Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Hurt Locker: Special Wooden Weaponry


A few of the more interesting modifiers from my current game for wooden weaponry. This should work “as is” for GURPS Monster Hunters and Dungeon Fantasy – other campaigns may require a bit of a custom fit...

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

Boil and Bubble: Weird Ritual Path Magic


It's no secret that I like Ritual Path magic, I've talked about it before so I won't go into it again. If you are even remotely familiar with my blog (and I'll assume you are) you know that this is a subject near and dear to my heart - like most magic systems. So what do I mean weird Ritual Path magic? I mean...getting weird...

...if you'd like to read more, follow this link! Remember to thank my patrons who voted to get this out out everyone as this is a rerelease of a previous special I posted in December 2014.

Want to have a voice in what I release next for everyone? Consider becoming a patron!

(Note: I updated this page to reflect the release and the more formalized system I'm using now for headers and containing content.)

Boil and Bubble: Druidic Ritual Path Magic


Dungeons and Dragons, video games, movies . . . all of these things have thrust the ancient religion of the Celts into the modern limelight. It’s become fashionable, even vogue, to include some sort of nature-loving magical hippy into this or that pop culture “thing” (and that’s not a complaint! Druids ARE cool). This material mostly tries to stick to what we know, but provides some extras at the end for more...

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

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

Friday, December 8, 2017

Carpe Blogiem: Author, Patreon, and Blog Highlights - October/November 2017


Here's the highlights for me from October and November 2017 (And yes, I know I'm beyond late - I try to do this at the beginning of the month. but stuff happened. So. Much. Stuff.)


Authorial Highlights
  • I submitted no articles in October or November and instead pulled from those I'd finished. I'm still writing a sequel to my article "Mind and Body" but it's slow-going. This still leaves Action, Alternate GURPS, After the End, and Hotspots and locations - all of which I have ideas for or partially completed items.
  • My official designer's notes for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 19: Incantation Magic came out having been published in Pyramid #3/109: Thaumatology V.
  • Everything else was halted due to some personal issues.

Blog Highlights
  • The blog revamp is still ongoing and looks like it might be next year sometime till its finished. I hope.
  • The rest of the blog came to a complete halt. From what you ask? That's right. Personal issues.

Patreon Highlights
  • October's  patron specials were more new wildcard skills I excised from my article "Born to be Wild" and more Sorcery spells. November saw more wildcard skills and Path of Chance spells from RPM.
  • I lost patrons, gained them, had others modify their pledges in October gaining one patron and about +$10. November saw more of the same with +$7 and four new patrons.
  • Patreon created a new fee schedule and rolled it out December 6th. It sucks. I talked about it here. I'm so nervous and unsure of what's going on its making me literally sick to my stomach. Yay. Ulcers.
  • I was delayed with getting specials out. They will be out December 9th.
  • I'll be putting up the special to be released to all tomorrow as well.

Miscellaneous Related News
  • All other writing came to a halt. Yeah, you guessed it. Personal issues.
  • I ended up adopting a kitten in October. She's great. More on her later at some point.
  • My mother's surgery went smoothly and the doctor is extremely happy with the quickness of her recovery. 
  • My Ceteri campaign has basically kept me sane during everything. It's been fun. You can read about it on my Session Recaps page if you're interested.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Designer's Notes: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 19 - Incantation Magic

Cover_lg
Wow. It's finally out. The original idea for this article goes all he way back to early 2013 when +Antoni Ten Monrós and I were thinking about how we'd do "old school vancian" magic. I suggested RPM and he liked the idea and threw the ball back at me "What if we change the paths completely?" Inner Me: "Ohhhh." That was a great idea. Then we thought "Hell, what about putting it into DF?" Inner Me: "Oh-booooooyy." That's even better. We talked to Steven a bit a few months later and he decided (rightly) this was just too big...but then suggested we might make it into a book. Inner Me: "SQUEEEEEEEE!!!" We decided to try and whip it into shape and work out the kinks ourselves. This lead to us securing +Emily Smirle gaming group (and our own groups) as a testing ground. By July 2013 we had a decent set of rules. (I really wish we hadn't because it caused issues in the first couple of book drafts - new authors reading this don't write until they tell you to. Just trust the protcol and find something else to do.)

It wouldn't be for over an entire year before we'd be contacted about this again. We'd both been waiting patiently, wanting to be "full authors" (it's like a full vampire, but with words). +Sean Punch helped both Toni and I hammer out a good outline (and taught us a ton in turn). By the end of September 2014 we'd signed contracts for "Dungeon Fantasy Incantation Magic." It was (and is) the highlights of my life. My first (of hopefully many and diverse) book contract(s). I won't lie, I cried a little. The next six months was the struggle of my early professional career. I worked feverishly on the manuscript. Night and day I wrote, edited, and revised. I put Antoni's version into the final notes and reformatted it because Open Office (which he uses) is useless for this. I didn't mind (and still don't) - Toni is my partner in crime and he worked just as hard as I did to make everything "just so." It even took us longer than we originally thought (with original submission in January and instead we took till the end of March). I sent in the revised draft with comments from Kromm. Next, I began quietly contacting the people I felt could contribute the most to the playtest. Most said yes. Some had issues during the playtest, but everyone contributed. The group of playtesters was intentionally diverse (and +Douglas Cole proved especially useful in revising - he was flat out the reason why I removed Greater/Lesser effects so if you hate that blame Doug. No. Seriously, don't that was the right call). Some had never used RPM before. Some had never played DF before. Others had never done either. Some had done one or the other. A few had done both. I was proud of that list of people. I slaved putting it together and agonizing over the choices. By the end of April 2015 the playtest had begun. The playtest ended in mid-June 2015 and I sent in the final draft on late July 2015. We ended up with a few more revisions and then sent it the final draft on time. We didn't hear anything from Steve Jackson Games for another five months when +Pk Levine contacted us (he'd had troubles of his own). He then began to do a final round of revisions. That took till around April 2016 and then finally +Steven Marsh gave us some "good news" (everyone). The book was just shy of the next price point for page count so he wanted more spells. Inner Me: "Squeee!" followed by "Oh, crap, I need more spells."  +Emily Smirle essentially saved our bacon here because both Toni and I were stressed to the max from life and other work. (We love you, Em! YOU ARE AWESOME!) The amazing and wonderful Nikki Vrtis began her arduous task of layout. Over the last several months we've seen production copies and hunted for errata and bugs (which we found few of - so I hope that means they weren't hiding, but rather just weren't there to be found). And now it's out. It's here and it's own sale and I really want you to go buy a copy because honestly, if you want more books out of me this has to do well. I will say that Steve Jackson Games put us right behind their Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter and I really hope that helps make a difference and draw in all kinds of folks.

All in all it took us about 600 hours to write, 300 hours to edit, 60 hours worth of research (mostly reading Dungeon Fantasy books and various fiction/books on magic), and 1000 hours of revision. (These values include the hours Toni put in as well). Playtest email count was over 500 (it was a very active playtest).


