The new GURPS delivers… Or does it?

The 2005 GURPS Diner article, brought into the new Games Diner site. One gamer geek’s look at the new GURPS 4e and how well it satisfied his GURPSy wishes.

This is a pretty straightforward HTML paste into the new site. Sorry, don’t expect much of the copious internal links… If you want to see the original article with its links intact, head here.

Special thanks to David Nichols for proofreading and commenting on the first draft. You’ve been spared at least a couple of embarassing errors thanks to his attentiveness.

2007.08.23 edits: I added links to a few GURPS Diner articles that have since addressed topics in the article below.

One Fanboy’s 4e Wishlist Revisited

Some time back, my article Ingredients for a Better GURPS: Recommendations for GURPS 4e picked out select bits from the GURPS Diner (especially from the big rules overhaul GULLIVER) that I thought worthy of consideration for the then-upcoming GURPS 4th Edition.

So were any of this fanboy’s wishes granted when 4e hatched? In many cases, yes! In others, partially, or not at all. This article tallies the score.

What’s the point of it? Not much. It’s just one way of reviewing the good, the bad, and the ugly (not that there’s much of that) in the new Basic Set books that’ll define GURPS for many years to come. More personally, it’s a small step toward updating some of the GURPS Diner content for 4e-dom. Wishes that were granted can be tossed out from GULLIVER or elsewhere from the Diner. That still leaves a home on the Diner for the wish list bits that weren’t granted, as well as the copious Diner content that was never envisioned as 4e fodder to begin with. Much of that may stay there, if perhaps with some modification for 4e.

But the good news remains: 4e‘s tasty improvements makes a good chunk of Diner content unnecessary, meaning the site can slim down. And that’s a welcome thing.

(So why not just update the Diner already instead of writing this? Because that’s hard work. This is easy procrastination.)

Great Big Flaming Disclaimer

This article does NOT take credit for any of the new bits in 4e, or even suggest such. I’m not the sole (nor necessarily the first) creator of many those ideas; half of them are common-sense notions that any number of players will have thought up independently. SJG, for its part, hardly needs enlightenment from benevolent fans to come up with improvements as obvious as, say, giving creatures SM, or losing an unnecessary extra table for biting damage.

So where did SJG get the idea for any given 4e rule? Ask them if you need to know. My best guess for any specific bit is that it sprung from the formless cloud of house rules sites, forum debates, and playtest comments out there, and/or (more often than not) from the 4e team’s own common sense and creativity. I’m sure many 4e changes have no single clear point of origin.

This article isn’t about the origin or reasons behind any new 4e changes. All it says is “Here’s what I hoped for in 4e“, followed by “Woo hoo, the game delivered!” or “Nuts, maybe next time”. That’s it.

All right then: on with the post-4e look back at “Ingredients for a Better GURPS”. Each original wish list item appears in bold, followed by commentary in regular text. Links are to spots in the Diner that address the item in question.

The List

“Your Wish is Granted”

Decide how ST scales with size. “Quad ST” – ST scaling with linear scale, and lifting power with the square of that – is likely the best solution. GULLIVER goes into recommendations at length.


ST simply isn’t like the other attributes, so it’s good to see 4e perform some needed clean-up, especially in allowing point cost to differ from that of DX and IQ.


Lose Natural ST! This ugly, worthless patch becomes unnecessary when the game cleans up fatigue rules, incorporates weight in jumping rules, and stops mixing ST and skills. Natural ST also hinders the ability to “scale” ST freely to different game sizes, another reason why it has to go.

Done, and good riddance.

But while 4e‘s improved fatigue and jumping rules no longer require the Natural ST patch, there are still some instances of ST mixed with skills, which can produce funny results.


Use percentage, not absolute, mods when modifying ST or damage for skills. Percentage bonuses work correctly for creatures of any ST, and eliminate any need for patches. Another benefit is increased utility from high ST: the more ST you have, the higher the bonuses. See discussion and ideas here and here.


