• Distance and defense: Tiny tweak for GURPS combat

    Here’s a minor, yet-untested melee idea that came up during chatter over some GURPS combat scenarios: When you close a distance gap to attack, you give the defender more time to react than you do by starting out close enough to strike. Game that consideration with this simple rule: If the attacker begins his turn with a Step or Move to get within striking Reach, the defender gains +2 on Active Defense vs the attack that turn. If the attacker begins his turn within striking Reach (even if he chooses to Step or Move anyway), the defender takes no mod to Active Defense vs the attack that turn. If the…

  • Sports throwing skills in COSH

    The old GULLIVER for GURPS 3e details throwing skills for use in sports, not combat. Generally, I’ve suggested a hefty distance bonus in exchange for several drawbacks: encumbrance penalties, a Ready requirement, and a big TH penalty. (Yes, a TH penalty. Track-and-field javelin, hammer, discus, and so on never require the thrower to actually hit something. What the heck? Let’s get some man-sized targets out there, and go Spartan on the next Olympiad!) Come to think of it, perhaps these special skills can be built nicely using COSH, the system for modifying and building combat skills in 3e. Hmm, it’s worth a try! If this sort of thing piques your rarified interests, break out the COSH page along…

  • My Miscellaneous Old House Rules (GURPS 3e)

    Most old house rules have been absorbed into other works on this site. On this page are a few miscellaneous 3e tweaks – some much used, others tasted and soon forgotten – that didn’t fit elsewhere. (A few now have some sort of simulacrum in GURPS 4e.) It’s all ramshackle old stuff (1997 or earlier!), but might contain something of interest for your modern GURPS game. History v1.0: 1997 v2.0: 01/08/01 v2.1: 09/10/24. Minor updates, and moved article from old HTML file to current site format.   The old 3e house rules These rules fall under categories inspired by the time-honored motion picture rating system in the US: G (General GURPS): It may or…

  • “Magic” Skill for GURPS

    GURPS was long funny in that it offered skills for each and every specific application of magic (i.e., hundreds of spells), but no skill to cover a mage’s overall understanding of magic itself. Such a skill – name it Magic for simplicity – both fills that gap and lets you fine-tune magic in your campaign, in at least 10 fun ways. This old article was written for GURPS 3e; its Magic skill is at least partially covered now by the Thaumatology skill that later appeared in GURPS Grimoire and then Basic Set 4e. Still, the notes may hold a new idea or two for your 4e games. History v1.0: 1997 v1.1: 01/08/01 v1.2: 09/10/24. Minor…

  • 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…

  • Rules Bit (GURPS): New Damage for ST

    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 over 20 years, and so far no one’s gotten hurt. (Except all those on the target end of ST 14, 2d swings, of course.) But a little thing like “it works well enough” never thwarts the compulsive rules hacker! Nay, the tinkerer’s quibbles must out. First, wouldn’t it be swell if damage followed ST in a neat, linear relationship? (Necessary, no; nice, yes.) That’s certainly not the case now, where neither thrust nor swing damage follows any observable pattern connecting it to ST. Second, what’s with the relationship…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Game design musing: Pricing breadth in skills

    If fluency in a foreign tongue costs your character 5 points, how much should fluency in ten languages cost? In the midst of recent email correspondence about ESCARGO, I’ve dredged up a game design topic long of interest to me: a decreasing cost scale for multiple instances of traits. Wait – is there some reason why ten 5-point languages should cost the PC less than 50 points? And isn’t ESCARGO all about increasing the cost for more stuff? Let me explain: Depth vs breadth Many a game designer (or just dedicated hacker) has pondered the topic of breadth vs depth in character skills. (Some of the below could be adapted…

  • Rules Bit (GURPS): Grazes

    Intro: “It’s just a scrape!” In action fiction, an endless succession of lucky nicks, scrapes, and near-miss bullet scratches keep heros nicely bloodied but not inconveniently dead. We can do the same in gaming, too. Even under a gritty combat system like GURPS’, it’s easy to set up such hide-saving grazes to handle heroic flesh-wounds – and, as a bonus, simulate armor deflection of attacks better than 3e’s old Passive Defense stat did. These rules are born of some old writings, but please take a new look anyway; there’s a lot of added and updated material. A note on PD Old rules on this site have long suggested tossing out GURPS 3e’s…