GURPS Alternate Star Wars session 15


  • The guardian droid opened the battle by disabling Morr and Shen with a strobe grenade, but met an embarrassing end after it crippled its own leg through a critically failed defense and then critically failed a resistance roll not to get blinded by Joshua.
  • Investigating the tomb of Duke Borregar, Shen, Morr and Beast got separated from the others and trapped within. Nerve gas released by the trap critically injured Shen and corroded Morr’s and Beast’s armor seals, after which they got electrified by the floor. Shen managed to blow a hole in the door to escape just in time.
  • After recuperating, the party discovered a highly advanced and secure locking mechanism at the back of the tomb with a peculiar keyhole. They opted to search the tombs for the key before Shen attempted to bypass it.
  • Searching the whole area took about 10 hours, but in the tomb of Duke Vongyr the party found a signet ring that fitted the shape of the keyhole.
  • On their way back the party checked a tomb they skipped, and Beast got affected by some kind of sonic trap which caused him to go berserk and attack his companions. Luckily, Joshua was able to keep him at bay by using Force Push and Tariq by crippling his foot until he came to his senses.
  • The session took about twelve hours in-game.

Date: 2020-05-20

Player Characters (420 points):
789-4 (aka Beast), cyborg lasat telekinetic grappler
Hae Shen, kel dor tech-commando (NPC’d)
Joshua Wolfe, human Sorcerer of Tund
Morr Charasis, thisspiasian alchemical bioengineer/cyberneticist
Tariq Ordo, human mandalorian
Tarnem, chiss force duelist

Professor Flynn, human hired archaeologist

CP awarded: 2

The session started with a large guardian droid in the visage of a knight engaging the party. It fired a strobe grenade which stunned and blinded Shen and Morr, and then released a swarm of micromissiles at everyone except for Tariq, who was behind it. Beast telekinetically deflected the missiles headed for himself, Morr and Shen, Tarnem dodged, while Joshua failed at his dodge and drop but his force armor absorbed the blast. Beast and Tarnem moved to engage the droid in melee, Joshua refreshed his force armor and started getting up, and Tariq started locking his own missile onto the droid. The droid popped a smoke grenade between itself and Tariq, proceeded to spray everybody in front  with its assault cannon, and joined the melee with its sword and shield. It dodged a missile fired by Tariq after he got out of the smoke and severely injured Shen with the cannon. Tarnem jumped on top of Beast and somersaulted over the droid, attacking it from behind with rapid strikes. The droid critically failed one of its parries and crippled its own leg, and before it got to act it critically failed a resistance roll against Joshua’s attempt to blind it with the Force. The party had no trouble dealing with it then, and Tarnem could barely be persuaded into not hacking it up into pieces so there was something left to salvage.

Shen’s wounds, while severe, were not critical, and after some first aid she was able to continue. The party went to investigate the highly ornamented tomb to the north, and as Morr, Beast and Shen entered it, its blast door closed shut and separated them from the rest of the group. A toxic gas started rapidly filling the room, critically injuring Shen. She managed to stay conscious and frenetically proceeded to set up a breaching charge on the door. As she was doing that, the floor became electrified, but luckily didn’t make her injuries any worse and failed to significantly injure Beast or Morr. The gas, however, destroyed their armors’ seals. Tarnem managed to discern a weak point in the door and stuck his lightsaber into it, but then received a radio transmission from Shen to get back. She blew a hole in the door and Tariq reeled her in with his zipline just as she passed out, in time to prevent her from taking more damage from the electrified floor. Morr was not so lucky and got critically injured by the electricity, passing out as well, but Beast carried her outside. Joshua blocked the way by conjuring an atmosphere dome with the Force to prevent the gas from spreading, and it dissipated entirely after a couple minutes. He then put Shen and Morr into a healing trance after applying first aid, which cured their injuries completely.

After resting for about an hour Shen went carefully back in, managed to find the traps’ sensors and disarmed them. The party examined the tomb, which turned out to belong to a Duke Borregar, who according to the writings deciphered by Professor Flynn was credited for bringing the House out of its chaotic early years into its golden age. Morr instructed Beast to search it, and he found a locking mechanism on a large square pillar, covered in reliefs depicting the Duke’s exploits and extending out of the back wall. Taking a look at the mechanism, Shen determined it was highly advanced, very secure, and that she’d maybe be able to bypass it if given a lot of time. It had a peculiarly-shaped socket for a probable key, so the party decided to search the tomb for it before Shen attempted a bypass.

The search took many hours as the party decided to once again go through all of the areas they already visited and search them in greater detail, because the key was small and they would have likely missed the first time when they didn’t know what to look for. After not finding it, they proceeded to the previously unexplored corridors, and found another cemetery chamber. Two of the tombs connected to it were unremarkable, but in one of them, belonging to a Duke Vongyr, they found what they were looking for. The Duke’s statue included a ring which was not part of it, and the ring’s signet matched the shape of the locking mechanism’s socket perfectly.

On their way back they investigated another tomb, the last one remaining, for the sake of completeness. This turned out to be a bad decision, as some kind of a sonic trap put Beast into a berserk rage, attacking his companions. Luckily, Joshua managed to free Tariq and Tarnem from Beast’s grip by Force pushing him away, giving Tariq enough time to cripple Beast’s leg with his blaster. This, and further pushing away with the Force was enough to keep Beast at bay until he snapped out of it. Joshua put him in a healing trance to restore his leg and the group rested for a while.

