Rules Bit (GURPS): A better cost for ST and HP

Intro: Repricing ST and its parts

Some GURPS players have wished for a different pricing scheme for ST – specifically, one that lowers the high cost of building superheroes or other hyper-strength beings. This article offers one such scheme that vastly lowers the points required to build a battleship-smashing super. As a bonus, its cost progression can make building supers and giant creatures easier, not just cheaper.

The scheme and its clever cost progression come courtesy of D. Weber. While the original idea is his, the accompanying text and expanded ideas are mine; anything screwy is my fault.

The content below goes way back to the GURPS 3e days, was updated for 4e around 2013, and now gets a 2023 update.

The rule

The Alternate Cost of ST Table

The Alternate Cost of ST Table (PDF below) introduces a steadily-declining cost for ST.

The columns are as follows:

Score: ST score.

Initial score: A shortcut for buying ST within the indicated ST range. Start with the noted ST score, pay the noted cost, and buy ST up from there. Example: To buy ST 130, start with the ST 100 [300] noted in the “Initial score” column and buy your additional 30 ST from there.

Cost per +1: The cost per additional point of ST within the indicated range. Example: Raising ST from 100 to 130 costs only [1] per +1 ST. Total cost: [330].

Cost per…: The cost of additional ST, priced in easy-to-use “blocks”. Example: To buy ST between 701 and ST, pay the cost of [550] for ST 700, then pay [0.167] per +1 ST… or to make things easier, pay [1] per +6 ST.

Using the Table

The purpose of the Table is to greatly reduce the cost of high levels of ST by applying a flat cost to multiples of ST. Every cost of [100] multiplies ST by two or a bit more; every [200] multiples ST by about five; and every [300] multiplies ST by 10.

Not that you need to know that. Just purchase ST using the Table as in the examples above, and enjoy that low, low cost.

Extending the Table

To extend the table to a new row, repeat the values from four rows higher, with these changes:

  • Multiply the ST score range and the initial score by 10
  • Divide the values for “Cost per +1” and “Cost per…” by 10
  • Add 300 to cost of the initial score

Striking ST, Lifting ST, and HP

To buy a component of ST up or down by some amount, figure what the cost difference would be to purchase the same amount of higher or lower ST, then pay 50% of that difference for Striking ST, 30% for Lifting ST, or 20% for Hit Points.

Example: You’ve purchased ST 260 for a cost of [430] (that’s [400] for the initial ST 200, [30] for the additional ST 60 at [0.5] per +1). You want to bring your Hit Points up from 260 to 290. Another 30 ST would carry a cost of [15]; pay 20% of that, or [3], for your extra 30 HP. Total cost: [433].

Nothing changes in the procedure when the purchase of a component crosses a border into a new per-level price, but watch out for the change.

Example: You purchase ST 260 for a cost of [430], and want to raise your Hit Points to 320. ST 320 would have a cost of [455] (that’s [400] for the initial ST 300, [5] for the additional ST 20 at [0.25] per +1). The difference between [430] and [455] is [25]; pay 20% of that, or a paltry [5], for your extra 60 HP. Total cost: [435].

One cost fits all

This alternate cost of ST is intended to replace any special schemes designed to reduce the cost of high ST in any character, including large creatures and supers. (It’s generous enough on its own, without any added discounts!) In particular, the scheme replaces the SM-based cost limitation (-10% cost per SM above 0) on ST and its components (B16), and replaces the Super-Effort and Super-Strength options in Powers and Supers. Use the Alternate Cost of ST Table for everything from superheroes and giants to old-fashioned steel-thewn barbarians.

Do keep limitations (or other cost modifications) that reflect other specific functional matters, such as the No Fine Manipulators (B145) limitation on the cost of ST and Striking ST.

Low ST

The above scheme doesn’t change anything for low ST. That’s not a flaw in the workings; there’s just no neat cost progression that would provide happy results for both superhuman and weak ST. Use the standard cost at low levels: [-10] per point of ST under 10.

