RTJ and Setting Details.   Posted by Game Master.Group: 0
Game Master
 GM, 1 post
Wed 17 May 2017
at 23:27
RTJ and Setting Details
Please note! My schedule can be wonky at times, thanks to the fact that I travel out of the country for years at a time. If the internet goes down in (say) China for a week, I may not be able to get on with an update, or even a warning that I'll be MIA. I apologize in advance for this. (And yes, it's now happened to me in both China and Mexico - this is not an idle statement.)

To ensure that you have read and acknowledge this, please make a note that you have done so in your RTJ (something as simple as "I know you may vanish without warning for a while and that's okay" is fine). I just don't want to hear that you didn't know about it when I get back.

Starting year: 1932
Genre: Realistic, with a hint of the supernatural
Are there multiple planes of existence? No
General theme of campaign: Exploration and discovery

Campaign Background
Autour du monde is a campaign that will explore the mysterious places of the world. Set in the 1930s, the characters work for a British nobleman unable to explore the world for himself.

Tech level: 6
Political/economic situation: The world’s in a pretty rough state, economically speaking. The Great Depression has been going on for nearly half a decade now, and PCs are likely to suffer from Poverty (at the very least), though it may be mollified by Independent Income (Military Pension) from the War. At least strong leaders in Germany and Italy have managed to halt the slide of those nations’ economies.

Politically the world is in upheaval. The Soviet Union’s agents strive to undermine the world’s capitalist governments through any means available. Germany's nascent Nazi party and Hirohito’s Japan espouse radical racial superiority, and Great Britain is effectively practicing what others preach. Meanwhile, the United States lords it over much of the New World as well as areas of the Pacific Ocean.

Information for PCs
Starting point value: 100          Disadvantage limit: 50
Especially useful character types: Archeologists, Daredevils, Explorers, and Soldiers of Fortune
Starting wealth: $750*             Starting Wealth levels allowed: Poor to Wealthy
Starting Status levels allowed: -2 to 2**          Starting TLs allowed: 6***
Languages available: Any Earth language (all characters should know English to at least Accented level)
Cultural Familiarities available: Any Earth culture
Required advantages, disadvantages, and skills: Duty or Sense of Duty (Sir C.L. Preston, 12 or less) [-10] and at least one Advantage or Skill useful to someone exploring (that could easily include Orienteering, Languages Talent, or even just a knighthood; see the list of skills Preston is most interested in, below)
Especially appropriate or inappropriate advantages, disadvantages, and skills: Sir C.L. Preston is a Patron worth 10 points, but he will never be available as such more than Fairly Often (a roll of 9 or less). Independent Income (Military Pension) [5] is appropriate for those who served in the Great War. Languages Talent would be very handy.

Addictions of various stripes are appropriate (cigarettes are all but required and worth -5, Alcoholism is legal and worth -15, but there are quite a few others – marijuana, cocaine, opium, morphine, heroine... they vary in worth, of course). Poverty of some level is very appropriate. Sense of Duty (Patriotism or Humanity) are both appropriate for PCs. Social Stigma is appropriate for pretty much anyone that isn’t a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Male; blacks, women, Jews, foreigners... you name it, there’s someone who hates you. Congratulations!

Skills-wise, I won’t say anything is unimportant. That’s silly. However, the patron is more likely to be interested in people with certain skill sets: Anthropology, Archeology, Artist (Drawing), Cartography, Diplomacy, Engineering, History, Naturalist, Navigation (Land), Occultism, Philosophy, Photography, Research, Tracking, Traps, and Writing. He will also be interested in those with certain Expert Skills (particularly things like Egyptology, etc).

PCs, by contrast, might find Brawling or Boxing, Cooking, Fast-Talk, First Aid, Forced Entry, Guns (most likely Pistol, Rifle, or Shotgun), Linguistics, Observation, Survival and Swimming handy. Many characters will also have Current Affairs (various), Mechanic, or Soldier.

