Friday, June 26, 2015

GURPS Nel Part 2: Gifts

I'm going to pause in the middle of the Nel meta-traits so I can hash out what their Gifts actually look like. This should be fairly simple. I have Gifts primarily complete and simplified in my head. But hey, we'll see.

So Gifts are infinitely mutable and not really bound to any sort of guidelines. This means they lack pretty much any sort of restriction on what can be done with them mechanically within GURPS. They can't impart knowledge or see the past or future or anything weird like that, though. Except Nostathon, and that's really just a heightened version of reading people that heavily relies on Nel sensing one another's emotions and drives and such. So Gifts are pretty much bound to the now so to speak. They can't create life, well, they can, but for the purposes of representing them via the rules, they can't. Don't worry about it. Definitely don't look behind the curtain here. 

I know that in Pathfinder Gifts seem somewhat limited by the nature of the Nel using them. Andorian always uses lighting and storms, Aubernach always uses fire, etc. That's because those Nel like those things, so they use them frequently. It's not because of any innate limitation on the Gifts of a Nel. If Andorian felt like throwing fireballs, he totally can, but he likes lightning, so he throws lightning, because it makes him feel happy inside. For Nel, it's not about what is most appropriate, it's about what the Nel wants to do and living true to their nature regardless of external influences. 

So because Gifts are so broad in terms of what they can do, we build them using Modular Abilities. This advantage is basically a really expensive reserve of character points that the character can use to buy different abilities. It is often used to represent spell slot systems or loading in skill sets for cyborgs or like you see in the Matrix when Neo suddenly knows kung fu.

So we start with Modular Abilities, which breaks down into a variety of categories. The one we're looking for is Cosmic Power. This means the points can be used to create any number of abilities and can be modified to make other abilities basically at will. The unfortunate aspect of this is that Cosmic Power is super versatile, but costs 10 points per character point in the reserve of character points. The first modifier we add to it is the Gifts, -5% limitation because it is obviously Gifts and anything that specifically affects Gifts, affects abilities made with it the same way.

Actually, we need to pause for a moment. Gifts are second nature to a Nel, they use them instinctively, even while doing other things like fighting and lighting things on fire and what have you. There's no moment of delay in concentration. So they need something to represent that when actively using their Gifts to do stuff. So we give them Compartmentalized Mind, which gives them an extra mental maneuver each round, whereas you can normally choose one mental or one physical maneuver each round (rounds are one second in GURPS). We need Gifts Only, -10% and No Mental Separation, -20%. Normally, Compartmentalized Mind lets you use the free mental maneuver for any mental thing and also offers a mental compartment for you to retain control of yourself if some psionic plant mind rapes you into servitude. This isn't like that. This is just Nel using their Gifts so intuitively it's almost not even conscious thought. This amounts to a 35 point advantage that I've gone back and added to the Nel meta-trait in the previous post. It ups the Nel meta-trait to 302 points.

Alright, back to Modular Abilities.

One note about Modular Abilities is that certain limitations can be applied to it or abilities it contains, but not both. So because Modular Abilities has Gifts, -5%, you can't apply Gifts, -5% to reduce the cost of abilities you create with it. Since Gifts are used to create effects, but can't impart knowledge or skill, we add the Advantages Only, -10% limitation. Nel can steal Gifts from one another, so we need the Can Be Stolen limitation. Nel enter into a contest of wills when this happens, so we go with the Can Be Stolen With a Quick Contest limitation, which is normally worth -30%, but since only Nel can steal it, we drop that to -25%. Since Gifts, sorcery, and psionics are completely separate, we add Cannot Purchase Abilities that Specifically Affect Sorcery, -15% and Cannot Purchase Abilities that Specifically Affect Psionics, -10%. The difference in values is because sorcery is much more common than psionics. This means that a Nel can't just use his Gifts to add a bunch of levels of Sorcery Resistance to his character sheet when fighting a sorcerer or something. Since Nel Gifts can be used to create both physical and mental effects, we add the Physical, +100% enhancement to Gifts. This means Nel Gifts can provide physical advantages in addition to mental ones.

Finally, we need to account for the fact that stronger Gifts are more easily sensed by other Nel. This is difficult to achieve. We basically have to add a variation of the Pact limitation and say that every 10 levels of Gifts requires the Nel to take a variation of the Noisy disadvantage. Noisy normally adds +2 to the effective level of Per checks made to detect you, or a -2 to effective skill level on your Stealth checks. So we add GM Pact: Must Have 1 Level of Noisy Gifts Per 10 Gift Levels, -5%. Normally the Pact limitation adds a cost reduction directly related to the cost of the disadvantage, but that's hard to do with a level based disadvantage, so I'm just giving it a flat -5% value. In theory, it should be worth more, but this is all rough draft type stuff. 

So here is what a rough draft of Gifts looks like:

13 points/level
  • Modular Abilities
    • Advantages Only, -10%
    • Can Be Stolen By Nel With A Quick Contest (Will vs. Will), -25%
    • Cannot Purchase Abilities That Specifically Affect Psionics, -10%
    • Cannot Purchase Abilities That Specifically Affect Sorcery, -15%
    • Gifts, -5%
    • GM Pact: Must Have 1 Level Of Noisy (Gifts) Per 10 Gift Levels, -5%
    • Physical, +100%
That's right. It costs 13 points per character point of Gifts. That's super fucking expensive, but it's accurate to the Nel. The base Nel meta-trait (which I am altering now) incorporates 5 levels of Gifts. This ups the base Nel meta-trait to 367 character points, and we still need meta-traits for each court of Nel and each of the races. 

So that was pretty easy, yeah? Couple more things to discuss about Gifts before we wrap this up.

