Monday, November 18, 2013

Imbuments in Play: Other People's Experiences

At the end of my post on my experiences with Imbuements in play, I asked for other people's commentary. Mystic Knight template author Antoni Ten Monrós put a huge pair of comments to the post, and GURPS forum regular Kalazz responded by email. I've decided to promote both their responses to front-page, guest post status since it seemed like a popular topic.

Antoni Ten Monrós

As the author of the Mystic Knight, I do have a lot of data points on Imbuements in play. They may be colored by my biases, by what I put in the campaign, and by what my players like. My game is now at over 600 points after years of weekly sessions, though we started at 300, so that might color my impressions too. I’ll proceed to go imbuement skill by imbuement skill, and give you some highlights:

Overall Categories

  • Fatiguing Imbuements - Fatigue damage strikes (Fatiguing, Chilling and Withering, plus Drugged Weapon) can down big monsters with loads of HP but limited Will and FP very fast. Adding more fatigue damage is hard though, so you'll be using an alternate method of downing the foe, instead of collaborating with the party. Works great though, if you can take advantage of some elemental weakness, because doubled FP damage means one hit will take almost everything. 
  • Follow-up Imbuements - They require building your character to take advantage of them, but with multishot or multistrike, they can be efficient. Stack a bunch of them with a source of making an attack do multiple hits, and enjoy the fireworks. See the individual entries to get my opinion on each of them, but unless you're using a weapon that does thrust damage (AKA bows and crossbows), it's not an efficient source of damage if you can't make attacks that do multiple hits. 

