Thursday, March 31, 2016

Designer's Notes: Eastern Adventures



I'd originally conceived Eastern Adventures as a one-stop-shopping for Dungeon Fantasy GMs who wanted to run games in "the Mysterious East", but that quickly became nothing but wishful thinking. I was effectively trying to squeeze three books into one article. That just was not happening. I quickly trimmed my outline down to templates, races, a few power-ups, and a couple of new rules. Everything else would have to be created by the GM or wait for another article. Like many of my "wholecloth" articles I did very little research (mostly double-checking to make sure the race names I was using was appropriate). I spent a total of 36.5 hours writing it, 24 hours revising it, and 13 hours editing it. I also decided early on to just write what I thought was needed and cut stuff later (or let Steven decide what could go). This gave me a bit of freedom I rarely allow myself (would-be and new writers repeat after me: "Meeting wordcount meets deadline."). I knocked it out fairly quick overall and was rather pleased by the result. I would have prefered to be able to cover some new monsters, but as I said, that wasn't happening. (Though I've covered a couple of eastern mythology monsters in my Triple Threat series.) I didn't get as much chatter I was would have liked during my initial peer review, but I'm hoping that was do to "this is near perfect" versus anything else.

I also really wanted to cover ninjas in my work to some degree, but again I just didn't have room so I ended up cutting the two power-ups I'd made for them and put in some other stuff. Enough of my rambling, here's some outtakes.


New Combat Perk


Chi Aptitude
Prerequisites: Chi Training, Will 12+, and a related Talent.

Pick one talent you already possess that could be thematically labeled to a chi skill you already have. For example, Craftiness would be a viable talent for Invisibility Art or Light Walk, but not Power Blow or Kiai. Alternatively, the GM may allow "Unusual Background (Trained by a Martial Artist) [5]," which is used instead of an already present talent. Each level of this perk (up to six) provides a +1 to rolls to use it just as if the perk were a talent. If you have Chi Talent, the bonus to any one skill may not total more than +6, but you don't need to have another talent or advantage. You may have only as many levels as you have of you have in your base talent. Add the level to your chosen chi skill rolls. This perk comes in levels. In effect, such perks extend Psychic to aid additional skills in accordance with Smooth Talent Cost (Power-Ups 3: Talents, p. 25).


New Ninja Power-Ups

Cat-Eyes
3/7/11/15/17/27 points
This ability is leveled. The first level gives you a +1 to all Vision rolls and allows you to ignore  -1 in combat or vision penalties due to darkness, provided there is at least some light. This latter part does not work in complete darkness, you must have some light. Each additional level after the first (up to five) gives you another +1 to Vision rolls and lets you ignore another -2 worth of penalties. Level six allows you to see in the dark as if you had the Dark Vision advantage, but you must make a Perception roll every minute you use it. Additionally, while you have your Dark Vision advantage “on,” you suffer a penalty to all vision rolls according to the following chart:

      Brightness Penalty    Example
     -10                                Mid-day with no nearby shade.
     -9 to -7                         Early morning or late afternoon.
     -6 to -4                         Full daylight in the shade.
     -3 to -1                         Early morning or late evening

Statistics: Level one is Acute Vision 1 (Ninja Training, -10%) [2] + Night Vision 1 (Ninja Training, -10%) [1]. Additional levels are one level of Acute Vision (Ninja Training, -10%) [2]  and two levels of Night Vision (Ninja Training, -10%) [2]. Level six removes all levels of Night Vision and adds Dark Vision (Requires Per Roll, -5%; Ninja Training, -10%; Temporary Disadvantage, Dayblindness, -10%) [19], for 10 points. “Dayblindness” is Nightblindness in reverse (p. B144).


Light Step
7 or 20 points
Prerequisites: Catfall, Perfect Balance, and Ninja Talent 1+ or Catfall and Ninja Talent 3+

Ninja are trained to quickly adapt to their surroundings, especially their footing. At level 1 this requires the ninja to take 1 minute standing on the terrain or able to see it to adjust to it. This gives them Terrain Adaptation for one specific type of unstable terrain. Level 2 means the ninja doesn’t need to take any time to do this and it works for all unstable terrain types.

Statistics: Slotted Cosmic Power 1 (5) (Ninja Training, -10%; Trait-Limited, Terrain Adaptation only, -50%; Immediate Preparation Required, 1 minute, -30%) [7] or Terrain Adaptation (Active, +300%’ Ninja Training, -10%) [20].




Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Triple Threat: Crocoroach


Crocoroach
That's right. It's part insect, part reptile. It's all nightmare. Maybe a wizard did it. Maybe a mad scientist. It doesn't matter who did it you got to deal with it now, and really, that's just not fair. The size of a small cat, the crocoroach is a consummate omnivorous scavenger. Usually found only in swamps, jungles, and other humid terrain a single one is not much of a problem - though lots of them can result in a dangerous obstacle. Their sharp needle-like teeth are perfect for ripping and tearing. Combined with their ability to sniff out bleeding or injured targets they can quickly go from scavenger to predator - especially if they are in a large group.


