Don't Forget Your Boots

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Tag: GURPS

Steampunk Monster Hunters #1: “By The Skin Of Her Teeth”

The first session of the Steampunk Monster Hunters campaign had a bit of a rough time getting going. A couple of players had real-world responsibilities and couldn’t make it, then one of the remaining players had to cancel at the very last minute due to unfortunate circumstances, leaving us with a team of only half strength. Nevertheless, we decided to soldier on – happily, as it turned out, since everybody who made it had a great time.

Who’s Who

  • Lucretia Gasser Buttersnaps, Philanthropist Commando
  • Mercy Patton, Philanthropist Sage
  • Nayler H. Knuer, Philanthropist Techie

What Happened

Our story begins in London, in early May, 1851. Steampunk London is much like our world’s London, aside from the air traffic, mechanical men, and Babbage engines. Mad scientists have gone public; Knuer carries on active correspondence with a Baron Frankenstein, on the Continent, who’s doing amazing things in the medical sciences. The British Empire dominates the world, partly thanks to their early adoption of Babbage’s technology. Steam-powered high-tech revolutions need steam, made by burning coal, which leads to smoke and smog, so goggles (and sometimes, gas masks) are common fashion in London.

Our heroes each received an invitation to a clandestine meeting after hours at the Crystal Palace, the site of the Great Exhibition, in Hyde Park, London. Mr Buttersnaps, a psychic and spiritualist, received an invitation but wasn’t able to make the meeting, due to being locked in his own liquor cellar.

When they arrived, they were shown to a series of rooms that had been curtained off for privacy. Drinks were served. At the bar, our heroes met the Texian, Samuel Colt, who fell to discussing technology with Knuer. Soon, their brainstorming led to bar-top gadgeteering, rapidly producing a prototype seven-barrel shotgun.

The meeting’s hosts, Charles Dickens and Lady Ada Lovelace, introduced themselves, and explained the reason for the get-together. They, along with Mr Colt and some number of others, were members of an Association, who had come to realize that England and the entire human race was under assault by the forces of supernatural darkness. Our heroes were aware of this, having encountered various monsters in their pasts. The Association proposed a mutually beneficial relationship, in which the heroes were given support and information to be used to carry the fight to the monsters.

After clarifying that nobody was proposing the murder of actual humans, only monsters, the arrangement was accepted. Colt celebrated the agreement by presenting Mrs Buttersnaps with a pair of cutting-edge prototype pistols with replaceable cylinders. Miss Patton attempted to approach Lady Lovelace to flirt, but was blocked when Knuer, on the same mission, lured Lovelace away to talk about technology.

Dickens then handed over the group’s first case-file. Lady Estella Havisham is a patient at the Swallow House Sanatorium in Crawley, halfway between London and Brighton. She had reported to a relative about being frightened by a large jungle cat on the sanatorium grounds. While Lady Havisham has a history of depression and binge drinking, her relative had never known her to hallucinate or make up unbelievable stories, and so the story came to the attention of the Association. This prompted Lady Lovelace to perform a Babbage engine analysis, which had revealed a statistically-improbable number of suicides in and around the sanatorium over the past three months.

Our heroes set to discussing the file over drinks. Mrs Buttersnaps mentioned that she knew of several different kinds of were-cats around the world, but none that could disguise their kills as any kind of suicide, while Knuer had known demons to drive people to suicide, but never in the form of a big cat.

Miss Patton opened up her bag and stepped inside, descending into it to consult her library. There, her research pointed towards the likely culprit: a skin-changer, a compulsive serial killer spirit with the ability to take the shape of a person or animal by putting on a flayed skin. A skin-changer might both wear the skin of a predator and drive people to suicide for sick thrills.

Knuer and Mrs Buttersnaps were both startled to see Miss Patton exiting her bag bearing a book with a description of the monster and a detailed illustration. Patton and Knuer combined their knowledge and the contents of the bar to mix up a concoction that could spoil a preserved skin. Mrs Buttersnaps discovered the potion’s corrosive properties when she tasted it, but Knuer was able to provide some quick first aid.

When Mrs Buttersnaps returned home, she found her husband was still locked in a liquor cellar… but this time, it was a different liquor cellar.

That night, Miss Patton dreamed that she was seeing through another being’s eyes as it searched through dusty attics and storerooms. She glimpsed a hazy vision of the being discovering a hidden package. When the package was unwrapped, it revealed a dried monkey’s paw.

The next morning, our heroes left town aboard Knuer’s steam carriage, bound for Crawley. The trip took the bulk of the day, so when they arrived, they obtained rooms and went to discuss the case over dinner. Prompted by the discussion, Knuer went to the local library to do some research.

Back in the days of piracy, he read, Captain James Swallow had made his fortune in the Caribbean before coming back to Crawley to build a sprawling house. After his mysterious death, the house and grounds had gone through many hands before finally becoming Swallow House Sanatorium.

He was also able to find newspapers from the past several months, allowing him to make a list of the dates and circumstances of the recent suicides.

When he brought this information back to the others, they speculated that perhaps Captain Swallow had left behind some treasure that the skin-changer was now seeking. Furthermore, upon seeing the list of dates, Mrs Buttersnaps noticed that there was a pattern to them, perhaps something having to do with the phase of the moon; it seemed that two people died, at regular intervals, for each new moon. This indicated that they had about a week before the next expected event. She also realized that the pattern had started abruptly in early February, with no suspicious deaths in January.

That night, Miss Patton had the same dream again, seeing the discovery of a monkey’s paw, but this time, the vision was much clearer. She saw that the dried paw was clutching something shiny. She also observed enough details to know the paw’s hiding place: stashed in a niche up a chimney in a cellar of the sanatorium’s main house. She felt sure she could find the location again. Likewise, she felt sure that the skin-changer was seeking this thing, clearly some object of power.

The next day, the heroes went to visit the sanatorium, claiming that Mrs Buttersnaps was seeking a place to care for her husband – a story which was, if anything, overly plausible. They made it some ways past the gate before they were intercepted by Dr Lorry and Nurse Pecksniff. The staff accepted the cover story, and were willing to let the heroes tour the facility. Knuer verbally probed the doctor’s medical knowledge, hoping to possibly expose a hidden monster, but discovered that the handsome young doctor knew his stuff.

Dr Lorry summoned Nicholas Smike, the head orderly, to show our heroes around the grounds, then bid them good day before leaving with Nurse Pecksniff. Knuer was somewhat smitten by Smike’s rugged good looks and mutton chops, so as the group walked around the sanatorium, he worked his way close to the orderly and offered a rather direct proposal. Offended, Smike attempted to punch Knuer, who evaded the attack but slipped and fell on the muddy ground. Mrs Buttersnaps quick-drew one of her new revolvers and shot Smike’s smoking pipe from his mouth, causing him to pause and re-think the situation.

At the commotion, the older Dr Provis Magwitch approached, demanding to know what was going on. The heroes introduced themselves, diplomatically smoothing over the incident as a blameless misunderstanding. Still angry but knowing to quit when he’s ahead, Smike stormed off. Kneur struck up a medical conversation with Dr Magwitch, determining that he, too, was a real doctor, if a generation behind on his training.

Playing off their common professional knowledge, Knuer interrogated the doctor about the sanatorium’s staff and recent happenings around the place. He learned that the third doctor, Dr Lizzie Hexam, had only arrived at the facility a few months ago, having arrived in early January from Haiti.

While noting that they needed to see Dr Hexam later, the heroes decided they wanted to see someone else first. Miss Patton mentioned that one of her distant cousins, Lady Havisham, was a patient, and asked if they could please see her? Having been put in a good mood by Knuer’s conversation, Dr Magwitch was willing to go along, and so the heroes found themselves pointed towards an elderly woman sitting watching a croquet match.

The heroes introduced themselves as friends who had been sent to look into her big cat trouble. Relieved, she explained that she had been sneaking around after-hours when she saw the beast. When questioned closely, she told them that she had seen the cat leaving the sanatorium’s ice house. In appreciation, Knuer slipped her a bottle of brandy that he Gizmo’ed out of his pocket.

The heroes quietly slipped away to check out the ice house. After some searching, Miss Patton found a space hidden behind a loose board, where she discovered a collection of large glass jars full of noxious chemicals and preserved skins. The first skin was a jaguar’s. The second was the skin of a human man. The heroes kept control over their stomachs as they pulled the jars out and used their skin-spoiling concoction to destroy the skins. Smelling the chemicals from the jars, Mrs Buttersnaps was certain that she had smelled the same thing earlier in the day, without realizing its significance. Someone they had met that day was the monster!

But what to do now? Lie in wait, in the cold ice house, hoping to jump the skin-changer when it came to change identities? That didn’t sound appealing, especially since they didn’t know how often the monster would change skins. Instead, they decided to go looking for the monkey’s paw.

Moving unobserved, the heroes made their way inside the main house and into the cellars. Miss Patton was able to locate the place from her dream. Reaching into the chimney, she pulled out a leather-wrapped package, which turned out to be a dried monkey’s paw, tightly clutching a gold doubloon!

Just then, Mrs Buttersnaps, on lookout, heard approaching footsteps. The door was thrown open, revealing Nurse Pecksniff. “What are you doing-?” she started to demand, before her eyes widened as she spotted the monkey’s paw in Miss Patton’s hand. Then Mrs Buttersnaps punched her right between the eyes with a two-and-a-half pound pistol.

… to no effect at all. Nurse Pecksniff snarled at our heroes, then, surprisingly, turned and fled!

The chase was on, but it was clear that one of the heroes was much fleeter of foot than the others. Knuer tossed Mrs Buttersnaps his shotgun, and then she was off in hot pursuit. To start with, she was reluctant to draw attention by shooting at Pecksniff. First, she tried to slam the monster off its feet, leading to a sort of running scuffle where neither party was able to harm or slow down the other.

