Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Meanwhile, On a different plane of reality.

In a central office of the Academy of Cartography, home of the Map Makers guild. 

"Dean Nostuff sir, a new correspondence from young Upiyo."

"Just put it over there Jones please, I will see to it once I finish my red ink work, it dries so fast."

"Sir, it does appear to be urgent. He tied it with a red ribbon."

"A red ribbon you say?"

Dean Nostuff dropped his quill on the carefully worked map, red ink staining it and ruining hours of work.

"This young man has never asked for help, he has never sent a danger signal. In his mind there is nothing he can't deal with. Perhaps he just ran out of blue ribbon."  

Unrolling the scroll a small picture of a ring, carefully drawn, falls out. Dean Nostuff, examines the picture and then the note.

"It appears our young genius has got himself a puzzle and is very scared of this powerful ring. Humm, possibly a curse. Lets get this to archives, see what Gelson comes up with.  If he finds something perhaps we can put our young hope at ease a bit. Odd, he wants me to thank Professor Angles for all the tutoring on calculating triangles. I wonder what that is all about? "

Serevel days pass.

"Your lunch sir, and a new delivery from young Upiyo"

Dean Nostuff looks up, a worried look crosses his face.

"So soon, is this another red ribbon?"

"No sir, it appears young Mr. Timinwell found some more blue ribbon,  and there is also a small pouch sir."

"Perhaps he remembered to pay his dues."

Dean Nostuff scans the note.

"Ha! He and his companions fought off a pack of zombies, sounds as if they made short work of them.  Ah yes, those were the days. Just a pack of zombies to worry about.  The pouch contains a gold coin they retrieved from one of the zombies. Well, every little bit helps I guess, He is still a long way off from rebuilding that tower."

"He asks if we have found any info on that ring yet? What has Gelson found out?"

"Sir, Gelson has been on his honeymoon."

"Oh yes, I forgot, what is this, number five?

"Seven sir, he should be back at the end of the week, perhaps with number eight."

"Well make sure he gets right on it once he gets back, and get this to accounting in Upiyo's account."

Dean Nostuff picks up the pouch and goes to spill it into his hand. Years of knowledge and reflex form the spell in his mind, and before the coin touches his hand he freezes it in midair.

"Jones, ignore that part about accounting, I will deal with this coin. Please draft a message to Mr. Upiyo Timinwell, and have him write me a report on the proper use of the danger code ribbon. Also send a message to Gelson, tell him his honeymoon is over and to get back here, with or without number eight."

As Jones departed to prepare the scrolls Dean Nostuff glared at the floating coin, mumbling the spell that first turned it red hot, then reduced it to a floating ball of molten gold.

Some days pass.

"Another message from  young Upiyo sir, and it has a red ribbon again."

Dean Nostuff looked up from a pile of papers.

"Again, did he do the report I asked him to do, on using the red ribbon?"

"No sir, he has not yet delivered that report."

"Well then, let us see if he needs to add another 1000 words to it?"

Dean Nostuff unrolls the scroll and starts to read.

"Hmm, attacked, ... more zombies... strange green metal arrow.... ignored magic protection..... JONES!! Get Gelson in here, I don't care if you have to drag him out of his marriage bed!

Some days latter still.

"Dean Nostuff, Profesor Gelson, I beg your pardon sirs"

"Profeser, your wives are "REQUESTING" your attendance to a matter in your quarters. Dean Nostuff, it's Young Master Timinwell, sir."

"Professer, please deal with this quickly, we need to get back to this. What color ribbon this time Jones?"

"None sir"

"Then lets treat it as red, check it first, then send it to me quickly as you can and ask...."

"No sir, you misunderstand me, it is Mr. Timinwell himself, he is here to speak with you. Sir, he looks to be very agitated. He is mumbling something about a warning from the artificers guild and needing to "Get rid of it", sir.  

Latter that day.

"Professor, is this what I am afraid it is?" Dean Nostuff asked Professor Gelson. 

"Yes, I am sure of it. This is the ring of  Arlin Keni, a magic item so powerful it's existence is a threat to magic itself on this plane. I thought it was well hidden and protected from damaging the Mana flow. Evadently not well enough."

"If this has been found we can't be sure his other secrets haven't been found." 

"If anyone knows we have this, we, and the students, are at grave risk. 

"With the ring released, the Mana flow may not survive. It is beyond our skills to stop what most likely is going to happen."

"I was just starting to like this world. Do you want me to contact Professor Goesnoow and have him start the transfer process. 

"Yes, recall all guild members, call it a training conference with free entertainment for families. Spread the word we are opening new locations and will be announcing a number of promotions. That should get them all here quickly. Offer full rights to attend to all students' families, we need them hear to give or refuse permission to bring their children."

"Sir, the ring, we can't take it with us."

I know. I think perhaps, if this world's magic is to be saved, its best chance is with Mr. Timinwell's friends. They may well pull it off, but we can't risk the safety of the guild, our families, our great project, on their skills. Before our departure I will see to it that they have the ring. For now I will activate our highest level of security, ensure all students are within reach of emergency protective spells at all times. The ring will be under protective custody of The Three.

Protected by incarnations of the Mother, Maiden, and Crone, at school full of kids. I pity anyone who comes looking for trouble. Just for extra measure I will have security armed with those hand weapons Professor Goesnoow found last year. The ones that disintegrated the target, no magic required.

Two days later: The full school board assembled around a King Arthur like round table.  Dean Nostuff is addressing the board.

"Professor Goesnoow reports all is ready for our departure, the board has convened, all students and family have agreed to travel with us and are secured, except one. Captan Ester, the guild is yours to command."