GURPS Alternate Star Wars session 14


  • The party investigated the next “private” tomb, belonging to a Duke Zallow. It turned out the statues of the Duke and his guards were droids which activated when the group tried to remove his sword.
  • Even after a couple brain hits the droids could not critically injure Beast, and they were soon defeated.
  • The party looted Duke Zallow’s sword after resting.
  • The final tomb around the cemetery, belonging to a Dutchess Mivayne was explored, but nothing of immediate interest was found in it.
  • The group explored a corridor leading north from the cemetery hall, which itself was a smaller cemetery for the house’s retainers, leading to another large cemetery hall to the north-east.
  • One of the doors from this cemetery led to the tomb of a Dutchess Lyr Bo, where the party looted the Dutchess’ power fist without any trouble.
  • Approaching another door from the cemetery, apparently the resting place of the most highly esteemed noble encountered so far, caused a large droid to rise from the floor behind the party and attack them.
  • The whole session took about two hours of in-game time

Date: 2020-05-13

Player Characters (419 points):
789-4 (aka Beast), cyborg lasat telekinetic grappler
Hae Shen, kel dor tech-commando
Joshua Wolfe, human Sorcerer of Tund
Morr Charasis, thisspiasian alchemical bioengineer/cyberneticist
Tariq Ordo, human mandalorian
Tarnem, chiss force duelist

Professor Flynn, human hired archaeologist

CP awarded: 1

After Beast got his armor corroded last time and the party was convinced there were no hidden treasures left to find, they decided to check out the other “private” tombs around the cemetery. The entry into one directly opposite to Dutchess Crozyn’s looked the same, except without traps. Shen hacked the locking mechanism, and the party entered through the door into what looked like a depiction of a throneroom. There was a lifelike statue of an older, bearded man in highly ornate heavy armor leaning on a bastard sword standing in front of the throne, surrounded by similarly lifelike statues of many armored guards along the walls. Zooming in with their visors on the inscriptions above the throne, the party learned that the bearded man was Duke Zallow, another head of the House. Examining the room, Joshua noticed that the Duke’s sword was slightly imbued with the Force and not part of the statue, so Beast tried to remove it. However, the statue came to life and brandished the sword instead. It also turned on a force shield bracelet, along with two guard statues besides it who readied their flails. Half a dozen statues along the walls readied their pike/blaster rifle combination weapons as well.

The battle was engaged. Beast tanked while Tariq ate away at the guards’ armor with his flamethrower from in front of the tomb, Shen stuck to a corner and fired her blaster, and Morr and Tarnem sliced the guards in half. The highlight was Beast getting a nasty feint + deceptive attack combo into his corroded armor from the Duke, but it did not injure him significantly. After all-out attacking, one of the guards with flails and the Duke hit him in the skull, but that merely caused him to reel. And shortly after that, all of the guardians were defeated, turning out to have been droids. After resting and tending to their wounds for about an hour, the group took the Duke’s sword (further examination revealed it was a balanced cortosis weave dueling ornate (+2) superfine vibro bastard sword giving its wielder +1 to Leadership and Strategy) and continued on.

One of the tombs along the cemetery was caved in, so they went to the only remaining one. It depicted a throne room similar to that of Duke Zallow, but the occupants were different. A statue of a woman wearing a luxurious gown was sitting on the throne, and many statues of what appeared to be nobles and other courtiers were spread out across the room, concentrated in front of the throne. The inscription above the throne revealed that this was the tomb of Dutchess Mivayne, who ruled in a time of stability and economic prosperity. The tomb depicted her holding court.

Having found nothing interesting, the party left the Dutchess and opened the door leading to the north of the cemetery. Beyond was a wide corridor with no illumination and many graves along its sides. They were much less decorated than the ones in the cemetery, and a brief examination revealed they belonged to retainers of the House, mostly knights and high ranking officials. It turned eastwards, ending with another door. Beyond, there was another cemetery hall very similar to the previous one, except it was larger and had three other doors, one in the middle of each wall. The graves inside were more ornate, revealing upon inspection that they belonged to the highest echelons of the house.

Deciding to check the southern door first, the party discovered that a corridor beyond it branched in two, one side being caved in and the other leading to another private tomb. It too represented a throneroom, with a woman clad in exquisite silvery armor sitting on the throne, surrounded by a couple guards and apparently holding audience with several nobles. According to the inscriptions above the throne, she was Dutchess Lyr Bo, who in her time defended the House’s lands against a great onslaught and held firm. Inspection revealed that one of the Dutchess’ gauntlets was larger than the other and actually a real gauntlet and not a part of the statue, so the party removed it. It turned out to be a cortosis alloy power fist, having all the benefits of a superfine vibro weapon, granting the wearer 4 levels of Striking ST for purposes of punching with it and having a shock generator. The statue didn’t come to life when it was removed.

Returning to the cemetery hall, the party examined the northern door with their zoomed-in visors. It was decorated with inscriptions indicating that a noble more esteemed than any encountered so far was entombed behind it. Approaching it, they heard the sound of machinery behind them, and turned around just in time to witness a large droid rising up from the floor, causing a holographic disturbance in it as it arose. It blurted out an archaic but comprehensible “Intruders! Elimitate!” in a heavily robotic voice, and we ended the session with the cliffhanger.