Any Campaign Setting/After the End...
ST: 6          HP: 10         Speed: 6.00
DX: 12       Will: 12        Move: 7 (7 Water Move, 12 Air Move)
IQ: 2           Per: 14        Weight: 4 - 8 lbs.
HT: 12       FP: 12           SM: -3

Dodge: 11  Parry: N/A  DR: 2

Bite (14): 1d-4 impaling. Reach C.
Claw (14): 1d-3 impaling. Reach C. Counts as a Striker not a body part.
Claw Jump (14): This requires the crocoroach to take an All-Out Attack. Make a skill roll, each point by which the crocoroach succeeds results in another leg hitting the target (up to 6 total). On successive turns, it can use the claw burst attack
Claw Burst (-): On successive turns after a claw jump, the crocoroach can push its claws outward automatically doing its claw damage every turn as it shreds flesh and burrows in.

Traits: Amphibious; Bad Sight (Nearsighted); Born Biter 1; Cold Blooded (50°F); Combat Reflexes; Discriminatory Hearing; Discriminatory Smell;Flight (Winged); Nictitating Membrane 2; Night Vision 8; Quadruped; Reduced Consumption 4 (Cast Iron Stomach);Vibration Sense (Universal); Wild Animal.
Skills: Brawling-14; Climbing-14; Flight-12; Jumping-14; Stealth-14; Survival (Jungle or Swamp)-13.
Notes: If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check GURPS Horror (p. 139), Crocoroachs have a modifier of 0. For After the End the Crocoroach has RP 9 and Freakishness 10.



For Dungeon Fantasy...
ST: 6          HP: 10         Speed: 6.00
DX: 12       Will: 12        Move: 7 (7 Water Move, 12 Air Move)
IQ: 2           Per: 14        Weight: 4 - 8 lbs.
HT: 12       FP: 12           SM: -3

Dodge: 11  Parry: N/A  DR: 2

Bite (14): 1d-4 impaling. Reach C.
Claw (14): 1d-3 impaling. Reach C. Counts as a Striker not a body part.
Claw Jump (14): This requires the crocoroach to take an All-Out Attack. Make a skill roll, each point by which the crocoroach succeeds results in another leg hitting the target (up to 6 total). On successive turns, it can use the claw burst attack
Claw Burst (-): On successive turns after a claw jump, the crocoroach can push its claws outward automatically doing its claw damage every turn as it shreds flesh and burrows in.

Traits: Amphibious; Bad Sight (Nearsighted); Born Biter 1; Cold Blooded (50°F); Combat Reflexes; Discriminatory Hearing; Discriminatory Smell;Flight (Winged); Nictitating Membrane 2; Night Vision 8; Quadruped; Reduced Consumption 4 (Cast Iron Stomach);Vibration Sense (Universal); Wild Animal.
Skills: Brawling-14; Climbing-14; Flight-12; Jumping-14; Stealth-14; Survival (Jungle or Swamp)-13.
Class: Dire Animal





For Monster Hunters...
ST: 10        HP: 14         Speed: 6.00
DX: 12       Will: 12        Move: 7 (7 Water Move, 12 Air Move)
IQ: 2           Per: 14        Weight: 4 - 8 lbs.
HT: 12       FP: 12           SM: -3

Dodge: 11  Parry: N/A  DR: 2

Bite (14): 1d-3 impaling. Reach C.
Claw (14): 1d-1 impaling. Reach C. Counts as a Striker not a body part.
Claw Jump (14): This requires the crocoroach to take an All-Out Attack. Make a skill roll, each point by which the crocoroach succeeds results in another leg hitting the target (up to 6 total). On successive turns, it can use the claw burst attack
Claw Burst (-): On successive turns after a claw jump, the crocoroach can push its claws outward automatically doing its claw damage every turn as it shreds flesh and burrows in.

Traits: Amphibious; Bad Sight (Nearsighted); Born Biter 1; Cold Blooded (50°F); Combat Reflexes; Discriminatory Hearing; Discriminatory Smell;Flight (Winged); Nictitating Membrane 2; Night Vision 8; Quadruped; Reduced Consumption 4 (Cast Iron Stomach);Vibration Sense (Universal); Wild Animal.
Skills: Brawling-16; Climbing-14; Flight-12; Jumping-14; Stealth-16; Survival (Jungle or Swamp)-13.
Class: Dire Animal
Notes:  Use the skills listed under Cryptids in the Know Thy Enemy box in GURPS Monster Hunters 1: Champions (p. 16). Eight to ten crocoroachs are a fair fight for one champion.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Subtle Sorcery


I had a burst of inspiration hit me (thanks O Lady Muse) over the weekend regarding the kind of campaign I wanted to run for my face to face game. I got my players involved and they're game for it. Originally, I wanted to run a full on high-powered supers game. Force blasts, people changing shape, full on Avengers. And eventually, I will get back to my "A-Team," but for now I've got something else in mind. Something that still ties in with the B-Team, but is so radically different it's akin to Marvel's Agents of SHIELD vs. Jessica Jones. They take place in the same "campaign world" but focus on different things. This is the kind of dichotomy I want and with my campaign premise for the "E-Team" I think I'm going to get what I want.

