Daily Houserule tweets: March 2022

From February 1, 2022 to January 31, 2023, I posted an entry a day to the @gamesdiner Twitter account, using the hashtags #TRPG, #GURPS, and #DailyHouserule. The concept: Make tweets out of a bunch of minor GURPS houserule items, GM/player advice tidbits, and other tips & tricks, to have a bit of fun engaging with other gamers and get the #GURPS tag out there more. (See the initial announcement here.)

The year is up! I’m now posting those tweets to this site, a month per page. Links to all 12 months are below.

Do forgive the overly abbreviated and janky writing. These were tweets, so the text is full of shortcuts to fit the format. For better or worse, I’m leaving the content mostly untouched.


Entries by month:

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Entries No. 29 to 59

29

2022-03-01: Should a GM allow multiple Acrobatic Dodges in a turn, not just one?

Try it out, if PCs sport more Acrobatics skill than they know what to do with. Use a cumulative skill penalty for second and later attempts: -6 if you’re strict, -4 if more lax.

Crazy high skill can make this work. Using a -4 penalty, Acrobatics-19 can make a first Acrobatic Dodge easily, a second at 15 or less, and a third at 11 or less.

A hypothetical Acrobatic Master trait would halve the penalties (and spur lots of attempts. Remember, crit fails await…).

30

2022-03-02: Zen Archery/Marksmanship can negate huge penalties for difficult shots.

To better emphasize the mystical “inner eye”, penalize these skills for the use of technological aids (sights, computers, rangefinders, etc.): link

The idea here is simply to get a more nuanced take on what’s going on with this zen sharpshooting stuff. It’s loosely inspired by Ghost Ben Kenobi (Been Kenobi? : ) giving Luke advice to turn off his targeting computer…

31

2022-03-03: Can you Feint with a ranged weapon? Yes, but use the Range mod as a penalty. Not useful vs a far-away target!

(I had thought this was an original idea, but it’s not. Martial Arts p. 121: “modifiers… to an actual attack also apply to the feint.”)

I think this goes well with GURPS’ concept of dodging missile fire. It’s easy to picture your feint as faking out a close defender trying to “Dodge the line of fire”. Whereas if your target’s far off… your “feint” is just you in the distance, waving your weapon around weirdly.

For some forum discussion of the topic, see:
link
link

32

2022-03-04: Like a number of GURPS players, I’m not sure Spear and Staff make sense as separate skills.
If you’re willing to hack, an idea:

Replace with two skills: Spear/Staff and Two-Handed Spear/Staff. It’s the same way rules handle axes/maces, flails, and swords.

Most users will opt for Two-Handed Spear/Staff (especially for classic quarterstaff). But spear-and-shield types will want (one-handed) Spear/Staff.

Cross-default between these 1- and 2-handed skills: Hm, use -3 (per axes/maces and flails) or -4 (per swords)? Or be generous and go with -2?

33

2022-03-05: I never liked the -2 penalty on trident use. Yes, it’s “tip-heavy”, but that just makes it a polearm, shorter and lighter than most; what’s the problem?

Idea: No penalty if used 2-handed with Polearm or Spear skill; -2 penalty if used 1-handed with Spear.

Hm, now let’s try to combine this with yesterday’s entry (replacing Spear and Staff skills with Spear/Staff and Two-Handed Spear/Staff):

A trident is usable 2-handed with either Polearm or Two-Handed Spear/Staff (no penalty); or 1-handed with Spear/Staff (-2 skill for heavy tip). Sensible?

34

2022-03-06: Like a zillion GURPS players already, I’ll suggest renaming “Honesty” to “Law-Abiding”, a name that much better fits the trait.

Or even call it “Honesty (Law-Abiding)”. (Which suggests other possible forms; say, “Honesty (Truthfulness)”?)

Actually, lots of traits should be read with care to avoid assumptions based on the name alone. The book How to Be a GURPS GM: Managing Expectations offers a very helpful overview of these. (Buy this book!)

I merely call out Honesty as the one that really wants to be renamed.

35

2022-03-07: Basic Set 4e has remained nicely intact over the years, without tons of patches. But if you’re a newcomer, be aware that some weapon stats have been tweaked –for the better– in newer releases like Low-Tech and DFRPG. Use those stats instead of BS’!

Specifically, I appreciate the greater thr dam for shortswords, the dam boost given to a number of large weapons, and Low-Tech’s stats for 1-hex, 1-handed axes and maces used 2-handed, among other tweaks.

An old gripe: In BS, the greataxe takes an axe, doubles the weight, adds a hand, and raises Min ST, but then makes the thing slower anyway—all for a measly +1 dam (and Reach 2). Unappealing.

The newer stats in LT, etc. don’t fix the slowness, but at least they award another +1 dam.

