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Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Maxwell Lord posted:

The eating the dead thing is interesting in the context of mummies, because for a while in Europe (at least into Shakespeare's time) eating mummy was a particularly shady occult thing- tiny bits of the bodies were mixed into various elixirs and were believed to have beneficial properties.
If I recall correctly, that poo poo lasted into the Victorian era. Of course, the Victorians were insanely obsessed with mummies in general, which is how we ended up getting the eternal association between mummies and Gothic horror.


Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Hey there, FATAL and Friends thread. It's been a while, hasn't it? Long story short, a lot of poo poo has gone down over the past few months that shook up my writing confidence a fair bit, but I'm back now. I heard that there's interest in a GURPS Technomancer writeup, and as fascinating as that sounds, right now there's the more pressing matter of actually managing to finish what I started. Yes, it's time to once again look into the copyright edge-skimmer that is...

The Southwest Wasteland guide is, as I've stated before, the Game Master's Guide equivalent of the core trilogy for Exodus: Post-Apocalyptic Roleplaying. Within we start to see some attempts to break free from the Fallout framework, but there will still be a lot more stuff that is "not-Fallout" than is actually not Fallout. It wasn't until Glutton Creeper Games ran out of prewritten material entirely and had to forge their own path with Exodus: The Texas Regional Sourcebook that you start getting actual new things unrelated to Fallout like cultists of Chuck Norris and an empire of oil well technopriests.

Of course, that's not where we are now, so let's look to the present with character rules. At the advice of others I'm going to be making a lot less focus on the specific mechanic bits and bobs of each new occupation or feat now, instead speaking in generalizations to get the flow moving forward at a more reasonable pace. There are still times where they'll be the focus, like for classes and the like, but I'm doing my best to try to cut out overly explaining mechanics. Alas, the front of the book is where most of the mechanics are.

Chapter 1: Character Options
Player Races

Bio-Genetic Mutant: One trait of Fallout's Super Mutants are sterile, only capable of "reproducing" by dunking others in pits of the Forced Evolutionary Virus formula. Exodus decided that apparently that was one of the places where it would be good to diverge from its source material, and as such as have the horrifying factoid that Trans-Genetic Mutants started creating rape slave camps in 2024 to help offset the lowering numbers of the Mutant Army. The pregnancies had a 90% fatality rate for the human mothers, but a 100% success rate in creating half-human hybrids dubbed Bio-Genetic Mutants. BGMs look like regular (albeit muscular) humans with either grayish or jaundiced skin, and were capable of breeding true, leading to a faction of the Mutant Army suddenly having the epiphany of "oh wait, slavery and rape are bad things, aren't they? We should have these guys breed with each other willingly rather than have rape slave camps" and deciding to gently caress off to Utah and create their own secret base made up of a few Trans-Genetic Mutant scientists and all of the Bio-Genetic Mutants. Mechanically, Bio-Genetic Mutants get a +2 to Strength but -2 to either Wisdom or Charisma, a +2 bonus to Fortitude saves against disease and radiation, and 1 PDR.

Symbiotic Mutant: Another being with no real connection to Fallout that I know of, symbiotic mutants are even older than the Trans-Genetic Mutants. These fellows have been around since World War II, when the Manhattan Project managed to create a serum called "the Symbiote Strain" that could make a human into an animal-human hybrid. These early experiments were failures, however, with the experiments going insane and escaping into the wild where they would become the source of Bigfoot legends. A version of the formula that wouldn't create crazy people didn't arrive until the War on Terror, when it was briefly utilized by US advanced agents. This is the last the Symbiotic Strain is heard of until 2032 when some merchants gain access to the military stores of the serum and decide it's somehow a good idea to sell it as a recreational drug without even finding out what the hell it does.

The only thing mechanically certain about symbiotic mutants is that they are immune to all standard drugs/chems. Beyond that, they're a grab bag of random potential abilities: each symbiotic mutant gets to choose two special qualities and one “side-effect” quality. For the two special traits, the symbiotic mutant gets to choose from a grab bag of animal-themed powers: leaping, gills, scaly defenses, a bite attack, all that jazz. You also have to choose one side-effect. The side-effects (read: penalties) are mostly Charisma-based. Slitted eyes, patagia, and a muzzle are but a few of the wondrous ways you can get people to hate you and cripple your social interaction skills. You can also get things like ape-like arms that impede your ability to draw weapons quickly, or deer-like legs that reduce your move speed (??).

Dreg: Ghuls that were created from specially trained soldiers. Dregs have a penalty to Charisma rather than Strength and have to take a military-related feat as their second starting feat, but are otherwise exactly the same stats-wise as standard Exodus ghuls. All in all they are kind of a pointless addition, as you could really just have a ghoul with the Military occupation for the same concept.

Cultist, Children of the Apocalypse: As I stated way back when we were starting the Exodus Survivor's Guide, the Cultist background in that book was basically pointless given that it was split into multiple backgrounds in this GM's guide. I wasn't lying, of course, as you can see here. Each of the cults is given a quote from a real world source, which isn't a thing for any other background, occupation, class, or what have you. The Children of the Apocalypse have the opening quote of Mein Kampf as their quote. If you couldn't guess, they're really fond of genocide, which makes it more awkward that they are an explicitly Arab-themed group. They're proficient with just about any kind of weapon and armor you could wish for, and also get a big grab bag of skills related to influencing others, knowing what's up concerning just about anything, and a smattering of hunter-gatherer skills like Search and Survival. This would be a pretty obvious occupation to take if it wasn't for, you know, the fact that they're a death cult that literally have a Hitler quote to sum them up. I'll go into more detail about these guys and the other cults when we actually get to the organizations chapter.

Cultist, Savior's Army: Using James 1:27 as its opening quote, the Savior's Army is effectively the Followers of the Apocalypse from Fallout painted with a more religious brush. Specifically, they are the Salvation Army as filtered through the lens of a cultural that didn't actually grow up with the Salvation Army. Savior's Army Cultist is also one of the few backgrounds that doesn't grant any form of weapon or armor proficiency. Instead, they get a lot of skills focused on finding and treating illness and injury, scientific knowledge, and tree free medkits at their first level.

Cultist, Techno-Reaper: Because one Brotherhood of Steel copycat apparently isn't enough, the Steel Disciples are rivaled in their goals by a technophiliac cult known as the Techno-Reapers. Like the Steel Disciples, they've got lots of armor and weapon proficiencies, as well as skills pertaining to technical know-how and being able to build or repair most useful bits and bobs you'd find in the wasteland. Like the Steel Disciples, they hate mutants. Like the Steel Disciples, they are rather focused on order, rank, and protocol. Unlike the Steel Disciples, they...don't wear power armor? That's really the only difference I can see. :shrug:

Their real world quote is one from Elbert Hubbard, the socialist and anarchist philosopher and writer of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries: "One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man." This quote doesn't really have much to do with the Techno-Reapers, but I guess it was the first thoughtful-sounding quote about machinery the authors could find.

Cultist, Unity: Ooh, a quote by Buddha himself concerning the inherent binary nature of unity. Surely that opener means these are the most enlightened people of the Wasteland, right?

...No, they aren't, sorry to spoil things. They're actually a cult of isolationists lead by a con man named Smiling Bob, who decided to repackage Scientology as a way of getting cheap coin and servants. The background's mechanics are all about a mixture of the Knowledge skill and various confidence scheme skills such as Bluff and Sleight of Hand.

Gypsy posted:

Gypsies are flamboyant men and women that dress in flowing clothing of bright colors, adorning flashy jewelry to compliment the outfit. The way of the Gypsy is a mystery to most, but attracts the freaks and free-spirited people into the camp to view shows of oratory wonder and exotic dance, unique merchandise and jewelry, and the prophecy of the Roma (the spiritual leader of the band).
Yep. And in case you were curious, yes, the Gypsy background includes Sleight of Hand as one of its class skills and Pickpocket as a bonus feat. Of course.

Mutant Spy: You are a Trans-Genetic Mutant who pretends to have defected from the Mutant Army, but secretly you are a spy all along! How devious. Skills and bonus feats provided are all related to staying alive or staying undiscovered, as you'd expect.

Orphan:A doubled-edged sword of a background. Sure, you get a fairly wide range of skills to help you get by and a +1 to Strength and Wisdom, but you also suffer a -2 to your Intelligence score and have to pay triple the normal amount of skill points to learn any new written or spoken language. Or your own written language, for that matter, as you start out illiterate.

If you don't remember Traits, they're an optional mechanic you can pick up at character level 1, and you are allowed two of them. Totally not familiar at all.

Anyway, there are eight of them new to the Southwest Wasteland Guide, and none of them are all that interesting. Angry gives you a +1 bonus to Strength but a -2 to the usual gamut of social skills baed on Charisma, Butt Ugly gives a +1 to Strength and Intelligence but -2 to Charisma and prevents you from ever raising your Charisma score above 8, Diverse Background gives you two backgrounds but doesn't let you gain the class skills of either (so what's the point? Feats alone do not a worthwhile background make), Dwarf Mutation makes you size Small rather than size Medium, Energetic makes you take half the usual time for physical feats but makes it impossible for others to make Aid checks to help you with any skill, Obese gives you a movement and Defense speed but +2 bonus to Strength, Prophet gives you a once-per-day reroll on a single d20 roll, and Super Model is literally just the Beautiful trait from the Exodus core book but with a +3 bonus to Charisma instead of a +1 and a higher chance for ugly people and slavers to be hostile towards you.

I know I probably said this before way back when I covered the initial Exodus book, but I'll say it again: I don't see the point in ability-swapping traits. Unless you are giving very strict limits to how high or low a player can lift a specific ability score at level 1, they're probably going to be putting their biggest number into a skill they care about and their smallest number into one they don't, be it by roll or by point buy.

Just four new occupations, and they're (coincidentally?) all rural and at least partially involve labor. Farm Hand, for instance, is pretty obvious: you're a grunt for some farmer or rancher. This nets you a mere 100 coins in starting wealth and a grand two class skills (which, to be fair, do include a few nicer options such as Intimidate and Treat Injury on top of a lot of stuff about knowing nature and farm life). This example sets the trend in general, as well. The other new occupations are Fisherman, Laborer, and Postal Rider, all of which only grant two bonus class skills and have low starting wealth.

