Monday, February 29, 2016

Psi Wars: The Third Iteration - Technology

In the previous iterations, we started with a scratch concept, and then expanded the templates and rules with a helpful dose of GURPS Action.  Now, we'll take a look at technology.

Technology drives science fiction. Technology allows our characters to reach distant worlds, it shapes conflicts, and it provides the props and stage dressing that signals genre to our audience. Without the right technology, our game will just be a slightly overwrought reworking of GURPS Action.  With the wrong technology, we'll undermine the human-centric, whiz-bang space opera themes we've worked so hard to build. Our choice of technology will build our setting, it will shape our players' choices, and it will establish the themes of our game.

Let me make my usual disclaimer before I begin this iteration: we don't need to do this step. We've already seen in two playtests that the technology we've already selected works well enough.  I'm trying to refine and make my choices explicit, so I can improve my templates and my rulesets.  You'll notice throughout this process that I don't really diverge much from what I've stated in previous iterations so much as add greater clarity.  That said, what technology you allow and disallow and why really impacts a sci-fi campaign like this one.  Thus, fittingly, this iteration will go on for quite a while (I hope you like reading Ultra-Tech as much as I do)!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Iteration 2 Retrospective

As promised, at the end of every Iteration, I post a summary of the iteration for those who want to just dive in without my droning on about the whys and wherefores. And so, here it is:

Looking Back

I expected Iteration 2 to be much better received than it is.  I'm not saying people disliked it, I just expected it to make a much bigger splash than iteration 1, and it didn't.  I suppose in retrospect that makes sense.  People tend to be excited when something new happens, because something is more than nothing, but each iteration is only an improvement on the idea.

Overall, my views are down, but not by very much.  I think this is to be expected as well: Everyone tunes in when a new blog starts, and then a portion of them tune out when they realize the current content is not for them.  For example, one of my largest posts in the past year has been my announcement that I would start a blog.  Since then, I've been pretty consistently at about 2400-2600 views "a month" (blogger keeps a running tally).

Word is getting out, though.  Someone dropped a link to the blog on reddit, and I've managed to get onto a sight called "Feedly."  Douglas Cole's GURPS Day is starting to funnel traffic my way: He's now neck-and-neck with Dungeon Fantastic for the amount of referral traffic I get. Incidentally, joining him for Melee Academy resulted in one of my more popular posts: Wu Wei.

Google+ remains a better option for me than Facebook, though I'm not sure why.  Most of my posts on facebook generate a small amount of traffic and get, perhaps, one like.  Google plus, however, inevitably results in a like or two, often more than five, and generally more traffic.  Given that facebook is supposedly more heavily trafficed, I find that odd.

Edit: Oh, I forgot my traditional break down.

The winner of the most liked character this time around was Dun Beltain.  He was also the most viewed.  The most liked template was the Space Knight, but it was also one of the least viewed.  The Spy was the most viewed.  The most liked post of this iteration was the first one: Adjusting the rules, of which I approve (I think it was the most innovative and broadly useful of the posts).  It was also the most viewed.  The second most viewed was the post on adjusting templates, which I also approve of.  When I spoke of expecting this to make a bigger splash than it did, I refer to those posts, and they certainly did make a splash... I was just surprised Iteration 1 seemed to generate more discussion and likes than Iteration 2.

Looking Forward

The next iteration is technology, because you can't run a sci-fi game without carefully defining your tech.  This is the heaviest iteration I've done yet, and it took me the entire month to put it together.  I originally had it set up for nearly 4 months of posts, but I took a gamble and condensed it down into several data dumps, so we're going to have a very busy two months!
  • Next week is all your basic technological concerns, from FTL to infrastructure to gear.
  • I'll discuss robots, how they fit into the setting, and how to make use of the robot templates in Ultra-Tech to rapidly prototype your own robot companions
  • Then we get into ships.  And we go on and on about ships
    • First we playtest the space combat system, find its flaws and its strengths.
    • Then we rewrite the space combat system to better fit our vision
    • Then I discuss how to use, and modify, the various ships given in the GURPS Spaceships series for campaign
  • Then I discuss how the various choices I've made impact the game design and the templates, including introducing a few additional rules to cover more general technological concerns
  • Then I'll rebuild the old templates (and introduce a few more!) and run one last playtest to see that it all works.
I hope you like Ultra-Tech as much as I do.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Psi Wars: the Second Iteration -- Playtest!

Galaxy Saga: Lance Wielder Regular by Ukutakumuki

At last, I let rubber meet the road, and we see how well "theory" holds up against the hard edges of "practice."  Same scenario as before: A simple fight between our three characters and some troopers, acknowledging the new designs and the rule-set we've added.  Again, we won't cover every possible situation.  Instead, we're doing this as a sort of "sanity check."  Do things hold up?  Do they work out like we expect?  What pops out?  What can we improve on?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ken and Robin have a patreon

My dear and faithful readers, I haven't had the chance to get around to some of my favorite topics, like demonology or history or GURPS Cabal, but all of them have their roots in my misspent youth scrambling for whatever scraps of the Suppressed Transmission that I could get.  Kenneth Hite helped inspire many of my campaigns and I often quote him.

 At some point, I'll get around to my own Apprentice Consulting Occultist series. Lo and behold, on a great and joyous day, Kenneth Hite started a podcast with Robin Laws. Robin literally wrote the book on game-mastering and his excellence in tightly focused game design joins my pantheon of inspirations with Sirlin and Raph Koster's "A Theory of Fun" for how I work on and design my own games or campaigns.

 So, if you like my stuff, I recommend listening to them on Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff. And if you like their stuff, if I may finally get to the real point of this post, they've launched a patreon campaign. I've already bid my dollars in support of these giants of the RPG industry, and I encourage you to do the same. Thanks for your time, dear and faithful reader. I return you back to your regularly scheduled force sword duels.

Psi Wars: Troopers 2.0

Just as before, we need someone for our heroes to face, and just as before, we're going to use troopers.  However, this time, we have some additional trooper options available (Alright, we had recon before, but the Action 4: Specialists book gives us piles of potential mook options!), so we'll expand the trooper out to include simple recon, assault and heavies.

As a general rule, I've tried to follow the idea of BAD: Basic mooks are only BAD 2 (I figure guys who pick fight with random moisture farmers in a starport bar are probably BAD 0), so most of their skills are 12. Specialist troops are more elite, and thus BAD 14.  I've also removed the disadvantages from the standard mooks (you just kill them and don't worry about the details), and given a single interesting disadvantage to each specialist, so you can get an idea of how they might "fight" and how a clever player might exploit them.

