Thursday, November 24, 2016

Shocker Lizard

CER 14 (OR 8 and PR 6)
Everyone’s hair stood on and as they approached the green reptile. Arcs of bluish-white light dances across its skin. Thankfully there was only one, or things would get hairy fast.
A three-foot long lizard with bright green scales and a yellow underbelly, the shocker lizard is a unique and frightening predator. It gets its name from its ability to discharge an electrical shock that can stun or kill prey. Alone, they are a nuisance, but a nest of shocker lizards rapidly grows to pose a lethal threat to any party!
ST: 7                                                       HP: 7                                                      Speed: 6.00
DX: 12                                                    Will: 10                                                  Ground Move: 6
IQ: 3                                                       Per: 12                                                   Water Move: 6
HT: 12                                                    FP: 12                                                     SM: -2

Dodge: 10                                             Parry: N/A                                             DR: 2

Bite (14): 1d-2 crushing. Reach C.
Shock: 1d-3 lethal electrical damage. Reach C. If two or more shocker lizards are within 2 yards of each other, damage is increased by 1 per lizard present and the attack gains the Explosion 3 enhancement – divide damage by the distance from the nearest lizard to any one victim!
Electric Sense: Shocker lizards can detect animal life with a successful Per roll, but not well enough to target it with an attack – it can only tell the general direction and SM of the animal.

Traits: Acute Smell 3; Bully (12); Cold Blooded (65°); Combat Reflexes; Discriminatory Smell; Gluttony (12); Jaw ST +2; Night Vision 9; Perfect Balance; Peripheral Vision; Quadruped; Terrain Adaptation (Undergrowth).
Features: Born Biter.
Skills: Brawling-14; Intimidation-11; Stealth-13; Swimming-12; Wrestling-14.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ents

With a creaking, cracking gate, the animate oak strode forward at an easy pace. It seemed little worried about the dozen gnolls arrayed before it, and hardly noticed their arrows. But once one buried its axe in the ent’s thick bark, the treebeast croaked with rage and sent the loathsome fae sailing through the air with a single swipe of a branch.
Ents are ambulatory, sapient trees who tend the most ancient forests.  They serve as gardeners and wardens, although they rarely pay any heed to any member of the animal kingdom unless a reasonable threat is posed.  Ancient by mortal standards, ents are extremely slow to action, do things slowly, and are very slow to embark on any endeavor.  Only a threat to the forest can readily mobilize the local ent population with any degree of rapidity, and "rapid" for an ent can take weeks.

Ent

CER 198 (OR 12 and PR 186)
An average, 20-foot-tall ent.
ST: 35                                                     HP: 145                                                  Speed: 5.50
DX: 9                                                      Will: 13                                                  Ground Move: 4
IQ: 10                                                     Per: 10
HT: 13                                                    FP: 13                                                     SM: 3

Dodge: 8                                                Parry: 7 (Unarmed)                             DR: 18

Branch Slam (9): 4d-2 crushing. Reach C-3. Usually made as a Telegraphic Attack.
Damage Reduction: DR is ablative to burning, corrosion, cutting, and huge piercing attacks to the same spot. DR is semi-ablative to multiple impaling, piercing, and large piercing attacks to the same spot. DR cannot be reduced below 1.

Traits: Chauvinistic; Common Sense; Decreased Time Rate; Dislikes Going Anywhere; Doesn't Breathe (Oxygen Absorption); Doesn't Eat or Drink (Requires Water); Fragile (Combustible); Green Thumb 1; Ham-Fisted 3; Hidebound; High Pain Threshold; Indomitable; Injury Tolerance (Homogenous; No Groin; No Neck); Pyrophobia (12); Regrowth; Sense of Duty (To forests, jungles, and other plant-covered areas); Unfazeable; Weak Sense of Humor.
Features: Affected as Plant.
Skills: Area Knowledge-13; Diplomacy-10; Gardening-13; History-13.
Notes: Ents are notoriously difficult for anyone to convince of anything (-3 to Influence rolls), and that's assuming anyone can even draw its attention.

Elder Ent

CER 798 (OR 25 and PR 773)
A truly ancient ent who has grown to the massive size of 50 feet and over 800,000 pounds.
ST: 65                                                     HP: 720                                                  Speed: 5.50
DX: 9                                                      Will: 15                                                  Ground Move: 4
IQ: 12                                                     Per: 12
HT: 13                                                    FP: 13                                                     SM: 5

Dodge: 8                                                Parry: 7 (Unarmed)                             DR: 30

Branch Slam (9): 7d crushing. Reach C-5. Usually made as a Telegraphic Attack.
Damage Reduction: DR is ablative to burning, corrosion, cutting, and huge piercing attacks to the same spot. DR is semi-ablative to multiple impaling, piercing, and large piercing attacks to the same spot. DR cannot be reduced below 1.

Traits: As Ent, but add Killjoy and Plant Empathy (Cosmic, No die roll required).
Features: Affected as Plant.
Skills: Area Knowledge-14; Diplomacy-12; Gardening-15; History-15.
Notes: Elder ents are even more difficult to communicate with or convince of anything (-6 to Influence rolls to get them to do anything they don't already want to do).  They care even less for the animal kingdom than their younger brethren.  While they are aware of animals, they generally ignore them.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Wraith

CER 106 (OR 27 and PR 79)
Tendrils of cold, cloying darkness crawled from the shadows and snuffed the life from every candle in the room. The four travelers huddled together, back to back, and prepared for the wraith’s assault.
Wraiths are partially incorporeal undead that boarder on the demonic.  Little more than shadowy, animated hatred, they haunt the darkness of night seeking to drain the life from those they encounter, and when they succeed, their victim, tainted by the wraith's intense loathing of life, becomes twisted into a mirror of his executioner's – a weaker wraith serving its creator.
ST: 14                                                     HP: 15                                                   Speed: 6.00
DX: 12                                                    Will: 15                                                  Air Move: 12
IQ: 10                                                     Per: 12
HT: 12                                                    FP: N/A                                                  SM: 0

