Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Hurt Locker: Deck of Wonders


I have a long (and troubling) relationship with the "Deck of Many Things" there hasn't been a single DnD campaign I've ran where I haven't willingly introduced it...or it showed up on its own. Put simply, I have a deck of cards with my other DnD things that I carried for a reason. So today's knockoff (I prefer the phrase "inspired by"), "The Deck of Wonders," should come as no surprise - to my players at least.


Deck of Wonders
Power Item: 5d FP
Suggested Origins: Cosmic, Divine, Magical, or Spirit.

Resembling a deck of cards, this artifact can be the bane or blessing of a given delver. Before any cards are drawn, the the drawer must specify how many he wishes to pull and then he must pull that amount. If he fails to draw the cards for whatever reason he can make a Will roll -10, failure means the cards draw themselves for him, success means he takes HP damage equal to a full multiple of his Hit Points times the number of cards he failed to draw.

• Hand of Fate: Every card drawn has either a beneficial or baneful effect. Permanent effects can be removed with a Remove Curse spell (GURPS Magic, p. 126) - though the effects resist with a skill of 35! Deck of Wonders with Cosmic origins cannot have effects removed except by the direct intervention of the gods. In most cases, the exact effect will be immediately known to the drawer unless noted otherwise thanks to a combination of a physical representation (the engraving) and a sudden flash of insight. See the chart below to determine the effect a given card bestows either with dice or a actual deck of cards.
Whimsy: The deck doesn't remain in the possession of one person for long and is immune to any such effects from supernatural means or the like. Furthermore, it can never be taken as Signature Gear. Every month the deck remains in the same persons possession, make a unmodified Reaction Roll (for those with Weirdness Magnet, roll 1d, on a 1-3 subtract 3 from this roll; on a 4-6 add three instead) and consult the following chart:

          Disastrous: As Very Bad, but also forces the owner to draw 1d-1 cards before it goes.
          Bad or Very Bad: The deck disappears and takes $1dx500 worth of valuables with it. Adjust               this for delvers with higher or lower Wealth levels!
          Poor or Neutral: The deck disappears from the owner's possessions.
          Good or Very Good: The deck stays...for now.
          Excellent: It likes you. It really likes you. Not only does it stick around without requiring any             more checks for 2d months, but you can add your full reaction modifier against it. This comes             at a cost however, you gain Weirdness Magnet if you don't already have it, as the deck                         permanently warps your karmic field.

Weight: 1 lb.


Variations
Nothing says it needs to be a deck of cards. It could be a set of dice with ever-changing faces or a book that's blank until the page is turned and then the effect shows up. Any sort of random device is possible, consider a roulette wheel or even a board game.


The Luck of the Draw
Engraving Die Roll Playing Card Effect
Balance 1, 1-3, 1-3 Two of spades Lose 1dx5 points worth of self-imposed disadvantages or gain disadvantage that are the opposite of what you currently possess (e.g., a knight might lose Code of Honor (Chivlary) and gain Code of Honor (Pirate's)
Comet 1, 1-3, 4-6 Two of diamonds Defeat the next monster you encounter alone and gain 3d character points.
Donjon 1, 4-6, 1-3 Ace of spades Your character is physically imprisoned (hello, Watch!) and accused of crimes he did not commit; he gains Social Stigma (Criminal Record).
Euryale 1, 4-6, 4-6 Queen of spades Acquire a permanent -1 to IQ, HT, Will, or Perception (GM's choice)
The Fates 2, 1-3, 1-3 Ace of hearts Gain a Great Wish for the sole purpose avoiding any situation of your choice - once. The GM decides what this situation is - though a badly drawn card qualities! Note this on your character sheet.
Flames 2, 1-3, 4-6 Queen of clubs Gain Reputation -4 (Demons or Elder Things).
Fool 2, 4-6, 1-3 Joker (with trademark) Lose 6d  character points of traits and draw another card from the deck.
Gem 2, 4-6, 4-6 Two of hearts Gain your choice 7d pieces of jewelry or 14d jewels (use GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables to determine what is gained).
Idiot 3, 1-3, 1-3 Two of clubs Lose 1d/2 points of IQ. You may draw again if you wish.
Jester 3, 1-3, 4-6 Joker (without trademark) Gain 6d unspent character points or two more draws from the deck.
Key 3, 4-6, 1-3 Queen of hearts Gain a magical weapon that you can use immediately and enough points in Signature Gear to cover its cost. The value of the weapon should be equal to you character's current value x $500. You can suggest what you'd like to the GM, but he has the final word.
Knight 3, 4-6, 4-6 Jack of hearts Gain a henchman of the GM's choice and the points necessary to have it as Ally.
Moon 4, 1-3, 1-3 Queen of diamonds Immediately gain 1d Great Wishes (see GURPS Magic, p. 62).
Rogue 4, 1-3, 4-6 Jack of spades A previously friendly NPC becomes actively hostile toward you (treat as if you had scored a Disastrous Reaction Roll). GMs should start with Allies and then move on toward commonly hired henchmen, then NPCs.
Ruin 4, 4-6, 1-3 King of spades If your character has any levels of Wealth he loses them and gains Wealth (Dead Broke) as well and everything he owns - even the shirt off his back! If the deck is of Cosmic origin it also effects Signature Gear!
Skull 4, 4-6, 4-6 Jack of clubs Defeat a powerful monster of the GM's choice or be instantly reduced to -10xHP meaning you can never be resurrected! Your character is gone for good.
Star 5, 1-3, 1-3 Jack of diamonds Instantly gain 20 points toward a single attribute or secondary characteristic of choice.
Sun 5, 1-3, 4-6 King of diamonds Gain a magical item that you can use immediately and 1dx5 character points. The value of the item should be equal to you character's current value x $100. You can suggest what you'd like to the GM, but he has the final word.
Talons 5, 4-6, 1-3 Ace of clubs All items that you possess however trivially enchanted disappear permanently. 
Throne 5, 4-6, 4-6 King of hearts Gain 1d levels of charisma (or a equal number of points in a social traits(s) of your choice). If the GM is using Traits for Town Pyramid, then he also gains 1d levels of Status (work out how this happens; e.g., he finds out he's of noble birth or something similiar).
Vizier 6, 1-3, 1-6 Ace of diamonds The GM tells you the exact answer to the next problem or dilemma that your character has.
The Void 6, 4-6, 1-6 King of clubs Character's soul gets trapped in another dimension. He gains Low Empathy and Social Stigma (Excommunicated) until he gets his soul back - if he ever does.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sicatra - The Lost Lad - Game Session 1