A few words from my co-author:
Incantation magic is the latest addition to the Dungeon Fantasy line, and many will wonder, why? What does it bring to the table? 
It’s not a surprise that I don’t particularly like the standard magic system. Many of my works in Pyramid have dealt with using alternative magic systems in Dungeon Fantasy (Dungeon Saints, The Sorcerer,...). Incantation Magic started life as a Pyramid article, trying to adapt RPM to DF. I recruited the Master of RPM, Christopher, to help me do the tweaks I expected I would need. It quickly became apparent that we would need a lot of word count for this, but hey as Douglas Cole said, The Deadly Spring and The Last Gasp got in, despite being quite long, so we might as well try. 
Long story short, it did not (big surprise, given that you’ve never seen it, right?). We were told that it might live on as a full blown DF book, if the stars aligned (as there was an OGRE in the pipeline), and eventually it did! 
So now that we’ve got the history behind us, what does an Incanter bring to the table that other delvers could not bring? The main thing he brings, is spell slot based magic. Many people have clamored for some kind of spell slot based magic, and while I find most of those systems arbitrary and quite simply "unfun," RPM, with the charm slots, offered a version that was both interesting and sensical. Sure, given enough time, an RPG caster can do whatever they need to do, but slots allow them to cast now, launch later. This brings that often requested dynamic to GURPS, without the issues that plague other implementations: Why can’t I sit down with my spell book and slowly cast the spell, even if I didn’t foresee that I would need it when preparing my spells? Also, this kind of spellcaster fills a niche that is often requested: the blaster caster. Sure, a sorcerer is superior here, but a sorcerer is basically the sine qua non of blasting (if built that way), but an incanter that want to go that route can do so… at a considerable cost. An incanter that focuses on blasting will find that his spells get used up real fast, and that replenishing them takes a lot of time. On top of this, having such spells prepared means he doesn’t have other spells prepared. 
Regardless, we hope you'll find out book fun and interesting. 

I haven't really mentioned the real heroes (for me at least):

+Ann LS is my lovely and talented other half. I don't think I would have had as many "Ah-ha!" moments without her. (Also, "Perri" from the vignettes is her Dungeon Fantasy character.) Her persistence, mental fortitude, levelheadedness, and intuition have guided my hands for the better part of two decades. I'm not even half the man I am without her and she makes me want to be better. To do better. I love her with all my heart and soul. She gives me the courage to be myself and strive. "We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams," she'd say when I got down. Or something else equally encouraging "Christopher, you are smarter than this problem so figure it the hell out." And then I would. If someone believes in you so truly and deeply you can do anything. What can I say other than she's amazing and makes everything worthwhile?

+Christian Gelacio is my best friend. He never let me waver or feel sorry for myself, but reminded me (constantly) "I got you into GURPS, now don't embarrass me." (Not really, Chris doesn't talk much, but he was thinking it. I have telepathetic powers. Really. It's what he was thinking.) He was my rock.

Elizabeth "Archangel" McCoy. Beth has been my constant mentor for the past five years. She has been beating the English language into my head with a thick wooden mallet and a railroad spike. Her patience has been pretty damn legendary too and I wouldn't be here without all her help. One day, Beth, I swear I will repay you somehow.  You're amazing and a hundred times the editor I'll ever be and twenty times the writer to boot. Thank you for taking the chance on me and seeing something in me I didn't fully see.

My mother: She would let me talk for hours when I couldn't sleep and couldn't talk to anyone else about the book. I'd print out a copy of the material and read passages to her to see what she thought. Something of a (cloested) nerd herself, she understands enough of my work that she can provide an outsider's opinion and act as a sounding board. Like others, she never let me give up (and there were times when I was ready to throw in the towel - the stress to live up tp my own ideals was immense).

I also want to fully call out everyone who helped with this project in some way, but I couldn't thank properly in the credits of the book:

Robert "RevBob" Hood
+Kevin Smyth
+Nathan Joy
+Theodore Briggs
+Troy Loy
+Curtis Johnston


You'll note I have no real outtakes here. This is intentional, I've saved those for a Pyramid article for our Designer's Notes (set to appear whenever). This is more part mission report and part thank you letter. So again, for everyone I mentioned here and anyone I forgot...thank you. So much. Now go buy my book. :-)

Edit: The official in-Pyramid designer's notes can be found in Pyramid #3/109: Thaumatology V.



Thursday, November 16, 2017

Carpe Blogiem: Crushed Under The Rolling Stone


It's been awhile since I posted and there are a couple of reasons why - I'm not ready to share all of them. Basically, right now I'm having to choose how I spend my writing and free time at the moment and the blog has simply fallen by the wayside (for the moment). It may stay this way until the end of December or beginning of January because I'm honestly hoping to take a week or two off to spend decompressing from this stressful year.

I'm hoping to periodically throw up posts when I've the time but most of my writing energies are focused on finishing paying projects I've promised or been contracted to do. My free time is spent running my campaign (so I can stay sane) and my work time is spent with a thousand tiny projects that just demand my attention. Patreon patrons will continue to see monthly releases per normal and I've got an outline for what I hope will be an interesting blog series for gamemasters and players both.

I've tried to change it as much as I can, but the circumstances are forcing me to choose my activities and projects and I need to be able to eat and afford my medicine so that means I have to take gigs that pay right now. It also means I've not been as active in the gaming community as I'd like or that I've been available for questions sent to my email or via PM.

This sucks. I'm letting you guys down again and I'm sorry. I'll do my damnedest to get back on track as soon as my work flow and personal life gets back to semi-normal.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

GURPS101: Art of the Wild Part II


Some more cuts from my “Born to Be Wild” Pyramid article...

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

Boil and Bubble: Ritual Path Magic Spells – Path of Chance I


GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic is one of my favorite magic systems that GURPS has yet to produce. The flexibility of the system lets you do darn near anything. One of my favorite spell types is “luck manipulation” and here are a few spells I’ve made for my own games...

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Carpe Blogiem: Open Call To Players, The Return of the Call


Found out today I've got an open spot in my current GURPS campaign for my Monday group (B-Team). The game will be nominally from 7:30pm EST to 11:30pm EST. I'm looking for someone who can reliably be there, is friendly, who communicates, and can do a bit of roleplaying. System mastery is a plus, but not required. There is a bit of bit of requirement as far as the background goes that is not up for discussion:

The player character must have been a child present at the site of a terrible massacre where his or her parents were murdered. There is more to this, but I don't want to throw it out there as its a spoiler to other players. As in the email and I'll tell you. If you're interested, email me.

So here's the relevant bits:
  • The genre is supernatural horror/urban fantasy: monsters are real and so is magic.
  • The mode is mildly cinematic, with results skewing toward the PCs. It's a realistic world with somewhat larger than life PCs.
  • The austerity is mid to high: actions have consequences.
  • Point totals may vary, but you'll start with a predesigned bucket of points framework and I'll be ad-hocing some points to level you out with the other players.
  • Players are expected to deliver a fairly long character history (at least 500 words).
  • Players are expected to work together in a team environment. There is no PVP, no stealing from other players, etc. This rule will be enforced ruthlessly.
  • I don't do ruleslawyering. Please don't waste my time or the other player's time.
  • Heroic types are encouraged, but not required. Make sure your concept cares about SOMETHING other than himself (or phat lootz).
  • Play will be over Roll20 and Hangouts so webcam/mic are required.
I'll close this down when I get enough players who can make the game and go from there. If you emailed me about previous calls and are open to this time slot please email me again and let me know this! I may have earmarked your available and that means I may not be looking at you for this.

Edit: Call is closed down. Thanks everyone who sent an application!

