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Tabletop Game / GURPS Technomancer

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GURPS Technomancer is an Urban Fantasy setting for GURPS roleplaying system. The corebook was first released in 1998 by Steve Jackson Games.

The setting's point of divergence from own history was the Trinity nuclear bomb tests and Oppenheimer's famous words, "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds" (which he didn't actually say) which completes an ancient ritual that created an endless tornado of seething magical energy. Officially the tornado is called the "Trinity Event," but is popularly called the "Hellstorm".

A wave of magical radiation, called Oz particles, spread out from the Hellstorm, bringing magic back into the worldnote  and causing all manner of supernatural weirdness.

Has been integrated into the Infinite Worlds meta-setting, under the designation of 'Merlin-1' (in fact, it first appeared as part of the original "Infinite Worlds" setting in 3rd edition GURPS Time Travel). It's mostly used as an example of a high-mana world and a world you want to tread lightly in. No one wants these guys figuring out crossworld tech. Except that they already have.

Tropes include:

  • Accidental Incantation: The nail that changed the world was Robert Oppenheimer actually saying "I have become Death, Destroyer of Worlds" and making the detonation of "the gadget" a literally magical moment.
  • The Ageless:
    • Youth elixir is available and common, if expensive - and being alchemical, is one technomagical item that's evenly distributed around the world. It's pretty much accepted that the world's rich are not going to die, and the effects of this are beginning to be felt.
    • Eva Peron is also immortal due to Nazi magic. This is most notable because she did it before youth magic became publically available, and led the Condor Group to become the central controlling organization in Argentina. The Condor Group Nazis are likewise necromantic immortals.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Alchemical effects are the one area of Magitek not dominated by the United States, because anyone can be an alchemist (not just mages). As a result, alchemy is widespread worldwide, and China is the largest producer of Youth potions.
  • Aliens in Cardiff:
    • One of the top thaumaturgical universities is the University of Texas at El Paso.
    • The Hellstorm, the source of mana that made magic come roaring back, is located in New Mexico.
  • Alternate History Wank: Special note goes to Argentina becoming a major technomagical superpower, due to the Antarctic manafall and the support of Nazi wizards. Mexico is also a fully first-world country due to being in Trinity's Shadow. And the United States is actually more powerful and dominant than it is in our world, due to being ground zero for the Trinity Event and the establishment of a technomagical society, an advantage that led to victory in Vietnam.
  • Ammunition Backpack: The Portable Mana Disruptor, the Manpack Necrolaser and flamethrowers all have their fuel supply (whether liquid or magical energy) stored in a backpack.
  • Anaphora: The tagline on the cover, using "High" to tie things together: "High Magic. High Tech. High Adventure."
  • Antimagical Faction:
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Because a lot of stuff out there is Immune to Bullets, and depleted necronium gets real expensive real fast, most Hellhounds are proficient with bladed weapons as well as guns.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: The Condor Group, comprising former SS magicians, essentially control Argentina behind the scenes after giving Eva Peron immortality.
  • Back from the Dead: Possible, but nobody's managed to do it through magic. There is an alchemical formula for it, but whoever knows that formula is keeping it deeply under wraps.
  • Black Helicopter: The American government has mysterious, stealth black dragons.
  • Cat Girl: It's a David Pulver book, so they will exist somewhere. In Technomancer, cat halflings (half-human, half-chimera) are Little Bit Beastly, and their females fit the trope - though they're, technically, puma girls.
  • Church Militant:
    • The Rachelites believe that magic is God's gift, and is to be used to fight evil. While they don't form a military organization themselves, joining the US military or police is a religious calling.
    • The Knights of the Apocalypse also aren't a military organization yet, but their theology says that they'll rally America to defend against an invasion by the Antichrist. In the meantime, they're training and preparing, and they've got enough guns stockpiled that they've gotten in firefights with A3TF.
    • The Vatican is rumored to have a demon-hunting force, the "Hounds of God." The Congregation for Thaumaturgical Investigation's official job is more prosaic; mostly organizational details, as well as divination and security for the Pope.
  • Cure Your Gays: This is possible with the right magic, but the Geas is not endorsed by the psychiatric profession for this purpose. The geas is, of course, being advocated by the usual suspects.
  • The Dark Arts: This concept isn't really a part of American discourse on magic, and very few spells are illegal note  in and of themselves; raising human zombies (outside of Louisiana) is unlawful interference with a corpse note , while summoning demons is an immigration issue. Also, the US military will use any and every tool that'll win it victory. With that said, society is really afraid of magical mind control. Given that at least 10 percent of all magic-related crimes involve the use of mind control, they do have a good reason to be scared!
