Wednesday, March 22, 2023

GURPS Bricks

 What is a Brick?

The brick is an iconic stereotype, and not just in super hero genres. Someone who is large and beefy and can shrug off damage is a fun thing to play.

The classic brick is strong and can withstand a lot of damage. I have see3n many people who think a brick is impossible to do in GURPS without a lot of house rules, I disagree.

Special Effects

Bricks usually have very tough skin, possibly made of exotic materials or armor. Many bricks are also hybrids such as a blaster  with a strong forcefield.
Some bricks are easy to damage but so tough that even though it hurts they can keep on going,
The videogame trope where they can force others to attack them is generally just a plot choice in the comics and movies but can be simulated with powers or maneuvers. Though this takes some care and perhaps a generous GM to allow things like Mind Control, 1 command "Attack me" with an Intimidation role.

Character Design

Bricks can be very complicated or very simple to build, just depends on how the specific brick is intended to work. Most of thier points should go into two areas.

Reducing Damage

Damage Resistance (DR), HT, and ST are key to most bricks. If possible its good to take some exotic defenses such as various forms of Resistance as well.
At 5 points/level DR can get pretty expensive, four color supers can easily bounce handguns but rifles require more a dedicated build and even then enough points that it may be tough on the budget. 

Armor Piercing (AP) attacks can really chew through armor and countering them means less armor. This requires good communication and acceptance of the social contract between GM and player. How often and how much AP will be in play? As a GM I prefer AP attacks over higher damage as it means a good hit is more likely to hurt a character than outright kill them for the same number of points. A high damage attack capable of slightly hurting a brick will likely kill many other characters, but an AP one can just mean the brick is hurt and the unlucky martial artist is just down for the count.

Soaking the damage rather than ignoring it generally appears more heroic, so high HP helps here and since that is based off ST its a great fit for this character type. Soakers should have Regeneration or even Healing so they can recover quickly and are not a bad choice for any kind of brick.
Injury Tolerance is a way to reduce actual injury from most attacks (Homogenous, Unliving, and Unbreakable Bones), and Injury Tolerance: Damage Reduction (GURPS Powers, p. 52 and p. 118-119) at 50+25/level is a good bet here and essential for the most powerful bricks. Consider adding that Cosmic,+50% if you can - some levels of  IT:DR with Cosmic, no minimum, +50% and Active Defense, -40% is a great fit that allows usually ignoring damage but some risk of taking injury now and then.
Active Defenses: Do not ignore a decent ability to dodge, block, or parry! This can help when facing really powerful attacks (or ones you have a vulnerability too) and also help- protect your teammates with sacrificial moves.

Speaking of Active Defense, most GMs will limit your DR to some ceiling so they can still hurt you with attacks that wont totally obliterate everyone else. However if some of your DR is on a limitation it may be allowed at a higher level. Extra DR for a fire type is logical and classic and that is just one example. But strongly consider DR with Active Defense. This can give you a boost most of the time but with the risk that you will fail a roll now and then and it wont help against surprise attacks. Because it is not a sure thing you can still look heroic and have some suspense in the game but take some impressive damage pretty reliably. This is usually done with a gadget like bracers or shields but could simply represent blocking with the arms or putting a strong side front and center

Dishing it Out

Most bricks rely on high ST to do damage. This is more expensive than Innate Attack but has several benefits. That ST also increases your HP, helping you stay in the fight and is pretty versatile.
You can punch or kick at close range but stretching or picking up a light post can extend that reach. Throwing objects also gives you some range. If you are strong enough and the area is appropriate you can pick up large objects and use them for Area Effect or even pinning an opponent to the ground (say under a car).
Learn Judo, Sumo Wrestling, or Wrestling to overrun and grapple foes. This leverages your high ST and can take out a high value target. Choke Holds take some time but are effective against most targets if you can hold them long enough, also consider Constriction Attack.
Super Jump is very cheap and effective for quick movement and Slams. You'll want high DR or IT:DR to withstand the damage from high speed slams and a variation on Active Defense (or just accessibility slams only) could help here while still keeping the normal levels at base that works better for the campaign.

Being Strong

A major complaint of brick design in GURPS is that it is very expensive to be able to lift and throw cars, much less tanks or battleships. Considering the percentage of bricks in the comics who can do the latter I personally feel this is mostly fine.
But a little more oomph is probably desirable and various options have been presented. Super Effort (GURPS Supers) is one alternative, though the FP cost is a minor limiting factor.
The article Knowing Your Own Strength from Pyramid #3/83 Alternate GURPS IV changes the Basic Lift from a linear amount to a geometric amount. This is a pretty simple method that can dramatically increase what can be lifted, yet keeping everything else pretty much in line.

Playing a Brick

Bricks need to be able to shrug off most attacks to be effective and satisfying to play but you want some risk there for the suspense. They can be very fun or boring, mostly depending on the preferred style of play and how much risk is still around.
A creative player who makes use of the environment can have a lot of fun. This is also a good choice for a new player who is still getting used to GURPS, especially combat. They generally lack the high skill levels needed for pulling off fancy tricks and risky maneuvers.


Brick design is relatively easy, though it does require a good understanding and familiarity with GURPS Basic and GURPS Powers. Bricks are also easy to play yet still allow player creativity and are one of the better choices in going up against multiple foes.
However the player and GM need to be on the same page when it comes to the damage and attack types that will come into play. Most GMs will throw in some surprises to keep up suspense and excitement but for the most part the GM should avoid bypassing and especially overwhelming the bricks defenses on a regular basis.

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