GURPS resource: New techniques

Getting technique-al

The skill sub-sets called techniques (pp. B229-233) are a fun part of GURPS. This page lists new techniques of my own invention.

I’m no guru at technique design. My new techniques here are all simple creations, built without complication as a bonus to some existing use of a prerequisite skill, or a reduction of some existing penalty. Easy stuff. The only parts calling for a little thought are setting the maximum number of levels, and deciding whether the technique is Average or Hard. I’m still winging it, so feel free to modify my ideas, especially my arbitrary maximum levels. And please comment if you see flaws in my designs.

If you’re up to designing techniques of your own, the Basic Set‘s overview and Martial Arts pp. 63-95 are the places to start, with plenty of techniques to serve as models plus great advice on setting difficulty level, maximum level, and other details. But if you want to create a technique as a whole new use of some skill, you’ll definitely want to delve into Creating New Techniques from Martial Arts p. 89. I’ve got no techniques that ambitious on this page!

Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game

I’m labeling this a resource for GURPS, not DFRPG, as the latter doesn’t formally use techniques. But if you’re fluent in GURPS, you could work these into a DFRPG game with no trouble.

Technique-based advantages

“Boy, I wish someone would take a bunch of these fiddly leveled techniques and turn them into one-shot purchases instead.” Hey, you’re in luck – someone did! If you’ve got a handful of points burning a hole on your character sheet, buy one of the below new techniques – or one of many existing techniques – at its maximum level, in the form of a quick-pick advantage. (These advantages can be instantly dropped into a DFRPG game, too, without players having to know or care about GURPS‘ technique rules.) See the shopping list at GURPS/DFRPG resource: New technique-based advantages.

The list

Here’s a growing list of techniques I’ve come up with. Got any of your own you’d like to see added here?

Acrobatic Guard


Default: Acrobatics
Prerequisite: Acrobatics; cannot exceed Acrobatics+5.

This technique aids Acrobatics rolls to perform an Acrobatic Guard as described on Action 2: Exploits p. 37 or Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons p. 12.

Note: The maximum level of +5 is set to match the maximum level of the similar Evade technique of Acrobatics on Martial Arts p. 71.

Animal Walk


Default: Disguise (Animals) (DX-based)
Prerequisite: Disguise (Animals) (DX-based); cannot exceed prerequisite skill+4

Rather than trying to defeat animals’ sharp hearing through Stealth, some hunters will mimic the steps and start-n-stop rhythms of deer, foraging squirrels, and other non-threats. This aural camouflage can be handled as a Contest of DX-based Disguise (Animals) vs animals’ Perception (with no Acute Hearing bonuses), improved by the Animal Walk technique. Victory means the hunter is heard as a shuffling porcupine or other unremarkable background noise. (A hunter may still need Stealth, IQ-based Disguise (Animals), or Camouflage to avoid being seen by prey.)

Blade Sharpening


Default: prerequisite skill
Prerequisite: Armoury (Melee Weapons), Survival, or Cooking; cannot exceed prerequisite skill+4

GURPS sets no prerequisite skill for simple sharpening of blades with a whetstone or other appropriate equipment; it’s a no-roll, automatically successful task. This technique suggests a roll against Blade Sharpening for unusually difficult sharpening tasks, should the GM develop such uses.

As examples, a successful roll might successfully sharpen a blade in exceptionally poor condition, or hone an edge to an exceptional sharpness that grants +1 to damage for one hit only without the dwarven whetstone from Dungeon Fantasy. A GM might also decide that maintaining blades of unusual sharpness calls for expertise: restoring a Fine blade to its full sharpness requires a roll against Blade Sharpening, and restoring a Very Fine blade to its full sharpness requires a roll at a penalty.

(In short, there are no canonical rolls or tasks calling for this technique, but a creative group will find uses.)

