Thursday, May 29, 2014

Designer's Notes - Alternative Ritual Path Magic

http://digital-art-gallery.com/oid/1/640x467_983_Sea_Gate_Oracle_2d_fantasy_spell_magic_wizard_picture_image_digital_art.jpg

Writing Alternative Ritual Path Magic
If you're not a writer or game designer, you might not understand the following sentence (or at least not all of it): That article nearly ate my soul and stole my sanity. It started small, honest, four thousand words, but it started to grow. It was like a thing alive. I went from having Ritual Path Magic mixed into Divine Favor, Effect-Shaping, and Book Magic to what you eventually saw published. There were so many systems it was really hard to keep track of at first. It got so bad that I had to keep a physical notebook for separate ideas and a spreadsheet in Excel to keep it ordered. I went through over ten revisions before I even submitted the thing to Steven Marsh (which I was sure he was going to make me break it up - though I'm really glad he didn't). According to my notes (I keep prodigious work notes so that I can improve myself), I spent 267 hours writing, rewriting, revising, editing, editing some more, oh yeah, editing, re-revising, researching, and oh yeah, more editing on this thing. Now, for a comparison, I spend maybe 40 hours total on any typical article, some less (I wrote Magic Bullets in three hours with revisions and edits) some more (nearly 68 hours on Safe as Houses - which I knocked out over a weekend at Steven's request). Now when you spend all that time working on the same document, it's inevitable that you are worried that you're writing crap. It just happens. Ask any writer, they'll tell you the same. I almost threw the whole thing out at one point after I couldn't get Effect Shaping working the way I wanted, but PK, L.A., and Antoni insisted I keep at it. So I did. There was even one stretch somewhere around version six where I was awake for four days straight working on it off and on. It taunted me with its hidden mysteries. I couldn't sleep. I started DREAMING in rules (you can think the example Book on one of the dreams I had) when I did sleep. Hell at one point during those four days I started hallucinating that I was talking to Harry Houdini (don't worry, it happens when I stay awake too long, I know it's a hallucination, so there's that at least). My sister said she came into the room, and I was calling the nearby wall one of the greatest live acts of the 20th century. She calmly reported my antics to my mother who then came into the room and held my sleeping meds (high-dose Haloperidol) in one hand and a frying pan in the other. Guess which one I choose as my sleep aid? The next day I dashed out version seven, sent it off to Steven and thought nothing of it for several months. I revised it three more times after that, faithfully sending in another copy when I felt it deserved another. I also made some fantastic contacts during this period as I sought out reviewers. Because this thing was so massive, and I didn't have much word count, the following folks helped me out with this one (I never could have done it without them)

Reveiwer and Assister List
  • Antoni "Kuroshima" Ten Monrós (alpha-reviewer and number cruncher extraordinaire)
  • Beth “Archangel” McCoy (Beta-reviewer and editor)
  • Douglas Cole (Beta-reviewer)
  • Emily “Bruno” Smirle (Beta-reviewer, additional assistance with the overall article
  • The Headhunters (my gaming group were the victims...errr test group for a lot of this stuff, and they told me what worked and what didn't)
  • Jason "PK" Levine (Beta-reviewer and editorial changes that made it far better than the final draft)
  • Jefferey “Langy” Head (Beta-reviewer, I “stole” his working-together rules for Effect-Shaping Ritual Path magic)
  • John “johndallman” Dallman (inspired the High Craft magic rules)
  • Jonathan “Dataweaver” Lang (Beta-reviewer, additional assistance with Divine Favor, Clerical magic, and Effect Shaping)
  • Kael (Beta-reviewer)
  • Nikki Vrtis (she changed the layout of the article, and it was awesome! Thank you so much Nikki)
  • Patrick "Celti" Burroughs (Beta-reviewer)
  • Pyramid Write Club (They helped to whip the final draft into shape spotting errors)
  • Raekai (Beta-reviewer)
  • Rory “Refplace” Fansler (Beta-reviewer, additional assistance with the overall article)
  • Sir_Pudding (Beta-reviewer)
  • Sunrunner's Fire (Beta-reviewer)
  • Timothy "Humabot" Ponce (Beta-reviewer, additional edits, and inspiring the Control (Magic))

Stuff That Made It In
Here is a list of what made it in (all page references are to Pyramid #3/66 The Laws of Magic).

Ritual Path Magic as...
...Assisting Spirits (p. 7)
...Book Magic (p. 4)
...Clerical Path Magic (p. 7)
...Corruption (p. 7)
...Divine Favor (p. 5)
...Effect Shaping (p. 6)
...High Craft (p. 8)
...Ley Lines (p. 7)
...Magical Styles (p. 9)
...Powers (p. 12)
...Raw Magic (p. 7)
...Realm Magic (p. 12)
...Sacred Architecture (p. 7)
...Spiritual Vessels (p. 7)
...Symbol Magic (p. 13)
...Threshold-Limited Magic (p. 7)
...Words of Power (p. 7)

There were also additional rules for digital Grimoires (p. 5), being a Place of Power (p. 11), and a magical-flavored version of Gunslinger (p. 14)

Some stuff that didn't make it in
The following had to be taken out because there just wasn't enough room. In some cases, the rules just needed the word count I didn't have, in others the idea was too raw, and I didn't have enough time to hammer it out to my standards. 

Ritual Path Magic as...
...Tree Magic (see GURPS Thaumatology, p. 42)
...Based on a Static Attribute (see GURPS Thaumatology, p. 42)
...Shamanic Magic (see GURPS Thaumatology, p. 66)
...Lapidism (see GURPS Urban Magic, p. 18)
...Knot-Symbol Magic (see GURPS Thaumatology, p. 177, I did a ton of research into this too!)
...Bagua Magic (see GURPS Thaumatology, p. 255)

I additionally included rules for familiars, another way to create "magic items" (I called them "focusers"), expanded rules for working weather magic, and more rules for enchanted items.


Picking Over the Bones
Though there was just too much for me to squeeze in I did manage to turn most of that into Pyramid articles, some of it might end up on my blog at a later date. That said, there just wasn't a lot of outtakes here (that didn't end up in another article) which is always surprising. But I'm not going to leave you with nothing! You didn't think I would did you? Here, have some new rules for creating a spell that uses the target's senses as a vector:

Sense-Based Areas Spells:
Creating a spell that works through the target's senses is possible by adding the Sense-Based enhancement (p. B109) directly to the spell itself. Normally, the spell would ignore DR, but DR is already ignored for most Ritual Path Magic spells, instead each target rolls against the targeted sense and adds his margin of success as a penalty to resist the spell! For some senses, this can be devastating, the +10 bonus to Vison rolls for spotting something in plain sight apply here if the caster is out in the open for all to see (and target)! This adds an additional +30 energy to the spell (+10 for each additional sense it can affect), but it may be worth it for certain situations. Imagine a death spell in the form of gourmet ice cream charm that uses a Taste-Based damaging attack on whoever eats it...That chocolate ice cream is to die for. For external damaging spells, simply add the Sense-Based enhancement to the Damage Modifier for damaging spells and ignore the above. If you have to detect the target with your sense first, use the rules for Repurcussive Rituals (Pyramid #3/66 The Laws of Magic, p. 38) and gives a -10% discount for the entire spell.

