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.