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: The magical metal Necronium, is used primarily as a power source (and can sometimes poison those exposed to it and bring them back as the living dead), whilst depleted Necronium is toxic to all magical creatures. Depleted Necronium is also completely unaffected by magic, allowing it to penetrate nearly all protective spells.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: An In-Universe example. Necrovision is an enchantment that allows a TV to watch any show that isn't currently airing on broadcast television, and TV producers and studios are suing Necrotech over it. note 
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Condor Group qualify despite being Nazi wizards. The magical gene is rare enough that they've taken to adopting Native children from Tierra del Fuego, as the population there was heavily dosed by the Antarctic manafall. These kids are now part of the Peronista ruling class, and are fighting their own cousins in the ongoing Dirty War.
  • The Fair Folk: Fairies take the place of The Greys - Seelie and Unseelie encounters involving abductions, lights in the sky, traumatic repressed memories, and rumors of two Seelie being captured near Roswell...
  • Fantastic Drug: There's a couple. Spelljack is a mix of cocaine and crushed powerstones, giving a boost to any mage who uses it, along with Glowing Eyes of Doom and a hint of power-madness. Then there's purified human theokinesin protein (PHTP). It gives Magery to nonmages who use it, and powers up weak mages, but the side effect is that it loses its effect and wipes out any existing magery, just leaving a sucky addiction. Also, while it can be synthesized, it's easier for the cartels to just kidnap mages and grind their brains up to make it.
  • Fantastic Legal Weirdness: The US has had over fifty years to grapple with the implications of magic.
    • The Compel Truth spell is the big example of this trope: it's constitutionalnote , every witness who takes the stand has to take it, and it's a big help in getting the innocent exonerated. Resisting it is treated as contempt of court, and the court-approved wizard or bailiff casting it will instantly notice if you resisted.
    • A Longer-Than-Life Sentence is possible in Louisiana, where people can be sentenced to death and zombie labor.
    • Being under Mind Manipulation is obviously an absolute defense in a criminal trial. The manipulator is guilty of the crime instead.
    • Youth elixir is new enough that the courts are currently fighting over its implications; among other things, they haven't worked out whether a chronological and mental adult in a thirteen-year-old body can legally act in a pornographic film.
  • Fantastic Racism: Chimeras are the main target of discrimination in America. There's also a bit of friction between mages and mundanes, though it's more likely to be framed as a divide between haves and have-nots.
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness: Religion has had to adapt to the manafall. In general, mainline Christianity has accepted the coming of magic with good grace, but a few new sects have popped up (such as the Knights of the Apocalypse, who are the Klan for chimeras, and the Rachelites, an ecstatic branch of Christianity that seeks magical visions). Also, Wicca and other polytheistic religions (including Voudoun and Native American shamanism) are far more popular than they are on our Earth.
  • Feathered Fiend: The magic-using penguin socialist collective of Antarctica, transformed by a Hellstorm into a vicious Hive Mind that has driven human scientists from the continent and is building up for the next battle.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: If a flamethrower's backpack fuel tank is penetrated, it has a 1/6 chance (1/3 if it was a fire attack) to explode. The damage done depends on how many shots are left in the tank.
  • Flying Carpet: A favored replacement for the automobile (though those are still in use too). They are also popular for military use, providing portable mobility without logistical dependencies on fuel.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The standard in magical grimoires is the Working Handbook of Applied Thaumaturgy.
  • Ghostapo: The Condor Group in Argentina are former SS wizards. Meanwhile, Wodinspear are a neo-Nazi group composed of extremist Asatru wizards.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: If someone has glowing red eyes, it means they're hopped up on spelljack: cocaine mixed with crushed Powerstones. These dudes aren't really safe to be around.
  • Horn Attack: The Jackalope can impale with its antlers.
  • Hunter of Monsters: "Hellhound" is the general slang for this profession. In this setting, weird stuff escaping from a lab or the Hellstorm happens often enough that there are people who specialize in it - particularly when someone would rather not call the police. Hellhounds range from clean-cut CDC teams, to grizzled duos working out of Albequrque offices and resembling private detectives with trenchcoats and broadswords, to the Leviathan Group's Cerberus black-bag team (who gave the profession its nickname).
  • Immortality Inducer:
    • Youth elixir is a recent development. It's expensive, and it means that the rich will never die of age. The repercussions are just starting to hit.
