Thursday, July 30, 2015

Triple Threat: Abattoirian



Abattoirian
Abattoirians are the nightmarish result of three or more dead bodies fusing together into one hideous creature. Standing between seven and eight foot tall, they are a humanoid being made of a mishmash body parts where smooth skin should be. This might result in an extra head being embedded in the torso or arms sticking out of shins. Its nightmarish form can instill fear in anything, but those who get to close must contend with its stench as well as its grimy, diseased-infected claws and teeth. They sometimes use weapons, but they are mostly of an improvised nature.


Any Game Setting...
ST: 18             HP: 20             Speed: 7.00
DX: 12            Will: 12           Move: 7
IQ: 8               Per: 12            Weight: 200 lbs.
HT: 14            FP:                SM: +1
Dodge: 10       Parry: 11        DR: 6 (Tough Skin)

Bite (14): 1d+3 impaling follow-up 1d toxic. Reach C-1. If any toxic damage is done, make a HT roll (-1 per 2 HP taken), failure results in a cumulative -1 to HT rolls as the wounds fester and become septic.
Punch (14): 1d+3 cutting follow-up 1d toxic. Reach C-1. If any toxic damage is done, make a HT roll (-1 per 2 HP taken), failure results in a cumulative -1 to HT rolls as the wounds fester and become septic.
Stench of the Grave (Roll vs. HT-2): Smell-based emanation within five yards. Subjects who don’t resist are nauseated (-2 to attribute and skill rolls, -1 to active defenses, and possible vomiting; see p. B428) for seconds equal to margin of failure. Those who fail by 5 or more begin retching (-5 to DX, IQ, and Perception rolls – including skill rolls – and cannot attempt any action that requires a Concentrate maneuver) for the same duration at which point they lost 1 FP after the effect wears off. Add your level of Acute Sense of Smell Taste or the bonus from Discriminatory Smell as a penalty to this roll.
Improvised Weapon (7): Based on Damage 1d+2/3d.

Traits: Automaton; Bad Smell; Cannot Learn; Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Eat or Drink; Doesn’t Sleep; Fragile (Unnatural); High Pain Threshold; Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Indomitable; Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous; No Blood); No Fine Manipulators; Regeneration (Fast; Requires an equivalent mass in raw flesh); Reprogrammable; Single-Minded; Unfazeable; Unhealing (Partial).
Skills: Brawling-14; Wrestling-14.
Notes: Sterile. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check GURPS Horror (p. 139), abattoirians have a modifier of -6.
* E.g., if it’s lost 10 HP it needs at least an entire human body to regenerate its mass.


For Dungeon Fantasy...
ST: 18             HP: 20             Speed: 7.00
DX: 12            Will: 12           Move: 7
IQ: 8               Per: 12            Weight: 200 lbs.
HT: 14            FP:                SM: +1
Dodge: 10       Parry: 11        DR: 4 (Tough Skin)

Bite (16): 1d+3 impaling follow-up 1d+1 toxic. Reach C-1. If any toxic damage is done, make a HT roll (-1 per 2 HP taken), failure results in a cumulative -1 to HT rolls as the wounds fester and become septic.
Punch (16): 1d+3 cutting follow-up 1d+1 toxic. Reach C-1. If any toxic damage is done, make a HT roll (-1 per 2 HP taken), failure results in a cumulative -1 to HT rolls as the wounds fester and become septic.
Stench of the Grave (Roll vs. HT-4): Smell-based emanation within five yards. Subjects who don’t resist are nauseated (-2 to attribute and skill rolls, -1 to active defenses, and possible vomiting; see p. B428) for seconds equal to margin of failure. Those who fail by 5 or more begin retching (-5 to DX, IQ, and Perception rolls – including skill rolls – and cannot attempt any action that requires a Concentrate maneuver) for the same duration at which point they lost 1 FP after the effect wears off. Add your level of Acute Sense of Smell Taste or the bonus from Discriminatory Smell as a penalty to this roll.
Improvised Weapon (7): Based on Damage 1d+2/3d.

Traits: Automaton; Bad Smell; Cannot Learn; Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Eat or Drink; Doesn’t Sleep; Fragile (Unnatural); High Pain Threshold; Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Indomitable; Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous; No Blood); No Fine Manipulators; Regeneration (Fast; Requires an equivalent mass in raw flesh); Reprogrammable; Single-Minded; Unfazeable; Unhealing (Partial). Add your level of Acute Sense of Smell Taste or the bonus from Discriminatory Smell as a penalty to this roll.
Skills: Brawling-16; Wrestling-16.
Class: Construct.
Combat Effectiveness Rating: 92 (OR 47 and PR 45).
Notes: Sterile.
* E.g., if it’s lost 10 HP it needs at least an entire human body to regenerate its mass.


