Unusual Pathfinder Conversion: the world of GURPS Banestorm


Liberty's Edge

One of my favorite Fantasy settings is the world of GURPS Banestorm, from Steve Jackson Games. Designed for the GURPS rules, it's something of a departure from your usual D&D-esque setting in different ways.

The setting of Banestorm is set on the world of Yrth, mainly on the continent of Ytarria. Yrth is a world populated by various races and monsters, including people snatched from our Earth and other worlds by the magical cataclysm called the Banestorm. It is a world where Human nations coexist with Dwarven kingdoms and elven enclaves, and where the Crusades aren't history, but current events.

The Continent of Ytarria is divided into numerous nations: the expansive Empire of Megalos, the Islam kingdoms of al-Haz and al-Wazif, the free nation of Cardiel, the kingdom of Caithness, the Dwarven Nations of Zarak, the nation of Sahud, the Principality of Araterre, the savage Orclands and the barbarian Nomad Lands of the northeast.

Religion-wise, Ytarria lacks made-up deities like Lolth or Pelor, but instead features Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and other real-world religions, as they -might have developped- in a world where magic was real.

The continent of Ytarria itself is currently in a state of Medieval Stasis, even though the calender is currently up to our current era. The Stasis is partially due to the existance of secretive groups like the Ministry of Serendipity suppressing technological and social innovations like gunpowder, democracy and mechanisation.

Basic idea for this project: taking the world of Yrth, from GURPS Banestorm, and adapting it to play with the Pathfinder system, "Dungeonizing" it in the process. In the process thereof, there will be a few challenges to overcome.

Challenge 1: the presence of Diving classes. Default Banestorm lacks the usual D&Dish style of "God of Deity X, basically serving as a Healbot". Especially since the setting uses real-world religion like Christianity and Islam.

Possible Solution: Treat as "Clerics of Philosophies", not directly linked to a deity, and instead free to select Domains based on their beliefs. Thus, while three Clerics may claim belief in Christianity, their different approaches will be reflected by different choices in Domains: a peace-loving healer would take Good and Healing; a Crusader would take War and Strength; and a fanatical Heretic-Hunter might favor Law and Evil.

Furthermore, spell-casting Clerics do -not- form the rank-and-file of any Church. Most priests in Ytarria are Commoners, Aristocrats or Experts, with a rare few Adepts as the occasional holy man. Those Clerics that exist see themselves as Holy Champions, chosen by God (or gods, depending) for some higher purpose.

Other possible Solution: including deities from real-world pagan faiths (and more exotic possibilities), but also giving the Monotheistic Faiths Archangelic "gods" to act as Patrons to Clerics. These would likely follow the model from SJGames' "In Nomine" rpg setting, including their hellish counterparts the Demon Princes. Naturally, this would involve some changes in the cosmology, notably the whole Blood War thing for the Fiends.

Challenge 2: Goblins. In Banestorm, Goblins are short (but not Small) green humanoids from the desert world of Gabrook. They are intelligent, civilized and naturally curious, and actually fit well enough into human society. Hobgoblins are their larger, dumber cousins. While a few live amongst Goblins as servants, most remain hunter-gatherers living in small bands in the wilderness. In short, rather different from their default Pathfinder counterparts.

Possible Solution: Use Pathfinder stats for the Goblinoids, but ignore the Fluff, favoring Banestorm's Fluff instead. Only change made to the Goblins is increase size to Medium (lowering AC by 1). Goblins are the civilized city-dwellers, and Hobgoblins the savage wildfolk. Bugbears are a distantly related race.

Challenge 3: The Cosmology. Banestorm lends itself best to a more grounded approach to campaigning, instead of lots of Planeswalking. Thus, we'll simplify things a bit.

Solution: Replacing the Astral Plane with another Transitive Plane, the
Spirit World (from Manual of the Planes, p206). The Spirit world reflects the physical world, but grander in many ways. It is populated by various Spirits, represented by fey, elementals, undead, outsiders and other creatures.

Liberty's Edge

Is no one interested in this at all?

lonewolf23k wrote:
Is no one interested in this at all?

I have the book, kinda. Early edition.

There are different sects of Christianity and Islam on Yrth. So you are taking the right approach. Clerics and Wizards are both considered mages. However, if you want a different approach, you can take a look at the Wheel of Time RPG and use One Power Channeling as a variant.

Alternatively, there is d20 Advanced Magic, where you can assign magic spells to different kind of mages. Just some ideas there.

First time I've noticed the thread. I have the bulk of the GURPS 4E books, Banestorm included, and really dig the system. Not sure Pathfinder, much as I love it, would be best for Yrth - but it could certainly be done.

I think, before the details on the conversion, the *real* question is whether you want to modify the Pathfinder system to match the Banestorm setting (by nerfing the PFRPG uber magic system and the monsters that oppose it) or the setting to match the system (by amping up Yrth and environs to high fantasy). Banestorm has fantastical beasties and magic and stuff but it just sort of rolls on along at a different level than D&D-based gaming.