Trooper Mooks

ST 10
DX 10
IQ 10
HT 10
Basic Speed 5.0
Dodge 7 Parry (Unarmed) 8

DR: 100 (Torso) 60 (Limbs), 32 (Skull) 24 (Face)

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

Traits: Fit. IR Vision, Hearing Protection, Small Radio, Biomedical sensors, micro-climate control, filter mask, sealed.
Skills: Soldier-12, Pilot (Contragravity)-12
Class: Human

Elite Trooper Mooks

Assault Trooper

ST 11
DX 11
IQ 10
HT 11

Basic Speed 6.0 Basic Move 6
Dodge 7 Parry (Unarmed) 8
DR: 100 (Torso) 60 (Limbs), 32 (Skull) 24 (Face)

Blaster Carbine (14): 5d(5) burn sr, Acc 10, Range 500/1500, RoF 3 (17 shots), bulk 3, rcl 1
Assault Flamer (14): 5d burn, Jet, Range 50/150, RoF 1, Bulk -3, Rcl 1
Neurolash baton (14): 1d+1 cr or 1d-1 cr + HT-5(2) aff, Reach 1
Plasma Grenade (14): 6dx4 burn sur exp, 30 yards
Carbine Butt (14): 1d+1 cr, c
Punch (14): 1d-1 cr, C

Traits: Fit, Impulsive. IR Vision, Hearing Protection, Small Radio, Biomedical sensors, micro-climate control, filter mask, sealed.
Skills: Running-14, Soldier-12, Pilot (Contragravity)-12

Heavy Trooper

ST 14
DX 10
IQ 10
HT 10

Basic Speed 5.0
Dodge 7 Parry (Unarmed) 8
DR: 100 (Torso) 60 (Limbs), 32 (Skull) 24 (Face)

Blaster Carbine (12): 5d(5) burn sr, Acc 10, Range 500/1500, RoF 3 (17 shots), bulk 3, rcl 1
Heavy Plasma Gun (14): 3dx5(2) burn ex, Acc 8+3, RoF 3, Bulk -6, Rcl 2
Heavy Blaster (14): 8d(5), Acc 10+4, RoF 3, Bulk -6, Rcl 1
Plasma Grenade (14): 6dx4 burn sur exp, 30 yards
Punch (12): 1d cr, C
Carbine Butt (12): 1d+2 cr, c

Traits: Huge Weapons, Fit, Overconfidence (12 or less). IR Vision, Hearing Protection, Small Radio, Biomedical sensors, micro-climate control, filter mask, sealed.
Skills: Explosives-12, Soldier-12, Pilot (Contragravity)-12

Recon Trooper

ST 10
DX 12
IQ 10
HT 10

Perception 12
Basic Speed 5.0
Dodge 8 Parry (Unarmed) 8

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

Traits: Fit, Bloodlust (12 or less). IR Vision, Hearing Protection, Small Radio, Biomedical sensors, micro-climate control, filter mask, sealed.
Skills: Stealth-12, Observation-12, Survival-12, Soldier-12, Pilot (Contragravity)-12

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Psi Wars: Lady Leylana Grey 2.0

Let's see how Lady Grey fares with her upgrade

Lady Leylana Grey, Aristocratic Spy, 250 points

Drawn into Darkness by Tara Phillips


ST 10 [0]
DX 14 [80]
IQ 14 [80]
HT 11 [10]

Secondary Characteristics

Dmg 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs; HP 10 [0]; Will 14 [0]; Per 15 [5]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6.0 [-5]; Basic Move 6 [0]


Beautiful [12]
Combat Reflexes [15]
Craftiness +1 [5]
High Heeled Heroine [1]
Honest Face [1]
Impersonator +2 [10]
Luck [15]
Sartorial Integrity [1]
Title [1]
Wealth (Comfortable) [10] 


Duty (Intelligence Agency, 9 or less, Extremely Hazarouds) [-10]
Jealousy [-10]
Overconfidence (12 or less) [-5]
Secret (Is a spy) [-20]
Sense of Duty (Team) [-5]


Acting IQ+4** [4]-18
Beam Weapons (Pistol) DX [1]-14
Body Language Per+1* [1]-16
Computer Operation IQ+1 [2]-15
Current Affairs (High Society) IQ+1 [2]-15
Current Affairs (Politics) IQ [1]-14
Holdout IQ+2* [4]-16
Intelligence Analysis (H) IQ+1 [8]-15
Judo DX-1 [2]-13
Karate DX-1 [2]-13
Lip-Reading Per-1 [1]-14
Observation (A) Per+1 [4]-16
Pickpocket (H) DX [4]-14
Pilot (Contragravity) DX [2]-14
Savoir-Faire (High Society) IQ+3* [2]-17
Search (A) Per+1 [4]-16
Sex-Appeal HT+5* [4]-16
Sleight of Hand DX-2 [1]-12
Stealth DX+3* [8]-17
Streetwise IQ+1* [1]-15
Vacc Suit DX-1 [1]-13


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


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

In a lot of ways, Leylana has changed the least.  We've managed to tag her, officially, as noble, but she's lost her Security Clearance: Clearly the intelligence agency sees her as an asset rather than agent, even if she disagrees.  Thus, she walks the line between a genuine spy and a politician.  A friend of mine looked at her and said "She's like Princess Leia meets James Bond," which was what I was going for.

She remains primarily a non-combat character, but she feels more effective at combat: Faster, a better shot, and vastly more stealthy.  For her spy-skills, I originally chose Impersonator over Craftiness because she felt like the sort of spy who get her intel straight from you, rather than going behind your back.  She's a master networker, and in her element in almost any social situation.

And, of course, I chose the aristocratic lens.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Psi Wars: Kendra Corleoni 2.0

Let's take a look at how our alien bounty hunter fares in the second iteration

Kendra Corleoni, Felinoid Bounty Hunter, Escaped Slave, 250 points


ST 9 [0]
DX 14 [60]
IQ 13 [60]
HT 11 [20]

Secondary Characteristics

Dmg 1d-2/1d-1; BL 18 lbs; HP 10 [2]; Will 13 [0]; Per 14 [5]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6 [-5]; Basic Move 6 [0]


Attractive [4]
Felinoid [35] (found on page B261)
Gunslinger [25]
High Pain Threshold [10]
Legal Enforcement powers [5]
Luck [15]
Penetrating Voice [1]


Bad Temper (12 or less) [-5]
Greed (12 or less) [-15]
Intolerance (Slavers) [-5]
Obsession (Free her family from slavery) (12) [-5]
Secret (Former slave) [-5]
Sense of Duty (Team) [-5]
Social Stigma (Minority) [-10]


Acrobatics DX-1 [2]-13
Beam Weapons (Pistol) (E) DX+2 [4]-16
Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-16
Climbing DX [2]-14
Computer Operation IQ [1]-13
Criminology (A) IQ+1 [4]-14
Dancing DX [2]-14
Esape DX [2]-14
Fast-Draw (Pistol) (E) DX+2* [2]-17
Intimidation Will [2]-13
Judo DX+1 [8]-15
Jumping DX+1 [2]-15
Law (Galactic) (H) IQ-1 [2]-12
Observation (A) Per+1 [4]-15
Pilot (Starship) DX+1 [4]-15
Running HT [2]-11
Savoir-Faire (Mafia) IQ [1]-13
Shadowing (A) IQ+1 [4]-14
Stealth DX+1 [4]-15
Streetwise (A) IQ+1 [4]-14
Throwing DX [2]-14
Vacc Suit DX-1 [1]-13


Tiny wrist-mounted radio: 5 mile range, $50, 0.05 lbs
One Heavy Blaster Pistol: 4d(5) burn sur, Acc 5, RoF 3, Bulk -3, Rcl 1, (3.3 lbs, $6,000)
Bioplas body suit and a stylish jacket:  DR 15/5 (5 lbs, $1800)
3 plasma smart grenades (3 lbs)


No Encumbrance
Dodge: 10, Parry (Brawl) 12.

