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Old 03-05-2018, 12:59 AM   #11
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Forest Grove, Beaverton, Oregon
Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

The Cabal could be human-ish survivors from history B that decided history A allows them more power and freedom. Not quite fitting either ideology, just their own interests.
Or the obvious they come from history C.
Beware, poor communication skills. No offense intended. If offended, it just means that I failed my writing skill check.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:30 PM   #12
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

Originally Posted by Apollonian View Post
Coming up next, probably: The difference between Astral and Ethereal, dimensional travel, and the Four Realms.
As promised:

Note that I'm not covering any variation of Infinite Worlds travel or implications here. This update is strictly concerned with a single-Earth Cabal and Realms that compose its universe.

According to GURPS Cabal, the universe is divided into four Realms: The Material (Assiah), the Astral (Yetzirah), the Iconic (Briah), and the Spiritual (Atziluth). Alongside or within the Realms are various other planes of existence: the Abyss, the Elemental Planes, the Planetary spheres, The Pearl-bright Ocean, etc.

To formalize this a bit more for rules-writing and applying purposes, I've decided that any state of existence is a Plane; that the big four plus the Abyss are the Realms, since they have a fairly uniform set of "physical" laws inside each one; and everything else is a Sphere, defined as a limited state of existence that has a set of rules that apply inside it but not outside it. Most Spheres are inside the Realms, but the Elemental planes seem to be a bit of an exception. (They might even qualify as Realms themselves, but be too alien or primal for most Cabalists to interact with.)

Every character has a home Realm, and sometimes a home Sphere, to which they are naturally adapted for existence and to which they return when hit with a banishment effect.

Assiah, the Material, is all the physical world. As Ken Hite puts it:

Originally Posted by GURPS Cabal, p. 45
The Material Realm, Assiah, is the world as experienced by the vast majority of humanity every day. Assiah is not just the physical world of dirt and rocks and bacteria. Assiah also comprises the energies of sunlight and plate tectonics and cosmic rays, and even such indefinables as collector’s passion or panicked fury. If the “normal” human animal can experience it, it is an aspect of Assiah.
As such, it doesn't require much metaphysical definition, unlike the other Realms. Still, it's important to note the presence of "soft spots" where the connection to Yetzirah or certain other Spheres (like the Elemental Plane of Earth) is stronger, or where decanic energies pool. These qualifies as Gates, high mana areas, and/or Places of Power for spell-casting purposes. Plenty of non-human magical creatures exist in Assiah, but they tend to collect near soft spots. This is especially true of spirits in Assiah.

Yetzirah, the Astral lies between Assiah and Briah. In Cabalist terms it's above or inside Assiah on the model of the cosmos. (This does mean that a Cabalist who's talking about ascending can mean the same thing as one who wants to go deeper. Very annoying, I'm sure.) The Outer Astral, closest to Assiah, closely reflects the Material's geography, making it easier to navigate. However, everything is colored and shaped by the emotional and magical characteristics of the corresponding Assiah locations. Ken again:

[quote=GURPS Cabal, p. 45]In appearance, the “outer” reaches of Yetzirah closely echo the “neighboring” sections of Assiah – the astral counterpart of a sunny mountain lake in the Material might glow in a Technicolor overlay, or a haunted house in Assiah could extend into Yetzirah, warping into expressionist geometries full of shadow and menace.[/i]

The Outer Astral is as large all of Assiah, naturally, but very few Cabalists venture beyond the bounds of Earth unless it's via the Planetary Spheres.

The Inner Astral is extremely large and annoyingly undefined in its nature. It contains a number of more definite Spheres as destinations, including Faerie, the Polished Citadel of the yithoghu, Davy Jones' Locker, and so on. Its lack of definition is a characteristic of the Realm itself; much of it is hazy and indistinct at a distance, only coming into focus as a character gets closer. Navigating the Inner Astral (outside of certain Spheres) is as much about drawing mental, emotional, and magical connections as it is about physically moving. In the story vignette, Brian travels from a yew grove on the banks of the RiverAlph to a yew grove in Faerie, both in Yetzirah:

Originally Posted by GURPS Cabal, p. 43
Wait – a yew grove? Throwing himself to the right, Brian scrabbled over the thin, bony roots (hanging in gray space, but mustn’t think about that) and furiously clambered inward, hunting for the mental image, the reality, of the corresponding grove he remembered – Garravin would never expect him to hide out in Faërie itself!

