GURPS Conversion for the Ethereal Player's Guide

By William J. Keith


The following constitutes a suggested set of translations, conversions, and point values for the new game concepts presented in the Ethereal Player's Guide, for the use of GURPS: In Nomine players. This is not a full-text conversion -- the translations assume the reader owns the Guide.

General Fixes

Some concepts are translated consistently between In Nomine and GURPS: In Nomine. To avoid repetition, they are listed here and hold unless otherwise noted for a specific object.

For "Forces," read "Power Investiture". For "CD" (which stands for "Check Digit"), read "degree of success (min. 1)" for numerical calculations; while if an ability has different effects at different check digits, use the CD-to-degree-of-success table on G:IN p. 210. ("A CD of 6" is generally equivalent to a critical success or failure.)

A "target number" is the skill level or effective attribute of the moment -- whatever the player is to roll against. When a mechanic requires the level at which the singer knows a Song or other skill, use the table given on p. 206 to convert the GURPS points invested to an effective skill level. For every 4 points over 16 invested, add another level of skill knowledge, although some Songs and other abilities may only operate up to a maximum of six levels.

Battle mechanics are different between GURPS and In Nomine, but translations which preserve the spirit of the statistics are roughly these: for Protection, read "DR"; for Power, give that bonus to the damage type; and for Accuracy, use as a modifier to hit. For attributes, after converting as per G:IN p. 205, Strength is read as ST; Agility, DX; Intelligence, IQ; for Precision, use DX modified by levels of such things as Manual Dexterity or Klutziness; and Will and Perception are as normal.

Many Songs have mechanics-specific changes; there is a separate translation file for these.

Finally, it is suggested that GURPS: In Nomine supersede the Ethereal Player's Guide with respect to mechanical issues that are directly addressed there; in particular, Trauma is substantially gentler for ethereals there than in the EPG.

A word on two abilities: godhood, and mastery of a Domain, are high-level Advantages that are best quantified within the context of a particular game.

Ethereal Template

Attribute Modifiers: +1 ST [10]; +1 DX [10]; +1 IQ [10]; +1 HT [10].

Advantages: Awareness (Symphony) [15]; Doesn't Eat or Drink [10]; Doesn't Fatigue [15]; Doesn't Sleep [20]; Essence Control 7 [22]; Immunity to Disease [10]; Non-Reciprocal Damage [30]; Power Investiture +6 [60]; Slow Regeneration [10]; Temperature Tolerance +10 [10]; Unaging (can change vessel's apparent age, +20%) [18].

Disadvantage: Disturbs Symphony [-15]; Secret (ethereal being)* [-5]; Sterile [-3].

*The Secret turns into possibly-inconvenient attention and definitely Enemies who will try to exile, kill, or coerce or the character if exposed. Note that this really only applies when the character is on Earth.

Taboo Traits: Power Investiture (Sorcery) [0]

Skills: One native language (likely human) at a default of IQ [0]

Any character based on this template must either have the No Vessel Disadvantage or one or more Vessels; many will also have a special Essence Cache for Vessels. Levels of Power Investiture (typically no more than 1) may be traded off as a Disadvantage, or purchased as an Advantage. An ethereal will be made up of certain elemental strands, and is likely to have affinities (though not necessarily). It will also have an Essence Cache, unless it has no Corporeal Forces. This varies in point cost.

The basic cost of the Ethereal Template is 227 points.

Figment Modifications

Figments do not receive a bonus to statistics. Figments may be permitted only 1 or 2 levels of Power Investiture [10 or 20], of which at least one must be Ethereal. They never have Vessel Essence caches; this is a Taboo Trait for figments, and thus they have the No Vessel Disadvantage [-45] by default. (A celestial Superior could technically grant a figment a Vessel, but this would be an exceedingly odd circumstance.) Celestial Power Investiture is likewise a Taboo Trait. Figments are also Presentient [-20] and thus really suitable only for NPCs. (They can speak and act independently, but only within preset parameters.)

The basic cost of the Figment Template is 82 points.

Ethereal Character Creation Checklist

  1. Start with the ethereal template.
  2. Determine the spirit's elements. Select a primary element and a secondary element, if any.
  3. Decide whether the character will start play Initiated. Initiation is part of the template but may be removed from the template at the GM's discretion. If the character is Initiated, choose the spirit's Dread(s), at a level equal to the spirit's Ethereal Forces.
  4. Total the point costs above. Separate out the pool of points provided by Initiation for special abilities, if the character is Initiated. The final total constitutes the base template, which the character receives.
  5. Customize the character based on whatever point level (typically 100 points) the game has.
  6. a. Distribute your levels of Power Investiture, at least 1 in each realm. (Exceptions include ethereal Remnants and figments, which cannot have Celestial Power Investiture. At the GM's discretion, a character may have no Corporeal Power Investiture, with the attendant effects.)
    b. Choose affinities and pay for these.
    c. Decide on the character's Image.
    d. Decide what kind of Vessel(s) the character can create (at least one) and purchase the necessary Essence cache(s).
    e. Purchase other resources: Advantages, Disadvantages, Quirks, skills, Attunements, Songs, etc.

