Thursday, January 29, 2015

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Delver, Get a Job!



Dungeon Fantasy very explicitly ignores the rules for jobs. It's about adventuring after all, not boring day to day life - that's for villagers. Still, Dungeons and Dragons (especially 2nd edition) had rules for working the forge or weaving baskets when your character wasn't adventuring. There's always the crafting rules from Dungeon Fantasy 2, but what if you want actual money instead of goods for services rendered, then use the following (abbreviated) job rules. Do note, that GMs should only use these rules for when long periods of downtime is called for - it should never displace actual adventuring!


The Basics
Use the standard rules for jobs with the following changes:
  • When determining what skill is used, let the delver use his best skill - even if the job description says otherwise - let them! Delvers with jobs are supposed to be shining examples of awesomeness.
  • When determining the monthly pay rate, use TL4, not TL3 for figuring income. Working a job should be at least moderately attractive.
  • Any job the GM says is open is allowed, but he should use TL4, not TL3 for determining what professions are available. GMs will find GURPS Low-Tech Companion 3: Daily Life and Economics to be highly use for populating his campaign's job list.
  • Instead of rolling once per month, instead roll once per time period of downtime. For example, if the GM says the players have to wait six months for the ice to thaw enough to go to the Cavern of Icy Doom, then any delvers who have professions make one roll for the entire six-month period. This is both good and bad; critical successes can bring in as much as a modest delve! Critical failures...well, they should be memorable. Optionally, make no rolls and use a base roll of 11 when determining if a job roll has succeeded or not.
  • The GM should let all characters pick one job, and one job only - even if they have the skills to perform multiple professions. He gets one and that's it. The sole exception to this might be the innkeeper who by dint of his profession gets a "job" free and may choose another one if he so wishes
  • Ignore the rules for Wealth or Status (even if the GM is using Traits for Town). If the GM feels this is too generous, he can charge a leveled perk, "Useful Trade," with each level allowing access to a job of one Wealth level higher (cumulatively) than Average. For example, if a bard wants his job to be Moneylender (Low-Tech Companion 3: Daily Life and Economics, p. 49) in his off-hours he could charge 2-points for a "Useful Trade (Moneylender)" oerk
  • Job rolls can only be attempted if the delver has at least a month of uninterrupted time. Optionally, the GM may allow rates other than monthly. Multiply final pay by x0.5 for bi-weekly rates, x0.25 for weekly rates, x0.04 for daily rates, and x0.005 for hourly rates.
  • Don't forget to subtract the $150/week for staying in town from the final amount!

Example: Melisande the Magnificent is a wizard with a penchant for Alchemy. Since the GM is using job rolls for downtime in his campaign he allows Melisande to make a single roll against Alchemy for the next three months as the adventuring party restocks and plans their next move. The GM is using the Alchemist job from Low-Tech Companion 3: Daily Life and Economics, but has exchanged Alchemy for Chemistry to better suit his campaign. Since Melisande's best skill is her Alchemy she rolls that to determine how well she performed as a alchemist over the 3-month period. Rolling her skill of 18, she gets a 8. Since alchemist is a freelance job she increases the amount she earned by 10% per point she succeeded effectively doubling her monthly income - which she then multiplies by three for the time period. This grosses her $750 (base rate) x 2 (freelance multiplier) x 3 (number of months) = $4,500. Since Dungeon Fantasy charges $150/week to stay in "Town" she nets $2,700, not a bad amount!


Picking Over the Bones
Since you only get one job, each delver better pick one that maximizes his skills. Even so, why bother? Well...it gives you a way to earn money so you don't starve while waiting for your next delve. It also adds flavor to your character. *beats orc to death* "You're a teacher?" "Part of the time." What's more it can be the perfect way for a GM to get his (plot) hooks into you. "While working your forge late at a night a half-dead dwarf stumbles into your shop and whispers "Here. Take it. Don't let them get it..." before handing you a box and then dying." There is no particular reason why delvers could not hold more than a single job at a time other than it'd slow down play. If the GM likes he can allow multiple jobs or charge a Useful Trade perk a piece.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

GURPS101: Simplified Unarmed Combat



So I occasionally take requests from my fellow forumites or the random guy on G+ "Hey! You should do [this]!" and...sometimes I do exactly that. So Nerdvana asked "What do you think about simplifying unarmed combat?" to which I replied "Well, Nerdy, I hadn't thought of it really till now. But now that I think about it I'd.... Nope. I got nothing." So I let silence make way for wisdom and then said "Well, I'd probably do something like...."


Strike Him Centurion, Very Roughly
So theoretically, you could fold Brawling, Boxing, and Karate into one Dexterity-Based Very Hard skill. But what would that look like?

Striking
DX/VH
Default: None

This is the skill of striking a target. Whether it's a punch, kick, or a bite, this skill covers it all. Roll Striking to hit a target with any sort of unarmed attack, including fist loads (e.g., blackjacks), or with natural weapons (e.g., a bite).
           Striking improves damage with all unarmed attacks: if you know Striking at DX level, add +1 per die to basic damage. Add +2 per die if you know Striking at DX+1 or better! Work out damage ahead of time and record it on your character sheet.
           Striking lets you parry two different attacks each turn (once per hand). Your Parry score is (skill/2) + 3, rounded down. This parry is not at the usual -3 for parrying a weapon barehanded, reducing the likelihood of injury when you defend against an armed foe. In addition, Striking gives an improved retreating bonus when you parry; see Retreat (p. B377). For more on parrying barehanded, see Parrying Unarmed (p. B376).
           If you want, you may optionally specialize:

Nimble: Your style of fighting is quick and fast. You can't use improvised fist-loads nor bite with it, and take a penalty on your skill rolls equal to your current encumbrance level. For example, you'd take a -2 to hit or parry at Medium Encumbrance. This reduces the difficulty of the skill to DX/Hard.

Scrapper: Your fighting style is unorthodox and draws as much from being taught as it does from experience. This reduces your damage bonus to +1 per die if you know your skill at DX+2 or better. You also don't get retreat bonuses and do take penalties to parry weapons except for non-thrusting attacks. This reduces the difficulty of the skill to DX/Easy.

Strong: Your fighting style isn't flashy - but it gets the job done. You can't used natural weapons or perform kicks, elbow strikes, etc. - just punches. Your damage bonus remains the same, but you parry kicks at -2 and any non-thrusting weapon at -3! This reduces the difficulty of the skill to DX/Average.


The Art of Living is More Like Wrestling than Dancing
Like Brawling and other striking skills, you can fold Judo, Sumo Wrestling, and Wrestling into a single skill...

