Saturday, January 30, 2016

One month retrospective

That's what my views looked like this month: a straight wall up. Fantastic.

Some fun statistics: If I post it, people will come.  I have a slight spike on Thursdays, but basically whenever I post, I get about the same amount of people looking at things. My top 5 referrers are:

  1. SJgames (my thread, typically)
  2. Facebook (my promotions)
  3. Google+ (more promotions)
  4. Dungeon Fantastic
  5. Gaming Ballistics
The last is clearly Douglas Cole's efforts to promote GURPS blogs, including my own, and for that, I have to thank him.  I have no idea where the traffic from Dungeon Fantastic is coming from.  That's Peter Dell'Orto's blog (yes, that Peter Dell'Orto).  I actually checked and I don't see any posts or anything that sends people to my blogs.  Odd.

My most viewed posts are 
  1.  A New Years Resolution
  2. Create, Don't Convert
  3. The First Iteration
  4. The Second Iteration
  5. Dun Beltain
This is what I mean by "The same number of people will come and look," which probably means quite a few of you are just spiders or whatever, but the point is, the older a post, the more views it has, logically.  That said, you guys like the Second Iteration.

When it comes to likes, if I order my posts by the number of likes they receive, they are in this order:
  1. The First Iteration
  2. The Second Iteration
  3. The Bonus Post (Soundtrack)
  4. Leylana Grey
  5. Create, Don't Convert
I had expected "Create, Don't Convert" to do less well, as I expect people don't like to be preached at.  Shows what I know.  The other two surprises were Leylana's considerable popularity (Pretty pictures?), and the reception the soundtrack received.  I suppose Zack Prime was right about making this material available elsewhere.

I've managed to post every week, plus some.  I've also scheduled posts out to the end of April (I want plenty of buffer, and evidently I have it).  A quick preview of what's to come:

February: We'll finish up Iteration 2 with templates, more templates, background lenses, and then revised versions of our heroes and a new playtest to see how it all works.

March: We'll kick off Iteration 3 and look at technology. In particular, we'll look at setting assumptions (FTL, mostly), standard gear, combat gear and robots (including a way of turning the robot-body templates in UT into complete characters appropriate to Psi Wars).

April: We continue Iteration 3 with spaceships, spaceships, and oh my gosh, more spaceships. I bend, warp, mutilate and spindle the relatively realistic spaceship system into a whacked-out space opera fighter simulator worthy, I hope, of Wing Commander and the X-wing vs Tie-fighter action of Star Wars.  I hope you like math.

See you guys next month.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Psi Wars: The Second Iteration -- Adjusting the Rules

GURPS Action!

Previously, we grabbed a few core elements from Space and Ultra-Tech and used them to rapidly prototype our campaign, and according to our playtest, it worked!  We have a pretty functional game. You can sit down and run Psi-Wars as written.

But I prefer something with a little more detail. Many aspects of the characters feel off. The space knight isn't very Jedi-like, and our heroes aren't as heroic as I would like.  Morever, I find that the ideal design for a campaign is a campaign framework.  Works like Dungeon Fantasy, Action and Monster Hunters really drill down on the rules that matter to them, build their templates and their rule-sets around that.

For the next phase, I'd like to do the same for Psi-Wars.  I want to focus on our core activity, pull out the various niches appropriate for that core activity, and then figure out how best to express that in both rules and character.  I'd want templates, focused mechanics, and unique rules.

Now, the proper way to do this would be to dig through piles of books that use the rules that we want: Martial Arts, Gun Fu and Technical Shooting for the combat rules, Mass Combat for the mass combat rules, Spaceships for the space fighter rules, Campaigns for things like dangerous planetary environments or picking locks or detecting danger.  But that would take far too long for the purposes of Psi-Wars, which is supposed to be a study in quick campaign building.  So we need something we could steal from.

What other GURPS work focuses on cinematic action involving combat, infiltration and exfiltration, espionage, military-scale combat and commando missions?  Oh, I know: GURPS Action.  There are two books GM veterans always end up recommending to people: the first is GURPS Powers, and the second is GURPS Action 2: Exploits.  In my experience, a significant portion of the gaming populace just wants to run games that resemble the action movies that they enjoy in the theater, and Star Wars is no exception.  While I don't believe that Action is ideal for running every type of game (Dungeon Fantasy and Monster Hunters are distinctly different, and a hypothetical, Star Trek-inspired Captain-and-Crew game would also feel different), but it'll certainly work for our Psi-Wars.

