Tuesday, April 29, 2014

GURPS Magic Notes 15: Earth Spells

I was surprised by the applications of Earth Magic. What I love about it is that its really just the application of science and geometry and you've got a lot of kick ass things you can do with it. If you want to motivate yourself to study geometry and chemistry or earth sciences then this school of magic is for you. Also if your in the engineering (civil works) industry you can really appreciate this since a lot of the bits that is interesting from engineering finds some use in the such a game.

Non-mages. the productivity increase of many earth spells are so powerful its as if you threw in TL6-9 heavy machinery, although it didn't need the infrastructure to support it. Still you will need a bit of a magical infrastructure to create enough to the satisfaction of the patron. Such magical items, like shape earth, will be so useful as a tool an weapon. You may have to rethink the "per energy" cost of $33 in M20 or $25 in basic set. Note that if an economy becomes more productive the values would inflate.

Some Definitions out of the Way

You better be on the same page as your GM with what is stone and what is earth. This because of the wording and high school geology opening up a can of worms with the interpretation. I'm working on the assumption that Earth is soil, clay, loam, dirt, sod, dust, sand, and mud. While stone is Rocks, Granite, Lime, Marble, Slate, Dolomide, Obsidian, etc...  What is the difference between stone and glass? Note that Unlike Air M23, there is no specifics of what Earth is composed. 

Balancing Ideas

  • Limit the kinds of Stone with Earth to Stone and Shape Earth/Stone. Basically make it the stone version of the soil - typically sedimentary stone. 
  • In the uses of Earth below, the GM can just assign a Task Difficulty Modifier to either Artist, Engineer, or the Spell. 

Sample Low Tech Earth Mage, Normal Magic

62 points
IQ 10
Magery (Aspect: Single College (earth)) 3 [24]
Seek Earth (H) IQ-2 [1]-11
Shape Earth (H) IQ+6 [24]-20
Earth to Stone (H) IQ-2 [1]-11
Innate Attack (Earth Spells) (E) DX+2 [4]-12
Feint (H) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)+4 [5]-17
Targeted Attack (Foot) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)-2 [3]-10 

Sample Low Tech Earth Mage, Ritual Magic 

79 points
IQ 10
Magery 3 [30]
Ritual Magic (VH) IQ+2 [16]-15
College (Earth) (VH) IQ+2 [16]-15
Shape Earth (H) College (Earth) [2]-15
Earth to Stone (H) College (Earth) [3]-15
Innate Attack (Earth Spells) (E) DX+2 [4]-12
Feint (H) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)+4 [5]-17
Targeted Attack (Foot) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)-2 [3]-10 

Sample War Beneath Heaven Mage, Ritual Magic 

46 points
IQ 10
Magery 10 (-80% limitation) [25]
Ritual Magic (VH) IQ [8]-25
College (Earth) (VH) IQ-3 [1]-22
Innate Attack (Earth Spells) (E) DX+2 [4]-12
Feint (H) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)+4 [5]-17
Targeted Attack (Foot) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)-2 [3]-10 

Techniques and Skills to be used with Earth Mages

  • Innate Attack (Earth Spells) (E) DX+2 [4]-12 
    • Targeted Attack (Leg) (H) Innate Attack-1 [2]-11
    • Feint (H) Innate Attack (earth spells)+4 [5]-16 
  • Wresting or Judo
    • you can control your shape earth without concentration while the spell is ongoing, use it to make it your advantage.
    • Ground Fighting (H) [5] (grabbing torso and head would be much easier when the mage and the other fighter are on the ground).  

Skills for Talent for Earth Mages

  • Engineering (Civil, Mining, or Combat)
  • Naturalist or Geology 
  • Wrestling or Karate
  • Innate Attack
  • Artist
  • Axe/Mace or 2h-Axe/Mace

Basic Tactics, Basic Set Earth Magic Compatible

Seek Earth 

0 count
if the character has a Miner/Naturalist/Geology skill, he would know the value of the stones and sell them at an advantage. Merchant would also help very much in this.
Non-Mage notes. Very useful to non-mages. Its cheap value will make it a very necessary tool. This will change your setting economics, factor this in. Personally I dont like the aesthetics of a divining rod.
  1. The ability to know the amount can be helpful, but it doesnt say. The GM can allow this since it is an information spell after all. The closest to doing the same job is Measurement spell in Knowledge. 
  2. Nitrates and Fertilizes! definitly improve food productivity, to TL6-9 levels

Shape Earth, 

1 count
Shape earth allows the character affect the terrain. Note That 1 cu.m or cu.yrd can be a large area if you consider having it only a few inches thick on the floor. 4 inches or 10 cm already covers an area of 100sqm or 1000sqf. Note that Shape earth lasts at minute intervals and at its most basic configuration can be maintained by a 15 skill indefinitely.

Magical Items. This is going to be a valuable tool, if you take note of all things done below. Shape Stone combined with mining and engineering skill means the ability to crack weak points of stone mountains and

