Thursday, November 27, 2014

Carpe Blogiem: My Laptop Has Died



Guys,

        My laptop has died. It kicked the bucket at around 10pm yesterday and I've been unable to revive it since. I have no clue when I'll be able to get the blog back up and running as I'm typing this from my phone. I hate to ask this, but I need help and my livelihood is on the line as well as my home (I pay a good chunk of the bills with my writing). If any of you can, please please donate to my PayPal I'd really appreciate it. My paypal account is (empererofthemoon AT peoplepc DOT com). I hate asking for help...but I need it and I'm not too proud. I'm grateful to any of you who donate.


Respectfully,

Christopher. R. Rice

Edit: Having borrowed a computer, I can expand this a bit (as Douglas Cole has pointed out). I basically need a large laptop with a full-size keyboard - a 17" which is what I have now. I can't use a desktop for multiple reasons, but mainly because I'm either at home or constantly on the move and my work has to go with me. I have freakishly long arms and it physically hurts me when I used anything smaller considering how long I type at a time (sometimes for four plus hours). Staples seems to have a good deal for $600ish. I've got barely one-twelfth of what I need on-hand and I won't lie - not working is driving me nuts as is the thought of failing my family. So there, that's what I'm trying to do. Maybe get the newer version of Microsoft office. Other than that...I'd just be happy with something I could use and work on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Designer's Notes: The Department of Occult Defense



Even longer than "It's a Trap!" (I wrote the first draft in April 2013), "The Department of Occult Defense" was rejected twice (for both Pyramid #3/59: Conspiracies and Pyramid #3/58: Urban Fantasy II), but finally ended up in this month's Pyramid (Pyramid #3/73: Monster Hunters II) after a good long while in the stew point. I wrote it fairly quick (less than 16 hours) and revised it even faster (self-revision took about 7 hours and Beth smacked it around for a couple of days). Overall, about 27 man-hours of total work. I worried at first that it felt too derivative, but my various peer-reviewers seemed to really like it and Antoni Ten Monros (one of the "mirrors" I judge my work by) raved about it. Hell, PK liked it too so I knew I was probably over-thinking it. Overall, I was rather proud of how it turned out, the sheer amount of puns per page should be enough to make anyone groan in pain. I'm especially happy about that Beatles reference. I actually didn't have to worry about much getting cut (thanks, Steven!), but I did end up doing some cutting of my own.


Expanded SGP Classifications
I couldn't put in all all the critters from the books - so here is a expanded chart of the current monsters for Monster Hunters.

Ghost (GURPS Monster Hunters 3: The Enemy, p. 4): a "typical" ghost with a FP of 20 is Class 3, while a "boss" ghost with a FP of 100 (or more!) is Class 5
Feral Vampire (GURPS Monster Hunters 3: The Enemy, p. 10): Class 3
Spell Casting Demon (GURPS Monster Hunters 3: The Enemy, p. 19):: Class 4
Skin-Changer (GURPS Monster Hunters 3: The Enemy, p. 21): Class 4
Albino Alligator (GURPS Monster Hunters 3: The Enemy, p. 23): Class 3
Lycanthrope Pack (GURPS Monster Hunters 3: The Enemy, p. 24):Class 4
Changeling (Pyramid #3/45: Monsters, p. 25): Class 3
Goblin (Pyramid #3/45: Monsters, p. 25): Class 1, Goblin Swarms are class 2
Ogre (Pyramid #3/45: Monsters, p. 26): Class 3
Redcap (Pyramid #3/45: Monsters, p. 27): Class 3 or if in a "bully-boy gang" Class 4
Unseelie (Pyramid #3/45: Monsters, p. 28): Class 3
Yuki onna (Pyramid #3/45: Monsters, p. 29): Class 3; Class 4 or even 5 if you're fighting them in the snow or during a blizzard!


The Prometheus Treatment
I created a "super-solider" formula as a optional meta-trait for inhumans to spend their points on, but ended up scrapping the whole thing and kept only a singular bioenhancement upgrade. I decided the meta-trait wouldn't work at all (it made the line between inhumans and experiments blur too much) , but I did keep the powers for it:


Bio-Nourishment
6, 12, 18, 24, or 27 points
You can go a long time without eating, drinking, or breathing. See the chart below for details, at level 5 you no longer require air, food, or drink! You’re are essentially a closed biological circuit.

Level      Drinks/Meals Required        Suffocation FP Loss     Brain Damage/Death   
1             2/3 as much                             2/3 seconds                    2 min./4 min.
2             1/3 as much                             1/3 seconds                    3 min./6 min.
3             5% as much                             1/20 seconds                  40 min./80 min.
4             1% as much                             1/100 seconds                200 min./400 min.
5             None!                                      None!                             None!

Statistics: Levels one through four are Reduced Consumption (Bioaugmentation, -10%; Includes Air, +200%) [5.8/level]. Level five is Doesn’t Breathe (Bioaugmentation, -10%) [18] and Doesn’t Eat or Drink (Bioaugmentation, -10%) [9].


Enhanced Synapses
14, 50, 77, 104, or 131 points
Your mind perceives the world in slow motion. The first level of this ability functionally identically to Danger Sense (p. B00), allowing you to make an IQ plus Bioaugmentation Talent to detect ambushes, surprise attacks, etc. Level two functions identically to Enhanced Time Sense (p. B52), but costs you 1 FP every minute the ability is active. Every level thereafter gives the character a +1 bonus to Active Defenses, up to a +3 bonus at level five. At level 5, you no longer need to spend FP to keep Enhanced Time Sense active; it now becomes a passive ability.

Statistics: Level one is Danger Sense (Bioaugmentation, -10%) [14]. Level two adds Enhanced Time Sense (Bioaugmentation, -10%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -10%) [36]. Level three and higher adds Defense Bonus meta-trait (Bioaugmentation, -10%) [27] per level. Level five removes Cost Fatigue from Enhanced Time Sense for, 5 points.


Gecko Eyes
6 points/level
You can focus your eyes independently like a gecko or chameleon.  An Aim (p. 364) or Evaluate (p. 364) maneuver normally applies to a single target. Each level allows your maneuver to apply to one additional target. You can only track targets that you can detect. Anyone who sees your eyes must make a Per-4 roll to notice their independent movement.

Statistics: Enhanced Tracking (Bioaugmentation, -10%; Low Signature, +10%; Multiple Lock-Ons, +20%) [6/level].


Bonus Post Publication Material
Hunting monsters and urban fantasy in general are my proverbial wheelhouse. This is the kind of stuff I like to run, write, and read. It is by no means the only genre...but it's a favorite. So when I asked some of the other authors about how they might use the DOD in their articles...well, I got a bit more than I bargained for (in a totally good way). Here are a few ideas straight from the authors themselves on how to use all of the material (except for HANS' excellent article - I asked and he would have liked to, but he was just too busy) from their article alongside my own.


