Monday, October 31, 2022

Snowmobiles in Gurps

Once again, I need snowmobiles in my campaign. And strangely enough, I can not find anyone who has GURPS stats for snowmobiles. Even things like the fan made vehicle collection don't have any stats for them. Astounding for a vehicle I've actually driven. So what is a GM do to?

The same thing I did last time I needed snow mobiles. Use the stats of motorcycles from the basic set. Its simple-- but how close are they really?

This is the second time I'm doing this, and I expect it to matter more this game, so I started looking up stats. Snowmobiles are actually really fast. Maybe even faster than the bikes, though that may be only under ideal conditions. The enthusiasts also claim they accelerate faster than motorcycles. So we can leave those numbers. Snowmobile's range is a lot lower than bikes: they get terrible gas mileage, so we'll halve the range. They're also a bit harder to handle than motorcycles, but they're more stable. So -1/+1 to Hnd/SR. The weights seem to be in the correct ballpark, and the costs aren't bad either. I'm not sure about ST, so we leave it there. 

So to use a motorcycle's stat-block for a snowmobile

  • drop handling by 1, raise stability rating by 1
  • halve the range 

And that's it! You have a range of snowmobiles! I hope you find this useful. Its a fairly quick and dirty conversion, but it seems functional enough. If I'm weird and the only GM who ever ends up using snowmobiles in their games, I hope I have now inflicted the need to use snowmobiles in the game upon all of you. Happy adventures in the snow!

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Monster Hunter Pregens

Back in 2016, I created a series of characters for monster hunters. The goal was to see how well characters with powers, wildcards, or inhuman templates did in various adventures. I never finished the full set of games, but my conclusion was that the easiest group to build, and funnest to play, were the inhumans. They had strong character identities, were better rounded, and always seemed to have both something to do and some amusing limitation getting in the way. They were not particularly efficiently built or optimized, but I think that was part of their charm. At any point in the game, everyone had something to do.

I've written up these characters as pregens, and generated some faces for them with Each character has a sidekick template from Gurps: Monster Hunters 4, plus a monstrous template to add an inhuman race. Their inhuman templates are drawn from pyramid, blogs, and one is even from the original book. Most have their two templates contrasting each other rather than complimenting: that's part of the fun. I hope you find the pregens useful in some way: I've found the characters to be a lot of fun. 

I've really enjoyed these characters. I hope you enjoy them as well!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Review: Action 9 - The City

I finally gotten around to reading Action 9: The City. The book is split into two halves, which feel very different, but really help each other to function. I really enjoyed reading the second half, but the second half wouldn't exist without the first.

The first chapter is very dense, explaining how to turn numbers from city stats (and/or real world data) into numbers for action. While reading it, I thought: "How will I ever do all this?" Its good stuff, but it didn't have much context to hang the numbers on.

Fortunately, in most cases, you won't have to actually translate these factors, because chapter two is full of six very slick examples. These cities aren't real... and yet you've seen them each half a dozen times in movies. They form a wonderful grab bag of locations that can be used again and again. They can inspire you when designing locations for games, and even if you want something slightly different, these cities form a solid starting point for tweaks and as a way to remember what features to touch.

So my recommendation for this book is to read the second chapter first. Its a catalog of evocative modern locations with stats for action heroes. They provide advice on what chases through them look, how police responses work, and hooks for villains and plots. My only comment is I wish that we had six more of them for a round dozen. If you want colorful locations for action heroes, go ahead and get this book, and read chapter 2. And then look up what you need to use out of chapter 1.

I hope this helps you decide if you want this book or not. Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Magic Systems I use in My Gurps Games

I've mainly used three systems of magic in my Gurps games: Magic as Powers, Ritual Path Magic, and magic as technology. This is quite a bit less less than I thought I've used, and I'm actually somewhat surprised by it. I've tinkered with several of the systems, but the main ones I've run for players are Magic as Powers, Ritual path magic, and magic as technology.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Power Systems I've Used, Adapted, or Modified

 Last Week, I talked about a specific powers system I used in a recent game. Of course, I love magic systems and powers system in gurps, and I love to tinker. Here are some of the powers systems I've used in my various games: 

Monster Hunters

I've run various monster hunter games over the years. The point of these games is that its usually really easy to get a monster hunters game off the ground. I almost always have an RPM mage of some stripe, as well as an inhuman. The rules for inhumans are really smooth, almost not a power system, though I consider it to be one. I've found RPM to be really strong in PC hands, and less strong in GM hands. Part of this is because the players get lots of planning time for their spells right on the scene of the action, and as a GM I have to plan all the enemy spells ahead of time. It'd be really nice if RPM Ritual lists for enemy load-outs were a thing. I've run a couple games where I limited mages to 400 points and gave everyone else either 500 points or 600 points that could only follow the templates strictly. I still got mages and they felt about right. I haven't really played with a psi or crusader PC for more than a session, and the experiments play pretty similar to inhumans. 