Finally, the chase led into the kitchen, where Pecksniff snatched up a butcher knife. Mrs Buttersnaps tried to shoot the knife out of its hand, but was only able to slightly wound it before it stabbed her solidly in the torso, knocking her out!

When the others arrived, a few seconds later, they found Mrs Buttersnaps bleeding on the floor, but no sign of the monster. Knuer pulled some advanced medical supplies from his pockets and stabilized Mrs Buttersnaps.

Having lost the monster but foiled its plot, the heroes withdrew, claiming that Nurse Pecksniff had attacked Mrs Buttersnaps. They brought the paw back to London, planning to hand it over to the Association for safekeeping.

Cool Point: Miss Patton, for the prophetic dreams that were seen as key to cracking the case

Booby Point: Mrs Buttersnaps, for nearly being gutted by the monster

 

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Steampunk Jetpack

One of the player’s stated goals for Knuer, the techie, is to own a jetpack. He’s an airship pilot, and he needs options for when the time comes to bail out from a burning balloon. Since I need to get comfortable with the GURPS Monster Hunters inventing rules, let’s run through some options.

The standard MH rules have a modifier for “every decade… from general consumption”, which starts racking up quick when you’re talking about a starting year of 1851, especially when folks want to be able to create TL 5+1 WWII-era guns or TL 5+3 difference engines. Therefore, I’m going to instead be using the standard -5 per TL modifier from GURPS Basic Set: Campaigns, page 475.

Let’s see if we can sneak up on this “jetpack” idea, since there might be easier, more steampunk-y options along the way. What we’re looking for, really, is some kind of man-portable emergency flight technology.

We could start with the TL 7 hang-glider from GURPS High Tech, page 232. The modified base cost for a folding TL 5+2 hang-glider would be $8,000, for a complexity modifier of -1. Knuer could roll Scrounging -1 to come up with the parts, or just pay $80 out of pocket. Then, with no more than a couple of hours’ work, he would roll Inventor! at -11, with success meaning accepting a bug in the prototype and a critical success meaning no bug. If he could make a Weird Science roll, he would roll Inventor! at -6, but might have to accept a strange side effect. (Of course, all of these rolls could be affected by spending wildcard points and so forth.) Once built, the prototype would only work for (1d + margin of success) minutes before being at risk of failure.

For comparison, let’s run through the Quick Gadgeteering rules from the Basic Set: A TL 7 hang glider, by price, is Average complexity. First, Knuer would need to make a concept roll, using Inventor! at -2. Assembling a prototype would require 1d-2 hours. Again, he could Scrounge for the parts, but at -2. Failing that, he could pay $6,000 for a facility suitable for inventing hang gliders, and $80 for the materials to build a prototype. He would need to roll Inventor! at -12, or -7 with Weird Science, to successfully build the prototype, but success by anything less than a margin of three would introduce bugs. Barring trouble from those bugs, the prototype would be as durable as any other piece of equipment. In time, he might be able to set up a production line to build hang gliders for sale to the public.

However, Knuer wants powered flight, so let’s run through the calculations using the ram-air parachute from HT, p. 232, a TL 8 gadget with a modifier cost of $28,000. Using MH rules, that’s no more than 3 hours of work, Scrounging -2 or pay $280, roll Inventor! at -17 or -9 with Weird Science.

The Basic Set rules say the ram-air parachute is still Average complexity, meaning the concept roll would still be at -2, and the facility cost would remain the same, but the cost per prototype would jump to $280. The roll to create the prototype would be at -17, or -9 with Weird Science.

Finally, what about a TL 9 helipack (GURPS Ultra-Tech, p. 231)? With a starting price of $320K, MH rules give a base time of 1d hours and a complexity modifier of -3, plus -20 in Tech Level modifiers. If Scrounging -3 doesn’t work, it’s $3,200 in parts. Roll Inventor! at -23, or -13 with Weird Science.

By the basic rules, the helipack is a Complex invention, with a base -4 modifier. The facility cost is $22,500 and each prototype will cost $3,200. The roll to create would be at -24, or -14 with Weird Science.

So: it seems that the MH rules are for field-expedient, “MacGyver-ed” creations. If you want an invention to last, you’ll need to invest in expensive production equipment. And, even spending wildcard points, given his 18- skill roll, Knuer is likely to use Weird Science and end up with an air-ram parachute… but coal-fueled, ghost-attracting, and whistling like a tea kettle.

 

Steampunk Monster Hunters: Dramatis personæ

Character creation went extraordinarily well! So, who are our heroes?

Nayler H. Knuer: Philanthropist Techie

Part Richard Francis Burton, part Oscar Wilde, an inventor and airship pilot who has traveled the world seeking thrills and made a fortune along the way. He has encountered angels and demons, which he refers to indiscriminately as “jinn”. In between harrowing adventures, he amuses himself by using Medic! to self-medicate, a practice that has left him thin and jittery.

Knuer has Inventor! at 18-, giving him four wildcard points, and Medic! at 15-, giving one wildcard point. His signature invention is a steam-powered jetpack, though he also has his own airship.

In appearance, Knuer is similar to The Thin White Duke, but with more hair. He wears a monocle to make up for his nearsightedness.

The Buttersnaps, Lucretia Gasser and Octavious: Philanthropist Commando and Hired Gun Psi

A married couple who hunt monsters together, while drinking heavily. I gather that they’ve seen some stuff.

Lucretia is American, with all that implies. She’s outgoing, frequently drunk, favors dual pistols, and can shoot the wings off flies. She’s not only a Gunslinger, she also has Gun! at 19-, yielding 5 wildcard points.

She has, by a wide margin, the highest DX in the group. She also has a wide selection of gun-related Perks.

Octavious is an arrogant, alcoholic medium who is involved in a bitter feud with a clown demon. Being a psi, Octavious lacks wildcard skills, but he has much knowledge of spirits and the undead, and is a skilled hypnotist.

He has specialized in ESP and Psychokinesis. He can speak with spirits. He can also see both the past and the future. He’s able to protect himself and move small objects with his mind, but his most impressive psychokinetic power is his ability to draw the heat out of anything (or anyone) he concentrates on.

Margaret Anne Champman, Worlds Greatest Girl Detective: Accidental Hero Sleuth

A precocious 11-year-old girl, mature for her age, with startling powers of deduction. She solves mysteries, which her guardian, Uncle Byron, turns into a popular series of books. This has given her a helpful reputation.

Miss Champman is the most intelligent member of the group, by a very slim margin. She possesses an honest face, a unique steam-powered “grabbering gun”, Detective! at 18- giving three wildcard points, and Talker! at 17- for two wildcard points.

Mercy Patton: Philanthropist Sage

A proper British governess who enchants her bag to be bigger on the inside than the outside. (I suspect ties with a certain famous doctor.) She sometimes has dreams that come true.

Mercy is the group’s linguist, being versed in several ancient tongues. She has Lore! at 17-, yielding three wildcard points. Furthermore, she is well-versed in ritual magic, particularly the Paths of Crossroads, Magic, Matter, and Undead. She carries a combination rapier/umbrella.

“Unnamed Experiment”: Operative Experiment

Created by a shadowy organization, he’s a steampunk cyborg who is just starting to realize that he retains his free will, in spite of what his creators planned. He’ll be working with the heroes while simultaneously playing a dangerous game of do-they-know with his makers.

The experiment has several sensory enhancements, can hold his breath far longer than a normal human, and no longer feels fear. His chosen weapon is a cane, but he’s not above using firearms when necessary. He’s fairly rugged, having the highest ST and HT of the group.

My understanding is that he’s been set up to hunt fae. (Though the draft character sheet I’m reading claims demons – likely a misprint.)

 

Clueless

What else could the champions have done to scare up some clues?

Occult research. Is there any history of zombie activity in the area? No, which might point to their magical origin, offering a “what” clue.

The magical source of the zombies might prompt the champions to check with their contacts to see if anyone had recently purchased a grimoire of zombie-raising rituals, which might lead to Bonefat’s purchase of the enchanted goblet. This might be a “who” clue, or if the champions have already deduced the villain, it might count as a “why” clue, used to explain the whole scheme.

Since the slow zombies only last for a few hours, the champions might get a look at the remains. Forensics and a “Detective!” roll could offer some insights. Certainly, a “what” clue, to differentiate magically-raised zombies from, say, restless dead disturbed by poor grave maintenance.

Investigating the identities of the zombies might offer a “who” clue, after realizing that the dishonored dead were all old enemies and rivals of Bonefat’s.

No doubt Miss Dinkley could whip up all manner of useful gadgets that could expose clues. If the champions make enough “when” and “where” deductions, they might be able to set a trap or set up an ambush, eliminating the need for a “who” deduction.

There’s a whole world of clue opened up by tracking. As it happens, none of our champions have the Tracking skill… but they do have a mastiff. In my experience, when a PC pays for a dog as an Ally, that dog is usually half Lassie, half lion, and half bloodhound. Picking up a scent shouldn’t be beyond its capabilities. Tracking zombies back to the cemetery would likely be trivial, but what if the champions took it a step further? It’s not inconceivable that, from the cemetery, they might be able to pick up Bonefat’s trail, particularly if they’ve deduced the timing of the attacks and set themselves to interfere with the next occurrence. That could lead them to the villain’s country house, eliminating the need for a “where” deduction and offering a big bonus to the “who” question. Questioning the servants might yield many more “who” and “why” clues.

If it weren’t for you meddling Yorkshiremen…

It looks like I might possibly have the ability to run a game again soon, sometime in the next couple of months, and I’m leaning towards GURPS Steampunk Monster Hunters. More on that later, as the situation develops.

For those who haven’t seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the genre might need some explanation. Mundane humanity is largely unaware of the monsters lurking in the darkness, and that’s really for the best. (Like Kay put it, “People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals…” and if they knew about what was really going on out there, they would just make a bad situation worse.) You are one of the heroes who stands between the monsters and the innocent people of the world.

How’s this done? Mostly through digging up information from dusty old tomes, interviewing witnesses, and roughing up henchmen to get ’em to talk.