Grappling
DX/VH
Default: None

This is the skill of grabbing, grappling, or using unarmed throws against a target. Roll against the higher of your DX or Grappling to hit with a grapple, slam, or shove.
           If you know this skill at DX+1 you get +1 to ST whenever you make or resist a grapple, take down, choke, neck snap, pin, or whenever you attempt to break free. You also receive a +1 per die to your damage when you slam or shove a target. These bonuses increase to +2 if you know Grappling at DX+2 or better.
          You may also use the better of your DX or Grappling for any roll made in close combat except to draw a weapon or drop a shield. If you attack or parry a foe with Grappling, you may attempt to judo throw him next turn (see p. B203 for more information on judo throws).
           Grappling lets you parry two different attacks each turn (once per hand). Your Parry score is (skill/2) + 3, rounded down. This parry is not at the usual -3 for parrying a weapon barehanded, reducing the likelihood of injury when you defend against an armed foe. In addition, Grappling gives an improved retreating bonus when you parry; see Retreat (p. B377). For more on parrying barehanded, see Parrying Unarmed (p. B376).
           If you want, you may optionally specialize:

Brute: Your style of fighting is brutal. Your bonus only applies when you grapple to make/resist a take down. It also adds it's bonus to make/resist any choke, grapple, neck snap, pin, or take down and whenever you try to break free. You also don't get retreat bonuses and do take penalties to parry weapons. This reduces the difficulty of the skill to DX/Average.

Graceful: Your fighting style is unorthodox and draws as much from being taught as it does from experience. This reduces your damage bonus to +1 per die if you know your skill at DX+2 or better. You also don't get retreat bonuses and do take penalties to parry weapons except for non-thrusting attacks. This reduces the difficulty of the skill to DX/Hard.

Manhandler: Your all about pushing people around. Your bonus only applies when you grapple, slam, or shove or to make or resist a take down. You can only parry with once per turn (instead of the usual two) and parry kicks at -2 and weapon at -3! This reduces the difficulty of the skill to DX/Average.


Picking Over the Bones
I personally like how GURPS separates the methods of striking - but then again, I'm pretty much a fan of the system as is and that's well documented. Where I to use the above apporach it would probably be in a campaign with emphasis on weapons or maybe lack of a lot of combat. In theory, it looks workable and having a non esoteric physical skill that's Very Hard ought to keep the abuse down for the most part. Let me know if you try it out, I'd love to hear a play report.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sicatra - The Water-Seller's Daughter - Game Session 1

Adventuring Party
Bashir Al-Sah’a’den (PC – Desert Elf Scout/Holy Warrior of Justice)
Drej the Spider (PC ­– Half-Elven Dark One Thief/Wizard)
Zanlannon Lighthand (NPC – Gnome Artificer/Artificer-Priest)

Azeem Kurokk (NPC ­– Half-Orc? Unknown)



The Camel and the Crow Inn & Tavern
Weather: 97º F; 4 mph winds from the east
Fourth Month, 19th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

It’s been merely a month since Bashir and Drej came back from the Tomb of Al-Aksar with numerous treasures and coin…and have somehow managed to spend it all. Scouring the gutters for loose coin Bashir finds a grimy piece of rusted metal. Putting it in his pack he meets back up with Drej and they pool their money long enough for Drej to double it at the gambling table. They then both try to brew a minor healing potion (only Drej succeeds) and Bashir cleans up the chunk of metal revealing it to be enchanted hungamunga! They head back to their room at the Camel and Crow and catch their inn fees up before looking for work. After a few hours, they hear a rumor about the kidnapping of Laith Allarri’s daughter. Laith Allarri is an incredibly rich merchant-prince who is more or less the de facto leader of the Merchant Guild east of the Great River. Sometimes called “the Water-Seller” (as that was how he got his start in the merchant guild) he’s offered a substantial reward for anyone who can return his daughter to him alive and even more if they can bring those responsible to justice. Recognizing a way to both make money and make a different the pair set off to Allarri’s estate just outside of town.


The Water Palace of Laith Allarri
Weather: 95º F; 9 mph winds from the east
Fourth Month, 19th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

The regal mansion is carved into the side of a hill and made of blue marble, made thousands of years ago by a family of desert elves the Water Palace has been in the Allarri family for several generations. It is only recently that it has been restored to its former glory. The place is crawling with would-be bounty hunters and adventurers looking for Allarri’s reward. Somehow, Bashir and Drej manages to speak with the merchant-prince and Bashir swears he’ll return his little girl to him and bring those responsible to justice. Knowing Bashir’s reputation, Allarri offers to cover any upfront expensive they may have and gives them a small purse of gold. Aqcuiring a few last-minute items from Al-Wazari they immediately head out for the last place that Sabihah Allarri was seen – the Oasis of the Echoing Falls.


The Oasis of the Echoing Falls
Weather: 99º F; 2 mph winds from the west
Fourth Month, 20th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Tahwah-Sa

A day’s ride out, the Oasis is overflowing with adventurers, watchman, and others trying to make quick coin. Any trace of who might have taken her has been trampled over a dozen times and the bodies of her dead guards have been removed. Still, wunderkind tracker that Bashir is, he finds sign to the north of the waterfall. Coming back to tell Drej he comes across a scene of a half-ogre beating a gnomish man to death. Bashir asks the half-ogre why he’s doing this and he unintelligently screams “ME WANT REWARD, PUNY THING CANNOT HAVE IT.” Bashir talks to the half-wit (he has to be something, being a half-ogre) long enough for Drej to snuck up behind him, activate the magic of the Spider’s Web (his enchanted long knife, one of a pair) to produce a strong, stringy biding, and then knock out the imbecile (after robbing him blind). Bashir takes the half-dead gnome to another part of the oasis, activates his magical jaima (a Bedouin tent) and Drej brings the gnome inside. Bashir utters the command word and the tent becomes invisible, blending in with its surroundings. Bashir tends to the gnome’s wounds and feeds him several potions of healing before he wakes up. Once awake he introduces himself as Zanlannon Lighthand, inventor extraordinare. He brew up potions to replace those used to heal him and finishes healing himself with a spell. He explains that he wanted the reward to perfect his latest invention – his SAG (See All Goggles) ­– and to help the little girl. He asks if he could join up with Bashir and Drej and split the reward and they both accept.


The Cliff City of the Tuwunga People
Weather: 92º F; 10 mph winds from the west
Fourth Month, 20th to 23rd Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Tahwah-Sa

