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Old 02-19-2015, 10:08 AM   #1
Bzro
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Default Starting a Campaign, help

Hello everyone, completely new GM here!

I've actually managed several D&D campaigns, but am just starting to put together my first GURPS one. Because I wanted to keep things simple and straightforward, I decided to go with the ever popular Nazi Wizards, a la Reich 5 and Wolfenstein (the inclusion of Mecha-Hitler is still undecided at this point).
For story, look in the spoiler.
Spoiler:  


TL;DR
The planet is one step away from being dominated by Nazis, and this is the last good chance to stop them.

The players will be a resistance cell, possibly in France (I've been playing a lot of Saboteur lately). Different nationalities will have different, mostly social traits. Americans, for example, are airdropped troops that have been cut off, and get a big negative social modifier for sticking out, but real military training and more starting cash to represent their rare American equipment. There will be plenty of murder, espionage, bribery, etc.

The problem I'm having is that I have no idea how to actually start the campaign. All I really have is stats for Nazi MPs and a plan for an early game mission to derail a German supply train, and the players being exposed to the secret cargo of Nazi Wizardry. Does anyone have any experience with starting rebellion/resistance campaigns? Like, having one or more of the characters being rescued or recruited by the resistance or something?
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:31 AM   #2
Gold & Appel Inc
 
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Default Re: Starting a Campaign, help

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Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
Hello everyone, completely new GM here!
Hey. Congratulations for choosing GURPS.

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Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
[snip] The players will be a resistance cell, possibly in France (I've been playing a lot of Saboteur lately).
Why are resistance cells still left in France this far into the Nazi Dominion? Are they hiding in the skull-lined catacombs of Paris or something awesome like that?

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Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
Different nationalities will have different, mostly social traits. Americans, for example, are airdropped troops that have been cut off, and get a big negative social modifier for sticking out, but real military training and more starting cash to represent their rare American equipment.
What is America doing air-dropping troops new enough to not be captured after five extra years of occupation if their own east coast is occupied?

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Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
There will be plenty of murder, espionage, bribery, etc.
With you so far.

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Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
The problem I'm having is that I have no idea how to actually start the campaign. All I really have is stats for Nazi MPs and a plan for an early game mission to derail a German supply train, and the players being exposed to the secret cargo of Nazi Wizardry. Does anyone have any experience with starting rebellion/resistance campaigns? Like, having one or more of the characters being rescued or recruited by the resistance or something?
Just start it in media res. The PC are die-hards of the resistance. Everybody who bought-in on this game has already decided that. They're in some kind of jam that they can potentially solve themselves. GO.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:46 AM   #3
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default Re: Starting a Campaign, help

For something like this, it's perfectly reasonable to start the characters as already being members of a resistance organisation, which gives them missions and supplies. With this kind of framework, looting and money become less important - although stealing supplies from the Nazis is a perfectly sensible mission.

This means you can sensibly give the players some guidance on the kinds of characters required, and they can allocate roles among themselves - shooters, infiltrators, medic, demolitions, etc.

There is quite a lot of GURPS material that can help with this kind of campaign. The most important is GURPS WWII: Weird War II, which has a lot about various appropriate kinds of magic and weird science. You'll likely want High-Tech for details of equipment. The rest of the GURPS WWII products provide a lot of historical background, and if the campaign is going to have an action-movie tone, the GURPS Action series provide character templates and lots of streamlined rules.

One thing: the fractured nature of Nazi administration mean that a single style of Nazi magic is quite unlikely. Several competing styles that fight among themselves is likely. There's a lot of material about an ongoing occult WWII campaign here, which has several kinds of Nazi magicians and plenty of background worth stealing.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:57 AM   #4
Phantasm
 
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Default Re: Starting a Campaign, help

For the Nazi magic, I would definitely recommend Ritual Path Magic (it has its own PDF!) as opposed to the book-standard magic from Basic Set and Magic. I also have a soft spot for Path/Book Magic from Thaumatology (part of the inspiration for RPM). Either choice gives the players time to thwart the big time-consuming rituals in a suitably climactic moment. :]

A few questions to think about:

Is Nazi magic calling upon corruptive forces? Or can anyone use it without the risk of corruption?

Are you going to allow magician/occult-oriented PCs?

How are Italy and Japan handling the Nazis having this kind of power?