Dodge: 10                                              Parry: N/A                                              DR: 0

Punch (15): 1d(0.5) crushing + linked Life Drain (see below).  Reach C.
Life Drain (15): 3d+2 months of life drained per second.  Reach C.  This can only follow a successful grapple – often a choke hold (see Strangle Hold below).
Strangle Hold (12): On a successful attack, the wraith grapples his victim's neck.  On the victim's next turn, he may attempt to break free; the wraith is at +5 in this Quick Contest for using two hands.  On the wraith's next turn – and each turn thereafter, until its prey breaks free – it may strangle.  Roll a Quick Contest of the wraith's ST+3 vs. the victim's HT.  If the wraith wins, its victim takes crushing damage equal to its margin of victory.  DR protects normally, but multiply injury to the neck by 1.5.  If any damage – even blunt trauma – penetrates the victim's DR, you also start to suffocate him.  On his next turn and every subsequent turn until he escapes, he loses 1 FP; see Suffocation (B436).
Terror (Will-3): When a wraith moans or screams menacingly, anyone who hears it must make a Fright Check at -3.
Aura of Hopelessness: Anyone who fails a Fright Check in the wraith’s presence suffers -3 to all rolls. Every turn, the victim rolls against Will at a penalty equal to his margin of failure on the triggering Fright Check; on a success, he snaps out of his self-doubt.
Firebane: Wraiths suck the energy out of the area around them. Within two yards, candles are extinguished, torches burn as candles, and campfires burn as torches, and bonfires burn as campfires.
Light Weakness: Wraiths take quadruple damage from light attacks, 1d injury/minute from direct, natural sunlight, and lose their ability to interact with the physical world in any lighting conditions that impose a Vision penalty between +0 to -4.
Shadow Body: Wraiths are composed of partially insubstantial shadowstuff.  They can flow through any opening like a vapor; flight through the night air; take only 1 point of damage from impaling and piercing attacks and 2 points from all other non-area attacks.

Traits: Bloodlust (9); Callous; Can Be Turned by True Faith; Combat Reflexes; Darkvision; Desecrator; Detect (All Life; Precise); Doesn’t Breathe; Doesn’t Eat or Drink; Doesn’t Sleep; Dominance; Dread (Sunlight; 1 yard); Flight; Fragile (Unnatural); Frightens Animals; High Pain Threshold; Immune to Metabolic Hazards; Indomitable; Injury Tolerance (Diffuse; Infiltration); Insubstantial (Accessibility, Not in Darkness less than -4; Affect Substantial; Always On); Intolerance (The Living); Lifebane; No Legs (Aerial); Obscure 5 (Vision; Area Effect, 2 yards; Defensive; Emanation); See Invisible (Ghosts); Temperature Control 5 (Cold; Emanation); Uncontrollable Appetite (Life Force) (9); Unfazeable; Unkillable 3 (Achilles’ Heel, Sunlight).
Features: Affected as Evil; Affected as Dead; Functions and Detects as Evil.
Skills: Brawling-15; Hidden Lore (Undead)-10; Intimidate-15; Stealth-22; Wrestling-14.
Notes: Wraiths can speak and may be willing to negotiate, but rarely bother to. They often know much about other wraiths, if not undeath in general. A wraith's spawn usually have the same stats as its parent, with -2 ST.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Rocket Design Competition: Completion



The ACME Rocket flew beautifully, the parachute deployed perfectly, and then the wind carried it into the nearby forest (in the background above) never to be seen again. On the up side, a reporter from the local newspaper got the above picture of the rocket on liftoff! On the downside, we did not recover our rocket.

Because we did not recover the rocket, we don't know what altitude it reached and were pretty much immediately disqualified from winning. But we didn't come in last, either! This was largely due to our ability to meet deadlines and not have our find torn of by drag forces.

Looking Forward

I am not certain I will have sufficient time to participate in the Rocket Design Competition this semester, but I will be busy helping the leads prepare for it. Because of that newspaper reporter, a local business owner doubled the project's yearly budget. They are now building a test rig for oen of the wind tunnels on campus for proper ground testing, seeking industry professionals to talk to the teams and hopefully critique designs, expanding the competition to include a fragile payload, and building homemade parachute deployment delays. The other leads have pretty standard projects that don't seem to require much help from me, so at least I can help Rockets behind the scenes.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Perk: Library Card

Library Card

1 point
Whether by virtue of reputation, actual license, or simply a plot device, you can waltz into any institution that houses knowledge and access any document or artifact housed therein - provided it isn't classified! No one will think twice about it or delay you, assuming the materials are available readily accessible, and if any time must be taken to retrieve them, you will gain access in the minimum possible time. This perk does not grant access to materials that are classified or those that are not on site, checked out, or otherwise not available. The GM should still feel free to deny the character access to information when circumstances would demand it - e.g., if the character just trashed the library's public collection and then asks to visit more delicate archives, or if the clerk knows the PC is wanted by the police.

A prime example of a character with this perk is Professor Robert Langdon from Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. He walks into museum after museum asking to see priceless and delicate artifacts and documents without any issues - excepting, of course, the police chasing after him.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Orders from on High

Welp. The guys we are launching our rockets with are a touch nervous about a bunch of college students bringing rockets sporting G-motors to national forest for launch, and asked us to reduce our target apogee to 1,250 feet. Not much we can do about that except comply. Now it gets interesting!

After a short redesign, our fins have grown, and we have decided to attach 37.6 grams of weight to our motor mount. Yes. The motor mount. Down by the bottom of the rocket. This is to offset the insane stability resulting from having 14-inch-long, 5-inch-high fins cartoonishly jutting out of our rocket. And this was necessary after already moving our fins forward a quarter inch.

