Don't Forget Your Boots

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Tag: GURPS

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.

 

 

Ridden By The Loa

(Inspired by 3rd edition GURPS Voodoo, the “Totem” spell from Pyramid #3/56: Prehistory, and this post at The Ongoing Campaign.)

One of the things that voodoo is particularly known for, in the world of “Pirates!”, is inviting spirits to possess volunteers. These spirits are called loa. Each loa is a distinct being, with its own attributes and powers, which it shares with those it possesses. A person who is possessed by a loa is said to be a “horse” who is “ridden” by that loa.

The simplest versions of this kind of ritual might be nothing more than elaborate divination, inviting a loa to momentarily possess a person to answer questions or give advice. The full version, presented here, allows a ritual participant to take on more of the loa’s power.

Given that these examples are the most famous and powerful loa, it should come as no surprise that the rituals are costly. These aren’t quick buffs. They’re some of the most elaborate rituals in the voodoo arsenal. They’re going to be performed with all the elaborate ritual trappings, powerful grimoires, and potent places of power that can be brought to bear. Even so, it’ll likely take a non-adept an hour to perform these rituals.

 

Ridden By The Loa
Spell Effects: Greater Strengthen Spirit
Inherent Modifiers: Altered Trait, package based on specific loa
Greater Effects: 1 (x3)
The possessed person gains the package of abilities associated with the loa for ten minutes.
Typical Casting: Greater Strengthen Spirit (3) + Altered Trait, loa-specific package (varies) + Duration, 10 minutes (1).
Loa ability packages:
The Guede Triad – Baron Samedi, Baron Cimitie, Captain Zombi:  +4 ST [40], +1 DX [20], +3 HT [30], +3 DR [15], Haggard and Gaunt Features (-2 reactions) [-10], Kleptomania (12) [-15], Compulsive Behavior (Lying) (12) [-15], Odious Personal Habit (Filthy Language) [-5]. 192 energy (64 x 3).
Chango: +2 ST [20], +1 DX [20], +1 HT [10], +3 DR [15], +8 DR vs. burning attacks [24], Bad Temper (12) [-10], Lecherousness (12) [-15]. 204 energy (68 x 3).
Damballa: +2 ST [20], +2 DX [40], +1 DR [5], Flexibility [5], 4 pts. of Climbing and 4 pts. of Swimming, Cannot Speak [-15]. 201 energy (67 x 3).
Erzulie:  +2 DX [40], +3 Charisma [15], +1 DR [5], 8 pts. in Dancing, 8 pts. in Sex Appeal, Lecherousness (12) [-15]. 195 energy (65 x 3).
Legba: +5 ST [50], +2 DR [10], 8 pts. to Lockpicking/TL, Quirk “Seems Older Than He Is” [-1]. 213 energy (71 x 3).
Obatala:  +2 ST [20], +2 HT [20], +2 DR [10], Resistant (Immunity to Sickness) [15], Quirks: Compulsive Cleaner, Always Wears White [-2]. 201 energy (67 x 3).
Ochosi: +1 ST [10], +1 DX [20], +1 HT [10], +2 DR [10], +2 Per [10], 4pts. each in Tracking, Stealth, Survival (Jungle), and Throwing [16], Overconfidence (12) [-5], Impulsiveness (12) [-10]. 195 energy (65 x 3).
Oggun: +4 ST [40], +2 DX [40], +1 HT [10], +4 DR [20], 8 pts split between one or two weapon skills that are appropriate at the time, Bloodlust (12) [-10], Overconfidence (12) [-5], Odious Personal Habit (Constant Swearing and Profanity) [-10]. 291 energy (97 x 3).

Pirates! Session #3

The Crew:

  • “Dirty”, better bosun than captain
  • Gabby, better gunner than pilot
  • Mo’, better thief than sailor
  • Raphael, better interrogator of spirits than fearsome pirate

Players absent, and thus receiving no screen time:

  • “Papa” Sean Geaux, quartermaster and head bokor
  • “Mad” Mags, ropes and swift justice

What Happened:

Picking up where we left off, the beaches of Port Royal were under attack by a force of reanimated drowned sailors. The air was full of screams and smoke, as the attackers chased townsfolk and put several dockside buildings to the torch. Boats at anchor were also under attack, with zombies climbing aboard. Their battle cry: “Give us Van der Decken!”