Adventuring Party
Ambrose Syndrillum (PC – Celestial Healing Priest)
Bashir Al-Sah’a’den (PC – Desert Elf Scout/Holy Warrior of Justice)
Drej the Spider (PC ­– Half-Elven Dark One Thief/Wizard)
Torqua ibn El-Kadar (PC – Half-Ogre Barbarian/Knight)
Jalaal (PC – Cat-folk Martial Artist)

Azeem Kurokk (NPC ­– Half-Orc? – Unknown)



The Monastery of the First Rays
Weather: 121º F; 2 mph winds from the south; clear skies
Ninth Month, 3rd Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Tahwah-Sa

Having delivered the pilgrims and their precious cargo to the monastery the night before, the PCs are given breakfast and spend time with the abbot. When they leave the dining hall they encounter a small boy in novice robes crying in a corner. When asked what was wrong the weeping child responds that his friend (an older boy named Venni who works in the kitchens) left to go “hunt for treasure in the old tombs.” The PCs go off to find the boy, joined oddly enough by a wandering martial artist who’d been sunning himself. Following the tracks was easy and they find the boy running for his life from four monstrous scorpions. Drej ignores the combat as Azzem shoots a grapnel across the chasm separating the them from the boy and climbs across to save him.The fighting is intense and Bashir is severely wounded by a scorpion stinger to the groin, but Ambrose heals him and accidently draws the attention of his god who goes onto to bestow a blessing (for some unknown reason). The scorpions are tough, but not match as they take them out at range or by running underneath them. Torqua harvests venom from the giant creatures and they all head back to the monastery. They are thanked by the priests and then leave to head back to Al-Wazari.


The Camel and the Crow Inn & Tavern
Weather: 111º F; 12 mph winds from the south; clear skies
Ninth Month, 4th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Triple Threat: The Slender Man




The Slender Man
Is he real? Is he fake? Something that someone made up on the internet? Or is that the conspiracy? Regardless of his origins the Slender Men is terrifying to behold. Reports put him (it?) at eight to ten feet tall, with pallid skin and dressed in a black suit and tie. Despite having a head he has no face (though doesn't seem affected by lack of eyes, ears, etc.). His fingers are long and claw-like with dirty fingernails. Each arm is four to five feet long and capable of “splitting” and turning into five separate arms or grow twice as long. Among many of its powers, it seems to be able to hide itself utterly from all beings at will, except for children (anyone under the age of 12), appear at will, and infect others with “slender sickness” merely by being in their presence (see below). It also has inhuman levels of strength, agility, fortitude, and a level of intellect so far beyond human that its motives remain inscrutable. Some think it’s the embodiment of fear or a being from beyond our reality akin to the creatures of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
            It’s near invulnerability to small arms fire and fast rate of healing make it unwise to actually attack in combat.

Any Campaign Setting...
ST: 30             HP: 30            Speed: 10.00
DX: 20            Will: 20           Move: 100 (or 11 if walking)
IQ: 20             Per: 20            Weight: 150 lbs.
HT: 20            FP: 20             SM: +1
Dodge: 14       Parry: 15        DR: 21

Claw (16): 3d+2 cutting. Reach C-2. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-3 to defend against)
Fearful Presence (20 vs. Will-14): Add all applicable modifiers under Fright Check Modifiers (p. B360), failure results in an immediate roll on the Fright Check table (pp. B360, B361). Your victims get +1 per Fright Check after the first within 24 hours.
Grapple (16): No damage, but on further turns can squeeze (Choke or Strangle, p. B370) as ST 32. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-3 to defend against)
Improvised Weapon (15): Based on Damage 3d/5d+2.
Slender Sickness (Lower of HT or Will-5): Being within 16 yards of Slender Man requires a roll against HT-5, failure results in the subject acquiring Paranoia and Nightmares (6) for days equal to the margin of failure. Failure by five or more also inflicts -30 points worth of Delusions. Success means they are immune to this effect for 24 hours, while critical success means they are immune for a month. Critical failure results in the subject permanently acquiring -1dx5 points worth disadvantages from the above list or any other the GM feels is appropriate and falling unconscious for minutes equal to their margin of failure. Regardless of whether they succeed or fail, they take 1d-3 injury through nosebleeds.

Traits:  Claws (Sharp); Combat Reflexes; Dark Vision (Color Vision); Extra Arms (Ten Arms; Extra-Flexible; Long, SM+2; Switchable); Frightens Animals; Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous; No Blood; No Eyes; No Face); Invisibility (Accessibility, Never affects children; Affects Machine; Can Carry Objects, Heavy; Extended, All; Selectivity, Selective Effect; Switchable); Limited Camouflage (Shadowy Areas or Forests); Long Arms (SM+1); Low Empathy; Odious Personal Habit (Kidnaps children); Regeneration (Very Fast, 3HP/second); Sadism (12); Terror 15 (Active; Presence; Vision-Based); Unaging; Unkillable 3; Warp* (Blink; Cosmic, No die roll required; Range Limit, 100 yards; Reliable 10).
Skills:  Brawling-22; Camouflage-20; Intimidation-20; Shadowing-20; Stealth-20; Wrestling-22. The Slender Man probably has an extensive array of skills and may possess any skill the GM thinks he should have (even secret skills like Hidden Lore or magic spells!).
Classification: Elder Thing.
Notes: Cannot be truly killed. Always returns. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check from GURPS Horror (p. 139), the Slender Man has a modifier of -6.
* The Range Limit is ignored when teleporting to abandoned places where humans once dwelt, forests, and other similar remote locales.
† Assumes two arms; +2 for each additional arm used (up to ten for a +16 to hit).


