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. 

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