Thursday, September 8, 2016

Seige Crab

Siege Crabs are massive beasts bred, cursed, enchanted, or who knows what else by some wizard as weapons of war. They're actually a fairly practical design if one wishes to take a castle. They look like your typical great hulking monster with too much armor and too little speed, but adventurers not expecting them are in for a few surprises. The first, and this really shouldn't be a surprise, is that while they move from place to place slowly they're quite agile in hand to hand combat. The second is that they climb walls like a much smaller creature. The third, and nastiest, is the reverse missiles spell they generate. Most adventurers will think "Big Slow Ugly" and start shooting at the thing, only to have their attacks fly back in their face.

Seige crabs  are territorial and generally try to drive intruders off. They'll happily munch on the remains of foe, but for the most part they'll leave fleeing intruders alone. They do have an instinct to get to high ground and to assault heavily fortified positions, so Adventurers who think they're safe for the night may find a crabby monster trying to drive them out.

ST30         HP30          Speed7
DX14Will14Move3
IQ3Per11
HT14FP12SM2
Dodge      8Parry12DR10
Slice (14): 3d+3 cutting, -1 to defenses. Is considered a grapple against a foe that it hits.
Pound (14): 3d+3 crushing, -1 to defenses.
Traits: Constriction Attack, Reverse missiles Spell, Extra Attack 1, magic resistance 2, 2 strikers (reach 1,C)
Skills: Brawling - 16, Climbing -18,
Class: Dire Animal
Notes: Not Sapient. Seige Crab carpaces can fetch $200 dollars as raw materials, and they have Prothoratic Mana Organs that power the reverse missiles effect. If you can get these out, they're worth $ 1000, but the thaumatology roll is at -2. Its a tricky job! Siege Crab eggs are worth about $100 a piece, but transporting them back requires precautions not to stunt the magic of the creatures (Thaumatology roll), and odds are that half  or more of them are dead already! A successful Naturalist or Thaumatology roll can identify which ones are good and which ones aren't.

But bigger. Much Bigger

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thoughs on Realm Magic

Realm magic promises simplicity. But requires some GM work. It sometimes feels like a different game. Does it deliver? Is it balanced?

I'm looking at a number of different ways to use realm magic, and comparing it with some of the other systems gurps has.  I have the thought process behind very small magic system I built using the stub of a realm system (phage magic), the skeleton of a much larger system I've used in the past, and thoughts on realm magic on the wing. I also compare realm magic with the standard system and look at how 'Gurpsy' the whole thing is, and how its really at the root of RPM.

Phage Magic

When I built phage magic for Stornuso, I had a very small subset of magic I needed a price for.  In the post I 'estimated the number of realms at 12' and moved on. Here is the actual thought process I used in the estimation:

All of my realms so far were energy based: light, heat, and motion. Rather than come up with every single realm, I figured I'd do the realm of energy and then figure just as many categories in each 'sister' category of energy. I divided up into Energy, Matter, and Mind/knowledge. I felt confident I could put any effect into one of these. Then I tried to think of other categories in energy. At the time, All I came up with was electromagnetism. I debated using life energy, but threw that out. Looking back, I would have done it the other way around, but the point is we had four energy realms, and then two more categories (presumably) the same size gives us a total of 12 realms.

Then I had to decide on levels. I noticed the limits I had placed where that the magic took time, had to happen right next to the mage, and no creation of energy was allowed. That was 3 upgrades that theoretical future levels could give, for a total of four levels. So I decided my 40 point total would be split up into four pieces, and assigned each ability the cost of 10 points each.

Did it deliver? well, it gave me a number, and all things told, the number wasn't that hard to get and it doesn't look unbalanced 

Standard Magic

An interesting comparison is comparing standard magic to realm magic. The standard magic system is divided up into colleges -- 24 of them to be exact. This is well over 12, which means we use 60 x 1/2 = 30 points for each category. 30 points to know every spell in a standard magic college, plus any that may be made up.