Through the judicious use of movement-related magic, the party quickly catches up to the kidnappers who have hidden in an abandoned cliff dwelling/city and make plans. Zanlannon tells them of a large crossbow (an arbalest) that has been used for siege warfare for centuries and offers to make one for them. Realizing that they’d only get one shot, the mad inventor explains he could refocus magical energy to get the crossbow to cock itself – but he’d need a magical item. Bashir offers up the flying carpet that got and the gnome gets back to work. Within a day he has a fully operational camel-mounted arbalest that is self-cocking and capable of projecting lightning along the bolts it shoots. The assault happens at mid-day and is brutal as Zanlannon lays down fire from two-hundred and fifty yards away, while Drej and Bashir are swift death as they move through the encampment shooting and throwing. The mastermind of the operation is another Dark One like Drej – but a demon summoner. Outside only a single half-orc remains as he gets skewed again and again by Zanlannon’s arbalest. Inside the cliff dwelling Drej quickly kills everyone, but the summoner and when he does attack him his blade turns back and attacks him! Bashir finds the arrows he shots attack him as well and the summoner calls a demon forth to battle them. Drej, deciding to stop that from repeating wraps a meteoric iron wire garrote around the damned demonologist’s neck and strangles him to death. Bashir draws his spear and with a single thrust stabs the demon in the heart banishing it back to whatever hell it came from. Putting a arrow in the still alive half-orc, Bashir stops as his target screams “I yield” and collapses. Putting his bow away he looks for the child. In a portable cage lay a sobbing Sabihah Allarri, unhurt, but terrified. Drej, master locksmith, opens it and Bashir takes her outside, commands his tent to assemble, turns it invisible, and brings her within where Zanlannon checks her over.
            The gnome (against his better judgment) then heads outside with Bashir and together they patch up their half-dead foe. When Bashir offers him a camel and supplies and tells him to leave, the half-orc replies, “I cannot. My name is Azzem ibn-Umar Kurokk. I owe you my life. I go where you go until I repay the debt.” They rest for another half-day. The spend the day burning the dead and decapitating them (to bring the heads back to Allarri) and taking any usable gear/loot. Later on, Zanlannon discovers a temple to his god in the very back of the box canyon. Asking for the others help they enter it and navigate its corridors until they come to the smithy room and find a still active Forgeheart (a magical item that powers their forges to produce wonderous crafts). An unknown Forgeheart is a powerful prize and Zanlannon wants to capture it (with a special spell) and bring it back to Kujii the City by the Eastern Fork. The others agree and lure out the tiny earth elementals that had broken into the temple to consume the magic of the Forgeheart. The battle is fairly quick and Zanlannon has safely packed the Forgeheart away as the others search the temple for any goods which the gnome offers to them freely. Azzem finds a small satchet of tools and Zanlannon squeals in delight as he recognizes artifact of his god (an Instant Workshop). Composing himself, he exits the temple and they prepare for the journey back to Al-Wazari.


The Water Palace of Laith Allarri
Weather: 95º F; 20 mph winds from the west
Fourth Month, 24th and 25th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

Laith Allarri is beside himself with the return of his daughter and offers them double the listed reward – which Bashir and Drej turn down. Instead, Zanlannon gets all shares to do with as he sees fit. Laith sends Sabihah to her mother and then takes the head of her kidnappers and nails them to the walls of his mansion as a warning to others. He gives the party a Merchant’s Coin (which gives them a discount when dealing with anyone part of the Merchant’s Guild) and promises them a room in his house for however longer they may need it. He buys whatever spoils from them at full price they wish to sell and even offers Bashir a place in the Merchant’s Guild (which he accepts). After a few days rest, Zanlannon asks for help getting to Kejj with the Forgeheart (which they agree to) and accompanies them back since “[he] always needs test subjects for [his] new inventions.”


The Camel and the Crow Inn & Tavern
Weather: 90º F; 10 mph winds from the west
Fourth Month, 30th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Gamemaster's Guidepost: One Size Fits All!



Adjustable Clothing is one of those odd spells, it has a purpose and its needed...but the wording just isn't as clear as it could be (to me at least). I'm sure some will disagree with me, but I had a extremely difficult time parsing exactly how this thing was supposed to work. I figured there might be some other people out there with similiar issues and since this came up in my Dungeon Fantasy game it may be of some use to other GMs.


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Designer's Notes: Sailing the Open Skies



When you are a game designer you're not really allowed to complain lack of design support for this or that. Of course, you might cry "But this isn't my wheelhouse!" or "I know nothing of cannons and early firearms!" True. But...you still have no excuse! Reading and research are your best friends. You should be able to pick up enough to create a gameable approximation. Or at least that's what I thought when I decided "Hey, I need rules for sailing vessels using the Spaceships modular system." To be fair, I did ask David (Pulver) if he could help a couple of times on the forums - but he was busy. Finally I decided, I'd have to do it myself. I originally meant to just write up a few things for my campaign... but it snowballed and I got to thinking "Hell...what if other folks need this stuff too?" We don't have a workable GURPS Vehicles for 4th edition (yet) and Spaceships is as close as we've got right now. Really, I think it works better over all because any of my players can sit down, use the books, and design something. All with the help of excel or a calculator and no higher math. Eventually, the article ballooned out and became what was published. I did end up pulling out a ship design and a system which while cool... didn't fit.


New Ship Design
The following is a new ship design for campaigns set in clockpunk settings.

Last Horizon-Class Dreadnaught (TL3+1^)
The Last Horizon-Class battleships are among some of the biggest airships to ply the open skies. Due to their expense, they are typically the flagship of a fleet. Its name is derived from an old airmen’s saying that seeing one in the distance would mark the "last horizon you'll ever see." Unlike most smaller ships the Dreadnaught doesn’t rely on sails, instead it uses powerful clockwork driven ducted fans that are powered by a massive magical power plant. This power plant is the prison of two powerful elementals, one of air and the other of fire, which power the entire ship. It is built using a 100,000-ton (SM+12) streamlined hull that is 600 feet long with nautical lines.

Ship Systems
Front 
[1]      Armor - Skystone (dDR 15 / 0.33Gs Lift)
[2]      Armor - Orichalcum (dDR 40)
[3]      Comm/Sensor Array - Tactical (Array level: 7)*
[4]      Hangar Bay (3,000 Tons / SM+8 / Launch: 500 Tons/min)*
[5!]    Secondary Weapon Battery (10 turrets with 300 MJ Rapid Fire Heat Rays)*
[6!]    Major  Weapon Battery (3 GJ Rapid Fire Lightning Cannon)*
[Core]   Habitat (Magical Life Support; 400 bunkrooms, 200 cabins, 50 offices, 40 luxury cabins, 20 cells, 20 small spaces, 10 clinics, four briefing rooms, two Armoury large craft shops, two Machinist large craft shops, two Explosives craft shops, two ops centers, and one Science! large lab)*
       
Center
[1]      Armor - Skystone (dDR 15 / 0.33Gs Lift)
[2]      Armor - Orichalcum (dDR 40)
[3-4!!]  Medium Weapon Battery (3 10 GJ Heat Rays, 3 100 MJ Very Rapid Fire Sonic Disruptors)*
[5-6!]   Tertiary Weapon Battery (30 5 cm Very Rapid Fire Conventional Guns; 30 Very Rapid Fire 10 MJ Heat Rays)*
[Core]   Cargo Hold (4,500 Tons, 500 refrigerated)
       
Rear
[1]      Armor - Skystone (dDR 15 / 0.33Gs Lift)
[2]      Armor - Orichalcum (dDR 40)
[3]   Magical Power Plant (Caged Spirit; 5 Magical Power Points)*
[4-5!!]  Helicopter Rotor (250 mph)*
[6]      Hangar Bay (3,000 Tons)*

* 10 Workspaces per system.
Typical crew is three shifts of 15 bridge operators (including captain, executive officer, pilot, engineering officer, navigator, sensor operator, communication officer, and tactical officer - 45 total), 1300 marines, 500 Office Workers, 130 Technicians, 129 Craftsmen, 77 Gunners, 20 Scientists, 10 Medical, and 4 Passenger Care Officers.

