Sunday, July 29, 2018

Chalice World update

Published some notes on the Dwarven Federation and their magic system.
Dwarven Federation
Dwarven Magic

Looks like a player in a new monthly game is interested in playing a dwarf so needed to get this up.
Next I need to work on the Fae.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Measuring the Economy

GDP is a measure of production, higher GDP is good for the country overall but does not directly mean workers benefit. We also need to look at reports with a skeptical eye as its seasonal. For example certain times of the year farmers harvest and sell more crops than others.
Chart for GDP 2001 to 2018 by quarter
Stockmarket The amount the stocks are increasing or decreasing is a popularly touted measure by whoever is in power.
Inflation is basically a measure of the increased costs for things.
US Inflation 1990 to 2017
Unemployment rate 2008 to 2018
Explained in short article
Explaining the unemployment rate
Average hourly earnings 2017 to 2018
Monthly income 1990 to 2017
Wages adjusted for inflation
Pew study
Real wage growth Study by Glassdoor Economics blog (look at the chart showing national wage)
Check out this CPI calculator to compare salary for different years.


As you can see our wages do increase over time but not as fast as inflation.
That means were making actually less effective money each year.  Basically we cant bu as much for the hours we work as we used to.
We need to change that trend!

What we hear from whomever is in power is how the stock market is rising and usually GDP is increasing or doing well. We even here wages are going up, though that is not adjusted for inflation.
We also here about job growth rates but those numbers dont track whether they are good paying jobs or maybe someone is working two or three jobs to make a living. Also if your not collecting unemployment odds are your not counted as looking for work.

So our representives can spin any of these numbers to make themselves look good.
Rising stock market? That means companies are expected to be profitable. Its a disaster when the whole market drops!
Strong GDP? Means companies are making stuff to sell.  Does not take into account actual sales, nor how many people they employ. A real danger of this measure is GDP can go up even as workers are laid off due to increased automation.
Rising wages? If prices go up faster then your wages that does not help you. Your actually taking an effective paycut!
Job Growth? Are they good paying jobs or minimum wage jobs? If your a factory worker looking for work more waitstaff jobs isnt doing you much good, you want that factory job back!


We need to hold our representatives to give us accurate and useful information. And we need major media to call them out on it and let us know whats really going on. Most Americans dont know how, nor do they have the time to research this stuff.
And we have been headed in the wrong direction for a long time as far as real wages are concerned.

Friday, July 27, 2018

CW: Vampires

Vampires in The Kingdom of Darkness

Vampires in the Chalice World come in several known types, though they have a common origin.

Vampire Lords

These are spirits that possess living beings to interact with the mortal world and prey on blood, emotions or other energies of living beings. Some consider them corruptors, others as demonic in origin. They can convert those they drain into vampires, with each vampire lord creating its own type or sub species.
The below vampires use the template here which is a modified version of the standard vampire template in GURPS Basic


Vampires that feed off the adoration and devotion of people. They are high profile and prideful and will get as many people as possible to praise and serve them.

Incubus and Succubus

Vampires that feed on sexual energy.


This vampire feeds off the greed of others and tends to be merchants or advisers and work in the background to encourage greed among those they associate with.


This type feeds on fear and tend to be stealthy and often manipulative.

More to come as I get the right terminology or decent sounding words. feel free to comment with suggestions.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Trade Deficits and Tariffs

President Trump is big on Tariffs and talks about how bad the trade deficit is.  What do these things really mean to you?
Trade Deficits vs. Trade Surpluses is a measure of how much we bought vs. how much we sold.
 In other words a trade deficit with China means we buy more from them than they buy from us.
That is a choice by consumers, mostly because goods made in China are cheaper.
So is it bad? Depends who you are. It means consumers made a choice and freedom is what America is all about.  So that is good right? I mean what is more American than being able to spend your hard earned money where and how you want to?
There is a bad side though, and that is American producers sell fewer goods so make less money. That might mean fewer jobs as well, though automation is the primary source of jobs lost in manufacturing.

Republicans generally believe in what is called Free Trade. The idea is that there should be no barriers and companies set whatever price they want and the market will bear. That means if people are willing to pay for it its good and if not the company goes out of business which is also good.
Democrats prefer a more measured approach and want regulations to prevent things like price fixing.