Techniques. You can just make everything below techniques that default to Artist, Engineering etc..
  1. Earthen Bad Footing. Create Selective Bad Footing (B395, B.96, B547). The Mage can just leave the soil to ripple and wave beneath the feet of his opponents to cause them a -2 to hit and -1 to defend.  
  2. Quicksand. Cause opponent's feet to sink. Target can dodge. If the target is already in bad footing, this will be harder. 
    1. This requires Innate Attack, this is a targeted attack at the feet of the target. There will be range and hit location penalties. Attacking both feet should have another -2 to spell casting. The mage rolls Innate Attack, but the opponent will have a penalty to defend (-2) because he can't see where the attack is originating. Its like the soil or concrete he is stepping on swallows his feet. 
      1. Targeted Attack Technique MA68.
      2. You can have a Feint Technique B231 can apply to the Innate attack since its really difficult which angle the attack is coming from. 
      3. Do not limit it to the Feet, head and hands are targets with Shape Earth but they are much harder to imprison unless you can follow up with an Earth to Stone. 
      4. For the Duration of the Spell, 1 minute, you can control earth allowing you to grapple an opponent and allow the Earth to engulf him in key points. Sinking his feet while you have him in an arm lock. 
  3. Simple Pit . Create a Pit the size to swallow up the Target, taking the floor right from under him. A big enough pit, 2 cu.m/yrd can only be defended with a retreat if its just 1 hex in size OR Dodge and Drop B377 if bigger than just one hex. 
  4. Ready Maneuver to Shape - Shape Earth Shield/Cover. Since maintaining the spell has no concentration requirement, the character can probably use Shape Earth to block or Parry as though he had an unbalanced weapon readied. 
    1. Simple Forms. You can make it that every simple form change can be reaction like a block or Parry. By simple its just an extrution of earth. 
    2. Complex Form. if Earth or Stone becomes a complex form, particularly since it draws from a Skill like Artist or Engineering, it is definitely a concentrate maneuver. 
  5. Shaping Stone. In GURPS Magic, M51, at 1/2 the amount shaped, the mage can Shape STONE. At 1/6 the amount manipulated the Mage can shape Worked Stone, like Reinforced Concrete. The same combos as Earth but with less material with much higher DRs and Strengths. 
    1. DR for stone is 1-5 per cm. 
    2. Shape "Stone" can manipulate 333 liters of worked stone or 11.7 cu.ft or 0.3 cu. m. Get a Spreadsheet and input all the various geometric combinations. Natural stone, which is not that common a terrain feature, 
      1. 2.5m high cylinder covering 1sqm or 10sqf is about 1cm or DR4.
      2. 2.5m high cylinder covering 13sqm DR3
    3. Shape Stone of 2FP manipulates 0.33 cu.m/yrds thats about 333 L or 12 cu.ft. The human body is less dense than water, so 333Liters translates to 333 kilos. So you can basically mold stone 
  6. Shape Stone Caltrops - Stone Caltrops or Pit Spikes. Combat Engineer or Traps allow you to make more elaborate traps with stone.
  7. Earthen Cover. Shape Earth is more effective against Gunfire with its Diffuse Properties. Powerful in a Gun fight where attacks can create cover to move towards as they make an attack.  
  8. Shaped Dummies. Stone or Earth and use Artistry. Other than art, Dust Clouds and Silhouettes can be used to distract. With magic as a powerful Recon spell,  
  9. Shape Stone to Reinforce Structures and Engineering. A mage with Seek earth and Shape earth can possibly filter the necessary ingredients to make Roman Concrete. Combined with Earth to Stone, there are many combinations that can be done in both engineering, art, traps, and communication (milestones and stone signs). The creation of Industrial structures also helps. Glassware as earth becomes Obsidian and Glass-like stones. 
  10. Terracotta or Armored Form. Shaping earth to be armor will require concentration (see B238) and Multi-Tasking see Casting Spells while Maintaining Other Spells (B238). So assume if you are concentrating to keep your Armored Form, which means -3 for all other tasks. 
    1. As a Tradeoff Given Encumbrance Penalties for heavier and heavier Armor. See LT106 and B46 for ablative. Basically use Light, Medium, to Heavy Scale Stats but multiply by coverage. DR for Terra-cotta Armor is -1 compared to its Stone equivalent. So Light Scale Stone armor is DR3/2 but weighs 48lbs while the Earthen version is just DR2. Heavy Stone Armor is DR5 is 96lbs while the Earth version would be DR4. 
    2. You can make this a Hard Technique that defaults the Mage's Artist (Sculpting) Skill. After at least 200 hours of intensive training (2cp) to maintain the spell while doing other things it becomes less a distraction. 4cp allows the negative -3 to be removed. 
    3. Use this to misdirect which is the leading mage. 
  11. Terracotta Copies. Create a Terracotta Mirror Image. Create another copy for every -3 . Note that enemies can use a quick contest of Observation to tell which is real. 
    1. Make it Compartmentalized Mind. Aspected (Artist - Sculpting, Shaping Earth, Puppet -40%). You can limit the duration and how often per day.  
    2. You can make it with Ally Advantage but the GM will have more things to worry about - limiting the number, independence of an Ally, how this seems more appropriate for Earth Elementals etc...
    3. As a Technique since Every additional Copy 
  12. Shape Stone for Stone Armor! Taking it to another level is using Earth as Armor. Note that Shape Stone can grant a lot of DR to the mage. Of course this will require its own casting if the mage will want to do other stuff. It will also encumber the mage and the mage would probably not armor the Joints. 
  13. Shape Stone WEAPONS. A huge stone fist, gauntlets, or an Obsidian Broadsword that keeps regenerating as the mage keeps reshaping it as it breaks (see Multi-Tasking see Casting Spells while Maintaining Other Spells (B238) )
  14. Invisibility countermeasures. See Invisible foes by making the earth soft enough to leave tracks or throw a diffuse amount of earth 2m up.
  15. Wrestling Aid. Wrestling while the spell is ongoing will allow you to grab various extremities or the torso. Worsen the enemies surrounding terrain and enclose him with earth while he wrestles you (then use Earth to stone when you break free). 
  16. Very Easy Traps . from quicksand, to covered pits, hidden caltrops, ambush holes, 
  17. Hidden Passages. Basically only Earth mages can get in because they will use shape earth to make passages. 
  18. Rammed Earth Structures. very easy way to build very durable structures and all you do is use shape earth. You can give Rammed Earth a Shape Earth Task Difficulty modifier.
  19. Soft Landing. Use Shape Earth to create a very soft landing cushion of earth. 
  20. Food production. The ability to mix soil in particular mixures Nitrates and Fertilizes! Definitely improve food productivity, to TL6-9 levels
  21. Earth Skate. Use Shape Earth to make earth like snow as you "skate" down hill. 
  22. Sand with Sand. Use sand as an abrasive tool (typically used to clean mail).  
  23. Running Earth Technique. Every time the caster steps the earth moves the footfalls an additional 2m. It should be a Running or  Technique, -3 since its multi-tasking.
  24. Climbing Earth Technique. Every grasp and pull up, the earth aids the movement of the climber. It could be a climbing technique, -3 since its multi-tasking.  
  25. Shape Earth KE use Collision Damage, Slam and Shove (B430; Slam B368; Shove B372) to Calculate Knock Back
    • Rock Densities
    • ( [ Mass(lbs)^(0.33) ] * 8 / 100 ) * yrds/s (2m/s for earth, 1m/s for stone)
    • or ( [ Mass(lbs)^(0.33) ] * 8 ) * yrds/s (2m/s for earth, 1m/s for stone)
    • Example Sand has a density of 1.5 tons per 1 cu.m/yrd. So 3 tons of sand flowing at 2m/s is a 3d-1 cr  or  6d Knock Back
    • 3.4 cu. yrd = 1.7cu.m of Sand or 2.55 tons (71HP * 2 yrd/s) would deal 1d+2 cr or 3d shoving knock back only. 
    • 0.56 cu. yrd  or 42 cu.m of Sandstone 0.935 tons (50HP * 1 yrd/s), will create 1d-2 cr or 1d of shoving/knockback only damage. granite would be a negligible density as compared to sandstone to deal more damage unless way more FP is used. 

Earth Vision

2 counts
Earth vision pays for the range you can see. 10 yrds/m is already pretty far. Its freaking X-ray vision and you can imagine how you can have more uses of it than the other vision based spells.

Non-Mages. Again very valuable, and with synergy with the other spells. Your rogue with trap skills will definitely love using this a lot. 
  1. Fill the air with Dust Cloud with Sand Jet or Mud Jet and use Earth Vision to see through it. 
  2. Attack from Ambush, while behind earth cover - which has escape routes. 
  3. Find Traps in stone and earth work. 
  4. Analyze Architecture and Structures. 
  5. Enclose a Space and Cast Destroy Air (count 2) or Create Air (Count 1). See Vacuum in B437
    1. The enclosure would requires a certain thickness and a skill roll to shape. 
    2. if you hold your breath you will Non-Magesrisk rupturing your lungs.
    3. Explosive Decompression - Take 1d of injury immediately and roll vs HT against the bends (B435). Roll HT+2 for each eye and HT-1 to prevent hardness of hearing. 
  6. Use the Earth Elevation to for Recon 
    1. Formula for Horizon is ( Height (m/yrd) ^ (0.5) ) * 3.57 = Distance of Horizon in km (or x1,000 yards or x0.63 miles) 
  7. Shape Clay so that you have Earth that can be Waterproof and Hold water. Shape something in clay and use earth to stone to make into an ideal Stone that serves its purpose. 

Earth To Stone

2 counts
Since you can maintain Shape Earth without concentration, you can cast Earth to Stone to entomb or solidify the structure you have created. this is WAY cheaper than Shaping Stone. If you used Shape Earth, you would have to spend 12fp for 2 cu.m/yrds as compared to Shape earth and Earth to Stone, you would have had to pay 2fp for 2 cu.m/yrds and 6fp to transform it into Stone (like reinforced concrete which is about ~4DR per 1cm or ~10DR per 1 inch). You saved 4fp.

Non-Mages. very useful for engineers and miners. 

  • List of Rock Types
  • Make earth into Coal and Shape Coal! Coal is basically earth or stone that is combustible.
    • Flint and Steel will allow the mage to ignite coal shaped to be kindled.  
  • Make earth into Obsidian, so that it can hold a very sharp edge. 
  • Make earth into Pumice, and you have stone that is buoyant.
  • List of Gem Stone for the stuff you cannot create with Earth to Stone
  • Nitrates and Fertilizes! definitely improve food productivity, to TL6-9 levels
Economic Impact of Earth to Stone (or Earth to Metal)
  1. Doubling the cost will make METALS! Why dig many dangerous mines, mages will now produce all the metals! Mages don't need to specialize in Metal Production, Metal Smith will depend on mages creating the tools for metal creation. 
    1. it is simple for GMs to remove this option OR add barriers. 
    2. Reduce the amount produce to 1/1000 or 1kg or 2.2lbs. x20-x50 the FP cost so that the mage would need apprentices and a larger group to coordinate. You can make it an entire village.   
  2. Note it does not say its Iron, its metals which means it can be any metal. 
  3. This spell creates Oricalcum with Essential Earth. 

Flesh to Stone 

3 counts
can also be turned into a metalic statue. Subject to the Economic Impact barriers of Earth to Metal. The Risk vs Cost is very poor compared to Shape Earth.

Stone to Earth 

3 counts
Transmutes Metal to Stone at double the cost. Too expensive for combat purposes, but useful in Sieges. Note that you can convert to earth Sliced Sections of Stone. The GM may require an Artistry or Engineering roll. Failed roll is half progress. Great against Stone elemental or Body or Stone. The GM has to rule how much damage it will deal for such. At such a specific use it can be ruled it deals 1d cutting or crushing damage at Body of Stone or Stone creatures. 

Partial Petrification 

4 counts
Again very expensive. The Risk vs Cost is worse than Flesh to Stone, and Shape Stone. the best use of it is to cause a Fear check form the horror of the transformation. 

Predict Earth Movement 

4 counts
Useful in determining where to build, as a preventive measure it is very useful. It can use also the potential for Landslides as a defensive measure for the town if the town is build to avoid it and earthworks are made to channel it towards invaders. 

Rain of Stones 

4 counts
A Harrying spell, cheaper than a Rain of Arrows. You can imagine it being used as a harrying tactic during tactical maneuvers - pinning down a shield wall. It can also be a siege spell, destroying property, supply carts. Since the mage will have to cast it at an enemy unit, he is subject to the range penalty of the spells. The mage will be in close proximity and in a dangerous position. This makes the spell best if the mage is behind a wall, countering a siege or attacking those on the wall. 

Walk through Earth 

4 counts
Needs Earth to Air to be very advantageous. Maintaining Earth Vision and Shape earth would be helpful. Earth Running and Climbing Techniques will be helpfull in moving faster through the limited duration of the spell. 