For Monster Hunters...
ST: 23             HP: 25             Speed: 8.00
DX: 15            Will: 16           Move: 7
IQ: 10             Per: 16            Weight: 200 lbs.
HT: 14            FP:                SM: +1
Dodge: 12       Parry: 13        DR: 9 (Tough Skin)

Fright Check: -4 (-6 if you can smell them)

Bite (18): 2d+3 impaling follow-up 2d toxic. Reach C-1. If any toxic damage is done, make a HT roll (-1 per 2 HP taken), failure results in a cumulative -1 to HT rolls as the wounds fester and become septic.
Punch (18): 2d+3 cutting follow-up 2d toxic. Reach C-1. If any toxic damage is done, make a HT roll (-1 per 2 HP taken), failure results in a cumulative -1 to HT rolls as the wounds fester and become septic.
Stench of the Grave (Roll vs. HT-5): Smell-based emanation within five yards. Subjects who don’t resist are nauseated (-2 to attribute and skill rolls, -1 to active defenses, and possible vomiting; see p. B428) for minutes equal to margin of failure. Those who fail by 5 or more begin retching (-5 to DX, IQ, and Perception rolls – including skill rolls – and cannot attempt any action that requires a Concentrate maneuver) for the same duration at which point they lost 1 FP after the effect wears off. Add your level of Acute Sense of Smell Taste or the bonus from Discriminatory Smell as a penalty to this roll.
Improvised Weapon (10): Based on Damage 2d+1/4d+1.

Traits: Automaton; Bad Smell; Cannot Learn; Combat Reflexes; Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Eat or Drink; Doesn’t Sleep; High Pain Threshold; Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Indomitable; Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous; No Blood); No Fine Manipulators; Regeneration (Fast; Requires an equivalent mass in raw flesh); Reprogrammable; Single-Minded; Unfazeable; Unhealing (Partial).
Skills: Brawling-18; Wrestling-18.
Notes: Sterile. Use the skills listed under Demons in the Know Thy Enemy box in GURPS Monster Hunters 1: Champions (p. 16). Two to three abattoirians are a fair fight for one champion.
* E.g., if it’s lost 10 HP it needs at least an entire human body to regenerate its mass.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Ritual Path Magic Mana Batteries


Ritual Path Magic is one of the more flexible magical systems GURPS 4th edition has yet to produce. It's got its share of perceived woes (lack of "power stones" or an enchantment system that conforms to how the system itself functions), but it also can shine brilliantly in just about any genre with the right tweaks. One thing that is easily amended is a way to haul around magical energy to be used later.


Ritual Path Magic Mana Batteries
Mana batteries are small objects that can temporarily store energy to cast spells. They are often disposable objects, but not as cheap as charms. They are tapped as a separate source when casting spells, but can be prepared a head of time. Mana batteries are created in the same way that charms are made, except for the following:

1) Mana batteries require materials with the same costs as those with elixirs (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 29), except that they must used Improvised ingredients or better. The level of ingridents also determines the maximum amount of energy a mana battery can have (see below). They never give a bonus to skill rolls however.
2) Mana battery creation takes a minimum of 8 hours for energy up to the caster's Safe Threshold, 12 hours if he went up to twice his Safe Threshold-1, 16 hours for up to twice his Threshold, and so on.
3) Mana batteries require two rolls against Path of Magic. The first is a Lesser Transform Magic to prepare the vessel and the second is a Lesser Create Magic to fill the battery. Treat this as you would refilling your mana reserve except you are limited to your Safe Threshold for a battery made with Improvised ingredients, twice your Threshold for Basic ingredients, up to four times your Threshold for Good ingredients, eight times for Fine, or sixteen (or more!) for Legendary. GMs who wish can resolve this using the Quick-and-Dirty Rituals and Charms GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 26). Places of Power add their bonus to this instead of the bonus to skill if the caster wishes. So a sacred space that grants +2 can allow a mana battery made from Basic ingredients to hold up to four times the maximum amount of energy instead of twice as much
4) Failures result in quirks that affect all spells cast using the battery, while critical use a random Path  botch with three times the maximum energy the battery could hold.
5) Mana batteries that are untapped last as long until dispelled, while tapped batteries (even one point) result in the battery losing a further point every (Magery+1) hours, minimum of 1, until exhausted utterly. The rules for Expiration Dates (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 30) can be used if the GM wishes.


Picking Over the Bones
I'm sure there are other ways to go about this, more traditional chargeable supplies are simply enchanted objects, possibly with with Accessibility limiting how many can charge in one place if you want to slavishly follow source material. It certainly makes Path of Magic more useful, though that may be an unwanted feature. How would you create temporary magical batteries for RPM?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Designer's Notes: Bottled Magic

Sjg37-2643"Bottled Magic" was my fourth ever article and I was still finding my voice. My formatting was still rough as hewn stone and even the time I took to learn better editorial skills didn't seem to make a damn. I'd stopped writing after Pulp Hunters because I felt I might never be able to get my capabilities to where I wanted them. It froze me. It distressed me. It made me not even try. I'm so glad L.A. kicked me in the pants when she did. "You will write and submit something or you won't like what happens next." Ahem. You don't argue with She Who Must Be Obeyed. You just don't. I needed to slap something together and fast so I took a nascent little system I'd cooked up for a campaign and refined it. I was surprised by the reception of the article, but even more surprised when Jason "PK" Levine decided to use it as the native alchemy system for GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic. It was that right boost at the right time which pushed me firmly forward. PK made me feel like I had something to give to the RPG community. He spent time and helped me polish my work. He gave me advice. And he was just generally a good, patient, kind person. I might never have continued submitting if he hadn't taken the time to get me to believe in myself and not just want to be a game designer, but actually be one. It's strange to say that now because then I would have never thought something like that. Antoni helped along the way and between PK, L.A., and Toni I got myself in gear.

