Sunday, November 24, 2019

Another Take on GURPS Attributes and Skills

So on the SJG forums where a discussion on GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes I was inspired by Kromm and Douglas Cole to come up with a different model for skills.  Turns out Mr. Cole had already done something similar in By Default, Pyramid #3/65 Alternate GURPS III

Nonetheless, I like where that started but would take it a bit further.
Right now skills are Controlling Attribute + applicable Talent and Technique.
This makes attributes very desirable but after a few skills are purchased to the point where they cost 4/level to increase its more efficient to increase the attribute instead of more points on several skills. Talents help a character fill a niche, especially since they often apply to multiple attributes but the direct additive nature makes Talents still limited in use, especially in higher point campaigns. Techniques are worse as few will take more than one or two of them.
However attributes having an effect on skills is core to GURPS and a feature I really like.
Another issue is that certain skills are and should be very complicated to master, while others should be trivial. The Easy/Average/Hard/Very Hard model  reflects this by making them progressively a point lower in effectiveness. Its kind of --- meh.
So taking a cue from a difficult use of a skill the Active Defense roll (Block, Dodge, and Parry) what if we used that? Turns out Douglas Cole thought of that (see the above referenced Pyramid) and added a bunch of detail that is worth a look.
But, again I like the idea of differentiating and representing increasing complexity of certain skills.
Easy Skills: 5 + (Controlling Attribute/2) + applicable Talent and Technique.
Average Skills: 5 + (Controlling Attribute/3) + applicable Talent and Technique.
Hard Skills: 5 + (Controlling Attribute/4) + applicable Talent and Technique.
Very Hard Skills: 5 + (Controlling Attribute/5) + applicable Talent and Technique.

Assuming base attribute of 10 this gives us...

  • Current method for 1 point Easy [Stat] -10, Average [Stat -1] -9, Hard [Stat -2] -8, Very Hard [Stat -3] -7.
  • New Method for 1 point Easy [Stat] -10, Average [Stat -3] -7, Hard [Stat -5] -5, Very Hard [Stat -6] -4.
This makes many skills worse than using the default for the first level or so, but Douglas addressed that issue in his article.
The difference here is that while still important, skills benefit more point for point expenditure in buying up Talents, Techniques, and certain advantages which increases variety between characters. This is especially true for the more complicated and difficult skills!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Advantage: Chi Adept

This was inspired by GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes which I reviewed here.

Chi Adept

5 points +15/level.
You have awakened your inner chi and learned how to directly harness it. This creates a new attribute "Chi"starting at 10 that has several effects.
  • As long as Chi is at or above 10 use the better of this or the normal attribute for using chi based skills, powers, and resisting chi and physical supernatural effects.
  • May be used to replace any HT roll, including most HT skills (see below), resistance, and any HT check such as staying conscious or avoiding death.
  • May be used to replace Will for extra effort rolls.
  • May be used instead of normal Per rolls to sense chi related effects.
  • May be temporarily lowered to power chi effects and extra effort, exactly as if it were HT and FP.  However using this energy lowers the effective score for all purposes until its recovered through rest or other means.
  • Use the worst of this or the appropriate attribute when resisting effects, or for chi and HT based skills and abilities if the Chi attribute is currently below 10 for any reason.

Chi skills

Chi skills include Autohypnosis, Blind Fighting, Body Control, Body Language, Body Sense, Breaking, Blow, Breath Control, Esoteric Medicine, Flying Leap, Hypnotic Hands, Immovable Stance, Invisibility Art, Kiai, Light Walk, Lizard Climb, Meditation, Mental Strength, Mind Block, Parry Missile Weapons, Power Blow, Pressure Points, Pressure Secrets, Push, Sensitivity, Throwing Art, and Zen Archery.

HT and Other Skills

Carousing, Erotic Art, Hiking, Lifting, Running, Sex Appeal, Singing, Skating, Skiing, Swimming.

Review: GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes

The Power-Ups series is a look at a narrow thing and expanding it. A few books introduce new ideas, such as Power-Ups 1: Imbuements and Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys but most expand on and consolidate ideas from the Basic Set. This is more the latter, but a lot like a long Alt GURPS Pyramid issue.
One of the biggest core parts of GURPS is the streamlined attribute system. This book looks at ways to tweak it, goes in depth over possible consequences, and overs related ideas such as new attributes.
GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes is a tinker heavy book, not for newbies or those afraid of some math and analysis, but for those who like to tinker, it has some great material!