36

2022-03-08: It’s only fair to warn wannabe Vikings that Two-handed Axe/Mace offers iffy weapons, at least those with the harsh “requires Ready after swing” drawback.

Low-Tech and DFRPG offer 2-hex Polearm weapons that are just as effective, without the slowness.

Actually, Low-Tech gives Two-Handed Axe/Mace skill a welcome little boost: it adds the ability to use two hands on a regular, 1-hex, 1-handed axe or mace, for +1 dam.

Still, the skill’s 2-hex weapons are just awful compared to Polearm’s nimbler 2-hex offerings.

Say you wanted to lessen the unpopular “requires Ready after swing” requirement.

Idea: Drop the requirement (or at least reduce the extra ST needed to eliminate it) when the weapon is swung at less than longest Reach (e.g., Reach 1 for great axe, Reach 2 for halberd).

37

2022-03-09: Need to use your 6′ pole as a weapon? My take:

Staff skill; sw+1 cr / thr+1 cr; R1, 2; Parry +2; $5; 3 lb; ST 7†
Cheap and not made for combat; +1 odds of breakage

See link

Or wield it sword-like:

Two-Handed Sword skill; sw+1 cr R1, 2 / thr cr R2; Parry 0; $5; 3 lb; ST 8†
Cheap and not made for combat; +1 odds of breakage

Oh, got a 10’ pole? Treat as a long staff (Low-Tech/DFRPG), but $8 and +1 odds of breakage. (Presumably too long for sword use!)

38

2022-03-10: Got a full quiver but forgot your bow? Gonna have to fling those arrows:

Thrown Weapon (Dart) skill; thr-3 imp; Acc 1; Range x1/x1.5; Wt 0.1; $2; ST 5; Bulk -3
Crossbow bolt: Same, but Bulk -2.

See link

I’ve wavered on the numbers; these are my latest.

My stats for a thrown arrow are pretty pathetic, but raising damage and/or range starts to step on the toes of shuriken, expensive throwing knives and darts, etc.

Conclusion: Don’t forget your bow!

39

2022-03-11: What’s the shelf life of basic DF/DFRPG dungeoneer rations?

I go with one month, absent any special preparations or magical preservation. (Maybe x1/2 that for hot climes, x2 for cold, x4 for frigid.) (Anyone have a different take?)

Also, what’s the shelf life of natural preparations?

I don’t know. Indefinite for anti-toxins, one month for garlic, one week for wolfsbane? (Or do plants like wolfsbane have to be really fresh to work?)

(“Who cares. They’re all good til you use ’em.” That works too. : )

40

2022-03-12: A boarding cutlass (or any smallish shortsword/falchion):

Shortsword skill; sw cut, thr imp; R1; Parry 0; $320; Wt 1.75; ST 7.
Basket hilt optional: $80, 0.25 lb (closed) or $80, 0 lb (open, protects on 1-3 on d6; see Low-Tech Companion 2 p. 15).

This cutlass/falchion/spadroon/whatever fills a gap on modern (Low-Tech, DFRPG) weapon tables: A blade doing sw cut, thr imp dam.

With closed basket hilt, it has cost and weight of a standard shortsword (and should be ST 8?). It deals 1 point less thr dam, but hey, basket hilt! Arrr!

Find this and more weapons at link.

41

2022-03-13: Just in time for your wizard’s next delve – or full-contact Death Jarts™ competition – here’s a heavy throwing dart:

Thrown Weapon (Dart) skill; thr+1 imp; Acc 1; Range x2/x3; Wt 1.5; $25; ST 6; Bulk -3

“Too scary! How about a light throwing dart?”

Thrown Weapon (Dart) skill; thr-1 imp; Acc 1; Range x1/x2; Wt 0.5; $15; ST 5; Bulk -1
Smaller than the generic throwing dart (but don’t mistake it for a pub dart).

These and more weapons: link

42

2022-03-14: Outdoorsman is a fine 10-pt talent, but aids only 7 skills. Flesh it out with a full 10.

Suggestion: Camouflage, Climbing, Fishing, Hiking, Mimicry (Animal Sounds, Bird Calls), Naturalist, Navigation, Survival, Tracking, Weather Sense.

DFRPG’s take on Outdoorsman is more generous than GURPS’, aiding nine skills (including Disguise (Animals)). I like it, but I add Hiking so it covers a neat 10 skills.

More on getting the most out of Outdoorsman in GURPS and DFRPG: link

43

2022-03-15: Heavy javelin:

Spear skill; thr+2 imp; R1; Parry 0; $35; Wt 3; ST 8
or
Thrown Weapon (Spear) skill; thr+2 imp; Acc 2; Range x1/x2; $35; Wt 3; ST 8; Bulk -5

Bonus! Light spear:

Spear skill; thr+2 imp; R1*; Parry 0; $35; Wt 3; ST 9
or
Thrown Weapon (Spear) skill; thr+2 imp; Acc 2; Range x1/x2; $35; Wt 3; ST 8; Bulk -5

Essentially a heavy javelin stretched longer and thinner. Less robust than normal 4-lb spear; +1 odds of breakage.