So, all we need to do is comb through GURP Action 2: Exploits and see where our campaign needs to differ.  I've done so below (It's after the jump.  There's a "Read more!" in case you miss it, as this is a long intro post), but I've also included a "tl;dr" for those of you who just want the results and want to get on with the game.  I would recommend reading my notes, however, if you like this approach and want to apply it to other genres. "Like Action, but with X" describes many RPG genres, including cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic works in the milieu of Mad Max, the Assassin Creed series, and hypothetical fantasy works that focus more on cinematic action than on dungeon crawling.  The differences I highlight below tend to be those based on setting assumptions and technologies, which are the same things that will differ in your version too.

The core results are this: Almost everything works exactly as described in Action.  The main technological differences are noted below:
  • Infrared Cameras (UT 60-61) replace normal cameras.
  • Ultrascanners (UT 66), usually set to automatically search for either life signs or power signatures. It may have a profile system and sound an alarm when it detects someone not on that “white list.”  These replace most of your security systems.
  • Ultrascan Portals (UT 104) replace most search procedures.
  • RF Bug Detector (UT 106) are used for bug-hunting.
  • Cuff Tape (UT 107) replaces zip-ties.
  • Electronic Cuffs (UT 107) replace cuffs.
  • Neuronic Restraints (Agony option) (UT 108) also replace cuffs and augment torture.
  • Power Dampers (UT 108) also replace cuffs for our psionic characters.
  • Verifier Software (UT 106) replace polygraphs.
  • Privacy Field (UT 106) defeat eavesdropping attempts.
  • Add Neural Disruption Field (Agony option) (UT 103), Rainbow Laser Fences (UT 101) in the “Open” configuration, and Nerve Poison and Sleep Poison (both UT 161) to the trap options.
  • Plasma charges (UT 88) replace most explosives, and are improvised using power cells and the Electrician skill
  • Mechanical locks do not exist.
  • Crediline(UT 205) replaces truth serum.
  • A generic "Tracer" device replaces all of the various bug and tracker options.
  • A EM grapnel with a balloon piton replaces most climbing technology ("Look, ma, a tow cable!")
  • Insertion happens on foot, by ship, by shuttle, by vehicle, by scuba/submarine, or by orbital insertion with drop capsule or stealth capsule (UT 232)
  • Beam Weapons replace Guns
  • Hacking rules replace most intercepts (and are mostly done by robots, so we don't have to fuss with it)
A few skills gain greater importance:
  • Ignore Forensics references. Psi-Wars isn't that subtle.
  • Favor Intelligence Analysis over Criminology
  • Favor Research over Computer Operations (which has its own role)
  • Technological challenges are more often the domain of robots than humans.
  • Engineering (Starships) is to starships what Architecture is to buildings.
  • The primary “Getting around” skills are Piloting (Contragravity or Starship), Hiking, Running, Swimming, Scuba, Parachuting and Navigation (Hyperspace)
Beyond this, almost all rules remain the same.

Note: If you want to follow this iteration, it might be useful to invest in the GURPS Action series.  I'll come back to it quite often throughout Psi-Wars.  It's also one of the best campaign frameworks out there.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Psi-Wars Iteration 1 Bonus Post

I finished the first Iteration of Psi-Wars this week: I've designed it, I've developed it, and I've tested it.  I think it still needs more work, but it's more playable than what we had two weeks ago, which was nothing at all.

Next week, I'll move into Iteration 2, but before I do that, I wanted to thank those who have frequented my blog.  A creator draws inspiration from a good audience, and you guys have been great.  At your urging, I've collected the posts into a single bundle, and placed them here on my site, as a reference.  As the iterations grow, I will continue to reference them from that location, and bundle up a summary of my work in a single place, for those of you who want to do more than just read about me developing a setting, and actually play in it.

A final bonus treat: I always build a playlist to listen to as I'm doing setting work.  I find it helps focus my mind. If you'd like to listen to the music I listen to when I work, then let me offer a playlist of select songs (When people randomly offer music, I never know what I'm getting into, so let me say upfront: It's mostly cinematic instrumental trailer music)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Psi-Wars: The First Iteration Playtest

pew pew pew

Now that we have a basic setting, we should go ahead and look at how it works.  A simple mental experiment is enough: By walking through how the game plays, we'll see where there are holes, and where it performs well.  This will guide our next iteration of the setting.