Campaign Backdrop
The everyday plodding along of life hides something fantastic and terrifying. Beyond the veneer of mundane existence lies the world of the ceteri. A world full of wonder. A world full of fear. A world of impossible possibilities. This is the world that the Conclave has been hiding for millennia. The world that any logical, sane person would say is the result of too many bad movies, too many drugs, or too much drink. Or maybe they’ve just gone mad. This is the world of vampires and werewolves, of angels and demons, where Heaven and Hell are around every corner. Where ancient inhuman beings vie for power. Where sorcerers use magic to change the world around them. Where psychics send their souls outward to play in the aether. Where miracles happen to the devout.

The Conclave protects and polices this world, but they can’t be everywhere at once. Humanity has spread out to far and too fast and with them the various supernatural beings that follow them around for food, reproduction, or play. Thousands of years ago a sorcerer named Simon Magus separated the world of man and the world of monsters and set about his followers to watching over the wall he’d made. This was the beginning of the Conclave. Many who were not pleased by what Simon Magus had done went on to form a core part of the nascent Christian faith. Centuries later, Merlin would be born and he would lead the Conclave into a golden era with his friend Arthur forming the first custos (iconically represented in folklore as the Knights of the Round Table – who would later on become the Templar Knights, then the Venatori, and the modern Freemasons). These custos were warriors of rare ability and wielded powers both mundane and paranormal against the various supernatural forces that preyed on humanity.

For centuries, the various factions schemed against one another and were held in check by the Conclave. Eventually, the Conclave grew bloated with its power and prestige and concerned only with advanced itself and not carrying out its sacred mission of protecting mankind. The Conclave was “destroyed” in the late 16th century and those that remained fled to the New World to escape the madness of the Old World. The new Conclave rose up stronger than before and separated itself from the Houses (as it had been) to be a singular group welcome to all ceteri.

You are the victim of a terrible tragedy that forced your eyes open to the world of the supernatural and thrust you into the midst of a war you were not prepared for. Prepared or not - you have a job, no a calling. To act as a shield for the meek and a sword to the weak. You may just be human, but by God that's enough. You're a monster hunter.

(Note: the PCs are currently in the middle of a shadow war between themselves, other factions, and a group of vampires.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Boil and Bubble: Quick and Quirky Charms


Guest Post by Kalzazz

One of the things that has always seemed a bit peculiar to me is that the Quick and Dirty rules for Charms make it rather difficult to have quirks, and especially, much more difficult to quirk a spell than to botch it entirely. Further discussion on that here.

Now, for those of us who love seeing what kind of suffering quirks bring from the twisted mind of the DM (or enjoy being said DM), I offer a simple rules tweak. When using Quick and Dirty Charms, the first roll is as normal. However, the second roll is either as normal, or versus a target of 14 minus the bonus to the first roll, whichever is worse for the caster.

For instance, Jaina the Mageling wants to make a charm that is greater than her safe threshold, but less than twice her safe threshold. So she would roll 3d+1 vs 15 for the first roll. For her second roll, she rolls either her Effective Skill -1, or 13 (14 minus the bonus of 1 to the first roll), whichever is worse.

A more explicit example. Suppose Bob the Mage has Path of Energy 18, path of Magic 18, and Magery 6 (so pool 18) and he has a +3 Grimoire. Bob would like to create a Charm of Destruction, which is a Greater Create Energy clocking in at 291 (pg 41 of Thaumatology RPM), +15 energy to make it a charm (adding Lesser Control Magic) so he needs 291 + 15 = 306.

With effective skill 21 (+0 charm lab, +3 grimoire, lower of his two paths involved is 18) his Safe Threshold is 75. Using his 18 pool (from Magery 6) he needs to accumulate 288,

288 is over 3 times, but less than 4 times his safe threshold.

So Bob rolls 3d+3 and tries to get a 15 or less to see whether he casts the spell, or if it Critical Failures.

Now, the next step is to check for quirks. Under the normal rules Bob must roll against his effective skill (21) minus the penalty for exceeding safe threshold (so 21 - 3 = 18) as a skill roll. So he gets a quirk on a 17 or 18.

Under the Quick and Quirky rule proposed here, he rolls either vs the 18 as normal, OR, against 14 minus the Safe Threshold penalty, whichever is worse. So 14 - 3 = 11.

So, to avoid critical failure Bob wants to roll a 12 or better. Under the normal system Bob wants to roll 16 or better, while under this proposed rule 11 or better.

This means that quirks will generally be more common than botches, but still requires the same 2 rolls, and no more difficult of calculations.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Carpe Blogiem: Author, Patreon, and Blog Highlights - September 2017


Here's the highlights for me from September 2017 (And yes, I know I'm a little late - I try to do this at the beginning of the month. but stuff happened.)


Authorial Highlights
  • I submitted the article that needed to be finished (and oh-god-why-didn't-this-end-in-estimated-word-count). The article S. A. Fisher and I were writing was finished, reviewed by our peoples, and submitted. I finished the Designer's Notes for Dungeon Fantasy 19 and got my co-author to add his two cents. I'm not just wanting for him to toss the bio my way to submit it. I dumped the article I was writing Combat II - sometimes it happens and you just got to start over. So that's what I'm doing. I decided to write a sequel to my article "Mind and Body" and get the styles I excised from that article and a few more. Still working on that one. This still leaves Action, Alternate GURPS, and After the End - all of which I have ideas for or partially completed items.
  • The rejiggering of work flow is still an ongoing test as I had to stop and concentrate on one article to the exclusion of all else.
  • My article "Born to Be Wild" came out. Basically, I take Power-Ups 7: Wildcards and adapt a lot of those rules to Monster Hunters as a coherent framework. You can find my Designer's Notes here.
  • I'm doing another thing for GURPS that I can't talk about yet.
  • I'm working on the prelim for a couple of non-GURPS RPG projects. We'll see where this goes. (Note: If folks have DnD 5e books they are willing to sell or give me - I could use them. I'm playing catch-up in this department and could use any assistance I can get for it.)

Blog Highlights
  • The blog revamp might take until November. The guy doing it is having some issues and I'm not really a priority right now (which I totally agree with). It's still happening! Stay tuned.
  • I started cranking out some more blog posts for a healthy back log (shake that healthy back log!) 
  • I've continued plodding along with articles being delivered on Tuesday and Thursday of every week.

Patreon Highlights
  • This month's patron specials were four new wildcard skills I excised from this month's Pyramid issue and more Sorcery spells.
  • I lost patrons, gained them, had others modify their pledges so the new goal, "Set the Balloon People Free!," bounced around a bit. We're back to it again so November it'll be enacted and we'll see what people want to do.
  • The Patreon revamp is finished and I didn't hemorrhage pledges or patrons as much as I feared. Thank you everyone for sticking with me. I won't disappoint you!
  • I got 1 new patrons in September and $5 of additional pledges for Patreon.

Miscellaneous Related News
  • Work on fiction piece continued. Not as fast as I would like - but at least there was some work.
  • The kitten was trapped and tested - it did have FIV. Which sucked. But I ended up getting another one at the Humane Society and Nimbus now has a companion. They bonded pretty fast and within two weeks were cuddling at night and playing during the day. Check my twitter stream for pictures - it's littered with them.
  • Mom continues to convalesce at my sisters and will likely have a surgery to fix her knee soonish.
  • +Emily Smirle's character has been truly awesome and though we miss Mav's Cormac, Leo is pretty fun.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

GURPS101: GURPS, Justice, and the Dungeon Fantasy Way


My buddy +Douglas Cole just tossed up a kickstarter for his 5e adventure "Lost Hall of Tyr." I have been one of the lucky few he's shown the thing to pretty much from the beginning and despite my lack of comments on anything but the most surface of observations he's continued to let me see this thing grow and form. Overall, it's one of the better adventures I've had a chance to read in the last couple of years. While I am working my way through DnD 5e - it's taking me longer than I would like because I'm still working on my other projects at the same time.

