Monday, November 25, 2019

Should I lower the cost of ST in Psi-Wars?

I don't check Warehouse 23 every week like I used to, but I really should.  The stated reason for killing my beloved Pyramid was that the SJGames team could focus more attention on creating supplements and this has proven true.  I think I'm seeing a supplement a month again, sometimes more.  And not just Dungeon Fantasy stuff as I feared (I don't mind Dungeon Fantasy, I just don't want GURPS to fall away and have DFRPG replace it), but instead, we get all sorts of fun things.

This month, we got Alternate Attributes, which proved a meatier tome than I expected.  Without going into a full review (I just got it and I've only paged through it), the core of it is meditating on the costs of attributes, what they connect with, and how to re-arrange everything.  And I do mean everything.  They break the skills out by broad categories, they offer ideas on how to turn GURPS into a WoD knock-off with three sets of three traits (plus HP equivalents for each), they offer suggestions for raising, and lowering, the costs of all the attributes and various sub-elements.

What caught my eye is that this book finally acknowledges that ST isn't worth as much at higher TLs, which is a point I myself continue to struggle with as I do a lot of sci-fi gaming and often interact with high TLs.  Given that we have full "canon" support to do this now, I pose a question to you, dear reader and fellow fan of Psi-Wars: should we lower the cost of ST in Psi-Wars?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Patreon Poll: Trader Tech 2

Continuing from the poll earlier this week, I have a new set of polls for Trader Tech.  These cover the elements of their military technology that lie outside of the individual.  This includes:

This poll is open to all Patreons of the Companion ($5+) tier.  As usual, please leave a comment as to how you see their doctrine working or what nuance you'd like to add.  I definitely take comments into account.

I know I've not yet released the more detailed robot rules, but hopefully you'll have a sense of what you can do with robots and how they might serve the Traders militarily.  You guys seem very interested in giving the Traders robots, so I hope that particular poll will be useful to you even without worked examples of robots from other cultures.

The Path of the Void

The Path of the Void is the second of the new paths I created.  It focuses on the infinite and the mathematics of higher dimensions and the incomprehensibility of both.  It is also a "space"-focused path, appropriate for a space opera setting like Psi-Wars.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Wiki Showcase: The Path of the Other

The Path of the Other was the last path written for Broken Communion, and the last Path written of the original nine.

Like Death, it changed a great deal over time, as it is the "path of the space monster."  It has several new miracles focused on summoning or controlling space monsters, or interacting with them.  I've also needed to clarify a few things, such as what counts as "the Other."  Previously, this was up to the GM, but if you're using my setting, then obviously we can have some worked examples.  I've also broadened a discussion of the Greater Avatar of the Other: it allows you to shapeshift very rapidly to gain new traits or characteristics, so now I've written a sidebar full of ideas to allow you to rapidly come up with ideas and/or capabilities on the fly if necessary.  If you need more suggestions, check out Mutants in GURPS: After the End 1.

I wrote the Shape of Corruption article to facilitate all forms of Corruption, but especially the Path of the Other.  Obviously characters who become so twisted by Broken Communion so as not to be human would have some connection to the Path of the Other.  Check it out for ideas, but especially for the Gnarlspawn.

You can see the revised path here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Path of Madness

The Path of Madness was the second path I wrote for Broken Communion, and the second Path I created for all forms of Communion.  I needed to contrast "Broken Communion as Psychosis" from "Broken Communion as a drive for self-destruction," and so the paths were born.

The Path of Madness changed the least of the Broken Communion Paths. While the rest saw quite some changes to accommodate new elements and concepts, it was pretty set in stone.  I did have an idea of messing with Duplication with the Path of the Nameless Hero, but then I decided that having a twin where you couldn't tell if you were the duplicate or they were was the sort of existential crisis that only the Path of Madness would have, and I added it to the Path.

You can see the revised version here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Path of Death

The first path I wrote for Broken Communion and the first Path I conceived of was the Path of Death.  Ultimately, you can credit the Path of Death and the Path of Madness for helping initiate the idea of Paths in the first place, as I realized that Broken Communion could be conceived of as either "Death" Communion, pursuing self-destruction, or "Madness" Communion, in that it represented a broken mind.  Creating a lens through which to see Broken Communion necessitated some form of specialization and thus Paths were born.

