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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 . . .