Banestorm Atlante

 Banestorm Atlante featured three magic systems. One was my first real play test of Magic as Technology. The Melbronx had devices that let the user read the minds of others, another for levitation, and another for fireballs. The limitation was the skill of the user, based on Electronics Operation (Magic Device Operation), and on the availability of the materials used to make the devices. I really liked the effect and the result: the players treated the limited number of magic devices with respect a game where they had a monthly budget of about a million bucks.

The second magic system belonged to the elves, and was never given stats. From the players point of view, it required a lot of study, plus an innate gift they thought for 70% of the campaign was exclusive to elves. The magic probably should have been bought as Mind Control and Affliction: Physical Only Modular Abilities, both with a time limitation, requiring skill rolls to use, and a modifier penalizing the skill roll and giving. Even that would probably have been far out of the point range I wanted, so I just kept not giving them stats, and when a player eventually got the physical only modular abilities affliction I told her to pay 5 points for magery and then to start buying up skill. So if you have a good enough idea of how NPC magic works, and don't tell the players, you don't really need points...

Third magic system was a bunch of racial magical powers, and those just kind of worked smoothly or didn't come up. 


Dreadstormers is about psychic secret agents infiltrating and steeling a space dreadnought. It uses Psionic powers, plus a few custom powers from both the GM and players, alternative abilities, and buckets of points: all psychic powers, skills, and talents must be under 100 points of the 380 total. I've really liked the result. The characters feel competent and dangerous when their powers are suppressed (the first half of the game) and awesome when their powers on online, without being able to simply solve the challenge in five minutes once they have their power.

Called From Exile

Called from exile is set in space, with a fairly heavy emphasis on psionics. It uses psionic powers as written, a buffed version of alternative abilities where they can be used at the same time, and an alternate pricing scheme for powers that directly compete with vehicles. Essentially you can pay 60 points for stats similar to a mecha or 30 points for only one mecha-level ability. I set a 150 point limit on powers for this game. 

I haven't been quite happy with the results. If ST and TK were overpriced before, they are underpriced now. I probably needed to charge twice as much as I did to simply have a vehicles stats. I remain convinced that the price is fair if you have to get out of the mecha, but not if its a psionic power you can't leave at the door of a dinner party. 

The main probably is really that all the players are relying on the psionic powers shorthand on their sheets rather than having power modifiers written down that tell them what their ranges and penalties are. One of them also struggles to tell apart the wrapped up advantage from the skill. This causes all sorts of issues at the table. This is a communication issue, and its probably my fault... but it means I will not be using the official powers from the book again.

Overgrown Secrets

I've talked about Overgrown Secrets ultra-lite take on metatronic generators before, and I still really like it. 10 points of advantages with a specific sort of fluff and a gadget are just really easy to whip up quickly. 

Overgrown secrets also had a bunch of racial magical powers, which I worked out before hand. These were all NPC, so points didn't matter.

Murder in the Court

Murder in the Court used Realm Powders, which I blogged about last week! I loved the magic system, though it has a huge impact on the society, and so isn't for every game-- but a good magic system is like that!

Wrapping Up

I've played other games, but those are my most recent and memorable, at least as far as powers are concerned. I hope these give you ideas, and help guide you towards what does or doesn't work. Have fun with your games!

Friday, June 24, 2022

Realm Powders

Realm Powders are mystic substances that grants simple and concrete powers to those who consistently use a specific powder. Over time, these substances infuse the partaker with the ability to see and interact with the "Realm", a version of the world defined by energy rather than by matter. Each substance has a unique and localized organic source, as well as a very specific combination of powers it grants.