Our “heroes” had rendezvoused on the quarterdeck of their single-masted sloop, La Fille Joile, where Captain Courvoisier was shouting orders at the diminished crew. Several crew members were patrolling the rail with pikes, pushing back any approaching dead men. Furthermore, the harbor mouth was threatened by a two-masted Spanish frigate. Courvoisier asked for ideas.

Dirty suggested that they leave the harbor as quickly as possible, to get out of the area of zombie infestation, and if the Spanish ship tried to stop them, they should flee, making a race of it. It was pointed out that all things being equal, the Spanish ship was likely to have a bit of a speed advantage over the sloop.

Gabby liked the overall plan of leaving town, but instead of running, wanted to engage the frigate with cannon. She was confident that they would prevail in such a contest. It was pointed out that given the size of the other ship, it likely carried more cannon, and would put up quite a fight.

Mo’ offered a variation: rather than a blast-’em-to-splinters battle with cannon, what if they played to their own strengths, boarded the frigate, and took the battle to hand-to-hand? Courvoisier tossed Mo’ his spyglass and sent him aloft to get a look at the other ship. (Later, it was noted that he never asked for it back, so now Mo’ has a high-quality spyglass!) Close examination showed the warship to be well-manned, unlike their own ship, with a large compliment of soldiers with muskets.

Raphael said he didn’t care how did it, he would be happy with any plan that killed Spaniards. They destroyed his family, he said, and now they needed to pay.

Courvoisier invoked his mantra (“Is there money in it?”) and announced his plan. They would head for open water, hoping for the best. If the Spanish ship tried to stop them, they would fight back: he instructed Gabby to go below and get the cannons ready to fire on the other ship’s masts.

As our heroes’ ship came around to make a run for the ocean, almost all eyes were aimed ahead, at the Spanish ship. From his post aloft, though, Mo’ was keeping an eye out in all directions. He saw that they weren’t the only ones leaving town. Several other ships and small boats were heading in the same direction; some appeared to be other Brethren of the Coast, but at least one rich man’s yacht was in the impromptu fleet. With a shout, Mo’ drew the others’ attention to this fact. Quickly, the pirates modified their course, allowing several of the other ships to draw ahead, allowing them to be the first to engage.

The Spanish ship moved to block the harbor, and was the first to fire, sending a warning shot over the bow of the lead boat. The Port Royal ships responded with ragged cannon fire. Courvoisier gave the order to fire, and Gabby went to work, pounding at the frigate’s masts with the ship’s 12-pound guns. Visibility declined rapidly as black powder smoke filled the air across the entire harbor mouth.

On the deck of La Fille Joile, one the the men handling the sails took a bullet and fell. A rope went slithering away, loose, and a sail started flapping, dumping wind, which brought the entire ship up short. Most of the crew slipped and fell at the unexpected change in speed. Atop the mast, Mo’ just took a firmer grip and rode it out without complaint.

Gabby ordered the cannons reloaded with chain shot, and fired another volley. With loud splintering and screams from the men aloft, one of the frigate’s masts came down, falling across the deck and dragging in the water to one side. Obviously, this severely affected the frigate’s handling. It slewed off-course and slowed considerably.

Meanwhile, Raphael had gone tumbling across the deck after the loose rope. He caught it, got a good grip, and leaned into it with all his might. Between his quick action on the deck and Mo’s efforts aloft, they managed to get the sails under control. Seconds later, with the rest of the crew back on their feet and at their stations, they were again able to get up to speed.

At that point, it became a limping chase. Courvoisier gave orders, and they executed a classic pirate maneuver to shake off pursuit. They took the ship across a nearby reef, where the water was deep enough for their small sloop, but not for the deeper draft of the Spanish frigate. Shortly, the pirates considered themselves free of pursuit.

At which point, Courvoisier slumped sideways and fell to the deck, unconscious.

The kids, Gabby and Raphael, rolled the captain onto his back, revealing the spreading red stain on his shirt. At some point during the recent action, he had caught a bullet. Dirty knelt next to the captain and began muttering prayers. Mo’ turned and went straight to the captain’s quarters, where he started looking around for valuables to pocket.