"Thank you Dean Nostuff, and my thanks to the board for this honor.  I want to reassure everyone that I hold the safety of you and your loved ones as my highest duty. The guild will survive, we will arrive at our new home within the week. Our course through the ethereal plane to the astral gateway has been plotted and charted by our top three plane travel experts, all discrepancies have been resolved, and our plot is true. Supplies are stowed, and we have Mana reserve enough to hold us an additional three weeks beyond our destination. Ms. Elath'el has information on the destination."

"Our new home is much like this one according to reports. One thing new to report is contact with a group calling itself "World Gate Command" Our early contact reports are favorable and show no threat to the guild. Mana is at world norm with a standard TL 3 society. Our initial survey was a bit rushed, but we will have all the info we need by the time we arrive. All power sources be should fully recharge in 10 years after our arrival. This has cost us much."

Thank you Ms. Elath'el. I would like to extend my condolences on the loss of ranger Ne're. Her sacrifice is loss to us all. I am sure you will honor her with your service in her place. Dean No..."

"I beg the council's pardon, but something has just arrived, we believe from Mr. Timinwell, Professors Wilson and Henderson are insisting you look at it now."

Well then, as I was about to say, Dean Nostuff, will you please collect our wayward hope and deal with his package as quickly as you can. We depart within the hour.

Dean Nostuff and Jones walk out of the board chambers right past the professors waving a book, shouting and jumping up and down "The book...he found the book...it's all breaking lose"

Then the shrill voice of a young man not yet experiencing puberty broke above all else, 

"Dean Nostuff...Dean Nostuff! They are gonna tell!! I got to get that book back......, the guild,...in danger!!!!!!!  Everyone wants that ring and that book. Oh Dean Nostuff, I messed up bad this time! I just wanted to help, to see if the school could help... everyone is scared of that green metal, and the lady and her dead things... and.."

"OK.. OK... Upiyo settle down, it is all ok, the guild is fine, in fact I have one big surprise for you. 
He took the young man by his hand and set back off down the hall, grabbing the book out of the hands of a trembling Professor Henderson  "I just have to pick up something from some very nice ladies, do not stare at them, even if the young one looks like she wants you to, trust me, she is not your type."

A bit latter a burst of light fills a distant tavern and Dean Nostuff steps into the dusty room hand in hand with Upiyo.

 Alert hands go to weapons. 

"You must be ranger Testtalo, and Hans, and the rest of Upiyo's companions. I am Dean Nostuff, young Upiyo is under my care. He is very important to our guild, and I would like to thank you for your indulgence with him. For reasons I am not at liberty to divulge, we needed him to be learning, on the job, so to speak. I understand he has behaved in a way that has not always been in your best interest. I am sorry for that, and I hope this makes up for it in a small way.

He hands them the book, the ring, and a pile of research, "Everything we have on Arlin Keni, and his work, there are some very nice maps in there.  Above all else, you must destroy that ring. Sadly, it will not be easy. I have included some maps that have nothing to do with Arlin Keni, but they are made with diamond and ruby infused inks. I am sure they will be very valuable. I dare say all maps are about to become more valuable." 

"You see, Upiyo, and his guild, are about to depart this plane. Once our citadel departs, agents will act to make it look as if we were somehow destroyed. I offer you all a chance to go with, us but the ring would have to stay, that and you are this worlds best hope to get through this.

Heroes all, they chose to stay and fight. With that settled, the child Upiyo, and Dean Nostuff, returned to the guild hall. Upiyo, and his guild, would continue to grow in a new world, with new friends and adventures.

So what is all this?

Last weekend I was playing in my Simi-regular GURPS game and some things went in ways I was, well ...a bit unhappy with. So, I decided to have things go a different way. I am rewriting history so to speak. I just decided that on a different plane of reality this is how it happened. Perhaps Upiyo's new home will be in stories.

For more about Upiyo and the guild see:

Thursday, June 6, 2013


"The first step, then, is to decide on the rules, or at least some guidelines, for your campaign. In freewheeling genres like time travel, or even (slight-ly) more constrained settings like the Infinite Worlds, it's important to get your players to buy into these guide-lines, too, before the first die gets thrown. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for a game full of picky exceptions, intentional near-paradox, and generally avoidable irritation."

GURPS Infinite Worlds is the bible for multi-world play. In it is a section advising a GM how to set the parameters for that game. I have used that format to try and frame the expectations of game play in the WGC campaign.



Just like the base IW campaign, mine will be somewhere between prosaic scale and epic scale, with a leaning toward epic. Players will build 300/150/5 PCs.  My thinking is; In Infinite Worlds, a Special Forces team member runs about 200 points. I'm adding the 100 points for extraordinary ability if desired. There is an over all goal of preventing a devastating paradox caused quantum instability.  

In the physics of this game a time paradox manifests itself as large scale environmental damage that grows and ebbs as it radiates up the time line. Historic earthquakes, legendary hurricanes, even the Black Death can be traced back to a paradox action. Time heals itself by creating a new timeline where the paradox causing event happened, keeping the original timeline intact. The damage done in the original time line is due to the energy/matter/life force/antimatter/dark-matter/magic/all knowing twinkie...... being riped from one timeline to make a new one.    

Much of WGC's time and energy go into protecting allied worlds timelines and helping them protect our timeline. On any mission to an allied world, past or present, it is required by the cooperation agreement, to have at least one team member from that world on the mission.

As we begin the campaign, WGC is aware that some agent or agency, is actively attacking the timelines of allied worlds, but no one, or no organization, has been identified yet.


Pick one of the 4 Allied words as a place to come from and use that to shape your PC.