Like with occupations, there aren't exactly many new talents to speak of here, even though it's one of the things that was actually native to d20 Modern rather than stapled in from Fallout. Deception is a talent tree that focuses on hindering opponents through trickery, having the talents Goad (taunt a guy, force them to lose their Dexterity bonus to Defense for a while if they succumb to the taunt), Sneak Attack in traditional D&D Rogue fashion (1d6 damage, but can be taken three times for a total of 3d6 damage), and Snipe (sneak attack works with ranged weaponry).

If being support is more your thing, there's always the Military talent tree instead. Its talents all focus on some manner of combat readiness: Combat Focus grants a +1 to Attack rolls and Will saves at the cost of a Karma Point, Battlefield Inspiration lets all allies within 30 feet of you gain the same bonus as your Combat Focus, Battlefield Awareness lets you determine the class level and total HP of a number of enemies equal to your own class level, and Tag Team lets you gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls for each ally that also has the Tag Team talent and is attacking the same foe.

And if neither of those is working for you, there's at least one more talent tree provided, so don't fret. This is Weapon Mastery, a simple tree dedicated to one thing: making your ability to hurt people better, every murderhobo's favorite kind of talent. Signature Weapon grants a +1 to attack and damage rolls with a specific weapon that is treated as your favored implement that you'd had for a long period of time, Specialization grants a +2 bonus to damage with one proficiency feat worth of weapons (Archaic Weapons, Heavy Weapons, Shotguns, etc.), and Mastery boosts Specialization up to +4.

Up Next...
Three chapters left before organizations, and we'll be covering them all. Skills, feats, and equipment: the terrible trio.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 22:37 on Aug 5, 2015

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

pkfan2004 posted:

Also glad to see you're back. Any Locked Safe Lad drawings this time around?
While he's basically absent in chapter 1, he does make reappearances in chapters 2 through 5. I think the bestiary is the only time when he'll be absent the whole book.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

I'm thinking of maybe simultaneously running that GURPS Technomancer review someone wanted if I don't end up clogging up the thread in the process. For now, though, we're back with...

Fair warning, this is going to be a short one: we're in the sagging mid-section between the first and fifth chapters.

Chapter 2: Skills
Or, more accurately, "three skill uses". Yes, just three. You can now use Computer Use to reprogram computers or robots, Craft to fabricate raw materials for further Craft skills, and Handle Animal to train an animal to salvage garbage for you. And this was its own chapter in the Southwest Wasteland Guide rather than something in the player's manual why, exactly?

Chapter 3: Feats
Nineteen feats, which is certainly more than the new skill uses but probably well within the range of "probably should have been in the player's manual". They're also mostly in the category of things that might potentially be useful but aren't interesting to talk about. Gaze in wonder at feats such as:
  • Fast Shot, which lets you get one extra attack when using guns during a full attack action.
  • Literary, which makes all Knowledge skills class skills.
  • Tag!, which lets you have four Tag skills instead of three.
Truly exciting, are they not?

Chapter 4: Equipment
Welcome to probably the most interesting part of chapters 2 through 4. That's not any manner of sarcasm, either, this is unironically the most interesting thing in between chapter 1 and chapter 5.

Weapons: Since all the reprints of d20 Modern Core Rulebook weapons were taken care of in the player's handbook for Exodus, we're down to the good poo poo: militarization of recreational tools! A lacrosse stick acts as a 1d6 damage archaic weapon that can be used as either a club or to catch a small enough projectile, while a hockey stick is a 1d8 damage slammer that doubles as a quick bonus to trip attempts.

Oh, and there's smoke bombs, flashbang grenades, and tear gas, too, I guess. Eh.

Armor: Continuing the theme of “weird things post-apocalyptic people do with recreational materials”, all of the new pieces of armor presented in the Southwest Wasteland Guide are repurposed sports gear. Athletic sports pads (hockey or football) provide 1 PDR and a +2 to Defense, while the rest are all helmets that provide PDR (3 for a bicycle helmet, 5 for a motorcycle helmet or hockey mask) solely against targeted attacks to the head or eyes.

Field Gear: For your communication and power needs, stats are provided for fusion batteries, fusion generators, ham radios, and portable radios. The only thing really interesting to note here is that fusion generators have a failsafe if their mini-reactor is breached or damaged. While certainly reasonable from a logical standpoint, it's a shame that you can't take pot shots at one and bathe your enemies in nuclear fire, a la the cars in Fallout 3.

Clothes: Want to wear a sports uniform, professional motorcyclist's jumpsuit, or janitor outfit? Well, here they are. They don't really provide any mechanical effects and are pretty much entirely for show.

Chemicals:While the player's handbook covered drugs such as not-RadX and not-Slasher, it's all real world stimulants and addictive substances here in the Southwest Wasteland Guide. It's also got a lot more smartass comments. The following vices are provided an outlet.
  • Cocaine: For an hour, you get a +4 to Constitution and the benefits of both the Remain Conscious talent and the Alertness feat. The after-effects are a -2 to Constitution and the Exhausted status condition.
  • Humpback Cigarettes: Cigarettes have no benefit from their use, and their drawback is that you have to read the players the following Surgeon General's Warning provided by the book: "The Surgeon General warns that smoking Humpack Cigarettes may be hazardous to your health and may cause black lung, cancers, delay pregnancy, respiratory disease, and a strong attraction to the same sex." Emphasis mine. :wtc:
  • Liquid Energy: Or, in more typical terms, an energy drink. You lose the Fatigued and Exhausted status conditions for an hour, after which they return on top of a -2 Dexterity penalty.
  • Marijuana: While the benefits are clearly listed as a +2 bonus to Wisdom and saves against fear, the drawbacks are a bit more confusing. The text itself states that after the drug wears off you suffer the Fatigued status condition, while the quick-look table of information says that you suffer from...“the munchies”. Of course.
  • Meth Cubes:+2 to Wisdom, +5 to bonus speed, and +2 to Reflex saves for two hours. Of course, once it wears off, you have two hours of hallucinations. +2 to Wisdom, +5 to bonus speed, and +2 to Reflex saves for two hours. Of course, once it wears off, you have two hours of the Hallucinations status effect.
  • Morphine: Morphine is unique in that its benefits and drawbacks happen at the same time, rather than only being produced as an effect of the drug wearing off. Your Massive Damage Threshold is doubled and any doctor performing surgery on you gets a +4 circumstance bonus to their Treat Injury check, but you have a -2 to Dexterity, Intelligence, and Wisdom. If you are familiar with d20 Modern, you'll know that unlike some systems such as Cortex or GURPS, there is no system for pain endurance in d20 Modern. Or any other d20 derivative that I know of, for that matter, but that's not the point here. The point is that what they've done is try to attach pain threshold to Massive Damage Threshold, which isn't about pain: it's about avoid being knocked out by massive damage, hence the name. So, for instance, Grognard the Barbarian with his 18 Constitution plus High Damage Threshold feat for a further +3 makes his MDT soar to 42 by stabbing himself with a morphine syringe. This means that as long as he has enough HP to endure it, he can take maximum damage from a Vulcan minigun without even flinching.

Manuals of the Wastelands: There are two new wasteland manuals to provide skill check bonuses for your enterprising survivor, and as with the player's handbook, the ones here are pop culture references. Emerald's Book of Survival Recipes (presumably a reference to Emeril Lagasse) gives a +4 bonus to Survival checks to find food and water and to Profession (Cook) checks, while Lesman Stroud's Guide to Dumpster Diving grants a +4 to Search checks made to scavenge materials. Points for the blatancy level of that second one.

Vehicles: Last, but not least, is a collection of further vehicles for those who like their Fallout to have a dash of Mad Max. There are fourteen in total, some more interesting than others, but we'll go over all of them at least briefly.
  • Army Transport: If you've seen a World War II documentary or episode of M.A.S.H., you've probably seen one of these canvas-backed cargo vehicles. Wastelanders use them to move people or goods, same as they've always been used.
  • Bicycle: Bicycling was considered the thing of children, until one man named Lance Armstrom (:rolleyes:) managed to almost single-handedly make the sport respectable. Of course, this respectability factor doesn't really matter after the apocalypse has happened, but it's noted as part of the lore nonetheless.
  • Dirt Bike and Ninja Catapult: Two types of motorcycle. While the dirt bike is somewhat weaker, half as fast (220 feet per round to 400 FPR) and generally not as good as the other motorcycle present, it does have two things going for it. One, it is 17,500 caps coins compared to 90,000. Two, the second motorcycle's full name is "the Yamahonda Ninja Catapult", which is the dumbest name I can think of for a stylish racing motorcycle.
  • Haul Cart and Hauler: Another pair that might as well be noted together due to their similarities. Both are animal-driven carts, just with different designs and thus different loads. The haul cart is a classic wood rickshaw, while the hauler is literally the bed and back wheels of a truck with the cab and front wheels sawed off and replaced with reins for two large beasts of burden such as cattle.
  • Jet Ski: Another creation of Yamahonda, jet skis are one man watercraft known for their high speed.
  • Jeep: I'm actually kind of surprised that this one is here and not in the player's manual. I mean, really, a Jeep is like the quintessential off-road vehicle for most people.
  • Powerboat: See the above image. Yeah, the information sections on these vehicles aren't very long.
  • Rowboat: This would be a rather uneventful entry if it weren't for yet another ridiculous company name, this time being the Catch and Release Redneck Company.
  • Semi Truck: The front of an 18 wheeler, with the back stated to be almost impossible to find thanks to how enticing a target they are for scavengers. The larger manufacturer of semi trucks before the apocalypse was the Big Friggin' Rig Company, who would win dumbest corporate name if it wasn't for the blatant real world company mashup of Yamahonda.
  • Wasteland Wagon: Literally a Wild West-style covered wagon.
  • Sailing Yacht and Power Yacht: Fancy pants water transport, both in motored and sailboat form.

Overall, the largest problem with these entries are that they are almost all two or three sentences long, and all but the semi truck only discuss the pre-apocalyptic applications of the vehicles in question. What does a raider do with a jet ski? Do traders use army transports, or are they forced to cobble together covered wagons? Who pedal bikes in the wasteland? I don't know, and apparently neither did the writers.

Next Time
We're finally there, the factions section. Prepare to behold the wondrous Mongochipanese culture of the Chi dynasty, the savage ethnically homogenous raider armies of The New Era of Mexican Order, and the Original Character Do Not Steals of the Steel Disciples.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 02:03 on Sep 3, 2015

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

And lo, did Steve Jackson Games say "make something that would be kicking rad to airbrush on the side of a van." And it was so, and it was good.