For Dungeon Fantasy...
ST: 30             HP: 30            Speed: 10.00
DX: 20            Will: 20           Move: 100 (or 11 if walking)
IQ: 20             Per: 20            Weight: 150 lbs.
HT: 20            FP: 20             SM: +1
Dodge: 14       Parry: 15        DR: 14

Claw (16): 3d+2 cutting. Reach C-2. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-3 to defend against)
Fearful Presence (20 vs. Will-14): Add all applicable modifiers under Fright Check Modifiers (p. B360), failure results in an immediate roll on the Fright Check table (pp. B360, B361). Your victims get +1 per Fright Check after the first within 24 hours.
Grapple (16): No damage, but on further turns can squeeze (Choke or Strangle, p. B370) as ST 32. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-3 to defend against)
Improvised Weapon (15): Based on Damage 3d/5d+2.
Slender Sickness (Lower of HT or Will-5): Being within 16 yards of Slender Man requires a roll against HT-5, failure results in the subject acquiring Paranoia and Nightmares (6) for days equal to the margin of failure. Failure by five or more also inflicts -30 points worth of Delusions. Success means they are immune to this effect for 24 hours, while critical success means they are immune for a month. Critical failure results in the subject permanently acquiring -1dx5 points worth disadvantages from the above list or any other the GM feels is appropriate and falling unconscious for minutes equal to their margin of failure. Regardless of whether they succeed or fail, they take 1d-3 injury through nosebleeds.

Traits:  Claws (Sharp); Combat Reflexes; Dark Vision (Color Vision); Extra Arms (Ten Arms; Extra-Flexible; Long, SM+2; Switchable); Frightens Animals; Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous; No Blood; No Eyes; No Face); Invisibility (Accessibility, Never affects children; Affects Machine; Can Carry Objects, Heavy; Extended, All; Selectivity, Selective Effect; Switchable); Limited Camouflage (Shadowy Areas or Forests); Long Arms (SM+1); Low Empathy; Odious Personal Habit (Kidnaps children); Regeneration (Very Fast, 3HP/second); Sadism (12); Terror 15 (Active; Presence; Vision-Based); Unaging; Unkillable 3; Warp* (Blink; Cosmic, No die roll required; Range Limit, 100 yards; Reliable 10).
Skills:  Brawling-22; Camouflage-20; Intimidation-20; Shadowing-20; Stealth-20; Wrestling-22. The Slender Man probably has an extensive array of skills and may possess any skill the GM thinks he should have (even secret skills like Hidden Lore or magic spells!).
Classification: Elder Thing.
Notes: Cannot be truly killed. Always returns.
* The Range Limit is ignored when teleporting to abandoned places where humans once dwelt, forests, and other similar remote locales.
† Assumes two arms; +2 for each additional arm used (up to ten for a +16 to hit).


For Monster Hunters...
ST: 40             HP: 40            Speed: 10.00
DX: 20            Will: 20           Move: 100 (or 11 if walking)
IQ: 20             Per: 20            Weight: 150 lbs.
HT: 20            FP: 20             SM: +1
Dodge: 14       Parry: 16        DR: 31

Fright Check: -5

Claw (17): 4d+4 cutting. Reach C-2. Treat as a weapon (Striker), not as a body part. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-4 to defend against)
Fearful Presence (20 vs. Will-14): Add all applicable modifiers under Fright Check Modifiers (p. B360), failure results in an immediate roll on the Fright Check table (pp. B360, B361). Your victims get +1 per Fright Check after the first within 24 hours.
Grapple (17): No damage, but on further turns can squeeze (Choke or Strangle, p. B370) as ST 42. Made as a Deceptive Attack (-4 to defend against)
Improvised Weapon (15): Based on Damage 4d+1/7d-1.
Slender Sickness (Lower of HT or Will-5): Being within 16 yards of Slender Man requires a roll against HT-5, failure results in the subject acquiring Paranoia and Nightmares (6) for days equal to the margin of failure. Failure by five or more also inflicts -30 points worth of Delusions. Success means they are immune to this effect for 24 hours, while critical success means they are immune for a month. Critical failure results in the subject permanently acquiring -1dx5 points worth disadvantages from the above list or any other the GM feels is appropriate and falling unconscious for minutes equal to their margin of failure. Regardless of whether they succeed or fail, they take 1d-3 injury through nosebleeds.

Traits:  Claws (Sharp); Combat Reflexes; Dark Vision (Color Vision); Extra Arms (Ten Arms; Extra-Flexible; Long, SM+2; Switchable); Frightens Animals; Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous; No Blood; No Eyes; No Face); Invisibility (Accessibility, Never affects children; Affects Machine; Can Carry Objects, Heavy; Extended, All; Selectivity, Selective Effect; Switchable); Limited Camouflage (Shadowy Areas or Forests); Long Arms (SM+1); Low Empathy; Odious Personal Habit (Kidnaps children); Regeneration (Very Fast, 4 HP/second); Sadism (12); Terror 15 (Active; Presence; Vision-Based); Unaging; Unkillable 3; Warp* (Blink; Cosmic, No die roll required; Range Limit, 100 yards; Reliable 10).
Skills:  Brawling-25; Camouflage-20; Intimidation-20; Shadowing-20; Stealth-20; Wrestling-25. The Slender Man probably has an extensive array of skills and may possess any skill the GM thinks he should have (even secret skills like Hidden Lore or magic spells!).

Notes: Cannot be truly killed. Always returns. Use the skills listed under Cryptids or Inbetweeners (or Elder Things for some campaigns!) in the Know Thy Enemy box in Monster Hunters 1 (p. 16). Killing Slender Man (or at least banishing it back to wherever it came from) will require a team of champions who've prepared and planned extensively for the task.
* The Range Limit is ignored when teleporting to abandoned places where humans once dwelt, forests, and other similar remote locales.
† Assumes two arms; +2 for each additional arm used (up to ten for a +16 to hit).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Gamemaster’s Guidepost: Tainted Blood




GURPS Monster Hunters has become one of the more popular of the GURPS lines since it came out in 2012. It’s spawned tons of Pyramid articles and (on my part at least) lots of blog posts. One of the things that I personally liked about Monster Hunters was how it let you like a reformed “monster” (a common thing in the fiction that Monster Hunters draws from!). There are quite a few inhuman templates (and I’ve written a few), but there can always be room for more! In this post you’ll find a new inhuman option (the Tainted) as well as a new type of enemy category and a random roll table for those “gifted” by the Old Ones.

