Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Magnificent Samurai - Session 10

I ran Session 10 of the Magnificent Samurai on Sunday the 9th.

Session 9 Log
Magnificent Samurai Campaign Logs


  • Augustus Scitiori - dual-weapon master of shortswords
  • Catonio - a Catfolk Swashbuckler
  • Eliot de la Frau - A Saber-master and pirate.
  • Erland - a Jotun wrestler.
  • Markus - A Hobgoblin Paladin of the God of Chivalry.
  • Melek - a Nephilim greatswordsman
  • Tonokai - a Kazanjiman horse-archer


  • Mother Helen - A priestess of the Goddess of Healing 
  • Sister Marie - Her junior priestess
  • Altan - A Meng guide

To Find the Cause

From the tower, the party traveled to the largest building nearby, a temple or civic structure of some sort.  As with the tower, they entered by climbing up a dune to a second story window.  Located inside was a goblin, working on something on a table made of various gears and of a metal similar to their Spirit of Order.  One of his arms was missing, replaced with a mechanical contrivance.  Half his face was replaced by metal in a similar fashion.  They decided to speak with him before attacking, and found out a few things.

They discovered the golden skull, the Spirit of Order, and the other goblin each held a piece of his soul.  He had to replace bits of his body because he's been cursed so that no Healing spells will work on him.  Finally, the whole reason that he did all this was that he wanted to "balance" his spirit, and instead of giving himself up to a lifetime of meditation and contemplation, he decided to use magic to split the imbalanced pieces from his spirit. It worked, but ultimately too well, as he was now totally without strong emotions of any sort and didn't care what the party did with him one way or another.  They also found out that while the angels were there out of choice, to keep the basement demons contained, the demons were working on how to permanently remain on the material world.  The group decided killing the devil they had met was preferable to trying to kill a milquetoast sorcerer.

Back to the Tower

They left the spirit-shard people with the wizard, and went back to the tower.  When they entered, they found it abandoned, and the upper and lower floors deserted and normal looking.  The "basement" level, which was actually the first floor, now had a basement.  Melek, Augustus, and Markus went down, as Markus had been told several times "He's waiting for you in the basement."  They found a golden monkey statue there.  The monkey represented was odd looking, having two faces on the same head.  As Markus approached, they heard an intensifying sound of jungle drums, and so they smashed the monkey.

Weirdness and Price Paid

The three of them were instantly transported elsewhere, to a steaming but oddly silent jungle.  The Dark Powers were so potent here Markus got a headache.  Noting they were in the bottom of a bowl shaped depression, they moved to the top of the ridge.  They saw a leathern hut with smoke coming out, and entered.  Inside was a barefoot woman in blood-red robes, stirring a pot, and a monkey in a cage.  Markus used Demon Lore and recognized her as an aspect of Demogorgon, often encountered in dreams.  Some say she represents the self-defeating insanity of the Prince of Demons, as she was the intellect of one head and the monkey that of the other.  She offered to send them home for the cost of one level of Will each, with the guarantee it would not be used against them.  After a long discussion and much soul-searching, they paid and were returned to the tower.

The Death of Melek

The party got the spirit fragments and returned to the tower.  Leaving them on the second floor, they went down and fought.  There were many demons slain, but in the course of the battle, Melek got separated from the rest of the group, two frog-demons managed to glue his legs to the ground with sticky spittle, and he couldn't retreat or turn.  The devil they sought stepped behind him and stabbed, stabbed, stabbed.  Melek decided to hit him by thrusting the sword through his own body, which I ruled was such a surprising maneuver the devil got no defense.  This was enough to effectively remove the devil from the fight, but Melek just kept getting hit.  By the time the party was able to come to his aid, he was down to 1 HP from being dead, dead, dead (down to -5xHP +1.)  He got healed by the healers, but was hit again, and died.  This even after Augustus stood astride him and All-Out Defended with bonuses to his Parry and the Sacrificial Parry Perk.

The party took his body to the Kingdom of Prester John for a proper Western burial.  Melek's sword became an enchanted object after his death, gaining Flaming Weapon (he used the fiery Imbuements, so I thought it appropriate.)  Markus decided to take it up in his honor.

Artifacts Located by the Scarlet Wizard

They stopped in on the Scarlet Wizard on the way and he gave them the locations of some magic items they had traded some Favors for.


GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 6 - 40 Artifacts, p. 11.

Location: This bow is in the hands of Blue-Belly the Eater of Children, an Ogre Mage who hold a fortress several days' travel west.


This is a pair of excellent quality, large butterfly swords. They appear to be of silver, but are as hard as steel and don't tarnish or rust.  They were made by Gutye Zhu (Ancient Iron Master) for Beifang Xuezhe (Northern Scholar), the last of the Silken Robes school of martial artists.  He defeated the Nine Demons Sect single-handedly and disappeared from the martial world.


  • Blade Quality: The Blades are a pair of Balanced, Very Fine large butterfly swords, giving a +1 to hit, +2 to damage, and -2 to breakage.
  • Shatterproof: The weapons are enchanted to get a further -4 to breakage.
  • Magical: The Blades count as magical weapons.
  • Silver: The Blades count as silver, but without the penalty to breakage.
  • Quick-spin Strike: For 2 FP, the wielder may make a Feint followed by a Dual-Weapon Attack as a single Attack maneuver, with no other penalties.

Weight: 6 lbs total.

Blades of the Northern Scholar

sw+3 cut
+1 to Shortsword skill.
thr imp

Location: The Blades of the Northern Scholar are held in the martial academy of the Sons of the Nine Demons sect, an evil martial school.


The Bilesword is a gladius, and drips yellow acid when drawn from its sheath.  It was brought to the East by the gladiator "Undefeated" Gaius Maximus, who traveled far after his retirement. He died fighting the Shell-Ghost Crab at Silver Lake.

  • Blade Quality: The Bilesword is a Very Fine shortsord, giving it +2 to damage and -2 to breakage.
  • Accurate and Puissant: The Bilesword gets +1 to hit and +1 to damage from its enchantments.
  • Acid Weapon: The Bilesword deals an additional 2 corrosive damage with each attack.  As a free action the wielder may increase this to 1d until his next turn by paying 1 FP.

The Bilesword

sw+3 cut
+1 to hit, +2 corrosive damage followup
thr+4 imp

Location: The Tomb of the Western Warrior, in the countryside well north of Shengdu City.

Monday, October 17, 2016

House of Conti - Session 4

I ran Session 4 of the House of Conti on Saturday the 8th.

House of Conti - Session 3
House of Conti logs

Cast of Characters

  • Luca Conti - A swashbuckler
  • Raphael - A capable wizardly spy
  • JD - a Sorceror
  • Baradiel - A half-fallen angel


  • Goldie - Raphael's familiar, a special rat
  • A Swarm of Fancy Rats - Raphael's other Allies

Out of the Sewers and Back In Again

Luca, having been Geased to leave, dropped his weapons and headed to the initial entrance.  Once they got upstairs, they looked for the mage they had tied up on the surface but she was gone, and also found a silver piece Raphael had dropped in her pocket as a Seeker target.  They went to her apartment nearby, and found a dead man on the bottom floor, as well as bloody boot-prints leading out of the building.  Searching the room upstairs, they found a room conspicuously free of treasured possessions, stray hairs, or anything else that could be used to Seeker her easily, like it had been swept clean by a woman with Paranoia...