I decided that with the way this thread moves compared to my actual moments of "feels like engaging in active output", it wouldn't hurt to do two reviews at once. Especially when I'm going to be in the Exodus mines for two more books (three if I decide to do the new Game Master's Guide they put out recently). So, here we are, and a shout out to the Goon who requested someone review GURPS Technomancer in the first place.

Introduction: What the Hell am I Looking at Here?
Published in 1998 by Steve Jackson Games (of course, given that this is GURPS we're talking about), GURPS Technomancer was written by freelance writer and frequent GURPS contributer David L. Pulver. Pulver is probably the quintessential example of "mad genius": capable of creating lots of really creative and interesting concepts, but also eccentric as hell. His two big loves are science fiction and anime, the former being outwardly shown in his creation of the GURPS setting Transhuman Space and the latter in the fact that sex droids and catgirls are frequent features of most books he writes. For those with weak anime constitutions, I will give the forewarning that GURPS Technomancer has both in brief quantities.

Anyway, Technomancer is set in the then-present of the 1990s, but one that diverged at the end of World War II thanks to the atomic bomb being linked to a magic ritual that would bring the paranormal into the mundane world. The result is a timeline where the Vietnam War was won by zombies, golems, dragons, and flying carpets being used by the American forces, nuclear technology is highly tied to magical formulae, and wizards got us into space. The "modern day" is a similarly twisted mirror of familiar 90s topics such as big corporations, Greenpeace, the Irish Republican Army, Hezbollah, and the Weather Underground being contrasted with factory line magic items, fast food made even faster with the use of cooking spells and enchanted tools, dragon CEOs, and sapient communist penguins.

In between every Exodus review, I'll be looking at GURPS Technomancer and Funny New Guys, a sourcebook for playing Technomancer during the Vietnam War. I'm far more familiar with GURPS Fourth Edition than I am with its predecessor, but I'll try to do my best to avoid any fuckups concerning discussion of mechanics meeting fluff and the like.

Oh, and this intro post doesn't count for moving immediately back to Exodus. We'll definitely be looking at chapter 1 of GURPS Technomancer before we get back to that!

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Chapter 1: History
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." The words of Krishna, avatar of Vishnu, as he unveils his incomprehensible deific form to Prince Arjuna in the Hindu scripture of the Bhagavad Gita, purportedly went through the mind of Julius Ropert Oppenheimer at the testing of the atomic bomb near Alamogordo, New Mexico. In the world of Technomancer, whoever, they were not just thought, but spoken, and to immense results. The recital became the incantation for a necromantic ritual that helped the power of the nuclear blast rip a hole straight through the fabric of space-time. The rift spun with a terrifying tornado of magic, lightning, and atomic fire that has become colloquially known as the Hellstorm. While rather terrifying to behold and rendering the area irreparably inhospitable, the US made lemons into lemonade and used the Hellstorm as a political weapon against Japan. No need to drop two more atomic bombs when a nightmarish funnel of death has already permanently scarred a point on the planet and can be readily pointed to as an example of what the atom bomb could accomplish.

The end of World War II would be just the start of the big deal repercussions of the Trinity event, though. Within a year came the result of the "mana particle fallout" washing over the planet. Babies began to be born with inhuman features, stillborn infants rose from the grave to feast on the blood of the living, strange animals and weather phenomena started appearing in the American Southwest...oh, and people who claimed to be able to do magic even before the event were suddenly able to back up their claims, that's probably a big one to note. Believers in ceremonial magic and supernatural religious rituals, as well as self-proclaimed psychics, were all showing off actual, demonstrable, and most of all repeatable paranormal abilities. And with the promise of repeatable results came massive amounts of research and military probing into just what made mages tick. Projects Fafnir and Sinbad were launched in 1948, black ops projects to breed Army-loyal dragons and create levitating devices respectively.

Meanwhile, the USSR, being the USSR, attempted to replicate the effects of the Trinity nuclear tests with its own atomic bomb in 1949: the Zhukov 3, which was detonated beneath the ice sheets of Antarctica. Whatever the intended result, the actual results were far more terrifying, with a Hellstorm 32 miles wide enveloping a chunk of the Antarctic continent. This massive increase in magical energy – dubbed as "Oz particles" in 1960 – not only affected the local wildlife, it also further unbalanced the fabric of reality. Modern estimates suggest that even one more nuclear bomb could irrevocably break the remaining fabric and make known physics go from bendable to utterly non-governing. his fact, to say the least, has been one hell of a backer for the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The rest of the paragraphs of text mostly concern the Cold War. The USSR and its allies in Cuba terrified the United States with increasing magical capabilities, and even the staunchest members of the religious right ended up having to concede that it would be stupid to avoid spreading magery talents throughout the American populace. The resulting rush of technomagic came to be known as the Third Industrial Revolution and could be seen everywhere from the military and collegiate institutions down to everyday homes utilizing magic items enchanted by factory line wizards. Even counterculture got in on the act: one particularly successful group were the Agrarian Conspiracy, a clan of neo-Luddites who saw magic as the perfect excuse to go Amish in the most convenient and successful way possible.

In addition to this overview of major events early on in the history of GURPS Technomancer's world, there is also a complet e timeline from 1945 to 1998. While it would be a folly to note every single date, it would be a crime to not at least convey some of the most :wow: ones on the list:
  • In 1954, demons are spawned from the Nevada Test Area and go hog wild attacking the crew of the infamous Genghis Khan flick The Conqueror. John Wayne, apparently actually some kind of gunslinging badass in this universe, dies fighting off the otherworldly invaders.
  • In 1962, the couple Betty and Barney Hill claim to have been abducted by otherworlders that call themselves the Seelie faeries. This is the first of many cut-and-paste references to UFO lore with faeries replacing extraterrestrials.
  • In 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald kills JFK with a magic bullet. A literal one, of course. :haw:
  • In 1969, the Manson family summons an assload of demons to help continue their murder spree more efficiently. They fight the FBI for three days in a massive magical duel.
  • 1981 sees two big events. On the dark side, Iraqi wizards murder Kurds and Iranians with summoned demons. On the light side, filmmaker Steven Spielberg creates an overwhelmingly popular heart-warming family film called Seelie, which is about an elf who is helped back to the Otherworld by a kindly human boy.
  • In 1982, the Falklands War takes a grim turn as Argentina calls forth the ghosts of U-Boats and their crew (yes, objects can have ghosts) to beat the poo poo out of the British Royal Navy.
  • In 1987, popular televangelist Bob Leaman is involved in a scandal when it turns out he has been having sex with a succubus.
  • In 1992, after decades of plotting and planning, an army of sapient communist penguins ousts humans from Antarctica entirely.
  • In 1997, Stalin rises again! Or gets woken up, at least. Turns out that he was secretly put in suspended animation until better medical magic could turn him from a dying old man into a statuesque god-king. This unexpected turn breaks Russia into a messy civil war between the forces of Stalin and Yeltsin.

Chapter 2: Magic
Magic is kind of a big element of Technomancer. You've probably guessed that, though, given all the background information and the fact that "-mancer" is right there in the drat name. So, really, it's not all that surprising that the second chapter of the book is all about it.

Mana Levels
GURPS magic has its users utilize ambient magic energy, or mana, to fuel their spells. Mana is almost everywhere, but some places have better quality mana than others. The normal amount of mana in an environment allows mages (anyone who has the Magery advantage) to cast their spells. Lower is low mana (mages suffer a -5 to their spell rolls) and no mana (nobody can do poo poo with magic), while higher is high mana (anyone who knows spells, even non-mages, can cast them) and very high (not only can anyone cast spells, but mages automatically regain the energy they expend on spells the very next turn). There are no mana-void areas in Technomancer, but you will get into low mana territory if you are in any part of space other than around Earth or Mars. There are also two big high mana areas: Antarctica and the Manabelt. The Manabelt is the region stretching out in a 200 mile radius around Alamogordo, New Mexico, the place where everything began. The Manabelt is the go-to place for religious rituals, Agrarian Conspiracy communes, and weird phenomenon randomly appearing to say hello.

The Theory of Magic and Nature of Spells

GURPS Technomancer posted:

Full mathematical understanding of the Hellstorm and the nature of the “Oppenheimer Backfire” that triggered it did not come until 1984, when Hawking’s proof of the Many-Worlds Hypothesis demonstrated what most people already knew: We Are Not Alone, and You Can Get There From Here. Everyone hopes that he’ll get back safely some day.
An infinite number of alternate universes exist. Not only that, but they're what let magic work. Casting spells effectively "trade" part of the matter of our universe for one of another, where whatever weird thing you're trying to do happens to be part of the normal laws of physics. Learning a spell is effectively getting mentally in-tune with this matter transferal. All the formulas, incantations, interpretive dance, or whatever you use as your ritual? Just psyching yourself up to get in the right mindset. This means that while you don't necessarily need all the pomp and circumstance, it makes things a hell of a lot easier than just figuring out how to communicate with the intrinsic nature of the multiverse whenever you feel like it. Three forms of magic ritual in particular have become the most popular.

Old Tradition, or OldTrad, is straight up religious ceremony. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto...doesn't matter what your faith is, you use OldTrad if your rituals rely on invoking some manner of god, spirit, or venerated figure. Unsurprisingly, this is the oldest form of ritual due to the fact that humans have been doing it since the dawn of the species. OldTrad isn't the most simple ritual, however. That award goes to Kindermagic, a form of early age magery wherein children between 3 and 6 years of age create nonsensical phrases and rhymes that happen to get them into the right mindset to cast extremely minor spells. It's assumed that once you grow older, you will learn the "proper" rituals for the spells you manifested with kindermagic as a child, and a teen or adult still utilizing these early methods for any spells is seen as just socially awkward enough for it to be a -1 point quirk.

The rest of spellcasting can be fairly lumped together as "academic magic", including subsets such as magic created by computer algorithms, reverse-engineered laboratory spells, and the kind of magic taught at universities. Almost all of the spells of GURPS Magic are stated to exist and have been written down in the textbooks of magic academia, save for some special exceptions. First off, resurrection spells and dimension-crossing magic are both off the record: if you're dead you're either staying dead or becoming a horrific undead monstrosity, and there's no known way to get to the Otherworld or the demon realm. There are also some spells that are classified military secrets. Invisibility and ethereality, body swapping, spells that tamper with the soul, and spells that manifest radioactivity are all under wraps. Don't have clearance? Then you don't get those spells, buddy.