If you'd like to read more, consider becoming a patron!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Designer's Notes: Hidden Knowledge


Pyramid076-cvr_1000Hidden Knowledge was one of those things I'd already written, but hadn't really known it until someone knocked me on the head and said "Hey, consider writing this." In this case it was Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch. I'd asked him some advice on a particular subject and he gave it to - in spades (and that's what the guy does, which is awesome). "Secret magic might be fun for Dungeon Fantasy," and that just exploded in my head like a tiny nuclear bomb filled with electrons, ink, paper, and a hurble-blurble of game mechanics. I'd previously written some material for using spellbooks in GURPS for one of my campaigns, but it lay discarded in my Content Cemetery folder on my hard drive. It's the place where ideas go to languish in a half-dead, half-alive Schrodingerian feline-like manner. half-started blog entries, Pyramid articles, campaign detritus from discarded settings, and so on. It just sits there and when I need something, I go into my memory library, sift around for the exact idea, and then hope my memory and its location on the drive are the same. Sometimes its not and I totally blame...umm. Someone or something. Err..Quantum mechanics! Yeah, that's it. Mumble mumble strange action mumble mumble. The rest was a half-formed thought I'd had after watching Five Deadly Venoms: what if you could modify spells that are already published and make them different somehow? More useful or dangerous? Thus "secret spells" were born for Dungeon Fantasy, and "doubly secret" because you have to have that 43rd technique you never teach your students in case one of them tries to use the first 42 against you. The pieces I scavenged for the article were maybe 500 or 600 words and I wrote the rest in about 20 hours. Unfortunately, this one was one where the revisions took forever and I wanted to pull my hair out at a few points. Seven revisions later and it was, well, "much more betterer" to quote Capn' Sparrow. The I actually managed to include most everything I had wanted to, but like always I had some outtakes.





Spellbooks for All!
If the GM's setting calls for it, the first level of the new Spellscribe power-up might apply equally across the board to all spellcasters. Bards have songbooks, clerics and holy warriors have prayerbooks, druids have codices, and wizards have grimoires. Instead of a optional bonus, it becomes required for all casters who must start out with expensive books to represent that knowledge.
        Dungeons and Dragons-style sorcerers would instead use the standard rules, must take the Wild Talent advantage from the wizard template, and have the new advantage (which would be a feature for them under these rules, but a advantage in "regular" Dungeon Fantasy):

Magic-in-the-Blood
1 point for Magery 0, and 1 point 
per additional level of Magery thereafter
You ignore prerequisites for learning spells as long as you meet the minimum Magery for the spell. Optionally, GMs with GURPS Thaumatology: Magical Styles can use the rules Restructuring Prerequisites (p. 17) to determine what level of Magery you need to have the spell.

Advantage: Add the enhancement Limited No Spell Prerequisites (+10%) to Magery. This is a weaker form of No Spell Prerequisites from GURPS Thaumatology (p. 67)


New Modifier for Books
A outtake because I just didn't have any space:

Enhanced Capacity: The manual is written in such a way in that the information contained within it is “denser” than normal. Each level of this modifier (up to two) increases the number of points a given book can have on a particular subject matter by 50% (round up). Skills or traits must be related. For example, a primer with enhanced capacity 1 could contain two Fire College spells or a single spell and Thaumatology, but could not contain information on Climbing and Thaumatology. +9 CF for level 1 or +19 CF for level two.


New Spell Option for Secret Spells
A outtake because I just didn't have any space and eventually just folded it into Unique Effects or Rules-Breaker because Dungeon Fantasy doesn't focus on enchantment spells:

Enchantment: The spell can be enchanted in a way that is not typical of it. For example, a spell that can be enchanted into a wand or staff might be able to be enchanted onto a weapon or shield. For spells that are not normally capable of having enchanted items, this makes it possible. The GM will have to come up with the energy costs for this, but a good guideline is 500 per point of FP the spell normally costs to cast. If this latter option is choice, it takes up two slots, not one. 


New Power-Up: Fake Credentials
Even while writing it up I knew I'd have to cut it (it's way to close to Dungeons and Dragons 3.0/3.5's "Use Magic Device" skill). That doesn't mean you can't use it in your games if you want...

Fake Credentials
8/13/18/21/24/27/30/33 points for levels 1-8*
Prerequisite: Will 14+ and Influence Skill at 18+.

Whenever you come across a magical item or piece of gear restricted to a specific class or race you can attempt to make a Will-based Influence skill-10 roll against its HT (or Will for sentient or intelligent items). Success allows you to use it for minutes equal to your margin of success. You can also attempt to do this for places or magical effects that would otherwise adversely affect you. Assign a HT of 13 for most such effects. Alternatively, if they give a penalty, add the absolute value to 12 and use that instead. For example, if the Halls of Law give thieves -3 on all their rolls, then a thief with this power-up could make a roll to convince it he's not a thief...for minutes equal to his margin.
        Level 2 lets you roll at -5 instead of -10, while level 3 lets you roll at full skill. Level 4 and higher give you a +1 to your roll per level. This power-up is available to anyone, but the GM may wish to restrict it to specific templates like thief or bard.