Both parties like subsidies in some cases, not in others.
Subsidies are corporate welfare where the taxpayer gives them extra money to stay in business. Sometimes its to help retool, or offset research costs (Then the government is supposed to own part of that research, but doesn't always happen), and sometimes to offset an emergency like disaster relief.
And often its payback for campaign donations.
So sometimes subsidies are good, other times bad. Ideally there should never be a need for corporate subsidies in a capitalist economy.

Some countries such as China subsidize their companies which gives them an advantage, but we do that as well. Free Trade people should be against subsidies on principle, though they may accept exceptions such as for emergencies.

So About Those Tariffs...

A Tariff is a tax applied to an incoming or outgoing product. Pretty much a sales tax, except the money doesn't go to the city or state but the federal government.
That is right folks, the Republican party cut income and corporate taxes then raised and added sales taxes to the stuff American consumers purchase.
Is that good or bad?
If your a Free Trade type it goes against your principles, so Republicans, especially Conservatives and Libertarians it is bad. If your a consumer it means you pay more for foreign products on which Tariffs are imposed. If your a manufacturer, farmer, or produce things it means Americans may buy more of your stuff since its now cheaper compared to foreign goods.
So its the Federal government trying to force the American consumer to buy American by price fixing. Not exactly good old American values of Freedom of choice but those companies and industries your trying to protect might like it and foreign companies sell less to us which hurts them.
So a mixed bag, right?

The real problem is that obviously the other country is going to retaliate.
In this case other countries threatened their own Tariffs in response, some have already done so and thus we have a Trade War.
Those Tariffs mean stuff we try to buy cost us more and stuff we try to sell have a higher price so we sell less.
Everyone having to pay more hurts everyone, can lead to a recession if it goes on too long and even in the short term lost jobs as well as those higher prices.

Are Tariffs Ever Good?

They always hurt consumers but sometimes they can achieve an objective. Imposing Tariffs on a country hurts them. We have done this in the past and successfully achieved our objective. The catch here is that if your going to penalize a country for selling stuff or buying stuff from you and really hurt them you have to be the only game around.
If they can buy or sell to other countries your Tariffs are less effective. We can effectively hurt a country using Tariffs but our efforts work better if several countries team up and give the target country no place to go.
Unfortunately our President decided to impose Tarrifs on almost every country in the world at the same time.  That weakens our power and hurts us the most as everyone else can just trade with each other and leave us out in the cold.
Its already started and will get worse if this continues very long.  Getting those customers back will be harder as well since they will be making new trade deals wih each other and without us.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

My reply to Jeanine Pirro

After watching her speech on YouTube I sent a response. Since I cant post it all on Twitter here it is.

The Right wingers telling the Left they should stop getting mad at the Right and conservatives? Think about the hypocrisy of your statements. You have celebrated the critical illness of an American Hero like Jun McCain, think its ok for POTUS to even think about handing over American diplomat to Russia, protected and served Russia objectives by refusing to fund election security even while you fund gerrymandering and other policies to keep Americans from voting. You accept and even praise a President who bows down to Russia and praises them for their generosity and sincerity in offering to let our FBI show them our investigation techniques and try to get them to reveal sources so Putin can execute those sources., at the same time he declares the hacking was USAs fault. You back off on security measures against N. Korea for an empty promise they have already broken and a photo op. You want to parcel off and privatize America so you can sell it to the highest bidder, foreign or domestic. Instead of focusing on China in a calculated way and with the cooperation of our allies you start a Trade War with the entire world all at once. You give permanent tax cuts to corporations and billionaires and temporary tax cuts to working people. You promote corporate welfare and reward those who inherited wealth while penalizing those who work for a living and crushing the country under staggering depth. You attack the FBI relentlessly in order to protect Trump and GOP co-conspirators, obstruct an investigation that has still managed to reveal numerous attacks on our election. Recently you made it even harder to follow the money by changing the rules so your not embarrassed when things like NRA being funded and infiltrated by Russia are revealed. All so you can line your pockets and let foreign governments and international corporations buy politicians. ALL Americans should be angry but too many conservatives, and especially talking heads care more about their wallet or purse than the USA. You wrap yourself in the flag and wave the bible around, not because you believe in either but because you know you can fool a lot of people into think your sincere. Even when the facts show otherwise. Of course were mad, the Left loves this country and the Right seems determined to destroy it.