The first thing I want to talk about is the base amount of Gifts Nel have as they age. Nel Gifts get stronger as they age, and I want to establish a baseline. Their Gifts aren't really getting stronger, it's more like they're getting better at using them and that sort of thing. It's really a little bit from column A and a little from B. Whatever. The base meta-trait incorporates 5 levels of Gifts/Modular Abilities and each of the court meta-traits modifies that a bit. My rough guideline for Gifts increasing/growing stronger as Nel age is as follows: Feronel and Sokarnel age, they gain 1 character point towards their Gifts, so every 14 years they gain a level of Gifts. Aubernel and Utenel that avoided the Breaking gain .75 character points per year, those that did not avoid it gain .5 character points of Gifts per year. Loronel and Sarownel gain .5 character points of Gifts each year. So if we're looking at Callifay or Contuck, the two oldest Feronel, they've got just shy of 10,000 character points worth of Gifts just from being crusty old fucks. How neat is that?

Heralds, champions, and rulers obviously piss all over these numbers and do whatever the fuck they want. In my head I primarily have champions, heralds, and rulers utilizing the Cosmic enhancement a lot to differentiate them from other Nel. So Aubernach has a Cosmic enhancement on his use of fire as an attack and his defense against fire. These numbers also don't account for Nel preying on one another and leeching Gifts from each other.

Another aspect of Gifts is the concept of Nel holdings. I've run through a lot of ways to do this. Theres a very neat spell called sanctuary that can create a pocket dimension, and my original intent was to utilize that spell and the Create and Control advantages to simulate holdings. That's clunky and involves the GURPS magic system in Gifts and I don't want them involved. Then I switched to just Create and Control, but that's also clunky as fuck and expensive too, even with a modifier reducing the cost due to the holding not really being real, you know? In recent research I discovered that GURPS Supers has some rules for super hero bases like the Fortress of Solitude and the Batcave. So I'm going to base Nel holdings on that.

The gist of the base rules are that you buy Signature Gear (Hideout) but base the points costs on a particular level of Status from the Basic Set and then you have a base of equivalent size to what level of property that would provide you with. So Signature Gear (Holding; Status 1) [5] would give you a Nel holding the size of a comfortable house. Signature Gear (Holding; Status 8) [40] would give you a Nel holding the size of a small country. I'll probably settle on a square footage for each level of holding. The other guidelines are a Special Abilities, +100% if the HQ has supernatural or magical capabilities. So this jumps a house sized holding to 10 character points and a small country sized holding to 80 points. We also need to apply a limitation to indicate that holdings are only kind of real. So we apply Real, But Not, Sort Of, -20%. This kind of means that stuff native to the holding, such as endless rooms made of gold, can't be brought out of the holding. It also governs the weird passage of time and that sort of thing. So you can't hop into a holding, rest and recuperate, and then hop out. Holdings are kind of a pause button on the passage of time so to speak.

Nel holdings must be purchased using regular character points, they cannot be folded into Gifts/Modular Abilities. Nel holdings are a big deal thing, not every Tom, Dick, and Jimbo Nel can manifest one. So there is a prerequisite to having a holding and that prerequisite is having a Gifts/Modular Abilities of 200+ (which is around 2600 character points worth of Gifts, hehe). 

Because of the Special Abilities enhancement, we can say that Nel holdings can only be accessed via the Jumper advantage, and only if the Nel has been there before. This means the Nel must purchase the Jumper advantage to access their own holding. The Jumper advantage is used to hop to other dimensions or through time and the base value is 100 character points. Nel cannot normally take Jumper, and having a holding is a prerequisite for the advantage for Nel. 

Obviously we apply the Gifts, -5% limitation to Jumper. Jumper has a base cost of at least 1 FP/ER already, but it takes work to push yourself inside of yourself, which is kind of what holdings are. They're more or less an imaginary space inside the Nel's head. Anyway, we apply the Costs 2 FP, -20% limitation as well (meaning the base cost for each jump is 3 FP). Finally, we apply the Limited Access: Nel Holdings Only, -20% limitation because Nel can only jump to other holdings. They can't just hop into little dimensions and realms created by sorcerers and whatnot willy nilly. Another option would be to add a higher value limitation and say that a Nel might only be able to jump to their own holding.

We can also say that invading another Nel's holding is difficult and involves pitting your Gifts against another Nel's. This involves an opposed Will check. The defending Nel has a +1 to their effective skill level due to home team advantage and the Nel involved in the invasion with Gifts/Modular abilities with a greater value in character points gains a +1 to their effective skill level. Because holdings are semi-imaginary, the structures and such found within them, regardless of their appearance, all have HT 12 and have the same statistics (such as DR) as their real world equivalents.

Nel Holdings
  • Signature Gear 1 - 8 (Holding; Real, But Not, Sort Of, -20%; Special Abilities, +100%)
    • Prerequisite: Gifts 200+
    • Staff: None.
    • Apparatus: May contain TL 2 or lower facilities such as forges, armories, etc.
    • Access: Jumper (World; Costs 2 FP, -20%; Gifts, -5%; Limited Access: Into And Out Of Nel Holdings Only, -20%) [55]
    • Structure And Fortifications: Will vs. Will to invade another Nel's holding. Defending Nel gains a +1 to effective skill level and the Nel compare the character points values of their Gifts and the Nel with more Gifts gains a +1 to their effective skill level. Structures and materials have HT 12 and normal attributes for their material. A Nel can expel anyone from their holding with a concentrate maneuver. If the other creature is a Nel with the Jumper advantage, they may resist this with an opposed Will check using the same guidelines as invading a Nel holding. 

So that's the gist of Nel holdings. I'll organize it a bit more and come up with square footages and that sort of thing in the near future. Probably.

The next aspect of Nel Gifts is talents. Talents as described in the Basic Set provide a +1 to effective skill level with a small subset of similar skills per level of the advantage. They're also described in GURPS Powers. I like them for the Nel as they are a good way to show Nel specialties. In GURPS Powers they're a little more robust than they are in the Basic Set, but they are fundamentally the same. Each court of Nel and each race of Nel has certain specialties, things they're good at. Like really good at. We're represeting this with the use of the Talent advantage, as each court meta-trait will have a Talent incorporated into it. Just as a quick and dirty idea of what Talents do, I'll say that one aspect of the Feronel Talent is teleportation. So each level of a Talent provides a +1 to effective skill with what that is related to. So when a Feronel with Warp rolls to activate the advantage and teleport, he'll get a +1 to his effective skill level. If he's a knife thrower and themes a use of his Gifts as an ability to damage enemies with hypervelocity teleporting knives, he'll have a +1 to his effective skill with his use of the Thrown Weapon skill.