I can't say I'm displeased with this, since it does let us use even more ridiculously large fins, but their size makes me a little nervous. If they experience too much drag, the potential exists for the fins to rip the body apart. We plan on mitigating this partially with a 5-inch fin tab bonded to the motor mount, plus another 4 inches of root cord bonded to the rocket tube. We also will create a fillet between the fins and the body tube to help stabilize the fins and distribute any forces originating from them. I just hope no serious vibrations set in. The rocket should look amazing, but if it doesn't fly safely, it will be for nothing.

The next update should include pictures of our construction progress.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Rocket Design Competition: Summer 2016 Begins!


It's that time again!

And as Project Chair for the AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) at UCF, I find myself viewing the Rocket Design Project in a slightly different light. It's still the same ball of fun - design a rocket to meet a specific goal, model it's flight, build the rocket, launch the rocket and measure your performance against your model and the goal - but seeing the behind the scenes, I understand some of the limitations that have been placed on the project this summer.

Because the project is being completed in half the time, there are more design restrictions to ensure rockets that will fly safely. Additionally, we are launching in a national forest, so the risk of starting a fire is a touch higher. So I'll concede and not aim for 2,200 feet like I was planning. Maybe next semester. They are also basically only letting us design our fins, this time. No cutting down (or completely discarding...ehem) body tubes or motor tubes. But since our goal is to get as close to 1,500 feet (457.2 meters) as possible, we want the weight. We are using the same formula as last time, although I want to modify it to account for any crookedness in the launch rod and do a weighted average of it and OpenRocket's prediction. We are also using SolidWorks - which I am trying to remember after using nothing but Creo Parametric for about six months now - to obtain a coefficient of drag via FlowSim.

So summary completed, it's time to talk about our plan. Our team intends to run headlong off a cliff and never look down, because that's how you fall! I'm not saying that I tried to get permission to launch a small anvil-shaped payload that would also serve as our weight, or that our rocket will be a dismal failure, either. But I am suggesting that if it does fail, no one should be surprised. After all, it is an ACME rocket....

"An ACME rocket?" I hear you say. Yes. The ACME Rocket Team is attempting to produce one ACME rocket (probably less the cross-hairs) this semester, slip it past all inspections, and see just what it does. Powered by a G40-7W, it will do something. And it will be memorable. We are hoping it'll be the good kind of memorable.

At this point, we have created a model of the rocket in OpenRocket, a rather nice open source program for modeling the flight of rockets. While it's predictive capabilities are pretty good, it does tend to be about 10% optimistic, so we are going to also do hand calculations and use a weighted average of the two to set our weight. But for now, we have a rocket design and fin design that will overshoot the mark. Once we get our hand calculations going, we will add weight to lower ACME 1's apogee and tweak its stability. I'm personally aiming for a modeled stability of 1.3 calibers, so any slop in manufacturing won't push us too stable or unstable.

I've also been working up a CAD of our rocket in SolidWorks. This has been a "fun" process, especially since I never tried to make such curvy fillets between things like concentric tubes (launch lugs). The process has been a good learning experience, and by that, I mean I have lost much hair and a touch of sanity over this. So where does the design stand right now? Right about here:


So what do you think? Does it look like an ACME rocket? Is the inspiration at least present? Heck, do you think this will get off the launch pad?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Peryton

CER 57 (OR 42 and PR 15)
A loud snorting sniff rang through the treetops. Jack heard the scuffle of rabbits and squirrels running for their dens. Another sniff, closer this time, sent the boar he was stalking into a startled retreat. Then with a swift stoop, the peryton struck Jack, grabbed him by the belly and thigh, and lifted the boy into the air.
Perytons are omnivorous beasts with the front half of a stag and the back half of a bird. They are fleet of foot and swift of wing, often taking to flight when startled. Perytons supplement their largely herbivorous diet with protein from small deer, lambs, and other mid-sized mammals. They have been known to take children when
ST: 18                                                     HP: 18                                                    Speed: 6.00
DX: 13                                                    Will: 10                                                  Ground Move: 7/14
IQ: 4                                                       Per: 12                                                   Air Speed: 14/28
HT: 11                                                    FP: 11                                                     SM: 1 (4.5 feet)

Dodge: 10                                             Parry: N/A                                             DR: 2 (Tough Skin)

Bite (14): 1d crushing. Reach C
Hooves (14): 1d+2 crushing. Reach C, 1.
Talons (14): 1d+2 cutting or impaling. Reach C.
Antlers (14): 1d+4 impaling. Reach C, 1.

Traits: Bad Sight 4 (Motion Sensitive); Bad Temper (12); Discriminatory Smell; Flight (Cannot Hover, Winged); Night Vision 6; Panic (12); Parabolic Hearing 2; Perfect Balance; Peripheral Vision; Quadruped; Temperature Tolerance 1 (Cold); Terrain Adaptation (Undergrowth); Ultrahearing; Wild Animal.
Skills: Brawling-14; Intimidation-10; Jumping-12; Stealth-12; Swimming-11; Wrestling-14.
Encumbrance: None 64.8 lbs.; Light 129.6 lbs.; Medium 194.4 lbs.; Heavy 388.8 lbs.; Very Heavy 648 lbs.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Accuracy (Sorcery)

This common weapon enchantment is intended for use with GURPSThaumatology: Sorcery.

Accurate Weapon

Key Words: Weapon Buff
Full Cost: 24 points for level 1, 37 points for level 2, and 51 points for level 3.
Casting Roll: None. Use Innate Attack (Gaze) to aim.
Range: 100 yards
Duration: 3 minutes.

The weapon enhanced is more likely to hit for the duration by adding its level to the user’s effective skill (maximum 3). This stacks with mundane bonuses, such as weapon quality, but not magical ones.