Sample Sense-Based Spell

Aura of Kali
Spell Effects: Greater Destroy Spirit.
Inherent Modifiers: Area of Effect (Vision-Based) + Damage, Internal Corrosion.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell allows the caster to momentarily channel the power of Kali. All targets who can see him are affected and must make a Vision roll (+10 if the caster is in plain sight and drawing attention to himself), the target's margin of success is then added as a penalty to his roll to resist this spell! He may choose up to eight targets that are excluded from this effect. All subjects who fail to resist the spell take 3d corrosion damage. Damage sustained in this way requires natural healing, and no magic or supernatural power can speed this up. Unlike normal corrosion attacks, this does not reduce DR in any way. Because the caster is channeling the goddess of death, this ritual works on anything, from chairs to sentient gerbils, as long as it weighs 300 lbs. or less..

Typical Casting: Greater Destroy Spirit (5) + Area of Effect (Vision-Based), excludes eight targets (34) + Damage, Internal Corrosion 3d (Cosmic, Unhealing Damage, +100%; No DR reduction, -10%) (34) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 228 energy (76x3).

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Triple Threat - Bodach



https://libertarianalliance.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/3279293_f496.jpg?w=500

Bodach
The Bodach is a vile faerie that thrives on the fear of children, in fact; Bodachs are thought to be where the legend of the Bogeyman came from, or perhaps he is a particularly potent example of the Bodach race. In order for a Bodach to create more of its kind, he must first terrorize a child for three nights in a row, then kidnap and restrain him in a dark place, then over the period of a month slowly transforms the child into a Boggle by merging bits of its essence with the child. From that first night to one lunar month later the process can still be reversed, and the child can be saved (though the psychological scarring might be so great that they’ll never function again), but after the time has passed the Boggle transforms into an adult Bodach and goes to spread the curse, repeating the cycle. GM’s should also note that many of its abilities cannot be used against children, who somehow see through their deceptions.

Any Campaign Setting...
ST: 14             HP: 14            Speed: 7.00
DX: 12            Will: 14           Move: 7
IQ: 12             Per: 14            Weight: 150 lbs.
HT: 12            FP: 12             SM: 0
Dodge: 11       Parry: 11        DR: 0

Bite or Claw (15): 1d cutting.
Darkness (15): Victims in the area of your power are considered blinded (p. B00) for the next 10 seconds, this even applies to such exotic abilities as Hyperspectral Vision, magical seeing, etc. It blocks all forms of vision. Using the following statistics for this attack: 1/2D –, Max 100, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A, and Recoil 1.
Fearful Presence (14 vs. Will-1): Add all applicable modifiers under Fright Check Modifiers (p. B360), failure results in a immediate roll on the Fright Check table (pp. B360, B361). Your victims get +1 per Fright Check after the first within 24 hours.

Traits*: Addiction (Fear); Bully (12); Can Be Turned Using True Name; Combat Reflexes; Dark Vision (Color Vision); Divine Curse (Can be bound using True Name); Divine Curse (If asked something three times they must make sure it’s true/comes to pass); Divine Curse (Keep to the letter of any promise); Dominance‡ (Accessibility, Children only; Accessibility, Target must be helpless/unconscious; No Injury Required); Dread (Iron); Dread (Uttering their True Name aloud); Fearsome Stare; Frightens Animals; Hates adults; Hidebound; Injury Tolerance (Diffuse; Infiltration; Not against Iron or Sunlight); Invisibility (Accessibility, Not against children); Limited Camouflage (Shadowy Areas); Low Empathy; Nocturnal; Odious Personal Habit (Capricious); Odious Racial Habit (Kidnaps children); Prefers to terrorize victims; Revulsion (Iron); Sadism (12); Sharp Claws; Sharp Teeth; Terror 2 (Active; Presence); Unaging; Vulnerability (Iron x2); Vulnerability (Sunlight x2); Weakness (Sunlight, 1d per minute; Variable).

Skills:  Brawling-15; Camouflage-12; Innate Attack (Projectile)-15; Intimidation-14; Shadowing -12; Stealth-14; Wrestling-12.
Notes: Turns to dust when killed by sunlight. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check GURPS Horror, (p. 139) Bodachs have a modifier of -3.
* Stats for a Boggle use these statistics, but the attributes are modified to: ST -2, IQ -1, DX -2, HT -2. Additionally, remove all advantages but Dark Vision, Odious Racial Habit (Kidnaps children), Outlander (Faerie) meta-trait, and Injury Tolerance; reduce Terror by a single level.
† Use the rules for True Faith.
‡ To use this ability the Bodach must spend eight hours merging its essence with the target. This process is terrifying and usually requires a fright check. At the end of 8 hours, the target must roll 3d, on a 6 or less he’s become infected and begins to transform into a Boggle. Success means he’s survived for one more day…the Bodach can only use this ability on one target at a time.



For Dungeon Fantasy...
ST: 14             HP: 14            Speed: 7.00
DX: 12            Will: 14           Move: 7
IQ: 12             Per: 14            Weight: 150 lbs.
HT: 12            FP: 12             SM: 0
Dodge: 11       Parry: 11        DR: 0

Bite or Claw (15): 1d cutting.
Darkness (15): Victims in the area of your power are considered blinded (p. B00) for the next 10 seconds, this even applies to such exotic abilities as Hyperspectral Vision, magical seeing, etc. It blocks all forms of vision. Using the following statistics for this attack: 1/2D –, Max 100, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A, and Recoil 1.
Fearful Presence (14 vs. Will-1): Add all applicable modifiers under Fright Check Modifiers (p. B360), failure results in a immediate roll on the Fright Check table (pp. B360, B361). Your victims get +1 per Fright Check after the first within 24 hours.

Traits*: Addiction (Fear); Bully (12); Can Be Turned Using True Name; Combat Reflexes; Dark Vision (Color Vision); Divine Curse (Can be bound using True Name); Divine Curse (If asked something three times they must make sure it’s true/comes to pass); Divine Curse (Keep to the letter of any promise); Dominance‡ (Accessibility, Children only; Accessibility, Target must be helpless/unconscious; No Injury Required); Dread (Meteoric Iron); Dread (Uttering their True Name aloud); Fearsome Stare; Frightens Animals; Hates adults; Hidebound; Injury Tolerance (Diffuse; Infiltration; Not against Meteoric Iron or Sunlight); Invisibility (Accessibility, Not against children); Limited Camouflage (Shadowy Areas); Low Empathy; Nocturnal; Odious Personal Habit (Capricious); Odious Racial Habit (Kidnaps children); Prefers to terrorize victims; Revulsion (Meteoric Iron); Sadism (12); Sharp Claws; Sharp Teeth; Terror 2 (Active; Presence); Unaging; Vulnerability (Meteoric Iron x2); Vulnerability (Sunlight x2); Weakness (Sunlight, 1d per minute; Variable).

