Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Designer's Notes: Pointless Monster Hunting

As a poster pointed out in this thread, Pointless Monster Hunting was a huge piece with a large word count (though I admit - I just submit and let the editor decide what he wants to do). It was easily as large as Alternative Ritual Path Magic and as information dense. Luckily, I got to work off of a base (Sean Punch's Pointless Looting and Slaying) which made it a ton easier than inventing this thing from whole cloth. While I was on a blogcation during the time this article was released I kind of expected a better reception since so many people wanted a pointless approach for GURPS Monster Hunters.

Regardless, I'm proud of my work (despite stand on the shoulders of giants) and I think gamers will find much use for it in the long run. It took me nearly 63 hours to write, another 30 to revise, and 20 to edit. A lot of the hassle in the design came from having to create an ability, remove the mechanics, and just explain it in words. That's a heckuva lot harder than you'd think it is. That more than anything ate my time.

Under the Hood: New Aptitudes
I took a lot of what Sean had created (what I mentally tagged as "basic abilities") and reformatted and tweaked what I needed to to make it work for GURPS Monster Hunters. I also created a bunch of new traits. Anyone curious about the "under the hood" mechanics can find the builds below:

  • Ancient Scholar: As Linguist, except that it adds "Limited, Esoteric Languages only, -65%."
  • Connected: This should be fairly obvious - it's just a packaged Contact.
  • Consecrated Aura: Mana Enhancer (Place of Power) [20/level]. See I Am a Place of Power on p. 11 of Pyramid #3/66: The Laws of Magic.
  • Consecrate Ground: This uses the rules for the Learned Prayer of the same name from GURPS Powers: Divine Favor (p. 12), with the notes from GURPS Monster Hunters 1 (p. 43)
  • Deductive Mastery: Psychometry (Active, -20%; Cosmic, Works on the Living, +50%; Hypersensory, -50%; Sensitive, +30%; Short-Range, -10%; Reliable 2, +10%) [22].
  • Grace of Heaven/Hell: This buys off Weakness from most templates and packages in an Unusual Background.
  • Gun Fu Master: Each level is Cosmic Modular Abilities (Limited, Gun Fu perks, -20%; Reduced Time 1, +20%) [10].
  • Like the Wind: This is simply the Disappear technique (GURPS Action 3, p. 16) maxed out.
  • Magical Traditionalist: This is simply Higher Purpose (Tradition); see GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 5)
  • (Monster Type) Hunter: Higher Purpose 2 (Slay Specific Monster) [10] per level.
  • (Monster Type) Specialist: This one was a bit tricky. This is a Racial Bonus to a Skill, made into a Wildcard and Language (specific monster tongue).
  • Prophetic Dreams: As per GURPS Monster Hunters 1, p. 23, but adds Reliable to Precognition.
  • Rebirth: This is Extra Life 1 (Mysticism, -10%) [23] + Dying Action [1] + Precognition (Can only see own death, -80%) [5].
  • Seventh Son: Adds a general reaction bonus of +2 [10], Detect Supernatural (Vague, -50%) [15], +3 to DPL [15], and Unusual Background (Uncapped Serendipity and Fortune) [10].
  • Skill Specialist: Adds five levels of a Racial Skill bonus.
  • Slayer’s Strike: Affliction 1 (Fixed Duration, -0%; Follow-Up, Universal, +50%; Nuisance effect, Actual time is one second, -5%; Reduced Duration 1/60, -35%; Requires Will vs Will roll, -15%; Variable Enhancement (Accessibility, Only Negated Advantage enhancements that reduce supernatural fortitude, -50%) 150, +750%) [85]. Since it requires the expendature of one DP per use the overall cost is reduced by 1/5 or 17 points.
  • Spirit Channeling: Adds Resistant to Possession +3 [5].
  • Throwing Mastery: Each level is Super Throw 1 [10] (See GURPS Supers, p. 30).

Optional Rule: Leveled Foibles
One idea I noodled with was having a "leveled" Foible. Such a trait worked normally, but it's effects were multiplied by the level (up to three). For example, someone with "Law-Abiding 2" might suffer the effects of Truthfulness and Honesty in a single use. The upside is that you get an additional DP per level beyond the first. Having such a trait occupies an additional Foible spot. For example, you could have Law-Abiding 2, Murphy's Luck, Surly, and White Knight since it would total five Foibles total.

Optional Rule: Hunter Motivations
I was extremely disappointed in myself when I couldn't squeeze this in because one thing Pointless Monster Hunting overlooks is PK's fantastic "motivational lenses" (see GURPS Monster Hunters 1, p. 6). As an optional rule, the GM can rule that all players can take a "Hunter Motivation" which is a combination of Virtue and Foible and costs only one Aptitude slot. (Alternatively, GMs can just give all PCs a Hunter Motivation for free.) This allows for the GM to treat it as a Foible and use any listed disadvantage against the player, while the player can use it as a Virtue normally or temporarily gain one of the listed advantages.

Trait Outtake: Alternate Connected
Here's an alternate version of the Connected Aptitudes.
Connected 1-4. Gain use of a Usually Reliable Contact (p. B44) of choice, with skill of 12 (for supernatural capabilities) or 15 (for those without). Switching between contacts takes an hour as you make calls, put out the word, etc. Level 2 increases skill to 15 and 18. Level 3 increases reliability to Completely Reliable. Level 4 increases skill to 21 for both supernatural and non-supernatural contacts. Built as Slotted Comic Power 1 (16) (Immediate Preparation Required, 10 minutes, -45%; Limited, Contacts, -50%; Social, -0%); see GURPS Psionic Powers, p. 15. Higher levels increase the pool.

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