Individual Imbuments

  • Acid Weapon (Pyramid #3/60) - See Follow-up Imbuements for general comments on imbuements that add damage as a followup. See Corrosive Strike for more details on corrosion damage, but the small amount that this imbuement generates means that you won't reduce DR by a substantial amount with it. However it allows you to get Dissolving Strike and Acid Imbued Soul, for mass DR reduction. 
  • Annihilating Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) -  This one isn't used in my games because it destroys loot. 
  • Arching Shot (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - The way I read it, this gets around shields, unless they are placed overhead. Given that block is the bane of archers, this is awesome. 
  • Bank Shot (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - This is deceptive attack for ranged weapons that doesn't lower your attack skill. You might suffer increased range penalties, but guided weapon fixes that. 
  • Binding Shot (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - It's a sure fire way to make someone waste a turn, even if they have the ST to easily escape. Getting it to last more than a single round is challenging, but one round is often all that you need. 
  • Blinding Defense (Pyramid #3/4) - On one hand, it looks good on paper. It means that after the first hit, other foes are much less likely to hit you. Couple if with the extremely cheap Blur enchantment for massive penalties to attack rolls. Mind you, in play, I'm guilty of forgetting to apply penalties for blur, and no one has ever taken this imbuement. 
  • Blunting Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - One of the best DR multiplying imbuements, and it's because cutting damage is one of the nastiest and most common sorts. If you have heavy enough armor (heavy plate, potentially dwarven heavy plate, plus giant spider silk underneath), you can often become nigh invulnerable against most foes, allowing you to AoA with abandon. 
  • Burning Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Good against creatures weak to fire. Useful (though not the best) for ranged attacks when using bodkins against unliving and homogeneous foes. 
  • Chilling Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - See Fatiguing Imbuements for my opinion on imbuements that deal FP damage. Other than that, the fact that it does FP damage with the freezing enhancement makes it brutal against fire elemental monsters, as you can easily incapacitate them in one strike. 
  • Conic blast (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Should be renamed line blast for all the use it has in DF. Still, it's another way to deal with shield using foes, that would otherwise block your attacks. As an area attack, your only allowed defense is dodge and drop, and that means that most foes will have to either take it like a man, or spend 2 turns getting back up. Also awesome against diffuse foes. 
  • Continuing Attack (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Despite being very cool sounding, using it properly requires way too heavy penalties. The main use is against regenerators, using 1 day delay, because the damage can’t be healed until the cycles end. 
  • Corrosive Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Corrosion damage is good, but it's hard to do, so you're probably the only source in the fight. One problem you might face is that you destroy valuable loot with this. Still, it might be necessary to win the fight, and if you happen to face high DR foes that do so without the benefit of equipment, such as golems, it might allow the lower damage party members to contribute to the fight. 
  • Crippling Blow (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - One of the best imbuement skills. Not only, baseline, you can use it to stun (and stun requires at least 1 turn of do nothing, so it’s possible to stun lock someone, plus for the rest of your attacks, and for any attacks by friends until the target gets a chance to recover, the foe will have crippling defense penalties, that is, -4 to defense and no retreat) but you can also use it to inflict incapacitation conditions, or to just lower HT so consciousness, death and resistance rolls will fail more often. 
  • Crushing Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - While it's not the worst transformation imbuement skill, it's not far from it. It also doesn't hurt that one of the best weapon options for mystic knights, the dwarven morning star, already does crushing damage, and the other, the dwarven axe does cutting that is 99.99% of the time better. 
  • Cutting Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - The king of the non-FP dealing damage type changing transformation imbuement skills. Don't leave home without it, specially as a ranged attacker. Your bodkins go from sucking against unliving and homogeneous foes to hurting a good deal, and your GM might let you keep the AD (2). I do. 
  • Dancing Shield (Pyramid #3/4) - Good if you carry two shields, have a backup weapon for your off hand, want to save a friend, or use a weapon that can be used in either one or two hands, and have higher or at least similar skill two handed. 
  • Dancing Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - A gem, but one that requires preparing for it. You need a second weapon, and preferably one that is heavily enchanted because you can’t imbue it while it dances. Of course, with the proper perks, you can imbue it while it dances, and you no longer need to move to where it is to pick it up. Consider that it’s an extra attack, with range equal to your move. 