Next Time, in Technomancer...
New spells and enchanted items. Learn the arts of magic bullets, supernatural static electricity, pregnancy transferal, and more.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 12:05 on Sep 18, 2015

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Doresh posted:

Relatives to the trolls are the Yetis (which makes sense I guess) and Treants aka walking trees (which I don't get).
I'd assume it's referencing Lord of the Rings, in which trolls are a corruption of ents just like orcs are a corruption of elves.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Alien Rope Burn posted:

That hair-splitting aside, we are reminded that [sigh]whales are gentle to humans and never attack us unprovoked[/sigh] and that they organize into "clans" of families or a "harem" around a single male.
The coincidence of this review happening around the same time a movie about the whaleship Essex is being promoted is not lost on me. I'm not sure if RIFTS's commentary on cetaceans is quite as hilarious as GURPS 4E's "chimpanzees are peaceful herbivores that won't fight unless their young are threatened", but it's up there.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Welcome back to Exodus, just in time vaguely in an appropriate time frame compared to Fallout 4's release. We've finally reached the big chapter of the Southwest Wasteland Guide that I've been waiting for. With the factions, we get to meet all the weirdos of the Wasteland who rule the world twenty years after the Great War

Chapter 5: Factions

The Chi Dynasty
The sovereign rulers of San Francisco are the Chi Dynasty, an orderly but iron-fisted empire whose origins stretch back to before the apocalypse. A Chinese-American businessman by the name of Wu Lung saw that the Great War wasn't going to end in any way that could be considered good, and decided that the future could best be secured by financing his own personal vault beneath Chinatown. Wu Lung was also a huge xenophobe who ordered his sons to have all people who weren't Chinese exiled from San Francisco after his Asian army came out of said vault, presumably causing some Yellow Peril believers to wet themselves in joy at their craziness being found true. Wu Lung is referred to as Great Forefather, which is a rather impressive title given that he was still alive at some point during the two decades between the Great War and the vaults opening and there was probably only one or two generations born in the mean time, and his descendants are pampered aristocrats believed to have prophetic abilities due to their bloodline.

The current ruler of the Chi is Emperor Wang Shu. Most of his ruling tips were given to him by Wu Lang before he died, and are based on the good old feudalist system. You've got the emperor, the greater and lesser nobles (known as Shi) with their landships, the military from the lesser noble families, and then there's the peasants down at the bottom. Slavery is considered intolerable, but keeping non-Chinese people out of Chi lands is commended. In fact, there is an entire town set up specifically for dealing with "foreigners": Barter Town. Yes, it actually is called Barter Town, that's not me trying to make a Beyond Thunderdome joke or anything. Barter Town is technically run by some local Shi, with the merchant foreigners being legally designated as peasants, but it's sort of an open secret that there are tons of backdoor deals, extortion plots, and other various manipulations happening behind the scenes that keep the merchants with far better influence and luxury than actual Chi Dynasty peasants. Those folks, in spite of being native Chi, tirelessly work the poo poo farms to the south of San Fransciso and the large fishing village of Alcatraz Island, and have no say in the feudal government. They can also be conscripted in times of war when the Barter Towners can't.

Of course, even discounting the treatment of the peasant class, not everything is sunshine and roses within the Chi Dynasty. While fending off invaders and killing slavers (as chattel slavery is seen as dishonorable and savage by the Chi) is a fine thing, Wang Shu has begun to have actual military aspirations, which makes a lot of the more isolationist Shi nervous. Raids on the heap of slag that was once Los Angeles has angered the already volatile Children of the Apocalypse, and skirmishes have broken out several times with a clan of ghuls in nearby Berkeley. The ghuls, referred to by the Chi as jiang-shi, are constantly spied on by the paranoid Chi border guard, and each case of small scale violence so far has been due to said spies being caught in Berkeley before they can sneak out.

Chi Dynasty Advanced Classes
On top of the advanced classes from earlier in the book, each faction gets their own special advanced classes as well. The Chi Dynasty gets the biggest brunt with a total of four new advanced classes.

Chi Horse Lord: While horses are extinct in the Fallout universe, Exodus has decided that this is a point where it should diverge from its source material, and as a result we have the Horse Lord. Horse lords are the mounted warriors of the Chi Dynasty, entrusted with some of the few horses remaining in the Wasteland. Horses are seen as a sacred gift and it is a great dishonor for one to fall in battle while its rider survives. Outside of flavor text, though, there's not much to write home about concerning this five level advanced class. It has average progression of everything except Will (which is below average), and all of its class features are literally just the various mounted combat feats from Dungeons and Dragons.

Dynasty Bowman: The elite stealth warriors of the Chi are noble soldiers trained in the way of the bow and arrow. It's another five level prestige class, this one with Fortitude as its poor progression. Its special qualities are Archery Master (add your levels of Dynasty Bowman to your attack rolls when using a bow) and Rapid Archery (get an extra attack per round with a bow) at level 1, Close Combat (you can use a bow as a 1d4 bludgeoning damage weapon in melee) at level 2, Weapon Specialization (Bow) and Far Shot bonus feats at level 3, Deadly Accuracy (+4 to called shots with a bow) at level 4, and finally Master Bowman (you can release five arrows in a full attack, but at a whopping -10 penalty to the attack roll) and Weapon Mastery (Bow) as a bonus feat for level 5.

Dynasty Warrior: Ah, yes, the famed samurai of China. Or not, since in spite of the art of a ponytailed man with his hanzo steel at the ready, the class can focus on any one archaic melee weapon or your bare fists. It's yet another five level advanced class, with Will as its poor save progression. On top of getting a bonus feat at levels 2 through 4, the Dynasty Warrior has a small collection of offensive and defensive class features. Level 1 provides Signature Weapon as a bonus talent and Superior Defense (you get a morale bonus to Defense equal to your Dynasty Warrior level when you are wielding a melee weapon or are unarmed), level 2 provides Deflect Projectile (you can spend a karma point to reflect a ranged or thrown projectile as long as you have either a melee weapon or some manner of hand covering), level 3 grants Weapon Specialization with one archaic weapon or your unarmed strikes, level 4 gives you Melee Deflection (like Deflect Projectile, but against a melee attack), and level 5 caps off with Skirmisher (you gain a straight up +1d6 to melee damage, which increases to +2d6 if you are wielding your signature weapon).

Kung Fu Master: The only ten level advanced class for the Chi, which also happens to be unambiguously superior to the Martial Artist advanced class from the Exodus Survivor's Guide. The reason for this? Well, it's definitely not the progressions, which are poor for Fortitude and Will, good for Reflex and Defense, and good but not full for Base Attack Bonus. What it is is the fact that the class features here are "Disciple Powers", which you gain based on a specific martial arts style you choose. Since there is a full class's worth of powers for each style, I'll just give the basics and the most noteworthy parts of each:
  • Brass Monkey Style: A style based around both avoiding damage and beating the poo poo out of your opponents with abilities that let you do things like deal 1d12 damage with dropkicks or (rather confusingly) channel your inner static energy into a bonus 1d8 electricity damage with your unarmed strikes. A noteworthy ability would be Brass Monkey Funky Junky, which allows you to use "the ancient technique of mad rhyming skill" to gain your Charisma modifier as a bonus to Defense if you can successfully confuse a foe.
  • Chicken Style: Stated to be specifically based around cockfighting and its popularity with the Chi people, Chicken Style is almost entirely based around doing more damage with kicks. Of course, since this is Exodus, the final class feature for the style is called The Colonel's Secret Recipe, which grants a +3 to Balance, Bluff, Hide, Move Silently, and Tumble checks.
  • Iron Butterfly Style: Based around Dexterity and even more pop culture references than the other styles. Just some of the talents you can manifest include Sting Like a Bee (stun a foe for one round with your unarmed attack), The Graceful Art of Stomping Someone's Guts Out (you get a +8 rather than +4 on attack rolls when making an attack of opportunity against a prone foe), and Inagodadavida Baby (chanting and meditating on "That Which Cannot be Said" causes your mind to become focused, granting a +4 insight bonus to attack and defense rolls for 5 rounds).

Children of the Apocalypse
Exodus seems to be trying to say something to someone with this organization, though I'm genuinely not sure what to who. They treat the shelled ruins of Los Angeles (known as the Junkyard) as "their Mecca", they have a rather notable custom class feature you can read about in a minute, and the clothing in the example image above seems more than a little Arabian Nights dressup, but at the same time their leaders are referred to from the highest to the lowest as His Holiness, Archbishops, and High Priests, and members pay tithes. Indeed, their origin is merely stated to be followers of religions that were based around some manner of final judgment, and no names are given beyond that at least some of them were obscure doomsday cults and followers of "mad prophets", while others were adherents of "great prophets". The organization in and of itself isn't much more coherent either. The organization's goal is to induce a second Great War to clean the planet of all who don't follow "the Holy Flame", thus ensuring peace and sinless living. What exactly qualifies as a sin for the Children isn't actually explained. It's definitely not anything traditionally seen as sinful, since His Holiness is stated to be a drug-addled and uneducated tyrant who will torture or kill people for no real reason other than he feels like it at the time, while other members engage in various forms of debauchery and vice. While waiting for the day when they can actually engage in widespread destruction, the Children trade the voluminous amounts of scrap materials in the Junkyard with NEMO and the Vegas Mafia, two other explicitly villainous organizations, in exchange for the things they need to actually survive such as food and water.

Children of the Apocalypse Advanced Classes
Two five level advanced classes are provided for the Children. The first, the Seeker of the Holy Fire, is a stealth-oriented class with poor Fortitude and Will save progression and class features that mostly focus on Demolitions, Reflex saves, and deception-based Charisma skills. The big exception is the capstone feature, Atom Akbar, which I still can't believe is an actual class feature name. This class feature grants the Seeker a 30d10 damage mini-nuke, which they use in a crowded area to kill themselves and others. Classy.