Over the course of several minutes, Dirty’s prayers grew in volume and vehemence. His eyes rolled back in his head. He foamed at the mouth. Blood began trickling from his nose. As he shouted at the spirits, the bullet popped out of Courvoisier’s wound and fell to the deck! (Later, Raphael would look for the bullet, but couldn’t find it.)

Meanwhile, Mo’ had found the captain’s locked sea chest. Using a handy rock paperweight, he beat the lock until it broke. This attracted Raphael’s attention, since he had moved away from the nausea-inducing blood and heathen goings-on back on the quarterdeck, putting him close to the hatch to the captain’s quarters. While initially aghast at Mo’s blatant thievery, he was soon convinced to join in.

Inside the chest, they found half a dozen doubloons, which they split, and a leather pouch, wrapped three times with a red cord and tied in an elaborate knot. Raphael pointed it out, saying he knew what it was: it was the magically-taken tongue of the captive they still had in the hold! The two dithered about what to do with this piece of loot. This already-murky decision was further complicated when they realized that, when it comes to these kind of occult dealings, one would be wise to be wary of untying elaborate, possibly-mystical knots.

Back above-decks, Mr Doolittle, the ship’s surgeon, had finally arrived. He had the crew pick up Courvoisier and carry him below, to the surgeon’s area, for further treatment. Finally having a moment of peace, the crew looked around and took stock. The quartermaster was located, dog-drunk and uselessly unconscious in his galley. With the captain and the quartermaster disabled, by chain of command, this left… the bosun… in charge.

Dirty was at least as surprised as everyone else.

Motivated partly by “If I were to be a thieving crew member, where would I be right now?” and partly by “I bet the captain has some really fine liquor stashed away”, Dirty went to the captain’s quarters, where he discovered the ongoing mutiny. After some scolding, he decided to throw in with the other two once he was shown a bottle of brandy.

Having seen that Dirty had some knowledge of the supernatural, they showed him the suspicious knot. He declared that it was just a knot, then urged Raphael to untie it. The boy was doubtful, and asked for Dirty to untie it, instead, if it was as safe as all that. The two engaged in a battle of wits to see who would do the deed, which quickly evolved into a battle of intimidation. Raph’ tried his trademark intimidating glare, but was finally unnerved when Dirty bared his not-so-much-teeth-as-rotten-stumps at him.

Meanwhile, having been left unsupervised, Gabby was engaging in her favorite hobby: practical joking. She crept stealthily around the ship, first stealing some makeup from Mags’ chest, then using it to give the unconscious captain a makeover. After that, she noticed that nobody was paying that much attention to the ship’s wheel, and decided to go play with it…

In the captain’s quarters, Raphael opened the bag to reveal a moist human tongue. To his horror, it began to move and speak! He dropped it on the charts atop the captain’s desk, where, under questioning, it told its tale.

“I am Willem Van der Decken,” it announced, “and I sailed under Captain Hendrick Jacobszoon Lucifer.” It told of how Lucifer’s fleet of three ships took a Spanish treasure ship and looting a tremendous amount of treasure, including indigo, fine furs, jars of frankincense, and a variety of unique items, particularly including an old book with a sinister aura about it. The fleet split up after the battle, with Van der Decken’s ship heading for the Moskito Coast. As they neared land, there were omens and portents, strange atmospheric disturbances, and an outbreak of St Elmo’s fire. The ship, the tongue said, fell into the ocean and came out in Hell. Among other bits of disjointed rambling, the tongue mentioned “terrible beasts”.

This, the tongue continued, was too much for Van der Decken. Assisted by his buddy, a Moskito Indian named Jacob, he took the ship’s boat and fled, leaving the ship and its crew to its fate. Jacob and Van der Decken rowed like mad, back the way they came, with Jacob muttering prayers to his gods the entire way. Just as Van der Decken thought they were lost, they “fell back through the ocean” and returned to the mortal world. With some difficulty, they made it to shore, where they split up. Jacob went to return to his people, while Van der Decken struck off on his own to seek rescue. Sadly, he was picked up by the Spanish, who took him prisoner and questioned him under torture.