GULLIVER suggests percentage bonuses to ST for damage purposes. 4e went with another method: +1 or +2 bonuses per die of damage. While that doesn’t allow for fine levels of difference, it’s neat and easy. Well done.


Make the damage bonus from AOA a percentage, not a fixed +2. This could be a percentage bonus on damage itself, though a percentage bonus on ST would also be workable and more consistent with the earlier suggestion for skill-based damage bonuses.

Done, implemented as a +1 per die.

Actually, the old +2 damage lives on in 4e as a minimum bonus. That’s technically all wrong, but is easily forgiven as a cinematic sop to Cidi PCs with the acorns to go berserk on a Verm.

Side note: GULLIVER has long suggested a +33% damage bonus for All-Out Attack – and humorously, never realized that +1 damage per die is the simple way to go about that. Kudos to SJG for being more on the ball!


Quit saying “Dodge equals Move”! This causes trouble and has never been true; the two only share the same base. Change the BS 77, 98 text to state the correct GURPS rule: “Your Dodge score uses the same (HT + DX)/4 base as your Move score, and is modified for encumbrance, Combat Reflexes, and so on.”


Dodge and Move both start with Basic Speed, but Dodge now adds +3; later traits further modify Dodge and Move separately. The important thing is that the text no longer claims the two are equal.

Side note: I’ve always liked a +2 added to defenses as a replacement for PD; that way, the minimum value for any defense ability (a base defense of 1) becomes 3, which makes sense as the minimum roll on 3d. But I have no argument with 4e‘s use of a +3 instead.


Drop the separate rule for animal Dodge. With “Dodge = Move” abolished, the human Dodge rule works fine for animals too; no patch needed.

Done! A small change, but a nice example of the many steps 4e makes toward simpler, more universal rules.


Stop using the word “Speed” to mean an animal’s Move. Call its Move “Move” and its Speed “Speed”, just as with any other creature.



Use TH modifier as an easy label for overall size: a Size +3 Giant, a Size -2 dog, etc.

Done, using the new SM trait. That allows easy labeling like “SM +3 Giant”.

Side note: I don’t necessarily agree with all of the SMs given to creatures; I think a horse should be SM +2, for example. But that’s neither here nor there.


Establish use of the word “trait” to mean “advantage, disadvantage, attribute, or other character feature”. This saves typing.

Done. There it is in the glossary on B7.


Implement “fast blows“: defender takes -1 AD per attacker -2 TH. This is separate from, and compatible with, feints. It’s a big aid in solving the “unbeatable defenses” problem, and enables fast, hard-to-stop blows from skilled fighters (an important piece missing from current rules). The rule only comes into play if chosen by a fighter, making it a superior replacement for “Only the Best Shall Win” (which complicates every attack by every fighter).


It’s called “Deceptive Attack”, and is described as encompassing any sort of fast, advanced, or otherwise hard-to-stop attack. Kudos to SJG for employing this voluntary maneuver, and not the similar (but static and unlikeable) “Only the Best Shall Win” option from Martial Arts.


Simplify the use of HT and HP. Clearly establish HP as the “damage sink”: all measures of “damage level” use damage points relative to HP. Clearly establish HT as a measure of health independent of size and HP, and the basis for rolls.

CII 152-153 starts the job, but 4e should extend the use of easy relative measures: slowdown from injury at HP/3, death roll at -HP and every additional HP/2, automatic death at -HPx5, etc. These rules work at any scale, and make the CII tables unnecessary.

Done as far as I can see, without prying into every possible situation.


Lose the separate table for animal biting damage. Base damage on thrust, with whatever modifiers give the effect that the original table aims for.



Change the skill system so one purchases a penalty/bonus, not a final skill level: “Bicycling +4”, not “Bicycling-14”. This allows flexible use of stat bases (such as DX to ride a bicycle, IQ to fix one using Mechanic default from Bicycling). The discussion is well-established online, so that’s enough here.