This Kendra has far more options and is more cleanly designed than the last one.  She relies on her agility and her grace to get her through combat more than her armor, as her last incarnation did.  I've also given up, for now, on the idea of a dual-wielder.  She remains a gunslinger and because her Felinoid package cost so much, I was forced to buy down her ST to allow her to pick it up, making her certainly the weakest member of the party.  I also gave her penetrating voice because I wanted this kitty to have a roar.

I chose to follow up on that obsession by giving her a past as a slave.  I chose to go with an angry, resentful route: this is the reason she bounty hunts, to take down slavers and, perhaps, to get enough money to buy her family back.  This version is more "tough-and-angry" than the last one, who was tough-but-honorable.  And, to make her even more tragic, I've given her "Minority."  Apparently, in Psi-Wars, nobody likes furries :(

Monday, February 22, 2016

Psi Wars: Dun Beltain 2.0

Let's see what Dun Beltain looks like compared to his first incarnation.

Dun Beltain: Space Knight, Humble Origins, 250 points

Armored by John Gwolf

ST 11 [10]
DX 13 [60]
IQ 13 [60]
HT 12 [20]

Secondary Characteristics

Damage 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs; HP 11 [0]; Will 13 [0]; Per 13 [0]; FP 12 [0]; Basic Speed 6.00 [-5]; Basic Move 6 [0]


Charisma +1 [5]
Combat Reflexes [15]
Contact Group (Machinist Guild of Grist, Skill 15, 9 or less, somewhat reliable) [10]
Danger Sense [15]
Legal Enforcement Powers (Space Knight) [15]
Luck [15]
Security Rank 1 [5]
Weapon Master (Force Sword) [20]


Duty (Space Knight Order, 15 or less, Extremely Hazardous) [-20]
Honesty (12 or less) [-10]
Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents) [-10]
Secret (Romantic affair with Space Princess) [-5]
Sense of Duty (Team) [-5]

Skills 55

Area Knowledge (The Junkworld of Grist) IQ+1 [2]-14
Beam Weapons (Pistol) DX+1 [2]-14
Brawling DX+2 [4]-15
Computer Operation IQ [1]-11
Fast-Draw (Force Sword) DX+1* [1]-14
First Aid IQ+1 [2]-14
Force Sword DX+3 [12]-16
Intelligence Analysis IQ [4]-13
Law (Galactic) IQ-1 [2]-12
Leadership IQ+1* [2]-14
Mechanic (Starship) IQ-1 [1]-12
Observation Per+1 [4]-14
Pilot (Contragravity) DX [2]-13
Savoir-Faire IQ+1 [2]-14
Scrounging (E) Per+1 [2]-14
Shield (Buckler) DX+1 [2]-14
Stealth DX [2]-12
Tactics IQ-1 [2]-12
Vacc Suit DX [2]-12
Wrestling DX+1 [4]-14 

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+16(5), Reach:1, 2; $10,000, 2 lbs
Force Buckler: +3 PD, DR 100, $1,500, 0.5 lbs

Light Encumbrance
Dodge: 9 (12), Parry (Force Sword) 12 (15), Block (Force Buckler) 11 (14).

This Dun is far, far more dynamic than the previous Dun.  Already knowing I would lack precognitive parry in this incarnation, I have elected to keep the combat hardsuit and added a force buckler (it's not very Star Wars, but it might fit our setting.  We'll see how we feel about it after the playtest).  Space Knights can focus on a variety of things, but I have elected to pull him away from security and push him more towards combat and leadership.  I see Dun as heroic, a voice of morality in the somewhat morally grey party he belongs to.

Dun retains his Danger Sense (though it's no longer psionic in nature), and has added modest standing in his Space Knight organization.  His disadvantages remain largely the same, though I needed to fill out the rest of his points.  I chose to deepen his honor by giving him a greater commitment to his allies and then, running out of ideas, I've given him a secret romance with a princess (how embarrassing!)

Finally, I've chosen the Humble Origins lens. I see Dun as a man of the people who has risen to the rank of Space Knight.  That makes him popular among his own people.  Naturally, humble origins ties you deeply to your planet, so it needs a name: I have chosen to call it "Grist," and I imagine it to be a world covered in the debris and ruins of war and industry.  The hardy people there make a living by salvaging or fixing up ships.  Dun has some experience with this, but he mostly has friends who can help him if he needs it.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Psi Wars: Background Lenses

I really enjoy any system that has two axes of character creation: Dungeon Fantasy with its class and race, Monster Hunters with its class and motivation, and Action with its class and background.  While the templates in each campaign framework provide more than enough flexibility, I find that the second axis casts the first in an entirely new light: An elven knight will simply evoke a different feeling and encourage different choices compared to an orcish knight.

Action's second axis, that of background, particularly interests me because we're borrowing from Action.  However, Action has very generic templates ("Investigator" and "Shooter") while we have much more specific templates ("Bounty Hunter" and "Space Knight"). Backgrounds in action provide a context for these generic templates: A Police Investigator is an detective, while an Intelligence Investigator is a spy. We don't need that sort of clarification.

However, Star Wars likes to focus its attention on a character's origin: Tattooine's desolation marks both Anakin and Luke.  One's position in life seems to matter too: Han and Lando, despite both being smugglers, seem different thanks to one's desperate, outcast edge, and the other's aristocratic air.  Likewise, a gulf of status separates Anakin and Padme.   Thus, I would like to create something similar to the background lenses of Action, but one that highlights a character's homeworld, place in society, or both.

Status merits some special attention. Action doesn't support Status out of the box, though it allows for people adding it to their game. The premise seems to be that whether you're a knightly British Investigator or a red-necked Appalachian Shooter doesn't matter beyond cosmetic concerns or what sort of contacts you have.  Star Wars seems to share this opinion: Nobody blinks at a princess shacking up with a heavily-indebted smuggler, and the primary problem with a former slave like Anakin marrying a princess and a senator is that he's a Jedi.  Status definitely matters in a cosmetic sense: Star Wars is full of titled characters like Count Dooku, or Princess Amidala, or Darth Vader, the Lord of the Sith, and I presume that aristocratic types might be impressed by titles, but Star Wars definitely lacks careful gradations of status (Is it better to be a count or a princess in Star Wars?), and instead measures power by one's rank (that is, the Emperor is the Emperor not because he has Status 8, but because he has Military and Administrative Rank of 8).