The Dude and the Orchid (by W. A. Frick & Christopher R. Rice)
The Shadow War is over for the Department of Occult Defense. The bad guys won. The world got blown all to hell and not a single damned person noticed what really happened. It wasn't a sudden slide toward the end, a world on fire and burning. No, to anyone watching from the outside, this was a banal - almost casual - march into the end. Almost as if by-the-numbers of some unseen checklist.
        It all began with the assassination of President Burris in 2010. The assassins, identified in the media as a shadowy satanic cult, became the pretext for an anti-cult task-force, which became the excuse for a nation-wide witch hunt. This kind of thing should naturally have fallen to the DOD, but they were stone-walled out of the investigation.
        Then in 2015, the twin hurricanes Bonnie & Clyde ravaged the eastern seaboard, providing cover for a gill-man invasion which stripped the coast of many small towns and waterfront communities. The DOD's response was a failure; they just didn't have to manpower to deal with multiple incursions. As the hurricanes and their fallout provided an early impetus for the formation of the NERCC, the DOD saw its funding cut and its cases forwarded to a new group: the anti-cult task-force, which had been absorbed and set up as the NERCC's "Occult and Religious Counter-Intelligence Division" (ORCID).
         Finally, things hit a head in the summer of 2024. Multiple outbreaks of the deadly and disfiguring Tolliver's Disease helped to ignite decades of tension into mass civil unrest across the country. Even as the NERCC commandeered National Guard and local SWAT forces to help keep order, it became clear to the DOD that something -else- was happening underneath the TD outbreaks - a genetically engineered hemorrhagic fever that turned the victim into a blood-soaked nightmare of screaming and teeth. XT44, nicknamed the Xipe Totec by Department scientists because of the way the skin of the infected peels off like paper, was causing zombie outbreaks across the nation, and DOD teams couldn't keep up.
         ORCID stepped in, taking control of DOD containment and cleanup efforts with full support of federal and local authorities. At the same time as the so-called "Permanent Emergency" dawned on America, and the Provisional Government took its first iron grip, the DOD was quietly decommissioned. Both it and the HPLD were disbanded; some of the more loyal -human- members of the department were taken in by ORCID, but most of the HPLD had their "honorary humanity" revoked - and were targeted by ORCID strike teams. Those who escaped this Night of Long Knives were driven underground; some were snapped up by a mysterious black-bag group named Project: Persephone and never heard from again.
         Since then, ORCID brass has been quietly bringing back some of the old models - especially the Judas Initiative - because it's hard to fight the Good Fight without the same weapons as the Enemy. Sometimes the tried and true are the best tactics - and bringing your own monster to fight off other monsters is just good sense. It's taken them a bit of time, but they've managed to get some Old Blood back into the fight ... some pined for the good old days of monster hunting on the government dime, some were just bored, and some were idealistic, rejoining ORCID with the intent to staunch the proverbial bleeding.


The Jude Revelation (by David L. Pulver)
This adventure seed takes place in the same university where the rogue monster squad Venatio ("the Faculty") operates, and connects it with the Department of Occult Defense. Josh Tryabank (age 22) is a brilliant mathematical and aspiring literary scholar. An intuitive mathematician, he has a dual major in Mathematics (specializing in cryptology and cryptoanalysis) and English Literature (an expert scholar in the burgeoning field of H.P. Lovecraft studies). These twin talents have led him to come dangerously close to exposing the existence of the secrets of the Department of Occult Defense!                 "Fungi from Yuggoth" is a sequence of 36 esoteric sonnets written by H.P. Lovecraft in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Less well known than his stories, they were published in Weird Tales and other small press magazines frequented by his circle of correspondents.
         Tryabank has recently subjected several poems in the Fungi from Yuggoth to exhaustive computer cryptoanalysis. He has uncovered a buried code in several of the latter poems which he believes reveals a second secret "Understory" within the poems. He has only cracked a portion of it, but there are references to a werewolves, the Brothers Grimm, and some sort of entity called "Jude" who may be a vampire, but, in a bizarre twist unusual in 1930s literature, one who is on the side of humanity!. Indeed, the "understory" is presented in epistolary format as a series of "directives"
to a network of informers and agents scattered across the United States. In particular, they are charged with finding - and recruiting - supernatural beings who, like Jude, might be willing to work as allies for humanity!
         Tryabank believes this coded "understory" to be an elaborate playful literary joke that was conducted between Lovecraft and his inside circle, such as Robert Howard and August Derleth.  He notes the use of more "traditional" elements such as werewolves and vampires,  which Lovecraft would not include in his more serious ruminations on "cosmic horror." He has analyzed about 22 of the poems, and using them has circulated a rough draft of the paper amongst a few interested faculty members. When he completes computer analysis of the rest of the poems, he hopes to publish a full paper entitled "The Jude Conspiracy: A Hidden Understory in H.P. Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth" in appropriate academic venues, to be followed by an annotated edition of the poems. T
          That's still a few weeks away. So far, he has yet to finish the analysis of the final poems ... when he does, he'll discover that,  much as in Lovecraft's classic story The Shadow over Innsmouth, there is evidence that the government is aware of the existence of monsters, and t hat the Lovecraft in the story is working for them. He will uncover the name "Jude Initiative." Of course, he'll still believe this is just a story - an elaborate prank much like the way some in Lovecraft's circle would write disguised versions of the fellow authors as protagonists into some of their stories, or borrow categories from one another.

Adventure Seeds
Tryabank's faculty advisor in the English department of  the university is Professor Clarence Adams ... who is secretly a member of the monster hunter group Venatio, and whose special interest is stalking vampires and werewolves. While Adams' particular specialty is Poe, he is naturally also familiar with Lovecraft and has been very interested in Tryabank's work.
            Initially interested in Tyrabank's work for its literary merit, he has noted certain references in it that refer to things only someone familiar with the real supernatural would know. Adams has shown Tryabank's draft work to his Ventatio colleague Zoe Zoolittle, a scholar of cryptozoological outbreaks, who has confirmed that the 1929 werewolf outbreak alluded to in the "Yuggoth Understory" was in fact something that really happened.
            So far, the Venatio members are still unaware of any connection to the government, but they do  suspect from the documents he has uncoded so far that Lovecraft had secret knowledge of monsters and was recruiting a network of monsters and monster hunters. (The early letters date from the very beginnings of the DOD). Of course, they also realize Tryabank might have attracted other attention... and so Adams is keeping a close eye on his student to see if anyone else shows unusual interest in his story...
            Adams, as a scholar of vampirism, knows that many of these monsters are
immortal: perhaps some of the creatures, like this Jude fellow, are still around.... monsters Venatio can hunt!
             However, Tryabank's researches - and his use of the university's high-end computer systems for literary cryptoanalysis - has have come to the attention of others beyond the Faculty. These include a few individuals who recruit talented young mathematicians to work in the National Security Agency and the like. A routine report on Tryabank's work made its way through various Homeland Security and NSA channels to the Department of Occult Defense's Intelligence and Psyops division. They were appalled at the hints in this report that suggested their secret origin of their agency could be exposed! 
            They are considering sending a team - perhaps a group of PCs - to investigate and determine how much Tryabank really knows - perhaps either to scare him off  (with the team's monsters) or  recruit him to the organization.
            What the DOD team won't be excepting is the existence of Venatio on campus who are also watching the young researcher. If any 'monsters'  and their handlers show up on campus displaying an undue interest in Tryabank, Venatio may attack and attempt to capture them - leading to a confrontation between the DOD team and the university's own monster hunters. While Venatio are certainly no match for the DOD's huge resources, and would not deliberately risk exposure if they knew the truth,  they could a lot of damage to one of the Judge Initiative monster-human teams if they mistook it for a group of supernatural predators stalking Tryabank and attempted to trap and exterminate them!


