Sunday, January 19, 2020

Review of GURPS Disasters: Hurricanes

The GURPS Disasters series are an unusual type of book, part adventure seed and part setting seed.
GURPS Disasters: Hurricanes is the second in this series and focuses on Hurricanes (duh). It is written by an environmental scientist and covers what a hurricane is and its effects, during and after the storm.

Chapter 1 Storm Front

6 pages
Covers the terminology and what defines a hurricane vs. say a tropical storm. This is the basic information, including some historical examples of the effects of a hurricane and what the dangers are. Its good reading, and some surprising tidbits - especially on flooding I was not expecting.

Chapter 2 Riding Out The Storm

5 pages
This chapter gets into the crunch and game mechanics of the effects on a city of a hurricane, It includes discussion of various skills and advantages, as well as equipment that can aid survival and rescue efforts. This is the controversial chapter over on the forums, for two main ideas.

It introduces a new skill Search and Rescue (Per) Hard which has several specialties (Cave, Combat, K-9, Maritime, Mountain, and Urban), Many felt this should be a use of another skill and can lead to skill bloat. Upon reading it however I personally am ok with it. Its similar to an Expert Skill which is already a Hard skill,though this defaults to Per and they usually have no default. It overlaps some with Observation and Survival (both Average) but adds specific knowledge and training in equipment and techniques. The specialties give a short synopsis of equipment and modifiers.
Additionally there are some Perks and Techniques here that fit the life of a seasoned rescuer, or even the survivalist type who has to deal with them too often!

The other thing that got a lot of chatter was the damage table. Some people feel the effects on high winds such as -1 to DX rolls at 13 to 31 MPH; -2 to DX, -1 IQ/ST/Skills,and Move/2 up to 54 MPH, etc. Its in the free preview.  Some think thats harsh but think about being out unprotected in high winds, much less rain and it seems fair.  Despite the chart using Wind Speed in that column it IS talking about storms so I expect its made to include rain.
The building damage starts at 55 MPH for each continuous minute of wind, this may be high but again includes rain and often flying debris. And buildings have a lot of HP and if not built to code suffer very badly in these conditions.  As noted in the notes shingles can be torn off at that speed, plus you may have weight on the roof from water and debris but boarded up windows should be ok till it gets more severe. At 73+ MPH is where it gets really nasty but I have seen devastation from 60 MPH storms so I'm not one to quibble or dispute this.

Chapter 3 Adventures and Campaigns

The final chapter gives some nice adventure and campaign ideas.


Well written, useful mostly for severe storms and few campaigns are built around a hurricane. However there is great material here for a team that does disaster relief and rescue, an adventure to break things up from the routine, or even ideas for directed weather events.

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