Chapter 1: Playing With Points

9 pages
The heaviest read, this chapter really points out how well balanced the attributes (Primary and Secondary) are and provides not only Under the Hood math but some brief history and concept origins. As a fan of GURPS from its beginning in Orcslayer and Man to Man and its predecessor The Fantasy Trip I understood the history but it was a nice call out. This was the most boring and hard to read chapter for me (quite a bit of math, not my strong suit) but really enlightening. I already knew the attributes were pretty well balanced and why certain decisions were made but the authors explanations and thoughts gave me new appreciation for just how well this system was designed and why its lasted so long as my favorite RPG.
Edited to add....
One bit here is the TL adjustments to ST which gives alternatives, including a chart for lower cost ST at higher tech levels since its arguably less useful.

Chapter 2: Changing The Game

24 pages
This chapter comprises the bulk of the book and is the one I found most useful. It has three main sections, Reformulating Secondary Characteristics, Adding Attributes, and Doing Away with Attributes.  The first was a lot like chapter 1 but laid important groundwork for the rest of the chapter. The fun part for me was in the second two sections, especially Adding Attributes.
Some highlights...
  • Status and Wealth as Attributes provide a new way to handle these aspects in GURPS, Wealth could be used as the idea from Abstract Wealth, Pyramid #3/44 Alt GURPS II, which though less complete might even be simper to use. I'm considering combining both for a future post.
  • Charisma as an Attribute is something thats come up on the forums and one of the few things I would like to tweak in GURPS, especially in socially focused campaigns. In fact combined with some other ideas, particularly expending resources I may use this to create a new subsystem for interacting with spirits, and possibly animals and plants.
  • Magery as an Attribute explores ideas discussed in GURPS Thaumatology and further explored in The Fifth Attribute, Pyramid #3/120 Alternate GURPS V. Much as with Abstract Wealth combining these ideas can make for a nice change to the magic system that is fairly easy to implement but changes the flavor. Allowing for low IQ but still powerful mages, mages that weaken themselves to cast spells, etc.
  • Chi as an Attribute is closely related, and one I have already started working on the details - expect that post within a week or so.
  • Dividing up Attributes is a nice section that explores different aspects of current Attributes and could be useful, though needs to be watched carefully to avoid problems with game balance.
  • Splitting Up the Universe explores attributes done in games such as InNomine and Vampire The Masquerade. I doubt I will use it for my InNomine conversion but others might like to do so, it would make for a closer adaptation than GURPS Classic InNomine. In fact,I just got an idea for a GURPS Toon adaptation after coming across InNomine Animae when grabbing those links!
  • New Resources closes the main section with addressing things like FP and Energy Reserves and using them as Attributes.  Combined with Adding Attributes (such as Magery) its a good source of inspiration, with just enough guidance to help a GM design a new system pretty quickly.
Overall this is the key chapter for those of us who link to tinker and comes with not only ideas, but new perspectives.

Chapter 3: Fallout

This chapter deals with the ramifications and consequences of changing things around and helps with a lot of the math and heavy lifting to keep things from slipping beneath the cracks in unpleasant and surprising ways. It includes costs for Attributes based on number of skills they affect (also discussed earlier) and other useful bits.


This book is definitely not for everyone, nor is it a 'drop in the game ready to play' like most of the series. But its a really good book for those who like to tinker with the system and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I created a new advantage Chi Adept for my Chalice World setting based on this book. Probably making a Per based attribute fr that settings Fae and Buddhists as well.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Why You Should Not Vote for Trump in 2020

Coal Miners

  • See those promised jobs come back?  Nope. Meantime the companies got bailouts, McConnell and the Republicans fighting the promised pension funding. Truth is those jobs will not come back, deregulation lets them use alternative and cheaper mining methods such as mountain topping which require fewer workers. And fracking and other energy sources are cheaper than coal. Workers need real healthcare and good paying jobs, not empty promises of jobs coming back. Specifically this group needs to support Paula Jean Swearengin for US Senate, Coal miners daughter fighting for YOU


  • Soybean sales tanked due to trade war to boost manufacturers. Fun Fact - not only are farmers losing sales, those sales are largely going to Brazil and a major Trump and GOP donor, the Blackstone Group.
  • Corn sales down to boost profits for oil companies.
  • Farm bankruptcies up 25% and climbing, mostly due to the Tariffs but Climate Change is a factor as well with planting season issues and a mix of flooding and droughts.

Manufacturing Companies

  • Trumps haphazard trade wars have increased your input costs and hurt your customer demand. In picking a fight with so many countries at once in his hope of seeking bilateral one on one deals he has alienated many of our allies and weakened Americas economic power,
  • For example his trade war with China would be going a lot better if it was in coordination with our allies.  Also because its one sided, China put counter tariffs on the USA and lowered tariffs from other countries. So lower demand for American products due to higher prices compared to elsewhere.

Manufacturing Workers

  • Jobs are still going overseas and the Republicans kept in a 50% tax cut for companies making plants overseas when they did tax reform.
  • Trade wars raising costs and of course that means companies cut jobs to compensate, maybe they will come back, maybe not. But in the meantime you need to pay the bills so that is no consolation.