Overall, this was one of the fastest articles I'd ever written (just under 8 hours), edited in around 20 hours (my notes are hazy here for some reason, but it looks like 19.75), and revised in about 15 hours. I basically had it knocked out over a weekend. I didn't have any outtakes from this because the work was so small to begin with and so streamlined. I did have a few ideas, but those were eventually subsumed into other works later on. Overall, Bottled Magic was a defining moment for me. It doesn't hurt that its topic was among my favorite to write about. One idea I did never get a chance to fully stat out was the idea of "internal alchemy." Since I hate to leave you guys without some crunch, here you go, rules for Internal Alchemy for Ritual Path Magic.


Internal Alchemy for Ritual Path Magic
Casters can consume the necessary ingredients to create a potion and then internally form the mystical effect by binding it to their bodies. This is done by making a HT-based Alchemy roll to bind the potion to the caster's body. This takes an additional 30 minutes, but once finished the caster can instantly call up the effects of the potion by making a Will-based Thaumatology roll. They also cannot be dispelled easily (roll HT+Magery to resist any attempts to do so). Internal potions take up two conditional spell slots and no one may have more than their HT + Magery / 2 potions bound at one time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Dungeon Fantasy Apprenticeships


One of the things I rather liked about Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 was the "0th level" Apprentice rules. I got to thinking the other night...how could I do that in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy? I thought at first I could just use the Mixed Professions rules toned down...but then I had another idea...


Optional Rule: Races & Professional Power-Ups
Races have a listing for professions that compliment their innate capabilities allowing them to use both professional and racial abilities to their maximum. As a optional rule the GM can enhance this further allowing those who with a lens to freely purchase power-ups from his starting profession and his lens as long as it’s one of his choice professions. This comes at a cost however; he automatically must abide by the rules in Changing Professions (Dungeon Fantasy 3, p. 42). If the GM is using those rules, then he must not only meet the minima for the profession, but must be better. Add one to all the base requirements! For example, a winged elf barbarian would need a ST of 18, not 17. Note that this can get pricy for some professions. As compensation, human characters get to pick any one class they wish and treat that class as a choice profession for these rules!


Apprentice
Prerequisite: Special (see below).
Your character studied under another profession other than the one he starts with. This allows you to treat another profession as if it were your own for all purposes. This allows you to purchase skills, advantages, spells, or even power-ups (as long as you meet the prerequisites!). This comes at a price though, as a general power-up this is allowed to be purchased before game play, and indeed must be purchased then and only then (usually using points gained from Quirks). Furthermore, you must be able to meet the minimum attribute requirements for your profession at (listed level - 2);. Taken as a racial power-up it has the same requirements, but you may only purchase it for one of your choice professions. To compensate, you may pay for it from your profession’s advantages, lowered skills, etc. For example, you could have Apprentice Wizard, which would allow you to purchase, spells, Magery, etc., but you’d have to have a attributes that were at least two less than those listed on the template (e.g., you’d need at least a IQ 13).
The GM can forbid this perk if he feels it will complicate his campaign too much.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Carpe Blogiem: Schedule Changes


As of August 2015 my schedule for posting days is going to change up a bit, it will be as follows:

1st Week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (Patreon Special).
2nd Week: Tuesday and Thursday.
3rd Week: Tuesday and Thursday.
4th Week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (Patreon Special).

This is a temporary change and we'll be back to 3/posts a week as soon as possible. All of this is not to say I won't post something on a day not scheduled! These are just the days that I will be for sure (barring illness or accident) for posting something. For my Patreon patrons, you guys will continue to get your Specials on time, except I'll be moving the second Special to the last Saturday of the month instead of the penultimate Saturday.

One more thing, for the first time in about 10 years I'm going to take birthday vacation. So from Monday September 14th, 2015 to Monday September 28th, 2015 I'm not going to really be available. (For Patreon patrons, I'll post both monthly Specials in the first half of the month). After that I'll be back and hard at work trying to make my blog a better place for all you fine readers. If you folks have any requests - this is the post for them. Thanks again for taking the time to come on by - I'll try to continue to be entertaining. :-)

With Regards,

Christopher R. Rice

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sicatra - The Hidden Library of Markantos - Game Session 1



Adventuring Party
Bashir Al-Sah’a’den (PC – Desert Elf Scout/Holy Warrior of Justice)
Corvin Marateh (PC – Human Wizard)
Monroe (PC – Human Mystic Archer)
Riggney Flathammer (PC – Dwarven Cleric of Justice)
Tanner Tuckleberry (PC – Halfling Theif)

Vandro Elin (NPC – Human – Scholar)

Note: This was ran as a MIB demo at Atomic Comics Emporium on Free RPG Day

The Story So Far… Vandro hired Bashir as his personal bodyguard in the city of Kejj. The two then recruited Corvin, Monroe, Riggney, and Tanner to seek out the lost library of Markantos. Taking a scow from Tuvath they made their way to the Starcrest Ocean only to encounter a terrible storm near the end of their journey which sunk the ship and threw the crew into the rollicking seas. But luck was with them and they washed up on the shores of Markantos…



Bashir, Corvin, Monroe, Riggney, & Tanner
Weather: 94º F; 17 mph winds from the south; overcast
Second Month, 12th Day, 790 of the Fifth Age
The Island of Markantos, Starcrest Ocean


After getting the basics of survival covered (and avoiding a terrible nest of hellwasps – rat-sized insects) and Vandro calmed down when he became hysterical the PCs decide to circumnavigate the island to get a better view of where they are. As they map the area, a krake (a giant squid capable of generating electricity from its body) beaches itself and begins to attack them. The fighting is fierce and Corvin eventually puts it down with a concussive blast, but not before Riggney is killed.

