Enter The Hexengrad

Humanity didn’t know what hit it when the Hexen arrived – magical six-limbed aliens with advanced technology destroyed the world we knew in mere weeks. Worse than that, through their ability to open Quantum Portals through time and space, they assaulted our reality throughout Earth’s history.

Humans survive in enclaves, each one hidden from the Hexen. We need three things to survive: air, water, and food. Thankfully the air is still mostly breathable on the surface of the world but the Hexen are fast working to adjust things to their preference. Humans want three things that the Hexen brought with them: energy clips, healing stones, and their precious spell matrices.

The Human Resistance survives by raiding Hexen settlements, bases, and vessels. You are a member of the Resistance and your mission is to penetrate the Hexengrad: the largest Hexen citadel, hovering as it does above the surface of the planet like a second moon. Heroes from across time and reality join forces to resist the Hexen. Are you ready for the challenge?

Opening a New Table

Something clicked this morning while I was working on Episode 6 of Roleplay Rescue. I began to build on the idea of the GURPS Go Kit and realised what I want to do on Wednesdays at the school club: I want to play GURPS.

Thinking back to the idea of playing for the sake of playing, I felt a pull towards melding my tools for solo play with the idea of offering an Open Table. From there, I’ve been imagining a set-up for running a mission-based game with the option of entering a classic mega-dungeon… only this one isn’t a classical fantasy.

According to The Alexandrian, Open Tables need six things:

  1. Quick Character Creation
  2. Easy Access Systems
  3. Open Group Formation
  4. Default Goal
  5. Default Action
  6. Regenerative / Extensible Content

For the Hexengrad, I plan to use The Mook’s excellent Quick Character Creation approach to solve the first problem. Players will simply pitch out a character concept and we’ll work through the steps. I plan to try this out on myself using the “Notable” hero sheet over the next few days but I am pretty sure it’ll be fine for my purposes.

GURPS is an easy access system. All I have to teach new players is three things: how to roll 3d6 for Success Rolls; how to roll damage; and how to work through the aforementioned character creation sheet. Everything else can come behind the screen. Because GURPS has almost entirely associated mechanics, when a player describes what they want to do in the game world the mechanisms of play flow from those decisions. In other words, there’s not much for the player to learn that is specifically going to require knowing the rules.

A mission-based game is a great set-up for an Open Table because it allows for a reformed team every session. School sessions are about 1.5-2 hours long, so missions will be brief, location-based, and timebound. I’m going to provide short raid missions on small facilities to begin with. I will hold out the goal of boarding the Hexengrad – of finding a way to get there – as a longer-term goal. If they enter the Hexengrad, that’s going to be run as a megadungeon: one huge multi-level location with lots of internal challenges and discoveries to be made.

The default goal will be to recover the items the Resistance needs to take from the Hexen: food, water, energy clips (for technological devices), healing stones (to give players recovery options), information, and the coveted spell matrices. This is the classic default goal of the megadungeons of old – treasure – updated to fit the world I am imagining. The default action will be to pick a direction within whatever location they are exploring and open the door (so to speak).

In terms of content, I aim to create some regenerative content in the form of locations that restock and get upgraded between raids. I think it’ll be pretty easy to design different common location types and then populate them in different ways. I think it’ll be fun to board the Hexengrad and then be able to run it pretty much the way all megadungeons get run as ever-extensible content that can change over time as the players interact with it.

What I am shooting for is playing to the strengths of GURPS: a simple to run game that can provide a mix of high-fantasy, high- and ultra-technology, plus a good dose of post-apocalyptic horror. There’ll be monsters to hunt, stuff to find and use, and interesting locations to explore. On top of it all, I hope to produce a game I could run with anyone, anytime, at the drop of a hat, for as long or short a time as we have available.

Let me know if you have any suggestions or questions. For now, I am off to build a character and blast my way into the first Hexen stronghold, solo-style.

Game on!

3 comments

  1. With the Hexen hitting Earth in different time frames, it occurs to me that you could end up with ‘fantasy characters’ trying to fight vs ultra-tech aliens… and depending on how they travel thru time / if Hexen take prisoners etc, even the possibility of mixed TL human ‘teams’ working together in resistance against the Hexen.

    Since GURPS points system should keep things balanced, the TL differences in theory shouldn’t cause too much trouble, (other than a ‘middle ages’ character would struggle with almost all but the most intuitive tech …. at first)

    Such potential: Ace setting Che

    Liked by 1 person

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