Advantages: Level 4 and higher adds Charisma (Accessibility, One Influence Skill, -40%) [3/level] a level at a time.
Perks: Special Set-up (Influence skill can be used on specific types of inanimate objects or places) [1]; Unique Technique (Fake It Till you Make It) [1].
Techniques: Fake It Till you Make It (H) Influence Skill-10 [6] at level 1, Influence Skill-5 [11] at level 2, or Influence Skill+0 [16] at level 3.
* GMs who want wider capabilities can make "Fake It Till you Make It" a wildcard technique. This would change costs to 20/35/50/53/56/59/62/65 points for levels 1-8.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

GURPS101: Cultures in Dungeon Fantasy




One of the things that I really liked about Forgotten Realms for Dungeons and Dragons 3.0/3.5 was the "Regional Feats." With a single trait you could give your otherwise two-dimensional character real depth. One of the many things I'm seeking to emulate in my Dungeon Fantasy campaign setting, Sicatra, are some of my favorite things from DnD. Regional feats are but a step in the road toward that end. Like a lot of "social" traits in Dungeon Fantasy, Cultural Familiarities are kind of glossed over. The bard gets Cultural Adaptability and Cultural Familiarity and...that's it (excluding "free form adventurers" who use no template). GMs may allow the following, optional lens for all adventurers in his campaign.


Regional/Ethnic Lens
0 points
Your character is from a specific place in the campaign world that prizes certain traits that you embody. Alternatively, you character may have been "raised by" another race. Unless the GM says otherwise delvers can only have one Regional/Ethnic Lens. The GM should design the lenses available for his campaign, but a few examples might be...

Cosmopolitan City: Your character is from a massive fantasy-style city (e.g., Lankhmar). You may spend any of your template's points or points from quirks on the following traits: Cultural Familiarity (any) [1/culture], Jack of All Trades 1 [10], Language (any spoken within the city) [2-6/language], Piecemeal Knowledge (this may be taken at most twice) [1], and Street-Smart 1-3 [5/level].You may also learn Area Knowledge (city your from or nearby areas), Merchant, Panhandling, Streetwise, and Urban Survival if those skills are normally not available to you.

Elven Foundling: Your character is a non-elf or a half-elf that was raised elves. You may spend any of your template's points or points from quirks on the following traits: Cultural Familiarity (Elven) [1/culture], DX+1 [20], Elven Gear [1], Forest Guardian 1-2 [5/level], Magery 0 or 1 [5 or 15], Language (Elven) [2-6], You may also learn Light Walk without need Chi Mastery if you also have DX 14 and Acrobatics and Stealth 16+.


Picking Over the Bones
It might need some work, but the concept is perfectly usable and I fully intend to use it in my campaign. The only downside I see is that the GM will have to put in some extra work and think about the campaign world in general beyond "Town." This may or may not be appropriate to a given campaign and therefore may not be usable. The way I've seen nearly every GM run Dungeon Fantasy has been more or less a "Dungeons and Dragons milieu" rather than the straight-up "silly dungeon bashing where's my new magic sword" that the series indicates. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there needs to be product support for this style of player because it is by far the most popular among DF players and GMs from what I've seen.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Carpe Blogiem: Musings on Sicatra, Part I



While in a haze of "What's my blood sugar at?" and being sleepy because I had to keep a eye on said glucose I got to thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) about my blog. I said "Self, why don't you have a post series about random gaming stuff?" and I said back "Well, you're usually doing rulesy-stuff and giving advice." "Don't you think that's weird?" I asked myself. "Yeah, a bit I guess, should we have one?" "Uhhh, yes. And while you're at it stop talking to yourself. Carpe Blogiem! Seize the Blog!" So...ummm, that's kind of how this blog post got started. (If you think me talking to myself is weird you have not been reading this blog long - that is to say, yes, I talk to myself and fairly often too. Don't judge me! :-P)


Creatin 'n Drawin' and Makin' the New
So, I've been posting session reports about my new campaign setting, Sicatra, for a while now (you can find them here). Basically, it's high fantasy using GURPS Dungeon Fantasy as a framework. It actually started out as a random series of questions some players asked at a demo of Dungeon Fantasy and I just kept notes. Over the course of about a week I'd gotten a lot of feedback from some of my regulars that had played it and we'd decided to just go with it and see what happened. Well, a lot happened. My players were hooked. I realized early on that playing Dungeon Fantasy "straight up" wasn't something I really wanted to do - nor my players. But using it as a framework for a "high fantasy" campaign...well, that produced something that was not only tenable to my players and I, but something we'd been craving for a while without knowing. I set to work furiously jotting down every idea that rushed into my head. I began looking at past fantasy campaigns that had sputtered out for this or that reason. It came to me later that I could just mash everything together for a new workable whole. Out of that glorious mess came something...very interesting. I ran them through several game sessions until we stopped at a dungeon (a dungeon I intend to run at ROFCON 2015 - if you're in Virginia Beach, VA, stop by and play!). Then my co-GM, L.A., came to me with a crazy idea that was so crazy and awesome I just had to figure out how to do it. "Wouldn't it be neat if we (the players) could play the deities of the setting?" Well, shit, that would be neat. I've long wanted to toss together a framework for creating deities. I worked tirelessly for quite a while trying to balance the point costs to make everything work...but it drive me a little mad. I was stumped until L.A. (again) said "Why not just ignore the points like that article Kromm wrote?" Well, damn, why not ignore the point cost?! You're a freaking god, at that level the points kind of don't matter. And they didn't. I banged out around 12,000 words and went from there. We'll hash out the rest of the info needed (who is your god? What is his domain? Who worships them? And so on) on one of our workshop sessions. So far...I really dig the idea of running deities because at that level the stakes are so high and yet...so petty. Anyways, that's enough for now I guess. I'll let you know how it went in part II, though I do have a question: what sort of fantasy tropes do you think are neat (even if they are overplayed) and why?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sicatra - The Pilgrims' Plea - Game Session 1



Adventuring Party
Ambrose Syndrillum (PC – Celestial Healing Priest)
Bashir Al-Sah’a’den (PC – Desert Elf Scout/Holy Warrior of Justice)
Drej the Spider (PC ­– Half-Elven Dark One Thief/Wizard)
Perilous Moonglow (PC – Unknown High-Elf Meistersinger/Mystic Swordsman/Thief)
Torqua ibn El-Kadar (PC – Half-Ogre Barbarian/Knight)

Azeem Kurokk (NPC ­– Half-Orc? – Unknown)
Brightscale (NPC – Szith – Animal Companion)
Muriss (NPC – Orecile – Animal Companion)
Nebrija Dhamari (NPC – Elf? – Unknown)
Unknown (NPC – Brownie – Unknown)