WorldGate Command: Prime

Pure Military, Military trained Psi users, Science fixers/ Gadgeteers. Combat Mages, Medics/Clerics. WGC has the highest TL of the allied worlds, with some access to TL9 tech. WGC prime Psi users all have Holly as a patron (9 or better), free. All prime world PCs get WGC as a patron for free, all other worlds have to buy it.

Leauge of Danger
TL7(8 )super power)

Think 1920-1950 style costumed super heroes. Some are of the extraordinary person variety (Batman, Doc Savage, The Shadow, Kung Fu master ). Some will have super powers, but at 300 points I don't think any battleships will be tossed around. I can see an android AI or maybe some other mad scientist type life form. Gadgeteers would enjoy the access to improved tech and power sources.

One thing this world has that others don't is an ability to open diode world gates by using super powers. Most diode worlds require 10-100x the power for a trip in one direction then in the other. If a super from the Leauge world adds their energy powers to any gate opening, the power to reach diode worlds returns to normal levels. Without this help we can not open any outbound gate on the Leauge world.

All things fantasy. Elven bowmen, Half giant monks, Young dragon disciple. The Map makers guild is all about exploring and adventure. It is also our best source for all things magic. Fireball tossing trolls, Pixi stealth and black operations specialist. Need a magic sword to kill the evil Dr. Unhero? Got that covered. Build clerics like super powers, but add divine origin and limits and modifiers in line with your chosen religion. Devine origin powers will work on any world and can only be blocked by a religions own beliefs. I.E. You may lose your powers if your hair is cut.

The Conquistador Empire of North America.

 This wealthy and powerful empire has a monopoly on access to Wraith Stone. It only provides empire approved agents to WGC (Duty (Empire)). They are Gadgeteers, marksmen with powerful magic firearms and other weapons. Daemon binders, earth callers, and air benders. Tribal shamans in service to the empire. Trackers and bounty hunters with wartime experience and mystic powers. Magic learned in this world needs a focus that uses Wraith Stone and a spirit origin. Calling, binding and forcing otherworldly energy is this worlds magic. Powers/Margery should be bought with Focus: (Wraith Stone Item), Fickle, Nuisance effect, and some level of accessibility.

Gadgeteers, artificers, weapon smiths, and artisans of all types can use Wrath Stone to enhance creations. Any powered item that uses Wraith Stone gains the Cosmic source for power and never needs re-charged, re-loaded, re-fueled or to be repaired. They can be broken, even destroyed, but if an item has even  1HP left it will repair itself at a rate of 1HP a day. This does not come cheep. Wraith Stone items add 1000X to the item price on the world (Empire cost), 10,000 x item price, off world (WGC and other worlds).

The empire provides some of the best spies and has a history of intrigue. Sadly it also has a history of zombie invasions. At any given place and time, a zombie outbreak may manifest as a result of even minor paradox impact. Other, much more powerful, supernatural entities can spawn in response to more extreme paradox.

The empire is also dealing with a rebellion in parts of North America. Slaves have rebelled and enlisted the help of many local armies and a powerful overseas ally who has cracked the code of life itself,attacking with engineered lifeforms.

Players will be part of WorldGate Command and will need the duty disadvantage to WGC. Any off prime travel will be to a place chosen by WGC and will have a mission objective, you are in the control of the military, that is the way it is done. Expect to be involved in the following types of missions:

  • Training
  • Scout and Explore.
  • Observation and Intelligence.
  • Science Primary.
  • Diplomatic and First Contact Support.
  • Allied Support.
  • Humanitarian.
  • Quantum Stability Defense 
  • Rescue and Extraction.
  • Classified Operations.  

The WorldGate is a movable object that is opened for one direction of travel by applying enormous amounts of energy to it. Some worlds require Psi or magic to be added the energy for access. In order for a team to return without a special power source, return times are set in advance. For some unknown reason gates are only open for 12 seconds, and require 12 min, 12 seconds before they will open again. WGC limits items to 10' x 10' x 10' in size unless special approval is given.

WGC has access to 13, 1000MW, naval class Wraith Stone enhanced reactors. At any given time 10 are on line, and 3 are down for maintenance. With 24 hours notice all 13 can be safely brought on line. In 4 hours the 3 down system can be forced into service at a risk of failure.

On every "first dial" WGC starts by sending through BUGS (Bio-mechanical Universal Gathering System), a swarm of insect sized micro robots, who record information for 12 min and return when the gate reopens.

Information skills for WorldGate tech:
  • Knowledge (WorldGate) Int/H and Engineering (WorldGate) Int/H
  • Gate operation: Int/A
  • Physics (Quantum Worlds) Int/VH


Game play will be heavily weighted in favor of play on one of the 4 allied world, with side trips elsewhere. Timeline defence will put players in the different timelines of all the allied worlds. Expect indoor and outdoor play, but most missions will have something inside that needs done.

Travel to the future just does not work with gate tech. There are timelines where tech is more advanced, so you may think you have gone forward, but it is an independent time line.

Players will spend down time in WGC or on their home prime if they wish. Highly trusted and vetted off prime personal are cleared for off base travel, but require a security escort from prime.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

WorldGate Command, A History

What follows is the foundation for my upcoming GURPS campaign.

Yes, It looks a lot like Stargate SG-1, but it's different, please don't sue me big mega entertainment people, it is called flattery.

The Beginning

In 1979 Dr. David Ban Rson, while on a dig in central America, discovered a 4 yard x 4 yard, bright red glass like object. It had thousands of finely etched lines in it's smooth surface that formed a frame at the edge where the glass was thickest. There the object was less then an inch thick and tapering to atomic level thinness at the center, yet no tool or force has scratched it.  (DR >1000)

The object was eventually claimed by the US military and housed in a secure location for testing.