The Broken Communion paths changed the most over the course of revising the Paths.  The Path of Death integrated with the idea of "Ghosts of Communion," which became increasingly necessary over time as the idea of "haunted" broken communion spaces became more concrete.  Obviously, if there were "ghosts" in regions of twisted psionic energy, then "death" could command them or interact with them.  As such, it gained a whole mess of new miracles, and that made me ponder new miracles for other Paths.

The Path of Death is the source of at least two Broken Communion cults: the Asrathi death cult and Domen Khemet, the Ranathim Death Cult.  Naturally, a single path can spawn multiple cults (and a cult could potentially span multiple paths).

You can see the revised version of the Path of Death here.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Wiki Showcase: Broken Communion

The last form of Communion to cover is Broken Communion, or "Psychosis Communion," the communion that arises from shared insanity and the attempts by the human mind to comprehend the incomprehensible.

Broken Communion is, perhaps, the most complex of the forms of Communion.  Where True Communion embraces community and selflessness and Dark Communion embraces chaos and selfishness, Broken Communion embodies self-destructiveness, weirdness and mounting horror. It represents psychic powers as unnatural force, a peeling back the skin of the world to show the monsters within.  As such, it festers and writhes in its own self-horror.  Those who use Broken Communion become changed by it, but also change the world; they cannot control what they become, they cannot control what they spawn, and Broken Communion itself controls nothing.  Things happen, sometimes for a reason, sometimes in ways that defy logic.

Broken Communion is a great "go-to" for forbidden powers, power that "costs your soul," or as a rich mine for horrors.  Be sure to check out the additional articles detailing Psychic Diseases, Corruption Metatraits, and the Ghosts of Broken Communion.  You can check it all out here.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Patreon Poll: Trader Tech

Back in the tail end of Iteration 5, as we worked on Alien Races, I invited my patrons (Companions and better) to vote on a new alien race. This resulted in the Traders, a race of clever and highly inventive space-wanderers with their own technological infrastructure.

Originally, I had given them that infrastructure, but with a focus on building all our military technology from scratch, I felt it time to revisit Traders as an exercise in building our own military doctrines and tech.  As with all these polls, the point is to get you thinking about what makes a military doctrine interesting, and what you need to make one happen.  Thus, while this will result in a new set of technology for our Traders, I hope it inspires you, dear Patron, to consider making your own military technology (as I know a few of you are working on races or factions that could benefit from it).

For the first round, we'll focus on personal technology and broad outlines of doctrine.

  • Trader Tech: Military Doctrines, where we ponder if the Traders would even fight and why and against who and what sort of obstacles they might overcome and what sort of goals they might focus on.
  • Trader Tech: Unique Technologies: Once we know how they fight, we might ponder with what they fight.  Not every faction needs unique technologies, but Traders will certainly have some, and we do need to consider what makes a factions blasters and vehicles unique and distinctive from everything else in the galaxy. What makes Trader Tech Trader Tech?
  • Trader Tech: Ground Doctrines: When building personal weapons and armor, for whom are Traders building them?  What sort of roles do they envision using their weapons? How do Traders fight their wars, when it comes to the individual Trader as part of a larger army?
  • Trader Tech: Personal Weaponry: Rather than do line-by-line considerations of specific weapons, let's first consider the broader approaches Traders might take to their weaponry: who do they build them for and with what ultimate aims in mind? If we combine these with the previous polls, we should have a pretty good idea of what sort of blasters they build.
  • Trader Tech: Personal Armor: Traders famously wear "skinsuits," tight, form fitting vacuum suits that keep them alive in case of a breach and protect them from germs and infection from outsiders.  Do they augment them with additional defenses and, if so, what sorts of defenses?
This will be part 1 of a multi-part series, and it's available to all Companion ($5+) Patrons.  Don't forget to leave a comment about how you see the Traders fighting.  I definitely make use of what Patrons talk about and try to integrate that feedback into the final results.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Path of the Devourer

The Path of the Devourer is a new Dark Communion path and the first of the new paths that I created. It focuses on the primal nature of the Id, creating a connection between the user and the wilderness, helping the Avatar become an apex predator.  It also fixates him on what he wants: he becomes a petty tyrant of his own domain who revels in wealth and food.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Path of the Rebellious Beast

The first of the Paths I created for Dark Communion, this is the Path of Wrath, rage and raw power.  It serves as the basis for the Divine Mask "Domen Sonostrum," or the Cult of the Lord of Rage, and the Satemo (Space Knight) tradition of the Umbral Rim.  You can find it here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Path of the Mystical Tyrant Revisited