So I thought "Self, what could you do to help out Doug?" and the first thing that came to mind was "Don't ever let him handle gasoline" and then I thought "Hey, maybe I can show that his adventure could be Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game material with a few tweaks?" So here they are:


When Gravity Attacks
Using the rules on p. 6 of the Lost Hall just treat this as a ST vs. ST Quick Contest using the listed ST. For control damage find the average roll of the listed die and then add 5 to determine what the listed ST would be.


DnD 5e coinage vs. DFRPG coinage
As a general rule of thumb, 1 gold piece is worth about $10 in DFRPG coinage. This isn't exact! Some things cost more (most armor), while others cost less (some hand weapons.


Monsters
The monsters listed in the adventure are converted as follows

Awakened Tree: Use the stats for crushrooms in Monsters (p. 19).
Bear: Monsters (p. 16).
Bandit: No DFRPG equivalent. Consider using GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchman - specifically the Brute template (p. 9).
Boar: No DFRPG equivalent.
Crushing Worm: Use the Frost Snake Monsters (p. 28), but increase it a poison follow-up attack on its bite to 3d instead of chill breath.
Dire Wolf: Monsters (p. 21).
Elk: No DFRPG equivalent.
Goblinoids: Monsters, p. 33.
Mountain Cats Use the stats for obsidian jaguars in Monsters (p. 19), but reduce DR to 1, and remove all traits making it a construct to turn it into a living thing.
Thurs: Use the stats for trolls in Monsters (p. 57).

There are some other critters in there, but they are obvious analogs.


Difficulty Levels
In general, "DC 10" is an average degree of hardness for a roll. Working from there we can assume that about every 1.5 to 2 steps up or down from there translates as a -1 or +1 to rolls for the DFRPG. So a "DC 14" roll would give you a -2 to -3 to rolls. Alternatively, if something makes sense as an opposed roll convert as a above and then add 10 to figure the resulting skill roll. For example, an opposed roll with a DC 8 would result in a DFRPG skill of about 9.


The Adventure Itself
I don't have any advice for converting stuff here - it's all pretty obvious to me in just about every case and fits very nicely in the "world" of the DFRPG - it works perfectly for adventures set in the "North" where the barbarians hail from.


Picking Over the Bones
If I were to ever run the DFRPG it would probably be something of my own making for a "serious campaign" but this adventurer is just perfect as a jumping off point or as a way to do demos that pack in a lot of flavor. Basically, go back the kickstarter, get your copy, and convert it. It's worth the price and GURPS has very few adventures as is - this would be a perfect thing to drop into your game for your players.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

GURPS101 - Art of the Wild Part I


I recently wrote a Pyramid article expanding wildcard skills for GURPS Monster Hunters champions. Not all of them made the cut for one reason or another, but most of the ones I did cut had little to do with actual monster hunting and therefore didn’t have room or make sense within the series...

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

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

Boil and Bubble: Utility Spells for Sorcery II


GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery is one of the newer magic systems for GURPS, but it makes use of one of the oldest of GURPS rules systems: modified advantages. Anyways, this is a follow-up to a previous post - here are a couple more "utility" spells for Sorcery...


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

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Melee Academy: Reordering Initiative II


A random stray thought while sleep-deprived over on my private Discord server for my gaming group had me asking if you could reverse the order of initiative in GURPS and what it would ultimately mean. This led to a couple of other thoughts and I've just kind of tossed them all down here. Do note that I've talked about this before: Reordering Initiative.


Reverse Initiative Order
The combat system works normally except that the slowest (i.e., those with the lowest Basic Speed) go first, with the firstest (i.e., those with the highest Basic Speed) being able to interrupt it at any point before their own order in the initiative. This lets them react to things slower combatants do as if they had performed a Wait maneuver.


Initiative Based on Perception
Instead of Basic Speed being based on DX + HT, base it instead on just Perception. So you could say Basic Speed is equal to Perception / 2. Optionally, you could use DX + Perception / 2. A lot of other systems don't just use raw physical speed and agility and physical grit to determine Basic Speed like GURPS does and instead rely on their perceptions or awareness. 


Extra Attacks for High Initiative
One thing some systems like to do is give extra attacks or maneuvers with extra Basic Speed. GURPS flat out makes it so that this is an advantage. One thing GURPS does do is that if everyone has something then it's a feature and thus worth no points. So how can we use that to give combatants more attacks or actions? Well, Rapid Strike is something anyone can do to garner a second attack - what if we reduce the penalty and/or give extra attacks for everyone as long as their Basic Speed is high? So something like "At 5.00 Basic Speed you can use Rapid Strike taking a -6 to your rolls for an extra attack, at 10.00 Basic Speed you can reduce the penalty to -3 for two attacks or get three attacks at -6 to your roll, at 15.00 Basic Speed you reduce the penalty to -1 for two attacks, -3 for three attacks, or get four attacks at -6..." and so on.


Picking Over the Bones
I have no idea how these would work - theoretically, they are sound. If someone uses them in a game please let me know how they played out, what went wrong, what could be tweaked, etc. 

What sort of things have you experimented with in your own games as far as who goes first in combat? Any fails? Any wins? How did they work out? Anything you'd share with your fellow GMs?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Gamemaster's Guidepost: How Much Lore Is Hidden?


When building a campaign setting or starting a new campaign one of the things that you must decide as a GM is what skills are important, what skills exist, and what skills don't exist. For campaigns with magic, psionics, and other "paranormal powers" one of the key jobs a GM has is to decide what powers there are and how they impact the game world. But more importantly, the GM needs to decide how the players can know about such abilities from within the game itself. I've made some mistakes in the past regarding this sort of thing and I've come up with a few guidelines to make it easier on me when I create new settings


The Rule of 12
If you can help it - never have more than 12 Hidden Lore skills (at most 14). Why 12? Because that's the equivalent of buying a Wildcard skill at IQ-1 - the same as twelve Hidden Lore skills with one point in them. Also, at some point your players are to be annoyed at the massive amount of buy-ins to know the inner workings of a campaign.


Where You Can Lump, Lump
From a game-mechanical perspective "zombies" and "ghouls" are not that different. Both are undead, both eat flesh, both are affected by true faith, and so on. No matter how different in game they are, it's the out of game context that you want to follow. This is for two reasons - 1) players will naturally assume that it's out of game contextual vs. in game and 2) it'll help you as the GM in the long run.


Where You Can't, Don't
If you've got something zany or weird in your campaign and it defies being put in the corner ("Nobody puts the GM's babies in a corner!") then don't. If they are that weird then give them their own skill and be done with it.


Picking Over the Bones
I know this seems like a bit of obvious advice - but for many (including myself a decade ago) it wasn't. I'd have Hidden Lores for all sorts of things that didn't need them and that led to skill bloat in a game engine that already has that problem as is. I hope this helps some poor GM out there struggling with the same issues.

So what standby rules do you have for Hidden Lore?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

GURPS101: Preparation Required New Modifiers


A real quick "micro-rules" post on Preparation Required from stuff I had in one of my own campaigns.