The yews parted, and there was the familiar greensward, glowing this time under a lambent moon about four times the size of the one shining down right now on his physical body, a lifetime away in Santa Fe.
I'd probably model that as a successful Navigation (Yetzirah) roll. Or something.

The undefined, freeform nature of the Deep Astral gives the GM a lot of freedom to set up scenes, but not a lot of guidance. Some of its Spheres (notably Faerie) are much more defined and easier to work with, but the rest of it is going to require a fair bit of creativity and possibly prep work. I'm still trying to come up with some workable frameworks for it. One of those is to think of the Deep Astral as an impressionist and surrealist environment; things aren't defined until the characters' attention is drawn to them.

One note that seems important is the default tech limitation (Into the Astral Without Gun or Camera, GURPS Cabal p. 47). Outside Assiah, TL is limited to 4. If a character manages to bring a higher-TL item into Yetzirah or Briah, it simply won't work well, if at all. Alternately, it might transform into an equivalent item; a nylon shirt into a silk tunic or a revolver into a flintlock. This also means that most denizens of the Inner Realms suffer Low TL when in Assiah.

The Dreamworlds get a special mention here, as they're a headache. Every sentient creature dreams, and those dreams manifest in Yetzirah as Spheres - Dreamworlds. Each dreamworld connects to Nod, in Briah, to the dreamer in their native plane, and can be entered physically in Yetzirah. Navigating and controlling dreams uses the Dreaming skill (Characters, p. 188). This means that characters with a high Dreaming skill can use Dreamworlds to navigate between the Realms without using Planar travel spells or powers. (For example, a creature could invade someone's Dreamworld in Yetzirah and then manifest near their sleeping body in Assiah.)

Briah, the Iconic, is separated from and connected to Yetzirah by the Pearl-Bright Ocean. The Pearl-Bright Ocean is your locale for all manner of fantastic aquatic adventures, and connects to the oceans of Assiah, the Elemental Plane of Water, and so on.

Briah is more orderly and iconic. Unlike Yetzirah, things tend to make sense, if you know the rules. Law (Spirit) can be necessary to survival here... It's the realm of gods and the Archangels, where decanic energies are strongest. Magic is dangerous, what with all the extra power flowing around here. Diplomacy, courtesy, and reputation are more useful to Cabalists than brute force, since most natives of Briah have more raw power than your average Cabalist, and are used to getting their own way.

The Abyss, on the other hand, is extraordinarily dangerous. I categorize it as a Realm up with the other four, as it seems to have some characteristics distinct from Briah. Notably, it is very difficult to get out of the Abyss once you are in it; demons can do so with the aid of sigils in Assiah, and sometimes through cracks in reality (whatever that means). On the other hand, it's quite easy to get into the Abyss... It lies between Briah and Atziluth, and traditionally can only be crossed by taking the Sword Bridge or defeating the Dweller Upon the Threshold and forcing him to take one across. Somewhere at the bottom of the Abyss lies the Vale of Hinom, where the qlippoth are imprisoned.

Atziluth, the Spiritual requires little discussion from my point of view as the only people who have entered it and returned are (in theory) the Grand Masters of the Cabal.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:31 PM   #13
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

Planar Travel

A character can travel between planes by either projecting their spirit (and creating a ka in Cabalist lingo) or by physically moving between them.

Projection requires a power with Jumper and the Projection modifier (Powers p. 44) or a spell from the Path of Crossroads - Greater Sense Crossroads if the ka will only be able to communicate and perceive, or Greater Create Crossroads if the ka can fully interact with the destination realm. Psychic Astral Projection usually entails a "silver thread" running from the psychic's body on Assiah to their ka in Yetzirah. Only material creatures in Assiah can project.