*20% ($150) of this can be used for adventuring gear; players do not need to spend the remainder at the outset of the game if they don’t want to.
**Status 2 is only available to those knighted (or equivalent) by a government.
***Characters may take Low TL, but doing so likely requires an Unusual Background, as well.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:45, Sat 03 June 2017.

Game Master
 GM, 3 posts
Thu 1 Jun 2017
at 21:30
RTJ and House Rules
Requests to Join
The most important things for me to see in an RTJ are as follows:

  • How familiar are you with GURPS 4e? (More specifically, can you create a character using the free GURPS Lite 4e rules at the very least?)
  • In a few brief sentences, what is your character? I'm looking for what some games might call an "archetype" here, but with enough detail that I know I'm not getting 3 Indiana Joneses and a pair of Henry Jones, Srs (or whatever).

That's pretty much it. You don't need to create a character immediately, since I'll want to get a decent idea of what I'm working with first.

House Rules
I don't really have a ton of house rules for GURPS, but I recently read one in an old issue of Pyramid that I really like. It's a rule for 3e so I'll need to modify it somewhat. For the time being, the article is as follows:

Slow and Steady Experience Spending
by Peter V. Dell'Orto

As a referee, I began to have a problem with how people spent their accumulated character points. My players' characters had reached around 60 or more points above the campaign base, and I began to fret over the skill levels that they were  flaunting. Weapon skills, especially important in the fantasy campaign I was GMing, had climbed to 17s and 18s, well ahead of most of the opposition. While I had no problem with the skill levels, I wanted to curb the rate that they increased while still giving the same number of character points out as awards.

For example, one character had a DX of 17 and DX+1 in his main weapon skills; another had DX 15 and DX+1 or DX+2 in his main weapon skills. Both were primarily fighting foes in the 14-15 skill range, and it seemed unlikely that their weapon skills should increase that much from fighting less-skilled opponents. Understanding this, both players had voluntarily set limits on their own skills, not planning on increasing them until they could find a valid campaign reason to do so, such as a skilled teacher or practice with a superior warrior. Meanwhile, players saving points to increase an attribute or purchase an advantage such as Combat Reflexes would do one of two things. Either they would monomaniacally dedicate all points toward that goal until it was achieved, no matter how much they used other skills in the adventures they had to earn the points they spent, or they would save the points for a time, then binge-spend the points on skills that they suddenly wanted to increase and be forced to start all over. Other players, whose newer characters were less powerful than the older characters, would spend the vast majority of their earned points on one or two skills to get as capable as the veterans, resulting in lopsided character development.

In the end, I felt that this was unrealistic, frustrating, and made it hard for me to plan ahead -- was the player going to buy Combat Reflexes or not? The answer could make all the difference when I was planning my adventures, which were often meant to be a tight squeeze for the players. A point or two difference here or there could spell the difference between success and death. Voluntary curbs were fine, but ultimately unsatisfactory. After all, maybe the warrior learned comparatively little today, but after ten solid combats with those same enemies he would have improved enough to gain a point of skill. But what about after four combats? Eleven? Where was the learning breakpoint?

What I wanted was a more natural-seeming progression, with character points spread out more evenly among the character's skills. But I also wanted characters to be able to concentrate on the skills they wished to develop. So my solution, prompted by a friend, was to force my players to commit all character points as soon as they were given. We would end a session after some important event or junction in an adventure, and I would give the players slips of paper listing their XP awards at the beginning of the next session.

Now here is where my experience scheme gets clever: All character points must be spent immediately. Points cannot be saved in a general pool to spend later. Instead, the points must be dedicated towards the eventual (or immediate) increase or purchase of a skill, attribute, or advantage. A maximum of 1 point can be put into any skill, with the exception of new skills (bought up from successful default use) or skills with 1/2 point in them. Those skills are limited to 1/2 point each.
Attributes could have anywhere from 1/2 to 2 points committed towards raising them (since they cost twice base cost to increase during play), and advantages could have up to 1 point committed. As a result, a PC with DX+4 in Axe/Mace would need at least eight play sessions involving successful combat use of Axe/Mace to increase it to DX+5.