Statistics: Affliction 1 (HT; Accessibility, Only on weapons, -20%; Advantage, Accuracy, +135%; Fixed Duration, +0%; Increased 1/2D, 10x, +15%; No Signature, +20%; Sorcery, -15%) [23.5]. Additional levels add further levels of Accuracy to the Advantage enhancement (+135%) [+13.5]. Notes: "Accuracy " is Weapon Talent (Magical, -10%) [13.5]. Weapon Talent adds its level to Beam Weapons, Blowpipe, Bolas, Bow, Cloak, Crossbow, Garrote, Gunner, Guns, Lance, Lasso, Liquid Projector, Melee Weapon, Net, Shield, Sling, Throwing Art, and Thrown Weapon.


Energy Point Cost Table

Energy Point Cost
Weapon Type +1 +2 +3
Projectile 3 5 7
Staff 9 13 18
Wand 10 15 21
Weapon 11 17 23

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: The Tome of the Black Island

I like worldbuilding. I like it more than rules tinkering (sorry Doug). I like it more than GMing. I like it more than playing. I say this to explain why I generally shy away from “fluff” articles and books that present premade world material. That’s the stuff I love to create, and those publications are taking that away from me! Interesting rules tweaks? Yes, please! Advice on how to run my creation in a game? Certainly! Options for playing a character in my world? Hell yeah! Hand me a world already made? No thank you. Keep this in mind as you read my review of The Tome of the Black Island by J. Edward Tremlett.

This month, I got a bit blindsided by one article in GURPS Pyramid#3/91 – Thaumatology IV. As usual, I gave the issue a cursory perusal to see where I wanted to begin. I helped review C.R.’s Codex Duello, so I marked that for last. W. A. Frick’s Technomysticism doesn’t cover a topic I, personally, care for, so that got bumped down the list, too. Ted Brock’s The Thaumaturgy of Metallurgy looked specific to standard spell magic, and being an RPM guy, I set that aside for later idea-mining. This month’s Random Thought Table had some interesting thoughts, as usual, but is a small offering. That brought me to The Tome of the Black Island, a systemless article about the mad writings of a depraved and corrupted wizard. I was intrigued.

I started reading it, expecting to find it far too fluff-heavy. I thought I’d get turned off pretty early on, but after about one sentence, I couldn’t put it down. It drew me into the story the way H.P. Lovecraft or Edgar Allen Poe did when I first starting reading them. Heck, it read like something out of the Cthulhu mythos. And as the plot twisted and turned, I couldn’t help but keep reading about Maldrick Udelholfen’s lust for power and how it ultimately destroyed him. The mad sorcerer’s tale perfectly married the sublime with the grotesque in an orgiastic display of gothic horror. I loved it.

But Tremlett’s real accomplishment lay in what he held back. Why didn’t those servants try to escape the fire? Why did Udelholfen return so disfigured? He waits until you think the story is over and you’ve dropped your guard. It’s time to read how to use the Tome in your game, what it contains, where it might pop up, – the crunchy bits. And as you examine those spell descriptions and possibilities, he hits you with another wave of horror. Now everything makes a little too much sense. Did I really want to know that? Oh god.


So when I say this article is excellent, take it as coming from someone who generally doesn’t want this sort of thing in his monthly issues. I feel like I might have missed out by dismissing some of Tremlett's past articles, too. I will say, I plan on going back and rereading them all. I’m going to check out his blog, Spygod, too.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Nymphs Part 4: Water Nymphs

The crystal clear water of the icy pool shimmered and rippled in the still air of the morning. Gradually, the ripples grew in an upward undulation that formed shapely calves, then thighs, and eventually a fully formed woman of surpassing beauty.
Nymphs are loci geniuses that inhabit various natural places. While similar to what are sometimes called “fae”, they more closely resemble elementals of a specific locale. They are inherently tied to the location they inhabit; indeed, their very existence depends on the wellbeing of the environment. And they defend it vehemently.

All nymphs exercise a measure of control over their homes and use this, in combination with their preternatural beauty to ward off attacks. Their beauty is terrible and captivating, and they use this mercilessly to their advantage.

As dangerous as nymphs can be, they are excellent sources of information on the area in which they dwell, and if befriended, they make powerful allies. However, their legendary shyness makes this difficult, and their sadistic impulses make it doubly dangerous!

Water Nymph

CER 68 (OR 26 and PR 42)
Water nymphs are spirits of place associated with bodies of fresh water. They are closely attached to springs, lakes, rivers, etc. and may not stray more than a short distance from their home without becoming seriously ill. They defend their homes fiercely by luring those who threaten it to a watery death. Some water nymphs are experienced mages, but most are simply guardians. All command great knowledge about their environment.
ST: 8                                                       HP: 8                                                      Speed: 6.00
DX: 12                                                    Will: 10                                                  Ground Move: 6
IQ: 10                                                     Per: 11                                                   Water Move: 6
HT: 12                                                    FP: 12                                                     SM: 0

Dodge: 9                                                Parry: 10 (Unarmed)                           DR: 0

Punch (14): 1d-2 crushing. Reach C.
Animated Environment: Water nymphs can animate the environment around them to grapple (Binding or Telekinesis) intruders with ST 10 or strike at them (1d crushing or impaling) with branches and bushes near the shore.
Intoxicating Beauty (Resisted at Will): Anyone within 16 yards of a nymph who can see her must make a Will roll or gain the Lecherousness (12) disadvantage for a number of minutes equal to their margin of failure.
Kiss of Death (Resisted at HT): A corporeal nymph can kiss a foe (roll against 14) and send him into unearthly ecstasy (see p. B428) if he fails his HT roll – assuming he even wants to resist – that lasts minutes equal to his margin of failure.  Even if he does not resist, the roll must be made, because any failure by 5 or more results in him suffering a heart attack (see p. B4249).
Stunning Beauty: By striking even the slightest pose, anyone who sees her must make a Fright Check at -5 and roll on the Awe table.
Threshold Entity: This being doesn’t breathe, drink, eat, or sleep, is immune to metabolic hazards, and is either insubstantial and invisible or substantial and visible.