The Above, The Below, and What Lies Beyond (by J. Edward Tremlett)
It’s just conceivable that, in their quest to protect ordinary humanity from those things that seek to prey upon it, the operatives of the Department of Occult Defense may encounter the “Baldies,” and, through them, The Above. Dealing with such a menace will bring its own risks and rewards, of course. But a further, stunning revelation awaits those who look into the DOD’s files, and make certain unsettling connections with some papers the group’s original Director left behind. The trail might go something like this...
  • At some point in the adventure, the PCs get their hands on some of the eggs, and bring them back to be studied. Some weak-willed researchers might spend too long with them and begin to suffer hallucinations and sleep deprivation. If they’re lucky, they’ll die. If not, dead neighbors’ bodies rotting in the basement, shrieking at the sky, and sudden hair and tooth loss may follow. But hopefully the PCs get some answers before a stricken researcher comes in to work early to blow up the lab for The Above.
  • The geological structure of the black basalt eggs will match records of samples brought back from Sir Charles Throckmore-Addington’s long-discredited 1894 expedition to Tibet. However, a call to the British Museum for confirmation reveals that the rock samples were put into “special conservation” sometime in the 1930’s. Anyone with some experience with that museum will know that means the samples were quietly and permanently removed from the collection. If pressed, the rather-rigid individual on the other end will only offer that “Her Majesty requested them, and I may not say anything else on the matter.” (i.e. the British Government took the samples for secret reasons.)
  • That dead end may seem to spell doom for this line of inquiry, but looking over the story that Throckmore-Addington told of the Lost Plateau of Durtro may trigger the memory of anyone familiar with Director Lovecraft’s fictional output. It almost sounds like the mythical Plateau of Leng, which was also purported to lay in central Asia, as well as the “Dreamlands.”
  • Knowing that some of what Director Lovecraft wrote of was simply coded allegories for what really goes on in the twilight world, someone might want to access the Director’s personal records, which have been sealed up since he left the DOD in 1936. Doing so will require going to Director Grimm for permission, and he’ll most likely crawl up the PCs’ behinds with large and uncomfortable flashlight before allowing them to have access to that level of information. If they convince him that the “Baldies” are a serious enough threat that any intel they have should be utilized, he may yet relent; if that fails, there may be other, sneakier ways to gain access, but they better not get caught.
  • Director Lovecraft’s records are sealed up in a vault in the HPLD’s base in Chicago. It’s on the 12th floor – known as “Below” – along with a number of other, super-secret things, records, and entities that have been sealed away for all time. Going there for an official look means having to talk to Asst. Director Ladon, and run a gauntlet of his best psychics and mentalists, just to make sure they aren’t up to no good. Sneaking in requires other means, and may require a whole separate adventure just to find the long-forgotten, third way into their underground headquarters via the abandoned tenth floor. 
  • Once inside the vault, the PCs learn that Director Lovecraft was very interested in Throckmore-Addington’s 1894 expedition to the Lost Plateau of Durtro. In fact, he has three boxes devoted to it. On top of them is an envelope with a faded letter from a Colonel Alan L. Stewart from some outfit called GHOSTTRAIN. It confirms (in affected, British-spelled prose) that all materials were “collected for your research, and all records here expunged.” It also thanks the DOD for its “advise in dealing with that beastly business in the (REDACTED) Valley,” and looks forward to more transatlantic joint ventures. 
  • Box one includes all the missing rock samples from the British Museum, including the black basalt samples in question. Some of them look suspiciously like smashed eggs. Thankfully, whatever malefic influence they had is long gone. There’s also samples of strange, precious stones and common rocks that match nowhere else on Earth. A ruby the size of a man’s fist lies at the bottom of the box; looking at it too long causes nightmares of falling through an endless void towards some abhorrent, shapeless thing at the center of the universe.
  • Box two included all the notebooks filled, sketchbooks illustrated, and photographs taken during the expedition. It’s all normal Tibetan steppes until they reach the two, tall, bonelike spires of black basalt that mark the entrance to Durtro. Past that, the landscape is filled with the fossilized skeletons of beasts both familiar and strange, and then they arrive at the sunken monastery of what is claimed to be the Fifth School of Tibetan Buddhism, but whose eyeless, hairless, and toothless adherents practice a strange, brutal asceticism that bears little resemblance to it. The swirling script the monks use to write with, the rows of black eggs along the walls, and the bone and brown feather windchimes all bear an eerie resemblance to what was found in the warrens. At the bottom of the pile is a photograph of a man being hacked to pieces for sky burial: he’s clearly alive, in spite of being in several parts, and laughing at his plight.
  • Box three is Throckmore-Addington’s journal of the trip, and the very expurgated version that he eventually published. All the truly gruesome and outlandish things that he saw at the monastery were left out, along with mentions of strange creatures that were following them through the plateau, and the horrible fates a number of his native porters suffered if they got too far from the campfire. Whatever killed them stripped them to the bone within seconds, leaving steaming skeletons seeping with deadly poison. And by the time they’d returned from the monastery, heading for home, those skeletons had turned to stone. But more intriguing are Director Lovecraft’s notes, stuck in relevant pages, speaking of “Nightgaunts,” “ghasts,” “Gorgons,” “the High Priest Not to Be Described,” and other such things.

Along with the boxes are notes written by Director Lovecraft. In them, he wonders if perhaps the lost plateau of Durtro wasn’t what he saw when he thought of Leng, all those years ago. He speculates that the bone spires are a gateway to a realm of dreams, much like the Dreamlands, and that the realm beyond might lead to more wondrous and terrible sights, and entities. He also surmises that the spires aren’t always there, and may even move from place to place, which is why the second expedition failed to find them. But what, then, is The Above? Is it a reflection of Yog Sothoth? Or something less powerful, but no less terrible? He posits that this sky god the monks wanted to rise and join with would cause untold damage if it ever got into our world, and hopes that Throckmore-Addington’s entrance and exit didn’t tempt it into our direction. More research is needed, clearly, and perhaps a journey to Tibet may be called for, if only to learn how those closest to this crossover between one world and another handle such a threat. 
           Hopefully, that will give the PCs the direction needed to learn more about The Above, and where to find a way to shut it down in our world. As for what that may entail, and what other adventures this could lead to, the GM is encouraged to do whatever they’d like, so long as their Monster Hunter game doesn’t suddenly turn into the Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath (unless the players are cool with that sort of a deviation from a Monster Hunter campaign).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Chronicles of Ceteri - Stone Dead - Part I - Game Session 3

Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annalise “Annie” Murphy, & Dr. Francesco “Frankie” Novella
The Shadowed Heights
January 27th, 1999, 3:30 pm
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

Deciding that the local faerie lord, Duke Niallan “Lan” Lughnon should know about Millicent and her recent activities (e.g., her wanton demon summoning), Annie gets the others together to go visit him in Brookline.


Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annalise “Annie” Murphy, & Dr. Francesco “Frankie” Novella
Ledbetter’s Automotive Refurbishing and Repair
January 27th, 1999, 4:00 pm
14 Sheafe St. Brookline, MA 02467

Getting through the gate is easy enough, though the guards give Al-Shams a hard time since he’s dressed in his fae mail garb. Once inside, Annie finds the Duke underneath a ’67 Chevy working on the exhaust. Unlike many fae, Niallan “Lan” Lughnon aka Allan “Lan” Ledbetter (his mortal name) has no problem working with metal of any kind thanks to his mother’s heritage as a metallenzouber (a fae able to stand the touch of iron). Annie warns him of what’s happened and he comes up from under the car to give his “niece” a hug (Annie is the many times descendent of his father, Lugh Lámhfhada). They talk for a few minutes and he offers her some of his men in helping to track Millicent down. Annie accepts the offer, but asks him to wait until they locate her so they can deal with the evil creature for the last time. When Annie asked about the Conclave, Lan explains that they seem to be “into something big,” but has no other information. Annie sensing something is off calls her local custos1 contact, Erasmus McAllister. After a few minutes of conversation, he appears outside the garage compound and is then let inside. Once inside Erasmus explains that someone broke out several inmates from the Donjon2 Since this has only been done five times before (the last being in the late 19th century), the custos are understandably upset. The worst part is they are not sure who or what actually got out. Erasmus asks if he can “borrow” Ronan from Annie for a while since he was the last person to break out (before he died). Annie agrees and tells Ronan to gather as much information as he can about Millicent – she’s going to take both Frankie and Al-Shams to the Goblin Market3 in H-Town4 below the city.

Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annalise “Annie” Murphy, & Dr. Francesco “Frankie” Novella
The Shadowed Heights
January 27th, 1999, 5:30 pm
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

Once back at the Heights, Annie is greeted by Alvin (who she left there) and oddly both Svalbad and Little Paw who have come to help her find Millicent. While Annie cooks a meal for everyone, Al-Shams, Alvin, and Frankie begin to make ques – a special incense that produces a acid-like fog when burnt that only harms beings who are of nephilitic descent (e.g., the Forsaken). Because of its rarity (the secret to making it are lost), it sells for triple or more in its weight in gold. Al-Shams, horrified that so many secrets have been lost in the last 800 years, teaches both Alvin and Frankie how to make it as well as recording it in a notebook for other hunters. The team gears up to venture into underground Boston aka “H-Town” via the troll from the Wachusett Aqueduct.

Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annalise “Annie” Murphy, & Dr. Francesco “Frankie” Novella
The Shadowed Heights
January 27th, 1999, 7:30 pm
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

1 The Custos are the Conclave’s peacekeepers, soldiers, and (when the need arises) executioners. But they are more than that – they are also the protectors, the judges, and investigators. Their name is also their designation – they are the keepers of their brother and they take their jobs very seriously. Despite this, they have developed a reputation for “guilty till proven innocent” and most ceteri flee from them if they can.
2 If the Custos are the Conclave’s police, then the Don Jon is their prison – their intelligent prison. The very walls are its guards and the warden never offers a pardon. Within this monstrous sprawling extradimensional complex lay every type of dark monster the imagination can conjure. The Don Jon is built as a labyrinth – in the center is where most prisoners are. They can live out their lives in relative peace and quiet, but as you go further and further out into the maze itself it becomes dangerous. The Don Jon has a total of seven layers with each layer being more deadly than the next. It has only been breached five times in its history.
3 The Goblin Market (sometimes called the Troll Market) is the supernatural version of a swap meet and is typically found in H-Town, though it occasionally meets in other places.
4 Hadestown or H-Town as it is often abbreviated as is the collection of tunnels, old sewers, buried buildings, and other subterranean structures underneath Boston. It’s sometimes used as neutral spot by others, but it’s mostly used as a place free of the Pax Trimountaine (though that’s not actually true). The home of unseelie, vampires, and other unpleasant creatures the place is ruled (as much as it can be) by the Blood Mother (or sometimes Mother of Blood) a ancient female vampire who sided against her kin in the shadow wars that drove all vampires from Boston.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

GURPS101: Spell Kits for Casters - the Defender



In a previous post, I talked about various "wizardly" archetypes and how you might create them using RPM. I've already done this for the Gatemaker and the Necromancer, but what's next? Well, I've been watching a lot of Agents of S.H.E.L.D. and shields defend...so hey! Defender. That's the ticket. I described the Defender archetype as...

"The Defender: This guy is all about defense. He’s reactive, not proactive. Unfortunately, the number of defensive effects are scattered over several Paths; he'll probably need to pick one particular shtick and specialize in it: Path of Body (for enhancing living beings), Path of Chance (for those lucky breaks), Path of Energy or Matter (for conjuring barriers or “hardening” air), Path of Magic (for taking down other casters spells), and Path of Mind (for defending against mental effects). A variation is the “warder” – the guy who specializes in creating barriers to keep out supernatural forces. He needs Higher Purpose (Warding) and Path of Magic, Mind, Spirit, and Undead. Defender casters might consider a Higher Purpose for their specialty (Barriers, Conjuring (material), and so on). Defender magic is one of the archetypes that actually works better as charms or conditional spells."

This was written before PK's Ritual Path Specialists article and too this list I'd add Higher Purpose (Self-Defense) or Higher Purpose (Blocking Spells). The latter adds to any Blocking Spell (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 24)....

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Assembly Required: Outlining Step Three - Geography



Having a map for your campaign - even if it is not actually a cartograph - is important. Knowing where the PCs are and where they can go is so important to a campaign that I've rarely seen a game get off the ground without at least a sketch of what is in the surrounding area. And when I say a sketch I mean that as literally a doodle on a napkin or a few quick notes on what's near and about how far away it is. I've always felt this was the one real weakness a homebrew campaign has over established settings. In my experience it's also the hardest step. To put it bluntly - I can't draw worth a sh*t. I'm so bad my stick figures look like their neck threw up their face. Yes. I'm that bad. They're terrible. So what can you do? Well, cheat of course. My granddaddy used to say "If you ain't cheatin, boy, you just ain't tried hard enough." That was his way of saying "Work smarter - not harder." So before I get into the questions and sort of things you should be looking for when you start on the geography I'd like to point out Google's Map Engine Lite - if you're running a modern or contemporary campaign this thing is invaluable. Google Earth is also useful and I use it quite a lot for any modern campaign I run.

  • Where are the PCs starting out? Anything special about it?
  • What are the nearby places of civilization? How big are they? Anything they are noted for?
  • What interesting locations are nearby (dungeons, abandoned cities, hostels, etc.)? How famous are they? What is or was their purpose?
  • What landmass is nearest to the PCs? How big is it? Any others nearby?
  • What organizations are nearby? Any particular reason why?
If you have the talent or money to spare I always suggest creating a map for your setting you can reuse over and over again.


The Worked Example: Something, Something Kill Monsters Urban Fantasy Secret Magic aka "The Chronicles of Ceteri"
Since my campaign is taking place in modern day in a "wainscot" style setting I get to cheat and use modern day maps to build from. That doesn't stop me from sketching out where the local players are in the chosen city (Boston). So, briefly this is what I came up with:

The Blue Hills Reservation: The seat of the local Faerie Duke's power.
Langlee Island: The seat of the local alpha for the werewolves' longhouse.
Wompatuck State Park: Where the werewolves roam on nights of the full moon.
South slope, Beacon Hill: The various Great Houses of the sorcerers live in the same neighborhood as Boston's elite "Boston Brahmin."
Murphy Island (aka Long Island): The ancestral home of the Murphy clan - the arbiters of the Pax Trimountaine.