Variants and options

Alternate Cost of ST Table (Expanded)

An expanded version of the Table (PDF below) adds a little detail – and makes more clear how the cost progression lets you quickly set stats for super-strong designs.

Big! Let’s see what’s useful in that.

What’s expanded

The Expanded Table starts with the earlier Table, but also breaks out the costs of added Striking ST, Lifting ST, and HP. (For completeness, there’s also an “Initial score” point cost for each component, though this is useful only if you’re buying up the component from a base of 10.)

The other key change to the table is some extra rows: the row for ST 11-20, for example, is divided into ST 11-15 and ST 16-20. This doesn’t change any values; the ST costs in the 16-20 row simply repeat the costs in the ST 11-15 row.

So what’s the purpose? The extra rows highlight a pattern that emerges from the cost progression: the ST ceilings in the “Score” column end in 15, 20, 30, 50, 70, 100, 150, 200… – the well-known progression from GURPS‘ workhorse logarithmic table, the Size and Speed/Range Table. The Expanded Table highlights how each “step” in ST along that progression carries a flat cost of [50] (with similar flat costs for the components of ST).

And what good is that? Well, as noted earlier, any progression that ties a given multiple of ST to a flat cost is both easy to work with and greatly reins in the cost of super-high ST. But this particular progression offers a further bonus: a neat connection to SM.

Easy design for large creatures

While it’s not clearly laid out in Basic Set, the general way to scale ST with size in 4e is to multiply a human-sized ST score by the creature’s height multiple (i.e., the Linear Measurement for its SM divided by the two-yard Linear Measurement for SM 0). Under the given cost progression, this yields a neat correspondence between SM and rows on the Table.

The “SM?” column is not a prescription that binds SM to some range of ST; it simply suggests where ST might fall for a being of “typical” human ST, scaled up for size. That gives you an instant baseline ST for a creature of any size; from there, tweak it as modestly or as wildly as the design calls for.

Example: What ST to give a SM +5 creature? From the “SM?” column on the Table, something in the range of ST 71 to 100 should be appropriate if the creature’s power is on par with a scaled-up human. Adjust from there: take ST below that range if the creature has the power of a weak scaled-up human; boost ST to 150 or more if the creature’s build would give it twice the ST of a human at any size; and so on.

Many odd-sized designs should have ST stray from that of an “all else being equal” scaled-up human; in particular, designs for huge creatures should boost ST (and possibly Lifting ST even more) to account for load-bearing muscles and bulky frames, if you want to get all realistic about things. See GULLIVER Mini for a brief treatment of suggested ST boosts.

Easy design for supers

The amazing strength of supers typically isn’t tied to SM, so there’s nothing about the progression and the Tables that makes it easier to decide what ST score you should place on Captain Capeman. For supers, this article is all about making the cost of ST lower and quicker.

Every 10-fold boost in ST costs a flat [300], buying you a bucket of damage dice and 100 times the Basic Lift. Alternately, you can buy a 10-fold boost to Striking ST for [150] if you just want the damage dice. Or buy a 10-fold boost to Lifting ST (with a 100-fold boost to Basic Lift) for [90], for classic superhero lifting prowess. Flat costs make these big multiples easy to use.

Things add up quickly. If a cost of [300] gets you 10 times starting ST, then [600] gets you 100 times, [900] gets you 1,000 times, and [1,200] gets you 10,000 times starting ST. That last one is pricey even by supers standards – but you can get that boost for only [360] if you buy it as Lifting ST. And either way, 10,000 times starting ST or Lifting ST means 100,000,000 times starting Basic Lift: you have the lifting power of 100 million people! (Hm. “Hundred Million Man” may not be the greatest name for a supe, but I’ve heard goofier.)