Skills:  Brawling-15; Camouflage-12; Innate Attack (Projectile)-15; Intimidation-14; Shadowing -12; Stealth-14; Wrestling-12.
Classification: Faerie.
Notes: Turns to dust when killed by sunlight.
* Stats for a Boggle use these statistics, but the attributes are modified to: ST -2, IQ -1, DX -2, HT -2. Additionally, remove all advantages but Dark Vision, Odious Racial Habit (Kidnaps children), Outlander (Faerie) meta-trait, and Injury Tolerance; reduce Terror by a single level.
† Use the rules for True Faith.
‡ To use this ability the Bodach must spend eight hours merging its essence with the target. This process is terrifying and usually requires a fright check. At the end of 8 hours, the target must roll 3d, on a 6 or less he’s become infected and begins to transform into a Boggle. Success means he’s survived for one more day…the Bodach can only use this ability on one target at a time.



For Monster Hunters...
ST: 20             HP: 20            Speed: 7.00
DX: 14            Will: 16           Move: 7
IQ: 12             Per: 14            Weight: 150 lbs.
HT: 12            FP: 12             SM: 0
Dodge: 11       Parry: 11        DR: 0

Fright Check: -3

Bite or Claw (17): 2d cutting.
Darkness (17): Victims in the area of your power are considered blinded (p. B00) for the next 10 seconds, this even applies to such exotic abilities as Hyperspectral Vision, magical seeing, etc. It blocks all forms of vision. Using the following statistics for this attack: 1/2D –, Max 100, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A, and Recoil 1.
Fearful Presence (16 vs. Will-1): Add all applicable modifiers under Fright Check Modifiers (p. B360), failure results in a immediate roll on the Fright Check table (pp. B360, B361). Your victims get +1 per Fright Check after the first within 24 hours.

Traits*: Acute Hearing 3; Addiction (Fear); Bully (12); Can Be Turned Using True Name; Combat Reflexes; Dark Vision (Color Vision); Divine Curse (Can be bound using True Name); Divine Curse (If asked something three times they must make sure it’s true/comes to pass); Divine Curse (Keep to the letter of any promise); Dominance‡ (Accessibility, Children only; Accessibility, Target must be helpless/unconscious; No Injury Required); Dread (Iron; Can be trapped only; Insensitive); Dread (Uttering their True Name aloud); Extended Hearing (Low); Fearsome Stare; Frightens Animals; Hates adults; Hidebound; Injury Tolerance (Diffuse; Infiltration; Not against Iron or Sunlight); Invisibility (Accessibility, Not against children); Intolerance (Religious or holy people and places); Jumper (Spirit; Costs Fatigue, 2 FP; Limited Access, Faerie; Special Movement, Must be able to walk; Special Portal, Any reflective surface; Tunnel, Takes Extra Time 5); Language (Tuath; Native); Limited Camouflage (Shadowy Areas); Low Empathy; Magery 0; Nocturnal; Odious Personal Habit (Capricious); Odious Racial Habit (Kidnaps children); Prefers to terrorize victims; Revulsion (Iron); Sadism (12); Sharp Claws; Sharp Teeth; Terror 2 (Active; Presence); Ultrahearing; Unaging; Vulnerability (Iron x2); Vulnerability (Sunlight x2); Weakness (Sunlight, 1d per minute; Variable).

Skills:  Brawling-17; Camouflage-14; Innate Attack (Projectile)-17; Intimidation-14; Shadowing-12; Stealth-16; Wrestling-14.
Classification: Faerie.
Notes: Turns to dust when killed by sunlight. Use the skills listed under Free-Willed Spirits in the Know Thy Enemy box in Monster Hunters 1 (p. 16). One Bodach is a fair fight for one to two champions armed with iron weapons, or two or three against a hero armed only with normal ones.
* Stats for a Boggle use these statistics, but the attributes are modified to: ST -2, IQ -1, DX -2, HT -2. Additionally, remove all advantages but Dark Vision, Odious Racial Habit (Kidnaps children), Outlander (Faerie) meta-trait, and Injury Tolerance; reduce Terror by a single level.
† Use the rules for True Faith.
‡ To use this ability the Bodach must spend eight hours merging its essence with the target. This process is terrifying and usually requires a fright check. At the end of 8 hours, the target must roll 3d, on a 6 or less he’s become infected and begins to transform into a Boggle. Success means he’s survived for one more day…the Bodach can only use this ability on one target at a time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Starting Point Totals, Part Deux

http://www.townandcountrygazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/McClane.bmp

In my previous take on this subject, I talked about how you might measure a campaign's starting point total and touched briefly on cinematic characters and how they don't exactly match up with the Basic Set's listed total allotments. Today, I'm going to do something unusual and probably will cause a bit of infighting: I'm going to write up John McClane from the Die Hard film series. I'm going off the Action series as a "campaign frame," but I'm not using any of those templates. Action characters are designed to work with a group of other characters and frankly, John isn't. So to try to capture that I'm also going to be using the Ultimate Action Hero template and Action Demigod lens from Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch's Pyramid #3/53 Action article Buddies and Loners. Here goes:

Detective John McClane
450 points
McClane is a balding, white man in his mid to late 40's, with a small build (though he is physically fit). He has a tattoo on his left arm and a slightly unshaven face with rumpled clothing that always looks slept-in.

ST 12 [20]; DX 15 [100]; IQ 14 [80]; HT 14 [40].
Damage 1d-1/1d+2; BL 29 lbs.; HP 16 [8]; Will 15 [5]; Per 16 [10]; FP 14 [0].
Basic Speed 7.25 [0]; Basic Move 7 [0]; Dodge 11; Parry (Brawling) 12; Parry (Knife) 11; Parry (Wrestling) 12.
6’0”; 202 lbs.

Social Background
TL: 8 [0].
CF: Western [0].
Languages: English (Native) [0].

Advantages
Combat Reflexes [15]; Daredevil [15]; Damage Resistance 2 (Tough Skin, -40%) [6]; Fit [5]; Gunslinger [25]; Jack of All Trades 1 [10]; Legal Enforcement Powers (Local - NYPD) [5]; Police Rank (NYPD) 1 [5]; Ridiculous Luck [60]; Very Rapid Healing [15].