Intermediate Levels of Preparation Required
If we play with the values we can interpolate different required times with a given value for each one:
  • Preparation Required, 5 seconds (-5%)
  • Preparation Required, 30 seconds (-10%)
  • Preparation Required, 1 minute (-20%)
  • Preparation Required, 10 minutes (-30%)
  • Preparation Required, 30 minutes (-40%)
  • Preparation Required, 1 hour (-50%)
  • Preparation Required, 8 hours (-60%)
  • Preparation Required, 12 hours (-70%)
  • Preparation Required, 24 hours (-80%)
  • Preparation Required, 1 week (-90%)
  • Preparation Required, 1 month (-100%)
  • Preparation Required, 1d month (-110%)

Reccurrent Preparation
Some abilities in fiction require you to prepare them (immediately or otherwise) and then keep "preparing" them at a fixed or variable interval. For such powers simply increase the cost by half (round up) and decide if it's fixed (use half the listed time) or variable (use the Dice+Adds rule to figure out when each preparation period comes due). In all cases, the ability continues, but you are out of commision meditating, chanting, etc. You can still attempt an Active Defenses, but nothing else. If someone scores a hit on you roll Will at -1 per point of penetrating damage. Failure means you lose your concentration, the ability fails, and you cannot access it for a period equal to the original preparation time.


Picking Over the Bones
Both of these have passed muster in my own games, but I'm biased so I may have missed something. Let me know how it works in your own games if you use them. Again, how do you like these little "micro-rules" posts? Silly? More? Less?


Friday, September 22, 2017

Designer's Notes - Born to Be Wild

Pyramid107-cvr-final_1000
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the GURPS Monster Hunters series. I was one of the first to playtest it before it came out and I've been one of the biggest contributors to the series so far. What can I say, Monster Hunters scratches all the right itches for me. "Born to Be Wild" came about from my desire to merge some of the optional rules from Power-Ups 7: Wildcards into something that champions could use. Many of the skills came from my own campaign (which caused a bit of an issue in the first draft and later fixed in the first PDF proof - Thanks, Steven!). Overall, when I got the final PDF proof this was truly something I could be proud of. Each skill was useful in its own way and the way the skills that were already available to champions were expanded just worked for myself and my reviewers (I hope it works for others!). Moreover, I got to explore some ideas I've been noodling on for a while now (wildcard perks - I'm looking at you).

Anyways, this took me about 40 hours to write. It took me about 30 hours to edit, 20 hours of research (mostly double-checking other GURPS books), and about 60 hours of revision. I spent a further 3 hours look looking over the preliminary PDF for any issues and revising.

A few things I took out (one magic wildcard and a normal wildcard):


Craftmaster!
IQ
You are a genius crafter and creator of the highest order. This skill covers Armoury, Artist, Carpentry, Jeweler, Machinist, Masonry, Mechanic, Metallurgy, and Smith. Make a DX-based roll for Leatherworking or Sewing. Can stand in as Connoisseur to recognize, evaluate, or sell anything you’ve made or could make. You can also make Professional Skill rolls to stand in for specialties that craft, create, or manufacture things (e.g., Professional Skill (Bookbinder)).

This wildcard skill can also be used for Path of Energy or Path of Matter effects when it comes to manufacturing, creating, or repairing things. For example, you could use this skill to conjure a lump of metal or light a forge fire, but not throw a fireball or control a computer.

Wildcard Benefits: Ignore penalties due to TL difference, improvised gear, and so on. Additionally, a successful skill roll lets you scrounge or improvise equipment for other skills that’s good enough to cut -1 per +1 of your full bonus for being improvised (p. B345). (Note: This was basically an expansion of a casting talent from Pyramid #3/66: The Laws of Magic.)
Full Bonus: Add the full bonus to your final margin to determine any additional margin based effects.
Half Bonus: Add half the bonus to the HT rolls of anything you create.


Outdoorsman!
IQ
You are a true expert on outdoor survival. This skill replaces Boating, Camouflage, Climbing, Fishing, Hiking, Naturalist, Navigation, Prospecting, Riding, Skating, Skiing, Survival, Swimming, Tracking, and Weather Sense. Also, Area Knowledge in regions previously explored by the user; Observation in wilderness environments; and Traps in any capacity related to classic outdoor threats such as deadfalls, pits, and snares.

Wildcard Benefits: Ignore penalties due to Tech-Level, Familiarity, or Equipment when dealing with survival gear (improvised or otherwise).
Full Bonus: Add your full bonus to resist natural hardships such as eating poison berries by accident, exposure to the elements, etc.; rolls to spot natural hazards or ambushes in the wilderness.
Half Bonus: Add half your bonus to all Active Defense rolls made against natural threats (e.g., rockslides or quicksand).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GURPS101: Accessibility Modifiers For Number of Skills


Just a quick post on the number of skills in GURPS by their controlling attributes and then computed into Accessibility modifiers for advantages (GURPS Powers, p. 99). What can you use it for? No idea, but is probably will be useful at some point. This intentionally excludes required specialities for skills as that may fluctuate depending on the genre, TL, etc.


Accessibility Modifier of Skills by Count
The GURPS Basic Set has a grand total of 277 skills. Of those, 146 of them are IQ-based, 93 of the are DX-based, 12 of them are Per-based, 13 of them are HT-based, and 13 of them are Will-based. Using GURPS Powers we get the following then:
  • "Accessibility, Only IQ-based skills" (-20%)
  • "Accessibility, Only DX-based skills" (-25%)
  • "Accessibility, Only Per-based skills" (-40%)
  • "Accessibility, Only HT-based skills" (-40%)
  • "Accessibility, Only Will-based skills" (-40%)

So what if you want to have an Accessibility for two (or more) attributes? Just combine the total number of skills and divide by 277. For example
  • "Accessibility, Only IQ or DX-based skills" (-5%)
  • "Accessibility, Only DX or Per-based skills" (-25%)
You can even group them by "physical skills" (DX and HT skills) and "mental skills" (IQ, Per, and Will).
  • "Accessibility, Only mental skills" (-15%)
  • "Accessibility, Only physical skills" (-25%)

Picking Over the Bones
Note, the skill counts are from the Basic Set alone - I sincerely doubt it'll affect the numbers above. This was a quick post designed to be helpful to GMs building powers. Did you find this useful? Would you like to see more posts like this? Less?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Boil and Bubble: Sorcerous Video Game Spells I


Ohhhhh, yeah. It's that time again. The time for me to scavenge treasures from the past and turn them into Sorcery spells for GURPS. So what's up first? Well, I asked three random folks what spell they'd like to see for Sorcery and these were the things that popped up (and interested me).


Cureja - Final Fantasy
Keywords: Area (Fixed), Obvious.
Full Cost: 138 points.
Casting Roll: IQ.
Range: Line-Of-Sight.
Duration: Instantaneous.

You instantly heal everyone within 4 yard area that you can see 20 HP. You may selectively choose who is healed and only injuries are cured. Disease, toxins, afflictions, etc. are unaffected.

Statistics: Healing (Area Effect, 4 yard, +100%; Injuries Only, -20%; Increased Range, LOS, +40%; Nuisance Effect, Cannot spend FP to increase effect, -10%; Ranged, +40%; Reduced Fatigue Cost 10, +200%; Selective Area, +20%; Sorcery, -15%; Variable, Area, +5%) [14/die].