  • Dazzling Display (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Unless you use it to protect yourself from ranged attacks, it's completely useless. Unless you take the -5 penalty to make it not apply to you, or have some form of perception that lets you ignore it (Bright Vision is a good option, as is Dark Vision, depending on how you flavor the obscure.)
  • Deafening Display (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Unless you're fighting the hordes of eco-locating things from beyond time and space, skip this one, unless the GM rules that spellcasters are inconvenienced by loud noises and take penalties or need to make concentration rolls to cast. Then it goes from terrible to merely extremely situational. 
  • Drugged Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - See Follow-up Imbuements for general comments on imbuements that add damage as a followup. Mind you, unlike other follow-up imbuements, this one is less amenable to combining it with others, since FP and HP damage follow different tracks. Still, it’s one of the best, because FP damage is so nasty. See Fatiguing Imbuements for more details. 
  • Electric Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - See Follow-up Imbuements for general comments on imbuements that add damage as a followup. This is a decent one, because electrical damage ensures that against metallic armor, you’ll always get some damage past DR. It does however less damage on the long run.
  • Energizing Defense (Pyramid #3/4) - Looks good on paper, doesn't work in play, and is excessively fiddly when someone tries to make it work. It's simple to house rule it into utility: Forget about using it to do anything other than recover HP, FP or ER, make the character decide what he wants to recover when using it, and let him try to convert the stored charges instantly after each attack that creates charges is resolved. 
  • Envenomed Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements)-  See Follow-up Imbuements for general comments on imbuements that add damage as a followup. Toxic damage is probably one of the weakest forms of damage, and you'll face many creatures that outright ignore it. Take it only for flavor reasons, because while it's not too bad (unless your GM loves throwing you against undead threat after undead threat - I do), there are better options. Of course, once you've already got the better options, extra damage doesn't hurt. 
  • Expand Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - Too fiddly to be useful most of the time, but could come handy to avoid attacks to the chinks.
  • Far shot (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Only useful for thrown weapons, yeah. Still, thrown axes dealing ranged swing damage are sick. 
  • Fatiguing Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - See Fatiguing Imbuements for my opinion on imbuements that deal FP damage. It rates slightly lower than the Chilling Strike and Withering Strike because you can never take advantage of elemental vulnerabilities. Still, the difference is marginal, and given that the cost is the same (because you should take Imbue 3 with your starting points every single time) there's no real reason to take it. 
  • Fireproof Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - Not one of the best DR multiplying defensive imbuements, but fire is common enough. But when you've got a spare point and are in a fire themed dungeon, facing fire drakes, etc.
  • Forceful Blow (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Sounds cool, could be potentially awesome on paper, doesn't work in game. Most foes are either not really inconvenienced by being thrown bank one yard (because realistically, you're not going to do enough damage for more than that), are too strong for more than that, or will die anyway if you hit them hard enough for knockback to matter. That is, if you're using crushing damage, and the only weapons that does crushing damage and are worth using are flails, morning stars and kusaris, and you should be changing the damage type to cutting anyway. 
  • Fulminating Strike (Pyramid #3/60) - Despite the damage penalty, the fact that it treats metalic DR as 1, plus the fact that it comes with a stun only crippling blow for free could make it worth using. I made it because there was a spot that needed filling and because I love electrical damage, but it pales when compared to Cutting Strike. 
  • Ghostly Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) -  It might be because for semi-insubstantial foes that have Injury Tolerance (Diffuse) instead of insubstantial (see flaming skulls), I let this make the attacks do full damage, or because I love having undead in my games, but my players don't leave home without this. 
  • Guided weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Awesome, though given the absurd skill levels of the weapon master/heroic archer scout/mystic knight in my games, it's getting less use lately. Ignoring range penalties is awesome, but not that much when you're fighting at a distance where the other characters can contribute. 
  • Healthful Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - Protects against horrid skulls and toxifiers, and that's really it. Situational but if your GM likes those monsters and his homebrewed versions, it might be worth using. 
  • Homing Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Guided Weapon's dumb brother. Never takes this, as not only doesn't use an attack maneuver to attack (so you don't benefit from extra attacks), but you also need to aim first, and low tech weapon accuracy is so bad it will have much worse chance to hit than Guided. Also, given how similar 1/2 D and Max ranges are for muscle powered ranged weapons, Guided has no drawback. 
  • Impaling Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - The damage penalty makes it inferior to Cutting, but if you can take the penalty to remove it, it can lead to swing impaling attacks that don't get stuck, can target vitals, eyes and chinks in armor, and just sound awesome. 
