Daily Houserule tweets: March 2022

From February 1, 2022 to January 31, 2023, I posted an entry a day to the @gamesdiner Twitter account, using the hashtags #TRPG, #GURPS, and #DailyHouserule. The concept: Make tweets out of a bunch of minor GURPS houserule items, GM/player advice tidbits, and other tips & tricks, to have a bit of fun engaging with other gamers and get the #GURPS tag out there more. (See the initial announcement here.)

The year is up! I’m now posting those tweets to this site, a month per page. Links to all 12 months are below.

Do forgive the overly abbreviated and janky writing. These were tweets, so the text is full of shortcuts to fit the format. For better or worse, I’m leaving the content mostly untouched.


Entries by month:

20220203040506070809101112202301List of all pages


Entries No. 29 to 59

29

2022-03-01: Should a GM allow multiple Acrobatic Dodges in a turn, not just one?

Try it out, if PCs sport more Acrobatics skill than they know what to do with. Use a cumulative skill penalty for 2nd & later attempts: -6 if you’re strict, -4 if more lax.

Crazy high skill can make this work. Using a -4 penalty, Acrobatics-19 can make a 1st Acrobatic Dodge easily, a 2nd at 15 or less, & a 3rd at 11 or less.

A hypothetical Acrobatic Master trait would halve the penalties (and spur lots of attempts. Remember, crit fails await…).

30

2022-03-02: Zen Archery/Marksmanship can negate huge penalties for difficult shots.

To better emphasize the mystical “inner eye”, penalize these skills for the use of technological aids (sights, computers, rangefinders, etc.): link

The idea here is simply to get a more nuanced take on what’s going on with this zen sharpshooting stuff. It’s loosely inspired by Ghost Ben Kenobi (Been Kenobi? : ) giving Luke advice to turn off his targeting computer…

31

2022-03-03: Can you Feint with a ranged weapon? Yes, but use the Range mod as a penalty. Not useful vs a far-away target!

(I had thought this was an original idea, but it’s not. Martial Arts p121: “modifiers… to an actual attack also apply to the feint.”)

I think this goes well w/ GURPS’ concept of dodging missile fire. It’s easy to picture your feint as faking out a close defender trying to “Dodge the line of fire”. Whereas if your target’s far off… your “feint” is just you in the distance, waving your weapon around weirdly.

For some forum discussion of the topic, see:
link
link

32

2022-03-04: Like a number of GURPS players, I’m not sure Spear and Staff make sense as separate skills.
If you’re willing to hack, an idea:

Replace w/ 2 skills: Spear/Staff and Two-Handed Spear/Staff. Same way rules handle axes/maces, flails, & swords.

Most users will opt for Two-Handed Spear/Staff (esp. for classic quarterstaff). But spear-and-shield types will want (one-handed) Spear/Staff.

Cross-default between these 1- and 2-hnd skills: Hm, use -3 (per axes/maces & flails) or -4 (per swords)? Or be generous and go with -2?

33

2022-03-05: I never liked the -2 penalty on trident use. Yes, it’s “tip-heavy”, but that just makes it a polearm, shorter & lighter than most; what’s the problem?

Idea: No penalty if used 2-hnd w/ Polearm or Spear skill; -2 penalty if used 1-hnd w/ Spear.

Hm, now let’s try to combine this w/ yesterday’s entry (replacing Spear and Staff skills w/ Spear/Staff and Two-Handed Spear/Staff):

A trident is usable 2-hnd w/ either Polearm or Two-Handed Spear/Staff (no penalty); or 1-hnd w/ Spear/Staff (-2 skill for heavy tip). Sensible?

34

2022-03-06: Like a zillion GURPS players already, I’ll suggest renaming “Honesty” to “Law-Abiding”, a name that much better fits the trait.

Or even call it “Honesty (Law-Abiding)”. (Which suggests other possible forms; say, “Honesty (Truthfulness)”?)

Actually, lots of traits should be read with care to avoid assumptions based on the name alone. The book How to Be a GURPS GM: Managing Expectations offers a very helpful overview of these. (Buy this book!)

I merely call out Honesty as the one that really wants to be renamed.

35

2022-03-07: Basic Set 4e has remained nicely intact over the years, without tons of patches. But if you’re a newcomer, be aware that some weapon stats have been tweaked –for the better– in newer releases like Low-Tech & DFRPG. Use those stats instead of BS’!