Gra - Phantasy Star ("Black Hole")
Keywords: Area (Special), Obvious.
Full Cost: 73 points/level.
Casting Roll: IQ.
Range: 100 yards.
Duration: 10 seconds

This conjures a tear in gravity that damages everyone in the a specific area. Consult the table to determine the effects:

Area                Effect
1-yard              1d crushing damage per level which erodes DR like a corrosion                              attack (p. B00) and the below effects.
2-yards             -1 to all Vision rolls per level and any ability that relies on vision                          and the below effects.
4-yards             Target must make roll vs. your level of this spell x 5 or be pulled                            forward. The maximum weight you can affect at level 1 is 5 lbs.                            and it moves at a rate of 5 yards/second. You can affect higher                                weights, but it's slower: 10 lbs at 4 yards/second; 15 lbs. at 3                                  yards/second; 30 lbs. at 2 yards/second, and 50 lbs. at 1                                          yard/second. Higher levels increase the ST of this effect adding 5                          a level. Use the chart on p. B17 to determine your maximum                                  weight and the rate that it travels.

Additionally, you may choose to vary both the damage, Vision penalties, and TK effect if you wish.

Statistics: Crushing Attack 1d (Area Effect, 1 yard, +25%; Cancellation, +10%; Cosmic, Erodes DR, +100%; Increased 1/2D, x10, +15%; Link, +10%; Magical, -10%; No Blunt Trauma, -20%; No Knockback, -10%; Persistent, +40%; Underwater, +20%; Variable, Area, +5%; Variable, +5%) [14.5/die] + Obscure 1 (Vision; Cancellation, +10%; Extended, All, +100%; Link, +10%; Magical, -10%; Ranged, +50%; Variable, Area, +5%; Variable, +5%) [5.4/level] + Telekinesis 5 (Area Effect, 4 yards, +100%; Attraction, Ranged, -20%; Based on IQ, +20%; Cancellation, +10%; Dissipation, -50%; Increased Range, x10, +30%; Link, +10%; Persistent, +40%; Requires IQ Roll, -10%; Sorcery, -15%; Variable, Area, +5%; Variable, +5%; Visible, -20%) [51.25/level].


Kabuff - Dragon Quest
Keywords: Area (Fixed), Buffing, Obvious.
Full Cost: 64 points.
Casting Roll: IQ.
Range: 100 yards.
Duration: 3 minutes

Everyone within a 4 yard area gains a +1 to Active Defenses, +1 to HT rolls to survive death or KO, and DR 4 with the Force Field enhancement (p. B00).

Statistics: Affliction 1 (Area Effect, 4 yard, +100%; Defense Package, +530%; Selective Area, +20%; Sorcery, -15%) [14/die]. Notes: "Defense Package" is Damage Resistance 4 (Force Field, +20%; Magical, -10%) [22], Defense Meta-Trait (Magical, -10%) [27], Hard to Kill 1 (Magical, -10%) [2], and Hard to Subdue 1 (Magical, -10%) [2].

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Carpe Blogiem: Author, Patreon, and Blog Highlights - August 2017


Here's the highlights for me from August 2017.


Authorial Highlights
  • I had to backburner projects for Combat and Hot Spots and Locations for another article I needed to work on right now. I shifted an article from one theme to another which freed up space in my Thaumatology queue for something that S. A. Fisher and I are writing (FANTASTIC stuff! Seriously, it's really neat). This still leaves Action, Alternate GURPS, and After the End - all of which I have ideas for or partially completed items. I didn't get the one article submission in I wanted, but lots of stuff came up and really - GENCON.
  • I rejiggered my workflow for a while (though it didn't last long enough for me to see if it's an improvement). We'll see.
  • My article "Deathtraps" came out. It's essentially the traps I didn't want to put into the DFRPG: Traps book because they were a bit too complex or just too kill-y. You can find my Designer's Notes here.

Blog Highlights
  • Hurricane Irma has impacted the revamping of the blog (my designer lives there) and instead of a September deadline it's looking more like October. 
  • I got to play around with the Wordpress.org interface and I'm finding it almost superior to Blogspot on ease of use. We'll see.
  • I've continued plodding along with articles being delivered on Tuesday and Thursday of every week.

Patreon Highlights
  • The Patreon revamp is finished and I didn't hemorrhage pledges or patrons as much as I feared. Thank you everyone for sticking with me. I won't disappoint you!
  • I got 1 new patrons in July and $6 of additional pledges for Patreon.
  • This month's patreon specials consisted off a new Sorcery spells and a way to treat fake IDs using Alternate Forms.
  • We reached a new goal! "Set the Balloon People Free!": Patrons will get the option to release one previous special or current special to all patrons and all non-patrons once every other month or release that month's $1 special to everyone. This kicks in next month so y'all figure what you want.
Miscellaneous Related News
  • I continued work on a fiction piece I'd like to self-publish later this year.
  • GenCon was amazing in every way shape or form. I'm going back next year - this time under my own steam. Being able to meet people in person and talk with other industry folks just blew me away.
  • There is a kitten who is trying to get adopted by me. I'm worried it might have FIV, but I'm probably going to trap it and take it to the vet to get checked. If he's FIV-free...he's coming in the house and will be trained like I trained Nimbus. That way my kitteh boy has a companion.
  • Mom continues to convalesce at my sisters and will likely have a surgery to fix her knee soonish.
  • +Emily Smirle joined my C-Team after +Mavrick Fitzgerald had to bow out. Sad that Mav is gone but hey, WE GOT EM!

Friday, September 8, 2017

GURPS101: FP Cost Limited by Margin


So one of my players and I got to talking about how you might design an ability where the FP cost were variable depending on how well you rolled to activate it. This got me to thinking - how the heck could I do something like this? I eventually came up with a conclusion that wasn't uber clunky and thought I'd share.

To do what is needed you'll want the following three modifiers:
  • Reduced Fatigue Cost (+20%/level) (p. B108)
  • Limited by Margin (varies) (Pyramid #3/9: Space Opera, p. 16)
  • Optionally, Costs Fatigue and/or Requires (Attribute) Roll for traits that lack those two things (p. B111 and GURPS Powers, p. 112)

Now, with a bit of mathamagic you just combine these modifiers in a workable way to get the result you wish. First, if the ability doesn't have a activation roll and it's meant to be an active ability add Requires (Attribute) Roll. If it doesn't require FP to use add whatever level of desired amount you wish with Costs Fatigue - I wouldn't go over 10. Next, add Reduced Fatigue Cost modified by whatever level of Limited by Margin you wish. Do note that this can increase the cost of abilities that do note natively require FP.

A few examples:

Burning Innate Attack  4d (Costs Fatigue, 2 FP, -10%; Reduced Fatigue Cost 2 (Limited by Margin, Full-power at 2+, -10%), +36%) [26]

Healing (Reduced Fatigue Cost 10 (Limited by Margin, Full-power at 10+, -50%), +100%) [60]


Picking Over the Bones
The idea is sound, but due to some oddness with Costs Fatigue you can get an ability that is worth more character points than not having it. I think one way may be to simply treat "Reduced Fatigue Cost" as worth +5% when combined with "Costs Fatigue." That seems sooooo much fairer to me. In that case, that innate attack might look like this:

Burning Innate Attack  4d (Costs Fatigue, 2 FP, -10%; Reduced Fatigue Cost 2 (Limited by Margin, Full-power at 2+, -10%), +9%) [20]

I think that is much fairer in price even though it amounts to what is effectively a feature for the ability.