GURPS Alternate Star Wars session 13


  • The party defeated the charric-equipped drones with Joshua suffering a major wound, but that didn’t prevent him from burning a path through the room with his Force abilities
  • Investigating the statues in the center of the “park” revealed they depicted high-ranking members of an unknown Great House from after the fall of Xim the Despot’s empire
  • A switch hidden among the statues disabled the grabby vines
  • Beyond the stone passage leading west from the “park” the party discovered a chamber serving as a cemetery, depicting early nighttime and containing many luxurious graves
  • Investigating the cemetery revealed the name of the Great House: Zuur
  • Shen disabled a trap in one of the corridors leading to individual tombs around the cemetery
  • The tomb represented the war room of Dutchess Crozyn, a ruler of the House
  • Beast looted the Dutchess’ heavy, exquisite charric pistol but got his armor corroded by a triggered trap
  • The whole session took about half an hour of in-game time

Date: 2020-05-06

Player Characters (418 points):
789-4 (aka Beast), cyborg lasat telekinetic grappler
Hae Shen, kel dor tech-commando
Joshua Wolfe, human Sorcerer of Tund
Morr Charasis, thisspiasian alchemical bioengineer/cyberneticist
Tariq Ordo, human mandalorian

Professor Flynn, human hired archaeologist

CP awarded: 1

We opened up after concluding the previous session in the middle of a fight against six flying sentry drones assisted by grabby vines in a large chamber decorated with synthetic plant life to resemble a verdant park.

Having gotten out of the treeline along the chamber’s walls with her lightfoil in hand, Shen spotted the vegetation ending where one of the two corridors opened up on the western “side” of the room. She beelined for the stone corridor, and once out of the vines’ reach, started taking aimed shots at the drones. Having gotten back on top of the entry platform via his autograpnel, Tariq started aiming at the drones as well. Joshua succeeded on improvising a ball lightning spell and started aiming with it, Morr continued chopping up vines around her and Beast attempted swinging toward a drone with his grapnel once more.

Shen landed the first hit on one of the drones. Smoke started pluming where her blaster hit, and the drone plummeted down to the ground. Upon impact, it exploded in a blast similar to that of a thermal detonator. Tariq was a bit less lucky in that he got hit by the drones and knocked down by the force of their charric guns, but avoided any of their stunning effects. In the end, Shen took down most drones with Tariq coming close behind.

Joshua got attacked by two drones before they were taken down, and had to waste his aim with ball lightning to defend. One of the shots hit him and was absorbed by his force armor, but knocked him down to the ground. There he was grabbed by a vine which started cutting into him, causing severe injury. Having previously hardcore improvised a spell, he was left without an active one and couldn’t switch to any because of not being able to concentrate while grappled. His cries for help were answered by Morr, who was able to make it to him and hack up the surrounding vines before it was too late.

Meanwhile, Beast swung towards a drone and missed it, but grabbed it during the reverse swing. After establishing some more control he ripped its gun out which caused the drone to explode. Beast managed to put some distance between the blast and glided down to the floor with his wings.

After receiving first aid, Joshua burned away the synthetic plantlife in a path from the entry platform to the cluster of statues in the center, as well as from there to the western passage where Shen was waiting. The group gathered around the statues to investigate them. Shen found a hidden switch which deactivated the grabby vines. This convinced Professor Flynn to join the group from the safety of the entrance tunnel. The statues themselves represented high ranking members of a Great House from the time after the collapse of Xim the Despot’s empire but the party couldn’t identify it because its heraldry didn’t match any of the Houses surviving to this day.  There was a plaque in front of the statues written in an early version of Galactic Basic so everyone could make out a couple words, but the Professor deciphered it fully as “From chaos we have created order, and brought prosperity to our people”. Having found nothing else of interest here, the group decided to check out the western stone corridor.

It wasn’t long, and ended in a security door. It wasn’t as thick as the trapped one leading into the entry chamber, so Beast cut a section out of it using his trophy lightsaber. Beyond there was another hall, somewhat smaller than the entry chamber. It too had an illuminating surface as its ceiling, this one depicting an early night sky. The room itself was a cemetery, containing numerous graves of various construction; stone, metal and synthetic materials. All of the graves were luxurious, with large, intricate headstones, statues and other decorations. Along the walls and between the graves synthetic trees and other plants were tastefully arranged, completing the ambient in stark contrast with the planet’s parched surface.

The party investigated the graves and found that they belonged to members of the Great House of various ranks, mostly major nobility but also some of minor nobility and gentry. The Professor was amazed by this find, and from the epitaphs and other inscriptions he was able to discern the name of the House: Zuur. Nobody in the group ever heard of it. There were five corridors (aside the one they entered through) leading out of the cemetery, and Joshua noticed something in one of them while exploring the area with a See Secrets spell active. The corridor seemed to be the entrance of a tomb belonging to a noble of very high rank, and on one of its walls there was a hidden panel. Shen carefully opened it, and found visual and chemical sensors behind it. She also found some small holes in the walls, and deduced that the sensors trigger a trap that shoots something at whoever passes through the corridor and matches certain criteria. She disabled the trap by disconnecting the sensors.

There was a keypad beside the door to the tomb; Shen cracked the locking mechanism it was connected to and opened the door. There was a single room beyond, a bit larger than 10 by 10 yards. It represented a war room. There was a large holotable in the center surrounded by lifelike statues of military officers. Various video screens, mock furniture and banners were along the walls and there were a couple statues of armed and armored guards as well. One of the officers was depicted much more vibrantly than the others, and her uniform also bore more ornate decorations. Inscriptions on a memorial wall indicated that it represented Dutchess Crozyn, ruler of the House in her time, known as the “Scourge of Ronnel”. Searching through the tomb, the party noticed that the Dutchess’ heavy, exquisitely made charric pistol was not actually a part of the statue but was instead a real weapon. Beast grabbed it, and after a few moments several party members noticed beeping and rolling sounds. Beast was not among them, and four hand-sized metallic balls rolled out from underneath the furniture and jumped at him, exploding and covering him in a corrosive chemical. A couple seconds thereafter, the same thing happened again, and Beast once more failed to notice them. Morr was able to stop one of the balls with her sword, but the rest of them found their mark. Beast was not injured, but his armor was noticeably corroded – DR reduced by 20. That’s where we stopped.

