Daily Houserule tweets: July 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. 151 to 181


2022-07-01: DF/DFRPG: Power up with clerical consumables!

Take a +1 bonus on Exorcism, Remove Curse, Turning, and other “cleansing” tasks for use of $30 worth of holy water (2 vials) or other consumables, with additional +1 per doubling of that value.

Why $30? It meshes with the $15 cost of holy water – but mainly, I’m nicking the spell components idea from DFRPG Companion 3 and Pyramid #3/113. (I’m essentially treating clerical consumables as a special form of $30 college components, replacing “spell college” with miscellaneous cleansing tasks.)

For simplicity, use full “list” cost of the consumables for bonus purposes – i.e., four vials of holy water give +2 for their normal $60 value, not +1 for the $30 cost after clerical discount.

(The half-cost discount lets clerics effectively nab an extra +1 effect from a given purchase of consumables. That’s fine; it’s the temple subsidizing their exorcisms, de-cursing, etc.)

Another classic clerical consumable is holy incense. See stats tomorrow.


2022-07-02: DF/DFRPG: Holy incense: Call a bundle $15, 0.05 lb. Halve cost for clerics. Gives bonuses to cleansing (yesterday’s entry) – but halve effective value (i.e., reduce the bonus by 1) if used without a proper brazier or censer (Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables).

Incense has a 2-hex radius and burns for 5 minutes (should that matter).

GMs can invent other effects, but as this holy incense is much lighter than holy water, it should be less powerful. (Namely, it doesn’t “burn” undead – though something mild like 1 point of damage per minute of exposure to smoke sounds reasonable.)

If wealthy PC clerics go too far and make incense bonfires to claim ridiculous bonuses, rein things in: Require some split of different consumables to get beyond a certain bonus, or limit the total bonus to no more than half of relevant skill (e.g., Exorcism), etc.


2022-07-03: DF/DFRPG: New: Heavy holy water! Super-blessed with deus-terium. 4x cost of holy water, 2x weight (yes, it’s heavy).

Effect: Double damage vs affected beings. Also a heavy-hitter consumable that aids cleansing tasks (see Entry No. 151).

Not divine enough for you? Well, legend speaks of super-heavy holy water, containing the mystical holy element trinitium. This water literally radiates dangerous, trinity-ated holiness; use with care. (3x dam sounds right, though no stats here. It’s just a legend…)


2022-07-04: DF/DFRPG: New: Intense incense! 4x the cost, 2x the weight (bundle: $60, 0.1 lb) of holy incense (Entry No. 152).

Smoke (2-hex radius, 5 minutes) may trigger Revulsion or Weakness in some monsters (GM call). It’s myrrh-der on the unholy!

For holy waters, incenses, etc., GMs can add new monster-specific weaknesses to be discovered via skills, research, or experience. Examples: Afflictions (stun, pain, nausea, blindness, etc.), negation of powerful trait like Unkillable while in incense cloud, etc.

Note: I’ve stated “x4 cost” for heavy holy water and intense holy incense; that figure makes mental juggling of the “spell component” effect easy. But replace that with “+3 CF” when that’d be handier.


2022-07-05: DF/DFRPG: Silly cleric, you’ve lost your holy symbol! Can you make do with other holy goods?

A kind GM could let $30 worth of holy water, holy incense, etc. stand in for a missing holy symbol. (It’s a cheap replacement – but it’s one-shot!)

In the past few entries, I suggest $30 as the amount of “clerical consumables” allowing +1 to “cleansing” tasks (borrowing DFRPG Companion 3’s spell component rules).

But here, $30 worth merely replaces the holy symbol, for +0. Consume $60 for a +1, $120 for a +2, etc.

These are consumables! The incense has to be burned; the holy water has to be spilled on the ground or into a cup; etc. Let effects last for 5 minutes for simplicity (too short for long cleansing tasks!).

It’s a good save in a pinch, but do try to hang on to your holy symbol.


2022-07-06: DF/DFRPG: Recent entries have discussed holy water and incense as tools to boost exorcisms and other cleansing tasks.

This doesn’t mean these items necessarily trigger Dread (Holy Objects), a trait found in some demons.

