Overall Comments

Disclaimer: The following material consists of rulings on GURPS originally posted to electronic discussion forums, newsgroups, and mailing lists by Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch. Some of these statements have been taken out of context, or have been altered for clarity or brevity; therefore, these are not "official" rulings, and neither Sean Punch nor Steve Jackson Games is responsible for the accuracy of the modified content.

These were collected by Travis Foster c. 2004-2005.

Overall comments

Attributes and Racial Modifiers in 4E

09-06-2004, 03:16 PM

Re: what have you done to GURPS

My sole argument here is this: Lots of people complained about breaks in point costs originating from attribute modifiers on nonhuman racial templates. We try to fix things people complain about. This was an easy fix.

Attributes and Skills

09-02-2004, 08:32 PM

Re: Things which should have been changed in fourth edition?

Originally Posted by Lancewholelot

A 4th edition character with a DX 12 [40] and five average DX skills at 14 [5x8=40] is obviously superior to DX 10 [0] with five average DX skills at 14 [5x16=80] but yet both have paid 80 points.

I'm not so sure it's obvious. The first character has five skills at attribute+ 2, the second has five skills at attribute+4. If the GM uses the Using Skills With Other Attributes and Using Skills Without Attributes rules (p. B172), the second character may be superior. And we've built a few other little benefits into the system for those with high relative skill levels.


On Tue, 27 Apr 2004 21:18:19 +0000 (UTC), William Stoddard wrote:

In actual life, you don't get to say, "Well, I want to be a fencer and a ballroom dancer and a horseman and a pistol marksman. I could get those a lot easier by being well coordinated than by studying each one separately. So I'm going to practice being dextrous first."

In reality, some people actually DO say that:

Performer friends (plural) who wanted to become adept at all of dancing, gymnastics, juggling, karate, and legerdemain consciously decided to work on agility- and coordination-building exercises quite aggressively in order to ace these fields at first attempt.

Academic friends worked on memorization exercises, logic puzzles, etc. in order to ace university courses in chemistry, English, French, philosophy , physics, and psychology.

The army builds up the strength, stamina, will, and confidence of troops before teaching them advanced skills that rely on these things. This is why recruits do not get tossed directly into SERE school or SFQC or whatever. (When I used this as an excuse to give troops high DX and IQ in SPECIAL OPS 2/e, I got ragged on. But I stand by it.)

In game terms: People do build up the low-level skills that GURPS calls "attributes" in an effort to make it easier to learn multiple advanced skills that GURPS actually calls "skills." It's just that agility- and brainpower-developing exercises aren't nearly as prevalent as strength- building ones, so people tend to forget that they exist. But in real life, lots of people *do* optimize their minds and bodies before they jump into specific training. It isn't necessarily a bad thing for RPGs to acknowledge this for the strongly driven, overachiever personality type common to traditional fictional heroes. Where it breaks down is for the "accidental hero" and "hero despite himself" archetypes.

Hit Points and Size

09-10-2004, 02:05 PM

Re: G4 vs. G3, good and bad.

Originally Posted by lawman

Hmmm, on a side not, is there anything that gives guidelines on HT relative to mass or size? How big should a 50-foot dragon be? How many hit points should a 10 lb. cat have? Stuff like that.

It's an advanced concept from Bestiary (Wait For It…), but you can use:

HP = 2 * Cube Root (Weight)

Remember that HT has nothing to do with weight. You can have any HT at any weight, because it no longer rates HP.

Common Use and 4E

Re: cost of striking ST vs innate attack


On Mon, 6 Sep 2004 19:00:57 +0000 (UTC), Anthony Jackson wrote:

Which is one of the design flaws of 4e. Many effects are grossly miscosted for the most common use.

David and I probably have a different definition of "most common use" than you. We looked at fictional precedents and likely abuses by players before we assigned any costs. In this case, we assumed "most common use " would be "huge creatures with Strikers and Brawling skill." Not " supers ."

Detailed Rules in 4E

09-06-2004, 03:12 PM

Re: The Making of a Knight

Originally Posted by Falco

I mean no offense at all when I say this, but it doesn't seem to me that GURPS can really cater to that 1 in 10 and remain an effective system.

Yep. This is why I freely admit that those who want super-detailed treatments of their pet genres, settings, etc. should pick up single-genre games with integrated rules and settings. These can afford to go into minute detail, address every special case, and cook their core rules to work around a specific set of assumptions because they don't have to deal with an infinity of other genres and settings.

