Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Character Creation Guide, Part 2

The Guided Path

This is in most cases the best method, especially for newcomers to the system. Its also useful for new groups as the GM can steer things so the party is more cohesive and covers important roles.
  1. Ask the player for their concept.
  2. Suggest the main things they will need, this includes advantages, skills, and attribute ranges.  Try to just hit the core items to leave room for later.
  3. Add up the items to see how much it costs.
  4. Suggest optional abilities and tweeks,
  5. Consider appropriate disadvantages.
In practice that goes something like this...
Player: I want to be a fighter. 
GM: Ok, a swashbuckling expert type, brute force barbarian, or a tank? Maybe a martial artist? Player: I think a swashbuckler, good with a rapier.
GM: Ok, so this is a DF cinematic type game where your heroes of legend or soon will be. So you should have a good DX to handle Acrobatics, good fencing skill and lets say Weapon Master to represent awesome natural talent or trained by an expert. Say DX 14, Skill 16, Weapon Master (Fencing Weapons) and lets add Cloak, Acrobatic, and Running skills. That covers that, before we look at rounding you out or increasing those abilities is there anything else you want to be good at?

Or this...
Player: I want to be a Mage!
GM: Ok, were using the default magic system si each spell is ts own skill.  Do you want to be great at one signature spell and have several others? Or do you want to be a very rounded mage with a LOT of spells of all kinds?
Player: I mainly want to be great in combat and have some utility spells too.
GM: Ok an elemental college is a good choice. They all have some attack, defenses and utility spells. Do you prefer Air, Earth, Fire, or Water?
Player: Can I do more than one? I want fire but water to put things out might be good.
GM: Sure, just have normal Magery instead of limited Magery. So Fire, Water, and lets set aside say 10 points for 10 other spells you can figure out a bit later. So Magery 3 and IQ 14 eat up 115 points which is almost half your budget (250 point game) but is a good break point since 1 point on a spell will usually give you skill 15 and make them 1 FP cheaper to cast. So you can toss a 1d fireball at no cost!
Player: Great!
GM Ok, for Fireball you need 3 other spells as prerequisites so that is 4 points. We can make you better at those spells or pick more but your going to want to hit with that fireball so I recommend you buy Innate Attack skill to say 14.  Also anything else you want to do before start choosing spells?

More complex concepts of course take longer and fine tuning things can also add to the work. In general I recommend a player stash a few points in reserve that allows them to buy things matching their background on the fly. At least for the first few adventures. Munchkins and minmaxers will take longer as they try for ultimate optimization, but thats true in most systems.
That said the above examples are enough to get the game started and people starting their fun.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Character Creation Guide

GURPS is one of the most powerful and versatile character creation systems available for any RPG. However, that versatility and power has a cost. While its complexity is over-hyped it does present players with an often overwhelming list of choices that can can be very daunting. This post seeks to go over options to make that less daunting.

The Basics

GURPS has 4 primary attributes and a number of secondary attributes that are based off the primary ones and can be raise or lowered individually. It has a very broad list of skills and advantages, though these are not all available in every campaign. Building a character is actually pretty simple and easy and requires just a little addition and subtraction for most genres.
Powers based characters such as Supers do require more math as you build various exotic abilities, about as much as Champions.
Where the system can intimidate people is not in its complexity but in its selection possibilities. Consider character creation to be like ordering food at a restaurant.
  • Fast Food: Very few choices, sometimes a specific combination. This is easy and fast as you don't really need to know much about it to understand what your getting.
  • Family Dinner: The cook picks the meal and you have very little, if any choice about what to eat.These can be very simple, or more like a holiday meal.
  • Formal Meal: Similar to the Family Dinner but the meal is more complex and comes in courses. Again choices are limited and they are spread out so you make a simple choice, eat (level up), pick the next course, eat and so on. Its structured to allow more variety but not overwhelming by having to choose it all at once. Trouble is you often need to plan ahead as the early choices limit later ones.
  • Buffet: This kind of system lets you pick from a wide variety of foods for a unique plate (charecter).  However you have to choose what you want to eat, and while some buffets have limited options, others may have quite a lot.
  • The Great Waiter/Waitress: IMO the best method, especially for newcomers to the system. Requires a GM experienced in the system and good communication from everyone but the GM can listen to players ideas and quickly direct them through the menu to get the best meal for their dining experience.  I'll discuss this in another post, along with tips for how to do it.

Standard GURPS Character Creation

This is the buffet approach, your presented one or more books and told to make your choices. A good GM will curate some lists and tell the players what books and rules are allowed and whats not for the campaign. However, if your new to GURPS this is not ideal and you will build a character that winds up having things of little use and missing other things you really wish you had.  Again a good GM can help here by guiding your choices, though of course you have to listen to the advice!
This is really most peoples experience with GURPS and it can be frustrating.

Character Templates

This idea cane about later and is sort of antithetical to GURPS, or at least seems so. Templates can be Fast Food (Give me a fighter) where the character is a pregen and already built for you. Most templates are a focused buffet, like choosing between a Chinese buffet, Japanese, TexMex, or a Steakhouse type.  You pick a template (profession or class) and it comes with a short list of skills and advantages, often in combinations to customize your character.
The limitation of this method is templates need to fit the campaign setting. GURPS thus created several books with template driven character creation. 
  • GURPS Action is based on action movies, primarily modern day.
  • GURPS After the End is a post apocalypse setting, think Mad Max, though it worls great fpr any disaster - including zombies.
  • GURPS Dungeon Fantasy is for the classic dungeon crawl.
  • GURPS Monster Hunters is modern day secret monsters, think Men in Black, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Dresden Files, and many others.
  • Powered By GURPS are various books where most of the rules are tossed out and only those needed for a specific setting are included. This includes Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game, Discworld, and some from Third Edition.
  • Setting Books, several setting books come with their own list of templates.
When using templates the GM may enforce niche protection by limiting character advancement to the templates and associated power-ups or open it up and let characters choose from other templates or abilities in the appropriate books.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Going Insane from Terror

Once upon a time I built some sanity rules for a Horror setting based on the radiation rules in GURPS, These updated rules are being posted because I saw a post on a similar idea with different mechanics. The ideas originally came from the Lovecraft Mythos, derivative works and various games including CthuluPunk.

These rules treat sanity loss as mental damage and were designed so I could have madness inducing attacks.

New Modifier: Madness

This modifier does 1 point of  Corruption (GURPS Horror) or madness per point of base damage rolled, regardless of DR. It is +25% on an Innate Attack that does Toxic damage or +100% on Terror.
It replaces the normal effects of toxic damage or adds to the effect of Terror doing 1 point per -1 penalty.

The Onset of Madness

Every time a subject is exposed to an attack with the Madness modifier they must make a Will roll to resist its effects. The effects are based on the total current accumulation of madness at that point. For Corruption effects use the rules in GURPS Horror see Power Corrupts pp. 146-148.

Accumulated
Madness
Will
Crit Success
Success
Fail
Crit Fail

1-10
+0No EffectNo EffectAB

11-20
+0No EffectABC

21-40
+0ABCD

41-80
-1ABCD

81-160
-3ABCD

161-800
-4ABCD
800-4,000
-5CDEE
A Roll on the Short-Term Conditions Table.
B Roll on the Medium-Term Conditions Table, treat hours as minutes and days as hours.
C Roll on the Medium-Term Conditions Table.
D Roll on the Long-Term Conditions Table, plus stunned for 1 turn per margin of failure.
E Roll on the Long-Term Conditions Table, plus stunned for 1 minute per margin of failure.

Recovering From Madness

Any subject can slowly recover from this stress by making a Will or Meditation roll once per day that incurred no new madness damage or fright checks. Success recovers 1 point of accumulated damage.
The care of a competent (skill 12+) psychologist (Psychology (Clinical) or Physician (Psychiatric)  adds +1 to the roll, and they can attempt a roll against their skill once a day to reduce yet another point of damage. In some cases Theology might suffice, but the subject must believe in the same religion. For permanent effects a successful roll by the therapist or priest can grant 1 point on success or 2 points on a critical success towards buying off the mental disadvantage.

New Advantage: Stubborn Reality

Variable
Whether through deep religious beliefs, divine protection, or stubborn ignorance and rationalization you can reduce the effects of madness attacks. Each level reduces the damage taken from attacks. See Radiation Tolerance (B79) for costs and the divisor.

New Modifier: Mental Regeneration

-60%
You can recover 10 madness or corruption points from attacks (Not that used to power your abilities) for each hit point you would recover. This is a -60% limitation on Regeneration for only healing mental damage.

Balance Notes

Compare to a Toxic attack with the Radiation modifier an effect of A has an effect of burn damage, Low Pain Threshold for a week with possible additional complications. B level effects adds Nauseated, Hemophilia, and possible attribute loss. It only gets worse from there!
An Innate Attack would cost 4/level with +25% for the Madness modifier and need to do 21+ points of damage before permanent effects start to occur, even on a critical failure.

In some settings you can combine Madness attacks with radiation damage (in which case the Regeneration and Radiation Tolerance variants above work against both effects) for things so outside reality that they destroy both body and mind!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Citadel of Nordvorn

Apologies to the author but I dont know how to do those accent marks,
I have had this book for awhile but held off on review since my DF GM may use it.
For that reason I skipped a lot of the book but got enough to give the reader an idea on it. I will be reviewing the PDF here, hard copy not arrived yet (If I even ordered one).

First Off, This is a Pretty Book.

Its well laid out with an old timey theme and many Norse words. Those make it hard for someone like me to read and remember the content but it has a glossary early on, good table of contents, and a really nice categorized index. I generally prefer the typical GURPS layout with its more textbook like fonts and color scheme but the author chose a nice variant here.
Text is mostly black on a vanilla like background (some kind of off-white) with various colors and fonts for emphasis and organization. It has a kind of 80's or 90's look to it but is much more readable and easier on the eyes than many from that time period.
Chapter headings are a sword pointing one way and the book title a sword pointing the opposite way, alternating every other page.
There are several good maps and nice art scattered throughout.
I think most people will be pleased with the appearance, and it is readable even to my bad eyes.

Nordvorn (Northwatch)

This first chapter describes a large settlement and includes a lot of background information for the setting. Included are holidays, climate and personages.

After this are two towns, each with their own chapters and described in good detail. I skipped most of this in case my GM decides to use it but looked at enough to appreciate the work and detail that went into this book.

After that are more descriptions of various areas, the main adventure, bestiary and NPC writeups.
From the forward the adventure is basically a social one and involves two lovers and a lot of rivalries. Something like Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story. But with dragons and magic.

Two Items of Note

There is a short section of rules for duels by taunting. I liked this section, would have made a good Pyramid article, and I hope something similar shows up in a Bard Denizens or Social Engineering book.
Also is a good section on random village generation.

Summary

I really liked this book and look forward to more in the setting.


Right, Left, Center - Private Prisons and Internment Camps

This weeks topic is inspired by the Detention or Internment Camps.
Comprehensive Health Services, owned by Caliburn International operates Immigrant camps charging the US Taxpayer $750 per day per person. John Kelly (former Trump WH) is on the board of Directors and has been seen onsite.
Heres another article

Right

The Right wing believes that as much as possible should be privatized, including prisons. The idea is that its better to have private companies do things than the government.Some say this is because smaller government is good and others that private companies are more efficient and have less bureaucracy.

Left

The Left believe that private companies have no morals and are vulnerable to corruption when there is no watchdog or competition.

Center

As usual the best option as regards privatization vs. government run organizations is somewhere in the middle. Were paying over $700 a day for each person detained with these internment camps. Other private prisons are more efficient but taxpayers pay more for private prisons than government controlled ones. Also private prisons have contracts that say they get paid even if empty, so there is incentive to lock more people up. At of course more cost to the taxpayer.
The reason private prisons dont work is no competition to lower prices once they are built and no customer incentive for quality. I mean its not like prisoners can shop around for the best prison!
So why do we have them?  Corruption, pure and simple. Companies know they can make a lot of money so spend a small cut on bribing politicians to get the contracts.
Some things are better in private hands but some aren't.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Legal Arms and Armor in the Commonwealth

Based on guidelines from Pyramid #3/58 Urban Fantasy.

Status 0

Typical delver level.  
Can carry daggers, small and large knives, or quarterstaffs. Basic armor is allowed, no metal armor.

Status 1

A gentleman, member of a professional class in good standing.
Can carry one or two light weapons such as long knives, small or shortswords, rapiers, or sabres. Can war metal armor up to DR 4 with little question or comment. Dwarves may wear any armor and are generally given extra deference with most weapons.

Status 2

An actual Knight or someone with a rank like guildmaster of a decent sized city.
All weapons and armor are allowed.

2020 Candidates Andrew Yang

Good fast interview on Stephen Colbert.
I think the citizen dividend thing is too far left for my taste but so far hes the only candidate with a plan for the automation crisis. Getting rid of the penny and a psychologist in the White House makes sense too.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Manasynthesis

I have had a few of these for my Chalice World setting but the venerable TBone issued a challenge so here is my response and a listing of plants that rely on mana for energy instead of light.
Unless noted otherwise the ambient energy they gather is not large enough to affect the local mana level. They do tend to grow better in areas of higher mana levels and along dragon or ley lines.

Mage Moss

This white moss grows in thick clumps and sheets, particularly in damp and dark conditions. It is valued by alchemists as its easily harvested and ground up for use as a base in potions.

Mage Stools

This fungus sprouts quickly in areas where mages have recently cast multiple spells. The turbulence in local mana from frequent spell casting seems to be especially friendly to this fungus. They are a serious problem for spell casters and cause a -1 penalty to normal casting and a -5 penalty to ceremonial casting, including enchantment. They are also highly resistant to spells and enjoy a +5 resistance to regular spells cast on them.

Glow Flowers

These flowers come in many varieties and use some of the mana they gather to attract insects and other animals. This helps spread their pollen to other caves.  The light they provide is pretty dim, each flower is about a candles brightness but a cavern full of them can add up. Dwarves and other subterranean dwellers will breed them in a variety of colors and plant them as decorative background lighting.

Fae Bane

This is a parasitical plant, much like a hyperactive mistletoe and is a threat to magical creatures. Once in contact it slowly siphons off innate magic draining 1 point a minute from magical ERs and making casting very painful (treat as Agony). It requires little water or nutrients from soil and can live for days off a magical source even if uprooted.  Used by some to shackle mages.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Review of Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2

As Preorders close on June 23 I thought now would be a good time to review this book. Before I do so here is another review to give you a second look. Dungeon Fantastic

This book has 24 monsters, each with a picture and 2 pages of text.  Some are old classics like Giants, Stirges, Chimera, and the Naga.  Others are new monsters. The book is based on stock art so some will look like classic monsters from various games but are given unique and often exciting life here.
Each monster has stats,and many have a special attack that is well described in the text. The text also includes adventure seeds (I think all have 2) which helps the GM quickly drop them into a campaign.

Most of these are rather tough, if not boss level, and the variety is enough that something here will be good for any DF type campaign. Some are pretty creepy and most have enough flavor to amuse me and add to a campaign.
For an idea of the contents here are the monster by type:
Construct 2, Demon 3, Dire Animal 3, Divine Servitor 2, Elder Thing 2, Elemental 2, Faerie 2, Hybrid, Mundane 3, Plant 2, Slime, Undead 3

As a kickstarter backer I received my PDF copy a few weeks ago, and I am looking forward to my printed copy later this year. I really liked the book and hope you get yours as well.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Big Government vs. Small Government

This is one of the classic debates between the two camps, so lets look into it...

Right Wing

Big government is bad! As it gets bigger taxes go up to pay for it, bureaucratic red tape makes it slower and less efficient, and it intrudes in peoples lives.

Left Wing

The government should take care of its people.

Center

As with most things either extreme goes too far. The government is supposed to protect the country and its people from foreign attack, both sides agree there. But what abut other things?
  • Police, fire departments add to the size of government and increase taxes but if no one did it we would have anarchy. Also privatized services cost more money to run because they want to make a profit and may choose to only cover those who can afford them. We actually used to have that setup in the USA but it turns out fires spread and if not controlled quickly they spread out of control.
  • Corporate takeover is a risk from not just US based companies but foreign ones as well. In fact most corporations are owned in whole or in part by foreign entities. Without government oversight companies could seize your home, charge you anything they wanted, force competitors out of business, and trample all over citizens rights and freedoms. So clearly we need some government controls, the real question is how much is too much.  That is a topic for another post.
  • Public Education is another thing to look at. We used to have private education but the trouble is uneducated people find a hard time getting good work and are more likely to resort to criminal activities. Also with a poorly educated population we have to import skilled workers from other countries or ship skilled jobs overseas. This weakens our country and makes it more vulnerable to foreign control so an educated population is in the countries national security interests.
  • Infrastructure is something the government can do well, though its subject to corruption. We need roads and airports to connect us and do we really want all roads to be toll roads?

Summary

The size of government and what it does is a good topic for debate, clearly we need some but not too much. Those who think government can solve everything are mistaken, some things are in fact done better by private entities motivated by profit and greed over patriotism. However some things that profit over patriotism gets in the way and is counter to the good of the country. Remember in modern America big business is beholden to its stock holders and they may or may not be Americans. By definition we cant reasonably expect them to be patriotic and loyal to our country, especially over making a profit.

An Open Letter to Robert Mueller

Dear Robert Mueller,

I've heard you dont want to testify before Congress and that you feel your report stands by itself. I respect that, you seem like a work hard kind of guy and likely expect others to work hard too.  And having read your reports it seems pretty clear and well laid out case.
However most Americans have not, please understand that many are working multiple jobs and have families and dont have a lot of free time. And its hard reading, especially if your not a lawyer, and to be fair its a very hard read. Also many Americans likely feel that if there was anything in there Congress would do its job but all most are hearing are partisan politics. You have a major news channel in Fox telling everyone its a witch hunt and totally exonerated the President. You have the President himself and most of the GOP saying the same thing. So its understandable that Democratic voices are considered partisan hacks, especially since Speaker Pelosi and most of the House has chosen to not begin impeachment.  That tells the American people that they dont have enough evidence so they need to keep digging.

Unfortunately we have corruption and most of Congress looking to protect their own power and political aspirations.Some want to bury the investigation and let Russia and other countries continue their attacks on America to protect themselves and their party. Some just are cowards who are afraid to do what they swore to when they took office and are waiting for the wind to blow the right way.
I understand your disgust at all this and testifying before them will not be fun and you'll probably feel like showering for a month wont get rid of the slime and stench from being in the same room.  I understand the feeling that you served your country yet again and its about time others who are in a position of power to do so stand up and be counted.
But we all know that is not likely to happen soon, in the meantime cyber security has been pretty much nixed and our elections are still insecure as there is no political will to protect the country.

The sad truth is your country needs you again. We need you to stand up and explain in a manner that will get coverage and be clearly understood and repeated by every American. We cant trust Congress to do its job and hopefully we can replace most of them in 2020 for their failure. But efforts to protect our republic need to happen soon if they are to do any good at all. If the President and Congress are allowed to get away with these crimes against our country then things will only get worse.
So I ask, no I beg you to testify, do it soon, and do it publicly.  And I ask that you call out Congress (both parties) on their failure to do their duty.
America needs to hear from you, it may be our only chance.
Thank you,
Rory Fansler
USAF Veteran.
(No war hero, but I served and was willing to die for my country and do not feel its too much to ask the same of my elected representatives.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Sci-Fi Settings

Check this page for a list of settings. Thats a good list but as a list it lacks flavor.  For flavor we need to break that down into something smaller.

GURPS Infinite Worlds

Created to showcase the versatility of GURPS this is a pseudo time travel setting with two competing parachronic opposing organizations. The setting presupposes a bunch of alternate timelines and the characters travel from world to world doing various missions, This is a fun setting, though it can be hard on the GM as it jumps from world to  world and mission assignments vary.
There are a number books and Pyramid articles supporting this setting.

GURPS Transhuman Space

This is the largest sci-fi setting for GURPS and started near the end of the Third Edition, but has had an update and conversion book as well as several fully Fourth Edition supplements.
The concept is a near future where transhumanism is front and center. Computer technology is prolific and humans can upload themselves into machines. Its similar to cyberpunk but less dystopic in a way.

Reign of Steel

Another Third Edition setting updated to Fourth Edition.  This is a post Apocalypse series where computers took over the world. The difference between this and most others of that ilk is that there are several computers (called zone-minds) with each in charge of a certain region of the world (or beyond!) and they are vying with each other for control of resources and philosophies. This is a harsh world where computers send out hunter killer teams to eliminate a human resistance, use them as lab rats, or a labor force.

Tales of the Solar Patrol

This is a Space Opera setting in the vein of pulp science fiction, with square jawed heroes, helpless damsels to rescue, and a lot of stereotypes. Its a fun setting and one not to be taken too seriously.

Lands Out of Time

Another fun setting designed to be less than serious is Lands Out of Time which has a lost world with dinosaurs that the characters are somehow sent to.

Summary

So that 5 complete sci-fi settings for modern GURPS, two tongue in cheek, two serious and more gritty, and one that is pretty much anything goes. Pyramid has several setting ideas in it as well, and Third Edition settings can of course be adapted.
But that is what we have now, what would YOU like to see in the future?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Capitalism vs. Socialism

So in the media a lot of people are talking about these ideas but not bothering to dig into the terminology, instead its being framed as two opposing sides. The reality is of course more complex than a sound byte.

Capitalism

The idea behind capitalism as an economic philosophy is that humans are competitive in nature and also inherently lazy. Without a personal benefit people wont do any work and society will crumble.
While that is a bit exaggerated (we all know people who volunteer) it does however have a lot of truth to it.  People are generally far more motivated if there is something in it for them.

Socialism

This is a hybrid government and economic philosophy and all governments are to some extant socialist in nature. The idea is that by banding together for the collective good the society provides benefit to everyone. Examples include the military for defense, public roads and utilities, fire and police departments, etc.

Difference in Goals

Capitalism is a predator vs. prey relationship, where the strong get stronger and feed off the weaker.  In this case wealth is the measure of power. Socialism is a grassroots community building process where the whole is grater than the sum of its parts. By helping those less fortunate than you you help society as a whole.

Getting Practical

By allowing those who work hard or come up with new ideas to personally benefit society becomes stronger, However if the majority of the society feel to put upon they may revolt, also they are needed to provide labor and consume the goods the wealthy are selling.
Socialism provides a safety net  to keep exploitation low enough to prevent civil war and help more people become contributing members to society.
Both sides can go too far or not far enough, the best approach is a middle ground.

Getting to the Middle

To function America needs both ideas, Capitalism encourages development and growth, but socialism evens out the playing field through education and basic services so everyone has the hope of opportunity. As the money gets more and more focused at the top its easier for them to maintain power even without working for it (Inherited wealth, racial privilege) and harder for those born poor to get wealthy (or even middle class). Socialism tries to even this out by ensuring everyone is equal and starts off with the same resources, then its up to the individual what they do with it.
 If the average American is one step away from losing their home, job, or life with a single stroke of bad luck society as a whole suffers.

A Prosperous America

America was at its most prosperous after WW II in the 1950s.
We had a strong rising middle class due to a souped up manufacturing industry and the world needing rebuilding, also consumer demand was high.  The GI bill helped a lot of service members and their families get better jobs and offered affordable housing which also meant more jobs. The goodwill and economic prosperity brought to other countries by the Marshal Plan helped foster good will towards America, increasing overseas demand for its products. Strong labor unions helped workers get better pay and benefits which increased consumer demand as more people had more money to spend.
The marginal tax rates were far higher than they are now, though not at historical highs. The highest rates were after the Great Depression and helped get us out of it faster than many other countries. Still it was as high as 91% in 1960 for $200,000 single filers (today that would be 1.5 million dollars) and that also helped spread the wealth around.
As corporations and the wealthiest gained more and more power they have worked to undo a lot of those gains, lowering their tax rates substantially while lowering the average Americans far less in comparison, destroying unions, and lobbying for massive deregulation.
They also went for consolidation resulting in less competition and fewer jobs.

Getting Back to a Prosperous America

In order to get back to a prosperous America for all we need to promote job growth, not by adding more part time jobs for minimum wage and no benefits but by adding good full time jobs at a living wage. As more and more people make a decent living and have money to spare they spend more which in turn creates the need for more jobs.
To do this we need 
  • Minimum wage to be tied to inflation. Most people get raises that are lower than inflation, which means year after year even though they make more money it does not go as far.
  • Quality Education for all. Education is stacked towards the wealthy in America.  That means those born wealthy have a tremendous advantage over those not so lucky. By making more people able to have the same opportunities to make a better life for themselves and their children everyone benefits. Its simple Demand Economics. If you have more customers you can make more money.
  • Health Care is a huge cost for most Americans. If you get sick even with insurance you may lose your job, and its the number one reason for bankruptcy in America. Americans pay more for less than any other industrial nation. Taxpayers pay for medical advances at universities and trials yet the drug companies sell the same drug for thousands of dollars to Americans that they sell at a profit overseas for a few dollars. If this is not changed America will fall.
  • Climate Change is a hge problem.It costs billions of dollars in tax subsidies each year for disaster relief and the amount keeps growing. Meanwhile fosil ful jobs own most politicians despite hiring fewer workers than renewable jobs (Look it up Bureau of Labor Statistics) which hurts our economy now and even more so going forward. We used to lead in solar cell production but have surrendered that to China due to government policies purchased by the fossil fuel industry. Addressing this while the window is still open means more American jobs.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Designers Notes for GURPS Powers: Nature and Totem Spirits


Its been a long road but this is my first GURPS book, though hopefully not my last.
This was originally part of a much larger book, but Steven Marsh wisely suggested a smaller book for my first time. In my mind shaman and spirits are given short shrift in most RPGs in that spirits are mostly things to fight and shaman are typically just another spell caster. GURPS has the structure to do so much more and we have seen glimpses but I wanted more for my favorite system.

The Totems, there are a decent amount included, I only had to cut one from the playtest draft (rat) which was a nice urban type totem but replaced it with Dragon and Nymph at the request of the play testers who wanted more non animal totems. There a bunch of notes for others that did not get a writeup, just some short notes on their aspects.
The play testers were great, especially William Stoddard and Jon Lang who kept the discussion on the power modifier going a few days after it officially closed. They had specific concerns and because they were willing and able to discuss them objectively we managed to come up with a rewrite that hopefully works for more people than the original.

Going into this I knew I would get requests for additional totems (Octopus was one such), expected to get some recommendations to cut, and was expecting (and received) requests for more detail and lore on certain favorites. However the goal was to get in as many worked examples as possible and cover several professions and character needs.
Overall that part went better than I expected, for those familiar with the subject a lot of this can be very personal.

The Role section was added during the review and let me keep more totems than I expected and do a better job of helping GMs and players make new totems. It adds an extra step but I think keeps complexity to a minimum.

Drafts, I actually did rewrites and sent them out daily the first week.  Most would not do this, but it helped the manuscript was short and it helped me track word count and turn in the final draft faster by editing in virtually real time instead of after the test. The only playtest I have participated in that was similar was GURPS Technical Grappling where it was important to the author we saw changes quickly for improved feedback.
I tried to make it as painless as possible by noting the changes in each draft from the previous one.

Hows the Crunch?

Primarily this is a book of templates and lenses and no new rules. However I created some new modifiers, including one that addressed something I have wanted in GURPS since GURPS Lensmen!
Also added were some skill and advantage clarifications. Overall I think its pretty crunchy but still has plenty of flavor. But that is the authors opinion, whats yours?

What was changed or cut?

In the end the presentation had the most changes, with sections of text being moved around, a few things were deemed redundant and cut, other sections reworded for clarity.
The Power modifier and a few advantages received some feedback and changes but in the end they came out as I wanted but better written due to the feedback. The Role change was a nice addition and saved a lot of repetitiveness. That saved a lot of word count but also makes an easier read. The old way each Totem was a larger wall of text, good for fast reference but not as pleasant to read in my opinion.

Other Reviews

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Investing in America

I'll be going through a series of posts on Investing in America. In order to grow a business our country you have to be willing investment and support for that growth.  Incentives also help, though a capitalist economy can be enough of an incentive as long as people have the opportunity.

Right Wing Challenge!

So if you read this blog you know I am a humanitarian and thus Left Wing in my politics.
But one of the biggest personal goals is to get money out of politics. Efforts to do this seem to mainly be from the Left, with Take Back Our Republic the only group I know of on the Right.
On the Left we have Wolf Pac, Brand New Congress, and Justice Democrats.

Why so little effort from the Right?  If its really a populism movement and not just corporate manipulation of some of our population how come there is so little effort to get money out of politics?

If you really believe in privatization because you think its good for America how come people have to pay politicians to do it? If Americans really believe deregulation why do corporations have to buy Congress? If you prefer private insurance and those who are in between jobs, laid off, work for small business, or simply cant afford it why is so much of the money coming from insurance companies?
Shouldn't the individual voter and American citizen be able to matter and influence their politician if the numbers are really on their side?

So my challenge to the Right Wing is start an organization like Brand New Congress or Justice Democrats and help Take Back Our Republic.
If your goal is to get rid of elitist control of our government put thepower back into the hands of the individual American!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Dwarven Dueling Sword

The Dwarven dueling sword is a double bladed sword. Its held in the center and gripped like a spear with the center gripping area about 5 hand sizes long and each blade about 3 feet long for a typical total length of 7 feet. It can be used as a thrusting weapon or a slashing weapon. As a slashing weapon its about as effective as a hand and a half sword but not as powerful as a two handed one or polearm due to limited leverage. As a Thrusting weapon it has good reach but not as much as a long spear. It is an effective defensive weapon due to outward facing curved cross-guards that can capture a blade, similar to a sai. Also it can be used for a quick counter attack by parrying or beating the opponents sword to the side then coming in with the other blade in the same move. It is also effective with the Cleave maneuver and an intimidating defensive attack when spun like a helicopter blade.

It cant be used with a shield since its a two handed weapon, takes up a lot of space, and can be hard to use in tight spaces or formations. However it is good at killing unarmored enemies quickly and being a threat to foes behind or above you. So its primary role is a skirmisher weapon and killing vermin.
The war sword is its own specialization of Melee Weapon skill (p. B208).

Dwarven Dueling Sword

This two handed double bladed weapon can be used to thrust like a spear, parry as a staff, or disarm like a jitte/sai. It can be used in different ways, depending on the skill. Each blade has a single edge, both edges facing the same direction which makes it easier to shift grips for longer reach or leverage as needed.
This grants +2 to parry and +1 to disarm a rigid weapon (see p. B208). It also reduces Rapid Strike penalties by 2 to -4 due to being able to used as a counter swing with the other end.
Staff, Spear -2, Polearm -4
Swing +1 cutting or crushing; Reach 1, 2
Spear, Staff -2, Polearm -4
Thrust +2 Imp; Reach 1, 2
Thrown Weapon (Spear) -1
Thrust +5 Impaling, ACC 1; Range *1/*1.5 ROF 1; Bulk -6
Weight 11 Min ST 11. Cost $2350

Sometimes tethered by a chain to a ring in the center allowing it to be pulled back like a harpoon when thrown, adds 2 lbs to weight and is typically clipped on or off as a Ready maneuver or specialty Fast Draw roll.
Standard blades are awkward to carry and enclosed in two separate scabbards so each blade requires a separate Ready maneuver to unsheathe, reduced to one with a Fast Draw roll.
When sheathed they do crushing damage.

Enchanted Variant

The typical enchantment turns the sword into a short metal rod which is the handle. On command it can expand to a single blade or double bladed version which makes it easy to carry around.

Duel Mastery

This is considered an advanced and somewhat showy style and users have typically already mastered a style such as Dwarven Guard (uses Spear). It is favored by officers who typically wont be part of a shield wall anymore and often in a flanking position where they may get attacked. It is also useful for disciplining soldiers without lethal force (using the blunt edges in staff form).

Skills: Thrown Weapon (Spear); Staff; Spear;
Techniques: Aggressive Parry; Feint; Sweep; Trip.
Cinematic Skills: Kiai; Parry Missile Weapon
Cinematic Techniques: Whirlwind Attack;
Optional Skills: Broadsword
Optional Techniques: 
Perks: Form Mastery (Staff/Spear); Grip Mastery (Dueling Sword); Sacrificial Parry (Staff); Weapon Adaptation (Staff or Spear); Weapon Bond

This post inspired by this Shadowversity post

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Abortion Bills

With the recent slew of conservative judges being put on the bench states are pushing strictor abortion bills in hopes of getting Roe vs. Wade overturned.

Alabama

Said to be the strictest bill yet HB314 is effective once a fetus is in utero.

Georgia

Currently restricts abortion after 20 weeks, just signed a law that bans it so soon most women wont even know their pregnant before its illegal. it blocks abortions after about 6 weeks.
It includes provisions for up to life imprisonment and penalties if she has a miscarriage.

Iowa

Passed a law in 2018 that requires the governor personally approve an abortion (If its covered by medicare) even if the womens life is in immediate danger.

Ohio

Trying to ban birth control coverage by medical insurance.

Several other states have passed or are pushing more laws along these lines, including punishments.


You know whats missing in these so called pro life arguments?

  • Contraception for women, even while male contraception is covered by most insurance.
  • Healthcare for women and children.
  • Severe penalties for the fathers who refuse to take care of the child once born.
  • Economic support for single mothers, especially those who have children with birth defects or were raped and forced into single motherhood by the state.
  • Effective adoption, foster care and other support for children.
It makes one wonder what the real priorities are here.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Chalice World Commonwealth Jobs

Base Pay $800/Month based on TL 4

  
Job Quality
Status Level
Monthly Income
Daily Average
Hourly Average
Poor
 -2
 $160
 $6
 $0.80
Struggling
 -1
 $400
 $16
$2
Average
 0
 $800
 $32
$4
Comfortable
 1
 $1,600
 $64
$8
Wealthy
 2
 $4,000
 $1650
$20


Craft and Mundane Trades

Basic Labor

Generally unskilled work, typically done by minors and those seeking apprenticeships.

Craftsman, Apprentice

The apprentice is working on a specific trade and is typically taken care of by the Master Craftsman training him. Apprenticeships typically last 3 to 5 years.

Craftsman, Journeyman

After learning a trade and passing an exam a tradesperson may become a journeyman. Journeyman are responsible for their own upkeep and tools, though they typically work in the shop or under the supervision of a Master Craftsman. A journeyman can test to become a master craftsman after serving as a journeyman for 3 to 4 years. Even especially adept students who could pass the test sooner are generally required to serve this time in order to pay off the expenses and time spent on them by their master. Also during this time they are working on their reputation for when they become a master.

Craftsman, Master

Master craftsman almost always have their own shop, though some may work as foreman in a larger shop or under a renowned master.

Craftsman, Renowned

These craftsman are famous for their skills and are generally only found in major cities.They typically have long waiting lines for their goods.

Agriculture

Agriculture is buttressed by magic and excellent transportation services. It offers less upward mobility compared to the skilled trades but pay is decent in an effort to offset the desirability of the more urban jobs. Most farms do not have their own mage, instead a town mage covers all the farms surrounding the town.
Landowners and Skilled Mages: Comfortable
Foreman, animal handlers, and apprentice mages: Average
Standard laborers and unskilled mages: Struggling

Transportation

Wagon Handlers

Average
Most wagon traffic is hauling product from farms to villages and small towns. The typical wagon handler owns and takes care of their own wagon.

Carriage Drivers and Guards

Average
Carriages are primarily for personal transportation in the larger towns and cities, and from some rail depots to nearby towns. In town there is typically just a driver, but between towns a guard who doubles as porter is usually added. They typically do not travel all night and will stop at Inns to rest the horses and passengers.

Railroad Jobs

Railroads are run by the dwarves, though they hire porters from other races. They run between cities and also stop at smaller towns along the route, though only for short times.
Engine Crew: $1,600/month (Average wealth, special skills typical of all dwarves)
Porters: Average
Depot Crew: Average
Depot Chief: Comfortable

Shipping

Most shipping is along the coast, though there are some river trips.
Ship Captain: Wealthy
Ships Officers: Comfortable
Ships Crew  Average
River Captain: Comfortable
River Boats Officers: Average
River Boats Crew: Struggling

Urban Management

Mayor, City: Wealthy
Mayor, Town: Comfortable
Mayor, Village: Average.
City Council: Comfortable
Town Council: Average


Monday, April 22, 2019

GURPS Bricks, Comparative Damage


 The ability to withstand damage is a staple of the classic brick class and, specially online I hear a lot of people saying its impossible to build an effective brick because its too hard to have good defenses.
Most of the time people are primarily looking at DR and what I consider one of the most effective defenses (other than avoid being hit) gets ignore or dismissed.  So here are some charts breakind down damage taken based on the defense chosen.

Here are some breakdowns of damage taken per hit for various weapons on an average damage roll.

Weapon
[50]
IT:DR/2
DR 10
[75]
IT:DR/3
DR 15
[100]
IT:DR/4
DR 20
[125]
IT:DR/5
DR 25
[150]
IT:DR/10
DR 30
[175]
IT:DR/15
DR 35
[200]
IT:DR/20
DR 40
[225]
IT:DR/30
DR 45
[250]
IT:DR/50
DR 50
Auto Pistol, .44M (3d p++) 10.5
6
0.5
3.5
0
2.5
0
2
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
Auto Pistol, 9mm (2d+pi) 7
4
0
 3
0
 2
0
 2
0
1
0
1
0

1
0
1
0
1
0
PDW, 4.6mm (4d(3) pi-) 14
7
11
5
9
4
7
3
5
2
4
1
2
1
1
1
0
1
0
Assault Carbine, 5.56mm (4d+2 pi) 16
8
6
6
1
4
0
4
0
2
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
Sniper Rifle, .338 (9d+1 pi) 32.5
17
22
11
17
8
12
7
7
 4
2
3
0
2
0
1
0
1
0
 10d
35
 18
25
 12
20
 9
15
 7
10
 4
5
 3
0
 2
0
 2
0
 1
0
 15d
52.5
 26
42
 18
37
 13
32
 11
27
 6
22
 4
17
 3
12
 2
7
 1
2

One thing not to overlook is straight DR is more swingy, the numbers above are based on average damage, A low roll is less likely to penetrate DR and a roll just a little above average can go from no damage to very serious damage in several cases.

 Matching Offense vs. Defense (Innate Attack of same points as defense).

Attack
[50]
IT:DR/2
DR 10
[75]
IT:DR/3
DR 15
[100]
IT:DR/4
DR 20
[125]
IT:DR/5
DR 25
[150]
IT:DR/10
DR 30
[175]
IT:DR/15
DR 35
[200]
IT:DR/20
DR 40
[225]
IT:DR/30
DR 45
[250]
IT:DR/50
DR 50
10d 
35
 18
25
12
20
 9
15
7
10
 4
5
 3
0
 2
0
 2
0
 1
0
15d 52.5
 26
42
 18
37
 13
32
 11
27
 6
22
 4
17

 3
12
 2
7
 1
2
20d
70
35
60
24
55
18
50
14
45
7
40
5
35
4
30
3
25
2
20
25d
87

43
77
29
72
22
67
18
62
9
57
6
52
5
47
3
42
2
37
30d
105

52
95
35
90
27
85
21
80
11
75
7
70
6
65
4
60
3
55
35d
122

61
112
 41
107
31
102
25
97
13
92
9
87

 7
82
4
77
3
72
 40d
140

 70
130
47
125
35
120
 28
115
14
110
10
105
7
100
5
95
3
90

Attack
[50]
IT:DR/2
DR 10
[75]
IT:DR/3
DR 15
[100]
IT:DR/4
DR 20
[125]
IT:DR/5
DR 25
[150]
IT:DR/10
DR 30
[175]
IT:DR/15
DR 35
[200]
IT:DR/20
DR 40
[225]
IT:DR/30
DR 45
[250]
IT:DR/50
DR 50
45d
157

79
147
53
142
40
137
32
132
16
127
11
122
8
117
6
112
4
107
50d
175
88
165
59
160
44
155
35
150
18
145
12
140
9
135
6
130
4
125


The above chart compares damage taken with a standard innate attack based on the same points. The green text indicates exact matches. Armor Piercing will lower the DR so be less effective overall but more effective vs. armor piercing attacks than DR that is not hardened. Once you can purchase IT:DR it is more effective against the same level of attack than DR, though DR may be more effective against weaker attacks. This is especially true as normal IT:DR rounds up and always has a minimum of 1 damage getting through unless its enhanced. Obviously no damage is better than 1 damage so with weaker attacks DR is generally preferable, however if your goal is to be impressive on defense IT:DR is more effective against higher damage.
Also, it looks more heroic when you fight through wounds than if you just casually ignore whats thrown at you!

Another comparison would be DR vs. IT:DR with the Cosmic no minimum damage enhancement. But that shall be another post!