Perky Post: Dungeon Faeries 1 – The Knocker

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy has a nice little collection of faerie player races, but more options can never hurt. This is the first of new series of mini articles I’m calling Perky Posts. I hope to do one of those each day for the remainder of the Dungeon Fantasy kickstarter. So, without further ado, I present the knocker in DF format:

Knocker (20 points)

Choice Professions: Elementalist, Thief, Wizard
Marginal Professions: Barbarian, Holy Warrior, Knight, Martial Artist

Knockers are both a bane and a blessing to miners, alternately warning them of impending danger and stealing their stuff. While most of them stay in their favourite mine their whole lives, flooding, earthquakes or acute adventurer infestation will make them pack up their stuff and leave. With a penchant for deep places and carrying off other people’s stuff there’s little wonder that displaced Knockers take to dungeon-delving like fish to water. Especially their ability to locate any kind of underground metal is highly-prized among delvers – as even dwarves have to grudgingly admit.

As mining faeries they do not have a sense of duty towards nature, but instead act honourably towards miners and fellow underground dwellers when dangers like rockslides and collapsing tunnels are concerned. They won’t lure anybody into unsafe areas and won’t steal urgently needed survival gear. Of course, all bets are off, when they are aboveground.

Knockers look like wizened old men and women. To get their height start out with regular height for their ST (without taking into account their racial modifier) and multiply the result by 0.4. For body weight do the same, but multiply the result by 0.3 – they are strong and resilient far beyond their looks, but do not reach the level of leprechauns. A Knocker has SM -3 regardless of actual height. Tiny Tools (DF3 p. 8) applies to their gear.

Attribute Modifiers [0 points]: ST -2 [-20]; DX +1 [20]
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers [5 points]: SM -3; PER +1 [5]
Advantages [59 points]: Absolute Direction (Underground only, -40%) [3]; Danger Sense (Underground only, -40%) [9]; Detect: Metal (Underground only, -40%) [12]; Lifting ST 2 [6]; Luck [15]; Magery 0 [5]; Night Vision +9 [9]
Perks [1 point]: Penetrating Voice (Knocking only, Doubled Bonuses) [1]
Disadvantages [-45 points]: Code of Honor: Professional (Miner’s) [-5]; Dependency: Mana (Very Common, Constantly) [-25]; Kleptomania (12) [-15]


GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.

Review: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 19 – Incantation Magic

With the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy boxed set kickstarter going strong, it’s  only natural that I finally get my behind in gear and do another DF review during the product’s release week. And Dungeon Fantasy 19 – Incantation magic is certainly a strong contender for every Dungeon Fantasy fan’s wallet. The author dream team of Christopher R. Rice and Antoni Ten Monrós took up the task of bringing Jason “PK” Levine’s Ritual Path Magic (RPM) to Dungeon Fantasy. And I don’t spoil much by saying that their margin of success is rather large.

A word of advice for those readers just tuning in from the kickstarter: This book has been added to the Expert level of the kickstarter for a reason. Like regular RPM, it puts a lot more decisions and work into the hands of the GM – probably more than any other DF task except for making up adventures and campaigns. There is a grimoire of sample spells, but restricting players to those would go radically against the intention of the supplement. So get your rules boots on if you want to feature incanters in your DF game.

Cover of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 19 - Incantation Magic

Facts

Authors: Christopher R. Rice (Ghostdancer on the forum and his blog) and Antoni Ten Monrós (Kuroshima on the forum)
Date of Publication: 08/09/2016
Format: PDF-only (Warehouse 23-only)
Page Count: 32 (1 title page, 1 content page, 1.5 index pages, 0.5 page ad)
Price: $7.99 (PDF), $0.29 per page of content; Price Score of 4/10
Preview: http://www.warehouse23.com/media/SJG37-0340_preview.pdf

Review

As all my other reviews, this one will be rated according to meat (rules, stats, game mechanics), cheese (setting, characters, story), sauce (form, writing, style, art) and generic nutritional substance (universal nature, adaptability). At the end you will find a weighted average of those components and a value score that also takes into account price per page.

Before I dive into the review proper, I have a confession to make: I’ve never used RPM in a game before. My Dresden Files campaign took place way back in 2008 before RPM was more than a sparkle in RPK’s eye and we used Path/Book Magic and Magic as Powers for that. I’ve also never run a straight DF campaign, even though I thoroughly mine all the books for bits and pieces. So, keep in mind that there might be more knowledgeable people around to write about this!

The book is standard medium-size digital GURPS supplement divided into three chapters. After a short introduction (1 page), Chapter 1: Ritual Casters (6 pages) tells us about the necessary traits for incanters and gives us the DF templates and power-ups we’re used to by now. Chapter 2: Incantation Magic (13 pages) represents the bulk of the book and that’s where the magic happens. We get very detailed rules for working incantation magic into your DF game. Chapter 3: Grimoire (8 pages) is a list of fully-worked spells that are a good fit for a 250-points incanter.