Disadvantages
Compulsive Drinking (12) [-5];  Duty (Police Department; 15 or less) [-15]; On the Edge (12) [-15];  Supernatural Magnet (Violence Magnet*) [-15].
Quirks: Has tin in his blood (-2 reactions against those who dislike the police); King of the One-Liners; Nosy; "One Step Away From Being an Alcoholic;" Responsive. [‑5]

Skills
Acrobatics (H) DX-1 [2]-14; Armoury (Small Arms) (A) IQ [2]-14; Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-17; Climbing (A) DX [2]-15; Computer Operation (E) IQ+1 [2]-15;  Criminology (A) IQ [2]-14;  Detect Lies (H) Per-2 [1]-14; Driving (Automobile) (A) DX [2]-15; Fast-Draw (Ammo) (E) DX [1]-15; Fast-Draw (Long Arm) (E) DX [1]-15; Fast-Draw (Pistol) (E) DX [1]-15; Fast-Talk (A) IQ+0 [2]-14; First Aid (E) IQ [1]-14; Forced Entry (E) DX+1 [2]-15; Guns (Pistol) (E) DX+5 [16]-20; Guns (Rifle) (E) DX [1]-18†; Guns (Submachine Gun) (E) DX+2 [3]-20†; Holdout (A) IQ+1 [4]-15; Intelligence Analysis (H) IQ [4]-14; Interrogation (A) IQ [2]-14; Intimidation (A) Will+1 [4]-16; Jumping (E) DX [1]-15; Knife (E) DX [1]-15; Law (Police) (H) IQ [4]-14; Observation (A) Per-1 [1]-15; Savoir-Faire (Police) (E) IQ [1]-14; Search (A) Per [2]-16; Stealth (A) DX [2]-15; Streetwise (A) IQ [2]-14; Tactics (H) IQ-1 [2]-13; Urban Survival (A) Per [2]-16; Wrestling (A) DX+1 [4]-16.
* This non-supernatural version of Weirdness Magnet represents a propensity to perpetually be in "the wrong place, right time." If there are two warring gangs near your current location, you'll be involved in a shootout. If you walk into a corner-side bodega, you'll walk into it being robbed. GMs should be merciless in inflicting this disadvantage. It gives a +2 bonus vs. anyone you save the first time, but a -2 penalty if they get involved in your shenanigans again.
† Raised from default from Guns (Pistol).


Picking Over the Bones
I'm pretty sure that I covered McClane pretty well, and I was going to write something witty here about how points don't really equate to power, but then PK went and wrote this on the forums saying it much better than I ever could:


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Alien Menace Session 2 - Musings

I'm going to keep this short, because I'm in the middle of a remodel project (I'm making my new room!) and moving out of my old room to the one I'm working on. It's taken a LOT of effort, but I somehow managed to run run my GURPS game yesterday, then play in Doug's game, and then picked up a a Dungeon Fantasy game at my FLGS as a MIB. It's my "soft opening" - my scheduled projects are due later this month/first part of June. I barely got any sleep...but it was worth it. Anyways, Doug's game...we're still working out the kinks, as Doug noted on his own blog the maps are too big for troopers with Move scores of 2 or 3 (LOTS OF FRAKKING GEAR) running on either Combat time or "XCOM" movement. Seriously, every time my character needs to get somewhere quick I drop my pack and run. Since I'm the team medic I'm often doing exactly that (sans my medical gear). On the plus side, the points I spent on First Aid (skill 18), Equipment Bond (First Aid Kit), Higher Purpose (Medic!), and the Best-Quality First Aid Kit gives me a modified skill of 14 when performing First Aid "instantly" in combat. I also blew all my Luck trying to make sure that Jake's character was at 1 HP or above. It was worth it. I'll do the same damn thing with Tim's character (who was absent this session). Keep in mind that my character is a bit crazy and actively looking for his death (though he never seems to find it) and he's a team player (he'll go to the ends of the Earth for someone he knows) so running right into the line of fire that Tim's character finds himself is right up his alley. I didn't really have any complaints per say, but damn did I find Fantasy Grounds as frustrating and unintuitive as I did the first time. I really wish Doug would switch to MapTool or something, getting a drop every 2 hours of play is just NOT COOL. Other than that I had a blast.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

GURPS101: Magical Styles - Spellslinger



Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Black Betty had a child, bam-ba-lam
The damn thing gone wild, bam-ba-lam
Said it weren't none of mine, bam-ba-lam

- Black Betty, Ram Jam

It's a pretty established fact that I produce more GURPS material than I can possibly get published - there is only so much space in Pyramid and (for now) the pipeline is closed to freelancer submissions. Add that to the fact that I produce setting bibles for each of my campaigns that are similar in length and composition to most GURPS campaign setting books and I end up with a ridiculous volume of RPG material. So, verbosity aside I thought I'd share something from my upcoming campaign: a magical style ala GURPS Thaumatology: Magical Styles, but with a double header - it's for both standard spell magic and ritual path magic. If this proves popular I'll consider adding more. This might as well be a "GURPS301" because of the needed for being grounded in GURPS basics - you're going to need the Basic Set, GURPS Magic, GURPS Thaumatology: Magical Styles, GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, and Pyramid #3/66 The Laws of Magic. GURPS Low-Tech and GURPS High-Tech is suggested for useful firearms. Now to the crunch!

Magical Style (Basic Magic)

Spellslinger
17 points 
Style Prerequisite: Gunslinger and Magery 1.

Blending spell magic and implausible skill; the Spellslinger is a terrifying foe. Battle mages, or ‘spell slingers’ have been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until the first firearms came around that this style came into being. Using both magical prowess and firearms, the goal of the style is to use spells and guns (specifically pistols, but some practitioners use rifles, shotguns, etc.) as one, making them a extension of the mage.                 Because of the extremely stringent requirements (Magery and Gunslinger) plus the time invested in learning the style itself this style has few practitioners.
      The perk, Special Set-up (Staff spell may be used on a firearm) may be bought as soon as the Style Familiarity perk is gained as it is intrinsic to the style, for the purposes of that spell, any firearm with a bulk of -4 or less counts as a "wand" while a bulk of -5 or more counts as a "staff." Guns enchanted in this way use all the normal rules for a staff (GURPS Magic, p. 13)

Required Skills: Armoury (Small Arms), Connoisseur (Guns), Fast-Draw (Ammo), Fast-Draw (Pistol or Longarm), Guns (any two), Innate Attack (Beam or Projectile), and Thaumatology.
Required Spells: Apportation, Counterspell, Detect Magic, Find Weakness, Keen Hearing, Keen Vision, Measurement, Sound.

