Disappearance in Birkshire


Welcome to the online GURPS adventure "Disappearance in Birkshire". While this adventure could, in theory, be played with a character other than the one it was written for, I wouldn't really recommend it. If you do wish to try anyway, take a mage, and ignore any paths that your character couldn't follow (for instance, if Clara casts a Ignite Fire spell, but your character doesn't know that one, obviously you couldn't try to cast that!)

This adventure uses the GURPS basic set and GURPS Magic. As such, you will need a copy of both of these books. You will find references in the adventure to things like (B146) which is "Basic Set, page 146" - which happens to be the page the magic section starts on. It also employs some "house rules", not found in the basic set. Those rules are given below, along with a link to a description of Clara, the heroine of this adventure. In each section of the adventure, you will be given at least two choices, and sometimes more, which are linked to new pages that describe what happened when you take that choice. While you could pick the "Back" button if you make a bad choice, I recommend starting back at the beginning. You may choose a path on the next run-through, that is totally different from the original.

Go here to see Clara's GURPS sheet. Print it off, so you know what her skills are during the adventure.

Click here, when you're ready to go to the adventure introduction.


Lastly, the legal stuff. All content is copyright 1998, by Dave Steele. GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games, Inc. (And we highly recommend it, if you haven't played it before!)

Mage Gift

5 Points/1st Level, 2 points/2nd & 3rd level

This advantage may be taken by any new character. The effect of "mage gift", is to allow the character to buy magery later (at the normal cost), and thus lower the initial character cost for a (potential) mage.

A character with Mage Gift may cast spells, but with the following restrictions:

Using their own fatigue or health, at 4 pts fatigue/health per mana point.
The apprentice mage may only learn and cast spells that have no prerequisites.
The apprentice mage may only know a maximum of 5 spells, which may be spread over no more than 3 colleges until magery is purchased. The potential mage
must buy (at least) magery 1 to advance further. (Their Gift has to be fully awakened).
Finally, spells may never be cast at a skill level greater than 12 using only mage gift, regardless of points spent or intelligence. Mage gift does not add a bonus to the character's spell roll, as magery does. Treat a skill level greater than twelve as a twelve for success rolls and spell failures.

Magery may only be bought up to a level equal to Mage Gift level(s). For example, the dread apprentice Fritz has Mage Potential-2. He may later spend character points to buy Magery 1 & 2, but not Magery level 3. He may buy the Magery levels one at a time, or together, at the players choice. The player could still, of course, buy Magery outright, avoiding this extra cost. At creation, the character could also buy some magery, and then pay the cost for more future "potential", like Magery 1 and two additional levels of Gift, at the cost of 2pts each.

The apprentice mage may still use scrolls and such that could be used by any "ungifted" character, but not any that require magery (until it is bought).

GM note: The GM should feel free to disallow or limit the use of the mage gift advantage, particularly if he or she is trying to run a "low magic" type campaign. Because of the low cost, many adventurers will opt to take at least one level of mage gift, just to keep their options open in the future. Optionally, the GM could allow mage gift purchase, but disallow the character from activating magery of their own accord. A quest to the Fountain of Mage Enlightenment to activate magery would make a nice adventure seed...


New Spell

Seek Magery (Special, see description) Regular
Seek magery is a "default", that anyone who has the mage gift, has automatically. On a mana-dead world, it might never occur to the potential mage to "call" for their ability, but it is still there if they purchased mage gift, just as a mage who enters a mana dead zone doesn't loose his magery - only his ability to actually cast spells. Default skill is -7. OK, ya, you do get a few modifiers too, see below.

+IQ, +1 for each spell known. -10 for each level of magery previously acquired.

The spell is a ritual that takes all day (or all night, at the GM's discretion) to cast. Modifiers apply as per enchanting a magic item. See B152 or M16 for details.


New "Race"

Human female Well, they say that women are from Venus...why not make them a sub-race of human? The player may, at their option, take a -1 to ST and a +1 to DX. It costs 0 points to be a human female.


Design Notes:

I've tried to make this adventure as amusing as possible. It is, however, designed for a teenage or older audience (call it PG-13). Parents, if you don't want your kids doing Role Playing Game (RPG) stuff, then please help to restrain them. There is violence and sexual innuendo in sections of this adventure.

About the "human female" race: I've caught some flak for the +1 DX, but most (male) gamers are more than willing to allow the -1 ST. To those that dispute the +1 DX, I would encourage them to go watch some amateur gymnasts on a balance beam. *I* wouldn't try it, but those girls don't seem to have a problem doing cartwheels, flips etc... I was tempted to give them +1 to health, but stopped short of that, as that would effect too much other stuff.

Empathy is a big advantage when your character is dealing with people that she doesn't know. On the other hand, it is one of the most amusing ways for a GM to get the player in trouble, when a roll is missed for instance. I handled this by pre-rolling dice. Each place were Clara gets the chance to use her empathy was "previously played", so to speak. You, the player, won't know if it was right or wrong, but since empathy is based on IQ, the roll is 13 or less, on 3D6. In other words, the odds are in your favor, that her empathy is "correct."

The character designed for the adventure (Clara O'Connell) is female, and uses the above rules for the "Human Female" 'race'. Clara is also an apprentice mage, and has three levels of "Mage Gift" (see above). She can cast spells within those limits, as is detailed above and on her character sheet. NOTE the high fatigue cost! In my local campaign, she is on a fantasy world called "Yed". Clara was originally from earth, and as such has knowledge of 21st century stuff - like how to drive a car, read & write in English, etc. That's her "unusual background". In this campaign, we started using the rules for Unlimited Mana by S. John Ross as published awhile back in Pyramid magazine. Because of the way Mage Gift rules work, this really doesn't effect this adventure. We further modified the unlimited mana rules to reflect a mage having mana based on magery level. I'd tell you the details, but then I'd have to - well if you've seen "Top Gun", you know the rest. This is part of the reason that it appears to be rather difficult for a mage to "call magery" beyond the first level - a matter of game balance that is still being tested.