• Tweeting tiny ideas: Tactical Hand Signals and Acrobatic Jump

    Hey, check out that slick new feed of Games Diner tweets on the left side of the front page. Scroll down a bit if you have to… ah, there they are. Just like on the actual Games Diner Twitter page. Mmm, pithy. (As I note in one tweet: “Twitter: 30 seconds to write the tweet, 3 minutes to mangle it into 140 characters.”) I mention this as a reminder that the feed exists, and to note that I’m starting to use it for a bit more than “hey, look at something I found.” First, it’s a good tool for announcing minor web site updates (bug fixes, article brush-ups, etc.), as…

  • Cheaper by the dozen: Cutting the cost of high-level everything

    GURPS has long toyed with ways to reduce the cost of high levels in its Strength attribute, creating odd schemes under 3e and, in 4e, cutting the cost of ST across the board and simply requiring less ST to achieve satisfactory power (thanks to the new Basic Lift calculation). Yet there’s still a wish out there for cheaper levels of über-ST, even within 4e rules (as seen in its special ST cost discount for large critters). That’s where Rules Nugget (GURPS): A Better Cost for ST and HP comes in, offering an optional cost progression (the brainchild of D. Weber) that makes the cost of a massive ST (or its components)…

  • Update: A Better Cost for ST – now with HP too!

    It’s A Better cost for ST… and HP too! Oh, and Striking ST and Lifting ST! An article that’s received many kind remarks over the years (and has been put into use by GMs far and wide) now gets a v2.0 update. The first version put ST on a diet with a neatly-declining cost scale (designed by D. Weber), enabling easier and cheaper power for supers and Giants. The update goes on to address ST’s component parts: Striking ST, Lifting ST, and HP. In the end, the rule provides a single scheme for pricing ST (and its components) in normal Joes, over-muscled barbarians, boulder-hurling Giants, and planet-cracking supers, with no special size-based…

  • Gaming Low-Power, Low-Tech PCs, Part III

    This is the wrap-up of thoughts on keeping a campaign going when the threats are high-powered but the PCs are low-powered – that is, when the PCs are “mundanes” with no magic, no special powers, and little technology. Again I use GURPS Fantasy II‘s Mad Lands setting as a prime example, but the considerations will hold in other settings, especially low fantasy or non-fantasy (e.g., historical). Part I was a short look at the challenges of keeping such a game going. Part II suggested beefing up the PCs to match the challenges – specifically, understanding “low power” to mean character sheets that may lack spells and energy blasts, but are…

  • Gaming Low-Power, Low-Tech PCs, Part II

    Introduction I’ve changed the title of this article and its Part I, to better fit what the articles are really about. Yes, they’re nominally a look at the Mad Lands setting of GURPS Fantasy II, but let’s think bigger. What I’m really writing about is how to keep PCs alive, and growing as characters, in any setting that sharply limits PC power without dialing down the threats they face. So, while I focus on Madlanders as a perfect example of no-magic, no-powers people – “mundanes” – caught between hammer and anvil, what follows might be of use in any low fantasy game where monsters and wizards wield great powers that…

  • Gaming Low-Power, Low-Tech PCs, Part I

    In the center of the world is a land hammered by the weather, tortured by insane gods, plagued by grotesque monsters and haunted by magic. Only the bravest survive in the Mad Lands.Yet they do survive . . .  Indeed, they do. But how? Yesterday I took another stroll through GURPS Fantasy II (subtitle: Adventures in the Mad Lands), from noted gaming author Robin D. Laws. It’s an old book, from the days when the GURPS line used the “Fantasy” moniker for its specific fantasy game worlds. The first Fantasy gave us the world now named (and book-titled) Banestorm; Fantasy II introduced the bizarre, dark-fantasy world that, if published now,…

  • Pricing breadth: Talents and Wildcard skills in GURPS

    Here’s a quick example of putting the ideas in Game design musing: Pricing breadth in skills to work: GURPS’ Wildcard skills (BS 175) allow purchase of multiple skills for the price of three; Talents (BS 89) allow a bonus to many skills (plus other minor benefits) for a fraction of the eventual cost of full levels in those skills. Both share fuzziness in common: There’s no stated limit on on how many skills a Wildcard skill covers (so why stop at 10 if the GM will allow 20?), and you can freely choose the number of skills a Talent covers, within the limits of its group size (gee, should I take one skill or…

  • RPG science: Character tails

    Got a game character with a nice fluffy tail? Those things can be good for more than just Furry decor, you know.  At a recent TED conference, biologist Robert Full presented research into the wonders of the wall-crawling gecko. (The video, embedded below, is worth a view; you’ll see both people and robots mimicking the gecko’s Spidey-like climbs.) But while uncovering the secrets of the lizard’s famous feet, scientists found the creature’s tail enabled some amazing acrobatic feats of its own, all with nice character-design potential. As the biologists point out, a passive tail – a simple dead weight – hampers maneuverability. But an active tail does quite the opposite. Here what’s…

  • Quick Quibbles with SM in GURPS 4e

    I’m glad that 4e now incorporates something as simple and basic as a size for characters! SM, what took you so long? My friendly little quibbles with SM as s/he stands (Basic Set p 19) are as follows: 1) The official rule is to round a creature’s SM up – unless it’s a humanoid over 2 yards tall, in which case leave it at SM 0. I’d change that to “round to the nearest SM”. That neatly keeps humanoids, especially the countless hero PCs that top 6 feet, at SM 0 without special exceptions. (However, it does place 5’2″-or-shorter people at SM -1, for better or worse.) By that same…

  • Gaming Notes: Playing Giants in any Game System

    Introduction Ogres. Hulking Trolls. Tree-sized Giants. Mountain-sized Jotun. If they’re defined by a size bigger than us, then for this article, they’re all Giants. Because whatever the specifics, they all share one thing in common: “TARG SMASH PUNY HUMAN!” I’m liberating the Big Games notes on gaming Giants from my old GULLIVER rules for GURPS, to give them a proper new home within the Diner (with a little freshening-up too, including a pinch or two of content from other sections). Although I’ve got some GURPS 4e-specific notes at the end, the general overview is useful with any game system. Yet it’s all pretty brief; sorry, I haven’t witten The Complete…