GURPS/DFRPG resource: New technique-based advantages

A very particular set of (sub-) skills

This article offers a rather unnecessary thing: a number of skill techniques bought to their maximum level and slapped with a new name, turning the techniques into quick-pick advantages.

These came about when I concocted a technique-based bunch of parkour- and thievery-related power-ups during the playtest for Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Thieves. They didn’t appear in the book, so in the spirit of waste not, want not, I leave you with those power-ups here, along with a few more that I created later.

Such technique-based advantages – I’ll call them “TBAs” – aren’t a new thing. Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups (p. 7) gives them a thumbs-up for simplicity, and offers examples including Slayer Training (p. 13) and the power-up Not Without My Weapon (p. 12), which combines two techniques. But there aren’t a lot of published examples; more often, power-ups that invoke techniques have perks or advantages mixed in as well.

Me, I like “pure” TBAs made from just techniques. As advantages, their proposition is “for x points, take +y to your rolls to perform action z“; nothing more. They’re easy to use. Want to max out your special ops PC’s prowess with rope-based climbing work? Buy Climbing to whatever level you want, and add two handy items from the list below: Rope Climber [2] and Rappelling Master [4]. You now ascend ropes using Climbing and descend ropes using Climbing +3, the maximums allowed by the Rope Up and Rope Down techniques.

Use wisely

To be clear, working out these maximum levels in advance and offering them as advantages, rather than looking up the techniques and buying them to their maximum levels as needed, yields no particular merit for PCs in play. For a quick dash of specialization, through, TBAs are nice in a genre like Dungeon Fantasy (DF) that prefers simplicity over fussiness like per-level techniques.

One point of caution: A single area of technique specialization is a great way to augment a given skill, and two areas might also be a good deal. But relative to buying up the target skill itself, three areas of specialization offers iffy benefit for the point cost and four areas is just a poor use of points. This holds whether you’re buying per-level techniques or one-shot TBAs.

TBAs in the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game

TBAs are particularly nice for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG), which doesn’t even acknowledge skill techniques but is happy to use power-ups secretly built from them.

For DFRPG, ignore the following few paragraphs, which talk about techniques, and head straight to the list further below. For any TBA, all you need is its name, point cost, and main description. Ignore everything else in the writeup!

Building advantages from techniques

To create your own TBAs, figure the cost and the effects of some technique bought to its maximum level, and slap a descriptive name on the result. (I suggest using an original advantage name that’s different from the technique’s name, to avoid confusion.) Done.

You’ll find the basics on using techniques on pp. B229-233, with much more (especially for combat skill techniques) on Martial Arts pp. 63-95.

I’m making the assumption that none of these TBAs further requires perks like Unusual Technique or Technique Mastery. But if you suspect otherwise, consult with GURPS experts more savvy to the ways of techniques than I am (and let me know where I’m missing something).

Buy low?

The TBAs below are appealing if you want their respective techniques at maximum level. But that may be overkill for a few. Take the one I call Tic-Tac Pro [7], built from the full 6 levels of the Running Climb technique (Action 3: Furious Fists p. 16). It’s cool, but do you really need to boost your rolls for an uncommon parkour move by +6? If that’s too much, forget Tic-Tac Pro; buy Running Climb at a more modest level and save yourself a few points.

You can even re-build any TBA at your preferred level. If you’d like to offer PCs in your DFRPG game the Tic-Tac Pro power-up but more affordably, rebuild it. It’s now, say, Tic-Tac Pro [4] in your games, conferring +3 on rolls. (A tempting idea: for simplicity, rebuild all of the TBAs so they cost either 2 points or 4 points, nothing else. Hmm…)

New techniques

Many of the below are built with new techniques of my creation, cataloged at GURPS resource: New techniques.

If the technique was invented by me, then its details – including its maximum level – are my arbitrary decisions. For these non-official techniques in particular, feel free to change maximum levels and other details as you see fit, and rework the corresponding TBAs accordingly.

More?