Goldie, Raphael's rat familiar, tracked the boot-prints to a tavern across the street.  The Golden Rooster, famous locally for its high-quality pasta.  They asked the bartender if they had seen anyone suspicious, and he admitted a man went into the basement earlier, but that his bar didn't even use it for storage any longer, having moved everything to a shed outside as worms kept coming up from the sewers and spoiling the food.  At this point, the group was suspicious of the bartender, as he gave them lots of grief, but they went down anyway.  They found the very cultist meeting place they had just left.

An Unwitting Donkey Kong Reference

The cultists they had left sleeping were missing.  The dead ones were still here, so they started to search.  As they were walking north, a lit barrel of gunpowder was thrown at them by the stone ape statue, hidden in the prison cell. It didn't even occur to me that this was totally Rock Donkey Kong until the players pointed it out.  Baradiel and Luca both tried to cut the barrel in half as it flew past, but they had no such luck.  They wanted to cut the fuse, but it was too far inside the barrel at this point to even see.  Both Luca and Baradiel took considerable damage from the blast, Baradiel being taken down to a death check and Luca being taken below 0 HP.  As they were reeling, the missing cultists all came from the north, with the Berzerk spell active on them.

For a couple of turns, it looked really bad for the party, as the cultists were All-Out Attacking and landing hits because of the reduced defenses.  Baradiel also failed a Consciousness Check and passed out.  Raphael saved the day with a timely Terror, which all the cultists failed to resist.  This stunned them long enough for Baradiel to be healed and Awakened, whereupon he failed a Bloodlust Self-Control roll and started choppin' off heads.

In the midst of this, Raphael located another bomb, even bigger than the first, on the roof of the room.  He ducked back, then on the next turn Luca leapt up using Baradiel's back as a footstool, cut the fuse with a single stroke, and landed perfectly with a critical success on Acrobatics, and was promptly annoyed when he realized literally no one in the room saw that.

After the cultist were taken care of, JD used Telepathy to send a message to Sazano the Wizard to get him to contact the Inquisition.  They went back upstairs to check out the tavern and found it burning down.  Luca used Leadership to organize the people around to put out the fire and save whomever they could.  After all this Sazano and Inqusitor Fedduchi arrived.  Fedduchi was a man both Luca and Raphael had met in the affair of the Bishop's murder, and they remembered him as as a just and reasonable man from their prior dealings.

An Agent of the Inquisition?

Back in the cultist temple, Luca made such promises and boasts that it had Sazano worried; Raphael took the lead from Luca and used Diplomacy to convince the Inquisitor to make Luca an agent in this affair, so they might freely track the Gath cult down.  Fedduchi agreed, and promised to send a letter granting Luca authority in the matter complete with the local Bishop's seal.  The day being complete, the party rented out the top floor of a local inn and partied until dawn.  Or dusk, perhaps, as by the celebration's end they could only agree that in some way the sun was shifting positions with the moon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Thoughts on Adapting Published Magical Styles, Part 2

I'm going to followup Thoughts on Adapting Published Magical Styles.  This one covers the styles from GURPS Magical Styles: Dungeon Magic.

The Fluidists

(GURPS Magical Styles: Dungeon Magic, p. 6)

This style fits without much tweaking for my gameworld.  I don't see anything in it which would forbid it from being a sanctioned Brotherhood style.  I could even see the fairly radical members of the school accepting female members in a direct violation of the Brotherhood tenets.  I already have style that's part of the Brotherhood, the Fraternity of Gideon, that does so.  It certainly wouldn't make them popular, and I imagine few Fluidists would hold office in any guilds.  It strikes me that the last thing a Fluidist would want that sort of responsibility, anyway.

The Guild of Iron Mages

(GURPS Magical Styles: Dungeon Magic, p. 10)

The Iron Mages fit in well, with few changes needed.  As a conservative style, I don't think they'd support female members, so they'd certainly be a Brotherhood school.  In my opinion they need Enchant and some Weapon and Armor Enchantments added to their spell list.  I don't run straight Dungeon Fantasy and those are spells it seems like they should have even if PCs never use them.

The Old School

(GURPS Magical Styles: Dungeon Magic, p. 13)

Necromancy is one of the big no-nos in my gameworld, and is illegal almost anywhere.  However, I think that unlike the Onyx Path the Old School could work as a Brotherhood school of licensed Necromancers, especially since is says in their description they fight that identification.  They wouldn't be able to wander around in public with a gaggle of Zombies but they could get away with a lot just from being official.

The Order of the Sun

(GURPS Magical Styles: Dungeon Magic, p. 17)

Straightforward boom-boom mages?  Sure, why not?  I don't see anything that makes me hesitate in throwing this bunch in.  It seems like the sort of group that wouldn't necessarily seek to be a part of the Brotherhood as a whole school.  Certain teachers might be, but there's room for those who aren't.  They don't teach anything that's treated as Black Magic and are often Impulsive and Overconfident, which says to me they're too erratic for the Brotherhood to try to control them all.  Plus, when an orphanage gets burned down by a misplaced Blast Ball the Brotherhood could then say "Not our fault!"

The Sisters and Brothers of Echoes

(GURPS Magical Styles: Dungeon Magic, p. 20)

I'd use this style as it is, and since it readily accepts women it's not a Brotherhood school.  They teach Mind-Search, which skirts the edges of Black Magic, so the Brotherhood might try to run them off on occasion, but they know enough useful spells, and they practice their magic in a public enough manner, that secular officials probably allow them to practice magic in spite of the Brotherhood's distaste.  The Brotherhood isn't absolutely powerful and I think it's a good thing for there to be reminders like this school scattered about.

The Tower of Pentacles

(GURPS Magical Styles: Dungeon Magic, p. 24)

Another school that fits right in.  This would definitely be a Brotherhood style.  They strike me as filling a need for judges and negotiators within the Brotherhood, and they are respected enough that their ties to the Echoists would be overlooked. For that matter the Pentaclists probably have enough pull that they're the reason the Echoists continue to exist outside the Brotherhood framework.

The Wizards of the Mirrored Gaze

(GURPS Magical Styles: Dungeon Magic, p. 29)

The Bene Gesserit... I mean the Wizards of the Mirrored Gaze fit in great with a few adjustments.  Firstly, they're now the Sisters of the Mirrored Gaze and are female-only.  They get around the legal prohibitions against female mages by claiming to be a religious sisterhood, they're just vague about the gods they serve.  They have a number of spells that politically powerful people would find useful, so I think they'd often be found among the connected, and could use this to guarantee their continued existence.  They definitely know spells that qualify as Black Magic on my gameworld but since they cast them for the right people they can probably get away with it.  For a while, anyway, as I could see a King Philip vs. the Templars situation happening if the Sisters aren't careful or get too rich too quickly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Magnificent Samurai - Session 9

Session 9 of the Magnificent Samurai was held this past Sunday.

Session 8 Log
Magnificent Samurai Campaign Logs


Augustus Scitiori - dual-weapon master of shortswords
Catonio - a Catfolk Swashbuckler
Eliot de la Frau - A Saber-master and pirate.
Erland - a Jotun wrestler.
Markus - A Hobgoblin Paladin of the God of Chivalry.
Melek - a Nephilim greatswordsman
Tonokai - a Kazanjiman horse-archer

NPC Companions

Mother Helen and Sister Marie - NPC healer priestesses
Altan - A Meng guide

Rescuing the Scarlet Wizard

The party made its way to the enemy encampment in the Underdark.  They saw a set of three low, wooden buildings surrounded by fences.  An unusual stable was noted, with its currently empty berths too large for horses.

