• Tweeting tiny ideas: Tactical Hand Signals and Acrobatic Jump

    Hey, check out that slick new feed of Games Diner tweets on the left side of the front page. Scroll down a bit if you have to… ah, there they are. Just like on the actual Games Diner Twitter page. Mmm, pithy. (As I note in one tweet: “Twitter: 30 seconds to write the tweet, 3 minutes to mangle it into 140 characters.”) I mention this as a reminder that the feed exists, and to note that I’m starting to use it for a bit more than “hey, look at something I found.” First, it’s a good tool for announcing minor web site updates (bug fixes, article brush-ups, etc.), as…

  • Idea pot: Kickin’ it with GURPS

    (In which I inaugurate the diner-themed term “idea pot”, inviting your cogitative degustation of little semi-tested morsels long bubbling on the back burner. Or still just leaking juices behind the vegetable crisper. Or brushed free of floor lint and returned to the stew. Shhh, you didn’t see that.) A GURPS character can kick another guy in the leg on a Brawling -2, Karate -2, or DX -2 roll (plus the modifier for hit location). I, too, can kick another guy in the leg without much trouble (well, until he kicks back, that is). A GURPS character can also kick another guy in the head on that same Brawling -2, Karate -2, or…

  • Building the dungeon matador: Creatures and combat familiarity

    Here’s a GURPS idea I’ve been kicking around for a while: a trait for improved fighting prowess against a specific type of creature. The concept is easy to understand, and it’s not hard to quickly whip up a game trait that, at quick glance, appears to do the job. But, in a refrain that’s as familiar to rules hackers as the clacking of a tumbling d6, scrutinizing and testing a solution turns up fiddly considerations, especially in making the creation mesh neatly with existing game traits.  I’m not yet satisfied with what I’ve got. Below is an overview of design considerations for fellow rules hackers, followed by my half-baked suggestion…

  • Gaming Low-Power, Low-Tech PCs, Part II

    Introduction I’ve changed the title of this article and its Part I, to better fit what the articles are really about. Yes, they’re nominally a look at the Mad Lands setting of GURPS Fantasy II, but let’s think bigger. What I’m really writing about is how to keep PCs alive, and growing as characters, in any setting that sharply limits PC power without dialing down the threats they face. So, while I focus on Madlanders as a perfect example of no-magic, no-powers people – “mundanes” – caught between hammer and anvil, what follows might be of use in any low fantasy game where monsters and wizards wield great powers that…

  • Minor brush-ups to COSH

    I made some very minor tweaks to COSH, my GURPS 3e-centric combat skill creation system. The changes consist of a few wording improvements and typo fixes. I also clarified that the reader-created Evade is best built as an unarmed skill, with oddness resulting when built as armed; it’s a good exercise in design. Those changes don’t make for a must-re-read, but COSH itself is worth checking out if you haven’t done so yet! Take that Evade, for example (with thanks to KBantar!); it’s a cool skill that lets you slickly evade any sort of attack, and is perfect for an unusual alien fighting style, a pacifist martial art, or a…

  • Rules Bit (GURPS): Throw Like You Mean It

    Intro: “You throw like a kobold” GURPS’ thrown weapon stats neatly spell out the best distance (Maximum Range) you can achieve with a toss. These are multiples of Strength, typically STx1.5 for heavier weapons (spear), STx1 for very light ones (dagger), and STx2.5 for middle-weight weapons that hit a sweet spot for distance (throwing axe). Working from those stats, Conrad the Bavarian and his ST 16 can hurl a javelin 16 x 2.5 = 40 yards. In battlemap terms, that’s right off the dining room tabletop; it’s a throw that should send even the hardiest of orc miniatures fleeing to a safer distance. With some Extra Effort, Conrad could hit…

  • Sports throwing skills in COSH

    The old GULLIVER for GURPS 3e details throwing skills for use in sports, not combat. Generally, I’ve suggested a hefty distance bonus in exchange for several drawbacks: encumbrance penalties, a Ready requirement, and a big TH penalty. (Yes, a TH penalty. Track-and-field javelin, hammer, discus, and so on never require the thrower to actually hit something. What the heck? Let’s get some man-sized targets out there, and go Spartan on the next Olympiad!) Come to think of it, perhaps these special skills can be built nicely using COSH, the system for modifying and building combat skills in 3e. Hmm, it’s worth a try! If this sort of thing piques your rarified interests, break out the COSH page along…

  • “Magic” Skill for GURPS

    GURPS was long funny in that it offered skills for each and every specific application of magic (i.e., hundreds of spells), but no skill to cover a mage’s overall understanding of magic itself. Such a skill – name it Magic for simplicity – both fills that gap and lets you fine-tune magic in your campaign, in at least 10 fun ways. This old article was written for GURPS 3e; its Magic skill is at least partially covered now by the Thaumatology skill that later appeared in GURPS Grimoire and then 4e Basic Set. Still, the notes may hold a new idea or two for your 4e games. History v1.0: 1997 v1.1: 01/08/01 v1.2: 09/10/24. Minor updates,…

  • Pricing breadth: Talents and Wildcard skills in GURPS

    Here’s a quick example of putting the ideas in Game design musing: Pricing breadth in skills to work: GURPS’ Wildcard skills (BS 175) allow purchase of multiple skills for the price of three; Talents (BS 89) allow a bonus to many skills (plus other minor benefits) for a fraction of the eventual cost of full levels in those skills. Both share fuzziness in common: There’s no stated limit on on how many skills a Wildcard skill covers (so why stop at 10 if the GM will allow 20?), and you can freely choose the number of skills a Talent covers, within the limits of its group size (gee, should I take one skill or…

  • Game design musing: Pricing breadth in skills

    If fluency in a foreign tongue costs your character 5 points, how much should fluency in ten languages cost? In the midst of recent email correspondence about ESCARGO, I’ve dredged up a game design topic long of interest to me: a decreasing cost scale for multiple instances of traits. Wait – is there some reason why ten 5-point languages should cost the PC less than 50 points? And isn’t ESCARGO all about increasing the cost for more stuff? Let me explain: Depth vs breadth Many a game designer (or just dedicated hacker) has pondered the topic of breadth vs depth in character skills. (Some of the below could be adapted…