What do you think? Silly? Stupid? Did I go to far? Not far enough?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Organizing Your Gaming Notes


Any gamemaster (or writer) worth his salt always has more ideas than he has time. These ideas may be half-baked, over-cooked, or perfect and fully formed like Athena on paper from your Zeus-like noggin. It's just a hazard of the mindset - too much stuff floating in our heads and too much "what if" thinking - if you're like me anyways. So what do you do when the Best Plot Ever (TM) comes into your head while you are showering or driving? I've got a few ideas, tips, and tricks and I thought I'd share.


Getting It All Down
Making notes is an art form. There is a process to it. A flow. It's different for each person because each person thinks and learns differently so you'll need to tweak the process. At a minimum I suggest the following:
  • A catchy title to sum up the note.
  • Three to five sentences to encapsulate the idea.
  • Keywords related to the note.
  • Anything else related such as a diagram, math, etc.
Bad notes are worse than no notes and can lead to lots of frustration when trying to remember that brilliant idea. Take your time when making notes. Be precise. Use simple, clear language that you can understand later on and never abbreviate things. If you can't get it down immediately a few quick notes are fine, but then go back over and write it all down so you can use it later.


Light Bulbs Love To Turn On At the Worst Times
They really do. In the shower? YUP. While driving? OH, YES. While having a dream where you see yourself standing in a sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you? No? That just me then? Ok, let's move on. Ahem. Anyways, the thing here is that the idea shows up when you least expect it - much like the Spanish Inquisition. So what can you do as a young vibrant stud of a GM (or writer)? I like to use the following methods:

  • Get a crayon (you can use a grease pencil, but crayon is better) in a bright color (e.g., red) or black - you can always bet on black, Wesley said so - and keep it in the shower, bath, pool, etc. Got an idea? Make quick notes on what it is so you don't lose the thought and then go back and fill them out later as noted above.
  • Get a voice recorder (or Voice Recorder app - they are VERY common. I like Tape-A-Talk , those EverVoice looks useful for Evernote users) and actually use it. Voice notes can be extremely helpful, the only issue is transcribing it later on.
  • Keep a pocket notepad, pencil and/or pen on you at all times. Again, this is low-tech. You can use note-taking apps on your smartphone or tablet to do the same thing - I like Evernote, but Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote do the same things.
  • Keep detailed notes on your computer (back up often!) or in a notebook (make copies!) so you can access them later. Keep them on your phone if you can using any of the above mentioned apps. Basically, have them with you when you need them. This is one of the things that smartphone has fundamentally changed for me. Access to all my notes right when I need them? Heck yes.
  • Keep post-it-notes or similiar in multiple rooms of the house you frequent often to make quick notes when you need them.


Picking Over the Bones
I'm sure there are things out there I'm missing - but these are my go-to-practices regardless of what I'm writing. It could be for my games, for Pyramid, for this blog, fiction - whatever. It pretty much works for anything.

What things do you like to do? What are your best practices? What software, devices, etc. do you use to keep your ideas?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

GURPS101: Alternate Forms as Fake IDs


One of the more interesting ideas I had lately was treating Alternate Identity as if it were an Alternate Form. I figure I'd go through the basics of the concept and see if it's worth developing further...


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Boil and Bubble: Utility Spells for Sorcery Part I


GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery is one of those magic systems that looks simple on the outside, but hides a deep well within. Since at its core it basically is what makes GURPS great - the ability to modify a trait to suit the needs of the designer...


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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gamemaster's Guidepost: My Rules For Spending Points


Some people let you spend willy nilly. Some (like myself) will only let you spend points at certain times. Some are point nazis ("Ve must spenct zee hours and zee points! SCHNELL"). However you you do them is all gravy with me. But this is how I do it for pretty much every single game I run:


So my general rules for advancement - regardless of campaign, genre, or point total (though I rigorously enforce #2 in games with points over 1,000):
  1. The character points gained per session for the first 3-5 sessions are between 3% and 10% of points of average or beginning point total, with a variance of about 50%. After that it drops to 1/5th that rate. If you want slow advancement using the lower range, faster, use the upper. About 5%-6% usually suits just about any game. So a a 200-point game you might see 10-12 points for the first 3-5 sessions, and then 5-10 points from there on. This isn't absolute as I like to write specific rules for point gains for given settings based on the setting rules, its background, etc. Also note, a lot of this assumes some sort of point economy like Impulse Buys. When that's out of the picture I'd probably cut the initial points by half again, but I rarely do that so I usually ignore that part.
  2. No character may upgrade until say so is given. Period. I do this because it's weird as hell to suddenly be better at Guns/TL8 (Pistol) and the time elapsed in the campaign could be less than 10 minutes between sessions.
  3. Character points gained can only increase skill, attribute, or advantage by a level at a time. In some campaigns, skills can be bought up to attribute instead of a level at a time when initially bought.
  4. Disadvantages can only be bought off at one trait (a level if applicable) at a time. Doing otherwise is probably ok for some things - otherwise your character is just changing to quick to be recognizable as what he or she started as.
  5. The first three gaming sessions you may spend points freely on things you character would have, but both you and I have forgotten. For example, if you're from a fishing village and don't have Fishing. (You may also shift points around a bit, but that's a whole other thing.)
  6. If I offer to allow you to buy a attribute, advantage, skill, etc during game you may immediately spend points to do so and treat whatever as if you had it. This is usually the result of a critical success (almost always a natural 3 or 4), being impressive or awesome in some way that just stops the game (I like to encourage this), or when I allow quick learning under pressure to come in ("You're traveling in the jungle with a professional guide who is showing you the ropes, spend a point if you like.")
  7. You can earn extra points by acting in genre, working with your teammates, or in general just being awesome roleplaying. Again, I like to encourage these things so I bribe players to "Do the right thing."
  8. Probably other stuff I'm forgetting specific to certian genres.

Picking Over the Bones
I know not all GMs have rules like this - in my case it makes it so that the PCs don't inflate themselves in one area and ignore others. When you can only purchase stuff in a specific way you end up become more balanced a character and that always works out in the end.

What sort of rules do you have for spending points as a GM? Anything special? Anything your fellow GMs can use?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

GURPS101: Attribute Synergies


Another of my "micro-rules" this time expanding on the idea of Complementary Rolls (GURPS Action 2: Exploits, p. 5; GURPS: Social Engineering, p. 21, 31, 48), but using attributes instead.


How It Works
Attribute synergy uses the same rules as complementary skills rolls - make a roll and give a +1 to another roll if you succeed, -1 if you fail, -2 if you critical fail, or +2 if you critically succeed. Any roll can benefit from attribute synergy from another attribute except when rolling that attribute itself. For example, you could use DX to enhance a damage roll, but not ST since damage is based on ST. Most of the time this should be obvious to both the GM and player, but if not using the following.

  • ST cannot be used for damage rolls, anything involving lifting, or "brute force" skills  (e.g., Forced Entry), weapon skills (e.g., Axe/Mace), or unarmed combat skills (e.g., Brawling).
  • DX cannot be used for rolls to keep your balance, movement, active defenses, etc. It also cannot be used for any DX-based skill or skills related to nimbleness or agility (e.g., Surgery or Mechanic to do fine work).
  • IQ cannot be used reaction rolls or any IQ-based skill.
  • HT cannot be used for rolls related to physical toughness (e.g., death checks or rolls for mortal wounds) or HT-based skills.
  • Will cannot be used for any Will-based skill or rolls related to mental toughness or concentration.
  • Per cannot be used for any Per-based skill or rolls related to perspicacity or awareness.