Chalice World Campaign: Character Creation thread

Hi all!
We still have not set a time yet and I thought this would be a good place we could wok on things.
So far possible players are Kevin, Rhia, Impet, Artimes, Moriah, Ann Marie.
Impet plans on a young Coatl
Artmis plans on a human mage of the Lantern Guilds; see The Commonwealth and Lanterns 

Feel free to comment below!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Why Single Payer or Medicare for All is good for YOU

Progress is being made towards a Single Payer system but there is still a lot of opposition.
Here are reasons its good for you and some talking points.

I dont want to pay for someone elses healthcare, especially if they dont work

A common objection and while its not very christian or humanitarian it is pragmatic and understandable. But there is a problem with that objection.
  • You already are. Those who dont have insurance or have medical conditions not covered by their insurance often raise medical costs which means higher costs for everyone.
  • Understand how insurance works. Insurance companies are businesses that need to make a profit. To do that they get tax subsidies and charge customers more than thy pay out. I paid insurance through work for decades and almost never used it, they loved me. My coworkers benefited from that which I dont mind, the insurance company benefited more though. As a patriot I would rather that extra went to the USA than a private company, especially one I had no choice or voice in.

Government is inefficient, I trust companies to be more efficient

  • We all know government bureaucracy can get crazy and a company is more likely to cut costs. So that makes sense insurance companies are better than government health care right? Nope, here is why. The goal of an insurance company is to avoid paying for healthcare so they have higher administrative and other overhead due to trying to male it hard for customers to get coverage. How pleasant is all that paperwork and phone calls when your sick? Its even worse for your doctor who has to hire staff just to navigate the insurance maze.  That drives medical costs up, while giving you less coverage and higher deductibles. Its just smart business for them to do everything they can to avoid covering your medical expenses.
  • Medicare and VA healthcare are very efficient at delivering healthcare at a lower cost because they cut a lot of that overhead. As a veteran I see a huge difference between my VA care and private care covered by insurance. Now the VA is understaffed and underfunded so sometimes you have delays but there is no doubt its better and the numbers show costs less (not just me but overall costs).
  • Singlepayer does not get rid of private practice, it just changes the dynamic of who you pay. Insurance or government. So its not privatized medicine or an attack on capitalism.
  • Paying for our health care: Either way the money is coming out of our paycheck, either a payroll tax or a deduction to the insurance company. If I get taxed an extra 2% on my paycheck but dont have to pay $80 a check to an insurance company, plus no deductables and even better no paperwork or arguments with insurance companies I call that a win for me. How about you?
  • Business no longer have to worry about paying and dealing with insurance companies. Maybe they get taxed so they pay the same as they do now, maybe not. Either way they likely will pay less, especially since they dont have to make deals. Also they dont have to worry about hiring part time to avoid medical requirements for full timers, same with how many people they can hire or have to force everyone to be a "temp" employee.

No lapses in coverage or preexisting condition restrictions

  • If you change jobs you often have to wait 90 days before you can get coverage through the new job, your old coverage may lapse or requie special higher cost programs like COBRA. What if you get sick?  Or what if you get laid off work? No you have no coverage despite being a hard worker and taxpayer!
  • Preexisting conditions, as a vet injuries sustained during military duty not covered by my insurance, If they could try and blame my doctor visit on that they would (and did) to avoid paying. Pregnancy is considered a preexisiting condition in some states so women have to pay more, that fair? Takes both sexes to have a baby after all. Injured on the job? Once you get another job those expenses may not be covered with new insurance.
Medicare for All means you pay less per paycheck and get better medical care. This is not a dream or guesswork, the evidence is in every other industrial country in the world where they have better care at less than half what we pay.  Why should the richest and greatest country in the world have the worst and most expensive healthcare?
The way we do it now just makes no sense.  Except to the insurance and pharmaceutical companies!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The GOP needs to start working for America again