All the rules are quite a bit streamlined from regular RPM. I deliberately don’t say simplified, because they do not represent a dumbing-down, just a different flavour that doesn’t need so many dice rolls and sympathetic connections as in a secret magic campaign. In a pinch you could use them for just such a campaign, but the original RPM rules will be a better fit.

Meat

Incantation Magic is not different from most DF titles in that it comes down heavily on the “meaty” side of things (what others call the “crunch”). The score will therefore mainly depend on this aspect. So, what’s there?

Incantation Magic makes use of Ritual Magic and paths just like RPM and Path/Book Magic. There are 8 paths: Arcanum, Augury, Demonology, Elementalism, Mentalism, Necromancy, Protection and Transfigurations. Those are more or less congruent with what a DF wizard can do. An incanter is not bound to specific spells, they can make up anything within those limits that the GM allows. Every part of a spell (effect, modifier etc.) adds spell points to its total. The more spell points, the harder it is to cast the spell; the more effects, the longer it takes.

We get a basic incanter template that follows standard DF conventions. There’s less customization going on than in other professions since incanters mainly specialise by path, not by spell. Maybe there’s going to be a DF Denizens book for incanters one day that adds a bit more variety, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

We do get the lenses to make up “multi-class” characters, though. These only include the 11 professions from DF 1 – Adventurers, even though the artificer, mentalist and scholar are called out as good combinations for incanters. At least the evil versions of the cleric and holy warrior are included as variations. That’s a bit disappointing, but can’t be helped. With more and more professions being added in supplements you can’t have all the combinations all the time, though the lack of the scholar – also being an improvisational character – smarts. My favourite is the Incanter-Wizard though – clearly the best of both worlds.

What is incantation magic like? For the rules-maniacs: it’s a streamlined Ritual Path Magic variant that uses effect-shaping instead of energy accumulation, does away with greater and lesser effects and instead sets a sliding scale of effects and hard limits on what can be achieved. For normal readers: incantation magic does away with a lot of the fiddly bits of RPM and gives you a better idea how difficult a certain effect should be. Incanters are more likely to do their casting in town and call upon those resources later. They can cast in the dungeon, but they aren’t very efficient at that.

So what are Incanters good at? Two things: First, they can prepare custom-made spells in advance (in town) and bind them to a spell slot – similar to the Vancian system used in ‘that other game’. These incantations can be activated with a single concentrate manoeuvre and a casting roll. Second, they can cast these very same spells inside the dungeon if they have enough time to prepare. This is basically a non-combat task. Even with the Adept power-up only the simplest spells can be improvised within a second and there are far and few combat situations where a 5-second casting time is worth the effort. Scripts are written on scrolls and are more resilient than incantations, but work more-or-less the same. Infusions are basically special potions that don’t take up spell slots, but have a limited shelf life.

This description already shows that incanters come heavily front-loaded. Even a starting character can have 23 incantations (or scripts), 2 scripts and 4 stabilised infusions. Regular infusions have their power go awry after a month or so, depending on your stats. That means incanters benefit heavily from good intelligence about the the next dungeon, since they can’t replenish their bag of tricks easily when in the dungeon. It also means a lot of book-keeping: The GM has to secretly note (critical) success or failure for each incantations and the sequence of their casting also matters, because you can lose them. The margin of success needs to be noted for each script and the shelf-life for each regular, non-stabilised infusion. That’s a bit of a turn-off for less strategical-minded players and GMs alike and easily the biggest drawback of the system I could find. If you have players who like a bit more Shadowrun-like scouting and planning this can turn into a bonus, though.

There are a couple of minor bonuses: It’s nice that interactions with standard magic are explicitly addressed, whether it’s dispelling each other or using energy from another reserve. That has been missing from RPM so far. There are also good guidelines as to what constitutes a spell and what is a different spell. Rules on girding your spells to make them harder to dispel, making spells harder to resist and hard limits on buffing are also quite useful.

The grimoire features a variety of 39 different spells from the expected direct damage and invisibility to betwitchment, summoning, fate manipulation and berserking spells. They are all well-done, but nothing stands out as absolutely ingenious, but Mule’s Strength, Safeguard and Twist of Fate are pretty dang nice. I would have liked to have a two or three copies from the RPM grimoire just to see how they turn out differently, but for the average reader all new spells are certainly the better deal.