I can easily represent "negative" status with a Social Stigma: A character defines his problems explicitly.  The reason your social life sucks is because you're a criminal, a slave, or a member of an oppressed people.  Positive status is more difficult, so I choose to represent it with a perk:

Title: You have a title or epithet you may add to your name. If people are impressed by titles, they'll react at +1, while people who are hostile to those in positions of power will react at -1. All things being equal, people tend to defer to you, and as a result, you may choose to purchase Rank one level higher than Action allows (to 5, rather than 4).
As for our Background Lenses, we need to represent the typical "dramatic!" origins of most of our heroes.  We need aristocrats, outcasts, and those in between.  After some brainstorming, I have selected the following:

  • Aristocrat: We'll use this lens to represent those characters who come from society's upper crust.
  • Humble Origins: We'll use this lens to represent those characters who count themselves among "the common folk." These are characters who started off as farmers, starport workers, laborers, etc.
  • Outcast: We'll use this lens to represent the bottom rung of society, those who are despised, distrusted, or trod upon by their betters.
  • Primitive: Someone who was never part of society to begin with!  Naturally, we have to deal with the fact that not everyone in the galaxy has "modern" technology, but we don't want to really deal with TL penalties, so we'll have some unique traits to help reflect things like Ewoks who treat droids as gods, but learn to fire a blaster pretty quickly.
  • Slave: For those who have fallen below the bottom rung.  Slavery is a touchy subject, of course, but a cinematic version of it features strongly in Star Wars and in many of the pulpy sci-fi and fantasy works that inspired it.
  • Survivor: Someone lost to society, at least for a time.  Ever since Dune, sci-fi has loved the idea of "Death Worlds" that harden characters into lethal weapons.
  • Wanderer: Those who don't want to belong to society, or those who travel between the various worlds.  If "Humble Origins" is someone bound to the land, "Wanderer" is someone bound to the stars.
Of course, like usual, I'm going to touch on some of the ones I particularly like, rather than outlining all of them.  So, I've included a sampling of background lenses below.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Psi Wars: The Spy

Meet the Agent by NKabuto
After a focus on combat characters, I wanted at least one non-combat character, to see how well they faired. Plus, if we're going to do another playtest (and we totally are), we need to bring Leylana back, and she's a spy.

Spies focus on Intelligence and Tradecraft, but from there, they can go in any number of directions.  I focused primarily on infiltration and acquisition of intelligence first.  Spies, in this interpretation, are non-lethal, though they do have some secondary skills with a focus on sabotage.  The intent of a spy character is to get in, find something interesting, possibly break it, and then get out.

Spy: 250 points

Attributes: ST 10 [0], DX 14 [80]; IQ 14 [80]; HT 11 [10]
Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs; HP 10 [0]; Will 14 [0]; Per 15 [5]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6.00 [-10]; Basic Move 6 [0] 
Advantages: Craftiness +2 [10] or Impersonator +2 [10], Luck [15]. A total of 35 points from the following: DX +1 [20], IQ +1[20], HT +1 [10], Will +1 to +3 [5/level], Per +1 to +3[5/level], Basic Speed [5/level], Basic Move +1 to +3 [5/level], Absolute Timing [2], Acute Senses (Any) [2/level], Appearance (Attractive or Beautiful) [4 or 12], Cat Fall [10], Combat Reflexes [15], Compact Frame [1], Contact Group (Any, skill 12, 15 or 18, 9 or less) [5, 10, 15], Craftiness +1 to +4 [5/level], Cultural Adaptability [10], Cultural Familiarity [1], Danger Sense [15], Daredevil [15], either Eidetic Memory or Photographic Memory [5 or 10], Flexibility [5], Gizmos 1-3 [5/level], High Heeled Heroine [1], High Manual Dexterity +1 to +4 [5/level], Honest Face [1], Impersonator +1 to +4 [5/level], Intelligence Rank 1-4 [5/level] Language [6], Night Vision 1-9 [1/level], Perfect Balance [15], Signature Gear [Varies], Security Clearance [5-15], Serendipity 1-2 [15/level], Voice [10], Wild Talent 1 [20], Zeroed [10], or improve Luck [15] to Extraordinary Luck [30] for 15 points. (25)
Disadvantages: Choose -15 from Code of Honor (Professional) [-5], Compulsive Behavior (Thrill-Seeking) [-5*], Curious [-5*], Duty to Intelligence Agency* (9 or less to 15 or less, Extremely hazardous) [-10, -15,-20], Fanaticism (Faction) [-15], Obsession (Uncover particular secret or bring down particular organization/enemy) [-5], Overconfidence [-5*], Secret (“Is a spy”, “Double Agent” or Past crimes) [-10 to -20], Sense of Duty (Team or Faction) [-5 or -10], Workaholic [-5]; Choose another -35 points from the above or from ST -1 [-10], HP -1 to -3 [-2/level], Alcoholism [-15], Callous [-5], Impulsiveness [-10*], Jealousy [-10], Insomniac [-10 to -15], Loner [-5*], Nightmares [-5*], Pacifism (Cannot harm innocents) [-10], Paranoia [-10], Post-Combat Shakes [-5*], Skinny [-5], Social Stigma (Criminal Record), Stubbornness [-5], Trademark [-5 to -15], Trickster [-15*].
Primary Skills: Intelligence Analysis (H) IQ [8]-15, Observation (A) Per+1 [4]-16, Search (A) Per+1 [4]-16, Stealth DX+21 [8]-16. Choose four of Filch (A) DX+1 [4]-15 , or Pickpocket (H) DX [4]-14. Forced Entry (E) DX+2 [4]-16, Acting, Disguise both (A) IQ+33 [4]-17, Electronics Operation (Communications, Security, Sensors, or Surveillance), Holdout1, Shadowing1, Fast-Talk all (A) IQ+1 [4]-15, Computer Hacking (H) IQ [4]-14, or Carousing (E) HT+1 [2]-12, or Sex Appeal (A) HT [2]-11.
Secondary Skills: Beam Weapons (Pistol) (E) DX [1]-14; Computer Operation (E) IQ+1 [2]-15; Either Brawling (E) DX+1 [2]-15 or Karate (H) DX-1 [2]-13; Either Judo (H) DX-1 [2]-13 or Wrestling (A) DX [2]-14; Choose five from Beam Weapons (Rifle) (E) DX [1]-14, Climbing (A) DX-1 [1]-13, Escape or Sleight of Hand (H) DX-2 [1]-12, Current Affairs (Headline News or Politics) or Savoir-Faire (High Society, Mafia, Military)all (E) IQ [1]-14, Camouflage1, Electrician, Electronics Operation (Comms, Security, Sensors, Surveillance), Explosives (Demolition), Mechanic (Any!), Photography, Research, Smuggling, Speed-Reading, Streetwise2 , Traps all (A) IQ-1 [1]-13, Computer Hacking, Expert Skill (Conspiracy Theory or Military Science) both (H) IQ-2 [1]-12, Swimming (E) HT [1]-11, Running (A) HT-1 [1]-10, Scrounging (E) Per [1]-15, Body Language2, Lip-Reading both (A) Per-1 [1]-14, Detect Lies (H) Per-2 [1]-13
Background Skills: Pilot (Contragravity or Starship) (A) DX [2]-14, Vacc Suit (A) DX-1 [1]-13, and 20 points chosen from a background lens.