The shameful surrender of America to Russia's wishes and demands must stop and Republicans must step up to the task they swore oaths to.
I have called my local Reps and Senators and ask that you do as well. Congress has been protecting Trump and demanding the DOJ hand over documents so they can pass them along to Trumps attorneys. They have been doing everything they can to sabotage the Mueller investigation, including slandering the FBI and leaking information.
Why does the GOP put so much effort into this obstruction of justice? If Trump is not guilty what are they afraid of? They spent years attacking democrats and often came up empty, yet this probe has indicted over 30 people with several convictions and the unmasking of extensive corruption and Russian interference. From Social media to using the NRA to funnel money into GOP pockets to actually hacking not just private servers but state election computers.
Why would anyone who is a patriot try to block this investigation?  Again what are they afraid of? Why the sudden effort by the Treasurer to exempt the NRA from reporting where they get their money?
Is it just to push their agenda? They could impeach Trump for violating the constitution with the info already in public domain and put Pence in charge, Pence is ultra conservative and would do everything they want and more effectively than Trump. Yet hey are willing to destroy the image of the GOP for generations to protect Trump. Are they really protecting Trump or protecting themselves?  Perhaps they just like the media distraction that is the puppet president so they can pass unpopular legislation and deregulation with less notice.
Whatever the reasons the GOP needs to think it through.

  • If your ideas are so unpopular your afraid of what happens if Americans see what your doing as your ding it, maybe you should remember you work for those Americans.
  • If you believe Trump is innocent, despite the mounting evidence you should be quiet and let the investigation finish unmolested. The faster the better and your efforts at obstruction are slowing it down.
  • If your goal is to slow and eventually kill the investigation then you need to remember that eventually it will all come out. If Trump is guilty the longer and more devoutly you protect him the harder you will fall, deservedly so. The smart move if Trump is innocent is to let it play out and hopefully quietly so you should stop attacking it, the FBI and our intelligence agencies. If Trump or his campaign are guilty the smart move is to be quiet and adopt a wait and see approach so you come off as fair and patriotic.
  • One wonders then why so many in the GOP, especially the House are staking the reputation of the GOP and willing to do anything possible to loudly kill the investigation.  What is so valuable to protect that your willing to sacrifice the country and the long term prospects of your party for?
I think were going to see more than one congressman indicted for asking the Russians for help and a lot deeper ties to corruption. That is the only thing that really fits the facts presented. The GOP is terrified of Americans finding out something.
If I am wrong then prove it by stopping your efforts at obstruction and get back to legislation.
Right now many people have lost faith in the GOP and Republicans are leaving the party. If you want to get back our trust lets see some action.

Items GOP needs to do in order to recover Americans trust and protect the country

  • Impeach Trump, failing that Censure him.
  • Subpoena his tax returns to see if they reveal money ties to Russia.
  • Protect the Mueller investigation.  It has already done more to protect the USA and identify Russian attackers than the House Intel Committee did. Even if Trump is not shown to have been involved in election meddling and has no back channel ties to Russia or other foreign powers it has done more to protect US interests than all of Congress. So Americans ask yourselves, why do they want to shut it down?
  • Find out who the Congressional candidate was that ASKED the Russians for dirt on his opponent. Was it one of the ones trying to shut down the Mueller probe?
  • Figure out a way to convince our allies not to abandon us even though were attacking them.
  • Impose more serious sanctions against Russia.
  • Not approve a SCOTUS appointee until after the investigation is over. GOP said Congress should not let a lame duck president pick a nominee, how about one under criminal investigation? One who appears to put the interests of Russia ahead of the USA?
  • Immediately pass and approve the budget for beefing up our cyber security. Not only our are elections at risk but reports indicate our power grid is as well This is a national security issue, plain and simple. It should be treated as such by Congress and the White House.
  • Pass an Ethics bill requiring tax returns of all federal elected officials be published, get rid of hidden slush funds such as Congress uses to pay for sexual harassment claims against them at taxpayer expense, beef up election fraud penalties, and make it a crime for an elected official to lie to the American people. They can always opt for "No Comment" but should not be allowed to keep lying to us.
  • Congress needs to not be exempt from insider trading laws where they can personally benefit by choosing which companies benefit and which lose from the laws and regulations they set.
Why do Americans pay Trumps hotel fees to stay at his own hotels? Remember Trump gets this money from us every weekend for him, his staff and the Secret Service.
He does not even offer us a discount rate.
He is using the Office of the President to milk the taxpayer for billions to line his pockets and the GOP is ok with it. He also is getting money from foreign governments which is a violation of the Emoluments clause. How can you trust that his actions are for the USA when he and his family are pocketing money from governments prior to policy changes?
The GOP is supposedly fiscally conservative, yet they do not object to these things and they voted to increase the national debt and spending as they always do.
Its time people looked at the facts, not their spoon feeding media outlets and realize the con-job the GOP has been running on them.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Review of GURPS Hot Spots: Renaissance Venice