Originally Posted by GURPS Cabal, p. 46
Coming Down to Earth
To enter the Material Realm, Yetziratic entities use some version of spirit materialization powers (p. 96);
spirits don’t leave an “astral body” behind in Yetzirah. Gods and other beings from Briah can, in theory, materialize on Assiah, but usually prefer to cast avatars or other eidolons to do their bidding in the Material Realm. Demons must climb out of the Abyss with the help of a sigil (p. 112).
Spirit Materialization involves the Jumper advantage and a mandatory version of one of the Spirit Metatraits (best found on GURPS Fantasy p. 134) with the limitation (Only in Assiah), to for which I have not yet figured out a value.

Demons might get Jumper with the limitation (Requires Sigil, -40%), but it's implied that they can also materialize on Assiah by spending 10x as much FP as normal spirits. I might need to dig into this later. How much of demon summoning is the caster's work, and how much is the demon's? etc.

Iconic beings creating avatars and eidolons is some form of Ally creating a spirit in Assiah, again with one of the spirit metatraits. As said Iconic Beings are unlikely to be PCs in any games I run, I'm not going to worry about statting that particular trick up right now.

Travel between the Realms and spheres is more often possible by using "natural" paths - places where the borders between the realms are thin and permeable. These are Gates (and thus affected by Path of Crossroads), and can be used by anyone who knows how (or sometimes is just lucky or unlucky). As a rule, Gates only go from a Realm to an adjacent Realm or Sphere; there are few direct paths from Assiah to Briah, for example, but many between Assiah and Yetzirah. Traveling using Gates is by default a form of physical travel, not projection.

Things in Assiah can be either material (which is normal) or ethereal (as most spirits on Assiah are). Ethereal characters have the Insubstantial and Invisible advantages. Ethereal things are sometimes mis-described as “astral.” (The Cabal encourages this to muddy the waters.)

To affect ethereal creatures, abilities will need to have some version of the Affects Insubstantial enhancement.

Ethereal Projection [96]
The character projects his consciousness into the ether of the Material Realm, creating a ka. His ka is invisible and insubstantial. He can affect other ethereal things, like unmanifested spirits, and communicate with substantial characters through magic or mental abilities (such as Telesend).

This ability is largely based on Astral Travel from GURPS Psionic Powers, p. 28. Many of the modifiers have been stripped out to present an expensive version of the ability. Most often it’ll be take as a power with quite a few more accessibility limitations to lower the cost.

Insubstantiality (Ghost Air, +10%; Projection, -50%; Substantial Communication, +40%) [80] + Invisibility (Accessibility, Only while Insubstantial/ethereal, -30%; Substantial Only, -10%; Temporary Disadvantage, Mute with Substantial Only, -22%) [16].

Coming up next: I dunno, maybe some character creation bits.
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Old 03-18-2018, 06:17 PM   #14
Join Date: May 2009
Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
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.
That's how I've always seen the Annunaki, anyway - that History B is the "failed creation" that is the source of the qlippothic.
"Despite (GURPS) reputation for realism and popularity with simulationists, the numbers are and always have been assessed in the service of drama." - Kromm
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Old 03-25-2018, 11:20 AM   #15
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: GURPS Cabal for 4th Edition: Notes and Thoughts

I realized that while I'd put a lot of words up about the Realms above, there wasn't much directly useful. So here's a bit on traveling the Realms with Skills. I'll post some Powers, abilities, and spells later.


Cartography (B183)

The spirit realms can be mapped, though doing so is quite difficult. Cartography is a different specialty for each realm or plane, and defaults to the related Navigation specialty at -4.

A map of a particular realm or plane grants an equipment bonus (or penalty, if badly or maliciously made) to Navigation rolls: +1 for a decent map, +2 for a good one, and +4 for a truly amazing map. Travelers are well-advised to pay close heed to any “Here be dragons” notations on a map they trust. The GM should define what regions of a plane a map applies to; the larger the area covered, the less useful the map will be for actual moment-to-moment navigation. (It may, however, apply a bonus to Area Knowledge).

Cartographers should be aware that certain Planes (notably Yetzirah) are liable to change quickly and without notice.

Dreaming (B188)
Dreaming allows you to control your own Dreamworld and defend it from intruders. You may also roll against it to travel from a Dreamworld to Yetzirah or Nod, and vice versa. If the Dreamworld’s owner has erected barriers to your entry, this roll is a quick Contest of Dreaming skill, yours versus the owner’s.

