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Showing posts from March, 2017

Sphinx Lock: A Combination Gadget for GURPS Cyberpunk/Ultra-Tech

Sphinx Lock (TL 9): This device fits onto a normal suitcase or trunk and seals it with a biometric scanlock. While the subject is being scanned, a non-volitional AI (IQ 6, running on a fast small computer) engages him in simplistic conversation. The childish question-and-answer may confuse an intruder, but an authorized user will know that the AI is simply fishing for pass-phrases. Anyone not delivering the proper pass-phrase in the 10 seconds needed to complete the scan fails the test, and the unit locks down completely. The lock can be programmed to accept multiple authorized users, each with one or more unique pass-phrases. $3,800, 1.32 lbs., C/4 days. LC4.

Some models deliver a high-voltage shock similar to a zap glove (p. 165) if the subject "fails. " $4,120,  2.12 lbs. C/4 days and B/10 "zaps." LC3. Other models include a built-in pneumohypo (p. 199) and 10 doses of morphazine (p. 205).  $3,916, 1.4 lbs., C/4 days. LC3.

(Page references are to GURPS Ultra-Tech

Noir World Launches on Kickstarter

Game designer and editor extraordinaire John Adamus has been working on Noir World, a film noir RPG powered by the Apocalypse, for a few years now, a real labor of love. I had the pleasure of testing an earlier version of it a few Metatopias ago, and I had quite a bit of fun. I know he's done a lot of work on it since then, and this morning he pulled the trigger on the Kickstarter. I don't have a lot more to say about it that hasn't been said on the Kickstarter page and in the podcast interviews and actual plays that will be coming out during the campaign. Check out Noir World, which as of this writing is already funded. And watch the video—it's pretty slick!

Slime: A New Race for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy

Slime0 pointsChoice Professions: Bard, Druid, Wizard.
Marginal Professions: Barbarian, Holy Warrior, Knight, Martial Artist, Swashbuckler.

A slime is an animate blob about 1 yard across with large, round eyes and a wide grin. Slimes typically move by bouncing, but occasionally they are known to roll. They have no limbs, being a blob, and therefor cannot use much in the way of equipment. (It might be possible for a slime to swallow rings, amulets and things and utilize them from within their body.)

Attributes: ST -1 [-10].
Advantages: Appearance (Attractive; Universal, +25%) [5]; Injury Tolerance (Homogenous, No Blood, No Head) [47]; Pitiable [5]; Telecommunication (Telesend; Racial, -20%) [24].
Disadvantages: Cannot Speak [-15]; Curious (12) [-5]; No Legs (Bounces) [0]; No Manipulators [-50].
Quirks: Loves new food [-1].

Adapting GURPS Dungeon Fantasy to Karthun

If I were going to run a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign in the world of Karthun, I would replace the traditional GURPS magic system with the rules in Divine Favor and Thaumatology: Sorcery. These changes require a few adjustments to some of the templates in DF1.

Bards cannot use spells (remove options for spells from the template). Bardic Talent does not add to Communication and Empathy spells or Mind Control spells and therefore only costs 5 points/level. Spend the 6 points this frees up in the template on either Bard-Song abilities or special skills.

Clerics and Holy Warriors should use the Saint and Warrior-Saint lenses from Pyramid #3/36, pp. 8-9.

Druids do not use spells. Replace Power Investiture (Druidic) 3 with Druidic Talent 3 (p. 22 of Dungeon Fantasy 1). Spend the 15 points this frees up plus the 20 points allocated to spells on more Druidic abilities.

Wizards must take the Magebound lens below, using the 30 advantage points in the template.

Magebound 30 pointsAttributes: I…

On Designer Notes

I love designer’s notes. As sidebars, articles, blog posts, or podcast segments, I love when other designers talk about their games, their decisions, and why a system went one way instead of another.

Designer’s notes serve a few purposes. They can expand on the design by offering additional material or alternate systems that were cut from the finished product for some reason. They provide insight into the designer’s process. And finally, they are historical documents that record a particular moment in the evolution of game design.

In the designer’s notes for GURPS Powers, Sean Punch provides outtakes and optional rules that didn’t make it into the final book. A number of these were options suggested during the book’s extensive playtest process. Others, such as the system for pricing power talents, were legitimate outtakes cut from the manuscript. For over a decade, Steve Jackson Games released designer’s notes for nearly every GURPS release in their magazine, Pyramid.

In October 2007,…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part Five

Chapter Eight: Chronicle We've reached the first Storyteller chapter, and it may be the best of the lot. This chapter contains the beating heart—pardon the expression—of VTM, one bit that sums up what makes this game different from the editions that descend from it.

"The characters in Vampire are expected to be heroes—they must care about what they have become and about what they may soon be. … [F]or the Vampire character to find some way to "win," they must somehow become heroic. They must defeat the monster within by exerting self-restraint, nurturing the impulses of human virtue, and displaying genuine courage. Sometimes the tragedy of Final Death is the Vampire's only hope of heroic escape."

This blew me away when I first read it. All of my previous experience with Vampire had been about duplicity, backstabbing, and generally reveling in being monsters. Here this book was saying, "Grow up. Be better than that." When did that sentiment die, an…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part Four

Chapter Six: Drama This chapter expands on the very simplified rules we saw a few chapters earlier. Right away, it talks about breaking your game down into scenes, advice which shows up in just about every game these days. An interesting thing VTM does is suggest running action scenes—even ones without combat—in a structured way with each character taking turns resolving their actions.