Perks: Area Spell Mastery; Attribute Substitution (DX variant); Blocking Spell Mastery; Brute-Force Spell; Combat Ceremony; Continuous Ritual; Convenience Casting (Ghostly Gunsmith); Enhanced Spell; Far-Casting; Fast-Casting; Fastest Gun in the West 1-3; Frightening Side Effects (any offensive spell on list); Improvised Magic (Spellslinger); Intuitive Cantrip (Reinforce or Spark); Limited Energy Reserve 1-5; Magical Weapon Bond; Mighty Spell; Missile Spell Mastery; Magical Style Adaptation (any purely offensive, aggressive, or combat oriented style); Mundane Magic (Apportation as Armoury (Small Arms)); No Gestures; No Incantations; Power Casting; Psychic Guidance; Reduced Footprint; Rule of 17; Secret Material (Fawkes Fuse); Secret Spell (Confound Firearm; Essential Gunpowder, Fighting Irons, Ghostly Gunsmith, Rapid Reload, Semi-Auto Magic, Smash Shot, Sniper Shot, Spell Marksmanship, Steady Hand, or Gun Charm); Special Exercises 1-2 (Basic Speed); Special Exercises 1-4 (DX); Special Exercises (FP can exceed HT by 100%); Special Set-up (Staff spell may be used on a Firearm); Spell Bond; Spell Duelist; Spell Enhancement (Double Knockback, Guided or Homing); Spell Hardiness 1-5 (any damaging spell on list); Spell Resistance (any Resisted spell on list); Stabilizing Skill (Armoury (Small Arms) for Spellslinger style spells); Staff Attunement; Staff Bond; Style Adaptation (any Gun Fu style); Super-Sympathy (any firearm); True Shot*.
Secret Spells: Essential Gunpowder; Ghostly Gunsmith; Rapid Reload; Semi-Auto Magic; Smash Shot; Sniper Shot; Spell Marksmanship; Gun Charm.
*This perk is leveled and requires specialization in a particular type of Gun specialty; it adds 1 to the total Malfunction number reducing the chance that a given gun might misfire.

Optional Traits
Attributes: Improved DX and IQ.
Advantages: Acute Hearing or Vision; Ambidexterity; Combat Reflexes; Danger Sense; Daredevil; Enhanced Time Sense*; Enhanced Tracking*; Imbue*; Night Vision; Signature Gear; Spellslinger; Telescopic Vision*; Unfazeable.
Disadvantages: Bad Temper; Callous; Enemies; Impulsiveness; Loner; On the Edge; Overconfidence; Post-Combat Shakes; Stubbornness.
Skills: Alchemy; Artillery; Axe/Mace; Brawling; Fast-Draw (Long Arm or Pistol); Gunner; Guns; Hazardous Materials (Magical); Hidden Lore (Magical Items); History (Firearms); Knife; Spear; Teaching; and Imbuement skills.
Perks: Imbuement or Gun Fu Perks (any).
* Must have the "Magic, -10%" Power Modifier.


Spell List
Spellslingers must know a minimum number of spells from their current Circle before being admitted to the one above it. Spells marked with a asterisk (*) are from GURPS Technomancer.

First Circle (Gun Hand)
Eight spells are considered basic. A new recruit is required to learn them all.

Apportation
Counterspell 
Detect Magic
Find Weakness 
Keen Hearing 
Keen Vision
Measurement
Sound


Second Circle (Pistoleer)
A Gun Hand becomes a Pistoleer upon learning all nine First Circle spells. This entitles him to learn any of these twenty-two spells.

Conceal Magic
Create Air 
Create Fire 
Deflect Missile 
Ghostly Gunsmith 
Haste
Ignite Fire 
Levitation 
Missile Shield
Purify Air
Recover Energy 
Seek Earth
Shape Air
Shape Earth
Shape Fire
Silence
Slow Fall
Steady Hand*
Suspend Spell
Thunderclap
Wallwalker
Ward
Weaken


Third Circle (Shootist)
A Pistoleer is promoted to Shootist upon learning eleven Second Circle spells (a total of 20 spells, with First Circle spells), allowing him to study these nineteen spells.

Air Jet
Air Vision
Catch Missile
Clean
Concussion
Destroy Air 
Earth to Stone
Fireball
Flame Jet
Hawk Vision
Hinder
Hush
Lightning
Rapid Reload
Reflect
Restore
Shatter
Sniper Shot
Tell Position


Fourth Circle (Gunfighter)
A Shootist graduates to Gunfighter upon learning at least nine Third Circle spells (a total of 29 spells, with lower-Circle spells), giving him access to twenty more spells.

Ambidexterity  
Distant Blow 
Explode
Glitch/TL
Great Haste 
Great Ward 
Flaming Missiles
Flaming Weapon
Lightning Missiles
Lightning Weapon
Repair 
Return Missile 
Sand Jet
Semi-Auto Magic
Shape Metal
Shield
Slow
Smash Shot
Soilproof
Spell Marksmanship


Fifth Circle (Gunslinger)
A Gunfighter earns the title of Gunslinger upon learning at least eight Fourth Circle spells (a total of 37 spells, with lower-Circle spells), and can then go on to study any of these sixteen options.

Affect Spirits 
Block 
Devitalize Air 
Dispel Magic 
Explosive Fireball 
Fighting Irons 
Flesh to Stone
Flight 
Hardiness 
Immediate Action*
Malfunction/TL
Magic Bullet*
Reflex
Reverse Missiles
Stone Missile
Stop Healing


Sixth Circle (Gunsmith)
A Gunslinger earns the title of Gunsmith upon learning at least eight Fifth Circle spells (a total of 45 spells, with lower-Circle spells), and can then go on to study any of these 14 options. Those with the Gun Charm spells may go on to learn the following Enchantment spells at any time, though only firearms, ammunition, and gun accessories (like gun belts or cleaning kits) may be enchanted: Accuracy, Bane, Blank Spell Arrow, Cornucopia, Ghost Weapon, Graceful Weapon, Loyal Sword, Penetrating Weapon, Puissance, Quick-Aim, Quick-Draw, Speed Spell Arrow, Spell Arrow. Blank Spell Arrow, Speed Spell Arrow, and Spell Arrow only be used on firearm ammunition, not arrows or bolts.

Burning Death 
Catch Spell 
Confound Firearm* 
Delay 
Essential Gunpowder
Gun Charm 
Hail of Lead*
Hawk Flight 
Missile Shield
Penetrating Spell
Reduce Recoil*
Return Missile
Shatterproof
Throw Spell


Secret Material: Fawkes Fuse
Prepared correctly, this handmade gunpowder becomes a potent one-off magical energy source. Transformation calls for a Thaumatology-4 roll by a spellslinger with the Secret Material (Fawkes Fuse) perk. Any success produces a fine grey powder containing bound energy points equal to margin of success, with no maximum. Failure wastes the gunpowder. Critical failure produces a useless product that increases the Malfunction number of any ammo made with it by 3! The GM rolls in secret – failures are obvious, but it’s impossible to tell success from backfire! There are three uses for it, the first is as energy source for Fire, Breaking (of the Making and Breaking college), and Technology spells. The second is if it is mixed with regular gunpowder in equal amounts, it creates a substance exactly the same as that made by Essential Gunpowder. Finally if used during the enchantment of a magical firearm, ammunition, etc. it counts as five times the margin of success when it was made.


