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Old 02-27-2018, 09:12 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

For quite a long time now I've been working on adapting GURPS Cabal to 4th edition. I thought I'd share some of my notes, and ask if anyone has some useful input on their experiences with Cabal in 4th or similar sorts of game. It is, of course, a work in progress.

Citations for crunch and notes.
GURPS Cabal for GURPS 3rd Edition is the base.

“Hunting the Cabal,” Pyramid 58, p. 20, is extremely helpful.

Mailanka’s blog posts on building a Cabal framework were vital in this conversion:

So was his general post on GURPS Campaign Frameworks:

Magic & Such
Hermetic Magic is Thaumatology - Ritual Path Magic, using the Sephiroth as the fluff basis and the Astrological Modifiers.

Anyone can learn Hermetic Magic, and the Magery and Ritual Adept advantages can be gained in play.

Sacred Architecture rules need to be worked out. Ley Lines are related. Pyramid 66, p. 7. Sacred Architecture is covered in detail for College magic on Thaumatology – Urban Magic, p. 21, and Thaumatology, p. 89. Ley Lines are covered on Thaumatology, pp. 12 and 53, and Thaumatology – Urban Magic, p. 19

Magic Item creation should probably be adapted a bit, since I want to treat most magic items as gear, not point-costed advantages. Certain magic items (anything that provides energy – azoth, paut) need to be adapted. Alchemy (RPM p. 28) and Charms (RPM p. 26) are fine as they are, pretty much. Alchemy-focused characters might need the Gadgeteer advantage, and almost certainly want the Gizmo advantage.

Ritual Path Specialists (Pyramid 66, p.16) and Magical Styles (Thaumatology – Magical Styles, and Pyramid 66, p. 9) to add more flavor to Lodges, rival secret societies, Black School alumni, and so on.

Black Magic. As written, this is a discount to energy in exchange for a chance at corruption and eventual damnation. (plus magical taint on the soul that can be detected, secret/reaction penalty, etc.). Corruption (GURPS Horror, p. 146-148). modified by note on Pyramid 66, p. 7, may work.

Words of Power are on Thaumatology, p. 178, and modified by Pyramid 66, p. 7.

Cosmology seems to be the biggest headache. Getting between the Four Realms, what the Near Astral is like, moving around in the Deep Astral, etc. This is one reason why I’m focusing on the Outer Circle campaign (see below).

The big four non-mage splats (Vampires, Fae, Shapeshifters, Psychics) are built with Powers in a World of Darkness style.

Vampires use templates from Blood Types, adapted for 4th edition. Borrow liberally from

Psychics use a couple base templates (or maybe just one base template) and then use powers based on GURPS Psychic Powers, edited a bit. The biggest change is the Astral power, since Yetzirah seems markedly different from the rather vague Astral Plane in Psychic Powers.

Shapeshifters are probably going to be a headache. Known types: werewolf, wereleopard, selkie. Add werebear, what else? Also, types of shifting: Curse, magic, inherent/natural. Imbuements might work well for some of their powers.

Fae come in three flavors at the moment (sidhe, goblin, troll) as permanently materialized spirits (ultraterrestrials), and have thematic Power groups. Imbuements? Maybe do up some of the templates from Faeries 3rd edition supplement.

Spirits in general are also a headache.

Reptoids/Serpent Lords can be found on Pyramid 97, pp. 27-34, “Snakes Who Walk”

As a note, there are then five basic Power Types in the game: Hermetic Magic, Vampirism, Therianthropy, Psychic Powers, and Fae Magic. Other oddball powers exist, but I don’t have to develop them yet…

Thaumatology – Chinese Elemental Powers will be handy for Mysterious Travelers From The Orient, but it’s not available to Cabalists.

Campaign Frameworks
Seems like Cabal has three basic levels of play, corresponding to the three circles of the Cabal itself: Outer Circle Cabalists focus on the material world (Assiah) and give you something like the classic wainscot/secret world game. Middle Circle Cabalists stretch their reach into Yetzirah (the Astral) and get into more fantastic stuff – fighting the yithoghu, messing with the Fae, exploring the Pearl-Bright Ocean, etc. Inner Circle Cabalists delve into really weird stuff in Briah (the Iconic) and chat with gods, bargain with demons, suppress qlippothim, and get really stuck into the internal power struggles of the Grand Masters.

For this work, I’ve focused (so far) on the Outer Circle.

Actions and Exploits
Lodges, but not the Cabal as a whole, can be designed using Boardroom & Curia. (The Cabal is usually too fractured to treat as a single organization.)

I envision Cabalist adventures as having the following default basic structure:
  1. A threat or an opportunity (i.e., a crisis) arises for the PCs (e.g., the secret of the supernatural is threatened with exposure, an enemy’s weakness is revealed, or a rumor of a magical treasure reaches them).
  2. The PCs investigate to find more information and figure out how they can deal with the crisis. This involves both mundane investigation and magical fact-finding.
  3. The PCs act to end the threat or exploit the opportunity. This probably involves combat or social leverage.
  4. The PCs deal with the short-term consequences of their actions: covering up any breaches of the veil, studying new spells, glad-handing with new allies or gloating over newly defeated enemies.

Clearly, it needs some more refinement…

  • Monster Hunters 2: The Mission, p. 5 (“Investigation”); Action 2: Exploits, p. 11 (“Gathering Intelligence”)
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Research both mundane (libraries, public records, media records) and magical (libraries, summoning up useful spirits)
  • Finding and questioning witnesses
  • Interviewing useful people: information brokers, mentors, etc.
  • Understanding relevant power structures
  • Mapping relationships between persons of interest
  • Mapping relevant magical geography (including between the various Realms)

  • Cleaning up evidence (crime scene cleaning, corpse disposal, stealing evidence, erasing records)
  • Silencing witnesses (intimidation, bribery, recruitment, eliminating, mind control, memory erasure)
  • Spreading misinformation (rumor mill, word on the street, mass media, falsified records)
  • Dealing with investigators (misleading, co-opting, eliminating, discrediting)

Political and Social Maneuvering
  • Recruiting new members and/or allies
  • Blackmailing people
  • Dealing with powerful spirits and other supernaturals
  • Intra-Cabal negotiations and rules-lawyering
  • Finding traitors
  • Subverting people in other organizations
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