Winter part 1: Introduction

What is it?

Winter is the name of the world in which I ran my GURPS campaign from January to April this year. It is a combination fantasy and sf setting on a planet which is perpetually in a wintry state. This issue, I present a basic overview of the background and the history of Winter, along with the different races which populate the world. In future installments, I'll detail the different settlements on Winter. All of the PCs in the campaign were human (their choice, not mine) so the information presented will take on a somewhat humanocentric point of view. Enjoy.


Approximately 200 years ago, a human colony ship was passing through Winter's sector of space when the spacecraft started to undergo unexplained system failures. The ship underwent a forced landing on a nearby planet which, although frozen over, was capable of supporting human life. As per the original colonization plan, the populace was divided up into twelve settlements on the planet's surface, each with its own AI to help run things. However, much of the equipment that was to be used in colonization was damaged during the landing, so the settlers had to make do mostly with what the planet provided.

Once the settlements began to take hold, the colonists began to discover several surprising things. First and foremost, the planet, which they dubbed Winter, was found to be magical. There were many things about the planet which did not make any sort of scientific sense, chief among them the ability of native flora and fauna to survive in such a hostile arctic environment. There were also native intelligent populations on the planet, some of which were able to harness the magical energy of Winter and use it to their own ends. Something about the planet, possibly its magical aspect, seemed to interfere with the proper workings of technology.

Without being able to rely on their technological and scientific knowledge, the human settlements quickly slid into a dark age from which they have just recently began to emerge. It is here that the campaign begins.

The Planet

Winter is not always in a perpetual arctic state as it appears to be. It is in fact on a large, 1000 year elliptical orbit, in which the human colonists had the misfortune of arriving during its cold phase. The present climate of Winter is very similar to that of Siberia on present day Earth. Its size, gravity and composition are all similar to Earth's. The range of human and settlement and therefore the scope of the campaign are in an area of roughly 50,000 square miles.

Normal GURPS magic works on Winter. All spells, except those from the Enchantment and Meta-Spell colleges, are available for study at the University of Newton, which is the only organized magical enclave on the planet. More will be discussed about the nature of magic on Winter when the settlement of Newton is covered.

Psionic abilities also exist on Winter, although their existence is neither widely known or accepted. Any example of psionics is likely to be assumed to be another form of magic. Characters wishing to have psionic abilities should be assessed a 20 point Unusual Background and be limited to a maximum power rating of ten.

The PC races


IQ +1 (10 points)
DX +1 (10 points)
ST -1 (-10 points)
Attractive (5 points)
Magical Aptitude: 1 level (15 points)
Extended Life Span (5 points)
Sense of Duty to Nature (-10 points)
Total: 25 points

The Vellnes are an elf like race with innate magical abilities. Most live in scattered settlements near the northern base of the southern mountain range. Most Vellnes are farmers, using their magic to help their crops to grow in the poor climate. They are frequently at odds with the Gnomes living in the central mountains. They get along well with the humans, often trading crops for goods.


ST +1 (10 points)
DR 1 (5 points)
Fatigue +1 (5 points)
Longevity (5 points)
Mining Skill @ IQ (1 point)
+3 Bonus to Craft Skills (9 points)
Reduced Move (-5 points)
Intolerance: Vellnes (-5 points)
Compulsive Behavior: Don't use high TL stuff (-5 points)
Total: 20 points

Most Gnomes live in their native homeland: a vast network of caves beneath the central mountains. They have an extreme dislike for the Vellnes, which is unfortunate since only fifty miles separate their settlements. Gnomes like to mine and build things, but their distrust of the humans' technology stands as a barrier for constructive trade.


ST +3 (30 points)
HT +2 (20 points)
IQ -1 (-10 points)
DR 2 (10 points)
PD 1 (25 points)
Extra Encumbrance (5 points)
Ice Clinging (10 points)
Claws (15 points)
Magic Resistance +5 (10 points)
Inconvenient Size (Average 8 feet tall) (-10 points)
Short Life Span (-25 points)
Hibernates (Normal: 6 mos., Sleep: 2 mos.) (-10 points)
Can't Speak Other Languages (-5 points)
Primitive (-20 points)
Total: 45 points

The Urs are a primitive bear-like race. They live in small, isolated clans scattered throughout the land. For the most part they keep to themselves.


HT +1 (10 points)
IQ -1 (-10 points)
Hit Points +2 (16 points)
Combat Reflexes (15 points)
Night Vision (10 points)
+1 Bonus to Edged Weapons (4 points)
Intolerance (-10 points)
Reputation -3 (-15 points)
Unattractive (-5 points)
Total: 15 points

The Orcs are a violent, nomadic race. Many Groups roam the land, attacking travelers and occasionally human settlements. No one likes orcs and they are basically indiscriminate about who they attack.


Unusual Background: Access to TL 9 (10 points)
Susceptible to the Cold Climate (-10 points)
Total: 0 points

These are basic, everyday humans. They are divided amongst the twelve settlements, scattered throughout the land.

rev 10/94

Winter part 1: Introduction originally appeared in A Rock and a Hard Place vol. 1 no. 4, as a part of All of the Above #11/12, November/December 1992, by arrangement with PK Publishing.

Copyright (c) 1992, 1994 David S. Carter. All rights reserved. Winter(tm) is a trademark of David S. Carter. GURPS(R) is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games. No infringement on their trademark is intended by its use here.