The Camel and the Crow Inn & Tavern
Weather: 123º F; 42 mph winds from the south; dust storm
Eight Month, 9th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

(Yes, they met in a tavern – hush) Stopping into the Camel and Crow to get the inn’s famous fried bread is a requirement when visiting Al-Wazari. Torqua and Ambrose nearly get into a brawl with some down-on-their-luck adventurers with a grudge against ogres, until Bashir sits down at their table, drinks from one of their mugs, and then bludgeons one of the agitators into unconsciousness. Setting the cup’s (broken) handle down on the table, he takes another of their mugs and sips at it looking at them without saying a single word. As one they leave. The tavern remains quiet for a few minutes as Bashir finishes his drink and goes back to his sit. Above him, his partner in crime, “the Spider” watches while sitting on the rafters (his typical sitting place). Ambrose salutes Bashir and the tavern goes back to its naturally loud and boisterous state. Perilous (who’d watched the whole thing), sheathes her blade before sitting back down and feeding a diminutive brownie some of her meal (he’d been refused service). After a time a large group of pilgrims come in, many of them wounded and all of them terrified. Perilous motions for them to come to her table and breaks out her healing kit before “singing” the wounds closed. Ambrose, realizing the pilgrims worship his god, Atnos, he also helps. Bashir and Drej meander over as well and the pilgrims explain how they were charged with delivering a sacred book (made of solid gold!) to the monks of the Monastery of the First Rays to the north. They’d been escorted by several holy warriors of Atnos, but they’d been slaughtered by some force they couldn’t see in the night. Afraid they were next they ran all the way into town. Almost as one the three different groups promise to retrieve the book for the pilgrims. Perilous convinces the others to join her and then goes to “sing for her supper.” She performs a ballad to influence the tavern patrons towards the pilgrims – which works well enough that they’re given a small purse of silver and rooms for the week. Outside a sandstorm kicks up.


Outside of Al-Wazari
Weather: 127º F; 12 mph winds from the south; clear skies
Eight Month, 10th to 11th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

Setting out from Al-Wazari, Bashir gets backing from Laith Allarri to offset some costs and purchases a camel big enough for Torqua to ride. They find the ambush site quickly enough, and thanks to Bashir’s amazing tracking skills and the help of the whole team they find a trail that had been hidden by magic and the sandstorm of the day before.  After a day of following the trail, Bashir leads them to an oasis nearby and they rest there for a day to escape the heat while he scouts ahead finding the end of the trail. The next they they travel to where the trail ended at one of the famous stone arches of the desert.


Ruined Ba’adahl al-qasr
Weather: 117º F; 5 mph winds from the south; clear skies
Eight Month, 12th - 13th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Tahwah-Sa

Before they can begin to walk up the pathway to the al-qasr a (fortified “castle-like” ba’adahl structure), they’re attacked by a massive force – an orc raiding party. The fighting is fierce and Torqua goes berserk, while Perilous “unleashes” Nebrija who begins to “smoke” darkness from his body as he sprints towards his enemies killing everything in his path. After it’s all said and done only a single orc remains alive, charmed by Perilous, who then relies everything he knows to the party. She then tells him to march off into the desert and rejoin his people. They head up to the al-qasr, whose doors have long since rotted away revealing a courtyard full of very life-like statues. Cautious, Torqua remarks that “it’s probably a ambush” and is rewarded with a ear inches from his face. Again, the fighting is fierce and Tor is severely injured by the gorgons, with the small brownie leading the charge on his tarantula war-mount (and being surprisingly effective!). After the gorgons are dead, Perilous, furious that they tried to ambush the party skins them (rather, gets Nebrija to do it) completely. The party makes their way into the al-qasr hoping to find the mastermind behind the theft, but the room that had been occupied is empty. All that remains is a (trapped) chest with some feminine under-things with the book of prayers underneath it. Leaning against a wall, Torqua accidently reveals a secret room that leads to a ba’adahl cache that’s mostly ruined, but still contains some useable weapons and gear. Collecting everything of value they head back to Al-Wazari, return the pilgrims their book, and sell the excess gear. A week later they escort the pilgrims to the Monastery of the First Rays before they come back to Al-Wazari.

The Camel and the Crow Inn & Tavern
Weather: 112º F; 5 mph winds from the south; clear skies
Fourth Month, 30th Day, 789 of the Fifth Age
Al-Wazari, Tahwah-Sa

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

GURPS101: Call of the Wild




Wildcard skills are awesome. They just are. They're a great way to represent cinematic skill mastery or even realistic legit "skill broadness" if you restrict the level to attribute or less. So how could they be better? Well, most of that's been answered by Sean Punch in GURPS Power-Ups 7: Wildcard Skills - if you don't have that book and use wildcard skills even marginally...just go get it. Just...just do it. I reviewed it here. But I still got a few ideas (like I always do).


No Skill Broad Enough
Power-Ups 7: Wildcard Skills says "The rough target range for wildcard breadth is 12 to 14 standard skills." That tells me two things. First, that is the average a given skill should have, but more or less skills are okay. Second, it suggests that a smaller subset of skills might in fact be cheaper. So theoretically, you might be able to do something like...