Realm Powders are from my game "Murder in the Court", an aborted campaign about a murder in a fantasy version of the imperial Chinese court. While that game had issues that led it to end early, realm powders were not one of them. They served as our mystical element, and a lot of successful game-play was driven by what individual powders could or couldn't do, both in PC and NPC hands. I share it with you now, as an example of a "Powers System I've Used"

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Spaceships Armor Table

 My Small Armor Table for Spaceships (really for robots as spaceships) has gained attention, and I've received a request for version that covers sizes more typical of a spaceship. And so I've built and now present a table of armor values for spaceships. It should make finding the armor values a lot easier. The image below is an easy reference, but the text version you can highlight, copy, and so-on, is here

The DR given is the amount of dDR per system of armor. Not the DR! See Gurps: Spaceships 1 pages 10-13 for more information on spaceships armor.

The weights follow the size/range table, which gives us three divisions in each size modifier. For more stats on spaceships of that weight, see Between SM's

The TL number is given because its useful when working with the "Boost" numbers for adjusting armor, also explaining the example armors that go up to a theoretical TL 15. The numbers I find myself checking the most are 6, which is basic Steel and thus the cheapest option, and 13, which is "Awesome Future Armor" in TL 10, which seems to be a great spot for Battlesuits, Mecha, and general space opera. 

I hope you enjoy building and flying your spaceships!

Friday, May 27, 2022

Rules I Don't Use, Replace, or Revise: Jumper

One of my favorite advantages in Gurps is Jumper. Jumping from one world to another is a central feature of the signature setting, Infinite worlds. Jumper lets you travel in time, journey to Hell,  reach the elemental plane of earth, explore a shadow version of a place, venture to alternate histories, and rule pocket dimensions. It is an exceptionally evocative advantage central to multiple subgenres. It inspired some of my first gurps characters, and it shows up on character sheets in my games today. 

Its also a jumbled quirky mess. Normally, I wouldn't bring this up unless I had a fix, but a conversation with other Bloggers has increased my willingness bring up the problem without proposing a finished solution.  We will look at the odd quirks in Jumper, some reasons for those quirks, and hopefully get a gut feeling for what a fix would look like. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Process for building a Robot

After a few years of making tweaks to Robots as Spaceships, I think we've arrived at the end goal: the ability to make a robot from the spaceships book fairly simply and easily. Right now, all the pieces are there, but we need to put them together. What follows is a guide, but it will also serve as an index to all of those articles.

These are the steps for using Gurps: Spaceships (and a little bit of this blog) to build a robot in gurps:

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Adventure Generation: Setting, Conflict, Position, Detail

Christopher Rice suggested writing something about how people write and prepare for adventures, and I thought I'd share how I generate my adventures, or at least my adventure ideas. I love coming up with ideas and scenarios for adventures, even if they aren't always complete until the game actually gets played. I have a fairly simple set of steps I use to generate ideas, and I actually follow them pretty formally: while sometimes I'll start with one of the later steps in mind, most of the time I quickly duck back and go through the steps.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

PaverGuard Striders

Paverguard creates not only the most popular series of battlesuits in the xenospiral edge of colonized space, but heavier walkers as well. While their battle-suits keep you safe, their Striders allow you to exterminate the vermin that threaten your home!

Earlier, I wrote a post detailing a bunch of power-suits for use in a TL10 frontier setting with hostile alien beasts. In this post, I will be building the next step: TL10 combat walkers. These will be built using the method described in Walkers and Power Armor. 

Paverguard's strider series are quite a bit lighter than true mecha, but are still quite heavy and have cockpits rather than being mere suits, providing a huge strength boost and heavy armor. At weights below 3,000 lbs or so, Paverguard recommends its signature battlesuit line. (That's the natural point at which this armor method begins to be more effective than the battlesuit formula)

Monday, March 28, 2022

25 Space Cats

Part of Science Fiction is engaging our sense of wonder. What if something familiar was just a little bit different? Alien wildlife is an engaging way to engage our sense of wonder. Making new alien wildlife is difficult and simple at the same time. Changing its skin covering, eye count, mouth structure, and limbs are easy, but when you're on the spot or have done it a few times recently it can be tricky. 

