RogerBW's Blog

GURPS Powers: The Weird, William H. Stoddard 14 April 2016

This supplement deals with powers that break the rules, for Lovecraftian aliens, superbeings, and weird lone genius inventors.

Disclaimer: I received playtest credit in this book and therefore did not pay for it.

The book is divided into three main sections. First is Weird Science, which aims to put the lone inventor on a footing with the martial artist by introducing weird science styles. After a listing of traits, we get eleven paths to Ultimate Power, including Automata (pneumatic, steam or clockwork mechanical men), Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence (the 1960s mathematical approach), Nanotechnology, Controlled Evolution and Xenonucleonics. (A box suggests how this can be turned into Alchemy in a lower-technology setting.) Each style has associated skills, techniques and perks, so that the next ranting genius can be substantially different from the last one.

The second section is less mechanics-heavy, and deals with alien realms which can be sources of weirdness; even outer space can be conceptually different to a world which hasn't yet explored it, extremes of the past or the future, and parallel worlds, are all possibilities, with stranger options like the Iconic Realm or varied states of consciousness. This is more of a source for ideas than anything else, but will help the GM constructing a complex cosmology and making other realms distinctive and strange.

The final section deals with weird powers, within the framework already established by GURPS Powers. Powers can be explicitly Cosmic, breaking all the rules, or just Weird, "not from around here" but still basically consistent and able to be countered by non-Weird defences. There's some modification of existing advantages (e.g. an Anaerobic modifier to Doesn't Breathe), and a set of new powers split into eight categories (so Dimensional Control gives you 4D Spatial Sense, Extradimensionality, Hypervision, and so on). As powers, these seem prone to lead to superheroes, but there's some treatment of how they can also be effectively built into gadgets.

This is a very meaty book which will take time to digest. It's always a good sign when a book inspires a campaign; I find I want to run a Mage-style game, where each player character is a different sort of mad scientist, and they band together to fight Things that Should Not Be. Even without that, there's a great deal of framework here for things that I tend just to busk. It's not the GURPS Mad Science book that I'd really like in an ideal world, but it's about two-thirds of it, and I can work up the rest easily enough. Great stuff. GURPS Powers: The Weird is available from Warehouse 23.

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