Unlike Complementary Rolls, Attribute Synergy rolls do take any relevant penalties (e.g., Vision penalties when rolling Perception) thus making them a riskier proposition.

Example 1: Ani wants to use her high Perception roll to enhance her damage roll since her ST is not so high. The GM agrees that this should be possible, but gives her a -2 to her roll because of the Vision penalty for not having sufficient light. Succeeding her Perception roll she adds +1 to her damage roll. If she had failed she'd take -1 instead.

Example 2: Shaw wants to use his sheer force of Will to socially coerce the bartender using his Fast-Talk skill. Failing his roll he instead rollings Fast-Talk at a -1 - if he had critically failed he'd take a -2 instead.


Picking Over the Bones
I have no idea if this would actually work in game play. The idea is fairly solid - but it could impact game sessions causing them to slow down as every player ekes out the best possible bonus. One thing that came to mind writing this was the idea that you could take a penalty to your roll to increase the bonus your complementary or attribute synergy roll gives. I'd think each -2 or -4 to your roll would give you a +1 should you succeed, but that might be too low. My gut says at least a -5 per +1 as that's likely less easy to abuse.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Designer's Notes: Deathtraps


Pyramid_3_106_dungeon_fantasy_rpg_ii_1000

My second Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game Pyramid article is out and it's a bit of a follow-up to my book Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game: Traps. I did my best to keep most of the traps in the book to be somewhat fair. I didn't even both with the article. It was a roster of deathtraps. That was the whole freaking point. Now, I'm not a killer GM or even an antagonistic one - but such dungeon setting pieces have their place. What I tried to do was make them balanced even if they weren't exactly fair. I think I succeeded, but I won't know until play reports trickle in.

I didn't have any leftover bits and bobs for this one as I wrote it short and adapted some pieces from Traps. Anyways, this took me 30 hours to write. It took me about 20 hours to edit, 2 hours of research (mostly double-checking other GURPS books), and about 7.5 hours of revision. I spent a further 0.5 hours look looking over the preliminary PDF for any issues and revising.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Carpe Blogiem: Open Call To Players, the Call Strikes Back


Ok, so I found out today I've got an open spot in my current GURPS campaign for my Tuesday group (C-Team). The game will be nominally from 6pm EST to 10pm EST, but there is a (high) chance that I'll be switching to Sundays from 2-4pm EST to 6-8pm EST. I'm looking for someone who can reliably be there, is friendly, and can do a bit of roleplaying. System mastery is a plus, but not required. I'm also looking to build a queue of potential players in case something happens to my regulars (or I decided to do another game). If you're interested, email me.

So here's the relevant bits:

  • The genre is supernatural horror/urban fantasy: monsters are real and so is magic.
  • The mode is mildly cinematic, with results skewing toward the PCs. It's a realistic world with somewhat larger than life PCs.
  • The austerity is mid to high: actions have consequences.
  • Point totals may vary, but you'll start with 400 points plus a package of traits. Everyone is a sorcerer (we'll be using a highly modified variation of Ritual Path Magic you'll need to learn).
  • Players are expected to deliver a fairly long character history (at least 500 words).
  • Players are expected to work together in a team environment. There is no PVP, no stealing from other players, etc. This rule will be enforced ruthlessly.
  • Heroic types are encouraged, but not required. Make sure your concept cares about SOMETHING other than himself (or phat lootz).
  • Play will be over Roll20 and Hangouts so webcam/mic are required.

I'm also looking to build a roster of players interested in one-shots so even if these times don't work now, apply away for that instead.

I'm closing this down by Friday and I'll have chosen the next player by Sunday - assuming I get enough folks who are interested.

Edit: I got 30 emails for this already. I'm shutting it down now. Thanks everyone!


Campaign Backdrop
The everyday plodding along of life hides something fantastic and terrifying. Beyond the veneer of mundane existence lies the world of the ceteri. A world full of wonder. A world full of fear. A world of impossible possibilities. This is the world that the Conclave has been hiding for millennia. The world that any logical, sane person would say is the result of too many bad movies, too many drugs, or too much drink. Or maybe they’ve just gone mad. This is the world of vampires and werewolves, of angels and demons, where Heaven and Hell are around every corner. Where ancient inhuman beings vie for power. Where sorcerers use magic to change the world around them. Where psychics send their souls outward to play in the aether. Where miracles happen to the devout.

The Conclave protects and polices this world, but they can’t be everywhere at once. Humanity has spread out to far and too fast and with them the various supernatural beings that follow them around for food, reproduction, or play. Thousands of years ago a sorcerer named Simon Magus separated the world of man and the world of monsters and set about his followers to watching over the wall he’d made. This was the beginning of the Conclave. Many who were not pleased by what Simon Magus had done went on to form a core part of the nascent Christian faith. Centuries later, Merlin would be born and he would lead the Conclave into a golden era with his friend Arthur forming the first custos (iconically represented in folklore as the Knights of the Round Table – who would later on become the Templar Knights, then the Venatori, and the modern Freemasons). These custos were warriors of rare ability and wielded powers both mundane and paranormal against the various supernatural forces that preyed on humanity.


For centuries, the various factions schemed against one another and were held in check by the Conclave. Eventually, the Conclave grew bloated with its power and prestige and concerned only with advanced itself and not carrying out its sacred mission of protecting mankind. The Conclave was “destroyed” in the late 16th century and those that remained fled to the New World to escape the madness of the Old World. The new Conclave rose up stronger than before and separated itself from the Houses (as it had been) to be a singular group welcome to all ceteri.

You are part of this Conclave and you're trying to not only survive, but thrive.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

GURPS101: Dungeon Fantasy Favored Professions


GURPS Dungeon Fantasy has a nifty notation for it's non-human races: "Marginal Professions" and "Favored Professions." Basically, "this is going to be hard due to your race" or "this is going to be easier due to your race." Now, if we go old skool races had an impact on your character class - why? Because reasons. Because a given race could become unbalanced with a given class. Additionally, some races (as well as high attributes) allowed you to gain a bonus to XP. Both ideas have merit, but how to do something like that in a point-based system like GURPS?

As it turns out, it's pretty easy. For GMs looking for such a feel simply use the following:

  • Favored Professions: As long as you are mostly performing the duties of your template (if you have more than one) during a game session and it's one of your listed favored professions you get a bonus +1 character point at the end of any game sessions above and beyond whatever you'd normally get. For example, if your character is a knight and you do most of the fighting when combat comes up, you get a bonus character point at the end of the session.
  • Marginal Profession: As above, but you lose 1 bonus character point awarded during the game (minimum of 1 character point per session). This loss affects your character no matter what, though if you've got another profession and use it almost entirely the GM may waive this penalty.
  • What About Humans? Humans don't have either a Favored or Marginal Profession so the GM can either ignore these rules for them or allow them to purchase a 10-point Unusual Background that allows them to pick one Favored Profession.and gain the benefits listed above.

Picking Over the Bones
I'm a fan of these little "micro" rules add ons since they are easy to institute and fun to use. A bit of under-the-hood action: this is just an application of using Impulse Buys with "Cosmic, Allows for permanent gains in specific circumstances." (+100%). Note that I'd never allow the modifier on most Impulse Buys without lots of GM oversight.

Overall, this micro-rule enforces stereotypes and compels certain races to certain niches, which the GM may or may not want. Be careful before using it!