TL          Spacecraft   dST/HP      Hnd/SR      HT    Move LWt.  Load SM    Occ    dDR          Range         Cost
PILOTING/TL4 (HIGH-PERFORMANCE SPACECRAFT)
3+1^      Last Horizon         20      -2/5  13      10/250    100,000      11,000     +12     2200A 55        −          $9.15025B


Mining and Refinery
Energy Refinery (TL^): Different types are possible, but the most common type for spacecraft is electromagnetic radiation. It is similar to a Ramscoop (Spaceships, p. 21) and uses the same price, but “collects” different forms of ambient energy. Variants for mana, psychic energy, or even orgone are possible! If the energy can take a solidified form and the refinery can transform it into this other form use double the base cost. If it has more than one form add a multiplier equal to (1 + number of forms).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gamemaster's Guidepost: A Matter of Price



Dungeon Fantasy has a rather simplified haggling system for selling based on a combination of your wealth, a Merchant skill roll, and your reaction modifier. It rather cautiously omits rules for buying at a reduced price (even though that's part of the RAW) that's lower than 10%. After all, if adventurers can get cheap goods at home why adventure? That said, it may be suitable for some games where the bard can get goods cheaper than the listed price.


"I Wouldn't Sell This to a One-Eyed Camel!"
When buying a given item, you can opt to haggle with the merchant. Assume a skill of 15 for any seller and add a penalty to the buyer's roll as per the following: -0 for anything of $500 or less, -1 for $1,000 or less, -2 for $2,000 or less, and so on, with another -1 per doubling, Success gives a reduction in price: -5% per point by which the character succeeds. Failure has the opposite effect and the delver can always choose not to pay the inflated price - but he can't find a deal better than what he was offered until he leaves town and comes back. Use these rules instead of Bargain Hunting (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, p. 4).


DungeonCo Lets you Buy in Bulk
If you end up buying multiple items at the same time (at least five), the GM might let you claim a automatic 10% price reduction (doubled if you can make a successful Merchant roll vs. the seller). This reduction in price can stack with other sources, but price can never drop below 40% of the market value.


Selling in Lots
In the opposite direction, you can liquidate loot in lots (say that three times fast!), getting a single price for the whole of it put together. To do this, simply reduce your Wealth level by one for this single transaction. For example, a Wealthy bard could sell a bunch of weapons and gear your party stripped off the orc raiders for 60% of the price or 80% of the price if they make their Merchant roll or reaction roll or 100% of the price if they make their Merchant roll and a reaction roll. This can quickly speed along play as long as the GM is willing to ignore instances where item lots seem odd or improbably. He could even rule that the items must be thematically or dramatically linked. For example, in the previous example the orc gear is dramatically linked - the PCs got it from the same place. Another example might be a lot of manuals and maps because they are thematically linked.


Merchant's Guild
Sean Punch's Traits for Town (Pyramid #3/58: Urban Fantasy II, p. 12) is a pretty interesting article - one I'm currently using in my Dungeon Fantasy campaign. In it, he presents rules for rank and how they might be used, with each template having its own Rank and giving its own special advantages. So what about that mysterious "merchant's guild" we keep hearing about? Use the rules listed for that except you cannot get a reduction for training costs or hirelings. Instead, every two levels of Merchant Rank give a blanket reduction of -5% (or -2.5% if the GM wishes more granularity) or one step in effective Wealth. This reduction doesn't stack with those from other types of Rank. It also gives a fantastic reason to be in areas where delvers might not otherwise be permitted "I know I look like a Zandarian Battlemage, but I am in fact a poor lowly merchant who has come seeking his fortune." This might even help delvers who have a chance of not being admitted to town because they are a monster (see Dungeon Fantasy 2, p. 11). In such cases subtract your Merchant's Guild rank from the roll you must make to see if you are denied entrance into a city where you could lawfully and legally hawk your wares. The GM may even allow delvers to cover their allies "Oh, the ogre is my manservant, I take full responsibility for him." In such cases add half your rank (rounded down) to the roll that they have to make. GMs should be viscous to merchant-delvers who cause trouble under the aegis of their guild and either temporarily give reaction penalties or even cause a permanent loss of rank (Rank 0 means he's on probation for 1d months; negative levels means he gets kicked out!)


Custom-Work and Surcharges
As a balance to the above, the GM may wish to add a surcharge for wares that have been custom ordered. If the item is of good or fine quality add a additional cost to the item of +10%. For armor, shields, or oversized items which must be fit to the bearer add +20% instead. GMs could even charge extra for some things, but not others. He might also set a surcharge on magical items or similiar exotic paraphernalia. For example, if all magic items in the campaign comes from dusty old tombs or dungeons and the enchanter's guild is small (and thus rare) then custom made magical items might care a surcharge of +50% (or more!).


Picking Over the Bones
Most of this post actually came from one of my players asking "Can I join the Merchant's Guild?" It does make thing a bit more in-depth on the "disposing of the loot" end of things. When it's all said and done, the GM can just ignore all of the above and say "No, we're doing it by the book!" which is fine - but my personal tastes run towards the more complicated in some areas and this is one of them. My own campaign is very much a "serious" DF campaign. I don't think I could run Dungeon Fantasy as it's presented - it's just too silly. Instead I seem to be running the game like I did my old DnD campaigns, that is I took something super hack'n'slash-y and made it more than just killing the monsters and taking their stuff. Considering my players seem to be taking a real shine to the game I'll take that as a sign that I'm doing something right. It's sort of like running a high fantasy campaign using Dungeon Fantasy as the framework for templates, magic, etc.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Triple Threat - Wendigo Windwalker




Wendigo Windwalker
Like the wendigo, windwalkers are terrifying shapeshifters who were once human, but were possessed by the Windwalker – a terrible manitou (spirit) of the far north who hungers for human flesh. Typically, the Windwalker gorges on flesh until it’s destroyed and sent back to its spirit form – but sometimes it makes deals with human beings who it gives some of its frigid power in exchange for serving it. These windwalkers are the lords of the cold night and can make other wendigo with merely a bite – no need for them to consume human flesh. Once they have contracted Wendigo Sickness they’ll transform in a matter of days and willingly serve the one who turned them.
            Windwalkers are the living incarnations of a god-like spirit that is feared by any who knows its true power.  In campaigns with modern firearms windwalkers in beast form are all but immune to nearly all firearms- including sniper rifles (12d or less). For campaigns without such weapons, reduce DR to 24 (handheld weapons rarely exceed 4d). For other campaigns, find the largest easiest portable weapon and multiply its dice of damage by 6 to get a windwalkers DR.