That's... actually not too bad. Particularly if we're using the 6 level system the book provides. Its probably a little more expensive than buying all of the spells you actually want individually, but you get the benefit of the doubt on what you can do. And at 5 points per level per realm, character building is looking pretty simple. It also provides us with what is probably better balance than the standard system, with cherry picking spells no longer on the table. Spell energy cost, the primary balancing component of the standard system, remains pretty much the same or exactly the same if you use that option.

Is Realm Magic Still Gurps?

In some ways, realm magic feels like a cop-out to many (including sometimes to me). Gurps has traditionally been about being able to both do everything and retain concrete effects and prices. Gurps is good at the blow by blow detail oriented aspect of gaming. In matters when someone gets punched in the face as opposed kicked in the stomach. So does realm magic betray us with its fluffy 'any effect within this range'?

I'm going to have to say that its very much gurps.  Realm magic still requires discrete, distinct effects. You still pay energy for those effects, and it still takes a distinct amount of time. In fact, RPM, which feels like a gurps-like system, is based in part on realm magic. Actually, the crunchiest part, the building of the cost of a ritual, is the part that takes the most from the rules for realm magic. Does it still sound wimpy and fluffy and narrative-based? It certainly earns its way back.

No, its not as developed as RPM. RPM is a worked example with the realms per-chosen, a lot of options toggled, and with a more robust pricing system, but it still has as one of two main roots realm magic. The great difference between RPM and proper realm magic using energy gathering is that you don't pay for the realms, but the skills are harder than you'd expect and quite difficult to raise. Which means that RPM is generally more finicky about balance than proper realm magic. So if you love RPM, at least go back, look at the realms, and see if it doesn't change the way you feel about one system or the other.

As for whether crunch means gurps, no it doesn't. Its not the powers system, but only one powers system really is, or two if you count sorcery seperate from magic as powers. And realms gives you all you need to build a much more complex system.

Techno Magic

When I first got Thaumatology, I was exploring gurps and I somehow got the feeling that the technomancer setting should use the standard magic system. Yes, I know, I maligned the poor system and tried to replace in in an area where it was literally the base of the setting. And I got my hands on realm magic.  Actually, I was pointed towards it by Faolyn on the GURPS Forum.

I had three types of realms:
Energy: Heat, Motion, Electromagnetism, Fuel, Mana, Life
Matter: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, Metal, Synthetic, Elemental
Thought: Mind, Computer, Demon, Measurement, Meta-Magic

I forbade prediction of the future and creation, added magery ability that decreased distance costs, built some tables for converting between various forms of energy and the various difficulties of doing different things, and so forth. I ended up with the following costs:

magery (raw power): [5/level]
energy : [4/level]
matter : [4/level]
Intellect Magic: [3/level]
Measurement Magic: [3/level]
Meta Magic: [7.5/level]

I've used it in various places, and it feels modern, complex, and reasonably balanced. The thread where I did it is here, though I may do a proper write up in the future.

Just Winging It

Recently I saw a thread on how to stat up stone-age gods without everything getting too complicated. It was suggested to just use realm magic. My first thought was 'that sounds perfect'! The person actually running the game shied away from using it, but its still worth considering realm magic when building fast and loose characters.

I've never actually run or played a game where that happened. But it sounds like something that would work really well. The biggest problem is figuring out the right point cost for realms. You don't have time to figure out the entirety of the realm system, because you're winging it. Estimate the size of the realm, and then think about how forgiving the realm is. In some cases its helpful to think in terms of colleges from magic. Is the realm bigger than a college? how about 4 colleges? remember that colleges usually overlap. If the realm includes transmutations or effects that would be cross college, you may need to expand your estimate. When you have your estimate, divide 24 by that number and you have a number of realms to base the price on.

Did it Deliver?

We've looked at 4 different ways realm magic can be done. Were they simple? I would say they're simple enough. More to the point, they did things no other system let us do. Just as they give flexible effects, they also give a flexible set of parameters to work with. At the same time, they're at least as balanced as standard magic or RPM ... and probably more so. These aren't exactly the Gold standard for balance in gurps, but they are "good enough". And when you get down to the details, yes! this is gurps. Stats in real numbers, point costs, and oodles of customization.