Type                 Skill Range                 Difficulty/Cost
Limited            2 to 4 skills                  Very Hard (normal cost)
Narrow            5 to 11 skills                 Very Hard (double cost)
Average           12 to 14 skills              Very Hard (triple cost)
Broad               15 to 19 skills              Very Hard (quadruple cost)
Very Broad      20 or more skills          Very Hard (quintuple cost)


Wildcard Perks
Though it doesn't come right out and say you can't, perks are basically advantages and advantages can be Wildcard Powers for x4 cost. This needs to be a bit more for perks I think, so x5 cost (or about 5 level) sounds right. This allows it to function as the perk in question for all specialties of that perk and functions as a similiar perk if the situation calls for it. For example Iron Hands! 1 gives the character DR 1 for his hands, but also might allow him to have Iron Arm for one instance if the GM allows (it caught his wrist). Do keep in mind for some perks this can get out of hand (Sure-Footed comes to mind) and the GM will need to use discretion and add some minor drawbacks. It certainly makes it cheaper to do some things (Better Gear! becomes the ultimate "I know a guy" perk) and allows things like Flourish! for flashy fighters who like to show off. Plus it's about the same cost as Cosmic Modular Abilities 1 (Limited, One perk or related perks) or Higher Purpose. A example of a perk that needs GM discretion is Weapon Bond:

Gear Bond!
5 points
This Wildcard perk functions exactly like Equipment Bond, Vehicle Bond, Weapon Bond and other similiar perk "gear enhancers," that is it gives a +1 bonus to skill while using a piece of gear it applies to. The GM should let this bonus apply to any gear, weapon, vehicle, etc. that character has had for at least six months (starting equipment always counts) in which case they get a +1 to skill rolls when using it. This does come with a downside however, characters who've claimed a bonus for a particular weapon, tool kit, and so on must use that piece of equipment when the situation calls for it. A Will roll is required to do otherwise and even if they succeed they suffer a -1 to all rolls. This bonus only ever applies to one item at a time (buy more Gear Bond! perks if you want to get a bonus for dual-wielded weapons or the like). For example, if a gunfighter has two Colt Peacemakers, a favorite saddle and gear, and a tent from his days in the War he'd have to make a Will roll to use any handgun other than his or ride his horse with different tack. If he has no choice he can do so...but he's at -1.


Wildcard Higher Purpose
I want to call this one out as something special because I've used it before in my games (well, twice before) to great effect. Use the standard rules for Wildcard Powers (i.e., x4 cost), but allow the character to temporarily use any other advantage at double the value of his Higher Purpose. Here's the caveat - it can only be used in this way when specifically dealing with the Higher Purpose specialty. You can't just use it willynilly. It has to be related. For example, Higher Purpose (Slay undead) could be used to temporarily gain Striking ST+2 vs. undead foes, HT+1 to resist a supernatural ability, etc. - but it doesn't work at all unless you're dealing with the undead somehow.


Picking Over the Bones
Yeah, you can pretty much make anything wild with a little imagination (DX! +1 could give you any enhanced defense, +1 to Basic Speed, +4 to Basic Move, and so on) - all with the GM's permission of course. The thing about Wildcard traits is they are very much a Rule Zero mechanic. It does what you can convince the GM it should do and while you are free to suggest, cajole, and elicit...the GM is well within his rights to simply say "No" if he doesn't think it works the way you say ("You keep using that wildcard, I don't think it does what you think it does"). This is pretty much why the GM needs to design the skill and not the player; he sets the scope and it then does whatever he says it does. Period. Published examples not withstanding. Even then the GM can say "No, Battlesuit! does not work like that in my game. Sorry."

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Gamemaster’s Guidepost: Mad as Bones




GURPS Horror introduces Stress and Derangement as a way to keep track of how “mentally” fatigued a character is. However, keeping track of two scores, which function somewhat like Fatigue Points and what penalties they give can be annoying. As a GM, I’ve used Stress and Derangement to great effect – but what about making it simpler to keep track off? Why not use the same model as Hit Points or Fatigue Points, just differently? This post aims to do exactly that with a new statistic “Sanity Points” (well, not new, but new to GURPS!) and rules for how to use them...


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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Triple Threat - Gorillaphant




Note: Nymdok dared me to write this up...so I did. Deal with it.


Some madman’s twisted vision, the aptly named “gorillaphant” is part elephant and part gorilla. I think that about says it all.


Any Campaign Setting…
ST: 30             HP: 30            Speed: 6.00
DX: 12            Will: 12           Move: 7/14
IQ: 7               Per: 12            Weight: 2 tons.
HT: 12            FP: 12             SM: +2
Dodge: 10       Parry: 10        DR: 5

Bite (14): 3d+2 crushing. Reach C-1.
Spear (14): 3d+4 impaling. Reach 1-2. If used two-handedly damage becomes 3d+5 impaling and Reach becomes 2-3. If thrown: Acc 2; Range 33/49; RoF 1; Shots T(1); Bulk -6.

Traits: Arm ST +3; Combat Reflexes; Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Speed 14); Low TL (TL2); Peripheral Vision.
Skills:  Brawling-14; Hiking-12; Stealth-12; Spear-14; Survival (Plains)-12; Thrown Weapon (Spear)-14.
Notes: If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check from GURPS Horror (p. 139), gorillaphants have a modifier of -1.


For Dungeon Fantasy…
ST: 30             HP: 30            Speed: 6.00
DX: 12            Will: 12           Move: 7/14
IQ: 7               Per: 12            Weight: 2 tons.
HT: 12            FP: 12             SM: +2
Dodge: 10       Parry: 10        DR: 5

Bite (14): 3d+2 crushing. Reach C-1.
Spear (14): 3d+4 impaling. Reach 1-2. If used two-handedly damage becomes 3d+5 impaling and Reach becomes 2-3. If thrown: Acc 2; Range 33/49; RoF 1; Shots T(1); Bulk -6.

Traits: Arm ST +3; Combat Reflexes; Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Speed 14); Low TL (TL2); Peripheral Vision.
Skills:  Brawling-14; Hiking-12; Stealth-12; Spear-14; Survival (Plains)-12; Thrown Weapon (Spear)-14.
Class: Dire Animal.
Notes: Willing to negotiate.


For Monster Hunters…
ST: 40             HP: 30            Speed: 6.00
DX: 12            Will: 12           Move: 7/14
IQ: 7               Per: 12            Weight: 2 tons.
HT: 12            FP: 12             SM: +2
Dodge: 10       Parry: 10        DR: 5

Fright Check: -1

Bite (14): 4d+4 crushing. Reach C-1.
Spear (14): 4d+4 impaling. Reach 1-2. If used two-handedly damage becomes 4d+5 impaling and Reach becomes 2-3. If thrown: Acc 2; Range 43/64; RoF 1; Shots T(1); Bulk -6.

