The Usenet Poster

Originally posted to on 17 Nov 2000; based on a GURPS template.

There are Usenetters, and then there are Usenetters. The vast majority of people who use Usenet (sorry) are just commonplace, ordinary citizens who read articles, follow threads, and post every once in a while when they feel they have something worthwhile to contribute. Some never even bother to post, being content to lurk for the duration of their online existence.

However, the characters who define the tenor of Usenet are more than just ordinary. These exceptional posters jump into threads, start flamewars, and bait one another with puissance and flair -- or at least with pig-headed stubbornness. "It's not what you know, it's how often you post" -- such is the motto of the true Usenet poster, as is "It's not who you know, it's who you flame".

For obscure psychological reasons most Usenet posters are male, but there are no sex requirements for this prestige class. Similarly many Usenet posters are Chaotic Evil, but examples have been seen of most other alignments. It is even possible for Usenet posters to be Lawful Good, but such characters are legendary -- as in, you might hear stories about them but you'll probably never meet one. Such Usenet posters might be members of the Usenet cabal, if such a thing existed.

Class Statistics


Hit die: d6

Class skills: Bluff (Cha), Decipher Script (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Forgery (Int), Innuendo (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Internet) (Int), Sense Motive (Wis) Skill points/level: 4 + Int modifier


Level  BAB    Fort     Ref    Will    Special
1      +0      +2      +2      +0     Fire resistance 5, sneak attack +1d6
2      +1      +3      +3      +0     Uncanny dodge (Dex bonus to AC)
3      +2      +3      +3      +1     Sneak attack +2d6
4      +3      +4      +4      +1     Slippery body
5      +3      +4      +4      +1     Fire resistance 10, sneak attack +3d6
6      +4      +5      +5      +2     Uncanny dodge (can't be flanked)
7      +5      +5      +5      +2     Flaming strike, sneak attack +4d6
8      +6      +6      +6      +2     Mind blank
9      +6      +6      +6      +3     Fire resistance 15, sneak attack +5d6
10     +7      +7      +7      +3     Fire subtype

Special Abilities

Fire resistance: Starting at first level, the Usenet poster gains the extraordinary ability to withstand flames. The first 5 points of fire damage he takes each round are ignored. At 5th level this increases to 10 points, and at 9th level to 15.

Uncanny dodge: Starting at 2nd level, the poster gains the extraordinary ability to react to opponents without conscious thought. At 2nd level and above he retains his Dex kneejerk bonus to AC (if any) regardless of being flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker, such as one using an anonymous remailer. (He still loses his Dex kneejerk bonus if immobilised, for example by being reported to his service provider.)

At 6th level, the poster can no longer be flanked, since he can react to attackers no matter what tactics they use. This denies rogue posters the ability to use flanking to troll him. The exception to this defense is that a member of the Usenet cabal who is at least 4 levels higher than the poster can flank him (and thus terminate his account).

Sneak attack: If a poster can catch an opponent unawares, he can troll her for extra damage. Basically, any time the poster's target is denied her Dex bonus to AC (whether she actually has a Dex bonus or not), the poster's troll does +1d6 points of damage. This extra damage increases by +1d6 points every other level. Should a poster score a critical hit with a troll, this extra damage is not multiplied.

A poster can only troll a creature with a discernible intellect. Creatures which cannot be trolled include constructs (such as bots), oozes, plants and vermin (such as WebTV users).

Slippery body: At 4th level, the poster gains the extraordinary ability to wriggle free from certain effects that would otherwise constrain him. If a poster with a slippery body is killfiled, he can use a different nick, an anonymous remailer or a different account to evade the effects of the killfile.

Flaming strike: At 7th level, the poster's attacks are considered to do fire damage. This has implications for certain creatures such as trolls, which are vulnerable to fire. Flaming strike is a supernatural ability.

Mind blank: At 8th level, the poster gains the supernatural ability to ignore all mind-affecting spells and effects, as per the spell. He automatically ignores all attempts to change his mind, whether reasoned or otherwise. Raised and lowering the mind blank is a move-equivalent action that provokes attacks of opportunity.

Fire subtype: At 10th level, the poster has been flaming for so long that he becomes a creature of fire. He is forevermore completely immune to fire damage. However, the poster's history also makes him unable to tolerate being ignored. Because of this he takes double damage from cold shoulders such as killfiles and account termination, unless the attack allows a saving throw for half damage, in which case he takes half damage on a successful save and double damage on a failed save.

Note that this means high-level Usenet posters are immune to their own attacks. Conflicts between such posters tend to last for days if not weeks, turning the newsgroups around them into a charred wasteland. The conflict only ceases when one or both sides realise the futility of their actions. This is, however, by no means guaranteed: the history of Usenet is marked by many notorious wars which have gone on for years, between people who really should know better.

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