by Loki Carbis
Art by Ray Lunceford
GURPS Technomancer is one of the most interesting settings in the modern magic genre. But the Technomancer core book lists only three possibilities for campaign crossovers -- GURPS Space, GURPS Time Travel, and GURPS Illuminati (T94-95). But there's a lot more that could be done with the setting; here are several more potential crossovers.
GURPS Atomic Horror
A GURPS Atomic Horror/Technomancer crossover is best set during the standard time period of Atomic Horror: roughly 1945-1960. The sudden rush of magic into the world means that a whole new arms race is just beginning, and the fear of Red Witches is everywhere. And it's at this time, shocked or awoken by the Trinity Event, that the alien races who have been contending over Earth begin a phase of much greater, if still covert, activity. This alternate is all about the clash of human magic and alien science; aliens should not, under normal circumstances, have access to magic (although the addition of magic to the low-tech Loi-descended culture on Venus could prove interesting).
GMs considering this crossover will need to take into account the role of the Loi mutants in human history, particularly if ancient gods are real in the setting. Could the true gods command those who invoke them to fight these pretenders? Or are the Loi mutants the real gods, with mages merely contacting deceitful spirits?
The Grain Blight was perhaps the mostly deadly spell backfire of all time; literally millions died in the years following it. But most of them did not starve; they died because too many people panicked. The addition of magic did help to blunt the edge of starvation, but it also made things a lot more volatile. Although the devastation was not as bad in some ways, magic also meant that desperate people more often had a way to try to solve their problems by taking matters into their own hands. It's still a rough-and-tumble world of casual bloodshed, but the power units are magical now, and the guns all have Accuracy enchantments on them.
In this crossover, it's possible that there may be more than two Hellstorms -- people got pretty crazy during the Food Riots. If this is the case, modify all of them, even the first two, to be less strong, and less wide-ranging in their effects. This will re-draw your map of America somewhat, as places that are abandoned due to radiation in the Autoduel book (and the AADA Road Atlas series) are likely to be inhabited due to their high Mana levels in this alternate.
GURPS Black Ops
Assume for a moment that magic has always been real, and that the Trinity Event simply made it impossible to conceal that fact any longer. The lot of your average Black Operative is considerably worse in this alternate. Although many interesting new magical toys are available to the Operatives, their opponents -- who have been studying magic for centuries, or even millennia -- are always a few steps ahead of them.
And the wide availability of magic -- and the popularity of the Schools of Communication and Empathy, and of Knowledge, in particular -- means that keeping Black Operations covert is more difficult than ever. GMs may wish to come up with some new spells or magic items to help the players out a little here.
GURPS Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
This crossover probably requires less changes than any other. Callahan's is already a place where the strange and unusual happen with disturbing frequency. But in the world of Technomancer, things have to be a lot stranger to be considered unusual. GMs may wish to replace technobabble with magical terminology (manababble?) in this setting -- Mickey Finn would become a powerful spirit geased to cockroach-demons, and so on.
The Trinity Event occurred at right around the time that the Pulp Era was drawing to a close. But who's to say it had to be that way? A sudden influx of magic into the world could easily extend the era into the 50's and 60's. Depending upon your Cliffhangers campaign, there are two ways to play this. If magic already exists in the world, then all the magicians around are likely to get a lot more powerful -- and to attract followers with sorcerous abilities of their own. If there was previously no magic in the world, then the charlatans and fakers of this world may suddenly find themselves able to do things that even they thought were impossible -- and to surprise the heroes quite dramatically next time they meet.
Many people in the world of Technomancer already believe that there was a magical era in the far distant past. Using GURPS Conan could be an interesting twist on proving them right. Such a campaign would tend to focus somewhat on archaeology and ancient history, as both sides in the Cold War race to find whatever eldritch knowledge and mysterious artefacts they can before the other does -- and on things that were only sleeping while they waited for the magic to return...
This approach could also be taken with many of the historical sourcebooks as well. GURPS Arabian Knights, GURPS Greece, GURPS Egypt, GURPS Camelot and GURPS Celtic Myth would be particularly easy to do, but just about every GURPS historical worldbook includes some notes on a more mythic take on the culture it describes.