  • Impenetrable Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - An imbuement using archer will want this to win any ranged battles. Anyone else can probably skip it. 
  • Incendiary Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - See Follow-up Imbuements for general comments on imbuements that add damage as a followup. This one is quite good, but the real gem is increasing the flammability class and combining it with Burning Strike to make anything burn. Burn, baby Burn! 
  • Insulated Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - Unless electrical attacks are real prevalent in your games, this is a waste of points. 
  • Lighten Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - Looks cool on paper, but it's WAY too fiddly to use at the table (recalculate your encumbrance every round? Are you nuts?) Also, delvers tend to gravitate to an encumbrance level that doesn't bother them too much, so this really has limited uses. 
  • Multi-Shot (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - This thing is so powerful that I even made official a Kromm forum clarification that nerfs it slightly, while adding an extra note to make swing doing ranged attacks (thrown maces, throwing axes and specially slings) even worse
  • Multistrike (Pyramid #3/60) - Mainly useful to power up follow-up imbuements in melee. The fact that the base damage is halved unless you take a hefty penalty means that you're going to need Penetrating Strike to get through armor and deliver those follow-ups. Use an enchanted weapon with Flaming Weapon/Icy Weapon/Electric Weapon for extra follow-up fun. 
  • Nullifying Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - It bears mentioning that this stacks with other DR multiplying imbuements, so when you know you're facing, let's say, magical fire, you can end up with quadruple DR with 2 unmodified rolls. Other than that, however, it's too situational. 
  • Padded Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - The weakest of the three physical damage DR multiplying imbuements, it's still leaps and bounds better than the elemental ones. Might come handy, especially given that crushing damage tends to come in bigger doses than cutting or impaling. 
  • Penetrating Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - This, and the relatively cheap armor divisor enchantments have made me include a very cheap enchantment to provide hardened, priced exactly as the Fortify enchantment.
  • Piercing Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - This is the poor Man's Impaling Strike. If you want to target vitals, eyes or chinks with swing crushing or swing cutting attacks, it's better than Impaling Strike. Otherwise, it's not worth using. 
  • Project Blow (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) -  I do not allow ranged imbuements, with the exception of Far Shot, apply to this either. This leads to people not taking it, so I might change it so that you can not use melee exclusive imbuements with it instead. 
  • Reinforce Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - Given how cheap Penetrating Weapon enchantments are, this can often be necessary. Mind you, published monsters don't often have armor divisors, preferring huge damage instead, something that I find weird because armor divisors can serve to hurt the heavily armored delvers while not splattering the wizard. 
  • Reinforce Shield (Pyramid #3/13) - Not useful in DF as it doesn't use the shield damage rules, but if you use them, it's necessary, especially if you use low tech shields. Also, it greatly increases the cover DR of Widen Shield. 
  • Reinforce Weapon (Pyramid #3/13) - Mainly useful for unarmed Imbuement users, who do not want to get their hands hurt when striking DR, being parried with a weapon, or touching creatures with damaging auras, it's not that useful for armed delvers. Of course, if your GM is cruel and makes you face creatures with cosmic auras of decay, you'll love it. 
  • Resilient Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - There are, AFAIK, no ablative or semi-ablative armors worth using. That is, they aren't even worth using if they were not ablative or semi-ablative, so why are you using this? 
  • Restorative Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - Fatigue damage sucks, so why not take this? It is also a requirement for Frost Imbued Soul, and that will let you down foes with FP damage faster than your GM can scream "Nerf!" 
  • Returning Weapon (Pyramid #3/13) - Awesome to abuse thrown weapons (specially thrown axes). I nerfed Multishot with swing dealing muscle powered ranged weapons because it was too ridiculous. 
  • Rigid Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - If blunt trauma mattered with low tech armors, this might have a use. Sadly, low tech armor DR is too low for blunt trauma to be anything but risible, so this Imbuement follows suit. 
  • Shattershot (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Not too shabby by itself, but combine it with multishot, and you can turn a mob of monsters into hamburger meat in no time. That led to me nerfing the combination, not really for it being overly effective (though it probably is) but for the sheer amount of rolling needed when you've got 10 monsters and attacks with RoF 5. I make it so only the first arrow shatters. It's still a much better AOE effect against non-diffuse foes than shockwave. 
