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Old 07-10-2023, 12:59 AM   #1
Nedorus
 
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Default Steampunk - Magical Control of Steam-Bots

I'm building / translating abilities for one of my two groups (we have decided to play in the Iron Kingdoms recently).

There are three somewhat related abilities for which I'm struggling to build comprehensive GURPS abilities for.
  1. Pistolmages can magically buff their guns
  2. Warcasters can magically buff their Armor
  3. Warcasters (and Jack Marshals) can buff their Steampowered Robots (Steamjacks)

I've already completed the Pistolmage's ability using the imbuements (Power-Ups1: Imbuements)
I plan to go down the same route for the armor buffing using imbuements from Pyramid #3:04 Magic on the Battlefields.
I'm a bit at a loss on how to implement the Steamjack buffing though.

There are several aspects to it that I like and want to include in the way I build this ability.
  • A jack marshal can - by mundane means - push the steamjack beyond the limit (it's 'extra effort'-capable by burning HT or maybe just HP?)
  • A warcaster can - by magical means - push the steamjack beyond the limit (it's 'extra effort'-capable by burning QP or some other Energy Reserve?) plus buff armor, weapons etc similar to the above two abilities.
  • Buffable armor, weapons and steamjack need to 'be bound' to the character trying to buff them

I'm thinking along the following lines so far, but can't make up my mind:
  • The idea for the mundane means used by the jack marshal could be implemented using a concentrate maneuver and a skill roll (jack marshaling?) or a technique per extra effort... I currently use the 0-point feature 'Extra Effort Costs HT' from GURPS Zombies Z67. But this doesn't include that the steamjack can't do it on its own, it needs the express command by a jack marshal to do it. Of course (I just realized this as I'm writing this) the skill roll by the jack marshal can replace the will roll for the steamjack's extra effort... solved?
  • The warcasters' magical ability should be able to do the same but using a free action leaving the warcaster available for other stuff. I was actually thinking of allocating FP (I use QP instead, so it would be that) as a free action and let the steamjack spend those for 'self-buffs'. I was looking into Energy Reserves, APs etc. But all that doesn't really fit the bill. It should be partly an ability of the steamjack ('can be buffed') and partly an ability of the warcaster ('can buff').
  • The binding part... well I really don't have a clue. A limitation on the imbuement abilities? Build into the "ally trait" for the steamjack? Something along the lines of possession, mindlink, telecontrol? There is a reference in the original source that a warcaster can at times transfere her mind into the steamjack...
(@_@)

Any suggestions?

P.S.: I build the steamjacks using a template based on the 'Steam-Powered Mechanical Man' from GURPS Steampunk.
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Old 07-10-2023, 05:16 AM   #2
JulianLW
 
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Default Re: Steampunk - Magical Control of Steam-Bots

A good post on battlesuits from the old Mailanka's Musings blog may be helpful:

https://mailanka.blogspot.com/2021/0...t-3-harsh.html

You might also be interested to check out the same writer's Psi-Wars wiki, if you haven't seen it before:

http://psi-wars.wikidot.com/wiki:primer

Especially the page with his take on living battlesuit armor:

http://psi-wars.wikidot.com/wiki:ferthe-dapolor
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Old 07-10-2023, 07:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steampunk - Magical Control of Steam-Bots

Thanks for the suggestions.

I may come back to the battlesuits once I figure out how the armor can be steampowered...

The Psi-Wars is a lot of information to process. Someone put in quite a decent amount of work. However I don't see how that relates to my world (maybe my brain is dried out from the heat?). The Ferthe Dapolor are entities in their own right, no? I see that they're built using Ally and then "worn" (parasitic?). I don't see how this would be translated to my case. Armor? The Steamjacks? I just cross-read this but how does the wearer buff this thing? I don't understand.

I want the steamjack to be physically discrete entities, machines that the "owner" can command and buff. So something like minion+slave mentality seems appropriate. Special Abilities (Can be played as PCs) is also a likely candidate.

The buffing is what I'm unsure about. I could of course build the buffs with a very limited number of spells as powers or alternate abilities (in analogy to sorcery?). That seems so different from how I intend to build the buffs for weapons & armor...

Now that I'm thinking about it... Maybe an ability similar to sorcery building the buffs as alternate abilities ...

Warjack Binding 1 [18 +10/additional level]
All warcasters must have this advantage; it is what defines them. Warjack Binding is used to cast steamjack buffs. It is the prerequisite for the buffs that make warcasters so powerful.
Every warcaster has a collection of known buffs, the magical tricks that he can rely upon in any situation. Each one is an advantage (or set of advantages) plus modifiers – what GURPS Powers calls an “ability.” Each of these buffs is bought as an alternative ability to Warjack Binding.
In addition, all warcasters can spend 1 QP to make their allied Steamjacks spend extra effort without spending HT (or HP?) themselves.