New Terms

Element (a.k.a. Strand): A discrete concept that embodies some facet of the Symphony as conceived by corporeal life. Ethereals consider themselves to be made of strands of elements, and often refer to reality as a Tapestry.

Image (a.k.a. Mask): An ethereal's self-identity, regardless of its current body, ethereal icon, or actions. Frequently the identity assigned to them by a dreamer or an amalgamation of dreams.

New Advantages

Initiation: The character has awakened a primary and secondary element (or a single element, if primal). This gives access to a form of Racial Memory. It is limited to knowledge of abilities like Songs and skills, however, and requires significant effort to access (hours of meditation and practice), so the cost of the Advantage is reduced to 5 points. Initiation is always accompanied by receipt of at least one Dread (for the character's primary element), and possibly a second (for the character's secondary element, if any, and if desired). Initiation also provides a pool of character points equal to the point cost of the Dreads obtained in the process, which may be spent only on the abilities accessible through the Racial Memory. If the character Initiates before play, these points are provided in addition to the points provided by the Dreads themselves. If the character Initiates during play, the Dreads, as usual for Disadvantages, provide no extra points, but the special pool is still gained. Thus, a character who Initiates during play is worth a net 5 points more after the pool is spent. (The pool is counted simply as unspent character points until they are spent.)

Worship Rites: The player can teach a human to voluntarily send them Essence via a unique form of worship associated with the ethereal's Image. Despite the first-glance utility of this ability, the difficulties associated with maintaining a worshiper base and the unreliability of the result reduce its worth. Each Worship Rite is a 2-point Advantage.

Anchor: Since the ethereal can still reform (albeit in an unknown and possibly hostile place) without an Anchor, the Anchor is simply a safe place to be on occasion; this makes it basically a "Claim to Hospitality" on the owner of a Domain. As a single place, albeit a safe one, and not requiring reciprocity, having an Anchor is a 2-point Advantage.

Affinities: Affinities vary wildly in their nature. Slight, Moderate, Strong, and Primal affinities may be priced at 5, 15, 30, and 30 points respectively (Primal affinities grant access to more abilities than Strong affinities, but carry additional role-playing baggage and can only be taken once unless the character is a god). Since all ethereals have levels of Power Investiture which may be counted toward Forces, and only Ethereals have Affinities, conversion is typically straightforward using the general IN-to-GURPS conversions: when statistics are affected, choose appropriate GURPS statistics (e.g., HT is lessened if a spirit weakens someone's resistance to poison), consider the affects of individual powers in the setting (e.g., should a Wealth spirit be required to pay a difference in points when creating substantial levels of wealth?), etc.

Essence Cache: An ethereal can store Essence in a special cache, making it usable for no other purpose than constructing a Vessel. (Standard Essence cannot be used for constructing a Vessel; Essence in the Cache can be used for no other purpose.) Calculate the amount of Essence needed for a given Vessel by determining the cost of the Advantages and Disadvantages it would provide in character points. This is the point cost of the Cache which can be used to create this particular Vessel. (More than one cache is possible.) An Essence Cache can never be less than 35 points, the cost in Essence to create a plain unDiscordant human Vessel, even if Essence cost for a particular Vessel is lowered by accepting Vessel Discord.

No ethereal can create a Vessel the sum of whose natural statistics would exceed the sum of its own. It can inhabit such Vessels it obtains in other ways, such as the Ethereal Song of Exchange or from a celestial Superior. (Celestial Vessels cost a base 35 points, modified for suitable features.) Duplicate Vessels cannot be created from each Cache; only one Vessel with a given template may exist at a time, unless two Caches have the same template.

Example: Housecat Vessel

Advantages: Acute Hearing +4 [8], Acute Taste/Smell +4 [8], Alertness +5 [25], Attractive Appearance [5], Catfall [10], Claws [15], Combat Reflexes [15], Decreased Life Support [10], Discriminatory Smell [15], Double-Jointed [5], Enhanced Move x1/2 [5], Faz Sense [10], Four Legs [5], Night Vision [10], Perfect Balance [15], Sharp Teeth [5], Ultrahearing [5].

Disadvantages: Color Blindness [-10], Disturbing Voice [-10], Horizontal [-10], Inconvenient Size [-15], No Fine Manipulators [-30], Short Arms [-10], Social Stigma (valuable property)[-10]

Natural Skills: Acrobatics at DX [4], Jumping at DX [1], Stealth at DX+2 [8], Climbing at DX (+3 climbing up, -3 climbing down) [2]

Total points: 171 in Advantages - 95 in Disadvantages + 15 in natural skills = 91 points, so an Essence Cache for a cat Vessel (at least, one complete with the heightened senses and natural skills above) would need to have space for 91 Essence, and would cost 91 points.

