Saturday, October 29, 2011
GURPS - Vikings, Summon Pests
Vikings was released initially in 1991 and was written by Graeme Davis. It is 128 pages long which seems to be right along the lines as far as page counts for these books go. There as been at least one other if not two other versions of the book released. I do not have the later copies but I would expect them to be almost the same. I prefer the cover to the older version which is the one above to the newer one.
Even though the name of the book is Vikings it actually deals with the entirety of the Norse world. The books is divided into eleven different chapters. Each one takes on either an aspect of the Norse world historically or how to utilize it in a campaign. The art in the book is sparse and is used to accent the topic being covered. I am not sure if this changed in later printings but the book does not focus on the art.
Chapter One deals with the Viking world. It covers the various aspects of the Norse society including topics along the lines of social classes ideals and and Viking law. It also covers the lands that would be considered part of the Viking world including Scandinavia, Denmark and Iceland. It also covers the various types of settlements that would have been common. One aspect of the GURPS books I have liked are the sidebars they use. In this chapter the one of Viking proverbs is especially nice.
The second chapter deals with characters. The chapter is a blend of historical information and information used to create a Viking character. The chapter discusses the real world topics of appearance, names and economics. It also has the additional information used for the character portion of GURPS that makes the supplement its own. These include specific advantage and disadvantages as well as quirks and skills. It then ends with a sample character.
In the third chapter the topic is one that would be near and dear to every viking, that of combat. The chapter covers the typical types of weapons and armor that would have been part of the Norse world. It covers both hand and ranged weapons. There is also extensive rules provided for mass combat. I found this portion of the chapter to be interesting and something that a DM could utilize outside of the theme with a little effort.
Chapter Four deals with the history of the Viking world. It starts with the of the Vikings discussing their origin. It then covers the roles that the Vikings played throughout their history covering the roles of raider, trader, conqueror and finally explorer. In all the chapter covers the era from the eighth to twelfth century.
The fifth chapter covers the Viking Campaign. It starts with discussing some defining ideas these will be the magic and violence levels. It next discusses the ideas of the campaign style. These are based on a combination of the levels of violence (two) and the level of magic (three) giving six different options. It then discusses three specific types of campaign ideas fleshing them out in more detail. This section includes a sidebar on Ten Things You Thought You Knew About Vikings which is very interesting.
In chapter six the topic of discussion is that of the Norse deities. I personally find the Norse deities and their stories much more interesting the those of the Greeks and Romans. The chapter discusses that Thor, Tyr and Odin are the three major deities and the others serve in a lesser role in the Norse society. The chapter has some interesting information but I think the sidebars here are just as good as the main material. The information on the world origin and cosmos design will be of extra help to a DM designing a campaign.
Chapter Seven deals with magic in the Norse world. This is one of the three defining elements of the campaign mentioned earlier. The level of magic allowed will be determined by that. In the historic campaign there will most likely be no magic. The fantastic and mythic campaign will each allow for increasing levels of magic. The chapter discusses how best to handle this. It also provides information on two specific types of magic. The two new types being introduced are shapeshifting and rune magic. It also has material on the magic items that could possibly be lent by the deities.
The eighth chapter is the Norse Bestiary. Much as with magic the Norse campaign will have limited fantasy elements in the way of creatures. Unless playing a fantastic or mythic there will not be any races other than humans. The creatures allowed in will depend on this as well. There are discussions on creatures that could be allowed under each and even then it is somewhat limited. It discusses Dwarves and Alvar (Elves) as well as Trolls and Giants. It then deals with the supernatural creatures including Grendel. It then finishes off discussing divine creatures, dragons and the undead.
In chapter nine the topic of discussion will be friends and foes. The chapter discusses the other various peoples that the Norse would or could have dealings with in a campaign. These range from the Saxons to Arabs to Inuits. As explorers or raiders the ability to interact with most of the world was an option.
Chapter Ten takes a nautical theme. This was as much as anything part of the Norse world. The chapter discusses the ships that would be common for characters to use and be on. The next topic discussed is ship handling and sea battles. The final portions of the chapter deal with actual sea voyages and with river travel. The sidebars here deal with some interesting topics that could be used outside the genre. The rules on storms at sea seem very much something that could be used by any DM.
In the final chapter we get some information on adventure threads. In keeping with the different types of campaigns we are presented with hooks for each of the three types based on magic level. Most of these are specific to the Norse world but some could be adapted into other campaigns with some work while some are generic enough to adopt as is.
The book ends with a glossary, bibliography including movies and an index. In this case the newer version might be a bit better but that is just conjecture. The book is a good read even if it is never going to be used but then I have always been fascinated with the Norse world so your mileage may vary.
From the back cover:
"Loot! Pillage! Burn!"
"From the fury of the Norsemen, oh Lord, deliver us!" So prayed the Irish monks.
To the victims of a Viking raid, the Norsemen were bearded giants with bloody axes. But the Viking was much more. He was a skilled navigator and a brave explorer and trader. He was a fighter to whom honor and reputation were far more important than life. He was a free man in an age of petty tyranny. He was a dreamer whose songs and stories live even today. And yes, he was a bloody- handed sea rover who took what he wanted!
This book is a complete guide to the Norse world. It includes maps, historical background, and details on society and religion. A separate chapter discusses Norse magic and runes. The new edition also provide templates for playing the magical races of Viking lore as player characters, and expands the number of campaign options available.
You can game any sort of Viking campaign, from fully realistic to magical and cinematic. Create a historical campaign, with sea battles, duels and bloody raids – or become a legendary berserker for mythic adventures with Thor and Odin!
You may live, you may die. No man knows his fate. But act bravely and the skalds will sing of your deeds forever.
Duration: One Round/Level
Area of Effect: One Creature
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: Special
When this spell is cast the magic user causes a large number of small mystical creatures to appear. These will in most ways resemble fireflies but are not living creatures.
The summoned creatures will be made to pester one creature when summoned. These creatures will surround the target and cause them a high level of distraction. In addition to obstructing view they will bite and sting the target. These will cause no damage or have no affect other than to distract.
While being distracted the target will suffer a -2 to all rolls (except where a +2 would be worse). The target is not entitled to a saving throw for this except when casting spells. Due to the nature of the distraction spell casting will not be possible unless the target makes a saving throw versus magic. A saving throw must be made each time a spell is being cast by the target. Fails and saves to not carry forward from round to round.
The material component of this spell will be the remains of some pest or annoying insect. The remains will be destroyed with the casting of the spell.
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.
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