Any Campaign Setting…
Beast-Form
ST: 45             HP: 45             Speed: 9.00
DX: 18            Will: 20           Move: 15/45
IQ: 14             Per: 20            Weight: 180 lbs.
HT: 18            FP: 20             SM: +1
Dodge: 13       Parry: 14        DR: 72*

Bite (14): 5d+4 cutting. Reach C. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Claws (14): 5d+4 impaling. Reach C. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Gore (14): 5d+10 impaling. Reach C-2. Can only be used from the Front. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not a body part. Made as a Move and Attack; ignore the skill cap of 9.
Horns (14): 5d+10 impaling. Reach C-2. Can only be used from the Front. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not a body part. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Improvised Weapon (13): Based on Damage 5d/7d+1.

Traits: As human form, plus Appearance (Monstrous); Bad Smell; Bestial; Super Jump 2; Supernatural Features (Gaunt, Glowing Eyes; Long Tongue; Malformed Feet); Temperature Tolerance 8 (Cold); Terrain Adaptation (Snow); Terror (Sound; -5 to Fright Checks); and Social Stigma (Monster). Increase Regeneration to Very Fast (4 HP/second).
Skills: As human form, but increase Survival (Arctic) to 22 and Tracking to 26.
Class: Demon.
Notes: As human form.

Human-Form
ST: 30             HP: 30             Speed: 8.00
DX: 18            Will: 20           Move: 15
IQ: 14             Per: 20            Weight: 180 lbs.
HT: 18            FP: 20             SM: 0
Dodge: 12       Parry: 14        DR: 31*

Punch (14): 3d+2 crushing. Reach C. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Improvised Weapon (13): Based on Damage 3d/5d+2.

Traits: Alternate Form (Beastly Form; Active Change; Reduced Time 4); Charisma 3; Combat Reflexes; Callous; Dependency (Human Flesh†; Daily; Aging; Substitution, Animal Flesh); Desecrator; Dark Vision; Discriminatory Smell (Emotion Sense (Area Effect, 16 yards)); Dominance (No Onset Time); Focused Fury; Gluttony (12); Hard to Kill 2; Hard to Subdue 2; Increased Consumption 1; Odious Racial Habit (Eats Human Beings); Overconfidence (12); Penetrating Voice; Regeneration (Regular or Fast†; 3 HP/hour or 3 HP/minute); Regrowth; Resistant to Metabolic Hazards (+8); Silence 2 (Dynamic); Smells faintly of raw meat; Supernatural Durability (Fire); Supernatural Features (Cold Spot); Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Human Flesh);  Unfazeable; Unkillable 2 (Achilles Heel, Hot Fat; Hindrance, Decapitation); Unnatural Features (Bright Blue Eyes); Vulnerability (Cutting Attacks to the Neck x2); Vulnerability (Fire x2); Vulnerability (Hot Fat x4); Walk on Air.
Skills: Brawling-18; Stealth-22‡; Survival (Arctic)-20; Tracking-24¶; other skills as the GM deems appropriate.
Notes: Taboo Trait: Fat, Overweight, or Very Fat. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check from GURPS Horror (p. 139), windwalkers have a modifier of -6 in beast-form and -1 in their human form (but only if they reveal they aren’t human).
* This doesn’t apply to fire attacks (not just Burning) and is quartered against decapitating attacks.
†This assumes that the wendigo must eat at least 10 pounds of meat per day. They can live off of animal flesh; make a HT roll, success means you can eat that particular type of meat; failure means you lose one point of HT; critical failure results in retching (p. B429). If he eats twice this amount, his Regeneration temporarily kicks into overdrive. This is priced as a alternate ability of Regeneration (Regular) and is essentially: Regeneration (Fast; Trigger, excess human flesh, -30%) [7]. This does not apply to wendigo who eat only animal flesh.
‡Includes +4 bonus from Silence.
¶Includes +4 bonus from Discriminatory Smell.



For Dungeon Fantasy…
Beast-Form
ST: 45             HP: 45             Speed: 10.00
DX: 18            Will: 20           Move: 15/45
IQ: 14             Per: 20            Weight: 180 lbs.
HT: 18            FP: 20             SM: +1
Dodge: 14       Parry: 14        DR: 24*

Bite (16): 5d+4 cutting. Reach C. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Claws (16): 5d+4 impaling. Reach C. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Gore (15): 5d+10 impaling. Reach C-2. Can only be used from the Front. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not a body part. Made as a Move and Attack; ignore the skill cap of 9.
Horns (16): 5d+10 impaling. Reach C-2. Can only be used from the Front. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not a body part. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Improvised Weapon (13): Based on Damage 5d/7d+1.

Traits: As human form, plus Appearance (Monstrous); Bad Smell; Bestial; Super Jump 2; Supernatural Features (Gaunt, Glowing Eyes; Long Tongue; Malformed Feet); Temperature Tolerance 8 (Cold); Terrain Adaptation (Snow); Terror (Sound; -5 to Fright Checks); and Social Stigma (Monster). Increase Regeneration to Very Fast (4 HP/second).
Skills: As human form, but increase Survival (Arctic) to 22 and Tracking to 26.
Class: Demon.
Notes: As human form.

Human-Form
ST: 30             HP: 30             Speed: 9.00
DX: 18            Will: 20           Move: 15
IQ: 14             Per: 20            Weight: 180 lbs.
HT: 18            FP: 20             SM: 0
Dodge: 13       Parry: 14        DR: 11*

Fright Check: -1

Punch (16): 3d+2 crushing. Reach C. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Improvised Weapon (13): Based on Damage 3d/5d+2.

Traits: Alternate Form (Beastly Form; Active Change; Reduced Time 4); Charisma 3; Combat Reflexes; Callous; Dependency (Human Flesh†; Daily; Aging; Substitution, Animal Flesh); Desecrator; Dark Vision; Discriminatory Smell (Emotion Sense (Area Effect, 16 yards)); Dominance (No Onset Time); Focused Fury; Gluttony (12); Hard to Kill 2; Hard to Subdue 2; Increased Consumption 1; Odious Racial Habit (Eats Human Beings); Overconfidence (12); Penetrating Voice; Regeneration (Regular or Fast†; 3 HP/hour or 3 HP/minute); Regrowth; Resistant to Metabolic Hazards (+8); Silence 2 (Dynamic); Smells faintly of raw meat; Supernatural Durability (Fire); Supernatural Features (Cold Spot); Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Human Flesh);  Unfazeable; Unkillable 2 (Achilles Heel, Hot Fat; Hindrance, Decapitation); Unnatural Features (Bright Blue Eyes); Vulnerability (Cutting Attacks to the Neck x2); Vulnerability (Fire x2); Vulnerability (Hot Fat x4); Walk on Air.
Skills: Brawling-20; Stealth-22‡; Survival (Arctic)-20; Tracking-24¶; other skills as the GM deems appropriate.
Class: Demon.
Notes: Not subject to Banish! Taboo Trait: Fat, Overweight, or Very Fat.
* This doesn’t apply to fire attacks (not just Burning) and is quartered against decapitating attacks.
†This assumes that the wendigo must eat at least 10 pounds of meat per day. They can live off of animal flesh; make a HT roll, success means you can eat that particular type of meat; failure means you lose one point of HT; critical failure results in retching (p. B429). If he eats twice this amount, his Regeneration temporarily kicks into overdrive. This is priced as a alternate ability of Regeneration (Regular) and is essentially: Regeneration (Fast; Trigger, excess human flesh, -30%) [7]. This does not apply to wendigo who eat only animal flesh.
‡Includes +4 bonus from Silence.
¶Includes +4 bonus from Discriminatory Smell.