So, let's get down to brass tacks: How do you make Sorcery more "subtle" - that is, how do you give Sorcery a more "mystical" feel? Well, first let's break down what I mean by "low-key magic." Low-key magic in this context is magic that does two of three: a) takes a while to perform (usually a minute or more); b) relies on internal or external energies (or both!); or c) has a narrowed scope. This is part of the formula I think that makes non-Adept Ritual Path Magic so workable for just about any campaign with some modification. So to modify Sorcery to give a similiar feel, what would I do?


Time Is Not On Your Side
Sorcery can rightfully feel like fantasy-style battle magic thanks to how fast it can be used. The obvious choice is to use Takes Extra Time, Takes Recharge, or Preparation Required, but if you directly modify all levels of Sorcerous Empowerment then it takes a while to even do minor parlor tricks like conjure a bit of flame to light a fire (the Ignition perk) or stir up a breeze (the Air Jet perk).Probably the most reasonable way it to leave Sorcerous Empowerment 1 unmodified and then to modify all successive levels. A few examples:

If Sorcery is slow, but still fast enough to use in combat...
Sorcerous Empowerment (Takes Extra Time 2, -20%) [20 points for level 1 and 8 points/level thereafter]
If Sorcery is fast enough to be used in combat, but only once...
Sorcerous Empowerment (Takes Recharge, 15 seconds, -20%) [20 points for level 1 and 8 points/level thereafter]
If Sorcery isn't fast enough to be used in combat and requires concentration...
Sorcerous Empowerment (Immediate Preparation Required, 1 minute, -30%) [20 points for level 1 and 7 points/level thereafter]

Priming the Pump
Sorcery requires the expenditure of FP when using Known Spells or Hardcore Improvisation, but what if even improvised magic required FP as well? If Sorcery requires FP for even improvised magic ...
Sorcerous Empowerment (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%) [19 points for level 1 and 9.5 points/level thereafter]
Alternatively, if Sorcery requires you spend Hit Points instead of Fatigue Points a little more work is required. Firstly, the Sorcery modifier becomes -20% - not -15% changing the cost of most of the spells in the book. Secondly, Hardcore Improvisation costs 1 HP, not 3 FP. Finally, if even improvised magic requires you to shed bled then...
Sorcerous Empowerment (Costs Fatigue, 1 HP, -10%) [18 points for level 1 and 9 points/level thereafter]

Picking Over the Bones
Narrowing the scope is already covered in Sorcery, so I didn't bother with a heading for that - in effect most traditions like "Druidism," "European Witchcraft," etc. are probably worth between -30% and -40% for the Limited Scope limitation. For my own campaign I decided on a two-pronged approach. Since Aeon is essentially a supers setting I needed a plausible excuse for why the occult/supernatural isn't widely accepted by the public. The biggest reason is that folks who practice magic, are psychic, and so on tend to be private. This is a defense mechanism from earlier ages where they'd either get burnt at the stake or laughed off as a crackpot. What's more, unlike superpowers magic, psychic abilities, and chi powers have been around pre-TAP (the event in Aeon which seems to have brought about superpowers) and all but psychic ability can be taught. That right there was my in: magic can be taught. If it can be taught what about those with a "natural attunement" to magic? So, for magic-using heroes they use the standard Sorcerous Empowerment - they have a natural gift for magic that allows them to employ it quickly. For everyone else I've required Immediate Preparation Required (1 or 10 minutes) and/or Limited Scope. This allows me to use consistent systems that all have very different feel. If you were making Sorcery more subtle, how would you do it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Making Every Action Count


So +Douglas Cole talked about "time dilation" and importance of actions on your turn in this blog post. And he brings up a point that I think every GM should be aware of: never, ever, ever make your players feel superfluous or useless. IF YOU DO YOU WILL REGRET IT. Just don't. Seriously. Now some of you are asking "But Christopher how do I make gritty tactiscale combat go by fast enough so people don't get bored?" Well, that's a bit of problem because GURPS tactical combat scale (I call it tactiscale - 'cause reasons) has a lot of moving parts. If you were to imagine tactical combat as a pocket watch then the outside - the actual watch - is what players see. It's all nice and orderly and works the way it's supposed to work. Underneath are the complications - the inner workings of what makes a watch a watch - bits seeable only by the gamemaster. Those complications are often what gets the GM into the most trouble. I'm going to present some pretty heretical advice so if some of you want to come burn me I understand. Come at me, bro.


