Random GURPS Ideas

4:11 am, 22 Aug. 2004:
I was thinking about the differences between steampunk and "clockpunk" settings and an episode of Scientific American Frontiers about hydrogen-powered cars. On the program, they kept pointing out that hydrogen wasn't a power source—it's a method of storing power. Clockwork is the same way; it only acts like a battery. Well, for clockpunk, that means that everything will be ultimately powered by steam anyway (though I suppose it could be powered by human effort, but there's something... lame about making thousands of people spend most of their time winding or pedaling things to do cool stuff). Anyway, what if you dropped perpetual motion into the setting? It wouldn't necessarily mean free energy; you could say that complicated clockwork machines just amplify force and perhaps come up with a reason why recursive feedback (i.e. feeding an amplifier's output back into itself) is impossible. Then you could have, for example, two-seater airplanes powered by a single guy pedaling, or cars that only require a few minutes of winding to run for hours. The "black box" amplifiers could be called "antirecursive kinetic augmentation dynamos" or something, as long as it's technobabbly and vaguely Victorian.

7:29 pm, 2 Apr. 2003:
A small change to the ever-popular dimension-hopping campaign. A group of PCs (and maybe 1 NPC for variety) can world-jump, but only when they're together (say, holding hands in a circle or some-such thing). The upside would be that it'd enhance group-togetherness... everyone would be determined to save their party members; in-party fighting would be minimal and lethal only if one of the characters becomes suicidal. Ooh, that's another idea: the catch for their whole "adventure" is that they can't stay in one dimension for more than X days, or they'll lose atomic cohesion due to slightly weaker nuclear forces (or some other kind of appropriate techno-babble). So maybe a long-term goal for the campaign could be to find a world with physical laws close enough to their original home that they can stop jumping to save their lives.

12:23 am, 8 Jun. 2002:
I'm sure this isn't a new idea, but I don't remember seeing it anywhere before. Here's the skinny: the hallucinations and irrational behavior of a schizophrenic is an effect of that person being a World Jumper who cannot fully control his/her power. The person is basically rooted in the world the observers are in, but at the same time, he or she exists on a totally different Earth. If the schizo has hallucinations of purple butterflies 40-feet across and can't seem to understand why the gravitational pull here is so high, it's because he/she is simultaneously living on some alternate Earth with very strange native insect life and 0.4 Gs because of an absence of heavy metals in the core. A catatonic schizophrenic could be an Uncontrollable or 'stuck' World Jumper having a particularly difficult time coping with the disparities in basic physics or cause and effect (e.g. a World Jumper from some dimension where time moves backwards and the sun only radiates energy in non-visible spectra). This might require the World Jumper ability to be psionic, like allowing the person to move their mind into the body of someone already occupying that world (like the psionic time travel in GURPS: TT). The PCs could be schizos trying to figure stuff out (to eventually gain full control of their power) or FBI agents (or some-such) just learning the truth about ppl with this 'psychosis' and, later, trying to harness their ability. Oh, here's a page I found that describes schizophrenia fairly well, IMHO. IANAP (I am not a Psychologist).

12:0 3am, 14 Apr. 2002:
Okay, another campaign idea: The PCs stumble upon a newsletter aimed at a group of people simply called "The Changeless." It contains headlines like "1987: Huaxing Zhou Assassinated by Jump Team, Present Population of Japan Triples with Death of Former Ruler of Two-Thirds of the Eastern Hemisphere" and "1928: Amelia Earhart Prevented From Spreading Infamous Pancreatic-Rot Plague." Basically, events that (to the best of the player character's knowledge) never happened. Eventually they figure out that there are time-travellers out there trying to fix the world and a small number of people are immune to the changes in the time-line (they may form some sort of world-controlling illuminati). Presumably, the PCs want to figure out how to stop the next 'past event fix' so they don't disappear/change forever. Brings up some interesting philosophical issues. Probably too 'thinky' for my players.

12:01am, 22 Nov. 2001:
A campaign where the PCs get to play pseudo mythical 'fallen angels,' based primarily on the ideas surrounding the nephilim (check it out here). They appear in a modern day setting, TL7/8, as human looking people, but they get some Supers advantages and the like, along with Handsome/Beautiful and Hard to Kill +5 or so. I'm thinking about 300 point characters, possibly designed by the GM with some minor player input (relates to this other notion I had of making the players write a single paragraph about their character using no GURPS terms whatsoever and the GM building it). Maybe these nephilim could have about 30 points in powers that they don't know about that slowly reveal themselves. Ooh, or the game could start with some "mundane" characters going on their first adventure and discovering their hidden heritage. For the first half-dozen sessions, it'd just be mundane stories featuring these slightly supernatural PCs, but then it would start incorporating hints that other angels/demons are here on earth too. It'd be vaguely In Nomine, but I'd change a lot of the world story and properties of angels/demons (relying more on GURPS Spirits). Optimally, I'd like to begin the game as a GURPS Cops campaign with the PCs as partnered detectives (of course, I still have to wait for Cops to come out... till then, I'll just get my fix from the three Law & Order series that are on right now).

8:28 pm, 29 Sep. 2001:
Quick idea for a time travel campaign: All the players are allowed to build 75 point characters who mysteriously appeared in various cities around the world at the same time on a particular date, 15 years ago, naked and with total amnesia. Since then, each has picked up his or her life and perhaps started a family or gotten a career. Now, one of them has started getting his/her memory back, maybe along with flash-backs or unusual dreams. He/she has remembered their original purpose, to explore the past. Da da DAAH! The first member to get his memory back starts looking up the other people in his group (should be easy, considering the number of ppl that suddenly appear naked with amnesia and no records at the same time). Maybe he/she knows of a scar they all share where some kind of homing device had been implanted or something. Anyway, they are able to get their memories back and decide to look up one of the other time-agents that was planted in this era before them; he was a time-travel expert and knows how to build a device (or perform whatever action is needed) to return them home. Of course, when they find his lab, they also discover that he was murdered a few days before they got there. But anyway, the rest is up to the GM. The GM can grant them an extra 25 points in skills (if he chooses) as per the rules for Amnesia when they remember.

10:33 pm, 25 Sep. 2001:
While reading the textbook for one of my computer classes, I noticed an info box that said the QWERTY keyboard design was made to slow down typists on mechanical typewrites to keep from jamming it. Also, at the end of the 1800s, it was believed type input devices would be chordal in nature; that is, you might have 6 letter/number keys and 6 selection keys, different combinations producing different characters, like the chords on a pipe organ producing different sounds. So, I imagine a more 'authentic' Steampunk campaign would feature 6-lever analytical engines using chordal input, or even 10-key wireless telegraphs. This reminds me of the GURPSnet discussion on Steampunk output devices (ticker-tape printers and screens made of rows of metal pins that move outwards)... but anyway.

6:42 pm, 19 Jun. 2001:
A typical fantasy setting/world complete with mages and spells and so forth. Here's the hook: all magic (mana?) is actually TL14 nanotechnology. When a wizard casts a spell, he's reciting the ancient, intricate command codes. The nanobots are programmed with hundreds of distinct commands and they get their energy for performing these tasks from the controller (mage) himself--this could be a process whereby the caster is robbed of body heat, plasma of the blood, or some such thing, but the net effect is that it results in fatigue loss (unless you know the really high level commands, say Fireball at skill level 25, in which case you can order the nanobots to retrieve their energy from other nearby life forms or something). Alternately, the nanobots could be powered by solar cells and power cells, thereby requiring time to recharge; many spells cast in one area could drop it to a no-mana zone for a few days.

"The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage." — Mark Russell