Ethereal Connection: There is no need for this Advantage in GURPS: In Nomine, since it covers the case of humans who receive a level of Ethereal Power Investiture (typically with an Unusual Background, unless they serve Blandine or Beleth, or possibly an ethereal god.)

Soul Link: Listed under Disadvantages.

Odin's Attunement "Ill Words": Beings without Ethereal Power Investiture may have this Attunement but would find little use from it, since the reaction penalty to the subject is zero. Suggested cost, 10 points (as if a focused, but powerful, Knack for Suggestion).

Odin's Attunement "One-Eye": GURPS does have rules for being one-eyed, and that Disadvantage is automatically gained here. The Attunement is worth 15 points, for which the loss of the eye does not provide points. (Thus, a character who receives this Attunement does not have their point value change.)

Odin's Attunement "Wyrd": this is different from the GURPS: Vikings Advantage of the same name; it carries no point cost.

Seraphim of Purity: The "No Roll Required" enhancement to Symphonic Awareness for purposes of detecting Disturbance -- 10 points. (Roll anyway for degree of success -- minimum 0 -- and possible Interventions.)

Cherubim of Purity: The ability to attune to a trail is a range-enhancement of the standard Cherub Resonance, worth 15 points; the ability to disattune more easily lowers the cost of the Cherub's Sense of Duty, for 5 points. Total: 20 points.

Malakim of Purity: Counting accuracy as a bonus to hit (i.e. to skill), the Malakite's typical bonus to any weapons skill would range from +1 to +6 when attacking targets with Dissonance or Discord. The fact that not all his targets may have such Disadvantages may reasonably be considered to balance with the unusual step of allowing a skill bonus for combat. A value of 36 points (a bonus of as much as +3 on average, at 6 points per level, counted once for skill and once for damage) is suggested.

Hunt (Purity Version): Like Laurence's Hunt, except the target is anyone detected creating 10 or more points of disturbance. Other characteristics the same. 20 points.

Ripples: 4 points for the Perception bonus, and a similar 4 points for the disturbance cover-up, for a total cost of 8 points.

New Disadvantages

Fading: An ethereal which had been sustained by corporeal belief is having that belief diminished, whether gradually (being forgotten) or suddenly (a large number of worshipers were killed). Choose a system: (1) Each year, roll two dice. If the total is more than the spirit's total levels of Power Investiture, the spirit loses 1 level of Power Investiture randomly. If both dice are 1 or 6, roll another die and count any triples as an Intervention. On unfavorable Intervention, the spirit loses 1d levels of Power Investiture instead. (2) For a more GURPS-amenable system: each year, make a 3d6 Aging roll against IQ, with the same results(ignore critical failures other than Interventions).

A Fading spirit may essentially be considered to be Aging. This Disadvantage thus counteracts Unaging in the base template, for a cost of -15 points. As usual, if the spirit manages to stop the Fading, the Disadvantage must be bought off.

Soul Link: For celestials and ethereals, a Duty towards the human to which they are Soul Linked. Determine the base cost using the rarity with which the duty is demanded and the kinds of work requested; modify with the Frequency of Submission rules. For celestials, add in -5 points per level to represent the stigmas of Discord. These are Disadvantage costs for the spirit. If the human behaves well toward their linked spirit, regularly sending Essence or helping in other ways, they may be an effective Ally, whose point cost turns Soul Link into an Advantage for the spirit. For humans, the Link is always the Advantage of an Ally or Patron, quite possibly an Unwilling one, modified with the Frequency of Submission rules.

Notes on older Advantages and Disadvantages

Vessel: Since ethereals can create new Vessels without Superior intervention, it is suggested that for them, the Vessel Advantage becomes the privilege of a Vessel template, for which the Essence Cache is used. The No Vessel Advantage applies only if the ethereal has no Essence Caches; a lost Vessel (barring Trauma and other ill effects) is more a matter of lost equipment, which can be replaced if the ethereal can exist in peace for a sufficient time.

Dread: The Disadvantage of the same name (CI, p. 97) is a useful basis for the In Nomine version. This Dread, which comes in levels of 1 through 6 (see the Frequency of Submission rules in GIN, p. 211), is suffered by ethereals who have Initiated; instead of being unable to come near a physical object, the ethereal, when encountering the object of its Dread, must make a submission roll. Failure means the spirit loses a point of Essence; if the spirit has no Essence, it loses Mind Hits equal to its Ethereal Forces. Dreads may have a base cost of -5, -10, or -15 points, depending on the rarity and escapability of the Dread's object.

Rites: It is harder for an ethereal to come by a Rite than it is for a celestial. While retaining the 2-point cost for each Rite from GURPS: In Nomine, it is recommended that a player who wishes to start with any Rites be charged a 10-point Unusual Background for the privilege.


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