  • Shockwave (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - As with explosion damage in general, this is something that is slightly misunderstood. In melee, it's use is for dealing with swarms and other diffuse foes, and for when you're surrounded. Remember that the floor doesn't dodge, and that you can rapid strike. With ranged attacks, it serves to make use of the internal explosions rules if you aim for an open mouth. Taking penalties to upgrade this to explosion 2 or 3 is very worthwhile. 
  • Sovereign Armor (Pyramid #3/4) - If you are facing foes that deal corrosion damage, you'll want this to avoid having your gear destroyed. It is also a prerequisite for Acid Imbued Soul. Take Acid Imbued Soul, Dissolving Strike, and use both Acid Weapon and Corrosive Strike, and laugh at any foe with DR. Your party members will have you though, as you'll be destroying loot left and right. 
  • Spiritual Defense (Pyramid #3/4) - Flaming skulls and their reskins can hurt in numbers. Ghosts can really ruin your day. With this, your armor will often give you 100% protection against them. What's not to like?
  • Stabilized Shot (Pyramid #3/60) - Given that with my changes since Rcl for a composite bow is 4, and you'll want this to truly abuse Multishot. If you want to use the cheese that is multishot thrown axes or multishot slings, you'll also want it. For attacks with low Rcl, such as the coveted Three Arrow Bow (the dream weapon of every Imbuement using archer), it can also provide Very Rapid Fire, meaning that you'll most often hit with every single arrow. 
  • Stealthy Attack (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Low/No Signature is often tricky to use, because the rules are so spread out. To simplify, I say that if the target doesn't notice the attack, it works as if it came from an invisible opponent. This means that the first time per combat you use it, it allows no defense! Subsequent uses "only" impose a -4 penalty to defend. Don't leave home without it, if using these rules. 
  • Strike of Negation (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Works better on paper than in game, but it can really help when it does work. Once you get your ST damage high enough (often with the help of per dice bonuses from sources such as tempered glass weapons and weapon master), you'll negate magic items and buffing spells with some reliability. The best way to use it is to have 2+attacks per round though, and use the option that allows you to use it after one of your attacks hits. Grab the Dispelling Strike powerup if you really want to use it though. 
  • Stupefying Blow (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Crippling Blow's mental brother. Not as good, because combat reflexes means that mental stun is unlikely to stick for more than one round, but having both means that targets need both high HT and wigh Will to avoid being stun-locked. The effects you can afflict by taking penalties are nice, though. Lowered Will, Daze or Hallucinating are your best choices. 
  • Subtle Defense (Pyramid #3/4) - So your armor becomes invisible for one round? It doesn't sound great. The real gold is using it with a (large) shield, preferably one enchanted with Deflect, to gain massive DB bonuses. 
  • Sudden Death (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - I don't even allow it in my DF games, not because it's too strong (it is not) but because while it sounds good, it's a trap. Useless in actual play. 
  • Supreme Control (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Slightly better than Sudden Death, but not by much. It's only use is IMHO when trying to use Crippling Blow or Stupefying Blow to incapacitate a foe you want to capture alive. Attacking the target's legs does the same thing, and requires no special traits. If you wanted to take foes alive, you would have made a Justicar right? leave this to those weird Justicar/Mystic Knights that might have a use for it. 
  • Telescopic Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) -  Don't forget you can also use it when in close combat to cancel those crippling penalties for using too big weapons. Never leave home without it. 
  • Thunderous Defense (Pyramid #3/4) - If Deafening Display is bad, this is worse. Avoid it. 
  • Toxic Strike (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - It's only use is when facing foes with vulnerabilities. It's not good for ranged attacks because it means that you no longer get the huge bonuses from vitals or brain hits. The foes that are resistant to piercing attacks are often also immune to it (wizardly constructs, undead, etc). Don't take it unless you want to take the cheap Poison Imbued Soul. 
  • Traumatic Blow (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - This is no good. You've got Penetrating Strike and Fulminating Strike to deal with armor, why would you want this? Avoid it. 
  • Underwater Strike (Pyramid #3/36) - Necessary if your GM like underwater adventures, useless otherwise. 
  • Vampiric Weapon (Power-Ups 1: Imbuements) - Awesome in the hands of a melee fighter, almost useless otherwise. I also make it slightly worse by making non-living beings (constructs, undead, spirits, elementals, some demons) immune to it. At least in my games, no matter what, you're going to eventually get hit and take damage, and in combat healing is hard to come by in GURPS. In combat healing that doesn't cost you actions? You might not use it every attack, but when you use it, it is a life saver. 
  • Vengeful Defense (Pyramid #3/4) - Much better than Restorative Armor. The armor version is sort of Ok, but the shield version can be devastating against high damage foes. Recommended to anyone who has a shield and uses imbuements. 
  • Widen shield (Pyramid #3/4) - Awesome, and you can position yourself to protect friends behind you. I would use the shield cover DR though, even if not using the shield damage rules, because the shield explicitly provides cover. I do not require block rolls if the shield is made bigger than 1 yard.