Some things are a little iffy: You can make your own personal very-high-mana zone to give you a massive bonus to casting rolls – despite the book saying you can’t use magic to get better at magic. The Field Caster and Adept power-ups are so useful that they will be picked up by most characters ASAP. Some effects seem a bit strong, like directly giving a penalty to survival rolls. In general there’s nothing too wonky going on, though. All in all this is one of the most solid and self-contained rulebooks I’ve seen in some time.

Meat score: 9.5 (It’s a kind of magic)

Cheese

There’s very little in here that helps you build a campaign world or create characters. We get a little on the disdain incanters have for wizards and how incantations can’t do anything about elder things, setting up a bit of a psychic rivalry. Most spirits are also beyond their domain.

The paths themselves are well thought out and fit in with what we know about the DF world. I personally would have liked to know how incanters stand vis-a-vis the gods since they have two very dark paths indeed. Their relationship to nature is probably akin to the wizards. As you can combine every profession with every other one, these seem a bit like a moot point, but there was certainly room for improvement.

Cheese score: 4 (mundane magic)

Sauce

The worst part of the pretty stuff is easily the art again. Four illustrations and you can see the quality on the cover collage. Not very enticing, though at least at appropriate places in the book. The cover itself is typical DF style, but not one of the better ones. The technical writing is very good and makes things easy to understand almost all of the time. What’s a bit disappointing is the quality of the vignettes. They have a  clear “this happened in my last campaign” vibe. While this serves to illustrate the subject matter, it still feels a bit awkward. There are also a couple of typos and minor errors that will go directly to Steven Marsh, who will certainly take care of things as fast as usual. Still, they are there.

Sauce score: 5 (That Old Black Magic)

Generic Nutritional Substance

While this is still Dungeon Fantasy, it can be used for a lot of other genres, even if it won’t be a perfect fit for most. Yes, we do get three pages of DF templates, but at least the generic incanter can be dropped in a range of settings with only minor alterations. The magic system itself fits many campaigns, from secret magic to high fantasy to non-four-colour superheroics. It’s working together with standard magic and clerical magic out of the box too. All in all, more than generic enough.

Generic Nutritional Substance score: 8.5 (magic is everywhere)

Summary

Dungeon Fantasy 19 is the highest-scoring book I reviewed this year and my new personal favourite among the double-digit DF supplements – barely edging out the more generally applicable Wilderness Adventures and Power-ups. It’s an excellent stand-alone book debut for Messrs. Rice and Monrós.

It’s also a solid investment if you want to try something new magic-wise or have players who don’t like the rigid one spell, one skill approach that the other casters use. If you don’t feel like getting it on its own right now, order it through the kickstarter!

Total score: 7.625 (elven high magic)
Total score is composed of a weighted average of Meat (40%), Cheese (25%), Sauce (20%) and Generic Nutritional Substance (15%). This is a meat-oriented book. A “cheesy” setting- or drama-orientied book would turn the percentages for cheese and meat around.

Value score: 5.8125 (you can’t put a price on magic)
Value Score is composed of the average of Total and Price.


GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games, and the art here is copyrighted by Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.

Review: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 3 – Born of Myth & Magic

Not one of the new series Kromm and PK have been hinting strongly about, Peter V. Dell’Orto’s newest oeuvre will be very much welcomed by Dungeon Fantasy players and other GURPS fans alike. It’s close in style and content to Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1, but whereas the former volume had a lot of unique, original and lesser-known monsters, the current one deals to a large degree with classic ones. The title is right on the money and if a monster is not connected to myths, it’s sure to have some magical slant to it (actually the mythic monsters are also magical).

Cover Page of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 3 - Born of Myth & Magic

Facts

Author: Peter V. Dell’Orto
Date of Publication: 02/06/2016
Format: PDF-only (Warehouse 23-only)
Page Count: 24 (1 title page, 1 content page, 1 index/ad page)
Price: $5.99 (PDF), $ 0.29 per page of content; Score of 4/10
Preview: http://www.warehouse23.com/media/SJG37-0338_preview.pdf

Review

As all my other reviews this one will be rated according to meat (rules, stats, game mechanics), cheese (setting, characters, story), sauce (form, writing, style, art) and generic nutritional substance (universal nature, adaptability). At the end you find a weighted average of those components and a value score that also takes into account price per page.

Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 3 follows the format established in DFM1: Each of the 16 monsters presented gets a page with game stats, description, GM advice and (in most cases) possible variants. Only the notoriously hard to run Doppelgangers get two pages. Apart from the introduction, there’s a short section explaining how to read the monster stats, two pages on meta-traits not in GURPS Basic (two of them brand-new) and new prefixes. There’s nothing especially surprising about all that.