Many cape designs will want super-strength without super Hit Points. Just buy components up or down as required. Buying ST 100, but with Lifting ST boosted to 150 and HP kept to a measly 15, is as easy as buying Striking ST 100 [150], Lifting ST 150 [105], and HP 15 [10], totaling [265].

That example reveals a tip for building supers under this cost progression. Try to set ST, or its components, to those neat waypoints on the progression: 10, 15, 20, 30, 50, 70, 100, and so on. That makes it easy to grab costs right from the “Initial score” columns, with no further tweaking. (The four-color supers genre doesn’t need fiddly distinctions between Striking ST 50 and Striking ST 52!)

Just the multipliers?

Under this rule’s cost progression, every [50] spent on ST multiplies the initial 10 by another “step” along the multiplier progression of 1.5, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, and so on. The same goes for flat-point purchases of Striking ST [25], Lifting ST [15], and HP [10].

As an option, you could use these multiplier purchases at any point in design if convenient, not only to initially raise the trait from 10.

Example: You have ST 22 [110]. You decide to raise this by another 50% for striking purposes (representing a new evolution in your super powers). Instead of calculating the exact cost to reach Striking ST 33, the GM lets you buy a “step” of Striking ST for [25] to get that multiplier of 1.5. You now strike at ST 33. Done.

Example: You decide to design a giant as a creature with human-scale ST of 13, scaled up to SM +3 for its height multiple of 3. That suggests ST 13 x 3 = 39. Instead of buying ST up to 30 and then finding the cost for the remaining +9 ST, start with ST 13 [30], then buy three “steps” of ST for [150] to get the multiple of 3. You now have ST 39. Done.

Because the Table’s cost progression is nicely logarithmic in the big picture but not at the detailed level, the cost of stats bought using these multipliers may not perfectly match the cost of stats bought through more precise accounting. But they’ll be in the ballpark – and for supers and the like, that’s arguably detailed enough!

When to use it

What good is this new cost scheme? It’s appealing if you want a single scheme that’s intended for all designs (with no complications for SM or superheroes), changes nothing for most designs (PCs with ST and HP under 21), makes eyeballing stats and costs for supers and large creatures easy, and makes those designs far more affordable, too.

On the other hand, the scheme calls for some familiarization before you’ll smoothly wrangle the costs of higher-power designs. (Love it or not, a universal “[10] per +1 ST” is easy!)


New damage for ST

Game design musing: New damage for ST examines damage progressions that scale neatly with ST: multiply ST by X, and you multiply damage by X.

Using that damage scheme, every “step” of ST [50] or Striking ST [25] multiplies ST-based damage by about 1.5, while every 6 “steps” of ST [300] or Striking ST [150] multiplies damage by 10.


Now that you’ve nabbed a quick’n’cheap ST of 190 or whatever, would you also like ST-based skills, Contests of ST, and other rolls against ST that play nicely? STROLL brings that to the table in the simplest way possible.

Using the Alternate Cost of ST Table together with STROLL and its ST Roll score, every flat-cost purchase of ST or Lifting ST will equate to a flat boost to ST Roll. Roughly, every “step” on the Alternate Cost of ST Table (Expanded), representing a ST multiple of about 1.5, boosts ST Roll by 5, and every two “steps” (a ST multiple of about 2) boost ST Roll by 10. Six “steps” (a ST multiple of 10) boost ST Roll by 33 or 34. (It’s not quite as neat as we might like, but such are the loosely rounded ways of the Size and Speed/Range Table’s numerical progression.)


I noted back in the 3e days that this cost scheme would work much better under “Quad ST” – i.e., ST with lifting ability that scales with the square of the ST score. That’s precisely what 4e later brought, and this price scheme does indeed work nicely with it.

I don’t play mega-ST supers games, though. When ST scores rise into the hundreds and higher, your experience outweighs mine. Put this cost scheme through the paces in your own super-powered games, and report back if something breaks!