Traits: Acute Hearing 1; Appearance (Transcendent; Universal); Berserk (9) (Special Trigger, harming the wilderness); Callous; Can Be Turned with True Faith; Curious (15); Dependency (Home Lake or Spring; Daily); Dislikes Loud Noises; Divine Curse (Keep to the letter of any promise); Fearlessness 2; Higher Purpose (Protect Home Spring); Impulsive (12); Odious Personal Habit -1 (Capricious); Sadism (15); Sense of Duty (Home Spring); Shyness (Mild); Terrain Adaptation (Water and Wetlands); Unaging; Vulnerability (Iron x2).
Features: Affected as Spirit.
Skills: Area Knowledge (Local)-12; Brawling-14; Camouflage-12; Intimidation-17; Naturalist-12; Sex Appeal-17; Stealth-14; Swimming-14; Wrestling-14.
Notes: Most nymphs won't negotiate because they are too shy.  Those who do are amiable enough, but dealing with such an astounding beauty is often disconcerting – especially while under the effect of her intoxicating beauty (see above).  Always scars from wounds inflicted by iron.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Wizards & Wastelands - Thoughts on Power Level

The next step in sorting out this setting is making templates. Since this is a post-apocalyptic setting at its core, it makes sense to begin with After the End and work from there. Since there is a good dose of Monster Hunters, I’ll be borrowing from there as well.

Looking at the first chapter of GURPS After the End – Wastelanders, I see the first decision I need to make is the power level. Obviously, I can do what the book does and start with a low-level template and add lenses to build it up to a suitable power level. Instead, but rather than just copy the book, I’m going to aim for a certain power level out of the gate. This should give a more tailored feel that does what it’s supposed to straight out.

Wizards and Wastelands is not a high-powered setting. Survival in the wastelands and operating near the Nazi strongholds should be difficult. It should be an accomplishment for the players when things go smoothly. Setting the power level too high will trivialize this, so I’m going to aim for a power level of 150 character points, like in Wastelanders. Once this initial write up is finished, I’ll go back and reassess this decision and adjust accordingly. Even after revision, I am currently anticipating no more than 200 points per template and really aiming for 150. Players should have a real chance of failure at tasks, and they won't need too broad of capability outside of basic survival. I think this will suffice.

It's worth noting, though, that ritual path magic is an expensive magic system. I suspect that typical starting wastelanders won't be able to afford Ritual Adept. This will constrain them to working magic slowly and relying on more mundane skills in the heat of the moment. This will should promote forethought and planning, neither of which particularly contradicts many depictions of wizards, so I'm okay with this. Moreover, it promotes the idea of the wizened type who just knows things. Similarly, I will probably pull in Divine Favor for some sort of faith-based wastelander, and while that's not as pricey as RPM for its effects, its reliability is somewhat lower. Again, I think this is doable on 150 points, though it will be tight. One Monster Hunters archetype that might not be possible are inhumans. These, like mutants, will probably have to be reserved for higher point-total games, though I'll see if I can't dilute some of them down a bit. Maybe I can pull off sometime more akin to DF racial lenses.


Next time, I’ll consider what niches are appropriate for adventures. While Wastelanders covers the standard post-apocalyptic fare, this is where I already know I’ll need to expand options. I will need niches that cover various supernatural aspects of the world.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wizards & Wastelands: The End

Since it's GURPSday, I figured I'd post a few days earlier than normal. Below is information on how it all ended as described in GURPS After the End - The New World. I welcome any feedback based on how well you think this represents the campaign setting to date. Also, any comments on what sort of magical hazards (if any) feel appropriate are greatly appreciated!

Primary Cause: Dinosaur Killer
Secondary Causes: Cosmic Rays, Mother Nature, Things Fall Apart
Appropriate Hazards: Aerosol Particulates (p. 10-11), Disease (p. 13-14), Gangs (p. 15-17), Heat (p. 12), Hyperstorms (p. 13), and Paramilitaries (p. 23-24).
Occasional Hazards: Alkaline Mud (p. 11), Cold (p. 12), Mutants (for animals, and some Nazi human experiments; p. 16-21), Sandstorms (p. 13), and Toxic Waste (p. 10).
TL: 8^
How Long Ago: 5 generations.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Wizards & Wastelands: A Timeline of Events

What follows is a timeline of events, as I've come up with them so far, that lead up to the apocalypse and beyond. I would love to hear anyone's suggestions about this; I am not a walking repository of conspiracy theories, and I'm sure I'm missing a truckload that could fit. More than that, I would love to see what connections anyone else might be able to make to really make this worthy of a YouTube conspiracy video. So without further ado...WAKE UP AND OPEN YOUR EYES, SHEEPLE!

