radiation, etc.), and basic 'grit.'" I take that last part as “physical” grit – because grit isn’t just physical (or mental). To get a gauge of that you’d need to figure out the average of HT and Will. A strong mind can overcome physical limitations, and vice versa. You need a good HT to survive the various physical rigors that the GM can put your character through, and it also boosts Basic Speed and Move – it’s essential for most “low-tech” characters. But most of my players buy at least an HT of 12, and unless it goes against their character concept, Fit and Rapid Healing too. Given the typical length of my campaigns and how I build worlds – these are good buys. It lets them keep their original characters longer. In fact, the only two original characters remaining from the beginning of one of my first campaigns had both Fit and Rapid Healing. This sort of set the precedence for most other characters in my other campaigns. High HT and both Fit and Rapid Healing, and some level of Regeneration when allowed.
            FP even more important, especially since most campaigns I run tend to have some set of supernatural ability and fueling them comes off FP. But FP isn’t just your mystical battery. It's a measure of physical stamina. How long you can run, how long you can fight, basically, how long you can last at any given physical task (keep your mind out of the gutter!). Add that to the fact that I charge FP for most physically exerting tasks (and the HT roll to go with it), and you get another popular “dump stat.”
            Though I do run cinematic games for nearly every campaign (my player's choice, not mine), I tend to use the realistic rule set and then let PCs purchase Rules Exemption perks for those they want to ignore. Bleeding to death even when you might be one of the greatest mages in your generation is quite dramatic, which has the same connotation as cinematic to my players. They love it. They want to get beat up, bruised, battered, and bleed for their cause (whatever that may be). High HT and FP let them do this.


Continuing with the analogy: HT represents how resistant you are to any diseases or pesticides an apple may carry, how many times you can climb an apple tree and not become fatigued, etc. FP represents how long you can pick apples, how long you can dig holes to plant apple trees, and so on.

See here for +Douglas Cole's post and here for +Peter V. Dell'Orto's.