What techniques could be turned into TBAs like these? Any, I assume! You’ll find no shortage of techniques to work with. Some key sources:

  • Basic Set pp. 229-233 (with all the core rules for using techniques)
  • Martial Arts pp. 63-95 (lots of combat techniques, plus a detailed system for creating new ones)
  • Low-Tech pp. 11-12
  • High-Tech pp. 250-252 (tons of gun techniques!)
  • Action 3: Furious Fists pp. 16-19

Have I turned all of those into TBAs? Not even close! This page’s list is nothing more than a wee representative sample. With so many techniques published, there are many, many more TBAs to be concocted. And many new techniques to be dreamt up in the first place. Have at it!

(An aside: I think GURPS Power-Ups: Techniques is a fine idea for a future book, detailing the creation and use of techniques, cataloging all published ones, offering some new ones, and maybe even discussing and listing TBAs. See further speculation here.)

The list

Each TBA below notes the prerequisite skill, the base technique and its level, and, where appropriate, a source reference to the appearance of the technique and its use. (There’s no attempt to catalog all appearances; many techniques and their uses appear in additional books not noted.)

I’ve grouped the TBAs into a few categories, for ease of selection. (I admit to missing the old cataloging of skills by category in Basic Set 3e.)

I’ll add more to the list as need comes up, so check back once in a while. (Note: I’m not too confident in the format I’ve used for writing these up. If you see a better way to describe these, or see something I’m simply doing wrong, please comment!)

 

Athletic advantages

The following cover acrobatic, climbing, and parkour-type feats. See melee combat-related and riding-related advantages further below for athletic feats of fighting and riding.

Bootstrapper

2 points

Prerequisites: Climbing
Techniques: Pull-Up (A) at Climbing+2 [2]
Source: Built from a new technique, Pull-Up (A).

Take +2 on ST-based Climbing rolls to pull yourself up onto a ledge or the like, as noted under Pull-Up on Action 2: Exploits p. 19, DF 2: Dungeons p. 7, or DFRPG Exploits p. 21. This is useful after a “leg up” boost from a friend or at cliffhanger moments.

Dive Master

4 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics
Techniques: Dive n’ Roll (A) at Acrobatics+0 [4]
Source: Built from the Dive n’ Roll technique on Action 3: Furious Fists p. 16.

Ignore the -4 penalty on Acrobatics rolls noted under Diving on Action 2: Exploits p. 19, DF 2: Dungeons p. 7, or DFRPG Exploits p. 20. This is a lifesaver among the oversized blade traps in lost temples!

Fall Guy

5 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics, Judo, or Wrestling
Techniques: Breakfall (A) at prerequisite skill+5 [5]
Source: Built from the Breakfall technique on Martial Arts p. 68.

Roll against Acrobatics+5, Judo+5, or Wrestling +5 to reduce damage from a judo throw or as a replacement for Acrobatics to reduce the effective distance of a fall, as described on Martial Arts p. 68. This is a great TBA for a martial artist or adventurer; it’s crucial for a stunt performer.

Feet on the Ground

6 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics
Techniques: Acrobatic Stand (A) at Acrobatics+0 [6]
Source: Built from the Acrobatic Stand technique on Martial Arts p. 65.

Roll against Acrobatics to regain standing position as described on Martial Arts p. 65.

Needle Threader

4 points

Prerequisites: Escape
Techniques: Squeezing (A) at Escape+4 [4]
Source: Built from a new technique, Squeezing.

Take +4 on Escape rolls to slip through a narrow crack, tiny window, etc. as described under Squeezing on Action 2: Exploits p. 20, DF 2: Dungeons p. 8, or DFRPG Exploits p. 21. This is useful for thief and spelunker alike.

Note: I got wedged in place trying to think of a good name for this advantage. If you want to get cute, you can go for “Squeezy-Peasy” or the like, but I’ll deny suggesting it. (More importantly: Is my Squeezing technique simply re-inventing the Total Exhalation technique of Escape on Underground Adventures p. 22? If so, use that instead.)

Rappelling Master

4 points

Prerequisites: Climbing
Techniques: Rope Down (A) at Climbing+3 [4]
Source: Built from the Rope Down technique on p. B233; also the Rappelling technique on Action 3: Furious Fists p. 18.