The other Children of the Apocalypse-specific class is the Warrior Saint, the soldiers of the Children. Full Base Attack Bonus progression contrasted with Reflex saves being their poor progression is combined with a set of skills unsurprisingly geared toward combat. Fanatic's Zeal at level 1 provides immunity to Intimidation and fear effects, Rally the Faithful at level 2 provides a +1 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls to all other cultists within a 120 foot radius, Death to the Unbeliever at level 3 is just Sneak Attack with a far dumber name, Improved Reaction at level 3 is just a +2 to Initiative checks, and Religious Fever (did they mean Fervor?) at level 5 is Dungeons and Dragons-style Barbarian rage by another name.

The Desert Rangers
The Desert Rangers are explicitly stated to be pretty much the only justice in the Wasteland that isn't crooked or outright evil. This is rather impressive, as the Rangers have no actual leadership or regimented structure, and no actual requirements to join beyond a set of tests of strength and determination that are administered individually by each Ranger to whoever they feel deserves to be a Ranger as well. Rangers tend to work individually, either openly in lawless lands or in secret where corrupt leadership holds sway. Their main targets are typically slavers, though thieves, murderers, gangsters, and other criminal enterprises also get the brunt of at least some of the members of the loose organization. A charismatic and upstanding Ranger (read: players with enough levels the Desert Ranger advanced class) can expect other Rangers to come running to their aid in times when one lawman just isn't enough. Two named rangers are briefly described here as well. Ranger Smith is a legendary Ranger whose true name is lost to history, known for being the sovereign protector of the strangely untouched Yellowstone National Park and the tribals that make the region home. Ranger Justice, by contrast, is a Texas Ranger who has killed so many slavers, raiders, and other various ne'er-do-wells that he has taken on a Pecos Bill-like status as a larger than life folk hero amongst Rangers in the deserts of the Southwest.

Desert Ranger Advanced Classes
If you recall, back in the Exodus Survivor's Guide there was already an advanced class called the Desert Ranger, specifically designed for people who were part of the Desert Rangers. Logically, you'd assume the two new advanced classes presented here would be five levels long and prestige off of someone who had ten levels of Desert Ranger, right? Well, no, actually, that's wrong. These are seven level advanced classes that require you to be Desert Ranger 3 before taking them. Both have the same save, BAB, and Defense progression as the Desert Ranger, but with the big catch of it being the same progression as the Desert Ranger from level 1 rather than level 3. They also have the same d8 hit die. Where they differ, of course, is in their class features and what those focus on.

The first of the pair, the Desert Ranger Manhunter, is the guy who goes all in on murdering one tough named NPC each quest. The class's very first feature is Acquire Target, which grants a bonus equal to your Manhunter level to all Bluff, Computer Use, Gather Information, Investigate, Listen, Research, Search, Sense Motive Spot, and Survival checks against a single individual for 24 hours. This is augmented with good old D&D-style Sneak Attack for a +1d6 added on at levels 2, 4, and 6, Swift Execution (coup de grace as a free action if you are in an adjacent square) at level 3, Death Strike (just Improved Critical, in spite of the name) at level 5, and Assassinate (Sneak Attack forces a save-or-die equal to DC 10 + the Manhunter's class level and Intelligence modifier) at level 7. There's also a couple of utility features, with Camouflage at level 1 doing the same thing that it does for the Desert Ranger proper, Sweep at level 2 giving a +4 to Spot checks in a 30 foot radius at the start of each encounter, and Improved Sweep at level 6 boosting this to also determine whether enemies in an encounter have more, equal, or less HD or class level than you do.

The Desert Ranger Tracker hems somewhat closer to the standard Desert Ranger, as they get the Desert Ranger's Favored Enemy against an organization or creature type at levels 2 and 6 and Camouflage at level 2. What it doesn't get is any of the teamwork. Instead, if you're a Tracker you're getting some added combat abilities as well as some stealth-oriented ones. Tracker at level 1 grants a +4 to Survival checks to track prey and a +2 to Gather Information, Investigate, and Research checks at any time, Wasteland Adaptation at level 3 lets you take 20 on Hide and Move Silently checks even during stress or distraction, No Trace at level 4 is a forced penalty against others using Track against the Tracker, Wasteland Survivalist allows taking 10 on any Fortitude save against environmental hazards such as dehydration and extreme temperatures, and Vanish at level 7 lets you force a Will save against foes and instantly make a Hide check against those who fail the check as if they had never seen you.

Project Trinity and the Ghul Collective
The Exodus Survivor's Handbook already noted that, being often shot on sight by people who think they are literally zombies rather than horrific rotting mutants and distrusting “the smoothskins”, ghuls have tended to gather in relative safety around the cities of Berkeley and Oakland. Here, we learn the reason why that area is so safe for them: it's run by dregs, the soldier ghuls introduced as a new player race in the Southwest Wasteland Guide even though they are just ghuls with military training, and their fortifications are bristling with fancy toys gathered from Oakland Army Base. Even the warriors of the Chi Dynasty, called on to wage war against what Wang Shu Di saw as a place of filth and abomination, failed to break the ghul stronghold, and has instead turned to attacking small bands of traveling ghuls who have yet to complete their pilgrimage to Berkeley/Oakland.

The dregs run the show through a council of members who hand off position of chairperson to each other every three years. They keep the peace and make sure supplies are evenly handled, but otherwise don't really do much active governing and let the majority of dregs and ghuls do what they feel like doing. For a lot of the dregs who were part of the military group Project Trinity, that involves defending the home front. Ray gun turrets, Gatling lasers, heavy artillery, and other big time gear is augmented by fusion-powered military vehicles that are meticulously maintained, and plans have been made to try to salvage warships and aircrafts from other military bases that are too radioactive for humans.

One particular subfaction inside the greater Berkeley faction is the Ghul Collective. These guys are a spy ring with members across the entirety of the American Southwest. The goal of the Collective is to connect ghuls far and wide into a greater networked society while also collecting any pieces of recorded information left from the pre-apocalyptic world. They are also the reason for the sole new advanced class for ghuls, the Historic. It's a five level class that has meh progression across the board, d8 hit die, and a collection of class features based around (unsurprisingly) history. Historic Lore is more or less Bardic Lore from D&D, and shares the level 1 ability slot with Historic Tactics. Historic Tactics allows you to make a full round action to grant all allies within 30 feet a +1 bonus to something for a number of rounds equal to double your Historic level. What that something is is accidentally omitted, but presumably it would be attack or Defense rolls. This bonus increases to +2 and +3 at levels 3 and 5, respectively. Brains Over Brawn at level 2 lets you use Intelligence instead of Strength or Dexterity for attack rolls and ability checks related to those two ability scores, while Historical Navigation is also at level 2 and grants your level of Historic to Navigate and Knowledge (Geography) checks. There's also some free talents if you didn't pick them up at your base class: Skill Emphasis at levels 2 and 4, and Savant at level 4. Finally, as its capstone ability, Total Recall provides a +2 to Intelligence and Knowledge checks, as well as allow you to permanently retain any skill bonuses from reading a skill book.

Next Exodus Southwest Wasteland Guide Post: More factions! The Khans of Vegas and their drug running operations, the power armored Steel Disciples, and other things that totally aren't familiar at all.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Kurieg posted:

:psyduck: I'm almost certain this has absolutely no grounding in actual mythology which is good because it also seems super racist.
Babi is (or I guess technically was) an actual ancient Egyptian deity. He's a shitlord who sits around in the underworld of Duat with a constant raging boner, eating the entrails of the damned. There were men who would pray to him in order to be sure they could still get it up once they were in the afterlife, but Thoth eventually replaced him as the big boss baboon of Egyptian deities and his job as eater of the unworthy was syncreticized into Ammut/Ammit.

As far as I know, there were no crazy naked magic rituals related to him, though, and he certainly wasn't worshiped as far south as the lands of the Zulu like the text implies. That's all on Brucato.

EDIT: Aye-ayes being harbingers of darkness and impious people transforming into apes are also both actual mythology, but they also don't really fit into a book about were-creatures beyond "look, I know mythology about primates, ma!".

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 05:40 on Dec 28, 2015

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Kurieg posted:

I knew about Thoth but I googled the first name there and didn't find anything about baboon dieties loving a star so I wrote the whole thing off. But still they conflated an egyptian diety with half-feral natives in South-Africa running around eating children.
Yeah, that part's complete bullshit and more than a little racist. It's as if Brucato couldn't just leave "murderous boner-monkey who lives in the Egyptian underworld" as its own amazing anecdote and decided to have Egyptian religion transmit itself throughout the entirety of Africa. Because it's not as if there are major sources of religious beliefs in sub-Saharan Africa or anything. "Nah, let's not talk about anything Yoruba or Bantu, it's Egypts all the way down!"

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Chapter 2 Continued: Spell Descriptions

David Pulver posted:

Unlike many other roleplaying settings that mix magic and technology, I postulated magic would not remain an arcane force outside of the mainstream, but would rather be embraced by it. By treating magic as a new branch of physics, I may have lost some of the mystery, but I have always felt that this is an element that some game designers place too much attention on. In many real-world occult systems, magic follows well defined (if fictional) laws – so why not make it that way in a game?

Unsurprisingly, a setting that relies a lot on magic happens to have new spells: a whopping one hundred and six of them. Like standard GURPS magic of all eras, spells are more or less skills under a different name and a Fatigue Point payment whether or not you succeed the skill check. What is different is that a lot of the spells are actually quite interesting. Sure, given the sheer volume of new spells, there are a few unimpressive ones like Identify Plastic or the like, but even otherwise unimpressive spells at least have novelty for the setting, including Speed Data (double your modem's data transfer speed) and Delete Commercials (self-explanatory).

The spells you find in GURPS Technomancer are focused heavily on the synergy between technology and magic. Indeed, as you may have guessed from the quote by the author up top, magic doesn't simply complement technology, it turbocharges it into a wild and screaming future. I'll admit I might be biased in Technomancer's favor here in that I'm far more of a fan of this method than the idea of magic and technology are diametrically opposed forces that cannot coexist safely. Rather than attempt to talk about spells by school and inevitably have some schools where nothing gets spoken about or do a "top picks" bullet point list, I've decided I'm just going to look at spells from the perspective of their intention.

Spells of Convenience: Not every piece of magery needs to be something destructive or even all that earth-shaking. Sometimes you just want to have an easy way to help with the daily grind. One of the biggest examples is Necrovision™, a spell created and trademarked by the corporation Necrotech for the express purpose of letting those who pay to learn the spell be able to watch cancelled television shows. In the far off era of 1999, before Netflix and Hulu were even a glimmer in our eyes, this spell is both popular and controversial: many companies have begun to bring in the lawsuits against Necrotech for violation of syndication rights. Another would be Elemental Plumbing, wherein you bind a water elemental to your house's plumbing so that you can get fresh water of any temperature on command. Some other examples: you can overclock your PC with Upgrade Computer, be your own surge protector with Purify Power, and even ensure your financial future with the stock market divination spell Plutomancy.