Notes: Duty is required if the character has Intelligence Rank. Zeroed and Social Stigma are mutually incompatible.
1: If you chose Craftiness, add +2 to this skill.
2: If you chose Impersonator, add +2 to this skill.
3: +2 from either Craftiness or Impersonator

Craftiness can be found on page 9 of Power-Ups 3: Talents or GURPS Action 1 (Handy that), GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11, GURPS Monster Hunters 1, and GURPS Psis. Impersonator can be found on page 11 of Power-Ups 3: Talents (and only there, evidently).

There's also a Super-Spy talent that you can find in Lair of the Fatman, but it's a 15-point talent, and I'm not generally a fan of those.  Setting aside the questionable point-utility of such a trait, it makes all characters derived from the template look alike.  Such a character would always be good at all spy stuff, and there's be no variety of spies, which I prefer. That is, I think you should be able to play with nothing but a team of spies and still have some diversity.  But the talent exists if you want it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Psi Wars: The Space Knight

Surprise!  I assumed I'd have to wait until I tinkered with martial arts and psionic powers to add the Space Knight, but as I worked on the Commando, I noticed a hole: I lacked a defensive combat expert, someone whose focus was on personal security and area security, the "tank" but from an Action perspective.  And, as I pondered it, I realized that such characters could reasonably specialize in my space-opera version of the "obsolete weapons" skill set.  And that such characters might resemble these guys:
Imperial Royal Guard
But I didn't want to call the resulting characters "Royal Guards" or "Body Guards."  Why not just call them Space Knights, given how spectacularly well Dun Beltain did without any psionics at all?  We can always adjust the concept later on.

So, I present Iteration Two's take on Space Knights: Masters of protecting other people.  They're tough, hardy, paranoid, and have enormous extra-legal power, thanks to the Space Knight Order... or whatever it is.

Space Knight: 250 points

Attributes: ST 11 [10], DX 13 [60]; IQ 13 [60]; HT 12 [20]
Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs; HP 11 [0]; Will 13 [0]; Per 13 [0]; FP 12 [0]; Basic Speed 6.00 [-5]; Basic Move 6 [0]
Advantages: Either Legal Enforcement Powers (Space Knight) [15] and Security Rank 0 [0] or Contact Group (Space Knights, Skill 18, 9 or less) [15]. Combat Reflexes [15], Luck [15]. A total of 40 points from the following: ST +1 to +2 [10/level], DX+1 to +2 [20/level], IQ +1 to +2 [20/level], HT +1 to +2 [10/level], HP +1 to +4 [2/level], Will +1 to +5 [5/level], Per +1 to +5 [5/level], FP +1 to +6 [3/level], Charisma +1 to +2 [5/level], Danger Sense [15], Enhanced Dodge 1 [15], Enhanced Parry (Single Weapon) +1 to +3 [5/level], either Fearlessness +1 to +5 [2/level] or Unfazeable [15], Fit or Very Fit [5 or 15], Hard to Kill +1 to +3 [2/level], Hard to Subdue +1 to +3 [2/level], High Pain Threshold [10], Lifting ST +1 to +4 [3/level], Penetrating Voice [1], Peripheral Vision [15], Rapier Wit [5], Recovery [10], Sacrificial Parry [1], Security Rank +1 to +4* [5/level], Serendipity 1-2 [15/level], Signature Gear [Varies], Weapon Bond [1], Weapon Master (Single Weapon) [20], Wild Talent 1 [20], or upgrade Luck [15] to Extraordinary Luck [30] for 15 points.
Disadvantages: Choose either Duty (Space Knight Order, 15 or less, Extremely Hazardous) [-20] or -20 points from Charitable [-15*], Code of Honor (Bushido or Chivalry) [-15], Fanaticism (Employer or Faction) [-15], Impulsiveness [-10], Overconfidence [-5*], Selfless [-5*], Sense of Duty (Employer, Team or Faction) [-2, -5 or -10], Workaholic [-5]; Choose an additional -30 from the previous disadvantages or from Bloodlust [-10*], Callous [-5], Honesty [-10*], Intolerance (Rival Faction) [-5], Guilt Complex [-5], Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents) [-10], Secret (Past Failures or Crimes) [-5 to -20], Stubbornness [-5], Truthfulness [-5*], Vows (Any) [-5 to -15]
Primary Skills:  Beam Weapons (Pistol) (E) DX+1 [2]-14; Fast-Draw (Any) DX+1* [1]-14; Law (Galactic) (H) IQ-1 [2]-12, Observation Per+1 [4]-14, Savoir-Faire (E) IQ+1 [2]-14; Either Criminology (A) IQ+1 [4]-14 or Intelligence Analysis (H) IQ [4]-13; Either Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-15 or Karate (H) DX [4]-13; Either Judo (H) DX [4]-13 or Wrestling (A) DX+1 [4]-14; Choose one of Knife (E) DX+4 [12]-17, Force Sword or Shortsword both (A) DX+3 [12]-16, or improve one unarmed skill by +3 levels for 12 points;
Secondary Skills: Pilot (Contragravity or Starship) (A) DX [2]-13, Both Stealth and Vacc Suit both (A) DX [2]-12; Choose four of Jumping or Shield both (E) DX+1 [2]-14, Climbing, Parry Missile Weapon or Riding (Any) both (A) DX [2]-13, Acrobatics (H) DX-1 [2]-12, Gestures or First-Aid (E) IQ+1 [2]-14, Acting, Electronics Operation (Communications, Security, Sensors or Surveillance), Explosives (EOD), Fast-Talk, Holdout, Leadership, Public Speaking or Traps all (A) IQ [2]-13, Diplomacy or Tactics (H) IQ-1 [2]-12, Swimming (E) HT+1 [2]-13, Lifting or Running both (A) HT [2]-12, Body Language or Search both (A) Per [2]-13 or Intimidation (A) Will [2]-13. (4)

Background Skills: Computer Operation (E) IQ [1]-11 and 20 points chosen from a background lens.

*Modified by Self-Control Rating
1: +1 from Combat Reflexes

Kalsifer by Fetsch

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Psi Wars: the Fighter Ace

Aerial Strike by LordDoomHammer

After the complexity of the Bounty Hunter, I wondered how well my approach could handle something more straightforward and focused, so I chose the Fighter Ace as one of the few templates I really wanted to finish, and I thought it worked out pretty well, suggesting that my approach is alright.

The Fighter Ace is, naturally, a top-notch pilot, with a focus on the Flight School skillset.  They also excel at dealing with ships in general, such as being decent crewmen, and in piloting "ground vehicles" like grav jeeps and grav bikes.  In case they get shot down behind enemy lines, they have some focus on things like escape and evasion, torture resistance, and survival.

Also, I know that the talent is called "Hot Pilot."  I prefer my name.