I don’t think this list item even appears in the Diner; it was an idea heard online from many players, and I tossed it into the Ingredients article. While 4e doesn’t toss out the old way of buying and representing skills, it does incorporate the above idea as relative skill levels.


Skill bonus” traits that modify a set of skills to represent unusual talent (or lack of it) are good aids to get a character right, without extreme attributes.

Countless players have suggested countless such traits. 4e makes it all official with Talents.


Increase the -75% max savings from limitations to -80%. (Most trait costs are a multiple of 5.)

Done! I didn’t expect to see that one; sure looks good in print.


Make Grenade/Rock Throwing skill official. Lack of a skill for our oldest and most common ranged weapon is a bizarre omission. (No, Throwing doesn’t do the job; you can learn to throw rocks without ever throwing a single other weapon.)

The Throwing skill appears to have morphed into this: skill for rocks, baseballs, grenades, and so on, not everything under the sun. Good!


Fix Extra Effort. Rolls should be against HT (or Will, or Will-adjusted HT). This includes rolls to boost ST; rolling against ST to boost ST is broken. (Currently, big creatures can somehow boost their ST to many times its normal limits, but a Cidi PC can’t boost her ST one whit.) The fix will correctly make effects proportionately identical for creatures of any size.

Well done, 4e!


With or without natural encumbrance rules, use multipliers, not additions/subtractions, for the effects of encumbrance on Move. No funny maxima or minima, no separate rules for fliers and animals and Supers, just a single set of consistent multipliers for everything, on land, in air, or in water.

Done. Great!


Don’t set any bases for Move that directly incorporate ST, i.e., (ST+DX)/4. It doesn’t work.

This is a rebuttal to a certain set of oft-resurrected suggestions from fans; it’s not something that I thought SJG would ever implement. And they didn’t. Good for them.


Use encumbrance penalties for appropriate combat skills (such as Karate and Judo), rather than the current all-or-nothing Light encumbrance limit. This is simple and flexible.


I don’t know how extensively 4e applies the concept, but there it is for Karate, Judo, and for defenses involving fencing weapons, and that’s a fine start.


Drop the odd Mechanic bonus for flexibility traits; make that a reduction of any skill penalties for work in tight quarters. Clarify the combat and other effects of all flexibility traits (see same link).

More or less granted. (Players of bendy PCs may still like some of the extra ideas in the GULLIVER version.)


Half Way’s Better than Nothing…

Drop PD and its aggravation of the “unbeatable defenses” problem. Implement a generic rule for “glancing blows” instead: reduce damage and multiply DR for such blows. (GULLIVER includes a different option that addresses too-high defenses by keeping AD and PD separate, which does the job and plays great — but dropping PD altogether could be even simpler.)

Two requests in one here. The first one is a Done. Good riddance, PD!

But for better or worse, PD is not replaced by anything else (other than higher defenses overall); there’s now no standard implementation of “glancing blows” in GURPS. Which is fine; I don’t think many RPGs bother with such a fiddly detail. But anyone interested in a simple method may appreciate the first link above. (The second link is to a method I won’t be using any longer; as written above, dropping PD altogether is even better.)


Define where Min ST and other weapon stats come from. Any comparison of ST and weapon stats must use relative difference (i.e., ST > Min ST x 1.5), not absolute difference (i.e., ST > Min ST +5). (The Weapon Design System is a good start, though I hope to make some improvements.)

Alas, 4e includes no origin for Min ST that I can find. But where 4e does make ST comparisons to Min ST, it now properly uses multiples.

But on a similar note, there are still areas where ST should be modified by a percentage, not an absolute amount, such as ST mods for number of hands when choking.


Add the CI procedure for “fixing” Contests of ST. It’s not a pretty patch, but is necessary for Contests of ST to work. (Allow the lower ST to be brought “close enough” to 10, as a simplification. Or consider this entirely new Contest of ST mechanism option if really feeling ambitious.)

