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Old 02-27-2018, 09:12 AM   #1
Apollonian
 
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:
http://mailanka.blogspot.com/2013/06...a-designs.html
http://mailanka.blogspot.com/2013/06...igns_4618.html
http://mailanka.blogspot.com/2013/06...igns_4618.html

So was his general post on GURPS Campaign Frameworks:
http://mailanka.blogspot.com/2014/08...framework.html

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).

Non-Mages
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 https://diceandlives.wordpress.com/2...mpirism-power/

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…

Investigation
  • 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)

Cover-Ups
  • 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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Old 02-28-2018, 08:02 AM   #2
hal
 
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Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

Seeing so many "views" but no comments, I figured I'd weigh in...

Mind you, there are some things I find useful in GURPS CABAL that when it first came out, blew a lot of things out of the water. With the introduction of GURPS THAUMATOLOGY, GURPS CABAL sort of fell down the wayside for me.

I think in part, because I came to be so in love with WITCHCRAFT and ARMAGEDDON from Eden Studios. The background world from those two books were more "fun" for me than was GURPS CABAL as far as backgrounds go. That having been said, mapping out those thing that improve GURPS CABAL as far as 4th edition GURPS goes, is a good thing. So, keep making posts to the thread, give examples of things and take it from there.
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Old 02-28-2018, 08:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

I'd be interested in how to merge/mix Cabal and Madness Dossier (for all-out Ken Hite-ness).
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Old 02-28-2018, 04:24 PM   #4
Railstar
 
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Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

First up, I love the Cabal. I love the feel, I love the idea and the style. I love the network of Passers and Ultors. However, I think it’s very high level (as in very complex) to get a GM to run it, and I’ve had quite a few experiences where games advertised as heavy roleplay devolved into dungeon crawls, or being relentlessly frogmarched from fight to fight.

One thread idea I’d been toying with the idea of making here was a “Passer & Ultor” thread, a bit like the NPCs here - http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=153184 – but for creatures intended to be Passers or Ultors to Cabal characters.

I like the idea that someone gets assigned Passers or Ultors, beings who previously don’t know each other and might not even like each other, but they just have to make the association work. Some could just ignore each other until it becomes time to avenge, others could take proactive steps to help ensure their Passer’s survival – building a relationship. For instance, perhaps the archmage who is made Ultor to a dragon decides teaching said dragon spells is a way of protecting it?

Also there could be a lot of middlemen. For instance, as a Cabalist, I might know my 2 passers, and my 2 ultors… but otherwise my contact with the supernatural world becomes “I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy.” Or rather, “I know a dragon who knows a fey who knows a genie.”
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Old 02-28-2018, 07:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

GURPS Cabal would make a good setting to convert to a Monster Hunters setting book. And there could be some supplementary material or even adventures easily adde to that combo.
MH give you the baseline party comp and Cabal interesting adventure hooks.
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Old 03-04-2018, 10:55 AM   #6
Apollonian
 
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Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
GURPS Cabal would make a good setting to convert to a Monster Hunters setting book. And there could be some supplementary material or even adventures easily adde to that combo.
MH give you the baseline party comp and Cabal interesting adventure hooks.
W.A. Frick's already done that, pretty much, in "Hunting the Cabal," Pyramid 3/58.

Moving on, one of my tricky bits in setting up a new campaign is always to establish the points budget for players. This is especially tricky for a monster mash game like the Cabal, where templates like Gothic Vampire can run a couple hundred points easy. So... I decided to stat up our viewpoint character, Brian McAllen, at the start of his career in the Cabal, to represent a possible Initiate.

Quote:
BRIAN MCALLEN, INITIATE
This character sheet represents Brian McAllen shortly after the first flavor text in GURPS Cabal, as a new Initiate in the Cabal. He’s a talented human (soldier, successful writer, and occultist) with potential for greater things, but hasn’t yet received any magical training from the Cabal.

190 character points.

Attributes [100]: IQ 12 [40], DX 12 [40], ST 11 [10], HT 11 [10]

Damage 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs.; HP 11 [0]; Will 12 [0]; Per 12 [0]; FP 11 [0].
Basic Speed 6 [5]; Basic Move 6 [0]; Dodge 9; Parry 9 (Brawling).

5’10”; 185 lbs

Languages: English (native) [0]; Assyrian (broken, written only) [1]; Arabic (broken) [2]; Latin (broken) [2]

Advantages [60]: Combat Reflexes [15]; Contact Group (Occult Weirdos; Occultism and Conspiracy skills-18) [10]; Independent Income (royalties, pension) 10 [10]; Luck [15]; Wealth (Comfortable) [10]

Disadvantages [-40]: Curious [-5]; Duty (the Cabal, 9 or less) [-5]; Secret (Member of the Cabal, possible death) [-30]