For Monster Hunters…
Beast-Form
ST: 45             HP: 45             Speed: 10.00
DX: 18            Will: 20           Move: 15/45
IQ: 14             Per: 20            Weight: 180 lbs.
HT: 18            FP: 20             SM: +1
Dodge: 16       Parry: 14        DR: 72*

Fright Check: -6

Bite (16): 5d+4 cutting. Reach C. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Claws (16): 5d+4 impaling. Reach C. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Gore (15): 5d+10 impaling. Reach C-2. Can only be used from the Front. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not a body part. Made as a Move and Attack; ignore the skill cap of 9.
Horns (16): 5d+10 impaling. Reach C-2. Can only be used from the Front. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not a body part. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Improvised Weapon (13): Based on Damage 5d/7d+1.

Traits: As human form, plus Appearance (Monstrous); Bad Smell; Bestial; Super Jump 2; Supernatural Features (Gaunt, Glowing Eyes; Long Tongue; Malformed Feet); Temperature Tolerance 8 (Cold); Terrain Adaptation (Snow); Terror (Sound; -5 to Fright Checks); and Social Stigma (Monster). Increase Regeneration to Extreme (40 HP/second).
Skills: As human form, but increase Survival (Arctic) to 22 and Tracking to 26.
Class: Demon.
Notes: As human form.

Human-Form
ST: 30             HP: 30             Speed: 9.00
DX: 18            Will: 20           Move: 15
IQ: 14             Per: 20            Weight: 180 lbs.
HT: 18            FP: 20             SM: 0
Dodge: 15       Parry: 14        DR: 31*

Fright Check: -1

Punch (16): 3d+2 crushing. Reach C. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-2 to defend against).
Improvised Weapon (13): Based on Damage 3d/5d+2.

Traits: Alternate Form (Beastly Form; Active Change; Reduced Time 4); Charisma 3; Combat Reflexes; Callous; Dependency (Human Flesh†; Daily; Aging; Substitution, Animal Flesh); Desecrator; Dark Vision; Discriminatory Smell (Emotion Sense (Area Effect, 16 yards)); Dominance (No Onset Time); Enhanced Dodge 2; Focused Fury; Gluttony (12); Hard to Kill 2; Hard to Subdue 2; Increased Consumption 1; Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous); Odious Racial Habit (Eats Human Beings); Overconfidence (12); Penetrating Voice; Regeneration (Regular or Fast†; 3 HP/hour or 3 HP/minute); Regrowth; Resistant to Metabolic Hazards (+8); Silence 2 (Dynamic); Smells faintly of raw meat; Supernatural Durability (Fire); Supernatural Features (Cold Spot); Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Human Flesh);  Unfazeable; Unkillable 2 (Achilles Heel, Hot Fat; Hindrance, Decapitation); Unnatural Features (Bright Blue Eyes); Vulnerability (Cutting Attacks to the Neck x2); Vulnerability (Fire x2); Vulnerability (Hot Fat x4); Walk on Air.
Skills: Brawling-20; Stealth-22‡; Survival (Arctic)-20; Tracking-24¶; other skills as the GM deems appropriate.
Notes: Taboo Trait: Fat, Overweight, or Very Fat.  Use the skills listed under Lycanthropes in the Know Thy Enemy box in Monster Hunters 1 (p. 16). A windwalker is a powerful boss monster, and is often surrounded by its wendigo progeny; a team will need serious preparation to take one out.
* This doesn’t apply to fire attacks (not just Burning) and is quartered against decapitating attacks.
†This assumes that the wendigo must eat at least 10 pounds of meat per day. They can live off of animal flesh; make a HT roll, success means you can eat that particular type of meat; failure means you lose one point of HT; critical failure results in retching (p. B429). If he eats twice this amount, his Regeneration temporarily kicks into overdrive. This is priced as a alternate ability of Regeneration (Regular) and is essentially: Regeneration (Fast; Trigger, excess human flesh, -30%) [7]. This does not apply to wendigo who eat only animal flesh.
‡Includes +4 bonus from Silence.
¶Includes +4 bonus from Discriminatory Smell.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sicatra - The Tomb of Al-Aksar - Game Session 1

Adventuring Party
Bashir Al-Sah’a’den (PC – Desert Elf Scout/Holy Warrior of Justice)
Drej the Spider (PC ­– Half-Elven Dark One Thief/Wizard)
Sir Andrai Mikkalson (PC – Holy Warrior of War)
Talia Albinus Carnus Severus (PC – Half-Elf – Unknown)
Thrace (Sir Mikkalson’s Squire) (PC ­­– Squire)
Wendell (Sir Mikkalson’s Squire) (NPC – Squire)
Bara (Sir Mikkalson’s Squire) (NPC – Squire)

Note: This was ran as a MIB demo at my local game store

The Camel and the Crow Inn & Tavern
Weather: 89º F; 15 mph winds from the east
Third Month, 24th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

Bashir and Drej have been working together for a long time on the Edge (the area between the Northern Mountains and the Tahwah-Sa) and recently ended up at Al-Wazari with no money, no prospects, and a debt to the innkeeper of the Camel and the Crow. Overhearing a blustering warrior dressed all in plate talking about the treasure of Al-Aksar (a legendary warrior) and waving a map around, they investigate. After a few minutes, they decide that outright attacking him might be a bad idea and instead offer their services as guides. Sir Mikkalson accepts and pays them a flat sum of 120 silver pennies which they then use to buy supplies. Mikkalson tells them to meet him in the town square in the morning to go to the tomb.


The Camel and the Crow Inn & Tavern
Weather: 87º F; 15 mph winds from the east
Third Month, 25th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

Heading out from Al-Wazari the party encounters a group of orcs as they make camp. In the ensuing battle Wendell and Bara are slain outright by orcish archers and Thrace dies protecting his master. Sir Mikkalson and Talia fight back to back holding off the orcs until the leader puts an arrow through his eye. Knowing he’s dead, Mikkalson fights off half a dozen orcs before falling down. Talia and Bashir take care of the remaining orcs (Bashir nearly burns himself to death as he fumbles a vial of alchemist’s fire!) and try to help Sir Mikkalson who dies in Talia’s arms and makes Bashir promise to retrieve the Armor of Al-Aksar for his church. They strip the orcs of their gear and load them up on the camels (they lost one, bringing them down to seven) before burying their dead.


