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Gamemaster’s Guidepost – Emulation & Simulation Part II


Please welcome back Christopher Rice as he delves deeper into the world of GURPS! If you missed part I, click here.

As discussed previously the GURPS game system provides a fantastic tool-kit to emulate your favorite fiction. One of my new favorite fictional worlds is that of the Lord Alchemist universe. The first two books, Herb-Witch and Herb-Wife by Elizabeth McCoy, are pretty awesome and she has a few follow-ups as well. It does have a few oddities that might turn people off to it (one of the main ingredients of a fictional contraceptive is menstrual blood) but they are few and far between and I absolutely love the way McCoy builds her world slowly and through the eyes of her characters. And I’m not even getting into the dialogue which damn near comes alive on the page.

I’m going to show how easy it is to convert a fictional setting using just the GURPS Basic Set. Of course, I’m not going to convert the whole setting just a few odds and ends to show GURPS versatility. Moreover, it really helps that McCoy is a GURPS author herself and has obviously used the systems engine to help maintain her world’s consistency.

  • One of the things I really like about Cymelia is the money. It was completely original, fit the setting to a T, and exotic. It was so odd I actually needed to contact the author to make sure that my original notes on it were accurate (they weren’t). Yes, I am that fiddly. There are four types of coins: leaf (oval-shaped), half-flower (scalloped on one edge, flat on the other, in a half-circle), flower (full-circle), and tree (like real world pieces of eight but with a spiky edge to them). Then there are three different compositions: copper, silver, and gold. Three leaves equal a half-flower, two half-flowers equal a flower, and three flowers equal a tree. Furthermore, five copper trees equal one silver leaf, and one silver tree equals one gold leaf. While the exact weight and value of the coins are not specifically mentioned in the books (that I am aware of anyways) I can get the following approximations (rounded off to two decimal places): a leaf weighs about 0.15 lbs.; a half-flower weighs about 0.04 lbs.; a flower          weighs about 0.09 lbs.; and a tree weighs about 0.25 lbs. Luckily, Ms. McCoy came to the rescue and supplied me with the information I needed. These values use GURPS $ and do not correspond directly to “real world” money. GURPS assumes that gold is about $20,000/lb., silver is $1,000/lb., and copper is about $10/lb. Using this I get the following:
  Copper Silver Gold Coin Ratio
Leaf $0.14 $13 $227 3
Half-flower $0.42 $38 $680 2
Flower $0.84 $76 $1,361 3
Tree $2.52 $227 $4,082 1
Metal Fineness 900 180 1,000 5
Tree Ratio 5 1

* This table was derived from one that Elizabeth McCoy and Walter Milliken originally created.

  • An important part of any campaign is its TL or Technology Level. This tells you what equipment and skills are available and give a general idea of the (duh!) level of technological sophistication the setting has. GURPS has thirteen TLs. TL0 (the lowest) roughly corresponds to the Stone Age while TL12 (the highest) matches some of the dizzying heights of the most ambitious science fiction. It further divides these up into the following categories: Transportation, Weapons and Armor, Power, and Biotechnology/Medicine.  It has also “superscience,” which is a dump category for things not achievable by “normal” science and can be anything from magic to variant natural laws that have yet to be discovered. There are also divergent TLs (unusual development on a tech path for instance TL5+1 is Steampunk), split TLs (a higher or lower level in a particular field), and borrowed technology (essentially, you have access to a certain level of technology but can neither make nor repair it). In Cymelia, the available tech seems to be a mix of Regency-era England and a smidge of early Colonial America, putting it at either late TL3 or early TL4. Nevertheless, because the setting has a much higher understanding of medicine and alchemy, I would place it as TL3+1 (TL3+2 Biotechnology/Medicine). This means most TL skills are TL3+1 while medical skills are TL3+2. See pp. 511-514 of GURPS Basic Set: Campaigns for more information on Technology Levels.
  • One of the main plot points of the series is the protagonist’s immunity to alchemical solutions, a highly sought-after trait. This translates easily as the advantage Resistant to Alchemical Effects. Meanwhile, the skill with alchemy and herbs translates easily as Alchemy and Herb Lore.

So that is just a few things you could do using the GURPS system. If I were going to get really in depth I’d probably create a chart for Status and Wealth in the setting since that seems to play a important role in the plot. And that’s the end of my guest bloggery. I hope I didn’t bore anyone too much and feel free to visit my own blog where I talk about gaming, life, and everything in between.

Thanks for sharing this awesome gaming world with everyone! Check out Christopher Rice’s blog for more about him and his GURPS! Want to chat with him? Follow him on Twitter!

First GURPS reference

Herb-Witch reference

Herb-Wife reference

Elizabeth McCoy reference

GURPS Basic Set reference

Steampunk reference

 

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2 Comments on “Gamemaster’s Guidepost – Emulation & Simulation Part II”

  1. C.R. Rice May 10, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    Reblogged this on Ravens N' Pennies.

  2. Kelly Blanton May 10, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Alexis okay for a 11 year old to read? (I haven’t read it yet).

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