Earth to Water 

5 counts
If shape earth needs to have a water element, this spell help add that. It creates mud or water. Very useful in basic survival and logistics. Water is a heavy resource, to be able to hydrate without carrying it will change logistics practices. 


5 counts
A powerful first aid spell! Entomb someone until you can get them into better healing. Mages can go on "hiatus" and disappear. I dont know if you can heal someone in suspended animation? If you can kill them then you can probably heal them, since the condition is static. 

Sand Jet

Count 4 
Blinds and Distracts. Good for harassing an opponent for allies to flank. 

Mud Jet 

5 counts
Does what sand jet does, but adds Knockback.


5 counts
best use of it is to ignore armor. Read the very short description - you ignore metal! This means you can reach out and smack an armored knight passing through his armor. It is a powerful spell this means the mage can use his fragile obsidian blade into a metal armored foe. It also means his non-metal attacks cannot be parried by metal weapons!

A mage who's prepared all his gear to be non-metal can find this very useful defense. With stone, bone or wooden pics they can manipulate metal locks. In a low metal setting this may not be so useful, and may be better neutralizing a fully metal armored opponent but it has a high risk to cost ratio. 

Stone to Flesh 

5 counts
Reverse Petrified creatures. Its a curative spell. 

Body of Stone 

6 counts
a defensive spell more than a offensive one. Casting it on an ally may make the Tank of the group better in soaking damage. 


6 counts
Expensive spell to cast. So its typically cast as a ceremony with apprentices. An effective siege attack. 

Essential Earth 

6 counts
Has a lot of economic Impact. increasing the cost when it becomes metal (like converts 1 cu. yrd to 1kg or 2.2lbs of metal) would create some scarcity. Adding the cost modifiers of x10-x100 would also help. 

Purify Earth 

8 counts
Needs preparation - seek earth and earth vision so it wont go to waste. Has an economic impact. 


8 counts
Blinding sand storm. penalizes ranged attacks. 

Alter Terrain 

11 counts
takes a lot of energy to be used. better in a High Mana setting. 


13 counts
Takes a lot of energy to be used, better in a high mana setting. 

Move Terrain 

29 counts
Takes a lot of energy to be used, better in a high mana setting. 

Advanced Earth Techniques

  1. Maintenance Spell, Initiative, Independence, and Shape Earth. Like Gaara of Naruto, you carry with you 2 cu.yrds / cu.m of Sand or Soil. 
    1. Gaara of Naruto carrying sand can be achieved using Maintenance spell. Basically carry 2 cubic meter of sand with you at all times. The sand can carry itself and move 2m/s. Its going to be odd. The only way I can see this work is a Complex Illusion or an Illusion shell where the sand is a body guard.
  2. Illusion Shell, the mage maintains Shape Earth into a vague human form finished by Illusion Shell or various other Illusions adn Independence/Initaitive to hide its true nature. 
  3. Create a fairly large Enclosure with Shape Earth/Stone, and use Destroy Air for this (What happens to a Human Body in a Vacuum.) to happen. 
  4. Use Shape Air to bring Sand and Earth into the terrain of choice.  

Earth Bending

As a fan of Avatar the TV show I'd like also to see the same Kata or Dance or Route martial art moves that would allow a character to manipulate moves like in the use of the Hung Gar Style Kung Fu.  You can basically take the Dance Aspect and make it into Kata (which is Dance in martial arts terms). if the Character can still cast spells without doing Kata, you can just make it Half Power without the Somatic/Dance component. 

Magery (Limitations Earth College Only, -40%; Half power without Kata Component, -20%) 4cp per level. Definitely Dwarves would benefit from this. 

Dwarves with the Stable Footing Perk. They can fight in the bad footing created by their Earthen mage Allies.

Metal as an Expansions of Earth Spells

You can add Metal Spells (M182) to the Earth Spell spell lists.You can have Identify Metal come after Earth to Stone or Seek Earth.

Identify metal,
Seek Metal,
Shape Metal,


  • Terracotta Warriors and Knights
  • Obsidian Knights and Warriors
  • Mosiac Armor (mixing small stones and earth). 
  • You can have a special perk and background for some low value gemstone to be manipulated. It also requires Jewler instead of Sculpt. 
  • Earthen Guard Towers with Obsidian Mirrors. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

War Beneath Haven S02 E11 - the Mountain, end of Season 02

Season 1: 8 episodes May 17 to November
Season 2: 11 episodes Feb to April 26


  1. The party began the adventure in the mountain, having crashed their vehicle in their escape. It was late so they rest. They took a couple of hours to fix things up and went on their watch and sleep shifts at 8pm. Two shifts, on the second shift Eeshu found a silver cord dripping liquid down from a tree. When he alerted everyone another silver cord lashed at him and he freed himself with a knife. Archie and Jack began firing, Archie had NVG while jack had better aim. The creature was hurt, trying to escape it jumped down and it happend to be a 400lb spider. They made sure it was dead and Eeshu was able to collect its poison sac. When they finally began to move, they discovered Dimitri dead from asphyxiation.
  2. The party moved on, the objective is to reach one of the last ditch effort safe houses found in the float junkyard beside the container yard. First they had to get out of the mountain, and they could only move east to cross it (thanks to Eeshu's knowledge of the mountain). They proceeded up and saw a ravaged shanty community, tracks could tell a story to those skilled enough to read them. They avoided the tracks, but encountered a 5m/15ft giant.  It caught another shanty dweller, the giant took it and almost caught wind of Jack it waited but something summoned it. 
  3. When they crested the mountain they can see the mist escaping the mountain and creatures emerging from it. It took people and consumed them. There were many creatures and they can see the Magus' territories as they prevented the mist from closing in. They all took a rest because it was 2km hike up the mountain. They left when they can see the silhouette of giants climbing up. 
  4. They climbed down, and they encountered giants returning from forage. The party was able to ambush them - one giant's head was riddled with 20+ rounds of a P90 (the head was huge) by Archie. The other giant, the larger one, had his brain's blown off when Jack shot a .300 winchester through an eye. The third was stunned with paralytic poison by eeshu and its legs blown off by Fish, and froze just before being able to smash Jack. They made sure it was dead. The shots rang loud and they can see a rush of more giants coming at them. They escape below, Speedy's mobility allowing them to steal a large van to escape. 
  5. Tasha drove them and they parked far to observe who was at the scene. Emily and Yasuf (Osman's Son), did not respond in the secret radio signal the group had in place in such emergency. Black SUVs arrived and many armed men came over to the scene. A sedan with Thomas came, it stopped when it saw SUVs and went around. The team tried to follow Thomas. When they found him, he entered through the Container Yard. Constanz was with him, and they were stopped by soldiers. The team assembled in cover and Speedy tried to get Thomas' attention. He answered them, talking down the soldiers, but then walked over to Speedy. There was something terribly wrong, Jeni tried to stop them. Thomas tries to kill speedy, but his spectacular HT saves him. Everyone tried to kill Thomas at this point, a sword appeared from no where and tried to stab Jeni (which the GM rolled 16 for). 
    1. Jack shot with his sniper rifle, and blew off his own arm. Archie remembered the encounter with the mage and tried to attack the sword wielding thomas with his carbine. two soldiers, Eeshu and Speedy used ranged with predictable consequences. Eeshu managed to get hit with his own spear, and survives the paralytic on a 7. Speedy goes down when he tazed himself. The two soldiers got knocked down, all simultaneously. 
    2. On the next round everyone gangs up on Thomas, and they bring him down. In his Speedy sweeping the legs under him and everyone successfully attacking him. He cripples speedy in his defense. Constanz who has eliminated the other guards creates fire around Thomas forcing everyone to dodge and retreat. Jeni does something to force Constanz to dispel the fire. 
    3. When Thomas recovers he makes her pay, just before the other renew their attack. Jeni goes down, Eeshu deals the killing blow to Thomas. 
  6. Before Contanz could use magery to escape or harm the soldiers, Dylan takes her down. He approaches the party and points out to them that with Thomas dead he is their new boss, if they would accept him. Thomas dies leaving a large number of ownership reverting to Speedy, who is actually valuable because he is HSS chief engineer. To save Jeni, Dylan asks for Speedys loyalty (a Geas). Speedy accepts. He then recruits Archie, pointing out the murder in the elevator and his protection - they negotiate and come to a price. He then approaches Jack with an offer and the restoration of his arm. Eushu, is also approached with the "opportunity" to help the people of his "empire". 

