Tuesday, March 12, 2024

The Planet Crimson

The Grand Cluster has many world shrouded in mystery and laden with power. One of the most pivotal to the power structure of the cluster is Crimson, which provides unique psionic drugs to the powerful Pinnacle Empire

Crimson is covered with an insidious thick red fog that gives the planet its name. It rises two miles above the planet's surface, sends most life into a helpless stupor, and corrodes machines from the inside. Just above the fog hovers massive machines kept aloft by powerful psionic flows emanating from the planet beneath. Strange gears four hundred meters across slowly turn in the red skies, while the factories attached to them use some unfathomable process to produce the most powerful psionic drugs in the grand cluster. Bolted onto these factories centuries later are a collection of homes and structures housing the modern population, a collection of native workers who can see the psionic flows emerging from below, occupying soldiers guarding the wealth of the planet, and doomed prisoners recovering from their exposure to the mist in the mines below.

 On the surface itself, protected and isolated by the fog, is an alien ecology featuring forests of an organism shaped like coral and a host of small hardy creatures that thrive in the otherwise hostile fog. dotting this alien wilderness are the old ruins of vast cities made of smooth towers with mushroom tops, massive vents in the surface spewing out the fog, miserable mines where the enslaved criminals of the empire are forced to harvest exotic psionic drug predecessors, and the camps of the flappers, a hairless winged race with a great crests, long beaks, and a taste for human flesh.

Crimson was one of the most memorable worlds of my campaign Called From Exile, and I'm planning a campaign set entirely on it. It is visually memorable, hides immense secrets, and easily lends itself to intrigue, being isolated, hostile, and at the center of grand politics, all at the same time. 

Monday, March 4, 2024

Create Visible Light

In Gurps powers, the create energy advantage can create light... but it creates "1000 KJ" of energy. KJ is not how I usually measure my light, and its not how many people measure their light. So how much light does Create Visible Light [10] actually create? And how do you even measure that?

The radius lit in this table is lit with the officially recommended light level for indoor settings like bedrooms. I recommend using this as "no vision penalty"... though see the "nickpick" section for more details.

Radius Time Radius Time
1 yard 2 days 7 yards 1 hour
2 yards 12 hours 10 yards 30 minutes
3 yards 5 hours 15 yards 15 minutes
5 yards 2 hours 20 yards 7.5 minutes

x2 x1/4

Time listed is for each 1000 KJ of energy. If you have Create Visible Light 3 [30] and thus have 9000 KJ of light, a 5 yard radius light can last for 2 hours * 9 = 18 hours.

If you're not interested in being sure why this works, or about environmental complications that might make your game more interesting, you can stop reading here and just use the table. If not...

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Tech Paradigms in the Grand Cluster

The Grand Cluster , the setting for Called from Exile, hosted a wide variety of technology: almost the entirety of the ultra-tech book exists in there somewhere. But I didn't want characters to be using all of it, because the point was to have lots of homages to various science fiction settings next to each other and interact with each other, and I wanted the PC's to feel that.

So the base TL was 10, but access to most technology had to be purchased with "technology points". These didn't raise player's Tech Level so much as control what genre of science fiction they could buy gear from. I let them choose a ranged weapon class for free (lasers is a class, slug throwers is another, force beams is another), as well as a specifying what their typical comms/computer interface looked like. For most other PC-style gear, they needed to select options with technology points. This was a player decision, but it was about their home culture as much as it was about them.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Grand Cluster and the Moment Drive

Back in Late 2021 I ran a game by the name of "Called from Exile". It was a high-powered game with sweeping scope, in a setting designed to accommodate homages any science fiction franchise I wanted. We had a lot of fun with that game, and I loved the resulting setting... or settings, as the case may be.

Here, I share the Faster-Than-Light system, which is key to making the setting work, and the broad brushstrokes of "The Grand Cluster"

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

CtEA Pregens: Heavies

I've made a big deal about the high stats of the NPC fighters in Ein Arris and my worries about making sure that the players can defeat them. The pregens presented up until now have focused on some sort of edge the fighters don't have access to. These pregens are built to take them head to head: with 125 points, they can be just a little stronger, and just a little more skilled. They can also carry heavier gear that their foes, and outmaneuver them socially or in the desert.

Agal is a desert tribesman who hasn't lived with his tribe since the unfortunate death of his father during a hunting accident. At least, that's their story. He refers to it as "Murder", and is pretty sure the current leader of the tribe had his father killed. He's been working the caravan routes since to make ends meet. He's a proud warrior and seasoned desert traveler with a quick tongue, and perhaps the most rounded of the applicants.  

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet    Blog Sheet 

Hawser is an oversized guard with a oversized smile and a oversized blade. He got into the business to keep people safe and that's what he intends to do. Hawser is a dangerous warrior, and he cuts an imposing figure... he wins a lot of fights with nothing more than a steady gaze down at his smaller foes. He does require a lot of food and is a little lazy in the morning. He has a fine sense of camaraderie, and is quick to make friends. His desert experience is minimal: he relies on others to deal with getting him to the fight.