The Watch Face (What the Players See)
The players are in the unique situation that if the GM is either good enough (or obsessive enough - and a lot og GURPS GMs are) or thinks on his feet fast enough then the player will never need to learn more than the basic rules. In effect, the GM is handling the game engine of a computer game and the players are playing it. So what happens when the players glimpse behind the curtain? Usually, nothing, but in combat it almost always results in a rules disagreement. This is bad. Ummkay? First, you don't want to stall the game because you can't remember the exact effect of a rule. Just go with what you remember. Look it up later. If you call a prone penalty a -6 then go with it and move ahead. The watch just shot forward a few seconds - no one is going to notice that you screwed up a penalty. You know what they are going to notice? You spending 20 minutes going through a rulebook to figure out the exact skill penalty for something that's not going to matter a session from now anyways.So how do you get around this?
  • First, Kill your inner rules-lawyer: Take him and put him in the back of your 1977 Buick LeSabre and let loose your inner Joe Pesci. You don't need to get the rules completely straight, but you do need to make sure people have fun. If you don't you will soon not be the GM or you will lose your player base. So make sure what your players see is what you want them to see.
  • Improve Your Improv: Get better at improv or "seat of the pants" GMing - this doesn't have to be your style! Even the best preplanner/worldbuilder GM can benefit from increasing their improvisational capabilities. Skill at pantsing is what sets a good GM apart from a great one. you can have encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, psychological profiles of all your players, and be so capable in all things Gamemastering that you Wesley Crush-it, but if you can't improvise you will simply not be as good as you could be.
  • Couture Combat: The GM should take special care when designing combats to create encounters where all players can feel useful. This is the same kind of mentality most GMs have when making sure combat-characters have some sort of secondary role to fall back on. Basically, make sure all the players have a chance ot shine in combat. Suggest options they might not otherwise think of. You're not there as the GM to "win" you are there as a facilitator of enjoyment.

The Complications (What the GM Sees)
The GM has a lot of rules knowledge that is under rug swept. That is, he knows the game system well enough that he can run the game without referencing source material often. When this is not the case the GM is usually new or not well-versed in his chosen rules set. Nothing's wrong with that. Continuing the metaphor, when the complications aren't working properly the watch won't work properly either. So how do you fix this? Well, there are a number of things I've learned over the years that helps:
  • Read the Material: Just read the books. All that you own. Any you can borrow. Read people talking about the rules. Ask questions. Make a point of doing it in your spare time and maybe 6 or 7 hours every week (about one hour a day). Make sure you know all the optional rules you are using. The last part is incredibly important. If you are using the Guns are Silly optional rules and don't know why they are silly you've got a real issue. One which will be worse in gameplay.
  • Don't Sweat The Small Stuff (It's ALL Small Stuff): If you get a rule wrong, move on. If you get a penalty wrong, move on. If you misinterpret some power or ability...move on. The gaming police will not come to your house. They will not take your to RPGaol. Move On.
  • Know Thy Self: Know your capabilities. Know where you are weak. Know where you are strong. Maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. If you're a fantastic improv GM do a lot of offthecuff stuff - you're better when you move so bloody well move. If you are a worldbuilder GM dazzle your players with the completeless of the world you've built just for them. Let them know you built it just for them. That kind of personal touch can suck players in faster than anything else.
  • Know Thy Players: Figure out what each of your players like and then deliver it to them. Get to know them. Talk to them. Figure out their favorite movies and TV  shows. What sort of books they like to read or music they listen to. Most roleplaying is an intimate experience - bear with me, we're freaking adults here - you are not getting nakkie, but you are showing them into your head. Your imagination. Your thoughts on a role or genre. You are just shy of baring your soul. That's heady stuff. As the GM respect your players enough to know what will fire their imgination and then capitlize on it.
  • G.O.D. (Games Operations Director): You are the GM. Your word is law. Enforce the law so that no one ever wants to break it. Be a dictator - but be a benevolent one. Enforce the law because by enforcing the law you are making sure that all players have an even playing field. You are the games operations director. Be G.O.D. If you set out the particular rules or genre conventions before the game begins and tell your players you're going to enforce them then if they are broken...enforce them. They may not like it now but they will respect you for it later.

