Saturday, March 30, 2024

Star Heist: Campaign Notes 3/30/2024

 Three players, a Decker, Diplomat, and Pilot in the campaign starting this Sunday. The Decker has been a pain, due to wanting lots of Allies and some odd choices. I had hoped to have listed a good amount of programs to help everyone do their jobs, and the ships crew fully fleshed out.

However, the work on Allies should be useful for the rest of the campaign and might even make a writing project down the line.

GURPS Template Toolkit: 3 Starship Crew helped me flesh out some of the crew, though wildcard skills covered the Medic and Engineer already.

What was the deal with Allies you ask? The player wants to be what was in Shadowrun a Decker and a Rigger and wants allies to control various drones, robots, an arm, and to help with hacking. The idea being that a TL10 computer can be small or tiny and still handle a decent Complexity level which determines IQ. He feels its better to have multiple AI on a drone, each assigned to one task rather than one smarter AI with more points in skills. Given how Ally and Ally Group works, its a fair idea. Though Allies are one of the most abuseable advantages in GURPS.

This resulted in a lot of the last two weeks being spent on robot and AI templates and rules. We shall see how it works, anticipate some changes needed.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Star Heist, a Campaign Setting

 The Magic Vegas campaign I was playing in is on a break and the group discussed options and we went with one of my older campaign settings.  It needs some update and revisions but is bascially a TL10 Space Opera setting.

This group is playing a Decker, Pilot, and Diplomat as insurance investigators.


Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller for the Pilots and revisions to how I was handling psionics. Basically aside from racial psi people can get it from travel trough subspace and the core mechanics is Wildcards. Each psi trait is built with a wildcard skill as the power talent and abilities are primarily versions of ESP and Probability Alteration.
Lensman by EE Doc Smith for some background and overall concepts.
The Ship Who Searched and other novels by Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey for an overall sense of the setting.
Harrington novels by David Webber for some of the FTL, though highly adjusted so ships travel far slower in real space.
Traveler for idea of Jump Drives.
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Assorted other scifi

GURPS Materials

GURPS Ultra-Tech and Transhuman Space for the tech.
A blend of GURPS Cyberpunk, Action 2: Exploits, Telepathy powers, and some Pyramid articles by W.A. Frick for hacking and netrunning as well as possessing vehicles.
GURPS Spaceships

Setting Conceits

The campaign takes place in the Commonwealth, a human centric space government.
It uses three primary FTL types. 
Jump Drive (Called a Dive Drive) that uses contrgav to punch a hole into subspace for hopping between stars.
Star Gates for wormhole travel between known locations. It is fast but limited by gate size.
Sling Drive (alucabrd drive idea) with hyperspace highways. Very fast, built by precursers but travel is outside the heliosphere. Ships can use this method inside a solar system but only for short skips and they may get destroyed by space debris.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Designer Notes, Part 3: GURPS Template Toolkit 4: Updating GURPS Classic


Another important goal for me with this supplement was to update 3e material that has not yet been updated and was related to spirits.

GURPS Classic has a lot of great material and most of it is easily ported to 4e. GURPS Religion and GURPS Spirits are still very useful, even if some of the mechanics have to be reworked. GURPS Cabal, GURPS In Nomine, and GURPS Voodoo are all fascinating settings that have not yet been updated. I believe this is mostly because an update does not need to do a lot to cover mechanics and other things that may need an update. The settings themselves are still very useable. With no formal update for any of these on the announced horizon I wanted to see how much I could cover to make a prospective GM's workload easier.

GURPS Cabal, GURPS In Nomine, and GURPS Voodoo received an update to their magic systems and some powers in GURPS Thaumatology, GURPS Powers, GURPS Magic, and GURPS Basic.

Some spirit powers however still needed either an example build to show how to update or new modifiers to make them work. Some of this material was in other 4e material, especially Pyramid and GURPS Horror. But its scattered and can be hard to find, especially if you do not have the supplements. Even if you do the GURPS library is extensive and sometimes things are tough to find.

GURPS Template Toolkit 4: Spirits thus has a lot of new modifiers and explains ways to use existing abilities to emulate some of these effects. I also tried to grab some of the more interesting or difficult spirits to make sure the possible builds was versatile and compatible as possible with published material. Jumper gets a lot of love here that may be useful to a GURPS Cabal spirit.

For another example the Personal Power lens is basically an attribute list that lets you combine it with a spirit template or lens type and have a ready to go foe. Secondary attributes such as Dodge already included. I benchmarked these so that the Minor lens matches the small elementals in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and the Elite lens matched the default Angel character in GURPS In Nominee.