Contact and Awareness

On April 1, 1984, while running a sonic activation experiment, the object, glowed brightly and  a young woman stepped out of it, or rather, floated out.  Her name was Holly Webber, and she changed everything.  It was discovered that she was a traveler from a place both like and unlike home. She had been fleeing an attack and had activated a gate with a bolt of energy from her mind. She had hoped to shatter what she thought was a wall. Once through it, she found she had evaded her perusers.

Holly was a scientist, and our first, and still to date, our most powerful Psi. With her help we found out that the object, when given very high levels of energy, formed a gateway to alternate earths and times. Targeting in the early days was haphazard at best. The chances of contacting any given location or time ( later renamed as "Quantum") were so poor it made travel a potentially one way trip. 

Holly did one other thing, when anyone with latent Psi, those previously thought to be mediums and frauds, met her, they activated into full blown Psi users. All variants of Psi began to manifest with carefully controlled access to Holly.

Growth and Founding 

Soon Holly's newly awakened Psis were being trained and integrated into the military command, some volunteering to travel to the few worlds we could, more or less, repeatedly connect to. These brave souls were the foundation of Worldgate Command. Three to five person teams risked being lost forever to explore the worlds. On these early journeys three key allies were made:

The league of Danger

A group of costumed, extraordinary men and women, with powers most Psi users can not block or dampen. Their world is in a time period roughly equal to 1930's earth prime. World war rages and nations are falling. A great evil is marching across their world, and its agents are everywhere. They keep the gate on their world safe, and control information and access to it. It was through our understanding of travel from their world we discovered "Diode" worlds.

The Conquistador Empire of North America.

The Spanish won the new world and now control that worlds strange power source. A mineral that brings machines some to life, mindless and ready to be controlled by their creators. It also powers and helps construct other remarkable inventions. Supernatural forces are active, and a war also rages across the southron part of North America. This world is roughly equal to earth prime in the mid 1800's but with some technology appearing much more advanced.

The Guild of Map Makers

This group of medieval beings provides access to a world of magic and wonder we have yet to understand. Dragons and elves walk this world and some few of our team have discovered they can master the power used to do wonderful things, but only on some worlds. The magic just will not work on worlds without some level of magic active. and is very constrained on others.

Control and expansion

The discovery that extremely precise, closely measured, and carefully controlled power levels, delivered by a mix of  energy type, while varying the delivery process (pulse, constant, varying, etc.), allowed for 90% target repeatability and relatively safe gate passage. Some worlds were discovered to be easy to open a gate and travel to, but for a few worlds the trip back was nearly impossible, requiring extremely high levels of energy to open the gate for a  trip in the other direction. 

For years now teams have explored different quantums. Supported by team members from allied worlds, WorldGate command soldiers, and Holly's Psi force. Holly and WorldGate command have advanced knowledge, saved lives, explored, and searched. Holly has only ever asked, that in exchange for everything she did, we search for her home and aid them once we found it.

New discoveries and challenges have forced WorldGate Command to expand all divisions. Recruiters and scouts have been out looking on all allied worlds. A new wave trainees will be going active soon. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Games and life in spectacular failure

 The flames of the once lively tavern clawed into the sky. So many lives lost, some guilty, many, far to many, were not. The damage done, months of time and effort apparently gone. I had no idea what to do.

For months I had been running a D&D 2.0 campaign with 6 players. This had been one of the most complex worlds I had made. I had computer generated maps, detailed 4 major cities and a dozen minor ones. I even had weather patterns and sea currents plotted. My NPC binder was bulging at the seams with wizards, bards, shopkeepers, courtesans, and villains.

The party was recruited to go to several locations, gathering and safeguarding secret items along the way. This was phase one of the larger campaign. The goal was to get the players into the world, let them find out what was going on, who was doing what and where. The first 15 or so levels were fun and some of the best times I remember in gaming. 

Then all the items were combined to be this worlds first movable type printer. This was to be the start of phase 2. The device was attacked and destroyed, its mastermind severely wounded and in a mystic comma. My base for phase 2 was to have the players seek out the attackers and save the print master. That is not what happened.

Several players, err PCs expressed happiness that this "Dangerous device had been destroyed." While others did want to go after the attackers, it was because they had been attacked, not to save anyone.  

I was a little confused but didn't stress to much because the players were still following the plot hooks. The next game session it got worse. The players had tracked possible connections to a tavern front for a local thieves guild. Note I said "front", I tried to be real clear that the tavern was full of just folks drinking and eating. Lots of merchants and travelers. This was the legal public face of the guild. 

It's a bit fuzzy these days, but somewhere in the process of trying to, "rid the world of all knowledge of the evil device..(the printing press)" and get back at the attackers, it was decided to burn down the tavern, ....with everyone in it.

I had always run heroic campaigns, heroes don't burn down taverns full of people.  This is where you came in above. As the players described what they were doing I just sat there, stunned. After a bit I blinked, sighed, and said "Please change all your alignments to something evil, thanks for playing, campaign over." I closed my books and folded up my DM screen. My players, some thought I was joking around, some tried to argue what happened as I was putting my dice away.

I had just had a unrecoverable campaign failure.

This was over 15 years ago. thanks to time I can look back objectively at what happened. As a GM I had failed in several things. First I had failed by over prepping. There were hours of work done on NPC's, towns, maps, and plots that were never used. 

Second, I failed by presenting a no option plot point. The players should have had more leeway finding out what the object was before phase 2. This would have given me time to adjust the campaign to player expirations.