Riggney is summoned to the halls of his god, Johren who sends him “back” with information on the Book of Jamishad and the Library of Markantos including a magical map that appears as a tattoo on his right arm. Realizing that Vandro panicked during the battle and ran off toward the jungle. Tracking down the rogue librarian, Bashir and the rest of the PCs find his mutilated and skinned corpse hanging from a tree. Tanner finds one of the librarian’s pouches and shows the others (it contains an odd looking octagonal tablet). All of the PCs but Corvin get spooked all of sudden and hide when a small pygmy comes upon them. Angry, it shoots a dart at Corvin and nails him in the pelvis. The poison causes him to go unconscious instantly. When the others shoo the pygmy away it flees toward the jungle. Riggney removes the poison via a spell. Seconds later the sound of angry squeaks and howls can be heard and Bashir and Monroe scream for everyone to run. The bush explodes into a horde of pygmies who chase down the unlucky PCs – at least until they reach a river. Riggney commands a pygmy into the water after they appear afraid and it’s instantly devoured by a school of piranha. Carefully crossing the stream they continue to follow Riggney’s “map” until they find the library of Markantos itself.


Bashir, Corvin, Monroe, Riggney, & Tanner
Weather: 94º F; 17 mph winds from the south; overcast
Second Month, 12th Day, 790 of the Fifth Age
The Library of Markantos, Markantos Island, Starcrest Ocean


Finding a way into the library, they clambor up and inside. Despite the devilish nature of the clockwork trap before them (a meteoric iron razor wire mesh), Tanner and Bashir manage to conquer it. Once in the hallway, they begin exploring until a corridor full of mushrooms explode and rouse the giant spiders nearby. After a series of unfonrnuate mishaps with magic, Corvin ends up in another room separated from his fellow delvers. The rest of the PCs mop up the spiders and Corvin summons a cloud of burning ash that ignites the spider’s webbing killing their offspring before they can hatch. Digging through the fires they find a small pile of treasure and regroup to head to the only unopened door.

Weather: 94º F; 17 mph winds from the south; overcast
Second Month, 12th Day, 790 of the Fifth Age
The Library of Markantos, Markantos Island, Starcrest Ocean

Saturday, July 18, 2015

GURPS101: Dungeon Fantasy Multi-Profession Lens - Flying Blade




Fiction is chock full of examples where the hero throws a knife and sticks it in the bad guy and he falls over dead. In GURPS…not so much. Today’s GURPS101 is about emulating that badassitude. Throw a knife. Bad guy falls over. Or, in this case, throw a knife, monster falls over, take it’s stuff...

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Designer's Notes: Pulp Hunters!

Sjg37-2631My third article ever published had lots of editorial issues, but I was in for some serious OJT. It was also the first time I had a lot of outtakes of material I just couldn't use. It was a labor of love for me because I really dig the various source material that Monster Hunters draws from and I really love Pulp games (though, sadly, I rarely get to play or run such things). Total writing hours were a mere 20. I spent almost 80 in editing and nearly 10 on revisions. The initial reactions for my article were one of the things that really kept me continuing to write because I almost gave up in despair after I realized my editorial skills were...well, they were crap. I eventually want to write a "MH in Wild West" because Weird West is the best West. :-) Now, for some outtakes. Here's two new Inhuman options:


Immortal
200 points
You were a mortal man once. But that was a long time ago. So long ago that you've forgotten more lives than you can count. You're like any other man, but your vast experience allows you to solve a multitude of problems rapidly.

Attribute Modifiers: IQ+1 [20].
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Will+2 [10].
Advantages: Racial Memory (Active; Long Life, +0%*) [40]; Reawakened (Immortal Memories) [10]; Wild Talent 1 (Focus, Skills from previous experiences only, -20%) [16]. Choose one of the following packages:

1. Cursed Immortal: You ticked off some supernatural force that said "May You Live Forever" and since then has done its level best to make sure you do (and you suffer all the while). Hard to Kill 4 [8]; Regeneration (Slow) [10]; Regrowth (Temporary Disadvantage, Chronic Pain†, -20%) [32]; Unkillable 1 [50].
2. Human Sub-Species: You're a freak of nature or maybe there are lots of you hidden throughout the world (though, in the end, there can be only one!). HT+1 [10]; Regeneration (Slow) [10]; Unkillable 2 (Achilles Heel, Decapitation, 20%) [80].
3. Object-Based Immortality: You gained your immortality thanks to an object. You must keep the object hidden and safe as its destruction results in your immediate and messy death. Hard to Kill 1 [2]; High Pain Threshold [10]; Regeneration (Regular) [25]; Regrowth [40]; Unkillable 1 (Achilles Heel, Damage from loss of object, -10%) [45]; Weakness (Loss of object; 1d/second; Quickened, +120%) [-22].
4. Process-Based Immortality: You gained your immortality thanks to an process. You must partake of your substances on a daily basis or slowly deteriorate. Dependency (Special potion or elixir; Daily; Aging, +30%) [-39]; Hard to Kill 1 [2]; Hard to Subdue 1 [2]; Regeneration (Regular) [25]; Regrowth [40]; Resistant to Metabolic Hazards (+8) [20]; Unkillable 1 [50].