GURPS Alternate Star Wars session 12

Some of you may remember that I started this blog with session recaps from my games. I ceased publishing them because it took me too much time to write. After a while I resumed the practice for my Dungeon Fantasy campaign intending to write shorter recaps. I kinda failed in making them any shorter, but I brought the campaign to a close so I didn’t get to a point where I would have had to make further changes.

This time, the purpose is similar to the previous bout – to have these recaps primarily as a campaign log for myself and my players. My note taking has lately been abysmal and we’ve had to play bi-weekly instead of weekly, so we all forgot a lot of the details and it wasn’t easy recapping the news to a player who missed the last game.

We’ll see how this run will fare. I once again intended to write brief recaps, but as you’ll see below I was inspired. It took me about 45 minutes to write the recap, with an additional 30 or so minutes to write the rest of this post. That’s way, way more than I can afford on a weekly basis if I intend to prep for the game regularly as well as blog about other topics, both of which I value higher than writing detailed session reports. So expect shorter posts and other experiments with the format in the future.

Finally, excuse me if I don’t write any kind of exposition about the campaign at this time and go totally in medias res. For now, it shall have to suffice that it’s my personal take on the Star Wars universe set in roughly the time of The Old Republic MMO where the political situation is somewhat different, Force use is much more widespread, and the GURPS treatment is based on TL11 but the technology is substantially toned down to allow a more pulpy and cinematic experience.

Executive summary

  • The stone door behind the cleaned up cave-in was opened, revealing a stone corridor leading further.
  • A blast door terminated the corridor, surrounded by statues. It unleashed a lightning trap upon the party.
  • After dealing with the trap, Shen blew a hole in the door which revealed a large circular chamber on the other side.
  • The room was covered in plantlife which proved to be synthetic upon examination, illuminated in daylight provided by an emitter covering the whole ceiling. There was also a cluster of statues in the middle.
  • The party was ambushed by hovering, charric-equipped drones lowering themselves from the ceiling and vines forming from the grass grappling them from below.
  • We stopped in the middle of the battle as the party was regrouping and starting to try out different approaches from their disadvantaged position.
  • The whole session didn’t take longer than an hour of in-game time.


Date: 2020-04-29

Player Characters (417 points):
789-4 (aka Beast), cyborg lasat telekinetic grappler
Hae Shen, kel dor tech-commando
Joshua Wolfe, human Sorcerer of Tund
Morr Charasis, thisspiasian alchemical bioengineer/cyberneticist
Tariq Ordo, human mandalorian

Professor Flynn, human hired archaeologist

CP awarded: 1

Previously, the party cleaned out the caved in tunnel using their archaeological drill, revealing a massive stone door beyond the former cave-in. Professor Flynn scanned and photographed the couple heraldic markings on them, confirming that they belonged to a Great House from the time after the collapse of Xim the Despot’s empire. After Joshua couldn’t budge the door telekinetically from a safe distance, Beast tried slamming into them, also to no avail. He lost his temper, and started banging on them with his arms and body, eventually managing to budge them slightly in one direction. Having noticed that, he applied his strength to properly push them further in that direction, and eventually managed to push them all the way into the wall. Beyond, there was a roughly four yards wide, four yards tall corridor neatly carved out of the cavern stone, sloping downwards. After about 30 yards, it evened out.

The party walked down, with Shen at the point searching for traps. She didn’t find any, and as the group reached the bottom where the corridor evened out, they saw a door at its end some 20 yards further ahead. Beast ran ahead, not triggering any traps. The corridor widened a bit about 10 yards before the door, and the door was flanked by a line of six statues on each side along the walls. The statues looked made of stone, and depicted what appeared to be Great House knights in full battle attire styled in the era after Xim’s empire. They didn’t move or attack the party.

This door was four yards wide, similar to the previous one, but it was made of a smooth metal-like material. Beast and Tariq went to inspect it, and found two handles built into it, one on each side. They pulled them simultaneously. The door flashed in extremely bright light, blinding and stunning Tariq, and emitted an electrical discharge covering the area 3 yards in front of it. Beast dodged and dropped between the statues, getting out of the blast in time, but Tariq couldn’t because he just got blinded. Luckily, the discharge failed to penetrate his beskar armor. The door continued shining the bright light with its whole surface. As the party was figuring out what to do next, bolts of lightning started zapping from the door. Several hit Beast and Tariq, Shen got missed, while one hit Joshua. They failed their dodges so Beast got hurt lightly, Tariq severely enough to cause a major wound but not reeling while the one hitting Joshua got absorbed by his force armor. Lightning continued zapping them for two more rounds, but not to any worse effect. Joshua created a force wall at the point where the corridor widened, leaving only one yard open. Shen took full cover behind one of the statues.

As the lightning stopped zapping, the wall stopped glowing. Morr moved in to take a look at the door but didn’t find anything at first glance, and Tariq took position with Joshua behind the wall. As the group decided that Shen should look at the door more carefully without triggering it again, Beast drew his trophy lightsaber and stucked it into the door. It flashed and emitted the blast of lightning once more, injuring Morr before she could take cover between the statues. And so the previous scene repeated once more, with the door glowing and zapping the party with electricity. Luckily, they suffered no worse injuries this time around. After the door deactivated once more, Beast almost pulled one of the levers again before being talked out of it.

The party licked their wounds, performing first aid on Morr and Tariq while Shen started to construct a breaching charge. Once they patched themselves up Shen applied the charge to the door and detonated it. This produced a hole in it large enough for even Beast to pass through and disabled the trap mechanism, but didn’t demolish the door otherwise. There was daylight coming from the other side.