Third, I failed to know my players well enough. Just because I had always played heroically didn't mean my players had. In fact some of them were early World of Darkness players, far from heroic. 

The biggest failure was in myself. I didn't see the signs of GM burn out. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Life, demanding job, and family, all can all pile up and press down. Know when to pass the GM screen.    

Friday, May 24, 2013

Help me steal this campaign plot.

Mark Knight recently posted a very good blog post on interactive campaign creation. I want to try the idea on a bigger scale as I ramp up my GURPS campaign.

For my new game I want to run a  "Many Worlds" kind of game and I and using a lot of the ideas in the GURPS  Infinite Worlds book.  I don't like how basically everyone knows about world jumping and how it is a portable machine that they jump with. So I am stealing from one of my favorite TV shows and creating "World Gate Command" and my team of elite world jumpers, WG-1.

World Gate Command is located on a TL 8 world much like ours.  The world gate is this large( 4 yards x 4 yards) square bit of suspected alien tech that has been used in secret for several years. In those years World Gate Command has made 3 major allies on new earths. Those 3 worlds need histories as I plan on using them as optional places for the players to come from.

If this sounds like something you might like to get involved with, well here is your chance. First check out Mark's post, then come back and add to the story at Google+ in the comments.

I already have a lot of the main world flushed out so I can focus the experiment on the 3 allied worlds. I need one Steam Punk world, one Superhero world, and one Fantasy world. There is a posable Fantasy world I will be using already. So let's start with the Steam Punk world. I grabbed Mark's starting template and would like to work from there. I would like a bet of help getting started, as you can see the template has a few holes in it.
  1. World: Steam Punk world
  2. Reality Concept: In the spirit of stealing stuff to make life easer, I want to make this kind of like Deadlands. A TL 5(7) world with some supernatural themes and old west style Steam Punk. 
  3. The Origin of the World: TBD.
  4. Origin Form:TBD
  5. Origin Connections: Steam Punk world is accessible from our earth via quantum level 2 (easy) travel. And the return trip is also quantum level 2 (easy).
  6. Origin Relations:N/A
  7. Omnessence or Magical Realities: I want this world to have low mana but a lot of supernatural influence. the rest is TBD
  8. Magic Availability: Magic is ritual and few can master it.
  9. Who do you want the players to control in the Interactive History: Players from this world would have been recruited by World Gate Command or somehow accidentally traveled worlds.
Looks like my world needs an origin myth. Where do we start?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why I am not excited about D&D Next.

I think it is safe to say I am an example of a first generation D&D gamer. There are folks who have been doing it longer, but from what I see they are going negative HP at an alarming rate. My D&D started with no monster art, orange dice, pencil and pad, and flawed rules. I loved it so much I am still gaming today.

My game experience now is a lot different. I play online with folks all over the country, I have my PC built in a program and printed out all neat and pretty. My dice are virtual, the art done by folks of amazing talent and it's not D&D. Oh, and the rules are still flawed.

I supported the D&D brand up through 3.5. I dumped money on every release for 30+ years and got good value for what I paid. Yep, the rules were still flawed, but everyone worked around the flaws and managed to have fun.

Then came 4th Edition D&D, a solution in search of a problem. I like to think of it as D&D incorporated V1. D&D 3.0 / 3.5 had been envisioned and produced with a few radical differences from earlier D&D's and was done in a small business environment. As it evolved from early 3.0 to later in 3.5 you see a creeping influence from the newly enthroned owners.

Two things stood out to me; the first being the loss of full support for open D20. Sure they still paid lip service to it and more or less honored pervious openD20 licenses, but no real effort to add material to the open D20 library.

Second was the ending of the licenses to Dungeon and Dragon magazines. Pulling the control of the brand fully in house. A typical corporation style protection move.

At that point I decided not to give any more money to D&D. I was so glad I did once I understood the full pain that the 4th edition is. While the release may be a fun game, it's not D&D. It was too influenced by MMOs and the hope of selling miniatures, it lost sight of it's roots. D&D died with 3.5.

Now comes D&D next or D&D incorporated V2. The money masters are fully running things now. They must know how bad they did with 4.0, the PR system is in full swing. Big international play-test program. An online campaign to build interest. This is a game designed by a committee of committees. More then anything else D&D next is getting money, tones of it. I will bet more is being spent on playtesting D&D next the Gary Gygax ever saw from the game in his whole life.

No, I am not a play-tester. They want you to agree to this or that thing to be one of the play-testers, not going to happen. It is just another sign of the brand control mentality. I'm a gamer, not an income number on a spreadsheet.

I wish D&D next well. I know I am not its target market. I'm to old for the new masters of the D&D brand to care what I think. I still hope it brings in new players and makes good money for its masters. It just won't be my money.

A troublesome student.

Doing something a bit different for my GURPS game. Background for my young mage Upiyo via correspondence within his school.

From : Dean Logan Nostuff
To: Professor Carlmag Josten, Student field work coordinator.

Subject: Continuing field work for Mr. Upiyo Timinwell


I am writing to inform you of the boards vote regarding one Mr. Upiyo Snow. The board has chosen to heed my advice and continue support for Mr. Timinwell's time in the field. Professor Goesnoow tried to block the support, arguing for his return to the school's Gateway program. He kept insisting that the accident that led to Mr. Timinwell's present assignment in the field was a fluke and could never happen again. He withdrew his block when I reminded him the missing tower and its inhabitants have still not been found.