“There’s a reason champions are known as ‘monster hunters’ and not ‘monster killers.’

GURPS Monster Hunters 2

This isn’t Dungeon Fantasy, where you can walk down stairs into any old basement and find monsters to slay. The focus here is on solving the mystery, on the investigation, with an eye towards ending the threat. That might mean learning the Big Bad’s weakness and laying an ambush, but it might also mean giving the dangerous ghost what it needs to move on to the afterlife, or putting a stop to the mining that’s upsetting the gnomes.

In an effort to orient the players, and to get my own head straight, I’m going to work through a contrived example.

The Plot

Orson Bonefat, the Earl of Blatherskite, has run up a series of gambling debts. Being an amateur student of magic, he concocts a plan to use magic to enrich himself.

A village near Bonefat’s estate would make an excellent site for a airship mooring tower. If only he could drive off the current inhabitants, he could buy up the land cheap and make a killing!

He has access to an ancient Roman template, a place of power, on his estate. Through his contacts in the mystic community, he obtains an enchanted item, a goblet useful as a magical tool for casting spells relating to the undead. He uses these assets to create charms to temporarily raise the dead as zombies – the “mindless servant” kind, not the ones that are compulsive brain-eaters.

Bonefat begins visiting the village from time to time, ostensibly to attend the cricket matches. On these visits, he surreptitiously uses one of his charms to raise the dead in the local cemetery. The charmed remains dig themselves out of their graves and go on a mindless rampage later that night. They aren’t looking to kill people – their mission is to scare folks off – but they’re not above roughing someone up if they get the chance. They mostly chase folks, bang on shutters, break into barns and chase the horses out, and so forth.

The Mystery

The basic questions to be answered are the Five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why.

Who? The Earl of Blatherskite. He’s made some effort to hide his involvement, but he’s also Status 5. As a witch, he doesn’t have any particular Supernatural Features or Compulsive Behaviors that might give him away. Rolls to deduce his identity start off with a -6 penalty. The champions will be rolling against Current Affairs or Area Knowledge.

What? The monsters are magically-created zombies, but the true enemy is effectively a rogue witch. Rolls concerning the zombies will be against Hidden Lore (Restless Undead), and since they’re simple creatures lacking the ability to conceal their nature, those deduction rolls will be at only -2. Roll to deduce the magician behind the scenes will be against Thaumatology, at a -4 thanks to Bonefat’s attempts to cover his tracks.

When? On the one hand, the zombie attacks coincide with Bonefat’s cricket outings; on the other, he needs to drive everybody out of the village and make his dirty deals before his debts come due. Thus, rolls about timing are at -4.

Where? Linking the zombies to the cemetery isn’t much of a leap, and it’s easy to figure out that the village is the target of whatever’s going on. Anyone trying to make the connection between the village or the cemetery and Bonefat’s home, on the other hand, would be rolling at -10, since he’s going out of his way to keep his evil plans out of his own back yard.

Why? The motive for the whole situation is Bonefat’s desire to pick up cheap land so he can get rich from the airship mooring scheme. This is a plan with a couple of levels, and he’s working through zombie minions, establishing a -10 modifier for “why” deductions.

The Champions

Mr Jones is an Accidental Hero/Sleuth. He has Intuition, 36 points in “Detective!” yielding 3 bonus points, and 24 points in “Talker!” giving 2 bonus points. (Bonus points can be used to buy successes, reduce damage, add things to the environment, etc., within the area covered by the wildcard skill.)

Madame Blake is a Chosen One/Psi, with Psychometry, Spirit Communication, and some minor telepathic powers. She also has Intuition, and a 15-point Destiny, which gives her 3 destiny points. Finally, she has 4 unspent character points saved from previous adventures. (Both destiny points and character points can be spent like bonus wildcard points, but without the restriction in scope.)

Miss Dinkley is a Hired Gun/Techie. She has 48 points in Inventor!, providing 4 bonus points, and 12 points in Science!, giving 1 bonus point. Though she specializes in technology and engineering, she’s been around and seen some things, so she’s picked up a few points in Thaumatology. She has 5 unspent points.

Herr Rogers is an Avenger/Warrior with Gigantism. He’s got a hefty 60 points in Blade! giving him 5 bonus points. He has a mastiff as an Ally.

The Investigation

The champions arrive at the village following a tip. They begin their investigation by asking around and interviewing the people of the village. While meeting several colorful local NPCs, they rapidly accumulate several clues. The first eyewitness mentions being chased by “Old Man Toulouse, what died last winter”, a “what” clue that gives Mr Jones a roll against Hidden Lore (Restless Undead) at -1, effective 15, a roll he immediately makes by 4. We’re dealing with slow zombies!

A second eyewitness mentions details about the zombies that offer another “what” clue. Miss Dinkley rolls against Thaumatology at an effective 12. A roll of 11 establishes that these zombies were animated by magic, likely cast by no more than one or two witches.

After a few more interviews, Mr Jones compares the accounts and gathers a “when” clue. A roll at -3 (-4 starting modifier, +1 for the clue) against “Detective!” gives an effective skill of 13, another easy roll, made by 3. The zombies always attack late in the evening after a cricket game, and the violence of the attacks seems to be increasing, indicating an increased sense of urgency to whatever purpose they serve.

This prompts the champions to speculate. Perhaps the witch behind the zombies is someone attending the cricket games?

After some diplomacy, the champions gain access to the scene of the last zombie attack, where a man was killed. Madame Blake uses her Spirit Communication to contact the lingering spirit of the dead victim. (Herr Rogers grumbles about spooky powers.) Questioning the victim reveals that he had been distracted on the night of his death after a business argument. With good roleplay and lucky Psychology rolls from several members of the team, this counts as both a “who” and a “why” clue, but nobody is able to make a deduction roll. Still, those clues will modify future rolls.

That’s not good enough for Mr Jones, who has really been enjoying being the best detective at the investigation. He taps his Intuition to get another try at that “who” deduction. Before the GM rolls, Mr Jones’ player mentions a willingness to devote 2 “Detective!” bonus points towards turning a regular success into a critical success. The GM rolls an 11, just enough for a success. After conversion to a critical success, that’s enough to reveal Orson Bonefat by name!

Mr Jones makes an intuitive leap. The ghost’s description of the circumstances before his death, plus various incidental pieces of information gathered in previous interviews, points towards Bonefat as the Big Bad. But why?

… and the question of why matters, since Bonefat is a living human being. Nobody makes too much fuss when you chop up a zombie or stake a vampire who “died” two hundred years ago, but they tend to take active interest when a bunch of scruffy murder-hobos bust in and chop the head off a member of the peerage. No fair foiling the plot by murdering humans. Herr Rogers curses with feeling.

Well, if the champions can’t get a stand-up fight, they’ll settle for a caper. They pull off a complex series of actions that puts Miss Dinkley in Bonefat’s private study. There, she goes through his personal papers, using Administration to uncover financial records, a “why” clue. She uses a couple of unspent character points to make sure it’s a good clue, worth +2 to deduction rolls. Still, nobody makes the deduction roll. Even with a couple of clues, a -10 is hard to overcome.

As the team goes over the purloined papers, Madame Blake uses her own Intuition for a second chance, and offers to use all three of her destiny points to make this roll count. The roll fails, but 3 points is enough to turn that into a critical success. She puts together several lines in a ledger and puts together the whole plot. A few nights of bad luck led to an unexpected debt. Favors were called in, but too little, too late. Payments to buy an antique Celtic goblet, just before the first appearance of the zombies. Speculation in the airship business. Notes on the need for a local mooring tower. Property purchases, and offers made on other plots.

With the whole plot revealed, the champions come up with a solution that might not require an unacceptable level of anti-social behavior. With a little more investigation into Bonefat’s estates, the teams turns up a “where” clue and locates the place where Bonefat keeps the enchanted goblet: an old Roman ruin in a quiet corner of his estate.

Finally in his element, Herr Rogers takes the lead. The team loads up for a fight, sneaks onto Bonefat’s estate, and approaches the ruin. There, they encounter a party of slow zombies defending the goblet, and it turns into a fight scene. Rogers spends most of his bonus points being awesome in the battle. In the end, the zombies are put down, and the goblet destroyed.

As a final touch, the next day, Mr Jones calls upon the Earl. In a diplomatic way, he takes responsibility for the destruction of the goblet and Bonefat’s zombie minions, and politely communicates that the team will be keeping an eye on him in the future. No more evil magic, or they will take certain unspecified but ominous “steps”.

And then it’s off to Paris, to see about these reports of a rogue gorilla…

 

GURPS Supers Character: Korrasami

Another 600-point super, for the same game as Jade Rocket. This one is for my wife; she’s been observing all this GURPS stuff for some time, and has decided to join in. I worked out the details of the character under her direction, along with some feedback from the GM.

She started me off with “You know Raven from the Teen Titans?”

heroforgescreenshot-2

Korrasami

600 points
Age 19; Human; 5’5″; 120

ST 10 [0]; DX 12 [40]; IQ 16 [120]; HT 12 [20].
Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 17 [5]; Per 16 [0]; FP 12 [0].
Basic Speed 6 [0]; Basic Move 6 [0]; Block 7 (DX); Dodge 9; Parry 10 (Brawling).

Social Background
TL: 8 [0].
CF: Western (Native) [0].
Languages: English (Native) [0].