Spells of War: Of course, while not every spell has to be destructive, some inevitably are. This is especially true when you live in a world where the Cold War helped fuel a lot of the magical revolution. Some spells on the battlefield are innovations on old fantasy staples, such as taking Fireball and adding concussive force to make it High Explosive Fireball or adding molten metal for Shaped Charge Fireball. Others are the reverse, grafting magical capabilities onto technological weaponry: take an ordinary missile and make its explosion spawn a murderous undead skull with the spell Skull Spirit, for instance, and the Magic Bullet spell turns a firearm into a deadly homing weapon. Oh, and then there's Gun to turns a firearm into butter or margarine. I'm not sure why it exists but I had to mention it.

Spells of Malice: Or "spells I couldn't figure out how to classify beyond that they are detrimental but not military". Sometimes, people are just plain assholes. How else would you explain the creation of spells like Game Addict, which enchants a slot machine, pinball table, arcade game, or video game so that the next person who plays it is unable to stop playing, even for basic body function needs, until they are unable to due to either extraneous circumstances or falling unconscious? Or Curse Virus, which creates a supernaturally powerful computer virus? And let's not even begin to think about the mindset of whoever created Hellspawn, a spell that impregnates someone with a demon.

Spells of Augmented Humanity: While not explicitly a transhuman setting, it is probably worth remembering that GURPS Transhuman Space was designed by David Pulver just like Technomancer was, and some similar ideas about altering humanity through some greater power are present here as well. A lot of them end up dealing directly with fetal matters. If you want a particularly special child, you could always give them an inherent magical power with Spellgraft, or make them some confusing furry with Create Chimera. Don't want a child at all? Well, that's not a problem either. Medical mages have two options for you there: Remove Fetus lets you take the fetus out to place it in an artificial womb, while Transfer Pregnancy straight up shunts the fetus to someone else's womb (and even grows them a womb if they don't happen to have one). These spells have both aided in reproductive rights and created an alternative to abortion that pro-life groups have found acceptable. There's also some good old-fashioned mechanical augmentation present in the book if that's more your style, the most variable being the spell Partial Mechamorphosis. This specific form of shapeshifting has ten specific uses given, including transforming your arm into a chainsaw, a finger into a pen or screwdriver, feet into wheels, and ears into radio antennae.

Chapter 3: High-Tech Enchantment
Industrial Enchantment
This isn't your daddy's magic items economy! Rather than go find some weird artificer out in the boonies, the world of GURPS Technomancer has a new system it refers to as industrial enchantment. Entire factories with vast assembly lines are used by dozens to even hundreds of mages that methodically weave portions of a spell together in a great rhythm. While it may be a bit exhausting on your Fatigue Points, the pay isn't too bad, with an average assembly line enchanter's salary being $375 a day. And what exactly is manufactured in such a way rather than by individual enchanters? We aren't privy to exact products, but some general ground rules are given that if a spell can be manufactured to replicate a mundane device at a cheaper price in the long run, cost-effectively improve upon a mundane technology, are labor-saving, or do something that non-magical technology simply can't, it's likely to be enchanted en masse. Cook, Flying Carpet, Hide Thoughts, and Teleport Other are given as some commonly manufactured spells.

Radiation and Necrotechnology
While industrial magic may be the frontliner for chapter 3, the brunt of it discusses the force that caused the entire world of Technomancer to exist in the first place: radiation. Nuclear radiation is innately bound with necromantic power and can even spawn demons from a dimensional breach if things go to poo poo. Given how hard it is to get people to accept nuclear power in the real world, you can probably surmise how well the idea of nuclear reactors that can also randomly spawn literal hellbeasts went over in the early Cold War era. It wasn't until the late '70s and early '80s that Oz particle interaction with nuclear radiation was understood well enough that the public could accept the presence of NEMA (nuclear-enhanced mana area) reactors, nuclear reactors outfitted with special precautions such as pentagrams to seal any unwanted demon activity and special ectoplasm-coated power lines to allow both electicity and mana to be pulled from the reactor.

There's also the matter of waste and leakage. While strictly monitored, there's always the potential for something to go wrong, like what happened at Chernobyl, and radiation sickness is the least of your worries. Radiation sickness can rapidly progress into one of two even more sinister conditions: you have the chance of either getting TZS, which rots you alive until you end up becoming a zombie, or vampiric leukemia, which makes you into a vampire. It's even possible to have a demon possess and then transform you into their own likeness if you get a ridiculously high amount of rads in your system. Pregnancies affected by radiation can similarly end up in the birth of a vampire fetus, a defect-addled mutant, or the best case scenario of a baby who is innately magical but can only ever be able to learn or cast necromancy spells. These are all very good reasons why so many laws and precautions are in place in the first place.

Last on the radioactive information list would be necronium, a radioactive and mana-active metal that is used to power NEMA reactors. It also happens to be a convenient superweapon, since it doesn't have that pesky "could cause the fabric of reality to unravel" problem that standard atomic bombs do, and necronium happen to be used by all the same nations that use nuclear weapons in real life. A less terrifying but nonetheless potent piece of machinery necronium is used in is the necrolaser. Developed by Necrotech in 1988, these fancy devices shoot fluorine, gas, and ectoplasm through necronium mirrors to create violet beams of necromantic energy.

Oh, and speaking of ectoplasm, it gets a full discussion in this chapter as well. What's special here isn't the actual description – it's just slimy ghost juice that the undead leak, as it often is in fiction and pseudoscience alike – but what's done with it. Specifically, tons of spiders are killed and then reanimated to make zombie spider farms because their silk is naturally ectoplasm-laced. This so-called solid ectoplasm is then either embedded into silicate composite material to create Ectite™ cables such as those used to transfer power from NEMA reactors or in machines utilized by industrial enchantment facilities, or simply woven together into necromancy-resistant Ectoweave™ body armor.

High-Tech Alchemy
Like enchantment, but in (usually) liquid form. Alchemy has basically been heartily subsumed into the pharmaceutical business, who have manufactured ways to deliver their elixirs in aerosols, cigars and cigarettes, inhalers, and hypodermic needles rather than the old-fashioned potion bottle. Like other pharmaceutical products, there's also various regulations surrounding alchemical elixirs. Elixirs such as those that create natural sunblock, grow or remove hair, or prevent tooth decay for a period of time are freely given over the counter. Other elixers are prescription-only, such as those for weight loss, age reduction, or fertility. And then there's the illegal ones: love potions and drunkenness potions are considered date rape drugs, combat-effective elixirs are restricted to military use, and invisibility and resurrection elixirs are top secret government projects that nobody in the general public knows about. Outside of that last pair, though, there are always some people out there that are illegally shipping and selling elixirs that people want to buy on the black market.

Genetic Thaumaturgy
Genetic engineering is a lot easier when you can just magic up weird effects. Even with the issue of the Human Genome Project being a decade from completion (which is strange, given that there is a spell specifically for gene sequencing), enough is known that you can do some truly wild and wacky things. Unfortunately for those aspiring mad wizards out there, a lot of said wild and wacky things are actually illegal. It is illegal in the USA and many other nations for a mage to engage in human genetic engineering except for medical therapy purposes or to create biological weapons. Like prescription and illegal elixirs, however, there are always outlaw mages with knowledge of spells such as Create Chimera and Spellgraft who are willing to get a big payday in spite of the risks.

While what I'm about to write about is not actually in the GURPS Technomancer book, it is technically official, just cut content. Golems: they're a fantasy staple at this point. Technomancer even gives them brief mentions in sidebars discussing that war golems and plastic pleasure golems are both things that exist. But why briefly mention golems when you could talk about them in depth? GURPS contributor Hans-Christian Vortich apparently had the same idea, as back in the day he wrote a chunk of information about golems of war. The leading producer of golems from the Cold War onward has been the Cadillac Golem Company, a subsidiary of General Motors. Their 1969 and 1970 GLU-1 (Golem Life Unit 1) series, nicknamed "Iron Men" due to the fact that at the time iron and clay were the only materials that could be enchanted by still relatively green industrial mages, effectively filled the same role as tanks: big, pricy hunks of metal that make up for their slow speed and need for human direction by being murderous armored powerhouses.

These 7 to 10 foot tall blocky-framed metal men were given specific designations based on their armament, with GLU-1A golems wielding dual machine guns, GLU-1Bs similarly dual-wielding grenade launchers, and GLU-1Ds wielding a huge recoilless rifle. We don't know what happened to GLU-2, but in 1979 the GLU-3 "Silver Man" was rolled out, now being created out of titanium rather than iron. A special dual riot shield-wielding variant called the Shield Man was also created to be used as a hostage rescue unit by the FBI. Outside of the United States, the two most famous golems are Mexico's Titanio Almado Modelo "Balam", which is more or less a Silver Man with a jaguar head shape for flair, and the human-sized (and thus somewhat cheaper in build costs) Soviet Uralgonzavod.

Nonhuman Races
Human Chimeras
Half animal, half human, all American. Or at least it's assumed so, because all six known species of human chimeras are formed from animals found in the American Southwest and none have been reported outside of the region of original Trinity fallout. This seems to definitely shoot down the idea that chimeras are actually the results of either Seelie genetic engineering or the results of recessive genes from a time in the distant past when mana was present before disappearing until the Trinity Event, both of which are postulated hypotheses in a sidebar. There are at least a few things that are definitely known. All human chimeras can speak with animals related to their beastly half, take extra damage from silver and necronium, suffer from emotional outbursts and laziness during the full moon, and require a daily exposure to ambient mana to stay healthy.

...Oh, and chimeras can't breed with each other, but can breed with humans, as all of them have human genitalia. This is detailed to us for reasons that are unclear, and I'd honestly probably rather have them stay unclear. With that :stonk: bit of information on human chimeras out of the way, let's meet our misfits.
  • Spider People (81 Point Template): The rarest and most mechanically expensive chimeras, the spider people are sort of like centaurs, only instead of a majestic horse you have a huge-rear end tarantula as the junk in your trunk. If you're a spider person, you get the benefits of having a good amount of lower body strength, wall-climbing, web-spitting, and having venom-laden fangs in your otherwise human mouth.
  • Coyote People (5 Point Template): An anthropomorphic coyote. They can hear and smell better than humans, but are otherwise not all that powerful and are also probably not seen as being as cool as werewolves would be.
  • Cat People (19 Point Template): Anthropomorphic cats, which oddly enough are specifically stated to have human hair on top of their furry cat heads while coyote people get no such statement. On top of being good at the things coyote people are good at, cat people also have night vision, impeccable balance, quiet movements, quick reflexes, and reduced damage from falls.
  • Hawk People (-18 Point Template): Like spider people, the hawk people are inexplicably not anthropomorphic/furry/whatever types. Instead, they follow the harpy design, with human torso and head but hawk everything else. Hawk people have powerful claws, can fly, and have great vision, but also have brittle bones.
  • Snake People (25 Point Template): Snake people have a long serpent body and tail instead of legs, a forked tongue, fangs, and slitted pupils, and are even referred to as nagas to bring home the fact that they are like the spider people and hawk people rather than the anthropomorphic triad. On top of being extremely flexible, having infravision, and having both the squeeze of a constrictor and the venom of a viper, snake people actually have innate supernatural powers: specifically, they get Magery 1 that is limited to Communication and Empathy spells and three free ranks in the Persuasion spell.
  • Fox People (-9 Point Template): And we're back to the furry shape species. They are mostly mechanically similar to coyote people, save that they have reduced total hit points and can innately cast an illusion to appear human.

Chimera Halflings
Weird things happen when chimeras and humans have sex. There's a 25% chance the baby is a chimera, a 25% chance it's a human, and a 50% chance it's one of these. Halflings are there for if your flavor of animal people is more anime than furry. Or if you want to pay less character points, since they have lesser versions of their parents' sensory abilities in exchange for taking less bonus damage from silver, no bonus damage from necronium, and not having a mana dependency. Cat, coyote, and fox halflings all have the ears and tail of their species but otherwise look human, hawk halflings have feathers instead of head and pubic hair, snake halflings have slitted pupils, forked tongues, and snakes for hair, and spider halflings get venomous fangs and six arms for their "we're not completely human" look. You can see a hawk halfling, snake halfling, full-fledged cat person, and spider halfling in the image I used to introduce this chapter. Moving on.

Atomic Lich (230 Point Template)
A CIA black ops project in 1973 was undertaken to attempt to artificially make mages by making them chug radiation-laced potions. Surprisingly, this didn't actually work as planned, and all two hundred and three test subjects died. What a shock! In a non-ironic surprise, thirty of them came back, now with a new unlife as pissed off glowing skeletons that the CIA dubbed atomic liches. The liches escaped from the facility and fled to the winds, and while seventeen of thirty have bene murdered, the rest have managed to either stay hidden or gain a significant power base to stay alive. One of the most powerful is the mafioso and "Dark Lord of Chicago" Elrond Carver, who rules the criminal underground of the American Midwest. Even the atomic liches that aren't crime bosses are still extremely dangerous: on top of all the perks of being an unliving monstrosity, they have increased strength and hit points, innate Magery 3, leak radiation for about two or three yards around them, and can breathe a cone of radiation Godzilla-style.

Chonchon (92 Point Template)
Believe it or not, these undead heads that fly using their massively enlarged ears are actually based on a creature from mythology. Most chonchons are delirious and driven by nothing more than basic blood hunger, some eventually come to their senses and attempt to relearn how they were before they became weird flying head vampires. Chonchons can become invisible to both living and machine vision and have vicious bites that can spread an infection that causes the afflicted to become a chonchone themself if they succumb.

Technomancer's zombies come in two flavors: necromantic and toxic. Necromantic zombies are your straight up D&D-style mindless undead corpses, not anything particularly special, and the entry even just points you to GURPS Magic for its zombie stats rather than give any new ones. The only state in the union where it's legal to create necromantic zombies is Louisiana, where they can be animated for "death plus hard labor" criminal sentences since even in fictional universes we've got a horrible prison system. Criminals are stated to use zombies as servants, enforcers, laborers, and sex slaves (treated with a Sterilize spell and plastic coating, because apparently necrophiles are at least cleanly about it in the Technomancer-verse).

Toxic zombies, on the other hand, are very conscious and very dangerous. These are the types that you become if you suffer from TZS, and it's not a pleasant experience. You slowly lose points of your IQ stat day by day, and the only way to recover it is to consume the brains of sapient beings: one point regained per brain. It's sort of a lose-lose situation, as you either eat brains to retain your knowledge and sense of self or you devolve into a slavering flesh-hungry beast and thus end up eating brains anyway. Luckily, they're also only a bit stronger and tougher than humans, with most of their power being from the benefits of no longer having to eat, sleep, breathe, or any of those other pesky human body function limitations.

Vampire (270 Point Template)
Everyone's favorite undead bloodsuckers. Technomancer's vampires are extremely strong and durable, making them more than capable of overpowering even spider people in order to drain the blood of sapients, which they need to survive. On top of physical power, they are also invisible to machines, can transform into an animate shadow, and innately know 5 ranks of the spells Create Servant (reflavored as animating a person's reflection rather than just creating a servant automaton), Shape Darkness, and Teleport. Of course, every vampire has its weaknesses as well, and the ones here suffer from being unable to heal themselves even with blood draining, a constant mana dependency, the need to rest in soil from their homeland daily, a weakness to sunlight, and vulnerability to silver and necronium.

Spirits come in several forms: animating spirit, ghost, shade, and holo-ghost. The first is probably the best understood, as they are frequently channeled to bring life to inanimate objects and necromantic zombies. An animating spirit is not anyone's soul or animus: instead, it's merely a psychic after-image, a shard of universal memory of a person who is now deceased. They don't have any memory, free will, or a stat block as they are merely a means to a spell-related end.

Not a lot is actually known about proper ghosts. They're dead, they're ectoplasmic, they are actually someone's soul, and they come from somewhere that indicates there's some manner of afterlife or at the very least a halfway point between life and true death, but that's about all anyone can surmise. Another similar type of undead is the shade, which is the ghost of yourself from a possible future. Both of these have a reference to go look at the book GURPS Undead for more on them, but there is at least one fully statted Technomancer spirit in the holo-ghost. These guys are basically what happens if you intentionally try to create an animated spirit that has a presence outside of an object and retains the memories of the person it was made from.

How is that done? Well, you need to have a necrolaser, a roll of camera film made from necronium shavings that is used to photograph a still fresh corpse, and the ability to cast the spell Summon Spirit. Put them all together and you have your holo-ghost. While holo-ghosts are intended to effectively be interactive holograms of the recently deceased, they have free will and can potentially break out of whatever binds them before they get dispelled, and are even allowed as a player character racial template. The perks you get for being a holo-ghost are the benefits of incorporeality and undeath, innate Magery, and the ability to go invisible or possess people, but you also have the drawbacks of having one gnawing obsession or compulsive behavior and a constant mana dependency.

Blue, red, and black dragons are the three types of dragon in the world of Technomancer, and only one of them actually has the same coloration as their name. Blue and red dragons (401 point racial template) are 20 feet of deadly winged reptile that actually have green scales and gold eyes. They are given their two names based on whose side they're on: they're blue dragons if they are the ones that are servants of the USA, UK, and Israel, and red dragons if they're the ones from the Soviet Bloc, Egypt, and Syria. There are also extremely rare cases of "wild dragons", specimens that came through the Trinity rift but managed to slip under the radar rather than be killed and have their egg clutches taken to be raised by humans. At least some are known to live in the barren far north of Canada and the Peruvian Andes.

Not only are dragons extremely strong and durable due to their sheer size and thick armored hide, they are also actually pretty smart. They're only IQ -1, which is the same intelligence score given to Neanderthals in GURPS Dinosaurs and GURPS Ice Age, which means they can actually think and plan out their combat strategies. These flying furnaces are capable of breathing fire and innately learning fire magic on top of the trifecta of claws, jaws, and a powerful alligator-like tail. Their only real flaws are that they have constant mana dependency (which usually isn't a problem in GURPS Technomancer, but you never know), require three times as much food as a human soldier would which can potentially cause logistics issues, and they can regress into a bestial state if put under extreme psychological stress.

The other type of dragon is the black dragon. These are literally the setting's stealth bombers, even having been hatched in the Lockheed Skunkworks from genetically modified blue dragon eggs. While they are the same length as blue and red dragons, black dragons are thin and agile rather than thickly muscled powerhouses. They are invisible to machinery and don't cast a shadow, but also take damage from sunlight, leading to rumors that the secret recipe for making black dragons involved vampires or some other form of undead. This claim isn't exactly hurt by the fact that they also innately learn necromancy rather than fire spells and have radiation breath rather than fire breath.

If you remember your Paracelsus, the classical four elementals are gnome of earth, undine of water, sylph of air, and salamander of fire. Technomancer uses the Paracelsan elementals rather than D&D style blobs of matter, and furthermore modernizes them by stating that they are more accurately described as personifications of the solid, liquid, gas, and plasma states of matter rather than nebulous Medieval concepts of essential planetary materials. We also learn that they are free-willed and have anywhere from chimpanzee to human levels of intelligence depending on the individual elemental, which makes the Elemental Plumbing spell from chapter 2 horrifying in hindsight. It's even noted that there are activist groups attempting to change elementals' legal status from natural resource to free citizen.

Elementals are capable of experiencing all the emotions we can. Some feel comraderie and companionship with humans that actually treat them nicely, and some even engage in sexual acts with mages who cast Body of [Element] spells specifically for that purpose...never underestimate humanity's ability to learn how to gently caress things, I guess. There are also elementals that aspire to be learned magi (as each elemental innately has Magery 3 with a limitation to spells of their specific element), elementals that rally with environmental activists, and elementals that work with ecoterrorists. Mechanically, all elementals share a lack of need to eat, drink, or sleep, an unaging body, constant mana dependency, and a social stigma of being valuable property.

