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. 

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