Well, B349 does offer the “fixing” method for high scores (suggesting use when both scores are over 20), but it’s necessary for low ST scores as well. (Technically it should be used any time the lower ST isn’t at (or near) 10, though no one will fault a GM who doesn’t get fussy over it.)

For low stats in Contents, B349 offers an additive (not multiplicative) fix which may be fine for other attributes and skills, but isn’t any good for ST. Contests between extreme scores, especially where ST is concerned, remain wonky.


Definitely allow AOA and AOD in close combat! These are dire omissions in current rules. Also clarify effects of AOA and AOD in non-striking combat, i.e., wrestling and so on (see same links).

The first part is done: you now can (and probably should) go All-Out in close combat.

Things are unclear on the latter request, though. B370 states that non-striking moves such as takedowns, pins, chokes, locks and so on can be used as part of either an Attack or an All-Out Attack, but doesn’t specify the effects of an All-Out Attack with these. Similarly, we’re left to wonder what the effect is of a wrestler who uses All-Out Defense to concentrate on avoiding a takedown, versus a wrestler who diverts time and attention to attacking back.

Let me know if I’m just not seeing it.


Scaling of stats can be done with or without GULLIVER’s Size trait; Book 1 features plenty of examples for both. But building odd-sized creatures sure is easier with the Size trait. Use it.

Nope. In 4e, there’s no big package for size-related traits; you still purchase related traits piecemeal.

But the ability to add SM to a design takes care of some of it. I’ll call this halfway.

(Edit: See the new GULLIVER Mini for 4e.)


Make size (i.e., TH mod) a trait with a cost. Suggested costs for TH mods (and for a broader Size trait incorporating those) are here.

Sort of done: SM in 4e is a trait with a cost (which happens to be zero).

GULLIVER’s Size trait includes more components (such as Move mods), with a non-zero cost for larger-than-human Size. I prefer that approach, but have no argument with 4e‘s.


Improve the Size and Speed/Range Table. Fix its progression anomalies (such as the odd jump from 6″ to 12″), and consider adding Linear, Area, and Volume Scale columns as quick aids in creature design, per GULLIVER’s Scale Table. (Feel free to use that name, too.)

The progression is fixed and looking good. The suggested extra columns don’t appear, but that’s fine – they’re not terribly necessary.

However, there’s a new problem with 4e‘s Table: no TH bonuses for Speed/Range below 2 yards. Sure, I understand 4e‘s intent: you generally can’t get TH bonuses for low Speed/Range in standard combat. But there are many special-case situations in which those bonuses allow sensible solutions. I would keep them on the Table, and add a note that the max bonus is +0 in standard combat. Maybe it’s a subject for a future Diner whine.

(Edit: Well, it’s not a whine, but see more on the topic at GUTHS: GURPS Unified Theory of Hitting Stuff.)


Incorporate weight in jumping rules! It’s every bit as important as ST. This fixes big problems with non-human creatures’ jump distances, and removes one cause for the Natural ST complication. GULLIVER offers both simple and detailed options that do the job.

The two big components of jumping distance are weight and ST. 4e doesn’t bring in weight to join ST – rather, it leaves out both components.

But the result is surprisingly good in avoiding 3e‘s problems, if unable to detail interesting combinations of weight and ST. The function of Jumping skill is improved in the new rules too. No complaints here.

A remaining bug: The use of multipliers and subtractions to get jumping distance means that small creatures which have low Basic Move, but are perfectly speedy and mobile for their size, may be unable to jump at all.

Other than that, the 4e rules are similar to the GULLIVER simple rules, and should work nicely for most gamers. I’ll call this a halfway-granted wish.


Apply TH modifiers for target size in melee combat too, not just ranged combat (i.e., +2 to hit Giant, -5 to hit Leprechaun, in either melee or ranged combat).

Absolute SM does apply to melee in 4e, though it’s easy to miss the ruling in the book. So that much is granted.