The same can be said of the mythical monsters. Basilisk, Cockatrice, Doppelganger, Dryad, Harpy, Manticore, Medusa and Phoenix are old standbys in fantasy games, but it’s good to see full game stats for all of these. It would have been nice to see non-western myths represented, but you really can’t argue about the sheer iconic value of this selection. Some less expected monsters like Giant Ant, Lava Lizard, Phase Serpent, Rock Troll and Shadow Warrior to provide variety. But my favourites are the weirdos, of course: Living Pit, Octopus Blossom and Rot Worm are surely going to provide hours of fun for your players – or painful seconds of death more precisely. A special mention goes out for the myrmecoleon – an ant with a lion’s head from medieval mythology.

Meat

As would be expected from a Dungeon Fantasy supplement, the diet is leaning towards the meat side of things, though not as much as the recent Power Items. We get the expanded stat block that has become the standard DF notation and notes how everything works in play (read: combat). There are some boxes on special combat rules, where warranted – note the large number of gaze or sight attacks. Variant round this off. We get four different Basilisks (not combinable), two different Cockatrices (not combinable), three types of ants (workers, soldiers, queens) combinable with six variants (some of which can be combined for even more fun), Sirens as variant Harpies, scalable Living Pits, five variants of Manticores (free to mix and match), six Medusa variants (stackable), six Octopus Blossoms (some of them combinable), rules for making variant Phase Critters, five different kinds of phoenix (only one burns), guidelines on using prefixes on Rot Worms and rules for making different Shadow Beings (Shadow Warriors already can be modified by race).

The two new meta-traits (Amorphous Stone and Plant) are very useful, the prefixes (Flying, Furious, Holy and Phase) a bit less so with Phase being the most interesting one. Rules for fighting monsters without looking at them, for attacks out of phase, falling into monsters and a decapitation Achilles Heel for Unkillable 1  round off the rules-side of things. All in all, the book comes through for all those who cherish stats and rules.

Meat score: 8.5 (deliciously roasted monster meat)

Cheese

Despite the rules-heavy outlook of the book, there are also roleplaying hints for all creatures, though those are often on the short side of things and sometimes solely confided to tactics and whether they are able and willing to negotiate. The exception is a very good treatment of what to replace with your Doppelganger adversary.

Cheese score: 4 (none of these monsters are giving up any milk)

Sauce

Except for a rather boring composite of interior art on the title page, the inside art is quite good. While it’s certainly not up to DFM1 level, it’s a clear step up from most GURPS offerings nowadays and gives off a cool medieval bestiary vibe too. Peter V. Dell’Orto also manages to capture the tongue-in-cheekiness of Kromm’s Dungeon Fantasy.  While he doesn’t quite reach the master in all cases, I laughed out aloud at least once and chuckled many times. Whispering tree gossips, pit-fighting, death by weasel, chibitrice and the dreaded leaping ethereal dungeon shark are among the funnier concepts I read in RPG supplements lately.

I did manage to find three spelling mistakes, which is abysmal for a GURPS supplement, but still stellar for regular RPG products. I’m not marking the book down for that.

Sauce score: 7 (pity there wasn’t a chuckling variant for the Cockatrice)

Generic Nutritional Substance

The monsters presented are optimised for fairly high-powered fantasy, but many wouldn’t look too shabby in a Monster Hunters campaign or any urban fantasy with a couple of tweaks. Indeed, there is a nice range of power levels present in this volume. Prefixes and especially the new meta traits are pretty dang universal. I can’t believe we didn’t have the Plant one before now. The extra rules are also useful for fighting any weird foes and will come handy in many unrealistic campaign settings.

Generic Nutritional Substance score: 8 (a true bestiary)

Summary

On the whole, there is only one true criticism I have for this book: It’s too short. Even another four pages with non-western monsters would have been nice, but with this topic I could have seen a full eighty-page treatment – though that would have necessarily overlapped with 3rd Edition’s Monsters. A pity most titles on the GURPS wishlist are for 30 pages or less.

Total score: 7.45 (my favourite title for the year so far, barely edging out After the End 1)
Total score is composed of a weighted average of Meat (50%), Cheese (15%), Sauce (20%) and Generic Nutritional Substance (15%). This is a meat-oriented book. A “cheesy” setting- or drama-orientied book would turn the percentages for cheese and meat around.

Value score: 5.725 (just at the right length to get a positive price rating)
Value Score is composed of the average of Total and Price.


GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games, and the art here is copyrighted by Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.

Review: GURPS Disasters – Meltdown and Fallout

A pity this one didn’t get published last week to coincide with Chernobyl’s 30 years after. But it’s still a topical first release in a long-awaited (at least by me) new series. Didn’t expect  this one specifically – the title wasn’t in the examples section – but it’s a nice companion for the recently released first helpings of After the End. At the same time, it’s nice to see GURPS going back to its roots by providing gameable abstractions of real-world situations.

