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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Through the heavens' mighty rage

If you looked at Andrew Wright's critique of my SF gamebook Heart of Ice then you might also be interested in his mash-up of that setting with Fabled Lands structure and rules. The most recent post is the one I was waiting for: the Manta car. Oh, and camels.

You could use Andrew's rules to run a role-playing game set in the Artificial Ice Age of 2300. In fact, I might do exactly that when the Fabled Lands RPG comes out. Meanwhile, I think I can explain the fascination with flying cars because Gerry Anderson's Supercar was my favorite TV show when I was four years old. Actually, it would still rate pretty high on the list. In the desk drawer beside me I have my Supercar Pilot's License, still in its clear plastic wallet, complete with cockpit drill, take-off procedure and tech specs (weight with fuel 6945 lbs). Grow up? Pah.

The illustration of Thadra Bey above is one of Russ's that apparently didn't appear in the original print version of Heart of Ice and was only restored when Paul Mason reformatted it for the Panurgic edition. Why, I can only guess. The original edition's art director seemed to be of the opinion that women should only be depicted in art if shaped like puddings and dressed in twenty yards of sacking. The Gargan twins picture got used only after Russ was made to change it, and this one was more of a filler so presumably it was easy to drop it. All very stupid as in neither case were the female characters in question being depicted as objects of desire liable to titillate and corrupt young minds. They were warriors like the men, and dressed functionally to do the job they came for. Nowadays, if it were a videogame or a comic book, Thadra would be swanning around the Saharan ice wastes in a midriff top and studded leather thigh boots, of course.


  1. I like the idea, but he's really doing it the hard way. Translating character generation from HoI to FL is harder, while FL to HoI conversion is quite simple. It's just that HoI of them is point-buy, and the other is basically lifepath-based. Point-buy always has an easier time reflecting the other systems.
    Here's how I'd do it.
    I think it would be far, far easier to use the skills from Hearth of Ice as a base. Give them 2 to each. Then add 3 to four of them, just like in Heart of Ice, to represent your favoured skills.
    Bingo, you have a Favoured-lands themed Heart of Ice character! Probably keep the weapons bonuses he suggests, and shields become just another defensive tool, like armour. The only difference is, they add defence almost on par with plate, and are cheaper, but you don't get this defence against surprise attacks from the back.
    This way, you also get to use your Agility as the basis target number for shooting. It's harder to hit an acrobat, and even more to hit him precisely, but it's far from impossible.
    Just wrote that on his blog, too.

  2. Most likely I'll use GURPS (or rather 7URPS) next time I run Heart of Ice as a role-playing scenario. The points-based system is a natural fit.

  3. I'm always very intrigued when you mention your seven stat version of GURPS; this sounds like a perfect melding of a very adaptable system with the depth provided by additional statistics. May I ask for a brief summary of the additional Stats and how you apply them to the GURPS Skills (do you change some of the default stats for various Skills to the Stats that you have created etc?)

    My only issue with GURPS is that I tend to create heroes laden down with personality 'issues' in order to get all those skills I want! On the other hand, it does mean one has a suitably doom-laden 'hero' in keeping with gritty epic Moorcockian fantasy...

  4. Noble Peer, look here!

    Dave, I think Andrew Wright just wants a simpler system with less stats, so I suggested how to mix the two he had in mind. 7urps is certainly an option, too, but so is pretty much every generic system out there.
    The list would be huge.

  5. Heart of Ice is splendid gamebook. A “Good” ending doesn’t mean a “Happy ever after” ending. Plus you could play with a scientist AND finish the game! That’s awesome!


  6. Ah, Ikaros, once upon a time scientists were heroes. Peter Parker was a science whizz. And Reed Richards and Tony Stark. Now Pete is more usually characterized as a freelance photographer, and Tony Stark's scientific genius is decidedly downplayed. Yet in Heart of Ice, a scientist can save the world!

    Asen, yes, there are a lot of systems that would work with the Frozen Earth setting. The only advantage of 7URPS is that I know how to run it :)

  7. Btw Noble P, we don't allow psychological disadvantages in our GURPS games. Well, to be strictly accurate they are allowed: PCs can (often do) come freighted with such inner demons, but they can't expect to get points for them.

  8. "Asen, yes, there are a lot of systems that would work with the Frozen Earth setting. The only advantage of 7URPS is that I know how to run it :) "

    And that's an advantage not to be taken lightly!

    By the way, I usually take personality traits in GURPS, and often run against the point limit for disadvantages. But I do this because I like flawed characters, even when I don't need the points!

  9. Agreed. Many people ask, "How do you make sure the PCs are all of one mind and concentrate on tackling the current adventure as a team?" But to me that's the wrong question. PCs should be flawed, there should be conflict between them, and those factors will then interact to create a situation where the players themselves are creating the adventure, and not merely turning up to dutifully run through a story that the "GM" has pre-planned.

    Whenever I have run the Heart scenario, naturally it relies entirely on the players each having their own agenda. Approaching it as a dungeon bash type session would be a disaster.

  10. Gerry Anderson's "Supercar"? Could that possibly be related to the '60s British children's show: "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons"?

  11. Supercar was the grandaddy of them all, Hamza. In fact the great-great-grandaddy, as after it came Fireball XL5, then Stingray, then Thunderbirds and then finally Captain Scarlet. And serendipitously, I discovered today that the Royal Mail are issuing a set of stamps to commemorate those fantastic TV shows. Check out "The Genius of Gerry Anderson" on

  12. Hey, scientist are still heroes.... you know
    In a non-heroic way, but still. :)

    Ikaros (Biochemistry)