Limited Aftermath

  1. The party gets a huge CP pay out. Enough points to allow characters to round out any deficiencies they may need.  I will help the party establish roles. 
  2. The heights need to be retaken, and the Party will be given time and resources to slowly build up forward bases and a presence. Dylan is their Patron, and they will be having mission dealing with mages and other supernatural factions to control more territory. 
    1. I plan to see if it is feasible make many adventures set in the african continent - the new frontier! Empire Estates expanding and buying out territory there. 
  3. HSS is now a company of Empire Estates, and Dylan means to make a bigger profit from the businesses that operates in the Shadow ISP network. 
  4. Enough time will pass that the party's adventures begin again in 2014 Feb. 
  5. Season 3: 1st week or 2nd week of June. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

HT and Simplified Running

Health GURPS Stat

the health stat bugs me because fitness and conditions are separate. Why can't it be just in one stat? If I get healthier all these things improve, an every point of health matters. in the items below, you will note that TALENT plays a big role (one can feel pretty inferior when comparing themselves to people with talent in the field they invest a lot in). 

Building HT with Fitness
  • FP pool - if FP was calculated like BL you will have a curve. (HT^2)/10.  
  • How you Recover FP - 100mins / Base FP (not counting extra FP). 
    • HT 7 (5fp), 20mins per FP
    • HT 8 (6fp) 16.7mins per FP
    • HT 9 (8fp) 12.5 minutes per FP
    • HT 11 (12fp) 8.3 minutes per FP
    • HT 12 (14fp) 7.1 minutes per FP
    • HT 13 (17fp) 5.9 minutes per FP
    • HT 14  (19fp) 5.3 minutes per FP. 
    • HT 15  (22fp) 4.5 minutes per FP.

Simplified Running

Since I run, I want running in gurps to match more of the metrics I studied. 

Sprinting follows the same rules.

Edit.I can mode it with the Haste Rules, , but settled on the Extra Time rules instead because the penalties under Haste would be to high and far outside the system's benchmarks and its easier to do. 

EDIT Under the Haste rules, under Time Spent rules in B346, is more confusing. Reversing the Extra Time Rules where every double of Effort giving a -1 penalty would easier to implement . 

EDIT: Specialize in Sprinting or Running. you may want to allow optional specialization. Running becomes Easy, but you have -2 to do one or the other. To represent the difference between a Marathoner vs a Sprinter .

1 minute Sprint

1 minute, Running defaulting penalty '+4 if skilled, -2 (x4 the interval) Task Difficulty Modifier, Move*4.32km/h (or Move*2.7mi/h), costs 4FP. Failure spends one more FP. Success adds a +5% to the performance (in time or distance, which ever you are measuring). Extra Effort rules apply.

15 minute Run

15 minutes, Running defaulting penalty '+4 if skilled, -4 (x16 the interval) Task Difficulty Modifier, Move*2km/h (or Move*1.25mi/h), costs 1FP. Failure spends one more FP. Success adds a +5% to the performance (in time or distance, which ever you are measuring). Extra Effort rules apply.

15 minute Sprint

15 minutes, Running defaulting penalty '+4 if skilled, -10 (x1024 the interval) Task Difficulty Modifier, Move*2km/h (or Move*1.25mi/h), costs 6FP. Failure spends one more FP. Success adds a +5% to the performance (in time or distance, which ever you are measuring). Extra Effort rules apply.

Long Distance Running

1 hour, Running defaulting penalty '+4 if skilled, -6 (x64 the interval) Task Difficulty Modifier, Move*2km/h (or Move*1.25mi/h), costs 2FP. Failure spends one more FP. Success adds a +5% to the performance (in time or distance, which ever you are measuring). Extra Effort rules apply.

Example. A a pretty healthy character, HT12 (14fp), Move-6, and Running (optional specialty paced running) HT+3 [8cp]  (This is the equivalent of running for 4 years at about 200 days a year) will need to use extra effort to quality for the Boston marathon. He has to run with Extra Effort -4 spending 1 more FP for 3FP per hour.  If he fails any one of those rolls, will pay an extra 1FP. He cannot allow himself to hit "the wall" because it means half movement penalties, which leaves him 9FP to spend for the entire run. 
An unskilled character cannot attempt Long Distance running at Move*2km and uses the rules in Basic Set under Paced Running.

Pushing the Limit

If the character Hits the wall he can try to push past the limit and take damage to ignore the Half move penalty. The Character Takes damage equal to every FP he spends on the interval.

Ultra Marathons

This is taking a mix of Hiking an Running. Again, like above if you don't have the points invested you will suffer HT-5 penalty in such feats. 

100 Km run 

2 hour intervals, Running defaulting penalty '+4 if skilled with a -7 (x128 the interval)  Task Difficulty Modifier, Move*2km/h (or Move*1.25mi/h), costs 3FP. Failure spends one more FP. Success adds a +5% to the performance (in time or distance, which ever you are measuring). Extra Effort rules apply.

Example. A a very healthy character, HT14 (19fp), Move-6, and Running 
(optional specialty paced running)  HT+5 [16cp] (this is the equivalent of running for 8 years at about 200 days a year). He has to run with Extra Effort -4 spending 1 more FP for 4FP per hour.  If he fails any one of those rolls, will pay an extra 1FP. He cannot allow himself to hit "the wall" because it means half movement penalties, which leaves him 13FP to spend for the entire run. If he fails he can end up hurting himself for 5hp damage 
100km runs are finished at 7.5 hours. Record Breakers are at ~6.5 hours.

24 hour Run

8 hour intervals, Running or Hiking, defaulting penalty '+4 if skilled with a -8 (x512) Task Difficulty Modifier, Move*1.2km/h (or Move*.75mi/h), costs 5FP. Failure spends one more FP. Success adds a +5% to the performance (in time or distance, which ever you are measuring). Extra Effort rules apply.

Example. A a very healthy character, HT14 (19fp), Move-6, and Running HT+7 
(optional specialty paced running)  [24cp] (this is the equivalent of running for 12 years at about 200 days a year). He has to run with Extra Effort -4 spending 1 more FP for 6FP per hour.  If he fails any one of those rolls, will pay an extra 1FP. He cannot allow himself to hit "the wall" because it means half movement penalties, which leaves him 15FP to spend for the entire run. If he fails he can end up hurting himself for 7hp damage.  
On a 24 hour run. participants can reach up to 200km. Record breakers are at 260km

Resting - If the cost is too high, then the runner will rest. 

Other Uses.

Monster Logistics, particularly that used Persistent Hunting (which humans allegedly excelled at). This can help determine migration patterns for such creatures. Personally I’d use it with Giants, like in Attack of Titan, wearing down adventurers who are not logistically prepared.   

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

GURPS Magic Notes 15: Ritual Magic Basics and High Magery Game

Ritual Magic Basics

Ritual Magic under B242 and GURPS Magic p.200. Basically instead of every spell a skill, you have a core skill minus prerequisite counts, this core skill is Very Hard and a Very Hard College/Path Skill. Your college/path skill cannot be higher than your core skill but your core skill casts stuff at a -6 penalty. 

Ask your GM which is the core skill Thaumatology (B225) or Ritual Magic (B218) or an alternative. I think in principle the core skill, what ever it will be has to be a Very Hard skill. Ritual Magic requires a Tradition, while Thaumatology doesn't. These skills are excepted from being subject to the bonuses of talents. But there is a work around I would allow because it adds to flavor.
Example. A character with true devotion and talent can have IQ10, 4 levels of Talent that grants a bonus to Religious Ritual-15 [8] can buy from default. Raising Ritual Magic to 10 will cost only 4 points, instead of 8 points. Then apply Magery. 
Ritual Magic and Thaumotology are both core skills in the War Beneath Heaven Campaign. Thaumatology is for appropriate for Free-mages who pursue magic like a science. Note that Ritual Magic can be defaulted from Religious Ritual at -6. So that a faithful can use their Talent in Religious Ritual as an advantage.

Notes when you are Using Ritual Magic

  • Normal magic vs RM, NM is easier because you as a Player or GM only have a few spells. If you are just using the spells in Basic Set, thats ~106 ish then Normal Magic is just fine. But if you want more spells and magic, Ritual Magic makes it easier to have more spells and magical effects in your game without having a Block of Text on your character sheet for all the spells you invested in. 
  • You will need GURPS Magic, you will need to consult with p.225 to get their prerequisite count OR you can manually take note of all these counts. GURPS magic will add about +500 more spells to your spells list.  I would also like to say you will need to bookmark my notes as well. 
  • RM has a lot of Penalties. Not only does the mage have to keep track of his Range/Distance penalties when casting a spell, he has to apply the prerequisite count. 
  • You need to raise two Very Hard Skill. Because Ritual Magic needs the Core Skill cap the College Skill, this means that it costs about at least 8cp for a Mage to focus on a college since he has to raise both the College and the Core skill simultaneously (B242, M200). 
    • Horizontal Expansion. That investing only 1cp in a College reduces the penalty casting a spell to -3. So a Mage with magery 15 and IQ11, who spends 1cp will have a 23 instead of 20. This means the easiest method to advance is horizontally - mastering more colleges since 1cp does a lot.   
    • Normal magic allows you to specialize in One spell, while Ritual magic keeps you a broad generalist, even if you focus in one college you cannot raise it past your Core skill. But since there are few One

Pricing Magical Services

  • This will come very much handy when you start pondering economic Implications of many spells. 
    • Monthly Income of Mage (Wealthy at TL3 would be $3500 as an example). Mo.Inc / Time and Effort. Time is 20 days a month, 8 hours a day, and about 20 minutes per client (or 24 sessions a day). That would be ( Mo.Inc / 480 ) x2-5 depending on market conditions. That would be $15-35 per consultation and $15 per FP spent. 
  • Non-Mages Magical Services. The service would be calculated based on the value of their magic Item, Mo. Income, Time and Effort. 
    • Shape Stone, allowing an artist to Shape Obsidian or other Stones would cost $170k. The Enchanter mage who is his Patron or Partner would be expecting about almost $6000 income per month for 5 years (in return his apprentices maintain and service the Artisans needs). $6000 + Comfortable Monthly Income is $7400 divided by Time and Effort with modifiers for market conditions. Its about $16 per FP. Since a Stone Mage can make several very fine obsidian knives and implements up to its weight. 466kg or 10026lbs of very fine obsidian knives and tools. 