One of the buildings was smaller than the others and separated.  The three members of the group with an effective ability to use Stealth (Catonio, Eliot, and Tonokai) snuck up to this shed and climbed it, while the rest of the group "snuck" towards the gate, getting almost 70 yards from it before being spotted.  A dude in heavy plate with no Stealth skill, plus another who glows like a torch make sneaking up a bit difficult.

The serpent-folk guards saw the larger group, and two patrols of guards charged towards the fence to grab some muskets and fire on the party.  While they did this, the stealthy group looked in the shed thanks to a convenient knothole.  They saw a man who looked like the false Scarlet Wizard manacled and alone.  Catonio and Eliot dropped down on the two shed guards, hitting them with skull attacks and taking them down silently.  They found the keys, opened the door, and Eliot questioned the prisoner.  When he saw them, his appearance changed to the one they were familiar with.  Asking him some questions about how they knew each other, they were satisfied they had the right man.

When his manacles were unlocked, he cast an Area affect Glimpse of Hell (modified on the fly) that hit Catonio, who had climbed to the second building, and every opponent who hadn't been engaged yet.  Following this, he cast a huge Create Fire over their shrieking forms, and then a Create Gate to his tower, advising the party to follow.  The Create Gate finally forced a Calamity Check, which gave him a 10-point Disadvantage (which changed his Bad Temper from a 12 Self-Control to a 6 if you're curious.)

Finally, the group was able to ask the Wizard for his help in getting there and back.  He promised to make them a Universal Scroll of Create Gate and to Gate them to where they wanted to go.  In addition, he promised each party member an individual Favor as he felt their help had been invaluable.  Augustus immediately asked him to research the location of any enchanted shortswords he could find.  The group stayed at the pagoda of the irascible old coot for a month, and Catonio went and collected his Blue Demon's Hide armor.

The gate created, they went to the abandoned desert city.

Wierdness Increases

In the abandoned city, the party was faced with a number of buildings, partially buried in sand.  The main street of the city had seemingly been swept clean.  Knowing the regalia they were searching for were in a tower, the group headed towards the nearest.  They were ambushed by Sand Mummies, a form of desert undead that has the ability to Dehydrate anyone they can grab in both hands.  Erland and Melek both got hit, but other than that the fight was over quickly.  I sure write "the fight was over quickly" a lot about this campaign.  An entire party of 250+ point warriors are good at that.

They were able to enter the near tower by climbing dunes and entering a second story window.  This room was a charnel house mess, with a human corpse chopped up and the bits strewn around.  What was left of the corpse raised its head and said "He's waiting for you" as Markus entered the window.  The party noted that the door was barred from this side, and found a secret door on one of the walls.  That led to a storeroom with another secret exit.

In the main hallway around the stairs, a half dozen or so men with grey skin and pupil-less eyes stared at the group.  They moved to block the stairs.  After a couple of minutes they declared various members of the party "Balanced," "Lawful," or "Chaotic" (based on their Disadvantages and actions during the campaign.)  They didn't impede the Balanced group: Augustus, Catonio, and Eliot.  This group looked around and located a woman's bedroom, then next to that a much larger man's bedroom that contained normal bedroom furnishings and a golden skull in a Pentagram. The skull kept whining that it wanted to be picked up, and Augustus eventually did so.  Another room contained a nude goblin man washing himself and the final one a pyramid shaped Spirit of Order.  The goblin was Chaotic, and could be paroled, according to the grey-skins, by a Lawful person, and the other by a Chaotic.  Markus paroled the goblin, while Melek paroled the Order being.

The top floor was filled with a bright light that only Markus and Melek could see within.  A female spirit came up to Melek and gave him a hug, and they discussed things.  It seems that this tower had accidentally been caught in a magical experiment that unfortunately duplicated elements of a famous disaster (a spell research Critical Failure) that created the Blasted Plains in the West some 8000 years ago.

The lower floor, by contrast, had flesh-and-gore covered walls, with lidless eyes following the group, and a handsomely dressed Weishanese man (actually a Devil.)  In speaking with him, they gathered he held the regalia they were here for and that he'd be happy to give them over if the party gave a "violent resolution" to the life of the wizard who had trapped them there.  He also happily greeted Markus, standing at the top of the stairs.  The session ended here.

Magic Items

Blue Demon's Hide

Crafted in the Kingdom of Prester John for Catonio the Swashbuckler, this is made of the preserved hide of the Enslaver of the Flames of the Hearth, the Demon Lord Catonio defeated in revenge for his family's murder.

Material: The Blue Demon's hide is a full suit of Heavy Leather of Quality (DR 4, -1 vs. imp.), but is very light weight (1/2).
Quality: Being Masterfully Tailored, its weight is reduced by a further 30%.
Corrosion Proof: The Blue Demon's Hide is undamaged by corrosive attacks, and its DR will not be reduced by such.
Bascinet: The wearer has Hard of Hearing. He also has No Peripheral Vision with the visor down.  It comes with a spare Skullcap for when these are unacceptable.
Ferocious Visage: The facemask is of a ferocious demonic visage. With it down, the wearer gets +2 to Intimidation checks and can use it against demons of less than Lord rank, regardless of any of their Indomitable or Unfazeable advantages.
Nice Boots: The boots (alone) count as Ornate, and give +2 to Reaction Rolls from anyone who likes really good shoes.

Weight: 21 lbs.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The House of Conti - Session 3

We had a session of House of Conti this weekend.

House of Conti logs

Cast of Characters

  • Luca Conti - A swashbuckler
  • Raphael - A capable wizardly spy
  • JD - a Sorceror
  • Baradiel - A half-fallen angel

Down to the Sewers

Immediately following the last session, the party headed down the ladder into the city sewers.  Raphael, having See Secrets up, noticed an engraved plate on the floor which included the coat of arms of several local guilds and the date the sewers were constructed.  A Traps roll revealed that the plate could be lifted and rotated, and that it was some sort of combination lock.  A few minutes passed while they tried various combinations, eventually figuring out it was related to the three guilds listed on the plate.  When they figured it out, a Scryguarded secret door opened up into a small cavern lit with faintly glowing funguses.  Inside, there were more of the Sewer Worms they had fought on the surface, as well as two gigantic Fleshworms (a SM 2, 40 HP juvenile form of Purple Worm that hasn't developed a stinger yet.)  Raphael noticed a Sewer Crocodile trying to sneak up on the party.  He told JD, who Stunned it and when it recovered it decided it wasn't looking for a fight and left.

Baradiel got hit with an early Critical Hit from one of the Fleshworms and took enough damage to take him down to 2 HP in one blow.  Luckily, JD has healing spells, so he was able to recover quickly.  Luca and Baradiel took the Sewer Worms out quickly, and focused on the Fleshworms.  One of the Fleshworms went Berzerk from a big hit from Baradiel, so it took quite a lot of damage to bring it down.  The other one never took enough damage in one blow to trigger a Self-Control roll.