Unknown Oasis
Weather: 92º F; 5 mph winds from the east
Third Month, 26th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Tahwah-Sa

The party stumbles upon an unmarked oasis and camps there for the day since the Tomb is less than an hour away from their current location. While regaining their strength and letting Talia grieve, a caravan comes through with merchants on the run from an orcish raiding party. Bashir helps them by giving them two camels to replace ones that they lost and sells the excess gear to him in exchange for spices. The merchant, Azim ibn Jabiri, explains that he’ll be sticking around for a few days to refill his stores and let his people heal up. Talia explains that Sir Mikkalson had been studying the legends behind the Tomb and came across the map (which they used) as well as a reference to performing several tests before the burial chamber of Al-Aksar would be revealed. The first test was fairly detailed, but the others were not. Entrance to the Tomb requires a test of skill, intelligence, and courage – as well as a key. When Al-Aksar was buried there were three keys, each given to one of his remaining sons who then left the Tahwah-Sa for other lands.



The Tomb of Al-Aksar the Invincible
Weather: 94º F; 25 mph winds from the east; sandstorm
Third Month, 26th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Tahwah-Sa

Drej offers to perform the first test which requires a leap of faith. The inside of the entrance is a concave half circle with random keyholes all along the roof along with several petrified wood poles protruding. Bashir studies the document and points out the most probably keyhole and Drej gets to work. After a few death defying leaps and avoiding poles that are loose, he inserts the medallion-like key into the keyhole and the tomb opens. Talia warns that the tomb won’t stay open for more than three sunrises before shutting and trapping them inside. They immediately come to a small hallway with another complex clockwork door and a portcullis showing the next room. Drej picks the lock, avoids the needle trap, and opens the door in a single smooth motion. They go through several doors until several small dust devils form and a group of Prithvi as-Sharak appear. The fighting is intense, but they overcome it with Talia healing them both. Among the other treasures they actually find a small flying carpet. Two rooms over they encounter a group of skeletons which are easily defeated and they find another medallion-like key around on of their necks. The next room is a long, strange corridor filled with stone pillars and odd all-metal floating poles. Drej, being the best climber, volunteers again to navigate across and several leaps, back flips, and death defying jumps later he’s at the end of the corridor on a metal platform. As soon as he lands on it gravity seems to reverse and he nearly flies up into a ceiling filled with spiky death – instead he buries a dagger into the metal and pulls himself down enough to use the gravitional pull to reveal a stone button on the wall. From the other end of the room Bashir hits it with a arrow from his bow and thousands of small metallic tiles fly up from the chasm to form a floor that can be walked on and reveal a door that goes down. Using the key from the room with skeletons the door opens up to reveal a set of stairs to Al-Aksar’s burial chamber. Once inside they see his sarcophagus in the middle of the room with steps made from that strange metal. Thousands of glittery and shiny objects cover the room’s floor.
Talia and Bashir go up the steps while Drej remains behind. When Talia opens the sarcophagus a giant ooze of rotting meat and bones drops from the ceiling and makes its way to them. Bashir channels his magic into his bow and fires dozens of fiery arrows at, which while hurting it – doesn’t seem to slow it down. Talia tosses a few flasks of alchemist’s fire to Drej who then chucks both of them at the ooze which promptly bursts into flame.
            Looking at the “treasure,” they find that it’s all worthless junk of painted stone or wood. The sarcophagus is empty but for some dusty bones, but within lay a switch which opens steps underneath the small outcropping the sarcophagus is on. Inside they find the armor of Al-Aksar as well as a modest fortune in gold, jewels, etc. Loading it up on the carpet they head out of the dungeon and back to the oasis where they go back to Al-Wazari. Once back at the town, they split the spoils evenly (nine shares – one for each person on the quest and another for Talia’s church). Talia then leaves with a group of her fellow coreligionists to take the armor back to her people.

The Camel and the Crow Inn & Tavern
Weather: 99º F; 5 mph winds from the east
Third Month, 29th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gamemaster's Guidepost: How Many Skills is Too Much?



That's a pretty good question. How many skills are too many for a given character? The answer is tricky in my experience and actually depends heavily on two things: the campaign TL and its genre. That's typically because some genres are going to be skill-heavy because they either expect broad competence or not being skilled at a specific number of things would be unusual at best or dangerous at worst. The Technology Level (TL) also influences this because higher TL skills tend to require everything a lower one did - and more. Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch has long suggested that there are a certain group of skills that "every man" should have (or at least every PC. This list was repeated in How to be a GURPS GM and below as well:



His list suggest that you take at least these 9 skills (depending on the choice) for every player character and a further 7 skills for cinematic or "action" heroes. And really, that's perfect for nearly every campaign. But based on my experience you're going to need a few more based on the genre and TL

Suggested Genre Skills
I'm going to leave out "Action" because Kromm covered that pretty well. So here are a few...

  • Fantasy: Area Knowledge, Current Affairs, Survival (any), and at least one skill to suggest his background training if any (e.g., Smith (Iron) for blacksmiths)
  • Horror: Expert Skill (any supernatural), Hidden Lore (any supernatural), Occultism, and Research, Campaigns that feature magic should also have characters pick at least one of Alchemy, Herb Lore, Ritual Magic, Symbol Drawing, and Thaumatology if magic is common.
  • Mystery/Crime: Body Language, Criminology, Detect Lies, Law, Urban Survival and either Filch, Pickpocket, or Sleight of Hand. "CSI" style games will need the action hero list plus at least Diagnosis, Surgery (for autopsies), and one "exotic" expertise skill that would also be useful to have (e.g., Gil Grissom has Forensics (Forensic Entomology)).
  • Science Fiction: Computer Operation, Free Fall, Spacer, Vacc Suit. Consider one or more of Piloting, Shiphandling, or a repair/maintenance skill.
  • Supers: Current Affairs (Headline News or Superhumans), and the action hero list skills.

Suggested TL Skills
This is by no means a exhaustive list and doesn't include campaign features like modes of travel or the like, which might require their own set of skills.

  • TL0: Area Knowledge (Local or Regional), Survival (any), Weather Sense, and a missile weapon skill of choice (typically Thrown Weapon (Spear) or Bow). Optionally, take Naturalist or Pharmacy(Herbal) (or Herb Lore if the campaign allows).
  • TL1-2: As for TL0 plus a melee weapon skill of choice (often Shortsword or Spear).
  • TL3: As for TL1, but also consider adding at least one other skill to suggest your characters background (e.g. Farming for farmers or Professional Skill (Butchers) for butchers).
  • TL4-5: As for TL3, but add Swimming and Seamanship and maybe Boating, Knot-Tying or Shiphandling.
  • TL6-7: Current Affairs (Headline News, Local, or Popular Culture), Urban Survival. Driving is almost always the mode of Travel. Hobby skills are optional and become popular thanks to a easier way of life that technological brings and many "just folks" have them.
  • TL8: As for TL6, plus Computer Operation.
  • TL9-12: As for TL8, though as AI-controlled vehicles become more common so goes the actual skill to drive them. Area Knowledge might be expanded to include entire star systems of galaxies! Hobby skills (and other skills of "leisure") become increasingly common as human beings do less and less work.