So Why Don't People Use it More?

I would say simply because its in the least accessible part of a very dense (but awesome book). I did not pick up on realm magic the first time I read it. I was too excited about threshold magic, book/path magic, and ritual magic and too disinterested in noun-verb magic to really soak in this system. Which is really a gem. Its rules are worth getting to know, quite simple, and quite flexible. Most interestingly, its generic. The only system that comes as close in customization to it is the powers system.

Another reason it doesn't get used as much is because its a terrible source of inspiration: it needs an idea before it becomes useful. While it adapts well to source material, its poor source material itself. This is in contrast many of the per-existing flavor-rich systems gurps can offer. This is a feature -- because of this it can handle lot more source material, but be aware going in that you need to provide fluff and setting. 

So next time you need a magic system, ask your self if realm magic will work. You may be pleasantly surprised by the answer.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Monster Hunters: Between Man and Wolf

While the classic werewolf of legend is a man that turns into a wolf, there is another tradition: that of a monstrous creature that is neither a man nor a wolf, but the animalistic features of a wolf framed on hunched, powerful frame of what's mostly a man. This is a modern take, but no less of a legitimate one.  Monster Hunters provides us with  several animal templates, but not much in the way of wolf-men. Or rat-men. We technically have the feline template in basic, but lets do a proper monster Hunters template as well.

The most important thing to remember here is that the points should total up to 125. Its also worth noting that unlike a wolf, bear, or eagle, this creature is monstrous, and will be reacted to as such -- a wolf may draw calls to animal control, but a monster will generate even more extreme reactions.

Basic Man-Monster [125]
ST +2, DX +2, HT +2, Speed +.5, Teeth (sharp), Claws (sharp),  Night vision 5,  Damage Resistance 4 (tough skin), fur, Social Stigma (Monster), Ham-fisted, spoken language drops to accented, 32 point animal lens

were-men tend to have a lot of similarities: Teeth, claws, fur, and an animalistic fury. They're bodies are pretty much in a monster shape rather than an animal form, and the focus is really on building a monster, not an animal. The spoken language at accented reflects an appropriate animal voice, and while it doesn't drive people away (your looks already do that, and you can turn it off whenever they want) it can make it difficult to communicate with teammates.

Because we retain the human shape, a lot of the statistics are lower. But we keep fine manual dexterity, which means the character can use weapons and open doors freely. These types of monsters are made to use weapons, be they guns, blades, or something more exotic, and that can make these things terrifying. Night vision 5 is the higher than any of the natural animal templates. Once again, this is because this creature really isn't half-man half-animal, but a monster.

The remaining points spent on a combination of senses and movement abilities, flavored for the appropriate animal. While these abilities are only about a quarter of the point total, they keep the monster tied to its animal roots.

Animal Lenses [32]
Wolf-man: Acute hearing 3, Enhanced Move (ground) .5, Discriminatory Smell, Penetrating voice
Cat-man: Acute Smell 1 , Perfect Balance, Discriminatory Hearing
Rat-man: Discriminatory smell,  Perfect Balance, Night vision raised to 7

Other animals are quite possible, and should be appropriately themed. Smaller animals are particularly appropriate, as they can be made into a monster capable of making up for the animals natural small size.

More than one Template
Adding another template to a were is an additional 27 points. This is a big investment, but its also a very powerful one, giving a very different set of capabilities to the lycanthrope. The template taken should almost always be an intermediate or completed form of the creature. The lycanthrope should also specify which form is reverted to during the full moon.

As a Monster

ST 20       HP 20        Speed: 8.25
DX 15      Will  12     Move: 8
IQ 5          Per 13       Weight: 150-200
HT 16       FP 16        SM: 0

Dodge: 12    DR 6 (tough skin)

bite (15): 2d-2 cut, reach C, -1 to defense
claw (15): 2d-2 cut, reach C, -1 to defense
Improvised Club (14) 4d+1/2d+1 cr, reach 1

Its worth noting this sort of Lycanthrope is weaker than the classic forms -- unless it can get its hands on something. This monster is more dangerous in an urban or semi-urban enviroment than in the wilderness proper. Although the IQ is low, these monsters are quite willing to pick up an object and beat their foe with it.