I continue to believe the raw power he is displaying at his age is reason enough to keep him in good standing with the guild. His work, that you have passed onto the board, is promising, and I am encouraged by Mr. Timinwell's ability to continue his studies independently. I hope you understand that I must balance our relationship with Mr. Timinwell with the safety of all the students and staff at the academy. Ever since we discovered Mr. Timinwell floating toys at the orphanage, his exploits have caused disturbances at the school. We had lost two good teachers due to his mischief, even before the tower incident.

Please have your staff transport the requested equipment and Mr. Timinwell's monthly allowance as soon as they can. Include instructions to add underground mapping to his studies when he can. In recognition of his young age for someone in the field I will agree to continuing weekly evaluations, have the scrying dept. bill my office for the time. Coach Gimblie is also including some exercises to help the boy build some endurance. Try and impress on the young man the benefit of the workouts.

My regards.
Dean Logan Nostuff

Thursday, April 25, 2013

One day of travel

One day of travel in GURPS

In a multi-world / multi-TL GURPS game one could encounter so many different modes of travel. I was pondering the changes in humanity imposed by the difference of distance someone can travel in one day.

I am going to look at this two ways: First, someone with full resources available at the time, striving to go as far in one day as they can. I will use the rules for long distance to determine this where I can. ((B.463) 60-70% of top speed X 24 hours) Second, from the viewpoint of the average person traveling with 1 months income. (Excluding serving on a faster craft as crew.)

TL -1 Pre-Stone Age - $0 income

Foot power only. No boots, no walking stick. No single tech for aid, not even health tech. Most would be sickly and weak even in their prime. A very fit Ogg might run 20 mile in fear for his life, but chances are he would be lost and soon dead unless very lucky or skilled, or both.

Zero income and no storage, would put limits on how far someone can truly explore to around 10 miles max range in a day. Even dried meat is beyond them.Chances are they would stay much closer to home or to the herd they are following. They would need to either: A) keep their home with them, a heavy load, or B) They need a home base and will need to leave time in the day to return to it. The only difference in the resource uses is in how healthy they might be, but travels would be just as limited for both the powerful and the ordinary.

TL 0 Stone Age, $625 income

This TL is the age of water. Canoes enter the picture. Max speed 4 MPH (62 miles in a day)Per The basic book. They competes with such speedy brethren as dog sleds, skis, and well fed runners with foot protection (or not in some places.) But the ability to travel down river in a canoe, or over long flat calm waters, will get the edge.

The average person is still plodding along on foot, always looking to improve boot tech. All income is spent on surviving day to day, max range still right around 10 miles in a day.

TL 1 Bronze Age, $650  income

Age of the horse. At the top end a horse can go 60 miles in a day max, with nothing but a rider. No saddles yet and horses are only for the rich.

The average person is moving along just a bit further thanks to the newly invented roads, so his range could get to just over 20 miles in a day. That one month of income is not going to get them a horse.

TL 2 Iron Age, $675 income

The use of a penteconter, an early sailing ship with rowing ability, would move you fast, 10 mph top speed. But I think that was with rowers not sail. If your relief rowers are all from Sparta you could make up to 170 miles in a day.

The age of the horse is fading for the rich, but for the average man it is just starting. A man may rase his own or buy a low quality horse for one months income. Saddles and the numbers of horses in use can push the average persons range out to that 60 mile range, but most stay with in a 20 mile range.

TL3 Medieval Age (Most fantasy games), $700 income.

At sea sailing gets a bit faster and you can make that 170 miles in a day without killing banks of rowers. The big advances are in load capacity, navigation and control.

Land based traffic for the average person is still limited to about 60 miles in a day on a horse. For a months income one could buy short passage at sea and travel with the rich, just not as nicely.

TL4 Age of Sail, $800 income.

The rich and powerful travel on sleek 3 masted ships at top speed of 23 MPH covering up to 360 miles in a day.

The age of the horse tops out with the stagecoach reaching a max of 70 miles a day for the average person on the land. Their income could also buy one day passage on the fastest of ships, traveling deep in the hold I would expect.

TL5 – Industrial Revolution, $1,100 income.

Steam is king, and it rides on rails at a top speed of around 70 MPH and can make 1100 miles in one full day. The travel method of both the rich and the average, the distinction being the comfort of the travel. But with max resources you might top out early air travel close to or just over this range.

An average person would also make their best range on the rails for their one months income. They could not expend the resources to push out to anywhere close to the maxim range, closer to 100-200 mile range.

If you want to travel away from the rails then you are still going to make your best time still with horses,  a max of 70 miles a day.

TL6 – Mechanized Age, $1,600 income.

The Age of Air travel begins, and the ability to travel gets a big kick in the pants. A twin prop transport tops out at 128MPH or almost 2000 miles in one day, and are the travel choice of the rich.

The average person is discovering the capabilities of the early Sedans and speeds up to 60 MPH and just over a 900 mile a day range. If we don't count the train, this makes for the single most radical jump in range for the average person.

TL7 – Nuclear Age, $2,100 income.

Once we enter the age of space flight, for someone with a nations resources behind them, no place on earth is out of reach with a full days travel.  Apollo 10 set the record for the highest speed attained by a manned vehicle at 39,897 km/h (11.08 km/s or 24,791 mph) during the return from the Moon on May 26, 1969. That makes it 594,984 miles in one day.

The average person is going further and faster in improved autos, with speeds running about 100-110 MPH max. pushing the range out to just over 1700 miles in a day. But the real kick is cheep air travel. For a mounths income they can cover a flight on a 747 taking them over 5,000 miles.

TL8 – Digital Age, $2,600, income.

From this point it is all conjecture but I will try and use GURPS books and a bit of thought to keep going.

The space age is reaching out, in 1976( TL6) the Helios 2 solar probe, became the fastest man-made object at 157,100 MPH or 3,770,400 miles in one day. Given that this was done one TL lower then TL8, it would be possible to make a manned craft to go this fast. Nation level or mega-corporation resources would be required. At this speed you could reach the moon in less then 2 hours, but with the time and distance needed to get up to speed you would have to bypass it entirely.

Average man is still earthbound, but one months pay will get you most anywhere civilized, any place on the planet, in one day. Baring flight delays.

TL9 – Microtech Age, $3,600 income.

From this point on we turn to GURPS Space and start to look at reaction mass and looking at ship speeds in  two numbers, acceleration in G (Earth gravities) followed by delta-V in miles per second (mps).

A military Heavy cruiser running at 4G/28 mps pushes the limit of the human philology without any way to counter the G force.  Running at 4G/28 mps will move you at least one AU in a day, 93,000,000 miles.

 You only need 12 mps of delta-V to travel from Earth orbit to the Moon in about 11 hours, with this we can make a round trip to the Moon and back in one day. With no reason a person cold not buy a ticket on such transport.

TL10 – Robotic Age, $5,600 income.

The age of FTL begins. The robotic AIs and raw computing power needed to deal with FTL navigation mesh and the speed of light is no longer the limit.

The fastest craft are military or other mega-power controlled. Parsecs now count the path a man can travel in a day. FTL-1 gives us one parsec a day.

 FTL might be an option even for the masses. In system still limited to about 4G/30mps or 93,000,000 miles in a day.

TL11 – Age of Exotic Matter, $8,100 income.

The rich and powerfull travel between worlds in luxurious vessels covering up to 2 Parsecs in a day.

Gravity is mastered, and near c travel in-system happens.With in system craft reaching 100G/c average people can book passage on in system transport using high G/c drives putting mars in one day range.

TL12 - Age of Miracle Sciance, $10,600 income.

Where would you like to be and when would you like to be there? POOF... it happens.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Map Makers Guild

I just started playing Upiyo, a boy mage with a powerful patron. I wanted to try a one college caster and picked the movement college.  The kid has Magery 3 and one spell at level 25. I had also made him a minor (12yo), young and skilled. So I figured he needs a dang good teacher. I  tried to think what kind of patron would train someone so young and then lose him on the world. I had given the patron the advantage of "Unusual reach in time and space." a +100% add and made them pretty powerful. Balanced out the cost with low appearance (6 or less) and a low intervention. and a duty to the same patron with also low appearance.

I needed a powerful group that would have a need for the movement school, had access to places in time and that space most folks do not, taught magic, and allowed its members a good deal of independence.

I used GURPS city Stats as a guide, but lots of stuff needed adjusting.

I think I have a good start on this, at least it would be useable at this point... I think. Feel free to chime in with anything you may think I missed or did in a dumb way.

The Map Makers Guild

Headquarters: Tredroy (For Banestorm use) or campaign major city.
Members: 3,000-3500 (Search -1)
Located: In cities 1000+ population (70%)
TL: 3 ( 0-11)
Wealth: Multi Multimillionaire 2 (10,000 X TL 3 starting wealth, $300,000,000 assets, and $7,000,000 a month income)
Status: 1 to 5
CR: 3
Corruption: -1
Military Resources: $140,000 (Military Budget Factor 2%)
Defense Bonus: +5

Members: Spell casters (30% ) and non-spell casters (70%). Any race is welcome as long as they contribute to the overall quest.

TL: Sometimes Guild Mages will poke a hole in time while looking for a new way to get from here to there. Gizmos and other things that fall through can end up being studied and used.

Religions: Patron gods of Knowledge and travel are most common.

Objective: To Mape the whole of reality

Secrecy:  Low; Knowledge is power, and it is all for sale at the right price. The guild will provide any map they have to anyone but the more obscure the higher the price.

The Academy: A full 70% of the guilds income goes to maintaining the Academy of Cartography

Military Elements: The guild maintains 6 defensive / rescue military Elements.

Element                 TS       Class                WT     Mob          Raise     Maintain   TL
Battle Mages           5  Art, C3I, F, Recon      1       Foot          200K     40K          0
Flying Mages          5  Air, Art, C3I, F, Rec   1       Foot, SA    600K     60K          1
Heavy Infantry(X4)   4          –                      1       Foot           40K        8K          2

Monday, April 15, 2013

Is this wisdom?

Two game sessions, one practice battle, three PCs, one turned NPC. Already I am getting that GM itch. But this is GURPS, not my old D&D. I don't have the years of training in my brain with the right function and flow of combat. I don't know the spells inside and out. I'm still fumbling for rules like a rookie with a new Pokemon deck.

In our last (my second) game session We had a nice contained battle on a ship. I watched in amazement as our dual wielding fighter calls out his attack: All out attack, rapid strike, vitals, the first weapon -9, the second weapon -10, (no, not the real numbers), roll.. hit, parry roll, roll ..hit, no perry.

A horde of goblins is swarming over the sides of the ship, our GM and the experienced players are smoothly calling out each action and each movement. Goblins are bleeding out, wounded,  falling down, dodging rocks and attacking. Spells are cast, information requested, and players distracting. That is a lot to keep on top of. The GM does what GMs have always done, he makes it work.

All this combat is just part of the GMs labors. Our party has bought a small fleet of ships and is responsible to the Queen for taxes from a region they are running. Background functions including regional economic factors will influence a lot of that role play. And we players, just when our GM has had time to work up some nice juicy backstory plot we up and change PCs on him.

Sure, I'm wanting to start that GURPS Supers game, or maybe the SG-1 spinoff idea I had. But for now I think I better just keep being a player for a while longer. The hard work of a GM can wait until I get my brain working a little more in the native GURPS way.

I think this may be Wisdom.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I'm a Dungeons and Dragons guy. Heck, I even have a tattoo of the 3.5 DMG. I have easily logged thousands of hours behind a GM's screen or sweating over my PC's situation as the dice rolled. In the last 35 years I have also dabbled in RPGs like Champions, Traveler, Toon, DC Heroes, and lots more. Most of the none D&D systems I experienced were short lived campaigns with a limited exposer. I flat out enjoyed almost everyone, RollMaster not so much. But that's a different BLOG post. Only two systems did I keep coming back to over and over, Dungeons and Dragons and GURPS.

Dungeons and Dragons died with the end of V3.5. 4th edition broke Dungeons and Dragons in my view. I have lots of reasons why I think like that, enough for a nice lone blog post all its own. But for here and now I just know that I have chosen to look forward to new things, well sort of.

GURPS: Generic Universal Role Playing System, that other old friend, the forgotten younger sibling of the RPG giant D&D. Over the years I played GURPS on and off, anytime I could lure any of my current game group into a few games of GURPS I would. Sadly most would play a few times and then we would go back to whatever else we had been playing. Folks would say it was to complicated, combat is to long, or a lot of.. "Wait, that's not how we do it in (other game).

But sometimes, it would all just click. Like the GURPS Supers game where my Force Field wielder got punched through a few buildings, or the game where our time-displaced PCs struggled for days trying to bypass a massive crack in the planet while fighting of waves of Morlocks, all before their ride home left. I also played in a GURPS Cathulu campaign, In the second session I failed so many fright rolls I was left drooling on the floor.

I had a LOT of fun in those games. I enjoyed the choices in combat. I enjoyed the complex weave of campaign worlds and limitless possibilities of PC creation.

So, You may see why GURPS was once again an old go to. 4th edition GURPS is new for me, that's a bit of splitting hairs, I know. From what I can tell, getting back in touch with GURPS, the 4th edition has done nothing but improve the game. I'm looking forward to one system many worlds again. I will no longer be stuck with only Dungeons to explore and Dragons to slay. I want to travel to another world in a starship, plead with an old one for my mind back, or maybe punch a few bad guys in their turkey necks.

I'm ready to argue over the advantage of DR vs cost and the impact of different skills. I will count my smallest turn in combat in my move points, I will happily watch an hour of real time pass for one combat round in a massive battle.

I will do all this and..I will like it.

Well, unless I find a D&D 3.5 group, always time for two games...right?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Knocking my head on knock-back

I haven't played a lot of GURPS for over 20 years. PD was big back then. One of the things that I liked, it had knock-back. One other game I played, Champions, had it also. If you have ever played Champions you know the level of complexity involved in creation and combat. GURPS has a good level of complexity but a lot less so then Champions. Thus I liked to play GURPS more then Champions.

Knock-back is a blast in a GURPS supers game. You get to watch your buddy get thumped with a hotdog cart and go crashing through a building and then another.. and.. another. I think the GM was making a point. But after that I remember thinking I need to make a PC with knock-back protection. Never did get around to it.

So here I am, today, thinking about knock-back again after watching the party's donkey launch a poor orc 8 yards into a tree. Dead orc, or more like jelly orc.

You folks may know Gobo. He is a Gnome with a bad temper and a daddy who was an earth elemental. He likes to get in close and mix it up. knock-back could cramp his style. I want to rework him with some kind of knock-back protection. Should be easy I think.

Hmmm.. nope, no knock-back protection advantage in any book I checked yet. Gravity control power maybe? Sorry no. Binding maybe, but, baneful effects. Root spells, does not say and again, baneful effects. Movement powers..body control, nothing says those magic words, "Works on knock-back"

New approach, knock-back is based off ST. I need a way to trigger, on knock-back damage, an increase in my ST for the one second I need to calculate knock-back. So I'm off to see of I can coax GCA into letting me do this. I don't hold out much hope and see a possible few buildings coming my way.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A long awaited return to the dice

My tools this time: Google+, Skype, Roll20.net, iPad, GURPS Character Assistant, Gmail, and a multi-monitor PC. Not the familiar stacks of books, bags of dice and a table covered in figures and snacks, but somehow it still feels right, the same side chatter, the same distractions, the same laughter.

I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the cool new toys. My attention being pulled from widget to gizmo and then to some other shiny object. Before I am truly ready and in accordance with a long held tradition. my new PC is dumped on the party. My digital avatar is placed on a pixel based grid along with the other PCs. I stumble through a threadbare introduction, failing both my geek and RPG skill rolls. The required descriptive exchanges go around and I start to feel that old tingle in the imagination. just as the niceties are wrapping up the GM dumps a nighttime orc raid on the camp.

Map spaces outside of our campsite light are concealed in a black fog of war. The Dwarfs night vision lets him see farther into the darkness. A list of all combatants shows up on the map, battle order is set. Orc raiders moves are measured, facings are set and range attacks taken.

Now it's our turn, spells are cast with dice rolls showing up in a game log. We can make notes on the map and tag our avatar to show effects they are enduring. It's not long before I am less infatuated with the bells and whistles and simply enjoying the feeling of the game. It doesn't matter that my ranger can't load his bow, much less get a good shot off, I am still having FUN!

It has literally been years since I have been able to sit down with a group of gamers and sling dice. The fact that the group is all over the USA and the dice are virtual do not appear to be giving me any problem at all, the old enjoyment is still there. Dang it is good to game again.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Posting question?

When someone posts a link to a blog, is it better to post comments at the blog or with the link? +Jason Woollard, your request is granted. :-)