I have seen Imbuements used a ton, as they are Godogma’s very most favorite magic system ever in the entire wide world of RPG magic systems (I think), and it would be quicker and easier to count the GURPS characters he has made that don’t use imbuements as opposed to the ones that do (I am sure Godogma will kill me now). I have also made several Imbueists myself, and Starslayer has also played them, as have some others in our merry band.

A huge thing to note about being an Imbueist though is that Imbues by themselves are well, kinda useless. They buff and tweak something that already exists. So what exists is as important as what imbues your throwing on top of it. What is good for someone wielding a BAR is different from what is good for someone wielding a bow or a broadsword.

Enhancement Skills

  • Annihilating Weapon - I have only rarely used this myself, as I seem to only rarely face enemies who rely on parry a lot. Also, it tends to be unhealthy for enemy weapons, and if the enemy is using a weapon I want to loot it! However, it has been used to good effect by PCs in my games, either to destroy weapons or to force enemies to use their lousy defenses. It is especially handy defensively used to obliterate enemies weapons/limbs on a parry!
  • Arching Shot - I haven’t seen or seen used this one much at all. But after reading about it in the blog here, it sounds awesome. This must be corrected.
  • Bank Shot - Never used it or seen it used. Sounds like it might be amusing, or might just be tedious. Lowering enemy defenses is always a nice thing. 
  • Conic Blast - It sounds cool, but have never used it. Most ranged attacks seem more prone to relying on multiple hits or well placed hits to do damage, so a cone seems questionable. I could see it being useful for a high damage, high ROF perhaps though, like the M2HB imbueist.
  • Continuing Attack - I don’t see the use of this one. I want my enemy dead now, not, days from now. If you have high enough skill could be handy I suppose. 
  • Crippling Blow - I haven’t used this much myself (I don’t want to mess around with status effects, I want to make things dead directly through HP obliteration), but, I have seen PCs use it and it can definitely make a mess of targets. When the targets survive long enough to get status effected instead of just atomized. 
  • Dancing Weapon - I haven’t used this one very much, but, it is situationally handy on occasion. It requires extra weapons and again, why fuss with launching other weapons to attack foes instead of just whacking away yourself? I can see its uses though and probably should use it more. 
  • Drugged Weapon - FP damage can be King, but, this is hardly the way to do it, since FP and HP damage stacks poorly. I’ve never seen it used. 
  • Electric Weapon - I’ve never seen it used. Might be handy vs robots or such. Followup damage is extra damage so not a bad thing. 
  • Envenomed Weapon - I’ve never seen it used. Follow up damage is nice. However, very few things are extra vulnerable to toxic, and I could see the DM ruling many things as immune to it (you envenomed the stone golem? Riiight). 
  • Far Shot - Rarely used, but very awesome when it is. Great for any ranged fighter due to potential for awesome. Combine with Guided Shot to reach out and touch someone from very very very far away! 
  • Forceful Blow - I’ve never seen this used. Knockback may be nice and all, but, I’d rather try to get at those HP directly. With the right terrain could be very amusing. 
  • Ghostly Weapon - If you think you will be fighting ghosties or such, don’t leave home without it. If you don’t think so, it isn’t worth much. 
  • Guided Weapon - I’ve seen used a ton! A bread and butter ranged skill, used for putting single shots in someone’s eye from a mile away (with Far Shot above!), since all the skill not going to get past range can go to somewhere else useful. Less useful at closer range and other times when you want to cut loose on full auto, or against homogenous etc foes where there isn’t the option to hit the eye or vitals and need lots of hits. 
  • Homing Weapon - Never seen it used. It requires Aim. Who wants to Aim? People use Guided instead (and Far Shot if there ½ D isn’t enough for Guided). 
  • Incendiary Weapon - I’ve seen this used a lot, especially with shotguns. I am dubious how effective it is, but it is definitely popular. I think because the idea is to get LOTS of followup from lots of pellets, or because shotgun fireballs look cool? A lot of things are weak to fire so that helps. 
  • Multi-Shot - The Bread and Butter, be all, end all of the Mystic Archer type to fling arrows downrange by the bushel basket and try to negate enemies defense (sure, make your block or dodge by X to get past them all), shred HP (more hits, more HP go bye), or to even hit at all (ROF can add + to hit!), this is the #1 most use archer imbuement in the book, and I’ve seen it a ton and used it a ton. Note, I have been using the ruling that Bow Rcl = 1, and I imagine it will be less useful using the ½ bulk rule I’ve seen a few times on forum. Feel free to combine with other imbues such as shattershot for extra fun if your DM doesn’t kill you for ludicrous amounts of dice rolling.
  • Penetrating Strike - Boring but super effective. Is probably overall the #1 most used imbue, since everyone uses it be they meleeist, gunslinger, archer or whatever. Getting past armor is key to slaying HP. 
  • Project Blow - I’ve used this myself but have never seen anyone’s PC use it in a game I’ve run. It seems like a good way to get a single ranged attack in in a fight, but, never seems terribly effective. I think I just like the cool anime flashiness more than any GURPS use. I often use with Shockwave so can be explosive! 
  • Shattershot - Exceptionally effective when combined with Multi-Shot, especially since close does count with shrapnel! However, it will make people want to kill you OOC when you loose a ROF 14 BAR + Multi-Shot barrage downrange and the game stops for hours as you roll out where shots landed and what the shrapnel did. I suspect if I could get Maptools to work and use a handy Maptools macro it might work better. I think I have an Excel shrapnel tool laying around if anyone is interested. People love to take Shattershot, but they are very hesitant to use it because of the agonizing time it takes to resolve shrapnel attacks. Consider, 5 arrows exploding near 10 orks, that is 50 shrapnel attacks to resolve. Each of which may have 0-3 shrapnel hits, each of which needs random hit location and damage roll. UGH! Just shoot them directly instead okay? 
  • Shockwave - This one is situationally cool and I have seen it used and used it. It is handy to try and weaken a group of foes by flinging a single shot (for full damage) at the center one and thus clipping its friends, or as a substitute for whirlwind attack if you are surrounded. It also is exceptionally useful if you are facing Diffuse enemies! For these reasons it is often taken. I like using it with Project Blow for sheer cool factor. 
  • Stealthy Attack - I haven’t used it, but I have had players use it. I don’t like stealth and like flashy flash stuff. My players love being ninjas, so they like it. 
  • Stupefying Blow - Haven’t seen it used, but could be handy maybe. I’d rather try to just blast HP myself. 
  • Sudden Death - I don’t really get the point of this one. 
  • Supreme Control - I am not really sure I see much of a use for this one either. 
  • Telescoping Weapon - I have never seen this one used, but after reading the original blog entry I feel inclined to try it. I am very sad it caps at reach 4 though, so no telescoping lances! Very sad. 
  • Traumatic Blow - I’m not sure I could see where this could be useful. I’ve never seen it. 