On the first page, there’s the sentence “All the real-world information in this
supplement was obtained from public sources and off-the-record discussions with experts.” If such a line comes from a GURPS author, I’m  inclined to believe such a promise.

Cover Page for GURPS Disasters: Meltdown and Fallout

Facts

Author: Roger Burton West (“RogerBW” on the forums)
Date of Publication: 2016/05/05
Format: PDF-only (Warehouse 23-only)
Page Count: 31 (1 title page, 1 contents page, 1 bibliography page,  1.5 index pages, 0.5 page ad)
Price: $7.99 (PDF), $ 0.30 per page of content (counting the bibliography); Score of 3/10
Preview: http://www.warehouse23.com/media/SJG37-1710_preview.pdf

Review

As all my other reviews this one will be rated according to meat (rules, stats, game mechanics), cheese (setting, characters, story), sauce (form, writing, style, art) and generic nutritional substance (universal nature, adaptability). At the end you find a weighted average of those components and a value score that also takes into account price per page.

Author Roger Burton West has a good track record when it comes to articles and books about robots or nuclear stuff, including the 4th Edition incarnation of Reign of Steel: Will to Live.

As the first title in the new line, it’s interesting to take a look at the book’s composition. First off, we get the introduction that briefly brings us up to speed why the topic is interesting in an RPG and how it can be used in different campaign frameworks. There’s also a glossary of the terms provided Then we get seven pages of real-world background information, including possible accident scenarios. Next are nine pages about gaming the meltdown, followed by two pages of radiation gear – real and (mildly) speculative. Rounding it off are eight pages about possible campaigns and adventures, a bibliography and the index. Nothing surprising here, but surprise is not actually what you’d be looking for in a book about real-world topics.

This is, of course, a book addressed mainly to GMs. I’m not sure you’d need anything besides the Basic Set to play around with it, but it’s certainly not bad to have High-Tech at hand. Do note that some High-Tech equipment stats are updated here. There are some ties to After the End, Action and Zombies, but those are strictly optional.

Meat

The meat of the matter is contained mostly in the first three chapters – but it’s mixed heavily with the cheese. The first chapter starts off gently by explaining fission and sustainable chain reactions in layman’s terms. We learn about the different reactor models and radiation types, fuel, waste and how to protect against radiation (including updated Protection Factor numbers). There are also sections on economic and social impact, but they are fairly short. There’s also a box on ultra-tech meltdowns, dealing with fusion and antimatter reactors.

The second chapter “Gaming a Meltdown” first has a Characters-like section that presents us with a list of the very much expected exotic traits to resist radiation. Then it veers off into versions of common perks, disadvantages and quirks. The latter two – Always Jokes / No Sense of Humour About Radiation – are a bit weird. More interesting are the skills. More useful are the skill notes that explain what specialisation covers what. There’s also a small section on superhero mutations. And then there’s the meltdown itself. If you ever wanted to know how much damage a reactor’s steam explosion could do, you need not look further. Also there are detailed rules for nuclear weapons – which frankly surprised me a bit – but that was the one area where 4th Edition’s High-Tech  was lacking compared to its predecessor.

Also in this chapter are both After the End‘s simplified Radiation Threshold Points and a more detailed, realistic method for simulating radiation exposure. There are also some rules for affecting truly exotic characters. Fallout dispersion gets a detailed treatment too.

The gear chapter has very specialised realistic anti-radiation remedies. Fun fact: Some of the really advanced stuff is so hideously expensive it makes regular cancer drugs look like chump change.

Some meat is also found in the boxes and tables of Chapter 4, like fright check modifiers for radiation exposure and likely damage from fires, steam, toxic chemicals and electricity.

Personally, I would have liked a little bit more on radiation effects on wildlife, vegetation and machinery – as well as even more detailed rules for radiation sickness on characters. That’s mostly nitpicking, though. The book answers most of my questions on how to treat a nuclear disaster rules-wise and even some I didn’t know I should ask.

Meat score: 8 (reactor is critical)

Cheese

Some of the campaign-building and flavour parts are distributed through the first two chapters. That includes real-world effects that aren’t quantified into crunchy rules and also descriptions of historical disasters. Most of the cheese is contained in chapter four, though. That one deals explicitly with campaigns and adventures.

Obviously the focus here is on modern-day earth and the seven decades before today, but there are alternatives that include nuclear steam engines (not as unrealistic as you might have thought), spaceship reactors and magical reactors. Technomancer‘s NEMA is briefly discussed, as is general magical “radiation” as well as magical smybolism. We learn about different countries’ nuclear safety nets, security forces and the global organisational oversight.

