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Old 01-09-2023, 08:18 PM   #1
Arith Winterfell
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Indiana, United States
Default Astral Travel and Party division in a Fantasy Setting

I'm working on a fantasy setting game where part of key themes of the game is all magic in the setting is psionics (along with Dream Horrors, literally things out of nightmares haunting the world, think tentacles monsters and shapeshifting horrors).

One of my players (character named Isabella) has decided to go in for Astral Travel as his characters main thing. Which leads me to some questions on designing adventures that I could use some help in.

We are all new to GURPS, so I'm pondering how to figure out an approach to designing the adventures for when part way through a dungeon crawl Isabella is off in her trance going about doing Astral spying, what should the rest of the party be doing? Its partly a "how to manage splitting up the party" issue as the rest of the party might not have Astral Travel powers like she does.

One option I pondered was having her do Astral Travel, while the rest of the party has to defend against attacks. Which could make for an interesting siege situation which might be interesting some of the time, but it would get boring doing it over and over.

So I suppose part of the issue is party division, another is how to make the Astral Travelling character useful with the rest of the party in normal reality.

For reference Isabella currently has:
Astral Armor 4
Astral Celerity 1
Astral Projection Talent 3
Astral Sight 1
Astral Sword 1
Astral Travel 2
Combat Reflexes
High Pain Threshold

I can see her in the normal world using Astral Sight and Astral Sword/Armor to fight insubstantial Astral threat. But I want to set things up to make sure she (the character) stays useful in dungeon crawl situations. I'm making a fantasy setting a bit outside the box, so I have limited help from the templates in Dungeon Fantasy. I do have the Psi book in that series, but a some of its advice doesn't apply as psionics it taking up all the roles magic might fill in a fantasy setting.

I'm still working on the setting too, so I need to figure out character archetypes that will act as templates to frame the setting's uniqueness well. I think I will also make a setting post on here and add a link here to this post for readers convivence. Thank you for your help! :D

Setting link is Here
"To handle a language skillfully is to practice a kind of evocative sorcery."
~ Charles Baudelaire

Last edited by Arith Winterfell; 01-09-2023 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 01-09-2023, 08:51 PM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Default Re: Astral Travel and Party division in a Fantasy Setting

I'd make Astral Sword and Astral Armor useful against mundane foes. Sure, they're obviously much better against astral foes, but they need to be at least moderately useful against other foes. I'd also make sure that most or all of Isabella's allies have at least weak attacks against astral foes.

Something like a 1d (ignores DR) toxic attack for the astral sword (when used against non-astral foes) would be appropriate. It's not going to normally be amazing better that any mundane attacks of Isabella's allies, but it almost always does damage and is really good against high DR foes. And you justify it as the astral blade damaging the soul even inside a physical body.

As far as astral traveling goes, it's similar to being a sneaky, concealed scout who scouts ahead of the rest of the party. Mundane sneaky scouts need to worry about being spotted and attacked while away from their allies. Similarly, if all magic is psionics and there are dream horrors, Isabella's astral scouting should run the risk of being spotted and attacked by dream horrors and other astral beings. She scouts, gets spotted, and flees back to her allies.
Isabella's astral scouting shouldn't be unusual and there should be routine countermeasures against it.
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Old 01-09-2023, 09:01 PM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2019
Default Re: Astral Travel and Party division in a Fantasy Setting

Astral Travel is great for scouting ahead invisibly, seeing what's on the other side of a wall, traveling through solid earth, seeing what's on the top floor of a tower, etc. The character should learn Breath Control to extend the time she can hold her breath when traveling through rock. An astral traveler can do a lot of stuff that a thief or scout might otherwise do.

If you're using the Astral Plane rules found in Psionic Powers, then potentially the character can do research in the Inner Astral Plane too, which is populated by all kinds of dreams, beliefs, and nightmares from the collective unconscious - as well as, potentially, gods and demons. She might be able to find answers for all kinds of Hidden Lore-type questions through direct adventuring on her own. With the time dilation on the Inner Astral Plane, she could have some full-scale adventures of her own in the time it takes the other delvers in the party to cook and eat a meal.

