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Old 11-15-2013, 05:18 PM   #11
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

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Originally Posted by Humabout View Post
I can't believe I'm saying this, but stop releasing these so quickly! I need time to get more money! I can't wait to get my grubby fingers on this one (it's been on my radar for a while now).
There's nothing that says that you must get the PDF on opening day or that the PDF disappears after X days.
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Old 11-15-2013, 09:21 PM   #12
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

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There's nothing that says that you must get the PDF on opening day or that the PDF disappears after X days.
But I wants it! Instant gratification is my friend!
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Old 11-16-2013, 06:53 AM   #13
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

I still have to give it a through read, but my initial impressions is that while good, it lacks the spark of genius that made psionic powers and divine favor so awesome. It's conventional, it doesn't really have an inspiring central mechanic that sets it appart from standard powers builds. The abilities (as well as the ability names) are interesting, but they don't really scale well, at least not without some rebuilding, meaning that in dungeon fantasy or supers game, they might need some rebuilding (and it's so suggested) because using only extra effort to get stronger abilities reaches diminishing returns way too fast, specially when the abilities themselves are relatively cheap. The builds themselves are good, yet slightly bland, not using modifiers to surprise the reader with things that are obvious in retrospect yet one would have never found by himself.

The perks, external/internal and elemental interactions were excellent, as was the writing, so that's why I'm disappointed it was only OK mechanically. It's good that this fell under the Thaumatology series and not the Powers series, because that way, people won't compare it so readily to Psionic Powers and Divine Favor, and will then appreciate it for what it is.

Once I manage to give it an in depth read, I might come up with a chapter by chapter review.
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Old 11-16-2013, 11:07 AM   #14
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

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I still have to give it a through read, but my initial impressions is that while good, it lacks the spark of genius that made psionic powers and divine favor so awesome. It's conventional, it doesn't really have an inspiring central mechanic that sets it appart from standard powers builds.
So would using the AA mechanics like Divine Favor does have mae it better for you?
It is trivially easy to do, here is an example.
Name of ability, base cost/5= AA cost if its an alternate of another ability of the same or higher cost.
Wood
catapult hand 9/5=2
Club Fist 8/5=2
Endurance of Bamboo 33/5=7
Forest Walking 14/5=3
Ivy Climb 15/5=3
Root Grip 4/5=1
Skin of Oak 7/5=2
Touching the Spleen 11/5=2
Wood Frame 13/5=3
Blowing Leaves 5/5=1
Commanding Wood 16/5=3
Knowing Hidden Vegation 18/5=4
Storm of Wind 23/5=5
Tangling Vines and Branches 25/5=5

Going back to my Control Magic construct I would do this with Control as the typical base power.
So...
Commanding Wood Rank 1 [16] allows 9 of the above as alternates.
Commanding Wood Rank 2 [32] Allows 3 more
Commanding Wood Rank 3 [48] Allows all of the above powers as alternates and most can be leveled up.
I would have liked to see this in a "Power Ups" section for High fantasy or Supers games but it took me just a few minutes to do the above and it was rather obvious so might have been wasted space.

Remember the two comparisions you made did not come up with any new mechanic either.
Divine Favor just used the AA and a list of powers with minimal interconnection (hence it replaced a description word count like much of Chapter 1 and 2 here with more space for additional power builds.
The one thing it did I doubt many of us had thought about was use patron as the base power and come up with some complicated rules to break that up using reactions and such.
But the AA mechanic that is the core of the book was in Powers.

Psionics used the same rules from Powers as well but I liked it becasue it gave greater exposure to a few rules I had largely ignored and would not have used much (if at all) outside a Supers game. However seeing how there broken down into skills inspired other things.
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:02 PM   #15
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

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So would using the AA mechanics like Divine Favor does have mae it better for you?
Not necessarily alternate abilities (Divine Favor) or Leveled Abilities + Skills for Everyone with power techniques (Psionic Powers), but something to tie it together in a way that reflects what the powers are about.

In the case of Divine Favor, it is evident that the power is borrowed from a superior being. In the case of Psionic Powers, psionics are a mix of inborn power (the abilities) and learned control (the skills and techniques). Despite both being played with the Powers rules, a psi and a paragon give completely different flavors. Maybe with a more in depth reading, I'll find Chinese Elemental Powers more mechanically flavorful, in what abilities are available to each power, but right now it lacks a strong unifying central focus, and IMHO it only works properly for a thin band of the whole character competence gamut. I personally feel that it would work in the same power band as regular magic (100-250 points), but similarly to regular magic, it would not scale well to higher powered games (500-1000 or 1000+ points) meaning that mythic or outright superpowered chinese elementalists would not work out of the box.

Divine Favor, for example, works perfectly both at the 150 point level, and at the 600+ point level (I've GMed games for Dungeon Fantasy saints at that power level, and they still had interesting choices in character development, the trick is that they need a bunch of ancillary traits [Power Investiture, Repeated Petitioner, Faster Prayers, Practiced Petitioner, etc], on top of divine favor, and they also need learned prayers because they are not use limited). Psionic Powers worked perfectly fine for a 1k point supers game too, with no changes.

