• Thor vs Hulk

    Update to new damage for ST

    The old article “Rules Bit: New Damage for ST” was a fairly well-visited piece on this site, exploring the topic of a ST-based damage that scales linearly with ST – like “1d per 10 ST”. It’s a change that no one needs but that a lot of rues tinkerers like. I’ve revised the article considerably to cover additional considerations, remove unimportant cruft, and offer a spiffier Damage Table. I’ve also renamed the article, as it’s much more an exercise in system hacking than a mere rules tweak. I invite you to give the renewed version a look:

  • Update to rules for grazes

    Rules Bit (GURPS): Grazes is an old house rule that stretches back to the 3e days. It details the effects of a graze: the bullet that only scores a character’s shoulder as it whizzes past, the punch that almost gets dodged but still clips the target, all the scrapes and scratches that heroes accumulate in fiction while escaping serious harm. I’ve given the work a good-sized overhaul. I made the conditions for a graze cleaner and easier, reflecting my experiments and experiences. I simplified the effects of a graze to just two basics (or even one), with other effects made clearly optional. I clarified how the rule’s intent and effects…

  • Bridge battle

    Game design musing: Simplifying ST-based thrust and swing damage (GURPS)

    Here’s a small simplification GURPS could make: Replace the two damage scores (thrust and swing) attached to ST with one damage score. Huh? You mean do away with GURPS’ distinctive difference between a weapon’s swing and thrust damage scores?  No, nothing of the sort! That thrust-vs-swing distinction adds fun considerations to the choice and use of weapons. It’s one of my favorite features of the game’s combat system, right up there with defense rolls. Let’s keep it! But I think the game could remove the small complication of two damage scores if it wanted – not from combat, but from character stats.  I’ve made mention of this somewhere in the…

  • Fight

    Game design musing: Swing vs thrust damage: What’s the difference? (GURPS)

    Welcome back to Dork Labs (a name you can count on to mean “spreadsheets will follow”). In writing an upcoming post involving strength and damage, I had reason to revisit an old question of mine: in an ideal GURPS, how much should ST-based swing and thrust damage differ? It’s by no means a pressing matter at anyone’s game table, but on the off chance that someone finds this of interest, and continuing this site’s hallowed tradition of yammering incessantly about all things ST for reasons only Yog-Sothoth can divine, here’s what the numbers show. Swing vs thrust, by the numbers The table below is self-explanatory. At left are ST-based thrust…

  • RPG reality check: Are falls deadly enough in GURPS?

    Are falls properly deadly in GURPS? Over a wide range of fall distances, impact surfaces, character sizes, etc.? I dunno. But here’s one interesting piece of data – an expert’s claim, anyway – that we can use to match one real-life situation against the results generated by an RPG simulation, and see how the two compare. So go get some favorite GURPS characters, nonchalantly lead them to the rooftop of a four-story building, and push them off! Let’s see how many survive. Falls and the LD50 The AV Club article “Allow this trauma surgeon to ruin a few of your favorite action scenes” introduces a video in which trauma physician…

  • Momentum or kinetic energy: Which one pierces a T Rex’s chain mail on a glancing blow?

    Here’s a collection of online bric-a-brac with connections to this site’s gaming material: Dinosaurs and their tails Having written about both dinosaur design and tail design, I can’t help but comment on the Smithsonian blog’s report that dinosaurs may have had thicker, beefier tails than often depicted. Sounds fine to me, at least until we get that cloning process working to verify things. What does that mean for critter design? Well, nothing, really. About all I can note is that, using the above tail rules, your dinos really should go for the heavy tail option instead of the slim version – although that always sounded right for dinos anyway. Hmm,…

  • Thor vs Hulk

    Game design musing: New Damage for ST (GURPS)

    This old (2010?) article was placed under the “Rules Bit” umbrella of minor rules tweaks for GURPS. But mucking with ST-based damage scores involves a number of considerations; it’s not really a “hey, gang, new rule tonight” kind of thing. So, this 2023 rewrite places the article under the “Game design musing” header, complete with “CAUTION” graphic noting that this is stuff for system hackers. Intro: Refinishing the table What’s wrong with GURPS‘ table linking ST scores to thrust and swing damage? Nothing! It’s done its job for decades, and so far no one’s gotten hurt. (Except all those on the target end of ST 14, 2d swings, of course.)…

  • Rules Bit (GURPS): Revised Toughness

    Intro: “Go ahead, runt, punch me in the gut.” Imagine that’s the growl of a hulking bully with an Olympic wrestler’s build. And imagine that your physique is more that of… er, a guy who once gamed a wrestler PC. (Did you have to imagine very hard?) It’s easy to imagine that your best punch to his gut – or just about anywhere beefy – simply won’t hurt the guy. At all. Oh, maybe a few dozen punches would start some bruising, sure, but you don’t get that chance; his first punch has you coughing up the lunch money as soon as your limbs start working again. That sort of mismatch can be mighty realistic, but…

  • Rules Bit (GURPS): Grazes

    Intro: “It’s just a scrape!” In action fiction, an endless succession of lucky nicks, scrapes, and bullet scratches keep heroes cinematically bloodied but not inconveniently dead. (Glancing “just a scratch” injuries happen in real life, too, of course!) At the gaming table, the same effect is interesting and easily handled. The content below goes way back to the GURPS 3e days, was updated for 4e around 2009, and now gets a 2023 update for simplification and clarification. The rule Definition of a graze A graze is a glancing blow or any off-center, fleeting, or otherwise unimpressive touch that doesn’t strike squarely – including the lessened blow that results from a defender partially…

  • From the newsgroup files: Doing collisions right

    A recent online post gave me the chance to blather on and on about how to handle collisions in a RPG. Regarding the huge damage that GURPS Vehicles would dish out for a 5 mph collision with a car: Erm, am I missing something here? Because 5MPH is slower than walking pace and should NOT take you to death’s door! Me to said poster: You are correct to sense something funny here. The Vehicles rule does have a big flaw. Others have made helpful suggestions, but if I can wax pedantic here, allow me to dig to the heart of the problem and set things right. You can quickly check…