Designer’s notes

Miscellanea on the cost of ST

After bouncing from one scheme to another for the treatment and pricing of ST, GURPS finally settled upon a happy solution in 4e. It works nicely. Much better than the ST of 3e and earlier (an attribute so unwieldy it spurred nutcase fans to all but rewrite the game).

Actually, ST mostly works nicely now. The attribute attribute remains tricky for some concepts of strength for heroes in tights, prompting optional schemes in 4e supplements like Powers and Supers. There’s a wholesale reworking of the attribute in “Knowing Your Own Strength” (Pyramid 3/83) for the still-dissatisfied. And 4e still leaves Contests or other ST-related rolls problematic, at least until now.

For better or worse, ST in 4e maintains an old quirk: the ever-decreasing relative return that each additional point of ST confers. For a purchase of +1 ST [10 points], a ST 1 rat gets swole, doubling its ST and quadrupling its Basic Lift. A ST 10 Joe making that same purchase, meanwhile, sees far more modest gains: just an extra 10% ST and an extra 20% or so Basic Lift. Yet that’s a greater improvement than what a ST 100 super-being gets from the purchase: near-zilch boosts of another 1% ST and about 2% Basic Lift.

I’m not saying that’s bad! Those three body-builders gain vastly different relative enhancements to physical power, but they still enjoy the same absolute boost to ST and components like HP. That’s how we normally expect things to work: a purchase of an extra DR 1 doubles the protection of a bear’s DR 1 fur but only slightly enhances a dragon’s DR 10 armor, relatively speaking – yet it adds the same absolute bit of protection to either creature, so we price it equally for either. That works for me.

GURPS is actually generous in one way to high-strength characters who buy more ST: as a side-effect of the Basic Lift calculation, the higher your ST, the greater the absolute lifting power that every +1 ST adds. Buying +1 ST may give the above rat a mind-bending quadrupling of lifting power while giving the super nearly no meaningful boost, but in terms of absolute gains to Basic Lift, the rat gains an extra 0.6 lbs., the human an extra 4 lbs., and the super an extra 40 lbs. It’s all good.

Still, ST is an oddball among the attributes, maybe even among traits in general. Something about its hugely open-ended nature, servicing the power needs of everything from mice (and smaller) to towering gods, leaves some GMs wishing for a scheme that makes each level of ST a relative step – or barring that, just any scheme that curbs the high cost to build a bus-hurling super.

This article attempts this through a Table that groups per-level ST costs into a progression that’s logarithmic at the big-picture level. This allows quick flat-cost purchases of multiples of ST (with a neat tie-in to SM for big designs), while changing nothing else about the ST attribute.

Nostalgia time

Here’s this article’s old Table, in all its muted glory:

Rest well, old soldier!

Wrapping up

Interesting stuff; my thanks again to Mr Weber for the idea and numbers. Try out the new costs the next time you need to bulk up a super or monster!


Header image: Artificial intelligence takes a shot at “circus strongman lifts a million pounds”. Good job on the strongman. Didn’t quite nail the barbells.

(Come on, BlueWillow AI. Do you even lift, bro?)

If you like, consider those twin strongmen as representing this article: the old version of this article at left, and the new version at right. The new is pretty much the same article as the old, but with its new blue Tables represented by… wild blue hair on the strongman.

(I wonder what in the world makes AI pick out one of several variations on a creation and decide “you know, I think I’ll give this one blue hair.”)


  • Douglas Cole

    This makes nine kinds of sense to me. ST has always been, and still really is, the odd man out for the four basic stats. This at least normalizes the utility of the points spent.

    the odd thing about ST is the quantum of ST is one point of swing damage. Another way to do ST might be to change, well, a lot of secondary things, but make the basic quantum of ST one point of thrust damage, and then you have leverage multipliers or ST adders (same basic thing) for sw damage.

    anyway, looking at it this way, ST is really more of an Advantage than a STAT…which leaves the question of what replaces it. Will would be a good one.

