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

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

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 again. 

I hope you find these characters useful!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

CtAE Pregens: Archers

When looking at making characters for caravan to Ein Arris, I went looking for ways to get an edge on its deadly opponents, Fighters I, II, and III. I came up with a couple of options, but one of the strongest was ranged combat. Only one of them carries a bow, and none of them carry shields. This means archery is a good way to beat them. Archers are also Iconic RPG characters, and a memorable type of warrior. While most of the pregens carry bows, these three excel at using them. 

Manila is a world-class markswoman with a lot of determination and a touch of social skills. She can make the most difficult shots of the three. 

GCS sheet    PDF sheet    Blog Sheet

Jute is a quick-fire archer with a generous heart haunted by deaths he's seen. He's the best in close combat of the three, and the fastest shot.

GCS sheet    PDF sheet    Blog Sheet

Keffiyah is a crafty desert expert and tribesman who is out to see and experience the world. He is an expert at scouting, riding, and at shooting from concealment.

GCS sheet    PDF sheet    Blog Sheet

If you have access to Gurps: Martial Arts, all of these characters are good enough to use "Quick Shooting" (p 119), though Keffiyah will struggle a little. This can go a long way to making these characters feel awesome, though they don't need to use it.

Keffiyah is one of my two "Desert Tribesmen" characters. These people are only mentioned in passing in the original adventure. 

Don't feel obligated to stick with the names. I have a quirky little scheme for the names, but by all means, go ahead and rename the characters. Or change a feature of the sheet or two, or even go so far as to use Jute's disadvantages and Manila's skills and advantages to make a grumpy sharp shooter instead of a grumpy quick-shooter.

These characters were among the first characters I came up with for this set, especially Jute and Manila. Keffiyah was the hardest to build, as I had real trouble figuring out who he really was. I have 12 more characters coming, organized into three groups: Skirmishers, Heavies, and Agents.

Characters' pictures were generated using Its a fairly old character generator that specializes in RPG themes and has branched into general AI art generation. (I have much uglier pictures from the same site for all these characters)

I hope you find them useful. Mostly, next time someone wants to run Ein Arris quickly, I hope they can skip character creation and just get their players playing!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Lessons from making Caravan to Ein Arris Pregens

Gurps has a free adventure named Caravan to Ein Arris. Its pretty well known (by people who've heard of Gurps), probably because it is the official free gurps adventure. You can get fan made stuff, of varying degrees of quality (though I have to call out 1 shot adventures as having both lots of stuff and a high production quality), and there are a few adventures you can buy, but Ein Arris is the most famous.

"Caravan" lacks pregens. Which is a shame, because gurps sheets are hard. And when you ask people for pregens, they kind of shuffle around and give suggestions but don't ever have actual sheets for you. I've tried a few times to make sheets for Ein Arris, but I've never really finished it before. I've finally sat down, and I'm 80% of the way done with 15 characters. And I've come to some discoveries about Ein Arris in the process.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Highlun and the Labyrinth

I was asked if the Labyrinth of Psi-wars is present on Highlun, with the suggestion that Skairos could function as "Fairies in the Mist". I had totally not thought of that as a possibility, and I was struck by two thoughts: 

  • The Labyrinth and its monsters are a fantastic flavor fit for Highlun
  • Highlun is not about the Labyrinth

Thursday, October 26, 2023

House Alacapa

This is more Psi-Wars content, about the Maradonian House that rules Highlun. Its based on material by Mailanka on his blog and the Psi-Wars Wiki.

House Alacapa is a Maradonian house ruling over a a collection of backwater worlds. While lacking in any title beyond "Baron", the house controls several of those. Alacapans are famous for finding new planets and space routes. Many of their worlds were discoverd this way and transformed from backwater nowheres into moderately valuable holdings. Other houses often find these holdings petty, and members of the house to be rough and occasionally a little eccentric. The most controversial title of all is Baron of the Iron Fleet. The Iron Fleet is not a planet, but a mercenary outfit staffed and controlled by House Alacapa, but funded by its outside contracts.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Touchy Feely TK

Sometimes a Psychokenesis user wants to be able to use their sense of touch as part of their TK. As part of my current Psi-wars stuff, I certainly want that. Here are two abilities that let them do this. 