Transformation Skills

  • Binding Shot - Awesome skill! Very good for ranged people who want to take targets alive. High raw damage is semi necessary. Or if you don’t have the raw damage, can at least keep enemy busy breaking free while your friends pummel it. Very nice! I’ve used it a ton. 
  • Burning Strike - Vampires and many other critters do not like burning damage. This lets you do burning damage. This is very useful and everyone takes it. Also it looks very cool. It also is why I might ban imbuements if I ever run Monster Hunters, as I’ve seen what Burning Strike + BARs does to vampires and their ilk. 
  • Chilling Strike - FP damage can be King, but oddly, I’ve never seen this one used. People take Fatiguing Strike instead. Corrosive Strike Half damage and destroys the loot? PASS! 
  • Crushing Strike - Aside from a few oddball critters, few things are weak to crushing. So this is not very popular. Mystic Archer types like carrying a cornucopia of blunt arrows in case they need crushing anyway. 
  • Cutting Strike - One of the bread and butter moves of the gunslinging imbueist, as this negates the big problem of guns (lousy vs homogenous and unliving) and instead targets their weak point (cutting!). Meleeists often are wielding Sw Cutting to start, and Archers carry cutting arrow cornucopias. Almost all gunslinger imbueists have this one. 
  • Dazzling Display - Never seen it used or used it. It sounds very cool and flashy, but, I want to hurt things in their HP. Also I am very hazy as to how exactly obscure actually works. 
  • Deafening Display - I haven’t seen or used it either. Also, maybe because I’m used to comics, but this doesn’t even sound as fun as Dazzling. 
  • Fatiguing Strike - FP Damage can be King! Imagine a beefy beastie like a T-Rex with ST 34 and 14 HT (or something much beefier), that’s a lot of HP to chisel through and then its going to make its HT checks to keep in the fight a long time. Or you just buzzsaw its 14 FP down to ‘you fall, no HT check allowed range’ and its over and done with. I used this once in one of Starslayer’s games to flatten a big bad boss monster in casual fashion. It isn’t seen very often likely due to shear unsportingness of it I expect. 
  • Impaling Strike - Impaling is nice, but Mystic Archers already do Impaling, the pi of guns is the same x3 vs vitals as impaling if can called shot vitals, or the tempting cutting may well be good enough or better than impaling at -1 per die. And if you can eat the -5 for impaling at straight level, you can pull cutting at -0 FP. Meleeists do Sw Cutting usually, which competes favorably with Sw -1 per die Impaling also. So, while it seems cool, am rather dubious its worth it. Haven’t seen it used either. Piercing Strike Piercing just isn’t a fun damage type, so why bother? 
  • Strike of Negation - This one is fun! As long as you are a meleeist who can hit like a truck. I have fond memories of dispelling a boss zombie psion in a single blow! I always take it, but rarely have used it. Don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else use it. But it is cool! 
  • Toxic Strike - Meh. Its cool feature is it leaves no marks. But we like Mark Langsdorf so we don’t want to lose him. Also, I like flashy blindingly obvious things, not sneaky slink stuff! And Toxic just isn’t a fun damage type. Never seen it used. 
  • Vampiric Weapon - The Bread and Butter mainstay move of the Meleeist! You heal as you fight, making you a real terror to actually fell and making you low maintenance as far as healing is concerned. Also, high ST helps you hit harder so you do more damage for more healing, and high HP (if you trip the threshholds) make you heal better, win win! I haven’t seen a meleeist who didn’t take this, it is the absolute core move as far as I’ve seen. 
    • One fun fun fun build I like to call the ‘Blood Ramjet’: One Beefy Meleeist Imbueist with a good amount of HP. Take the ‘Spend HP for Imbue’ perk from Pyramid, take the ‘spend HP for Extra Effort’ perk from somewhere (its supposedly for vampires, but, I don’t see why other people can’t tear their bodies up with extra effort, and it matches nicely with ED Strain damage). Live dangerously by spending buckets of HP for Imbues and Extra Effort as you become an offensive juggernaut, using Vampiric Strike to keep healing. It is wildly risky and only dubiously effective due to its risk, but awesomely fun! 
  • Withering Strike - I’ve never seen this used, but sounds like Indiana Jones and Holy Grail styled fun! FP damage is King. 