Is the Pacific War still going on? What's Soviet Russia up to? Can the PCs rely on Russian aid?
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Old 02-19-2015, 11:16 AM   #5
Bzro
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Default Re: Starting a Campaign, help

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Originally Posted by Gold & Appel Inc View Post
Why are resistance cells still left in France this far into the Nazi Dominion? Are they hiding in the skull-lined catacombs of Paris or something awesome like that?
... Well, they might have to now. But I was thinking France because
A: Right next to Germany
B: It's the size of Texas with countless towns, ruins, and other hideouts
C: I really like The Saboteur

But yes, it might be better to have it somewhere else. Maybe Ireland.

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Originally Posted by Gold & Appel Inc View Post
What is America doing air-dropping troops new enough to not be captured after five extra years of occupation if their own east coast is occupied?
It's not like America fell immediately after D-Day, it took a few years. And I was thinking that they'd been there for a few years, trying to lay low, training resistance cells, etc. One of the NPCs I'm planning is actually going to be a D-Day survivor.


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Originally Posted by Gold & Appel Inc View Post
Just start it in media res. The PC are die-hards of the resistance. Everybody who bought-in on this game has already decided that. They're in some kind of jam that they can potentially solve themselves. GO.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman
For something like this, it's perfectly reasonable to start the characters as already being members of a resistance organisation, which gives them missions and supplies. With this kind of framework, looting and money become less important - although stealing supplies from the Nazis is a perfectly sensible mission.
... Yeah, those are pretty fair points. I might have them be contacted and absorbed by a larger and more organized group, but that would be the extent. Although except for what can be looted or bought on the black market, the weaponry is likely going to be relatively crude (double-barreled shotguns, greaseguns) for the most part.

Unfortunately, I've already spent most of my monthly "general nerdiness" budget on the Basic Set, WWII, Pulp Guns, High Tech, and Powers. Probably going to get Weird War II next though, so thanks for the suggestion!

Quote:
One thing: the fractured nature of Nazi administration mean that a single style of Nazi magic is quite unlikely. Several competing styles that fight among themselves is likely.
Wow, Can't believe I never considered this. Mecha-Hitler might become a reality after all.
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Old 02-19-2015, 11:18 AM   #6
Nymdok
 
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Default Re: Starting a Campaign, help

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Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
Hello everyone, completely new GM here!
Hello!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
I've actually managed several D&D campaigns, but am just starting to put together my first GURPS one. Because I wanted to keep things simple and straightforward, I decided to go with the ever popular Nazi Wizards, a la Reich 5 and Wolfenstein (the inclusion of Mecha-Hitler is still undecided at this point).
Why on earth is that UNDECIDED? Get Hitler, Goebels,Goering and 2 others and make a diesel punk Voltron of evil!

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Originally Posted by Bzro View Post

TL;DR
The planet is one step away from being dominated by Nazis, and this is the last good chance to stop them.

The players will be a resistance cell, possibly in France (I've been playing a lot of Saboteur lately). Different nationalities will have different, mostly social traits. Americans, for example, are airdropped troops that have been cut off, and get a big negative social modifier for sticking out, but real military training and more starting cash to represent their rare American equipment. There will be plenty of murder, espionage, bribery, etc.
Templates/Lenses are your friend. Make a template for each nationality soldier and lens out the specialties.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
The problem I'm having is that I have no idea how to actually start the campaign. All I really have is stats for Nazi MPs and a plan for an early game mission to derail a German supply train, and the players being exposed to the secret cargo of Nazi Wizardry. Does anyone have any experience with starting rebellion/resistance campaigns? Like, having one or more of the characters being rescued or recruited by the resistance or something?
The problem with how to start is I dont know if you've actually thought about the campaign forward in time. Where do the players go? What do the players do? What are they trying to do? HOw will they do it?

Are they trying to beat back the Nazis single handedly?
Are they trying to uproot the source of Nazi magic, thus allowing history to correct itself?
Are they trying to raise an army of ragtags to inflict withering guerrilla tactics?
Are they trying to find their OWN source of magic/super powers to balance the Nazi magic?

Think about these options and others like them. Once you have an idea of where you want the story to go, you can then begin to plot settings and stories that the players can be a part of.

For example, you have them derailing a Nazi Supply train. Good! Thats a clear objective, but what comes of it?

