Pyramid #3/61: More Power to Dungeon Warriors

In Pyramid #3/61: The Way of the Warrior, we see a very, very focused set of articles: six articles plus +Steven Marsh‘s intro and Random Thought Table, contributed by five authors . . . and the lead article was co-authored!

That being said, this one was interesting. “How about a theme issue,” said Steven. BAM! And stuff rolled in. Lots and lots of it. The fact that we have two Martial Arts Designer’s Notes articles in here – long ones – only highlights the fun that is the other six.

This is the second issue I’ve done an article-by-article review on, and yes, that might have something to do with my having two pieces in it. Still, it’s very good, and very on-topic for me. So, here we go.

More Power to Dungeon Warriors ( +Peter V. Dell’Orto and +Sean Punch )

OK, do I have to say more than just naming the authors? Yes? Fine. I’ll admit my bias here, in that Peter and Sean are both friends, but this article is probably 8.000-9,000 words of pure Dungeon Fantasticness.

This is a Power-Ups article, in the spirit of Dungeon Fantasy 11, oddly enough titled “Power-Ups,” and not-at-all oddly enough written by Sean and Peter. Sean recently allowed on the forums that this article, which with the proper end plates and formatting, would have been a 16-page DF-style supplement by itself, and that this article, coming it at 8,600 words is basically a way to sneak a bonus e23 DF volume in under the Ogre’s anti-air defenses.

Stealing blatantly from the intro from the DF book itself, Power-Ups are “nothing less than ways to make adventurers more powerful. Some crank existing capabilities up to 11; others add entirely new feats.”

This article is all about the slice-and-dice, featuring Power-Ups for Warriors, whose raison d’etre is beating the bejeezus out of people.

So, what’s in it?

General Combat Power-Ups

This section applies to anyone that satisfies the requirements, not restricted to any particular template or niche. There are eight Combat Perks, including one that riffs, I think, off of the rule mod in Technical Grappling that says, yes, you can do stuff that requires concentration while grappled, but prepare to suffer for it. This is so compatible with TG I weep I didn’t think of it.

The section also contains an amusingly awesome 3/4-page box on double-ended weapons. I’ll admit I was, when I saw this, looking for a nod to the lirpa and bat’leth.

Interdiction made it in from the forums, and is now as official as a published GURPS thing from Pyramid can be (meaning ‘quite’). Greater Weapon Bond looks like it’ll be popular too. Peerless Slayer Training (a Targeted Attack based on a ginormous Wildcard! skill) and Wizard-Hunter both seem spectacularly Awesome, if expensive.

There’s goodness in the intro section for just about anyone, and weapon fighters and unarmed martial artists will browse with glee.

Barbarian Power-Ups

The noble outdoorsman, mighty and strong, gets some boosts that only they can have here. There are three perks, with the awesomely-named Mountain of Meat being my favorite just because of the name, though I think it’s the best of the trio as well.

There are only two true Power-Ups, but they’re awesome. Greater Cleaving Strike amps up the technique on which it’s based, and costs a bunch. Even more is Naked Rage, which is based on Injury Tolerance and reads like a must-have for Barbarians who hew to the stereotype of the big guy with loincloth.

Holy Warrior Power-Ups

OK, as you’ve likely seen from my Dungeon Fantasy /Jade Regent play reports, I play a Warrior Saint in that game, about 315 points. So while these Power-Ups mightn’t be directly useful to me, they should be able to inspire more directed Power-Ups.

Holy Weapon? Yeah, I want that. Even with my Named Possession, shrivener in hand, the abilities that come with this power-up would be quite nice as a supplement, and the ability to dial-a-smackdown with various different instruments would be quite nice.
Knight Power-Ups

Of the four power-ups targeted specifically at Knights, three of them are based around leadership and protection. Rallying Cry seems like a real winner, especially in fights where you’re caught by surprise (or get hit by a power or area-effect stunning spell). Tactician is a very interesting application, I think, of bonus points from Monster Hunters to DF – though my group (with +Nathan Joy as GM) uses these anyway.

The purely combat oriented power up is defensively oriented. In consideration, Knights are such awesome warriors on the offense (talk to +Peter V. Dell’Orto about how studly a properly focused Knight can be) that defensively-oriented Power-Ups are probably welcome. None of these abilities is terribly expensive, so they’re easy to shoe-horn in.