This sort of were is most dangerous as the semi-rational or rational head of a larger pack -- one with multiple forms, and who has combined human and animal into a single monstrous form using the benefits of both. While all weres are more dangerous in this form, half-men get particularly more dangerous, as they are able to take full advantage of weapons.

 Last Howl

I hope you find this useful ... I certainly wished someone else had done this for me on occasion!


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What is my TL anyways?

What's the TL on a full-auto crossbow?
First of all, ask yourself why you need to know the tech level. Tech level has a few pretty different purposes: setting starting wealth, letting players know what kind of tech to expect, and pricing people with a different tech level. If you don't need any of those, or can settle them without using the number, you don't need to figure out what the actual Tech Level is. Of course, you frequently need to do all three of those, and in that case Tech Levels provide a framework for you to work with.

Tech levels are a tool, not a limitation. If you find them getting in the way of what you want to do, you should either throw them completely out, or you should figure out why they aren't letting you do what you want to -- and that can help you to better understand your setting. I hope that this article can help you view and use Tech Levels as a tool and not a troublesome number you have to set.

What Tech is Important?

When looking at technology, there are lots of things that are good to look at, but it can be worrisome to wonder if you're looking at enough technology and if you've looked at too much. I use the following list when I'm comparing technology: you should probably know how each of these work.
  • Weapons and Armor
  • Transportation and Communication
  • Medicine
  • Survival Gear
  • Spy Gear
  • Economic Robustness
Each category represents something that adventurers use. There are certainly other categories of Technology, but they aren't as important to adventurers! If you're spending an extra amount of time on a category, be sure its interesting to the players.

Weapons and Armor: The ability to kill and stop killing. This is very important to most adventurers, and includes not only automatics and armor, but tanks and tactics. Consider law enforcement situations, military situations, and fights in the wilderness.
Transportation and Communication: This includes getting silk from china, sending messages from London to Baghdad, and the written word. Some adventurers spend an awful lot of time delivering messages, exploring far off places, and trying to read ancient tomes. Transportation and communication also go a long ways to setting a feel for a setting. Consider not only how the rich and powerful communicate, but also how the common man communicates, and both how grain gets to town and how silk crosses the world.
Medicine: Medicine isn't just about undoing weapons and armor, but also about combating plagues -- a necessary part of exploring foreign lands. A smaller category than most, its also the most likely to be more advanced than reality. Be sure to remember both injuries and illness.
Survival Gear: Artificial lights. Tents. Water skins. Scuba Gear. Winter Clothing. Food preservation. Adventurers are constantly going inconvenient places, and this gear keeps them alive. This type of gear is easy to forget, so be sure that you include it! Consider typical camping gear, winter gear, cave exploration, swimming in water, climbing cliffs, and other tasks that may come up while adventuring.
Spy Gear: Finding out things people don't want you to, and ways to stop that. Most of the obvious cases are high tech gear: hidden microphones, cryptography, and alarm system count. but don't forget locks, primitive ciphers, and signet rings. Telescopes and radar also count. This tech can be very important for adventurers!
Economic Robustness: This is about how rich a society is, and its certainly part of the tech level. Its about how hard it is to make something, and how rich the average man (and more importantly soldier) is. The things to watch are food, shelter, clothing, pottery, and tools. How long does it take to make one of them. It is very possible to spend too much time here, but its worth at least stopping in to check.

What Tech to Expect

The most important part of a tech level is setting player expectations. It can be frustrating for a player to think that something is available, only to have them realize it isn't. Even moreso when it happens again and again. The converse is no better: the NPC's constantly one-uping the heroes through superior understanding of their technology.

So for scifi, are we using this....
Most GM's have better things to do with their time than make lists of every single item of gear in a campaign. This is one of the places where the TL number becomes a tool: you can give the number and a set of expectations are made. Its a fantastic starting point, and for a lot of games, its sufficient.