I'll add more as the campaign progresses and start to flesh out what I have. Eventually, if you keep at it long enough you're setting bible will look like a established setting - because you'll be the one to establish it with your players!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Melee Academy: Bar Fights and Being a Bouncer, Part II



Note: The title is a bit of a misnomer, since only half the post deals with actual bar fights - but I like the title...so there.

Grappling has been talked about a lot on the forums lately and it's gotten me to thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know). What have I seen performed in real life vs. what happens most often in a GURPS game? First, let me pre-face this with the fact that I am by no means a trained combatant, but I have extensive experience actually fighting. Anyways, grappling as I've seen it:


Choke Hold
The GURPS version of choke hold is pretty awesome. You got to grapple someone from behind using both hands (at a -2 for Judo or -3 for Wrestling). Your target can attempt to break free, but you get a +5 bonus on the Quick Contest. On your next turn your target loses 1 FP or you can cause crushing damage equal to your margin of victory (x1.5 after taking into account DR). Damn. That is awesome. You can knock out a normal guy in about 10 seconds as long as you can maintain the hold. I'm the local king of choking someone out. If I can get my arms around you...it's over. I've never lost a close-in fight in my life - that's why most people who know me or my (limited) reputation know to stay away from me. Hell, you see someone my size and you're not going to be dumb enough to get close. Anyways, I've never knocked someone out that fast, I think my "best" attempt was about half a minute and I had grabbed the target around the neck and locked my arm around his throat while lifting him into the air using a knee on a stool. This is a personal favorite because it maximizes my strengths. I've actually seen this used in gameplay before too, and quite often. One of my players once performed two one-handed choke holds, followed by a "Kiss the Wall!" maneuver that involved knocking the target's heads against the wall.

Anecdote: I was at a Wal-Mart in search of watermelon back in 2004 when I saw a man hitting what was probably his wife. She must have been five feet nothing at most and there was a small group of people watching when I went down the isle. I calmly asked the man to stop and removed my cell phone to call the police when he picked up a can of soup and started hitting her in the face. At that point I waited for a opening, grabbed him around the neck, and secured my arm to act as a lever. I then dragged him down the rest of the aisle until he passed out. He fought, elbowing me in the ribs, but he just wasn't strong enough to get out. I checked his pulse, flipped him over, and then opened a extension cord package on a endcap to tie him up. The police had been called by then because the security guard was screaming at me to back away (where was he five minutes ago?). I explained to him what happened and the other people who saw it backed me up. The woman wasn't going to press charges till I explained that I would be regardless of whether she did or not. I usually get a card at the start of the summer of every year from Sheila; she's living happily (re)married to a man that treats her right with her daughter from her first marriage and her son from her current one.

GURPS Terms: I performed a Telegraphic Attack (for +4 to skill) and then grabbed the guys neck and initiated a Choke Hold using an All-Out Attack (Double). Since I've a high ST, it didn't take long for the man to begin to suffocate as I used my step each turn to drag the man down the aisle. He threw numerous elbow strikes against my ribs, but nothing I would say did even 1 HP of damage.



Arm Lock/Wrist Lock
Doug's got a excellent look at Arm Lock over here, so I'll just note that I've seen this both in game and real life pretty often. My best friend can put me in a Arm Lock I have a hard time getting out of. Hell, I've seen him do it to two grown men at the same time once out our then FLGS - you do not mess with a pissed off Filipino because he eats 9mm bullets for breakfast (Bullet O's - start your day the Filipino Way!). My old boss made a point of teaching all his guys how to perform this at least at the most basic level along with which nerve clusters were the best targets to pacify a target.

Anecdote: It was the late 90's when I met my best friend at a gaming store (the old Campaign Headquarters), on one particularly late night, while I was running a campaign of Werewolf the Apocalypse, the store manager was having issues with two (obviously) drunk sailors. When they started yelling, my best friend and I came out of the back room to see what was going on. It eventually devolved into one guy throwing a bottle at the store manager. My best friend, C, moved forward faster than I've ever seen a man move before then, grabbed each of them by the wrist and squeezed until they started screaming. He then dragged them out of the store like two disobidient children.

GURPS Terms: C has studied some Akido and a few other odds and ends and is still more trained than I am even today. What he did was probably a All-Out Attack (Double) to grab each wrist, followed by wrist lock to inflict pain (which must have been a lot because the sailors were screaming bloody murder) and then kept stepping with his drunk cargo until they left the store.



Finger Lock
Like Arm Lock, but for fingers. I've seen this a handful of times in game and all of those were for causing pain (see Inflicting Pain with Locks, GURPS Martial Arts, p. 118) rather than breaking fingers. In real life, I've seen this done a LOT. My old boss was fond of using this on drunks who would try to start a fight by punching him. He'd duck out of the way, grab the hand, and start twisting a finger till the other submitted. It works wonders when trying to get rowdy drunks to do what you want - especially if they are traveling in packs like your typical Homo Sapins Americanis Redneckis. My girlfriend knows how to do this too, some form of self-defense class she learned years before. Like all girls who know how to fight, she's vicious. I personally have no patience for something like this - I prefer more brute-force methods like Wrench Arm (see below).

Anecdote: Tom-Tom is a scary old fart. This side of fifty when I knew him he was in better shape and meaner than someone half his age. In addition to some of his other antics I've seen Tom-Tom perform a finger lock on someone my size, while kneeing someone in the groin. It was a late night and I'd been doing schoolwork in the back (per the usual), when I heard the bartender, Milly, call out. Coming out I saw Tom-Tom duck underneath a punch thrown by a drunk SOB about my size. Tom-Tom then grabbed the guys's wrist and began applying pressure to it. SOB ended up opening his fist and then Tom-Tom grabbed his index finger and twisted. SOB went to his knees, but not before his partner Dumb Bastard tried to punch Tom-Tom in the side. DB was instead rewarded with knee into the balls that put him on the floor.

GURPS Terms: Tom-Tom parried SOB and followed it up with a Wrist Lock to inflict pain and then performed a finger lock for a few rounds. When DB tried to get in close, he Dodged out of the way and followed it up with a All-Out Attack (Double) on his next turn to maintain the finger lock and then hit DB with a knee strike to the groin.



Wrench Limb
So in GURPS you need to grapple the targeted limb with both hands, your target can try to break free, but if he doesn't then next turn you can tug on it like a futhermucker. You then roll a Quick Contest of your Wrench Limb vs. the higher of your target's ST or HT (he gets +4 if it's his leg). Failure means you tickled him (and you're probably both very unconformable now). If you win you do swing crushing damage to the limb with rigid (only!) DR protecting. I've seen this done in game play fairly often (half a dozen times in every campaign I've run) and it's my second favorite thing to do if I'm forced into a physical confrontation. Again, if I can get in close...it's usually over. I've actually done this so fast it looked like nothing happened - until my victim began to scream anyways (dislocations succccckkkkkk)


Anecdote: I was on my high school wrestling team all of two minutes (okay, more like two weeks, but you get the idea), before our first scrimmage. I'd not gotten enough training and they didn't think the opposition would be fielding a extra-heavy class. But they did, a recent transfer from another school, and I ended up having to wrestle (which I was happy about). The bout was pretty normal, with nether of us gaining ground until my opponent decided to "accidentally" knee me in the groin. I responded by grabbed his arm  and then tugging it so hard that I pulled it out of joint. Within seconds his arm began to swell and he was rushed off to the ER.