Disadvantages: Flashbacks (Severe; Past Memories) [-10]; Odious Personal Habits (Slips into anachronistic speech) [-1]; Supernatural Features (Eerie Presence) [-10]. 
Features: None.
* Instead of the lives of ancestors, this represents a long life and the expedience or knowledge gained. In general, it should remove up to -6 penalties from Familairity, low-TL, etc. to skill rolls if a successful roll is used in addition to providing information. This is traded off by the immortal having to have been there or convince the GM he could have been.
† While the limb is regrowing, the immortal suffers from Chronic Pain (Severe; 2 hours; 12 or less) [-20]



Golem
200 points
You're clay given life. Unlike most golems who are bloody single-minded, something about your creation went very wrong (or very right) and you can actually think on your own. Outwardly you resemble a normal (if brutish) human being, but if cut you don't bleed blood, but leak clay.

Attribute Modifiers: ST+10 [100]; IQ-2 [-40]; HT+2 [20].
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Will+2 [10].
Advantages: Can burn HP for extra effort [1]; DR 2 [10]; Doesn’t Breathe [20]; Doesn’t Eat or Drink [10]; Doesn’t Sleep [20]; High Pain Threshold [10]; Immunity to Metabolic Hazards [30]; Indomitable [15]; Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous, No Blood) [45]; Single-Minded [5]; Striking Surface [1]; Unfazeable [15].
Disadvantages: Appearance (Ugly) [-8]; Disturbing Voice [-10]; No Sense of Smell/Taste [-5]; Numb [-20]; Reprogrammable (Maximum Duration, 1 minute, -65%)  [-3*]; Sexless [-1]; Stubbornness [-5]; Supernatural Features ("Not Right") [-10]. • Either Berserk (12) [-10] or Hidebound [-5] and Oblivious [-5].
Features: Affected by Path of Matter (instead of Body) magic; Neither has nor uses FP; Sterile.
* Requires a roll against Theology (Abrahamic) vs. the golem's Will. Failure means the golem is now under that person's control for one minute and may make a Will roll every minute to snap out of it. Critical failure means this lasts for a day instead!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sicatra - The Bloodied and the Banal - Game Session 2



Adventuring Party
Ghermukhannu (PC – Agile Avatar – God of Guile, Journeys, Monkeys, Mischief, and Travelers)
Imir (PC – Brainy Avatar – Goddess of Time, Fate, Space, Portals, Rebirth & Beginnings, and Starlight)
Jin-Yunna (PC – Versatile Avatar – God of Enlightenment, Logic, Psionics, Riddles, and Unarmed
Combat)
Johren (PC – Brawny Avatar – God of Defense and Protection, Exploration and adventurers, Weather, Thunder and Lightning, and Physical strength)


Gram (NPC – Brainy Avatar – Semidivine being who determines where the dead go in the afterlife)
Jortha (PC – Versatile Avatar – Goddess of Naval Warfare, Oceans and Seas, Sailors, Storms, Watercraft, and Wind)
Malakai rue Mors (NPC – Versatile Archetype – Godsbane and Bonecarver)


Note: Ran as an MIB demo at my local game store.

Ghermukhannu, Imir, Jin-Yunna, & Jorenna
Weather: 24º F; 12 mph winds from the east; foggy
Eighth Month, 5th Day, 802 of the Fifth Age
Khath, Veneficia

Gram and Jortha lose control of the ship as they spiral toward the ground. Alterhr’un merges himself with the ship in order to gain control of it and Sulio’s backup plan shifts into action as Amorenai disappears (a long-term, semi-sapient illusion created by Sulio) and surprisingly Jorenna falls from the heavens and onto the ship having just “fell.”

The battle is intense and Jin-Yunna is wounded gravely, along with Yentros and Ocmos who are ejected from the ship. Rezina quickly flees as well, shifting into a swarming mass of stinging insects.

Setting the ship down at a nearby lake to collect potable water, both Jin and Imir notice something odd about the area. After a while they realize that the shi or spiritual energy of the area is imbalanced and is causing a slow crawl into a full imbalance. Imir as the creator of the shenin tries to correct the balance with the help of her fellow gods. It takes a few hours and when finished not only is the imbalance corrected, but the flow was sharpened to such a degree that it became a “holy place.” After taking on water and fishing, the Windrunner took off again and toward their destination. The second key to the Windgate of Oggridu.


Weather: 24º F; 20 mph winds from the east; foggy
Eighth Month, 5th Day, 802 of the Fifth Age
Khath, Veneficia

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Apocalypse Features


The post-apocalyptic genre has been steadily gaining popularity in recent years. It was a huge thing during the cold war and about 30 years before that, but waned for a while. Now it's back and in full measure in pop culture. TV shows like Adventure Time, Revolution, The 100, The Walking Dead (and this summer, Fear the Walking Dead), and Falling Skies have resonated with viewers in a way few other things have. (I suppose we could throw Game of Thrones up there, because, let's face it, it's "pre-Apocalypse." On a personal note, I think they canceled Revolution way too early, there was something there worth saving.) Video games like Fallout, Bio-Shock, The Last of Us, etc. have also made a lot of headway into pop culture. I won't even get started on the movies - that list is exhaustive.