Advantages
Alternate Abilities: Magical Aura [212]
Warp (Blink; Extra Carrying Capacity: Extra-Heavy Encumbrance; Magical; No Strain; Pact: Discipline of Faith; Range Limit 10 miles; Reliable +6) [185]; Warp (Blind Only; Magical; Pact: Discipline of Faith; Range Limit 10,000 miles; Reliable +9; Takes Recharge: 1 hour; Tunnel: forms before you teleport) [135/5]

Alternative Abilities: Projected Psychic Energy [128]
Crushing Attack 5 (Double Knockback; Magical; Variable) [29/5]; Crushing Attack 5 (Area Effect (2 yd); Magical; Mobile (+1); Persistent; Requires Concentrate; Wall: Rigid: Any shape desired) [67/5]; Healing (Affects Self; Magical; Pact: Discipline of Faith) [39/5]; Telekinesis 25 (Based On Will; Magical; Pact: Discipline of Faith; Visible) [100]

Attractive [4]; Claim to Hospitality (worshipers) 2 [2]; Damage Resistance 4 (Tough Skin) [12]; Damage Resistance 5 (Force Field; Magical; Nuisance Effect: ability makes you obvious; Pact: Discipline of Faith) [24]; Danger Sense [15]; Detect (Supernatural phenomena) [20]; Empathy [15]; Luck (Defensive) [12]; Regeneration (Slow: 1HP/12Hr) [10]; Teleportation Talent 4 [20].
Perks: Attribute Substitution (Body Sense based on Will); Attribute Substitution (Innate Attack (Gaze) based on Will); Cloaked [3].

Disadvantages
Discipline of Faith (Mysticism) [-10]; Enemy (Demonic culture) (medium-sized group, some formidable or super-human) (6 or less; Hunter) [-15]; Nightmares (12 or less) [-5]; Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents) [-10]; Reputation (spooky) -1 (All the time; Almost everyone) [-5]; Sense of Duty (Mundane humanity) (Entire Race) [-15]; Weakness (Contact with holy water and artifacts) (1d per minute) (Rare) [-10]; Wealth (Struggling) [-10]; Weirdness Magnet [-15]; Xenophilia (15 or less) [-5].

Quirks
Can Be Turned By True Faith; Dead Giveaway (Always wears a cloak and hood); Dorky; Hated by fundamentalist followers of Abrahamic religions; Photosensitivity

Skills
Autohypnosis-15 (Will-2) [1]; Body Sense-16 (Will-1) [2]; Brawling-14 (DX+2) [4]; Detect Lies-17 (Per+1) [1]; Exorcism-15 (Will-2) [1]; Fortune-Telling (Dream Interpretation)-18 (IQ+2) [1]; Hidden Lore (Demon Lore)-16 (IQ+0) [2]; Hidden Lore (Spirit Lore)-15 (IQ-1) [1]; Innate Attack (Gaze)-18 (Will+1) [2]; Intimidation-16 (Will-1) [1]; Meditation-15 (Will-2) [1]; Mind Block-16 (Will-1) [1]; Religious Ritual (Demon worship)-14 (IQ-2) [1]; Scholar!-16 (IQ+0) [24].

Equipment
Boots, High (Styling (+1); 6 lb); Cell Phone (4 oz); Cloth Gloves; Light Cloak (Styling (+2); 2 lb); Mail Coif (Titanium; 1.33 lb); Mail Hauberk (Titanium; 8.33 lb).

Background and Origin Story

It’s not something that’s necessarily obvious about the world of “Campaign City”, but as it happens, there are quite a few folks who worship demons. They’re just normal folks, going about their normal business, aside from their behind-closed-doors religious observances. It being a comic book world, some of the demons being worshiped are real.

Korrasami grew up in Hell, raised by those demons. They told her that she had been born to a family of mortal demon-worshipers. Almost from birth, they said, she had displayed magical powers. Thus, she had been an excellent sacrifice. Her mortal family handed her over to their demonic overlords.

She doesn’t know if any of this is true. Demons are notorious liars. She’s heard several variations on the story, including one where her magical talent comes from being the descendant of a demon.

In Hell, Korrasami was trained in the use of her magical abilities. Being trained by demons in the mystic arts is just about as pleasant as you would expect it to be. The expectation was that once her training was completed, she would be used as a weapon, or tool, or both, by her owners.

Instead, when she got a chance, she jumped ship and escaped into the mortal realm. She’s been on Earth, in “Campaign City”, for a few weeks, now. She’s making a modest living for herself, working as a fortune-teller and a sort of unordained minister to the same kind of suburban satanists as her parents.

Explanation and highlights

Attributes

Extraordinarily intelligent, and even more extraordinarily strong-willed. Even though she doesn’t have any telepathic powers, I expect her to end up protecting the group from psionicists, mostly because, with her Will, she’ll be nearly impossible for them to affect.

Social Background

So, weird thing about comic-book Hell… Apparently, it’s TL 8, and they speak English there. Probably with a California accent. You can tell, because Korrasami has the standard, default package of TL 8, Cultural Familiarity with the Western world, and English as a native language.

The reasoning here is to avoid extraneous complexity. We considered the possibility of having “Demontongue” as a native language and so forth, but decided that it would just complicate things and wasn’t necessary to the character. Anyway, one might argue that “realistically” a race of demons living in a different dimension would have their own language, culture, and so forth, but in the comics, none of that ever seems to matter much. Smooth-tongued contract-writing demons don’t ever seem to suffer a penalty for being unfamiliar with Earth culture. English-speaking wizards never summon French-speaking demons.

Therefore, Korrasami’s particular comic-book Hell has a lot of commerce with and understanding of the mortal realm. They might prefer a medieval aesthetic, with swords and cloaks and brooding castles, but they still know all about cell phones and automatic transmissions. Some of them come and go, working to taint souls or some other evil scheme. They bring the news back with them.

Advantages

Yeah, yeah, I know, I said one of the goals was to minimize complexity, after showing a character sheet that seems to have two of everything. Let’s break it down into pieces.

Korrasami has two sets of Alternate Abilities. First is her “Magical Aura”, which has two versions of Warp, one alternate to the other. The second is “Projected Psychic Energy”, which includes her outward-directed powers, mainly variations on psychokinesis.

The two flavors of Warp amount to “quick, close, and small” versus “big, showy, elaborate portal”. Under normal conditions, she’ll use the first version, with Blink and No Strain. This is a quick, Nightcrawler-style “bamf”. With Reliable and her Teleportation Talent, she’ll have a roll of 26, before penalties for time and distance. With Blink, she’ll be able to perform a teleport as an active defense at that level. (Eek!) The second version of Warp opens a portal, and can reach any where on the planet. It operates with a roll of 29, which is good, because a jump of over 1000 miles is going to be at a -8 for distance, plus a -5 for teleporting blind, putting her back down to an effective skill of 16 before we consider the modifier for time spent. It’s likely she’ll be taking 30 seconds, for no penalty. Once she’s opened such a portal, she needs to recover for an hour before she can open another.

Essentially, she’s got a teleport power that’ll carry her and a friend around the battlefield or across town, and another that’ll be used in Act 1 to drop the team into whatever exotic locale they’ll be in for this issue.

Next up, Projected Psychic Energy. The flagship power is Telekinesis sufficient to lift 1.25 tons. She uses this to fly. She can also project her psychokinetic energy as a 5d cr attack that does double knockback; an average damage roll should throw a normal human back a distance of four hexes. Alternatively, she can project that same force as a protective force field that lasts as long as she concentrates on it. Finally, she can project that same energy with such finesse that she can heal wounds, even her own.

(Regarding that projected force field, I would just like to say, the way GURPS does walls just feels weird. I mean, I can appreciate the way modify-attack-to-wall generalizes them, so you build “Wall of Stone” the same as “Wall of Fire”, but… weird. Makes it look like she’s got two different attacks, rather than an attack and a defense.)

Korrasami’s Claim to Hospitality comes from ministering to those suburban satanists: from time to time, she can find a spare couch to crash on and a refrigerator to raid.

She’s fairly rugged on her own, with DR 4 from tough skin, but she can also summon a personal force field for additional protection. She also heals quicker than a normal human. These abilities might point to demonic ancestry, or they might be side-effects of growing up in the alien environment of Hell, or they might be the result of thousands of hours of mystic rituals aimed at gathering magical power.

After a lifetime spent in Hell, she’s always on guard, giving her an almost-supernatural Danger Sense. Her magical studies have made her sensitive to any kind of supernatural phenomena. (Demons, yes. Magic, yes. Psychic powers? I’m not sure, we’ll see what the GM says.) Despite a lifetime spent in Hell, she possesses Empathy, which might be the root of her rebellion and escape.

Korrasami has three Perks. Her Body Sense and Innate Attack skills are magical in nature, and so they’re based on sheer Will. She has Cloaked, because in Hell, if you can’t rock a cloak with style, they send you down to the sulfur mines to prod the damned souls of shoplifters and people who dog-ear books instead of using a bookmark.

Why two Warps? It got too expensive trying to do everything all at once. Splitting the power in two made it much more affordable. It also keeps her from popping over to the campaign equivalent of STAR Labs’ Tokyo campus to grab the World’s Biggest McGuffin Ray when we realize, three seconds into the big fight, that a McGuffin Ray would be really useful right about now… while still allowing her to deliver the team to exotic locations with impressive scenery… which I’m sure the GM will appreciate.

Why Healing, Affects Self, and Regeneration? That one’s mostly a belt-and-suspenders tactic. I figure, if she gets a little scuffed, she can heal herself up between scenes, but if she’s beat up so bad she’s unconscious, she’ll still have the Regeneration ticking away in the background. Comic book characters bounce back extraordinarily quickly, so I think just about any super can support Slow Regeneration, just as “plot protection”.

Another thing to consider about the Healing/Regeneration thing is the limitations. Healing is Magical (-10%) and has the Pact limitation, meaning it might not always be available. The Regeneration, on the other hand, is built-in and just keep on going.

Finally, that Pact limitation that pops up all over the place. Korrasami spends a lot of time meditating, burning incense, chanting odd phrases (“Azarath Metrion Zinthos!”), and so forth. If she doesn’t do this, she loses the mystic focus required to perform a lot of her magic tricks. If she can’t meditate, she can’t teleport, she can’t heal, she can’t pick up small cars with her mind. On the other hand, she doesn’t need to meditate to raise a telekinetic wall or blast things with brute force. Those are the manifestations of her raw magical abilities that she displayed even as a child.