Specifically, I appreciate the greater thr dam for shortswords, the dam boost given to a number of large weapons, and Low-Tech’s stats for 1-hex, 1-handed axes and maces used 2-handed, among other tweaks.

An old gripe: In BS, the greataxe takes an axe, doubles the weight, adds a hand, raises Min ST, then makes the thing slower anyway—all for a measly +1 dam (and Reach 2). Unappealing.

The newer stats in LT, etc. don’t fix the slowness, but at least they award another +1 dam.

36

2022-03-08: It’s only fair to warn wannabe Vikings that Two-handed Axe/Mace offers iffy weapons, at least those w/ the harsh “requires Ready after swing” drawback.

Low-Tech & DFRPG offer 2-hex Polearm weapons that are just as effective, w/out the slowness.

Actually, Low-Tech gives Two-Handed Axe/Mace skill a welcome little boost: it adds the ability to use two hands on a regular, 1-hex, 1-handed axe or mace, for +1 dam.

Still, the skill’s 2-hex weapons are just awful compared to Polearm’s nimbler 2-hex offerings.

Say you wanted to lessen the unpopular “requires Ready after swing” requirement.

Idea: Drop the requirement (or at least reduce the extra ST needed to eliminate it) when the weapon is swung at less than longest Reach (e.g., Reach 1 for great axe, Reach 2 for halberd).

37

2022-03-09: Need to use your 6′ pole as a weapon? My take:

Staff skill; sw+1 cr / thr+1 cr; R1, 2; Parry +2; $5; 3 lb; ST 7†
Cheap & not made for combat; +1 odds of breakage

See link

Or wield it sword-like:

Two-Handed Sword skill; sw+1 cr R1, 2 / thr cr R2; Parry 0; $5; 3 lb; ST 8†
Cheap & not made for combat; +1 odds of breakage

Oh, got a 10’ pole? Treat as a long staff (Low-Tech/DFRPG), but $8 and +1 odds of breakage. (Presumably too long for sword use!)

38

2022-03-10: Got a full quiver but forgot your bow? Gonna have to fling those arrows:

Thrown Weapon (Dart) skill; thr-3 imp; Acc 1; Range x1/x1.5; Wt 0.1; $2; ST 5; Bulk -3
Crossbow bolt: Same, but Bulk -2.

See link

I’ve wavered on the numbers; these are my latest.

My stats for a thrown arrow are pretty pathetic, but raising damage and/or range starts to step on the toes of shuriken, expensive throwing knives & darts, etc.

Conclusion: Don’t forget your bow!

39

2022-03-11: What’s the shelf life of basic DF/DFRPG dungeoneer rations?

I go with one month, absent any special preparations or magical preservation. (Maybe x1/2 that for hot climes, x2 for cold, x4 for frigid.) (Anyone have a different take?)

Also, what’s the shelf life of natural preparations?

I don’t know. Indefinite for anti-toxins, one month for garlic, one week for wolfsbane? (Or do plants like wolfsbane have to be really fresh to work?)

(“Who cares. They’re all good til you use ’em.” That works too. : )

40

2022-03-12: A boarding cutlass (or any smallish shortsword/falchion):

Shortsword skill; sw cut, thr imp; R1; Parry 0; $320; Wt 1.75; ST 7.
Basket hilt optional: $80, 0.25 lb (closed) or $80, 0 lb (open, protects on 1-3 on d6; see LT Companion 2 p15).

This cutlass/falchion/spadroon/whatever fills a gap on modern (Low-Tech, DFRPG) weapon tables: A blade doing sw cut, thr imp dam.

W/ closed basket hilt, it has cost & weight of a standard shortsword (& should be ST 8?). It deals 1 point less thr dam, but hey, basket hilt! Arrr!

Find this and more weapons at link.

41

2022-03-13: Just in time for your wizard’s next delve – or full-contact Death Jarts™ competition – here’s a heavy throwing dart:

Thrown Weapon (Dart) skill; thr+1 imp; Acc 1; Range x2/x3; Wt 1.5; $25; ST 6; Bulk -3

“Too scary! How about a light throwing dart?”

Thrown Weapon (Dart) skill; thr-1 imp; Acc 1; Range x1/x2; Wt 0.5; $15; ST 5; Bulk -1
Smaller than the generic throwing dart (but don’t mistake it for a pub dart).

These and more weapons: link

42

2022-03-14: Outdoorsman is a fine 10-pt talent, but aids only 7 skills. Flesh it out with a full 10.

Suggestion: Camouflage, Climbing, Fishing, Hiking, Mimicry (Animal Sounds, Bird Calls), Naturalist, Navigation, Survival, Tracking, Weather Sense.

DFRPG’s take on Outdoorsman is more generous than GURPS’, aiding nine skills (including Disguise (Animals)). I like it, but I add Hiking so it covers a neat 10 skills.

More on getting the most out of Outdoorsman in GURPS and DFRPG: link

43

2022-03-15: Heavy javelin:

Spear skill; thr+2 imp; R1; Parry 0; $35; Wt 3; ST 8
or
Thrown Weapon (Spear) skill; thr+2 imp; Acc 2; Range x1/x2; $35; Wt 3; ST 8; Bulk -5

Bonus! Light spear:

Spear skill; thr+2 imp; R1*; Parry 0; $35; Wt 3; ST 9
or
Thrown Weapon (Spear) skill; thr+2 imp; Acc 2; Range x1/x2; $35; Wt 3; ST 8; Bulk -5

Essentially a heavy javelin stretched longer & thinner. Less robust than normal 4-lb spear; +1 odds of breakage.

These and more weapons: link

44

2022-03-16: Hot off the anvil, it’s a medium katar:

Knife skill; sw-2 cut, thr+1 imp; R C,1; Parry 0; $240; Wt 1.5; ST 7
or
Shortsword skill (same, but swing R is 1, not C,1)

Size bridges Knife & Shortsword (like long knife). All other features per katar.

Only one problem: “Medium katar” is such a lousy name. Let’s call it “punch sword”. (Or are katars already nicknamed that?)

These and more weapons: link

45

2022-03-17: Cooking skill! Not the stuff of adventure; DFRPG left it out for a reason. But use it to:

*Buy (craft) cheaper rations
*Detect spoiled food & odd tastes (Per-based)
*Skin/prepare game (a la Survival)
*Aid FP recovery w/ “decent meal” (B427)
*Preserve foraged food
*Extend shelf life of rations
*Replace rations w/ ingredients (takes prep, but less cost/weight)
*Cook up some WMDs (wontons of monster distraction)

(I don’t have rules for the above, but see Low-Tech Companion 3 for lots on cooking & preservation.)

More:

*Engage in Iron Chef battles – to the death!
*Just be a boss in any kitchen

OK, these hardly make Cooking a must-have. But maybe they at least warrant a hireling trail cook?
(Also, whoever’s cooking, a failed roll vs “So how’s dinner tonight?” is always good for jokes.)

46

2022-03-18: Prop up DFRPG’s wan Green Thumb advantage by letting it aid a full 5 skills. Either add Theology (Druidic) & Esoteric Medicine (Druidic) to its boosted skill list, or introduce Gardening & Farming as boosted skills.

I know, Gardening and Farming are hardly cool adventuring skills, but they can actually be useful: link

47

2022-03-19: Filling in more gaps on the weapon table, here’s a light flail. Or heavy nunchucks. Either way:

Flail skill; sw+2 cr; R 1; Parry 0U; $60; Wt 4; ST 10

Other details same as flails.

48

2022-03-20: A petty, high-horse soapbox of mine:

I like SM +1 for ponies and donkeys (cramped seating for 1 adult) but SM +2 for big horses (roomy seating for 1 adult, cramped for 2). Massive work horses are over 10x human weight, clearly SM +2 territory!

SM +1 seems just right for ponies, donkeys, zebras, and the like. And maybe smaller horses, too; some really seem to toe (hoof?) the SM +1/SM +2 border.

But in all meaningful metrics – weight, ST, seating, even map hexes (3, not 2!) – big horses easily cross into SM +2, IMO.

Same goes for camels, too, especially the two-humper Bactrians – up to 2200 lbs!

49

2022-03-21: Replace weapon tables’ odd (& unpopular) “non-thrusting” swords w/ a generalized rule for blunt-tipped swords/knives.

I call it a CF -0.2 mod (i.e., 20% cost reduction)—but max cost reduction is -$100.

Effect: Reduce thr dam by 1, change to cr.

There’s no harm in having these blunt-tipped swords on weapon tables, but IMO it seems simple enough to handle this as a mod, saving many lines on weapon tables.

(And who uses these weapons, anyway? Anyone out there got a PC who’s actually bought one?)

50

2022-03-22: Got Gluttony? Take a free +3 on control rolls through the time-consuming, expensive, and delicious expedient of making your meals double-sized. (Halflings take note!)

See link

By the same token, it’d probably be fair to hit those control rolls with a -3 if the glutton is well overdue for even a normal meal…

51

2022-03-23: Gnome rations: Robust packaging confers 3x the shelf life (my take: 1 month becomes 3 months); +1 on any rolls vs destruction, mold, etc. $3, 0.5 lb.

Can be further fortified with special properties for $$.

See link

52

2022-03-24: What’s the true story of the fabled Crystal Caves? The fate of the famed Rydar’s Raiders expedition?

Let a Hidden Lore (Dungeons) skill answer such questions. This lets PCs “find” quests based on their own knowledge, not just Research rolls.

This, to me, is a key lore skill that PCs accumulate through tales, musty library research, and of course actual adventuring. It’s the “old hand” knowledge that active and retired delvers swap over mugs of demon brew in tavern private rooms and Adventurer’s Guild gatherings.

53

2022-03-25: Here, kitty, kitty! I’ve got cat-folk kibble (rations) for DF/DFRPG:

Made for finicky palates. A steady one-month diet grants 1 level of Night Vision – but gives cat-folk 3 levels (and a silkier coat). $4, 0.5 lb.

See link

54

2022-03-26: DF/DFRPG: Orc rations!

Mystery meat, gamy grub, dire drink… disease- & poison-resistant stomachs don’t ask questions. GM may call for HT roll (-3 for Nervous Stomach!) vs nausea, etc.
$0.5 (or Scrounging roll), 1 lb.

See link

Actually, I don’t make the comic assumption that orcs etc. necessarily prefer gross eats. Why wouldn’t they appreciate truffles & fine brandy like anyone else?

But orcs might equally savor the nuanced piquancy of moldy weasel leg, a delicacy closed off to races of weaker stomach.

55

2022-03-27: I don’t see a clear GURPS rule on whether a character can use Fast-Draw to instantly ready a sheathed weapon to parry (e.g., parry a sudden incoming attack.)

I’ll assume it’s kosher (unless the character’s actually surprised, of course).

Success means the parry can be attempted, as if the weapon had been ready. Game on.

Failure means the parry isn’t possible (though another defense may be). The character may then, when his turn comes, perform a normal Ready, or attempt Fast-Draw again, or do whatever, per usual.

56

2022-03-28: The time you can hold your breath is a multiple of HT. That’s fine, but using FP instead works too. (Fitness-loving PCs with boosted FP appreciate it.)

Further option: Halve breath-holding time if you’re exhausted (i.e., under 1/3 FP).

Re that option: Instead of HT or FP as the multiple, I played a bit with using current FP, the idea being that you could hardly hold your breath at all if you’re exhausted from athletics & spellcasting.

But it plays pretty harsh. Hence the simple “halve time at low FP” idea.

57

2022-03-29: Fit/Very Fit and Unfit/Very Unfit modify a number of HT rolls. Let them also modify HT for the purpose of figuring breath-holding time.

(I don’t know whether that’s noted somewhere as official anyway, but it seems sensible.)

Side note: Yesterday’s entry offered the house rule idea that FP could be used instead of HT as the base for breath-holding time.

If you use that idea, let Fit/Very Fit and Unfit/Very Unfit modify FP for that calculation.

58

2022-03-30: Want to give Breath Control skill more to do? It makes a fine complementary skill for Autohypnosis, Body Control, Kiai, Meditation, and Singing, as well as for rolls vs Running, Hiking, etc. to avoid fatigue.

Then again, don’t do this if it’s problematic. The idea’s sensible, but that’s a lot of complementary skill rolling if a player really wants to apply breathing technique everywhere.

“Take +1 on this bunch of skills if you have Breath Control at 15+” is easier to play.

59

2022-03-31: Breath Control’s contribution to breath-holding time is a flat +50%, period.

For more variety in effect (and happier competitive breath-holders), let the skill boost breath-holding time by the higher of 50% (per RAW) or 10% per point of success.


Entries by month:

20220203040506070809101112202301List of all pages


Header image: Posting tweets the old way.

Source: “Georg Liebe – Der Soldat” 1899
Woodcut from Prüss, Strassburg (1488) Montevilla

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