After the vermin were defeated, they examined the area.  It was strewn with the bones of fish, a crocodile, and three humans, two of whom were tied to crosses and had probably been eaten alive.  They found another door on the other side of the room, Raphael detected spells on it, which he used Thaumatology to deduce were Meta-spells and Protection and Warning spells.  He burned a 2-hex Dispel Magic-25 Scroll and eliminated them.

The Summoning Room and an Affair At Dinner

They entered a circular chamber which featured a wheel-like symbol in the floor, well lit by Continual Light stones in a regular pattern around it.  A dead woman, her heart missing, lay in the center.  It was an enchanted Pentagram in a pattern "conducive to the spirits of Order."  There was a chalk mark across it, meaning it had been purposefully broken.  The pentagram itself was as old as the sewers, at least, meaning it had been there for at least two hundred years.

In a niche opposite the door they entered through, they found an enchanted statue of a white ape with bloody fangs, surrounded by offerings of various sorts.  To the south, there was a door with yet more spells upon it.  Raphael ceremonially cast Dispel Magic, and succeeded.  Entering the next room, the heard voices in conversation.  Raphael cast Insignificance on each member of the group and they snuck in to a meeting hall, with several cultists around a table and a guard at another door.  JD cast Mass Sleep and critically succeeded (again!)   It knocked out all the cultists at the table, another pair in another room he couldn't even see, and a wizard with a half-face mask on that the party hadn't noticed, because he had Insignificance on, himself.  Raphael managed to notice him, and snuck up on him while the warriors engaged the guards.  While they were doing this, JD got a thrown knife in the kidneys from behind as a woman he never noticed took a free shot from where he couldn't see her.

I should say here that I really like the Roll20 dynamic lighting options.  They drive my players crazy.  I've restricted the PCs to a 300 degree arc of vision, so even though she was on the map literally no one noticed her until she struck.  This wouldn't happen on a tabletop map unless I didn't place her until after the attack.

The triple damage attack forced a Major Wound check, and JD failed by 5 so he was out.  Luca engaged the woman, she Commanded him to stop, and he missed his resistance roll.  On the next turn she cast Madness on him (one turn as she had it at 20), and even with Magic Resistance 3 he failed to resist.  I ruled his Bless went away and he resisted instead.  He attacked her again, she failed to Command this time, and he hit her, at which point he discovered she wasn't affected much by normal weapons and was actually a demon. A Succubus.  She took only 1/5 injury from his attack, and even with him rolling 3d+2 damage that's only going to be a couple of points in the end.

In the meantime, the Half-masked Wizard stirred from his slumber, and Raphael struck him with his wooden rapier.  The wizard got hit for a couple of points of damage, said "You've got to be kidding me," and cast Deathtouch.  On the wizard's next turn, he hit Raphael, and I rolled 10 (on 2d) points of crushing damage and 18 points (on 3d) of Deathtouch damage.  Ouch.  Raphael succeeded on a Death Check, a Consciousness Check, and a Major Wound check in one go and was still standing.  On his turn, Raphael stayed conscious cast a 5d Deathtouch himself ("This is how it's done!").  Baradiel by this point had healed JD, got him on his feet, and went to Raphael's aid.  He defaulted Intimidation to get the wizard to surrender and rolled a 3.  The wizard surrendered promptly.  The Succubus, somehow aware of this, Teleported behind the wizard, made Baradiel drop his sword with a Command, then Teleported away with the wizard on her next turn.

Clean Ups and an Interrogation

Examining the area thoroughly, they came across a cell with a skeleton manacled to the wall.  A Search roll revealed a key in a pouch on the skeleton's belt.  They tested it and discovered it was the key to the cell itself (prompting "What a bunch of assholes!" from the players.)  The room the Succubus came from was a small study, with a couple of Scrolls on a table, a magical scrying bowl (which gives +2 to Lecanomancy, as if it was a Crystal Ball,)   and an enchanted painting on the wall.  JD identified the painting as a Painting of Entrapment, which traps the soul of a viewer in an extra-dimensional prison, except this one seemed to be programmable as no-one in the group had been affected so far.  They woke a cultist and interrogated him.  He was extremely cooperative, and when asked why he said "You're going to kill me anyway, so I figure if I help you, you might kill me quickly."  He revealed the password to the painting, which allowed them to move it and pull a lever for another secret door.  They knocked him back out and continued into a small, mostly empty treasury.  Luca opened a magical chest in the room, that hit him with a Lesser Geas to "drop what you're holding and leave this place."  The session ended there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Magnificent Samurai - Session 8

Session 8 of the Magnificent Samurai was held on Sunday September 11th.


Augustus Scitiori - dual-weapon master of shortswords
Eliot de la Frau - A Saber-master and pirate.
Erland - a Jotun wrestler.
Markus - A Hobgoblin Paladin of the God of Chivalry.
Melek - a Nephilim greatswordsman
Tonokai - a Kazanjiman horse-archer

NPC Companions

Mother Helen and Sister Marie - NPC healer priestesses hired in the Kingdom of Prester John
Altan - A Meng guide the party hired in the Kingdom of Prester John

Not Present

Catonio - a Catfolk Swashbuckler

Post-Combat Healing and Another Battle

After killing the Enslaver of the Flames of the Hearth, the party had to rest as they had several very injured people.  Markus had to handle all the healing as their healing priest had been killed during the last battle.  They also used up their entire supply of healing potions.  They had time to heal, and got a brief half-hour rest when they were attacked by three chainsaw wielding demons and six flaming skulls coming from a secret room they had missed.

This was a nasty fight, made even worse by the fact that Melek was already at half Move and Dodge from the earlier fight.  The chainsaw demons ended up being little to no threat, but the flaming skulls were All-Out Attacking for two attacks and were slowly chewing up the folks engaged with them.  By the time it was all said and done, the party won with no deaths, but Markus had to rest for a day just so he could heal the others without penalties.

Return to the Kingdom of Prester John

The group returned to Prester John's settlement, and discussed what to do next.  They decided they wanted to investigate why there are so many more demons than normal showing up lately, but wanted to gear up first so they could fight them properly.  A friendly sage told them he suspected that at least two items of a Demonhunter's regalia remained in the lost city of Diushi. This city had long ago been conquered by Orcs and had then been lost beneath the sands of the Tamadere desert, but had been recently exposed by a savage windstorm.

To save time, the party chose to return to the Scarlet Wizard to ask him to create a Gate to the city, to prevent them from dying in the desert having no appreciable survival skills.  They hired a local guide, and two western priestesses of the Goddess of Healing before they left on a continuing, monthly basis.

The Wrong Wizard

When they arrived at the Scarlet Wizard's pagoda, they noted that the hobgoblin guards who had been here before had been replaced by Imperial soldiers.  The soldiers didn't recognize the group, and allowed them in.

The "Scarlet Wizard" they met wasn't the same man they had worked for before, and didn't recognize them.  When challenged, he said he had always been the Scarlet Wizard and the party attacked.  Three of the PCs held the doors shut while the rest of the party attacked the wizard.  After he was defeated, they discovered he was one of the Serpent Folk, and they had kidnapped the actual wizard.  Interrogation backed up by complementary Intimidation revealed his location, a nearby stronghold in the underdark.  The party went to the rescue...

Magnificent Samurai Campaign Logs

Friday, September 9, 2016

New Spell: Fire Darts

I've been working on my campaigns so I haven't done as much rules-tinkering or worldbuilding as I normally do, but here's a spell I wrote to add a high rate of fire option to a mage's arsenal.