Disadvantages

Korrasami’s former owners (or “family”, as they would have it) would like to get her back under their control, but it’s hardly their top priority. They’re hunting her, but on 6 or less.

Her upbringing has left her with recurring Nightmares. She also has spooky ways that are often off-putting. The same process (or supernatural genetics) that gives her such tough skin and rapid healing also left her vulnerable to holiness, just like any demon.

Still, even Hell itself couldn’t affect the core virtue of her soul: she cannot bring herself to harm the innocent, and she feels a responsibility to protect those who are lucky enough to know nothing of the magical dangers lurking behind the surface of reality.

Understanding what it’s like to be a mystic fish-out-of-water in a mundane world, Korrasami can sometimes have a bit of a soft spot for those who are strange, unusual, or even freakish.

Like calls to like, and so weird calls to weird. Being a practitioner of the Dark Arts, she’s always running into the strange things that shouldn’t exist.

Quirks

Korrasami is allergic to True Faith, just like she’s allergic to holy objects. The atmosphere in Hell being what it is, she’s somewhat sensitive to bright lights.

Hell’s fashion sense run towards the baroque, but has one underlying constant: the cloak makes the demon. Korrasami will inevitably end up wearing a hooded cloak if there’s any possible way to do so.

Being an admitted spawn of Hell with demonic magical powers and a goth style, Korrasami isn’t all that popular with fundamentalists of several different religions.

Being unsure of herself among humans in social situations, sometimes Korrasami will overthink her actions and display Dorkiness.

Skills

Mostly self-explanatory for a character who was taught to meditate by demons. She’s got a bit of Brawling, despite not being a physical, in-your-face melee fighter, because sometimes life in Hell requires an uppercut to the chin. Her Detect Lies is extraordinary, because she learned by penetrating the deceptions of the best liars in the multiverse.

Korrasami’s flagship skill is Scholar! at IQ.  This stands in for a lot of the “book learnin'” that wizards need to have. In particular, it’s the reason why Korrasami can get away with being a wizard without Occultism.

Korrasami makes her living with a combination of Fortune-Telling and Religious Ritual (Demon Worship). This isn’t enough to generate much income, but it has the benefit of being low-profile.

GCA put in a footnote saying that her Intimidation might be affected by her spooky Reputation. I suspect Korrasami might get more mileage out of “… or I’ll eat your soul” than she would out of “… or I’ll beat you up”.

Gear

Hell has TL8 metallurgy and a pseudo-medieval style. Korrasami came to Earth wearing a mail coif and hauberk made from some hellish metal that more-or-less approximates titanium. Those, a pair of knee-high boots, a pair of gloves, and (of course) a well-made cloak make up her costume.

Since she’s been on Earth, Korrasasmi has established herself well enough in modern society to obtain a cell phone.

 

GURPS Supers Character: Jade Rocket

That one guy has been pondering on a 600 point supers game. The idea, as I understand it, is that the PCs are the first generation of supers… so, of course, I had to make a legacy character.

After several revisions, here’s my proposed PC, assuming the game happens and scheduling works out and no zombie apocalypse and the creek don’t rise…

Jade Rocket

600 points

ST 12 [20]; DX 14 [80]; IQ 12 [40]; HT 12 [20].
Damage 1d-1/1d+2; BL 29 lb; HP 12 [0]; Will 15 [15]; Per 12 [0]; FP 12 [0].
Basic Speed 6.50 [0]; Basic Move 6 [0]; Dodge 9.

Social Background
TL: 8 [0].
CF: Asian [1]; Western (Native) [0].
Languages: Chinese (Native) [6]; English (Native) [0].

Templates and Meta-Traits
Chin Na (Martial Arts; p. MA154) [0].

Advantages
Appearance (Attractive) [4]; Damage Resistance 1 (Tough Skin) [3]; High Pain Threshold [10]; Luck (Defensive) [12]; Modular Abilities (Cosmic Power; Focus Limited: Highly versatile focus (Superscience Gadgets); Gadget/Breakable: DR 5; Gadget/Breakable: Object is complex machine; Gadget/Breakable: Size -7; Gadget/Unique; Per point of abilities (+2); Physical and Mental; Required Disadvantage (Maintenance, 1 Person, Weekly); Superscience; Trait Limited: One specific trait (Accessory Perks)) [16]; Modular Abilities (External Reconfigurable Mechanisms; Focus Limited: Highly versatile focus (Superscience Gadgets); Gadget/Breakable: Object is complex machine; Gadget/Unique; Physical and Mental; Required Disadvantage (Maintenance, 1 Person, Weekly); Slot 1 (+75); Slot 2 (+25); Superscience; Advantages Only; Variable Gadget (Combination of durability and size modifiers that varies from one device to the next; see SU46)) [375]; Signature Gear 1 (Uniform) [1].
Perks: Style Familiarity (Chin Na); Unusual Training (Pressure Points). [2]

Disadvantages
Charitable (12 or less) [-15]; Code of Honor (Xia) [-10]; Curious (15 or less) [-2]; Discipline of Faith (Ritualism) [-5]; Duty (Ancient Order Of Masters; 9 or less (fairly often); Extremely Hazardous) [-10]; Enemy (Failed former student; Less powerful than the PC; 9 or less) [-5]; Pacifism (Cannot Kill) [-15]; Selfless (9 or less) [-7]; Sense of Duty (Innocents; Entire Race) [-15]; Susceptible to Ingested Poison -1 [-1]; Wealth (Struggling) [-10]; Workaholic [-5].

Quirks
Bulky Frame; Disciplined; Methodical; Responsible; Serious.

Skills
Administration (A) IQ [2]-12; Current Affairs/TL8 (Headline News) (E) IQ [1]-12; Detect Lies (H) Per-1 [2]-11; Diplomacy (H) IQ-1 [2]-11; Driving/TL8 (Automobile) (A) DX-1 [1]-13; Driving/TL8 (Motorcycle) (A) DX-1 [1]-13; Esoteric Medicine (H) Per [4]-12; First Aid/TL8 (Human) (E) IQ [0]-12; Gesture (E) IQ [1]-12; Innate Attack (Beam) (E) DX [1]-14; Interrogation (A) IQ-1 [0]-11; Intimidation (A) Will-1 [1]-14; Judo (H) DX+4 [20]-18; Mechanic/TL12 (Nanomachines) (A) IQ+6 [24]-18; Move! (WC) DX [24]-14; Philosophy (Taoism) (H) IQ-1 [2]-11; Physiology/TL8 (Human) (H) IQ-2 [1]-10; Pressure Points (Human) (H) IQ+2 [12]-14; Savoir-Faire (Dojo) (E) IQ [1]-12.

Techniques: Arm Lock (Judo) (A) [0]-18; Choke Hold (Judo) (H) [0]-16; Finger Lock (Judo) (H) [0]-15; Head Lock (Judo) (H) [0]-15; Leg Grapple (Judo) (H) [0]-18; Pressure-Point Strike (Judo) (H) [0]-16; Trip (Judo) (H) [0]-11.

Signature Gear
Advanced Body Armor (17 lb); Boots, Steel-Toed (4 lb); Cloth Cap (Styling, +2); Face Mask (Hardened Steel; Styling (+2); 2 lb); Heavy Leather Sleeves (Leather of Quality; 2 lb); Leather Gloves (Leather of Quality); Leather Pants (3 lb); Pouch.

Equipment
Cell Phone ($250; 4 oz).

My, that’s quite the wall of text, isn’t it?  Let’s see if we can shine some light into the dark corners. First…

Background and Origin Story

Tom Tan grew up listening to his great-grandmother’s fantastic stories about the old days in China. So, when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and told he had no options, he left behind his mundane life as an office manager, sold all his worldly goods, and set out for Asia.

There, he followed rumors of miracle cures until he found a certain unnamed group of Taoist priests. They practiced their own version of Chin Na with special emphasis on the use of pressure points, both to heal and to harm. The rumor was that these folks knew how to correct otherwise-incurable diseases. Over the course of a long training montage, Tom was accepted into their ranks and learned some of their lore.

In time, Tom was told the priests’ most guarded secret and the reason for the group’s existence. Hundreds of years ago, a being from far away had sought shelter with the people are the area, grew sick, and died while in their care. People at the time said that the being was a xian, a celestial being, but in modern times, some of the priests had speculated that the being was some kind of advanced extraterrestrial. What wasn’t debatable was that the being had left behind an artifact.

The artifact was the celestial being’s sole tool. It seemed to be all the tool a person would ever need. Over the years, cautious experimentation led to the formulation of a series of rituals that would allow a person to use the device, and a partial understanding of the rules of its operation. It would only abide a single user at a time, bonding to that person until death, appearing as a skin-tight, usually-featureless metal bracelet without apparent hinge or seam. It would follow the commands of the user, if they were given correctly. It could act as any tool and create any machine or device, limited only by the user’s knowledge and skill.

Eventually, a tradition grew up. The current user of the device would act as a sort of wandering hero, a youxia, and uphold the common good. As the users grew too old to wander, they would retire to train their replacements. Candidates for the position would be chosen from the monks, who would have learned the basics of operating the device in their training, disguised as esoteric ritual. The elder user would provide advanced training to a small group of candidates, sometimes for years, before naming a successor. Upon the user’s death, the device would unlock, and be handed over to the named successor, who would take up a life of adventure. The other candidates would live more sedentary lives, studying and becoming wise, to act as a council of elders to guide and direct the user’s activities.

That had been the way of things, up until 1920, when the user of that time was unexpectedly killed, after a time in which many of the order had coincidentally also died. This cost the order much of their gathered knowledge of the practical use of the device. The group went into a rebuilding phase, during which the users devoted themselves to re-learning how the device works.

As it turned out, at the time that Tom joined the order, the device’s user was getting on in years. Another long training montage, this time with more weird technology, and Tom ends up being (ahem) the chosen one. Along the way, the previous user applied one part Esoteric Medicine plus two parts alien medical technology, and pretty much cured Tom’s cancer. (He’s troubled by a sensitive digestion, a small price to pay.)