These and more weapons: link

44

2022-03-16: Hot off the anvil, it’s a medium katar:

Knife skill; sw-2 cut, thr+1 imp; R C,1; Parry 0; $240; Wt 1.5; ST 7
or
Shortsword skill (same, but swing R is 1, not C,1)

Size bridges Knife and Shortsword (like long knife). All other features per katar.

Only one problem: “Medium katar” is such a lousy name. Let’s call it “punch sword”. (Or are katars already nicknamed that?)

These and more weapons: link

45

2022-03-17: Cooking skill! Not the stuff of adventure; DFRPG left it out for a reason. But use it to:

  • Buy (craft) cheaper rations
  • Detect spoiled food and odd tastes (Per-based)
  • Skin/prepare game (a la Survival)
  • Aid FP recovery with “decent meal” (B427)
  • Preserve foraged food
  • Extend shelf life of rations
  • Replace rations with ingredients (takes prep, but less cost/weight)
  • Cook up some WMDs (wontons of monster distraction)

(I don’t have rules for the above, but see Low-Tech Companion 3 for lots on cooking and preservation.)

More:

  • Engage in Iron Chef battles – to the death!
  • Just be a boss in any kitchen

OK, these hardly make Cooking a must-have. But maybe they at least warrant a hireling trail cook?
(Also, whoever’s cooking, a failed roll vs “So how’s dinner tonight?” is always good for jokes.)

46

2022-03-18: Prop up DFRPG’s wan Green Thumb advantage by letting it aid a full 5 skills. Either add Theology (Druidic) and Esoteric Medicine (Druidic) to its boosted skill list, or introduce Gardening and Farming as boosted skills.

I know, Gardening and Farming are hardly cool adventuring skills, but they can actually be useful: link

47

2022-03-19: Filling in more gaps on the weapon table, here’s a light flail. Or heavy nunchucks. Either way:

Flail skill; sw+2 cr; R 1; Parry 0U; $60; Wt 4; ST 10

Other details same as flails.

48

2022-03-20: A petty, high-horse soapbox of mine:

I like SM +1 for ponies and donkeys (cramped seating for 1 adult) but SM +2 for big horses (roomy seating for 1 adult, cramped for 2). Massive work horses are over 10x human weight, which is clearly SM +2 territory!

SM +1 seems just right for ponies, donkeys, zebras, and the like. And maybe smaller horses, too; some really seem to toe (hoof?) the SM +1/SM +2 border.

But in all meaningful metrics – weight, ST, seating, even map hexes (3, not 2!) – big horses easily cross into SM +2, IMO.

The same goes for camels, especially the two-humper Bactrians – up to 2200 lbs!

49

2022-03-21: Replace weapon tables’ odd (and unpopular) “non-thrusting” swords with a generalized rule for blunt-tipped swords/knives.

I call it a CF -0.2 mod (i.e., 20% cost reduction)—but max cost reduction is -$100.

Effect: Reduce thr dam by 1, change to cr.

There’s no harm in having these blunt-tipped swords on weapon tables, but IMO it seems simple enough to handle this as a mod, saving many lines on the tables.

(And who uses these weapons, anyway? Anyone out there got a PC who’s actually bought one?)

50

2022-03-22: Got Gluttony? Take a free +3 on control rolls through the time-consuming, expensive, and delicious expedient of making your meals double-sized. (Halflings take note!)

See link

By the same token, it’d probably be fair to hit those control rolls with a -3 if the glutton is well overdue for even a normal meal…

51

2022-03-23: Gnome rations: Robust packaging confers 3x the shelf life (my take: 1 month becomes 3 months); +1 on any rolls vs destruction, mold, etc. $3, 0.5 lb.

Can be further fortified with special properties for $$.

See link

52

2022-03-24: What’s the true story of the fabled Crystal Caves? The fate of the famed Rydar’s Raiders expedition?

Let a Hidden Lore (Dungeons) skill answer such questions. This lets PCs “find” quests based on their own knowledge, not just Research rolls.

This, to me, is a key lore skill that PCs accumulate through tales, musty library research, and of course actual adventuring. It’s the “old hand” knowledge that active and retired delvers swap over mugs of demon brew in tavern private rooms and Adventurer’s Guild gatherings.

53

2022-03-25: Here, kitty, kitty! I’ve got cat-folk kibble (rations) for DF/DFRPG:

Made for finicky palates. A steady one-month diet grants 1 level of Night Vision – but gives cat-folk 3 levels (and a silkier coat). $4, 0.5 lb.

See link

54

2022-03-26: DF/DFRPG: Orc rations!