Picking Over the Bones
There is no way to cover all the situations that could crop up in any situation, but the blog post's title remains the ultimate rule: Make. Every. Action. Count. Don't bore your players. Let them have fun. Let them be awesome. Making things "hard" so the players are "challenged" is not fun to everyone. In fact, it's fun to very few. Instead of trying to create a challenge, instead create something that's exciting and enjoyable and that will be talked about after the game ends. Become a good GM - create fun don't create challenges. This is how you become a good GM. You build on what came before, pay attention to what is, and plan for what will be.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

GURPS101: Extra, Extra Effort

GURPS Powers introduces a new rule: Godlike Extra Effort (Powers, p. 161). This effectively allows you to enhance the effectiveness of your ability to drastic degrees and is only limited by your FP. GURPS Horror introduces rules for corruption (see Power Corrupts in Horror, pp. 146-148). Finally, GURPS Thaumatology introduces Threshold Magic (pp. 76-82), a form of magic that allows seemingly unlimited effects…but at a cost. These new rules utilize concepts from both to create a unique mechanic that allows you to trade power for sanity and humanity...


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

Note: the link to the actual content for patrons is here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Gamemaster's Guidepost: GMing Danger Sense


After a somewhat extensively long conversation with +Douglas Cole last night we got to talking about Danger Sense. His character, the Commander had it and we both forgot it at crucial points. Between the two of us we discovered that's actually fairly common - the other fairly common in-play is the player who constantly abuses it. I like a middle path. Here's a few guidelines I like to use in my campaigns.


Danger, Danger Will Robinson!
Keeping track of Danger Sense and when it might come up is problematic. If you're a heavy computer user for your RPGs (and most folks are now) Microsoft comes equipped with a "Sticky Note" program which I use for everything. Keeping relevant traits on the screen to gander at during play is a smart move. I've even used timers (again, Microsoft is well-equiped here) to remind me to look at the notes just in case.

Another good trick is to keep track of where Danger Sense might show up in your adventure notes and memorize or consult them often.


Danger Sense as Impulse Points
GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys (see Serendipitous Guidance, p. 8) allows each level of Serendipity to be give two "Serendipity Points" which can be used for Player Guidance (Impulse Buys, p. 7-9). In Pyramid #3/61: Way of the Warrior the Tactician power-up allows Destiny Points to regenerate faster - but only allow the Destiny Points to work in certain ways. Using that logic Danger Sense no longer functions per RAW, but instead gives 3 "Ambush Points" every game session which can be used for rerolls, player guidance, etc. - but only if the character is surprised in some manner (combat, natural disaster, and so on). To compensate for such a narrow field such points can be used retroactively even after the GM declares a result.


Pay to Play
One of the things about Danger Sense is that it requires the GM and player to always be on point with character traits. In the heat of game play things can be forgotten. What's more, it can really irk the GM to have to backtrack a carefully placed ambush because one player realizes he might have a chance to not be surprised. To save time for such arguments the GM could decide that Danger Sense costs Character Points (or Impulse Points) to use. If so that turns Danger Sense from a 15 point trait to a 3 point trait. The GM could narrow that further down to a perk and say that points can be spent only when dramatically appropriate. That allows combat savvy characters to still detect an ambush, while keeping the GM's head from exploding.


Needs Less Spidey Sense...
Danger Sense isn't less absolute - but with a high enough Perception (or multiple levels of Reliable) it becomes more so. So how to "kick it down a notch?" Add Hypersensory to it. For one sense this is -80%, two is -65%, three is -50%, four is -40%, and -30% for five. For example, if Danger Sense relied on you being able to see the threat this is a -80% limitation.


Needs Moar Spidey Sense...
On the other hand, if you want to make Danger Sense kick in all the time (you brave, brave GM). It's a simple matter of adding "Cosmic, No Die Roll Required, +100%" and possibly Reliable. There are threads...endless threads (said in Morpheus' voice from the Matrix) where Detect (Danger) and Danger Sense are bandied back and forth with forumites trying to figure out which is which and what covers what. That being the case you could probably lift both Precise (you know exactly where the danger is coming from) and Analyzing (you know what the danger is) and use them as is without any modification.


Picking Over the Bones
Danger Sense is one of those prickly traits (like Daredevil, Weirdness Magnet, and many others) that players should ask the GM before taking. It's a part meta-game, part cinematic trait and it's not appropriate for all games. There are definitely people in the world who get the willies when bad stuff is about to go down and since psychic abilities have yet to be proven true I'm willing to call that a hyper-awareness to your environment. As with all things GURPS - if your player takes the trait (and you've let him) let him use the damn thing. No player takes a trait without it meaning to be used and Danger Sense is no different. Be nice to your players. Familiarise yourself with their characters - it's the only way to play.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Designer's Notes: Heroes on the Mass Scale

This one was a fairly quick put together, but revisions were hellish in the extreme. Even the editing (the part I always have the hardest time with) took less time than the near constant revisions I did to make this thing work. Considering its progenitor system ("It's a Threat!" from Pyramid #3/77: Combat) was specific to Dungeon Fantasy it took me a lot of time just trying to "genericize" and then refit to GURPS Mass Combat. The idea originally germinated on the forums somewhere when a poster asked if the CER system could be pressed into service for Mass Combat. That same day, David Pulver sent me an email asking about recycling it as well. I was already in about 800 words when I got the email. Actual writing time was maybe 10 hours, revisions took an insane 120 hours, and editing took a mere 30 hours. I actually spent more time revising than I did writing, which was sort of annoying considering how well the idea actually worked (or at least I thought it did). Besides the content changed several times between submission and writing, the name actually changed as well. The original title being "Big Damn Heroes" (which I think fit much much better than its current one).

