Daily Houserule tweets: May 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:

20220203040506070809101112202301List of all pages

Entries No. 90 to 120


2022-05-01: New Talent:

Born Sneak [5/lvl]

Take +1/lvl to Escape, Lip Reading, Observation, Shadowing, and Stealth; also Camouflage to conceal self (not things or other persons).

Alternative Benefit: +1/level to notice others shadowing or spying on you.

A good Talent for information-gathering spies. No Reaction Bonus (this is one of those “not meant to be seen” Talents).

In fantasy games, restrict it to thief and spy types if you like.

See more at link


2022-05-02: New Talent:

Devious Devices [5/lvl]

Take +1/lvl to Counterfeiting, Forgery, Lockpicking, Scrounging, Smuggling, and Traps (all when based on IQ/Per, not DX); also to Camouflage to conceal things or other persons (not self).

Reaction Bonus: None.

Alternative Benefit: +1/lvl to IQ-based “legitimate” crafting/repairing/building skills when used for nefarious purposes.

This Talent covers many skills—if based on IQ/Per. It’s a counterpart to High Manual DX, which benefits skills only when DX-based.

Paired with High Manual DX, it adds +1/lvl to all uses of Forgery, Lockpicking, and Traps.

Paired with Born Sneak (yesterday’s entry), it adds +1/lvl to all uses of Camouflage.

In fantasy, restrict to thief types if you like.

See more at link


2022-05-03: DFRPG: Ways to build a PC, from easiest/fastest to most fine-tuned (IMO):

  1. Grab a pregen (change name, gender, etc. as you like)
  2. Use “Five Easy Pieces” (Companion 3)
  3. Use Delvers to Grow
  4. Use a 250-pt template
  5. Build from scratch

Pregens (from Delvers to Go, etc.) are also equipped with gear, so they’re truly the quickest solution.

That said, players of pregens will probably want to tweak traits a bit (especially quirks and disads), and maybe gear too. So don’t count on instant pick-and-play action.

Also note that 3. on the list, Delvers to Grow (that’s “Grow”, not “Go”) from @GMingBallistic, is focused on lower-level, not 250-point, PCs.

But you can certainly use it to build “full” DFRPG PCs; just pile on more of its modules until you hit the 250-pt mark. Good stuff!


2022-05-04: New Talent:

Graceful [5/lvl]

Take +1/lvl to Acrobatics, Dancing, Performance, Sex Appeal, and Light Walk.

Reaction Bonus: +1 by admirers of aesthetics when you show off your moves.

The reaction bonus could apply to reactions by sign language viewers, letting Graceful do for signing what Voice does for speaking.

Alternative Benefit: Any use of physical skills for aesthetic purposes (e.g., Skating to impress judges with artistic spins, not to win a race).

See details and more new Talents at link.


2022-05-05: New Talent:

Lithe [5/lvl]

Take +/lvl to Combat Art, Dancing, Erotic Art, Light Walk, and Stage Combat.

(For DFRPG, use yesterday’s Graceful instead.)

Reaction Bonus: +1 by admirers of aesthetics when you show off your moves.

The reaction bonus could apply to reactions by sign language viewers, letting Lithe do for signing what Voice does for speaking.

Alternative Benefit: Any use of physical skills for aesthetic purposes (e.g., Acrobatics—not to walk a tightrope, but to look good doing so).

The alternative benefit could include Performance, Sex Appeal, etc. when a sexy strut or other lissome movement would appeal. (Have fun describing the action!)


2022-05-06: DF/DFRPG: A slorn egg is worth $500 to delvers—but is it portable?

You decide. Start with a base weight: 8 lb (human newborn)? Or 3 oz (gator egg)?

Choose, then multiply by about x10 for SM +2.

(Me, I think I’ll just go with a semi-portable 10 lbs.)


2022-05-07: New Talent:

Life of the Party [5/lvl]

Take +1 per level to the Carousing, Dancing, Gambling, Performance, and Singing skills.

Reaction Bonus: Any fellow merry-makers!

Alternative Benefit: Dude! Don’t need one!


2022-05-08: New Talent:

Light-Fingered [5/lvl]

Take +1/lvl to Filch, Holdout, Pickpocket, Search, and Sleight of Hand.