Mana Levels

  • High Mana games means everyone can learn and cast spells. The economy of such a setting would be equal to a very High tech setting with very little scarcity. You can basically take such a high tech setting and make it "Magic". 
  • You may need to setup Demographic assumptions for how frequently the Magery ability shows up or is it something that can be trained. So basically you can treat it like Literacy or the rarity of high hereditary IQ. Its very arbitrary to determine magical demographics and It changes the setting economics very much when there is an advantage one is born with that grants them powers like magery. 
    • Examples: in War Beneath Heaven the demographics is 1:1000 or 0.1% of the population. Then I determined how much of the mage population are born outside of mage families and how hereditary it is. 
    • Mage Population thread in SJgames forums. I'm one of those GMs who think its easier to consider additional levels of magery learn-able, that way I only worry about the magical demographic potential and use medieval education demographics for the higher powered mages. 
  • Sample: Magery Social Class System. As there are Man-at-arms, Squire, and Knights, your fighting potential does not make you Knight. This is the same as mages, your magical potential does not make you a mage. As there are Squires who are squires for life, you have apprentices who are apprentices for life. There is also the matter of education and money, some mages can have the best education money can buy, while others self learned. If magic takes money and time to learn, then the mages who come from noble families will have the advantage. 
    • Wealth and Education as a barrier. Spells are hard skills, already as compared to other skills it takes Intensive Training (B293).  
    • Hereditary magery as a barrier. Mage families who cultivate their bloodlines will produce more mages, and the bastard mages suffer as apprentices and the rare-exception of being better than their full blooded siblings despite lacking in education and opportunity. if magical potential is only the elite class, you can just put it at 1:100. As a society gets more population and bigger, you can see mages being an oligarchy growing farther and farther away from everyone else (rarefied demographics). 
    • Chinese Elite society from evolution of the Mandarins would be a good example of how to to handle Magery with Social Class system. Unfortunately there is not a lot of good Wikipedia articles I can recommend, and my understanding is from sifting through various sources in my Sino studies. Trying to summarize it: as it takes money, resources, and good genes to create an elite warrior - and the same for mages. You will need more bureaucrats in a society that can channel their resources in War and Magic (and Commerce). The greater the ability for the economy to specialize and others purse: War, Magic, and Commerce - such specialization will create a ruling class. Note that a High degree of education will also make a society more like China where there are more competing Ideologies (until one destroys them all; see Hundred Schools). You dont need to go far to find an Alien Culture that is very different. 
    • From Yao to Mao, 5000 years of Chinese history
    • Lazlo Montgomery's Chinesehistory Podcast
    • Note that Magery in a Normal Magic setting has no equivalent that exists in the present or human history. The barriers were illusory (ethnicity and creed are mental constructs that can be overcome) when the definition of humanity was defined by the few and powerful. You can make Magery an illusory barrier. Of course if you make magery a true physical barrier then society can base their Value judgement on magical potential.  

Spell Task Difficulty Modifiers

  • A Simple Barrier is creating Task Difficulty modifiers on casting Spells which create more complex results. Example is that mages who can Shape Stone can shape common stone, but when they shape Obsidian they have  a TDM penalty. If they Make Earth to Metal, they have a penalty when creating certain metals. At a high enough penalty you can reflect some elements of scarcity 

War Beneath Heaven Mages

  • Initiates tend to have an average of 15 on their specialty of Magic and 9 for everything else. They would need to use extra-FP to improve the margin of success. Once spent, they may be out for a couple of hours. 
  • Novices tend to have an average of 20 on their specialty of Magic, and 14 on everything else.  
  • Adept tend to have an average of 25 on their specialty of Magic, and 19 on everything else.
  • Masters tend to have an average of 26-27 on their specialty, Skill-23 in many other colleges, and Skill-21 in those that don't matter to them. They also have a lot of advantages that augment their skills.  

High Magery Game

  • You will need to keep note of how the Colleges are at a certain level of Power Discounts. 
  • Elemental (I realize this is a great specialty against swarms).
    • Air  - Air is the second most cost effective elemental college, it is very useful in low tech and can still be fairly useful in high tech / modern settings.  B378 notes on knock back. Unlike the Fire and Earth that can maintain Shape Element Indefinitely at Skill-15, only has Stench in Basic Set. It has Air Jet in GURPS Magic M24, requiring Skill 18 to be able to cast often without FP lost. If the Mage has College (Air) -23 he can do Air jets at no cost to him at 4d knock back. 
      • Air and Earth are always readily available. 
      • Stench (count 1), and Shape Air (count 2)
        • If you want to calculate the air pattern/current, remember circumference formula. You can make a current of air travel a 5 yrd circle of a radius of  0.8yrs/m at 1FP. So basically the Mage is in the center of a mini vortex of air
        •  At 2FP it is a 1.6m/yrd radius spell and 1d of knock back. its a median average of 2.5m/s wind, if its enough to give 1d knock back it should be enough for some penalties for missile weapons to hit. 
      • Shape Air (count 2), great against missile weapons or swarms or if the GM allows it aid missile weapons in adding range. Since it
      • Air Vision (count  3) and Smoke (count 3) 
    • Fire - Fire can be very destructive, but requires higher skill. The most basic combo is having 17-18 skill so as to maintain Create Fire and Shape Fire Indefinitely. Check Incendiary Attacks in B433. Use fire as a crowd control and cover all the hexes beneath enemies using Shape Fire spell - its bad footing with DAMAGE!.
      • Unlike all the other elements, fire is not easily available. 
      • Simple Combo is Air Vision (count  3) and Smoke (count 3). its funny how a fire mage cannot see through smoke lolz. 
      • Strategic use of Ignite (note the distance penalties to spell casting, which you can limit by making a trail of oil). Take note of grease fire, which would require 3FP but will be very difficult to put out because it spreads when water is used. 
    • Earth - Earth is the most bang for buck among all the elemental colleges. It is limited by the Players and PC's ingenuity and creativity. At Shape Earth-16-17 it becomes very useful and versatile. You will need Innate Attack (Earth) for various techniques. Will be covered in greater detail.
      • Shape Earth use to Shove opponents (see Collision Damage B430; Slam B368; Shove B372) to Calculate Knock Back
        • ( [ Mass(lbs)^(0.33) ] * 8 / 100 ) * yrds/s (2m/s for earth, 1m/s for stone)
        • Example Sand has a density of 1.5-1.7 tons per 1 cu.m/yrd. So 3 tons of sand flowing at 2m/s is a 3d-1 cr  or  6d Knock Back. 
    • Water - In muddy or snowy terrain water is as powerful as Earth requiring only a skill of 16-17 to be constantly useful every round and minute. Composite bows are very useless when wet. Muddying the ground or Fighting in the Rain will grant terrain penalties to opponents, and strategic application of Freeze or Frost can be very effective - freezing wet weapons in their sheathes.  
      • Shape Water use to Shove opponents (see Collision Damage B430; Slam B368; Shove B372) to Calculate Knock Back
        • ( [ Mass(lbs)^(0.33) ] * 8 / 100 ) * yrds/s (3m/s)
        • Example Water has a density of 4.5kg per gallon. So 20 gallons of water flowing at 3m/s is a 1d-2 cr or 1d Knock Back. 
    • Biological
      • Animal - This helps you cultivate powerful and useful animal assets. Birds are often overlooked, swallows and sparrows can be very useful in sending messages and recon. Don't begin by thinking of the most dangerous animal you can get, consider the most useful animals in Communication and Logistics. Training animals in record time would be interesting. 
      • Plant - Shape plant can be used to neutralized wooden weapons at Skill-16-17. Most of the plants spells are very powerful in economics and logistics. 
      • Body - Itch against armored foes and Spasm are all great if the mage had a Skill-21-22 to cast it at no cost. 
      • Healing - At Skill-21, the recover FP spell allows a mage to perform extraordinary feats of logistical endurance. 
    • Wizardry
      • Meta Spell - Scryguard, and Maintain are priority spells and effects for powerful wizards. Many Strategic Spells are found in Meta-Spells. 
      • Enchantment - Make Items and Temporary magic items. It takes a lot of research to find items minor and useful at the same time. 
      • Knowledge - very useful, although many information spells are useless against scrygaurd and have a hard time with conceal magic. Echoes and Visions of the past are powerful spells to determine what happened in an area. 
      • Protection - very limited and many of the spells that would matter is in meta spells. 
    • Necromancy - This is one of the most powerful colleges, it has Enchantment Spells as part of the specialization which basically means you can ignore many other colleges for just Necromancy.
      • Necromancy has Demonic Summoning which allows a character have a demonic ally.  There is one very simple way to min-max this - Get a Demons whose motivations are your own. Its a bit zen to know oneself enough to know that this is the "right demons" for me. But if you get there then just summon the demon you choose to serve. Demonic Contracts basically reduce the cost of the spell equal to x3 their appropriate knowledge of the Black Arts. That means Hidden Lore (Dark Magic) -16, the Mage can reduce it by 48 points!
        • That Translates to 24d ex missile attack, very powerful and large Area effect spells that can cover 1,800sqm or 18,000sqf.  Animate 1800sqf/180sqm room full of dead bodies. Cover 23 hectars or 60 acres in cloudy darkness. 
        • Note this discounts, so it cannot help you add FP to a Maintenance Spell BUT it can bring down a spells power cost so that you can benefit from the x5 duration of maintenance spell for spells that cost nothing to maintain. That means you can maintain massive area effect spells.  
    • Mind Control - Compared to Com/Emp, this is pretty bang for buck. At early levels such mages will augment with social engineering. 
    • Communication and Empathy - not really useful in combat, the easiest spells to cast is mostly in social interactions adding reaction bonuses (pursuasion). Oddly expensive with many spells at 4fp and same to maintain. This mostly deals with communications and influence. sense foes, which is the most basic is hard to use because of the muddiness of intent, the very very small area of effect per FP used, and the lack of other detail.  
    • Making and Breaking spells - Inspired Creation is powerful, the ability to reliably make Very Fine quality work means a lot of things and translates to a lot of potential uses. The spells costs compared to what they do makes it a fair specialization. 
    • Illusion - This needs to be Combined with Meta Spells, particularly Maintain. Its ability to program Servants or even Zombies through Independence makes it worth while especially to necromancers. 
    • Light and Darkness. Darkness Spell is a very powerful tactical advantage used well. You can see going out but no one can see going in. A size big enough can help in ambush and maintain some terrain superiority. 