GURPS is generic and universal, which means that it's probably 80% or 90% as good as a specific rules set for a given genre or setting. But it's 80-90% as good for all genres and settings. Those who regularly play outside their pet environment, or mix things up, will find it a far better investment than a one-setting, one-genre game.

Honestly, we're simply not interested in being the historical simulation game, the vampire game, the transhuman game, the commando game, the hack-and-slash fantasy game, etc. We're interested in being the game for people who want to try all of those, and 100 more things, in the course of a few years or even the same campaign.

Mages, Cost of

08-25-2004, 04:10 PM

Re: Mages even more overpowered

Originally Posted by Kuroshima

That means, unless you allow for magery to go over 3, you've greatly increased the number of points it takes to have a decent mage, while reduced the number of points it takes to build a decent warrior…

Yep. And that was the goal. Wizards at N points were about as potent as warriors built on 2N to 3N points in 3e. I think we're closer to parity in 4e. A warrior who buys up ST and focuses on 2-3 weapon skills will be far tougher in a fight than a mage. But note that wizards can become healers, sages, spies, thieves, etc. by spending 1 point on each of a few extra spells. Warriors are mostly just good at fighting. It's the fact that wizards are fundamentally generalists that makes them more expensive. Don't just look at combat effectiveness. That's not a useful or fair comparison.

PD and 4E

09-06-2004, 01:15 PM

Re: new armor rules… nice

The problems most often pointed out with PD :

1. Suppose that, in 3e, I have PD 4, Dodge 6 from whatever sources. If I don't try to defend, I roll PD (4): 1.9%. If I dodge naked, I roll Dodge (6): 9.3%. If I dodge in PD, I roll against the sum (10): 50%. The probabilities would logically stack to more like 11%. "Greater than the sum of the parts" is one thing; more than four times the sum of the parts is another! Thus, PD baffled people who did the math.

2. Suppose that, in 3e, I have Dodge 6 naked. I stack on armor and shields, and get Heavy encumbrance — reducing my Dodge to 3 but picking up PD 7. Making myself half as mobile … I've increased by odds from 6 or less (9.3%) to 10 or less (50%). Again, no one disputes that the equipment should help some, or even a lot … but by a factor of five? Thus, PD baffled people who were trying to do heroic fiction where speed is effectively armor.

I know that those who like PD have counterarguments, but the two points above were overwhelmingly expressed over the years, to the point where we had to listen.

sjgames.gurps.4e On Thu, 15 Jul 2004 18:12:11 +0000 (UTC), Brian Cash wrote:

I was going to post that I am "going to dance on PD's grave", but I don't want to force you into hiding due to a misunderstanding.

I didn't exactly hate PD, but in the end, David convinced me that it had to go away for some fairly good reasons:

1. It meant a bit more math in play. Adding PD to each defense happened repeatedly in combat … and with bits of armor giving different PDs , it could get annoying. ("My left gauntlet is steel but my right one is leather.") Adding 3 to Basic Speed to get Dodge — or to skill/2 to get Block or Parry — hapens *once,* ahead of time.

2. It meant that encumbrance had little effect on dodging. Someone with Basic Speed 6.00 and plate with PD 4 giving him Heavy encumbrance dodged at 7 … as did the same man with PD 1 cloth and No encumbrance, PD 2 leather and Light encumbrance, or PD 3 chain and Medium encumbrance. A lot of gamers found this unrealistic, and it gave us a Murphy's Rule that was hard to refute.

3. It meant that unarmored combat was nothing like it is in the fiction that games are based on. Fighters with "good" defenses in the 7-9 range were unable to dodge and parry their way through lengthy exchanges of blows like in heroic fiction unless they had PD … so everyone, even swashbucklers , clanked around in armor. Adding 3 in all cases and axing PD makes it possible for skilled warriors to spar without dying in one second .

4. It required very convoluted explanations to distinguish reflection (defense roll made by PD or less) from absorption (blow stopped by DR) by armor — including why, say, plate could "bounce" a 20-point attack at one angle and only turn it into a 14-point blow from another, when the only difference was a defense roll failed by 1. This was especially frustrating for abilities that worked on touch and bypassed armor: did the PD bounce count as a touch?

Of course, PD can be justified — I've done it plenty of times! — but I must admit that the 4e system is faster and encounters fewer troublesome corner cases.

