Archive for the GURPS Category

The World’s Greatest Screen

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, GURPS, Pathfinder, Product Review with tags , , , , on January 30, 2019 by boccobsblog

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DM screens are sometimes a hot button issue. DMs either love them or hate. A lot of players complain that DMs are cheating behind their screens. I personally use a screen to hide minis and terrain pieces. I still make my rolls on the table in front of my players. One issue I do have with using a DM’s screen is that I can’t see the whole table/battle mat. That issue was resolved when I found the  The World’s Greatest Screen at Gen Con a few years back (you can find the original article here).

Hammerdog offer their screens in three formats: vertical, horizontal, and mini. What makes them the world’s greatest? Well according to their website:

  • You can put anything you want in the pockets.
  • You can fold it up and use it any way you like.
  • You can write all over it with wet erase markers.
  • Magnetic Game Aids work through the pockets.
  • You can download inserts for it free from our site.
  • What more do you need?

I use the mini, it hides my minis, but doesn’t obscure the table. The mini uses 4×6 index cards, and has 12 pockets. I’ve created some inserts for the mini screen (free download).

What to use the player-facing pockets for?

  • NPC pictures and names
  • Maps
  • Player images
  • Artwork
  • Track Initiative
  • Dank memes

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The Weirdest Crap I Could Find on Amazon
The Gift of Nothing
Instant Underwear
Bacon Mints

Sweet sweet click bait:

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Alexandria RPG

Posted in Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, GURPS, Interview, Pathfinder, Star Wars with tags , , on September 19, 2018 by boccobsblog

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Directly across from the chaos of the exhibit hall at Gen Con 2018 was a quiet sanctuary of pure awesomeness. The Alexandria RPG library was a room with about ten tables piled with RPG books, as well several well-stocked shelves of gaming treasures. Today we sit down with the chief librarian to learn more about this amazing find.

What can you tell us about Alexandria RPG?

– We are a nonprofit lending library that shares RPGs with as many people as we can via events.  We also work with teens, PTSD service members, and soon senior citizens.

What was the impetus for starting an RPG library?

– I have been the deputy manager of gaming at Emerald City Comicon for a few years new and tossed the idea out to fill space.  The manger thought it sounded fun and a few weeks before ECCC 2017 I was asked if I could still do the library.  I ran out and bought some exrat books to fill in holes and add a wider variety dropping like $2000 in a couple days.  Then was laid off the next month.  But that first event we had like 400 books or so and people loved it. We got kids playing RPGs for the first time and had people asking if I would come to their show.  Part way through that first show we got a box of donations from an old friend of mine in Iowa.  He mailed them out when he heard what we we’re doing.

Needless to say people loved the idea so we put our heads down and ran forward with it. We are now near 1800 books and over a 100 different systems.

If you could roleplay with one historical figure, who would it be and why?

-Thomas Jefferson.  I figure he was super smart, self taught, and well read. I bet he had a wild imagination that he kept locked away.

Do you think Andrew Johnson would cheat on his rolls?

– As in the 17th President? Sure he would, he was a politician.

What is your favorite book in the collection?

– My first book is in the Library, my AD&D players handbook my brother and I bought at Sears in 1982. It still has the price tag on it $10.57.   That book has tons of memories for me and the comic shop my family had.

Which cons will you be attending in the near future?

– Friday we will be at PAX West last year was huge there for us, we hosted 100 games in four days. I only brought GMs for 6. The rest we’re people that just wanted to play.

We just did Dragonflight 39 last weekend

We will be at RenCon two weekends after PAX West

Working on trying to get to PAX Unplugged

Jan we have OrcaCon

How can people help Alexandria RPG?

We have a Patreon people can pledge to even a $1 a month helps get us a van rental or new boxes. They can donate funds via PayPal on our website or via our email donations@alexandriarpg.com.  we also take book donations. They can reach us at the donation email for information on sending books

Also follow us on social media because that helps too. We have a YouTube channel and if we can get enough followers we can make a buck or two off videos there as well.

Money is always needed. I have put a couple thousand dollars into the library this year and a couple of other people have as well.

As a reminder we are a 501c3 and registered as a charity in Washington state.