Nerdery in 3, 2, 1:

Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 5: Demons makes clear that “normal” holy objects, texts, etc. aren’t powerful enough to trigger Dread (Holy Objects), but can gain “blessed” or “high holy” effect for +4/+19 CF.

So could “clerical consumables” like holy water trigger this Dread? Maybe like this:

Let $30 in one-shot consumables (e.g., two vials of holy water) stand in for a holy symbol, per yesterday’s entry.

Per DF Monsters 5, that doesn’t trigger Dread. But enhance this water by +4 or +19 CF, and you have blessed holy water or high holy water that does trigger Dread.

Because of its high value, this holy water could instead be used to greatly aid “cleansing” tasks (again, nicking the Spell Component rules from DFRPG Companion 3).

Just remember: consumables get used up. Get a proper, permanent blessed or high holy symbol to inflict repeated Dread!


2022-07-07: DF/DFRPG: Holy oil!

As a grenade, this “burns” Evil like holy water for 1d+1 seconds.

It can also “anoint” a person, weapon, etc: Subject (or wielder) gains +1 Resist Evil (5 min) plus an Evil-burning touch (2-pt “holy” follow-up damage for 5 minutes or 3 touches). $120, 1 lb.

It’s also useful as a valuable “clerical consumable” aiding Exorcism, Turning, and other “cleansing” tasks (see last few days’ entries).

This is a recent creation. Do the effects and cost seem reasonable?

(Just a few more of these “clerical consumables” entries. Bear with me.)


2022-07-08: DF/DFRPG: Rebuke! A scroll with words of power vs demons/curses.

Use for cleansing, like holy water, etc. $30, 0.05 lb.

Focused rebuke: For one type of demon or curse. $30, but treat as 2x value for cleansing purposes.

Specific rebuke: For one specific demon or curse. $30, but treat as 4x value for cleansing purposes.

All of these have the same cost, $30, but trade greater effect for narrower scope.

As a clerical consumable, a rebuke is as portable as incense (Entry No. 152) but easier to use. Downside: It’s for demon-related tasks only. (If you like, invent a version for cleansing tasks involving undead.)

Recap: This talk of “cleansing” (Entry No. 151) nicks DFRPG Companion 3’s spell component rule, to suggest letting clerical consumables act like a $30 “college component” – not to aid a spell from a given college but to aid a “cleansing” task like Exorcism or Turning.


2022-07-09: Holy water burns some DF/DFRPG monsters like acid. Sounds cool – but why bother when real acid costs less and hurts any foe?

Make holy water worth it: Double the x1/x1.5 dam mods to x2/x3 vs affected monsters. (Also remember: min dam roll is 1.)

Or: Instead of doubling (1d-3 (min 1)), just use a straight 1d. Easier!

DFRPG Monsters even encourages tweaking Divine Curse effects, so have at it.

Also see Entry No. 153 for heavy holy water that deals 2x dam. Use both doublings for movie-style, vampire-melting mayhem.

Thank you for your patience during Clerical Consumables Week, a miraculous nine-day week of entries on getting more out of holy water, incense, and other essentials from your local St. Aples Ecclesiastical Office Supply Center.


2022-07-10: Oops, one more thought on a clerical consumable – energy, not gear:

DF/DFRPG exorcisms are long and (presumably) arduous, but in play, not actually tiring at all.

Would it make sense to allow a bonus for blowing FP/Energy Reserves (even HP)?

This might be a +1 for 1 energy point, another +1 per further doubling, for an exorcism or other “cleansing”. Set this bonus before rolling!

The exhaustion befits the drama of exorcism, but the bonus could be significant. Consider saving the idea for exorcisms that carry a big penalty to begin with.

Tangent: Even more interesting would be exorcisms gamed as detailed spiritual combats full of surprise FP losses, Fright Checks, and other unknowns.

But that’s branching far from the existing quick-n-simple resolution. Something to ponder another day.


2022-07-11: “If you know Diplomacy at level 20 or better, you get a +2 bonus on all reaction rolls!”

Most agreeable. But perhaps we could negotiate with GURPS to also allow a more modest +1 bonus for Diplomacy at level 15.


2022-07-12: “If you have Fast-Talk at level 20 or better, you get +2 on all reaction rolls where you’re allowed to talk!”

Sure! But hey, how about we blarney GURPS into also allowing a +1 on rolls for Fast-Talk at level 15?