 Thanks to Calmquist, who basically built these for me by himself!

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Highlun: The Rest of the Planet

I've talked about the Vital Core of Highlun, as well as its Southern Continent. This last post is a little less focused, but it breaks down into three parts: The small wet tropical eastern continent, the settled parts of the northern continent not part of the core settlement, and some noteworthy wildernesses.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Highlun: The Southern Continent

As I've worked out the various areas of Highlun, the southern continent quickly became the most interesting. The Northern Continent has the capital and the biggest settlement, but the Winding is probably the most adventure-friendly area on the planet, and the southern mountains are the real home of the vitkin, famed for their fabulously luxurious and expensive wool, as well as some of the most extreme terrain on Highlun. The Cauldron explores some of the tension and possible lack of purpose the Fogglanders will experience when they finally run out of planet and don't have to wear their iconic respirators anymore.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Highlun: The Vital Core

 I've decided my atlas of Highlun is just too big for a single post, and I'm going to publish it in thematic chunks. Today we cover the Capital, Lowmon,  and the largest area of settlement: The Banks.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Highlun: A Psi-wars Planet

Highlun is a worked planet for Psi-Wars, a minor fief of a minor Maradonian House, to see just how far a small and measly planet will take you, economically and militarily. The project also might involve space-scotsmen herding space-alpacas. 

If you don't know what psi-wars is, the best place to start is probably The Psi Wars Primer. The project is great, and if you haven't read enough of it to get its basics, you should, because its really cool!

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Magical Talent and Magical Power

Recently I've been getting into Gurps's "Standard" Magic system, for a couple of different reasons. As part of this, I've been looking hard at Magery prerequisites for spells. They're surprisingly good! The idea that some wizards can cast more powerful spells than others is just sort of natural.

But that's not how things usually end up playing: There is a strong incentive in Gurps for every Player Character wizard to have magery 3, which is the maximum. Why? because in the standard magic system skill 15 is everything, and magery is the cheapest way to boost skill. There is no choice between the ability to cast spells more reliably, cast spells more efficiently, or cast more impressive spells: the most effective way to do all three is to buy magery as high as the campaign allows, and then any specialization comes after that. 

But what if we associate magical power with the amount of energy available to a mage, rather than with magical talent?

Energy-Based Magery

When using this rule, skill-boosting Magery is renamed "Magical Talent", and doesn't get used for prerequisites. "Magery" refers to a composite advantage consisting of 3 levels of Energy reserve and a perk letting you cast spells with a prerequisite of that level of  magery (kind of like in RPM). Level 0 Magery doesn't change.


This rule has some pretty big effects:

  • Mages have permission to buy more Energy Reserve, as well as an increased incentive
  • Bigger Spells are going to be cast more often
  • Reaching Skill 15 will happen less often
  • Mages will have to choose between reliability and efficiency vs. access to the best spells
  • Mages will be just a little weaker

I think this is a good change in most cases, but it won't be in all cases. Ask yourself if the change fits your campaign. I'll probably be pairing this with my recovery energy tweak, to allow mages who go for power rather than skill to not miss out on that critical ability. I hope this makes your games more interesting!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Standard Magic: Recover Energy as an Advantage

I've recently been looking at the standard magic system for Gurps, for a number of different projects. One thing that sticks out to me is that the Recover Energy Spell is weird. And the more I look at it, the more I'm convinced that it should be a [5] point advantage. Here's why:

Its not a Spell

Recover energy is written as a spell, but it doesn't work like a spell. Its never cast, and in fact never rolled against at all. It just alters FP and ER recovery, unless it hasn't been bought high enough, in which case it doesn't do anything at all. That doesn't sound like a spell, or even a skill: that sounds like an advantage.