Reaction Bonus: None (this is a “sneaky” hidden Talent).

Alternative Benefit: +1/lvl to rolls to avoid being fooled by the same skills.

This Talent efficiently boosts a number of somewhat-similar skills that can otherwise cost a lot in GURPS/DFRPG.

In fantasy, consider restricting it to thief types.

See details at link.


2022-05-09: I think it’s time to give the Current Events skill a new specialty: Current Events (Social Media).

All that’s hot (and not) online: platforms, communities, personalities, viral content, trends, memes, flame wars…

My skill, BTW, is about 7. (Uh, I can haz cheezburger?)

The 4e Basic Set was published in 2004. What strikes you as areas where the world has already moved on from the books?


2022-05-10: New Talent:

Natural Impostor [5/lvl]

Take +1/lvl to Acting, Disguise, Fast-Talk, Mimicry, and Ventriloquism.

Reaction Bonus: None (this is a “sneaky” hidden Talent).

Alternative Benefit: +1/lvl on rolls to avoid being fooled by the same skills.

A fine Talent for concealing who you are. (It includes the little-used Ventriloquism skill, to further confuse people as to where you are.)

In fantasy, consider restricting this to thief types.

More talents here: link


2022-05-11: I long gamed with a “staggered squares” erasable battle map, a great format for mapping rooms. The staggered configuration lets squares mimic GURPS’ hex-based combat. Try it out if you secretly envy RPGs that use convenient squares for mapping.

Caveat: Staggered squares don’t perfectly mimic hexes; diagonal movement gets stretched a little. Properly, the “squares” should be 1″ high x 0.866″ wide. But for me, anyway, maps using staggered perfect squares were good enough for gaming!


2022-05-12: New Talent:

Naturally Nimble [5/lvl]

Take +1/lvl to Acrobatics, Climbing, Jumping, Running, and Swimming.

Reaction Bonus: Appreciators of athleticism.

Alternative Benefit: +1/lvl to any sports skills or DX rolls calling on full-body agility.

(If that Alternative Benefit is boring, use this instead: +1/lvl bonus to Dodge, once per session.)

This is a powerful Talent for action heroes. Restrict it to “mobility experts” – thieves, martial artists, swashbucklers, acrobats, etc. – if you like.


2022-05-13: New Talent:

Street Survivor [5/lvl]

Take +1/lvl to Detect Lies, Intimidation, Panhandling, Streetwise, and Urban Survival.

Reaction Bonus: Street hustlers, bums, ruffians, and anyone impressed by their ilk.

Alternative Benefit: +1/lvl to rolls to spot street scams and miscellaneous dangers in urban situations, and to urban Tracking rolls.

This is another variant of urban Talents like Street-Smart and Street Smarts. It’s DFRPG-friendly, so consider it for your dungeon thief.

And with that, I think I’ve exhausted my bucket of homemade Talents. Find the bunch here: link


2022-05-14: Uses for the oft-ignored Ventriloquism skill:

  • Cast a spell verbally without lip movement (to blame someone else, or to fake Skill-20+)
  • Thwart lip-readers
  • Mumble even if paralyzed by magic or poison?
  • Moan “WHO HAS KILLED ME?” while playing dead

Of course, the classic use is Ventriloquism combined with Mimicry, to make the Evil Overlord’s lieutenant suddenly voice some most unkind opinions about the Evil Overlord’s mother. Humor ensues.


2022-05-15: Today I’ll just borrow a great GM tip from @newbiedm:

On maps with buildings etc., note the structures’ height right on the map. It’s info that’s obvious to PCs, and encourages climbs, rooftop escapades, etc.


Hm, what other info would be useful for each building? Maybe:

  • No. of stories (but assume “10 ft/story” unless noted otherwise)
  • Climbing roll mod (for wall features, etc.)
  • Roof type (flat/pitched)

But if nothing else, just noting height is a good idea.


2022-05-16: Basic Set doesn’t make this clear, but FYI, SM is officially a TH mod in melee, not just ranged, combat!

However, “relative SM”—an officially-noted option to use the difference in attacker-vs-target SM as the melee TH mod—is the way to go.