We already have our three characters, the Space Knight Dun Beltain, the "Diplomat" Leylana Grey, and the Bounty Hunter Felinoid Kendra Corleoni.  We also have some basic, well-armored troopers.

Let's fight!

While it won't cover every aspect of our game (Chase scenes? Tense negotiations? Stealth?) combat is pretty central to our game, so a decent fight scene is pretty necessary for our game.

Setting the Stage

Leylana and her friends are on the Willow Star, a luxury cruise ship, when it is suddenly boarded by the sinister forces of the Empire!  Hyperlaser fire rocks the ship, explosions burst, and people run screaming, while Dun, Kendra and Leylana make their way to the escape pods.  Meanwhile, 6 troopers approach them!  Three are making a bee-line for our heroes, while three more are moving to flank them.

The three that make the frontal assault announce their presence by blasting open a wall with a charge, and then laying in fire on the heroes.

We start with 6 troopers, because 2-to-1 odds should be easily defeated by Psi-Wars heroes.  If it's not, then we have a problem.  We'll treat the troopers as mooks: They will not roll defense, they will not use fancy options, and a single point of damage will take them out.


An explosion rips open the wall nearby, but moments before that, Dun and Kendra get a chance to roll their danger sense (Leylana lacks danger sense, and so can do nothing).  This doesn't actually count as "Surprise!" since the characters expect trouble, they just don't expect an exploding wall, and also, I don't want to bother with the Mental Stun rules (in any case, all three have Combat Reflexes).

Kendra has an IQ of 11, and barely succeeds.  She knows to take cover and she fast-draws her guns.  Dun has an IQ of 12 and +1 ESP talent, so he rolls a 13 or less, and handily succeeds and also takes cover and readies his force sword.  Leylana is caught flat footed.

The soldiers blow the wall, which sends sharp (1d cutting) fragments bursting out.  Kendra and Dun are safe, but Leylana takes a hit for a total of 3 damage (2, no DR, and cutting bonus).

Turn 1

The troopers get to act first.

The troopers attack, each firing three shots. They are at a distance of 10 yards (-4 to hit) and fire three shots each. Kendra and Dun are in cover (-2 to hit exposed bits) and Leylana is exposed. They hit Kendra and Dun on a 8 or less, and Leylana on a 10 or less.  The soldiers miss Leylana and Kendra, but one trooper manages to hit Dun with all three shots.  Dun cannot attempt to parry (his forcesword isn't activated, and even if it was, he lacks Parry Missile Weapon and Precognitive Parry.  That's a serious oversight). All three shots hit the torso, but none penetrate its DR.

Kendra comes out of cover (pop-up attack, -0 for a gun-slinger), doesn't actually move (+Acc to her shots). She makes makes a duel weapon attack (-4) at an enemy's faceplate (-5) ten yards away (-4) and does the same with her left hand (-4) at a separate target.  She has effective skill 22, and with her penalties, she'll hit on a 9 or less, or a 5 or less.  Both shots miss.

Dun activates his force sword. It will finish forming at the end of his turn.  He remains behind cover and sinks lower to avoid any further shots.

Leylana takes cover immediately, fast-draws her pistol (10, -3 from shock, and she barely succeeds), and then aims her pistol at one of the men, requiring her to expose her arm, head, neck and half her torso.

Turn 2

Only Leylana is exposed enough to attack, but only half of her torso is showing: the troopers will hit her on a 8 or less.  None of the shots hit.

Kendra pops back out for her shot.  She gains her accuracy bonus because she is a Gunslinger.  This time she makes a shot with her right hand at the trooper's legs (-2) who is ten yards away (-4).  She has an effective skill of 17.  She hits (Troopers do not defend), and she rolls 14 damage The Trooper's legs have an effective DR of 12, so the shot penetrates.  A single point of damage is enough to remove him.  He goes down.

Dun's blade has materialized.  Before he can say what he'll do, the GM asks him to roll Danger Sense.  He does so and succeeds and "has a bad feeling about this."  He looks to the side just in time to see the three flanking soldiers, who fire at the unprotected party. No shot hits (by GM fiat: In 3e, it was known as the "Imperial Stormtrooper Marskmanship Academy" rule) and Dun charges them. He is able to cover the distance in one turn and make an attack (-5 Move and Attack) for a 9. He misses, but he certainly has their attention.