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet    Blog Sheet 

Lariat is a hardened warrior who prides himself on being tougher than everyone else. He wears heavy armor in the desert and carries a shield around town. Lariat has never bothered to really figure out camels, but he's skilled at surviving in the desert, and the merchant's guild is very familiar with him. He's scarred from many battles, and looks the part of "Dangerous Thug who doesn't care". Underneath his rough exterior and bad temper, he's got a kind heart, even if it shows by grumbling "now let me do the hard part". Lariat is a dangerous warrior with great defenses capable of doing a lot of damage. He doesn't have a ranged attack, and his armor slows him down a little. Just don't let him do any negotiating.

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet    Blog Sheet 

Prusik is a seasoned caravan guard who has spent much of his life going back and forth across the desert. He loves the freedom of being in a new place every few days, and having nothing around him but the big wide desert. He tends to let loose when he's in town, and he's a sucker for a pretty face, but on the trail he's dependable and experienced. With his shield, he's a suburb defensive fighter and good offensive fighter, and he's an old hand in the desert. He also has some useful experience with merchants and soldiers and can rub shoulders with either, though his appearance is off-putting to many.

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet    Blog Sheet

Agal's enemy disadvantage requires a little extra work to make happen for the GM, but he's one of my favorite characters, and a player can have a lot of fun with that. Keffiyah might be a member of his tribe: if using both at the same time its probably best to let the players decide what they want to do. 

Caravan to Ein Arris discourages armor by giving social penalties and cautioning that the desert is hot: Lariat is built to not care about the social penalties and to be able to take the desert heat. Using the Heat rules (basic page 434) will actually make Lariat look more impressive rather than slowing him down. 

Shield show up on these characters.  A single (surprising) character has shields in Ein Arris. This is an edge that Prusik and Lariat bring to the fight against the fighters in Ein Arris.

The pictures are from artflow.ai

This is the final set of characters for Ein Arris. Fifteen characters for the easiest adventure in Gurps to obtain and run. I hope you find these characters useful, and if you don't use them for Ein Arris, I hope you find them a good starting point for your own characters, for NPC's, or for characters in a different campaign. Rename them, give them quirks, adjust weapon loadouts, swamp traits in and out... they are there for you to use. Its been quite a journey creating them, and I hope this is only the beginning for them. Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

CtEA Pregens: Skirmishers

With its suggestion of light armor and Gurps's emphasis on weapon skill, the skirmisher template is a great match for Ein Arris Characters. These characters are quick on their feet and skilled with their weapons. They generally don't hit as hard as other combat characters*, but they will hit more often, and take fewer hits themselves. They also generally have a lot more mobility than other characters, with high moves and two of them are fantastic riders. These characters are more skilled in combat that the fighters they'll be put up against, but may need multiple hits on their foes and are less capable of taking hits. Their High DX also tends to make this bunch sneaky and good shots*. I was also surprised by the amount of desert expertise they ended up with.

*Except Sisal, who hits quite hard and has no ranged attack. Sisal kind of stands out in this group. like he often does.

Lana is a poor country girl who's in the city for the first time. She's tired of her humble beginnings and wants to see the world. She's also woefully inexperienced in the world, unless it involves animals or fighting. She has all the enthusiasm and impulsiveness of youth, and she's probably going to need someone to guide her through all of this. Lana's equipment isn't very good, but she makes up for that with skill and speed. She's a formidable fighter and athlete, and she's familiar (if not expert) with the desert. She has wide experience with animals, and is an impressive rider. 

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet     Blog Sheet

Halter is a camel racer and dare devil from Kedris who provides caravan security to pay the bills and find people to race camels against. He's bold, courageous, and more than a little cocky. He has a tendency to perform better when others are watching and is constantly showing off and challenging others to contests and making bets. He's a great rider, a solid animal handler, and he knows his way around the desert, speaking languages from both sides. Halter takes the security part of his job seriously as well: he's got great reflexes and fancies himself a swordsman, and not without reason. He's by far the best mounted warrior in these pregens. He's also a pretty good shot with a bow. Just keep an eye on him... he can be a loose cannon at times!

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet     Blog Sheet 

Sisal is a swordsman and wanderer from another land. He has devoted himself to the study of the sword and the defense of the innocent. Sisal goes from place to place looking for opportunities to help people, and to distinguish himself in combat. He speaks the local language, and others as well, but this is as far as he has come, and the others aren't useful here. He is constantly quoting proverbs, but they aren't the local ones, and can come off as rather odd. Sisal is a world-class swordsman, and this isn't quite his first time in the desert. He doesn't have a ranged option, preferring to rely on his sword.

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet     Blog Sheet 

Vang is an excitable young man hawking his skills as a caravan guard. He's quite awkward and frequently puts his foot in his mouth, but he's an excellent spearman, he's honest, and he's the fastest runner you're likely to hire. He is a little distractable, but pairing him with someone else should help. Vang doesn't hit hard, but he hits a lot, and its hard to either close with him or hit him. He's picked up a few desert skills in the meantime as well.