Mystery meat, gamy grub, dire drink… disease- and poison-resistant stomachs don’t ask questions. GM may call for HT roll (-3 for Nervous Stomach!) vs nausea, etc.
$0.5 (or Scrounging roll), 1 lb.

See link

Actually, I don’t make the comic assumption that orcs etc. necessarily prefer gross eats. Why wouldn’t they appreciate truffles and fine brandy like anyone else?

But orcs might equally savor the nuanced piquancy of moldy weasel leg, a delicacy closed off to races of weaker stomach.

55

2022-03-27: I don’t see a clear GURPS rule on whether a character can use Fast-Draw to instantly ready a sheathed weapon to parry (e.g., parry a sudden incoming attack.)

I’ll assume it’s kosher (unless the character’s actually surprised, of course).

Success means the parry can be attempted, as if the weapon had been ready. Game on.

Failure means the parry isn’t possible (though another defense may be). The character may then, when his turn comes, perform a normal Ready, or attempt Fast-Draw again, or do whatever, per usual.

56

2022-03-28: The time you can hold your breath is a multiple of HT. That’s fine, but using FP instead works too. (Fitness-loving PCs with boosted FP appreciate it.)

Further option: Halve breath-holding time if you’re exhausted (i.e., under 1/3 FP).

Re that option: Instead of HT or FP as the multiple, I played a bit with using current FP, the idea being that you could hardly hold your breath at all if you’re exhausted from athletics and spellcasting.

But it plays pretty harsh. Hence the simple “halve time at low FP” idea.

57

2022-03-29: Fit/Very Fit and Unfit/Very Unfit modify a number of HT rolls. Let them also modify HT for the purpose of figuring breath-holding time.

(I don’t know whether that’s noted somewhere as official anyway, but it seems sensible.)

Side note: Yesterday’s entry offered the house rule idea that FP could be used instead of HT as the base for breath-holding time.

If you use that idea, let Fit/Very Fit and Unfit/Very Unfit modify FP for that calculation.

58

2022-03-30: Want to give Breath Control skill more to do? It makes a fine complementary skill for Autohypnosis, Body Control, Kiai, Meditation, and Singing, as well as for rolls vs Running, Hiking, etc. to avoid fatigue.

Then again, don’t do this if it’s problematic. The idea’s sensible, but that’s a lot of complementary skill rolling if a player really wants to apply breathing technique everywhere.

“Take +1 on this bunch of skills if you have Breath Control at 15+” is easier to play.

59

2022-03-31: Breath Control’s contribution to breath-holding time is a flat +50%, period.

For more variety in effect (and happier competitive breath-holders), let the skill boost breath-holding time by the higher of 50% (per RAW) or 10% per point of success.


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Header image: Posting tweets the old way.

Source: “Georg Liebe – Der Soldat” 1899
Woodcut from Prüss, Strassburg (1488) Montevilla

2 Comments

  • Maximilian D Wilson

    RE: <<$0.5 (or Scrounging roll), 1 lb… orcs might equally savor the nuanced piquancy of moldy weasel leg, a delicacy closed off to races of weaker stomach.>>

    This is low-key brilliant. Amateurs study tactics, but professionals study logistics, and until I read this entry it never occurred to me that the ability to scavenge food anywhere and everywhere is a key strategic advantage and could explain teeming orc hordes in places where humans are scarce.

    RE: <<Instead of HT or FP as the multiple, I played a bit with using current FP, the idea being that you could hardly hold your breath at all if you’re exhausted from athletics and spellcasting.

    But it plays pretty harsh.>>

    Hmmm. Harsh is good sometimes. I rarely see combats go over 3 seconds anyway, so the strangling rules and spells seem hopelessly generous to the point of futility. If you could at least wear down enemies first with hit-and-run attacks to reduce their FP (especially heavily-encumbered enemies), at least strangling and Stench spells would have a chance of doing something.

    I think I may adopt the “current FP” version.

    • tbone

      Thanks. I figure orcs and half-orcs enjoy two big advantages from the unexciting-sounding traits Resistant to Poison and Resistant to Disease:

      1. 1. Ability to live off barely-edible “food”, cockroach-style. It’s not the same as Cast-Iron Stomach; orcs need actual nutrition just like any other humanoid. But they can stomach carrion, toxic plants, etc., so they pretty much always eat. Failed every Survival roll to find decent food? No problem; eat bad food and shrug off the effects through enhanced HT rolls.

      2. 2. Ability to thrive in disease-ridden areas. Promoting filthy, disease-causing conditions would be a great defensive tactic for orc camps and communities. In plague-ridden areas, orcs would make great laborers (and body collectors) – or conquerers. (Half-orcs, having normal IQ and lacking Bully, could be outstanding plague doctors. They might even wear the classic plague doctor mask – not for protection from disease and smell, but to hide their half-orc faces.)

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