But what is it about the apocalypse that fascinates us? It's kind of morbid if you think about it. We're quite literally rooting for the end times/end of our species. All that aside it is fun and makes for pretty awesome game material. So what does a good post-apocalypse campaign look like?

  • The Reason: That's it. Game Over, man! GAME OVER! The world has effectively ended as we know it and has been replaced by something new and probably terrible. This can be due to a specific problem tied to the Threat (see below) or can be something that happened, changed everything, and then moved on or left. For example, a plague might have wiped out the population of the planet except for a few folks who were immune. The plague itself is no longer a threat because everyone is immune.
  • The Threat: Zombies, your fellow man, meteors, super-flu, the Devil, or dogs and cats living together (mass hysteria!), whatever it is it's dangerous and continues to be dangerous. It's the impetus for survival of the protagonists. Whatever it is it needs to be at least two of the following: 1) deadly; 2) common, persistent, or ever-present; 3) requires knowledge to combat or handle. The caveat here is that it can't be too much of any of the above or it becomes impossible to survive against. Like porridge, it has to be juuuusssst right.
  • The Complication: Now that we have our Reason and our Threat we gotta do a change up to make things interesting. If the orbiting space debris that crashes regularly on the planet has a definite pattern, every once and a while change it. If zombies are slow and stupid, make every 10th one slow and not so stupid. You have to introduce the rules before you can change them. You have to make your players feel safe before you show them how safe they aren't.
That's pretty much it. You create the world (the Reason), you give your players a viable danger (the Threat), and then after you've set everything up you switch it up a little (the Complication). That simple formula can create any number of campaign settings. I've used it in the past before and it works.


Setting Seeds
Using the above formula here a few campaign starters:
  • Everworld: Half the population of the world dies in the span of several weeks in what appears to be a some sort of "super virus." (the Reason) The survivors appear to be immune to its effects and life goes on until a year passes and no one in the entire world dies. Experiments are done and its found that human beings - all human beings - have ceased to age at all. But they also appear to be able to heal rapidly and are immune to all the weaknesses that flesh is heir to. What's more, birth rates have dropped so drastically as to be nonsexist. People begin to organize alone tribal lines and wars break out among them. (the Threat) That's when some among them realize they are truly immortal. They cannot die except through total bodily destruction (e.g., cremation). Unable to die, these immortal men and women begin to steer the course of human events...
  • Green Hell: In the near future humanity makes contact with an alien race. Inside of a year all human woes are solved: disease is eradicated, aging is retarded, methods for unlimited clean energy are discovered, ways to multiply crops a hundredfold are discovered, and the environment is quickly terraformed back to pristine conditions. After these miracles are bestows, the aliens leave never to be seen again. In short, humanity is living in a paradise (the Reason) But what did the aliens want? Why give man all these gifts and then leave? Was it a "last wish" or some form of bequeathal? The last things the aliens asked was for humanity to "do its best." But what does that mean? When a country weaponizes the terraforming technology all of the other nations follow suit and a new era of terrifying war is born. (the Threat) A decade later, the planet is a verdant paradise and humanity exists only in pockets of civilization as the terraforming weaponry run rampant worldwide. That's when the aliens come back to colonize the planet. It had all been a ruse, a way for the species of an entire planet to destroy themselves and leave the aliens a new world to inhabit - their conscious clear. (the Complication)
  • Lazarites: The dead have begun to rise because there is no more room in Hell. The Rapture never happened for unknown reasons, but Armageddon did. (the Reason) Now rogue angels roam the landscape tormenting humans alongside demons from Hell itself. What's more, the dead continue to rise if they have a soul laden with sin (confession, absolution, baptism, etc. makes it so the dead will not rise). Meanwhile, the living must contend with the End Times and all that that entails making survival difficult to impossible. (the Threat) But somethings happening. things are changing. People seem to be disappearing completely and men on horses have been spotted worldwide. Was the Rapture late? Why are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse coming now? (the Complication)


Picking Over the Bones
I'm sure there are things I've forgotten here, but that sums up just about every post-apocalyptic story I can think of. What sort of post-apocalyptic games have you ran? How did they turn out? Anything you did that was special? Some sage advice you've found?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Carpe Blogiem: The Bonecarvers of Sicatra - Part II


First Day we stay under the sky,
Second Day we sit in the sun,
Third Day in the darkness we lie,
Fourth Day we lay among the wind all alone,
Fifth Day the earthen clay covers us dry,
Sixth Day the fire turns earth to stone,
Seventh Day the stone under waters lie,
Eight Day from a tree the body is flown,
Ninth Day does the knife cut for our bodies to be shown,
Tenth Day the bonecarver takes us to the road we must walk all on our own.
–The Bonecarver’s Rhyme



Modern Funerary Practices
After the Scattering of the Winds, the tribeless skraelingar would go on to settle the four corners of the world. This is why the funerary rites of nearly all human cultures are essentially the same.