Due to the nature of the article (there was significant reuse and refitting from another article) there was very little material that had to be cut. Though several ideas did crop up on the forums after publication. Namely how a "typical" archer couldn't qualify as the Fire class because they'd need at least a ST of 15 to achieve a 1/2D of 200. As I noted here, when I was designing the rules I specifically had HERO elements in mind. That is characters with at least 100 points and probably significantly more. That said, an argument could be made to lower it to a range of 150, this would allow ST 10 longbowmen.

Another oddity that popped up (and one I truly hadn't thought of) was one-use weaponry. For example, a some anti-tank weapons are built as disposable. For such attacks, use the rules for FP-using abilities despite them not requiring FP to use.

Another idea I toyed around with (both for "Heroes on the Mass Scale" and "It's a Threat!") was the idea of a "Luck Statistic". After a bit more thought, here's how I'd do it for both articles:

Luck
Characters that are luckier than others (or unlucky) can affect the outcome of a combat. Total the character point cost of the following advantages, divide by 5, and add that number to the character's total CER or TS: Common Sense, Daredevil, Destiny, Intuition, Oracle, Luck, Serendipity, and Super Luck. For those with Probablity Manipulation and similiar powers add any power with an appropriate Power Modifier.
          For the unlucky, total the following traits and subtract it from the total CER or TS: Cursed, Destiny, Divine Curse (only if it affects die rolls or outcomes similiar to other unlucky traits), Unluckiness, or Weirdness Magnet.
          If a character possess both types of traits, then total all advantageous traits first, then subtract all disadvantageous traits and use the final number as the modifier to CER.

Example: Lady Ion has Luck, which adds +3 to her final CER.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Boil and Bubble: Magical Ability Defaults from Skill


Sometimes I have entire rules or systems download themselves into my head. This usually happens while I'm asleep or getting there. This came to me last night after I was trying to figure out how to make Thuamatology: Sorcery-style magic have a more urban fantasy/realistic feel. (No, I'm not using Ritual Path Magic - I know, a shocker, but it doesn't work for the setting so that's that.) I've talked about this a bit before, but I think I've come up with a better way.

First, use figure out what sort of spell or effect you are going for just as you would normally for Sorcery. For example, if you wanted to start a fire that would merely be Ignite Fire (Sorcery, p. 16), Note the point cost of the spell, Second, total the number of character points spent in Thaumatology (or Ritual Magic if magic is more ritually flavored). Third, total the number of character points spent in any of the following skills and halve them: Alchemy, Exorcism, Herb Lore, Hidden Lore (supernatural related lore), Ritual Magic (or Thaumatology if magic is more ritually flavored), and Symbol Drawing. Next, total the points spent in skills and compare them to the cost of the spell being performed. For every 10% of the value of the spell compared to the totaled skill points, roll Thaumatology at -1 and two of the following: perform magic gestures and words or spend 2 FP or 10 seconds concentrating. Success results in one use of the spell you were trying to cast. For example, if a caster were attempting Ignite Fire 2 and had Thaumatology-12 with a combined 8 points in Thaumatology and/or magical skills then he'd need to roll a 7 or less on his Thaumatology skill and either spend 2 FP and 10 seconds concentrating.

If the caster wishes doesn't have a skill of at least 3, then the spell is impossible for him to cast. To counteract this he may increase his skill point total by adding limitations and then treating them as enhancements (but round down). For example, the caster in the previous example could add Immediate Preparation Required, 1 minute (-20%), Onset, 1 minute (-10%), and Trigger, Requires crushed ruby powder (-10%) to bring his skill points to 11, instead of 8, reducing the penalty to -4 instead of -5. Thus he could use Ignite Fire 2, but he'd have to concentrate for a minute, have some expensive ruby dust, and the spell would only take place a minute after he had finished. (Note: Preparation Required, the required 10 seconds of concentration counts as the first -10% of that limitation and increases normally thereafter. Additional FP cost the same, while requiring magical gestures and words is worth -20%)


Picking Over the Bones
I must say, I wish I had thought of simplifying Abilities at Default to a even 10% per -1 - but I didn't. That was all +Hal Batty. It's a clever simplistic approach that makes it easy as hell to GM instead of looking it up constantly. Overall, this is a way to make a somewhat skilled caster without actually going full-bore and giving them Sorcerous Empowerment. In fact, I think this may be the perfect way to simulate my "hedge witches" in Aeon. It keeps the flexibility of Sorcery, but forces it to be less tactical and more strategic and that is exactly what I was looking for.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