The last of the original Paths of Dark Communion that I created was the Path of Mystical Tyrant.  This is likely the most famous Path of Dark Communion, perhaps the most famous Path of all of Communion, given that it serves as the basis of the setting's "Sith," the culists of the Mystical Tyrant.  You can see the revised version here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Wiki Showcase: The Path of the Beautiful Fool

The second of the three Paths of Dark Communion I originally created, the Beautiful Fool was inspired primarily by the Archetype of the Fortunate Sun from "the Magic of Stories" from Pyramid #3/13 and by the concept of "Anima" and "Animus."  You can check it out here.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Wiki Showcase: Dark Communion revisited

The second form of Communion I wrote back in Iteration 4 was Dark Communion, my stand-in for the "Dark Side" of the Force, and the "Id" gestalt.  This facet of Communion focuses on selfishness, primal urges, and the dissolution of social structures. You can see the updated version of Dark Communion on the wiki here.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Path of the Nameless Hero

The Nameless Hero is a new path for True Communion, and the last of the three new paths that I made.  It focuses on a community forced to take justice into its own hands, and the sacrifice of identity necessary for that to work.

I considered a few additional paths.  I considered, and discarded, the Wounded Healer when I reread the Bound Princess and realized it was pretty close to the same thing.  I also considered the Mother, as more feminine archetypes would be nice to have and it's a pretty profound trope that would fit, for example, House Elegans.  I also considered the Artificer or the "Lawbringer," the cultural hero who sets up the traditions everyone currently knows, and who is the font from whom artifacts and relics spring, but is punished for his deed: think Prometheus.  I still like this idea, but it needs to be carefully divorced from the Mystical Tyrant (though it tickles me to think of the forger of ancient traditions as ultimately arising from Dark Communion).

Friday, November 8, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Path of the Righteous Crusader

The Righteous Crusader was the first of the three paths I created for True Communion.  It draws inspiration from the Archetype of the Noble Knight from "the Magic of Stories" from Pyramid #3/13, and the general archetype of the Jedi Knight (perhaps exemplified by Luke Skywalker, arguably best in the Empire Strikes Back).  You can see the revised version here.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Path of the Exiled Master

The Path of the Exiled Master was the third of the three original paths created for True Communion.  I drew heavy inspiration from the Gentle Fool from "the Magic of Stories" from Pyramid #3/13, but also from the image of the desert ascetic-prophet and the martial arts master atop the mountain. In Star Wars, this role is first occupied by Obiwan Kenobi, then by Yoda. You can see the revised version of the path here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Path of the Bound Princess

The second of the original three paths I created for True Communion, the Bound Princess drew inspiration primarily from the Captive Maiden of "the Magic of Stories" from Pyramid #3/13, and, of course, Princess Leia as the Captive Maiden of the original Star Wars.   You can see the revised and updated path here.

Wiki Showcase: Paths Revisited

Part of returning to Communion means looking at the Paths of Communion once again.  I wrote paths originally as a sort of "Prestige Class" for Communion users.  Instead of just being "a mystic" you could decide in what way you were a mystic.  I borrowed heavily from the idea of Avatars from Unknown Armies and "the Magic of Stories" by Kelly Pedersen in Pyramid #3/13: the idea is that you need to attune yourself to this cosmic trope and, in so doing, gain additional power.  This way, you can more clearly define your relationship with Communion: all Communion users, say, might be able to heal, see visions or fight well, but you pick one of these things as your specialty.

Since then, paths have evolved a bit to become the center of cults and perceptions of divinity.  The Divine Masks worships gods as "aspects" of some primal image represented by paths.  Instead of worshiping "Dark Communion" as an entity, they instead give a name to and worship the image of "the Beautiful Fool" or "the Rebellious Beast," because these are more concrete things, and their high priests and priestesses follow these paths, becoming incarnations of that divine image.  The same sort of approach should work for a variety of cults, such as the Asrathi death-cult, or the ancestor worship of Maradonians.  This approach required revisiting how paths interacted with miracles to more clearly define what fell under the purview of a path and what didn't.

