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.