You can learn more about Alexandria RPG at their website: https://www.alexandriarpg.com/

GURPS Wizard 3: Versatility with Only Small Headaches

Posted in GURPS with tags , on September 14, 2011 by boccobsblog

The Green Lantern pays only 20% cost for his abilities, because they are limited to a unique ring and he has to wear that stupid-ass costume.

If anyone in your group is a comic book fan, they’ll probably attempt to sway your GURPS group to some sort of superhero campaign. Let me just make one thing perfectly clear: I am not a fan of this genre. To me, the Marvel and DC universes are like some giant game of 4th edition DnD with 6,000 DM’s all fighting for control.

Humbuggery aside, GURPS is a system that can struggle with this kind of game. Supers tend to have a dizzying array of powers all based around a theme, and often come up with creative uses on the fly to cope with specific situations. GURPS, with its heavy emphasis on buying specific effects, can be frustrating. Remember when Superman flew around the Earth so fast he reversed time? Well you better have paid for “Jumper: Time” since the beginning, bucko. Green Lantern? Better sharpen a few pencils.

GURPS: Powers attempts to fix this with a few new advantages aimed at versatility, namely Create and Control. They are unusable. Let’s say I want to make a guy that can make fire. I can buy Create: Fire at 10 pts a level. Ok, how MUCH fire does that let me create? According to the rules, energy “appears in a quantity sufficient to do 1,000 x (level squared) kJ of useful work.” It also stipulates that “The GM should limit power output to 15 kW or so.”

What?

Control is just as baffling. Before the physics student can figure out how many kilojoules are necessary for  your Magneto-clone PC to throw a Buick Skylark, he chucks his purple helmet in the trash and goes home.

The solution our group came up with involved Modular Abilities, an advantage described in the basic set and expanded upon in Powers. Basically, modular abilities allow you to put points into a floating pool, allocating them as you see fit when the need arises. This, combined with some thematic limitations, creates something your PC’s can work with without the need for a graphing calculator. Now, the Fire guy can sink his modular points into various forms of Innate Attack (burning) when he needs to lay down the pain in some specific  fashion, but he can still come up with bizarre uses  at his whim.

This also helps with handling small abilities that you can’t really find a fit for. Maybe the guy who controls water wants to use a little jet to push a key out of a keyhole. He says “I have 50 points in modular abilities. Mind Control is 50 points. Surely “Push Key” is worth somewhere below that.”

The system is not perfect. It still requires the player to do a lot of paperwork, and buying modular abilities at high levels (particularly when the player abuses limitations to reduce the cost), can get downright cheesy. But at least you don’t have to look up what a kilowatt is.

-Dave (the GURPS Wizards)

GURPS Wizard 2: Playing Nice in Infinite Worlds

Posted in GURPS with tags on August 8, 2011 by boccobsblog

Say hello to your party leader. Not pictured: leprechaun sidekick.

The versatility of GURPS is a marvel.  The first time you sit down with the book and realize “I could make Teen Wolf…better yet, I could make Robo Teen Wolf”, it’s a great experience. Of course, your other group members will have realized the same thing, replacing Robo Teen Wolf with whatever bizarre characters their warped little minds can concoct. Someone will invariably pose this question: “Hey, why don’t we do an Infinite Worlds campaign?”

Infinite Worlds is the “iconic” GURPS campaign- a hodge-podge of radically different characters inspired from a dozen different sources, all coming together to work towards a common goal. The GURPS Basic Set has a party of such characters, much like the iconic D&D characters we’ve all come to know and love. Of course, instead of Tordek the Fighter and Lidda the Rogue, we have Baron Janos Telkozep the vampire financial expert and C31R07 the Buddhist war-mech.

Maybe that makes you cringe. Believe me, there is value in the Infinite Worlds campaign. The players have a lot of fun exploring the eccentricities of their fish-out-of-water characters, and adventure hooks are nigh inexhaustible.

But there ARE problems. What happens when one player wants to make a laser-toting space cowboy and another wants to play a fantasy-style ranger? If you use the wealth of GURPS source material, a laser does something like 15d damage, while a good bowman can get about 3d. That some space cowboy is probably wearing space-age material that absorbs obscene amounts of punishment, and the ranger is wearing leather. Maybe someone wants to play a World War II field medic. Maybe someone else wants to play a cleric, blessed in the healing arts. How do you deal with this?

