Friday, March 6, 2015

Assembly Required: Outlining Step Five - Powers

Figuring out what paranormal powers (if any) that are available in your setting is something you should think long and hard about it. This decision is going to have great impact on how you run the game, what sorts of characters there are, etc. If your setting has no exotic or supernatural traits allowed - that says something too, but feel free to ignore this step completely.

  • What sort of powers are you allowing in the setting? (e.g., Magic, Psionics, Super, and so on.)
  • What sort of restrictions are there?
  • How do they interplay with one another (if at all)?
  • What are they called in the setting (if different)?
  • Are any powers off-limits to player characters?
  • If so, why?
  • Are there any anti-powers?

That list is by no means a exhaustive one and this is one area for campaign planning where you cannot put too little thought into it. I sometimes like to this of this and superscience technology as "miracles" or "wonders," as in "What miracles or wonders are possible within the campaign framework?" Thinking of it like this always puts powers in the the right perspective for me.

The Worked Example: Something, Something Kill Monsters Urban Fantasy Secret Magic aka "The Chronicles of Ceteri"
I decided early on to keep the number of powers in my new setting to around two or three and four at most. I eventually decided on three: magic, psionics, and divine gifts. I broke magic into two types: Extrinsic Magic (aka Effect Shaping Ritual Path Magic) and Intrinsic Magic (Powers-based magic). Psionics use GURPS Psionic Powers and were going to be strictly limited with no Teleportation Power (teleportation is a no-go for the entire setting in fact) and ESP and Astral Projection being the most common abilities. Telekinesis would be rare. Divine gifts would use the rules for GURPS Powers: Divine Favor , but being used for all "god-like" entities despite the fact that the setting draws heavly on Judeo-Christian themes. Finally, there would also be "black tech" in the setting that would draw on strange natural principles to work. This could be anything from Nazi-created "technoccult" devices to some of the stranger Greek inventions.

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