GURPS101: Expanded Long-Term Fatigue Rules


So the wildly anticipated and long awaited GURPS After the End by +Pk Levine is finally out. +Douglas Cole has a review up here that's rather good. But I want to concentrate on one particular aspect of the book: Long-Term Fatigue Points. The concept is simple: don't eat, don't sleep, don't drink, etc. and you lose the ability to properly use all of your FP. The sheer stunningly brilliant effect of this mechanic allows you to do something that can be somewhat onerous in GURPS (tracking FP missed to starvation, dehydration, etc.) and making it simple. I have instantly instituted this rule for my Aeon campaign and all future campaigns. But after looking at it - I had some more thoughts about it. So I talked to the author a bit and hashed out a few more rules:


More Associated Effects of Long-Term Fatigue Points
A few more things that can affect LFP:

  • In particularly thin or dense air environments (p. B429-B430) such as high altitudes, every hour spent in such an environment that you are not acclimated to reduces your LFP by 1. You recover such gained LFP when you are in an environment you can breath more easily in.
  • In particularly cold environments (p. B430) you gain 1 LFP per hour without adequate shelter or a heat source (flame, electric heat, body warmth, etc.). You recover 1 LFP per day if you are in both a adequate shelter and near a heat source.
  • In particularly hot environments (p. B434) you gain 1 LFP per hour without shade or water. This becomes 1 LFP per minute in areas where the temperature is 30° or more above your temperature range. You recover 1 LFP per day if you have both shade and water.

Additional Long-Term Fatigue Points
Additional levels of LFP might be available at the GM's decision. If this is the case, each level costs 2 points and you can purchase at most 30% of your total FP score (round up). For example, if you have a FP of 15 then you could purchase 4.5 LFP, or 5 LFP at most. Notate this as a negative number (e.g., -5 LFP) on your character sheet. Immunity to Long-Term Fatigue may be available, in such cases it's worth 30 points (it's effectively Doesn't Eat or Drink and Doesn't Sleep put together).


Fit Affects Long-Term Fatigue
Normally, Fit and Very Fit only affect normal Fatigue Points, if the GM wishes the following enhancement may be allowed:

Scrappy: You're used to starving, being without water, and going on almost no sleep. At the end of each day you automatically get back 1 LFP if you make a HT roll (2 LFP if you critically succeed). If you eat and sleep properly there is no need to make a HT roll - you automatically get back an additional LFP. If you do nothing but eat and rest you automatically get back 2 LFP. +50% if you only gain back LFP, +100% if you get the normal effects of Fit or Very Fit.


Supernatural Loss of Long-Term Fatigue
A few modifiers for other traits in games using LFP.

Costs Fatigue
see p. B111
If you gain LFP instead of FP when you use an ability this increases the value of this limitation by -5%. This is akin to losing HP since in order to recover LFP you must rest - though you needed make HT rolls to recover an increased amount, just spend the day resting.

Steals Long-Term Fatigue
varies
This modifiers for Leech (GURPS Powers, p. 96-97) allows you to increase the LFP of a subject. This costs +20%. If you can choose to drain LFP or HP then this is worth +50%. If you can only drain LFP this is worth -10%.


Picking Over the Bones
I really like this new rule - it totally suits how I tend to run games and allows me to track intangibles like lack of sleep or food with a simple and easy to use mechanic. As I started in the beginning it's a brilliantly simple rule that can be used in any sort of game where the GM wants to track some realistic effects, but doesn't want super detailed rules. If you haven't gone out and bought GURPS After the End yet you really should - it's worth the $8. Go freaking get it.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Boil and Bubble: Necromantic Sorcery Spells


Sorcery is quickly becoming one of my favorite magic systems - though it’ll probably never eclipse Ritual Path Magic. This is mostly due to the fact that Sorcery as a new system is the same as the old system. It uses the standard advantages and disadvantages to create a workable, cohesive frame of magic. What’s more, it’s fairly easy to grasp just because it uses the same methods of powers-builds that all of GURPS uses anyway. So enough of my gushing, this month’s Special is about necromantic spells (note: I’ve intentionally ignored GURPS Magic)...

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Triple Threat: Bloodroot


Note: This is the creation of Hal "Wavefunction" Batty - not my own. Thanks for the contribution, Hal!

A Bloodroot is an enormous, tree-like creature. It main body consists of a broad tree trunk with two other trunks attached to the sides forming thick arms, jointed at the elbows, and ending in a mass of writhing roots. In its central trunk is a small hollow, through which can be seen a pale, human face. Bloodroots consume human prey, pulling them into themselves and keeping the body intact and alive, within themselves, with its face poking out through the hole in their torsos.  When they consume a new body, the old one is torn apart and used to increase the Bloodroot’s size, in fact when you peel back their thick wooden armor, it reveals a mess of muscle and bone from previous victims. The only good way to stop a Bloodroot is to kill or remove the body they’ve  engulfed, then hack them to pieces before they find a new one.