I don't think any of the three of us had wildly different views on the value of the various skills, except perhaps I valued Annihilating Weapon a bit more (what is wrong with destroying loot? Some loot isn't worth lugging back home!) and Multi-shot a bit less, though the last one is just because my character isn't good with his bow - a primary ranged attacker gets a lot out of Multishot.

I realized after I put this post together that it might have been more interesting to intersperse Antoni's and Kalazz's comments all Point-Counterpoint style, but I'm not willing to do it now. Sorry. Maybe next time. 

Thanks to Antoni and Kalazz for contributing
this article!


  1. "The way I read it, this gets around shields, unless they are placed overhead. Given that block is the bane of archers, this is awesome."

    It is awesome, but is that true? Arching shot just says it's treated as Overhead, and nothing I can find in Basic Set says that attacks from above give a -2, not that you can't Block. I suspect if Kromm meant "this bypasses shields" or "cannot be Blocked" it would say so more directly . . .

    Cool stuff, though. I'm glad you posted these.
    GURPS Magic says something different, but it's the odd man out, really.

    1. What the hell, I must have spaced up, not down, for my "cool stuff" comment. The end of that comment should say :

      "GURPS Magic says something different, but it's the odd man out, really. Cool stuff, though. I'm glad you posted these."


    2. I emailed Sean about this. Long story short, you were right, though there's still a kernel of truth here. Here's what he said:

      At the start of your turn, you may choose whether you are holding your
      shield in your own plane (the normal situation), overhead, or for that
      matter pointed at the ground. This choice is a *free action* and not a
      Ready maneuver, but you cannot revisit it mid turn. After you choose,
      blocks in the other two elevations are still possible but at -2.

      That's the extent of rules support. Two house rules for realism:

      1. The penalty is -2 per elevation change, resulting in -4 if you are
      pointing up and the attack comes from below, or vice versa. This will
      be rare, but might happen in a game where zombie hands from the earth
      and rocks from the heavens could happen in the same battle.

      2. Your shield DB always counts for a block, by definition, but it only
      adds to a dodge or a parry against an attack from the chosen elevation.


    3. Cool, thanks for posting that.


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