Eye on the Ball


Default: Shield-2 or other prerequisite skill-4
Prerequisite: Any unarmed combat skill, Melee Weapon skill (except Knife or fencing skills), or Shield; cannot exceed Shield-1 or other prerequisite skill-2.

This technique buys off up to half the Block or Parry penalty for defending against a flail. (This isn’t a totally new technique; it names and lists a defensive technique hinted at on Martial Arts p. 92.)

Glass Cutting


Default: Forced Entry-6
Prerequisite: Forced Entry; cannot exceed Forced Entry skill.

This technique buys off the penalty for realistic use of a circular glass-cutting tool (High-Tech p. 26).

Note: Over on this page, I offer gnomish fantasy versions of the tool, including a pocket-sized cutter. The key difference from the above: these cinematic tools ignore High-Tech‘s base -6 skill penalty. Default skill becomes Forced Entry; the maximum level of the technique becomes Forced Entry+6. (A GM could allow a character to buy further levels to offset other Forced Entry penalties, including the -2 or worse penalty for the pocket cutter. It’d take a really dedicated glass-cutting burglar to go that far, though…)

See Starglazing below for another take on defeating glass.

Hide Tracks


Default: Tracking
Prerequisite: Tracking; cannot exceed prerequisite skill+4.

This technique aids the ability to use Tracking skill to cover tracks, as described on p. B226.

Knife Defense


Default: Knife Parry-1
Prerequisite: Knife; cannot exceed prerequisite Parry.

For a cost of 2 points, this technique removes the -1 Parry penalty inherent in many Knife weapons. It has no effect on larger knives that don’t carry the penalty. (This isn’t a totally new technique; it names and lists a defensive technique hinted at on Martial Arts p. 92.)

Leg-Up Boost


Default: ST
Prerequisite: ST; cannot exceed ST+2.

This technique represents proper form that aids the ST roll to provide a “leg-up” boost as described on Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons p. 7 and Action 2: Exploits p. 19.

Note: There are three parts to a leg-up. One character makes a ST roll to toss a friend upward; said friend makes an Acrobatics -2 roll to fly right and grab the ledge or other target, and then makes a ST-based Climbing roll to pull herself up the rest of the way.

This technique is ideal for circus performers, cheerleading team members, and, of course, dungeon delvers who deal with obstacles by tossing fellow delvers up onto them. (If you’re the person receiving the boost, see Leg-Up Leap below to aid your Acrobatics roll and Pull-Up to aid your Climbing roll.)

A similar technique might aid ice skaters in lifting a partner overhead. (Or a kind GM could let Leg-Up Boost cover that action as well.)

Leg-Up Leap


Default: Acrobatics-2
Prerequisite: Acrobatics; cannot exceed Acrobatics.

This technique buys off the penalty to the Acrobatics roll for benefitting from a leg-up boost, as described on Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons p. 7 and Action 2: Exploits p. 19. (To help pull yourself up the rest of the way after a successful leg-up, see the Pull-Up technique below. If you’re on the giving end of a leg-up, be more uplifting with the Leg-Up Boost technique above.)

Note: Following typical technique construction practice, I’ve limited the maximum level to Acrobatics. But I don’t see any harm in allowing a far higher maximum level for this rather trivial technique.

Make Fire


Default: Survival
Prerequisite: Survival; cannot exceed Survival+6.

This is the ability to start a fire using friction, lenses, or other “classic” techniques.

Pack Running


Default: Running
Prerequisite: Running; cannot exceed prerequisite skill+4

This technique replaces any Running roll to prevent a loss of speed, collision, or other mishap caused by running in a crowded “pack” of competitors – or to tactically block rivals through positioning!

Note: This is a decidedly unexciting technique, and I don’t expect players to make a rush for it. It’s inspired by a comment from athlete Mary Decker, who blamed herself for an infamous collision incident in a 1984 Olympics race, saying “I am and was very inexperienced in running in a pack.”