It doesn't take much to extrapolate from the history in GURPS Technomancer and combine it with the Cyberworld setting. A worthwhile alternate for people who want something similar to, but noticeably different from FASA's Shadowrun. (A truly nasty GM could also add elements from GURPS Cthulhupunk.) The manaware on tomorrow's streets will almost always have been enchanted using "Quick and Dirty" methods -- and spell backfires will be even more common, and more disastrous. Magic should be expensive and dangerous, or cheap and even more dangerous. The interaction of magic and cyberspace has made that environment even more confusing -- is the entity you're dealing with an AI, a program, a spirit or a spell? Net-runners, more than anyone, need to be at least competent Thaumatologists, if not actual spell-casters themselves.
There are several ways to approach this alternate. It could be posited that the Manafall created an area not unlike the Wyrmberg (DI28), or that magic is as quirky and as unpredictable a force in our world as it is in Pratchett's -- which would make the military use of magic a decidedly less likely occurrence. If magic isn't reliably replicable, giving different results each time, then people will be more reluctant to use it -- but those who do will have wills strong enough to dominate entire worlds, should they desire.
The other way is to inflict the Hellstorm on the Discworld itself -- only in this case, it's an explosion of technology, not magic. From whatever isolated point on the Disc, it slowly radiates out -- a comical, steampunk industrial revolution. "Moving Pictures" and "Men At Arms" are the definitive references for such a game -- GMs can choose to make the advances all-encompassing, or concentrate (as the novels do) on just one or two facets of technology.
The similarities between the Trinity Event and the Banestorm are hardly coincidental -- the Dark Elves of Yrth are still trying to perfect their reverse-Banestorm spell. The Trinity detonation (and the later Zhukov explosion) have done little more than attract and permanently connect the energies of the Banestorm to specific locations on Earth. And both of them serve also as gates, just as the Banestorm did. Which direction these gates work in is entirely up to the GM -- maybe they're one way, or travel in both directions is possible. Maybe they change at random.
It's recommended that the normal GURPS Technomancer prohibition against the Gate College of Spells (from GURPS Grimoire) be relaxed for this crossover -- such magic is more likely to be researched in this alternate, and half the fun is the contrast between the two worlds. A campaign of intrigue and high sorcery, jumping back and forth between the two distinct but similarly magical worlds (and possibly others besides) offers a lot of potential for adventure.
Magic becoming a widespread and well-known force is a mixed blessing for the Cabal. Although it does mean that they don't have to hide anymore, it also means that the enemies they face are far more likely to have sufficient power to pose a serious threat -- and that anyone crying "werewolf" will be readily believed. Picture the Cabal broken into numerous factions, split between the various answers to the question "what do we do now?" The characters could face those who wish to exterminate them, and those who wish only to get along with them -- and it's anyone's guess which side they have more in common with.
GURPS In Nomine
The Trinity Event changed the world forever -- but without damaging the Symphony. (This despite rumors of the involvement of Vapula in the design and construction of nuclear weapons.) Suddenly, the mortals had access to a force no Angel or Demon could use, and the War was a lot more complex. Magic is quite a different thing from Sorcery -- but it may take the Celestials some time to realize this fact. In the meantime, Hatiphas, the Demon of Sorcery, is likely to make Princess any day -- and no doubt the Seraphim Council will soon appoint a new Archangel to take care of this field (unless Eli returns from his voluntary exile, at least).
And what of the Marches? Ethereals in general are a lot more familiar with the whys and wherefores of magic, and the sudden availability of it on mortal planes is likely to give the Old Gods a much longed-for power boost (humans are far more willing to believe in chic neo-paganism than to accept that any organised religion had much to do with the Manafall). Heaven and Hell may find themselves embattled on two fronts -- possibly even enough to resolve some of their differences in the face of the common foe.
GURPS Mage: the Ascension
The sudden availability of magic -- even lesser magic such as this -- to the masses is a godsend for the Traditions. Suddenly, there are allies everywhere they turn, and it's no longer necessary to hide quite so much (not to mention that Paradox just got a lot more forgiving). But the Technocracy is not happy. Thousands -- soon to be millions -- of undisciplined civilians toying with reality on a daily basis? And surely neither the Nephandi nor the Marauders will be slow to seize this golden opportunity -- and what will happen when they do?
Both systems of magic can run in parallel quite easily, as long as care is taken to use the disadvantages of each to preserve game balance. GMs should be ruthless in their application of Paradox for true mages -- and the effects of Mana and skill level for magic users. It is not advisable to let a single character use both types of magic -- make them choose one or the other. (And if you're using GURPS Vampire: The Masquerade as well, don't forget that the Thaumaturgy Discipline will be a lot more common -- normal humans aren't the only ones affected by the Trinity Event.)