Essential Gunpowder (VH)
Regular 
Transforms regular gunpowder into the perfected essence of gunpowder. Essential Gunpowder does not spoil, get wet, or ever go bad. This reduces the Malfunction number by 3 when using ammo that contains Essential Gunpowder. If used in the manufacture of match-grade or extra powerful ammunition it doubles the normal benefits (and drawbacks). This can also be used on explosive powders, but not something like C4 or DET Cord; for these double the REF.

Duration: Indefinite.
Cost: 3 per pound of material; if casting this on ammunition use the WPS.
Time to cast: 30 seconds.
Prerequisites: Secret Spell (Essential Gunpowder) and nine Fifth Circle spells.



Fighting Irons
Blocking 
After casting this spell you can use a firearm you have in hand to parry a incoming attack. If the spell succeeds, the gun becomes harder than iron, momentarily – and automatically parries the attacking weapon without harm to the caster. If the spell fails, the wizard is simply parrying with his weapon! (and all that entails), if he critically fails use the results of the spell failure chart and the attack he was attempting to parry automatically hits him. This spell can parry no attack that could not normally be parried. Unlike most Blocking spells this spell may be used up to two times in a singular turn if the only other Blocking spell used was the Fighting Irons spells.

Cost: 1.
Prerequisites: Secret Spell (Fighting Irons), nine 0 Circle spells, and DX 11 or higher.


Item
Any firearm, useable by mages only. Energy cost to create: 600.


Ghostly Gunsmith/TL
Regular 
Casting this spell allows you to clean, disassemble, and reassemble a single firearm as if they had a Gun Cleaning Kit (GURPS High Tech, pg 160-161). It also allows the caster to assemble firearm ammunition from the normal ingredients (cartridge, bullet, powder) as if they had a Portable Tool Kit (Armoury (Small Arms)) (GURPS High Tech, pg 24). Assembly still requires a skill check to complete (with a +4 bonus from the spell) use the rules for Handloading and Reloading (GURPS High Tech, p.174) at one-tenth the rate to determine how many rounds can be assembled per casting, assume that this spell does a hour’s worth of work each time it is used.

Duration: See Text.
Cost: 4 to cast.
Time to cast: 10 seconds.
Prerequisites: Secret Spell (Ghostly Gunsmith).



Gun Charm
Enchantment 
This spell mirrors the Temporary Enchantment spell and serves as a prerequisite spell for other enchantments much as the Enchant spell (GURPS Magic p.54) does but only for the purpose of enchanting firearms, ammunition, and gun accessories (such as a Gun Cleaning Kit or a Cartridge Bandoleer). See GURPS Magic for further details on enchanting and enchantment.

Prerequisites: Secret Spell (Gun Charm) and nine Fifth Circle spells.


Rapid Reload
Regular 
This spell allows you to momentarily speed up your reflexes and agility but only for the purpose of reloading your firearm. This spell does not produce ammunition, which you must already have. You must specialize by reloading scheme: Belt (for machine guns), Breechloader (for double-barreled shotguns), Detachable Magazine (for most modern automatics), Muzzleloader (for black-powder guns), Swing-Out Revolver (for modern revolvers), etc. See High-Tech for a full list. A successful casting lets you reload as a free action for Detachable Magazine or for Swing-Out Revolver (with a speedloader), or with a single Ready maneuver for every other specialty but Muzzleloader. For the Muzzleloader specialty, you can spend extra 2 FP, and a successful roll chops 25% per 2 FP off reload time, to a minimum of three seconds.

Duration: Instantaneous
Cost: 4. See text for further information on Muzzleloaders.
Time to cast: 1 second.
Prerequisites: Magery 1. Fast-Draw (Ammo) 12+. Secret Spell (Rapid Reload) and eight Second Circle spells



Semi-Auto Magic
Regular 
This spell is cast on another damage-dealing spell, granting it an enhanced rate of fire (p. B373). The spells are cast one after the other, with no delays between castings. Semi-Auto Magic is cast first, and counts as a spell “on” for determining the effective skill for the second spell. You still have to pay the cost of each spell in FP but make only a single skill roll for all of them, so if you cast this spell for a RoF 3 and then Fireball with a 1d Fireball, the total FP cost would be 8, 5 FP for the Semi-Auto Magic spell, and 1 x 3 for the Fireball.

Duration: Until the second spell expires.
Cost: See table below.

RoF  Cost
2       4 
3       5
4-7   7 
8-15 10

Time to cast: 3 seconds.
Prerequisites: Secret Spell (Semi-Auto Magic) and eight Third Circle spells.



Smash Shot
Regular 
Your attack’s with a small arms weapon adds the effect of knockback to the target in addition to any other effects. The bullet does normal damage plus does knockback based on the amount of normal damage. For double the cost you may make this Double Knockback or Double Blunt Trauma, for triple cost you may have them both.

Duration: 1 minute.
Cost: 4 to cast. 2 to maintain. (double cost for Double Knockback or Double Blunt Trauma, triple cost for both).
Time to cast: 1 second.
Prerequisites: Secret Spell (Smash Shot) and eight Third Circle spells.


Sniper Shot
Regular 
Your next attack with a small arm weapon has its range increment increased by one-half (multiply by 1 1/2). This also affects the 1/2 D range of the weapon, if any.

Duration: 1 use (see text).
Cost: 3 to cast.
Time to cast: 5 seconds.
Prerequisites: Secret Spell (Sniper Shot) and eight Second Circle spells.



Spell-Marksmanship
Special 
This spell imbues a bullet with any spell that could be cast by touch. Get your small arm ready to shoot, and then choose a spell and energize your projectile with it. This takes the spell’s standard casting time. It requires energy equal to the spell’s usual cost, reduced for skill with that spell, plus 3 FP, reduced for skill at this one. Don’t roll yet – that comes later! You may hold the charged projectile ready while you take other actions, but unloading the firearm wastes the spell.  When you’re ready to shoot, make a normal ranged attack. Roll for the spell when the projectile hits something, using the lower of your level with that spell and Spell-Marksmanship. All standard casting modifiers apply except those for distance – the target is affected just as if you had cast the spell by touch! The missile does its usual damage. 

Duration: Until shot.
Cost: 3 + underlying spell cost.
Time to Cast: Per underlying spell.
Prerequisites: Magery 3+, Secret Spell (Spell-Marksmanship) and Guns or Gunner at 16+.


Magical Style (Ritual Path Magic)

Spellslinger
17 points 
Style Prerequisite: Gunslinger, Magery 0, and Ritual Adept.