Passing through the hole, the party found themselves on a stone platform overlooking a circular chamber some 40 or so yards in diameter. The platform was on the south side of the chamber, no wider than the corridor and extended only for a couple of yards further. The floor of the chamber was 5 yards below the platform, covered with grass and scattered patches of trees, with a thick treeline extending for about 5 yards from the walls all the way around save a passage to the east and another to the west, both at roughly 90 degrees from the platform. The treeline was just a bit higher than the platform. The daylight came from the ceiling which was obviously one giant illuminating surface and not open sky, and there was a cluster of statues in the center of the chamber. They were not made of stone, but in “full color” instead, some 3 yards tall, depicting what looked like nobles in various attire ranging from evening gowns to uniforms and full armor. Tariq pulsed his ultrascanner, revealing that all of the plantlife was in fact synthetic and confirming that the ceiling was indeed a light-producing machine.

As the party entered the chamber, Shen and Tariq heard the telltale whirring noises of repulsor engines and noticed six SM -1 robotic drones hovering down from the ceiling. At the same time as the drones shot at the party with charric weapons, they were also grabbed by vines quickly formed from the grass.

In the ensuing battle Shen got stunned and knocked back into the treeline, Joshua retreated toward it while protecting himself with force armor, Tariq moved to exit the treeline into the grassy area, while Beast defended both himself and Morr from the vines and drones. Noone was significantly grappled. Lacking ranged weapons, Morr attempted to hack away at the vines. Beast threw a grenade at one of the drones but missed, and then tried to reel it in with his autograpnel but missed that shot as well. Joshua started concentrating on a lightning bolt but got interrupted by taking minor damage from one of the drones. On the bright side, he got knocked back deep enough into the treeline so the drones didn’t see him anymore. Tariq shot his autograpnel at the stone ledge in order to reposition. Shen eventually unstunned and went deeper into the treeline.

We ended the session mid-battle after Joshua made his hardcore improvisation roll for a ball lightning spell, Shen went toward one of the drones to exit the treeline with her lightfoil in hand, Tariq got stunned mid-flight but unstunned as the autograpnel reeled him in on top of the ledge, and Beast shot his grapnel at the ceiling in hopes of swinging at one of the drones but missed the intended spot so he can’t in fact swing toward any of the drones.

Telekinetic parries in GURPS

Since I’m currently running a Star Wars game, my players naturally asked how they could parry incoming attacks using telekinetic abilities. My original hunch was that you could simply parry with Telekinesis as with a weapon, maybe requiring a perk to do so. However, it turned out that Telekinesis has a lot of caveats in this regard, given how it works with requiring Concentrate maneuvers from the user but performing its own Attack, Move and Attack or other maneuvers.

After doing some research, I discovered that Psionic Powers (pages 8-9) explicitly makes TK eligible for power parries using standard rules for those. This also has a few caveats: merely reducing incoming damage by a bit in most cases, and it being possible to do so only once per turn.

That didn’t seem satisfactory for my game (Force users should be able to completely deflect blaster bolts, etc.), so I looked further and was reminded of this excellent Krommpost. Based on that, I’ve built the following ability for my campaign:

Improved Telekinetic Parry

7 points for level 1, plus 2 points for each additional level

You may use this ability to telekinetically parry incoming attacks as if by an invisible, indestructible limb. Calculate your Parry score as (DX or any unarmed combat skill + Force Talent)/2 + 3, applying any relevant modifiers such as the bonus from Combat Reflexes. You may perform additional parries during the same turn at a cumulative -4 penalty. Trained by a Master halves this. Note that in order to parry firearm attacks you must succeed at a Precognitive Parry roll. Each parry attempt costs you 1 FP.

To parry attacks directed against other characters, you must take the Sacrificial Parry perk. Then you may parry attacks targeted at anyone within the reach of this ability.

At level 1, your reach with this ability is equal to your normal punching reach (C for SM +0 characters). Each additional level increases your SM by +1 for this purpose only, increasing your reach as per Size Modifier and Reach on B402. For example a SM +0 character would have a reach of 10 yards with this ability at level 8.

If parrying explosive attacks that detonate on impact, a successful parry sets them off 1 yard away from you, plus one yard per point of your margin of success. This may not exceed your reach, so a SM +0 character with just one level in this ability will detonate explosions in their own hex.

In order to use Improved Telekinetic Parry, the ability must either not be an alternative ability, or you must have had it active on your turn before attempting a parry.

Statistics: Extra Arm (Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -10%; Force Extension, +50%; No Signature, +20%; Shield Mount, -80%; Force, -10%) [7]. Further levels add a level of the Long (Shield Mount, -80%), +20% enhancement [2/level].

I took the liberty of applying the Shield Mount limitation both to the Extra Arm advantage, and to any levels of the Long enhancement applied to it. Long is a rather expensive enhancement at +100% per level, but in my opinion most of this value comes from granting a large bonus to swing damage, followed by being able to strike, grapple, or manipulate objects at range. A character benefits from none of those with Improved Telekinetic Parry so I consider it a fair deal.

The cumulative penalty for subsequent parries could also be reduced with a Weapon Master specialty covering telekinetic combat, but since Force users in my campaign only take Trained by a Master I didn’t mention that in the writeup. Similarly, Parry Missile Weapons is not used in the campaign in favor of Precognitive Parry, but could be used with this ability as well.