However, as the link above details, relative SM is the way to go, hands down. You won’t find that in the 4e books – but it is now an official optional rule in the FAQ (thanks in part to recent whining by Yours Truly).

With relative SM in melee as an official option, let’s call this wish almost-granted.


Add unified rules for amputation, decapitations, and even mid-torso cleavings.

There are now simple (if harsh!) rules for dismemberment, though Conan-style players still lack a guideline for torso cleavings.

A quirk: the dismemberment system seems to allow quick decapitations for extra heads only. Parting a single head from its owner is left as a special effect of regular death rules and cutting damage to the neck. Extending the new decap rules to any head is realistic (and deadly – implement with care!).


Consider optional TH modifiers for odd-shaped objects. Such a rule is useful for attacking ropes and the such.

Simple rules appear on B550.

The GULLIVER version is more complete, allowing some important distinctions such as hitting a cable with a sword (not so tough) vs with an arrow (really tough). I’ll call this a partial grant, while still extending a “Good job!” to 4e.


Add defense penalties for Parrying and Blocking powerful blows. Use penalties on defense, based on a high ratio of attacker ST to defender ST (or attacker weapon weight to defender weapon weight).

There’s a start on B376, though some may find it overly simple: parrying a Giant’s club is an all-or-nothing matter of either a normal Parry or no Parry possible. Simulationists will prefer levels of difficulty in between. But the new 4e rules are probably enough for most gamers.


Consider natural encumbrance rules for any creature. It’s a big item to consider, but with great benefits. Details in Appendix.

No, and not really expected.

But 4e does at least acknowledge the concept, suggesting Basic Move mods for unusual combinations of weight and ST (without detailing any specific guidelines). For a little more detail, players could also explain high or low DX as a matter of power/weight ratio (though DX also covers a lot of actions that shouldn’t necessarily be affected).

Humility aside, the natural encumbrance rules reign as the spiffiest way to build realistic-feeling mobility into critters, complete with Move mods and effective DX mods (for athletic actions only), all tied to specific power/weight ratio guidelines, and all drawing upon the game’s existing encumbrance rules.

But not every character concept calls for such, and most players should find 4e-style tweaks to be enough.

(Edit: See a new, 4e-friendly treatment of the topic in GULLIVER Mini.)


Unify the base for Move scores. Use Speed as the base for Move in swimming, climbing, skating, anything, just as it’s the base for Move in running and flying.

Rules for climbing Move don’t take Basic Move into account. That can be easily fixed: multiply speeds by Basic Move/5 if detailed climbing time matters (and let’s be honest, it usually doesn’t).

Otherwise, 4e does a fine job of basing all Moves on the same Basic Move base.


Clarify fatigue costs for different rates of movement. In all cases, base fatigue on time, not distance.

There isn’t a GULLIVER-obsessive breakdown of fatigue and movement rates in 4e, but the basics are there: separate fatigue rates for sprinting, paced running, and hiking; and for top-speed swimming and slow swimming.

Related to this: it’s good to see 4e introduce a neat +20% Move for ground sprinting, though I would equally apply it to swimming and flight “sprinting” as well.


Never mix ST with skills or other attributes. Do not use

  • ST-based skills or defaults
  • skills that replace ST
  • ST vs other attributes or skills in Contests.

This fix removes bizarre results, such as sporting events in which a Jumping-14, ST 6 weakling beats a Jumping-13, ST 12 athlete, or ST vs HT Contests that forbid small fighters to strangle each other.

The above ban on ST-based skills definitely extends to Lifting skill, movement skills like Swimming and Climbing, and social skills.

Instances of ST-vs-HT contests remain here and there. But ST-based skills have been given a welcome heave-ho (unless I’m missing some lurkers). While I don’t know how well 4e adheres to the above overall, it seems much improved.


