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2017-06-04

The Problem with GURPS (a response)


Every once-in-a-while I search GURPS on YouTube and see if there are any interesting videos. About a week back, I found such a video with the title, "The Problem with GUPRS".

At first I was going to pass on this video, figuring it to be another GURPS hater that just wants to beat up on a system he doesn't like. But I decided to give it a look and see what exactly this guy thought was wrong with GURPS.

It is a pretty good video so, give it a watch.




In short, he likes GURPS, but will choose setting specific rules over using it. GURPS is the "backup plan" in his mind. That's fine, but the tone is very much one of universal acceptance, and I wholeheartedly disagree.

My "problem" with GURPS is quite the opposite. I don't want to use any other rules, even when there is a (non-GURPS) set of rules for a setting I want to run. I've tried, but by the time I get into the "meat" of the rules my mind just starts to think, "I could do this better with GURPS." (There is a whole other topic on that bit that I could go into.)

In fact when I first got into GURPS, I immediately started writing conversions for some of the games that I had picked up and loved the setting of, but was very turned off by the rules. (I wonder if I still have the notes for converting Cybergeneration to GURPS 3rd edition somewhere...)

I'll hack, alter, house-rule, and modify GURPS all sorts of ways depending on the type of game I want to run, but the core stays the same. It is still "roll 3d6 under attribute/skill".

So, every gamer is different and that's fine. But for me, GURPS is my "Plan A" almost every time... even if someone else published a set of rules for the setting I want to play.

2017-05-31

Traveller Interstellar Wars - Episode 1


Here is a quick recap of the first session of my Interstellar Wars game.

The Ziggy Stardust set out from Nusku on Friday, May 4th. Making minimal time stops to refuel and avoid any Imperial patrols, continued across the the Dingir sector. Then on Tuesday, June 19th they arrived in the Duriim system.

Landing at the main spaceport, the crew got their first taste of a dense atmosphere planet. Suiting up, they headed out and got the ship registered. Then sought out the local bar to see if they could make some contacts and see what was going on.

At the bar the crew tried a few Vilani drinks and met up with a few other Terran's who were on another free trader and were waiting to hear back from their captain. During this time the crew also got a call from steward Sadaka letting the player know that the duties on any goods sold were very high and that they wouldn't be making any profit this way. The crew asked the other Terrans if they had to pay the high dues, and were told that if they wanted to trade on Duriim, they needed to speak to Falk.

The party got directions and went to find Falk, in a little shop near the spaceport. Falk was a Terran expat who helps Terrans sell goods by listing those goods as his property. The only issue is that he's only allowed so many sales listed at a time. If they players wanted their goods sold, they would have to wait... or find a way to help Falk get more listings.

He told them that the two people that might help him get this are Ammim Larsharlum, son (3rd born) of the iishakku and heir to the title, and Mizikhi Larsharlum his older sister. It was implied that Ammim was the "proper" route, but that it might not be easy to win him over. Mizikhi, on the other hand, would be more approachable but getting her help might be less than legal.

So, after a short discussion, a dissension was made and Falk set up a meeting with Mizikhi.

Soon, the party found themselves entering a building that looked like a cross between a warehouse and a dance club. Some of the toughest looking Vilani they had ever seen were hanging out playing some card and dice games. In the center or the room was a raised platform and there stood a tall (especially for a Vilani) woman with a naval-like uniform and a patch over her eye. With a big, wolf-like smile she said, "Terrans!"

Yeah... kinda like that.

---

We ended there for the night. Things were a bit slower than I wanted for the kick-off game, but I didn't want things to get too chaotic. Everyone is pretty new to the setting and I wanted to ease things in a bit. I probably too that too far and things never got exciting. We'll see if the second session picks things up a bit... or a whole lot.

2017-05-14

Traveller Interstellar Wars - Episode 0

I decided to run a "episode 0" session for my group before they had characters draw up. They had ideas of who they wanted to be, but this gave them a chance to get into character and figure out the characters. I'm not sure how well it went, but it was a fun.

I like to think of this session as the "unaired pilot". It sets up the backstory, but if characters need to change or be alter, it doesn't really matter. Continuity hasn't started yet. ;-)

2017-05-09

New Campaign!

I've been busy lately prepping and working on a new campaign. We're going to be running Traveller Interstellar Wars!



We're going to be using the "default campaign" with group of Free Traders setting out from the Terran Confederation in 2170. Trade, exploration, aliens, war... what else could you want?

As far as rules, I'm using GURPS (of course), but instead of the ship design rules in IW, I've opted to use the GURPS Spaceships rules and combat. I've been working through converting the ships in Interstellar Wars. I've posted them to the SJGames Traveller forums, and will be posting them here soon.

Characters will be 150 points. I've already run an "episode 0" where the players didn't yet have characters built, but we ran through some background and some roleplay to set the stage and let them get a feel for their characters and the world.

So... Hang on travellers.



2017-04-01

5th Realm Session 27 Recap


Backtrack


Picking up where we left on last week, the party backtracked through the keep, then zig-zagged through some alleyways toward the sounds of battle. When they emerged, they were behind a female "rat-thing" that was commanding the rat-things, skin-suits, and rat swarms to climb up the wall to the inner keep.

Solders were on the walls firing crossbows down and battling any thing that made it all the way up.


Battle


The party didn't wait long, and charged in. They headed straight towards the "rat queen". She turned her attention to them, and sent out a blast of magical energy toward Penelope, who failed to dodge. But then Kaz cast Deflect Missile on Penelope and caused the blast to smash into the ground.

Then the party surrounded the queen and all make hits against her. The other creatures began to pull from the keep, and surround the party, but after a few more hits the queen was dead, and the others were killed or fleeing.