New technique: Sweeping Slash

Recently a player in my Star Wars campaign asked if there was a way they could attack several foes near them at once, or rather if there was a better way of doing it than with Rapid Strike. Cleaving Strike from Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups came to mind immediately but I had a couple problems recommending it. Firstly, I’m personally extremely averse to All-Out Attack and almost never do it as a player. Cleaving Strike is therefore dead to me, so I can’t in good conscience recommend it to anyone else. Secondly, I really think that Force-users leaping around with lightsabers should be capable of doing something like that without remaining defenseless. So I came up with this:

Sweeping Slash (H)

Default: Any Melee Weapon skill -6; cannot exceed Melee Weapon skill.

Prerequisites: Unique Technique (Sweeping Slash) perk and one of Weapon Master or Trained By A Master (or alternatively ST 18+ for non-force weapons)

This is a special use of the Committed Attack maneuver. You attack up to three opponents adjacent to each other in a line within your reach with a wide swinging attack. All attacks must be with the same swung weapon. You may move two steps (before or after the attack, or split between both), you may not retreat, and all of your defenses are at -2 until your next turn. Unlike with a normal Committed Attack, you may parry with the weapon used to attack.

Additionally, if using a non-force weapon, at least one of the following conditions must be met by each attack in the sequence otherwise all subsequent attacks are lost:

  • you miss your foe
  • your foe retreats or dodges
  • you knock your foe back or down
  • you hit a limb or extremity with enough damage to dismember it
  • you kill your foe

As a minor consolation, foes struck with non-force weapon suffer a -1 penalty to DX and HT rolls made to avoid falling down due to knockback and to avoid knockdown/stunning.

This is essentially a bit more cinematic version of Cleaving Strike optimized for force weapons (but usable with any swing-capable melee weapon). Retaining most of the defensive penalties of Committed Attack colors this as part of aggressive styles without going too far with an All-Out Attack. I have built the technique using the technique design system from Martial Arts as follows:

  • A base penalty of -6 for a triple Rapid Strike with Trained by a Master or Weapon Master (and the same reasoning for high ST being equally valid as in Dungeon Fantasy)
  • Benefit: being able to parry with the attacking weapon, -1
  • Drawback: targets must be adjacent to one another, +1
  • Drawback: the conditions which must be met in order to not lose subsequent attacks for a non-force weapon, +1
  • Benefit: penalty to victim’s DX/HT rolls vs knockback and knockdown/stunning, -1

All of these come down to a default of -6 and the technique is Hard because it enables multiple strikes. I chose Committed Attack as the base because such a move without that kind of drawbacks would essentially be a rather cheap way to buy off the Rapid Strike penalty, especially since we use the house rule where each point invested in techniques counts double.

I am currently not counting the Unique Technique perk required for this technique against the limit of style perks. Doing so, or on the other hand completely dispensing with the perk wouldn’t be a big deal.

Grappling techniques in Fantastic Dungeon Grappling

GMs using Fantastic Dungeon Grappling (FDG for the remainder of this article) in games other than DFRPG or even GURPS Dungeon Fantasy often encounter questions about using various grappling techniques from Basic Set and Martial Arts. Having a technique-happy player create a grappling character for my recently started campaign, I had to answer many such questions myself, so I decided to take a look at all techniques presented in Martial Arts. In this article I will address how those techniques could be treated under FDG as well as how to improve them.

Arm or Wrist Lock, Choke Hold, Finger Lock, Head Lock and Leg Lock are all treated the same way in FDG: grab the desired body part (or just the torso, if the extra -2 to DX for grabbing a specific location is of no concern to you), generate CP, and then convert those CP to damage via Injure the Foe. Any differences originally present between them are below the resolution of FDG.

Grabbing a specific hit location can be improved as a targeted attack with a grab, for example Targeted Attack (Wrestling Grab/Face), while applying injury would require its own targeted attack, e.g. Targeted Attack (Sumo Wrestling Injure the Foe/Arm).

Throws from locks are, as per the example given for a neck lock under I Grapple His Face! on FDG p. 8, simply damaging takedowns. They can be improved as, to give an example, Targeted Attack (Judo Takedown/Neck).

Targeted attacks for grabs use the grappling hit location penalties found at the start of FDG p. 3, which are half of the standard hit location penalties. Those for inflicting damage of any kind use the standard ones. Note that unlike the original grappling techniques, these targeted attacks may only remove half (round in your favor) of the hit location penalty. If closer resemblance of the original techniques is more important to you than systemic consistency, you could allow for these targeted attacks to improve their penalties fully, but this moves FDG away from its concept that grappling should function in the same way striking does.

Hand Catch and Hand-Clap Parry simply become Grabbing Parry as presented on FDG p.3. Improving them would be a separate hard technique for each hit location being grabbed (weapons would count as one).

Armed Grapple is unchanged. It is in fact the Armed Grappling Attack on FDG p. 2 and can be improved as a hard technique. The penalties for grappling a specific hit location can additionally be bought off via targeted attack, for example Targeted Attack (Axe/Mace Grab/Neck).

Bind Weapon is treated as a Weapon/Shield Bind from FDG p. 3 and requires no improvement.

Entangle and Hook are Armed Grapples (above) with a whip or a hooked weapon, respectively, using Long-Distance Grapple from FDG p. 3.

Handcuffing can be treated as grappling the hands, with the extra -2 to penalties using those limbs remaining in place even if you switch your grip to other body parts. The victim should also be flat out unable to take specific actions depending on the position you cuffed them in; while they may be able to wield a weapon at -2 if you cuffed their hands in front of them, they should not be able to do so at all if you cuffed their hands behind their back, for example. Similar GM discretion should be exercised while  handcuffing; you should only be able to cuff a person behind their back if you’re standing in their rear hex. All other special considerations from Martial Arts should be disregarded (yes, the victim can parry your attempt to attach a cuff to an inanimate object – by yanking the chain). To remove the handcuffs, the victim must use the Escape skill. Handcuffing can be improved via Targeted Attack (Judo or Wrestling Handcuffing/Hand).