Both Divine Favor and Psionic Powers made a rather non-standard selection on what optional rules to employ from powers. Chinese Elemental Powers is an almost standard Powers build. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with that, and that also has it's place, but I would have expected it for something more generic like Super powers. Mind you, I believe that the word count needed to make CEP unique might not exceed one page, but it need to be an inspired page. CEP didn't feel inspired, it felt formulaic.
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:16 PM   #16
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

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Not necessarily alternate abilities (Divine Favor) or Leveled Abilities + Skills for Everyone with power techniques (Psionic Powers), but something to tie it together in a way that reflects what the powers are about.

I personally feel that it would work in the same power band as regular magic (100-250 points), but similarly to regular magic, it would not scale well to higher powered games (500-1000 or 1000+ points) meaning that mythic or outright superpowered chinese elementalists would not work out of the box.
The Unifying force is the theological concept behind the system.
I love new advanages and modifiers as much as the next guy and miss them when there not there. However I wont call a book a flop if it does not provide that. To me this was kind of like buying GURPS China or GURPS Egypt. I went in to the purchase not expecting to see much new since I was familiar with the underlying culture. New stuff might be nice but what I most base my criticisim on those kinds of books are how well they play to the source.
I think it did the job well and if Supers level powers or Master of Everything style magic had been the focus of this book I would have felt ripped off.

Where your concerns and those of Michael Thayne (read his posts in the e23 forum) seem to be about how it fits into other genres and settings I can see would have been good for expanding in the last chapter.
Of course as I said that chapter is typically the one I get the least value out of so obviously there is a difference in audience tastes.

However in that other thread PK points out just how powerful you can make them by using Extra and even God like extra effort. the range of powers is possibly too weak for a Supers game but the potential power level is doable.
And of course it works well as an addition to a Martial Artist and giving them some extra variety.
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Old 11-16-2013, 06:11 PM   #17
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

I noticed something on my first read but reread it to be sure. If its not errata I am sorely confused.
Under Focus on page 20 it says to roll vs. lower of modified focus or unmodified Meditation for extra effort. The example seems to support this.
Trouble is that means you can take penalties for Extra Effort and roll against unmodified Meditation if you did not learn the Focus technique.
Under the Extra Effort rules on page 12 it mentions Meditation can replace the Will roll but does not specifically say it is penalized.
Rules lawyers will bother me that page 20 means there is no penalty since its specified in one place, not the other.
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Old 11-16-2013, 06:13 PM   #18
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

My view of this is different. I find Chinese Elemental Powers to be much, much easier to use. I've played in games with Psionic Powers and Divine Favor, but those have a steep buy in. It's a lot of work for both the players and the GM to learn those systems. That's not the case with Chinese Elemental Powers. The new powers' adherence to the powers rules that everyone already knows makes them extraordinarily easy to use. I can drop them into a game without any trouble at all. We already had complicated systems. I like that we now have one that's elegant and easy to use. That's something we didn't have before.
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Old 11-16-2013, 06:17 PM   #19
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
I noticed something on my first read but reread it to be sure. If its not errata I am sorely confused.
Under Focus on page 20 it says to roll vs. lower of modified focus or unmodified Meditation for extra effort. The example seems to support this.
Trouble is that means you can take penalties for Extra Effort and roll against unmodified Meditation if you did not learn the Focus technique.
Under the Extra Effort rules on page 12 it mentions Meditation can replace the Will roll but does not specifically say it is penalized.
Rules lawyers will bother me that page 20 means there is no penalty since its specified in one place, not the other.
If you don't learn the Focus technique, Focus defaults to Meditation, so if for some reason you want to apply the rules under Focus, they still work.

Example: You have Meditation-12. You thus automatically have Focus-12 for every single ability. You want to roll for extra effort at -4. You roll against the lower of Focus at -4 (8) or unmodified Meditation (12) -- in this case, 8.

As the text says, the whole point of Focus is to mitigate the penalties for extra effort. But if you don't raise Focus, it doesn't mitigate anything, obviously. Also, if you didn't raise it, you're just wasting your time and making things more complicated by trying to apply those rules, rather than just rolling against Meditation at the standard penalty.
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Old 11-16-2013, 06:20 PM   #20
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Default Re: GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers

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If you don't learn the Focus technique, Focus defaults to Meditation, so if for some reason you want to apply the rules under Focus, they still work.

Example: You have Meditation-12. You thus automatically have Focus-12 for every single ability. You want to roll for extra effort at -4. You roll against the lower of Focus at -4 (8) or unmodified Meditation (12) -- in this case, 8.

As the text says, the whole point of Focus is to mitigate the penalties for extra effort. But if you don't raise Focus, it doesn't mitigate anything, obviously. Also, if you didn't raise it, you're just wasting your time and making things more complicated by trying to apply those rules, rather than just rolling against Meditation at the standard penalty.
I figured that is how its supposed to work but it still seems to me it could be construed the other way and should be edited for clarity.
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