09-06-2004, 01:15 PM

09-07-2004, 04:15 PM Re: new armor rules… nice

Originally Posted by raven

The thing is, the original system was made that way on porpoise: Combat without armor was supposed to be deadly.

And it still is. Only now it's deadly for the reason it's deadly in real life — there isn't much between you and the weapon to absorb energy — as opposed to for bad-physics reasons.

The problem with 3e was that dodging blows was nigh unto impossible without PD … a Move 5 man with no special abilities had 4.6% chance of ducking a punch. Having been in fights, with no training at all, I know the odds are a sight better than that or I wouldn't have my head. PD was more a fudge factor than a realism factor.

Blows "bouncing off" armor = blows failing to get through DR. The whole "bites in vs. shatters" argument is a red herring; that's to do more with how much of an armor's "cover DR" is due to its material DR and how much is to do with its HP. The balsa has low DR, lots of HP; the glass has high DR, only 1-2 HP.

09-07-2004, 04:17 PM Re: new armor rules… nice

Originally Posted by lordabdul

However, you model the arrow's damage with a random value (1d+3 for example). For me, '''that''' is where all those incoming angle and stuff come into play. If you get a max damage roll (6 on your 1d), that might mean you hit at a right angle, or somewhere the armor is a bit weaker. If you get a low damage roll (1 on your 1d), this means you hit, but at a lower angle, or somewhere the armor is solid. Therefore, IMHO, there is no need to add any PD.

YHO is also the official opinion. Variations in damage rolls are meant to cover angle of incidence, impact parameter, and all the other variables of a cross-section calculation.

Powers and 4E


On Fri, 27 Aug 2004 20:45:30 +0000 (UTC), David Pulver wrote:

I wanted to have a comprehension list of abilities including glamor/illusion, gravity control, creation, weather control, and a couple of others, but it was decided that space/time was limited, these weren't that important in a general book, and POWERS needed to have some cool stuff… I think that missed a chance to equal HERO, but so it goes.

FWIW, the new advantages being added in POWERS will be Control (versions of which can work for anything from earth to weather to gravity), Create ( versions of which can summon up pretty much any kind of bulk matter or incoherent energy), Illusion, Leech (a generic "steals stuff" ability), Neutralize, and Static. I think those are the true missing abilities in the BASIC SET. Almost everything else is just special modifiers.

Rolling dice and turns

09-08-2004, 01:04 PM Re: Rules Help

Originally Posted by Lancewholelot

I desire a bit of clarification on the 4e stun rules. If stunned, one must Do Nothing on his/her next turn and then rolls to recover at the end of that turn, this much is clear to me and is an improvement over 3e’s possibility of instant recovery. Were I get fuzzy is on page 364 under Active Defense for Do Nothing it states that a stunned being’s active defenses are at -4 until next turn – even if you recover. If this is the case then why not just make the stunned being skip one turn and then roll to recover at the beginning of their second turn, since the stun will apparently affect them until this point in any case? I know this is splitting hairs but it just seems a clearer way of doing it.

Rolling at the end of the turn gives a player who is forced to Do Nothing due to stun something to do on his turn — if only roll dice briefly. A basic rule of game design is that you avoid situations where a player is counted out of rounds. It costs interest. This is why people get to defend in GURPS instead of standing there while someone beats their AC, and why one-second spells go off in the same turn, now.

Social skills and 4E


On Sun, 11 Jul 2004 22:29:42 +0000 (UTC), Christopher Dicely wrote:

I understand this, although its a bit frustrating. Applying discretion is easy; I look to rules for what to do when I *want* hard and fast guidelines . Easier to ignore a rule that is there than to invent one that isn't.
Still, its not a big thing. I *do* wish that reaction rolls and Influence rolls used one mechanic, preferably the success roll mechanic . But even that I'm not going to complain too much about, though I may have to house-rule it for my games.

To be fair to the designers (i.e., to toot my own horn), social gaming is about a helluva lot more than just reaction rolls and PCs influencing NPCs . It includes culture (which actually influences game play in 4e), language (which we feel we have improved) ,and society type (which is now part of the core rules). In involves personal traits that affect others (we have expanded Social Stigma, added Social Regard, and streamlined Rank, Security Clearance, etc.). It extends to NPCs influencing PCs (we have provided simple rules for this — I know they'll be too simple for many , but 3e had *no* rules for it). It covers wealth, jobs, and social status (all of which are more systematic in 4e). And it even encompasses technological development (we have expanded the TL rules). I think those running social and political games in 4e are going to find it easier and more fun.