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.

Crit Success
Crit Fail

+0No EffectNo EffectAB

+0No EffectABC




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

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

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.


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


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.


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


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.