In light of the sudden appearance of supers (or if that doesn’t work in-story, then just because they’re feeling froggy with their young, naive new minion), the elders decided that they’ve kept a low profile long enough. They ordered Tom to go out and do heroic stuff in the wider world.

And so, the Jade Rocket was born.

What’s really going on

That background is how Tom knows it. This next part is what I’ve been imagining, behind the scenes – the real story behind the partial story that Tom was told. Changing this stuff wouldn’t require Tom to get points for Amnesia.

The theory on which I’ve hung all that is that the “being” was actually an alien, probably extradimensional, definitely TL12^ or more. It was doing the extradimensional TL12^ alien version of camping, hoping from world to world, maybe universe to universe, when it ran into trouble. Extradimensional alien flu or the like. The weird local creatures – humans – took it in when it was in trouble. Sadly, it died anyway.

The device is actually a “sufficiently advanced” multitool. The bracelet part is the control unit for a cloud of nanomachines. They swarm around the control unit at all times. When activated, they can put themselves together to make just about any gadget. When not activated, they scavenge for whatever spare matter and energy they can find, replenishing their numbers and their strength for the next activation. The rituals for activation are hit-or-miss “voodoo programming” – kinda like using a voice recognition system that had spent a century adapting to a parrot who learned the commands in French from a native Japanese speaker working from a phrase book.

As far as learning how to make the thing work: Writing down instructions isn’t all that helpful, since the TL12^ interface is more-or-less telepathic, so there’s a strong “hands on” element to using the device. Furthermore, every user has to perform maintenance on the system. Some of that “maintenance” is actually tinkering with the configuration, sometimes to the point of “editing the registry”… so, if a user from a hundred years ago were to be handed the present-day device, it’s not certain that the old rituals would still work like they used to.

To sum up: it’s a super-hero origin, only works once.

Explanation and highlights

As I was saying at the game t’other day, if I’m going to give a GM ulcers with a character, I’m going to first give a guided tour and point out all the way it could give ulcers, first. That way they’ve got no one to blame but themselves.

The name

Why “Jade Rocket”? Because I’m ripping off Green Lantern, of course. I set out aiming for Hal Jordan, but along the way, I got interested in the idea of a “chosen one” character where there’s no supernatural choice-maker and no mystical criteria. Tom didn’t get the super-powers because he’s fearless, or because he’s strong-willed, or because he’s especially good at the martial arts, or because he follows the code. He got the job because he was at hand and mostly competent to do what needed to be done. The device doesn’t care who uses it.

Attributes

A solid base of 12, with a standout DX 14. I kinda see straight 12’s as the baseline for a comic book superhero.

Tom’s Will is actually higher than his DX. It is my firm belief that, to put on the tights in the first place, a super hero has to be strong-willed. Stubborn. Obsessive. Possibly deranged…

Social Background

I’m trying to steer a course between GURPS-like detail and comic book hand-wave. On the one hand, Tom’s paying points for a Cultural Familiarity, something our local games haven’t really emphasized; on the other hand, that CF is for all of Asia. He’s got a second language, and it’s listed as “Chinese”, which I understand is a gross oversimplification. I reckon I’ll tighten up both, if necessary.

Do I expect either one to show up in-game? No, not really, they’re mostly just background color. If they do, though, I want to be covered.

Advantages

Tom is Attractive because he’s in a comic book. He’s got tough skin and a high pain threshold from being roughed up in training.

The real centerpiece of Tom’s Advantages are his two Modular Abilities. They’re based on the Nanoswarm power from the Improviser template on page 46 of GURPS Supers, plus some bits from the Reverend Pee Kitty’s “Cosmic Power for ‘Super-Gadgeteers’“. One is a 2-point Cosmic Power Modular Ability that can become any two Accessory Perks, while the other is an Externally Reconfigurable Mechanisms Modular Ability with a 75-point slot and a 25-point slot that can both become just about any super-gadget.

Why is one Cosmic and the other Externally Reconfigurable? Because the Externally Reconfigurable Mechanisms requires working from a list of known designs, and rolling to add new designs to that list. I wanted to be able to pull out any Accessory Perk, on the spur of the moment.

Disadvantages

 

Aside from generally heroic stuff… The Discipline of Faith is the set of rituals that he’s been taught, half alien nanotech guesswork and half idiosyncratic Taoism. He’s got a Duty to the masters, who aren’t generally useful enough to be worth a Patron.

One of Tom’s fellow students didn’t appreciate the idea of a life of wisdom, rather than a life of action, and turned against the order in general and Tom specifically. He knows something of Mechanic (Nanomachines) TL12^, so if he could arrange for Tom to die while he’s nearby, he could hijack the nanoswarm.

Tom has Struggling Wealth. He didn’t go back to his office job. Instead, he drifts from place to place, doing odd jobs and the like, as he can pick them up, so as to keep himself free for super-heroics.

Quirks

He’s big-boned. He won’t start a fight. He works slowly and carefully. He takes responsibility for his actions. He’s a bit of a stiff.

Skills

Tom’s primary skill from his old life is Administration. His Esoteric Medicine comes from his knowledge of pressure points, so it’s cinematic acupressure.

Tom doesn’t have any points in any particular Chin Na technique. I lean towards Arm Lock, of course, but we’ll see how things develop.

The stand-out skill on Tom’s list is Move! It fills in for all the fancy footwork that martial artists are known for. It’ll also work for anything acrobatic that he has to do once he starts pulling out jet packs, swim fins, and boots with giants springs. If need be, it’ll allow him to kick someone in the head. I’m expecting Tom’s role on the team to be more support/movement specialist, not so much as a heavy hitter.

Gear

The Jade Rocket costume is made up of several pieces of armor that are bought as Signature Gear. His hood and face mask are distinctively styled; they’re not just armor, they’re his mask. It’s Signature Gear, not because it’s special and unique, but because the order has a bunch of appropriate stuff, gathered over the years. Some of it’s ancient, some of it’s exceptional from a historical perspective… but in game terms, it just means he can always get a new pair of boots to wear while adventuring even though he can’t afford bus fare.

 

Pirates! Session #5: “Operation Greasy Jesus”

Embarrassing side note: The PCs were seeking Jacob, the NPC who had escaped Hell alongside Van der Decken, to use as a guide back into Hell. Due to a memory slip, I spent the entire session calling him “Joshua” rather than “Jacob”. Sigh.

The Crew:

  • “Dirty”, aspiring wizard
  • Gabby, cannon-whisperer
  • “Mad” Mags, destroyer of sheds
  • Mo’, ax man
  • Raphael, peeker at doors
  • “Papa” Sean Geaux, vanishing voodoo priest

What Happened:

As we left off last time, Captain Courvoisier had approved of Gabby’s plan to go ashore and wreak havoc upon Port Coleman. She was given command of the ship’s boat, with a dire warning of the consequences should the boat be lost, along with a crew of “volunteers” – all the PCs.

Port Coleman was a rough village on a rocky area of the Moskito Coast. There was a single crude dock at one end of a strip of beach, with a handful of makeshift barns and sheds spead along the beach. A wooden stairway and capstan-driven lift provided access to the top of the thirty-foot bluff that sat behind the beach. The main part of the village was built atop this bluff. In particular, there was an earthen fort there, with several cannon aimed out to sea.

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Thanks to those cannon, the ship could not approach the harbor. Courvoisier performed some clever navigation and anchored the ship well inside the cannons’ range, but in the shelter of a tall outcropping of rock off the beach. Raphael took a spyglass to examine the fort, noting that it flew the English flag – a disappointment to the several members of the crew who would rather be fighting the Spanish.

The mission started with a flurry of “hurry up and wait”. First, there was a rush of last-minute preparation:  folks loading their weapons, knocking the bottom out of a barrel and putting it in the boat (for reasons unknown, as it remained there for the rest of the session), and so forth.

Papa performed further magical healing on Raphael to un-cripple his sword arm.

Raphael brought out a jug of oil and suggested that everyone cover themselves with it, with an eye towards making them too slippery to grab. There was no rush to take advantage of this plan.

Dirty attempted a ritual which backfired badly, disintegrating his fine clothes and leaving him wearing nothing but a loincloth. “Meant to do that,” he announced, taking the oil jug from Raphael and upending it over his head.

Finally, the group decided that they needed to wait for nightfall, anyway. The rushed preparations were shelved, and the deep plotting and planning began. In the end, they came up with a daring plan, which they dubbed “Operation Greasy Jesus”. (GM Note: I think it’s best appreciated if you pronounce it with a Dixie accent:  “greeeee-zeee”.)

Dirty, still covered in oil and nearly naked, cast a ritual to allow him to walk on water for a few minutes. Papa, being a much quicker worker of magic, cast another ritual in parallel, summoning a school of bio-luminescent jellyfish, and ordered them to follow Dirty, under the surface, to provide dramatic lighting at the proper moment. The rest of the party set off in the boat with muffled oars, stealthily heading towards the dock, while Dirty set off at a trot, angling for a spot further up the beach. When he came close enough, the jellyfish lit up and he started chanting a few ominous-sounding biblical phrases that Mags (being an English-speaker, unlike most of the other PCs) had taught him.

In short, the plan was for Dirty to provide a distraction, so that the others could get ashore unobserved, by pretending to be the bizarre arrival of Jesus to the shores of the New World.

As it happened, the plan was fairly successful. Only a few of the bystanders on the beach were overcome with religious awe, but all eyes were at least drawn by the spectacle. Several people began moving towards Dirty, just to get a better look. Stepping over the waves, Dirty waved for a couple of nearby men to approach, which they did. He raised his hand as if in benediction, stepping out of the water onto the beach. This, of course, triggered his “dapper me!” charm, which instantly stripped all the oil from his body and left him wearing the cleanest, whitest loincloth you would ever care to see. He waved his hand as if blessing one of the approaching men, even as the man’s eyes went wide from seeing the sudden change from “greasy Jesus” to “clean probably-not-Jesus”… and Guillermo, Dirty’s magically-animated “living bullet”, zipped in from where it had been lurking in the darkness, going straight through one of the man’s ears and out the other.