Leylana fires at the faceplate of one of the troopers (-5) who is 10 yards away (-4). She gains +5 accuracy from her aiming, so she has an effective skill of 9 or less. She hits!  Her weapon does 10 damage vs the effective DR of 4, dealing enough to take him out.  One trooper remains. She crouches again,

Turn 3

The remaining trooper (of the first set) waits for Kendra to pop up before firing.

The three troopers with Dun attempt to fight Dun.  All three attack him.  He's one yard away from all three, so not in CQB, thus they have no penalties.  All will hit on a 14 or less. All three hit.  Dun chooses to parry all three.  Because he's trained by a master, he's at -2 per parry, not -4.  He manages to parry the first attack, but not the other two.  This "parrying" parries the weapons, not the blaster beam.  The force sword also damages anything it parries... including the guns!  The troopers gun is sliced in half (a mook weapon will be destroyed with a single point of damage, but practically, a blaster carbine has about 7 hp and DR 4, and the force sword does an average of 28 damage and reduces the DR to 1. This is sufficient to force a few survival checks with the weapon, so I have no problem shorthanding all of that by declaring it dead).  The remaining two attacks deal 9 attack to the leg (effective DR of 12) and 14 to the torso (effective DR of 20), thus deal no damage to Dun.

Kendra rises up and fires at the faceplate(-5) of the remaining trooper (-4) with her right-hand pistol (+5 acc).  Before she can attack, though, the trooper gets to fire (he Waited).  She is partially exposed (-2) and 10 yards away (-4). He hits on an 8 or less.  A success!  She needs to dodge, and she does so on a 9 or less but fails.  The shot hits her light clamshell, reducing its effective DR to 12, and deals 9 damage... not enough to penetrate the armor. She'll hit on a 13 or less. She does so, and inflicts 20 damage vs his effective DR of 5, which is more than enough to remove him from play.

Dun makes an All-Out Attack (Double) against the two remaining armed troopers.  He'll hit on a 14 or less. Both attacks hit, and one is a critical ("Treat any damage as a major wound")!  His attacks deal 33 and 32 damage vs their effective DR of 20, both doing more than enough damage to remove them (the critical hit fellow is severed in half and dies gurgling).

Leylana turns and aims her pistol at the remaining, unarmed trooper.

Turn 4

The remaining unarmed trooper drops his useless, smoking weapon, and flees.  Kendra rises to pursue him, but Dun lifts his hand to stop her. "Let him go." He says.


I had expected this fight to go quicker, honestly.  Six mooks should be a cake-walk for our heroes.  Instead, it was a bit of a struggle, but partially because the characters are poorly built, often with very inefficient choices foisted upon them by the Space templates.  I wanted Kendra to be a dual-wielder, but the Bounty Hunter template had no such options, and she wasn't able to deal with the problem with her own skill.  Thus, she's better off making direct shots.  She turned out to be much less impressive than I expected, and came in second behind Dun for effectiveness.

Leylana was less useless than I thought she would be.  I assumed her pistol would be unable to deal with the hardsuits, but the hardsuits proved to be a mixed bag: If you can aim for a hit location, they're too easy to kill, but if you can't, they're too hard to kill. Leylana had no problem aiming.  Also, the troopers proved to be terrible shots (thanks to not aiming).  She's the only one to take any damage (a total of 3, reducing her to 9 HP).

Dun proved far more capable than I expected, though most of his defense came from his armor, which was not my original intent for a Space Knight.  Clearly, the space knights need work.  That said, the force sword far exceeded my expectations.  He utterly destroyed opponents who got into melee range with him.  I'm less worried about melee characters keeping up with blaster characters in this setting, though I should note that I started the enemy very close to the group and I did this expressly to make melee and pistol-based combat more viable, which suits our Star-Wars knock-off.

The troopers weren't very dangerous, probably because carbines just don't have enough punch. On the other hand, a single tossed grenade might have ruined everyone's day.  They seemed threatening enough to me to be a believable threat, while still relatively easily defeated.

Having seen this in action, I'm more pleased than I thought I would be.  If I sat down with a group of players who knew nothing about GURPS, I expect they'd have a pretty good time with these characters and these rules.  The First Iteration works. The Space Templates do what they set out to do, Ultra-Tech provides enough material for a decent fight scene, and GURPS, as the backing ruleset, makes for some dramatic and exciting fight scenes.

That said, the Templates in Space are very sparse, more starting points full of core elements than really fully fleshed-out characters.  They also lack the optimization that we see in later templates, like those from DF.  We're also missing some really vital stuff, like decent psi powers and martial arts.  We could also afford to vastly expand this setting.  We have one alien, a handful of templates, and a smattering of tech.