An ancient house rule: Rename Strong/Weak Will to simply “Will”, as in “Will +3” or “Will -1”. Game rolls become “IQ + Will”, “HT + Will”, etc. This is flexible (and easier on the tongue).

Not quite granted. The “Strong/Weak Will” label appears to be gone, but the (usually) IQ-based roll itself is still labeled “Will”.


Any “base” for HP or Fatigue can be made to work; it’s how you game the loss, the effects, etc. that matters, not the base alone. But some combinations of base and implementation are easier than others: Fatigue = HT and HP = ST, with proper implementation, is easier than the current rule. See the Appendix.

Done: Fatigue is now set at HT. Unlike the old rules, that allows a role for HT in the fatigue equation. And HP starts at ST, which means default HP fit sensibly with character size. Kudos to SJG for making this big change.

Side note: I still dislike the Fit/Unfit traits. Why isn’t the secondary characteristic Fatigue itself used to rate fitness, instead of adding separate traits? It’d be clean to implement. Buy Fatigue up or down to tweak your level of fitness, per B16. Use this modified Fatigue for appropriate HT rolls, similar to the adjusted HT rolls described for Fit/Unfit. Use rolls against Fatigue to adjust rate of Fatigue loss and recovery, again simulating the effects described for Fit/Unfit. Neat, universal, and no extra traits needed.


No Dice

Simplify handling of shock. Lose GURPS’ separate, inconsistent rules for Pain, Spasm, whips, stunners, nerve guns, and so on. Assign appropriate points of shock to all such attacks (starting with the existing “shock = damage” for “normal” weapons). Use one unified system for shock effects based on shock points vs HP, just as we use one set of rules for injury effects based on damage points vs HP.

The steps in this direction are small. Core rules for shock are simple, and shock is neatly scaled for high HP (though it needs to be similarly scaled for low HP too). Groin attacks use a shock multiplier, a fine example of how to handle shock for special cases.

But prospects for wrapping up all special cases into one system look slim. Pain spells are unchanged. Whip blows against hands remain a special rule (and a 1-point whip blow is as effective in getting a Mountain Troll to drop his boulder as in getting a street punk to drop his knife). And so on. I’ll label this ungranted.


Add bonuses TH, and penalties to Dodge, for hitting a foe with a very large-sized weapon.

Nothing there that I can find.

(Edit: See notes on big weapons and TH at GUTHS: GURPS Unified Theory of Hitting Stuff.)


Drop the rule that increases the odds of critical hits for high skill. Let criticals represent blind luck — a flat 3 or 4 for anyone — and let expert fighters achieve amazing results through skill. They should wipe out foes through choice of vital targets, feints, fast blows, and powerful maneuvers, not lucky rolls.


I really think this would be an improvement – it’s precisely the skilled fighters that should achieve great successes through ability, not luck.


Martial arts contests for throws or locks must be, at their core, Contests of ST. “Power doesn’t matter” is a myth; apply it to rules, and we’ll have to think up patches when disparate ST scores come into play. See revisions of judo throws and arm locks for examples of rules that place ST at the center of wrestling moves, while still allowing skill to change the odds a lot.

I don’t see any changes here. Granted, most judo action will involve humans with non-outrageous scores, letting 4e‘s simple rules function well enough.


Unify rules for choking, choke holds, garrotes, constriction, bear hugs, and other squeezing attacks. Make sure the base Contest is ST vs ST, not ST vs HT.

4e does a nice job of gathering choking and other special attacks into one spot. But for better or worse, there still isn’t GULLIVER-like scrutiny of all possible forms of unarmed mayhem. 4e continues to allow ST vs HT Contests in such attacks, which works poorly for small critters. And while Constriction Attack’s advantages over plain old free choking are clearer than in 3e, the trait still doesn’t appear worth the high point cost.


Use one set of throwing rules that covers everything and anything, instead of a set of rules for non-weapons (CI 10) and a separate formula for each separate weapon.

Nope. Weapons and non-weapons still follow separate rules, though only simulation fans will likely care.


