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.