You could run Psi-Wars this way, but I want more.  I think I can do better.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Psi Wars: Troopers 1.0

If we're going to playtest, we need someone for our heroes to fight!  Since Storm Troopers are the classic opponents in Star Wars, we'll use heavily armored troopers, and see how our characters fare against them.  We'll just use a simplified version of the Trooper template, and then gear them up.


ST 11
DX 12
IQ 10
HT 11

HP 11
Will 10
Per 10
FP 11

Speed 6
Move 6
SM 0

Dodge 10  Parry 10 
DR 100 (torso) 60 (limbs) 36 (Skull) 24 (face)

Blaster Carbine (14): 5d(5) burn sr, Acc 10, Range 500/1500, RoF 3 (17 shots), bulk 3, rcl 1
Punch (12): 1d-2 cr, C
Plasma Grenade (12): 6dx4 burn sur exp, 30 yards

Traits: Combat Reflexes, Fit, Bloodlust (15), Code of Honor (Soldier's). IR Vision, Hearing 
Protection, Small Radio, Biomedical sensors, micro-climate control, filter mask, sealed.

Skills: Soldier-12, Driving-12, Explosives-10, Computer Operation-10, First Aid-10

Class: Human


I've gone ahead and given them plasma grenades, but the Trooper template doesn't actually have Thrown Weapons or Throwing, which is definitely an oversight.  Also, the blaster carbine doesn't actually do enough damage to penetrate a hardsuit (neither does a rifle in fact), unless we shoot for the faceplate or the limbs.  Scary!  We might need to address that when we look at technology.  I wasn't sure what disadvantages to give them, so I just made them more likely to go for the kill than take prisoners, and gave them a code of honor, but it's honestly not that important.  The rest are details from their armor.  They seem a bit tough, actually, for mooks. I'm worried that while Luke, Han and Leia could mow through troopers, Dun, Kendra and Leylana will find them tougher nuts to crack.  Of course, treating them as mooks will help (Storm Troopers weren't exactly weak, they just sucked when they went up against the Big Damn Heroes).

Also, I would have formatted this as a table, but that doesn't seem to be an option with Blogger.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Psi Wars:"Lady" Leylana Grey 1.0

We have two combat characters, now we need a space princess, only GURPS Space doesn't have space princesses.  A spy is more interesting anyway, so we'll make a femme fatale super-spy.

"Lady" Leylana Grey, Super Spy

Drawn into Darkness by Tara Phillips

ST 10 [00]
DX 12 [40]
IQ 12 [40]
HT 10 [00]

Secondary Characteristics

Dmg 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs; HP 12 [4]; Will 12 [0]; Per 13 [5]; FP 10 [0]; Basic Speed 5.25 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0]


Security Clearance [5]
Photographic memory [5]
Social Chameleon [5]
Indomitable [15]
Smooth Operator +1 [15]
Hard to Kill +2 [4]
Status +3 [15]
Honest Face [1]
Attractive [4]
Luck [15]
Combat Reflexes [15]


Duty (Agency, 12 or less) [-10]
Curious (12 or less) [-5]
Overconfidence (12 or less) [-5]
Secret (Undercover Agent) [-20]


Area Knowledge (Capital World) IQ+2 [4]-14
Current Affairs (High Society) IQ+2 [4]-14
Law (Galactic) IQ [4]-12
Acting IQ+3* [8]-15
Beam Weapons (Pistol) DX+1 [2]-13
Detect Lies Per [4]-13
Diplomacy IQ+1* [4]-13
Intelligence Analysis IQ [4]-12
Expert Skill (Political Science) IQ [4]-12
Computer Operation IQ [1]-12
First Aid IQ [1]-12
Savoir-Faire (High Society) IQ+1* [1]-13
Fast-Draw (Pistol) DX+1* [1]-13
Judo DX [4]-12
Disguise IQ [2]-12
Stealth DX [2]-12
Connoisseur (Fashion) IQ [2]-12


Formal Dress: $1500, 2 lbs
Blaster Pistol: 3d(5) Acc 5, RoF 3, Bulk -2, rcl 1; $2200,  1.6 lbs
Tiny wrist-mounted radio: 5 mile range; $50, 0.05 lbs


No Encumbrance
Dodge: 9, Parry (Judo) 10.