Buying Combat Reflexes would take at least 15 sessions involving combat. Going from HT 13 to 14 would take 15x2 = 30 points, so at least 15 sessions at 2 points each. Naturally, points do not have to be put in consecutively in order to increase a skill. If the above Axe/Mace wielder had 7 points in the skill and did not fight for six play sessions, he would still only need one more session and 1 more point to increase the skill. Or perhaps your character, looking to purchase that increase in HT, is, luckily, not called on to make any HT rolls for a few sessions, would not be able to dedicate more points toward HT, but the accumulated points would not be lost.

Only skills and advantages that were used "significantly" in the course of the adventuring that earned the character experience points could be improved. "Significant" was defined as using the skill successfully in a
situation were failure was possible and significant. This meant combat for combat skills, with a successful hit for offensive skills (regardless of the enemy's success or failure at defense) and successful defense for shield or buckler, both in serious combat. Serious combat means not only life-threatening but with some meaning to the success or failure of the adventure, or a fight against tougher-than-normal opponents.

Multiple combats of any intensity will also qualify, since the skill is being used repeatedly -- sure, those peasants were no match for your mercenary, but if you have to carve your way out of a large and bloodthirsty mob with your trusty blade I cannot see denying you the opportunity to dedicate points to it. A successful
climbing roll up a ladder is not significant, but a successful climbing roll up rusted rungs barely able to hold your weight is. Successfully resisting a spell, or other Will roll, allows points to be put into HT (if resisted with HT), Strong
Will, but never (at least, in my campaign) IQ. Alertness can be purchased whenever a successful sense check is made to spot something significant. The aforementioned Combat Reflexes may be acquired as a result of any serious combat. Hard to Kill can have points dedicated to its purchase for surviving rolls against death (this one can be hard to increase!) Spells would need to have been successfully cast in an appropriate situation; casting a spell over and over to get better with it is better covered by time use sheets. Learning new spells is also handled by time use sheets -- just because you earned 6 points on the last adventure does not mean you can buy six new spells. I require finding a teacher and spending the hours to do it.
Stats work the same way. IQ can have points dedicated to it if the player can explain why they have gained such a significant experience that allows their general intelligence and knowledge base to increase rather than just the skills
used -- definitely a GM judgment call. DX is handled the same way; to a lesser extent-it is much easier to justify a general improvement at agility than a general increase in intelligence. ST and HT and quite easy to justify -- most rolls against either will be quite significant, and any serious combat is quite an intense workout.

When training up skills with time use sheets, OJT, etc., keep track of any and all extraneous hours until they equal 1/2 point, at which point they are dedicated to the stats or skills in question. Any combination of hours and experience points can be used to buy up skills, and there is no limit on the speed of training -- it is slow enough.

Naturally, disadvantages can also have points dedicated towards buying them off. Overconfidence will seem much easier to buy off when you place one point per session to buy it off, one point after each time your character gets an inkling of his or her real capabilities. Points can be put towards either Strong Will or buying off a Phobia if the character overcomes the fear in order to accomplish some task, depending on the concept of the character. Some disadvantages do not lend themselves to being bought off incrementally, such as One Arm, Duty, or Enemies. These can be handled by either allowing the player to buy it off all at once, then pay back the "debt" on the 1-point-persession installment plan, use of the dedicated points method above, or by a combination of the two. For example, you
killed off your 20-point Enemy, and to do so you spend 6 points you had dedicated towards buying it off, owe 4 more, and take Overconfident (after all, you are walking tall and acting cocky now that you've wiped him out). Justifying points in these cases may be difficult, so players and referees are encouraged to be creative. Maybe you can dedicate points towards your enemy after you interrupt its activities (the CIA is still after you, but you got the Congress to start investigating its activities, thus weakening them), kill his most important henchman (you killed Frank, but the evil Dr. Forrester is still after you), or perhaps buy down the frequency first (now that Frank is gone, Dr. Forrester has trouble catching up to you as often). I allow points to be dedicated towards disadvantages that can be bought off but not "overcome" (such as One Arm) any time the player wishes, so long as when it is fully bought off they make the proper effort from a roleplaying perspective.