Coupled with Telepathy abilities (still to be developed), you may use the Dreaming skill to enter someone’s Dreamworld from Assiah.
Once in a Dreamworld, you may attempt to control it using the Dreaming skill; this is usually opposed by the dreamer’s Will or Dreaming skill, but not always; GM’s call. Controlling a Dreamworld can allow you to extract information from the dreamer, implant information and ensure they will retain it, or inflict various temporary disadvantages or advantages on the dreamer. Nightmares, Sleepy, and Light Sleeper are obvious, but any mental disadvantage, often at quirk level, can be argued for. Or the invader can simply ensure that the dreamer has a terrible night’s sleep and is fatigued when he wakes up – see the rules on B426-427 for this.

Law (B204), Religious Ritual (B217), and Theology (B226)

In Briah, the Iconic Realm, knowing the rules is a vital survival skill. More creatures than not in Briah are bound by arcane rules and may be placated by the right rites (or offended by the wrong ones). Knowing when to use Diplomacy versus Intimidation can be the difference between gaining a favor from an eikones and being eaten by a manticore.

Appropriate Law specialties include, but are not limited to: Atlantis, Faerie, Yithoghu…

Religious Ritual and Theology must specialize by pantheon and/or religion. Roll against Theology to know something about a particular pantheon or related creature. In particularly formal social situations (not uncommon in Briah) involving a being of a pantheon for which you have Religious Ritual, you may use Religious Ritual as a substitute for Diplomacy, or as a complementary skill to any influence skill (GURPS Action 2, p. 5).
(For example, Brian McAllen uses Religious Ritual (Roman) to influence the eikone Consus in the vignette on p. 80 of GURPS Cabal.)

Navigation (B211)

Navigation in the spirit world is a separate specialty for each plane. Instead of using careful observation and instrumentation to find your way, Navigation (spirit plane) involves understanding the rules for how the plane works and using appropriate symbolism and action to move to your intended destination. While the spirit worlds are limited to TL4 – and the stars can be different depending on where you are, if they’re even visible - the symbolic heft of a compass, astrolabe, or sextant can give a bonus for equipment. How much and when is largely up to the GM, but from +1 to +3 seems appropriate.

Absolute Direction is of no help in navigating the spirit realms outside of the ghost zone in Yetzirah. There, it gives its usual bonus.

Navigation (Yetzirah) applies mostly to the deep Astral. Navigating in the ghost zone can be done by defaulting to Navigation (Land or Sea) at -2, since the ghost zone so closely echoes Assiah.

In the deep Astral, travel is by drawing correspondences and similiarities between places. Correspondences could be decanic, poetic, historical, magical, or anything else that both players and GM can agree fits the effect they want. (Traveling through Shadow in Roger Zelazny’s Amber series provides one example of how a player or GM might narrate travel in the deep Astral. So might Snuff and Gray’s journey to the Dreamlands in Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, as Gray recites a description of the Dreamlands that seems to bring the pair to their destination.) Defaults: Will-5, Artist-4, Occultism-4, Poetry-4.

Navigation (Pearl-Bright Ocean) allows one to navigate the sea that divides Briah and Yetzirah. Defaults: Navigation (Sea)-4, Occultism-4, Will-5
Navigation (Briah) applies to the Iconic Realm. Since Briah is somewhat more ordered than Yetzirah, it is easier to navigate, if not to travel within. Defaults: Occultism-4, Theology-4 (only in regions appropriate to specialization), Will-5.

Navigation (The Abyss) may let one climb out of that dread pit, but don’t bet on it. Defaults: Hidden Lore (Demons)-4, Will-5.

Survival (B223)
Appropriate specialties for Survival are one for each Realm (Yetzirah, Briah, the Abyss) or for particular Planes. There is no default between Survival skills for each Realm; however, the GM may grant a default for survival rolls with appropriate symbolism. For example, someone with Survival (Forest) can use that skill in forest surrounding Baba Yaga’s hut in Briah.

I could use some suggestions for Law specialties. Any ideas?
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