I found Leylana's template similarly constrained and I found it difficult to really give her a sense of character.  So, all of the templates seem too simplistic.  She seems competent enough, though not particularly combat focused, but we expected that.  While she's obviously good at moving among the upper classes, no options existed for actual status or wealth, so I have her merely faking it. Moreover, every "super spy" character out of GURPS Space is going to look almost exactly like Leylana above.  Again, Space has given us a template that's "alright, I guess" but not one that allows for much personalization.

I also note that most of the templates have slightly inflated HP, likely to make them more survivable. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Psi Wars: Kendra Corleoni 1.1

If we're going to have not-Star Wars, then we need some aliens. Sparriels would be my first choice, especially since they just came out and this would be a great opportunity to plug a great book, but given that I originally said that you should need nothing but the core books, space and ultra-tech, I have limited myself to those books for selecting an alien.  I could roll one up out of Space, but that would take too long to explain, so I'm going to use Felinoids from GURPS Characters (B261).  Everyone loves cat-girls, right? No?  Well, blame Pulver, then.

I chose to make her a bounty hunter because we need another combat character that contrasts with Dun Beltain, an agile, ranged fighter vs his tough, melee focus, and bounty hunters are generally the most badass non-Jedi characters, making her excellence believable.

Kendra Corleoni, Bounty Hunter


ST 10 [10]
DX 13 [40]
IQ 11 [20]
HT 11 [10]

Secondary Characteristics

Dmg 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs; HP 11 [2]; Will 11 [0]; Per 12 [5]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6.0 [0]; Basic Move 7 [5]


Felinoid [35]
Legal Enforcement powers [5]
Gunslinger [25]
Luck [15]
Danger Sense [15]


Code of Honor (Pirate's) [-5]
Jealousy [-10]
Greed (12 or less) [-15]
Obsession (Bring in the slavers who took her family) (12) [-5]


Criminology (A) IQ+1 [4]-12
Law (Galactic) IQ+1 [8]-12
Streetwise IQ+1 [4]-12
Intimidation (A) Will [2]-11
Research IQ [2]-11
Shadowing (A) IQ+1 [4]-12
Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-15
Beam Weapons (Pistol) (E) DX+4 [12]-17
Fast-Draw (Pistol) DX+2* [2]-15
Computer Operation (E) IQ+1 [2]-12
First Aid (E) IQ+1 [2]-12
Fast-Talk IQ [2]-11


Tiny wrist-mounted radio: 5 mile range; $50, 0.05 lbs
Two Heavy Blaster Pistols: 4d(5) burn sur, Acc 5, RoF 3, Bulk -3, Rcl 1, (6.6 lbs, $12,000)
Bioplas body suit and light clamshell armor: DR 75/65 (torso), 15/5 elsewhere, (15 lbs, $2400)
Gloves, Boots: 3 lbs, $200


Light Encumbrance
Dodge: 9, Parry (Brawl) 11.

Kendra was just as constrained with her options as Dun was, but I feel her character makes more sense.  Her disadvantages hint aa a tragic past very suitable for a space Bounty Hunter.  She's suitably epic in combat (Skill 17, with Fast-Draw 15 and Gunslinger), and I suspect she will eclipse Dun, highlighting how problematic Space Knights might turn out to be.  I'm not sure how useful Criminology will be, but we'll see.  I'm also not entirely pleased with Bioplas as an armor, but we'll see how that works out.  Gunslinger is, of course, underpowered with just GURPS Basic.  I'll be using the improved one from High Tech and Gun Fu, which is effectively errata.

EDIT: Kalzazz pointed out a mistake in the character.  She's under by five points (which had previously been in her basic speed).  In keeping with the rest of the Space templates, this has been rectified in a terribly ineffecient manner XD

Monday, January 18, 2016

Psi Wars: Sir Dun Beltain 1.0

For starters, we'll need a Space Knight, because Psi-Wars is nothing without a Space Knight.  Our standard rules for Space Knights will be the 150 point Space Knight template from GURPS Space, paired with 50 points worth of cinematic traits and psionic abilities.