Traits: Arm ST +3; Combat Reflexes; Enhanced Move 1 (Ground Speed 14); Low TL (TL2); Peripheral Vision.
Skills:  Brawling-14; Hiking-12; Stealth-12; Spear-14; Survival (Plains)-12; Thrown Weapon (Spear)-14.
Notes: Use the skills listed under Cryptids in the Know Thy Enemy box in Monster Hunters 1 (p. 16). One gorillaphant is a fair fight for one champion.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Gamemaster's Guidepost: The Art of Making NPCs




The title says it all, When GMs create NPCs they can do so for a myriad number of reasons. Maybe the PCs need a antagonist or perhaps a PC purchased a Ally maybe the GM just wants to have the NPC fleshed out in case the PCs have need of him. Maybe they are bored and want to create something that may be useful later. Whatever the reason there are a number of ways the GM could go about it. As a GM, I use the following "classes:"


Fuzzy NPCs
A "fuzzy" NPC is one that has a blip of a entry - if that. It's basically a bunch of cobbled notes that I'm sure many GMs are familiar with.

"Wren the Blacksmith - stubborn and obstinate, but skilled. Armoury skill of at least 12 along with any other skills needed for the making of weapons, armor, etc."


Entry NPC Write-Ups
Entry write-ups are similiar to those in GURPS books for abbreviated NPCs or creatures. They require no point calculation - just GM arbitration.

Wren the Blacksmith
A small, but muscular woman with black hair and black eyes and a tongue sharper than any blade she could possibly forge.

ST 11; DX 10; IQ 10; HT 11.
HP Will 11; Per 10; Speed 5.50; Dodge 8; Parry 7 (Axe/Mace); Move 5.
SM 0; 110 lbs.
Traits: Artificer 2; Appearance (Attractive); Bad Temper (12); Gifted Artist 2; Lifting ST+1; Odious Personal Habit (Curses like a sailor); Single-Minded; Stubbornness; Temperature Tolerance 2 (Heat).
Skills: Armoury/TL3 (Body Armor, Melee Weapons, and Missile Weapons)-14; Artist (Metalworking)-10; Axe/Mace-9; Leatherworking-12; Prospecting-10; Sewing-12; Smith/TL3 (Iron)-13.


Fully Fleshed NPCs
Written up, fully calculated, and otherwise treated as a player character fully-fleshed NPCs (and the work they involve) should really only be done for NPCs you know are going to be reused (like allies, antagonists, or closely associated contacts). When I do write up such characters fully like this for NPCs not bought with points I use a rough scale to determine their point value. First, I add up the entire point value of the PCs and average it. Then I apply the following: 25% of that value for "once-off" NPCs; 50% for "reoccurring" NPCs; 75% for "co-stars"; and 100% to 200% for "stars" or other very important folks.

Wren the Blacksmith
75 points

A small, but muscular woman in her early 30s with black hair and black eyes and a tongue sharper than any blade she could possibly forge.

ST 11 [10]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 10 [0]; HT 11 [10].
Damage 1d-1/1d; BL 24 lbs.; HP 9 [0]; Will 11 [5]; Per 10 [0]; FP 11 [0].
Basic Speed 5.50 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0]; Dodge 8; Parry 7 (Axe/Mace).
5’2”; 110 lbs.

Social Background
TL: 3 [0].
CF: Tredroyian [0].
Languages: Anglish (Native) [0].

Advantages
Artificer 2 [20]; Appearance (Attractive) [4]; Gifted Artist 2 [10]; Lifting ST+1 [3]; Single-Minded [5]; Temperature Tolerance 2 (Heat) [2].

Disadvantages
Bad Temper (12) [-10]; Odious Personal Habit (Curses like a sailor) [-5]; Reputation -1 (Sharp-Tongued Harriden) [-5]; Stubbornness [-5].
Quirks: Caustic-Tongued; Dislikes people who thinks she "can't do the job;" Likes mining her own ore for forging; Keeps her hair shorn short; Responsive. [‑5]

Skills
Armoury/TL3 (Body Armor) (A) IQ+4 [8]-14*; Armoury/TL3  (Melee Weapons) (A) IQ+4 [8]-14*; Armoury/TL3 (Missile Weapons) (A) IQ+4 [8]-14*; Artist (Metalworking) (H) IQ [1]-10; Axe/Mace (A) DX-1 [1]-9; Leatherworking (E) DX+2 [1]-12; Naturalist (H) IQ-2 [1]-8; Prospecting (A) IQ [2]-10; Sewing (E) IQ+2 [1]-12; Smith/TL3 (Iron) (A) IQ+3 [4]-13*; Survivalist (Mountains) (A) Per-1 [1]-9.
* Includes +2 from Artificer.
† Includes +2 from Gifted Artist.


Picking Over the Bones
I personally never fully write-up a NPC this way until the PCs have requested to go see them at least three times. What's more, I typically use entry write-ups for antagonists, unless I expect them to live more than a encounter and then I'll flesh them out fully. As a good friend of mine is fond of saying "If you give it stats - it can be killed." Basically, I'm lazy when it comes to NPC write-ups and really, as a GURPS GM that's the only way to be. If you get obsessed with the full stats of every pig herder, sheepfarmer, and goatswaddle in one tiny hamlet the PCs will pass through once you'll use up your creative juices for the next place and the next. Keeping up at the level of detail is a Sisyphean task of epic proportions and I don't know any experienced GM who has a regular gaming group that does that...like...none. This is a trap that newbie GMs tend to fall into. "ZOMG, GURPS characters haz points. Therefore all beings must be stated. LOLz," No...just no. Stat what you need and bluff your way through the rest - or if you must have stats go see if someone did the work for you already. There is probably some lonely bastard out there stuck in Pathfinderlandia or on WoTC Island where no one will even look at GURPS, much less play it. Like Tom Hanks he starts creating his Wilsons so he doesn't go mad. Find that guy's lonely creations via your favorite search engine and use his work. I promise he won't mind. You'll be like a ship passing by his lonely corner of the world and give him a moment of GURPSian hope. You'll also dash it on the rocks, but don't worry about that.