Originally I designed three paths, but part of this revision has increased the number of paths per form of Communion to 4, to encourage more variety and to discourage this idea that "these are all the paths that exist," because that's just not true.  As time goes on, I'll add additional paths, or remixed paths, based on different traditions or philosophies.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Wiki Showcase: True Communion

When I created Communion, I divided it into three "types."  True Communion (originally just called "Communion," but one of my readers took to calling it "True Communion" in his game, and I've borrowed the name) represents the Communion of Super-Ego, the drive and impulse towards community, self-denial and judgment; it's that voice in your head that tells you "No" when you want something that you know you shouldn't have.

True Communion works the most like vanilla Divine Favor, though obviously it has shifted to a more psychic flavor to fit the psychic origins of powers in Psi-Wars.  Its self-denial means it requires a Pact limitation that pushes one towards rather traditional conceptions of holiness.  It also helps one connect to others, such as sharing the same language, or psychically contacting someone no matter how far away they are. It also denies others the use of psychic powers or even communion miracles (True Communion "says no.") to those it deems unworthy. It has a conception of worthiness, and helps the user judge that in others, to differentiate the outsider from the insider.

All forms of Communion grant a basic bonus to anyone who has unlocked them, and True Communion grants Meditative Psionics. That is, you can meditate for 8 hours to earn one energy reserve point for psychic powers.  There's no upper limit to how much you can have.  This might not seem like much, but there's no upper limit to how much you can have.  There's some True Communion saint on a swampy planet somewhere with several thousand psychic ER points built up ready to lay the smack down on some mouthy punk who complains that ships are too heavy to lift with your mind.  I did put a limit on how much you can spend, though.  You can waive that if you want a truly epic, one-time feat, of course.

The main updates to True Communion are Auras, Ghost-fighting powers, and some versions of Blessed that boost your IQ.

You can check out the updated form of True Communion here.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Wiki Showcase: Communion

Center by the Babman
I created Communion all the way back in Iteration 4 as my replacement for "the Force."  If Psi-Wars is, in any way, going to invoke Star Wars, it must have mystical space magic.  Not much about Communion has changed since then, but I've added a few more concepts and clarified a few things, especially about Broken Communion (which may well need yet more revision, but we'll see).  You can find it at its new, permanent home here: Communion.

My patrons votes on this as the Psi-Wars topic for October, but the Space Knight ended up taking all our time.  But here it is at last, just a month late.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Blog Roadmap: November 2019

Happy Halloween!

We had a very good month here on Mailanka's musing.  I've managed to beat all previous months for posts except for a very weird June (which I don't count) and the unbeatable cliff of May 2017.  So it's been a good month for views.

What did you read? Mostly the following:

  1. Doubtlessly spurred on by the provocative title, the Psi-Wars Fallacy was the most read blogpost.
  2. I should have done a second one, but alas, time.  Still, the Martial Arts Retrospective came in second. Don't neglect the other four martial arts, though!
  3. A surprising number 3, given that I just posted it, was Robots Revisited.  You guys are going to like November, I can tell you.
  4. Surprising only in that it didn't come in higher was the template a lot of you had been waiting for for a long time (and several of you seem to already have characters for): the Space Knight Template.
  5. And the winner of "Which martial art do you guys want to read up on the most" is clearly Knightly Force Swordsmanship, though, man, all the styles were popular (the next three were the Simple, Swift and Destructive forms)
We added no new Patrons and we lost no Patrons, thus a steady month. EDIT: That's not true, we had one new patron; he just came on really early.  Welcome, Kevin!

Looking Forward

Normally around now I would announce the results of the poll, but I've put that on pause for a few reasons.  First, I promised a Communion revision, and I have it.  It's sitting right here in a great stack of glorious, digital paper, but I need to get it out.  Expect that over the next couple of weeks.

Second, I really need to finish the military technological framework of Psi-Wars, and that includes the oft-forgotten, but extremely important, robots.  They sit in your fighters, they polish your armor, they tend to your wounds.  And people want to play as them, so I need to get them done.

And lastly, I've been putting off a playtest of all these rules for awhile, mostly out of fear that I'll be unable to make the time commitment necessary, but I think I can make it happen.  Disciple Mavrick, and creator of the Orochi Belt, have been quietly working behind the scenes to lay some ground work for additional setting material for the Orochi Belt, and then I'll try to get some story material done.  In December, I've got 4 weeks of vaction (yes, four, not a typo), so I should be able to get some stuff, done, but I need to really focus on this. More details will be forthcoming.

Thank you, as always, for reading the blog, leaving your comments here or on the discord server, and for being a patron!  Hopefully I can get some nice things out for you this month. 
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