    • Before youth elixir, the Argentine Nazis had their own tricks, often necromantic, and (as one would expect from Nazi magic) reeking of Immortality Immorality. The favored method is to Body Surf, but literally stealing the youth from political captives works too.
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: Humans, dragons and chimeras have rights (though chimeras face Fantastic Racism). The undead don't; they're legally considered ambulatory corpses. Monsters, demons and creations are likewise not considered human.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Even though the Hellstorm brought magic and a whole lot of other weirdness into the world, the Technomancer setting is still a "close parallel" to our Earth and many historical events that happened in our world also happened in the setting with only minor differences.
  • Invisibility: This magic exists, but is highly classified; any kind of invisibility magic is only available to spies and special forces, and no private-sector group has yet managed to crack the secret.
  • King in the Mountain: Josef Stalin did not die in 1953, he was merely put into magical stasis-sleep-type-thing to be awakened when Motherland will be in danger. He awoke in 1996, after Communism fell, and started a civil war to oust democrats and capitalists from his country.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: The state of Louisiana allows for sentences of "death plus hard labor." This means a death sentence, followed by being zombified and put on a chain gang.
  • Love Potion: The setting doesn't shy away from the moral implications of such a potion, outright calling the Elixir of Love (along with the Elixirs of Lechery and Drunkenness) a "date-rape potion."
  • Magitek: Check the title. It turns out that atomic bombs are really useful for summoning Eldritch Abominations!It's ubiquitous and has profoundly shaped North American society (and the rest of the world to a significantly lesser extent). Architecture is neo-Gothic because it's cheaper to build skyscrapers out of elemental stone than glass and steel, medicine has been replaced with healing magic to the point that "old skills" like basic surgery are considered an elective, NASA uses teleportation in place of rockets, and the 13th Necromantic Operations Group and the Blue Dragons won Vietnam for the United States. And while using magic while playing football is forbidden, celebrity wizards cast the spells that keep it from raining on the Super Bowl.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Hellstorm caused by the first atomic explosion brought magic (back?) to the Earth.
  • Mega-Corp: A couple are mentioned. Most notable are Manadynamics (the grand old company of industrial enchantment), Sephiroth Industries (a military contractor, the inventor of electricity-to-mana conversion and the power in orbital space), and most nastily Leviathan Investment Group, a holding company for several (often ethically-shady) businesses, which is heavily tied in with the magical dictatorship of Surinam and has an actual dragon as chairman and primary owner.
  • The Men in Black: "Mages in Black" are part of the general lore around Seelie sightings and abductions (which may or may not actually happen). The Seelie take the place of The Greys.
  • Military Mage: "Warlocks" are mages who use their abilities in the military. The 13th Necromantic Operations Group was largely responsible for America's victory in the Vietnam War, while the Condor Group necromancers were instrumental in bringing Argentina victory in the Falklands War.
  • Mister Seahorse: There are spells for transferring pregnancy, which includes the production of a magical "womb" for males.
  • Muggles: "Mundane" is also used as a "mildly impolite" term to refer to people who aren't chimeras and don't have the Magery advantage.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In one of the vignettes, we get this gem from out of a laboratory:
    Daphne put the phone down. “Eric, you ever dealt with a mutant toxic zombie walking cactus with strange powers over killer bee swarms?”
  • Nuclear Mutant: Magery and chimera births are largely a result of nuclear fallout. On the dark side, so are vampirism and toxic zombie syndrome.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Players of previous GURPS settings had theorycrafted an "Infinite Mana Battery"; a construction made from a glass-walled cylinder of hard vacuum, a pair of permanent Gates, and a stone pebble falling through it indefinitely to build up velocity forever. However, it would only actually be possible in settings containing magic, modern science, and a spell that could actually convert that velocity into mana. Technomancer would've been the first to qualify... but in this one setting, Gate doesn't exist.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: The setting has two relevant chimeras: a spider centaur (Homo Sapiens Arachne) and a serpent centaur (Homo Sapiens Serpens).
  • Our Dragons Are Different: There are two kinds of dragon. Blue dragons are intelligent, friendly Western dragons, who work for the US Air Force as self-aware aircraft (their scales are green; "blue" refers to their employment). The "red" dragons are really of the same color, but they worked for the USSR. Black dragons also work for the USAF, but have been genetically engineered into Magitek stealth fighters.