Going either direction could work and your ideas so far sound pretty good. I think you've got to address arcane magic as well. Seems to me a stock D20 wizard can kick butt on the best Yrth's got to offer. The GURPS "spells as skills" using FP to fuel is quite a bit different than the Vancian spell slot arcane system in PFRPG...and this doesn't even address the variant arcane casters.

Would you rather disallow/modify PFRPG features, or incorporate those into the Banestorm setting?

I have to say that Banestorm intrigues me but one of its coolest features (real-world cultures and religions) is also one of the things that has kept me from actually trying to get people to play it. It's easy to be "racist" against half-orcs or oppress followers of Lamashtu but *could* get touchy when you start doing the same thing with real-world examples (and SJG didn't pull too many punches in the setting on that front).

Liberty's Edge

mearrin69 wrote:
I think, before the details on the conversion, the *real* question is whether you want to modify the Pathfinder system to match the Banestorm setting (by nerfing the PFRPG uber magic system and the monsters that oppose it) or the setting to match the system (by amping up Yrth and environs to high fantasy). Banestorm has fantastical beasties and magic and stuff but it just sort of rolls on along at a different level than D&D-based gaming.

Well, I guess I'm going to try something down the middle, ramping up Banestorm for more Dungeon Fantasy adventure, while simultaneously ramping down PFRPG to better fit the setting. For one, I don't plan on having something like a Great Beyond and such. As I've explained, the most "Extraplanar activity" players in this setting would see would be the Spirit World, inhabited by all sorts of entities, from Fey and Elementals to Celestials and Fiends.

Mind you, creatures from Other Worlds would still be brought to Yrth thanks to the Banestorm, so I have ample justification for adding nearly anything to the world, and just say "A Banestorm Did It."

LOL, I base my Goblins off Yrth's, so I'll be watching this line.

Liberty's Edge

I love Banestorm. May never get a chance to play it in GURPS, so I'm all for this idea. I think the recent introduction of the Gunslinger would play well in such a setting, giving the fear and distrust of gunpowder.

Dark Archive

We played GURPS from Man-to-Man and The Fantasy Trip to 3rd edition for many years, and still break it out for certain types of gaming (good Supers rules, for instance).

One big change in the Yrth setting, thanks to GURPS rules, is that low-level magic items, such as Bless spells or +1 DR magic armor, is ridiculously cheap. Nations like Megalos can *easily* outfit their entire army with +1 DR armor, particularly if they have it enchanted piecemeal. (Heck, a single 150 pt. character can spend a year of 'time-off' outfitting dozens of men in this way, both earning the money to do so, and performing the spellcasting himself, if he's got a suitable supply of assistants and / or powerstones. We did this in a long-running 'kingmaker' style campaign 15 years or so ago, where we'd refurbished a ruined keep and were building a community around it.)

Setting assumptions wildly differ, due to the different magic systems. A wizard who can do minor tricks can do them all day long (like PF's at will cantrips), and low-powered, non-world-affecting magic might be as cheap as a high-quality mundane item. Spell effects are not priced by 'spell level,' and so minor magic is more plentiful, and major magic even pricier and 'rarer' than in D&D, since no single spellcaster is ever going to cast resurrection (a team of spellcasters, using a large mana-storage device, is more likely, and it might take that mana-storage device *months* to recover it's power, making it a huge undertaking / opportunity cost for the people casting the spell, as they can only do that a few times a year, at best!).

Removing any sort of divine magic / arcane magic divide, and shoving the various divine spells onto the Sor/Wiz list, would be a logical step, if you want to use the same sort of feel as Yrth, where the gods of the setting may or may not exist, but don't stoop to throwing candy to their followers.

People need to look more into Medieval Catholicism. The cult of the Saints was very prolific, and in fact, was one of the reasons for the reformation. You could play up that aspect for the magic, where certain Saints give certain Domains for magic. This could be a stand-in for the different Gods in Pathfinder. As each Saint was an individual, each one would have his own alignment, and his own philosophy, much like the Pantheon that Pathfinder's setting uses. Instead of separate Churches for each Deity (or Saint here) you have Monastic Orders dedicated to the Saint. That would handle the religious side of it.

As for the magic side, you could also handle that with the same Monastic Orders, giving each order a school of magic that they teach. In fact, I think that's how Banestorm handles it, if I recall correctly.

Of course, if you want to go a completely different way, move the Banestorm back in time to the Classical Era, bringing the Gods of Greece, Rome, the Germanic Peoples and the Celts into the picture, then move it back forward to a much different, more polytheistic Medieval Era.

Liberty's Edge

Using Saints as replacement for Divine Pantheons does work rather well, actually. They'd likely have a limited selection of Domains however. Some of the Saints listed have very limited portfolios, such as St. Denis, Patron of Araterre. He'd probably only have Community and Protection as his other Domains.

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