Dirty had just poured a generous portion of brandy over the tongue, it having complained of being dry from all this talking, when the ship suddenly changed direction. The hanging lantern swung over and everyone had to change their footing to remain upright. Raphael quickly wrapped up the tongue and slipped it into his pocket, as the three moved outside to see what was going on.

What they found was a scuffle taking place around the ship’s wheel. It wasn’t immediately apparent what was going on. Really, Gabby had tied the wheel to an incorrect course, as a prank, but unbeknownst to her, had aimed the ship on a course that would see them broken on the shore. Several crew members had rushed to make corrections, but Gabby was hiding and striking from stealth to spoil their efforts, pitting one against the other to incite a brawl. Meanwhile, the ship drifted ever-closer to ruin.

Firing a shot into the air, Dirty put a stop to the horseplay. Things were put right and the ship made safe again. Everyone ignored Gabby’s suggestion that they go check on the captain.

Once again, Dirty expressed his amazement at being left in charge. He drank more brandy. There was some discussion as to next steps, and a quick inventory. The ship was fully stocked, particularly with rum, thanks to the quartermaster’s earlier efforts. Several of our heroes called for a return to Port Royal, either to rescue the place from the walking dead or to press the attack against the Spanish frigate. At this point, they realized that none among them was competent to conn the ship, much less navigate.

Our heroes landed on a new and more complicated plan. The first step was to take the ship’s boat out and capture a smaller Spanish vessel. They took a swivel gun to mount on the boat, loaded up a crew of volunteers, set up a small sail, and set out. (While none among them could handle the command of a full-sized ship, there are several experienced boaters among our heroes.)

This cruise was marked by disagreement and derision. Raphael maintained that they were wasting their time, and should simply sail the boat back to Port Royal to attack the frigate… from the ship’s boat… with a single swivel gun and raw enthusiasm, apparently. This plan was shot down as impractical and the product of too much reading. Several plans of attack were suggested and rejected, including at least one that appeared to involve using small boats to take larger boats and thus trade up until they, themselves, had a warship as big as the frigate.

Finally, towards the end of the day, just as they were about to turn around and return to the ship, they stumbled onto a small fishing boat. They hoisted their stolen Spanish flag. The fishing boat responding in kind, and one of its crew came out to hail them. In Spanish, of course.

It was then that the crew realized that only one among them spoke Spanish: Mo’, not generally considered to be much of an actor. He did surprisingly well at allaying their concerns, until Raphael’s calls to attack became somewhat audible. Spooked, the Spanish crewman vanished from the rail. The fishing boat’s sails shifted, and they began to quietly sail away. Armed as they were, our heroes didn’t have many options to stop them. So, dejected, they returned to the ship.

Arriving after dark, they found a party in full swing. A barrel of rum was open on the deck, every lantern on the ship was lit and hung up, the musicians were playing, and there was vigorous dancing. Surprised, the heroes came aboard, finding themselves face to freshly-scrubbed face with Captain Courvoisier, leaning heavily on a crutch. He was less than pleased with the outcome of Dirty’s time in command, but didn’t seem to have an specific evidence of wrongdoing. He ordered Dirty to stay up all night making sure the ship was clear of evil spirits.

During the night, while everyone else slept, Dirty walked the deck, burning herbs and muttering spells. (He may not know anything about talking with spirits, but he knows how to put on a good show.) On the quarterdeck, he noticed a flicker of movement. Quick as a striking snake, he drew a flintlock and fired. Only then did he look closer to see what he had shot. He expected a rat, but what he found was far stranger:  it was an over-sized bullet, apparently the one he had extracted from the captain, but now dented and vibrating, seemingly full of unholy life, but now wounded!

The sound of the firing flintlock drew attention from the sleeping crew, and so shortly before dawn, our heroes joined the captain in his quarters. The bullet buzzed inside an inverted tin cup on the desk with a couple of books set atop it. Dirty confirmed that it was a charmed bullet, similar to those that he himself used on occasion.

The captain decided to let our heroes in on his plans, somewhat, since by now they had all heard the story told by Van der Decken’s loose tongue. “You who have sailed with me for some time know that I am a student of history. I believe,” he said, “that Túpac faked his death.”