With or without new throwing rules, do allow AOA to increase distance. That’s the normal way to throw in sports, or at a far-away foe, where you’re not concerned with defending yourself.

I don’t see anything along these lines.


Let any thrown item skill — not just Throwing skill — increase distance for the appropriate object! Also, when increasing distance (or ST) for skill, do so by a percentage; don’t boost ST by an absolute amount.

Nope and nope.


Have fighters declare and initiate defenses before TH is determined, not after. This brings lots of interesting benefits, including a new need for strategy in deploying defenses, a new ability in feints to force defenses, intuitive handling of defense against a missile weapon’s point of aim vs the missile itself, and intuitive handling of precognition-based defenses.

Nope – and boo, hiss.

I contend that the above offers the biggest positive bang you’ll get from any change carrying zero added complexity. Fortunately, it’s still a cinch to house-rule in. I heartily recommend it to everyone.

(Edit: See all you ever wanted to know on the topic at DECIDE: Drop Excess Combat Info from Defense Evaluation.)


A few other revised creature design traits that are arguably improvements on the GURPS versions: Invertebrate, leveled Extra Encumbrance, High Pain Threshold, Soaring, Strikers.

I may decide that Extra Encumbrance can be tossed out entirely and replaced by extra BL (for carrying only). Other than that, I gotta admit I like the above stuff more than I do the official versions.


A few new traits that are arguably worth adding to the game: Bioluminescence, Weak Heart, Single Leg, Antennae. Feel free to mine Book 3 for several dozen more new and revised traits.

I’m not aware of convergent evolution between 4e and GULLIVER on new and revised traits. Anyone?


Make Posture a 0-point special effect. There’s never been an effective explanation for why a horse gets -10 points for Horizontal.

And I still don’t get it. In addition to a (sometimes) reduction in kicking damage, 4e details the loss of arm use while moving. Which sounds like a big disadvantage in an all-fours humanoid, no disadvantage in a rhino (with his No Fine Manipulators).

Isn’t all that better expressed as a limitation on the value of arms and (sometimes) a slight disad affecting kicking? The flat -10 just doesn’t seem right.


The Appendage Builder System may be overkill, but does allow design of limbs combining any number of functions. The Life Span Meta-System is likewise interesting.

As expected, the above remain house rules for the interested.


Letting Running replace HT in (HT+DX)/4, instead of adding a portion of skill to Move, is a good improvement. This could work for Swimming too. Likewise, a DX-based skill replacing DX in the (HT+DX)/4 calculation for Dodge is the best way to implement a Dodging skill. (But this replacement technique doesn’t work for all skills. In particular, no skill should ever replace ST.)

Nope. While I don’t have a big argument with 4e‘s handling of Running and Swimming, it’s a bit unsatisfying that these skills (especially Swimming) don’t affect Move at all. Not sure how I’ll treat them from here on.

As for a Dodging skill, I wasn’t expecting any such thing to pop up in 4e, though I think the above provides a nice, non-abusive cost for a hypothetical skill.


Uncertain Stuff and Other Miscellanea

Implement one giant, meta-goal for 4e: Vet every rule in the system to make it scale-independent. Switch from absolute modifiers to relative modifiers where appropriate. Use unit-independent formulae. (This, not the minor task of creature stats alone, is the real focus of GULLIVER – and of this page.)

This is too broad to address. Suffice to say, the good people behind 4e certainly seem to have tackled this goal without need for prodding from fanboys like me, and they’ve racked up a lot of improvements. Go, 4e!


Enable scaling of the whole game, a la B&B and as overviewed here. Coverage is not necessary in BS; this can be kept in the background at SJG. By using scale-independent rules throughout the system, appropriate worldbooks will be able to scale the game at any time, to any degree.

I don’t see explicit mention in the BS, and that’s fine. If the need comes up, 4e should be better equipped than 3e to handle “scaled” games.