    At the risk of a major digression, my thought for a complete and orthogonal basis set for stats would be Mental, Physical, Spiritual x Power, Endurance, and Control. Or maybe even Mental, Physical, Emotional, Supernatural would be better, since Emotional Power might be “Charisma,” Emotional Control would be some sort of Fright Check resistance, and Emotional Endurance…um. Well, it’s a work in progress.

    More on that, perhaps, later, but I like the ST progression.

    • tbone

      It is a nifty progression, isn’t it. Aesthetically, it’s too bad that it can’t also hold for ST under 10 – but that leads right into your point about ST not fitting well into the “10-based attribute” mold to begin with. No matter how you try to wedge it into that hole, something pops out.

      I don’t know about GURPS, but for some games, ST as a base-0 log stat would be very nice. Infinitely scalable to any huge or puny creature, with each +/-1 representing a meaningful jump at every point along the way. It’d also become properly useable in Contests. In fact, this may work nicely in GURPS too, as long as the damage-to-ST relationship is squared away with things. After all, we already have SM as a 0-based log stat.

      Re the broader set of PC stats: The 3×3 setup you describe sounds good; I think it figures into a lot of homemade designs (and maybe some shipping games too? Did DC Heroes have something like that?)

      For my own homemade efforts, I (with some reservation) decided to use whatever’s needed and not worry about any sort of matrix. Useful traits include the pretty typical Strength, Agility (which is simply coordination, not some mixture of that plus speed), Intelligence, and Health, plus Command (influence and will) and Instinct (non-intellectual perception, reaction speed, etc.) Then again, I’m not drawing any hard lines between attribute and non-attribute, so on top of that, add in Size, Weight, specific Skills, etc. – they’re all “traits” and all define the character!

      • Fellrant

        Yup–DC Heroes/MEGS had a 3×3 grid. Honestly, it wasn’t my cup of tea. It made sense mechanically, and it was smooth enough in play, but during character generation I found it irksome, for qualitative reasons. The Dexterity/Strength/Body trinity was fine, but what’s the difference between mental resistance and mental HP, narratively speaking? It came off (to me) as both forced and redundant. Still, it fit the system well; it dovetailed perfectly with their approach to action resolution.

        • tbone

          I’ve seen plenty such grids, especially in home-brew creations. There’s even an examination of a 3×4 grid in Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes (p33 onward).

          As that GURPS example openly discusses, though, there always seems some part of a grid that feels forced, or some trait that you’d want to see on the grid but that doesn’t quite fit its scheme. At least the ones I’ve seen. And yet, there’s something about the potentially perfect grid of physical and mental and social and/or spiritual attributes that always beckons. “Maybe if I combine Social and Mystical columns into a Spirit column… yeah, that might do it…”

    • tbone

      A fine question. Using 4e, we’d have to assume that ST bought under this scheme would also includes HP. So to buy HP only, the easy solution would be to use 1/5 the cost of ST.

      As ST gets high and the cost gets low, 1/5 cost gets into some wee fractions. But that won’t be a problem, as no one cares about, say, an extra +1 HP for some house-sized monster or Thor-like super; rather, you’d buy added HP in mass quantities. So at ST 2001, where a mere 1 pt buys you +20 ST, you could instead spend that 1 pt on +100 HP. It sounds ridiculously cheap, but it adds a mere one-twentieth to your existing massive HP total – just as the same 1 pt for a ST 10 PC would add one-twentieth existing HP total (a theoretical half-point of HP).

      I don’t see any problems with the scheme; let me know if I’m missing something.

  • kirbwarrior

    You did say you are working on a new price for Injury Tolerance (Damage Reduction), but for a quick-and-dirty repricing (to go with this article) is to just cut it in half. If we limited IT(DR) with ‘HP damage only -20%’ (it’s probably more like -10%, but let’s pretend) then it’s about as useful as just buying that much more HP. Yes, there is weird rounding errors, and both traits can get different modifiers on them (most importantly, IT(DR) can get PM -10%), but it seems to me that it’s about as fair.