Fighter Ace: 250 points

Attributes: ST 10 [0], DX 14 [60]; IQ 12 [40]; HT 12 [20]
Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs; HP 10 [0]; Will 12 [0]; Per 12 [0]; FP 12 [0]; Basic Speed 6.00 [-5]; Basic Move 6 [0]
Advantages: 3D Spatial Sense [10], Combat Reflexes [15], Hot Shot Pilot +2 [10], Luck [15] and either Military Rank 2 [10] or Contact Group (Space Navy, Skill 15, 9 or less) [10]. A total of 50 points from the following: Increased DX +1 to +2 [20/level], Increased IQ +1 to +2 [20/level], Increased HT +1 to +2 [20/level], Increased Basic Speed [5/level], Increased Move [5/level], Apperance (Attractive) [4], Charisma +1 [5], Daredevil [15], Danger Sense [15], Enhanced Dodge (Vehicular, Pilot skill) +1 to +3 [5/level], Enhanced Dodge +1 [15], Equipment Bond (Specific Vehicle), Fearlessness [2/level], Fit [5], Hard to Kill [2/level], Higher Purpose (Dogfighter or Ship Escort) [5], Increase Hotshot Pilot to +3 or +4 [5/level], Old Hand [1], Perfect Balance [15], Rapier Wit [5], Serendipity 1-2 [15/level], Signature Gear (Varies), Wild Talent 1 [20], Upgrade Luck [15] to Extreme Luck [30] for 15 points, or Ridiculous Luck [60] for 45 points. (110)
Disadvantages: Either Duty (Required if your character has Military Rank) (Space Navy, 12 or less, Extremely Hazardous) [-15] or 15 points from Code of Honor (“Fight Fair”, Mercenary's or Soldiers) [-5 or -10], Compulsive Behavior (Thrill-Seeking) [-5*], Fanaticism (Faction) [ -15], Impulsiveness [-10], Lecherousness [-15], Obsession (Defeat rival ace) [-5], Overconfidence [-5*], Sense of Duty (Team or Faction) [-5 or -10];  Choose an additional 35 points from the above or from Bad Temper [-10*], Bloodlust [-10*], Bully [-10*], Chummy [-5], Compulsive Carousing [-5*], Delusion (Invincible in my fighter), Jealousy [-10], Trickster [-15*], Intolerance (Rival Faction) [-5], On the Edge [-15*], Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents) [-10].
Primary Skills: Pilot (Starship) (A) DX+512 [8]-18, Artillery (Guided missiles) (A) IQ+2 [8]-14, Gunner (Beams) (E) DX+31 [2]-16, Navigation (Hyperspace) (A) IQ+313 [1]-15, Beam Weapons (Pistol) (E) DX+1 [2]-14; Divide 4 points among Beam Weapons (Rifle or Projector) all (E) DX+1 [2]-14, Tactics (H) IQ-1 [2]-11, improve any of the previous skills, increase Gunner (Beams) or Beam Weapons (Pistol) +1 level for +2 points, or increase Pilot or Artillery (Guided Missile) +1 level for +4 points.
Secondary Skills: Stealth (A) DX+1 [4]-14; Either Brawling (E) DX+1 [2]-14 or Karate (H) DX-1 [2]-12; Either Judo (H) DX-1 [2]-12 or Wrestling (A) DX [2]-13; Free-Fall (A) DX+23 [2]-15, Parachuting (E) DX+1 [2]-14, Savoir-Faire (Military) (E) IQ [1]-12, Spacer (IQ/E) IQ+2 [4]-14, Vacc Suit (A) DX [2]-13; Choose five of Fast-Draw (Pistol) (E) DX+24 [2]-15, Pilot (Contragravity) (A) DX+22 [2]-15, Climbing (A) DX [2]-13, Escape (H) DX-1 [2]-12, Camouflage or First Aid both (E) IQ+1 [2]-13, Navigation (Land) (A) IQ+3* [2]-15, Electronics Operation (Comms), Electrician, Fast-Talking, Mechanic(Contragravity or Starship), Leadership, Lockpicking, Machinist, Public Speaking, Shadowing all (A) IQ [2]-12, Swimming (E) HT+1 [2]-12, Carousing, Hiking, Running, Sex-Appeal all (A) HT [2]-12, Scrounging (E) Per+1 [2]-13, Survival (Any) or Urban Survival, both (A) Per [2]-12, or Intimidation (A) Will [2]-12,

Background Skills: Computer Operation (E) IQ [1]-11, and 20 points chosen from a background lens.

*Modified by Self-Control Rating
1: +2 from Hotshot Pilot
2: +1 from 3D Spatial Sense
3: +2 from 3D Spatial Sense

4: +1 from Combat Reflexes

Hot (Shot!) Pilot can be found on page 11 of Power-Ups 3: Talents, or in GURPS Space (handy that).

Monday, February 15, 2016

Psi Wars: the Commando

Clear by Lingy
The Commando is our combat expert.  If you want to play a character who has mastered the art of TL 11 warfare, this is the character for you.  The primary focus of the Trooper is, of course, the Infantry Training skillset of Action 4: Specialists.  Beyond that, though, real soldiers break down into subsets (their "MOS"), which allows their military to apply a variety of specialists to tackle a particular problem.  I find this useful in table-top games too, for the same reason that the Striker/Tank/Healer split is interesting in D&D: Dynamic enemies with unique specializations make for more interesting encounters.

So, I have built the Commando around three lenses: Assault, for those soldiers who specialize in getting close and personal with the enemy; Heavy, for those soldiers who specialize in heavy ordinance and "blowing shit up"; and Recon, for those soldiers who specialize in slipping behind enemy lines and sniping officers. Naturally, standard, humdrum soldiers exist, but they're not elite, they're not player material, they're not commandos.  They're troopers, who would be mook opponents and side-kicks, rather than full-blown characters.