Judo Throw is treated as an attack on the turn immediately after a successful parry but as a quick contest after a grapple in Martial Arts, even though Basic Set treats it as an attack in both cases. DFRPG follows suit so this move does not require any special treatment under FDG. You may want to decide on how to treat a damaging throw, because it does not exist in DFRPG and it works differently between Martial Arts and FDG. The former assigns an additional -1 penalty to the attack roll and thrust-1 damage without bonus for skill, while under the latter as per Kiss the Wall on p. 8 there is no attack penalty but it does thrust-2 damage with the standard FDG high skill bonus. I would recommend the FDG approach.

Leg Grapple is simply a grapple targeting a leg.

Neck Snap, Wrench Limb and Wrench Spine lose their special status of being ST-based techniques and become simple cases of causing injury to a specific hit location after a grapple. They can be improved with, for example, Targeted Attack (Wrestling Injure the Foe/Neck).

Sacrifice Throw… mechanically speaking, I see very few cases where you’d want to use this technique instead of a normal All-Out Attack judo throw. Maybe you’re counting on your opponent parrying instead of using any other defense, or maybe landing on top of them is of critical importance to you. A deceptive attack judo throw from an All-Out Attack (Determined) is strictly superior otherwise. If you wanted, you could transfer the special effect of this All-Out Attack variant into FDG verbatim and it would work without issue. The downside is the added complexity which you probably don’t want if you’re running FDG in the first place, especially since you can increase your skill (to perform deceptive attacks, for example) via CP expenditure. So unless you’re really into the details, just do a normal judo throw with the desired attack options.

Scissors Hold is just a case of grabbing the opponent by their leg(s) using your own, and can not be improved other than via Targeted Attack (Wrestling Grab/Leg). Use the same posture restrictions as in Martial Arts.

Sweep becomes the iconic example of Sweep the Leg! from FDG p. 8. It can not be improved and does not take any kind of penalty to its attack.

Trip works as described in Martial Arts. It is not really a grappling move, but I’ve included it here for the sake of completeness since it’s a technique for the grappling skills.

Backbreaker is covered under I Grapple His Face! on FDG p. 8.

Binding should be treated similar to Handcuffing. If using cuffs, the only difference is you can also target the victim’s feet. If using a rope, you can also target their arms and legs, but the victim automatically removes the rope from all bound hit locations if they reduce their CP to where they no longer suffer any DX penalty. The exception to this is if you bind all of their limbs; they can then only get rid of the bindings using the Escape skill. Binding can be improved via Targeted Attack (Judo or Knot-Tying Binding/Arm, Hand, Foot or Leg).

Piledriver is just a variant backbreaker targeting the skull instead.

And that covers all of the grappling techniques from Martial Arts. It just shows how Fantastic Dungeon Grappling is both streamlined, flexible and comprehensive.

Thief buffs for Dungeon Fantasy

After I announced the Martial Artist buffs to my players, I got asked to fix Thieves too. Sucking in combat in comparison to other professions is not the only thing they often catch flak for, but it’s what I wanted to focus on. I originally wrote this article an entire year ago, but put it in a drawer due to wanting to playtest it first… other things took priority after the playtest and eventually I forgot about it. In the meantime ideas on how to make Thieves better have become more widespread in the community so some of this may be old news to you, but amplifying the signal never hurts.

1. Perfect Balance is now an optional advantage for Thieves, not a mandatory one.

Opinions are divided on this advantage. It can certainly be useful, but for example over the course of 16 sessions in my current DF campaign so far there were exactly zero opportunities where it would have enabled a Thief to do something cool, something other professions could not, or would have a hard time trying. Its bonus to Acrobatics and Climbing is nice, but very point inefficient if the Thief doesn’t encounter many tight spaces to walk on (such as in a fully dungeon-based campaign like mine). Hence, making it optional to make space for some other traits dearly needed by Thieves to be more viable.

Update: since I originally wrote this article my DF campaign has run its course over a total of 42 sessions and I still can’t remember opportunities for Perfect Balance to justify its point investment. A part of this is on me since I didn’t really think about providing said opportunities, but if something like this happened in my campaign it is bound to happen in others as well.

2. Trim the skills required by the profession template.

It is a rather common argument that some of the obligatory starting skills for Thieves such as Filch or Smuggling don’t get many usage opportunities in typical Dungeon Fantasy campaigns, or that they should even be rolled into other skills. I personally prefer Peter Dell’Orto’s variant which saves 7 points by dropping some skills to optional and merging others.

3. Weapon Master (Knives), up to 10 levels of Striking ST (Only on surprise attack) and Backstabber are now a core part of the profession template as optional advantages.

These were previously listed as Thief power-ups in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11 so some players may have missed them, but they are in fact found on the Thief template in DFRPG (except for Backstabber). This is just getting them in the front row, to make good mileage out of the next item on the docket.

4. Use the Disappearing and Sniping rules from GURPS Action 2 (reprinted in GURPS After The End 2 with additional detail).

These allow Thieves  to backstab more than once per combat, as well as to “backstab” with ranged weapons. The Disappear technique included in Backstabber applies to both Disappearing and Sniping, but the First Strike perk still applies only to the first attack in a fight.