    The main reason I bring this up is because I am making a super right now with super ST, but (at least for them) it makes more sense to get Striking and Lifting ST, then get IT(DR) to match up with it (with the enhancements to get rid of rounding up).

    Can’t wait to read your (probably much better thought out) article, though.

    • tbone

      There isn’t much to my thoughts on repricing Damage Reduction; the idea is simply that a Damage Reduction divisor of X should work the same, rules-wise, as multiplying HP by X. And that’s pretty much true in GURPS 4e, to the game’s credit.

      This leads to the conclusion that the divisor of X should have the same cost as multiplying HP by X. Which, under RAW, means a variable cost (which isn’t “neat” but is perfectly usable); under this Better Cost for ST and HP, it means a nice flat cost, easily priced according to the size of X.

      So all pretty simple, but before writing I want to check out edge cases where things might not work so neatly. In particular, when it comes to healing a character by magic, etc., “Damage Reduction of X = multiplying HP by X” breaks down a bit.

      • kirbwarrior

        The divisor almost does the same as multiplying HP. There are a few things that come up (that I’ve experienced anyway);

        Healing affects the character basically the same. Having high HP already increases healing ability, so it just comes down to granularity issues (Divisor of 1.5 effectively increases healing by 1.5, but 15HP doesn’t)

        Losing high levels of divisor doesn’t do anything immediately, while losing levels of high HP is deadly. If you’ve taken 70 damage, and your Max HP drops to 10, you die. Mind, there is no RAW way of decreasing Max HP, and applying a PM to HP is insinuated to be disallowed. PM on Divisor seems almost the norm.

        Divisor will never give you mass, while HP will. I don’t know if you can have a mass HP higher than HP.

        The comparison seems even if we have Divisor cost halved, and include PM -10% and HP only -10% on it. The biggest distinction the two have is base Divisor affects FP damage (and any other possible damage you could take, such as ER damage). I haven’t had an issue with using the two almost interchangably.

        One last little thing; Divisors of 10, 100, etc, make scale damage (e.g. decade scale) easier by just dropping the divisor.

  • Kallatari

    Hi T-Bone,

    This has indeed been one of my favorite articles (I’m a long-time fan of GULLIVER in general), and I’m glad to see it updated. I’ve been using it for years now in my games, with one slight tweak: I apply it to all attributes and level traits.

    There’s no reason you can’t use the same pricing mechanisms for HT (same costs as above), IQ or DX (at 100 points for each step of x1.5, x2, x3, x5, x7, x10), other than such attributes are unlikely to ever be necessary, particularly when compared to the frequency of high ST being needed.

    But I also use it for almost any advantage: DR, Innate Attack, Control, FP, Altered Time Rate, Binding, etc. You just purchase up to level 10 normally, then each “step” is worth the equivalent cost of 5 levels. So each step for DR would be worth 25 points, for example.

    Anyway, just surprised you haven’t mentioned its broad applicability to many traits out there. It’s a really good rule to promote for supers.

    • tbone

      Hullo. Let me make sure I understand: You’re saying that you use this article’s cost scheme for non-ST stats, like HT, DX, and IQ?

      I agree that it might be good for some stats – and you’re right, I should have at least mentioned DR. It arguably should scale cost-wise in the same way as damage-dealing ability, so if you use this cost progression for ST, using it for DR too may be the right thing to do. It’d be welcomed by GMs who want to make really high DR cheaper, such as in Supers games.

      For HT, DX, and IQ, though, I admit that I really hadn’t thought about it at all. At first glance, it threatens to induce the vapors in a GM – “Good Lord, double DX for every fixed X points!? You are mad, sir.”