On today’s and yesterday’s entries: Adding a bonus at level 15 nicely follows Animal Handling’s similar mechanism of benefits at level 15 and level 20.

(Per Entry No. 14, I have quibbles with Animal Handling’s specific effects at those levels, but that’s a different topic.)


2022-07-13: New perk: Bestial Wariness.

Whatever “wrongness” triggers Frightens Animals, you sense it on a Perception roll (or Smell roll if it’s a pheromonal thing).

The perk doesn’t trigger fear in you, but it may give you warning of vampires, etc.

Give the Perception roll a bonus for Animal Friend and similar traits.

In fantasy, this perk makes the most sense for druids, or characters with Outdoorsman, Sense Evil, high Per, or ties to the bestial world (an animal totem, an “animal” race, etc.).

Arguably, Animal Empathy already includes this perk, as the Frightens Animals text reads, “Anyone… with Animal Empathy – reacts to you at -1.”


2022-07-14: I’ve got an expanded list of things you can hurl with an atlatl or woomera: link

I also suggest a universal rule for weapon ST: use the ST of the thrown projectile (dart, spear, etc.), with an added +1 ST for an atlatl, +2 ST for a woomera.


  • Javelin: ST 6 thrown, ST 7 with atlatl.
  • Spear: ST 9 thrown; ST 11 with woomera. (That’s a full-size melee spear; consider a lighter projectile!)

The higher ST covers the weight of the throwing tool. It’s a good thing for strong PCs: higher weapon ST means higher max damage!


2022-07-15: DF/DFRPG: A scroll lets a novice caster – even a non-caster with some scrolls – cast powerful spells. But how about some benefit when a skilled caster does the reading?

Idea: Use skill at reading magical texts as an optional complementary roll.

That’s Thaumatology for wizardly scrolls and Religious Ritual for clerical and druidic scrolls. (Perhaps a bard could use either Thaumatology for skillful reading, or Singing for skillful delivery.)

The complementary roll raises or lowers the scroll’s skill level, per usual.

Keep in mind that a scroll’s skill level doesn’t always matter. If the casting isn’t resisted, won’t be countered by dispelling attempts, or otherwise doesn’t even require a roll, a complementary roll isn’t meaningful; don’t bother with it.


2022-07-16: GURPS’ melee weapon skill cross-defaults are arguably really harsh. If you want to try something a little radical, halve these cross-defaults (round unfavorably) across the board. (Less radical: Halve the penalties for thrust attacks only.)

This is a substantial change, so handle with caution and testing.

Still, it’s worth considering. For something as simple as, say, placing a 2nd hand on your longword, a sudden -3 or -4 penalty for the default skill is really harsh in GURPS. (How harsh? See link.)

A benefit of more forgiving defaults: More use of defaults → Purchase of fewer skills → A little shortening of long, long skill lists on character sheets.

It’s a small power-up for PCs who invest in a high level of a melee weapon skill.


2022-07-17: Whether or not you play around with yesterday’s entry (lessening melee weapon skills’ harsh cross-defaults), don’t be afraid to add new cross-defaults – say, between Axe/Mace and Broadsword, or Two-Handed/Sword and Polearm, or what have you.

Perhaps any crazy combo – Polearm default from Knife? – should allow a cross-default at, oh, -6 or so?

Sure, balance and length and so on differ wildly among weapons, but melee skills are largely about footwork, timing, reading the foe, and other universal capabilities.

A detailed look at numbers is too much for tweets, and I’m still playing with things myself.

For your amusement, see this slight update to some ancient rules of thumb for eyeballing weapon skill cross-defaults.


2022-07-18: Another generous default: Let Bolas and Sling skills cross-default at -3 or so.

(There’s already no penalty for using Sling skill with the bola perdida, which essentially is a sling; you just throw weapon and stone together! See Low-Tech.)


2022-07-19: Really, slings should use Sling skill, heavy slings a Two-Handed Sling skill, and staff slings a Staff Sling skill.

(I won’t complain if you keep them all under Sling, though. I threaten to break ’em apart some day, but haven’t bothered yet.)

FWIW, a staff sling sounds a bit like a two-handed woomera. If you were to create a Staff Sling skill, consider a generous cross-default with Spear Thrower.