Sir Dun Beltain

Armored by John Gwolf


ST 11 [10]
DX 13 [60]
IQ 12 [40]
HT 11 [10]

Secondary Characteristics

Dmg 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs; HP 12 [0]; Will 12 [0]; Per 12 [0]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6 [0]; Basic Move 6 [0]


Social Regard (Respected) 2 [10]
Trained by a Master [30]
Combat Reflexes [15]
Luck [15]
ESP Talent +1 [5]
Danger Sense (ESP -10%) [14]


Duty (To the Knightly Order, Extremely Hazardous, 15 or less) [-20]
Honesty (15 or less) [-5]
Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents) [-10]


Force Sword DX+1 [4]-14
Judo DX [4]-14
Pilot (Starship) DX-1 [1]-12
Beam Weapons (Pistol) DX+1 [2]-14
Electronics Operation (Comms) IQ [2]-12
Law (Galactic) (H) IQ [4]-12
Navigation (Hyperspace) IQ [2]-12
Leadership IQ [2]-12
Savoir-Faire (Dojo) IQ [1]-12
Stealth DX [2]-13
Computer Operation (E) IQ [1]-12
First Aid (E) IQ [1]-12

Blaster Pistol: 3d(5) Acc 5, RoF 3, Bulk -2, rcl 1; $2200, 1.6 lbs
Combat Hardsuit: DR 100/60; $10,000, 30 lbs
Combat Infantry Helmet: DR 36/25; $2,000, 5 lbs
Force Sword: 8d(5), Reach:1, 2; $10,000, 2 lbs

Light Encumbrance
Dodge: 9, Parry (Force Sword) 11, Parry (Judo) 10.

Dun is a rather typical knight. He stands for good and honor and justice, blah blah.  He's pretty competent in combat, though he lacks the typical high-flying martial arts Star Wars fans would expect of a Jedi.  I've given him a hardsuit to compensate for that, and to make him a little more "knightly."  He's also really short on psionic powers.  I found the template rather restrictive, with few options, and some of the requirements were odd.  Why would all space knights know how to Navigate?  Why would they all have Stealth?  Why would they need to have a single (one, no more, no less) Electronics Operation skill?  Also, Battlesuits are an option.  That's... a fascinating idea, but not one particularly well-suited to force sword wielders, as strength is irrelevant for them.  Finally, I took the option for Trained by a Master, but the template includes no options to really exploit it: No Flying Leap, no Power Blow, no Mental Strength or Body Control.

We'll see in the playtest how well he works, but this already suggests to me that the standard templates, while "alright," could certainly stand to be better, especially for a space knight.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Psi-Wars: The First Iteration

First Contact by Adam Burn
A friend of mine once asked me "How do you create complicated settings?"

To which I said "Start simple and work your way up from there."

As promised in my previous post, I want to create a Star-Wars knock-off setting called "Psi-Wars," using the readily available material in GURPS, and that as I create the setting, I want walk you through my process so that if you want to build your own setting, you have a worked example to play with.

The mantra of design is "fail faster." The faster you have a working model you can play with, the sooner you can tinker with it, find out what's wrong with it, and then fix it. Thus, we want something to play with as soon as possible, and we must accept that our first attempt will be flawed.  I also believe that we should not attempt to create the entire setting in one go.  Instead, we should start with a simple core, and then as we iterate, we can add more and more complexity with each cycle until we have iterated enough to have a completed setting. So we're going to build a quick, imperfect setting, one that you can use as soon as you've finished reading this post, and then as this series goes on, we'll make it even better.

For the first step, we'll need GURPS Characters and Campaigns, GURPS Space and GURPS Ultra-Tech.  This will cover everything for this iteration, though you'll quickly see it leaves some gaps in our setting that we'll need to paper over in later iterations.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Thank you, and an announcement

I had a warmer welcome than I expected into the blogging world (I dropped a post on a few places, and I was surprised to see just how much of a lift it gave my blog).  In particular, I want to thank Peter V. Dell'OrtoDouglas Cole and Christopher Rice of Ravens 'n' Pennies for the shout-outs.

Social Media?

Christopher Rice has asked for Social Media buttons, and I've already tried something with "POWr" but I don't seem to have them working yet.  When I get them up, I'll let you guys know.  But I am working on it.

A Change of Schedule

Douglas expressed disappointment that I hadn't chosen to schedule my blog posts on Thursday, or "GURPS Day" as he calls it.  I have no investment in what day I post my posts (I have about a month of posts scheduled to drop at 12 pm, my time, on a particular day. I don't even have to lift a finger to make them happen), and I had chosen Wednesday because it was the day before GURPS books his e23 and it seemed like a nice buildup.  I presume Cole chose Thursday for similar reasons.  And given that it doesn't matter to me when my posts drop, and that it's evidently not a problem for his blog to have them drop on Thursday, I have set my posts to drop on Thursday from now on.