Fire Darts


College of Fire

Creates a collection of darts of flame that can be shot in rapid succession.  Each dart does 1d burning, and should the caster also know Essential Fire he may double the base casting cost for darts that do 1d+2 burning.  The caster may create up to his Magery darts each turn, for up to three turns.  The darts have 1/2D 15, Max 30, RoF=number of darts, and Rcl 2.

Cost to Cast: 1 per dart created.
Time to Cast: 1 to 3 seconds.
Prerequisites: Magery 1, Create Fire, and Haste.


I'd change the prerequisites to Great Haste instead of Haste, but I really don't want to give a spellcaster any more excuses to take it...

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The House of Conti - Session 1 and 2

In addition to my tabletop campaign, I've also started running a Roll20 campaign for a couple of my friends who used to play GURPS with me back in the day, and a couple of other friends who are new to GURPS.  I ran the second session on Saturday the 27th of August.

Cast of Characters

  • Luca Conti - swashbuckler and member of the merchant House of Conti in the Northern Thorinian Kingdom
  • Raphael - Luca's companion and friend, a capable wizardly spy
  • JD - a Sorceror and master of spells that skirt the fringes of legality
  • Baradiel - an angel cast down to the mortal world for his failure to protect Luca's uncle

Session One

This campaign actually started last year, in a week of gaming some of my old gaming buddies get together each year to do.  In that campaign, the party investigated the death of Luca's uncle, a powerful Archbishop of the Storm God.  They discovered he had ties to the Underdark, buying Black Lotus from the Drow to sell on the surface.  He had helped them kill off a rival family but was murdered when he protested them raising their prices.  Luca and Raphael returned to their home city of Sparra, and were joined at Luca's ancestral home (the Green Palace) by JD and Baradiel.

For the first session, Raphael was absent.

JD had been accused of several magical crimes by the Brotherhood*, but the head wizard of House Conti, Sazano, imposed his veto in the trial and invited JD to join him in Conti service. JD agreed, since House Conti wasn't going to bind his actions with magical Oaths...

At around the same time, Baradiel had been exiled to the mortal realm to aid the Conti family, since he'd failed to protect the Archbishop.  Luca found him being theologically grilled by the household Chaplain.

The three of them (Luca, JD, and Baradiel) were instructed to follow up on a couple of house guards who were sent to check on a break-in at the house's spice warehouse.  Lord Conti suggested that Luca take some time to familiarize himself with his new companions, but Luca hotly objected, insisting he would check on the household guards immediately, while also berating his father for his opportunism in JD's case and ranting about the ridiculous Brotherhood laws.

When they arrived at the warehouse, they discovered three dead bodies, one of which was no member or servant of the Conti.  Searching further, they opened a door and a pulsating green heart, bound in brass, rose from the floor and sent beams of green to each body, which materialized into Demon Jesters, a powerful type of minor demon (Baradiel classified them as "Type III level.").  Baradiel, a soldier angel, succeeded on both Demon Lore and Physiology (Demons), so he knew what they were and that their weakpoint was the heart.  A battle ensued, and Baradiel was heavily injured, while JD spent much of the fight mentally stunned by a Rapier Wit attack by one of the demons.  (This was unlikely, as his IQ is 14 but he failed four turns in a row.)  They also managed to break the heart, which JD used Magic Item Lore to identify as a "Soul Trap," an evil artifact from the remote ages of the ancient demon-worshipping Catfolk, around 9,000 years ago. Soul Traps were used to trap the soul of anyone who died near them and allowed a spellcaster to use the souls therein to power magical effects, like an extremely naughty Powerstone.

They took the bodies and the remains of the heart back to the Green Palace.  They noted a tattoo of the face of a raging ape on the unknown man.  This is a known symbol of the demon lord Gath, the White Ape, a demon lord rumored to be physically present on the Material World. He has a sizable and dangerous cult.

Session Two

While the rest of the party was away, Raphael was using his (Ally Group) rats to sneak into a local office and steal some love letters written by Lord Conti.  He used his rats to chew them open and read what was inside.  He noted that they'd been sealed with the House Conti seal, or a good fake, so he had the rats mar that as well, then delivered the notes as instructed.  A Streetwise roll led him to suspect the Red Eagle House, House Conti's most heated rival merchant family, as the most likely group to have stolen the letters.

Luca was called to speak with his mother, who chided him for his thoughtless berating of his father, especially in the view of the servants of the house.  Luca defended himself but promised to be more careful.

The whole party returned to the warehouse, since Raphael has both the Mage Sight and See Secrets spells so he's capable of spotting things the others might have missed.  He found a second secret compartment in the chest the heart had arrived in, sealed with a poison trap.  In the compartment, they found a bundle of letters bound and sealed by magic.  Raphael used a Dispel Magic scroll to dispel the seal (Delay-Sense Life-Disintegrate if you're curious.  Even the minimum damage would have reduced the bundle to dust.)  The papers were written in a demon language, and the very letters were so disturbing that seeing it required a Fright Check from everyone but Baradiel (he's an Angel, he's seen it before.)

They used Raphael's familiar, Goldie (a special rat,) to track another person who had been present.  The trail led to an alleyway, where the party heard cries of "Help!" from a woman overtaken in the alley by thugs.  A fight ensued, the thugs were all disabled early by a critical success on a Mass Sleep from JD, and "sewer worms" and bronze spiders joined the fight as it progressed. Someone cast an Awaken spell on the thugs, then the "victim" slipped away during the fighting, but in a rather sneaky way that led the party to track her down.  They entered a kitchen, and faced a woman cutting into a joint of beef.  When challenged, she told the group she'd been paid a silver coin to cover a strange woman's escape.  Raphael, having Mage Sight active, asked if the cook was a mage (she was.)

Luca knocked her unconscious from behind (I use the "kayo" rules in my fantasy campaigns.)  JD then used Mind Search to discover that she was a guard for a group using the sewers as a base, she didn't know if they were demon worshipers, but she knew that they had just received a "necessary shipment."  We left it there.

*Brotherhood Charges Against JD

JD was charged with Witchcraft, Unsanctioned Spellcasting, and Uncontrolled Sorcery. Witchcraft being the casting of spells in secret, Unsanctioned Spellcasting is not being a member of the Brotherhood, and Uncontrolled Sorcery is casting a spell as a Sorceror that leads to a Calamity Check.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Magnificent Samurai Session 7

We had a session of Magnificent Samurai on Sunday August 21st.


Augustus Scitiori - dual-weapon master of shortswords
Catonio - a Catfolk Swashbuckler
Eliot de la Frau - A Saber-master and pirate.
Erland - a Jotun wrestler.
Markus - A Hobgoblin Paladin of the God of Chivalry.
Melek - a Nephilim greatswordsman
Tonokai - a Kazanjiman horse-archer

NPC Companions

Zui Shushu - A drunkard priest the party's hired as a healer

The Cave of the Enslaver of the Flames of the Hearth

Catonio got over his hairballs and the party traveled to the lair of the blue demon, the Enslaver of the Flames of the Hearth.  They arrived without any trouble on the way, and entered a short tunnel.  Near the entrance they found a glowing glyph carved into the floor and avoided it.  As they entered the midpoint, a digging device filled the tunnel behind them and moved forward.  As the fastest members of the group got near the end a Link went off and a Glue spell triggered, trapping Eliot and Melek.  Catonio, noting a gap between the digger and the ceiling, used Flying Leap and Acrobatics to squeeze through the gap and land on the back of the digger, facing a cigarette smoking Imp in the driver's seat and a pair of oxen on treadmills providing the motive force.  On his next turn, he stabbed at the Imp, who Blinked away from that, but who also didn't notice Catonio's Main-gauche in the off-hand and got skewered on the follow up (I roll direction randomly for Blink and he ended up in one of Catonio's other front hexes.)

