Modern Magic Campaign

forest“You have all felt the call. The subtle pull to this remote wilderness. This is how you find yourself wandering through this forest at dusk. You have each come alone and are making your own way through the woods.”

That’s how I started my gaming group’s new “Modern Magic” campaign. Set in the modern world where magic and other supernatural elements have been hidden, suppressed, or dismissed as trickery. The players each take on the role of a modern-day magic user, that one-in-a-million person born with the innate gift to use magic. They each lead seemingly normal lives, privately studying what their gifts can do, until they are all drawn to the same remote wilderness one evening…

And that’s where we picked up the story, the players (Carlos, Jessica, Seth, Sydney, Todd, and Trevor) all separately making their way through the woods toward a nearby clearing. They each got a chance to roll against IQ, at a minus of course, to realise that “very subtle magic has been worked on you, and you also realize that you don’t have to walk into that clearing if you don’t want to. The spell is broken”. Only two of them, Jessica and Todd, made their roll and they opted to stop before entering the clearing. The rest of the players entered the clearing at almost the same time, all from different directions. Making their way to the center of the clearing they could see some kind of circular design cut into the ground and ringed with sticks, twigs, and other objects.

The group in the clearing began to converse with each other and discuss what was going on and why they were here, with Todd and Jessica watching from the treeline. Seth and Carlos studied the circle, making their Thaumatology rolls to identify it as a very complex summoning circle.

At this point everyone noticed a blue glow coming from the woods opposite the group. Everyone moved back as a blue glowing robbed and hooded figure (yes, just like a Force™ Ghost) walked into the clearing.

Todd, everready for a fight, drew his Blasting Rod, an enchanted drumstick, and hurled a bolt of lightning at the figure. A blue glowing hand raised and gestured, a disc of energy swirling with symbols appeared in front of the hooded figure and deflected the lightning into the ground.

The glowing figure continued to walk forward, pulling his hood back to reveal a male face with strong Native American features. As he came to a halt several feet away, he said, “Easy kids, everyone calm down, I’m one of the good guys.”

He went on to explain that his name was Hiawatha, and he had been dead for about 600 years, but that hadn’t slowed him down much, as he’s also an active member of a millenniums old organization called the Council of Mages. This council is made up of some of the most powerful magi, living or dead, in the world.

Hiawatha had summoned them to this remote location to deal with whatever was being called forth with the summoning circle they had seen in the clearing. He said that some unknown group of what had to be dark magi had become more active as of late, and it was clear that they shouldn’t have the kind of power they’ve displayed. He also quipped that the group could consider this an audition of sorts, and that he hoped they survived. He explained that they had a few minutes before moonrise triggered the circle and that they should probably prepare. Then he vanished.

After some more introductions and discussion, and a failed attempt to disturb the summoning circle which turned out to be warded, the group decides to stay and face whatever shows up. They prep their enchanted items, funny how they all came prepared for a fight, and waited.

BalorAs the moon rose, light shown into the clearing and moved onto the circle, the pressure built and with a “pop” and a flash of light an 8ft tall hideous creature stood before them. They would later learn that this was Balor of the Evil Eye, king of the Fomorians, a Celtic god.

He was attacked almost instantly from all sides and staggered. (I’ve got to build my gods a little stronger from now on…)

Balor recovered and went on the offensive, severely wounding Carlos and kicking Sydney through a few trees. He was then beaten back before he teleported away; fire balls, lightning bolts, and tree ents given life seem to be effective against Celtic gods.

The group recovered and healed the injured just in time for several minions of the god, goblin like creatures apparently created or summoned from Otherworld, to make their way to the clearing and sneak attack the heroes. They were dealt with with extreme prejudice. Holding only a sword and charging at a mage who has a conditional lightning bolt held at the ready is a bad idea.

At this point Balor popped in and cut Trevor’s Ent in half. He was then subjected to much of the same damage as before with much the same result. Hit points getting low and not wanting to see what his Fragile(Unnatural) disadvantage would look like in play he teleported to safety.

Play ended with Hiawatha appearing and congratulating everyone on handling Balor and saying he’d be in touch.

The group decided to go out for shawarma.


Six Million Dollar Men

The Six Million Dollar ManI have been a fan of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman since I first saw some of the TV movies as a child, and later when reruns of the shows came on the early SciFi Channel. The concept was fascinating to me, using technology to enhance a human being to superhuman levels, it seemed like science fiction that could become science fact someday.

That being said when my gaming group’s current campaign became a little stale and the need for a break became apparent, I suggested an updated “Six Million Dollar Men campaign. Something in the vein of Special Ops/Black Ops. The idea met with general consent so I began the planning phase.

This basically involved a campaign summary stating the campaign’s premise:

A loose remake of the Six Million Dollar Man, set in the modern day, a group of healthy military volunteers are subjected to a year long process of surgeries and daily injections of nano-machine packages that gradually alter and enhance them. The soldiers (PC’s) are now operatives for a government agency, the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) a division of the United States Department of State, that handles all manner of special situations from augmentation of existing troops/federal agents to dealing with international crisis. Their status as bionically enhanced has to remain a closely guarded secret.

Then I came up with the Bionics package that each player would add to their soldier character.

Bionics (-10% Super Science)
Breath-Holding 2 B41
Damage Resistance 5 Tough Skin B47
Damage Resistance 20 Limited (Crushing) B47
Enhanced Move (Ground: Running) 2 B52
Enhanced Time Sense B52
High Pain Threshold B59
Increased Dexterity +5 B15
Increased Health +5 B14
Increased Strength +40 B14
Infravision B60
Nictitating Membrane 1 B71
Parabolic Hearing 4 B72
Regeneration Regular B80
Resistant Metabolic Hazards B81
Subsonic Hearing 5 B89
Telescopic Vision 4 B92
Temperature Tolerance 4 B93
Unusual Biochemistry B160
Secret (Nano-Bionically Enhanced) Possible Death B152
Maintenance (People Required: 1 person, Freq.: Monthly) B143

I then posted all that on the Steve Jackson Games Forums for advice and made recommended changes.

The next step was looking for ideas for an appropriate adventure. Googling “GURPS special ops campaign” returned a link to a familiar destination, What looked to be a one-shot adventure called Spec Ops: Operation Needle that Warren “Mook” Wilson, who by the way happens to be the author of “How to be a GURPS GM“, had prepared for a convention. Basically, a very straightforward 5-6 man  SpecOps team goes into Syria to take out a chemical weapons factory.

Looking over all Mr. theMook had prepared it occurred to me to ask the question, “What would happen if this adventure took place in the setting I was creating, and what if some of the SpecOps team, normal NPC’s, got killed and the rest got captured, and what if the Director of SpecOps reached to the OSI for a little help?” And suddenly, I had an adventure!

I spiced it up a little by putting the enemies on high alert due to the recent attempt on the facility (the SpecOps team hadn’t been moved yet), and adding a big bad in the form of a Chinese Bionically Enhanced soldier. (the Chinese, Russians, and British all have their own bionic programs) The Chinese were supporting the Syrian chemical weapons project and the enhanced soldier was there as protection for the Chinese Scientists.

The outcome? Big BOOMS and much enjoyment for the players.