The Timeline

1938, December 17         The New Swabia Expedition, a large-scale, five-month German expedition into the Queen Maud Land region of Antarctica. While mapping the area, they discover a vast network of warm water underground caves extending miles below the surface.
1939, May 23                     Germany begins constructing a city-sized base beneath the Antarctic ice sheet codenamed Base 211 but more colloquially called New Berlin.
1939, November 13        A German construction crew at Base 211 stumbles upon a crashed alien craft frozen in the ice. New Berlin becomes a technological R&D center focused on reverse engineering the spacecraft.
1942, December 2           Erwin Rommel’s agents enter a series of secret catacombs beneath the Great Mosque of Kairouan. Therein, they locate a pair of ancient, broken tablets said to have been brought to Tunisia by barbary pirates circa 1590. The tablets’ history prior to this point is lost in antiquity, but their writing was clearly in an early Proto-Sinaitic orthography laced with cursive Egyptian hieroglyphs.
1942, December 23         After a consultation with Karl Ernst Krafft, Heinrich Himmler orders the tablets brought to Berlin.
1943, January 6                 The two 1’ x 2’ lapis lazuli tablets arrive in Berlin, where Karl Ernst Krafft receives them and sets to translating them.
1943, April 6                       The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) creates the Department of Historical Antiquities Research (DHAR) as a black organization dedicated to finding out why Hitler was so interested in the supernatural and finding ways to use it against him. This would eventually develop into the Department of Antiquities Verification, Investigation, and Defense (DAVID) under the CIA.
1943, July 17                      Karl Ernst Krafft completes his translation of the ancient artifact. Within its religious texts, there resides a potent spell for defeating any enemy. The price of the ritual is extreme, however, so Himmler secretly secures the tablets as a last resort.
1944, June 6                       The Western Allies launch the largest amphibious invasion in history as part of Operation Overlord. The tides of war begin turning against Germany.
1944, August 24                New Berlin is abandoned and the Antarctic Nazi research facility is moved across the continent via a vast honeycomb of caves deep within the crust to beneath the Transantarctic Mountains and reestablished somewhere in the vicinity of Mount Kirkpatrick (see the Vela Incident, below).
1944, December 16         The Ardennes Offensive begins; Himmler has Krafft and a handful of his associates begin preparations for the ritual hidden within the tablets’ glyphs.
1945, January 8                 Karl Earnst Krafft dies of typhus after being arrested for treason by the Gestapo. His apprentices continue his work.
1945, April 30                     On Walspurgis afternoon, Adolf Hitler completes the ritual, using his and his wife’s life forces to power the spell. The war ended. Germany was defeated. Somewhere beyond the orbit of Neptune, a comet was nudged.
1946, August 26                Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. ostensibly leads Task Force 68, comprising of 4,700 men, 13 ships, and 33 aircraft on a mission to establish the Antarctic research base, Little America. Unofficially, it was an offensive intended to root out the last Nazi stronghold and put an end to any future attempts to resurrect the Reich.
1946, December 30         Operation Highjump discover the remnants of Base 211 abandoned. They begin exploring the miles upon miles of tunnels beneath the ice.
1947, February 16            Task Force 68 comes under attack by what can only be described as flying saucers. The USS Pine Island along with four other ships were sunk and later stricken from the naval records for “no apparent reason.”
1947, February 22            Task Force 68 withdraws from Antarctica.
1947, July 8                         A Nazi aircraft is shot down over New Mexico, near Roswell. The US government intentionally gives flimsy stories about weather balloons and contradictory reports regarding the recovery of an alien body. In truth, the body of a blonde-haired, blue-eyes Argentinean national was recovered from the wreckage; “alien” was initially a reference to immigration status.
1947, Summer                  The Air Force continues to secretly perpetuate the UFO myth in the media while publicly denying a flying saucer was recovered. Meanwhile, the wreckage and body are transported to Area 51 for further study.
1950s                                     Cold War pressures to reverse engineer Nazi technology grow more intense and drive the expansion of Area 51 and the development of additional sister black sites like Area 25 – where captured Nazi cloaking technology is later adapted for mounting on US Naval vessels.
1951, January 7                 Wolf Rüdiger Hess, son of Rudolf Hess and apprentice to Karl Earnst Krafft, finally uncovers why the spell cast by Hitler on Walspurgis failed to destroy the enemies of Germany: The ritual worked, but on a timescale other than intended. Somewhere among the stars so valued by Krafft, Hess, and Himmler, a comet shifted its orbit, which in half a century will nudge an already mapped asteroid into a collision course with Earth. The impact will destroy the Allies and more than decimate the planet’s population. The slate will be wiped clean for Hitler’s Reich to rebuild.
1952, April 29                     The first of many fortified Nazi bunker complexes called the gewölbe des wissens or “vaults of knowledge” are established as both an archive and a way for the Reich der Menschheit to survive the coming apocalypse. It is through this system of vaults scattered across the world that they intend to bring about the anstieg der götter and establish a new and everlasting reich.
1955, August 3                  Having learned of the Vaults, the CIA restructures DPHAR into the Department of Antiquities Verification, Investigation, and Defense (DAVID) and charges it with uncovering what the Nazis are doing. Much funding is funneled into DAVID as a black project ostensibly to fight the spread communism. Senator Joseph McCarthy is one of the project’s biggest proponents.
1961, May 7                        The Nazis successfully land one of their own on the dark side of the moon in preparations to establish a lunar outpost. They want a backup plan for when the asteroid finally strikes Earth.
1961, May 25                     President Jack Kennedy declares that America will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
1969, July 19                      The decreasingly popular President Nixon gives the final authorization to air footage of what the administration, backed by NASA, claim is Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon. In truth, this was all falsified as part of an agreement between Nixon and the Lunar Nazis to boost his ratings and keep the moon free of non-Aryans.
1972, December 10         Apollo 17 arrives in lunar orbit. In a particularly Nixonian backstab, the capsule is armed with a nuclear warhead, despite Nixon’s communiques that the mission was another PR stunt to boost his ratings with undeniable pictures of the Earth from the Moon. America finally puts men on the moon for the first time.
1972, December 13         Ronald Ellwin “Ron” Evans, Jr. launches a ten megaton nuclear warhead at the Nazi based on the dark side of the moon, presumably destroying it utterly.
1979, September 22       Israel, in an attempt to destroy what they believed to be the Antarctic Nazi fortress, detonate a nuclear weapon in Queen Maud Land. Unfortunately, they don’t realize the Nazis are primarily on the other side of the continent. Still, the operation succeeds in sealing a portion of the tunnels and obliterates the remnants of the original Base 211
1985, January 6                 Martin Fleichmann receives a letter from Jgor Havel, an old friend from Czechoslovakia. Within it, Havel claims to have infiltrated a gewölbe des wissens and stolen
1985, November 13        Havel manages to leave Czechoslovakia and find Fleichmann at a symposium in London. There, he hands Fleichmann a copy of the plans for a cold fusion generator and the principles behind it. Most of this is somewhat beyond Fleichman’s understanding at the time, but he begins to skeptically read it through.
1988, February 12            Martin Fleichmann and Stanley Pons devise a cold fusion experiment in hopes of understanding and reverse engineering the Nazi technology. Naturally, Fleichmann withholds where he received his information – mostly for fear of being called a fake or conspiracy loon.
1989, March 23                 Fleichmann and Pons hold a press conference to announce their findings on working cold fusion. Afraid the existence of the Nazi Vaults would come to light, the government quickly covers this up by sabotaging attempts to reproduce the experiment and manipulating the media. Fleichmann and Pons are ridiculed for their claims.
1997, March 7                   Climatologists within the government issue a later-redacted report that suggests the melting of the Ross Ice Shelf may be the result of excess heat from the Nazi fortress.
2011, November 5           Keck Observatory identifies a near-Earth asteroid measuring some six miles across on an impact course with Earth. Impact is estimated to be in 2023.
2012                                       NASA begins laying the groundwork for the Asteroid Redirect Mission under the guise as being the first step toward putting men on Mars.
2013, February 28            Pope Benedict XVI resigns from the Papacy under pressure from the College of Cardinals, who having recently discovered his ties to the Nazi vaults. The Pope had been using his supreme access to research and ship some of the many occult artifacts accumulated beneath the Vatican. While no one is particularly surprised by the actions of the former Hitler’s Youth member, they can’t allow this to come to light, and cover it up.
2013, March 13                 The papal enclave elects Jorge Mario Bergoglio – a Jesuit – the 266th Pope in hopes that he can both mend the Roman Catholic Church’s public image and, more importantly, to assess the occult thread presented by Benedict’s actions.
2021, October 1                After numerous budget cuts, political infighting, and development delays, the SLS finally lifts off. At T+12 minutes, an unknown power surge triggers an explosion in the main fuel tank of the Orion spacecraft resulting in the complete loss of the vehicle. No live are lost, but NASA suspends the program pending a full design review. Sabotage is never officially mentioned as a cause.
2023, April 29                     The asteroid, later named Surtr, slams into atmosphere, where it breaks into three smaller pieces. The first slams into London, obliterating the city. The second vaporizes Moscow with a Tunguska-like explosion, and the third skips into Washington D. C., where it leaves nothing but a miles-wide crater and sends a massive tidal wave across the Atlantic into France and Spain. The resulting dust cloud blots out the sun, plunging the Earth into a mini ice age.
2025                                       Crops are failing worldwide and nations can no longer feed their people. Governments begin collapsing into anarchy.
2028, January 1                 A mere five years after the impact, 40% of the world’s population is dead from starvation, war, and disease. The cloud blanket still blocks out the sun. People are calling it the Long Winter.
2044, June 6                       A generation after the Surtr impact, humanity is broken and scattered. And the Nazi vaults begin to open. The first city to be reclaimed is Berlin.
2100                                       Now, the time of the Fourth Reich is near. The spell cast by Hitler's suicide brought the end of the world, absolutely obliterating his opponents. The descendants of the Nazis have crawled from the holes they hid in for decades with a vast bank of knowledge amassed in the days leading to the End Times. They toiled secretly, building infrastructure from the wreckage of the world, created powerful city-states from which to unleash the inevitable tide of war. Outside their walls, people fight to survive on the carcasses of the nations that once opposed the Axis. Soon the time will come to reclaim the world, to cull the impure, to build the Reich as it was intended to be. Until then, they wait, ever reaching out with their cold influence on the budding towns and cities near their strongholds.