    Magos Lazarous Olumid, Lord of New Ejeba

    He is an example of a Master, at 200cp he would be a formidable enemy or ally to the PCs. If you look at his disadvantage, it doesn't really make him out to be a bad guy.
    • He is at a median magery level as Masters go, there are other masters who have higher magery. 
    • Lazarus has 35 points invested in Spells
    • Lazarus has 20 points invested in Secondary skills, 
    • He has 2 Special Allies - the Heroic Companion Knight of Ife and a Formidable Familiar the Hawk Jaja. 
      • He doesn't have a demon, which is an odd choice of companions. Demons are the most powerful and effective of companions and very cooperative if both personalities are aligned. His choice of Familiar and Companion can be attributed to sentiment or tradition. 
    • He has about x50 100cp Adepts mages under his control, 10 can be available to him in any time. This is a very powerful resource and marks him as a very successful master, his Talent as a Teacher also supports why he has so many adepts. His adepts and Initiates are put to work, so only a few are available on call when he needs them. 
    • He is basically his own feudal lord in part of Haven he controls. He has network to reflect this, and he serves of at the pleasure of the being known as Olokun.
    • His Politics is 10 and Strategy is 9. This means he can be vulnerable attacked Socially and Strategically. His strong roster of Adepts would be attractive to other Masters and their Arch Mages who find the opportunity move against him.
      • At this level stick to Easy Strategies - go with the herd in Politics and be conservative in strategies.  
    • What he is not is a Leader, he's more of a Teacher and Administrator. He is not a Politician or Courtier, nor is he Strategist or Tactician. Hes not as good a liar as many other mages (who have it as a Talent). Like all mages, in order to survive, they have to be a good judge of character (Psychology-14). 

    Lazarus Tactics 

    • Basic Defenses
      • Maintained Scryguard (93 days/45fp) Skill-23 
      • Maintained False Aura (93 days/45fp) - Skill-20
      • Sense Observation Daily (M167) (24 hours) - Skill-19
      • Simple Illusion (-1 on all spell casting) - he appears a much darker and more virile looking, more like a gangster to others. 
    • Lazarus makes use of two zombie guards, who are enchanted with Amulets against Control Zombie. He would sometimes disguise as the zombie and disguise the zombie as himself. 
    • In an emergency he can draw on his 35Fp and his 30fp power stone and in an Emergency he can Burn his HP at no penalty because he can will himself to shrug the pain for a short duration. allowing him to burn as much as 20HP. 
      • What 85 power can do?
        • 43 explosive damage dice
        • 1.8 Hectar (about 4.5 acre) Rainfall
        • Rebuild 12.7 Tons
        • Make a One use Temporary Magical Item worth 566FP.  

    Killian Tarmikos, The Mage Killer

    Killian (real name Kwanele) is free mage, who hires himself out as a trouble shooter among many of the Taipans or Patriarchs. He does not have an Arch-Mage patron and has to live in the fringes of magical society if he wants to keep a low profile.  Killian died in S02E10 in WBH, when the HSS got marked for elimination, he is still a useful template. 
    • He has invested a lot in his spells, about 37cp. He's brought up his effective spell level with Knowledge, Healing, illusion, Protection and Meta-Spells. His default strategy is to keep a low profile and keeping security conscious. 
    • His specialty is studying other mages and looking for weaknesses with Strategy and Information Analysis. He is not more powerful than other mages, he just happen to have to skills that allows him to exploit their weakness better and find it sooner.  Against mages with their many countermeasures he relies on giving them the impression that they are in control through a defensive strategy via defense in depth
      • Since he is observing someone who has Sense Observation and Scry Guard, most of the information he gets are from Indirect Observation and Information Analysis. This problem solving technique simply takes what is unknown and working with economies of efficiency and predictable patterns of development. Much like an investigator who relies on Criminal history to sort patterns in their behavior and strategies. He will create a profile via indirect observation before proceeding, he charges for an evaluation and provides the report (a SWOT analysis) at the end of his research.      
      • He has Traps and Electronics Operation (Comm). This allows him to use radio controlled devices and set up some technological equipment. He can use Inspired Creation to make a Very Fine Trap and Network Set up, one that does not backfire on him and works as it should. He makes use of fine quality equipment and electronics. 
    • Based on the Risk Assessment he tends to work with harassing tactics, creating as many inconvenience and adding as much time wasting projects. For every hour he turns in, he has to create an attrition of hours of 1:5 or 1:10. Enough harassment for his Patron to move in and execute their own plan or to make it too costly for the mage to go on with their original strategy. He draws a lot of "agro" so he does get into fights and escalation, where he fights emotionally unstable and unpredictable mages.  


    • I wish the spells were designed to be more exponential like Area Spells. Many spells are linear like the shape spells, while Area spells are exponential. If you want the same exponential effect per FP: (basically 45 and 90 degrees exponential advancement). 
      • Thanks to +Bertram Jänsch you can by using the (  3n(n-1) ) + 1 formula. 

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

    Sins of the Crusade S01 E03 - Taranto

    Thanks to
    +Wilton Heath - Cato Vorenus an Honest Naepolitan Merchant and client of House Milessenos.+Il Pella - Xenophon Papagiannopolous, Captain of the Zardakos+Thunder Clonch - Teritus Maxentius, Guardsman of the House Milessenos