In fact, this relative SM option is needed to stop silly bugs from otherwise cropping up, like tiny combatants unable to hit each other in melee because of the daunting SM mods. Using the option, melee combat among combatants of any size works intuitively and trouble-free.

In my view, this relative SM option isn’t a “patch” or “fix”; it derives naturally from a big-picture look at how size and distance work in melee and ranged combat alike.

For the low-down on what this is all about, see link.


2022-05-17: GURPS 3e’s Size/Speed and Range Table allowed TH bonuses for very close range.

4e dropped those: 2 yds and closer is all +0 TH.

Actually, 3e had the right of it! The bonuses are proper, even necessary, for finding sensible TH for some situations.

Unusual combat situations play nicely if you keep 3e’s close-range bonuses, with common-sense assumptions about distance, e.g., no unfair bonuses in normal combat (“I shoot him real close!”), but reasonable bonuses in special situations (“I shoot the lock from inches away”).

See details here (same link as yesterday): link


2022-05-18: Uses for Lip-Reading:

  • Decipher speech in no-audio video messages, camera feeds, crystal ball viewings, etc.
  • Understand a humanoid bot with broken speaker; the portentous message of a visible spirit unable to pierce the Veil of Sound; etc.
  • “Talk” with teammates when maintaining silence, underwater, deafened by noise, under a stupid wizard’s Silence spell…
  • Same as above, with both gestures and mouthed words. Use either Gesture or the listener’s Lip Reading as the main skill, and the other as a complementary roll.

In all cases, give the target’s Lip Reading a +2 or bigger bonus when the speaker is trying to be understood, mouthing words in slow and exaggerated fashion.


2022-05-19: A new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) perk:

Check the Body: You’re too smart to turn your back on a “downed” foe. Whenever possible, you confirm that such foes are truly dead, tied up, etc.

This SOP goes well with a cautious attitude… or Bloodlust.

(Hapless horror story characters, meanwhile, take the opposite action—Never, Ever Check the Body—as an inevitably fatal quirk.)

More SOPs here: link


2022-05-20: Are your DF/DFRPG martial artists not getting much use from that Mental Strength skill?

Let a roll lessen or negate damage from some psychic attacks — say, the no-resistance toxic attacks of a Horrid Skull or psychic wailer Fungus.


Some skills appear to do nothing until enough points are invested (to get above the attribute level, etc.). But they still usually offer something: 1 pt in Brawling offers new moves (if little else), 1 pt in Running (in DFRPG) allows complementary rolls using the skill, etc.

Mental Strength lacks that. Hence the idea: come up with challenges that only Mental Strength resists.

That said, even without fun new uses, Mental Strength is almost always a good buy for martial artists. Even 1 pt means Chi Talent gets to aid Will for resisting mental attacks.


2022-05-21: High-kick realism: In addition to -2 TH for a kick, tack on an extra -1 for mid kicks (abdomen), -2 for high kicks (chest, head).

The extra penalty also affects rolls to avoid falling after a miss!

Buy off the penalty as an Average technique.

The idea is to make high kicks realistically difficult – the domain of dedicated kick-fighters.

That said, blog comments (link) weren’t overly warm to the idea, even with penalties halved to 0/-1/-2 from the initial 0/-2/-4. Call it one for the detail lovers!


2022-05-22: DFRPG: Slings do pi damage, to deadly effect vs vitals.

Per Low-Tech p. 75, consider changing dam to cr instead (with eye shots allowed).

That still leaves slings powerful weapons: dam is sw, and cr is as good as any other damage on a skull shot!

Reason for the suggestion? Well, no disrespect to this classic weapon from antiquity, but I just don’t see sling shot penetrating vitals like firearm rounds do.

Maybe I’m wrong about that…


2022-05-23: SOP perk:

Marching Order: Specify PC’s position in “marching order” situations (trail hiking, room exploration, etc.).

In said situations, GM will assume the PC is in the set spot in the defined marching order, unless the player says otherwise.

As with other Standard Operating Procedure perks, this lets the GM assume an action (“yes, Wizard, you’re safely in the center”) without having to be told.