So that's what I have so far. What connections don't flow? What conspiracies am I missing? What would you like to see added in?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Wizards and Wastelands: Overview

I have recently returned to an old idea I use to kick around. One that let me don my conspiracy nutter hat. And what is a more awesome conspiracy topic than Nazis? So here is where far too many questionable Google searches led:

Hitler's suicide was a sacrifice used to fuel a spell aimed at the Allies. Unfortunately, the casting didn't work as panned, and delayed the effect by a century. Those Nazis who escaped criminal prosecution and execution at the Hague eventually discovered what went wrong and began constructing bunkers - vaults of information and supplies they could use to ride out the impending culling. Their plan was to emerge into the clean world and bring about the Fourth Reich. Of course, the Allies got wind of this, too, and made their own attempts to stop the Nazis throughout history. The OSS' and later the CIA's Department of Antiquities Verification, Investigation and Defense was one clandestine organization founded to root out the Nazi vaults, stop any further mystical acquisitions, and generally defend against future Nazi occult attacks. The KGB set up a similar organization, although theirs was a bit more bent on using what they found to tip the balance of the Cold War.

In the end, however, no one could avert the apocalypse, which came in the form of a meteorite that broke apart on reentry and vaporized London, Moscow, and Washington DC and blanketed the sky in dust. Several generations later, the dust has settled, nature has reclaimed the world, the Nazis have crawled out of their bunkers armed with technical expertise generally lost to Humanity. Nazi City-states have sprung up behind thick concrete walls and the wilds beyond are considered tainted and uncivilized. Within those walls, fascist regimes maintain a stranglehold on civilization.

I'll take off that tin foil hat now and discuss initial design goals. This is probably a bit gonzo, but hey, it's based on a Nazi conspiracy theory. It won't work if it's not as over the top as the premise, right? So I began by just listing things I thought would be interesting and fitting:

  • Mutants!
  • Occult Magic!
  • Nazi UFOs!
  • Weird Science!
  • Wastelands!
  • Crumbling Cities!
  • Emergent City-States!
  • Emergent Evil (Nazi) Empire!
  • Biological Experimentation!

Looking at this list, it feels like a mix of After the End and Monster Hunters might make a fairly good fit. Mashing them together will take some work, and hopefully, I can stick with this long enough to see it through. If not, I will probably come back to it at a later date anyway. This is one of my three settings that gets periodic love (the other two being Starfall and Dark Horizons).