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet     Blog Sheet

They ended up with a variety of different weapons. When I first built the set of characters I noticed almost everyone was using a broadsword. Lana was an early exception to that, and my attempts to diversify the weapons used hit this group the hardest. Only one of them uses the broadsword. Sisal's sword I'm happy with: his high concept is "swordmaster" and a slightly longer sword really underlines that. I'm a little unsure if giving Vang a spear was a good idea or not: if you want to change up his weapon, go right ahead.

Lana's signature disadvantage is that she is poor. I loved building her, but wished I had extra points to fill out her personality in addition to being poor, but left wealth as part of the disadvantage cap. Its quite possible to add -15 more in disadvantages (Stubborn, Curious, Pacifism (Innocents),  and Gullible are good options) to her to boost skills like staff, acrobatics, fast-talk, or survival (Desert).

Hiking was intentionally left off these characters (and all characters) because Ein Arris doesn't recommend or use it. Though I suppose most of the time they ride.

Many of these characters are very close to their weight limit, and they rely on mobility. Because of this, they are often fighting without their tents. In most situations its probably on their camel, which is nice, but could be an issue if they are without their camel or are paranoid about loosing their tent and fight with it on their back.

The pictures are from artflow.ai

I hope you enjoy these characters! Only one set left!

Monday, November 20, 2023

CtEA Pregens: Merchants and Theives

One of the wonderful things about Gurps is the way it supports non-combat play. Ein Arris is rather combat-centric, but even so, there is room for a non-combat character. These characters aren't focused on winning the big fights, but on avoiding them, and on maximizing the advantage the party can show up to the fight with. They are all still capable combatants: in a lot of games I've run they'd be considered front line soldiers. Other characters have face, desert, and stealth skills, but these characters specifically excel at them.

Cinch is a Burgler who's hit it big and is on the run. He's got a massive gem worth $50,000 at least: The Heart of Kirit. Only problem is, the Gem is too large and too famous to fence, at least in Lantara. He's hoping to beat the news of his theft across the desert, fence or ransom the Heart of Kirit, and then live off the resulting investments. Cinch is a top notch sneak with good face skills, and his raw stats let him be useful in the desert with just a few points. He's a not a great combatant, but he does add another sword or bow to the team.

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet    Blog Sheet

Ditty is a charming conwoman from Kedhris, living off her sharp wits, quick tongue, and nimble fingers. Ditty loves to take the proud and overbearing down a peg, especially if it makes her money in the process. While she has no qualms about stealing from or embarrassing others, she does have a soft spot for the unfortunate. Ditty is skilled thief, a terrific talker, and at home in the desert. She's not a bad with the sword, but she's not great either, and if she must fight would prefer to find  some sort of edge.  

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet    Blog Sheet 

Girth is a Kedhris merchant currently down on his luck: a trading venture of his went wrong, and now he actually owes money. His contacts in the guild see promise though, and he hopes he can get another trading venture off. For now, he'll take jobs where he can get them. Girth has been back and forth across the desert many times and speaks both Lantrian and Shandassan. He's a skilled trader and negotiator who can get people across the desert. He's learned both the sword and the bow for self-defense, though he doesn't exactly consider himself a warrior. 

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet    Blog Sheet 

Weave is a happy-go-lucky agent, fixer, and merchant. He could theoretically be making a lot of money running his own trading outfit, but where would the fun in that be? He's making enough getting the merchants of Kedris to pay him to solve their problems, seeing the world and living the life while he's at it. He's always got a smile on his face, a tune on his lips, and a new friend at his side. Weave is a skilled negotiator who lives by his quick tongue. He's picked up a desert skills quickly, though he's more of a quick learner than a dedicated student. Weave is competent at both the sword and the bow.

GCS Sheet    PDF Sheet    Blog Sheet 

 These characters were a bit easier for me to flesh out and differentiate than the more combat-oriented ones. This could be because there were only four of them, rather than eleven, or it could be because I just get this sort of character better. I had lots of fun building them. 

Girth is a member of the Merchant's Guild, which gives lots and lots of small bonuses throughout the adventure. The Adventure suggests having at least one party member be a member of the Guild or of White Sword. Ultimately, I think this is an "Adventure Tax", akin to requiring one member of your party to spend a bunch of points on rank that they won't use because their "command" is a bunch of Player characters. The Adventure tries hard to make the Merchant's Guild worth it at least.

The group I've worried the most about being able to get through the adventure would be one where everyone is one of these characters. On the other hand, I'd expect such a group to try some wildly unexpected stuff: you've got a bunch of sneaks and manipulators, so the adventure could turn out very unpredictable! On the other hand, I'd expect most parties want one character to be from this group.

The pictures are from artflow.ai again. 

I hope you find these characters useful!