Next Thursday, I begin Psi-Wars in earnest.  You'll have a complete, playable, if simple, setting to tinker with.  I'll see you guys then, and thanks for reading.

Psi-Wars: Don't Convert, Create!

Holy crap, guys!  Star Wars is back in the theaters!  And do you know what that means?  It means star wars gaming!  People crack out their X-Wing minis, or dust off their Dark Forces 2 cds, or scramble for their lost Old Republic password and, of course, pull their Star Wars RPG books off the shelf. And, naturally, some GURPS fan will inevitably ask "How do you convert Star Wars to GURPS?" and a thousand voices will all cry out with their own homebrews.

Stop.  Stop the madness!  Down that dark path there is only frustration and arguments.  I have a better path.  The path of creation.

I had long resolved to kick off this blog again, but alas I never do things by halves, so instead of having articles, I have series.  This will be the first: A worked example of setting and framework building, using the tools readily available to all GURPS fans.  I'll walk you through each step of the process that I take, so you can draw from that was lessons you want.  And, of course, when I am finished, you can run the finished product, or use the process to create your own.

Before I begin, though, I want to explain why I am building the way I am, why I am making an obvious Star Wars knock-off called "Psi-Wars" rather than just converting Star Wars directly.  I often make this call for creation rather than conversion, and I want to make the case for it, because I believe that taking that step away from conversion is the first step towards becoming a genuine RPG author (or, really, any kind of creator).

Friday, January 1, 2016

A New Years Resolution

A New Years Resolution
Blogging is powerful.  I began blogging in earnest professionally, because noting a software technique helped me remember it, and documenting it publicly meant others could use it.  By serving others, I served myself.  But I have also learned that being forced to produce material by a deadline is an excellent way to teach yourself something, and a way to get yourself to finish what you started.

And so, last year, I set a goal for myself to finish up all of my GURPS material that I had lying around, and to publish it in weekly blog posts, to gain the habit of regularly blogging, and today, I kick off the result of that year's worth of labor.  I simply enjoy GURPS, so diving deeply into that topic will be fun for me and will help me build this useful habit.  Next year, I might turn that habit around and put it back into programming, or perhaps I'll expand it into full publications.

So, here's the plan, my few and faithful followers: Every Wednesday of this year, I will make a GURPS blog-post. That's 52 GURPS blog-posts!  This isn't some off-the-cuff New Year's Resolution. I've already worked most of the material out, though it isn't completely finished, I'm afraid, but that's part of the nature of this resolution: Publicly making this promise means I'll revisit it enough to polish it and hand it to you, dear reader.

I also believe it's easier to blog when you've already written the content, so I have written some of my blog-posts in advance.  I already have the first 4 blog posts ready to go, and the first will be up on the 6th of this month.  My topics will include, but are not limited to:

Psi-Wars: An obvious knock-off of Star Wars, a ready-made setting that you can jump right into.  The intent of this series is to create, before your very eyes, a rapidly prototyped setting inspired by a popular franchise. When this series is finished, I hope that in addition to you having your own "It's totally not Star Wars" setting to play with, you'll have an idea of how to go about rapidly prototyping your own "It's totally not Warhammer 40k" or "It's totally not the Lord of the Rings" or whatever else it is that you particularly enjoy.

Cherry Blossom Rain: The famous chambara campaign that my players still won't shut up about.  It'll include a discussion on my design notes, a description of the setting and why I built it the way I did, fully-developed chi powers, templates, and a discussion on how to customize martial arts to get the experience that you want.

GURPS Cabal: Extensive notes on spirits and demons, words of power, template conversions from 3e, historical research and comments on how to run it, and discussions of useful books to help you get started on the path of consulting occultist.

Heroes of the Galactic Frontier: An extensive campaign framework, including templates, rules for running, aliens, starships, civilizations and technology, all for your TL 12^ heroic captain-and-crew gameplay, inspired by works like Star Trek, Farscape, FTL, Masters of Orion, Star Control, Quintet, Artemis Bridge Simulator, EVE, and Endless Space, and many more.

This is the stuff I have prepared.  We'll have to see how far I get, what I can finish off and what I cannot, as I suspect that I have more material than I can unveil in a year.  I hope my results delight you, dear reader, and reward your faithfulness, and I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

In the meantime, if you just can't get enough Mailanka, feel free to peruse my blog.  There's lots of GURPS material under the GURPS tag.  Have fun!
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