The latest volume in the series this book covers the city of canals during the renaissance period.
The GURPS Hot Spots series cover a section of earth history by focusing on a city, nation, or geographical region. They include historical data and timelines as well as information useful for adventures.
Related to this is the GURPS Locations series which focus on specific buildings that are designed to be generic and ready to use for an adventure.
Currently there are 4 Hot Spot and 5 Locations supplements in print for GURPS Fourth Edition.
This latest volume by Matt Riggsby, a rather prolific GURPS author  covers the city of Venice.
Venice is built on a set of small islands and provides a very different kind of geography than most cities. During this time period it was also a central trade and diplomatic city and that also is useful fodder for many games.

Chapter 1 Geography and Land Use

4 pages, including maps of geography and related tidbits. I did not know they were doing landfills back then to build up the islands.

Chapter 2 History

3 pages of detail on the history that brought the city to prominence,

Chapter 3 The Apparatus of Power

9 pages of information and ideas concerning the political and economic powers. By far my favorite chapter it gives useful information for a political intrigue campaign.  Also good info on the economic and policing side.  Kind of reminded me of Lankhmar in some ways.

Chapter 4 Daily Life

9 pages of stuff related to living and visiting the city. Includes house maps and stuff about art, clothing, religion, and entertainment. Another fairly portable chapter to most fantasy settings.

Chapter 5 Campaigns

2 pages on ideas for porting this to various settings and campaigns.


If your game is in the Renaissance period this latest volume will be a welcome addition. As usual Matt Riggsby does great work and presents a lot of detail without boring the reader.
Be sure to check out other volumes as this time period is well supported.
For my use I find a city built on small interconnected islands to be intriguing and portable to a fantasy setting, It has a nice map that can be easily adjusted and good ideas for a swashbuckler or diplomat/spy campaign.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review of GURPS Ritual Path Magic

GURPS Thaumatology Ritual Path Magic
Originally appearing in GURPS Monster Hunters this system is based off a couple of alternate ideas in GURPS Thaumatology. It is a very flexible system so spells can be created on the fly.
It is pretty powerful but can bog the game down as players improvise new spells. The system has a simple set of guidelines for new spells and it relies on charms (precast spells) for typical combat; both help alleviate the "Wait while I try to invent a new spell!" from the party mage.
Compared to GURPS Magic its slower (except for a handful of charms) but more powerful for many effects, especially regarding range and area affected. Also as noted its more versatile.
Dungeon Fantasy 19: Incantation Magic converts it to Effect Shaping and has worked examples suitable for the DF genre. Effect Shaping relies on high skill whereas Energy Accumulation (the default for RPM) gets by with lower skills but take longer to cast.
This is another system that can become extremely powerful once you get past cinematic levels and start treading on the low end supers range (500 points). It can have a pretty steep buy in as well so is best for a cinematic (250 to 400) level campaign.

It has become something of a fan favorite, especially for those wanting something with a lot of flexibility.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review of GURPS Powers Based Magic

Advantages to Spells

GURPS has a wide range of advantages and modifiers to tweak them such as to create an ability for just about any ability, at least with enough character points. A magic system based on advantages should be balanced to psionics, cinematic warriors or even supers since they all use the same basic system. Hero Systems does something similar, though there everything is based off the same system so, to me at least, it felt kind of bland,
All you really need for this system is GURPS Basic but GURPS Powers expands and explains various methods using a lot of examples so is a solid addition. The Power-Ups line and several additional Powers books also add options and examples. Here are some key worked systems.