But you probably didn't come here looking for advice on a run of the mill game. The TL number can still help. You give the TL number and then you modify it. In historical games this isn't too hard. You can also say things like "TL 4 without gunpowder". This is particuarly true for Ultra-tech games.
....or this?

And then you have crazy settings with a large amount of tech described in no other book. This includes settings like star wars (which doesn't seem to have all the tech we do), Magitech, and glowing Atlantean crystals. So what do we do here? Sit down with the list of categories and specify what's available and what's not. If you struggle with one, think about it for just a moment and then come up with something or be sure it won't come up. Economic Robustness... lines up pretty well with starting wealth. And we'll cover that in a lower section.

Pricing Primitives

This is at once the hardest and easiest part to do: +/-[5] points per tech level different from the campaign standard.  If the campaign standard is TL 8 and you are TL 7+1 -- don't pay anything, it all adds up to eight. Of course, this requires a number for you to compare to... kind of.

In some campaigns its possible to just wing a TL difference based on 'better tech'. This is particuarly applicable in space opera where a more advanced race is better only in terms of smaller gear that does more damage with better armor on faster ships, but is otherwise pretty much the same. This is almost never more than two TL's worth of advancements.  A tool, not a limitation.

Starting Wealth

Starting Wealth is an interesting concept. It controls how much gear a character has access to. Which is a big deal. Part of what makes DF use a 'fantasy TL' is the cost assumptions in the genre. Starting wealth is normally not a big deal: most of the time you know about what TL you are at and you can just use that number -- or tweak it to your taste. TL is a tool, and this is never truer than with starting wealth. Occasionally though, you need to know what the proper starting wealth for a character in a totally alien technology paradigm is. For that-- figure out the number, and then use the normal tools.

Coming Up With a Number for Magic Carpets and Zombie Farmers

Ok, now we need to come up with our number. This can feel nervewracking, but is actually not that hard to get right. The most important thing before you start is to know what the tech level you are trying to set is capable of. If you don't know that, you can't figure out the TL.

The trickiest part in all of this is often taking magic into account. When I say magic in this context, I don't mean 'anything that breaks the laws of physics'. I mean 'abilities restricted to a small portion of the population'. When working out what technology requiring specialized mages is like, ask yourself: "how does a middling merchant do it?" In the end, it all comes down to access: if merlin and al'Hazin use crystal balls to talk in london and baghdad, but everyone else uses couriers with a long a dangerous journey, you don't have instant communication. On the other hand, if a middling merchant can find a local witch to bridge the distance with her own crystal ball, you should count the technology.

Pick a TL you think your own compares to (I suspect 6 or 7 is best for you), and compare each of the technological categories of the historical TL to the TL you choose. If one aspect is lots better in one setting (often communication or medicine) that's fine, but if one setting routinely outclasses the other, move the 'equivalent TL guess' up or down and compare again. Don't worry about this being exact. If you can't decide if a setting is better or worse than another in a given aspect, just declare them equal and move on.

You can certainly compare the TL's yourself and by ear, but I have a list. Its nothing new, but it puts the technologies into categories so that its  easy to compare and so all the information is in one place. Once you have the list and know what the TL can do, matching them up is fairly simple.

when the balances are even, you have your TL equivalent! This doesn't mean you have that TL, only that your TL is 'about as good' as that TL. If it seems like a lot of stuff seems to fall between TL 5 and TL 6 --- that's not a coincidence. The industrial revolution saw huge changes in what mankind could do. In some cases one technological area will be more advanced. While this doesn't matter on the small scale, it can be worth it to say that a setting is TL6, but TL7 in weapons technology. Use this sparingly though -- once you have a split tech, everything is fairly fuzzy. Slight advances (or primitive fields) work best when fairly close to a core TL -- or if they are close to a TL that exists elsewhere in the setting.

Making the Number Look Fancy

 The numeric equivalent is good for most purposes, but a lot of people will want to go even further and come up with one of those fancy TL3+2^ names for their TL. We can do that too.

