• Game design musing: “Sims” (with a sample sports sim for GURPS)

    In this post, I muse that it’d be interesting to see examples of ways to game a sporting match in GURPS (or whatever game you like). By which I don’t mean some per-second simulation of every dash and tackle and kick by every player on the pitch, a la RPG combat. (Lordy, just imagine trying to play out a combat turn-based simulation of two 40-minute game halves. “Okay! We begin with Turn 1 of 4,800!”) No, I refer to some abstract simulation that resolves a complex activity in far less detail than what RPGs typically lavish on combat systems, while offering more of interest than a simple “Roll vs your…

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

    Well, are they? 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 your 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 Dr. Spiros Frangos…

  • RPG Science: Physical performance with armor and other loads

    Just how tiring is heavy medieval armor? How much does a load slow down climbing? If you’re the type who appreciates a bit of realism in your RPG action, here’s what recent research and an anecdotal report have to say about those questions.  Heavy metal: Walking in plate armor Quite a few months back, a study published by The Royal Society B looked at the effects of medieval armor on physical performance (BBC summary here). No one should be surprised by its finding of “hey, heavy armor is tiring!”. But the researchers’ detailed approach of measuring actual energy consumption under controlled treadmill conditions yields some quantitative crunchiness for the consideration of…

  • RPG science: Dinosaurs heavier than thought?

    “Dinosaurs may be lighter than we thought!” That’s the news item I welcomed in RPG science: Designing dinosaurs just got easier? a couple of years ago. I liked the sound of that discovery, as the crushing weight of dinos made realistic designs a challenge when considering the effects of weight vs power. But now? T. rex was bigger than thought, mused paleontologists more recently – over 9 tons for the Chicago Field Museum’s resident specimen, Sue (“I’m not fat, I’m just really big-boned”). So we may be back to super-heavy reptiles (go easy on the carbs there, Rex!), and back to various tweaks needed to keep the big dinos mobile under design…

  • Rules Bit (GURPS): Throw Like You Mean It

    Intro: “You throw like a kobold” GURPS’ thrown weapon stats neatly spell out the best distance (Maximum Range) you can achieve with a toss. These are multiples of Strength, typically STx1.5 for heavier weapons (spear), STx1 for very light ones (dagger), and STx2.5 for middle-weight weapons that hit a sweet spot for distance (throwing axe). Working from those stats, Conrad the Bavarian and his ST 16 can hurl a javelin 16 x 2.5 = 40 yards. In battlemap terms, that’s right off the dining room tabletop; it’s a throw that should send even the hardiest of orc miniatures fleeing to a safer distance. With some Extra Effort, Conrad could hit…

  • 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,…

  • 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…

  • RPG science: Biology fun for creature design!

    Clearing out some old links I’d noted, here’s some good reading for game designers (or just detail-happy GMs) wanting to give good, hard biology a friendly nod: The Biology of B-Movie Monsters http://fathom.lib.uchicago.edu/2/21701757/ Wow, this is a heck of an article by Michael C. LaBarbera, professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy at the University of Chicago. It’s a layman-friendly grand tour of how size and scaling work in reality, and what that means for B-movie creatures – and by extension, game-table monsters. Scaling of area vs mass and its relevant effects on cooling, terminal velocity, metabolism, and so on; mass and falling damage; mechanical difficulties posed by huge size; and…

  • Summary of ways to handle power-vs-weight in GURPS creatures

    Responding to this thread on the SJG forums, I started listing the different ways to handle the design issue of power-vs-weight in creatures. But my would-be post was getting farther from the focus of the thread (handling of armor and creature size), so I’ll place it here instead. The topic Creatures have vastly different ratios of power to weight. Here’s a summary of available ways to handle that, in increasing order of detail: a) Ignore it! Done. : ) b) Follow the 4e BS19 guidelines: just wing some adjustments to Move etc. that feel right. This is usually good enough! c) Per b, but use some rough guidelines for the…