I plan on attacking this in the following way:

  • Establish a Timeline to support future worldbuilding and guide rules development.
  • Write up a brief description of The End as described in GURPS After the End - The New World. This will be crucial for developing appropriate templates later on.
  • Develop a set of templates, most likely heavily based on those in After the End.
  • Address what technology is readily available, what is rare, and just what the Nazis have.
  • Sort out how magic and any powers work. This will likely be where I delve into Monster Hunters for inspiration.
  • Make some sample PCs, run them through a couple of playtests, and see what works and what breaks.

So next installment will be comprised of a working timeline of events leading up to and through the start of the game.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Semester in Review

Well, I took my last final last Wednesday and got my final grades yesterday, so I thought I'd reflect a bit on how the semester went. Mind you, this was my first time back in school in eleven years, so I was a touch unsure of how well I'd do, but as my two our of two A's testify, I apparently have gotten back into the academic life just fine. Among other activities, I joined the Fencing Knights and have resumed fencing again and not only joined the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at UCF, but have also gotten a position as their staff writer and participated in the Rocket Design Project. While I was busy, I still had a fair amount of free time, so I think I probably could have done more while maintaining my grades. One thing I think was a bit odd to me was sitting in classes with people only one year older than my calculator. Trying to relate to some of them was definitely difficult, but I also found that a lot of the engineering students I met were much more focused on their ultimate goals and tended to be a little more mature. That is probably stereotyping, but it was reassuring that I could still relate to someone. Still, it was somewhat odd and surreal at times. All in all, I think I can probably do more, and I plan on attempting just that! I'm trying to get a Projects Officer position in the AIAA so I can exercise my managerial skills in coordinating the eight different projects we run throughout the year. In addition, this summer I will be participating in the Rocket Design Project again as well as the Hovercraft Design Project and continuing foil fencing while trying to branch out into epee with the Fencing Knights. Naturally, I don't plan on letting these extracurriculars lower my GPA as I continue forward academically with Calculus II and Physics I this summer. If all goes as planned, my resume will continue to grow, and I'll finally start my engineering classes this fall. And none of this mentions the articles I have submitted to Steven for Pyramid Magazine. Let's see how long I can keep juggling this schedule. With a little luck, all of this work will land me a good internship and ultimately a job!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Nymphs Part 3: Tree Nymph

The crystal clear water of the icy pool shimmered and rippled in the still air of the morning. Gradually, the ripples grew in an upward undulation that formed shapely calves, then thighs, and eventually a fully formed woman of surpassing beauty.
Nymphs are loci geniuses that inhabit various natural places. While similar to what are sometimes called “fae”, they more closely resemble elementals of a specific locale. They are inherently tied to the location they inhabit; indeed, their very existence depends on the wellbeing of the environment. And they defend it vehemently.

All nymphs exercise a measure of control over their homes and use this, in combination with their preternatural beauty to ward off attacks. Their beauty is terrible and captivating, and they use this mercilessly to their advantage.

As dangerous as nymphs can be, they are excellent sources of information on the area in which they dwell, and if befriended, they make powerful allies. However, their legendary shyness makes this difficult, and their sadistic impulses make it doubly dangerous!

Tree Nymph

CER 72 (OR 31 and PR 41)
Tree nymphs are spirits of place who watch over woodland areas.  They are closely attached to trees and may not stray more than a short distance from their home tree without becoming seriously ill.  They defend their homes fiercely, employing magic to animate the plants and trees around them, usually while hiding inside a tree.  Some tree nymphs are experienced mages, but most are simple forest guardians.  All command great knowledge about their environment.
ST: 8                                                       HP: 8                                                      Speed: 6.00
DX: 12                                                    Will: 10                                                  Ground Move: 6
IQ: 10                                                     Per: 11
HT: 12                                                    FP: 12                                                     SM: 0

Dodge: 9                                                Parry: 10 (Unarmed)                           DR: 3

Bow (14): 1d impaling. Acc 3. Range 120/160. Bulk -7.
Club (14): 1d-1 crushing. Reach 1.
Punch (14): 1d-2 crushing. Reach C.
Animated Environment: Tree nymphs can animate the environment around them to grapple (Binding or Telekinesis) intruders with ST 10 or strike at them (1d crushing or impaling) with branches.
Stunning Beauty: By striking even the slightest pose, anyone who sees her must make a Fright Check at -5 and roll on the Awe table.
Threshold Entity: This being doesn’t breathe, drink, eat, or sleep, is immune to metabolic hazards, and is either insubstantial and invisible or substantial and visible.
Woodwalk: A tree nymph can see and move through wood without hindrance.

Traits: Acute Hearing 1; Appearance (Beautiful; Universal); Berserk (9) (Special Trigger, harming the wilderness); Callous; Can Be Turned with True Faith; Curious (15); Dependency (Home Tree; Daily); Dislikes Loud Noises; Divine Curse (Keep to the letter of any promise); Fearlessness 2; Fragile (Combustible); Higher Purpose (Protect Home Tree); Impulsive (12); Night Vision 5; Obsession (Protect Trees); Odious Personal Habit -1 (Capricious); Sadism (15); Sense of Duty (Home Tree); Shyness (Mild); Silence 2 (Limited, In Woodlands Only); Terrain Adaptation (Jungle or Woodlands); Unaging; Vulnerability (Iron x2); Walk on Liquid (Specialized, Water).
Features: Affected as Spirit.
Skills: Area Knowledge (Local)-12; Axe/Mace-14; Bow-14; Brawling-14; Camouflage-12; Intimidation-17; Naturalist-12; Sex Appeal-12; Stealth-14 (18 in jungles and woodlands); Wrestling-14.
Notes: Most nymphs won't negotiate because they are too shy.  Those who do are amiable enough, but dealing with such an astounding beauty is often disconcerting – especially while under the effect of her intoxicating beauty (see above).  Always scars from wounds inflicted by iron.