Once you have your TL equivalent, figure out the last standard TL where most of the technologies exist. For example, If you don't have coal power you probably don't have TL 5, but you might have TL 4 -- particularly if you do have gun powder and clockwork. This tends to be easier than the first comparison, but once again, don't get stuck over thinking it.

Now take the two numbers and build the TL X+Y. So if the first number was 7 and the second number was 4, you have TL 4 +3 (=7). And if you have supernatural aspects add a ^ to the end of the whole thing.

The ^ is kind of a funny thing. It represents breaks from the laws of reality as we know them. If it is put on a TL without a '+', as in TL7^, it means that you have TL 7 plus some extra things, be that broadcast power or   psionic mind reading tech. The ^ will always indicate raised technology. But if you've got a TL X+Y^, the ^ doesn't indicate addition, just that the alternate tech isn't of the normal variety. In some ways its redundant, but its always good to have, because it tells the players to beware of tech.

Don't be Discouraged

Remember, this is a game. Its supposed to be fun! If you don't think figuring out your TL is fun, or doable, just use TL 5. Actually, use the alternative number than popped into your head when I suggested using what's obviously the wrong TL. But if you really like this sort of stuff (like I do), then read over the article and start thinking beyond flintstones level technology. Think up alternate ways of running a civilization, and set your players loose in the results -- assured that you can give this place a number.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Hawfax (Species)


The Hawfax are a six legged arboreal species with a stiff covering closer to feathers than hair, large, forward facing eyes, a prehensile tail, and four toothed tongues in an otherwise jawless mouth. They are about suited for life in the trees as a human is suited for life on the ground: most wild animals can outperform them. They have remarkably strong grips. The entire creature is the length of a man's arm, not including the prehensile tail, and they weigh 40-60 lbs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Refuges: Stornuso (stars in an ocean)

Miruso paddled his kayak through the ice in darkness. The last great star, Friend, had dimmed and then disapeared. The sound of the waves and his paddle in the open ocean were a strong contrast to the darkness of the long night around him. He pulled his fur parka tight -- this was a long trip, and there was no need to waste his heat reserves. He shifted his weight to balance his supplies -- mostly fishing equipment and dried fish.

Off in the distance, Miruso saw a twinkle of light on the water. The familiar light of another traveler! He strengthened the light coming from the skin of his face, hoping that the other traveler would see the increased glow and they could meet up. 

welcome to Stornuso, a dark world of water, ice, fire, and stars.  Its one of the Refuges: one world among many. Its designed for a specific setting, but the geography, cultures, magic and other aspects are free to be used where seen fit.

The World

 Stornuso is a cold world covered almost entirely by water, sheet ice, and iceburgs, and dominated by long periods of darkness. The sky is always black, lacking a proper sun, but studded with a variety of stars that wax and wane in their places. Sometimes they are bright enough to see by, but at other times they are as dark as any night. As the sky is studded with stars, the ocean is studded with volcanic islands. These flare up periodically, belching out light, smoke, and most particularly heat. A hardy folk with their own strange breed of magic ply the seas between islands, following the marine life and the heat.

Human life on Stornuso is made possible by phage magic -- the magic of storing energy for later. Phage magic focuses on Light, Heat, and Motion. The magic always happens at the skin. Light can be absorbed by the skin and released at a later time. Stornusoan mages can slow down ice burgs if only they can stand to touch them with their fingertips ... and later propel their boats with that same power. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

On Making Immortal Characters Seem Old

I was perusing Mailanka's Musings , trying to find something, and run across an interesting (and old) article. It was specifically about vampires being really old, and how we often just throw out the numbers without really thinking about it. And it got me thinking about how you would make a seriously old character feel real without too much effort. And it occurred to me to use some random NPC generating tools multiple times, and then to stack them all together.