He explained how Túpac Amaru, the last emperor of the Incas, came to die at the hands of the Spanish Empire in 1572. After three weeks of siege at the city of Vilcabamba, Túpac’s people fled. A hand-picked group of Spanish soldiers pursued Túpac hundreds of miles down-river, then fifty miles cross-country, only catching him because his wife was in labor and they stopped for a short rest. History records that Túpac was brought back by the Spanish, given a show trial, and executed.

Courvoisier said that he believed history was wrong. He believed that Túpac was able to evade the Spanish so effectively because he had access to powerful movement magic – the Path of Crossroads, though he didn’t call it by that name. Furthermore, he believed that this magic was contained within a book, Túpac’s Codex, which was…

“The book from Van der Decken’s story!” our heroes exclaimed.

Courvoisier agreed. He explained that his plan was simple. They would follow in the footsteps of Van der Decken’s story, track down his former ship, and take from it all of its loot. As a first step, this would make them all fabulously wealthy. As a second step, however, it would put the Codex in their hands.

“Imagine,” the captain said, “being able to sail a ship through the oceans of Hell and return to the world in another place, unobserved. A ship that could make that kind of voyage would be unstoppable.”

Our heroes agreed that this sounded like a worthy plan, which any hearty pirate would cheerfully embark upon, and drank to the captain’s health and their collective future enrichment.


Cool Point: Earned by Dirty, for being so manifestly unfit for command – “I built this character to specifically never be in charge!” Whenever the group started coming up with ideas, his Disadvantages forced him to favor the most violent and foolhardy. The more suicidal the idea, the more he endorsed it. Worse, he has sufficient Charisma that the crew mostly went along with anything he ordered.

The moral of the story:  It’s good to have a backup navigator/pilot/doctor/whatever for when the primary isn’t available.

 

Pirates! Session #2

The Crew:

  • “Dirty”, the dapper bosun.
  • “Big Tuna” Heketoro, plus-sized warrior.
  • “Mad” Mags, rope expert and capable swimmer.
  • Mo’, able seaman with a can-do attitude.
  • “Papa” Sean Geaux, quartermaster and man of reason.
  • Raphael, cabin boy.

What Happened:

Captain Courvoisier emerged from his quarters after several hours. He took Papa aside to ask a technical question. Would it be possible, he asked, for Papa to use his profane magical gifts to silence a man for a time? In effect, to take a man’s tongue?

Papa allowed as how such a thing might be done, but he would need a few things: five chickens, one red rock, and one blue rock. Oh, and a bottle of rum. Intrigued, the captain gave orders to collect these things. Those of the crew not required for sailing took part in a mad scavenger hunt. The rum was no problem, of course, and there were enough live chickens on board, but locating two specific rocks proved challenging. Raphael found one, stuck in the heel of his boot, while Dirty was able to coerce the crew into locating the other. Papa performed his ritual, and presented the captain with a pouch of powder.

Captain Courvoisier took the pouch and returned to his quarters. Several minutes later, he emerged. Several of the PCs observed him tucking a wriggling bag into a pocket. Raphael spoke up, questioning what the captain had, there? The captain responded with a glare, making out as if he hadn’t heard the question. “What’s a cabin boy doing lounging around on deck?” he shouted, and ordered the boy aloft. “Make sure he doesn’t kill himself,” he ordered Mo’, an expert in the rigging.

Raphael demonstrated that he’s not only no sailor, he’s no climber, either. He was nimble enough to keep from falling, but had trouble making any progress. Finally, Papa called him over and performed a quick ritual to give him a bit of help. With this assistance, the boy was able to make it to the crow’s nest alive.

Again taking the quartermaster aside, Captain Courvoisier announced his intention to embark upon a voyage to the Miskito Coast. The captain didn’t give any details, but did agree that it would be prudent to keep some spare room in the hold in case of taking on cargo. The two calculated that it would take perhaps ten days to get there, plus another ten days back, with an allowance for ten days there, meaning they would need to take on provisions. Therefore, they would make for Port Royal.

(The voyage to the Miskito Coast was to remain privileged information, but Big Tuna overheard the conversation from his place of hiding from labor, in Papa’s galley.)

The crew was much in favor of some time in port, and so everyone turned with a will towards making good speed. The weather was fine, and everything was going smoothly. Then, Dirty decided that he would do a little ritual to help things along, to make the ropes work a little more cooperatively.