(Low-Tech already blurs the sling vs spear thrower distinction by offering the stone-launching stick, akin to a weak staff sling, placed under Spear Thrower skill.)

On a related note, I’m still scratching my head over exactly which ammo (stones, big rocks, potions/grenades, etc.) works with which slings, with what performance; the printed rules aren’t clear to me. Join my confusion here: link


2022-07-20: Saber is a disappointing skill, covering just one weapon. Rapier offers a nearly identical weapon, plus many more.

Idea: Give Saber cross-defaults to Broadsword and Shortsword at only -2 skill – or only -1 to use the cavalry saber with Saber.

Also see Entry No. 65 in this series: the heavy saber, a second (!) weapon for Saber skill users that offers a little extra heft. Or see link.

Just trying to give players some reason to choose Saber instead of Rapier…


2022-07-21: GURPS Underground Adventures’ new Navigation (Underground) specialty cross-defaults to Navigation (Land) at -2.

In Entry No. 12, I noted this as a fun addition to DFRPG, separating “normal” navigation from delvers’ oddball caving skills.

Detailing that a bit: Using Navigation (Underground) in DFRPG, let Navigation default from it at -2 – only for use on land, not at sea. (Use IQ-5 or Seamanship-5 at sea.)

Or, fully borrow GURPS’ multiple Navigation specialties: Land, Sea, Underground… and maybe other Planes?

Also: In GURPS or DFRPG, I think a cross-default (-4?) between Navigation (Underground) and Prospecting sounds sensible.

Speaking of prospecting: DFRPG dwarves may demand innate prowess with Navigation (Underground). Consider a talent like Underworldly: link

That talent includes Prospecting, so that skill double-benefits from Underworldy and Pickaxe Penchant.

Nothing wrong with that, but if you think it’s too much:

  • Leave Prospecting in Underworldly.
  • Remove Prospecting from Pickaxe Penchant; add Polearm instead. (Polearm weapons are just long axes and hammers!)


2022-07-22: GURPS allows the Pressure Points skill an optional default to Esoteric Medicine -4 in a cinematic campaign.

This seems a fair thing to add to DFRPG: let Pressure Points default to Esoteric Medicine (Chi) at -4.

Note that you’ll need to spend a lot of points on Esoteric Medicine to have Pressure Points better than what 1 pt would buy, and actual use of Pressure Points is still heavily dependent on Karate. I don’t see any overly generous point crock in allowing this default.

(A tangent: Speaking of medicine, what’s up with GURPS’ crazy Physician default of First Aid -11(!?)? There’s no other default like that in the game. A topic for later…)

Thank you for your patience during Default Week, seven days of entries on doing stuff with the wrong skills.


2022-07-23: DF/DFRPG: A fun feature of the setting is PCs using Propaganda skill to advertise their services and find quests. But criers, messengers, letters, etc. cost money!

Idea: Get +1 skill for $25 spent, additional +1 per doubling of that cost. (Spending this $$ is an option for PCs, not a requirement.)

Why $25? No big reason; it might be inspired by the exploit for Gambling, which uses $25 and doublings thereof.

Feel free to experiment with this amount. (You could instead go with $30, per Entry No. 151.)


2022-07-24: DF/DFRPG: Similar to yesterday’s entry:

Successful Research tasks can require assistants, library donations, special collection access fees, even straight-up bribes.

Idea: Get +1 skill for $25 spent, additional +1 per doubling of that cost.

Needless to say, this sort of thing works as a cash control measure when PCs have too much gold. Decree a huge penalty for a Research roll to learn the archfiend’s secret name, prompting use of this option. (Or just declare that it takes a $500 bribe to access the Forbidden Library.)


2022-07-25: Opportunity fire carries a risk of accidentally shooting friends and bystanders who pop up in your sights.

Let mental quickness modify the Vision roll for target discrimination to prevent friendly fire: +2 for Combat Reflexes, -2 for Combat Paralysis.

These are the same mods that Combat Reflexes and Paralysis place on Fright Checks, so they’re easy to remember.

(Procedural note: With Combat Paralysis, you first need a HT roll to respond at all, then that Vision roll to not shoot your friend. A nicely messy situation!)