This is followed by systems for various common actions—physical and social. Combat is just stuck in the middle of the section on physical actions. Combat is … different. There's no initiative system; actions are described and resolved in whatever order you like. In hand-to-hand combat, it's assumed that attackers pair off. If you are punching someone, it's assumed that they are punching or biting you back. And whoever wins the opposed roll does damage to the other. In a firefight, you just roll to shoot whoever you'd like. Damage and "soak" rolls work like in later Storyteller…

GURPS Karthun: Elves

Karthun's elves are divided into three clans, each dedicated to one of the world's three moons. When the clan's moon is full (about three days out of the month), elves of that clan experience a physical transformation where the express more primal characteristics like strength, speed, and sharp senses.
Elf 20 pointsAttributes: ST -1 [-10]; DX +1 [20].
Advantages: One of Bear Clan [10], Jackal Clan [10], or Wolf Clan [10].

Bear Clan: ST +2 (Moon Reign, -35%) [13]; HP +3 (Moon Reign, -35%) [4]; DR 2 (Moon Reign, -35%; Tough Skin, -40%) [3]; Bad Temper (12) [-10]. 10 points.

Jackal Clan: Basic Speed +0.50 (Moon Reign, -35%) [7]; Basic Move +2 (Moon Reign, -35%) [7]; Night Vision 1 (Moon Reign, -35%) [1]; Sharp Claws (Moon Reign, -35%) [4]; Sharp Teeth (Moon Reign, -35%) [1]; Bloodlust (12) [-10]. 10 points.

Wolf Clan: HP +3 (Moon Reign, -35%) [4]; Sharp Teeth (Moon Reign, -35%) [1]; Per +3 (Moon Reign, -35%) [10]; Night Vision 7 (Moon Reign, -35%) [5]; Bad Temper (12) [-10]. 10 p…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part Three

Chapter Four: Traits This chapter describes the various traits (Attributes, Abilities, Advantages, and so on) that define characters. The first rule here is on Specialties, bonuses to Attributes and Abilities that you can choose when your trait is over 3. VTM offers three options for how Specialties work—reroll 10s, cap the trait at three unless the Specialty applies, or reduce the difficulty of the roll by 1. In later games, this would standardize to the first option, but it's interesting to see the variations here.

The seven clans are described next. Each is a stereotype of what kind of monster you want to be: angry philosopher, bestial hunter, prophetic madman, hideous freak, distracted aesthete, duplicitous sorcerer, or corrupt aristocrat. Archetypes follow, to optionally define your Nature and Demeanor. Together, these decisions foreground your character concept before choosing numerical traits.

Attributes and Abilities follow, with each including sample Specialties and desc…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part Two

Chapter Two: Rules This short chapter relates the core dice mechanic of the game: roll a certain number of d10s based on (usually) two traits, count the number of dice that equal or exceed a number from 3-9 (only very rarely 2 or 10) called the difficulty, and use that amount to determine degree of success. This is essentially the same system used for the next 13 years, and with only minor tweaking, 13 more in the rebooted World of Darkness (now Chronicles of Darkness) games.

The system, boiled down to this core, is remarkably light. In theory, an entire campaign could be run with no further embellishment of this mechanic. It fits in 7 pages, including examples and a glossary. Two more pages in this chapter, interestingly, are given over to a sample character sheet, a feature that would usually be relegated to the following chapter.

Chapter Three: Character
VTM sets the pattern again with its character creation system. You begin with a character concept, and they provide a list of sa…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part One

Released in 1991, Vampire: The Masquerade (VTM) introduced the World of Darkness and paved the way for dozens of game lines to follow. But what was that original green book like, and does it hold up now, over 25 years later?

The Damned VTM opens with a section in-character fiction in the form of a letter from one VT to WH describing the nature of vampires (or the Kindred, as they call themselves), the society they have built for themselves, and the collection of laws they follow called the Masquerade. While it isn't directly stated, it is heavily implied that VT is Count Dracula (nee, Vlad Tepes) and WH is Wilhelmina Harker, tying the setting into that most classic of vampire tales.

This section sets the tone for many later White Wolf titles, though I must say that the fiction gets better in later years. This is really just a setting chapter, and the implication of Dracula as a member of the Kindred detracts from the world they're trying to build—mainly because the effort to m…

GURPS Karthun: Magebound Weapon

I've started work on a GURPS translation of Karthun: Lands of Conflict, coming soon from Exploding Rogue Studios and Evil Hat Production. In that world, mages have the ability to manifest an elemental weapon based on the spirit which forms half of the mage's soul. I wrote up this weapon as an Innate Attack advantage.
Magebound Weapon 3/5/9/11/14/17 points The mage conjures a melee weapon comprised of the source’s element. This weapon deals damage based on Magebound Weapon level. Air, Earth, and Water weapons deal crushing damage. Fire weapons deal burning damage.

Magebound Weapon Level123456Weapon Damagethr+1thr+2thr+4thr+5thr+6thr+7
Statistics: Burning or Crushing Attack 1 pt (Magic, -10%; Melee, C,1, ST-Based, +80%; Nuisance Effect, Requires an empty hand, -5%) [3]. Level 2 increases to 2 pts [5]; level 3 to 1d [9]; level 4 to 1d+1 [11]; level 5 to 1d+2 [14]; and level 6 to 2d. Dice of damage are converted down to a flat bonus according to “Modifying Dice + Adds” (p. B269).

My Sales Numbers for February

For February 2017, I sold PDFs, POD books, and POD cards through the OneBookShelf: DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DriveThruCards, etc. In total, I sold 11 units last month, including 1 deck of cards. My total earnings came to $13.04.

Arthuria: 1 PDF
Fragments, Volume 1, #1: 3 PDF
Interstellar Patrol: 4 PDF
Rituals and Convergences: 12 PDF
Super Power Cards: 1 Cards/PDF
The Model: 1 PDF