Sadly, he botched it. The boat’s lines came to violent life, bucking and heaving as if they resented being tied down. Mo’ and Raphael were barely able to keep their perch. Mags was not so lucky. She was thrown free and pitched into the ocean. Being able to swim, she quickly came back to the surface and began looking for a way to climb aboard. Big Tuna grabbed a loose rope, quickly wrestled it into cooperation, and jumped in the water after here. Mags didn’t wait to be rescued. She planted a boot squarely in the big man’s face, using him as a foothold to get started climbing up the rope. After some spluttering, he followed.

Papa didn’t know who had caused the havoc or why, but he knew the effects of bad magic when he saw it. He cautiously moved to correct the problem, reaching out with a spell of communication, trying to make contact with the angry spirits in a bid to soothe them. This did not work out at all. The spirits were offending by the ritual. The weather had been clear, but now swirling storm clouds began to form. The wind began to pick up.

Raphael had had enough of all this. He slid down the mast to the deck and went to the quarterdeck, where the captain was standing. Most of the other PCs converged there, as well.

Dirty announced his theory that the spirits would only be placated with blood. He suggested that they should choose a random member of the crew to act as a sacrifice. Papa objected strongly to this course of action.

As they argued, a crew member called out, pointing towards a sail on the horizon. Big Tuna pulled out his spyglass for a closer examination. He observed two masts, and sails decorated by huge red crosses. A Spanish warship!

At this news, the argument expanded. Some of the PCs wanted to attack, while others wanted to flee while flight was still possible. The balance of the discussion shifted, as different crew members changed their minds.

Finally, two decisive actions ended the arguments.

First, Mo’ dropped out of the rigging, brained a passing seaman with his boarding ax, and hacked off the man’s head while everyone nearby was still stunned. Holding up the bloody head, he shouted to the skies, saying that if any spirits wanted a sacrifice, they were welcome to this one. He then handed the head off to Papa.

Second, the captain weighed in on the fight-or-run question, pointing out that there wouldn’t likely be much profit in a battle. The crew agreed, better to run off to find richer targets.

Sadly, it looked like the Spanish ship was somewhat faster than La Fille Joile. The PCs cooked up a scheme to slow them down.

Papa used his magic to call a friendly swordfish to the surface. The crew dug up an extra-large grenade, which Dirty enchanted to enable to float. Papa also drew a seagull on the side of the bomb, so it wouldn’t look suspicious. Mags tied up a rope harness so the fish could drag the bomb along behind it. The plan was to have the fish carry the bomb to the Spanish ship, with a long fuse burning, and then leave it behind, attached to the ship’s hull.

Everything with the plan went perfectly, up to the point where it went horribly and completely wrong. (GM Note: This would be, I think, the third triple-six of the night. The dice were not kind.) Once armed, the swordfish took off, swimming powerfully… in a big arc that brought it around, full circle, to aim at the PC’s boat! Big Tuna threw a harpoon at the swordfish, but it dodged out of the way. Just as it was closing in on the boat, Dirty leaned out over the water and fatally shot it.

Having had enough of magic for a while, the PCs depended on mundane discipline and sharp shiphandling for their escape. It took the rest of the day, until long after dark, but they finally lost the Spanish ship.

As soon as they were out of obvious danger, the drinking started. Captain Courvoisier called Raphael over and ordered him to go collect food and rum. Especially rum. And as long as he was about it, he should take a meal to the prisoner, too.

Raphael followed orders, but then got caught up in choosing a bottle to stash for himself. Eventually, the captain got tired of waiting, and sent Mags below to hurry him up. When she found the boy lingering over the spirits, she put a boot to his behind and told him to hurry up. Heated words were exchanged. Mags smacked him, once, when his words became too heated. Intimidation rolls were made, going both ways. In the end, Raphael ran away, shouting “You’re not my mom!” behind him.

After finishing his delivery to the quarterdeck, Raphael took some food to the now-mute prisoner, in the captain’s quarters. While there, he snooped around a bit, examining the captain’s small library and some charts that were out. He tried to figure out what the charts might mean, but lack of navigational skills made this impossible.