GURPS Supers/International Super Teams
The Trinity Event doesn't actually make for that different a super-powered world. Most super powers will be magically based, and the powers themselves will be a lot more common. The best way to simulate this is with the rules for Knacks (see M96). If the "Knacks are the only magic" option is used, then most people will probably not even realise that they are using magic. In this world, SuperTemps will be an even larger, wealthier and more widely respected organisation, while the IST carefully bases its teams near zones of unusually High or Low Mana -- to keep them out of the wrong hands, of course. And what of the Seeders? Perhaps the Trinity event has drawn their attention, and they will return at last to Earth...
The Zhukov test convinced everyone that future tests would be bad for the planet. No one said anything about other planets.
To use this alternate, some slight changes will have to be made. The nuclear blast of 2005 in the Golan Heights never took place -- instead, the crisis came to a head with the deployment of a magical-biotech weapon of unknown origin. And Pheobe wasn't blown apart by a shaped charge -- it was a deliberate use of a small nuclear device, which succeeded in its goal: to magically irradiate as much of the Martian surface as possible. The average Martian Mana level is High, with occasional Very High level pockets. There are some small pockets of lesser Mana -- as on Earth, these are largely created through the use of the Drain Mana spell. Terradyne is still the major political and economic power in this alternate (having the almost unlimited Mana resources of Mars all to itself gives it an unbeatable advantage magically, too), but it is also under a lot more threat from up and comers -- Astarte may decided to risk UPOE censure and begin terraforming Venus at any time, and there's suspicion at the highest echelons of Terradyne that someone may have beaten them to Titan -- and may be using magical means to sabotage the company's plans.
Magic has always been real -- the Trinity Event just made it a lot more common. . . and a lot less controlled. The years immediately after Trinity saw a mad scramble for power and numbers between the various factions of the Lodges. The Bizongues, for the most part, adopted a "wait-and-see" philosophy, although they too had to grow and change, allowing for increased powers and numbers of adepts.
What has both sides worried is that most magic users in the world are aligned with neither faction, being instead guided by spirits of various sorts -- spirits that bear far too great a resemblance to the In-Betweeners and Corruptors for anyone's comfort...
GURPS Wild Cards
The Trinity Event wasn't just what it seemed -- it was carefully manipulated by the mage-lords of Takis. Dr. Tachyon, renegade sorcerer, tried to prevent it, but no one listened. This variation on Technomancer makes Magery less of a blessing and more of a curse. 50% of those exposed to the Manafall die. Of the survivors, 50% are deformed (although still gifted with magical abilities). And the lucky remainder -- 25% of those exposed, become the Ace Sorcerers, the celebrities and powerbrokers of the magic wielding culture.
The grim 'n' gritty nature of both these settings makes them blend relatively well, but GMs need to be careful to make sure that Wild Cards doesn't overwhelm Technomancer in the mix. The revised statistics for Wild Card exposure given above go a ways towards this, but care will need to be taken nonetheless. Still, once you've mapped Wild Cards' New York onto Technomancer's El Paso Juarez Metropolis, the pyrotechnics are sure to be fast and furious.
What if it took more than just a fortuitous incantation to set up the necessary criteria for the Hellstorm to form? What if the timing had to be perfect? On December 31, 1999, as the clocks hit midnight, computers everywhere started to misbehave. Most of the problems were brought back under control fairly quickly, but some it was too late to stop. The unfortunate detonation of several runaway missiles at local dawn, or moonset, or a conjunction of Mars and Venus, or some similar event, at the various places of their impact opened half a dozen Hellstorms. With the exception of the blast that destroyed the Pine Gap facility in Central Australia, the storms are scattered more or less randomly across the Northern Hemisphere. Each of these was about the size of the Trinity Hellstorm. (Depending on what event the detonations were in conjunction with, some, or even all of these Hellstorms may be Aspected -- see M94.) Now, the world is split between three different types of social and technological societies -- those who use only magic, those who use only technology, and the Technomantic nations (although it will take this latter group some time to catch up to the levels described in GURPS Technomancer). Political intrigue and guerilla style border skirmishing are the order of the day. Welcome to the Brave New World.
Article publication date: August 4, 2000
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