So we'll start with the Feronel. Their talent relates to telekinesis, teleportation, and body alteration (but only in terms of augmenting their physical capabilities, faster, stronger, tougher, etc, not growing extra limbs or some such). The Sokarnel Talent encompasses darkness, enhanced senses shapeshifting (but only into the forms of specific carrion creatures), stealth, and teleportation (including traveling to Nel holdings). The Aubernel Talent relates to light, illusion, fire/heat, flight, rainstorms, and windstorms (but not the winter kind). The Utenel Talent encompasses cold, darkness, spoken art (poetry, song, sonic screams, etc), flight, winter storms, and that sort of thing. The Loronel Talent encompasses making themselves faster, stronger, and tougher and enhances their senses and that sort of thing. Finally, the Sarownel Talent encompasses making themselves faster, stronger, tougher, enhancing their senses, darkness, and stealth.

Each of the talents costs 5 points per level and they can be bought up to a maximum of 5 levels. That might change. We'll see. This is all basically a stream of consciousness rough draft. Wee! So yeah, there's a rough draft of the mechanics of Gifts. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

GURPS Nel Part 1: The Meta-Traits

Continuing the theme of sorcery, psionics, and Gifts, we're going to do a some mechanical work on the Nel today. Wee. I've already done some work on this blog involving the Nel in GURPS and I have thirty pages of notes and stats and such in Google Drive regarding the Nel in GURPS. Much like sorcery, the Nel are very important to Hekinoe and representing them accurately is one of the Very Cool things about this conversion to GURPS.

One note before I begin. Nel are not meant to be balanced. They are going to be universally super high points creatures. This conversion is an attempt to represent them accurately. They're not meant to be equal to the player races, and why should they be? That's stupid. Nel are better than mortal races. The same way dragons and great beasts are. 

There will be spoilers. I'll try to black out the big ones so you have a choice about whether or not you read them, but no promises. You've been warned.

The first step is to identify what the Nel are, which will help us determine what advantages and disadvantages they must have. So what are the Nel?

The Nel are creatures made of  mostly infinite and completely indestructible energy that believe that they are physical creatures. This is why they regenerate, why they can bleed endlessly without going into shock, can move and function without heads or with their chests split open and the mush inside exposed to the light of day. When you hurt a Nel with an attack, you're not really injuring them, you're disrupting the solidity of their energy. Some things do this better (effects that disrupt sorcery) and others not so better (hacking at them with a sword). This is why a Nel's nature is so damn important. As they fall farther from the image of themselves that they hold in their head, the subconscious control they exert to maintain that image weakens, eventually causing them to discorporate completely. Without that indestructible image of themselves in their heads, they have no identity to impose form on the energy they are composed of, so they zip off to Nostathon. The same goes for if they are prevented from acting as their nature dictates.

The Nel know none of this, which is pretty obvious. Maybe. They just know that living true to your nature is important and think they're better than other creatures.

Alright, so now that we have defined what Nel are, we need to establish what that means in terms of representing them in the rules of the game.

Complete immunity to anything involving a traditional nervous, pulmonary, respiratory, muscular, skeletal, etc, etc, etc system is a good start. So we start with the basic necessities of what we think of as conventional life and give all Nel Doesn't Breathe, Doesn't Eat or Drink, and Doesn't Sleep. Nel feel pain, but it's not the same kind of pain as what we feel. When they are cut or wounded, the feel the absence of the Gifts of Keroen Skathos that were removed to make a wound. It's a kind of pain, but not remotely debilitating. So High Pain Tolerance is appropriate. Lacking anything like a metabolism, Resistant (Very Common: Metabolic Hazards; Immunity) would be appropriate as well. Since their bodies are faux-flesh and blood and bone and have no bearing on whether they live or die, Injury Tolerance (Homogenous) (which incorporates No Brain and No Vitals) is another pretty obvious choice.

Lets hang around Injury Tolerance for a minute. The Nel do have blood, but they bleed and bleed and bleed and nothing bad every happens because of it. Keroen has bled gallons of blood while standing around chatting with my players. So Injury Tolerance (No Blood) is a good fit. No Eyes, No Head, and No Neck seem like inappropriate options. But we're taking them. Injury Tolerance isn't necessarily about what physical appendages a creatures has. It's about whether or not the loss of said appendage would inconvenience the creature. So yes, Nel have eyes, necks, and heads. But the loss of those things and being wounded on those spots will not inconvenience Nel at all.

Nel regenerate, but not all Nel regenerate at the same speed. So for this base template we need Regeneration (Fast) (which incorporates Rapid Healing). Regrowth is also obviously appropriate. Nel are going to power their uses of their Gifts with an Energy Reserve, which represents their innate power and energy. When Nel throw around enough of their Gifts, they lose their ability to rapidly recover from injuries. Since this Regeneration expends the Nel's energy to restore their physical form, we're going to give it the costs 4 FP/minute, -40% limitation. Because it automatically activates when a Nel is injured, we're going to add the reflexive, +40% enhancement.

This brings up a good point. Nel Gifts are what they use to teleport and fling fire and that sort of thing. They are also the lifeforce (and their skin and blood and bone and clothing and sense of smell and sight, etc, etc, etc) of the Nel. To power their innate abilities, we're going to give Nel an Energy Reserve. This is the base amount, plus their FP, that every Nel has simply from existing.

Oh, yeah, they're immortal too, so they need Unaging.

Nel are also pretty much immune to mundane temperature extremes, so they're ok wandering around in a light jacket in deserts or wintry wastelands. So they have Temperature Tolerance 10 (Cold 5/Hot 5). Since Nel all have a HT between 12 and 16 (more on Nel attributes and characteristics later) we're looking at -25 - 150 degrees Fahrenheit before most Nel get uncomfortable in the weather.

So now we have the basics of Nel faux-biology. It's time to move on to the basic powers all Nel share.