Speaking of GURPS In Nomine I did not intend this to take the place of an update for that setting but I really like it and some of the concepts fit a broader narrative of spirits and folklore or fiction. So I put a few things in here.  If the setting is updated they may get used or they may not, if someone wanting to run the setting using 4e rules wants to use them they can choose to use this or not. The goal was just to provide as much material to cover as large a variety as possible.

Easter Egg

Here are some thoughts on using TT:Spirits to adapt the GURPS In Nomine setting.

The Elite personal attribute Lense was benchmarked against GURPS In Nomine angels and demons, leaving rom for the archangels and princes to use the Paragon attribute level. Different racial templates could be used but my first choice would probably be Imbuing Spirit. This makes them normally insubstantial but they can either use powers or spells to affect the physical world or possess people.

Different Choirs and Bands would modify this, perhaps requiring a host be a Puppet to possess them or Alternate Form to create a Host. I wanted to add a bit to Alternate Form for such a host, including an enhancement to Alternate Identity but decided it was too specific for this supplement. Additional notes…

Awareness (Symphony) becomes Illuminated.

Each Choir or Band has their own Power and they also have Celestial or Infernal as appropriate. I didn’t set out to make powers for each Choir or Band but Traveler and Dream/Nightmare are obvious examples that could fit.

Word-Bound and Sacred Word! are obvious.

Add the desired magic system, GURPS Magic in 4e is almost the same as in 3e, though new options are available. And with that you can pretty much update your GURPS In Nomine to the current edition. Most powers are easy builds, a few require more work that I wish I could have done for this supplement.

Designer Notes, Part 2: GURPS Template Toolkit 4: Example Builds

One of the requests for this by a few people was to make affordable builds for allies. Spirit Ally can be rather expensive and I was limited to RAW but there were a few things that were done to help in at least some cases. However, even a weak spirit has a lot of advantages and is thus correspondingly expensive.

Simple Fetish

A weak spirit bound into a fetish. This can be an Ally used to maintain spells in Book/Path magic, grant powers through Granted by Familiar, and adding one or more Powers (sets of related abilities) take direct action. This is a weak spirit that is killed if the fetish it is bound to is destroyed. This can be altered by adding Unkillable or other traits. Statistics: Personal Power, Minor [-40]; Fetish [-50]. -90 points.

Familiar Spirit

A classic, typically a small animal (and thus less expensive) mostly a way to get powers (including extra levels of Magery or Energy Reserve) at a discount using the Granted by Familiar limitation. Statistics: Embodied Animal [24] + animal template. 24 points plus the animal template which is often under 50 points, especially if the IQ is not bought up much.

Super Scout

This is a minor spirit that cannot materialize or affect the material world but is an effective invisible and insubstantial.  This is a basis for such a scout. Statistics: Minor [-40]; Unmanifested Spirit [149]. 109 points.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Designer Notes, Part 1: GURPS Template Toolkit 4: Spirits (Devotion PM)

This is a very crunchy work and I had a lot of goals I wanted to meet with it. One of those was to come up with a generic power modifier for spirits that fit my understanding of the nature of them. The Spirit PM (GURPS Powers, p. 28) is for people getting help from spirits, not really about being a spirit.

What I first came up with was a 0% rather generic PM but my editor wanted it to be more specifically outlined and described. In doing so I came up with the Devotion PM which is similar to the Pact limitation used for priests as part of the Divine PM. Spirits are generally very focused or passionate about the things they care for or engage in vices or have other traits GURPS would call a mental disadvantage. 

I created several new power groups, leaving a lot on the cutting room floor. The published version has 27 specific power groups, though a few are modified versions from other supplements. I also included a list of Power Modifiers I felt especially appropriate in other supplements, mostly GURPS Horror and GURPS Powers.

The Devotion PM can be applied to most of them and though it is a generic -10% the value can be adjusted based on the spirit and what disadvantages apply. The Trickster power has a specific example of this. I listed some ideas for most of the Powers, mostly the concept rather than a list though to save room. The explanation for the Devotion PM gives the structure and each power gives a guideline relevant to it.

For example the Traveler power could take Compulsive Behavior for never staying in one place too long, exploration, etc. Or perhaps a Sense of Duty to their rider for a winged steed. The Psychopomp power could take Sense of Duty to religious adherents, "Those who died in battle", or anything else appropriate to getting the recently deceased to where they need to go.