    • The Party had to have a plan entering an Enemy City, not just any enemy - the Lands of Bohemond of Taranto son of Robert Guiscard and one of the Commanders in the battle of Dyrrhachium. A personal enemy of the Emperor. They had to prepare papers that they came from Syracuse (which I confused for Crete; so if you watch the video I was thinking of Fatamid Controlled Crete). They had Customs Duties officers harass them but the captains experience and talent showed through and verbally bludgeoned the duties officers.  
    • Upon arrival, there was a lot of planning and information gathering. They noticed the City was filled with soldiers. Bohemon was recruiting and training, it showed in the economy and the prices of goods. There were soldiers everywhere and they were poorly paid but well drilled. They manage to learn about the city  and formulated a few plans (this takes a lot of time and discussion). 
    • While learning more about the town they caught someone listening into their conversations. A traveller with a German accent Konrad was able to place. They take a "walk" and get to know each other. The "traveler" is a scout measuring strengths of the Norman armies, particularly the most active one. (see diagram) he pretty much figured they were "with the greeks". They exchanged notes, proposing they try to convince bohemond to fight for the emperor - a very long shot but points out information about him
      • That Bohemmon is very greedy and paranoid, his usurpation of his brothers rights makes this evident. 
      • Relationship o Bohemmon and his brothers. 
      • He is rallying troops with inflated promises. He will stop at nothing to gain glory, and he is incredibly dangerous and resourceful. 
      • he warns them of Silverio and explains the history and relationships they've gathered. 
    • The team had their own plans, and did many arrangements and set about serveral intrigues in motions. They settled on having Tertius and Xeno joining as a mercenaries. While Konrad and Cato as merchants trying to do business in Taranto. 
    • A week has passed when they were settling in and making arrangements when while they were outside of the city looking for a place to secretly meet they stumbled on to some soldiers returning with a captive with them. The Soldiers slipped into a well hidden grove, and when they were splitting the goods the Xeno interceded and tried to talk them down. They were caught red handed in banditry, which meant death or quartering for a soldier. They tried to get rid of the party and the combat lasted only seconds - their greater skill showing through. Xeno took a wound, and it would prove a problem in the training days to come (and having to explain it would get him into trouble).
      • Cato couldn't stand goods going to waste, at the same time conflicted about the fighting which he is deathly afraid of.  
    • They rescued Catena, the victim, who they discretely brought to the church and hid the stolen possessions. Catena is a traders daughter (poorer than a merchant), and she seems to have lost everyone in the ambush. 
    • The weeks that followed was very eventful
      • They discover the courtesan of Bohemmond - Lady Oletta. Cato befriends her agent and maid, Adonai. 
      • They, Xeno and Tertius, get to know Mauger, the Dane-Norman, master at arms of the Behomond. 
      • They train and use Lucretia as discrete armswoman part of the diplomatic core (Cato, Konrad, Bert-hold, and Velus). 
      • Xeno befriends Ponziano. 
      • They maintain connection with Erhard. 
      • They send Miraclones with introduction to the Vorenus family in Naples. they will try recruiting there. They will try to set up a manner of sending messages to Constantinople. 

    It looks like a lot of scenarios will play out next sessions. This session had a lot of foundation and set up. I will try to draw a diagram in prep, hopefully I have the time. A diagram of the Taranto. 

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    GURPS Magic Notes 03: Basic Set System Mechanics Review

    Bringing down the information barriers, and helping you get to play a mage or allow supernatural elements in the game. I'm particularly trying to work towards games with strategic and tactical magic. Like any level of complexity its built over a good foundation of fundamentals.

    Quick Review 

    • B234 Glossary of Terms - I skipped this and went back to it (now that I looked at it seems I never really paid attention to this). 
      • Note the Spell Classes (B239): Regular, Area, Missile, Melee, Information, 
      • Area spells are funky when calculating area of effect. For every increment calculate it as as ((X*0.6)^2) * pi. Where X is the number of increments. 
        • It follows close to the hex area formula in very large values which is about (t^2)*2.6 where t is radius which is also equal to the length of a side.
        • +Bertram Jänsch If you want to be precise then the area of a regular hexagon is (sqrt(3)/2)/(d^2) where d ist the distance between the parallel sides, ie 0.866 sq yds for a hex of 1 yard. (0.866 m^2 for a 1 meter hex if you're living in the world of modern units ;).)The number of hexes can be found by using 3n(n-1)+1 where n ist the number of increments.So just multiply the number of hexes with the area you want to use and voila.Hope this helps.
        • (new) Area spells extend upward 4m up! so effectively every HEX of 0.866 sq yrds/m has a volume of  3.4 cu. yrds/m. This means a lot if you consider that create FIRE is an area spell, fires 4 m UP!
      • Note the Colleges, in GURPS Magic there is a TON of them, about 20s compared to DnD's 7-8 groups. 
    • B235 under Casting Spells - Spells are Skills. Pay the FP cost of the Spell and Roll your Spell Skill
      • Your spell skill is IQ + Magery (B66-67) + Controlling Attribute Modifier (B167). Mana Levels are a Factor (B235), and only Low Mana matters in most situation because it imposes a -5 penalty. 
      • Magical Rituals (B237) - skill 9 and below sucks and you look silly casting a spell, 10-14 makes you look funny, and 15-19 is where most cinematic fantasy fiction fall under, and 20 and up makes you look bad ass. 
      • You can burn HP (B237) but it Penalizes the spell at -1 per HP burned due to something like shock. Immunity or Resistance to Pain has to be house ruled (B80). Note that since it says that its due to Shock but it says High Pain threshold has no effect its shock but not shock (make your ruling). Numbness should help (B146). 
        • I house ruled Immune to Pain (but still you can feel damage since this is still not Numbness) as 20cp. GURPS Powers gives the maximum duration limitations and if I need an ability check to activate. I basically made it a 4cp ability with 80% limitations that brought down its duration and ability to use, you have to make a will check to activate this and it lasts only 1 minute. Note the Missile Class spell rules, since it takes turns to "Power Up" a missile spell, you may not be able to burn HP enough and in time when the pain will start giving penalties. 
    • B348 Critical Failure - at level 16, only an 18 is a critical failure (made that mistake last game a player rolled an 18; still erred on the side of the player). 
      • There is a Critical Spell Failure Table in B236. The odds of getting the worse result (18 and 18 again) is about 1:46k or 0.002% ish which is a demon. On the Table >70% of the effects are not so bad. Only 17-18 makes you the GM's bitch.
    • B308 A lot of Spells. There are about 106 spells in the Basic Set and about a total of 600 more spells in GURPS Magic. 
    • B242 Ritual Magic Rules in the box, under Clerical Magic System. 
    • B201 Innate Attack (specify) is needed for various attack modes. Read more M12/B240 
    • B226 Throwing Skill for spells which can be hurled. 
    • B238 Casting While Maintaining Other Spells basically is your Multi-Tasking rules.  Unfortunately Multi-Tasking rules are not consolidated and come from ISW226 and Gurps Spaceships 1 p. 59. 
      • Some Spells require Skills like Art like Illusion, Art (illusion), or Shape Earth, Art (sculpting). Since these are mental skills it takes a concentration maneuver (see B366) to use them. Since Shaping these things are speed of thought, the GM calls how much time it is to form.  
      • M7 or  B236 Distraction and Injury rules. 
    • B241 or M13 Blocking spells have no discount. 
    • Resisted Spells B242 or M13-14. Resisted is Quick Contest! it is a contest of Margin of Success. 
      • B349 Rule of 16, Basically in a Quick Contest Roll (B348) an uber-powerful spell casters margin of success is capped at 16 or the target's contesting stat. So a Mage with skill-36 which targets HT would be used on a PC with only 12 HT can only have a margin of success limited as to only 16 (and not his 36 skill). 
        • So if the PC rolls a margin of 5 by rolling a 7, the Mage needs to roll at least a 10 and below Instead of rolling a 15 and still succeeding. Since the margin of success is using 16 to calculate a roll of 15 would have a margin of 1, instead of 11.  
    • B366 You cannot cast spells with Wait, since wait doesn't allow you to use a concentrate maneuver. Blocking spells fall under reflex but the GM will ultimately decide. So a mage cannot cast spells to interrupt an action, but can interrupt Long multi-second actions (like other spells that have a multi-second casting time).  
      • Ward M122 can allow a mage to "Counter" a Spell since it is a blocking spell. Note that you do not use a wait maneuver, you need to use a concentration maneuver using the Thaumatology or Ritual Magic or Hidden Lore Mages etc.. skill that allow you a clue of what spell is being cast. 
        • Mage Sight (M102) will help, unlike Aura, Identify Spell, Detect Magic, or Analyze Magic which are Instantaneous Information Spells. 
      • You can only "Counter Spell" a sell with more than 1 second of casting time and with Observable cues: which means the mage took a limitation for 

    In Summary 

    • B234 Normal Magic:  Roll your IQ + Magery (B66-67) + Your spells Controlling Attribute Modifier (that's a mouth full). Lets just call the Basic Set's core normal magic system NM vs Ritual Magics RM. in B242 its calls it "Normal" magic system.  
    • B242 Ritual Magic:  Roll your IQ + Magery (B66-67) + Ritual Magic's or Thaumatology's Controlling Attribute Modifier - Prerequisite Count of the Spell (the counts can be found in GURPS Magic B225; I have a suspicion there are some errors but to check them would be such a head ache and I'm fine with the approximations). 
    • In both NM (Normal magic) and RM high skill discounts (See B237 under Magic Ritual). Basically 15, you have a discount of 1FP, and every 5 levels after that is 1FP more discount. So at 20, -2FP discount, 25 -3 FP. The sweet spot is 25. In RM your Pre-requisite Count or your "count" brings down your skill, so more powerful spells (those with higher counts) don't get a discount. 
    • Your Effective Skill matters a lot. It determines a Spells' Endurance (M20; not found in the Basic Set as far as I can research), a spells ability to contest other spells that try to affect it. 
    • Resisted Spells, Note that many spells make the target roll HT or Will or even a Skill to resist the effects.  Note that some Area effect spells can be Dodged, with Drop and Dodge (B377). So if you see someone look at you funny in a magic game setting, it would be acceptable to Dodge and Drop for cover the same as you would if you heard gun fire. 