GURPS Power Ups 1: Imbuements

Want to empower your weapons or fists with supernatural power? This system was created to do exactly that. There already were some ways to add abilities to mundane equipment but they were a bit clunky and required a GM well versed in Powers. This system lets you take your ordinary sword and turn it into a flaming sword while you use it. It works for any weapon, even missile weapons and has a large variety of options. It offered hints at other possibilities and has been expanded in several Pyramid articles. An Imbuer buys a leveled advantage and skills for specific effects but its pretty cost effective. The main drawback for the player is it can burn a lot of fatigue.

Pyramid Issues
3/4 Magic on the Battlefield The Perfect Defense
3/13 Thaumatology The Mystic Knight
3/36 Dungeon Fantasy Powering Up: Imbuements
3/60 Dungeon Fantasy III Mystic Power Ups
3/71 Spaceships II Vehicle Imbuements
3/102 Epic: Crafting Imbuements Designer notes

GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

I think this was born out of the GURPS Monster Hunter series which expanded the Wildcard or Bang! skill system by giving the character a meta power, sort of luck points. So for example an expert shooter could get really lucky when shooting.
Impulse Buys ran with that concept and created a narrative or story based system where things could work out the way you wanted them, even in non subtle ways.
This can achieve very powerful effects but they are not as common as most magic systems. So this system tends to create interesting mages who can do very impressive feats, but not often, and thus need to rely on other abilities for the day to day stuff. It is very suitable for settings like GURPS Discworld (Wiki) or the MythAdventures series.

Pyramid Issues
3/48 Secret Magic Forewarned is Forearmed
3/75 Heroes Jackpot Drinkable, Wearable, Impossible Points
3/100 Pyramid Secrets Impulse Control

GURPS Social Engineering: Pulling Rank

This is primarily a book about using Patrons in a different way than a simple appearance roll. It provides a wealth of material for those who work for an organization, including supernatural ones.
Abilities are more narrow and focused than what Impulse Buys provides but again this is not a great standalone system for an adventurer.  However it is a nice compliment to other abilities. I have used a variation of it for various organizations, including the Accounting Office from the Dragon Knight series. I also like it for spirit hierarchies such as organized demons or angels.

GURPS Powers: Divine Favor

What if you had God for a Patron?
That is the premise for this book and it is a simple system that goes back to basics by simply looking at the Patron advantage and exploring new ways to use it. Priests essentially have two subsystems, Pray for a Miracle and Learned Prayers.
  • Pray For a Miracle basically relies on the frequency of appearance modifier plus a reaction roll to see if your god helps out, and how much. Its pretty free form since if you succeed your god basically can just step in and do what it wants.
  • Learned Prayers use the alternative ability system presented in GURPS Basic for attacks and expanded to other abilities in GURPS Powers. This tends to be a less powerful but much more reliable and predictable effect.

GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery

Another back to the basics approach, this one relies on Modular Abilities.
The idea here is the sorcerer buys a leveled advantage to create a fast improvisation spell pool using modular abilities. These are expensive but give the caster an effective cantrip type spell option.
More powerful spells can be learned as alternative abilities, or even improvised on the fly for a hefty energy cost and skill penalty. The book comes with a nice catalog of pre-built spells and has been expanded with Sorcery: Protection and Warning Spells, Pyramid articles and fan created spells.

Pyramid Issues
3/63 Infinite Worlds II The Power of Sorcery
3/82 Magical Creations The Sorceror
3/105 Cinematic Magic Super Sorcery!
3/105 Cinematic Magic Chi Sorcery (Uses Sorcery system for Chi powers)
3/105 Cinematic Magic Gourmet Alchemy (Modular Powers as Elixers)
Fan built spells by Eggplant
Michael Thayne started a forum thread with his own contributions.

This is an effective and versatile system for the advantaged based mage. While a number of effects are more expensive than other systems it leverages alternative abilities well to help bring down the cost.

GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

While presented as a Chi based system it can be easily converted to a magical elemental system and gives a good starting point for other specialized systems. It is considerably more expensive than Sorcery since it buys each ability separately and at full cost. If your using it in a setting with Sorcery or regular magic consider allowing alternative abilities to help them stay competitive.
This book goes into quite some detail on using these abilities which makes it a good complement to either Powers or even just the Basic set. It includes a comprehensive list of options for using these abilities to enhance skills and rules for Extra Effort for temporary power boosts.

GURPS Psionic Powers

While presented as a psionics system this serves as a good model and worked examples easily adapted to mental magics.  It also explores the power stunt and abilities for everyone options from GURPS Powers. In practice this is kind of like the alternative ability system but techniques are learned to tweak core abilities into different applications.
This allows multiple abilities to be purchased at discounted rates, the trade off is making skill rolls to swap abilities. It would work well with Chinese Elemental Powers but require some effort by the GM to adapt.

Misc Powers Options From Pyramid

3/1 Tools of the Trade-Wizards Necromantic Tools
3/19 Tools of the Trade-Clerics Auras of Power
3/68 Natural Magic Green Power
3/91 Thaumatology III Technomysticism
3/99 Death and Beyond Soul Reapers


The Powers approach to magic has a lot of worked examples and different approaches. The key benefits are most of these books can be used with each other to expand spell lists or provide other options and they are well balanced against the core GURPS system and each other.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Reviewing the GURPS Magic Default System

I am going to review the various ways to handle magic in GURPS.
Unlike most other games GURPS provides several distinct options in an effort to give the GM the ability to get a system that meets the needs of their setting. This includes most fictional works, and folklore.

First up is GURPS Magic 

This is the default system introduced in GURPS Basic and has been around with minor changes since its first edition. The concept was pretty unique for the time and to this day still has a lot going for it.
It is a spells as skills system where each spell is its own learn-able skill and spells are organized into a hierarchical and thematic grouping called spell colleges. The idea is first you have to learn simple spells before you move onto more complex ones. For example Ignite Fire, Create Fire, Shape Fire then Fireball.
Higher skill levels provide better benefits, including easier casting and the ability to absorb penalties such as range or magic resistance.
 It has no formally acceptable name, unlike later systems that needed unique names to separate them for the readers to easily know what magic system is in play. Informal names include Hawthorne magic (after a mage write up from earlier editions) and College magic for how spells are organized.

It has its own book, web page and several supplements at the time of this writing. 
GURPS Magic Plant Spells expands an existing college, GURPS Magic Artillery Spells and GURPS  Magic Death Spells provide spells by function rather than college. GURPS Thaumatology: Magical Styles gives examples and rules to create specialized mages, similar to martial arts styles. GURPS Locations: Worminghall describes a quasi medieval magical school. Also Pyramid (monthly GURPS magazine) includes many special spells. This forum post lists various sources of many GURPS Magic spells and GURPS Thaumatology offers a lot of options to tweak it for different settings. Here is a list of Pyramids with relevant articles.
3/25 Epic Magic Essential Magic
3/25 Epic Magic Quartermaster Mage
3/36 Dungeon Fantasy All Charged Up Over Magic Items
3/43 Thaumatology III Cultists of The Elder Gods (Psi and DF priests)
3/43 Thaumatology III Magic as Technological Progress
3/48 Secret Magic Eidetic Memery: Bibliomancy
3/48 Secret Magic Anything For Power (Symbol Drawing)
3/60 Dungeon Fantasy III Wizardry Refined
3/66 The Laws of Magic Thoroughly Modern Magic
3/66 The Laws of Magic The Material Difference
3/66 The Laws of Magic Designers Notes: Wilderness Adventures
3/76 Dungeon Fantasy IV Hidden Knowledge
3/91 Thaumatology III The Thaumatology of Metallurgy
3/114 Mind Over Magic EM: Glass Magic and the Specularii
3/115 Technomancer Every article in it seems to have something, spells, new options, discussion on enchanted equipment, etc.

This system really attracted positive attention from a lot of my D&D friends at the time, though some twenty years later it has garnered its share of critics. Here are some of the talking points.