One of the key influences on Nel as individuals and as a society is that they can sense Gifts around them. This ability to sense other Gifts is second nature to Nel, it's sort of like a constantly active radar they can't really turn off (except Keroen). This ability to detect one another exists because all Nel are linked through their rulers to Keroen Skathos. They're all essentially part of the same whole (Keroen Skathos' Gifts) so it's no different than looking at your hand and identifying your pinkie as your pinkie.

So the easiest way to do this is to use the Detect advantage. Gifts are a rare substance, so our base cost is 5. Normally, Detect takes concentration to detect things, but Nel do it automatically and whatnot. So we need to establish some way to keep it always on. We also need to establish that how easily detected a Nel is is dependant upon how powerful they are. So I think what we need is the reflexive enhancement. This means an advantage automatically switches itself on without any need of a ready or concentrate maneuver. We also need the precise enhancement because the Nel almost always know where they are in relation to one another. Precise lets you now the distance you are from what you sense. We also need the analyzing enhancement because it lets you automatically know what kind of thing your sensing, its form and general function. Which Nel can do automatically, so it fits. So the problem with Detect is that is has modifiers based on distance. In the background material of my world, Nel like Andorian and Evandor can be sensed by Nel from other continents, and about a hundred miles offers a -30 to your check to use the Detect advantage. I think we have a fix for that, but I'll get into it in the post about Gifts.

The next thing Nel do is sense one another's emotions. It's not thought reading or mind probing. It's really just sensing emotions and intent, which is pretty much precisely what the Empathy advantage does. It offers a few bonuses to effective skill for detecting lies and psychology and that sort of thing. So we give Nel the Empathy advantage, the apply the specialized limitation for -50% and say it only works on other Nel. Finally, we apply an accessibility limitation that says it only works when they are able to sense the Gifts of other Nel.

There are two similar features of Nel that all Nel share. The first is the ability for stronger Nel to be unaffected by the Gifts of weaker Nel. The other one is the difficulty sorcery has in affecting Nel. There's some background logic as to why Nel are resistant to sorcery, but it's irrelevant for the purposes of this post. These two aspects of Nel innate abilities can be handled by the same advantage: Static. This advantage prevents you from being affected directly by a specific type of power/source. So Static (Gifts) and Static (Sorcery) need to be bought separately. With both of these things, it isn't flat immunity to the energies. it's something that can be punched through with enough effort. So both versions of Static need the resistable limitation. Because Static is built to resist all energies of a certain type, and because Nel are composed of Gifts, it doesn't make sense for Nel to emit disruptive energies against themselves, so Static (Gifts) needs the discriminatory enhancement, meaning it only affects hostile uses of Gifts. As a final touch to Static (Gifts), we need an accessibility modifier. The Static (Gifts) only works against Nel with significantly weaker Gifts. So we add an accessebility limitation saying only works against Nel with 75% or fewer levels of Gifts than the Nel.

One last little Nel ability is their use of Gifts to generate clothing, weapons, armor, and other small items for personal use. This can be done via the Snatcher advantage with the creation and permanent enhancements, but that's super points heavy for what we're doing here. I think a more cost effective option is to use the Signature Gear advantage with the Gifts, -5% limitation. This gives the Nel a pile of money to buy stuff with that can never really be taken from him. I'm also going to set a hard cap on the Signature Gear and state that its level cannot cannot exceed the Gift level of the Nel. Signature Gear provides 50% of the campaign's starting wealth, which is based on Technology Level, for each level you buy with which to "buy" gear. Since Nel are pretty much solidly TL 2, each level of Signature Gear provides $375 to "buy" gear. This Signature Gear also gets the Gifts, -5% limitation because it is made out of Gifts, so anything negating Gifts is going to negate these odds and ends.

Alright, now that we have established the basic positive racial traits of the Nel we'll move into the disadvantages and the ways in which Nel suck.

Actually, hold up a second, we need to alter some stuff.

We need one more ability, the ability to burn off their Gifts to rapidly sustain their physical form. For this we need another special version of Regeneration. This is going to be Regeneration (Extreme), which is healing 10 HP per second. We're going to add costs 4 FP/second, -80% as well. This means every second it burns FP or ER. We're also going to add trigger: at 0 HP or lower, -20% as well, because this only activates when Nel are on the cusp of being destroyed and cannot be used at any other time. Finally, we add reflexive, +40% because this ability exists outside of the Nel's conscious control and they don't will it to turn on.

On to the suckage. Woo!

One of the funny things Nel are bad at is numbers. Nel don't math. They can count and add, but if it gets complicated, they literally have to use their fingers and toes. That's right. Nel have to count on their fingers and toes (unless they're Nel that have acclimated to mortal society, like Callifay and Evandor and such). This is because so much of the information they gain from their ability to senses Gifts is instinctively understood. A warleader automatically knows how many warriors he commands and how many he faces on a battlefield because he can sense their Gifts. He can't apply numbers to them, but he knows one side is larger than the other on an instinctual level. Long story short Nel have the Innumerate disadvantage.

Nel are truly unnatural creatures. They lack biology and a lot of the compensatory mechanisms normal living creatures have to maintain life in the face of grievous injury. To destroy a Nel, you basically disrupt its Gifts enough that it loses all corporeal presence before it can reconstitute its physical form. Do that and it's done. You're not actually destroying the Nel, or its Gifts, you're disrupting its Gifts enough that the personality bound into them is erased, then the Gifts wander away to find something interesting to animate. Nostathon takes a snapshot of the Nel just prior to this and bears it to his White Halls of Oblivion for posterity. To simulate this, we need Fragile (Unnatural), which means that once a Nel hits -HP (-10 HP for a Nel with 10 HP) it is destroyed, no rolls to resist.

Nel sensory input isn't like that of humans. They see and hear, but not with eyes and ears. They as a culture, and because of the way their Gifts work to sense on another, are wired to only really strongly pay attention to things they can sense with their Gifts. This amounts to Bad Sight and Hard of Hearing, both with modifiers that these only apply in environments/to other creatures without Gifts. These traits are partly cultural, so Nel can learn to treat all sensory information equally and buy them off like Callifay, Kolenarel, Vandella, and others have.