To bind a Steamjack, the warcaster must spend the usual points for allies.

The Steamjacks on the other hand are the allies and have a 0-point ability (1-point feature?) that allows someone with warjack binding to "contact" them mentally with the spells. In effect it makes them susceptible to this kind of magic.

All buffs for steamjacks would have:
Magical -10%
Accessibility: Only on allied Steamjacks -30%
Requires QN-roll -10% (or Based on QN-roll, own-roll +20%)
Costs QP (one or more levels) -5% (or more)

A buff could be like this:

Extra Attack
The warjack receiving this buff can make an extra attack on its next turn as if it had the Extra Attack ability.
This costs the warcaster 2 QP. he must be within 10m of the warjack to be buffed. the warcaster must make a successful QN-roll in order to buff the warjack...
Statistics: Affliction 1 (Gives Extra Attack +250%; Magical -10%; Accessibility: Only on allied Steamjacks -30%; Based on QN-roll, own-roll +20%; Malediction (-1/m) +100%; Reduced Range 1/10th -30%) [39]

What do you think?
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Old 07-11-2023, 03:43 AM   #4
Pursuivant
 
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Default Re: Steampunk - Magical Control of Steam-Bots

Not quibbling, but why the 18 point cost for the first level of Warjack Binding?

If you're using Magery as a model, 15 points is a bit more convenient for bookkeeping. Are there some perks built in that I'm missing?

Other traits which might be sources of inspiration are Power/Psi Talents and regular Talents like Born War Leader.

A variant of Born War Leader which just affects skills to command bound Warjacks in battle seems fair. Limited versions of Artificer for all three types of mages seem very genre appropriate.
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Old 07-11-2023, 06:56 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steampunk - Magical Control of Steam-Bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
Not quibbling, but why the 18 point cost for the first level of Warjack Binding

If you're using Magery as a model, 15 points is a bit more convenient for bookkeeping. Are there some perks built in that I'm missing??
To be honest that was just a more or less random number. I tried to estimate the cost in a similar way to how it was done for Sorcery but skipping the fatigue cost and the reduced time parts. I'll need to re-do the points completely.

Magery works like a talent. Warjack Binding is used as an alternate ability just like sorcery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
Other traits which might be sources of inspiration are Power/Psi Talents and regular Talents like Born War Leader.

A variant of Born War Leader which just affects skills to command bound Warjacks in battle seems fair. Limited versions of Artificer for all three types of mages seem very genre appropriate.
where is Born War Leader from? I'm unaware of any ability by that name...

Artificer sounds interesting 🤔 I'll take a closer look at that.
[EDIT]checked Artificer it's a Talent. I really do not need a Talent as there are no skills to enhance.[/EDIT]

Thanks!

Last edited by Nedorus; 07-11-2023 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 07-11-2023, 07:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steampunk - Magical Control of Steam-Bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nedorus View Post
where is Born War Leader from? I'm unaware of any ability by that name...
Born War Leader is a Talent. I think it originated in Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers, as an ability of the Knight (so it's also present in DFRPG). It may also be in the Talents book (one of the Power Ups series, but I forget which number), but I'm not certain.
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Old 07-11-2023, 02:40 PM   #7
Nedorus
 
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Default Re: Steampunk - Magical Control of Steam-Bots

I'm currently working on some ideas on how to implement this.
  1. Similar to Sorcerous Empowerment + Steamjack-limited Buff-Spells (like the above ability)
  2. Possession with Telecontrol and/or Compartmentalized Mind and using Imbuements on the Steamjack being possessed but using the Warcasters IQ and imbuement skills
  3. Adaptation of the Steal Skill Sorcery Spell taken from Aleksei Isachenko's Blog 'Generic Universal Eggplant' and letting the Steamjack 'steal' an imbuement skill from its warcaster and use it with his own IQ.

Option 1
I really don't like 1) very much, as I want to use a form of Symbol Magic for the dedicated Mages as the background lends itself to magic being based on runes etc.