The Basic Example

I'm using Collaborative Gamer's tables for making memorable NPC's. I'm not actually going to roll all of the entries. Each iteration will use a role in society, an interesting fact, and a hope/fear.  Just three items, but we'll see what they suggest.  for the first trial we'll just use four-- and leave his modern situation open.
  • Religion- Highly social: knows everyone, - Hope/Fear:The Past
  • Underworld - Surprisingly open-minded - Hope/Fear:The Past
  • Nobility - Weighs things carefully before deciding -  Hope/Fear:Love
  • Travler/Tansit - Richer than they seem - Hope/Fear:Sex
Ok, this is only four lives, but we already have a lot going on.  I originally got 'Knows you by reputation' for the last category, but that seemed to specific to PC's, and so rerolled it. A few more details are really needed here: how does this immortality work? a vampire will color these arcs differently than an elf, a highlander, or a wizard. We also could use a lot of detail about the history of the world, to give us a backdrop, and its good to know about how long each phases should last. For this first test, lets use a vampire who goes through phases every 20 years or so, and use the modern world. We're ending in 2016, so we start in 1936. 


in 1936, our Vampire (lets name him Victor) was a priest or preacher of some sort. He knew everyone around, but even then he worried about his past. We have our first sticky situation: Vampires and religion don't mix. As in the vampires can't stick around it. Does this mean he was turned later in life? Or does it mean he fullfilled some dark religious function for the local supernatural community. Or that he tried to hide himself in plain site in his position and found a work around for the religious issue? All of these work, but I'm going to go with the turned later in life option. He was a prominent preacher in the depression who knew everyone. But he had secrets, and a past. I'm not going to do much with that. Perhaps he had no great desires at this point: starting him off as a fairly satisfied preacher has appeal in light of who he will become.

In 1956, he's somehow turned to a life a crime: presumably he was turned into a vampire during that time. His wife, children, and congregation are behind him. They know something happened to him, and being a former preacher isn't going to get him a lot of respect among his own kind. Perhaps he's even wanted for murder. He's trying to find a new life, skulking in the shadows of St. Louis and other cities, just trying to start a new life. His friends are other vampires and scum of the earth. He is exploring lots of options though, and is willing to try new things ... comes of turning a man of the cloth into a creature of darkness.

When we see Victor in the 70's,  He's nobility -- which is another way of saying he's rich. He was underworld last time we saw him, so he's probably a crime lord of some sort, probably minor. He's a cautious sort, seemingly having learned wisdom. He seems to have entered an existential phase: he's looking for love. He has everything a vampire could get, at least in small scale, but wants more. His wife is old and decrepit, his kids have moved on from what their father was, and in his home town he's just a ghost story now. His street acquaintances are either dead, moved on, or part of his new empire.

In the 96, we find him traveling around sating his lusts. He presumably didn't find the love he sought, indicating a sad story. He's liquefied his wealth, and his old crime buddies don't know where he is, just that he 'retired'. He is a simple creature, but no less dangerous than before.

And then we have the modern day. Victor won't be a traveling menace anymore, just as he wasn't a crime lord in 96. We do have a history for him though. It gives us a simple idea of who he was. It also lets us know what he can and can't do. He has a decent spread of skills, but not an absolutely massive one. He actually hasn't lived that long of a life, as vampires go.

How Big a Gap

This is a very important question when rolling up an immortal: how static are they? How long do they go between phases? An elf that hangs around other immortals could have much longer phases than the result of a curse in a land with few other people. How stable the character is is really a matter of taste and situation. In fact, you don't even have to make them all the same size. You could say that the wizard of the red tower had a phase where he ran the barony for 4 years and afterwards spent 66 years researching mind control.

Of course, when playing with the length remember than everyone else is turning over every 20 years. The red mage may have spent 66 years poring over musty books, but in that time his lands didn't stay static, and his stewards probably changed three or four times, each with a different opinion of their master. walk through the 20 year chunks, even when they're part of a single phase.

Tricks and Troubles

No random table will be perfect for this -- not even the ones I just used. Feel free to tweak the tables, and reroll results that make no sense at all. Don't shy away from rethinking what a given response means. And don't take too long getting things perfect: this is a NPC generation process, after all.

Analysis

I don't think this gives perfect results by any means. But it does give decent results, and for a truly deep NPC, its worth the effort.  I hope you find this useful for your games, and that it inspires you to use an immortal in your game sometime.