Here, I present a list of Cat aliens. They're numbered for easy reference, as well as for use with random generators. Each space cat is different, and while they might specialize for an ecology or have additional capabilities, they should all be recognizable as "cats". They do tend towards wild versions of the creatures: its conceptually easier to convert a wild animal into a domestic one than vice versa. I should give credit to Mailanka for inspiring this with his post about Space Cats. I hope you find enjoyment and inspiration in this list!

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Spaceships Missiles by Weight

In this post I discussed how much damage guns in spaceships should do. Its seen a fair amount of traffic, and I find myself constantly going back to it. The post generally comes to the conclusion that the damage for a given caliber and the ammunition weight is correct, but that the size of the weapon and its amount of ammunition is off, and suggests buying guns and ammunition by weight. While analyzing missiles is much more complex (and something I keep on putting off), we can use the same assumptions spaceships did to buy missiles and their launchers in the same fashion. These are the two principles:

  • Missiles weigh twice as much per shot as kinetic weapons do, and do the same damage
  • Missile launchers weigh the same as a gun firing a projectile half the size

These are rough approximations, but they give consistent results within the spaceships system. I'm using it for my current game, and the numbers seem to work out. I hope you find it useful as well!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Robots as Spaceships: Coms and Sensors

Back when we were nitpicking the gun-bot, we took a look at its comms and sensors.  We found that the comms were very good, but that was tempered by the assumption that the spaceship would be using them in space. We also found that its sensors were quite lack-luster.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Review: Nightreign

I was really excited to see Infinite Worlds: Nightreign come out. I bought it the first day, and read it quickly. It was not what I was expecting. It was, however, a good Gurps book.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Gunbot Mark II

We started robots as spaceships with the gunbot, a simple robot intended to serve as the baseline for our exploration of building robots as spaceships. Now, I'm playing a game where I want a simple trackbot as the basic foe. Robots as Spaceships feels roughly complete at this point, and I present to you our new robot: 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

A Fishing Boat using Spaceships

In one of my games it turns out I need a boat for crossing back and forth in the North Atlantic. I've done a lot of work in spaceships, so I figured I build the boat using spaceships and the alternate spaceships options from pyramid #3/34.

Oceanic Fishing Boat2000/413.5/1430 tons9 tonsSM+52+615 DR3640$183K

The ship is a 30-ton hull. Its systems are: 1 combustion engine, 1 screw propeller, 2 fuel tanks, 3 steel armor, 1 control system, 1 engine room, 3 systems that combine to make a single SM+6 habitat system with two bunk rooms lacking life support, 3 more combined habitat systems forming a freezer, and 6 cargo. 

I bumped up the DR from 10 to 15. If you look at the armor table for steel alloys, you'll see why: it follows the standard range table progression until it drops from 2 strait to 1. Since we are using DR instead of dDR, I figured 15 was appropriate. I don't foresee the boat being shot at too much... but then again, it probably will pick up at least one bullet hole somehow. If we are worried about this, we can justify raising the armor by 5 using deflection boost.

Double checking our boat against the Nordhavn 40, a few things stand out. Our price is a little cheaper, from the single boat I found for sale, but its within about 20%, which is a lot farther off than we could have been. The speed is way too high, which doesn't surprise me, as spaceships often gives generous performance numbers. In play I'll probably be using the 7 knot speed of the comparison boat. As for the other numbers... They're harder to find, which is why I used the spaceships design system rather than digging around for proper stats on trawlers. 

Its nice to have this tool available. There are surprisingly few ships statted out in gurps, so I'm posting this in hopes someone will find it useful.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Robots as Spaceships: Small Armor Table

I've been calculating armor values for small spaceships for a while now, and its quite doable, but its a bit tedious, and if an error is made it can be difficult to catch. So I've build a page of armor values for small spaceships. I'm looking forward to being able to reference it. The image below is for reference: if you text you can interact with, highlight, copy, and so on, click here.

The DR given is the amount of DR per system of armor. Each system of armor is 1/20th of the total weight.

The weights follow the size/range table, which gives us three divisions in each size modifier. For more stats on spaceships of that weight, see Between SM's

The TL number is given because its useful when working with the "Boost" numbers for adjusting armor, also explaining the example armors that go up to a theoretical TL 15. The numbers I find myself checking the most are 6, which is basic Steel and thus the cheapest option, and 13, which is "Awesome Future Armor" in TL 10, which seems to be a great spot for Battlesuits and general space opera. 

I hope you find this table useful, and I hope you enjoy your robots!