Skill-15 is Overused

Recover energy exacerbates the skill-15 break point in magic. The magic system already strongly encourages characters to be able to buy every spell at skill-15, because that's where all the energy cost breakpoints are. This results in wizards who differ only by their spell lists. Recover Energy taking its effect at -15 reinforces this paradigm, where IQ 14 + Magery 3 wizards rule over their lessers. Changing recovery energy to an Advantage won't completely break this, but it will weaken the incentives.

It Doesn't Have a Good Home in a College

Recover energy is placed in the healing college... which is an awkward place for it. I suppose meta-magic might be a better choice, or possibly body control, but sticking it in a college at all creates issues, because it means that one-college magery now hurts your ability to recover energy. It also necessitates statements like the Dungeon Fantasy rule that wizards don't get spells in the healing college, except for Recover Energy and its prerequisite. It'd be nice if the spell didn't care about colleges.

Every Wizard Wants It

Recover Energy's quirks are both tolerated and exacerbated because its one of the most important "spells" in the system. Having it roughly doubles the amount of energy you can use for spells. This means everyone wants it, everyone learns it, and the need to get it is a significant character-building concern. Making it an advantage actually simplifies this a little. The added complexity of a rule change is compensated by removing a bunch of thorny subtleties. 

It Reinforces the Supremacy of Skill

Recover Energy is very expensive for very skilled mage, and very cheap for a talented one. This makes sense in some paradigms, but less so in others, and helps make all Gurps Mages in the same direction.  A mage who often fails to cast their spells but has much more plentiful energy sounds like an interesting trade-off. Making Recover Energy an advantage increases the diversity of mages that can be built, and it increases the power of a low-end mage, while slightly decreasing the power of a high-end mage. In this particular system, that's a good thing.

A Flat Cost Is Fairer

The advantage should cost [5] points, because Fit costs [5], and because having advantages divisible by 5 is nice. Having it cost [3] or less feels very cheap, and is about what the skill-maximizing wizards are effectively paying for it right now, while paying [10] points for it feels a little steep... though I suspect some wizards would still find it effective.

This all applies to the effects gained at skill-15, of course. I'm not sure what a fair cost for regaining Energy every 2 minutes. Regeneration (FP) is probably a bad comparison, especially given that the numbers were scaled for HP, not FP. When using the spell, [20] points is enough to go from 5 energy a minute to 2 energy a minute, if a mage just put those points directly into skill. I suspect that's not how mages with Recover Energy -20 are built. Maybe an additional [10] points, for [15] total, kind of like very fit? I kind of like that symmetry. 

In Summary

I hope I've made my case. The proposed change is really simple, and should improve the variety of mages that get built using the standard magic system. I hope you find this useful, and I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Long Range Tactical Combat In Gurps

Art Assets for Mooks!
In my current game, we're seeing a lot of combat at anywhere from 100 yards to 2000 yards, with TL7 and TL8 gear. This is fun play, but its also not a combat paradigm I've played in before. Its been fun, but its required a few adjustments to get right. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A Simpler Basic Action Template

I'm really fond of using the Basic Action Template from the Action 4 book of Gurps. But I recently realized that I don't use it as written in the book, because I mostly use it for quick NPCs. So this is the method I use:

And that's it! You now have a quick character with a fairly robust array of skills! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Index Of BAT Packages

I love Action 4: Specialists. And one thing I've done to make me love it more is sort the packages into categories so I can look at all my options at once and make good decisions. I've been using this list pretty much since Action 4 came out. Now I'm sharing it with you.

Most of these packages come from Action 4: Specialists, but some of them come from Pyramid 3/112, or from my posts about Melee Weapons for the BAT, using Action 4 with Infinite worlds, and Adapting Template Toolkit 3: Starship Crew. I have marked these with Py for Pyramid, m for melee, iw for infinite worlds, and sc for starship crew.