Let one idea lead to one or two others and youll have a campaign going in no time. :)

Nymdok
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Old 02-19-2015, 11:33 AM   #7
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default Re: Starting a Campaign, help

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Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
Unfortunately, I've already spent most of my monthly "general nerdiness" budget on the Basic Set, WWII, Pulp Guns, High Tech, and Powers. Probably going to get Weird War II next though, so thanks for the suggestion!
Well, you have all the stuff you need apart from Weird War II, and having a truly baroque assembly of competing magicians can wait a while.
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Old 02-19-2015, 11:45 AM   #8
Bzro
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Default Re: Starting a Campaign, help

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Originally Posted by tbrock1031 View Post
For the Nazi magic, I would definitely recommend Ritual Path Magic (it has its own PDF!) as opposed to the book-standard magic from Basic Set and Magic. I also have a soft spot for Path/Book Magic from Thaumatology (part of the inspiration for RPM). Either choice gives the players time to thwart the big time-consuming rituals in a suitably climactic moment. :]
Does Ritual magic have anything for demonic possession? So far I'm just bouncing ideas, and all I have is enhanced strength, durability, natural weapons, and acting 5 times a turn. More powerful vessels will shoot lightning and detonate craniums.

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Are you going to allow magician/occult-oriented PCs?
Yeah, after the train magic explosion, they will be allowed to spend points on magic

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How are Italy and Japan handling the Nazis having this kind of power?
Japan is happy as long as it gets reinforcements and supplies from Germany, haven't thought about Italy actually.
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Originally Posted by tbrock1031 View Post
Is the Pacific War still going on? What's Soviet Russia up to? Can the PCs rely on Russian aid?
Pacific war ended with the creation of North American Union. Russia is preparing to hold fast, or take as much of the world with them as they can. That being said, Russia is happy to help other people murder Nazis, although the support probably won't be hugely substantial.

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Snip
I should probably do this, actually. Building a plot around awesome scenes instead of awesome scenes based on a plot sounds like poor design strategy.
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:34 PM   #9
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Starting a Campaign, help

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Originally Posted by Bzro View Post
Yeah, after the train magic explosion, they will be allowed to spend points on magic.
You probably want to warn them of this so they can reserve points for this, unless you're going to give them a new pool of points for magic. Buying magical capabilities a few points at a time from nothing tends not to be satisfying.

You also need to decide which magic systems will be available to PCs, and there are plenty to chose from. With the books you have, you have the simpler parts of the basic spell system, and everything necessary for Magic as Powers. To summarise the systems:

The basic spell system requires the Magery advantage, and is the most D&D-like of the spell systems, with most spells castable in a few seconds. However, these magicians don't have the awesome combat power of D&D magicians. Each spell is a separate skill, but part of being a capable magician is having enough IQ and Magery that you don't need to put more than one point into a spell to have it at a useful skill level. Magicians also tend to need extra energy supplies, such as Powerstones, Power Items, or Paut potions, if they want to do a lot of magic in a short time. If you go heavily into this system, you'll want GURPS Magic for a larger selection of spells.

I would venture to suggest that combat power probably isn't the highest priority for magicians in this campaign. Guns and explosives kill very well, and don't require large investments of points. Healing, information, and concealment magics are probably going to be more effective. the Reverse Missiles spell is great fun, if your enemies aren't expecting it.

For Magic As Powers, characters just buy advantages with the Magical (-10%) limitation, and whatever other limitations seem appropriate and/or necessary to get the cost down to affordable levels. Don't expect to be a "Wizard" this route, but it's excellent for the Priest who can heal, exorcise and turn demons, or the thief who can teleport short distances. Asking for help here with designing powers is very reasonable - there are lots of threads about it.

Ritual Path Magic (it comes in a PDF with the same title) is a very flexible system that lets a character design the effects he wants, suing the GURPS character design system, and cast them. But it isn't just picking things off a list: there's a certain amount of calculation required, and casting is too slow for combat. You can make charms that cast effects for you, but this requires pre-planning.

GURPS Thaumatology is a book about creating magic systems. Ritual Path Magic was created using it, and it contains a number of other systems. Path/Book Magic is one of them. It has a pre-defined set of rituals, which are quite versatile and flexible, although they don't go "Thoom!" very much, and they take time to cast.

Edit: Don't try to have a single character use more than one system. That's not an efficient use of character points.
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:44 PM   #10
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How are Italy and Japan handling the Nazis having this kind of power?
Assuming the first major divergence point is the Normandy Invasion failing (perhaps the first big success of a German scrying project was to reveal the truth of Operation Fortitude?), Italy would already have been in civil war between the Kingdom of Italy (a cobelligerent of the Allies) and the Italian Social Republic (a German puppet). If the war turned around in Europe so totally, and in spite of Mussolini's increasingly obvious incompetence, Italy may be a sovereign state in name only.
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