Commando: 250 points

Attributes: ST 11 [10], DX 13 [60]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 12 [20]
Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-1/1d+1; BL 22 lbs; HP 11 [0]; Will 11 [0]; Per 11 [0]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6.00 [-5]; Basic Move 6 [0]
Advantages: Born Soldier 2 [10], Combat Reflexes [15], Fit [5], Luck [15]. A total of 45 points from the following: ST +1 or +4 [10/level], DX +1 [20], IQ +1 or +2 [20/level], HT +1 or +2 [10/level], HP +1 to +4 [2/level], Will +1 to +3 [5/level], FP +1 to +3 [3/level], Absolute Direction [5], Absolute Timing [2], Acute Vision [2/level], Born Soldier +3 to +4 [5/level], Contact Group (Military, Skill 12, 15 or 18, 9 or less) [5, 10, 15], Danger Sense [15], Daredevil [15], Enhanced Dodge (Dive for Cover) 1-3 [5/level], Fearlessness +1 to +5 [2/level], Gizmos 1-3 [5/level], Gunslinger [25], Hard to Kill [2/level], Hard to Subdue [2/level], High Pain Threshold [10], Lifting ST +1 to +4 [3/level], Military Rank +1 to +3 [5/level], Rapid Healing or Very Rapid Healing [5 or 15], Serendipity 1 [15], Signature Gear [Varies], Wild Talent [20/level], Weapon Bond [1], improve Fit [5] to Very Fit [15] for 10 points, improve Luck [15] to Extraordinary Luck [30] for 15 points. Choose one MOS Lens (Assault, Heavy Weapons or Recon) below for 50 points.
Disadvantages: Either Duty (Required if your character has Military Rank) (Space Army, 12 or less, Extremely Hazardous) [-15] or 15 points from Code of Honor (Soldier's or Mercenaries) [-10], Fanaticism (Faction) [-15], Gullibility [-10*], Impulsiveness [-10], Lecherousness [-15*], Overconfidence [-5*], Sense of Duty (Team or Faction) [-5 to -10], Selfless [-5*], Workaholic [-5]. Divide 35 points among the previous disadvantages or among Appearance (Unattractive or Ugly) [-4 to -8], Bad Temper [-10*], Bloodlust [-10*], Callous [-5], Chummy [-5], Compulsive Carousing [-5*], Easy to Read [-10], Flashbacks (Mild) [-5], Honesty [-10*], Intolerance (Rival Faction) [-5], No Sense of Humor [-10], Oblivious [-5], Post-Combat Shakes [-5*].
Primary Skills: Beam Weapons (Rifle) (E) DX+2 [4]-15, Hiking (A) HT [2]-12, Savoir-Faire (Military) (E) IQ+21 [1]-13, Soldier (A) IQ+31 [4]-14, Throwing (A) DX-1 [1]-13, Vacc Suit (A) DX [2]-14
Secondary Skills: Beam Weapons (Pistol) (E) DX [1]-13; Stealth (A) DX [2]-13; Either Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-15 or Karate (H) DX [4]-13; Either Judo (H) DX [4]-13 or Wrestling (A) DX+1 [4]-14; Choose four of Fast-Draw (Pistol, Grenade or Longarm) (E) DX+22 [2]-15, Gunner (Beams), Guns (Grenade Launcher) or Knife all (E) DX+1 [2]-14, Spear (A) DX [2]-13, Camouflage or First Aid both (E) IQ+1 [2]-12, Artillery (Guided Missile), Leadership (A) IQ+31 [2]-14, Armoury (Any), Electronics Operations (Comms), Forward Observer, all (A) IQ [2]-11, Tactics (H) IQ+11 [2]-12, Swimming (E) HT [1]-12, or Scrounging (E) Per+31 [2]-14.

Background Skills: Computer Operation (E) IQ [1]-11; Pilot (Contragravity or Starship) (A) DX-1 [1]-12, and 20 points chosen from a background lens.

Commando MOS

Recon Lens: 50

Secondary Traits: Per +2 [10]
Advantages: Night Vision 3 [3], Dead Eye [1]. You may add Stalker [5/level] to the advantage options.
Disadvantages: May not take Chummy [-5]. Add Loner [-5*] to disadvantage options.
Skills: Gain Electronics Operation (Comms) (A) IQ [2]-11, Navigation (Land) (A) IQ+1 [4]-12, Observation (A) Per+1 [4]-14, Survival (Any) (Per/A) Per+1 [4]-14. Improve Stealth to DX+2 [8]-15 for 6 points; improve Beam Weapons (Rifle) to DX+6 [24]-19 for +16 points

Heavy Weapons Lens: 50

Attributes: ST +3 [30]
Advantages: Huge Weapons 1 [1]. Add “Improve Huge Weapons to 2 [2] for +1 point” to advantages options.
Disadvantages: Add Pyromania [-5*] to disadvantage options.
Skills: Improve Throwing to (A) DX+1 [4]-13 for 3 points; Choose two of Beam Weapons (Projector), Gunner (Beams), or Guns (Grenade Launcher) all (E) DX+3 [8]-15, Artillery (Guided Missile) (A) IQ+2 [8]-13, or improve Beam Weapons (Rifle) +2 levels for 8 points, or take all of Explosives (Demolition) (A) IQ+1 [4]-12, Architecture (A) IQ [2]-11, Engineer (Starship) (H) IQ-1 [2]-10; Add Lifting (A) HT [2]-12 to the secondary skill options.

Assault: 50

Attributes: ST +1 [10]
Secondary Traits: Per +1 [5], Will +1 [5], Basic Move +1 [5]
Advantages: Fearless +1 [2]

Skills: Improve Beam Weapons (Pistol) to (E) DX+2 [4]-14 for 3 points; Forced Entry (E) DX+1 [2]-13, Choose one of Fast-Draw (Any) (E) DX+21 [2]-15; Choose 4 of Beam Weapons (Projector), Knife, Jumping all (E) DX+2 [4]-15, Climbing or Shortsword both (A) DX+1 [4]-14, Explosives (Demolition) both (A) IQ+1 [4]-12, Tactics (H) IQ+21 [4]-13, Running (A) HT+1 [4]-13, Intimidation (A) Will+1 [4]-13, or improve Beam Weapons (Rifle) or any unarmed skill by +1 for 4 points.

*: Modified by self-control value
1: +2 from Born Soldier
2: +1 from Combat Reflexes

Born Soldier can be found in Power-Ups 3: Talents on page 12, or in GURPS Martial Arts: Fairbairn Combat Systems or GURPS SEALs in Vietnam. Stalker can be found on page 15 of Power-Ups 3: Talents or GURPS Martial Arts Fairbairn Close Combat System and GURPS SEALs in Vietnam.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Psi-Wars -- Adjusting Templates Cont'd

Last week, I looked at designing templates using GURPS Action 4: Specialists and flavoring them to feel appropriate to Psi-Wars, and then I built a template, proving the concept.  So! I think the next step is rather obvious: Build more templates!  Lots of templates!

But which ones?  We could rebuild the GURPS Space templates, but GURPS Space keeps its templates deliberately generic. It features astronauts and colonists for realistic sci-fi, and it has heroic engineers and dashing space captains for more Star Trek-inspired games, and so on.  It represents a decent starting point, but it needn't control the destiny of Psi-Wars.

Then what do we need?

I find it best to start by looking at my core activities and creating templates that serve variations of those themes.  Those variations can follow themes themselves, and by crossing axes of themes, you can get an interesting variety of templates.  A good example of this is how D&D took the various combat roles (Fighter, Mage and Thief) and crossed them with sources of power (Martial, Arcane, Divine) to swiftly create a variety of classes(Martial: Fighter, Warlord, Thief. Arcane: Spell sword, Wizard, Bard. Divine: Paladin, Cleric, Assassin).  We can do the same with Psi-Wars.

Psi-Wars is a setting about war, so we need people to fight those wars: Troopers, heroic fighter aces, and the dashing officers that lead them into battle.  Those hit two of the three "core activities" of Psi-Wars.  The third would require a Spy.  We also discussed having a diplomatic corps, so having diplomats might be interesting.  And Psi Wars would not be Psi Wars without Psi: We need some psychic Space Knights.

But what about our Bounty Hunter? Where does she fit in all of this?  Star Wars features a division between core and rim.  Nobles reside in the core, where powerful politicians give speeches that set armies to marching.  The desperate reside on the rim, holding onto galactic life with the tips of their fingers.  They live in a world full of crime and poverty, where warlords strip planets bare and gangsters sell their daughters into slavery.