The control panel was simple enough for an 8 IQ imp to understand, so Catonio had no problem figuring out how to stop the thing.  The party then found a secret door in the tunnel and entered a side chamber.

The Goblin Prisoner

The party saw a room packed with building and mechanical supplies, a big blackboard with plans for the digger on it, and a goblin trapped in a crow's cage.  He begged the party to get him out.  After some back-and-forth talking Catonio succeeded on Detect Lies and realized he was lying about something.  When this was found out, he grew to nine feet tall and summoned up a pack of three frog demons to attack the party.  The first party member to attack him discovered he was surrounded by an aura that drained their FP 2d per turn.  When he died, he exploded and did 6d FP to anyone within a couple of hexes, knocking several party members out.  This forced the party to rest for a couple of hours to get their energy back.

While they were down, Erland opened a chest in the room that they had been warned to leave alone and took a 12d Explosive Fireball to the face.  Ouch.  He went unconscious and the party healer dressed him down after bringing him back up.

The Final Battle

They found a key in the room, and went back to the tunnel and travelled to its end.  They found a magical field that could only be crossed one at a time with the key in hand (the key could also be passed back through.)  They found an angel in a Pentagram who looked exactly like Melek's grandmother.  They decided in short order she was a demon and Melek entered the Pentagram and cut her head off.

The party entered the room and a Darkness spell dropped.  The area just outside the room wasn't darkened, so they were able to retreat but Zui Shushu was murdered in the dark by someone saying "I hate priests."  Catonio tried to taunt the demon into attacking but just got the poor healer's head hurled at him in response.

After the Darkness fled, the party entered again, and advanced slowly.  Eliot leapt over an obstruction but smashed into it with his face (Flying Leap success but an Acrobatics critical failure.)  The party saw two Bearded Devils in the room and moved to engage.  While everyone else was doing this, Eliot noticed an altar below and used Power Blow and Breaking Blow to smash it.  This caused all the demon's spells to drop and prevented him from casting any further spells.  There had been two statues in the far corner.  Both were then shown to be illusory, with one of them being the blue demon.  His plan had been for the party to enter the room far from the exit, at which point he'd just murder them all in the dark.  This failing, he entered combat.

He was a tough opponent, bringing several party members below 0 HP and knocking Tonokai out.  Eliot found the demon's trophies hidden in the altar and started smashing them, doing damage to the demon with each one.  Catonio, though, was able to deliver the death blow and swore to make armor out of the demon's blue behind.  I let his player buy off the Enemy Disadvantage at half price for finishing the quest, and we ended there, with half the party reduced to less than 0 HP and a strange warning about mechanism-armed demons that had so far failed to materialize...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Thoughts on Adapting Published Magical Styles

Since the first publication of GURPS Thaumatology: Magical Styles there have been a number of styles published in Pyramid and other books, and many of those fit into my gameworld, though many need revising.  Here's are my thoughts on how to make them fit.  (I'll cover the styles from Dungeon Magic in another post.)

The Onyx Path

(GURPS Thaumatology: Magical Styles, p. 34)

This school fits right in with no mechanical adjustments needed.  The Onyx Path isn't good for PCs, in most cases, because it's essentially a College of Necromancy style.  As alluded to in my last post, Necromancy is considered a Dark Art in most civilized areas, and knowing spells from that college normally means a character qualifies for a -20 point Secret.  However, I did have one PC recently who knew the style, so it's not forbidden, it just normally comes with some serious complications.

Six Strengths of Siegecraft

(Pyramid #3/4: Magic on the Battlefield, p. 4)

The style of the Society of Siege Sorcerors, a group of mercenary mages, this one fits right in to my gameworld.  There are a number of established mercenary organizations running around, and lots of wars, so it makes perfect sense that there would be a company of "sell-spells" to go with the sell-swords.

Yellow Goblin Magic

(Pyramid #3/28: Thaumatology II, p. 11)

I use the Yrth version of goblins in my own gameworld, mostly because they were in GURPS Fantasy Folk.  Their spells and philosophy are a bit odd, even for goblins, but it works.  The notion of Colors as the major groupings of magic, instead of the College structure, is also one I find interesting.  I've seen the existing college structure as a fundamental aspect of magic, but it doesn't have to be the Only Truth, and it makes me think that maybe the college divisions could be more of a matter of habit and tradition.


(Pyramid #3/43: Thaumatology III, p. 4)

"Wine Magic" is a great idea, but unfortunately for me Dionysus as a god isn't appropriate.  To use this style, I need to rewrite it a good bit and change Dionysus to another God of the Grapevine, and I've never written one up.  It's still a good style, so I'll do that the moment a player shows interest.  I have no real reason to put in the work otherwise.

The Way of the Keepers

(Pyramid #3/48: Secret Magic, p. 10)

This is a modern-day style, and there are some juicy bits to swipe, but I'd need to revise it a lot to get it to fit.   Plus, magic is anything but a secret in my gameworld. 

Perfecting Rites of the Shaded Woodlands

(Pyramid #3/68: Natural Magic, p. 8)

I don't use the Yrth-style Dark Elves any longer, so this style isn't an obvious fit, but I do have Druids who are themselves mages, and so I can certainly make it fit.  It would work as the signature style of a Druidic Crusader-type order (that's an idea worth thinking about.) The only other thing I should do with this one is add some spells from GURPS Magic: Plant Spells to its spell list.

Also, I've been considering writing up an Animal College and Plant College based set of styles for Druids, and this could work as the (or maybe a) Plant-style.


Pyramid #3/4: Magic on the Battlefield, "The Society of Siege Sorcerors," by Sean Punch
Pyramid #3/28: Thaumatology II, "Yellow Goblin Magic," by Mark Gellis
Pyramid #3/43: Thaumatology III, "Adelphos Dionysos," by Sean Punch
Pyramid #3/48: Secret Magic, "The Way of the Keepers," by Michele Armellini
Pyramid #3/68: Natural Magic, "Magic of the Shaded Woodlands," by Paul Stefko

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Brotherhood of Mages

In my gameworld, there's a culture-wide mage's organization most legitimate mages are supposed to belong to, The Ancient and Just Order of the Brethren Magical. It's normally known as the Brotherhood of Mages or just "the Brotherhood" for short.The Brotherhood has official status and judicial authority over magical affairs in most nations of the West, but there are exceptions.

It's strictly limited to men, and the Brotherhood opposes the approval of female wizards in most cases. There are, of course, female mages anyway, but they usually qualify for a Social Stigma.

Members of the Brotherhood are required to wear Hat, Robe, and bear their Mystic Tool (wand, staff, or rod) at all times in public. A roll vs. Heraldry (Magical) can tell you what colleges a Brotherhood Mage knows when you see his regalia.  Their official rules are below, and it counts as a 10-point Code of Honor.  Mages fall under canon law rather than secular law in most cases, so a member in good standing can buy Legal Immunity at the 5-point level.