  • Our Liches Are Different: After a CIA project to artificially create mages with radioactive potions failed when all the subjects died, a few of them returned to unlife as angry glowing skeletons. These atomic liches are stronger and tougher than normal humans, leak radiation, and have high-level spellcasting abilities. One of the most prominent is Elrond Carver, the Dark Lord of Chicago, who runs the crime syndicates in the Midwest.
  • Power Perversion Potential: The sex industry legally uses mannequin golems and created humans as prostitutes to the point where there's a movement to ban the trade. Demonality (the summoning of incubi or succubi) is already illegal (specifically, it's a violation of immigration law). Mind control magic and potions are popular methods of date rape. Suffice to say, the subject is addressed.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The Knights of the Apocalypse are a Christian militant movement dedicated to (as their name implies) preparing to fight for Jesus in the Apocalypse. They consider chimeras the soldiers of the Antichrist, hoard guns and wands in preparation for the Apocalypse (and don't take kindly when Big Government tells them to knock it off), and otherwise support a standard American right-wing agenda (by 1997 standards).
  • Schizo Continuity: One-sided. Between Merlin-1 making its first appearance in the Time Travel Adventures scenario "Soulburner" and becoming a setting in its own right, GURPS Wizards featured a Merlin-1 mage-spy, who had been magically transported to Homeline to find out who these interlopers on her world were. However, Technomancer specifically states that the entire Gate college is unknown (not just classified) on Merlin-1, presumably to keep the game in one reality and stop it from becoming "Magic Infinite Worlds". This was then counter-retconned in Infinite Worlds for 4e, which has Merlin as an active player in the timelines. Essentially, Technomancer can be played either as an independent world or as a world within the greater infinity.
  • Simplified Spellcasting: Mages start out needing to use words and actions in order to achieve the proper mental state, but experienced casters just need to concentrate.
  • Social Media Is Bad: A Pyramid article updating the setting included magical social media. The most popular of these is Soulspace, which literally feeds on the users' life force. But, hey, you clicked "agree".
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Maria Hawker, President of the Magiocracy of Surinam and necromancer. Of course, since this is the modern world, she's mostly the tinpot dictator of a Banana Republic, and her government is heavily influenced by Leviathan Investment Group.
  • Soul-Powered Engine: The Soul Burner Gestalt is a necromantic device that converts the souls of sacrificed human victims into magical energy.
  • Space Is Magic: Magic is caused by Oz particles, which were initially scarce on earth until the Hellstorms. However, it's been discovered that there are indeed oz particles in space, radiated by the sun, they just got blocked by the atmosphere along with the other harmful rays.
  • Super Breeding Program: Argentina has one going on, where the Native women from Tierra del Fuego (in Antarctica's Shadow) were taken as part of a breeding program to create new mages loyal to the Condor Group.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Magery is a genetic trait, and there are some extremely well-funded labs working on creating Designer Babies with the talent.
  • Truth Serums: The Compel Truth spell is used on witnesses in court, preventing them from lying. The Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional, and an affirmation of one's innocence under Compel Truth is considered positive proof.
  • Unholy Nuke: A very literal example is the necronium bomb. Plain and simple nukes became unusable in that setting because they create Hellstorms that may destroy the whole world in one blast, so the necromantic magical replacement was created.
  • Utility Magic: Magic is used for mass market consumer products, such as electronics, and for business enchantments, such as the enchanted cooking pots used by the Chili Wizard fast food franchise. In addition, the bottom end of magework is the "Johnny One-Spell," a shop usually manned by college students that simply casts a particular spell on each customer for a fee, such as a dry cleaning operation using a Clean spell.
  • Weird Historical War
    • After the Hellstorm in 1945, a number of real-world wars still went ahead with China facing stiff resistance from magic Tibetian monks in their invasion of 1950 and Iranian Revolution takes place while Shah is being treated for vampiric leukaemia in the United States in 1979.
    • The supplement "Funny New Guys" focuses on roleplaying the Vietnam War if it were fought using wizards and dragons. In canon, the US won the Vietnam War through the use of necromancy.
    • The Nazified Argentina likewise won the Falklands War in this 'verse by raising several Kriegsmarine vessels and equipping them with undead crews.
  • Who Shot JFK?: It is briefly mentioned that Oswald's use of a CIA developed "Magic Bullet" spell was covered up. The how and why he got his hands on the spell is left unstated.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Averted. When discussing activist groups and terrorists, the book makes it pretty clear that the League of Chimera Voters and the Nightclaw vigilantes are supposed to look like white hats, while Loki's Stepchildren (a chimera group who attack the Knights of the Apocalypse) are listed under "terrorists."