Blending spell magic and implausible skill; the Spellslinger is a terrifying foe. Battle mages, or ‘spell slingers’ have been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until the first firearms came around that this style came into being. Using both magical prowess and firearms, the goal of the style is to use spells and guns (specifically pistols, but some practitioners use rifles, shotguns, etc.) as one, making them a extension of the mage. Because of the extremely stringent requirements (Magery and Gunslinger) plus the time invested in learning the style itself this style has few practitioners.
      The perk, Object Channel (Firearm) may be bought as soon as the Style Familiarity perk is gained as it is intrinsic to the style, for the purposes of that spell, any firearm with a bulk of -4 or less counts as a "wand" while a bulk of -5 or more counts as a "staff."
      To gain the energy reduction bonus for this style the spell must have something to do with firearms, guns, or destructive "battle magic" (damaging spells would be acceptable, as would a spell that blinds a foe - but not one that mere stuns them).

Required Skills: Armoury (Small Arms), Connoisseur (Guns), Fast-Draw (Ammo), Fast-Draw (Pistol or Longarm), Guns (any two), Innate Attack (Beam or Projectile), and Thaumatology.
Required Paths: Path of Body, Path of Energy*, and Path of Matter*.
Required Ritual Masteries: Alertness, Fighting Irons, Fireball, Haste.

Perks: Area Spell Mastery; Attribute Substitution (DX variant); Blocking Spell Mastery; Brute-Force Spell; Convenience Casting (Ghostly Gunsmith); Discreet Ritual; Fastest Gun in the West 1-3; Frightening Side Effects (any offensive spell on list); Improvised Magic (Spellslinger); Intuitive Cantrip (Reinforce or Spark); Limited Energy Reserve 1-5; Magical Weapon Bond; Mighty Spell; Magical Style Adaptation (any purely offensive, aggressive, or combat oriented style); Object Channel (Firearms); Path Variation (Body, Energy, or Matter); Power Casting; Psychic Guidance; Reduced Footprint; Rule of 17; Secret Material (Fawkes Fuse); Secret Spell (Confound Firearm; Fighting Irons, Ghostly Gunsmith, Ironmonger, Rapid Reload, Smash Shot, or Sniper Shot); Special Exercises 1-2 (Basic Speed); Special Exercises 1-4 (DX); Special Exercises (FP can exceed HT by 100%); Spell Duelist; Spell Enhancement (Double Knockback, Guided or Homing); Spell Hardiness 1-5 (any damaging spell on list); Spell Resistance (any Resisted spell on list); Stabilizing Skill (Armoury (Small Arms) for Spellslinger style spells); Style Adaptation (any Gun Fu style); Super-Sympathy (any firearm); True Shot†.
* You must have put at least two points into both of these Path skills.
† This perk is leveled and requires specialization in a particular type of Gun specialty; it adds 1 to the total Malfunction number reducing the chance that a given gun might misfire.

Optional Traits
Attributes: Improved DX and IQ.
Advantages: Acute Hearing or Vision; Ambidexterity; Combat Reflexes; Danger Sense; Daredevil; Enhanced Time Sense*; Enhanced Tracking*; Imbue*; Night Vision; Signature Gear; Spellslinger; Telescopic Vision*; Unfazeable.
Disadvantages: Bad Temper; Callous; Enemies; Impulsiveness; Loner; On the Edge; Overconfidence; Post-Combat Shakes; Stubbornness.
Skills: Alchemy; Artillery; Axe/Mace; Brawling; Fast-Draw (Long Arm or Pistol); Gunner; Guns; Hazardous Materials (Magical); Hidden Lore (Magical Items); History (Firearms); Knife; Spear; Teaching; and Imbuement skills.
Perks: Imbuement or Gun Fu Perks (any).
* Must have the "Magic, -10%" Power Modifier.


Secret Material: Fawkes Fuse 
Prepared correctly, this handmade gunpowder becomes a potent one-off magical energy source. Transformation calls for a Thaumatology-4 roll by a spellslinger with the Secret Material (Fawkes Fuse) perk. Any success produces a fine grey powder containing bound energy points equal to margin of success x 5, with no maximum. Failure wastes the gunpowder. Critical failure produces a useless product that increases the Malfunction number of any ammo made with it by 3! The GM rolls in secret – failures are obvious, but it’s impossible to tell success from backfire! It can only be used to power rituals or create magical items. For the former each point of bound energy can be tapped as a source for spells that deal with firearms, explosions, fire, and so on. For the latter, it counts as 1 hour of Slow and Sure enchanting per point of margin of success when created - but only for magic items that is related to one of the above.


New Ritual Path Magic Spells
The following new spells are available to any caster in the setting at the GM's option, but should probably be restricted to those with the Spellslinger magical style perk. They make excellent candidates for specialization via Secret Spell or multiple levels of Ritual Mastery.

Boom-Boom Round
Spell Effects: Greater Create Energy.
Inherent Modifiers: Damage, Burning Explosive.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell is usually cast as a bullet charm, increases the damaging power of an individual round. This adds 10d burning explosive damage as a follow-up to the actual damage of the bullet.

Typical Casting: Greater Create Energy (6) + Lesser Control Magic (5) + Damage, external 10d burning explosive (16). 81 energy (27x3).


Ghostly Gunsmith
Spell Effects: Lesser Control Matter.
Inherent Modifiers: Bestows a Bonus, +5 to Armoury (Small Arms)).
Greater Effects: 0 (x1).

Casting this spell allows you to clean, disassemble, and reassemble a single firearm as if you had a Gun Cleaning Kit (GURPS High Tech, p. 160-161). It also allows the mage to assemble firearm ammunition from the normal ingredients (cartridge, bullet, powder) as if he had a Portable Tool Kit (Armoury (Small Arms)) (GURPS High Tech, p. 24). Assembly still requires a skill check to complete (with a +5 bonus from the spell) use the rules for Handloading and Reloading (GURPS High Tech, p.174) at one-tenth the rate to determine how many rounds can be assembled per casting, assume that this spell does a hour’s worth of work each time it is used.

Typical Casting: Lesser Control Matter (5) + Bestows a Bonus, +5 to all Armoury (Small Arms) Rolls (16) + Subject Weight, 30 lbs. (1). 22 energy (22x1).


Rapid Reload 
Spell Effects: Lesser Strengthen Body.
Inherent Modifiers: Altered Traits, Quick-Reload (Specific Type).
Greater Effects: 0 (x1).