One vulnerability Nel have is sorcery that disrupts sorcery. This isn't because Nel are sorcerous creations, it's only a side effect of these types of spells. The energy of Nel Gifts is similar enough to sorcery that Nel are slightly disrupted by the effects. They're not destroyed or shut off, but it hurts and disrupts their Gifts enough that it necessitates the dealing of damage to them. For this we use the Weakness disadvantage. Since sorcery is a common substance in Hekinoe and dispelling sorcery is a subset of that, we use the occasional substance value. This doesn't deal a shit ton of damage, so we only need it to do so once every 5 minutes. My interpretation of this is that it deals 1d of damage per exposure, but no more than once every five minutes. Because. Mind you, this damage ignores DR and that sort of thing.

Nel have another weakness: blackstone. So we start with Weakness, as we did with anti-sorcery effects and that sort of thing. Blackstone deals damage at 1d per minutes, but the "damage" is FP/ER only, so this reduces the value of the disadvantage. This is because the blackstone is negating the Nel's energy where they are touching the blackstone and while it does that, the Nel's Gifts are trying to reform their physical body where the Nel is touching the blackstone, but they can't because blackstone just keeps negating the Gifts, so the Nel's Gifts just keep sinking into the emptiness. Additionally, touching blackstone kind of temporarily negates the Nel's regeneration. So we add the negate advantage: Regeneration modifier to the Weakness. 

Nel have one quirk. Sexless, because Nel don't reproduce or have sex organs.

Moving on to the features portion of the meta-trait. Features are fairly minor ways in which a meta-trait can modify the way the core rules of the game work. Nel are rather durable to damage and rather hard to tucker out, so they can buy HP and FP up to 200% of their ST and HT, rather than the normal 130% of humanoid creatures.  

Another feature all Nel start out with is Dead Broke. Which means they have no cash. This is because Grenaldeen has no economy. Dead Broke is normally worth -25 character points, but it is a 0 point feature of Nel, because their powers overcome some of the negativity of the trait and because it is a meaningless disadvantage in a land of no economy. 

So here is what we have:

Nel Meta-Trait
382 character points

Advantages [502]
  • Compartmentalized Mind 1 (Gifts Only, -10%; No Mental Separation, -20%) [35]
  • Detect (Rare: Gifts; Reflexive, +40%; Precise, +100%; Analyzing, +100%) [17]
  • Doesn't Breathe [20]
  • Doesn't Eat or Drink [10]
  • Doesn't Sleep [20]
  • Empathy (Empathy; Specialized: Nel, -50%, Accessibility: Only When Able to Detect Target's Gifts, -5%) [7]
  • Energy Reserve 5 (Gifts) [15]
  • Gifts 5 [65]
    • Modular Abilities (Cosmic Power; Advantages Only, -10%; Can Be Stolen By Nel With A Quick Contest, -25%; Cannot Purchase Abilities That Specifically Affect Psionics, -10%; Cannot Purchase Abilities That Specifically Affect Sorcery, -15%; Gifts, -5%; GM Pact: Must Have 1 Level Of Noisy (Gifts) Per 10 Gift Levels, -5%; Physical And Mental, +100%)
  • High Pain Tolerance [10]
  • Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous; No Brain; No Vitals) [40]
  • Injury Tolerance (No Blood) [5]
  • Injury Tolerance (No Eyes) [5]
  • Injury Tolerance (No Head) [7]
  • Injury Tolerance (No Neck) [5]
  • Racial Memory (Passive) [15]
  • Regeneration (Extreme; Reflexive, +40%; Costs 4 FP/Second, -80%; Trigger: Only At 0 HP Or Less, -20%) [60]
  • Regeneration (Fast; Reflexive, +40%; Costs 4 FP/Minute, -40%) [50]
  • Regrowth (Accessibility: Only With 1 Or More ER, -5%) [10]
  • Resistant (Immunity, x1; Very Common: Metabolic Hazards) [30]
  • Signature Gear 1 (Gifts, -5%) [1]
  • Static (Gifts; Resistible, -50%; Discriminatory, +150%; Accessibility: Only Works Against Nel With 75% Or Fewer Levels of Gifts, -50%) [45]
  • Static (Sorcery; Resistible, -50%) [15]
  • Temperature Tolerance 10 (Cold/Hot) [10]
  • Unaging [5]
Disadvantages [-119]
  • Bad Vision (Nearsighted; Accessibility: Only In Situations Involving Non-Gift Creatures/Environments, -10%) [-22]
  • Fragile (Unhealing) [-50]
  • Hard of Hearing (Accessibility: Only In Situations Involving Non-Gift Creatures/Environments, -10%) [-9]
  • Innumerate [-5]
  • Vulnerability (Rare: Blackstone Weapons; x2 Damage) [-10]
  • Weakness (Occasional Substance: dispel sorcery, drain Sorcery, suspend spell, suspend Sorcery, x1; 1d every 5 minutes) [-10]
  • Weakness (1d/Minute; Rare: Blackstone, x1/2; ER/FP, -25%; Negate Advantage: Regeneration: Fast, +60%) [-13]
Quirks [-1]
  • Sexless [-1]
Feature: Nel may buy their HP and FP up to 200% of their ST and HT, rather than the normal 130%. 
Feature: Nel start with Dead Broke for their wealth, but gain no bonus character points for this disadvantage. 

And that's just the meta-trait. Hehe. This is gonna be fun.

Edit After The Fact: Forgot. Nel have a racial memory. If enough Nel know a thing, they all know a thing. So they have Racial Memory (Passive), which  means that any time a Nel encounters something enough Nel know, the GM secretly rolls an IQ roll for the Nel to see if they recall that information. Nel racial memory isn't automatic recall, it kind of relies a little bit on Nel thinking hard about the right thing to recall information. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

GURPS Fuck Psionics

So our next step in hashing out sorcery, psionics, Gifts, and the Nel is to hash out psionics. Shocking.

