Movement in GURPS combat is incredibly generous. Every turn, you may begin from a standing stop, travel in one second (or a part of it) up to your Move, which may be 4-7 yards, and wind up perfectly still and balanced, ready to either not move, continue your pace, turn, accelerate to attack speed, or whatever.
Is this realistic? Well, Usain Bolt in his first second of one of his world record sprints managed to cover about 40% of his assumed Move, which was calculated as his max velocity during that race divided by 1.2, to account for his sprint bonus. So even the best sprinter on the freakin’ planet should probably be limited to Move/2 for acceleration in realistic games.
Also, that kind of stop/start is tiring. You can easily exhaust yourself vibrating all over a sparring arena at the equivalent of a healthy jog (Move 4 is about 8mph, or an 7.5 minute mile; Move 6 is a 5 minute mile pace even without a sprint bonus!).
Anyway, so The Last Gasp has costs for movement that are, in a word, punishing. To do a run-around attack as described in the Basic Set can cost something like 8-9AP due to all of the movement and sharp turns, plus the attack itself.
So despite the emergent behavior that fights slow down a bit to allow people to recover their wind, the fact of the matter is there’s a huge disincentive for a character to stir from his starting spot at the beginning of combat.
There are two versions of the movement costs presented in the article, though the wording is (shame on me) not entirely clear. One version is that you pay for every step, at a cost of something like 1 yard for free, and 1 AP for each additional 20% of your Move. Or something like that. The other version is that you pay for acceleration, but further maintenance of that velocity is free. So you still can encounter the phenomenon of “activation energy,” where players won’t want to make the AP spend to get going.
So despite the Lulls and Flurries that are an observed emergent behavior of the Action Point rules, the battlefield might not be as mobile as you’d like.
Keep it Simple, Keep it Safe
So, what to do? Well, one suggestion on the forums was to make a “movement only” AP regeneration pool. That’s certainly one way to go, and probably adds the right level of points to the character sheet for those who have reduced movement costs. But if we try and keep it simple, I’d do something like this:
- Acceleration up to Move/2 is similar in concept to an Attack. It costs 1 AP. You still get your first step for free, and beyond that, any acceleration up to Move/2 costs that single point.
- Acceleration up to Move is like an All-Out Attack, and costs 2 AP. Again, you get the first step for free.
- Acceleration from full Move to Sprint speed costs 1 AP.
- Deceleration from movement other than a step costs 1 AP if you were moving up to your full Move, and 2 AP to stop dead from a sprint. That should probably involve a DX and/or HT roll to see if you can do this without injury. You may decelerate at up to 20% of your Move per second for free; sort of an anti-step.
- Facing changes can either be entirely free, or cost 1 AP for 2-3 facing changes in a move action, or 2 AP for 4+ changes within a move.
AP Maintenance Costs
Moving about is still tiring, but one way to deal with this is that at the beginning of each turn, if you’re moving more than one step at a time and wish to maintain that speed, make a HT roll. Succeed and the AP cost of your movement goes down by 1; succeed by 5+ and the AP cost of your movement goes down by 2. On a critical failure, you slow down by (say) 20% of your move, while on a critical success, you need not spend any AP to continue your speed next turn.
Another way to go, which is more in line with some of my original thoughts many moons ago, would be that you roll HT (or Running) every turn for sprinting, while at lower speeds, you roll every N turns (and I’d probably try and invoke the Speed/Range progression here somehow).
To create a mobile battlefield, there needs to be a lack of disincentives to move. If you can easily translate from place to place with limited AP spend, but actual fighting is AP intensive and creates incentives to pause, evaluate, and generally chill out, then you have created a situation where players and NPCs can come to each others aid, and repositioning doesn’t simply deliver an exhausted combatant to be ground to dust.
The current movement rules don’t help create that mobile battlefield, and may even be too restrictive even in a realistic mode. Flat-out lowering the AP costs for movement should go a long way to encourage people to fight for position as well as strength of arms.
The other thing that changing AP cost avoids that requiring something like AP Recovery advantage does not is that it can be dropped into existing games with existing characters. You don’t need some expensive (and some of the AP recovery rates are very expensive, on the order of a hundred points or more) advantage to be suddenly tacked on to your character. You just change the costs and go.
That being said, if one were looking for a switch, to allow differentiation between “can move about the battlefield like a ferret on crack” and “everyone else,” I’d probably tack on something equivalent in point cost to Trained by a Master. At 30 points, that’s like getting a 2/3 discount on recovering 5-10 AP per second for use only in movement. So if you’re looking for a design toggle: