Thursday, June 23, 2022

Powers Systems I have Used, Adapted, or Modified

 So the GURPS Bloggers voted on Powers that we use in campaigns. Christopher Rice went on to include magic systems as well. I play more than GM these days but I love to tinker so will include things I have planned for a campaign that hasn't run yet.

Affinity Magic

GURPS Magic is a solid system but is showing its age. I like the skills approach and the prerequisite system where you learn a basic spell before an advanced version. The limitations are the 2 page spell design rules for coming up with new spells and the college grouping of spells.
I decided to build one that had more flexibility, especially in spell groupings. This is based of Ritual magic (in GURPS Basic) and was submitted to Pyramid several years back but rejected. The initial version was more abstract to fit into an article but over time I found too many people complaining about abstract systems so I built a lengthy (almost 40 now) list of techniques that can be used to make spells.
The concept is pick an Affinity (spell grouping) and apply a given technique to create a spell.  I have playtested it in two campaigns so far and am pretty happy with it.


I first saw this in GURPS Voodoo and like the concept but certain things kinda bug me about it. Recently I have been playing in a campaign that uses a highly modified version (Effect Shaping) and a friend has been wanting help converting Shadowrun/Earthdawn/Equinox to GURPS and three of us have bounced a lot of ideas around.  These two things led me to outline a version I hope to pitch someday for publication. I use a lot of inspiration from Affinity Magic to create new Books and Paths and of course rituals. My current outline even includes such diverse lore as Cultivation, Tree Magic, Futhark Runes, Deaconic or hermetic Magic, and more that I will not be able to fit into one supplement.

Other Magic

I have used Sorcery, Ritual Path Magic, and some variations on those over the past few years.


I like spirit magic and shamans in particular and it has bugged me that most RPGs treat shaman as pretty much any caster. Their magic lacks the interaction with spirits that I feel can make for good roleplaying. GURPS however has vast potential in this area and actually led to me writing for GURPS.
I have published some of my ideas for this and have at least 2 more in the works. Over the years my ideas have evolved somewhat as well.
Their are different kinds of shaman, but most can do an out of body experience (Trance or astral projection) and somehow communicate with spirits. So I built a set of systems allowing for different shamanic types.
Shamans have innate powers that they usually get from a near death experience and training. These include astral projection and the ability to see or talk with spirits.
Shaman then have external abilities that spirits lend them or represent actions spirits undertake on the shamans behalf.


Astral Projection, Channeling, and Medium each form the basis of a leveled power set. Astral Projection can build into the ability to create spirit forms, some of which are even physical. Medium is combined with Telecommunication. Channeling was the only one that was tricky but I decided it was learning to master ones Will and was able to create a leveled power for it.

External or Spirit Granted

I started off with Alternate Form as representing channeling a spirit in ones own body. This suits Voodoo and several other cultures and was done in GURPS 3e and 4e.  I authored GURPS Powers: Totem and Nature Spirits to showcase this approach.
Medium represents talking to a spirit and persuading them to do something for the shaman. My current project GURPS Template Toolkit: Spirits was primarily designed to help a GM build a variety of spirits they can use to interact with shaman. Also works for horror and fantasy where you might have ghosts, nature spirits, or other things the party has to deal with.
Its too early to know what will make the final cut but I included some ideas for how spirits do magic themselves. Spirits can be Allies, Contacts, Patrons, or simply the special effect behind other powers, say Affliction and that will get more treatment in my last planned supplement of this topic.

Chimeric Powers

In my Chalice World setting I decided that most hybrid creatures were created by a trickster god. Chimera are hybrids of two or more races (centaurs, griffins, satyrs, etc.) but have an innate wild magic that lets them tap into powers based on their parent forms. This is mostly switchable advantages and Alternate Form but can go into other things too. Advanced  practioners can even learn to tap that trickster chaos/wild magic they are born with to change into other hybrids and some other tricks as well.

Power Stunts

I never really got this until I read GURPS Psionic Powers but that one short section in GURPS Powers really has inspired most of my Powers as Magic builds (and I am not the only one!). Those rules are really what make Sorcery, Divine Favor, and other systems work. Alternative abilities, Character point powered abilities, Using Abilities at Default, Power Defenses, etc. all can be used to make for some very interesting builds and mini-systems.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Review: GURPS Classic Spirits

 As I edit my supplement I am going through various supplements to see how the current manuscript compares.  The quality of these older books is really awesome and most of them are far larger than GURPS Template Toolkit: Spirits will be. That is ok, though my purpose is not to write a definitive book on spirits but serve more as an update on some of the mechanics. though many of the materials I am looking at are Third Edition they still have substantial value even without an update.

Lets review one such book.

GURPS Spirits

At 128 pages this volume covers its subject rather well. The author Steve Kenson has written a LOT of RPG material, including contributing to Pyramid, GURPS Infinite Worlds, GURPS Magic, and GURPS Thaumatology, He also wrote for many other systems and is now working at Green Ronin Publishing according to his website.

Chapter 1: The Nature of Spirits

This is a brief description or listing of various types of spirits and includes some information on how various cultures viewed the soul and afterlife. 

Chapter 2: Worlds of Spirit

This evocative chapter covers many possible spirit worlds and helps the reader organize them into similar types and function. it does a good job of  connecting a number of prior GURPS works so that the reader can put together the pieces the way that best suits their campaign. it is my favorite chapter.

Chapter 3: Spirit Abilities

Though valuable for the Third Edition of GURPS this chapter shows its age the most and is the least useful for those using GURPS Fourth Edition. You can clearly see the style of Third Edition which was less modular and prone to scope creep with vague advantages with inherent limitations. This made for complex powers that were not readily translated into other uses.

Chapter 4: Spirit Templates

Though suffering from the problems in chapter 3 the templates can still be useful as most traits retain the same name and general function in the current edition of GURPS. I converted some of these in my supplement, the attribute +4 for Angels for example matches those in GURPS In Nomine and I used that attribute assignment for my more powerful spirits.
That said the descriptions and narrative parts of the templates are still useful and well written.

Chapter 5: Characters

This chapter describes various roles characters may take in a campaign involving spirits and includes a number of templates.  Most of the templates will work as is, though costs will need to be adjusted. A few advantages and skills have changed but most of the material here is useable, at least as inspiration.
This chapter also includes a discussion on various traits useful for campaigns involving spirits and a number of advantages. most of the advantages are part of Fourth Edition though details may vary. One exception is Ectoplasmic Projection based on GURPS Supers so it was a poor fit for Fourth Edition which substantially changed how those kinds of things work. It would best be built now as a combination of Duplication, Telekinesis, and summonable Allies.

Chapter 6: Spirit Magic

This chapter describes a form of magic that also appeared in GURPS Castle Falkenstein and GURPS Voodoo. In GURPS Fourth Edition it is called Book/Path magic and has its own chapter in GURPS Thaumatology.

Chapter 7:  Campaigns

The last chapter in the book describes how spirits can fit into various campaigns and GURPS settings.


I really loved this book when it came out and its still a valuable reference and a supplement I recommend to anyone who wants to use spirits in their campaign. The mechanics are mostly out dated but the bulk of the book is not about the mechanics, instead focusing on background and information that is useful regardless of the edition your using.
In fact I would say that this book can be used to help a GM in many other game systems, or even writing their own spirit related fiction.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Rules I don't Use, Replace, or Revise

 I really love GURPS but nothing and no one is perfect and there are a few things I do not really like. This is the topic for several bloggers this week so I shall try to chime in with a few comments.

Other posts that are up on this this week are...

Author Christopher Rice

Of Paper Men and Plastic Monsters

Of Paper Men and Plastic Monsters Guest post by Kallaz

Worlds Beyond Earth

Lair of the Chaotic GM

Mailanka's Musings - Psi Wars

My Comments

A few advantages I feel are overpriced or just kinda flakey with mechancics.

Penetrating Vision is priced well for the first level but after that you get significant diminishing returns and I would use the Size Speed Range Table to give it a logarithmic range.

The Min ST capping damage at *3 I like for most campaigns but there should be an advantage to ignore that cap, a perk is probably to low so maybe  a 5 point advantage to ignore that? Only used in highly cinematic or supers campaigns though. Unlike others I feel it is a realistic limit.

Unaging and Regrowth are overprices, though Unaging as Immunity to certain attacks can be worth it. this is a common refrain and PK posted some suggestions here.

Possession by default you die without a host.  I really wish Possession had been written differently and wish we had an Alternate GURPS Pyramid still going to propose alienate ideas. A lot of the modifiers have hidden effects that can muddle the whole thing.

Binding could use a lot of love for some modifiers. Retraction, binding a body part, etc.

As Worlds Beyond Earth by Eric the Red posts above on Jumper and Warp I would like them to be more closely aligned in how they work. In fact I would rather they were one ability with modifiers!

Maybe something like ...


Costs 100 points.
You can disappear from one location and reappear in another! This takes 10 seconds, which can be changed using Reduced Time or Preparation Required. It takes an IQ roll to successfully appear at the desired target, this takes a penalty for range using the SSR (p. B550), apply Long-Range (Powers, p. 108) or Reliable to reduce these penalties. If you can travel to other planes of existence, time, or worlds add a modifier.
+50% to Time Travel, +0% if can only travel in time and not distance.
+50% to add World jumping, +0% if can only jump to other worlds but not go any physical distance.
+50% to add Plane Jumping, +0% if can only jump to other planes.
Then add some of the modifiers under Warp and Jumper and include limitations for how many planes you can cross. Also add IQ penalties for world jumping and plane travel, use the entry in Basic for Infinite Worlds. The author of Worlds Beyond Earth has a point on how many worlds you can get to and I would need to ponder on that if I was actually going to publish this ability or use it in a campaign but that seems rather unlikely so I'll leave the idea here.
Also I would like to see the modifiers for Lord of My Domain applied not to Jumper but to something else, say Status (probably requiring a minimum level). Owning your own dimension seems a legit use of high Status and modifying a dimension seems a poor use of Jumper which should be able to get you into any dimension.
On the other hand I at least address one of his complaints in my upcoming Spirit Template supplement.

Enthrallment and Imbuement

I like the idea of these but with no obvious mechanics they are hard ot implement and tweak in a campaign, I feel that is a waste.

Gadgeteer and Inventing

I prefer the rules in After The End but would take them farhger if I could write a supplement on Gadgeteering. Applying a consistent set of rules that apply to various TL, Magic, Medicine, Gadgets, etc.

Magical Enchanting

GURPS Magic has very time consuming enchanting rules, suitable for a low fantasy setting with few magic items. I would like a system that could be tweaked for faster enchanting and covered more options. This has been addressed somewhat in various places such as GURPS Technomancer and Pyramid but I would love it to be gathered in one place.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

GURPS Infinite Worlds: The Osiris Worlds

It starts off with references to GURPS Egypt and adds some dates and updated information since that supplement was originally published. it then goes on to describe three alternate worlds for the Infinite Worlds setting.


The premise is the Pyramids were built by aliens (or something). A lot is left to the GM but some description of the builders is given to jump[start the mystery.


The Pharaoh appears to have made an unholy alliance with some supernatural force and raised a dark armor of ghouls to conquer neighboring kingdoms.


In this timeline Cleopatra worked well with Mark Antony and Egypt and Rome became a stronger alliance and more successful overall.  This world has a bit of clockpunk and other exotic tech level to it, possibly a good basis for a clockwork or even steampunk setting in later years.


I was a bit let down by this supplement, on the other hand it was only $4 so it was very short.  The material was good, just not enough here to do more than whet the appetitive. Still a useful addition to Infinite Worlds and starting points for some adventuring.
As I reviewed this supplement I updated my Infinite Worlds setting/genre page to reflect more current information and links.  You can see links on the right for various GURPS genres or go to the GURPS Settings page on this blog for more detail and links now and as I update them. That is very much still a work in progress as I update everything from my old format.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Week in Gaming 5/5/2022

So my gaming has taken a bit of a hiatus and some mixups.

The Monday game ended that campaign and we started a new one, had a session 0 this Monday. My guy  took several hits and was healed so went negative four separate times!

The Friday game died and will be restarting in a few weeks, I need to make a character and have some ideas, just need to get to it. 

The Saturday Dresden Fate game is still going on as is the Sunday Magic Vegas campaign but both are every other week and both missed a few games due to external events.

That said I need to get more regular about these recaps.

On another front I have been busy lately! Did a two week playtest for my upcoming supplement GURPS Template Toolkit: Spirits

Been working on this after the playtest and its not going in the right direction, added 2k words after the playtest as I have gone through my notes and though I cut some stuff during the playtest I am now over word count. Too early to worry about that though, I'll likely add more before I am ready to start trimming again. My deadline is June 30th.  Also been working on some projects for a friend and a couple of other things GURPS related.

Going over my notes Template Toolkit: Spirits was contracted June 2020 (that includes an outline) and we had several months of back and forth discussion before we got a contract and agreed on the content and format. Originally we were not even sure it was going to be an entry in the Template line and the playtest manuscript reflected its mixed origins. I decided to cut some material and make room for other stuff making it a better fit for the Template Toolkit line.

 So it will have been 2 years from contract to the final draft getting sent in, well over a year waiting in the playtest queue and likely several months after I send in my final draft before it gets published. If I am going to get the projects I want completed before my time runs out I will need to speed things up somehow. So sending in my next pitch soon after this one is sent in and hope I can get approval instead of waiting till after this is actually published (likely early next year).

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Gaming Ballistics new web shop is live!

 Check out the new website!

Its much better organized and sorted, for example here is the DFRPG section and they also have Dragon Heresay and The Fantasy Trip.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Marital Arts: Travelers Path


Martial Styles -Travelers Path

The Travelers Path is a utilitarian hunting style practiced by centaurs. Those who practice it at expert levels tend to do it professionally and support the tribe by hunting game and defending it from enemies. It is thus more a way of life than a simple combat style and includes numerous useful optional skills.
5 points
Students are expected to work under supervision and provide support in the hunt.
Skills: Bow; Thrown Weapon (Spear); Running; Spear
Optional Skills: Hiking
Optional Techniques:

12 points
Once past the training stages practioner's earn the title of hunter and are expected to bring in food for the tribe. Some also train in the crossbow, using their feet to help draw it. This is time consuming but can make for very powerful single shot attacks against very big game or armored foes. Additionally at this level more optional skills are taught, such as Bolas and Lasso for slowing down or capturing game and Kiai or Whip for startling and herding them.
Skills: Bow (A) DX [2]; Fast Draw (Ammo) [1]; Fast Draw (Bow) [1]; Fast Draw (Spear) [1]; Running [2]; Spear [2]; Thrown Weapon (Spear) [2].
Optional Skills: Bolas; Breath Control; Crossbow; Hiking; Kiai; Knife; Lance; Lasso; Navigation; Spear Thrower; Survival (Plains); Whip.
Optional Techniques:
Perks: Special Exercises (Kiai); Strong Bow.

+6 points
In addition to the training for Hunter those with the title Tracker have proven ability with the Bow and Tracking
Skills: Bow DX+1 [4]; Tracking (A) Per+1 [4]
Optional Skills: Geography/TL4 (Regional); Stealth
Optional Techniques:
Advantages: Acute Vision 1 or 2 [2,4]

Heroic Ability

Heroic Archer, Weapon Master (Bow) [20], Weapon Master (Spear) [20], Weapon Master (Calvary)* [30], Zen Archery.

*Weapon Master (Calvary) includes Bow, Lance, and Spear