Our group solved this problem by using what I call a “pure points” system. Characters bought no equipment that was important to the function of their characters, instead spending points on what that equipment would have provided their character. Rather than buying the listed laser pistol, the cowboy now buys Innate Attack (burning), and the ranger ditches his bow for Innate Attack (piercing), properly modified with equipment limitations like Able to be Stolen and Breakable. Nobody buys armor, they buy Damage Reduction with points. The WWII Medic and the Cleric both have the Healing advantage, but the medic also likely has Takes Extra Time, and Requires Roll (first aid). Of course, he might elect not to take these limitations. Maybe he’s a cinematic combat medic, patching people up in a speedy and unrealistic way like in half a hundred different movies and video games. In this way, the flavor choices will never feel “wrong.”

I’ve had players dismiss this way of doings things before. It requires a certain suspension of disbelief. But once they got used to it, they usually do very interesting things. The space cowboy added the Reflexive enhancement to his laser pistol to represent his supreme gun slinging speed, meaning he could take his attack even when it wasn’t his turn. The combat medic added a limitation of his own invention to his healing ability: Nuisance Effect (Must Pep-Talk). What once was a run-of-the-mill healing roll became an excuse for the player to shout “Live, damn you!, LIVE!”

It’s all more than a little absurd, but in my opinion that’s what an Infinite Worlds campaign is all about. I doubt a game of this kind will lead to any revelations about the human psyche, but it’ll certainly make for some good stories in the future.

-Dave R.

GURPS Wizard 1: Making your magic scary

Posted in GURPS with tags , , on August 3, 2011 by boccobsblog

GURPS, or the Generic Universal Roleplaying System, is a dizzyingly complex RPG that I’ve been playing for about a decade. I would never recommend this system for a group that struggles with munchkins (it’s easier to break than a Mexican ipod), but for veteran roleplayers looking for a little more freedom than feats and prestige classes allow, GURPS is a godsend.

What I find most impressive about GURPS is the innovation of its character creation system, which includes limitations and enhancements, or modifiers on existing abilities. This makes a flexible system even more so, and allows the group to game in nearly any setting or genre they can cook up.

Although Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy roleplaying game, few fantasy series “feel” like DnD. Gandalf’s magic was not neatly categorized into schools and levels, and Conan the Cimmerian would slap anyone who would suggest that he can only call upon his fury a certain number of times per day. With GURPS, your group can shape their characters to the specific flavors of your favorite fantasy worlds.  Let’s take a look at one now, shall we?

Elric of Melnibone

Michael Moorcock’s Elric stories are grim, fatalistic, and cynical. Elric, the last of the sorcerer emperors of Melnibone, is a man whose extraordinary abilities are eclipsed by physical deficiency and a terrible dependence on Stormbringer, his evil soul-drinking runesword. To reflect the flawed nature of heroes in Moorcock’s fiction, we required our players to take on additional mental and physical disadvantages, a particularly fun part of GURPS character creation. This insured that our group, while powerful, was carrying a lot of baggage.

Magic in Elric is dangerous and unpleasant. Elric himself practices “nigromancy” which involves demonic supplication and scaring the bejeezus out of anyone who happens to witness his rituals. Magic is also difficult, and the cost of botching a ritual is catastrophic. Players who wish to purchase supernatural abilities in the game would have to add heavy limitations, among them “Hideous” (-4 reaction penalty to those who witness the power), and an extreme form of “Nuisance Effect”, which required the players to automatically roll on the Fright Check (in the basic set) and Black Magic Failure (in GURPS: Magic ) tables. When failing meant that a character may have ended up permanently insane or dinner for demons, the abilities took on a gravity and mystique that made for great tension every time they saw use.

Cosmic entities abound in the series, and are as capricious as they are bizarre. With canon gods like Pyaray, the Tentacled Whisperer of Impossible Secrets, and Roofdrak, Lord of Dogs, we felt perfectly fine letting our players cut loose when it came to creating their own patron deities. Some went so far as to take Patron as an advantage, usually modified with Special Powers and Minimal Intervention. Others modified their existing abilities with Spiritual, which required them to make a reaction roll to their deities before invoking any of their abilities.

By Dave R.

(A big thank you to Dave R. for the article!)