Thursday, November 1, 2018

Mystics in Chalice World

There are several kinds of mystics in Chalice World, varying philosophies and mechanics make this an eclectic bunch. The primary thing they have in common is that they rely on philosophy, which guides not just their powers but also their actions. They seek to understand the universe and how it works, a key difference between them is in  how they go about this more than the end result. Most people simply call all mystics a mystic rather than use the names below.

Aesthetic

Philosophy (Aesthetics): The study, creation and understanding of beauty.
Powers: 
Very common among the elves where appreciation of and creating beautiful things is an important way to cut down on boredom.

Elementalist

Philosophy (Elementalism): The study of the primal elements and how they fit together to make up everything.
Powers: Primarily based off GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers
This is the most well known and common philosophy as the six elements have a profound and visible effect on the world. Dragons study it, indeed it is said that mastery of this philosophy is how a dragon becomes a Grand Dragon.

Logos

Philosophy (Logos): Also called the Way of the Word teaches that language is the key to understanding and practitioners strive for accuracy and precision in their words.
Powers: Primarily based off GURPS Powers: The Weird
Probably the most social of mystics they wander civilization and often earn a living telling stories or singing.

Noumenon

Philosophy (Noumena): The observation or perception of reality. Things are not always as they appear and correctly perceiving them is key to understanding the universe and your role in it.
Powers: Primarily based of Noumena in GURPS Powers: The Weird
This is probably the second most common philosophy, though often misunderstood. It is a key part of Fae civilization and culture, though few others understand it.

Passions

Philosophy (Pathos): The study and understanding of emotions and strong desires. Words, material concepts, even logic and rational thought are al distractions that keep you from enlightenment.
Powers: Pathos system
These mystics are perhaps treated with the most wariness and least respect, and its more popular among the youth and rebellious. Practitioners tend to focus on one emotion or desire and use it as their driving force.

Ren

The idea that everything has a name and knowing somethings name lets you control it. This is not strictly a philosophy, though some people think it is a part of Logos. Historians know it was a key aspect of magic in The First Kingdom.

Comments and Suggestions Welcome

This covers most of my ideas but I am on the lookout for more, especially ideas that are gameable. So please feel free to comment below or message me directly.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Green energy means LOCAL jobs!

Listening to an interview of Christine Hallquist, candidate for Governor in Vermont and she mentioned something I hadn't really considered from quite the same way before.
Most states pay other states, and even other countries for their energy needs.
Think about that a minute.
What if the money paid for out of state energy (coal, gas, oil, even hydro or nuclear) stayed in state and created local jobs?
Every state can provide energy see the Solutions Project for some options. Conservatives tend to prefer the old ways of doing things and many still do not think climate change is a serious issue. Those wanting to address the climate change system need to tailor the messaging to better reach the current audience.
If warmer weather causing rising sea levels, more severe storms, and billions in bailouts and recovery efforts for increasing natural disasters is not enough you can add jobs to the mix.
Fossil fuels will of course fight you, even if in another state but if you can create new permanent jobs, while lowering consumer energy costs (That means your utility bills) that should win some people over.

Summary

Clean energy is a practical and desired goal because...
  • Reduces the damage were doing to the environment. This saves lives and money.
  • Cuts down on health costs because the air and water will be cleaner.
  • Increases USA national security due to less reliance on foreign oil.
  • Increases our exports if we go green before most of the rest of the world.
  • Provides local jobs which helps economic growth.
  • Reduces the negative effect of seasonal layoffs in oil jobs as the price of oil fluctuates.
  • Eventually oil and gas will run out, or simply become too expensive to use or sell. We already see this as a temporary problem whenever prices drop people get laid off till they rise again.
  • Likely results in spin off technologies if we get serious and develop the tech before everyone else does. If were too late to the game we may have to pay other countries instead. China is making significant efforts to place themselves as the go to tech source in this industry.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

GURPS Attributes Revisited

With the latest issue of Pyramid introducing a new alternate attribute the SJG forums discussion has hit on an old topic. GURPS has just 3 Primary attributes, several figured ones and advantages to modify all this. Still sometimes people want to change things around a bit.
First lets look at what we have.

ST

This determines how much you can lift, damage you do with muscle powered attacks and how many HP you have, HP are assumed to be based off mass and strength is largely related to mass.
Arm ST: Increased ST but for limited parts of your body.
Striking ST: Explosive muscle force, buying this up lets you hit harder and do more damage.
Lifting ST: Lets you carry more and pull a heavier bow.  Also increases your wrestling strength.
Extra HP: You can buy up or down your HP which indicates how much damage you can take.

DX

This is an overall measurement of agility, quickness and coordination. Mostphysical skills are based off DX and it figures into your Basic Speed. Basic Move, and Dodge scores.
Arm DX: Limited increase to DX for your arms only.
High Manual Dexterity: This increases your finger dexterity and ability to do fine work, great for watch makers and surgeons.


IQ

This is representation of overall mental ability, it covers awareness and the ability to notice things, willpower, and knowledge. Many consider it to be too cheap for its costs and I think it sees the most house rules, such as separating Per and Will from it.
Acute Sense: Increases you Per for 1 specific sense.
Charisma: Adds to Reaction Rolls and stacks with IQ for some social skills.
Fearlessness: Increases your Will for the purpose of resisting fear.

HT

Representing physical health this attribute is the base for few skills but aids certain figured attributes and is rolled against to resist disease, poison, and death.
Hard to Kill: Adds to HT in death checks.
Hard to Subdue: Adds to HT in rolls to avoid being knocked unconscious.

Secondary Characteristics

HP, Per, Will, and FP start the same as their core attribute, while others such as striking damage and Basic Lift are calculated with a chart. Basic Speed is figured using DX and HT and that is used for Basic Move.

Talents and Secondary Characteristics

Talents were created so you could have specialists, people who were good at certain things that used several attributes or even a limited set of skills based off one attribute. This allows a lot of variety and customization in GURPS. The ability to rise or lower secondary characteristics or even some of the narrower versions of the primary attributes above further increases player choice and makes it easier to design exactly the character you want more than most game systems,
Anti-Talents introduced in GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents actually lower effective attribute score for certain sets of skills which allows even further individuality.

But sometimes people want more or a different direction, so here is another idea....
Inspired by the Quintessence article, this thread, and many many others here is an idea I am pondering as a house rule.

New Attribute

Inspired by the Uses or Affects Different Attribute enhancements, talents and the idea of new attributes that gets talked about here is a solution that can be used in the game with GM approval.
Create a new attribute, suggested cost is 10/level and base value is 10.
This attribute will be the base for certain skills, resistance rolls, and possibly other things that were covered by the original attribute. GM discretion.
This is similar to Talent in that you can increase multiple skills without buying up the underlying attribute but is not limited to 4 levels and can have additional effects.
Presence for Social skills and resisting Influence skills, Spirit for shamanic skills, energy and resistance (working similar to QN), and Chi for cinematic martial skills will be others I am adding as player options for my Chalice World setting.
I may come up with more,or my players may do so.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Trump helps Russia, Again

Trump said he is considering pulling out of the nuclear arms deal President Ronald Reagan made.
Some of the media will over the coursew of the next few days talk about it, some will in trying to "analyze" it will say its a distraction to change the topic from the Khashoggi murder by the Saudis.
I'm sure that is partly true.
Fox will undoubtedly play it as a bold move to strike a better deal and say it proves Trump is not under Putins thumb. Putin will of course bluster about how dishonorable America is and that we cant be trusted to keep our agreements and honor treaties.
Under Trump that seems obvious.

Congress could block it, but as we have seen the GOP controlled Congress is unlikely too.
However regardless of what happens countries will lose trust in America, knowing any President can come in and throw out or otherwise sabatoge previous agreements or treaties. That hurts our national security going forward.
Maybe the deal wont be canceled, in which case we gain nothing but lose credibility and power. Maybe the deal will break down and Russia will improve their nuclear capability. Maybe they wont bother since they are still hurting financially. They never really recovered from the Cold War and all that military spending. Maybe they will even use that to get new concessions from the USA to avoid nuclear escalation they cant afford anyhow.
Maybe even Trump will manage to get a better deal than President Reagan was able to, though seriously who really believes that last option?

In the meantime we continue to see a passive GOP weakening our country, increasing the national debt, killing business and weakening alliances while China and Russia gt more powerful and take advantage of the weakness were showing under failed leadership.
Meantime they distract the American people with scandals and divide our country up. While they weaken it so they can retain and grab more power and further line their pockets, they weaken us against our enemies without.

We must stop this nonsense and replace Congress with people who put the country first!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

GURPS Magery Revisited


This is an article I submitted to the last Alternate GURPS issue of Pyramid. Since it did not make the cut and I wont be able to resubmit it I post it here in hopes some people get some use out of it.
There is one section of the article I am leaving out as I might be able to submit it for something later.

Magery Revisited
By Rory Fansler
Carlos mentally reached for the nearest Ley line and was rewarded with a surge of power that blurred his vision and staggered him. A moment later, he reached again and found enough power to lift his car out of the swamp. His happiness over not waiting for a tow truck almost erased his chagrin at missing the turn in the first place…
The existing Magery advantage is largely a holdover from earlier GURPS editions. What might it have looked like if it was created from scratch for the Fourth Edition? This article explores ideas about breaking that up into components so different styles can be modeled.
Manipulating Mana
Magery has the effects of a Detect, ability to cast spells and a Talent that improves spell casting ability, which is quite a package. We can break that up into Detect Magic, Magic Power, and Magic Talent (see below) which allows mages to vary between their ability to control, empower, or sense magic. Magery 0 [5] is replaced with Detect Magic [4], which is a little better and it can be improved. Magic Power replaces Magery for Ritual Path Magic, while Magic Talent replaces Magery for the system in GURPS Basic and GURPS Magic. However, either type can increase capability by adding levels in either advantage. The GM can choose to use this for any of the systems in GURPS Thaumatology and even apply it to priests with little effort, simply replace mana with divine, grace, or piety for the Energy Reserve. A 10 point Talent may be to cheap for spells, on the other hand spells could be considered different specialties, or even Techniques (In fact, Ritual Magic, p. B242 already works that way).
Detect Magic
4 points
Most casters learn how to detect magical energies, in some settings this may even be a prerequisite to manipulating magical energies. While the initial build is very limited it can be enhanced, especially buying off Vague and adding the Reflexive and Precise modifiers.
Statistics: Detect (Magic, Occasional) (Magic, -10%; Vague, - 50%) [4].
Magic Power
10 points/level
You have the ability to manipulate, and store mana! Each level provides 3 FP that can be used to power your spells. These FP cannot be used for Extra Effort or other purposes and can not be drained by normal means, only powers specifically targeting mana. Each level also grants an increase of 1 for spells and rituals capped by Thaumatology or other core skill (such as in GURPS Ritual Path Magic, p. 5), as a prerequisite for spells requiring multiple levels of Magery, and overpowering spells (where effect is capped by Magery) such as in GURPS Magic. Statistics: Energy Reserve (Mana) 3 [9] + Increased Cap [1]; 10 points.
Magic Talent
10 points/level
You have unusual skill with spell casting and magical theory. This affects Thaumatology and the spells of one system or tradition of magic. Talent with additional magic systems or traditions can be purchased as redundant abilities using the alternative ability pricing (GURPS Powers, p. 11). Instead of a reaction bonus use alternative effects to increase the effect cap on spells that list one based on Magery (such as missile spells). Other Talents such as Natural Caster (GURPS Ritual Path Magic, p. 12), or the ones from Ritual Path Specialists, pp.18-20 in Pyramid #3/66: The Laws of Magic may be used instead. Use the higher of Magic Power or Magic Talent for increasing effect caps, do not stack them.
Powers Based Magic
Sorcery is the signature powers based magic system and uses Sorcerous Empowerment [20 + 10/level] instead of Magery, while Alternative Ritual Path Magic in Pyramid #3/66: The Laws of Magic uses Magery for a core ability. PK suggested on the Steve Jackson Games GURPS forums using Ritual Adept in this manner. Other advantages can be used for a core magic ability with various spells as alternative abilities. However, unless you are going for minor spells they need to be expensive advantages such as Jumper, Morph, Snatcher, Warp, or a leveled advantage. The core or foundation advantage should reflect the nature of the magic, Jumper or Snatcher for summoning things or energy, Morph for body control and shape control abilities, or Warp for movement magic. The potential is only limited by your imagination, for example Trained By a Master for a combat magic system. For a versatile mage Control (Mana), which manipulates magic as a form of energy is thematic.
Control (Mana)
20 points/level
This is the ability to manipulate the raw energies of magic (mana) itself. Each level can grant a +1 bonus or penalty to casting or resisting the effects of a spell if the target (or targets) are in the area (radius equals level in yards). It can also grant +1 to energy gathering or recovery skills for magic, including the Recover Energy spell where it adds to effective skill level. See Ritual Path Specialists in Pyramid #3/66: The Laws of Magic for another take on this idea.
Additionally, this ability can be used for Power Blocks (GURPS Powers, pp. 168-169) to resist spells cast on anyone in the area. This adds +1 to resist or doubles an appropriate defense, if successful. The rule for only one Block per Turn remains in effect, however each Block can protect everyone in the area.
Common limitations and enhancements can include....
Dance or Song -40%, Aspected 1 College only -40%, see Magery for more ideas.
Natural Phenomena +100% for some gods, typically aspect limited such as fire magic.
Ranged +40% for gods and powerful meta mages.
Reliable +5%/level aids in skill contests of Control vs. Control but not spells.
Persistent +40% lets the effects persist for 10 seconds after concentrating.
Optional techniques
Bind Power M/A Default to IQ -3, Max IQ
Used to bind another mages powers using a contest of Will + l per level of Control (Mana) and if successful it pins the power with a +3 on any attempt to break free. Requires a Concentrate maneuver to maintain, unless the Persistent enhancement is added. This will make Magic Power unusable, and possibly other abilities.
Counter Spell  M/A Thaumatology - 5 Max Thaumatology
By combining your knowledge of magic with your ability to control the flow of mana you can disrupt spells, either by taking a Wait maneuver for a new spell or a Concentrate for an ongoing spell. This costs 2 FP to counter a spell within range and is resisted by the spell.  Range is 10 or Control, whichever is greater.
Mana Bolt
9 points/level
This is a bolt of magical energy tuned to disrupt the targets stored magical energy reserve. It has no effect on normal fatigue. Statistics: Innate Attack (fat) 1d/level (Magical, -10%) [9/level].
Tools of The Trade
Staves and wands are colorful additions in fantasy fiction, but what do they really do for a GURPS mage? Standard mages can use them as power objects or they could be gadget based Energy Reserves. Purchasing a separate reserve saves points and it recharges separately from personal reserves which results in less down time. Both can be used as weapons (p. B240) and to fire attacks from. As pointing devices wands should increase ACC +1, and do not require separate Innate Attack skills which already work with something in your hand.
Ceremonial Casting
Mages combining their abilities is an intriguing staple of fantasy and rules for it are included in various GURPS magic systems and additional supplements such as GURPS Thaumatology and GURPS Thaumatology: Urban Magics. But, how do powers based mages help each other? Sharing energy could be house ruled, but we do have some options for those wanting specific builds. Leech and Neutralize (see below) are obvious options, but very expensive and Affects Others on Energy Reserve is not much better. Dedicated Controls (p. B43), while designed for machines or vehicles can be used to allow other mages to use your energy reserve. Apprentices with Sorcerous Empowerment (GURPS Thaumatology Sorcery) could be required to have this as a known spell and sorcerers or other power's based mages could learn it as an Affliction (p. 00). A version of Raise Cone of Power (GURPS Thaumatology, p. 51-52) or Mass Magic can be done using the rules for Combining Powers (Powers, p. 170-172) to combine Energy Reserves. Once everyone is linked up the leader has an effective Energy Reserve of the highest individual Energy Reserve plus 1/2 the total of everyone else's, though it only has his own energy to start. Each participating mage would determine how much of their own FP to contribute at any given time and each recovers their FP normally.
Want mages to recover energy faster? Consider Breath Control (p. B182), a version of the Psychic Recovery technique from High Psi in Pyramid #3/97: Strange Powers, or Regeneration (ER only) with Accessibility.
Start box
Steal Energy
You can draw the mana out of another mages Energy Reserve or appropriate things, possibly including powerstones and mana basins. Each of these builds requires touch, though mages involved in ceremonial casting are considered as touching each other. To use these at range requires both Malediction and Ranged modifiers as per Leech (Powers, p. 96).
Absorb Mana: You absorb all the mana from a single target at once, refilling your own reserve or use to power a spell. The energy quickly fades, lasting one second for each point of success. Statistics: Neutralize (Magical, -10%; One Ability, -80%; Power Theft, +200%; Reduced Duration 1/60, -35%; +75% [88].
Drain Apprentice: Affliction 1 (IQ; Dedicated Controls (ER), +100%; Sorcery, -15%) [19].
Siphon Mana: Leech (Accelerated Healing, +25%; Accessibility, magical ER only, -40%; Easily Resisted 1, -5%; Malediction 1; +100%; Mana Sensitive, -10%; Only heals FP, -20%; Ranged, +40%; +100%) [50 +8/level].
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Review: GURPS Pyramid #3/120 Alternate GURPS V

As Pyramid nears the end of its run we today got the last of the Alt GURPS issues.  It was a hearty one with a lot of substance.

Opus Longa, Pugna Brevis

Sean Punch
Prolonged Work, Fight Shortcut according to Google Translate. I was thinking Long Work, something brief so my Latin got me in the ballpark but that is about it :)
The first article is my favorite of the issue. Kromm took a look at an interesting problem and came up with some interesting solutions.
Some tasks are boiled down to a single skill roll that represents minutes of time while the other PCs are doing more interesting stuff.  It also adds drama to rolls, beyond the simple pass/fail.
Its 4 pages that include optional rules for haste and speeding up tasks, ways to add drama to longer tasks, etc. The best part to me though was the Life is a Battlefield section which offers a skill resolution system that is sort of a mini-game. I can see using it for solving mysteries, computer hacking or infiltrating an enemy base with just a little work. He gives good examples to help the GM figure out the numbers.
I loved this article and think it would make a great Action supplement, or even better a Power Up supplement that combined with the existing skills resolution systems and more examples would be a valuable item in the GM tool kit.

Eidetic Memory: Describing Vehicles

David L. Pulver
A solid article that just makes me salivate for GURPS VDS (Vehicle Design System), as if I wasn't already!
My first thought was this is useful, shortly replaced with darn I would rather have had another article instead and just wait for this material in VDS. However it occurred to me as I write this that we might not see it in VDS as this is more of a way to help you eyeball a vehicle and aid in quickly stating one. David, if your reading this and this material wont go into VDS please consider combining it with the Spaceship as building rules from an earlier Pyramid and give us Quick Vehicles and Bases book. I have some other material to suggest for it too if you need to make it bigger, such as rules for paying for them with points (Such as The Captains Boat and the rules in GURPS Supers).
Probably my second favorite article and one that will keep me in good stead should I want some simple stats for say a sailing ship before VDS is out. Or maybe even then for building things in an even easier way than the GURPS Spaceship series.

The Fifth Attribute

Christopher R. Rice
People have talked about a possible Fifth attribute for quite awhile to separate IQ from magical power. Personally this was the most disappointing article to me but that is not a knock on the authors writing. Nitpicks, I wish he had used a different name for the attribute and that he had referenced RuneQuest which with its POW attribute was a close comparison and came out years before the other referenced works. I also wish he had referenced his article How Very Tempting from Pyramid #3/67 as thematically I think they could be good fits. However, even he had thought of that he may not have had the room for it here. Something for later or a Designers Notes article?
How was the new attribute handled? It helps resist supernatural influence (discouraging people buying it down), replaces IQ for a lot stuff, and gives supernatural FP similar to HT for normal activity. Overall thats pretty good, I think it is balanced and achieves the goal (for some) of separating IQ from magical ability. Something that a lot of people have wanted for awhile.
Resilient Quintessence is an inspired version of Fit and Very Fit, Calling out the Based on Different Attribute and Requires Attribute modifiers here was a nice touch, as is the use of Pact.
Live Like You Were Dying was an interesting idea and much of the skills and using with other systems were pretty useful. The Ritual Path Magic section seemed a bit off to me, but maybe I did not understand it. It seems like it effectively kills anything beyond Magery 0 which I'm not sure I like.
Magery is reasonably replaced with the standard system and for some reason that bothers me less, though it has unmentioned effects on a lot of spells, prerequisite issues and powering up spells for example.
I may use some of this but it will require tweaking for my campaigns.

Conditional Injury

Douglas Cole
This is the hardest article for me to review and give my opinion on. Its a great article, very well done and has at least two key benefits.
It solves the glass ship problem if applied to vehicles, same as death by house cat. Normally we just abstract tiny wounds away, but this provides a solid system that gives us good wounding, including long term effects.
It gives a more visual and intuitive idea of how hurt someone is, including debilitating conditions and I like that.

A lot of work obviously went into this article and I like the detail. Nitpicks, Recovering Maximum FP would have made more sense under the Deadly Fatigue section. I was confused on first reading it, read it twice to be sure I understood it and still thought it out of place in the article till I read the next section. The other and minor nitpick was not mentioning Injury Tolerance: Damage Reduction though its effects can be figured easily enough using the Vulnerability entry. I really like how Douglas managed to incorporate existing healing methods into this in a very clean manner.

Ok, now to read an email I been putting off...
Ok, thats done. I had a friend send an email specifically about this article but wanted to make my initial review unbiased by other points of view. He likes it but I dont want to post his comments without permission.
This kind of gives me a Mekton feel (If I remember the right game) and overall I like it, not sure if I will use it as it might be too complicated in play. I think some testing is in order but I really like it as an idea for dealing with really large creatures and ships. The Parting Shot section on the last page summarizes the benefits, including non deadly boxing matches.

Random Thought Table: Fluid Skills

Steven Marsh
An interesting idea for skills changing over time but around a baseline, the goal being limited improvement.
Not much to say here, its interesting but not to my style of play so hard to give an opinion on.

Summary

A really good issue, with two outstanding articles likely to see use in the near future and two that bear looking at but may require some fiddling to fit into one of my games. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Updates on Lantern Guild

Starting the Menagerie campaign tonight and as one of the players wants to be a mage from the Lantern Guild I have been updating that.
Most of the rules are offline but I wanted to share the concepts here and will be updating some of the guilds as we make new spells.
The Lantern Guild is a professional and academic oriented guild. Members include 50 point NPCs, 250 point adventurers and even higher point guild leaders.
How do you have an effective system that fits within a magic based economy. yet is also suitable for adventuring or even epic style campaigns?
I wanted a flexible system to give my players options and to keep my GM workload down. So I started with GURPS Thaumatology which has some great flexible magic systems but due to limited space was weak on spell creation.

So the Lanterns use 3 separate but related systems, with very similar rules for creating spells.  That similarity makes life easier for me and my players.

Tier 1 Book

The Lantern Guild is organized into several sub guilds.with different themes or functions. They share the same Magic (Lantern) skill which makes cross training easier. This tier uses Book magic with structured lengthy rituals that do not require magery to use, though magery adds to ritual effect. It uses cooperative collaboration so weak mages an achieve useful effects. Not really suitable for adventuring due to the casting time but the books make good background rituals.

Tier 2 Affinity Magic (Path with inspiration from RPM)

Each guild has a handful of Affinities/Paths and what I think is a simple to use spell design system. A caster would have Magic (Lantern) which caps the Affinities which are full skills with spells being Techniques. Magery is required and adds to Affinity skills (and hence spells) but not Magic (Lantern) which is basically Thaumatology (Tradition). Spells are fast casting and this tier is a good one for adventurers. I feel they are comparable to Ritual Magic from GURPS Basic in game play and hope to have players use both systems in the campaign to test this.

For those interested in under the hood bits the spell design system has 18 spell types, most with about a paragraph of individual modifiers and guidelines for designing spells. Types: Attack, Barrier, Bonus and Penalty, Calling, Communication, Concealment and Observation, Control and Shape, Create, Healing and Restoration, Information, Movement, Protection, Purify and Refinement, Seek and Identification, Special Effect, Summoning, Transformation, Work

Tier 3 Thaumaturgy (Realm)

Each Realm costs 10 points (with a few possible exceptions) and work pretty much like the Realm system in GURPS Thaumatology with 6 possible levels. Spells are designed with the same rules as Affinity, just some different modifiers. Magery is not required but adds to spell skill and this tends to be a more point intensive system but unlocks more raw power.