So we should copy that division.  The templates I just mentioned belong to the core.  The bounty hunter is the hardy Trooper of the rim.  The Assassin would be the lethal Spy of the rim.  The agile Smuggler fulfills a similar role to the Fighter Ace, and the Con-Artist fulfills the same role as the Diplomat.  We don't have an officer (the Rim lacks leadership, that's part of its problem), but we could have a Scavenger, someone who picks up the pieces of the past.  And the Space Knight could fit in either world pretty well, but let's add a Frontier Marshal as our hero-of-the-rim, because I liked that imagery.

Thus, we have for templates:
  • Diplomat: Social manipulation, politics and intrigue
  • Fighter Ace: Combat experts who bring the fight to the enemy in space.
  • Officer: Leadership, command and tactical excellence.
  • Space Knight: Heroism, psionic powers, and martial arts
  • Spy: Infiltration, espionage and deception.
  • Trooper: Combat experts who bring the fight to the enemy
  • Assassin: Infiltration, deception and murder
  • Bounty Hunter: Combat experts who FIND the enemy before bringing the fight to them.
  • Con-Artist: Social manipulation, street smarts, and the art of the deal
  • Frontier Marshal: Justice, survival skills, a quick blaster, and a horse with no name.
  • Scavenger: Technological skill, gadgeteering improvisation, and  scrounging excellence.
  • Smuggler: Agility in a ship, and also the art of the deal.
That seems to cover us.  We begin to have a better picture of what this world might look like.  And we also have... wow, 12 templates?  That's a lot of work.  Hmm.  Well, in keeping with my principle of "Fail faster," I'm going to build just a few of these, and then see how well they work.  Future iterations might expose new possibilities and, of course, we haven't actually built our setting!  Who knows what new ideas might bubble out of an actual, detailed setting?

Some Notes

In building these templates, I noticed that I often used a few skill sets that needed quite some work to fit into a sci-fi setting.  I have noted them below, in case you want to build along:

Esoteric Weapons

Advantages: Enhanced Parry 1 (One melee weapon) [5]
Perks and Techniques: A total of 8 points from weapon perks and techniques from Furious Fists.
Skills: A total of 12 points from any of Fast-Draw (any weapon). Thrown Weapon (any) or Knife, all (DX/E), Force Sword, Parry Missile Weapon, Shield, Shortsword, Spear, or Throwing all (DX/A).


Civilian Spacer
Perks: Old Space-Hand [1]
Skills: Freefall (DX/A) [2], Mechanic (Starship*) (IQ/A) [4]; Navigation (Hyperspace) (IQ/A) [4], Pilot (Starship) (DX/A) [2], Scrounging (Per/E) [2], Spacer (IQ/E) [4], Vacc-Suit (IQ/A) [2]. A total of 4 points in Freight Handling and Smuggling both (IQ/A).

Military Spacer
Perks: Free-Fall Fighter [1], Old Space-Hand [1]
Skills: Freefall (DX/A) [2], Mechanic (Starship*) (IQ/A) [2]; Navigation (Hyperspace) (IQ/A) [4], Pilot (Starship) (DX/A) [2], Savoir-Faire (Military) (IQ/E) [1], Spacer (IQ/E) [4], Vacc-Suit (IQ/A) [2]. Three of Artillery (Guided Missile) (IQ/A) [2], Gunner (Beam Weapons) or Beam Weapons (Pistol, Rifle or Projector) all (DX/E) [2].
*All the various “Mechanic” skills out of Spaceships are too many. In Psi-Wars, Mechanic (Starship) can fix stuff on a Starship.

New Perks

Old Space-Hand: Gain +1 to DX or HT to resist personal disasters associated with space and spaceships, including space sickness, resisting radiation or vacuum and buckling down during a high-G dodge. If using the Casualties table from GURPS Spaceships, apply instead a -1.
Free-Fall Fighter: Improve your Free-Fall DX-limit by 1 for the purposes of combat (including firing high recoil weapons or striking opponents)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Melee Academy - Wu Wei

Wu Wei

Douglas Cole regularly invites the rest of us bloggers to join him for Melee Academy, where he proposes an interesting scenario or question, and each of us try to answer it in our own way.  Today, he proposed the theme of "Opening Moves."  What opening move do I like to use in combat?

I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss a concept introduced to me by Weapons of the Gods that I find fascinating to this day, and also to point out how a few optional rules can completely change the dynamic of combat.

The game in question was my martial arts extravaganza, Cherry Blossom Rain, and the character in question is Shimada Daisuke.  His favorite opening move was Wait: He won by doing nothing at all, because Daisuke understood the concept of Wu Wei.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Psi-Wars -- Adjusting the Templates

Now that we've adjusted the rules accepted that GURPS Action can serve as the engine for our Psi-Wars campaign, we can also revisit the templates from GURPS Space, which are pretty basic and constrained, and we can replace them with something more befitting of our particular vision of  cinematic space-opera universe.

Before we begin, though, I want to make a very important note: We don't actually need to do this. If Action 2 is mostly compatible with how we see Psi-Wars, then Action 1 is as well.  There's no reason that we can't just use Shooters and Wheelmen and Faces, with a modicum of adjustment.  In fact, any templates I create here will probably look mostly like those already.  So, if you're interested in running this now, just do it!

But say we want something a little more specific. Perhaps we want to make the Core/Rim split more pronounced by writing it right into the templates, or we feel like some of the templates don't really fit the Action templates: A bounty hunter isn't really an Investigator, nor is he an Assassin, nor is he a Big Man, but he's a little of all three. Certainly Space Knights are almost nothing like anything in Action, except possibly the Weapon Master.  Likewise, some of the Action templates really don't fit well at all in a Star-Wars inspired universe, like the Wire Rat or the Hacker.

I'm going to go ahead and make new templates, in part because of the problems noted above, but also so that you, dear reader, if  you are unfamiliar with how templates are made, can have a chance to see how I go about making them.

I prefer to open up my copy of GURPS Template Toolkits 1: Characters and use the process noted in there.  First, we would need to define our core activity (which, if you remember, we did in Iteration 1).  Then we'd need to work out niches, with suitable traits, that address those core activities ("Spying, Combat, Space"), then mix and match those niches and traits to create interesting templates ("An assassin is about the stealth and deception portions of spying mixed with a stealthy, ambush-focused combat").  We do this to make sure we don't miss anything.  The book goes into exquisite detail about how to do all of that, but the building of this pre-framework framework takes a lot of work.  Do we want to make that much of an investment? Do we need to?

Well, we've already noted that we can use GURPS Action, right? Action already has a list of "appropriate traits" and it's already divided all of its niches up and put them in a handy "build your own character" book called GURPS Action 4: Specialists. This excellent book will let you make nearly any character you want... including, say, a Bounty Hunter or a Fighter Jock or a Diplomat (for aggressive negotiations).

Of course, we want to build a template rather than a character, but Specialists can give us guide-posts on what skills might be useful.  As an example, I'm going to create the Bounty Hunter template right here in this blog post.

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