In my previous attempts, I've basically tried to duplicate Pathfinder psionics with a bit of modification to fit them with the version of Hekinoe that exists in my head. That's fine, but it's not exactly true to the source material. There is very little practical difference between sorcery and psionics in Pathfinder. They each have their quirks, but for the most part they can do precisely the same kinds of things with relatively minor tweaks (like not having to pay 25k gold for material components for psionic wish).

So what are psionics? Psionics are mental arts  that can influence the physical world that are directed by the willpower of a creature and fueled by its mental energy.

This means that when based off of an attribute, the psionic character uses his Will for psionic powers.

Let's also establish who can be a psionic character. Psionics are a racial ability in Hekinoe, not a class every Tom, Dick, and Fell Human can take levels in like in Pathfinder. Elduman,because Elduman. They are the original psionic creatures and anything using psionics on Hekinoe is at least partially related to them, regardless of how thin the ties are.  Elduman descended Uncout, because they have a small crystalline organ in their brains that is one of the few traits they share with their Elduman forefathers. This organ allows them to psionic. The Rankethlek are psionic because they are a sort of mental construct shaped like the remnants of the Soulless/Fallen they are transformed from that is given shape and potency by the lightning heart within them. If that sounds nonsensical or like bullshit, congratulations, you can read. Moving along. Some Fallen (those that take an Unusual Background) can also use psionics.

In non-Pathfinder Hekinoe there are four ways psionics interact with the world around psionic characters: esp, psychokinesis, telepathy, and biokinesis.

Biokinesis is the name for the ability of psionic characters to influence their body with their mental energy. They can use their psionic power to heal themselves, augment their physical strength, and so on. Biokinesis is restricted to Elduman and Elduman descended Uncout. This is because the Elduman can use their psionic energy, which is essentially their lifeforce, to alter and augment their crystalline psionic flesh, rearranging it to suit their needs. At least temporarily. Elduman descended Uncout are capable of biokinesis, but they are much more limited. Unlike the Elduman, the flesh, blood, and bones and such of the Elduman descended Uncout are not innately psionic (aside from the organ in their brain) so they lack some of the functionality that the Elduman possess. Mainly the ability to shift and alter their flesh. 

That's right, Elduman are pseudo-shapeshifters. Didn't know that? Huh. That's weird. You would think that would be common knowledge or something. Anyway.

Elduman descended Uncout can still augment their bodies, but they do it in a much more limited way. They can amp up their strength by turning off the restrictions in our bodies that keep us from snapping our own bones when we use brute force, they can dump a bunch of adrenaline to increase reaction speed, they can cause their lungs to hyperoxegenate blood so they can exert themselves for longer without breathing, etc, etc. Fallen and Rankethlek have no ability to use biokinesis because they are unliving creatures.

Esp is extra-sensory perception. This is the ability of psionic creatures to expand their senses and consciousness. To set their mental energy bouncing around the world to see what their eyes cannot, etc. It also incorporates things like sensing other living beings, having a sixth sense ability to dodge, and that sort of thing. It cannot predict the future or see the past. I am kinda unsure how to implement it right now. There are a few ways that work, but I don't know which one to settle on beyond the Detect and Clairsentience advantages. I also envision esp having a lot of passive effects like Enhanced Block or Combat Reflexes, rather than ones that are activated on the fly. Since esp is a purely mental psionic ability (mostly), all the previously listed psionic creatures can utilize to the same degree.

Psychokinesis is basically using psionic energy to influence matter and the world around you. You can create a wall of telekinetic force or bind your crystalline flesh together with telekinetic energy to make it harder to penetrate, stab with a telekinetic dagger, paralyze by wrapping bands of telekinetic force around someone, or give a person the equivalent of a hyper fast hyper strong rug burn by dragging telekinetic force across their body. Psychokinesis is also the place where teleportation type effects sit. Psychokinesis can be used by all of the psionic races except Fallen.

Teleportation effects are only usable by Elduman. Teleportation effects are also not instantaneous when used long range. Elduman are the only psionic race that can teleport because they are the only race that possesses a psionically energized body at every level. Every molecule of pale faux-skin, crystalline dermis, and liquid crystal blood is psionically charged. This is what allows Elduman to so drastically alter their physical capabilities with biokinesis, their bodies are as psionic as their minds are.

Elduman teleportation effect involve temporarily separating their physical molecules (which hurts, mind you, and in a very bad way), flinging them in a direction with telekinesis, and then reconstituting them (which hurts, but in a good way). Technically speaking, teleportation effects are a combination of psychokinesis and biokinesis.

Telepathy is mind to mind interface and whatnot. It represents anything involving mental communication or tricking the mind of another creature into doing something. With telepathy psionic characters can paralyze by poking the target's brain and telling it to halt all movement, they can communicate, they can convince you that you're dying of suffocation, they can convince your heart to stop, probe minds for secrets, make a slave of you, etc, etc, etc. Like esp and psychokinesis, telepathy can be used by all of the psionic races.

So looking at that, you'll see that there's no ability to fling fireballs and lightning bolts. Which is intentional. Don't get me wrong, you can grab lightning or fire (assuming you grab fuel for it too) with telekinetic hands and fling it at someone, but it has to already exist in the environment (thus requiring the Environmental limitation). The goal here is not to make psionics more limited than sorcery, though that ends up being the result. At least partially.

My ultimate goal here is to make them different. Psionics is going to end up more limited, but I want it to heavily surpass sorcery in certain areas, mainly telepathy type stuff. It's going to be tricky, but we'll see what we can do here.

So the first step is to talk about what kind of modifier psionics are. In regular GURPS psionic limitations are -10% modifiers. This value assumes that there are effects and technology that can impede or prevent the use of psionics. The same goes for sorcery. In Hekinoe there isn't any technology or chemical that really prevents the use of sorcery or psionics (aside from blackstone). Sorcery gets to keep its -10% value because of all the misfire shit. Psionic limitations in GURPS are only worth -5% to the cost of an advantage because there is no equivalent to misfires for them and no technology that fucks with them (aside from blackstone, which isn't really tech and is on the rare side). Psionics also has the benefit of working in the middle of the fucking ocean.

