Monday, March 31, 2014

Dark Sun: An Interlude

I still want to put a GURPS version of Gob together, and maybe, maybe, maybe Scorrin as well. However, Lance and I were talking today (Saturday) and he said we should burn my campaign world down and play GURPS Dark Sun, and now I am thinking of conversion ideas. Because that's fun. 

So there are a couple of core concepts to Dark Sun. The first and foremost is that magic is the worst. Arcane magic is broken down into two different types: defiling and preserving. Preserving is the "good" way and defiling is the "bad" way. Magic eats life in Athas. Unrestrained use of magic is why the planet is such a wasteland. Defilers don't bother attempting to restrain their magic, they just let it kill vegetation and reduce earth to inert dust and such. Preservers restrain that energy. Defiler kits typically advance quicker than Preserver ones. 

If you're unfamiliar with 2nd Edition DnD, each class used a different experience chart. Rogues his level 2 at 1250 experience, Clerics at 1500, Fighters at 2000, and Wizards at 2500. In Dark Sun campaigns, the experience to get a Defiler to 2nd level is 1700, and they function as Wizards with some heavy social issues to overcome and a mandatory non-good alignment. They can even specialize in a school of magic. 

The next core concept is psionics. Almost everyone on Athas is psionic, even some of the fucking plants. 

The next is weird races and shit. Muls (super tough half-dwarves), Thri-Kreen (mantis men), Half-Giants.

There's also the issue of increased toughness. Characters start at 3rd level in Dark Sun campaigns. The races also have different ability score set ups. In 2nd Edition, basic races got a +1 to one score and a -1 to another score. Humans had neither, but they could advance to any level in any class and they had the option to dual-class, which is a weird option I'm not even sure I understand. Demihumans had level caps (Dwarves could only go to level 12 in the Fighter class for instance), but they could multi-class and advance along multiple classes at the same time, splitting their experience gained between the two or three classes. For instance, instead of the +1 Dexterity, -1 Constitution, Athasian Elves get a +2 Dexterity, +1 Intelligence, -2 Constitution, and -1 Wisdom. 

Let's start with Defiling. So the best way is to use Magery with a limitation or something. Magery 0 is always 5 points. Magery of 1+ is 10 points per level. So what we do is have Defilers buy Magery levels with the temporary disadvantage limitation and we choose the Lifebane disadvantage. This causes plants and such to die around the character when they cast spells. It ends up being a 10% reduction in the cost of Magery, so it costs a Defilier 9 points per level, rather than 10. This also goes along with the idea that Defiling is easier to master because a Preserver will have to spend more character points on Magery than a Defilier. It would also be appropriate to give the Defiler the Secret disadvantage with the Imprisonment of Exile option for -20 points or the Possible Death exile for -30. I suppose it depends on what kind of Defiler you are. A Defiler working for a Sorcerer King probably has some leeway to be forthright about their nature. 

I've talked about psionics before, buy advantages and apply the appropriate modifiers to them. To display the heavy psionic nature of Dark Sun, you could make psionic powers accessible to everyone so they don't need to buy an Unusual Background or something. You could also let everyone have a free psionic perk (a 1 point advantage). I have a GURPS book called Psi Powers and it lists several quirk level psionic things. Like being able to light fires with a finger (but not be hot enough to do damage). 

Elves are different in Dark Sun. Athasian Elves have this thing called the elf run. A regular Elf in 2nd Edition can move 120 feet in a 10 second round. Athasian Elves can move 240. Apparently in 2nd Edition combat round movement is done in tens of feet, which outside of combat/dungeon movement is handled in tens of yards. So regular Elf wandering around outside can move 120 yards in a round. So while mucking about the desert, Athasian Elves can move 240 yards in a round. Actual overland travel during the day by doubling their movement rate and calling it miles. So the Athasian Elf's movement rate of 24 is 120 feet in combat, 120 yards while outside, and 48 miles during 10 hours of walking during the day. In addition to all of this nonsensical nonsense, Athasian Elves add their Constitution score to the miles per day they can cover. So John P. Elf Pants with a 10 in Constitution can cover 58 miles when he walks around Athas. If he does a forced march he can cover 70. 

I just want to point out the 2nd Edition is painful to talk about sometimes. 

So I guess you'd give Athasian Elves Enhanced Move (Ground). This only increases your top speed, so you would have to accelerate up to the movement rate. Because of that, I don't think this one requires any specific limitations or modifiers. It also has no effect on the dodge or base speed of the character, so it won't make Elves any more dodgy or anything than normal, which is consistent with 2nd Edition elf runs. 

Muls. Muls are pretty easy. No wait. Muls are crazy. So Athasian Dwarves get a +1 to their Strength and a +2 to their Constitution. Humans, like other campaign settings, have no modifiers to their ability scores. Muls get +2 to Strength and a +1 to Constitution. Because half-breed? Fuck if I know. Half-Elves in Dragonlance get a +2 to Dexterity in 2nd Edition, and Elves still only get a +1. So basically, being half anything in weird campaign settings refines the demi-human traits, instead of diluting them. Fucking 2nd Edition. 

Anyway. Muls are super tough and hard to tucker out in Athas. They have a bunch of rules for strenuous work and how long they can go before needing to rest. For instance, normal activity like walking, they can do that for days equal to their constitution before needing to rest. Muls, so they can walk at a regular normal pace for at least at days straight without getting tired. 2nd Edition has racial minimums and maximums for ability scores, and the minimum Constitution for Muls is 8. 

The first modification I would do would be to say that Muls have to have a minimum of 10 Fatigue Points, and instead of saying their maximum number of FP is 30% above their HT, I would say they can increase their FP up to double their HT. That covers endurance for the most part. It might also be appropriate to give them levels of Hard to Kill and Hard to Subdue, or at least say they can buy more than 2 levels of those advantages, which is the maximum for a human type character. I could also probably justify giving them High Pain Threshold, which lets characters avoid the shock penalty to DX and IQ you get when you get injured. Yeah, GURPS does that. When you take damage, it penalizes your DX and IQ for your next turn only, so it reduces them by the amount of HP you lost to an attack, up to a maximum of -4. 

Thri-Kreen are also an oddball race. They'd obviously need two doses of the Extra Arms advantage, as they have 4 arms. They're also like 7 feet tall, so they'd have a +1 Size Modifier. They also have a tough exoskeleton (equivalent to chain mail), so they'd need Damage Resistance to some degree with the Can't Wear Armor limitation (they don't wear armor, per the background material). Their eyes are sort of on the side of their heads, so they'd need a wider vision arc, but I forget the name of that advantage. They have antenna that improve their vision a bit, so they'd need a level of Acute Sense (Sight) and Night Vision. They'd also need Claws and the Teeth advantages for their claws and mandibles. They have a paralytic venom, so they'd need an Affliction linked to their bite that paralyzes. They can also make 20 foot jumps or leap a distance of 50 feet (when they hit third level). So they'd need like three levels of Super Jump (for thirty freaking points). At 7th level, they gain a 75% chance to dodge missile weapons that they attacked with, which is like, fucking a. I guess using the 3d6 system of probability, bell curve, whatever, that's only a 13 for the Dodge active defense. I guess they'd need some levels of Enhanced Defense (Dodge). 

Yeesh, Thri-Kreen would be expensive as fuck in GURPS. Thri-Kreen are the best. 

Half-Giants. They're big. They get a Size Modifier of +2. They also have this bizarre thing where one aspect of their alignment is fixed and chosen at character creation, but the other portion is chosen every day after they wake up in the morning. Fuck that. 2nd Edition can keep alignment. I want no part of it. Half-Giants also roll double hit dice in 2nd Edition. I think just saying that Half-Giants can buy HP up to double their ST, similar to Muls and FP, is sufficient to represent that. They're already buying ST cheaper because of their size. You can do that in GURPS. If you have a positive Size Modifier in GURPs, you multiply it by ten an apply it as a reduction to your ST costs. So with a +2 modifier, Half-Giant's would buy ST for 8 points per +1, rather than 10 points. So yeah, Half-Giants are big and stuff. 

I think that covers the rules related stuff from Dark Sun. There's also elemental Clerics, Druids, and the Templars to convert I suppose. Templars would require some degree of Power Investiture, which is like the "divine" form of magic in GURPS. Sort of. Your magical power for spells stems from power granted to you by someone else. It would probably need to be accompanied by some sort of Duty or Vow disadvantage and some sort of social Rank advantage or some form of the Legal Enforcement Powers advantage. Clerics and Druids would be the same thing, just without social advantages. Clerics drawing power from the elemental planes would obviously have heavily restricted access to spells. Druids in Dark Sun draw their powers from spirits inhabiting natural features, so their spells would be determined by the spirit. 

Alright, I think that'll do. This was fun. I like Dark Sun, and GURPS. They are collectively the best. 

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