This spell allows you to momentarily speed up your reflexes and agility but only for the purpose of reloading your firearm. This spell does not produce ammunition, which you must already have. You must specialize by reloading scheme: Belt (for machine guns), Breechloader (for double-barreled shotguns), Detachable Magazine (for most modern automatics), Muzzleloader (for black-powder guns), Swing-Out Revolver (for modern revolvers), etc. See GURPS High-Tech for a full list. A successful casting lets you reload as a free action for Detachable Magazine or for Swing-Out Revolver (with a speedloader), or with a single Ready maneuver for every other specialty but Muzzleloader. For the Muzzleloader specialty, this costs 11, not 7, and reduces the time to reload to 3 seconds. This can be cast as a Blocking spell if the caster likes.

Typical Casting: Lesser Strengthen Body (3) + Altered Traits, Quick-Reload (Specific Type)* (1) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 7 energy (7x1).
* Adds an additional three levels of this perk.


Smash Shot 
Spell Effects: Lesser Control Energy.
Inherent Modifiers: Damage, External Piercing (Double Knockback and Double Blunt Trauma).
Greater Effects: 0 (x1).

This spell is cast on a firearm weighing up to 30 lbs., for the next 10 minutes, in addition to any other effects the gun has it also gains both Double Knockback and Double Blunt Trauma.

Typical Casting: Lesser Control Matter (5) + Damage, External Piercing (Double Knockback, +20%; Double Blunt Trauma, +20%) (8) + Subject Weight, 30 lbs. (1). 14 energy (14x1).


Sniper Shot 
Spell Effects: Greater Control Matter.
Inherent Modifiers: Bestows a Bonus, to negate penalties for one specific weapon.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell affects one particular firearm weighing up to 30 lbs., the next shot from the weapon ignores up to -7 worth of penalties regardless of whether they are from range, targeting, a hit location, etc. This lasts for one one shot only.

Typical Casting: Lesser Control Matter (5) + Bestows a Bonus, +7 bonus to negating penalties for one specific weapon (64) + Subject Weight, 30 lbs. (1). 210 energy (70x3).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gamemaster's Guidepost: I Know a Guy Who Knows a Guy

 http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1348301/thumbs/o-BETTER-CALL-SAUL-facebook.jpg

You know the character type. He knows a "guy" who knows a "guy." He's got friends in every city and every walk of life, and everyone bloody well owes him a favor. He's the face man, but he's also the fixer. He can find the guy you need for the job or the diamond-tipped industrial drill at 3 in the morning. Currently, the best way to do that is by buying a bunch of Allies, Contacts, Contact Groups, or even Patrons and hoping something is useful. Below I've presented some new options that I've used to success in the past.


Social Networking
The following is a new modular ability (p. B71) often found on the character sheets of face men, spies, and others who have an easy time of finding information and allies. I prettified this for my own campaigns a long time ago, and it was taken more or less whole cloth from this post by Anders (aka Asta Kask).

Social Networking: You have an easy time finding friends, allies, etc. in new situations. This ability can only be used to buy certain Social Advantages (Allies, Contacts, etc.). Rearranging your points requires a minimum of four hours per slot - this time is spent gossiping, hanging out with the right people, building confidences and perhaps even learning dirty secrets. Unlike most Modular Abilities, this is not an Exotic advantage; it represents a combination of social grace, panache, timing, and luck. Cost per slot: 4 points base + 3 points per point of abilities.


Yeah, I'm a Friend of Bobby Singer's
The Using Abilities at Default optional rule from GURPS Powers (p. 173) is not just for lightning-chucking, fireball-spitting mutants and psis...it can be pressed into service for other things. For example, it works surprisingly well on certain social advantages, like Contacts or Contact Groups. To do this, you need to make a roll against your Contact's frequency of appearance, if successful, proceed to the next step. Then you need to spend at least 1d hours schmoozing around, talking to people, consulting your own contacts, etc. You may use the Time Spent rules (p. B346) to reduce this time, though it affects your skill roll (see below). Next, make a skill roll against an appropriate skill, like Area Knowledge (Specific city) or Streetwise (see GURPS Social Engineering, p. 22 for more information about finding people) with a penalty based on the following:
-2 per 25% of the starting Contact’s point cost the default ability is worth, or fraction thereof; e.g., for a 20-point Contact, this would be  -2 for a default that costs 1-5 points, -4 for 6-10 points, -6 for 11-15 points, and -8 for 16-20 points. Apply another-2 penalty if the Contacts could not be logically linked - both are police or law enforcement Contacts, both are corporate Contacts, etc.
If successful, you get a one use of that Contact who must be used right then. If you do this more than once in a 24-hour period using the same base Contact, you suffer an additional -2 penalty. I suggested this one in the GURPS Social Engineering playtest, but it didn't make it in.


Proto (Zoa) (15)
Another option is to use a special form of Potential Advantages (p. B33) or "Proto-Contacts." This works normally; you set aside a specific number of character points that you don't use for anything until it's defined in play. At a dramatically appropriate moment, you may declare that you "know someone" (even if it's an NPC you're currently interacting with, though all reactions remain in place for that encounter - even if you do buy them as a Contact) and spend the points necessary to buy the Contact you need right then. I also suggested this one in the GURPS Social Engineering playtest (and again) didn't make it in.


I Owe You Big
Sometimes it's appropriate for characters to "owe" someone else, for long-term favors or blackmail Duty is probably the way to go, but for one-off favors the following might be more useful. This also appeared in the Social Engineering playtest (but never made it in) - though the idea is mine, the following wording is Antoni Ten Monrós' - I didn't rewrite it, because really, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Disadvantageous Favor
Varies
You owe a favor to someone else. This usually is a one-time  duty, possibly with extremely hazardous, but other social disadvantages, such as dependent, can also be used. To figure out the cost, divide the cost of the underlying disadvantage by 5, and round up. Once it is used, it disappears from your character sheet. The GM might require you to then pay the cost to buy it off, if you bought it at character creation, and failure to do so might earn you other social disadvantages, such as further disadvantageous favors. Disadvantageous favors usually come bundled with other social traits, such as rank, status, allies, contacts, etc., meaning that you got them thanks to the intervention of someone else, and thus owe them. There are two ways to handle this: either you owe a single favor, or you owe a favor each time you use the underlying advantage. In the first case, simply add a disadvantageous favor to your character sheet, and note what advantage it is linked to. Failure to repay the favor could mean that the attached advantage is  forfeited! In the second case, this is a special form of temporary disadvantage. Figure the value of the limitation as half the cost of  the underlying social trait (thus a trait that imposed a -10 point duty as a favor each time it is used would have a -5% limitation).


Picking Over The Bones
Of course, you might just use multiple Contacts or even multiple Contacts as Alternate Abilities might be a way to go, though if you fail to use one Contact that will put all your Contacts out of commission for the game (a possible unwanted outcome). Additionally, the GM could just use the rules for Finding People from GURPS Social Engineering and call it a day. Whatever you, as the GM decide, make sure your players know in advance what you're doing so that those who want to know a guy who knows a guy knows what they need to take trait-wise to achieve their goal.