In time, they came to Port Royal. Most of the crew was eager to get ashore, sweeping aside the suggestion that shore leave should be cancelled.

Papa went to purchase provisions for the upcoming voyage. While he was there, he heard a voice in the distance that sounded like the captain’s, telling him to buy more rum. Seeing sense in this, Papa did as he was ordered.

When Dirty stepped onto the beach, his signature enchantment activated, leaving him cleaned and starched. He went into town to visit a gunsmith, hoping to improve his armory. Along the way, he noticed a beautiful, obviously-wealthy young woman waiting outside. He paused to flirt, exchanging a series of meaningful glances and lifted eyebrows. Just as he was about to open his mouth (and speak, and ruin it all, no doubt), he felt a tap at his shoulder. He turned to meet an older, obviously-wealth gentleman, clearly irritated, holding a pair of gloves in his hand.

Well, Dirty knew how to play that game – he had always wanted to be in a real, live duel, like the fancy folk have in Paris! He backhanded the gentleman, not bothering to remove his hand from his glove.

After recovering, the gentleman said that he agreed to Dirty’s challenge. They would meet at dawn, on the beach, and fight to the death with rapiers. (This was where the player remembered that the challenged, not the challenger, gets choice of weapons.) With that, he gathered up his companion and left.

Word spread, and the next morning, there was a bit of a crowd on the beach. Dirty was there, passed out on the sand, snoring, when the unnamed gentleman found him. The gentleman nudged Dirty with his boot, then turned to take a step back, moving to draw his rapier.

Meanwhile, Dirty opened one eye, pulled his primed pistol from where he had held it under his arm, and shot the man in the vitals, from behind. The gentleman fell, dead.

While the PCs gathered around to shake Dirty’s hand (and pick the dead man’s pockets), there came a commotion from up the beach. As the pirates turned to see what was the matter, they saw several apparently-drowned sailors standing up from the water and striding up on the beach, cutlasses drawn.

The PCs’ response was mixed. Some went on the offensive, while others weren’t so eager to engage. Mo’ threw a bystander in front of himself as a human shield, then took a look around to get an idea of the wider situation. He saw that there were actually dozens of the drowned sailors coming ashore, all up and down the beach. He could also see that several ships in the harbor seemed to be having troubles, as well. There were screams of fear and sounds of ragged gunfire.

Even as they put down the nearby sailors, the pirates began a retreat. Mo’ wanted to head inland, seeing that the uncanny creatures were coming from the ocean, while the others moved towards the nearby longboat. When someone on La Fille Joile started firing the cannons to give them cover (“Yay, Gabby!” the players shout) he changed his mind and joined the group. They got the NPC crew members rowing, with Papa providing inspirational music on the balafon.

Everyone made it back to the boat, where the captain gave orders to take the boat out of the harbor, away from the menace of the sailors. As the crew turned their eyes towards the harbor’s mouth…

… they saw, in the distance, sails bearing a red cross….


Cool Point: Earned by Dirty, for his unconventional dueling style.

The moral of the story, according to the players:  “Magic never solves anything!”

 

Duppies

A duppy is a spirit, usually evil, from Caribbean folklore. Like a lot of spirits from folklore, they’re somewhat ill-defined. Some traditions say that every person has two spirits within them: one that’s good and flits off to the afterlife at the point of death, and one that’s evil (or at least troublesome) that hangs around on earth to do mischief. The latter would be a duppy. On the other hand, a duppy might be an evil spirit that never was a human.

GURPS Voodoo (3rd edition, but awesome) describes duppies and loa as the same, varying only in power. It goes so far as to explain that the duppy of a famous and revered person might go on after the person’s death, feeding on the belief of their fans, and grow into a worshiped loa. Like, say, Elvis.

GURPS Undead (also 3rd edition, also awesome) mentions that one might call a duppy from a grave to inflict sickness on one’s enemies. They sound more like an explanation for the special effects of a spell, rather than distinct personalities.

One of the possible origins for the name “Davy Jones” says that it’s a corruption of “Duppy Jonah“, with “Jonah” being a reference to the Biblical fellow who drew down a storm on the boat he was on, got pitched overboard for it, and was helpfully swallowed by a big fish. “Duppy Jonah” would then mean something like “the spirit that brings bad luck to sailors”.

