A discussion on the price of Talents and Wildcards led me to think about alternate pricing schemes for things.

Without getting into too much detail, ability scores are a pretty good deal in GURPS.

ST is probably priced pretty well as-is. DX and IQ are arguably undercosted for what you get. How many skills are there in GURPS? Something like 300? And a bonus to DX or IQ gives a boost to probably about half of them.

I’ve toyed with altering the costs of attributes as follows:

ST: No change – 10/level
DX: 40/level
IQ: 40/level
HT: Probably 15-20 per level

HT is probably undercosted for what it gives you in any case. I ran smack into this when I wrote The Last Gasp – adding benefits to HT (in the form of it gave you a store of Action Points) ran into issues pretty fast, and given the value of HT rolls for avoiding death, I’d lean higher rather than lower. A character with HT 14-16 is pretty nigh indestructable until you get thrashed for 6xHP (from HP to -5xHP).

What would that accomplish?

Well, for one, it would finally make 15-point Talents a bit more attractive.

DX and IQ are a bit the ultimate wildcard skill – and at 12/level for wildcards (cinematic use of a large cluster of skills) vs. 20/level for DX or IQ, well, hard to justify.

Of course, points spent on Wildcards give you Destiny/Bonus points as of Monster Hunters, which is a powerful differentiator. But 12 vs 40 per level means for +3 to a Wildcard skill you have done nice things relative to +1 to all skills.

Of course, is +1 to DX or IQ at 40 points really just a tad less than 3x the value of, say, Combat Reflexes?

Hrm. CR is pretty darn useful.

Clearly, opening up this pathway is a bit of a rathole. But for what you get, I do think DX, IQ, and HT are pretty cheap. And higher attribute costs would prevent niche-stealing, since those points are better invested in Talents and Skills – that which defines a niche.

OK, let’s start shredding this idea. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Stats and pricing in GURPS

  1. I'd be tempted to go in the other direction, and take a page out of the good Reverend's House Rules and disconnect Will and Perception from IQ. Then it's reasonable at 20/level for IQ

    Not sure what to do with DX to get the same result – what, other than Basic Speed, could you tweak from it? Perhaps BS gets disconnected from both DX and HT, starts at 5.00 and must be increased manually – that gives you less bang for your buck from either DX or HT.

    1. Possibly. I'd cost the boost to skills as at least twice the value of a 15-point Talent, though. More might be silly, since diminishing returns sets in. So if that's 30, and Will and Per are 5 each (though I roll a LOT more for Per than Will), we hit the 40-point mark. Still, 30-40 points is in the direction I was looking to go. I have a concept out there that changes how defaults work, and that accomplishes more of the same thing – more focus on the individual skills, less on aggregation abilities.

    2. Like most deep and broad changes like this, I think, is it worth making all pre-generated templates and cost relations invalid to do this? Does the change have such a positive impact that forcing me to explain it to my players, re-write my materials, re-do my NPCs (so they are balanced against the newer low-DX low-IQ PCs), and so on is outweighed by its awesomeness?

      That's a tough, tough sell.

    3. I'd never publish this in Pyramid or recommend it in a book. I'm mostly just engaging in "5th edition" type musing – looking at the value of the stats relative to what they give, and wondering what would happen were the values changed.

      If I were to do something like this (or ponder it) myself, I'd want to change the pricing of the stats in GCA, which would presumably ripple through automatically for pricing, template cost, etc.

      Because even if it WERE a good idea, it would be too much trouble to actually retcon it across the game. Maybe ONE campaign, but only if you could get GCA to carry the load or were into hand-calculating characters.

    4. If you look across the industry, Hero Games did something similar with their recent 6th edition. Steven Long jumped in and started killing off some sacred cows by eliminating one attribute and making all of the secondary characteristics no longer derived from the primary ones, but effectively elevating them to primary attributes as well. I think it worked out well in that system, where skills have always been secondary to powers and attributes, but it's a good model of the "new version, this is a good time to roll out a major, DNA-level change" way of doing things.

  2. From my relatively limited experience, the ability costs are about right–most of us in my group invest a fair amount in skills. The problem with just raising DX (or IQ) is that it doesn't get you effective skill levels without ALSO investing at least a couple points in each skill you want (well, unless you are boosting your stats to 16+). Thus, I see a lot of DX 12 fighters in our 150 point game and a lot of IQ 14 wizards in the same point total. At higher point values, obviously characteristics go higher, but I haven't found the issue to be that bad. Certainly not enough to justify doubling the cost.

    What if you make DX and IQ cost 30 and HT 15?

    1. Back in 3e, you saw a lot more "optimization" going on with regards to DX and IQ – especially DX, with those physical skills costing so much more to raise at the higher levels. Players would do the math on how many points they could save by reducing every DX based skill by one, and if it added up to the right amount (remember, 3e had relative pricing on all four stats) you did that, and raised your DX instead. Sometimes you even saved points that you could reinvest in skills and get higher values.

      Munchkinry of the highest order, sure, but definitely something that happened (and with the right characters, can happen still in 4e).

  3. It depends on whether you want to price things according to what they give a character, or what they'd "really" cost. That is, does it makes sense to have one point of smarter or faster cost four times more than one point of stronger? In game terms, maybe, but not necessarily in real life.

  4. I have thought about it in completely other way: that maybe attributes should be based on the sum of all skills (as probably the more you learn, the more intelligent you are, and the more you practice, the more dexterous you are). But man, it's a messy idea, because attributes should still rise skills, shouldn't they?

  5. My FtF houserules are to reduce a lot of mandatory specializations in skill (five different electronics operation specialties on a single sheet are annoying, and skill plummeting because you put a second hand on your haft is likewise annoying, and so is skill dropping from using a SMG vs a rifle) and decouple Per and Will from IQ. I also drop the price of ST to 7 points, and strongly encourage the creation of custom talents. This generally gets me more variability in ST scores, more 11s and 12s in DX and IQ with a couple levels of talent, and less cluttered skill lists.

    Kromm has said in the past that in a hypothetical 5e he'd consider making Basic Speed based off of DX + Per, and I think that makes a lot of sense.

    I've eliminated Combat Reflexes, as it's about 50 points of value for 15 points. I have a 5 point "Combat Vet" advantage that gives you bonuses to resist stunning due to surprise instead, and all the other benefits you're required to buy up individually.

    The effect on the usability of templates is annoying. I wish I could figure out how to just change the base costs of things in GCA and save it as a data file that I could load so that GCA would do it all for me.

    1. Really loving the variation on Combat Reflexes – you're right, it's ridiculously overpowered (depending on the character) with upwards of 35 points worth of Enhanced Defenses alone. A 5 point version that includes the +1 initiative (+2 if you're the leader) for your team on surprise initiative rolls, never freezing up and +6 on rolls to wake up or recover from surprise, that's reasonable.

      I've been debating making High Pain Threshold a leveled ability as well, as in it's current form, as an all-or-nothing ability, it's remarkably useful for 10 points. Of course, I've also been considering removing the -4 limit from shock in the first place, or perhaps having the shock value stay in play for multiple turns, halving in value each turn (round down) after the first.

      I've gotten over my dislike of most of the defaulting rules between weapons (though I'm still of a mind that sword and axe need to have some synergy, balanced versus unbalanced or not) and am okay with taking a -2 for firing an SMG with my Rifle skill, assuming I have no points at all in SMG.

  6. I. Kromm has said that combat reflexes is deliberately mis-priced to encourage PCs to take it, so it's not a good comparison.

    II. If I was going to consider a hefty re-design, I'd make IQ and DX cost *less* and decouple skill levels from skill CP costs completely. A lot of people are invested in making GURPS chargen "realistic" (smart people are presumably better at learning) or "efficient" (~point crocks exists to encourage archetypes) but IMHO the chargen system pays for this in terms of ease of use, transparency, and balance. It's not worth it.

    This would require more than a little rejiggering, and would gore a lot of sacred cows. It will probably never happen, even in a new edition.

    III. My oft-spouted theory is the GURPS is two games – a points-based extremely crocky character creation system and an intimidatingly detailed reality simulator workshop (that you should probably whittle down to a handy game-specific toolbox before use). You don't have to play both games – you can make GURPS PCs via pure description->game stats without ever looking at CP (Bob is an expert fargoobler, so he has fargoobling-15), or vice versa. (IME a more common pastime – how many CPs *IS* Eddard Stark worth if he also has Tony Stark's power armor? Inquiring gurpsnetters want to know!)

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