Skills [60]: Acting (A) IQ [2]-12; Brawling (E) DX [1]-12; Camouflage/TL8 (E) IQ+1 [2]-13; Computer Operation/TL8 (E) IQ-1 [1]-11; Detect Lies (H) Per-2 [1]-10; Driving (Automobile) (A) DX [2]-12; Electronics Operation/TL8 (Communications) (A) IQ-1 [1]-11; Explosives/TL8 (Demolitions) (A) IQ-1 [1]-11; First Aid (E) IQ [2]-12; Forced Entry (E) DX-1 [1]-11; Guns (Rifle) (E) DX+2 [4]-14; Guns (Pistol) (E) DX+2 [4]-14; Hidden Lore (The Cabal) (A) IQ-1 [1]-11; Hiking (A) HT [2]-11; Knife (E) DX [1]-12; Navigation (Land) (A) IQ [2]-12; Observation (A) Per+1 [4]-13; Occultism (A) IQ+2 [8]-14; Research (A) IQ [2]-12; Savoir-Faire (Military) (E) IQ [1]-12; Scrounging (E) Per+1 [2]-13; Shadowing (A) IQ [2]-12; Soldier (A) IQ+2 [4]-13; Stealth (A) DX+1 [4]-13; Streetwise (A) IQ-1 [1]-11; Throwing (A) DX-1 [1]-11; Wrestling (A) DX-1 [1]-11; Writing (A) IQ [2]-12.

Equipment: Mysterious soapstone pendant (warns of magic directed at the holder); Colt .45 with silver-and-mercury bullets; book of occult and conspiracy notes.
Based on that barebones writeup (discounting the Cabal Duty and Secret, Brian only has -5 points in disadvantages), it looks like 200 points is a good starting point for a Cabalist Initiate with some training and some natural aptitude. However, it doesn't leave a lot of room for monster templates. Conveniently, it also means I can just yank the Monster Hunters Sidekicks templates to modify for my players, and the GURPS Action templates make for some decent mundane-yet-dangerous opponents/allies. I may make a Patron a required advantage for Initiates, to represent their sponsor in the Cabal.

Going up to the Novice level means adding magical abilities, but non-magical abilities can probably stay around the same competence level. That means Magery 0 [5], one or two levels of Ritual Adept [20], and Thaumatology and Path skill levels around 10 or 11 - which is to say, around [15] for 9 Paths + Thaumatology. That's another 40 points, and gives us characters who still rely largely on mundane means but can supplement them with a bit of magic if they prepare carefully.

Adepts who are Ritual Magicians should have the full Ritual Adept advantage [40], another couple levels of Magery [20], and push their general Path skills to 13-14, probably with a specialist Path they take up to 15 or 16. Call that another 20 points or so. We also need to account for some extra social advantages - Allies, Rank, and so on - which are probably balanced by similar disadvantages (Enemy, Reputation). That pushes an Adept into the 300 point range, minimum.

Monster templates skew this all pretty hard, though. The werewolf template I started this project out with costs 123 points... More on those later, after some more revisions. As Ken Hite puts it on p. 94 of Cabal, non-humans may follow their own hierarchies and still be recognized as equivalent ranks by the human-centric Cabal.

Coming up next, probably: The difference between Astral and Ethereal, dimensional travel, and the Four Realms.
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Old 03-04-2018, 11:00 AM   #7
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

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Originally Posted by Apollonian View Post
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
Have you worked a hierarchy yet for which power trumps which, in the manner discussed on p. 32 of GURPS Powers?
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Old 03-04-2018, 11:06 AM   #8
Apollonian
 
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Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Have you worked a hierarchy yet for which power trumps which, in the manner discussed on p. 32 of GURPS Powers?
Ha, no. Not even close to that stage of the project. If I had to do that on the fly, I'd put Hermetic Magic on the top tier and the other four powers on a second tier. Hermetic Magic directly manipulates the decanic emanations that make up the universe, while the other powers are filtered through the nature of their users. Still, I'm not committed to that, so it'll take more thought.

One important note seems to be that any direct manipulation of decanic energy is Hermetic Magic, and anyone can use Hermetic Magic - but only vampires can use Vampirism, fairies use Fae magic, etc.
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Old 03-04-2018, 08:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

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Originally Posted by mhd View Post
I'd be interested in how to merge/mix Cabal and Madness Dossier (for all-out Ken Hite-ness).
Well, the easiest way to canon-weld the two concepts is to set the timeline of History B and the time break further back to prior to the rise of Egypt. The Annunaki predate all Human History, and Human Civilization only really began after their downfall, by those who would become known as the first Cabalists, who learned how to harness the power of the Decans against the Annunaki.
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Old 03-04-2018, 09:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

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Originally Posted by LoneWolf23k View Post
Well, the easiest way to canon-weld the two concepts is to set the timeline of History B and the time break further back to prior to the rise of Egypt. The Annunaki predate all Human History, and Human Civilization only really began after their downfall, by those who would become known as the first Cabalists, who learned how to harness the power of the Decans against the Annunaki.
Or you could make Annumaki Qlippothic. That way their "real" history is just part of the flawed "pre-Creation" that was swept away but sometimes tries to re-assert itself.
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