There’s a Jamaican saying, “Duppy know who to frighten”, meaning a ghost isn’t going to waste its time trying to scare a brave person. Folks don’t start fights with people they know are stronger.


Call A Duppy To Bring Sickness To My Enemies
Spell Effects: Lesser Control Spirit
Inherent Modifiers: Affliction
Greater Effects: 0 (x1)

This ritual is meant to be cast at a distance of up to ten miles, to afflict a target who fails to resist with Retching. (See GURPS Basic Set: Campaigns, page 429, for details.) As a rule, the ritual will be cast over a grave, calling forth the dead person’s duppy, to get a Traditional Trappings discount.

(The campaign’s cosmology expects there to be a small duppy, capable of doing the job of carrying sickness, at hand just about anywhere. If this is not the case, the ritual might also require a Create Spirit effect, to bring such a duppy into existence.)

Typical Casting: Lesser Control Spirit (5) + Affliction, Retching (10) + Range, 20,000 yards (10 miles) (24) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs (3). 42 energy (42 x 1).

 

Rituals for Pirates: Gunplay

By request from Dirty’s player, some Path of Matter rituals involving guns.

 

More Bullet
Spell Effects: Lesser Create Matter
Inherent Modifiers: Bestows a Bonus, to damage
Greater Effects: 0 (x1)

Generally cast as a charm on a projectile, this spell causes the projectile to grow in flight, adding +2 to damage. Like an All-Out Attack (Strong), this bonus may be converted from +2 to +1/die when cast on a large projectile, like a cannonball.

Typical Casting: Lesser Control Magic (5) + Lesser Create Matter (6) + Subject Weight, 10 lbs (0) + Bestows a Bonus, +2 to damage (2). 13 energy (13 x 1).


Hardened Bullet
Spell Effects: Lesser Transform Matter
Inherent Modifiers: Armor Divisor (2), +50%, on pi+ damage
Greater Effects: 0 (x1)

Often cast as a charm on a bullet, this ritual briefly changes a lead bullet into a much harder metal. When the bullet is fired, the attack gains a (2) armor divisor. The typical casting is scaled for a pi+ attack of no more than 3d damage, like a typical flintlock pistol. To put the same charm on a cannonball for a 9-lb ship’s gun (as found in GURPS Low-Tech) would cost 41 energy.

(Based on suggestions from this forum post.)

Typical Casting: Lesser Control Magic (5) + Lesser Transform Matter (8) + Subject Weight, 10 lbs (0) + Damage, External, Large Piercing 3d (Armor Divisor (2), +50%) (10). 23 energy (23 x 1).


Bokor’s Fast-Draw
Spell Effects: Greater Create Matter
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3)

This ritual creates a loaded flintlock in the caster’s hand. It is almost always prepared as a conditional spell.

If the caster cannot make a successful roll against Armory (Small Arms) at -4, the flintlock will not be operational. It might even be dangerous to the user, with a bad enough roll.

The created flintlock exists only for a short time, just long enough to use it to threaten someone. If in doubt, the pistol uses the statistics of the Flintlock Pistol from page 278 of GURPS Basic Set: Characters.

Typical Casting: Lesser Control Magic (5) + Greater Create Matter (6) + Duration, 10 minutes (1) + Subject Weight, 10 lbs (0). 36 energy (12 x 3).


Bokor’s Reload
Spell Effects: Lesser Create Matter
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 0 (x1)

Generally prepared as a conditional spell, this ritual instantly reloads a personal firearm. The weapon does not need to be readied, but the caster must touch it. If not used within 10 minutes, the summoned powder and shot will vanish quietly away.

Typical Casting: Lesser Create Matter (6) + Subject Weight, 10 lbs (0) + Duration, 10 minutes (1). 7 energy (7 x 1).

 

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Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Dice and Discourse

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Ravens N' Pennies

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

One Yard Hex

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

The Lands of Nandêmē: A Hexcrawl for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Richard's Dystopian Pokeverse

Mostly Old-school RPG musings

Orbs and Balrogs

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

RPG Snob

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

yog-blogsoth

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Spiderweb in the Corner

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

The Tao of D&D

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Game in the Brain

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape