Daily Houserule tweets: January 2023

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. 335 to 365


2023-01-01: DF/DFRPG: Continuing from yesterday, No. 7-12 of a dozen magic item ideas:

  1. A blunt-tipped executioner’s sword that delivers a deadly +4 TH and +4 dam – but punishes the wielder with 1d HP dam when a blow doesn’t kill the target.
  2. Flame-Out: As DFRPG Magic Items’ alchemical Fire Fountain, but foamy jet extinguishes fires, damages flame beings, etc.
  3. A limited-use wand/missile/etc. that uncomfortably shrinks foes’ clothing/armor for 1 min. Most clothing: -1 DX; Armor: effects per glue grenade.
  4. Triger Balm: Like Balm of Regeneration, which heals HP at expense of FP – but chi-aspected. Roll vs Esoteric Medicine (Chi) if treating others, or Body Control if used on self. Success heals at less cost than Balm of Regeneration: reduce the FP cost by the margin of success.
  5. Anti-Mana Lamp: Mysterious bulls-eye lantern lowers mana by 2 levels (e.g., Normal Mana becomes No Mana) along its 1-hex wide light beam for 10 hexes, by 1 level for another 20 hexes. Hated by mages, fae, etc. This lamp should consume some rare, expensive, fast-burning fuel!
  6. Any magic weapons/items with modest magic properties if used by PCs, but major magic properties if wielded by humanity-hating monsters. PCs will face thievery attempts – or legitimate and very tempting offers from evil buyers, amoral arms dealers, etc.


2023-01-02: A tweak to Light Walk skill:

  • If a Stealth roll takes penalties for the surface (dry leaves, gravel, etc.), let Light Walk’s margin of success first subtract directly from that penalty.
  • MoS beyond that offers its usual (lesser) benefit to Stealth.

The purpose here is to make Light Walk particularly effective against noisy leaves, “nightingale” floors, crunchy snow, etc. Just feels appropriate to me.


2023-01-03: Hunters know that you can’t always move unheard. Their trick: Go ahead and make noise, but mimic the steps and start-n-stop rhythms of deer, foraging squirrels, and other non-threats.

Use DX-based Disguise (Animals) to effect this aural camouflage.

This may be useful when Stealth is unlikely to defeat animals’ sharp ears, when Stealth would be tiring over a long hunt, etc.

You could turn this into a technique called Animal Walk (DX-based Disguise (Animals), max skill +4).


2023-01-04: An idea for fancier combat footwork: Basic Move (Only for purpose of calculating Step and sprint bonus, -60%).

Call it “Dash” for want of a better name.

The point of Dash: reaching Step and sprint bonus breakpoints without huge Basic Move.

Examples, assuming Basic Move 5:

  • Dash 5 yields effective Move 10, for a sprinting bonus of 2 hexes.
  • Dash 6 (effective Move 11) nets Step 2, sprinting bonus 2.
  • Dash 10 (effective Move 15) nets Step 2, sprinting bonus 3.

(Not sure whether -60% is a fair limitation value…)


2023-01-05: DFRPG Companion 2 p. 13 offers a shoe option (of all things): thick soles for +1 DR underfoot.

Me, I make this a free part of any normal footwear (it’s how shoes work), and make Companion 2’s rule an option for even thicker soles.

(Exception: No extra sole DR, built-in or optional, for stealthy moccasins, “ninja slippers”, etc.)

This entry may set a record for the most dully trivial “tip” ever. It’s sensible, though, so there it is.

Now be a good GM and go strew some dark dungeon hallways with caltrops.


2023-01-06: Charging through a field of caltrops?

DFRPG Adventurers p. 113 addresses how many ‘trops you trample. Nicely simple, though results can be harsh: in the dark, you could step on a dozen per hex!

A variant a little more to my liking:

Without attempts at avoidance (i.e., no PC rolls), safe stepping is a matter of chance, not agility. The spikes roll to “attack” you:

  • A 3d roll of (12 + your SM) or less = a painful encounter. (Like a wandering monsters roll, feel free to adjust that 12 for density of caltrops in the hex)
  • MoS is how many spikes you stomp (min 1).

Wait! Even if you rolled some spikes, active caution may be able to avoid some or all:

  • Roll vs the lower of Vision and DX. If successful, reduce the number of spikes trod by your MoS (treat MoS 0 as “reduce by 1”).

Example: SM -2 Hank Halfling and SM +1 Ollie Ogre pass through a hex of caltrops.

Against Hank, the spikes roll 11 against a TH of 12-2=10. They fail, so Hank avoids harm. (Though… should his oversized feet mean effective SM -1, not SM -2?)

Against Olly, the spikes roll 9 against a TH of 12+1=13; that’s 4 spikes!

Olly’s DX is 11, but his Vision (despite no penalty for dim light) is only 7. He needs to roll 7 or lower to spot and avoid some or all of those 4 spikes.


2023-01-07: Added tweaks to yesterday’s houserule version of tiptoeing through the caltrops (or evil floor tile runes, exploding grubs, whatever):

  • Both Vision and DX should enjoy a bonus (+3?) for focused attention – but that means the PC isn’t watching elsewhere.
  • Modify Vision or DX by the Speed mod for your Move. (Let a cautious Move 1 offer a +2 bonus.)
  • A single hex of caltrops might be easy to jump over. Jumping or Acrobatics would allow sailing over larger spreads–but with failure meaning an extra-hard landing on the hazards.
  • Finally: For the initial number of caltrops trod (roll 3d vs 12+SM), rather than “MoS = number trod”, I like using the SSR Table, pairing MoS with “Linear Measurement” and reading “yards” as number of spikes. (Clumsy to describe; if you’re an SSRT fan, you know what I mean.)


2023-01-08: Both Light Walk and Dancing call for the ability to step with deliberate, cat-like precision.

Let either skill replace DX rolls to step just right, as when navigating caltrops, runes on the floor (DFRPG Exploits p. 71), etc.

This is another small entry to file away under “it’s fun when lesser-used skills get more spotlight”.

Thank you for your patience during Step Week, seven days of entries about… stepping and the like. (Let no one accuse me of starting the year with a bang.)


2023-01-09: DFRPG: The prodd (“stone crossbow”) lists only lead bullets as its projectile. Could it also use the stones of a sling? Sure, I say. Halve range and reduce dam by 1 for shaped stones; also add -1 TH for unshaped stones.

While we’re at it: Could a prodd be converted into a bolt-hurling crossbow, and vice-versa? For fantasy gaming purposes, let’s go again with “sure”.

No idea whether this passes a reality check, but I’ll say it works like this:

Call it a 30-minute Armory (Missile Weapons) conversion. Failure means try again (at cumulative -1); crit fail means either “it’s broken” or “looks OK but fails when fired” (50/50).

Back in town, buy a “freely fires bolts or bullets” crossbow for +$100. (Probably gnomish.)

(While we’re here: Note that unshaped rocks or stones aren’t eligible for the Balanced modifier. Shaped stones, lead pellets, and lead bullets apparently can take the modifier – which, given the paltry cost, becomes a must-have upgrade! Also note that none of these ammo types are prohibited from taking the Fine modifier, but it’d be meaningless; the modifier only boosts damage for cutting and impaling weapons.)

See the above ideas and more here.


2023-01-10: DFRPG: Torches have a 2-yard light radius, but what about other fires PCs encounter (and create)?

I suspect an answer lies somewhere in GURPS books, but until I find it, I go with the following numbers. With reference to Exploits p. 68:

  • Torch; Lantern; Flaming Weapon; Character partially on fire; Shield on fire: 2 yards
  • Campfire; Character fully on fire: 4 yards
  • Bonfire; Burning building; Multi-hex fire hazard: 8 yards (measured from the nearest edge)

Any of these may vary with fire intensity (GM call).


2023-01-11: DF/DFRPG: Karkadann horn knives! Fun idea, but carving a $2500 horn into a knife worth far less dosh gets a “nope” from pecuniary-minded PCs. So I played with more ideas here: link

But I like this newer idea most of all:

Horns are imbued with Ghost Weapon. (Karkadann, whether druid-commanded or just ornery, give spirits cause for fear!)

A cut-off horn is 1.5 lb. Treat as a clumsy (-1 TH) 1-lb wooden stake. It’s still worth just $2500, not the $5000 value of Ghost Weapon (spirit-slayers pay that higher cost to have Ghost Weapon put on a real weapon!).

Carving turns a horn into a 1-lb, fine, ornate large knife, stake, etc. – or smaller weapons totaling 1 lb (make an Armory roll for each). Value is that of the weapon(s) + $5000 each for Ghost Weapon.

Failure = shards (worth $250 per lb).

But a twist: If any item is destroyed – during carving or later – all items carved from that horn lose Ghost Weapon!

So carving 10 shuriken worth $5000+ each is awfully tempting, but very likely to leave you with a lesser handful of fine and ornate but mundane throwing stars.

(Adventure idea: A mad faerie is killing Good forest spirits with Night, a small knife made from karkadann horn. The PCs can’t catch her – but destroying Day, a matching knife made from the same horn, will neutralize Night. Naturally, though, Day’s owner has no intention of parting with it…)


2023-01-12: DF/DFRPG: An addition to yesterday’s take on karkadann horns as items imbued with Ghost Weapon:

Instead of a mere knife or such, couldn’t a horn be carved into the head of a pick, spear, or other heavy weapon?

Sure, I say, with limitations:

The head for such a weapon should require a full 1-lb carving, and the final weapon should bear some drawback. Suggestion: -1 basic hit of damage vs spirits per (full or partial) pound of non-horn weight (e.g., -3 dam for a 4-lb spear that’s 3 lbs of shaft, 1 lb of horn).

Why the lower damage (or other limitation)?

Because otherwise, a $2500 horn on a cheap staff replaces what should be a $20,000+ spirit-slaying spear (cost of the staff + Ghost Weapon at $5000 per pound of spear).

So, the $2500-ish karkadann spear is a cool weapon that can battle spirits, but not as well as a $20,000+ proper version made with full-fledged Ghost Weapon. Seems right.


2023-01-13: Entry No. 342 suggested letting Dancing replace DX for rolls to step carefully and avoid dangers underfoot.

Similarly, I can see it replacing DX in any test of balance. (Note that you’ll need to spend 4 points on Dancing before that helps you.)

Could Dancing also replace Acrobatics? Not generally, but it’s (cinematic) fun to let it fill in for a couple of uses: Any balancing task that specifies Acrobatics, and Acrobatic Dodge (or related feats like Tumbling and Acrobatic Evade/Guard/Stand; see DFRPG Exploits p. 58).

A penalty seems seems fair to me, though: continue using Acrobatics for these tasks, letting it default to Dancing -3 for these purposes. That’s not overly harsh, especially as Dancing is a level easier than Acrobatics.

So you’ll definitely get more combat and parkour bang for your points with Acrobatics than with Dancing – but mastery of dance may provide a little defense and mobility potential, which is a cool thing. (Be sure to describe your “safety dance” in play.) Seeing how DFRPG Exploits mentions Dancing only one time (for busking), I like to give the skill a little love.


2023-01-14: Entries No. 200 and 201 presented benefits of keeping fractional Basic Move (BM) instead of rounding down: mainly, a little extra speed in long-distance, multi-turn runs.

But how would you price BM in 0.25 increments?

A cost of [1] per +0.25 BM sounds good, but that’s [4] per +1 BM, which conflicts with the canonical [5].

Here’s a solution: Use [1] per +0.25 BM, plus another [1] when crossing the integer line.

Ex: Grükuk has Basic Speed 6.25, and thus (unrounded) BM 6.25.

  • She can raise BM to 6.5 [1], 6.75 [2], 7 [4], 7.25 [5], etc.
  • Or she can lower BM to 6 [-1], 5.75 [-3], 5.5 [-4], 5.25 [-5], etc.

Note the jumps: a cost of [4], not [3], to hit BM 7; and [-3], not [-2], to hit BM 5.75. In either direction, a full ±1 BM retains the standard [±5].

Besides maintaining that standard [±5], the reason for the extra [±1] at the integer should be obvious:

Changing BM from 6.25 to 6, 6.5, or 6.75 matters only for long runs. But crossing into BM 7, or going below BM 6 to hit BM 5.75, matters for long runs and per-second hex-map action.


2023-01-15: DFRPG Exploits p. 58: When a PC sets a trap, the Traps roll’s MoS becomes the prey’s Vision penalty to avoid it.

All OK. But also let the trapper roll vs Camouflage. Use the better MoS from the two rolls as the prey’s Vision penalty.

Naturally, this requires that Camouflage make sense for the trap and location in question. Camouflaging requires time, too (call it a base one minute unless the GM says otherwise); modify the roll for time spent, lack of appropriate materials, etc.

(An unexciting entry, but it’s sensible stuff.)


2023-01-16: Entry No. 328 shed light on torchbearer characters. If you don’t mind taking those henchpersons (or PCs?) to a semi-silly extreme, consider this addition:

Higher Purpose (Let There be Light)

This aids any roll to light a lamp, torch, etc.; maintain a grip on a light source; defend the light source against attacks; prevent extinguishing of the source; etc.

The downside: the character must be unfaltering in… uh, providing light wherever and whenever needed.

Okay, this Higher Purpose is a bit tongue-in-cheek. But it’s fun for an oddly enthusiastic (and capable!) torchie henchperson.

(Tip: Have that henchthing show up with a custom quiver, not a humble sack, of torches. It’s nicely pretentious. : )

You can work this sort of Higher Purpose into other versions. Like Higher Purpose (Standard-bearer): Aids any rolls to brandish, defend, or reclaim a military unit’s flag or other standard. (Aquilifers stood to earn great esteem and reward for bearing the Roman eagle and the legion’s honor!)


2023-01-17: GURPS’ combat turn sequence is set at the start of a combat and doesn’t change after that – which is good! (See reasons: link)

But a change in sequence arguably make sense in one case: when a character uses the Wait maneuver.

Ex: Four fighters are going at it in the sequence ABCD ABCD ABCD…

B decides to Wait until D makes a move, so we get A B (Wait…) C B (now B acts!) D. The action plays out as ACBD.

And from there on? It arguably makes sense to continue with ACBD ACBD ACBD (until Waits again change things).

For more discussion, see



Some GMs swear by the idea. It feels solid to me!


2023-01-18: A small thing, but:

When a poison, power, etc. offers a roll vs HT to resist some affliction (other than damage), it often makes sense to modify the HT roll by SM.

Examples include blinding powder and paralytic slime poisons in DFRPG. A giant creature shouldn’t easily fall victim to these, so let SM modify the HT roll.

(Fortunately, the game is happy with adventurers solving that problem through the sneaky use of multiple doses.)


2023-01-19: In a dungeon, how much ceiling do ranged weapons need to be usable?

If you answered “Who cares”… that’s not a bad way to play!

But let’s say you did care. Here are cheap-o rules of thumb, drawing on a weapon’s 1/2D Range and Max Range:

Find your shot angle below, based on (range to your target).

The ceiling is expressed as a fraction of your Max Range.

  • Flat (up to 50% of 1/2D): No extra ceiling
  • Low (up to 1/2D): Max Range/40
  • Arced (up to halfway between 1/2D and Max): Max Range/20
  • High (up to 90% Max): Max Range/10
  • Max (up to 100% Max): Max Range/5

Example: Your bow’s ranges are 1/2D 180, Max 240. The ceilings you need are:

  • Flat (up to 90yd): No extra ceiling
  • Low (up to 180yd): 240/40 = 6 yd
  • Arced (up to 210yd): 240/20 = 12 yd
  • High (up to 216yd): 240/10 = 24 yd
  • Max (up to 240yd): 240/5 = 48 yd


  • True max range occurs at a 45° shot angle with ceiling of Max Range/4 – ignoring air resistance, the abstractness of game Max Range, etc. Given those uncertainties, I’ve gone with a maximum ceiling of Max Range/5 as easier to use.
  • I call on the abstract 1/2D stat because it’s handy. Replace 1/2D with 50% Max Range for weapons that have no 1/2D. (Or do that for all weapons, if you prefer.)
  • If you’d like to really simplify things: Merge Low shots into Flat and merge High into Arced. Use only three angles: Flat (up to 1/2D Range; no extra ceiling), Arced (up to 90% Max Range; ceiling is Max Range/20), and Max (up to Max Range; ceiling is Max Range/5).
  • For short-range knives, etc., ceiling almost never matters. Ignore it!

Added detail should you want: Projectiles aren’t actually fired from, and don’t usually target, ground level. To any ceiling (measured from the ground), you should also add the greater of target height (e.g., 10 yd for the head of a 2-yd orc standing on an 8-yd rise) and firer height. The latter is 2 yd for most PCs, but might be an effective 3 yd for the overhead hurl of a spear thrower or axe, or just 1 yd for a waist-high side-throw with a knife.


2023-01-20: DF: The Widget-Worker talent leaves out many thematically gnomish skills – understandably so, as Engineer, etc. aren’t core skills in the setting.

But should you expand DF (or even DFRPG) with such gnome-friendly skills, here’s a second talent:

Seige Engineer [5/lvl]

+1 to Artillery (Catapult), Crossbow, Engineer (Artillery), Gunner (Catapult), Machinist

Also +1 on IQ rolls to design or understand mechanical mechanisms, not already covered by this or similar talents.

Gnome engineers rule the battlefield!

IMO, a further swap also makes sense: Move Machinist from Siege Engineer to Widget-Worker, and move Armory (Missile Weapons) from Widget-Worker to Siege Engineer.

While you’re at it, add Engineer (Clockwork) and Mechanic (Clockwork) to Widget-Worker. That’s a lot of skills covered, but the additions don’t have big adventuring use.

As an aside, for my games I’ve decided that gnomes often show talent in mundane crafts too, especially Cooking, Carpentry, Artist (Pottery, Woodworking), Jeweler, and Leatherworking.

(What’s a good name for a gnomish talent covering those mundane craft proclivities? “Gnaturally Gifted”?)


2023-01-21: Yesterday’s entry introduced a new talent for gnomes in DF or even DFRPG, assuming the relevant skills are adopted into the game.

Similarly, here’s a background talent for fleshing out dwarves with their stereotypical strengths:

Dwarfcraft [5/lvl]

+1 to Armory (Melee Weapons, Body Armor), Engineer (Combat, Mining), Masonry, Metallurgy, Smith (all)

Also a +1 on IQ rolls to design or understand stone and metal structures, not already covered by this or similar talents.

(Option: Drop Metallurgy if it’ll never be used. Add Geology. Also move Prospecting from Pickaxe Penchant to Dwarfcraft; add Polearm to Pickaxe Penchant to compensate.)

Armory aside, Dwarfcraft won’t aid delver PCs much. But it’s a fine talent for dwarven builders and crafters.


2023-01-22: Here’s a non-combat talent for halflings in DF or DFRPG, should you care to bring the relevant skills into the setting:

Homebody [5/lvl]

+1 to Area Knowledge (home area), Cooking, Housekeeping, Sewing, Savoir-Faire (Townsfolk)

Savoir-Faire (Townsfolk) here is the skill of getting by in town or village life, being a gracious and polite host at home, and otherwise playing a “normie” Status role in human or halfling communities. Let it cross-default at -2 to either Savoir-Faire or Savoir-Faire (Servant).

I assume that thief-oriented talents and Green Thumb are also fairly common among halflings. (The skill Gardening would nicely fit under Homebody, but Green Thumb already covers that skill in GURPS (and could do so in DFRPG too).)

See these and other (newly updated) talents here: link


2023-01-23: Some RPGs require category-specific skills to assess the value of goods. In GURPS, Merchant covers assessment of all goods!

It’s nicely simple, but odd, too: a carpet wholesaler, a quarry stone purchaser, a horse trader, and a grocer are all perfectly adept at pricing each other’s goods.

Approaches for tinkering with things:

  • Use optional Merchant specialties (p. B209) for types of goods
  • Create Assess Value (Type) skill, cross-defaulting with other types, Merchant, and other skills, as appropriate
  • Create Assess Value (Type) as an Easy technique for Merchant

I like the technique approach. Expertise in, say, assessing gems should cost less than buying a whole skill to a high level.

In any case, what types would exist? These could be as broad or as narrow as you like. With Connoisseur specialties as inspiration, they might include:

  • Arms
  • Armor
  • Art
  • Animals (further type)
  • Books/maps/scrolls
  • Foodstuffs
  • Fibers/fabrics
  • Gems/jewelry
  • Household goods
  • Medical/scientific equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Raw materials (specify type)
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles (further type)

… many more!

(Me, I lazily stick with RAW Merchant while I ponder such things…)


2023-01-24: Defaults among skills are typically -2 to -6. (They often feel overly steep to me, but that’s another topic.)

But then there’s this: Physician and Surgery default to First Aid at -11 and -12 !!!

WTF (What’s That For)? I don’t know.

Maybe it’s been explained somewhere. My guess is that it’s partly to stop PCs from nabbing high levels of these Hard and Very Hard skills by buying up the Easy skill First Aid.

But I don’t think that concern calls for these one-of-a-kind defaults.

Say First Aid continued to default to Physician at no penalty, but we also let Physician default to First Aid at a modest -5 (not -11).

With IQ 12, you can spend 8 points on First Aid to get First Aid-15 and “free” Physician-10. Cool.

Or you can spend those 8 points on Physician to get Physician-13 and “free” First Aid-13.

This seems fair to me: A hefty 8 pts lets you have a nice level of both First Aid and Physician, OR specialize in higher First Aid at the expense of lower Physician (the same level as if you’d spent 1 pt on Physician).

RAW, by contrast, demands a huge 32-pt First Aid purchase to get that “free” 1-pt level of Physician!

Working the numbers, I see nothing that breaks if defaults from First Aid are a sane -5 or so for Physician, and -6 or so for Surgery.

In particular, “field-expedient” Surgery procedures (i.e., those that don’t require Physician) should enjoy a generous default from First Aid.

IMO, that’s a good recipe for battlefield medics who lack formal medical training:

  • No Physician or Surgery skill! These medics aren’t “real” doctors.
  • Decent First Aid skill
  • Reasonable Surgery default from First Aid for field-expedient procedures (i.e., those with no -5 for lack of Physician)
  • Additional Surgery techniques as appropriate (see Low-Tech).

Any flaws in that take?


2023-01-25: Yesterday’s entry suggested a mundane Physician default of -5 or so from First Aid, not RAW’s odd -11.

Hm, should DF/DFRPG’s take on Esoteric Medicine (EM) also enjoy a default from First Aid?

The easy answer: “Sure, why not.” But then again:

The setting makes clear that EM (Holy) is divine guidance and EM (Chi) is manipulation of a mystical force, with no suggestion of defaults from the limited but (presumably) “real” medicine of First Aid. Fair enough.

So: “No.”

But: Should DF/DFRPG offer both EM and an actual (non-esoteric) Physician skill?

The TL may be too low by RAW, but I see no problem with a “real” Physician skill for long-term care in a fantasy world (even if it involves questionable bleeding, wart-of-toad poultices, etc.). It’d be the go-to skill for mundane healers who lack the mystic backgrounds to access EM.

A default from First Aid at -5 or so (not -11!) would be sensible.

Physician skill lacks mystical requirements like Sanctity or Trained by a Master, so anyone could obtain it. As a counter, it should take penalties of -2 or worse to treat mystical ailments that best call for EM.

(But… would this Physician differ much from EM (Druidic), which is already focused on medicinal herbs, etc.? Maybe set a low cross-default?)


2023-01-26: GURPS LITE has Fright Check rules but imposes no derangement-type penalties for failure, just stunning (and possible fainting).

There’s nothing wrong with that for LITE! But the simplified rules from DFRPG, simplified even more, could do the job:

A LITE-simple rule:

  • On a failure, the character is stunned as described in LITE.
  • In addition, roll 3d, add the margin of failure, and subtract 15. The character takes that many points’ worth of disadvantages and quirks related to the source of fright.
  • Kind GMs can round to less-severe multiples of -5 (e.g., a result of -14 points rounds to -10 points), and impose only a -1 point quirk for rolling a 16 to 19.

That’s it. Not particularly simpler in practice than DFRPG’s rule, but FWIW it does avoid a table.

Note: Both this approach and DFRPG’s simplified Fright Checks lose GURPS’ rich menu of potential embarrassing but fun results (fleeing, shrieking, collapse, etc.). See Entry No. 131 for a suggested way to bring those outcomes back into the game with no added tables, rolls, etc.


2023-01-27: Rolls vs HT to avoid death are “one and done”: you live or die.

By contrast, rolls to avoid KO at HP ≤ 0 happen every turn, until you pass out or rest.

Multiple fighters near collapse = a whole lot of extra rolls. Here’s an easy way to cut down on those rolls:

When a character rolls to avoid KO at HP ≤ 0, ignore further rolls for the next MoS seconds. (New damage resets this.)

Example: Rolling vs HT to avoid KO at HP 0, you succeed by 4. Your next 4 turns of action require no roll to avoid KO. (But new injury = roll again next turn.)

It’s a bit of bookkeeping (the GM should mark the safe duration on the Control Sheet or other time-keeper), but it saves on rolling and can give a character a guaranteed short window of time to get stuff done.


2023-01-28: DF/DFRPG: Heroic Archer offers a fast-shoot ability: a roll at Bow -3 lets you shave off a Ready and shoot instantly at -3 TH. Cool!

But… it’s a bit unsatisfying to simulate hyper-fast firing by adding a play-slowing roll to every shot.

How to drop that extra Bow -3 roll? Hm, there’s the No Nuisance Rolls perk in Power-Ups 2 – but it specifies non-combat uses, so you’ll need special GM permission. (Also, I’d rule it requires Bow-19, to meet the skill-16 requirement after the -3.)

My alternate suggestion:

Give the shooter the option of dropping the Bow -3 roll. (It almost always succeeds for heroic shooters anyway.) The quicker Ready is automatic – but the actual shot is at -4 TH, not -3 TH.

It’s the shooter’s choice: go with RAW and its extra roll to (if successful) nab a quick shot at -3 TH… or avoid that risky and time-consuming extra roll and get right to the action at -4 TH.


2023-01-29: I haven’t offered a new weapon for a long time.

Here’s a light harpoon for use on (or by) smaller monsters. Gotta skewer ‘em all!

Thrown Weapon (Harpoon) skill; thr+4 imp; Acc 2; Range x1/x1.5; Wt 5; $55; ST 10; Bulk -5

In melee, treat the light harpoon as a clumsy long spear with range 1, 2* and -2 to skill. (See “Harpoon”, Low-Tech p. 72.)

Even lighter versions are possible, but stats won’t differ appreciably from spears, javelins, etc. Suggestion to make harpoons out of those:

Take stats for an existing thrown spear weapon, limit Acc to 2, add $10 for the barb and tether, and change skill to Thrown Weapon (Harpoon).

See this and more new weapons (including new spears ready for conversion into harpoons) at link


2023-01-30: Bonus round! 10 mini-items in one entry:

  1. Dire-worm silk: DF/DFRPG mod for light cloth armor. Layerable like giant-spider silk but only DR 1, not DR 2. +29 CF.
  2. DF/DFRPG: Let Armor Mastery halve the time (round up) to don/doff armor.
  3. Languages are divided into (Listening + Speaking) and (Reading + Writing). But in reality, it’s very common to have a level of ability in (Listening + Reading) and another – lower! – level in (Speaking + Writing). Let characters take those combinations when it makes sense.
  4. The book Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables is more than random tables for existing stuff. It offers tons of new fantasy gear, mods, etc. Go buy it.
  5. Sharkskin grip: Option for any gloves/gauntlets. Reduces Climbing penalties for slipperiness by 1 (+$25) or 2 (+$100).
  6. More penalties to halve for Weapon Master: Halve any penalties for using your favored weapon if broken (e.g., broken-off mace head), improvised (e.g., frying pan that’s almost like a mace), or defaulting from wrong skill (e.g., using a long mace with 2-Hnd Axe/Mace at default from your usual Axe/Mace).
  7. In fantasy or any time you don’t care how explosions “really” work, you can replace damage divisors for distance with a simple -1d per hex of distance.
  8. Let the Glue spell do 2d dam to ground swarms (Roach Motel!). Let the Grease spell do 1d dam (not as damaging, but still disrupting).
  9. DFRPG: Martial artists need more combat punch? Borrow p. B215’s option to use Pressure Points with any blunt strike, not just Karate. Include Throwing Art in that. (And why not allow Pressure Secrets skill as well? It can nicely boost martial artists’ death-dealing ability, yet not beyond the damage that any PC can deliver with a pointy weapon. I don’t see it as unbalancing in a fantasy game.)
  10. DFRPG: Let appropriate Hidden Lore act as GURPS‘ wide-scale Area Knowledge skill for fae realms, divine planes, Hell, etc., as appropriate to the skill.

Tomorrow: The final entry!


2023-01-31: Pyramid 4/4 Fantasy/Magic II p. 45 offers good ways to make Weirdness Magnet matter.

Here are 10 ideas to vex a PC afflicted by this disad (or other curse):

1. A bit of fire damage leaves a scar looking just like a cult’s identifying brand.

2. Birds appear behind the PC to squawk the team’s pre-arranged Mimicry (Bird Song) signal at a really bad time.

3. A doppelgänger is doing things in the PC’s guise!
Fortunately, the being isn’t Evil.
Unfortunately, it has OPH, Compulsive Lying, Cowardice, Kleptomania, Lecherousness…

4. The town’s cats begin piling dead animal “tributes” before the PC’s inn room at night.
Some are improbably large.

5. The PC is dosed with dire hogweed, causing light sensitivity and a bad reaction to garlic.
It’d be a minor nuisance, if not for the undead hunters’ convention in town…

6. A basket on the PC’s doorstep contains a blanket-swaddled baby and a note in Faerie: “Let no harm come to this infant until I return.”
The baby is hyperactive and loves to crawl and explore. Also, the baby is invisible.

7. The PC has the same name as the Dark Lord in the oracle’s doomsday visions, just spelled backward. (That’s always a sign!!)

8. Ensorcelled by a mystic box that resurfaces in every age, the PC is magically bound to exhibit what the artifact holds: an immortal, top-hatted frog that performs rousing song and dance numbers – only when no one else is around.

9. A common trigger makes the PC redolent of grilled bacon.

10. The PC receives a mystery scroll! But much work is needed to receive its message: magic to unseal the scroll, alchemy to reveal fae ink, a sage to identify the written tongue…
Read aloud in Old Gnomic, the scroll opens a gate.
Through the portal a bard can be seen, singing soundlessly.
Lip Reading decodes his words:
“Ne’er shall I give thee up, ne’er shall I let thee down…”

With that, I end a year of #GURPS #DailyHouserule tweets, on a roll and right on schedule.

I have many more, but most suffer from being incomplete, dull, “needs more testing”, etc. 365 is enough!

Thank you all for following the posts! Special thanks to those who’ve been so kind with likes, comments, and retweets, and to those who became account followers along the way. (Kudos to Twitter engineers for keeping it all running.)

Let’s keep promoting good games on the interwebs!

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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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