Default: Public Speaking
Prerequisite: Public Speaking; cannot exceed prerequisite skill+2

The peroration is the closing part of a speech, intended to recap the key points and influence listeners’ emotions. A speaker may roll against Peroration for a speech specifically intended to rouse emotion and spur action.

Note: Many other techniques of Public Speaking are possible; the several potential optional specialties noted on p. B216 could be modeled as techniques instead.

Practical Poisoning


Default: Poisons
Prerequisite: Poisons; cannot exceed prerequisite skill +4.

This technique aids rolls to envenom a weapon with a prepared poison, as described on Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons p. 12.



Default: Climbing (ST-based)
Prerequisite: Climbing (ST-based); cannot exceed prerequisite skill+2

This technique adds to ST-based Climbing rolls to pull yourself up onto a ledge or the like, as noted under Pull-Up (Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons p. 7; Action 2: Exploits p. 19). This is useful at cliffhanger moments, or after receiving a “leg up” boost from a friend. (See the Leg-Up Leap technique above to help you make effective use of that boost. If you’re on the giving end of a leg-up, get help from the Leg-Up Boost technique above.)



Default: Escape
Prerequisite: Escape; cannot exceed prerequisite skill +4.

This technique aids Escape rolls to slip through a narrow crack, tiny window, etc. (see Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons p. 8). This is useful for thief and spelunker alike.

Note: This technique may be re-inventing the Total Exhalation technique of Escape on Underground Adventures p. 22. If so, use that instead!



Default: Lockpicking-4 or Forced Entry-4
Prerequisite: Lockpicking or Forced Entry; cannot exceed prerequisite skill.

This technique uses a knife to force semi-circular patterns of cracking in the corners of a windowpane, to admit an arm or to remove the glass.

Note: This is a revival of GURPS Goblins‘ Starglazing skill, which defaulted to Lockpicking-4. The action was presumably folded into Forced Entry skill in 4e, but its interesting approach to defeating windows could live on as a technique.

See the Glass Cutting technique above for an alternate approach that uses more appropriate tools.



Default: Acrobatics
Prerequisite: Acrobatics; cannot exceed prerequisite skill +4.

This technique aids Acrobatics rolls for feats of rope-swinging as described on Martial Arts p. 105 and Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons p. 8. This is useful for a cat burglar who travels with rope and grappling hook. Or Tarzan.

Tactical Hand Signals


Default: Gesture
Prerequisite: Gesture; cannot exceed prerequisite skill+6

This technique covers a set of tactical hand signals used by a specific team, whether a massive infantry unit or a pair of game hunters. Team members can learn the technique to a considerably high level, though the technique should cover a limited range of concepts (usually combat tactics). More importantly, using the technique to communicate with a different team that has its own preset signals will generally prove fruitless, bringing everyone back down to base Gesture (or even inciting gross misunderstandings).

Trap Specialization


Default: Traps
Prerequisite: Traps; cannot exceed prerequisite skill+4

This technique lets a trapper specialize in spotting, disarming, setting, and otherwise dealing with a specific type of trap: overhead deadfall traps, pit traps, hidden blade traps, hidden missile traps, trapped locks, hidden doors, or whatever the GM considers a suitably narrow specialty.

Such specialization could be handled using optional specialties as described on p. B169. This entry simply suggests a different approach using a technique.



Default: Acrobatics
Prerequisite: Acrobatics; cannot exceed prerequisite skill+5

This technique aids Acrobatics rolls to perform the action described under Tumbling on Martial Arts p. 106 and elsewhere.

Note: The maximum level of +5 is set to match the maximum level of the similar Evade technique of Acrobatics on Martial Arts p. 71.

The Tumbler technique later appeared in Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Thieves as a component of the Combat Tumbler power-up, although with Hard difficulty. (I don’t know why Hard is used, or why that power-up also adds Unique Technique (Combat Tumbling) [1] and Technique Mastery (Combat Tumbling) [1].)

Header image: Lesson 1 in the Tactical Hand Signals Technique textbook.

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