Of course, this SOP quickly falls apart if most or all of the team doesn’t take the perk! That’s what squad training is for…


2022-05-24: Ack. Maybe I’m obsessive-compulsive here, but on rolls to resist knockdown/stunning, the asymmetric “+3 for High Pain Threshold, -4 for Low Pain Threshold” always bugs me.

Make this ±4. Turn all mods associated with HPT and LPT into ±4. Done. Bah.

I’ll note that this love for ±4 is also mirrored in the +4 resistance to KO associated with Berserk, the maximum -4 shock penalty for normal characters, many more…

(Actually, a lot of ±3 and ±5 mods could be folded into ±4 for ease of recall, but that’s its own topic.)


2022-05-25: SOP perk:

Loot the Bodies: You work over corpses for coins, gear, etc. Ew. (Come on, you do it anyway; you just don’t have to say it any more.)

In most situations, the GM can just assume you pat down the stiffs and will tell you what you found.

Naturally, it’s a different situation when you face a battlefield full of bodies, or need to run out of Balin’s Tomb in a hurry; the GM will have to ask what you intend to do.

(I think Gimli would have liked to stay a moment and rifle through some orc pockets for loose change…)


2022-05-26: “For a melee or thrown weapon, your effective ST for damage purposes cannot exceed triple the weapon’s ST statistic.”

All righty. A simple enough (if not perfect) rule.

But if it’s a thrown weapon, range should also be capped the same way.

Simple reason: When ST 30 and ST 60 supers throw spears, they deliver the same damage (because it’s capped at spear ST 9 x 3 = ST 27)…

…yet one spear is faster and goes twice as far as the other? How does that work??

Damage and range have to go hand in hand. Cap both of these stats at ST 27.


2022-05-27: Do Dungeon Fantasy and DFRPG thieves steal the spotlight as well as other professions, or are they stuck in the shadows?

Opinions vary. For lots on beefing up thieves (especially with Talents) and helping them shine, see: link


2022-05-28: New leveled perk:

Vocal Range: Buy 1-4 levels in the high direction for piercing treble, 1-4 levels in the low direction for a rumbling bass.

No game effect, other than as a requirement to sing a particular piece, mimic Mariah Carey, etc.

If you wanted pointless detail, you could say a character has an innate vocal range of, say, (HT or Singing)/4 octaves, centered on some arbitrary pitch. From there, this perk becomes effectively a technique, adding to HT or Singing for purpose of that calculation.

If nothing else, a roll against (Singing + levels of this perk/technique) gives a singer a quick show-off feat.

Fun if you’re playing a campaign of “Concerts and Contraltos”, I suppose!

More perks here: link


2022-05-29: DF Monsters 1: Throttlers’ Strangler Talent aids Brawling, Stealth, Tracking, and Wrestling.

My tweaks:

1) Give Strangler to bugbears, too.

2) Add Garrote to Strangler for a neat 5 skills. (Or add Shadowing for throttlers, Garrote for bugbears.)


2022-05-30: DF/DFRPG: Spiked armor allows free DX -4 rolls to stab foes in close combat.

Letting the wearer replace that DX -4 roll with (Brawling, Wrestling, or Sumo Wrestling) -4 seems fair to me.

Also: Let Armor Mastery halve that penalty to -2.

I like the concept of Armor Mastery halving penalties for some armor-related rolls, just as Weapon Master does for weapon-related rolls…

…but there really aren’t any armor-related rolls.

Except this “stab with spikes” roll! Hence this suggestion to halve the penalty.


2022-05-31: DF/DFRPG: I give spiked armor downsides:

  • Lassos, bolas, cloaks, etc. snag on spikes: -1 to Dodge these, -2 to rolls to get untangled. Make those -2 and -4 vs nets!
  • Take -2 on Escape to get out of ropes; -4 to squeeze through tight spaces.

Fair is fair: Those same penalties should apply to thorny monsters, too.

Spiked armor is cool, but should also be terribly impractical in some ways. Today’s and yesterday’s entries flesh this out a bit.

(Know what’d be an exceptionally bad idea? Barbed spiked armor. Yes, you’ll be picking up traveling companions everywhere you go, but…)

Entries by month:

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Header image: Posting tweets the old way.

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


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