Add rules for scaling creature stats. ST aside, this is a simple matter, and could be done in a few short paragraphs! GULLIVER LITE fully tackles scaling stats (including ST), with a Scale Table and options, on one page.

I think 4e handles this well…

I believe the guideline is to scale ST with linear scale (as determined by SM), which is a good thing – but does anyone know where this appears in the books? There are also automatic Reach adjustments for SM (at least for larger than human; no effects for smaller SM).

In short, while I don’t see a comprehensive overview of size and its effects, 4e seems to allow for the basics.

(Edit: See a 4e-friendly take on the topic in GULLIVER Mini.)


Scale HP and DR with linear dimension. This is very easy to work with, is more or less the unwritten GURPS method, and meshes nicely with “Quad ST”. (One problem to be solved: scaling of HP is different in Vehicles.)

As above, I’m not sure whether this is the hard-coded new method, but I think 4e follows the concept. Creature HP defaults to ST, so if the latter scales with linear dimension, then so does HP. Anyone know whether there are official 4e guidelines for size, ST and DR?

(Edit: Again, see GULLIVER Mini.)


Never change the cost of traits based on race. This odd practice defeats the purpose of point-based character creation.

I think 4e avoids the problem – or is it too early to tell? Any exceptions in the BS?


Use capitalization to distinguish between Fatigue (store of energy, akin to HP) and fatigue (energy loss, akin to damage). Or better, find separate words (such as Endurance, Stamina, or Vitality for Fatigue). Use of the same word for these opposites is confusing.

It looks like these can be distinguished as “Fatigue Points” (or FP) for the pool and “fatigue” for the loss, though I don’t see this clear usage in the text.


Fix pricing of Toughness, DR and Extra HP to address problems of HP costing more than DR, and of humans paying more than non-humans for DR.

Toughness is gone, so that takes care of that.

DR now costs more than HP; good! The results aren’t the same as GULLIVER’s (arguably spiffy) treatment, but 4e‘s costs address 3e‘s problems and should be widely welcomed.


Consider the Rule of -5 to limit disad abuse: Limit many leveled disads to 5 levels; the fifth level may carry additional penalties.

I’m not aware of this appearing in 4e. Not sure that there’s a big need either, though it can prevent some abuses and I like it.


Consider the Overlapping Disadvantages rule to limit disadvantage abuse: Multiple overlapping disads (multiple vision problems; Overconfidence plus Impulsiveness, etc.) use full value for the largest, 1/2 value for the next, 1/4 value for the next, etc. Total value may not exceed 80% of worse possible scenario (i.e., 80% of value of Blindness for multiple vision disads).

I’m not aware of a guideline similar to Overlapping Disadvantages appearing in 4e. Anyone?

By the way, kudos to 4e for being more flexible on total disadvantage limits.


GULLIVER’s adjustment of trait value for a character’s Environment (land, water, air) eliminates a lot of point abuses.

I’m not aware of similar rules in 4e. Anyone?



There are goodies from the Diner that weren’t put on the Ingredients list, but found some degree of mirroring in 4e. Freebies!

This list will grow as I see more examples of convergent evolution.


Reworked Fat disad

4e prices only the miscellaneous effects on B19. See a similar treatment here.


Encumbrance and changing position

B395 modifies time for encumbrance, as does GULLIVER here.

Any other examples, Dear Reader?


The Tally

On the list above, I count a total of 63 requests for 4e. Here’s how the new game responded:

Granted: 21
Partially granted:

Great! Granted wishes beat every other category, and the partially-granted and uncertain items are mostly nothing to complain over. Meanwhile, many of the 14 ungranted items are unimportant tangents; only a handful are items I really wish had made the grade.

Overall, my wish list and I are happy, with one out of every three wishes garnering a clean “you got it, chum”.

(Hmm, should have tossed in personal wishes for fabulous wealth, Charisma +5, and stretchy powers, too. Odds are I would have gotten one of them.)

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