The chapter presents different kinds of hazards from a story point of view – whether as the main focus or a just a complication. Meltdown-focussed adventures are split in two flavours: prevention and disaster management with many different sub-grouping and specific (if generalised) adventure seeds thrown in between. Infinite Worlds gets a seed, but there could be more ties to other settings, especially After the End and Reign of Steel.

Necessarily some things have been left a big vague as there are many different types of reactors and safety and security arrangements, but I would have liked a bit more on specific hazards that occur during clean-up or rescue, maybe in the form of ‘hazard seeds’ boxes just like there are adventure seed ones. It’s not a big problem, but sometimes things feel a little bit removed from the action on the ground.

One thing I’m feeling a bit ambiguous about: The book tries hard to be neutral about atomic vs. renewable energy, but there is a certain undercurrent in favour of the atom that doesn’t taste very good to me. Your mileage may vary, of course. As a member of the Chernobyl generation I might just be a bit touchy.

Cheese score: 7 (politicians clearly back nuclear energy)

Sauce

Burton West’s prose is clear and elegant, but quite technical at times – don’t expect many Kromm-like jokes (there is one though, have fun finding it). The book doesn’t require excessive physics knowledge, but readers should be generally aware how atoms work, at least to tell apart electrons, neutrons and protons.It gets more technical in some spaces, but rarely to the point where the interested reader becomes less so. Science-shy readers might want to avoid looking too closely at the “Measuring Radiation” box, though.

It’s still weird to me to read science with degrees Fahrenheit, but the average American reader won’t have that problem. Another thing that’s annoying are that the giga-/peta-/eta-becquerel numbers that are really hard to visualise, but there’s not much Mr. Burton West could do about that.

There are a couple of intersting titbits here like Lake Karachay, the most polluted place on earth, or the 2012 Oak Ridge Incident, in which an 82 old nun and two companions broke into a top secret nuclear facility, but unfortunately they not very detailed – come on, at least mention that she was a nun!

There are some some slight compositional problems: e.g. the output of a normal reactor in MW is found in a sub-heading in Chapter 4 and as contrasting number under Turnkey Reactors. That isn’t ideal, but we’ve had worse.

Illustrations, as usual, are extremely sparse – three out of four can be seen on the title page and the third one is a warning sign. They’re not that pretty either. I do like the brushed steel for ‘Disasters’ on the title page though.

The bibliography is pretty exhaustive for such a small book, but I find myself incapable to comment on the non-fiction. It seems a pretty good mix overall, though.

Sauce score: 4 (think about lowering those graphite rods!)

Generic Nutritional Substance

That’s better than you might think, actually. Sure, you can only get bona-fide nuclear disasters in relatively modern or future settings, but the book also considers the problem of magical equivalents / ramifications. It’s still rather limited, but it does raise some interesting questions. Much of the information is about the real, of course, but that also covers a heck of a lot of campaigns.

As a special bonus, much of the material will be applicable to other game systems too. Most of the equipment can be used as is and the real-world data doesn’t change with the system.

Generic Nutritional Substance score: 6 (dodged that lethal dose)

Summary

A very promising start for a new series. I’m looking forward to more from both the author and the series. I won’t exactly start putting nuclear stuff into my campaigns, but I feel confident I could manage that better than before, should the need arise.

As always I wouldn’t have minded another half a dozen pages, though. Up your standard length to 38 pages already, Steve Jackson Games!

Total score: 6.575 (expected half-life of 20 years on my digital shelf)
Total score is composed of a weighted average of Meat (32.5%), Cheese (32.5%), Sauce (20%) and Generic Nutritional Substance (15%). This is a book balanced between Meat and Cheese.

Value score: 4,7875 (cost more tax dollars than expected)
Value Score is composed of the average of Total and Price.


GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games, and the art here is copyrighted by Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.

Irregular Webcomic Needs You!

David Morgan-Mar of GURPS and Pyramid fame is running a kickstarter for the very first print edition of his Irregular Webcomic. The book will contain the first 500 strips from the fantasy theme – basically the whole thing until the first end of the comic.

Problem is: there aren’t enough backers, at the moment. So, if you got a couple of bucks to help out, press the button and pledge for a digital or in-print copy at least. The price is in Australian Dollars, so you’re paying roughly three thirds of what you see in US Dollars

Wehrten wir nicht den Anfängen?

Hatten wir nicht gehofft, dass alles einmal besser werden würde? Haben wir nicht Holocaust Education und Erziehung zum mündigen Staatsbürger im Schulsystem großgeschrieben? Haben wir nicht dafür gesorgt, dass alle ein Interesse am Funktionieren unserer Demokratie haben? Haben wir nicht alles getan, was menschenmöglich ist um der unmenschlichen braunen Woge Einhalt zu gebieten?