Trivia time:

In rules for opportunity fire, DFRPG (Exploits p. 43) gives you that target discrimination roll vs Vision for free; GURPS (B390) requires you to accept a -2 TH to take advantage it.

A minor difference to be aware of.


2022-07-26: Is Smuggling needed to sneak contraband past security checks? Won’t Holdout or Camouflage do? By my understanding, these are the relevant skills and what they’re used for:

  • Camouflage: Disguise items as natural background
  • Holdout: Hide items on a person
  • Smuggling: Hide items in a room, car, pack, etc.

So. A smuggler can get by with just Holdout for small stuff, and can use Camouflage outdoors to conceal hideouts, men, and “drops” awaiting pickup.

But you need Smuggling to hide stuff in known or obvious locations (pack, trunk, etc.) that are likely to be thoroughly searched.

These aren’t clear-cut distinctions, though. A general cross-default (-4?) between Smuggling and Holdout seems seems reasonable to me.

Same with a cross-default (-4?) between Smuggling and Camouflage, if the explanation is good.

Other thoughts on the topic:

1) Bring in other skills as needed: Animal Handling to lessen a big Smuggling penalty for snakes on a plane, Hazardous Materials to avoid mishaps with dangerous contraband, etc.

2) What would a PC use to disguise/conceal something like a spy camera in a room? Camouflage? Smuggling? Either? How would you GM it?


2022-07-27: DF/DFRPG: Martial Artists spend 2x on rations to maintain chi abilities.

Nothing wrong with that! But it raises questions, e.g., “What if rations cost $0 thanks to living off the land? Doubled cost is still $0?”

If you prefer, GMs, instead of the doubling, charge a flat +$5/day to maintain chi abilities.

Upgrade that to +$10/day for Triger Brand Triple-Power Yin/Yang Balance Bars. Let continued use for a month grant a benefit, like +1 FP or +1 to a Chi skill. (“Mmm, Mellow Matcha flavor! Love that +1 on Autohypnosis!”)

Make the benefit something worth 2-4 points. Why not let the player choose it?


2022-07-28: DF: Simple rules exist for buying a permanent base instead of living in inns.

How about something in between: apartment living? Try $400/month/person for rent plus food, all paid in advance for simplicity. Cheaper than the inn, but you pay whether you use the room or not!

About permanent bases, strongholds, etc.: You’ll find the rules on DF Setting: Caverntown p. 28 or on DF 23: Twists p. 6.

A base (or apartment) is a fine option to bring into DFRPG when the delvers have grown tired of thief-plagued billets above fire-hazard taverns.


2022-07-29: DF/DFRPG: Clarification of crafting rules to avoid quibbles at the table:

Establish that the PC must first “stake” the full 110% of purchase price that’s required if the crafting roll fails. No crafting without commitment!

Alternately, if a PC fails at crafting and can’t pay the extra 10% (or gets ornery and won’t pay), let the PC do this:

Pay just that 10% of the price to represent wasted effort, and walk away with nothing. (Mumbling “I didn’t want that stupid potion anyway” is encouraged.)


2022-07-30: DF/DFRPG: The Ornate mod for weapons is cool, but you can get a big reaction mod for very little dosh by pimping out a cheap $20 knife (or $3 shuriken?).

Idea: For weapons costing less than $100, instead of CF, charge +$100/+$400/+$900 for +1/+2/+3 reaction.


2022-07-31: New gear for dungeoneers:

Half pint of lubricating oil. Good for quieting the squeaky hinges of four dungeon doors, greasing two floor hexes, or oiling one rusty tin man construct. Not flammable. $5, 0.5 lb.

Can with nozzle: $10, 0.5 lb.

Both: $15, 1 lb.

A “squeaky hinges” use might grant +1 to force a stuck door, turn a rusted valve, etc.

This oil also replaces $700 Thieves’ Oil – although very poorly. It offers only a +1 escape bonus, while oily hands negate Manual DX and add Ham-Fisted x2, which the GM can extend to climbing, turning doorknobs, anything funny. The oil’s probably smelly, too. (Odor-free version: +2 CF.)

I’m not set on the cost or number of uses of this lubricating oil. If you have better suggestions, let’s hear ’em.

(Oh, be sure ask for Grease-Eez brand by name. Made with the finest bugbear fur oils!)

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

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