      But then again… Applying the scheme to DX, IQ, etc. would have no effect until these stats get above 20, which is the entry point into superhuman crazyland anyway, even in a Dungeon Fantasy game. And the cost of that DX is a whopping 200 points for every doubling…

      Plus, if DX and IQ were capped at 20 for skill level purposes, then the declining cost of these under this scheme may be a very good thing. (And even without the caps… well, again, once those stats reach levels of 20+, the game is clearly moving into a godlike area where point costs cease to be terribly meaningful anyway, IMO.)

      It’s interesting food for thought! But I wonder: Have you come across areas where you’ve found that applying the progression makes some trait problematically cheap, even in PCs that could be feasibly built (i.e., not demigods and the like)? I could imagine, for example, low-cost traits like Acute Vision bought up to insane levels under the progression, even on a standard PC point budget. But on the other hand, I don’t immediately see how an insane level of Acute Vision would break the game, either…

      Again, interesting stuff. If you find a place where the progression breaks things, though, it’d be interesting to hear a report!

      • Kallatari

        My house rules apply it to all the attributes and about 25 levelled advantages (I can list them if you’re really interested). That said, in my various campaigns, my players have only actually purchased level 21+ in a few traits:

        – A “tank” combat android that hard really high ST and DR

        – A master of electricity that had high levels of Innate Attack for lightning

        – A mage that had about 40 Mana Points (i.e., Energy Reserve).

        – several players used it for languages. Basically, I ruled that 1 level in Language, worth 1 Character Point (CP), allows you to increase a single language by one step in either written or spoken. It takes 6 levels to be fully Native level of proficiency in a single language. By the time you get to level 21+, I ruled it made sense to just become easier to learn even more languages. This is an alternative to the Omnilingual advantage i’ve seen bouncing around in Pyramid and a few other places.

        – Had a draft character – but he was never actually played – with Injury Tolerance: DR. Tweaked it so that each level was 25 CP and reduced injury along a /1.5, /2, /3, /5, /7, /10 pattern, allowing IT:DR to be purchased onto infinite levels.

        Otherwise, players stay within the theme of the setting. As GM, I tell them what goes and doesn’t, and they stick with it; e.g., no super abilities in a “realistic” campaign world.

        But with even just those few times my players did go over 21+, I did learn a trick or two to watch out for:

        – Afflictions that increase or decrease a trait should be listed as effect on character points, not levels; e.g., your Affliction gives +20 CP to DX, and not +2 DX. That allows it to scale much better. Ruling came in useful for a spell that gave a large bonus to HT in one campaign, but that spell fell out of heavy use after a while. I suppose your method of purchasing a x1.5 or x2 to an attribute or trait would be another easy way to write it down.

        – I was getting dubious as to the high levels of Mana Points for very cheap, making the Cost FP limitation not much of a limitation. It didn’t quite break the system, but the player did stop at 40 levels, so it wasn’t pushed too far either. But then again, that’s a flaw of allowing unlimited Energy Reserve in the first place. Reducing the cost just makes it occur faster.

        – I mistakenly indicated that Modular Ability would have such a decreasing cost, but thankfully caught that mistake while reviewing a character. You can’t do that, as you’d be “double dipping” in cost savings. It would first cost you less points to get more CP, and then you could purchase higher level abilities for less CP. For modular abilities – and anything similar that gives you flexible CP – I charge the full rate as you get the savings with the traits you place those flexible CP into.

        – I’d also been contemplating capping attributes for the purpose of determining skill levels (only) at 20, but that situation never actually came up in my games. But I’d certainly recommend it or some other limit to keep things in check.

        – As a variation of the rule, anything that gives you a “doubling each level”, such as Enhanced Move which doubles your top speed, I instead cut the price of the trait in half, and had it go along a x1.5, x2, x3, x5, x7, x10 progression, so that it followed the same pattern… and same pattern as the range/speed table.

        Anyway, that’s my experience so far, with it in (admitedly limited) use for about 10 or so years. I haven’t seen it break the system yet.