Any Campaign Setting...
ST: 35             HP: 35             Speed: 7.00
DX: 12            Will: 12           Move: 11
IQ: 6               Per: 12                        Weight: 2.5 tons
HT: 16            FP: 16             SM: +2

Dodge: 10       Parry: 10        DR: 20*
                     
Punch (14): 4d+7 crushing. Reach C-2.
Grapple (14): Reach C-2. No damage.
Consume (-):  The turn after grappling a target you may engulf it. They are pinned; see Pin (p. B370), and on this turn and every subsequent turn you may roll a quick contest of effective ST 37 vs. your victim’s ST or HT, whichever is higher. If you win, your victim takes damage equal to your margin of victory; otherwise, he takes no damage.

Traits: Blunt Claws; Cannot Kick; Constriction Attack (Engulfing); Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Sleep; High Pain Threshold; Indomitable; Injury Tolerance (No Head; Unliving); Limited Camouflage 4 (Tree); Regeneration (Very Fast); Numb; Sadism (12); Supernatural Durability (Death or removal of engulfed human); Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Humans); Unfazeable.
Skills: Brawling-14; Camouflage-8; Wrestling-14; Stealth-12
Notes: Affected by any magic that affects plants or flesh. The above represents an average Bloodroot, younger ones might be SM +1, whilst larger ones could be anywhere up to SM +7, adjust ST and DR as seems appropriate. If the GM is using Intrinsic Fright Check from GURPS Horror (p. 139), Bloodroot have a modifier of -4 or -6 if the PCs recognise its face.
*Semi-Ablative. Doesn’t cover engulfed target’s head.


For Dungeon Fantasy...
ST: 35             HP: 35             Speed: 7.00
DX: 12            Will: 12           Move: 11
IQ: 6               Per: 12                        Weight: 2.5 tons
HT: 16            FP: 16             SM: +2

Dodge: 10       Parry: 10        DR: 20*
                     
Punch (14): 4d+7 crushing. Reach C-2.
Grapple (14): Reach C-2. No damage.
Consume (-):  The turn after grappling a target you may engulf it. They are pinned; see Pin (p. B370), and on this turn and every subsequent turn you may roll a quick contest of effective ST 37 vs. your victim’s ST or HT, whichever is higher. If you win, your victim takes damage equal to your margin of victory; otherwise, he takes no damage.

Traits: Blunt Claws; Cannot Kick; Constriction Attack (Engulfing); Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Sleep; High Pain Threshold; Indomitable; Injury Tolerance (No Head; Unliving); Limited Camouflage 4 (Tree); Regeneration (Very Fast); Numb; Sadism (12); Supernatural Durability (Death or removal of engulfed human); Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Humans); Unfazeable.
Skills: Brawling-14; Camouflage-8; Wrestling-14; Stealth-12
Notes: Affected by any magic that affects plants or flesh. The above represents an average Bloodroot, younger ones might be SM +1, whilst larger ones could be anywhere up to SM +7, adjust ST and DR as seems appropriate.
*Semi-Ablative. Doesn’t cover engulfed target’s head.


For Monster Hunters...
ST: 35             HP: 35             Speed: 7.00
DX: 12            Will: 12           Move: 11
IQ: 6               Per: 12                        Weight: 2.5 tons
HT: 16            FP: 16             SM: +2

Dodge: 10       Parry: 10        DR: 20*

Fright Check: -4/-6†
                     
Punch (14): 4d+7 crushing. Reach C-2.
Grapple (14): Reach C-2. No damage.
Consume (-):  The turn after grappling a target you may engulf it. They are pinned; see Pin (p. B370), and on this turn and every subsequent turn you may roll a quick contest of effective ST 37 vs. your victim’s ST or HT, whichever is higher. If you win, your victim takes damage equal to your margin of victory; otherwise, he takes no damage.

Traits: Blunt Claws; Cannot Kick; Constriction Attack (Engulfing); Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Sleep; High Pain Threshold; Indomitable; Injury Tolerance (No Head; Unliving); Limited Camouflage 4 (Tree); Regeneration (Very Fast); Numb; Sadism (12); Supernatural Durability (Death or removal of engulfed human); Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Humans); Unfazeable.
Skills: Brawling-14; Camouflage-8; Wrestling-14; Stealth-12
Notes:  Use the skills listed under Cryptids in the Know Thy Enemy box in GURPS Monster Hunters 1: Champions (p. 16). Affected by any magic that affects plants or flesh. One Bloodroot is a fair fight for two champions. The above represents an average Bloodroot, younger ones might be SM +1, whilst larger ones could be anywhere up to SM +7, adjust ST and DR as seems appropriate.
*Semi-Ablative. Doesn’t cover engulfed target’s head.

†Use the second value if the PCs recognise the engulfed individual.