• DECIDE: Drop Excess Combat Info from Defense Evaluation (GURPS 4e/3e)

    In a combat, GURPS has us ask defenders this question: “The attack will hit you. What do you do?” What if, instead, we asked this: “The attack might hit you. What do you do?” From will to might: that single-word change is arguably a much more realistic representation of the knowledge a defender would have – in many cases, the knowledge that a defender possibly could have – in battle. It suggests interesting implications and tactics, for no extra complexity in play. I’ve been a vocal (if not quite proselytizing) proponent of the proposal below; I’ll daringly call it “the biggest pro-realism, pro-roleplaying bang you can get from a zero-bookkeeping, zero-extra-rolls,…

  • GURPS Unified Theory of Hitting Stuff (GUTHS)

    Big edit 2020-09-05: Rewrite to accommodate a recent clarification of a long-standing GURPS rule (a recent clarification to me, anyway!): In GURPS (and its offshoot Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG)), a target’s SM acts as a TH modifier for ranged and melee attacks against that target. That “melee” part is the clarification: it’s not made clear in the Basic Set (see this post in this forum thread), and many players (including me!) always assumed that the Basic Set didn’t make SM a TH mod in melee combat. But the official rule is that SM is a TH mod for melee attacks and ranged weapons alike. So there it is. That revelation prompted an…

  • FEND: Fully Enabled Defenses (GURPS 4e/3e)

    Defense stats in GURPS are based on skill divided by two, an odd mechanic not used elsewhere in the game. What if defense used full skill, just like any other skill-based action? This GURPS rules hack is a look at a simple, single, “for the heck of it” rules change, followed by the usual commentary. As always, it’s yours to use, abuse, or refuse, as you choose. History v1.0: Created 2003/04/28 v1.1 update (2009/07/27): Modified for use with 3e or 4e. Using Full Skill for Defenses  There’s one funny bit in the GURPS skill system. Nothing that need ever actually bother anybody, just a little oddity that’s so basic to…

  • Game design musing: It’s About Time (Part III)

    Part 3 of 3. If you thought the articles were geeky before, be warned: it gets worse here.The past two articles: Part IPart II Jumping into the new: Action points, Version 1 In the last episode, I detailed some of my early endeavors at gaming more varied action times. Enough of that. Here’s another general method: action points. I can’t point to any single system as an example; I’ve seen many variations in home-brew games or as options for existing systems. One reader (see comments in first article) points to an AD&D version from an old Dragon magazine. The idea is simple: give each character some number of “action points”…

  • Game design musing: It’s About Time (Part II)

    More on the subject of attack time and pacing in RPG combat systems, focusing on a couple of old home-brew efforts. Continued from Part I: On to another round of writing. I planned to wrap this up, but it looks like there’s going to be a Part III as well. (One note: With occasional digression, I’m discussing melee, not ranged, combat.) Recap Looking at how a few game systems (including some I haven’t mentioned) handle action time and pacing in their combat systems, the below seem par for the course: Combat actions take place in turns, with a default of one attack per turn. Under turns, there’s typically no mechanism…

  • Game design musing: It’s About Time (Part I)

    Gear up, spelunkers! It’s time for a dizzied descent into the dankest depths of game-design geekdom. In a very old blog post I briefly pondered the topic of action pacing – especially combat pacing – in RPGs. Below are some thoughts on how three major game systems tackle the topic. A caution in advance: while I know my GURPS, please accept my apologies where I mangle HERO; it’s been a long time since I last played. And I really risk disservice to D&D, as my only familiarity with 3e rules is from perusing the books, not actual play. Corrections to my text are greatly welcomed. Timing Basics In the three game…

  • GURPS House Rules Best Left Homeless

    GURPS gamers are a rules-tweaking, happy lot of home-brewers, Hastur bless ’em. But among the crunchy’n’nutty house rule suggestions that come up in forums, websites, and actual games, there are always a few that should be shown the door back out of the house. Below are a few such. I was hoping to make it a Top 10 list, but am stopping far short of that for now. Actually, I’m glad I can only think of far fewer than 10 offhand! (Needless to say, the below is opinion; if one of the items already fits into your game to much acclaim, good on you. Witless opining is what blogs are…

  • European Martial Arts in Role-Playing: Where are they?

    Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in historic European martial arts. Although the active traditions of European hand-to-hand masters largely broke down during the age of gunpowder, centuries of trainers, tacticians, duelists, and other “Masters of Defence” left behind over 100 written works detailing techniques of fighting with sword, dagger, hand, foot, and other weapons. Modern-day enthusiasts studying these tomes and actual period weapons, aided by an Internet that brings together practitioners, translators, historians, and other experts, are re-discovering facts that should have been obvious all along, yet are directly contradicted by mistaken popular notions that are filtered by Hollywood (while reaching back to Victorian times). They’re re-discovering facts…

  • Recycled content: defaults and other tips for COSH

    I won’t be able to post things next week, so here’s some recycled material for approaching visitors. While searching through old email, I found the following post I’d made to the Gurpsnet mailing list. The response below to an inquiry may be of interest to fans of COSH, a fun tool for modifying and creating combat skills. How does COSH handle defaults? Nothing special included, or needed, in COSH’s handling of defaults — other than the question, how do you set defaults for new skills? Just as existing GURPS defaults were set (AFAIK) by SJG writers’ sense of what works, and not by formulae, I can only say that you’d…

  • Game design musing: Can “too high” defenses be a good thing?

    In a Gurpsnet thread on armored GURPS 3e fighters having much-too-high defenses, I responded to one poster below. 4e greatly alleviates the problem by eliminating PD, but high scores may still be an issue for some players. Yet the below does summarize what is to me an important point: the game should accommodate “too high” defenses when those are warranted!  Imagine, if you will, a warrior with Plate Armour (PD 4) with Deflect +3, a skill of 22 with a broadsword, and Combat Reflexes. His total defense? A parry of 19. Now, the rules as written state that Sir Unhittable will be struck only if he rolls a 17 or…