GURPS Terms: I would probably say what I did qualified as a All-Out Attack (Double) with the first attack grabbing his arm and then followed up by me using Wrench Arm to pull it out of socket. It happened extremely fast, so fast that it didn't catch up to my opponent until several seconds later.



Picking Over the Bones
Being in a fight sucks. Avoid them if you can. If you can't, pray you've trained some or at least have experience. If not...well...run. The best way to "win" is not to fight. And if that option doesn't work you go all in. Most of the time you're going to be fighting for you life - act like it. If you read my blog, you know that I've been in security work for years, most of it working as a "doorman" at this club or that. First thing you learn doing that sort of work is that you never ever lose your temper. You just don't. Again, I'm not a trained martial artist or solider, I've just been in a lot of confrontations. According to my school records I've been in over 140 documented altercations (that's code for "fist fights") and if we're being honest probably at least half again that amount in scraps that the school facility ever found out about. I'm not going to lie to you and say I one all of them or even most of them - because that's bullshit. I easily lost at least half, that's because most of them were me vs. two or more people and I got my butt stomped. I always stood up (and still do) for those weaker than myself and I will admit I did pick fights with bullies who were hurting others. But I never threw the first punch of any of those. Not once. But I always finished them. Again, I won't lie. I've hurt people. In some cases...for life. I'm not proud of that. The reasons were right, but the methods were wrong. I live in a part of the US where fifteen years ago the murder and crime rate was as high as some cities. Where gang violence is a real factor and domestic abuse is one of the key factors for homicides. Where the dropout rates of high schools have stayed around 60%. Yay, for my hometown. You live in a place like this and you either (to quote Johnny Cash) "get tough or die." Now, my hometown is a bit better today, the murder rate is down by nearly a third of what it was ten or fifteen years ago and so's the crime rate, though most of the violence has moved into some of the more northern counties where gang violence is a everyday occurrence.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Ritual Path Magic Skill Levels



Anders sent me a PM the other day and asked a pretty simple question: What do skill levels mean for Ritual Path magic casters? You've got your shiny copy of GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic and you've just bought GURPS Template Toolkit 1: Characters...but now what? You've got your skill level description from p. 12 of the latter, but how do spells interact with it? You could probably extract an approximate idea of what the skill levels mean by making a few assumptions...

...that each level comes with a appropriate level of Magery and Thaumatology since your Path skill can never exceed the lower of his Thaumatology skill or (12 + Magery level).
...that each level assumes you can cast a spell with energy equal to your Safe Threshold Level x1.5 + Mana Reserve (if any).
...that Ritual Adept, is for this chart out of the equation, most serious casters are going to have it, but having the moxy to pull off a big spell doesn't need it.
...that a character has actually put points into the skill (e.g., he isn't defaulting it).
...that the spells listed are not the only ones they can cast, but the one's they can reliably do so under pressure and not in ideal circumstances.

Going from there we might get something like this:

Path Skill Level
Description
Notes
8 to 9
Novice
Typical of characters just learning magic; can cast Track Traveler reliably (4 energy).
10 to 11
Apprentice
Typical of characters who are still learning, but capable; can cast Minor Healing (7 energy).
12 to 13
Journeyman
Typical of characters who are conversant in spellcraft, but is not yet a master, but capable; can cast Babble On (13 energy).
14 to 15
Experienced Journeyman
Typical of characters who are extremely conversant in their craft and well on their way to mastery; Needed for most combat magics; can cast Pentagram Trap (25 energy).
16 to 18
Master
Typical of characters who are the respected masters of their craft; can cast Create Pocket Dimension (81 energy).
19 to 20
Archmage
Typical of characters who are eminent masters of their craft; can cast Live Off The Land (121 energy).
21+
Legendary Archmagi
Characters are can do nearly anything in their craft; can cast Call Spirit (139 energy).


Again, the example spell isn't the only spell they can cast - just the ones they could reliably toss out when needed. A character with Path of Undead-12 could still try to cast "Call Spirit" though it might be harder for him and have a quirk or two - a character with Path of Undead-21 just makes it look easy. Or, put another way, a true master of his craft make the hard look profound and the simple look hard.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Chronicles of Ceteri - Stone Dead - Part I - Game Session 2

Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annalise “Annie” Murphy, & Dr. Francesco “Frankie” Novella
The Shadowed Heights
January 27th, 1999, 12:20 am
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

Both Annie and Frankie patch up Alvin and begin to help Al-Shams when they notice the only thing keeping him from bleeding out from the wound he sustained by the demon to his back is his armor. They go downstairs to the surprisingly modern surgical suite and prep the injured knight. Once they are ready Annie picks apart his armor impossibly quick as blood gushes out and Frankie gets finger-deep in the bloody wound, sewing up the bleeder (a nicked abdominal aorta) efficiently. Al-Shams passes out after Alvin brings him a foul brew (some hoodoo his granny taught him) and the rest head to bed and wait until the morning to figure out what they are going to do. The next morning Ronan volunteers to fix breakfast for everyone, and both Al-Shams and Alvin are left with only pink scars thanks to the hoodoo potion. When Al-Shams asks for an alchemy lab, they (again) bring him downstairs to the second basement where the Murphy’s centuries old lab is. Frankie remains behind and in the library where he and Annie had been looking for more information on Tzazel aka the Biblical demon Legion (who Millicent apparently serves in some fashion). He spends his time learning as much as he can about the hidden world that he’s been sleepwalking through for most of his life and even learns that the creature he killed in Afghanistan was a “ghul” – a nasty eater of the dead. Al-Shams, Using some of his own equipment, he begins to brew a strange elixir and all involved ask questions (which he gladly answers). He explains that a normal genera linguarum spell (one that grants a language) can be made permanent by infusing the spell in a concoction that includes the blood of a dragon if done correctly (and makes a great poison if done wrong). After four hours of brewing Annie quickly picks up what Al-Shams has to teach and has even improved on his recipe by splitting one ounce of the precious blood into four vials of the base (three of which she saves). The fourth is brewed with the ashes of an entire modern college English course book and an Encyclopedia Britannica and then imbibed by Al-Shams, who immediately begin speaking in modern English.
            Just then a crash can be heard as the front door comes down for a second time and a huge monstrous lupine shape can be seen rushing after Alvin (who’d just come up from the basement). On instinct, he throws a silvered dagger into the first creature’s throat and grabs up a silver serving tray and rushes after the second. Frankie comes from the library grabbing a handy saber from a nearby table and slashes at the second werewolf, though he misses. Annie calmly asks them what they are doing and twists a spell from an inscribed bead in one of her golden locks, which forces one of the werewolves into his human form. Ignoring him for now, she growls at the injured werewolf until it whimpers. She then pulls the knife from its throat and heals it1. Looking up to the now nude werewolf, she repeats the question and gets her answer: apparently, part of Alvin’s reason for being in Boston and not his native New Orleans was the protection offered by the Kveldsongr clan of werewolves (and more specifically, Erik Longarm) from the other clans. For this protection to remain, in effect, Alvin was on a kind of “parole," and he needed to check in often – the demons and the aftermath of the fight at the convenience store made him skip a check in so Longarm sent some of his clan after them. Annie decides to speak with Erik as her Uncle had a deal with the wolves – they stay in Wompatuck State Park during the full moon, and he wouldn’t hunt them down and kill them (Murphys don’t believe in the “carrot” in “carrot and stick”). Gathering up their gear, they make their way to Erik – who is currently on Langlee Island visiting his brother along with the rest of his wolves.


Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annalise “Annie” Murphy, & Dr. Francesco “Frankie” Novella
Clan Kveldsongr Longhouse
January 27th, 1999, 12:40 pm
Langlee Island, Boston, MA 02171

The arrival on the island is a quiet affair and when Annie explains to Erik what happened, he goes to one of his wolves and calmly snaps the man’s arm in a dozen places before setting it and sending him off for some unnamed punishment. After explaining the situation to Annie, Erik informs her that Markus of the Haugaldr Clan has come for Alvin. Because of how varou law functions, he has a claim…but Erik can force a trial by combat for the issue. The problem is he can at most field two of his own (including lone wolves and allied clan-members), though he does mention a little known rule stating that Alvin can also field two champions/proxies since his life is at stake from the outcome of the trial. Armed with this knowledge Annie bullies her way into being a member of Clan Kveldsongr since she dominated one of his wolves and said wolf acknowledged it. By the time Markus shows up Al-Shams and Frankie have volunteered to be Alvin’s proxies and Erik asks Annie and his brother, Aldrick to serve him in this trial. Weapons chosen (Frankie chooses the Calvary saber he brought with him, Annie her relic, the Spina, Al-Shams his sword, Claíomh Solais, and Aldrick his magic) the trial begins with first blood being drawn by Frankie who tosses a fully shifted werewolf out of the burning hexagram as it charges at him. Aldrick invokes Odin to grant those for Kveldsongr and grabs a hold of the charging half-shifted varou about the neck and chokes him. Since Markus chose “till death,” at least one of the combatants must die before the trial is over Aldrick waits to see if one of the others can kill a full-changed varou. Eventually, the varou that Al-Shams is fighting loses an arm and then his head to the burning blade. After a few probes to test defenses on both sides, the varou (a ulfríkr or “alpha” varou, informally called a lycanis rex) tries to bite and claw at Annie, but despite his precise strikes ends up setting himself up as she tries the 16’ tall creature to the ground and rips it open from balls to throat with her blade. Staring at Markus, she sticks her fingers in the beast’s eye sockets (much like a bowling ball), whispers a spell to stop it from transforming back to its human form, and rips its head off, pulling the spine out in the process. Holding it up, she takes turns staring at the nearly two hundred person audience and then settles her gaze on Markus before tossing the head to the ground. The trial having been settled signals the end of Markus’ grace period, and he quickly leaves the island. Erik speaks with the others for a time and then hands Annie a cryptic letter from her Uncle. Heading back home Annie and the others prepare for the war to come – Millicent is still out there and trying to open the way for Tzazel.

Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal, Annalise “Annie” Murphy, & Dr. Francesco “Frankie” Novella
The Shadowed Heights
January 27th, 1999, 3:30 pm
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171

1 Annie, being the literal embodiment of the virtue of Temperance, has been given a “direct line” to the power of the Heavens. This makes her a saint in all but name. Her ability to heal transcends the normal limits of the campaign setting (as do all who possess such power), which state that no single being can be healed through “active” paranormal abilities more than their HP in a 24 hour period. If such healing does occur it can warp or even kill the subject.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Triple Threat - Aillénsceith




Aillénsceith
The original aillén was a monstrous three-headed reptile that terrorized the people of Ireland and put the people of Tara into a deep sleep and burned the Ráth na Riógh (the Fortress of the Kings) to the ground every year for 23 years. Eventually, Finn McCool killed the creature by stabbing it in the heart with his spear, but before he did it laid a clutch of eggs. Since then the aillénsceith have been plaguing mankind. Like their forbearer, aillénsceith have three heads and look vaguely like (very large) komado dragons – just with bigger teeth, two sets of eyes, and a series of spines along their back. The aillénsceith’s spines grow hot when it’s in combat and can set fire to stone if left in contact too long. They are only awake for a month out of every year in which they gorge themselves on food (anything remotely organic) and then fall into a torpor. Their scaled hide is extremely dense and protects them from most threats, the only chink in their natural armor is a small spot underneath their necks where a well-placed thrust can sever their spine and kill them.
            Additionally, they are highly resistant to magic which literally bounces off them and back at their attacker. With their wide jaws, anyone bitten (up to SM +1) is instantly grappled; treat this as a two-handed grapple for the purpose of breaking free. After that, it can worry for full biting damage (no roll needed) or attempt a Quick Contest of ST, with victory pulling the victim closer to it.
In campaigns with modern firearms, aillénsceith are immune to most handguns arms (2d or less). For campaigns without such weapons, reduce DR to 6. For other campaigns, find the smallest handgun and multiply its dice of damage by 6 to get aillénsceith DR.

Any Campaign Setting...
ST: 20             HP: 20            Speed: 6.00
DX: 12            Will: 10           Move: 8 (see traits)
IQ: 7               Per: 12            Weight: 350 lbs.
HT: 14            FP: 14             SM: +1
Dodge: 10       Parry: 10        DR: 12* (Hardened 1)

Bite (14): 2d+4 impaling. Reach C, 1. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part.
Burning Blood (-): 1d-2 burning (ten 1-second cycles). Treat the flammability class (Making Things Burn, p. B433) of the subject as two steps higher than it actually is! The aillénsceith must first have suffered any cutting, impaling, or piercing injury. They automatically bleed on weapons that wound them – or their foe, if attacked with Claws, Teeth, etc. – which immediately begins to burn. Until he stops bleeding (see Bleeding, p. B420), the burning blood drips on everything nearby. The aillénsceith may intentionally inflict damage on themselves to activate this ability.
Claw (14): 2d+1 cutting. Reach C, 1. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part.
Searing Spines (-): 1d+1 burning. Treat the flammability class (Making Things Burn, p. B433) of the subject as two steps higher than it actually is! This harms anyone who touches or is touched by the aillénsceith in close combat. Actually grappling one causes this damage in addition to the impaling damage causes by the spines.

Traits: Amphibious; Born Biter 3; Combat Reflexes; Discriminatory Hearing; Discriminatory Smell;  Enhanced Move 1 (Ground; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP per second; Move 8/24); Enhanced Tracking 3; Extra Attack 2 (Bite Attacks only, -20%); Extra Head 2; Gluttony (6); Immunity to Thermal Stress; Lifting ST+5 (Bite only); Magic Resistance 5; Nictitating Membrane 2; Peripheral Vision; Quadruped; Reduced Consumption 4 (Cast Iron Stomach); Resistant to Metabolic Hazards (+8); Scales; Sleepy (active six weeks out of 12); Spines (Long; 1d impaling, Reach C); Striking ST+5 (Bite only); Temperature Tolerance 55 (-105º F to 720º F); Vibration Sense (Universal).

Skills:  Brawling-14; Intimidation -12; Stealth-14; Survival (Underground)-14; Tracking-16.
Notes: Reproduces asexually. Sees via Infravision. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check from GURPS Horror (p. 139), aillénsceith have a modifier of -3. 
* Double this DR against magical damage. Any damage which is stopped by this DR rebounds instead on the aillénsceith’s attacker (the remaining damage affects the aillénsceith normally). The attacker doesn’t get a Active Defense against this the first time he’s affected, but subsequent attacks are treated normally. This only works against direct hits! Area attacks affect them normally (though they still have their DR doubled against it).