    Strategy Guide and Tips

    • Familiars or Companion one of the largest sources of limitations for Magery. Its basically -40% and its not so visible, you will find it in the Allies Advantage in B38 on the very lower left corner of the page. 
    • Aspects are pretty much a must. You can make an Aspect just lower your effective by halving the Limitations effect (see Accessibility B110, 2nd to the last paragraph). So a Mage that is Half as powerful in the Day will have Half the Night Aspect limitation (B67) at -20%. If you want Mudras  aka Somatic Components, Poetry like in Visionaries aka Verbal Components, or Prepared Material Components like in DnD I recommend just basing it off the Aspects and House rule it or you can use my house rules for it (C'mon you don't really need someone else to make this and I'm sure someone online has made it already).  
    • GMs who wants to play around with various mage builds should consider the following: 
      • LIMIT THE COLLEGES! yes, limit it to like 10 or 7! This will make your life so much easier. 
      • Use Ritual Magic. If your going to Build Mages and have to list every spells, F-that! Just write down your Ritual Magic (VH) IQ [8], College of Choice (VH) IQ [8] etc... Its so much easier. 
    • Be a nice guy and point out this post about Modular Abilities: Super Memorization Spells to your GM. Basically I can make it 0.6cp per 1 modular CP with limitations. That means every 3cp I spend in Modular Ability: Super Memorization, I can have 5cp to allocate for spells. If he allows it great, if not you never ever entertained it or wasted your time with it. 
    • Energy Reserves and Extra Fatigue. With the right amount, your mage can do a lot of cool stuff. If you bring down the cost to 0.6cp per 1FP than you have 3cp for 5fp. 15 points invested is 25FP of energy. Its not so bad or broken, its actually fun of course you may run some simulations and scenarios how much you would allow. 

    The Can of Worms

    • Air and Earth Spells. if we go science-y does mean I can create, seek, and shape various Minerals and Gasses. Its not so bad but its going to make you learn more about science in a fun way
    • Prerequisite Count for Related Spells. Talisman and Amulet (M58) affect spells of the same family. Example Dull (M133) and Dullness (M134) can be affected by a Talisman and Amulet. 
      • Here is the annoying follow up, Enchant spell (B480 or M56) and Temporary Enchantment have prerequisites of -11 and -12 respectively. Does that means that my master for Enchantment will not carry over my proficiency of Temporary Enchantment? you make your ruling. 
        •   My ruling - I don't want a lot of point inflation and messy character sheets and enchantment is very expensive in my game setting at $250 1FP worth. Guess how I'm going to rule? - yeah it carries over but it has to be as strong relationship. So a Mage with Enchantment (H) [12] has a -1 to cast Temporary Enchantment. Note that these spells depend on a second spell skill so its kinda balances out. I've not thought as far as Enchantment Spells like Accuracy and the Like.  
    • Extra Fatigue and Energy Reserve. It can be broken. Introduce a Cap. Stop a player from doing a yenkidama explosive fireball for 25d ex damage if he goes around and spends 30cp.   

    Verbal and Somatic Components

    If you use "playing a Trumpet" on B110, an example in accessibility, as a baseline then you can say a use of a skill, keeping both Hands and Breath busy would count as a -20% Limitation. If you want it Half Power then its a -10% Limitation. 
    It gets complicated when you have a skill below 15 because there are other gestures and words, just grant a bigger bonus in identifying a spell or anyone who sees the character instantly knows he's up to something no-good. 

    More Material

    • Magical Familiar and Companions - why can't dogs and horses be companions? Well join me in magical heresy - this is gurps after all and I want to have horses and dogs.  
    • Sample Mages - An experiment in magical demographics and work force allocation. 
    • Zombie and Zombie Companion - inspired by almost human and resurrection lolz
    • Minor Spirit Servants  - Inspired by hayao miyazaki takes on such creatures.
    • Proto Lichs - Because there is so much sacred cows when it comes to vampires. 
    • Swarm Familiar - the most dangerous familiar, GMs should really limit who gets these. Inspired by Chinese cockroach farms and some basic biology that comes with gurps gaming (like the square cubed law). Imagine where 2/3 of food wasted goes. 
    • Information Gathering - Note that you should check out GURPS Mysteries, it has a chapter on the value of each spells in crime and investigation. 
    • Darkness Mages - Because there is a scary combo asking to be used. Needs to be reworked a bit but the basic combo is still powerful. 
    • Demon Ally - a review of contract and negotiation basics, because your dealing with the devil here. 
    • Ghostly Companion - for those who really can't let go and leave things to rest. 

    Next Article will focus on Ritual Magic and High Magery Campaign. Hopefully I covered the most basic and key points, and did a bunch to bring down the complexity of the game. I will feature 2 Master level mages and their Best Practices. They are what I use to gauge the level of preparation and organization the mages have in the War Beneath Heaven. 

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Gurps talents, combat talents.

    As part of the Cult of stat normalization I found talents to be indispensable and it models so many things so well. I interchange talent with Aptitude, we may be somewhere else later in life where our aptitudes change - certain skills are easier to raise than others given time opportunity and resources.

    I've been building a small collection of templates around just two levels of 5pt talents and I've been able to make well rounded realistic professionals. It's better you saw it for yourself. Modern Templates under Construction

    Anyway, one of the more interesting things to think of is talents in respect to modeling our-self. I made a requirement that talents have to follow a themes but talents can be unrelated and born from the chaos of circumstance. In such cases we gain Reputation only from our most valued and highest skill.

    Defaulting more

    - 6 to - 2. What I love about talents is that we default more. We use what we know and try to adapt it the different circumstance.  It also makes us pursue and choose skills because it gives us more things to default to or we realize.

    Looking at the defaulting penalties a skill is more valuable when you can default tasks at -2 to -4, and diminishing returns are at around -5 and worse.

    Merchant and Psychology have a lot of defaults. Soldier should have a lot of defaults, and other professions that have a lot of training and a lot of change of lifestyle.

    Why can't we have combat Skills as talents?

    How the system is designed comes to mind, this rule basically means its unbalanced to have combat skills as part of talents, while violating this in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy lolz. Ok so lets just look at the Game Design.

    Lets try having Weapon Talents and all of a sudden we have a +2 to +4 bump in over all skils. That means a soldier whose works with the sword for 4 years (8cp of work experience) now can have a +2 bump... making him an Expert at 14. Why is that so bad?

    In a Realistic Combat Game, with none of the special advantages like Gunslinger, Heroic Archer, Weapon Master, Enhance Parry etc... around a +2 to +4 bumb in skill at the cost of 10-20 points is not so bad. Quickly weapons have diminishing returns for every weapon skill you add. The only time you would add weapon skill if a weapon can be wielded by other weapon skills like an Axe can be used by Axe/Mace or 2h-Axe/Mace or a Spear with Staff and Spear and even Pole Arm, a Naginata or dueling Pole-sword with Staff, Pole-arms, 2h-sword etc.

    What it does really do is change the landscape of the game a bit. What I love about Low Power games is that Talents are easier to calculate diminishing returns vs bringing up a Stat. So you don't have really Dexterous Swordsmen, you have TALENTED swordsmen. Since talent is a combination of genetics, background, and education, and "je ne se quoi" in the resolution level of gurps, it fits quite well in the things we have trouble measuring... unlike DX or IQ across the board.

    Are all Skills equal in value? Thats the thing, they are not all valuable and some skills are not valuable without some other complimentary skills. Programming is great and a valuable skill, but it needs other complimentary skills to add its value (merchant skill, computer expertise, electronic operation skill etc...). They are not equal and the Game system should not make a value judgement on it except for how hard the skill is to learn based on many discover-able factors

    One non-combat skill to one combat skill

    So why not allow it? not because of other gurps products violating this rule, but because of how skills and aptitudes/talents are supposed to work. If your really conservative, why not try this: substitute 1 combat skill for 3 non-combat skills until? So Talented Roman Soldier with Armatura will have talents in soldier skills and shield and sword?

    The Cult

    The Cult of stat normalization is the nickname of the group in gurps who are not satisfied with the assumptions of the system and try to tweak and adjust the assumptions so that stats are closer to real. World expectation. They tend to limit stats to 15 instead of 20 because they base it on humans and not adventurers.

    We are admittedly a bunch of killjoy if you think such benchmarks and statistics ruin fun. But in our defense it makes us appreciate exceptional Abilities more when we are very conservative and skeptical of ability ranges. When things are awesome and the data proves so we really gush. It means everyday marvels rarely escape our attention and do not Attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence.

    My current qualm is that Physical stats do not distribute as well as IQ in the current system. The most gross example is just looking at running statistics for amateur runners (which affect DX and HT, fitness and actually economic circumstance). Also when you factor economic circumstances like poverty line and the world instead of just the US (which GURPS bases off) there is a