When descending a rope, replace the -1 penalty to Climbing skill (p. B233 or DFRPG Exploits p. 20) with a +3 bonus.

Rope Climber

2 points

Prerequisites: Climbing
Techniques: Rope Up (A) at Climbing+0 [2]
Source: Built from the Rope Up technique on p. B233.

Ignore the -2 penalty on Climbing rolls to ascend a rope straight up (p. B233 or DFRPG Exploits p. 20).

Note: “Rope Climber” is a pretty boring label, but I don’t know what else to call this, unless you want to get cute with names like “Ascended One” or “Gym Class Hero”.

Skid Pro

2 points

Prerequisites: None
Techniques: Skidding (A) at DX+0 [2]
Source: Built from the Skidding technique on Action 3: Furious Fists p. 18.

Ignore the -2 penalty on DX rolls (or Skiing if you’re using it) to perform the action noted under Skidding on Action 2: Exploits p. 19, DF 2: Dungeons p. 8, or DFRPG Exploits p. 21.

Slider

6 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics
Techniques: Sliding (A) at Acrobatics or DX [6].
Source: Built from the Sliding technique on Action 3: Furious Fists p. 18 for a parkour feat called sliding, separate from skidding.

Take +6 to rolls to perform the feat described under Sliding on Action 2: Exploits p. 19. (This feat isn’t described in DF or DFRPG, but would be helpful for slipping safely over patches of ice, Grease spell castings, slick mold, and the like.)

Swinger 

4 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics
Techniques: Swinging (A) at Acrobatics+4 [4]
Source: Built from a new technique, Swinging.

Take +4 on Acrobatics rolls for the feat noted under Swinging on Action 2: Exploits p. 19, DF 2: Dungeons p. 8, or DFRPG Exploits p. 21. This is useful for a cat burglar who travels with rope and grappling hook. Or Tarzan.

Tic-Tac Pro

7 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics or Jumping
Techniques: Running Climb (H) at prerequisite skill+6 [7]
Source: Built from the Running Climb technique on Action 3: Furious Fists p. 16.

Take +6 on Acrobatics or Jumping rolls to perform the stunts noted under Running Climb on Action 2: Exploits p. 19, DF 2: Dungeons p. 8, or DFRPG Exploits p. 21.

Note: Furious Fists sets this as a Hard technique, unlike most parkour-type techniques. I don’t know why.

Up With People

2 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics
Techniques: Leg-Up Leap (A) at Acrobatics+0 [2]
Source: Built from a new technique, Leg-Up Leap.

When you receive a leg-up boost as described under Leg Up on Action 2: Exploits p. 19, DF 2: Dungeons p. 7, or DFRPG Exploits p. 21, ignore the -2 penalty on your Acrobatics roll. (To help pull yourself up the rest of the way, add the Bootstrapper power-up.)

Note: For those scratching their heads, I take this TBA’s name from this performing group, for no reason other than that it amuses me.

Wall Crawler 

4 points

Prerequisites: Climbing
Techniques: Scaling (H) at Climbing+0 [4]
Source: Built from the Scaling technique on p. B233.

Ignore the -3 penalty on Climbing for scaling a wall.

Well-Balanced

5 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics
Techniques: Balancing (A) at Acrobatics+5 [5]
Source: Built from the Balancing technique on Action 3: Furious Fists p. 16.

Take +5 on Acrobatics rolls for the feats described under Balancing on Action 2: Exploits p. 19, DF 2: Dungeons p. 7, or DFRPG Exploits p. 29.

Note: This is mutually exclusive with the more powerful Perfect Balance. Use it in place of Perfect Balance for ledge-walking prowess at a lower cost, as discussed here.

 

Melee combat advantages

See riding-related advantages further below for mounted combat advantages.

Evasive Action

5 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics or Judo
Techniques: Evade (A) at prerequisite skill+5 [5]
Source: Built from the Evade technique on Martial Arts p. 71.