  • Creating new spells: Some complain its too hard to create new spells, though it has about two pages on creating new spells, with additional material in GURPS Thaumatology. Some eyeballing is needed but I do not find it hard to do.
  • Some spells are very powerful and many can break the standard medieval fantasy economy. If you think about it this is true of any magic system, though most spells can be learned well enough that a mage could cast them for hours, over and over again. This typically takes a specialist who focuses on one or two signature spells with the rest as backup or out of combat spells. There is advice on banning certain spells or fiddling with duration to address these concerns. The Wizardry Refined article in Pyramid #3/60 is a great source for this.
  • Mages can invade other character types niches. Since there are no character classes this is less an issue than you might think, and in fact most character types could learn a few spells to help them out. However mages in GURPS can be Swiss army knives with a spell for nearly any situation. Magical Styles or templates such as the Dungeon Fantasy line or the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game simply prohibit certain spells to deal with this.
  • This system works best for low powered to cinematic games and tends to become overpowered at higher point totals. I learned the hard way not to allow this system in my Supers games :)
  • Mages dont deal enough damage, either compared to cinematic warriors and scouts, or  modern and space opera weapons. Most who make this complaint haven't actually bothered with the math or tried to think creatively. First up a mage is versatile in combat so its fair to have a trade off for that versatility compared to someone who has more limited options. Most people think of a missile spell such as fireball or lightning bolt when making this statement. An archer has to carry a bow and use up arrows, the mage just needs to rest up or cast spells at no energy cost. An archer will do 1 or 2 dice of damage, a warrior could do several dice in a cinematic game but of course have to get in close. A mage who has a signature missile spell does on average 1d per 1 fatigue point they put into it and they reduce that by 1 point for skill 15, 2 points for skill 20 (extreme skill but comparable to a swashbuckler or scout) or 3 points for skill 25.  So a mage with fireball 20 can cast 1 or 2d fireballs over and over again. This takes 1 turn to cast then another to throw it at the target which is slower than a cinematic archer. So the mage is weaker at damage per second! On the other hand when your up against a heavily armored foe the archer cant increase their damage by much if any, while the mage can easily do so,  The mage can charge up the missile spell up to their level in magery per turn for up to 3 turns. That means with magery 3 (pretty common for cinematic mages) and skill 20 can fire a 2d fireball every other turn at no energy cost or power up for a big 9d fireball at 7 fatigue cost for three turns and toss it on the fourth. He wont be doing that often but that is a LOT of damage, more than most modern small arms, including blaster rifles!
  • Mages are versatile in combat. Missile spells are the obvious choice, and most mages should have 1 or 2 at skill 15+ as they work at pistol to bow range. Jet spells are great for melee combat as they can be maintained from turn to turn and can have the range of a pole-arm yet still work if your opponent closes. Area spells  cost a lot of energy but can control the ebb and flow of combat. Regular spells are the typical bread and butter and are the classic "Save or Else!" type spells and can sleep, stun or worse to a foe. Move and Shape spells can control the environment and obstruct paths or create openings.
  • Changing the paradigm: There are a lot of published tweaks available for this system to help the GM get it just right for their own setting. Ritual Magic replaces individual spell skills with college skills so they are more versatile on fewer character points. Mass magic allows casters to group up to cast bigger spells. Mana levels can be adjusted to make magic easier or harder. Material Magic, powerstomes, power objects and Energy Reserves help extend the number of spells that can be cast. Threshold Magic encourages more powerful spells but fewer castings by rationing the energy per day rather than relying on personal fatigue. The system can be used as the basis for rune or symbol magic.
To summarize, GURPS Magic is a pretty versatile system that gives casters a lot of flexibility and power and is easy to use in play.  There are also a lot of published options for customizing and it has a very large spell list. However it can be too powerful for some settings so it wont be right for everyone.
Thank you for reading this entry and I hope it gave you a good feel for just how versatile GURPS Magic is,

Monday, July 9, 2018

Air Force One turned into a touristattraction

From Buzzfeed, Trump has found another way to use the Presidency to line his pockets at taxpayer expense. Of course the GOP does nothing about it.
We have to vote in independents or democrats to replace the GOP in November!
Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats are our best hope to save the country from the current and worsening corruption that plagues it.