Picking Over the Bones
When a GM starts a campaign he should ideally list all skills that he thinks the PCs will need for the game and the players should either be mandated to take them or be warned of the possible consequences of not doing so. Sometimes it's appropriate for characters to lack a skill(s). This could be thanks to characterization or just not ever having encountered a need to have it.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Hurt Locker: Staff of the Archmagi



A classic icon of Dungeons and Dragon is the "Staff of the Magi," a mage's best friend. Without further-ado - the "Staff of the Archmagi" a Dungeon Fantasy artifact knockoff for today's Hurt Locker:


Staff of the Archmagi
Power Item: 50 FP
Suggested Origins: Cosmic or Magical (always wizardry).

This powerful mage tool is much coveted by wizards everywhere. A large jewel encrusted staff with inlaid runes of the finest silver. Those it's usually a tool of wizardry, it can still be used as any staff can.

• Archmage's Grasp: In addition to acting as a wizard's staff, the wielder uses standard Range penalties (p. B550) rather than the -1/yard that is typical of most spells as long as it's held.
Innate Spells: The Staff contains powerful magic that anyone who holds it can use. Should they actually know the spell at a higher level (all spells are cast at skill 20) he can cast it with the help of the staff as if his Magery were three higher (thus granting a +3 bonus) and it gives him five points of FP per casting for free. Finally, subtract six from the FP cost required for any (this includes the reduction for high skill) of the following spells: Apportation, Armor, Create Door, Create Fire, Detect Magic, Dispel Magic, Enlarge, Fire Cloud, Fireball, Invisibility, Light, Lightning, Lockmaster, Magelock, Planar Summons, Plane Shift, Rain of Ice Daggers, and Spider Silk.
Magical Absorption: The staff (as long as it's held) provides Magic Resistance 5 with the Improved and Switchable modifiers.If a spell fails (i.e., you resisted it), the staff's reserve (i.e., how many FP it can hold as a Power Item) refills the same number of points the base spell would have cost. If a magical ability was used, you regain a number of FP equal to 1/5 the abilities total cost. Excess points bleed away at a rate of 1 FP per second. If you absorb more than twice the FP pool the staff explodes as per a retributive strike! Luckily, wielders know how much energy is within the staff - but not how much a given spell might charge it, thus it's risky to keep absorbing if it's full and getting fuller.
Retributive Strike: As a last ditch effort, the Staff may broken intentionally (this is more a act of will than a physical act), which releases all FP currently stored in the staff. This causes 1d of crushing explosive damage per point of energy currently within the item. Anyone in the wielder's hex takes full damage, it also affects everything within (2 x total dice of damage) yard radius. Damage dice is divided by the total number of yards away a particular target is. This damage is considered both magical and fire if that matters. When the staff is broken intentionally this way, the GM should roll 3d, on a 9 or less the wielder goes to another plane of existence (the GM decides where!), while on a 10 or more he takes full damage like anyone else caught in the blast! Optionally, the GM may lot a weilder decide where he's going on a natural roll of 3 or 4, and treat the explosion as a Contact Explosion (see p. B415) if he rolls a natural 18 meaning he takes maximum damage!
Staff Quality: The Staff counts as a very fine-quality (-2 to breakage) silver-coated quarterstaff if used as a weapon. It has DR 4, HP 12 if someone tries to intentionally destroy it (which does not cause a Retributive Strike).

Weight: 5 lb.

Variations
As the tool for wizards, the GM may wish to keep it as is or tone it down some (reduce the base skill level to 15 or the number of FP reduced). Optionally, he may create a "Wand of the Archmagi" or even a "Sword of the Archmagi" if that works better for his campaign. He might also decide that it's not good enough to bear the name "archmagi" and increase the skill level/magery bonus given by the staff or increase it's FP pool as a Power Item.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Assembly Required: Outlining Step Four - Characters



You've got the history, the geography, and the things the PCs can interact with...what now? Why, a guide to building characters of course! One of the more important things that you as a GM can do is to give your players guidance when you cannot. In general, you can crack open any GURPS world or setting book and get a good idea of what you should be covering. For the most part it should be something like...
  • Character Point Values and what they mean in the campaign world (optional).
  • Existing Advantages
  • New Advantages
  • Existing Perks
  • New Perks
  • Existing Disadvantages
  • New Disadvantages
  • Existing Skills
  • New Skills
  • New Martial Arts or Magical Styles
  • Racial Templates
  • Occupational Templates

Now, that list looks intimidating - but really...it's not all that bad. Consider that you probably already do this in your head. Most GMs do. You just need to get it down on paper or in a file so that you can access it and hand it off to your players when the need arises. It can be as detailed or as sparse as you like, but I always put in a ton of information or at the very list what I'm not allowed if I plan to expand it later. This is the one part of the outline that you are probably going to spend the most time with and you should because it will pay off later on. GURPS requires a lot of GM oversight for character creation and having a quick list you can give to your players will help a lot with that. You'll still need to check it out, of course. Below I've included a few notes from my finished Chapter section for my new campaign.

NOTE: Thanks to Fox Barrett for the awesome custom image for this series. You rule, Fox! Also, if you're not checking out his comic "Vagabond Starlight" - you're missing out.


The Worked Example: Something, Something Kill Monsters Urban Fantasy Secret Magic aka "The Chronicles of Ceteri"
One of the things I decided early on about the campaign was the importance of social traits and ties between player characters and the various factions of the setting. This was going to be one of my focal points so I started here first...


Claim to Hospitality
See p. B40
This is a common advantage amongst those “in the know.” Having someone you can rely when the occasion calls for it is a handy trick and many occult brotherhoods and fraternities include such “hospitality oaths” to those in their ranks. Use the list below for the determining the cost of groups within the setting:
  • Biyáázh Naayéé Neizghání: This Native American group is worth 5 points as a Claim to Hospitality, but only in North or South America.
  • The Conclave: The Conclave is everywhere and is thus worth 10 points.

Special Enhancement

Serendipitous Meetings: Increase your chance to meet someone at random in a small crowd from 6 or less to 9 or less. This costs +100%. If the GM allows, higher levels are possible (but hard to explain), a 12 or less results in +200% enhancement and 15 or less is a +300% enhancement.


Status
p. B28
Due to the dual-nature of the campaign setting, Status is notated as a number with a slash and then another number. The first number is Status within the Mundane World, the second is your Status within the Supernatural World. Bonuses from Imputed Status from Rank count only towards one or the other, but not both. Imputed Status from Wealth counts towards both levels. Status is purchased normally, but you only pay 1/5 normal cost for your alternate Status as long as it’s equal to, or less than the other level. Negative Status is treated the same way and use the net value to determine if it’s a advantage or disadvantage. Disadvantageous Status is worth -1 point per level below 0. For example, in the mundane world a character might have a Status of 3, but could be the lackey of a Great House in the supernatural world – a mere Status of -1. This would be recorded as “Status 3/-1 [14]” and would be an advantage.