Roll against Acrobatics+5 or Judo+5 in place of DX to perform the actions noted under Evading on p. B368, or to perform an Acrobatic Evade as described on Action 2: Exploits p. 58 or DF 2: Dungeons p. 12.

Guarded

5 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics
Techniques: Acrobatic Guard (A) at Acrobatics+5 [5]
Source: Built from a new technique, Acrobatic Guard.

Take +5 on Acrobatics rolls to perform an Acrobatic Guard as described on Action 2: Exploits p. 37, DF 2: Dungeons p. 12, or DFRPG Exploits p. 58.

Note: My arbitrary +5 is set to match the maximum +5 for the Evade technique (see Evasive Action above).

Knife Defender

2 points

Prerequisites: Knife
Techniques: Knife Defense (H) at Knife Parry+0
Source: Built from a (sort of) new technique, Knife Defense, suggested on Martial Arts p. 92.

Ignore the -1 penalty on Parry for many small weapons used with the Knife skill.

Note: Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Thieves p. 19 offers Defensive Blade, a perk that offers the same benefit. I prefer a technique-based approach, though, as a build that’s already suggested by Martial Arts.

Pouncer

2 points

Prerequisites: Any unarmed combat or melee weapon skill
Techniques: Attack from Above (A) at prerequisite skill+0 [2]
Source: Built from the Attack from Above technique on Martial Arts p. 67.

Ignore the -2 TH for a pouncing-type attack from above as described on p. B402 and DFRPG Exploits p. 38. This is a nice ability for committed ambushers (and cat-folk?).

Catfall should also offer its normal benefit in a pouncing attack, making it another key advantage for the dedicated pouncer.

Tumbler

5 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics
Techniques: Tumbling (A) at Acrobatics+5 [5]
Source: Built from a new technique, Tumbling.

Take +5 on Acrobatics rolls for the move to avoid ranged fire as described under Tumbling on Action 2: Exploits p. 19, DF 2: Dungeons p. 8, or DFRPG Exploits p. 58.

 

Mounted combat and riding technique-based advantages

For information on the actions covered, see the sources of the noted techniques and the Mounted Combat rules on pp. B396-398.

Cavalier

3 points

Prerequisites: Riding and any melee weapon skill
Techniques: Cavalry Training (H) at prerequisite Melee Weapon skill+0 [3]
Source: Built from the Cavalry Training technique on Martial Arts p. 69.

Ignore the penalties for making melee attacks on the same turn as a mount or at high speed on a mount, as described on Martial Arts p. 69.

To shoot from a mount, see Mounted Shooter below.

Combat Rider

5 points

Prerequisites: Riding
Techniques: Combat Riding (H) at prerequisite skill+4 [5]
Source: Built from the Combat Riding technique on Martial Arts p. 69.

Take +4 on Riding rolls to control a mount in combat, as described on Martial Arts p. 69.

Glued to the Saddle

4 points

Prerequisites: Riding
Techniques: Staying Seated (A) at prerequisite skill+4 [4]
Source: Built from the Staying Seated technique on Martial Arts p. 81.

Take +4 on Riding rolls to avoid falling off a mount, as described on Martial Arts p. 81.

Hands-Free Rider

4 points

Prerequisites: Riding
Techniques: Hands-Free Riding (H) at prerequisite skill+0 [4]
Source: Built from the Hands-Free Riding technique on Martial Arts p. 73.

Ignore the penalties on Riding to control a mount using one hand or no hands, as described on Martial Arts p. 73.

Mounted Shooter

5 points

Prerequisites: Riding or a vehicle operation skill, and any ranged weapon skill
Techniques: Mounted Shooting (H) at prerequisite ranged weapon skill+0 [5]
Source: Built from the Mounted Shooting technique on Martial Arts p. 77.

Ignore the penalties for using a ranged weapon skill from a mount or vehicle, as described on Martial Arts p. 77.

The technique Mounted Shooting (Bow/Horse), in combination with Riding (Horse), is extremely common and is also called “Horse Archery” for brevity (see p. B231 and Martial Arts p. 74). Feel free to rename “Mounted Shooter” to “Horse Archer” for this combination.

To make a melee attack from a mount, see Cavalier above.

Quick Mounter

3 points

Prerequisites: Acrobatics, Jumping, or Riding
Techniques: Quick Mounting (A) at prerequisite skill+0 [3]
Source: Built from the Quick Mount technique on Martial Arts p. 78.

Roll against the prerequisite skill to quickly mount a horse or similar beast, as described on Martial Arts p. 78.

The GM may allow Quick Mount and this advantage for motorcycles or other vehicles, replacing Riding with the appropriate vehicle skill as an allowed prerequisite.

 

Utility and gear-related advantages

Blade Sharpener

4 points

Prerequisites: Armoury (Melee Weapons), Survival, or Cooking
Techniques: Blade Sharpening (A) at prerequisite skill+4 [4]
Source: Built from a new technique, Blade Sharpening.

Take +4 on rolls to sharpen a blade in unusually poor condition, confer exceptional sharpness on a normal blade, etc. (There’s no canonical use for this roll in published rules; this technique and TBA are appropriate for professional blade sharpeners that PCs may visit, or for PCs if the GM establishes uses for the roll.)

Glass Cutter

6 points

Prerequisites: Forced Entry
Techniques: Glass Cutting (A) at Forced Entry+0 [6]
Source: Built from a new technique, Glass Cutting.

This technique lets you roll against Forced Entry to quietly and safely cut a hole in a glass pane using the circular glass cutter from High Tech p. 26, ignoring the base -6 penalty.

That’s the realistic version of the task. For my cinematic fantasy version using gnomish glass cutters (outlined here), there’s no base penalty to Forced Entry; this TBA lets you roll against Forced Entry +6!

See Starglazer below for an alternate approach to defeating glass.

Overdoser

4 points

Prerequisites: Poisons
Techniques: Practical Poisoning (A) at Poisons+4 [4]
Source: Built from a new technique, Practical Poisoning.

Take +4 on Poisons rolls to envenom blades as described on DF 2: Dungeons p. 12 or DFRPG Exploits p. 58.

Starglazer

4 points

Prerequisites: Lockpicking or Forced Entry
Techniques: Starglazing (A) at prerequisite skill+0 [4]
Source: Built from a (sort of) new technique, Starglazing.

Using a knife and a roll against Lockpicking or Forced Entry, you can quietly force an opening in the corner of a window, large enough to admit an arm.

See Glass Cutter above for an alternative using more specialized equipment.

Note: The Starglazing technique is modeled after what was the Starglazing skill in GURPS Goblins for 3e (a skill presumably folded into Forced Entry in GURPS 4e).

Trap Specialist

4 points

Prerequisites: Traps
Techniques: Trap Specialization (A) at Traps+4 [4]
Source: Built from a new technique, Trap Specialization.

Take +4 on Traps rolls related to a single type of trap (or similar feature involving rolls vs Traps): overhead deadfall traps, pit traps, hidden blade traps, hidden missile traps, trapped locks, hidden doors, or whatever the GM considers a suitably narrow specialty.

Work-by-Touch Master

6 points

Prerequisites: Lockpicking, Traps, or similar skill
Techniques: Work by Touch (H) at prerequisite skill+0 [6]
Source: Built from the Work by Touch technique on p. B233.

When picking locks, disarming traps, or performing other tasks appropriate to the base skill, ignore the -5 penalty for working by touch alone for reasons such as darkness.

Note: Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Thieves offers a cheaper way to nab this effect: the Work by Touch power-up, built as Sensitive Touch with a “Roguish skills only” Accessibility limitation, covering all roguish skills. Get that instead if you prefer. (Though to get picky: the default penalty for working by touch is -5, and Sensitive Touch affords a +4 bonus, so I think the Work by Touch power-up should leave a -1 penalty. If I’ve got that right, and if you want to be all “we do things properly at my table”, you could use that Work by Touch power-up to reduce the penalty from -5 to -1 for all roguish skills, then use the Work by Touch technique, skill by skill, to remove the remaining -1 penalty.)

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