After a person dies, there is a mourning period of nine days where the body is placed on a travunical or a mirrored table. The first day, the body is exposed to the open sky and rubbed with myrrh and juniper oil. The second day it is left out in the light of the sun (or moon if that is impossible as is the case in some far northern territories). The third day, the body is shrouded with a black cloth. The fourth day, it is again taken outside or exposed to the wind. The fifth day the body is covered with clay and left to harden. The sixth day, a huge fire is lit just underneath the mirrored table, though not high or close enough to actually burn the body. The seventh day, the body is submerged in a tub of fresh water. The eighth day, the bound is lashed to the bough of a tree (often an ash or yew) at sunrise and remains there until the next day. On the ninth day, the now clay-covered body is left to dry.

It is on the ninth day that the bonecarver holds the actual funeral. He recites the deeds of the deceased (traditionally, it was in poetic verse, but not all bonecarvers have such talents) to the friends, family, and children gathered and then carefully cuts the clay-shrouded body with a ritual knife called a dogpa. In doing so he symbolically releases the soul of the deceased into whatever afterlife it is bound for.

Afterward, it takes another day to remove the bones from the flesh. The method varies from place to place, but most bonecarvers prefer to burn or boil it off, though the traditional method is to remove it with a knife. The bones are then dried in a tub of grains of rice, myrrh, cardamom, saffron, and sage. This drying “mixture” is often discarded, but some cultures (notably, the Mongarians) grind it up to create a pale yellow flour to make “Deadman’s Bread,” which is usually served throughout the day the bones are interred (see below).

Once dry the bonecarver’s true work begins as he carves the deeds of the dead onto the bones. This can take anywhere from a day to a month – it all depends on the deceased and the bonecarver’s skill. The most practiced can slice even the longest of litanies into bone.

Once the bones have been properly cared for the interment ceremony begins. This usually involves a priest of the deceased faith or patron god – though if he had none, the bonecarver performs the ceremony. For the common or poor folks, the final resting place is a shared ossuary. For the rich or powerful, the private tombs can be as splendid as the houses of the living where the descendants can pay proper respect to their dead.

This entire process can take upward to 81 days, but if they are not laid to rest before then the dead can return to trouble the living. Most of the other nonhuman races follow the same practices, but the tenth day ceremony is different. For example, the kavalfar (commonly referred to as “elves”) inter their dead within the roots of the great ashgara trees and carve the deeds upon its branches and bark. The dvergar (commonly referred to as “dwarves”), on the other hand, ritual coated the bones of their dead with metal after carving their deeds upon them before burying them in elaborate tombs.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Carpe Blogiem: The Bonecarvers of Sicatra - Part I


First Day we stay under the sky,
Second Day we sit in the sun,
Third Day in the darkness we lie,
Fourth Day we lay among the wind all alone,
Fifth Day the earthen clay covers us dry,
Sixth Day the fire turns earth to stone,
Seventh Day the stone under waters lie,
Eight Day from a tree the body is flown,
Ninth Day does the knife cut for our bodies to be shown,
Tenth Day the bonecarver takes us to the road we must walk all on our own.
–The Bonecarver’s Rhyme


The tradition of the bonecarvers grew out of a single act before the Giant’s Rebellion began in earnest. When Ilios’ son, Tanith, was murdered the grieving death god buried the boy as was proper to all their customs, but the mutilated body could not be properly embalmed. Ilios opted instead to divest the corpse of its flesh and over the course of a month painstakingly carved in intricate detail all the deeds of Tanith in life. He then wrapped his son’s bones in their burial shroud and began to war against the giants.

At least as old as the Rebellion itself (around 10,000 years give or take a century), the Bonecarvers have scribed the deeds of the fallen into their remains to be remembered forever. During the millennia-long conflict, the Warborn – elves, dwarves, and men – followed his example to prepare their dead. Ilios, in a moment of compassion showed the caretakers of the dead his methods and thus was born the order of the Bonecarvers.

Early History
Shortly after handing down the rites of the dead to the Warborn, a massive battle broke out between the giants and the gods and there were tens of thousands of dead. The early Bonecarvers burned or boiled the dead, spoke to the ghosts of the dead, and carved their deeds on the bones of the warriors. Unwilling to inter their dead in the ground, the first of the Chambers of the Evermore (then just glorified wagons) were created. Originally, the dead were kept together, but were later divided among the Warborn, then by clans, then by family. The rites changed over the years, but the core most - the carving of the deeds - remained.

When the first tors (massive citadel-like structures that served as bases for the deities and their armies) went up, separate chambers in the depths of the edifices housed the bones and become the first known permanent Chambers of the Evermore. After the Warborn’s Farewell the rites began to change. Only the skraelingar (and their later weaker blooded descendants, humans) still use the same practices of their forbearers in more or less the original ways.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Gamemaster’s Guidepost: Wealth as an Attribute


Nathan “Crackerjakk” Joy asked me a couple of weeks back what I thought about Wealth as an attribute. I gave him a couple of answers that settled his questions and he in turn gave me a few ideas. Wealth as an attribute…what an interesting concept. It’s not novel. In fact, it’s been done a couple of times in both 3rd edition and 4th edition for GURPS. But how would I do it? Ahh, that’s a whole other story. So how would I do it? ....

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Hurt Locker: Drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles


Just a few decades ago, planes without a pilot were science fiction. Now they are everywhere.  Known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)  or "drones," these aircraft can be easily bought in a store or online for a couple hundred dollars (well, the commercial versions, not the actual war machines). Yet they've also changed how we fight wars nearly as much as the gun itself (and the bow before that). Lives are saved because a UAV can scout an area or find a target in a crowd from hundreds of feet overhead and near invisible. But more than that, some UAVs are armed with weapons that give a whole new way to look at a battle.