For Dungeon Fantasy...
ST: 20             HP: 20            Speed: 6.00
DX: 12            Will: 10           Move: 8 (see traits)
IQ: 7               Per: 12            Weight: 350 lbs.
HT: 14            FP: 14             SM: +1
Dodge: 10       Parry: 10        DR: 6* (Hardened 1)

Bite (14): 2d+4 impaling. Reach C, 1. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part.
Burning Blood (-): 1d-2 burning (ten 1-second cycles). Treat the flammability class (Making Things Burn, p. B433) of the subject as two steps higher than it actually is! The aillénsceith must first have suffered any cutting, impaling, or piercing injury. They automatically bleed on weapons that wound them – or their foe, if attacked with Claws, Teeth, etc. – which immediately begins to burn. Until he stops bleeding (see Bleeding, p. B420), the burning blood drips on everything nearby. The aillénsceith may intentionally inflict damage on themselves to activate this ability.
Claw (14): 2d+1 cutting. Reach C, 1. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part.
Searing Spines (-): 1d+1 burning. Treat the flammability class (Making Things Burn, p. B433) of the subject as two steps higher than it actually is! This harms anyone who touches or is touched by the aillénsceith in close combat. Actually grappling one causes this damage in addition to the impaling damage causes by the spines.

Traits: Amphibious; Born Biter 3; Combat Reflexes; Discriminatory Hearing; Discriminatory Smell; Enhanced Move 1 (Ground; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP per second; Move 8/24); Enhanced Tracking 3; Extra Attack 2 (Bite Attacks only, -20%); Extra Head 2; Gluttony (6); Immunity to Thermal Stress; Lifting ST+5 (Bite only); Magic Resistance 5; Nictitating Membrane 2; Peripheral Vision; Quadruped; Reduced Consumption 4 (Cast Iron Stomach); Resistant to Metabolic Hazards (+8); Scales; Sleepy (active six weeks out of 12); Spines (Long; 1d impaling, Reach C); Striking ST+5 (Bite only); Temperature Tolerance 55 (-105º F to 720º F); Vibration Sense (Universal).

Skills:  Brawling-14; Intimidation-12; Stealth-14; Survival (Underground)-14; Tracking-16.
Classification: Dire Animal
Notes: Reproduces asexually. Sees via Infravision.
* Triple this DR against magical damage. Any damage which is stopped by this DR rebounds instead on the aillénsceith’s attacker (the remaining damage affects the aillénsceith normally). The attacker doesn’t get a Active Defense against this the first time he’s affected, but subsequent attacks are treated normally. This only works against direct hits! Area attacks affect them normally (though they still have their DR doubled against it).


For Monster Hunters...
ST: 25             HP: 20            Speed: 8.00
DX: 12            Will: 10           Move: 11 (see traits)
IQ: 7               Per: 12            Weight: 350 lbs.
HT: 14            FP: 14             SM: +1
Dodge: 12       Parry: 11        DR: 12* (Hardened 1)

Fright Check: -3

Bite (16): 3d+3 impaling. Reach C, 1. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part.
Burning Blood (-): 1d+1 burning (ten 1-second cycles). Treat the flammability class (Making Things Burn, p. B433) of the subject as two steps higher than it actually is! The aillénsceith must first have suffered any cutting, impaling, or piercing injury. They automatically bleed on weapons that wound them – or their foe, if attacked with Claws, Teeth, etc. – which immediately begins to burn. Until he stops bleeding (see Bleeding, p. B420), the burning blood drips on everything nearby. The aillénsceith may intentionally inflict damage on themselves to activate this ability.
Claw (16): 2d+4 cutting. Reach C, 1. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part.
Searing Spines (-): 2d+2 burning. Treat the flammability class (Making Things Burn, p. B433) of the subject as two steps higher than it actually is! This harms anyone who touches or is touched by the aillénsceith in close combat. Actually grappling one causes this damage in addition to the impaling damage causes by the spines.

Traits: Amphibious; Born Biter 3; Combat Reflexes; Discriminatory Hearing; Discriminatory Smell; Enhanced Move 1 (Ground; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP per second; Move 11/33); Enhanced Tracking 3; Extra Attack 2 (Bite Attacks only, -20%); Extra Head 2; Gluttony (6); Immunity to Thermal Stress; Lifting ST+5 (Bite only); Magic Resistance 5; Nictitating Membrane 2; Peripheral Vision; Quadruped; Reduced Consumption 4 (Cast Iron Stomach); Resistant to Metabolic Hazards (+8); Scales; Sleepy (active six weeks out of 12); Spines (Long; 1d impaling, Reach C); Striking ST+5 (Bite only); Temperature Tolerance 55 (-105º F to 720º F); Vibration Sense (Universal).

Skills:  Brawling-16; Intimidation-16; Stealth-16; Survival (Underground)-14; Tracking-16.
Notes: Reproduces asexually. Sees via Infravision. Use the skills listed under Cryptids in the Know Thy Enemy box in Monster Hunters 1 (p. 16). One aillénsceith is a fair fight for one champion.
* Double this DR against magical damage. Any damage which is stopped by this DR rebounds instead on the aillénsceith’s attacker (the remaining damage affects the aillénsceith normally). The attacker doesn’t get a Active Defense against this the first time he’s affected, but subsequent attacks are treated normally. This only works against direct hits! Area attacks affect them normally (though they still have their DR doubled against it).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Hurt Locker: Castlevania Battle Cross



So Jpomena asked over on the forums what Castlevania's Battle Cross might look like in GURPS terms. That's a excellent question and one I decided to run with. Castlevania has a special place in my heart for many reasons and it's by far one of my favorite video game series and I've played most of the American releases (up to about 2007 when I got out of console gaming). So how would I build it? why with Metatronic Generators of course!


Battle Cross
This large cross-shaped object has sharpened edges and can be thrown at a target (treat it as a large hungamunga, GURPS Martial Arts, pp. 231). It automatically returns to you at the end of your turn, though you must have at least one hand free to “catch” it and damages anyone in its path. Roll a 9 or less on 3d to see if the target is hit. If so treat the attack normally and allow whatever Active Defense is normally possible. It's considered both a silver and a holy attack and damages those who are susceptible
         It may also be used in melee combat by gripping the center of the cross (which is not sharpened) and “punching” with it (counting as an improvised fist-load which does either cutting or crushing damage). It can also function as a large hungamunga if "depowered." Small, Cost at TL3 is $22,528, while TL8 is $415,870 5 lbs. Self-Powered. LC3.

Statistics: Cutting Attack 3d+4 (Accurate 2, +10%; Counts as both a holy and silver attack, +10%; Damages those in its path on its return, +20%; Double Blunt Trauma, +20%; Double Knockback, +20%; Increased 1/2D, x10, +15%; Increased Range, Max, x2, +10%; PM, -10%; Melee Weapon, Throwable, Reach C, -5%; Returns to throwers hand at end of turn, +5%; ST-Based, +100%) [83]. Includes the cost of a Very Fine Balanced Silver-Coated Holy Large Hungamunga (+$1,778 at TL3 or $870 at TL8 and +2 lbs.)


TL: 3^ or 8^
Damage: Swing+3d+4 or Swing+4 with follow-up silver and holy effects
Acc: 5 or 2
Range: x1/x2 or x1/x1.5
Weight: 5 lbs.
RoF: 1
Shots: T(1)
ST: 11
Bulk: -3