Knight and Lord


Moments later the inner gate was opened and knights came out to secure the outer keep. One approached the party and thanked them for the help. His name is Amadeus and is captain of the Red Blades. He took the party to Lord Bedrahm.

The lord thanked the group and asked what he could do for them. They learned that his own lands were hit by the upheaval and he and the Red Blades were securing the keep for his people.

The party told him about Mistwood and the refugees, and he said that if the people of Mistwood were willing to help rebuild the keep, that he would welcome them.


Return and Rejoice


The party decided to travel back and meet up with the traveling group, and a day later had found them. They let them know about what had happened at the keep and about the Lord and his people. The sheriff let them know that he didn't trust the Red Blades (they are former criminals that became "un-landed" knights to fight in the war instead of going to prison), but that he saw little choice.

The group moved to the keep and began to work on a new home.


---


This was a pretty quick session, as it was just the tail end of what I had planned for the previous day. I didn't want to tack on extra events that left the party in a middle of something else.

The "boss" fight was over super quick, before the boss had any real chance to use some of her "tricks" which is fine... I'll file those away for another day. I also hadn't realized how close the party would be if they took the exact route they did, so a bit of (real world) luck added to that.

Overall it was fun and completed the mini-arc of getting the game transitioned to the new location.

2017-03-24

Fifth Realm: Session 26 - A New Beginning

Background:


Several weeks ago, all the known lands were hit with various floods, quakes, shifting land, rising mountains, and other dramatic events that have reshaped the landscape and destroyed many towns.

Refugees from Mistwood have been looking for a new home. A scout returned to camp injured by a wolf attack, but reported that he had spotted an old keep that might still be in good enough shape to house the survivors.

The sheriff (who the survivors have turned to for leadership), has asked that a group follow the scout's direction and see if the keep can support the survivors.

Setting out


The party decided to get some information from the scout (Alec) who was lounging about near the healer's tent. He claims that he was attacked by a huge pack of wolves, but the heroes got the feeling he was exaggerating quite a bit. He was able to provide the group with a detailed map through the forest to where he saw the keep.

Before leaving town the sheriff found the group and told them that we was going to have the people start packing up for the journey as soon as possible. He gave the party two bundles that when burned would create smoke to signal to the town if the keep was safe or not.

An Odd Gnome


The path to the keep was pretty clear, but as the group emerged from the dense woods, they spotted the keep and a small camp along the way.

When they got close to the camp the meet a Gnome who was busy building and hammering and moving about his camp.

He didn't have much useful information for the group, but did offer to sell them various tools he had invented such as a crossbow converted to a "fly swatter" (bolts had flat mesh attached), and mouse traps (which were tiny bear traps).

The party decided to pass on these and continued on to the keep.

Dead Wolves and Broken Bridge


On the path up to the keep the players found the bodies of several wolves, being fed on by large (not giant) rats. An examination didn't yield the cause of death, only that they had been devoured by these rats.

Further up the party found a chasm between the path and the keep, and the drawbridge was broken and hanging by one chain.

Kaz was able to move the end of the broken chain across the path, where the party secured it, and crossed over.

The Keep's Inhabitants


Inside the party found the keep's structures intact but worn and in disuse. While looking around, William heard sounds from around the corner and the group snuck up to check it out.

Unfortunately, they weren't very stealthy and when they got to the corner a group of strange people, in tattered clothes, turned to face them.

The party tried to identify what these "people" were, as something was clearly "wrong" with them. They didn't seem to be zombies, but had some zombie like aspects.

While this evaluation was going on, they began to shift and contort till something that resembled a cross between a man, a skinless dog, and a rat appeared. Then they charged.

These rat-man-monsters rushed the group, but Kaz through down a Grease spell and the others held their ground. The monsters began to fall one by one as they approached, the few getting around the corner were dealt with quickly.

When most have bunched together, Kaz hit them with an explosive fireball. Then dispelled the grease and the party finished off the others before they had a chance to stand.

Further in the party saw a figure dart around a corner, and also heard sounds of conflict from another direction. They decided to follow the figure they saw to an open area further in.

Sickness...


The group managed to be a bit more stealthy this time and managed to spot the man they saw before, who was having a coughing fit.

In the open area near him were four large persons that seemed to be malformed and bloated. And at the far end was a thin man in a cloak and speaking in a strange language.

The sick man then vomited... a rat, before collapsing onto the ground.

From there concealed position, the group took aim and fired (fireball wand and sun-bolt). Which destroyed two of the bloated men... but then they exploded into swarms of rats. The fireball burned enough of the rats that the ones remaining scattered.

Before the creature had time to reach the party, another set of blasts (and a crossbow bolt) took out the other two and the rats of the other swarm. But this left 2 new swarms and the thin man charging in.

The rats swarmed William and Penelope but were quickly sliced through and dispersed. The thin man was also hit with a powerful attack and fell down.

The party rushed him and as he recovered they finished him off before he could cast whatever spell he was preparing.

From his neck Kaz took a magical amulet that has some sort of animal control magic on it (and a picture of a rat). But he was persuaded to not put it on just yet.


We wrapped up there for the night. Next week we'll pick up still in the town.

Thoughts:


This session went really well. First session awkwardness and a new player (new to GURPS as well as the group), didn't seem to cause any troubles. Things moved along at a good pace and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

One thing that I've been working on is "[The GM] should feel free to drop out of combat time whenever dramatically appropriate, and to resume combat time when noncombat action gives way to more fighting." (B362). This as speed up the "lulls" in combat when no actual trading of blows is happening (Readying, closing distances, long actions).