Option 2
What I have right now for Possession turns out to be REALLY expensive. The way I want it to play out would require one level of Compartmentalized Mind per Steamjack in the Warcasters Battle Group.
I'm using some modifiers like Magical -10%; Mindlink Required -40%; No memory access -10%; Specialized (Steamjack Cortices Only) -50% (the largest limitation per RAW is -40% here but I feel this is "more"); Limitation: Can only use Imbuements in the possessed body -50% (these are really already quite liberally applied)
But there are some heavy Enhancements that I would need: Ranged +40% + Reduced Range 1/10th -30%; Reduced Time 1 (make the possession a free action) +20%; Telecontrol or Telecontrol 2 +50% or +100%
this brings Possession to about 40 points
The cost for the Ally, Mindlink, Puppet and Compartmentalized Mind sums up to an additional ~65 points... Each additional Steamjack Ally would be ~55 points as possession is only necessary once.

Option 3
I haven't run the numbers yet. But the idea would be to grant the Steamjack the power to borrow / steal a skill (Imbuement skill) from the Warcaster and pay for it with the casters QP using a reverse version 'Drains Familiar' ability (DF5:20) called 'Drains Warcaster' which is really a very basic QP-Energy Reserve costing maybe 1 point each.
Aleksei built the Sorcery version of 'Steal Skill' on Telepathic Learning which is a modular ability from PSI16 throwing in a Power Theft +200% enhancement taken from the Neutralize trait. I really like that idea!

OK, now you know what avenues I'm checking out to find a nice solution.

Questions
While crunching the numbers on Possession I started wondering how a Compartmentalized Mind and Possession would work:
  • WITHOUT Telecontrol
  • with Telecontrol
  • with Telecontrol 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telecontrol 2 P67
If you have Compartmentalized Mind (p. B43), you don’t need this modifier, as some compartments can possess victims while others control your body. Without Telesend (p. B91), though, the “home” and “away” compartments won’t be in communication.
Does this suggest that I need neither version of telecontrol if I have CM as long as one compartment 'stays behind'?
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Old 07-12-2023, 06:59 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steampunk - Magical Control of Steam-Bots

OK, I've finally decided. It is:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nedorus View Post
Option 3
I haven't run the numbers yet. But the idea would be to grant the Steamjack the power to borrow / steal a skill (Imbuement skill) from the Warcaster and pay for it with the casters QP using a reverse version 'Drains Familiar' ability (DF5:20) called 'Drains Warcaster' which is really a very basic QP-Energy Reserve costing maybe 1 point each.
Aleksei built the Sorcery version of 'Steal Skill' on Telepathic Learning which is a modular ability from PSI16 throwing in a Power Theft +200% enhancement taken from the Neutralize trait. I really like that idea!
The ability now consists of several parts:
  1. The Steamjack receives the Imbue trait (as per Power-Ups 1: Imbuements but with the Magical -10% modifier)
  2. The Steamjack gets a 'Drains Warcaster' QP-Energy Reserve with a maximum number of QP per 10 minutes set by level. 1 point per level, max 4.
  3. The steamjack gets a version of the Telepathic Learning trait (from Psionic Powers PSI16).
Telepathic Learning receives some rather drastic limitations to fit the world.

Borrow Imbuements 1
A Steamjack can tap into his Warcaster's knowledge to use his Imbuement Skills. This is a free action. using the skills follows the rules set forth in Power-Ups 1: Imbuements and Pyramid#3-4: Magic on the Battlefield.
The Steamjack can ONLY borrow skills his Warcaster knows, ONLY imbuement skills and the Warcaster must be within 10 meter (10 yards) of the Steamjack borrowing the skill.
The Steamjack can borrow skills worth up to a number of character points of 2^level of Borrow Imbuements (2, 4, 8). These can be split among more than one skill. Skills cannot be borrowed at a higher character point level than the Warcaster has in that skill.
The Steamjack can borrow and immediately use a skill e.g. as part of an Attack maneuver.

Statistics: Telepathic Learning 2 (Trait Limited: Imbuement Skills Only -10%; Accessibility: Skills from own Warcaster Only -50%; Magical -10%; Range Limit (10 meter) -50% (this is taken from Warp, the only modifier I could find that would limit something down from a mile to 10m); Reduced Time 2 +40%) [3]
Each further level adds 2 levels of Telepathic Learning and 1 level of Reduced Time for 9 and 23 points.

This ability is usable as a free action and thus can be used to get the skill and immediately use it to imbue a weapon, armor etc. as part of an Attack, Move and Attack or All Out Attack etc.

As a side, my Steamjacks do not have QP (I use that to power my Imbuements) of their own. That's where the 'Drains Warcaster' comes in. Basically the Warcaster now learns the skills and provides the energy (QP) while the Steamjack uses it in its attacks.

I was thinking of adding "Sense bases, reversed (Vision)" (or Hearing maybe) into the mix to mimic the Warcaster giving signals to the Steamjack to "power up and get mean" but since that wouldn't have made a difference to the point cost I decided against it...

Let me know what you think.
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