"Go to the sign of Harvel's Axe, a dubious inn on the edge of the Thieves Quarter, in the City of Greyhawk, and look to your own wrist. If you perceive a bracelet and dangling dice, watch for the next throw in the war between Law and Chaos and be prepared to follow the compelling geas." -Signal

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

GURPS - Russia, Omnivision

GURPS allows the GM to run all most anything provided that they have the source material for it. Steve Jackson Games (SJG) has been good about providing source material for the GM. Some of these end up being more desirable and harder to find than others. Russia is one that seems to be on the harder to find end of the spectrum and having seen the information inside I can see why. The book mentions a limited run of 2000 but I am not sure if it was expanded upon.

Russia does not deal with the Russia that we know today or even the one we knew before the Iron Curtain was lifted ever so slightly. This book deals with Russia from the 10th century to the 18th century. This would best be called medieval or Old Russia.

After the Introduction the first section is Mother Russia. This section lays the groundwork for the society, culture and environmental features that will be important later in the book. The topics covered are below. It is important to note that throughout the book there are amazing little sidebars that offset important information or items of interest that will add color to the campaign.

The Russian Village
City Life in Old Russia
Social Organization
The Cossacks
Other Cities

The second section Russians deals largly with the character generation. This is mostly GURPS specific information but the details could be extracted for use in other systems. Another color item for the book are the quotes that are present at the beginning of the chapters. They help identify how the rest of the world say Russia and Russians during certain times. The sections in the second chapter are below.

Character types
New Advantages
New Skills
Wealth and Status
Job Table
Technology, Equipment and Weapons

The third chapter deals with Russian History. This may be one of the most interesting potions of the book to many. I myself learned things about Russia that I did not know and except for this book would most likely not have known. I have to hope that it is accurate if I am ever on Jeopardy and Russian History is a topic. Another item to note is that the art in the book is well done and used to accentuate the topics being covered and not just thrown in to fill space. The sections in chapter three are below.

Prologue: Slavs and Varangians
The Rus and Kiev
Years of Early Growth
The Latter Days of Kievan Russia
The Mongols Arrive
The Heart Awakening
The Climax
The Muscovite Era
The Beginning of the End
Russian Timeline

In the fourth chapter, Religion, we are presented with the history of religion in Russia. There chapter covers this nicely and the focus is on Christianity but it also covers the older and less well known options that the citizens of Old Russia might practice. The sections here are:

Russian Orthodoxy
The Slavic Earth-Cult
Dvoeverie As A Dramatic Device

Fantasy Russia is the topic for the fifth chapter. This was most likely my second favorite chapter and may be the one that most GMs will find useful. This section covers perhaps the most famous entity from Russian mythology Baba Yaga. The full list of sections in this chapter follow.

Location in Fantasy Russia
Roleplaying Folklore
Russian Magic
Magical Objects from Russian Folklore
Prominent People

The sixth chapter is a short one. It is the Bestiary section of the the book. There are two sections here. The first deals with the Natural Creatures that will be present in Old Russia. The second section deals with Supernatural Creatures. There are some interesting entries in this section. I for one wish that there had been a little more material presented in this section. I find it hard to believe that a country the size of Russia can have the bestiary section be less than three pages long. The section on supernatural creatures was almost twice the size so that at least was a positive.

The seventh and final chapter deals with the running of a Russian campaign. It begins by pointing out that there is no right or wrong campaign to run. It makes the distinct point that one of the important decisions is the reality level of the campaign. The primary point of contention is do you run a historical or mythical campaign. Finally the chapter presents the GM with a number of short adventures they can use. There is a good mix of historical, fantasy and even some cross-over campaign ideas.

If you have any interest in running a Russian based campaign this would be one of the best resources you can find among gaming material. At Origins I was able to land a copy of Rus which would be another excellent resource but I have not had a chance to fully read it yet. That aside if you can pick this book up reasonably don't hesitate.



Level: Fourth
Range: 6"
Duration: 1 Turn Level
Ares Effect: Special
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 4 Segments
Saving Throw: None

By means of this spell the magic-user grants themselves the ability to see in the whole visible spectrum of light. In game terms this will grant the caster both  infravision and ultravision. The caster also has a percentage chance to see  invisible and out of phase objects. If the caster spends a full round there  is a 25% cumulative chance that they will be able to bring into focus beings  that are out of phase and a 50% chance to see invisible creatures.

As the caster gains levels they are ability to allow others this ability as  well. For every two levels over seventh the caster is able to grant this  ability to another creature that is within sixty feet of them.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups  last, were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology  may not appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I  did back then it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any  duplication of spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If  anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please let me know in  advance and all I ask is proper credit.


Trey said...

GURPS Russia is indeed a great supplement. While I don't think I would ever play a Russia game, it's an interesting read and full of ideas.

Tim Shorts said...

Yes, Russia is great and I've used it to develop other cultures by borrowing parts of their culture. Like all GURPS books it is a history lesson with game stats.

Martin R. Thomas said...

I don't play GURPS (and never have, actually), but I own this book and would rank it in my Top 10 best supplements just from the sheer fact of the research that went into it as well as it covering a topic that has not been covered well for the RPG industry before. I've used quite a bit of information from this one for fleshing out the Russia-equivalent countries in my homebrew campaign setting.

How funny - between you, Trey, Tim Shorts, and me - it seems that we've found 0.2% of the people who bought one of the 2,000 copies of this supplement!

Wymarc said...

Thanks for the feedback all. I have not played much GURPS but I should they make it easy to jump settings and genres.

I have to agree that it just short of a history book though not near as dry. I love the color they add in the sidebars. I need to take a look at Aztecs and see if it is as good as Russia. I am sure I will steal ideas from it at some point.

I am thinking it might be possible to corner the market. We each already own .05% and who knows what part was pulped or lost....

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