5. Heroic Archer and Throwing Master are now optional advantages for Thieves.

This ties into a topic for another day (why is Scout the only capable archer in the game?), but it has been requested often enough and I certainly think it makes sense. Throwing Master is a Krommpost, by the way, and is an analogue to Heroic Archer.

6. The Animals, Faeries and Hybrids specialties of the Physiology skill are now background skills on the Thief template.

Thieves need access to vitals to do their best work. Sure, the skull hit location is mostly where expected on any creature, and armor chinks are another viable option, but vitals are much easier to hit, especially if a Thief is unable to backstab. This lets them do so against many more foes beyond humanoids but still within the bounds of what is established for the stereotype. Physiology is a hard skill, but Thieves have IQ 13 per default so they’re able to use it just fine.

The above changes are relatively conservative and unlike my adjustments to Martial Artists, they mostly bring attention to already existing components and give players more options. Due to their minimal divergence from DF as published and requiring almost no effort, they would be my preferred start to fixing Thieves. Developing interesting Power Ups would be the next step , and for my future DF campaigns I will likely use one of the several popular reduced swing damage campaign switches. They solve more problems than just bringing Thieves’ combat capabilities up to par.

First impressions: Fantastic Dungeon Grappling

After about 10 games using Fantastic Dungeon Grappling I thought I’d share some of my impressions. This is not a review; if you’re unfamiliar with this excellent DFRPG supplement by Gaming Ballistic (works perfectly well with GURPS as well), I’ll just say that it aims to bring grappling mechanics closer to the way striking is handled: making attack rolls which opponents can defend against and rolling for effect (called control in this case) if a hit connects.

I have to point out that all of the games were part of either a 275-point Dungeon Fantasy campaign including a Wrestler (Pyramid #3/111)  in the party, or a 400-point cinematic Star Wars game with a specialized grappler (albeit a bit less capable than the Wrestler due to characters in that campaign being more broadly trained). In most cases grappling happened between a grappling specialist PC and a rather beefy opponent, so I don’t yet know how bouts between more normal people look like. With that out of the way, on to my impressions:

  • What a specialized grappler touches, gets defeated in 2-5 rounds, no ifs buts or discussions. Only exceptions are if the victim is itself a similar specialized grappler or has ST in excess of 2x the amount of control the attacker can keep on the victim. The latter case is the breakpoint between the victim getting -2 and -4 to DX, which in my experience is a difference between “not ideal but can manage” and”oof we have a problem”.
  • On first glance the above timeline is not very different from that of a capable weapon master engaging a similar opponent, but in my experience tough opponents can withstand more strikes than grapples before relevant penalties sink in and send them down the death spiral. If an opponent has High Pain Threshold the only penalty due to the loss of HP is the halving of dodge and move below 1/3 HP, but with grappling the penalty to DX sets in right away. Consequently, a bad guy getting pummeled by strikes has the potential to be relevant for a longer time whereas with grappling it has often been the case that they were completely neutered after a couple of rounds. So it is working as expected I guess, since the point of grappling is disabling someone at the cost of not being able to swiftly dispatch multiple foes.
  • I had fights vs ST 30 and 40 demons with decent but not specialized grappling skills. They had a chance, but luck was not on their side. After getting hit by the grappler, they weren’t successful in countergrappling and the grappler could withstand their attacks long enough to either accumulate enough control and convert to injury, or for the rest of the party to easily dispatch the penalized victim.
  • I had a fight vs a ST 70 dinosaur. It had skill of 14 or thereabouts. The grappler could not get it to -4 and it had 70 hit points so converting CP to damage was not very effective either, but the dinosaur had absolutely no chance of either shaking off the grappler, or grappling the grappler himself.
  • In default GURPS a big, strong monster without great skill could put up with and outmatch a specialized grappler due to its ST and most grappling moves being contests of ST. In FDG it doesn’t work that way for the most part; while ST is important to get enough control, skill is king much the same as in combat with strikes. So unless you change your expectations, “big, strong monsters” could be rather disappointing unless they have the very highest end of ST normally encountered in GURPS games, and even in that case they won’t be able to grapple a trained grappler effectively themselves.
  • The above points showcase that you really have to design monsters with grappling in mind when running FDG. Skilled fighters who are not at least competent in grappling can get defeated that way without much effort.
  • I haven’t yet had a character use a weapon attack and spend control on it to increase damage so I can’t really comment on how that performs. My suspicion is that it could be a very useful tool for fighters otherwise not specialized in grappling, and that a swinging weapon in the hands of a specialized grappler will be much more horrendous than a DF barbarian with Weapon Master.
  • FDG works seamlessly with DF monsters that grapple automatically on a hit (just let them inflict control as well as damage), and also rather elegant with very little head scratching needed in special situations such as monsters that can engulf opponents (just inflict maximum control).
  • I would say that FDG is an even better addition if you also use Conditional Injury because it can be used to exceed the usual “damage caps” if you find your attacks not being able to inflict severe enough wounds on your opponents. I have a veritable tank in my current party who is very hard to injure even when he gets hit in the vitals or other sensitive hit locations because very little damage gets through the DR, but he was inflicted with a severity 1 wound after 3 rounds of grappling by a competent grappler (15 control converted into 5d damage ignoring DR).

That’s it for now. I look forward to more games using FDG, and I already know I’m never going back to the default GURPS grappling rules.

Conditional Injury calculator

I’ve built a small tool for calculating the effects of damage according to the Conditional Injury article from Pyramid 3/120 by Douglas H. Cole of You can find it here:

You put in inflicted damage, the victim’s HP and a couple other parameters, and you get the effects of the resulting wound. Where the article left room for interpretation, I tried to be as close to Basic Set as possible.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to post them here or in the #apps channel of the GURPS Discord.