Nein, haben wir nicht. Wir haben in den letzten Jahrzehnten viel versäumt – von der Bekämpfung der Politikverdrossenheit, über die zunehmend unmenschliche Bürokratisierung der sozialen Hilfe bis zum Unwillen sich mit der Tatsache, dass wir in einer multikulturellen Gesellschaft leben, auseinanderzusetzen. Nun kommt die Retourkutsche der rechten Hassprediger, die – aufbauend auf realen und vermeintlichen sozialen Ungerechtigkeiten und volkstümelnden Verschwörungstheorien – ein Süppchen kochen, das mit dem sozialen Miteinander – auch unter “Deutschen” verschiedener Schichten – rein gar nichts mehr zu tun hat.

Die AfD – ersetzen Sie das je nach Wutlevel und gegenwärtigem Artikulationsvermögen durch Alternative für Deppen, Dumme oder Demagogen – kann eines gut und das ist Menschen das Gefühl zu geben, dass es okay ist andere zu hassen. Nein, rechtsradikal würde man dadurch noch lange nicht. Die bösen Medien, die naive Bundeskanzlerin und die frauenfeindlichen Flüchtlinge – das seien doch alles Dinge, die man hassen kann – ja als guter Deutscher hassen muss. Und eine Erlaubnis zum Hassen befreit. Man muss sich nicht mehr verstellen. Man kann endlich gegen all diese Asylanten, Homos, Gutmenschen und FrauenrechtlerInnen wettern und bekommt dabei Rückenwind von “normalen” Bürgen – von Leuten, die auch von öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender nicht als rechtsradikal bezeichnet werden. Das fühlt sich gut an. Man muss sich endlich nicht mehr verstellen.

Das hat sich auch schon in den 20ern gut gemacht. Vieles heute erinnert an die Weimarer Zeit. Es fehlt lediglich das öffentlichkeitswirksame Aussprechen antisemitischer Parolen durch hohe AfD-Funktionäre. Da ich ja einmal einigen hochkarätigen Professoren Rede und Antwort zur ersten deutschen Demokratie stehen musste, hier ein paar erschreckende Parallelen:

Die Weltwirtschaftskrise wurde nach der Finanzkrise immer wieder beschworen. Es schien eine Weile so, als ob wir aber diese neue Krise ohne größeren Schaden für die Demokratie überwinden könnten. Aber genau diese Krise war es, die mit all ihren Folge, inklusive der “Euro-Rettung” die AfD den Einzug in die öffentliche Arena erlaubt hat. So, wie es einst auch der NSDAP gelungen war von einer kleinen Splitterpartei zu einer die Reichspolitik erschütternden Kraft zu werden.

Tatsächliche weist die Hochrechnung für Sachsen-Anhalt eine geradezu frappierende Ähnlichkeit zur Reichstagswahl von 1930 auf:

20160313 - Reichstagswahl 1930

Quelle: de.wikipedia.org

20160313 - Wahl Sachsen Anhalt.jpg

Quelle: tagesschau.de

Abgesehen davon, dass SPD und Zentrum / CDU ihre Anteile vertauscht haben, ergibt das tatsächlich ein sehr ähnliches Bild. Die Fünf-Prozent-Hürde hält die NPD aber noch zurück und allgemein gibt es natürlich weniger Stimmen für kleinere Parteien. Trotzdem nicht gerade ein rosiger Vergleich. Die AfD schneidet sogar noch besser ab als die Original-Nazis.

Wir haben, zum Glück, keine vergleichbare Massenarbeitslosigkeit wie 1930, aber im Gegensatz zu früheren Jahrzehnten existiert eine starke soziale Verunsicherung, die viele Menschen den radikalen Rattenfängern in die Arme treibt. Die große Zahl von Flüchtlingen, die keine andere Lösung mehr sehen als ihre Heimat zu verlassen, braucht den Vergleich mit den in der Zwischenkriegszeit herrschenden Problemen (Minderheitenrechte, Reparationen, psychologische Effekt der Niederlage im 1. Weltkrieg) nicht zu scheuen.

Und genau diese Menschen werden zu einem Feindbild hochstilisiert, wie es damals die jüdischen Deutschen waren. Jeder Vorfall, bei dem es zu Übergriffen von Seiten der Flüchtlinge kommt, wird aufgegriffen – egal ob real oder fiktiv, während die Brandanschläge unter den Teppich gekehrt und fast schon als alltäglich betrachtet werden. Ohne real-existierende Probleme wegreden zu wollen, kann man doch mit Fug und Recht davon sprechen, dass die Hetze am rechten Rand stark in Richtung von Ritualmord-Vorwürfen geht. Die Berichterstattung nach den Kölner Ausschreitungen ist ein gutes Beispiel dafür.

