• Momentum or Kinetic Energy: Which One Pierces a T Rex’s Chain Mail on a Glancing Blow?

    Here’s a collection of online bric-a-brac with connections to this site’s gaming material: Dinosaurs and their tails Having written about both dinosaur design and tail design, I can’t help but comment on the Smithsonian blog’s report that dinosaurs may have had thicker, beefier tails than often depicted. Sounds fine to me, at least until we get that cloning process working to verify things. What does that mean for critter design? Well, nothing, really. About all I can note is that, using the above tail rules, your dinos really should go for the heavy tail option instead of the slim version – although that always sounded right for dinos anyway. Hmm,…

  • RPG science: Designing dinosaurs just got easier?

    23Dinosaurs may not have been as heavy as previously thought. Those are the words of scientists who found flaws in the models used to estimate weight: “Palaeontologists have for 25 years used a statistical model to estimate the body weight of giant dinosaurs and other extraordinarily large extinct animals,” said Gary Packard, from Colorado State University, whose research will appear in the Zoological Society of London’s Journal of Zoology this week. “We have found that the statistical model is seriously flawed and the giant dinosaurs probably were only about half as heavy as is generally believed.” In other words, dinosaurs are just as big – long and tall, that is…

  • RPG science: Biology fun for creature design!

    Clearing out some old links I’d noted, here’s some good reading for game designers (or just detail-happy GMs) wanting to give good, hard biology a friendly nod: The Biology of B-Movie Monsters http://fathom.lib.uchicago.edu/2/21701757/ Wow, this is a heck of an article by Michael C. LaBarbera, professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy at the University of Chicago. It’s a layman-friendly grand tour of how size and scaling work in reality, and what that means for B-movie creatures – and by extension, game-table monsters. Scaling of area vs mass and its relevant effects on cooling, terminal velocity, metabolism, and so on; mass and falling damage; mechanical difficulties posed by huge size; and…

  • Summary of ways to handle power-vs-weight in GURPS creatures

    Responding to this thread on the SJG forums, I started listing the different ways to handle the design issue of power-vs-weight in creatures. But my would-be post was getting farther from the focus of the thread (handling of armor and creature size), so I’ll place it here instead. The topic Creatures have vastly different ratios of power to weight. Here’s a summary of available ways to handle that, in increasing order of detail: a) Ignore it! Done. : ) b) Follow the 4e BS19 guidelines: just wing some adjustments to Move etc. that feel right. This is usually good enough! c) Per b, but use some rough guidelines for the…

  • Quick Quibbles with SM in GURPS 4e

    I’m glad that 4e now incorporates something as simple and basic as a size for characters! SM, what took you so long? My friendly little quibbles with SM as s/he stands (Basic Set p 19) are as follows: 1) The official rule is to round a creature’s SM up – unless it’s a humanoid over 2 yards tall, in which case leave it at SM 0. I’d change that to “round to the nearest SM”. That neatly keeps humanoids, especially the countless hero PCs that top 6 feet, at SM 0 without special exceptions. (However, it does place 5’2″-or-shorter people at SM -1, for better or worse.) By that same…

  • Rules Bit (GURPS): Die, Monster, Die!

    Intro: “Whaddya mean, the Colossal Amoeba passed out?” A fierce dragon finally meets its match: Conrad the Bavarian, who takes the dragon down from 120 to 0 HP and goes to administer final rites. Good job, but one question: how long will it take to deliver another 120 points to kill the unconscious wyrm? Or 240 points if the beast makes its HT roll? Up to 600 more points if those HT rolls keep succeeding? (Dragon HT can be pretty high!) Won’t the magic-user, the thief, and the cleric have nabbed all the gold pieces by the time Conrad finishes hacking away? Well, if your character managed to chalk up 120…

  • Godzilla is stronger than you.

    Well, sure, you knew that. But how much stronger? I was browsing John Woodward’s nifty GURPS Godzilla page. His is no mere lazy stab at a handful of stats (like… well, this post is), but is a thorough guide to roleplaying the the Toho cinematic universe. Characters, monsters, history, plots, and more. A campaign in a box, if you will. GURPS Godzilla How big a box? To hold the Big G, at least 300 feet high – that appears to be the canonical height of Godzilla, despite some variance throughout his storied career. And how tough is our radioactive pal? ST 7500, says John, with DR 3000, HT 20, 50,000…

  • RPG science: Biomechanics fun

    I would have liked to hear the speech by the inimitable Steven Vogel on “Power from the People: Life When Muscle Was Our Main Motor”, an overview of how biomechanics shaped the lives and work of our ancestors. The article at http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2007/02/archeological_biomechanics.ph… provides some interesting fodder for the dilettante game designer, though it’s unfortunately brief. Less sober: The Science of Godzilla, at http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2007/02/the_science_of_godzilla_… . The radioactive breath jet? It’s all thanks to a plasma gland. Yep, a plasma gland. (How we know that, isn’t answered.)