As far as PCs are concerned, I think about half of the mages that have been played are official members.  For all the rules and legal standing, it's not usually that difficult for a clever PC to avoid them unless he's using Necromancy, which is a big no-no in any case in the civilzed West.

The Law of the Brotherhood

  1. You shall not attempt to disguise who you are. Wear the Hat and the Robe, and carry the Staff(a) that are the symbols of your office.
  2. You shall not use magic to rule.
  3. You shall not cast spells upon others without their assent(b) except in defense. When requested by the proper authorities, claims of defense shall be judged by the Brotherhood using spells of truth. Attempting to resist such spells shall be taken as proof of guilt.
  4. You shall not attempt to cast any spell forbidden by the Brotherhood.(c)
  5. You shall not attempt to cast any spell forbidden by the authorities of the land you currently occupy.(d)
  6. You shall obey your superiors in the Brotherhood in all good things.
  7. You shall fight Necromancy when you encounter it, or shall report it to the Brotherhood if you find yourself unable to fight it.
(a) Staff, wand, or rod as appropriate for the Wizard in question.(b) "Assent" is normally interpreted broadly. For example, anyone who steps foot into your home or place of business is considered to have assented.(c) Licenses for forbideen spells are available to members in good standing.(d) Being licensed for a spell by the Brotherhood is good enough for local law as well.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Magnificent Samurai Session 6

Magnificent Samurai was yesterday.  It's been a busy couple of months, so I didn't post logs of two sessions.  If I posted a recap now, I think they'd be kind of incoherent, so I'll just skip Session 4 and 5 and move on to yesterday's Session 6.

Gortak's player has dropped out of the campaign, so we have seven characters now.


  • Augustus Scitiori - dual-weapon master of shortswords
  • Eliot de la Frau - A Saber-master and pirate.
  • Erland - a Jotun wrestler.
  • Markus - A Hobgoblin Paladin of the God of Chivalry.
  • Melek - a Nephilim greatswordsman
  • Tonokai - a Kazanjiman horse-archer

NPC Companions

  • Zui Shushu - A drunkard priest the party's hired as a healer

Not Present

  • Catonio - a Catfolk Swashbuckler

The Hidden Kingdom

The party has located the Hidden Kingdom of Prester John, a missionary from the West who's occupied a mountain valley with a small force.  They had planned an assault on the Enslaver of the Flames of the Hearth, a demon from the West who is lately active in the Jade Empire and was the actual six-fingered man who killed Catonio's parents. Sadly, Catonio came down with a bad case of hairballs and had to get some bed rest (his player missed the session, and I'm not about to run his personal quest without him.)  Asking around the city, they found out that the Serpent Folk had a local outpost that Prester John wanted removed, so they struck out for that, instead.

The Ambush in the Woods and the Outpost

The party scouted out the area near the outpost, but they ran right into a strong patrol of Sepent Folk (a race based on the Yuan-ti from D&D if you're curious.)  I had the party and the NPCs roll a Quick Contest of Tactics to determine position, and unfortunately Augustus rolled an 18.  So, the fight started with the party out of position and their priest surrounded, alone, by a knot of enemies.  

However, this is an all-fighters game, so EVERYONE (but the NPC) has Combat Reflexes, and surprise is essentially something that happens to other people.  A short fight ensued, Augustus was the victim of an enemy's critical success on a Strike Blind in the first round of combat, and a couple of PCs took some damage, but the enemies were still wrecked.  Surrounded by four warriors, Zui Shushu managed to fall prone but still totally avoid damage through some lucky rolls and All-Out Defenses.

The party discovered that the enemy spellcaster wore an amulet with an icon of a two-headed monkey, which Markus identified as a symbol of Demogorgon, making these Serpent Folk obvious demon worshippers.

Eliot Interrogated one of the survivors with Erland providing complementary Intimidation, so the party was able to discover that the outpost, hidden in a cave, had three surface entries, a locked gate to the Underdark, and a air vent above.  The party blocked off all the exits, closed off the vent, and set a smoky fire to drive the Serpent Folk into an ambush.

When 250+ point warriors get the total drop on their foes, bad stuff happens to those foes quickly.  The fight ended with no PC taking more than two actions, and the survivors submitted.

In the cave, the party discovered a shrine to Demogorgon, which Melek smashed.  They also found an elaborate amulet to Demogorgon, consisting of a silver necklace and carnelian cameo.  Melek grabbed this to smash it (Impulsiveness strikes again!) but was turned into a statue for his pains, due to a Delay and Flesh to Stone.  I gave the underlying spell a big bonus to represent the anger of the demon prince.  Luckily, there was a cart in the cave so the party was able to take the poor half-angel with them, instead of leaving him to be smashed...

My Notes

This ended up being a short session, but the fights were engaging, even if they were totally one-sided.  That's OK; PC plans should work out from time to time.  Melek failed an Impulsiveness self-control roll three times in this session, which caused some funny results.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Around the Blogs: Point Costs

There have been a few posts on point costs in GURPS over the past couple of days:

Ravens n' Pennies: Back to the Drawing Board
Mailanka's Musings: On the Cost of Advantages
Let's GURPS: "Fair Pricing"

My Take

I doubt it's possible to come up with a universal notion of what a point's worth and have it be meaningful.  A point to a spellcaster using the standard magic system is another spell or a potentially valuable Perk (Reduced Footprint, for example,) to a fighter it's a Combat Perk, or it's 1/4 the way to another skill level in his primary skill, and so on.  It varies, not only from character to character, but from group to group, and even from campaign to campaign with the same group.  I think that means there's always a subjective element to any GURPS Advantage pricing.

My Example: Far-Caster

On my post about Magical Advantages, I listed Far-Caster at 30 points, which gives spells that normally take the Regular penalty for range (-1/yard) the Range penalty instead.  This is an advantage I cribbed from an edition of Rolemaster (the one with all the Companions) that I wrote up for a campaign that started in 1995.  I have been tweaking the cost of this advantage for literally 20 years, and I don't even know for sure that I've got the cost I want yet.

It started out that being a Threshold-caster was 25 points, and being a Far-Caster was another 25 points.  At this point some Sorcerers were Far-Casters, but not all of them.  After a couple of campaigns, it became clear to me that being a Threshold caster wasn't really much of an advantage over a FP based Mage I reduced the cost for Threshold casting to 10 points, then later eliminated it.  I changed the cost for Far-Caster to 20 points, at which point all Threshold-users were Far-Casters.  I increased the cost of Far-Caster back to 25, then to 30, and yet all Sorcerers are still Far-Casters.  That's probably got more to do with a question of utility vs. raw power in this particular case, but I think it demonstrates that pricing something in GURPS is an art, not a science, and it's not always easy.

What About Balance?

I think that's another very subjective thing.  The two important bits for me are that a well-made PC feels valuable and capable at least some of the time, and isn't casually overshadowed by another character who isn't focused on the same things.  That can actually be an issue in GURPS; since you need a high IQ to play an effective Mage, a few points in social skills could accidentally make you better than the party face with at least some social stuff.  There's obviously more to it than just raw skills, such as Charisma, Cultural Familarities, and other social Advantages for a start, but when a point in Diplomacy gets you a 12 without even trying hard there's a certain inherent problem with the balance.