Auch zeigt hier sehr hässlich das Frauenbild der AfD: Als Opfer “wildgewordener Nordafrikaner” verteidigt man sie gerne. Dafür müssen sie aber zu den Herd gekettete Dienstmägden werden, die ohne einen Mann an ihrer Seite ihre Daseinsberechtigung verlieren. “Die Würde der Frauen ist unantastbar” respektive “Traditionelle Geschlechterrollen verteidigen” heißt das im AfD-Jargon. Hoffen wir, dass dies nicht eines Tages in einem neuen Mutterkreuz und BdM endet.

Verteidigen tut die AfD auch gerne unsere Polizei. Zu solchen Bestrebungen hier eloquent der unnachahmliche Georg Kreisler. Noch können wir uns mehr oder minder auf die Polizisten und Polizistinnen verlassen, doch die AfD rekrutiert, wie seinerzeit die NSDAP, gerne unter den Mitbürgern in grün. Auf der AfD-Wahlliste zum Stadtrat waren – auch in Mannheim – fünf Polizeikommissare. Da Justitia bekanntermaßen auf dem rechten Auge etwas kurzsichtig ist, sollte das einem schon zu denken geben. Zum Glück versteht sich Frau Petry sehr gut darauf auch Polizisten zu brüskieren. Morddrohungen aus dem AfD-Umfeld wurden bislang trotzdem noch nicht strafrechtlich geahndet.

Die Idee den regierenden Parteien einen Denkzettel zu verpassen kam natürlich auch schon in der Weimarer Republik auf. Genauso wie Hasspropaganda, die besonders in verwundbaren Wahlkreisen verteilt wurde:

20160302 - Extrablatt will uns für dumm verkaufen

Quelle: Mein Briefkasten

Dass dreiste Lügen Erfolg haben können, zeigt der Sieg des Direktkandidaten der AfD in Mannheim Nord, des seinerzeit (2006) letzten roten Wahlkreises des Landes. Es reichen durchaus 0,8% mehr um zu gewinnen und ich fresse einen Besen, der vor dem Haus des AfD-Kandidaten gekehrt hat, dass dieses Schandblatt etwas damit zu hatte.

Was die AfD auch gerne tut, ist zu behaupten, dass unsere demokratischen, rechtsstaatlichen und sozialstaatlichen Organe versagt haben. Da hat sie ebenfalls gute Vorläufer aus der Weimarer Zeit – von der DNVP, über den Stahlhelm bis zu Strassers und Hitlers Mannschaft.

Wo stehen wir damit? Müssen wir uns dem brauen Mob ergeben? Nein! Es ist zwar zu spät für “Wehret den Anfängen”, aber durch entschlossenes Entgegentreten könnte der Geist wieder zurück in die Flasche gebannt werden – Ja, am besten mit einem schönen Salomonssiegel drauf – das wäre was!

Was jetzt Not tut, ist klar zu sagen, was die AfD ist: rechtsradikal. Jeder, der sie wählt, wählt eine rechtsradikale, antidemokratische, freiheits- und friedensfeindliche Partei, die gegen Gleichstellung und gegen jede Art des friedlichen Zusammenlebens verschiedenster Menschen ist. Die Politik muss den Mund aufmachen und die Presse ebenso. Nicht mehr “Die AfD ist ja keine rechtsradikale Partei”, sondern endlich die Maske von der Fratze und laut gesagt, wer der Feind ist. Mit solchen Gruppierungen darf es keine Verhandlungen, kein Arrangieren und um Himmels Willen kein demokratisches “Einrahmen” in Koalitionen geben.

Um es nochmals zu sagen: Das Gefährliche an dieser Art des Kryptofaschismus ist, dass sie imstande ist durch Ihre vorgebliches Stehen auf dem Boden der Demokratie die Massen zu mobilisieren. Wo bei den schwarz-weiß-roten Fahnenschwingern der NPD die Warnung des historische Beispiels nicht zu übersehen ist, gibt sich die AfD – in schickem Blau – so als ob sie damit nichts zu tun hätte. Man muss aber nur ihr  (erst am Wahltag beschlossenes!) Parteiprogramm lesen um zu sehen, aus welcher Wurzel sie sich nährt.

Wie schon Reichskanzler Wirth 1922 müssen wir auch heute wieder mutig sprechen:

“Da steht der Feind, der sein Gift in die Wunden eines Volkes träufelt. – Da steht der Feind – und darüber ist kein Zweifel: dieser Feind steht rechts!”

Oder müssen wir es erst zum politischen Mord kommen lassen, bevor wir so weit gehen wie der – zugegebenermaßen auch nicht sehr erfolgreiche – Kanzler des Zentrums?

20160302 - Wert der AfD Informationspolitik

Eine rare ehrliche Aussage der AfD.