Martial Artist Power-Ups

These are just cool, all of them. The Chi Blasts power is a set of innate attacks, powered by Chi, and providing a balanced set of abilities that mimic the crazy stuff you see in video games – and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Especially for more mundane fighters, these attacks can provide a nice set of options that might impact critters for whom a simple blade or club won’t cut it. Dragon’s Breath, for example, seems like a nice option against swarms or diffuse creatures as well as those more vulnerable to other stuff.

Fists of Power hits up the equivalent of a monster kick, but for fists, while Grand Flying Kick gives you something like a cleaving strike, but for a Boot to the Head. Peter and Sean even make the how-to explicit in one of several “Under the Hood” BOX-TEXT call-outs, where they (usefully) break down just how to make these powers. By and large, they don’t need to invent much when there’s so many awesome metasystems already extant, but they flex their muscles and inform us of just how these systems are used. The Under the Hood boxes are good stuff, and well named for what they show. You don’t need to go into the guts of the system to use the stuff . . . but they’re great object lessons.

In passing, the Inner Alchemy perk? Just Freakin’ Awesome.

Unarmed Master helps people using the Martial Artist template get through the veritable forest of spikes, swords, and other nasty bits that usually can induce injury, and may well be a near-mandatory (or at least damn useful) Power-Up for adventures that feature lots and lots of foes going after you with stuff that gives the free damage when using unarmed parries vs. such attacks.

Scout Power-Ups

Scouts are so naturally awesome that they hardly need extra power-ups. Still, the wonderfully named Mifter Teef is a fun bit, and has some great extras if you decide to be both a bowman and a grappler for some unholy reason.

There are also a few cool perks that are basically rules exceptions that GMs might want to insist on, for those Scouts that just love to fast-draw and quick-shoot and DWA their way into a game-halting series of die rolls. Every turn. Making these rolls go away?

To borrow a phrase: priceless.

Swashbuckler Power-Ups

Great Void almost seems too useful, especially on the infinite featureless plain that is such a staple of underground dungeon crawls. More seriously, the biggest issue with fencers is dealing with long-reach creatures and weapons, and this fairly low-cost ability will make many swashies grin from ear to ear. Relinquishment is interesting, and would really sing if there were a stronger mechanism for unifiying Beats, parries, and weapon breakage.

The four perks are fun, and also have some nice “Under the Hood” how-to information weaved in there.

Parting Shot

I said it in the intro, and I’ll say it again: This is an e23 supplement in Pyramid form. Some of these are just cool, and others will inspire you to dig out the Under the Hood bits so you can create your own variants.

In any case, this is a great article, and worth the price of admission for this issue all by itself.

And I still have four additional articles to review . . .

4 thoughts on “Pyramid #3/61: More Power to Dungeon Warriors

  1. I'm glad you liked it!

    We even had more at the discussion level, but didn't build them out because, well, it was already so big we just assumed Steven would blanch and make us cut it. So if there is call for more Power-Ups stuff, I am sure Sean has more if only because I know that I have a few more, too. 🙂

  2. I love cooking up worked examples of techniques and abilities, not to mention new perks and variant traits. Fourth Edition offers great flexibility thanks to its technique-design system, more robust powers system, and free rein to gamers to dream up perks, Talents, wildcard skills, and new specialties and variants of existing traits. However, as in any situation where users have an extensive tool kit, there is potential for confusion. Examples help to solve that problem AND give time-pressed gamers things they can use right away. A certain percentage of our audience dislikes examples and would prefer even more tools, but at the moment, the largest demand is for objects built using the existing ones.

  3. For both Peter and Sean: well, since power-up s are aimed squarely and succesfully at making characters More Awesome, they're always going to be well received. The bonus here is the "Under the Hood" stuff which is a great "this is how the designers of this stuff think of this."

  4. I thought it was a good issue. The only power-up I would pause at using in a game would be the Hundred-Hand Strike. From a thematic perspective, I think it's really cool. However, even in the context of Dungeon Fantasy, it possibly pushes things a little too far for my personal tastes; even at once per day. What makes me say that is I asked myself "would I, as a GM, feel comfortable using this against the players?" I think it was good food for thought and prompted me to look at different ways to use the rules, but not something I feel is priced in a way which is accurate compared to the effect generated. Aside from that, the issue was very good. There were a lot of things to look at and get an idea of how I might build some of my own power-ups. I found the Random Thought Table about baseball to be very interesting and good food for thought.

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