For me that's not a really big issue, but I'd be lying if I tried to pretend it didn't exist.  A GURPS GM really has to be careful of this sort of thing, and free with advice on how to spend points wisely even for experienced players.  A social monster, properly built, will talk circles around Mr Diplomacy 12, and will be a valuable contributor to the group.  Given the right situations, his points will feel well-spent and just as worth it as another spell for the mage.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Magnificent Samurai: Session 3

Magnificent Samurai was last Sunday but I just finished the log.


  • Augustus Scitiori - A former centurion, and a dual-weapon master of shortswords.
  • Catonio, a Catfolk Swashbuckler searching for the Six Fingered Man who killed his parents.
  • Eliot de la Frau - A Saber-master and pirate.
  • Erland - a Jotun wrestler.
  • Markus - A Hobgoblin Paladin of the God of Chivalry.
  • Melek - a Nephilim (half-angel) greatswordsman and user of Imbuements.
  • Tonokai - a Kazanjiman horse-archer (but not technically a Samurai as she has no Status.)
  • Gortak, a Jotun master of the Greatsword.

Rumors Abound

The party spent a week asking around to gather information to see what was going on in the area.  They also wanted to head to the village where a strange murder had occurred and check out what was going on. 

They picked up the following rumors:
  • The treasury at Yellow Lotus Abbey wasn't found by the bandits who destroyed it so there should still be some valuable stuff there.
  • The local Governor, Lord Mao Haoren, is missing after going off with the Imperial Loyalist Army about three years ago.  No one knows if he's dead or not, and his wife, Lady Mao Dihuang is running things unofficially until he gets back or is replaced.

Travelling to the Abbey and a Detour

So, the party decided to head out for the abbey and see what was left there.  They first decided to travel to Long Pines, the village mentioned by farmers in Session One where a strange murder was committed.  They questioned several villagers, and found that the farmer had been confined to his home until a magistrate was present so he could be tried.  The consensus seemed to be that it was strange that he'd murdered her, as he had seemed normal till this happened.  Some of the farmers even thought the woman could have been a fox spirit, but no one seemed to think she was beautiful enough for that.

The party's hired Priestess was asked, and she thought it sounded more like a case of possession, and that the victim could have been one of the Serpent People from the Underworld, as they have a bad reputation and are said to sometimes replace victims on the surface for unclear reasons.

The party had the Priestess exorcise the murderer, and a blue-skinned demon popped out.  On his turn, he summoned three Vrocks and combat was on.  No one in the party had Demon Lore, so they couldn't aim for vitals or other weak points that weren't obvious (limbs, the neck, etc.)  They all turned out to be resistant to normal weapons, but not immune, so the party was able to win after a bit of a slog.  No PCs were killed, though a couple suffered Major Wounds and a Vrock's Screech stunned a few of them for a couple of turns.  When the blue demon died, it uttered a phrase in the ear of Markus: "Muu Shidten."  Locals said it sounded like a Meng name but no one was familiar with it.

After the victory, the party headed to the murdered woman's original home (she had been a remarried widow and had held her deceased husband's home and land.)  They found a hole, three feet in diameter, heading downwards with a sulfurous smell coming from it.  They warned the villagers to fill in the hole and were rewarded for their troubles with a feast in their honor and a place to stay the night.

They heard the following during the party:
  • Xinghong, the Scarlet Wizard, one of the two local magical movers and shakers, is offering a $4,000 reward for his missing scrying orb, and any interested parties should inquire at his tower.
  • Imperial Loyalist forces are expected to be moving into the area in the next six months.

The next day out, the party was ambushed by a large number of strange Ant-men, but the party seemed to be faster on the ground so they fled and avoided a fight (a strange coincidence I'm posting this now since Dungeon Fantastic just had a post on fleeing.)  They then met a travelling Alchemist, Liulang Zhe, and they bought most of his healing potions and asked about the local area. He warned them that:
  • Yellow Lotus Abbey is haunted by the ghosts of the slaughtered nuns and is very dangerous for the unprepared.
  • He also knew a basic version of the legends of Muu Shidten: he was an evil Meng wizard who lived for two hundred years and had vampires for servants.  When he finally died he was buried in a mausoleum just the other side of the mountains on the Meng Plateau.  One of the merchant's grandmothers had been Meng and told him the stories.

They asked the Priestess if she could deal with spirits, and she said she could probably put Affect Spirits on the weapon of one party member without taxing her resources too much.  Any more than that and she might not be able to heal much in combat.  She wasn't sure they could be flat-out Exorcised since as the unlamented dead, they probably had a right to be there.

The Scarlet Wizard Xinghong

The party decided to take a detour to the pagoda of the Scarlet Wizard, to see if he could provide them with anything that could affect spirits, as well as check on his job offer.  Xinghong informed them that one of his apprentices had stolen his six inch scrying crystal and fled to the provincial capital of Shoudu, about a month's travel upriver.  He offered to Create Gate to the city to speed their journey there if they agreed to the mission.

They asked him who might be interested in buying his orb there, and he admitted that he had originally been a member of the Shoudou Mage's Association, but had a nasty argument with two of the other leaders of the group which ended with him Mindlessness-ing one of them and using Shapeshift Other (Toad) on the other and leaving the city in disgrace.  Either of them would probably pay fairly well just to embarrass him.


Arriving in Shoudou, the party were warned by the gate guards to immediately travel to a lodging house and store their weapons and armor, as the city was under martial law.  They also had to bribe the guards to get a civic travel pass, but it was fairly cheap, only 1 silver a person ($20.)  Augustus spent some unfruitful time in the Magistrate's Quarter later trying to get a provincial travel pass, but it proved too expensive for the moment ($1000 a person.)

The party did some searching for a few days until they narrowed down that the fled apprentice was staying in the Foreign Quarter, and traveling to the Magistrate's Quarter to meet a contact to sell the orb.  There were only three bridges crossing the bridges from the Foreign Quarter on her most likely travel path, so the party split up into teams to cover them (only three party members bought Observation so it worked out just right.)  

This almost ended in disaster, as two-of-three of the team consisting of Markus, Melek, and Gortak have Impulsiveness, and they just happen to be the Giant and the Half-angel who glows like a torch.  The goal was to steer her to the other two groups, as Catonio and Eliot both had good skill levels in Shadowing and Stealth.  When they spotted her, The Terrible Duo started moving towards her, and so she turned and fled back into the crowd.

They tried again the next day, made the decision to use the twosome to steer her in the direction they wanted, and luckily spotted her again.  They herded her to the bridge where Catonio and Eliot were waiting and they were able to follow her to where she met her contact.  They overhead her arguing about money, and she left without concluding the deal.  It was pretty obvious from her body language that she was getting desperate, so Eliot decided to sneak into her apartment that night and see if the orb was there.  He used a Potion of Invisibility that the party had looted from the bandits and extracted the orb.

My Notes

It took the group a good week in the city to track the girl down and finish the mission.  Their skill levels as a group of fighters were a bit low for the task at hand, but they managed fairly well (Eliot's player even made a joke about how "Future me is so good at this adventure.")  I rolled 2d for the number of days till she sold the orb, and I had a d12 sitting next to me I was using to countdown the days until the sale was made and they ended with three days to spare.  Had the girl sold it, the group would have had to fight a group of mages to get it so it's just as well for them they succeeded.

Post edited 6/13 at 8:00 pm: I forgot an important point so I edited the post to put it in.  I also rearranged the rumors a bit.