A character with points committed to a skill can never retrieve those points or change his mind. The points committed, which do not yet affect the character's skills or attributes, are not counted against the character point total. A 150 point
character with 28 points committed (but not yet cashed in) is still only 150, not 178.

There are several advantages in using this method. It forces characters to diversify their points, placing points not only in the skills they want at very high levels, but also in the stats they are based on, putting points towards the Reputation they are slowly developing, etc. The system also works well with advantages like Reputation, Contacts, Patrons, etc. For example, you could put two points into a Reputation after two sessions fighting in the arena with your gladiator getting a +1 on a 7-, from a small group (diehard fans). Soon enough it is +1 on a 10-, then a large group. Eventually, at least 20 sessions later (probably much longer, since not every session is going to be "significant" in enhancing your formidable rep) you have that +4, everyone, always reputation as the greatest gladiator to ever grace the sport.

The method also means that each session is more important, since a player who wishes to increase in several areas at once as rapidly as possible must get as many points as he or she can. Naturally, the GURPS method of handing out experience is very heavily weighted towards points for roleplaying. As a result, the would-be master swordsman must also be a well-played character before he can become the all-around warrior he wants to be -- just putting points into broadsword, shield, HT, and ST each session at the maximum rate means the player must earn 6 points per session.

There are drawback as well. If you want a very rapid pace of growth, handing out more experience per session in order to achieve it, the characters will still grow slowly. Or let's say you want Literacy, Combat Reflexes, or ST to increase quickly in your particular campaign. In either case, you can loosen, or remove entirely, the limits on the areas you want emphasized, or simply take the expedient of doubling the limit that can be invested. This system also works best in long-term campaigns, and campaigns where extreme power levels are not emphasized. I have discarded this system while playing short campaigns, or in my eventually 1000+ point character Immortality campaign, where this would put the brakes on the rapid advancement I and my players wish to achieve. The system works well in the face of acquiring new spells, purchasing advantages, buying up defaults (and reversing them, as per the example in the Basic Set), and all other situations I have so far come across. It has also meant that I could be more free with points, since I know that they cannot be abused. I have also found that players are more likely to set aside points for advantages and attributes, since they cannot put any more points in their weapon skills than they already have.

I mostly post this so that you, the player, are aware that I plan on instituting this and have an idea of what it looks like. That way if you have any questions or concerns we can discuss in the OOC. While it's for use with earlier editions of the game, you can easily see what it means for increasing skill level in this one.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:12, Sat 03 June 2017.

Game Master
 GM, 5 posts
Sat 3 Jun 2017
at 01:33
Characters, Locations, &etc
Player Characters
  • Boggs, Ma Itso.
  • Conti, Gabriella.
  • Fox, Artemis P.
  • Patience.
  • Stewart, Peter.
  • Stoica, Ilse.

  • Bearn. Lecoq's assistant.
  • Lecoq, Dr. Pernell. A French Egyptologist.
  • Preston, Sir Charles L. An older British gentleman, Sir Preston is the PCs' sponsor and patron. Although he wishes he could explore the world on his own, an injury suffered during the Boer War means that he has to do so vicariously through others.
  • Quinn, Henry. An American aviator and flying ace of the Great War, Quinn claims to be "the best American pilot in the whole damned war." He is ruggedly handsome, though his cheeks are scarred from a childhood disease. Quinn is in the employ of Sir Preston.
  • Vocini, Eduardo. An Italian tramp freighter captain of the Liberte de la Mer in the Mediterranean Sea. He always has a good-natured complaint, even if surrounded by perfection.

  • Liberte de la Mer. An aging freighter owned by Eduardo Vocini, it regularly travels between Taranto, Italy and Alexandria, Egypt. The engines always seem to struggle, even in calm waters.

This message was last edited by the GM at 14:36, Mon 31 July 2017.