And with the generals out of the way, let's get to the specifics.
  • Air Elemental/Sylph (57 Point Template): As mercurial as the winds they are made from, sylphs are impulsive, capricious, and easily distracted. The only thing that all sylphs have a solid stance on is that air pollution of both natural and anthropogenic natures are intolerable. Yes, natural too, as in some of them are known to get mad about volcanoes. Sylphs are incorporeal and swift fliers, and are also capable of attacking in combat by creating super-fast jets of air that can actually cut things in the vein of Avatar: the Last Airbender or various manga and anime.
  • Earth Elemental/Gnome (80 Point Template): Gnomes look like grumpy-faced rock men. They also act like grumpy men for that matter, being callous, stubborn, and reclusive. Gnomes can burrow through the ground and are particularly sturdy thanks to being made of stone, but otherwise aren't all that interesting mechanically.
  • Fire Elemental/Salamander (110 Point Template): These guys look like humanoid blobs of heated plasma rather than salamanders, and also hold the esteemed position of probably being the biggest assholes out of any of the elementals. Salamanders are both egocentric and impulsively pyromanic, setting things on fire because they feel that the blaze is beautiful art. They are made of fire, immune to fire, and shoot jets of fire. Fire.
  • Water Elemental/Undine (48 Point Template): A humanoid figure made of water. They swim, rapidly regenerate damage when in large bodies of water, can shoot high-pressure water jets, and are not given any really interesting flavor text at all. Oh well, they can't all be mind-blowing.


GURPS Technomancer posted:

The majority of Christians and Moslems believe that angels exist and are real beings, but this remains unproven. Many people claim to have seen them, but mainly in visions or dreamlike experiences. Mainstream theologians believe that angels do not appear directly, as faith is more important to God than providing direct proof of His existence through messengers.
And that's the entirety of the segment about angels. You're welcome.

Demons come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all share the bond of being consummate liars. They claim to be whatever is conveniently scary and threatening to their audience at the time: Goetic demons, eldritch horrors, hellish characters from popular fiction, and even Old Scratch himself. They aren't actually any of those things, mind you, but it doesn't hurt to play pretend when you have the goal of messing with people. Scientists are split between two theories about demon origins, feeling that they are either extradimensional beings that psychically latch onto the subconscious of someone around the area they are summoned at or are in fact just figments of a mage's imagination taken shape when a summoning spell is cast or a horrible magical mistake accidentally summons one. The latter is a bit less likely given that demons can also spontaneously appear at nuclear events, but is handwaved away by proponents as being dark energy attached to nuclear radiation being affected by the nearest people at random times.

Whatever demons actually are, they all share the same base 34 point template, which seems to be a conceptual precursor to what would become meta-traits in GURPS Fourth Edition. Their shared boons are a lack of need to sleep, immunity to disease and to spells that have an IQ saving roll, night vision, and agelessness, while on the minus side they are all emotionally callous, vulnerable to silver and necronium, cannot harm "truly good folk" (whatever that specifically means), recoil from the sight of holy symbols of any faith, and have constant mana dependency. They're also considered outlaws by society and are officially excommunicated from the Catholic Church, but I doubt they actually care about either of those disadvantages. Four specific demon forms are given example stat blocks.
  • Gremlin (224 Point Template): Gremlins are technology-targeting demons that look like people with the ears and tail of a rat. Not only are they invisible to machines and capable of innately casting technology spells (all of them already know the spells Glitch, Machine Control, and Reveal Function specifically), they can shrink down to a miniscule size in order to wreak havoc in the innards of machinery. The CIA claims that Iraq and Argentina have weaponized gremlins, while other nations say the USA has them, but nobody really knows.
  • Hellraker (169 Point Template): Compulsive murderers and sadistic torturers, hellrakers resemble the stereotypical horns, hooves, and red leather skin kind of demon. They're a horrific mess of claws, horns, fangs, damage regeneration, and brute strength and endurance who love nothing more than a good blood bath.
  • Malebrachne (177 Point Template): While they look like satyrs (though some are female rather than male), malebrachne are anything but revelrous. Their delight comes through making others fall onto a dark path, and they have an arsenal of tools to do so: innate charisma, fast-talking skills, shapeshifting to disguise themselves, and invisibility to try to trick people into believing they are suffering from voices in their head.
  • Succubus/Incubus (215 Point Template): Your stereotypical bat wings, spade-tipped tail, and horns on an attractive woman or man type of succubus or incubus. They're carnal symbols of lust and lechery, and the ones that aren't bound to some mage are typically prostitutes, strippers, or horrific rapists by choice. These demons are technically infertile, but can store sperm in succubus form and then release it in incubus form. Succubi/incubi have slightly higher Strength and Dexterity than humans, the ability to change sex at will, shapeshifting as an innate spell, pheromone powers, double-jointed limbs, sharp teeth, claws, and a +3 bonus to the Erotic Art and Sex Appeal skills.

Chupacabra (42 Point Template)
Nobody's quite sure what the hell these guys are. They definitely look demonic, with their reptilian legs, glowing eyes, taloned hands, leathery gray skin, and spiked back, and they were even briefly thought to be demons back when they first appeared in the '70s, but they don't react to summoning, holy symbols, or other things that would mark them as being demons. Seelie believers claim that they are some hybrid between faerie and vampire whipped up in a secret government lab, and also claim that they are behind cattle mutilations seen in areas soon after Seelie visitations. Others say it's some sort of weird animal that evolved from the Trinity event. The truth? Unknown, but it probably doesn't matter to you when one is looking you right in the face. Not only are their mess of jagged teeth and talons an obvious danger, they are also capable of extreme speed and long frog-like leaps and can spray venom like a spitting cobra. Chupacabras are technically shy, but they have been becoming more and more bold recently, even attacking and draining blood from humans rather than small wild animals and livestock.

Killer Penguin (113 Point Template)
Hello, best creature in Technomancer. :allears:

The killer penguins are the end result of the Soviet faffing about in Antarctica, in more ways than one. Not only did they gain rudimentary grasping hands and sapience from the Russian atomic testing, Russian vivisections of them lead to a species-wide burning hatred of humanity since they turned out to have a hive mind and millions of people feeling the same horrifying pain at the same time doesn't do great things for interspecies tolerance. After murdering the weakest Russian outposts first, the penguins learned how to use guns and cast Soviet military spells, rallied their troops, and eventually ousted humans from Antarctica and declared their own independent communist state. They now manufacture magic items in grand ice cities and sustain themselves through planned fishing villages that equally distribute food throughout the continent. While technically all mindlinked, killer penguins are nonetheless independent (albeit loyal to their people), and several species have their own political power blocs. The king and emperor penguins are one clan, as are the adelie and chinstrap penguins, with macaroni, rockhopper, and gentoo penguins being neutral parties between the two. There doesn't seem to be any active danger to the rest of the world at this point, but a group of radicals calling themselves the Human Liberation Front have recently taken over a small island off the coast of Antarctica and plan on eventually annexing parts of the mainland, which has some worried that it might be the straw that breaks the camel's back when it comes to uneasy peace between the penguins and the rest of the world.

All killer penguins are amphibious, resistant to the cold, immune to attempts at fear and coercion, have a mental link with all other killer penguins within a 1,000 mile radius, innate Magery 1, poor grip with their stubby little flipper fingers, constant mana dependency, and loyalty to the collective. On top of that, chinstrap penguins are quick on their feet but also violent and bloodthirsty, emperor and king penguins are hardier than other species, gentoo penguins are weak but particularly good at swimming and have a daily rather than constant mana dependency, and macaroni penguins have innate Magery 3 rather than Magery 1 but are also less effective at resisting the spells of others.

The Seelie, also known as faeries, are a big mystery. While a CNN poll suggests that 52% of the American population believes in them, there is no hard evidence beyond the claims of eyewitnesses and abductees and smooth iridium metal projectiles referred to as elfshot that are supposedly used by the Seelie. Some claim that mysterious Mages in Black come to take away evidence such as elfshot and to silence people who "know too much." Others say that they've seen forced impregnations and forced fetal removals during their abduction experiences. Is any of it real? It's unknown.

If you couldn't guess by now, Seelie are extraterrestrials with a magical veneer painted on the top. UFOs become "elf hills", abduction is carried out by the Loyalty and Walk Through Earth spells rather than technological paralysis, spells are used in place of medical technology, etc. David Pulver originally planned on having the Seelie have full stat blocks and be a solid thing, but GURPS line editor Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch convinced him that having them be statless mysteries would work out better in the end, and thus here we are.

Next Time in GURPS Technomancer: Character mechanics and the role of magic in society.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 22:44 on Dec 29, 2015

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Bieeardo posted:

I get the feeling that 'guns to butter' spell is both a play on 'hammering swords into ploughshares' and the old guns vs butter economic model, like the Magic Bullet is probably a nod and wink to Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.
That's pretty neat! It's always fun to learn little references outside of the ones I know from my comfort zones.

Josef bugman posted:

Who after the 19th century spells "muslims" with an o and an e?
I was curious about which spelling GURPS Arabian Nights uses and when it was printed in comparison, since I forgot. It has Muslim and was written in 1993 as opposed to GURPS Technomancer's 1999. So I'll assume it's just one of David Pulver's variety of idiosyncrasies. :shrug:

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Kurieg posted:

Yeah 1920's ish, yes they explain it, and Yes there is, apparently it, like the rest of the reign of winter, is pretty good.
Fun fact: someone apparently thought that the mustard gas air monsters created for Rasputin Must Day! were pretty clever, because they ended up being put into Pathfinder Bestiary 5.

Kurieg posted:

Despite the popular apeal of Polar Bears, the Nanuq are exceedingly rare. Born almost exclusively to Inuit or Yupik people, the "gift" of a white pelt seems reserved for those who have lived on the ice for ages. But a smattering of "White-White Bears" have been born in recent years, and they face scorn from their "pure-blood" cousins. Seen as interlopers at best, and spiritual opponents at worst, the European bear-folk find themselves chased southward or killed as harbingers of the final age of the Ghost Bears.
Polar bears are found in Eurasia as well as North America, so the fact that polar bear people aren't found in the former seems weirdly restrictive for a game that is basically "pick your favorite animal, stat up a were of it, and then go ape (sometimes literally)".

Also, after seeing it reposted multiple times, I just noticed that shark-dude in that flipped Hc Svnt Dracones image has a bite taken out of his glass. I'm not sure if this is meant to be some kind of fancy-shaped novelty glass or implying that he just couldn't help himself and chomped down on his own drink.


Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

senrath posted:

It has a garnish of a small surfboard that also has a bite out of it. I'd guess novelty glass.
My god. I'm now imagining him as the most smug hipster sharkman in space.

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