There are also four talents related to psionics: Biokinesis Talent, ESP Talent, Psychokinesis Talent, and the Telepathy Talent, each costing 5 character points per level and having a maximum level of 4 (with ancient Elduman able to purchase a 5th level). Talents apply a +1 bonus per level to effective skill levels with things related to the talent. So every psionic power will have one of the following limitations: Biokinesis, ESP, Psychokinesis, or Telepathy, all as a -5% modifier.

For complex powers, when applicable (which is subject to GM approval), you may apply multiple psionic limitations, but their combined value cannot exceed -10%. You may add the appropriate Talent modifiers to the power as well, but add the total bonus from your talents together and divide by how many talents are involved and round up to get the bonus. So a telepathic power that incorporates elements of esp would have a ESP/Telepathy, -10% limitation and would add ESP Talent 2 and Telepathy Talent 3 when appropriate, but you would use (2+5)/2 for a Talent modifier of 3. Wee, math!

I plan on allowing the use of the alternative powers rule. So you could conceivably lump all of your psychokinetic powers together and pay the full cost for the most expensive and 1/5 of the cost for the rest. That's pretty good for reducing costs, but it does pose certain risks. It restricts you to using only one of the abilities at a time and forces you to take a ready maneuver to switch between modes. It also means that if one is disabled, all are. I don't see it being a universally taken option, but it can be of benefit in some instances and I leave it up to the player.

Psionics is something that comes purely from your mind, so all psionic characters must purchase an Energy Reserve (Psionics) of at least 1. This represents the base energy necessary to power psionic abilities.

All active uses of psionic power, like when you use a mental blast to stun foes or probe a target's mind, or manifest a shield of telekinetic force, etc requires an expenditure of the psionic character's mental energy. So they all (probably) have the Costs 1 ER, -5% limitation. This means you have to spend one ER to activate the power for each use or 1 minute duration, depending on the nature of the ability. Because Elduman are the perfect integration of psionic crystalline flesh and psionic energy, they have the option of applying the Costs FP, -10% limitation (which still allows you to use ER to pay for the ability) or the Costs HP, -20% limitation. Elduman descended Uncout may apply the Costs FP, -10% or Costs HP, -20% limitation to their Biokinesis abilities to reflect the fact that they are using psionics to augment their body and push it beyond its normal capabilities, causing increased strain on their physiology.

Just as a random note, there is a way to make an Innate Attack do a variable number of damage dice that increases based on the ER/FP/HP expenditure in GURPS Power on page 101.

Another modifier psionic abilities must have is the Low Signature enhancement. All abilities are assumed to have some sort of sensory effect that is as noticeable as the sound of a gunshot or the muzzle flash of one. Psionic abilities are almost purely mental and when used the only sign is a barely seen shimmer similar to a heat haze in the air. Because there is no act of throwing or cursing or wiggling fingers to direct psionic powers, if the use of the Innate Attack skill is needed, it uses the Gaze variant, replacing DX with Will as the controlling attribute. Low Signature does not have any effect on a target's ability to defend against an attack or effect, it merely means that the nature of the attack is harder to notice.

Alright, so there are a few tweaks for each race due to their unique natures. I know I've mentioned a few of the racial options already, but I'm going to hash out a few more.

One ability shared by all psionic characters is the ability to detect and analyze psionics. This is done using the Detect advantage. Psionics are considered an occasional substance (sorcery is common and Gifts are rare, fyi). It would also have the ESP, -5% limitation and Costs 1 ER, -5% limitation. As psionic characters grow in power they could modify it to be more discerning and could learn to detect other sorts of things like sentient minds, living creatures, metals, etc.

Elduman have access to all four types of psionics. Elduman are also the only psionic characters that can use psychokinesis to teleport.

As previously mentioned, when applying limitations to activated abilities, Elduman may apply Costs ER, -5%, Costs FP, -10% (which may also be activated by paying ER), or Costs HP, -20% to those abilities. I supposed you could in theory apply all three to the same ability, meaning it would take 1 ER, 1 FP, and 1 HP to activate, but you'd get a -35% to the cost. So maybe it's worth it? Pro-Tip: It's totally not.

Elduman are sort of solar powered so they can have Regeneration of any strength with the ER Only or FP Only (not both, but they could buy it once for their Energy Reserve and once for their FP) limitation for +0% and the Accessibility: Only In Direct Sunlight, -10% limitation. Normally, ER and FP heals by 1 every 10 minutes (every 5 minutes for FP if you have the Fit advantage). So taking Regeneration (Regular) with these limitations would cost 23 points and would restore an additional ER once an hour for a total of 7 ER restored each hour.

Elduman Descended Uncout
Elduman descended Uncout have access to a more limited form of biokinesis, a more limited form of esp, psychokinesis, and telepathy.

As previously stated, the more limited form of biokinesis that Elduman descended Uncout have does not allow them to manipulate their bodies the way it does Elduman. Elduman can bind their crystalline flesh and faux skin together to resist damage, but their descendants cannot. In theory, Elduman can use their psionic energies to fuel rapid muscle and bone growth to increase their size and strength, their descendants could not.

What Elduman descended Uncout could do is buy Damage Reduction with the semi-ablative or ablative limitation and a temporary disadvantage like Ham-Fisted or Numb to simulate their psionic abilities turning off their pain receptors and that sort of thing. What they could do is fire off all of the adrenaline in their bodies at once and override the biological restraints on their muscles to hit with greater force and move faster to dodge blows better. 

Elduman descended Uncout also have a more limited form of esp than Elduman. They are basically restricted to using the crystalline chunk of their brain to process information quicker. So they can't displace their senses with Clairsentience. They can augment their reaction times with psionic versions of things like Danger Sense, Enhanced Defenses and Combat Reflexes though. They can also augment their preexisting senses with advantages like Acute Senses and other sense based advantages.

As previously mentioned, Elduman descended Uncout may apply Costs ER, -5%, Costs FP, -10% (which may also be activated by paying ER), or Costs HP, -20% to their biokinesis abilities.