Meanwhile, the others had taken advantage of the distraction to pull the ship’s boat up to the docks. The crew approached the peering bystanders from the rear, some more stealthily than others. Of the small group of four standing near the docks, only one noticed anything amiss, and he was only able to shout “Hey!” and point out Raphael before the PCs cut the entire group down. Notably, Mo’ cut down more than one person with no more than a single swing apiece from his boarding ax.

Papa stepped out of the boat onto the dock, but never made it to the sand of the beach. Instead, he vanished in a cloud of voodoo magic on an unknown, but no doubt important and mystical, mission of his own. (GM Note: Player had to leave. All kinds of mystical.)

During the initial scuffle, another enemy walked out of a nearby barn to see what the commotion was, only to be cut down with a major wound. Mags paused to poke him until he stopped wriggling, and Raphael moved to make sure there were no other reinforcements lurking inside the barn.

Unfortunately, there were three more men in the shed. Brandishing his blood-covered rapier and utilizing his fearsome glare, Raphael cowed them through intimidation. They obeyed his gesture to sit down and stay put. Then, Mags and Mo’ came in, planning to kill everyone inside. Mo’ again demonstrated how he could nearly bisect a man with one swing of his ax. Mags decided to one-up him: she reached out her sword and tipped a nearby candle over. Onto some straw. Right next to a keg of black powder.

The evacuation of the shed was immediate. Everyone besides Mags tried to leave. In the case of the local men, they managed to successfully evade Mags and make it out the door. As for Mags, she lingered in the doorway, stabbing folks in the back as they tried to run away. When the shed exploded a few seconds later, Mo’ took some incidental damage from flying debris, but since Mags had used up so much of her running-away time in Bloodlust, she took the brunt of the explosion. This was enough to throw her across the beach, into the water. Through sheer grit (and good dice rolls), she did not lose consciousness, and was left badly wounded, barely able to hold her head above water.

Meanwhile, further up the beach, Dirty was engaged in his own fight. He was able to use Guillermo and the element of surprise to take down another man, but then found himself pursued by a sailor carrying a flintlock. Dirty retreated back out onto the water, throwing himself flat to take cover behind the waves. After a few seconds of cat-and-mouse, Dirty finally found his shot, and took it, killing the enemy.

At some point during all this excitement, there came the sound of cannon fire from the fort. There was some concern that the fort was firing on the beach, but since nothing on the beach besides the shed exploded, the pirates concluded that this was not the case.

After the adventure with the shed, Raphael was even more determined to not let anyone get behind them and close off their path of retreat. He moved to the next shed up the beach, opened the door, and stuck his head inside.

Unfortunately for him, what he did not know was that there were two men inside that shed. They had heard the events outside, and had decided to mount a last, desperate stand. They were both armed with a pair of flintlocks. The plan was for one of them (later identified as Bob) to throw open the door, at which point the other man would charge out, guns blazing. The plan was for Bob to follow directly after. As it happened, though, Raphael opened the door first.

Even as this triggered the second man’s Wait, Bob got off a shot at Raphael, hitting him in the face. Only a grazing blow, this wasn’t quite enough to put Raphael down for the count, but it did put quite a fright into him and knock him to the ground. The second man rushed outside, meeting Gabby’s ready and waiting blade.

Even as she repeatedly stabbed the man, Gabby explained about how she was here to do a job, and she was going to do that job, by thunder, if she had to chew the eyelids off every man-Jack on the Spanish Main! She pointed her rapier at Bob, announcing that she was here to kill Bloody Bill Coleman, and asking if he would like to give her a hand?

Bob agreed that he had never really liked Bloody Bill all that much, anyway. Furthermore, it had been his life-long dream to one day turn pirate. What a lucky day it was for both of them!

With the immediate fight over, and everybody besides Gabby wounded, some gravely, the pirates took shelter in Bob’s shed. As they took turns bandaging one another, they searched through the shed’s contents. Luckily, they discovered a supply of medicine, which was a big help in getting Mags back on her feet, if only barely. Gabby interrogated Bob. They learned that Bloody Bill was up in the fort, no surprise. More usefully, Bob told them about a palm tree growing nearby that could be used to climb up to the top of the rise with ease.

Once regrouped, the party went to check out this palm tree. After some debate, they came up with a new plan. Gabby went up the tree, scouted out the situation, dropped a rope, and then slipped off to skulk around in the darkness. Everyone else gathered behind a building at the top of the cliff. (Dirty left Guillermo on patrol at the bottom of the tree, to defend their escape route.) There, Mags tied all their hands together, using trick knots that they could untie with a single tug. Carrying only concealed weapons, they had Bob drag them into the light, loudly claiming that he (and his comrades, still on the beach) had captured a bunch of attacking pirates!

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This bluff was sufficient to get them into the fort itself, which was abuzz with activity as they fired the cannons out to sea. There, Bob was directed to a particular shack. He knocked, announcing the “news”. The door opened from inside. Bloody Bill Coleman stuck his head out. All the supposedly-bound pirates, and Bob, threw themselves prone. And…

… we rewind back to when Gabby slipped off into the darkness. With utmost stealth, she made her way to the only unattended cannon in the fort. (GM Note: As I recall, my words were something like “What unattended cannon? <looks> Oh, I guess there is one…”) Using the noise, smoke, and confusion of the cannons as cover, she had turned the cannon around, so that it was aimed directly at Bloody Bill’s front door. Then, when his face came into view and all Gabby’s comrades got out of the way… she fired a round of canister shot at him.

….

Well, it hit him, of course – Gabby’s a gunner prodigy, you know – but it ended up leveling his entire house. There wasn’t much left of Bloody Bill at all.

The pirates jumped to their feet, waving weapons, in the sudden surprised silence, and announced that now they were in charge. What with the sudden, brutal loss of their none-too-popular leader, the locals weren’t inclined to argue much. Gabby announced that from now on, Port Coleman would be known as Fort Gabby. Again, nobody wanted to argue the point.

The pirates signaled the ship. In the immediate looting, while the ship was making its way around to the dock, there were several noteworthy finds. First, a large amount of rum. Second, Dirty found another fancy outfit of clothes and put them on, to everyone’s relief. Finally, Raphael poked his head through yet another door – to the horror of the other players, in light of his earlier door-peeking – and discovered Jacob. (GM: Using the alias of “Joshua”! Yeah, that’s it…)

Jacob was politely, but firmly, taken into custody and handed over to Captain Courvoisier when he came ashore. The captain was observed to go in to speak with Jacob, only to emerge some time later, obviously in a fury. With the quartermaster unavailable, Dirty felt that it was his responsibility to see to his captain’s wishes. He went to speak with the captain, taking a bottle of rum with him.

As they drank and talked, the captain admitted that Jacob wasn’t willing to give up the exact location of the hole in the sea. Dirty asked what that information would be worth, if someone could get it out of Jacob? The captain replied, the person who got that information would be promoted to quartermaster and be put in charge of the next ship they took. That sounded good to Dirty, so he poured a glass of rum and announced that he would use his mystic arts to change it into a potion to compel truth.

One critically failed roll, and the glass of rum exploded into flames! Dirty took the worst of it, since he was holding the glass at the time, and was rendered unconscious. Captain Courvoisier was badly singed, and thrown back so hard that his chair fell over backwards.

Captain Courvoisier threw open his door and kicked Dirty out – literally, kicking him in the ribs hard enough to do even more damage – cursing him and his heathen magic the whole way.

Gabby went to see if she could help improve the captain’s mood, learned about the offer he had made to Dirty, and decided to take it up herself. (Courvoisier specifically warned her to leave Jacob alive.) Grabbing the rum, she went to where Jacob was being held, where she engaged him in drinking and conversation. After a short while, she struck up a bit of a friendship. Eventually, she convinced him that all he had to do was give them the location, and he would be free to go, unharmed. He agreed. Requesting the local charts, he marked the location of the hole in the sea. Furthermore, he wrote down a profane chant that would cause the hole to open into Hell.

This was pleasing to the captain, and so Gabby was named quartermaster. Her first job was to restock the ship for the next leg of the adventure.

After about a week of recuperation, refitting, and restocking, the ship set sail for the hole in the sea. This trip was accomplished with no particular drama.

(GM Note: In hindsight, I really should have sic’ed the kraken on ’em. I think they were expecting it. I remember several remarks along the lines of “the kraken is lurking just off shore” and so forth, earlier in the session. But it was getting late, and I was eager to show ’em pictures of the Great Blue Hole, and I just plain forgot about the kraken. I guess it was out running an errand and they slipped past it. That’s ok, there will come a rematch.)

There was some upset once they realized that the hole in the sea is actually a hole in a reef, making it impossible to place the ship over it without ripping out its hull. They remembered from Van der Decken’s story that his entire ship went through the hole. In time, they remembered that there had been some mention of it happening during a storm. Clearly, they reasoned, the ship must have been carried over the reef on a wave! But how would they do the trick?

Remembering how a previous critical failure at ritual magic had summoned bad weather, Dirty set out to perform a ritual to summon a big wave. He figured, either it would work, and he would have the necessary wave, or it wouldn’t, and they would get a storm, which might do the trick anyway!

Pushing his magic (and his luck with rolling the dice) to its limits, Dirty did the trick! A single rogue wave appeared, washing the ship over the reef with inches to spare, leaving it smack in the middle of the hole.

Next, the profane chant. Being the most literate among the crew, Raphael got the job. With a crack of thunder, the ship dropped through the hole, and into… well, Hell, or so they say. The sky there was roiling red and black. The ship floated on something like an ocean, but they weren’t at all certain that it was a sea of water. More pressing, though, was the sudden, nearby appearance of a huge ship with tattered sails.