The Astral Crossing and Piggyback techniques allow a PC with Astral Travel to potentially bring the whole party to the Outer Astral Plane and even to the Inner Plane with her, if she's willing to spend some CP to buy up those techniques. So this could be a way to have adventures with only the players who show up for a small session, if not everybody can make it.

Finally, if you have a few bucks for Pyramid 3/97, the Ectoplasmic Materialization technique gives astral travelers a means of bringing objects back from the astral planes; so the party might start looking for valuable items to bring back.
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Old 01-10-2023, 01:41 AM   #4
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Location: Yukon, OK
Default Re: Astral Travel and Party division in a Fantasy Setting

Anytime you have one party member doing something away from the others you have a potential problem.
There are several ways to address this but I think the best is to keep everyone synched up timewise and not to spend too much time on one player at the others expense.
You need to let them do things they paid points for and enjoy thier charecter so dont rely on countermeasures but dont ignore them either. Just mix it up a bit.
If the traveler does a quick recon, fine. If they take a long time ask the others what they are doing in the meantime.
And try to reduce the rolls and time taken on those scouting missions so the game does not grind to a halt. Again it is a balancing act.
Also everyoner likes to be a valuable participant but sometimes its fun to watch another player do something even if your just resting.
SO you can and likely should do some of that as well.

Scout takes fairly quick explorations then has to come back to report in. if they are gone too long they may have gotten in trouble so astral threats help them keep trips short.
Some things cannot be scouted due to astral barriers or critters. This lets others get involved in the recon and do different things.
Try to keep scouting missions interesting to everyone, even if they are just watching.
Try to avoid scouting where the player needs to take a lot of time figuring things out or fighting solo. Let it happen sometimes but try to keep it to a minimum.
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Old 01-10-2023, 02:57 AM   #5
The Colonel
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Default Re: Astral Travel and Party division in a Fantasy Setting

This is sort of like the hacking problem in cyberpunk games ... not that that helps. But if you have practice with the one, it might help with the other.
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Old 03-07-2023, 01:39 AM   #6
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Default Re: Astral Travel and Party division in a Fantasy Setting

Astral Projection as a form of "magic" made me think of shamans. You have Dream Horrors manifested from dreams (and presumably no longer dependant on a particular dream or its dreamer). They might be considered a kind of manifested spirit. The dream world and the spirit world might be the same thing - all spirits are dream entities.

If the (inner) astral plane connects to all that, maybe projectors have potential access to powers over dream entities - and maybe they can help more benevolent dream creatures manifest. The PC might trade some of those points for one or more small, weak, conjurable Allies. That way she has more to do when not projecting (even if her actions are all indirect, controlling her minions is something for the player to do).

Astrally projecting might logically have a lot more "random encounters" with dream entities of all types. Tying her up with combat would be counterproductive to reuniting the party ASAP, though, so that's probably a bad idea.

Maybe there's some aspect of the astral that regularly rolls through it, that's overwhelming and forces projectors to return? I'm thinking something like a wave of irresistible sleepiness from all those dreamers that knocks them out to wake instantly in their bodies?
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Old 03-07-2023, 10:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Astral Travel and Party division in a Fantasy Setting

Originally Posted by Arith Winterfell View Post
One option I pondered was having her do Astral Travel, while the rest of the party has to defend against attacks. Which could make for an interesting siege situation which might be interesting some of the time, but it would get boring doing it over and over.
Flashback for me. See, I was in a boffer fantasy LARP for years, and one eventholder had a particular pattern: he'd arrange for one favored, small party to go off to do the climax of the day's quest. This would leave a couple dozen players left over. So one event the rest of us were defending a narrow bridge against a small horde of NPC "orcs."

After a half hour of this, we were getting worn down, and I had some serious suspicions: the bad guys could've broken through that last assault. Why hadn't they? Now as it happened, I was the leader of the defense, and I ordered the whole PC force to pull back to the encampment. Get off your feet, folks, get something to drink, cool off.

So when the next bad guy attack came, they charged at ... an empty bridge. And the NPCs crossed over, and milled about in confusion, gazing over at us taking it easy. I no doubt made some sardonic comment along the lines of "Gotcha."

And that's the rub. I really most sincerely do NOT want to be relegated to doing busywork, because the GM has nothing better to do with us, while the Cool Kids get to have the genuine excitement. As a one-off, sure, whatever. As a general thing, hell no.
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