        • tbone

          This is very good stuff; thanks again for the front-line reports on extending this cost concept beyond ST. I’d like to make a short new post calling site visitors’ attention to your comments.

          Your handling of languages is interesting – if I’m understanding it right, it’s reading base points in languages as effectively “levels”, and then using this article’s cost progression to decrease the cost of high levels. It’s interesting to compare that with my experimental look at pricing “breadth”, including multiple languages; a different approach, but with the same net effect of an increasingly falling cost for additional languages. You’ve shown a good alternate way to go about it.

  • Bruno

    I’ve got reservations about ever-decreasing ST costs.

    One is that I clearly don’t have a bee in my ear over relative utility – I’m an absolute utility sort of person, and more levels of ST absolutely get you more utility. Besides, if you’re inclined to think of things relatively: at high point levels, each level of ST costs a smaller percentage of your point total – right from the first +1!

    The real problem I find is that the damage part of ST (which is linear) is priced assuming the character is going to make full use of leverage, range, yadda yadda and many high ST characters revolve around concepts that just won’t or don’t.

    Another is racial templates, racial lenses, alternate/enhanced forms, and other situations involving layering “metatraits” onto a character: What do you do charge for an ogres racial ST bonus? Or a body-of-stone power-up for a World of Warcraft style dwarf (Which would easily include extra lifting ST, HP, and DR)?
    What do you do in a game where a D&D-style half-fiend or half-dragon lens is available for players to layer onto any race they want (from halfing to ogre)?

    The multiples provide nice constant pricing for those templates, but at least for me, they’re too coarsely grained for non-super games that are still puttering about in the exceptional attributes range. Dungeon Fantasy definitely has one foot in the super-heroes camp, but it also has one foot in the “regular dudes” camp. The towering ogre barbarian might have a ST upwards of 30 before magical enhancement, while “normal” melee specialists are still puttering around in the 12-18 range. DF1 recommends a 250 point total, but I see as many groups opting to start at 300 (or higher) as I do 200 or 150…

    I waffle about the issue. I like high ST characters. They’re fun to play and fun to GM for, but obviously there’s a knot of people who still aren’t satisfied with how the numbers work out.

    • tbone


      Besides, if you’re inclined to think of things relatively: at high point levels, each level of ST costs a smaller percentage of your point total – right from the first +1!

      Yes, that’s also an interesting way of looking at it. That’s the thing about these deep point-cost considerations: there are so many things to look at (absolute this, relative that…) and so many comparisons to be made, that one easily becomes lost in trying to track what’s important. Which, in the end, mostly likely comes down to “This thing the player wants for the PC – will the player (or really, the whole group) make it a fun part of the game, or will the player make it an abused annoyance?” (Player intent – as you mention – is really what it’s all about.) Returning to that all-important perspective, the finer complexities of point costing can start to look like academic exercises…

      Plus, variable pricing makes templates more difficult, as you note. That was one of the downsides of 3e attribute pricing, which 4e nicely fixed; variable-priced attributes are a step backward in that regard. (That said, it’s not necessarily a problem with ST under this system, again as you note. Template-based mods to ST, whether for race, or Body of Odd Substance, or whatever, are arguably best handled as ST mutipliers, not ST adds, and the ST pricing system presented here actually handles that nicely!)

      In any case, your last comment about satisfaction and the price of ST is spot-on: no matter what the pricing scheme, it’s bound to be unsatifying for some player’s vision of some specific concept. I don’t know what its is about ST pricing that so resists a universally satisfying scheme. Perhaps it’s simply that widely-varying ST is so common in real life and in fiction, yet is simultaneously so fuzzy in terms of how it “works” (the connection between lifting ability and damage, for example), and so inconsistent in fiction (superheroes’ feats of strength, etc.), that no matter how you game it and price it, it’s bound to conflict with some gamers’ character conceptions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.