Fallen do not normally have access to psionics, but can purchase an Unusual Background at character creation to gain access to them.

Fallen do not have access to biokinesis or psychokinesis. This is because they are dead things with no functioning biology and the crystalline material of their bodies is inert in terms of psionic energy. They do not possess psychokinesis because the innate talents of psionics that Fallen possessed prior to being transformed by The Bleak Tyrant burnt themselves out during the transformation from Elduman to Fallen. As the essence of the Elduman was bound irrevocably to existence, their psionic talents sort of fused their bodies together to maintain their physical presence and allow them to retain their physical body. Without this extinguishing of their psychokinetic abilities, the bodies of the Fallen would have crumbled instantly to bluish crystal dust and they would have become incorporeal spirit creatures. Which is the eventual fate of all Fallen.

Fallen may purchase a version of the Leech advantage. This version of the Leech advantage only functions against sentient creatures and has the Malediction 1, +100%; Ranged, +40%; Steal IQ, +300%; Reduced Range: 1/5, -20%; Telepathy, -5%; Only Heals ER, -20%. The cost comes out to 124 points for level 1 + 20 points/level. Super expensive. But also super fucking cool. They can literally eat your mind to fuel their psionic abilities.

Fallen, being undead creatures, have no FP. So to use psionics, they must have an Energy Reserve (Psionics). They, unlike the Elduman, may apply the Special Recharge: Leech, -70% limitation to their Energy Reserve, reducing the cost of their Energy Reserve to 1 character point per point of ER. Woo! This restricts it to being recharged only by the use of their Leech ability though, so it may or may not be worth it. Probably not. That version of Leech is super expensive.

Rankethlek, being creatures of unliving metal, do not have access to biokinesis. They also must use an Energy Reserve to power their powers, so any activated abilities need the Costs ER, -5% limitation.

Rankethlek only have one unique ability. They can use their psychokinesis to wield electricity themed psionic powers. To do so, such a power must have the Environmental: Only When Electricity Is Already Present, +0% limitation. This is a zero value limitation because the lightning heart of the Rankethlek is always present wherever they are. They would be dead if it weren't. Such lightning powers may have the Costs HP, -20% limitation applied to them. This is used to reflect that the Rankethlek is fueling the power with the equivalent of their lifeforce and is possibly damaging their lightning heart by putting abnormal stress on it. It isn't mandatory, but it's an option.

So that's pretty much psionics and stuff, or at least the rough draft of this version of psionics. I still need to hash out a thing or two about esp nonsense, but I'm sure that will be quickly resolved.

There's one issue left to figure out, how to make psionics better at something than sorcery and to determine what that should be. How to make them better though. Should it be something innate, or an option. Oh. Cary is going to like this. Maybe. Probably. Hehe.

Psionic characters that achieve a talent level of 4 or higher with psionic powers may apply the Cosmic limitation to some of those powers. So an Elduman with Psychokinetic Talent 4 could apply Cosmic (No Active Defense Roll, +300%) to simulate telekinetic strikes moving at the speed of thought and not allowing targets to dodge them. If you wanted to be nasty, you could throw on Cosmic (Ignore DR, +300%) as well. You could also apply Cosmic (Irresistible Attack, +300%) to Mind Control, so it wouldn't be protected from by Mind Shield. All kinds of nasty and unstoppable options.

GURPS Hekinoe Psionics tl;dr
  • The Known World psionic races are Elduman, Elduman descended Uncout, Fallen, and Rankethlek.
  • Psionics breaks down into four types: biokinesis (manipulation of the psionic character's body), extra sensory perception (using psionics to gain sensory input normally unavailable to the character), psychokinesis (using telekinetic force to interact with the physical world), and telepathy (using the psionic character's mind to affect or communicate with the minds of others). 
  • Psionic abilities are directed by willpower and use Will as their controlling attribute when appropriate. When an Innate Attack is needed for a power, it uses the Gaze version but replaces DX with Will as the controlling attribute. 
  • Each type of psionics has an associated talent that costs 5 points/level. Maximum level for normal characters is 4, ancient Elduman can possess up to 5 levels of each talent. 
  • Psionic modifiers are -5% limitations, not 10% like in the GURPS Basic Set. Multiple psionic modifiers may be applied to a power, with GM approval, but the total limitation value cannot exceed -10%. Talent bonuses apply as normal, but add the value of the Talents together and divide the result by the number of applied talents and then round up for the applied modifier. 
  • Psionic abilities with the same type limitation (esp, psychokinesis, etc) may be folded together as alternative abilities (GURPS Powers pg. 11) if the player wishes to do so.
  • Psionic characters must have an Energy Reserve (Psionics) advantage of at least 1. 
  • Most psionic powers will have the Costs ER, -5% limitation. Elduman may instead apply the Costs FP, -10%, or Costs HP, -20% limitation to their abilities. Elduman descended Uncout may apply Costs FP and Costs HP to their biokinesis abilities to reflect that they are pushing their bodies beyond their normal capabilities and it hurts and stuff.
  • Unless it would be patently ridiculous (whatever that means), psionic powers must have the Low Signature enhancement. 
  • Detecting psionics is done with Detect (Occasional: Psionics; ESP, -5%; Costs 1 ER/minute, -5%) [9]
  • Psionics cannot interact directly with sorcery. Psionics could be used to detect fire and by extension sorcerously created fire, but not sorcery or sorcerous fire specifically. Psionics could protect from fire damage and by extension fire spell damage, but not specifically from fire damage from spells. 
  • Each of the psionic races has some unique things they can do that nobody else psionic can. Hekinoe, now with 200% more unique snowflakery for players!
  • At Talent level 4, a psionic character may apply certain versions of the Cosmic limitation to certain psionic abilities with GM permission and for the normal character point cost. 

Edit After The Effect: Yeah, Cary was right. There is a financial cost for using reality revision (psionic wish). Whoops. Evidently I only read the discipline, casting time, display, etc statblock and didn't actually ever reading the description of the power. Whoopsie.