Inspired by a post Phil Reed put up over on Medium, today's Hurt Locker post is all about drones/UAVs and how to use them in your campaign. This post includesstats for a modern TL8 UAV, as well as a divergent mana-powered drone suitable for any contemporary campaign featuring magic, and a few drones for higher TL campaigns. Actually piloting a drone or UAV uses an appropriate specialty of Piloting (usually Light Airplane).

Contemporary Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
UAVs are so much a part of modern warfare that fighting without them feels like living in the stone age at times to many soldiers.


RQ-4B Global Hawk (USA, 1998 - current)
The RQ-4 was first flew in February 1998 as a part of DARPA's ACTD program (Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration) along with several other aircraft. After their successful flight several prototypes were operated in the Afghanistan War and they were eventually put into production in 2006. Powered by by a Rolls-Royce F137-RR-100 turbofan engine (7,600 lbf thrust), the plane can carry a 1 ton payload, and is mostly made from aluminum and other durable composite materials.
         Its long radar system is accurate to within 2 yards in a 3.8 sq mile area (treat as a Small Tactical Imaging Radar from GURPS High-Tech, p. 46). It requires a pilot to operate and a co-pilot to operate the sensors.


YT-77 Munin (Merlin-1 USA, 1996 - current)
The YT-77 Munin was originally designed and created by a former member of the 101st Spellborne in his garage. Having been an apprentice aircraft mechanic before he his magical ability was discovered (and got him pulled into the Spellborne) he wanted to create a better means of area reconnaissance within an area. The size of a small motorcycle, it uses a small Ford Motors-Manadynamics Harmonic Converter (300 lbf) which effectively gives it an unlimited range and can carry a small payload of up to 200 lbs.
         The YT-77 is equipped with ten "slaved" Lockheed Hugnin systems (see GURPS Technomancer, p. 94) that can be launched from the aircraft to inspect things that its radar (treat as a Small Tactical Imaging Radar from GURPS High-Tech, p. 46) locks onto. Its higher DR is thanks to a Fortify spell and operaters gain a +2 to their Vehicular Dodge scores thanks to a Deflect enchantment. It's ability to hover is due to its Flight enchantment, which is powered by the Power enchantment.
         The Valkyrie variant carries a fully loaded 70mm M260 Hydra (GURPS High-Tech, p. 150) complete with various types of curse missiles or mana warhead payloads.


Piloting/TL (Light Airplane) (IQ-6, Piloting (Glider)-2, Piloting (Ultralight)-2, or other Piloting-2)
TL Vehicle Hnd/SR HT Move LWt. Load SM Occ DR Range Cost Loc. Stall
8 RQ-4 Global Hawk +2/3 11f 4/179 16.13    1 +5 - 2 14154 $222M Wi3Wr 55
8^ YT-77 Munin +3/3 10F 6/150 0.5 0.1 0 - 7 - $13M Wi3Wr 0


Ultra-Tech Drones
With computers (and technology in general) becoming smaller and smaller, surveillance drones become easier to manufacture. Given this trend, I can only see smaller drones and other "unmanned" technology becoming more and more common. So I decided to see what the Hummingbird drone from Phil Reed's post might look like in GURPS.


Nikola-9 “Hummingbird” Drone (TL10^)
125 points
See here for a full description of the Nikola-9's capabilities and outward appearance. This package includes a Non-Volitional A.I. Assume that one drone can power a single C-cell with a hour's worth of siphoning (remember, each increase in powercell size is approximately a factor of 10, so five drones could charge a D-cell in two hours) and that the Hummingbird’s effectiveness is reduced by 1 for every 10 yards of distance from the generator it's attached too. So if a drone was 50 yards away it would take five hours to charge a C-cell instead of just one.

Attribute Modifiers: ST-7 [-70]; DX+4 [80]; IQ-4 [-60]; HT+2 [20].
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: SM-5; HP+5 [10]; Per+6 [30]; Will+4 [20]; Air Move +4 [8]; Basic Move -3 [-15].
Advantages: Absolute Direction (Requires signal, -20%) [4]; Detect (Electric Fields; Reflexive, +40%) [14]; Doesn’t Breathe [20]; DR 2 (Cannot Wear Armor, -40%) [6]; Enhanced Move 1 (Air; Move 18/36) [20]; Flight (Winged, -25%) [30]; Machine [25]; Mindlink (up to 9 other drones) [10]; Non-Volitional A.I. meta-trait [-38]; Radio (Secure, +20%) [12]; Reduced Consumption 2 [4]; Sharp Beak [1]; Silence 2 [10]; Ultrahearing [5].
Perks: Accessories (Small computer; broadcast power transmitter; power-tap) [3].
Skills: Aerobatics (H) DX-2 [1]-12; Flight (A) HT+2 [8]-14; Urban Survival (A) Per+1 [4]-13; Stealth (A) DX+1 [4]-15.
Disadvantages: Electrical [-20]; Horizontal [-10]; Maintenance (one person, bi-weekly [-3]; Restricted Diet (Very Common, power cells; 3C/24 hr.) [-10].
Cost: $18,000, LC 2.