Though there wasn’t a breath of wind – “Is there air?” was one muttered comment – the crew saw the other ship’s rags of sails stir. Slowly, creakily, the other ship began to move… towards them. The pirates could see movement on the deck of the other ship, but couldn’t make out any details until one of them went aloft with a spyglass. Then, they saw that the ship was manned by rag-clad skeletons.

Nobody wanted to be out-maneuvered by a bunch of ghosts, so Dirty again set out to make the most that he could of his relatively-weak magic. He performed a ritual to “let our sails use the same wind they’re using”. After several excellent rolls, he succeeded. A slim, tiny breath of wind came up, just enough to set them moving.

As the two ship maneuvered at an aching, snail-like pace, Gabby went below to ready the cannons…

Next time: against the ghost ship!


Cool Point: Gabby, for taking out Bloody Bill in such a decisive manner.

Booby Point: Dirty, for the “truth serum” scene, where he had everything riding on a single roll of the dice, only to roll triple-six and explode. (“Gee, Gabby, I’m sorry your bosun blew up…”)

The moral of the story:  Even low-down dirty pirates need social skills.

Pirates! Session #4

The Crew:

  • Big Tuna, over-sized brawler
  • “Dirty”, dabbler in the Path of Matter
  • Gabby, guns, stealth, and trickery
  • “Mad” Mags, rescuer and voice of reason
  • Mo’, agile, impulsive, and acquisitive
  • Raphael, not so young as he used to be
  • “Papa” Sean Geaux, quartermaster and voodoo priest

What Happened:

A few days of uneventful sailing went by. Half the PCs put points into Navigation. Dirty used secret magical rituals to tame the enchanted bullet, naming it “Guillermo”.

The next event of note was when some of the crew tossed Pedro, an NPC sailor, overboard. Even before this fact was reported to Papa Sean Geaux, there was a race to be the first to raid Pedro’s sea chest. When Mo’ arrived, he found Gabby sitting atop it, whistling innocently. Even as they agreed to split the loot, Dirty showed up to claim a share.

When they broke open the sea chest, they found a modest amount of money and some spare clothes. They found several twisted up tobacco leaves, which were later identified as Mayan “sicars“. More ominously, they found a little doll made from corn husks, among other things, bearing a striking resemblance to the quartermaster. They decided to keep this to themselves.

Throughout the day, Mags noticed that the reduced crew had become sullen, with lots of grumbling and slacking off in small groups. It seemed to her that there were quite a few dirty looks aimed at Mo’, but before she could work her way into the conversations to find out more, Papa cracked down on the slackers and put them to work to still their tongues.

That evening, after they dropped anchor and the crew started the heavy drinking, Gabby showed the effigy to Papa. He was concerned, especially when she started playing with it, making it dance about, threatening to do things to it, and so forth. Luckily, Gabby is in no way a skilled magician.

As they pondered, a sailor came up from below-decks, shouting “On this day, Raphael has become a man!” The word was that he had proven his valor in battle (in previous sessions), he had shown that he could hold his liquor, and now, he had… fulfilled the last requirement for adulthood, in the pirates’ eyes, with the help of one of the female members of the crew. (More importantly, he had spent the points to buy off his Social Stigma: Minor!) As he spoke, the sailor continued, several crew members were holding Raphael down and piercing his ear.

This, inevitably, prompted a fresh round of toasts, which led to further drinking.

During the evening, Dirty talked Papa into helping with restoring his “dapper me!” enchantment, the one that cleans up and restores his clothes every time he steps onto dry land. To aid the ritual, he smoked one of the sicars, gaining a modest bonus to his roll.

Later that night, after nearly everyone was asleep, Gabby arose to sneak around the ship. Unknown to anyone, she dumped handfuls of ash into the PCs’ boots. The next morning, this caused much uneasiness, and was generally taken as a sign of further magical attack.

Some days later, as they drew closer to their destination, they realized that they were being followed by some… thing under the water, something larger than their ship. This prompted much concern, obviously. Details were hard to make out, but it appeared to be something similar to a squid, but larger, and with more arms. It was immediately dubbed a kraken.

Gabby proposed that they engage the kraken with the cannons, but Captain Courvoisier wasn’t persuaded. He argued that, to bring the cannon to bear, they would need to turn to the side, which would greatly hamper their speed and ability to flee. If they engaged, it would be a do-or-die move: they would either be victorious, or dead, with little chance of escape. He proposed that they try to run, first. If they could make it to the shallow water near the shore, perhaps they could elude the beast.

Papa got to work organizing the crew for maximum speed. Meanwhile, Dirty turned to magic, starting a ritual to create a huge net, figuring to drop it in their wake to hamper the kraken. He asked for volunteers from among the crew to contribute energy to the ritual, but was informed that most of the sailors weren’t entirely comfortable with participating in his profane rituals; the worst kind of sinners they might be, but they’re Christian sinners, when it comes down to it. After a bit of bullying, a couple of the crew agreed that they probably would rather bend their faith than be eaten by a sea monster, and finally did help out.

Overcome with aggressiveness, Gabby and Raphael tried to talk the captain into letting them take the ship’s boat in an effort to lure the monster away. He didn’t care for this plan, either, pointing out that they only had the one boat, and he didn’t want to feed it to a kraken.

Finally, Gabby became too impatient with the discussion, and jumped overboard, planning to engage the kraken in its native element. From his post aloft, Mo’ saw this, but didn’t understand what was going on; he thought she had fallen overboard. In an effort to rescue her, he performed a perfect dive from the top of the mast into the ocean near her…

… and then rolled a natural 18 on his Swimming roll. “Glub!”

Gabby only made it a few strokes in the rough water before she, too, started to have troubles keeping her head above water. Big Tuna jumped in, using his cork-like floating powers to rescue them both. Mags threw them a line, and organized a team of sailors to pull all three aboard using the capstan. Meanwhile, Dirty completed his ritual, and the crew threw the net into the sea.

This misadventure was taken as just more evidence that taking the boat was a good idea. Raphael and Gabby brought up the the plan again, but Courvoisier had had enough. He ordered Mags to restrain them, tying them to a mast if need be, before one of them decided to do something else crazy.

This initiated a scuffle, as Mags went to wrestle them down. Gabby drew her rapier. Thinking he would put an end to the fight before it got out of hand, Dirty drew a flintlock and fired a shot into the deck at the feet of the combatants.

That was his intention, anyway. What happened was, he rolled an 18, and accidentally shot Raphael, breaking his right arm and leaving it crippled for, as it turned out, the next two months.

Raphael, it may be noted, is not left-handed.

Almost forgotten by everyone but Pap in all the drama, the kraken encountered the net and was, in fact, somewhat hampered. The crew bent themselves to the task of making speed, and was able to get to the coastal shallows without being overtaken. Papa used his magic to heal Raphael a bit, but he wasn’t able to correct the broken arm.

Later that day, the ship came within sight of the Moskito Coast. They approached a harbor with a small town. Courvoisier studied the shore through his spyglass, then swore. When the others looked they spotted two things. First, a skeleton dressed in pirate finery, tied to a post so that it would be submerged at high tide. Clearly, a warning. Second, a sign announcing the town to be named Port Coleman.

Courvoisier explained that the Coleman from the name was Bloody Bill Coleman, an old acquaintance. If they tried to sail into the harbor, they would be blown apart by land-based cannon, he was certain. Sadly, they needed to enter the harbor, as there is a village beyond it, where he hopes to find Jacob, the other person to escape Hell in Van der Decken’s story, who they need as a guide.

Gabby enthusiastically volunteered to take a small force ashore to put down ol’ Bloody Bill in the most fearsome way possible, and take the port for the pirates. For once, Courvoisier liked one of Gabby’s plans. He announced that he was seeking volunteers for the mission, then immediately thanked several of the PCs for volunteering.

Next time: the invasion!


Cool Point: Dirty, for being so good a shot that he can’t miss, even when he wants to.

Booby Point: Mo’, for heroically drowning during his rescue attempt.

The moral of the story:  Sometimes the dice will tell you things about the world that you never knew.  (Courvoisier kinda prefers to run, don’t he? I didn’t intend this to be a part of his character. If anything, I intended him to be indecisive. What I’ve been trying to do is, I’ll try the players to suggest courses of action, and then I’ll see how the reaction rolls go. The dice keep saying, Courvoisier doesn’t like risky plans, he’d rather run to make a profit on another day.)

 

Living Bullet

Last session, Dirty found an enchanted bullet. He has expressed an interest in using his knowledge of the Path of Matter (and a few points in the Ally advantage) to turn it into a companion.

So, here’s a quick-and-dirty (no pun intended) first draft of a living bullet.

Living Bullet (-37 pts)

ST 1 [-90]; DX 12 [24]; IQ 2 [-160]; HT 12 [20].
Damage 1d-6/1d-5; BL 3.2 oz; HP 5 [8]; Will 2 [0]; Per 10 [40]; FP 12 [0]; SM -11.
Basic Speed 5.00 [-20]; Basic Move 2 [-15] (air 40); Dodge 8.
Traits: Acute Vision +2 [4]; Automaton (p. B263) [-85]; Body of Metal (p. B262) [175]; Doesn’t Eat or Drink [10]; Doesn’t Sleep [20]; Enhanced Move 2 (Air; Second Nature) [100]; Flight (Cannot Hover, Costs Fatigue) [30]; Injury Tolerance (No Eyes; No Head; No Neck, plus Homogenous and No Blood from Body of Metal) [17]; Mute (-25); No Legs (Rolls) [0]; No Manipulators [-50]; No Sense of Smell/Taste [-5]; Single-Minded [5]; Social Stigma (Monster) [-15]; Wealth (Dead Broke) [-25].

With an air Move of 40 and 5 HP, the Living Bullet would do 2d cr with a full-speed Slam. However, since it is bullet-shaped (see B430), it will instead do 1d pi, in line with a small pistol.

 

 

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