GURPS 101: HT and Fatigue Points

We continue the discussion of the basic stats and derived attributes in GURPS with the final pair: HT and Fatigue Points.

Honestly, I’m going to have a hard time with this one, in that I said a lot of what I would otherwise say about HT in my post The Price of Fitness. 

Go read it.

Back? Good. Now I’ll give you the rest.


HT is likely deliberately undercosted. It’s priced at a relatively paltry 10 points per level, which includes 5 points of Basic Speed and 3 points for a fatigue point. All the extra goodness about Death Check, KO checks, reistant to poison, and all the HT-based skills are thrown in the balance there.

Now, I don’t believe in HT! or that all components of an attribute should sum to the attribute cost, but still, HT is a steal in many ways for several combinations of its component parts.

So, the real question then, other than “how much can you afford?” is given a certain point budget, how much should you get?

Some options:

HT 10 or less: If you’re going to be in a fight, don’t go here. It will likely be no fun.

HT 11: A measly +1 to HT is only 10 points, and at this level, I think what you’re buying is the boost from 50% to 62% success for one-time checks like Death Checks, as well as the skill boost. The extra FP is nice, but ephemeral, and the “roll every turn” stuff like Knockout rolls only buys you one extra second of action on the average.

HT 12: This to me is the basic “start here” level for warriors and anyone who wants to stay in a fight. You’ve got three chances in four of surviving a flat HT roll, and this means only one time in four will you succumb to a HT roll for physical stun, which is an often one-way ticket to being incapacitated or killed. You’ve also got a nice default start at Skill-11 for any HT/A skill out there for only one point. That’s not a great skill level, but it’s credible.

HT 13: This is now over 80% chance to resist stunning and death. Your 1-point skill level is now a pretty respectable 12, which is where a lot of my Warrior Saint’s non-combat skills sit, fairly happily. My Perception of 12 for that character is in the “not bad, not bad” category. For only 30 points, this puts you in the “high enough HT to often not worry about worrying about HT” category. You will, on the average, get about an extra four seconds of action before you drop unconscious from being at negative HP beyond the base from HT 10 (meaning about six seconds of up and at ’em). This is a great level for a highly capable, heroic fighter.

HT 14: This is the point beyond which diminishing returns really starts to set in. You have a 90% chance to make a one-time HT roll such as avoiding stunning. At this point you really have better than 50% chance to survive any death check down to your auto-death point of -5xHP. You default HT-based skills to a not-awful 9, and with a point invested are rockin’ Skill-13. Things like Running and Lifting and Swimming and Hiking . . . and Kiai! . . . are now fairly routine unless penalized. A few extra points and you’re really quite good at them. This is a signature attribute level (and 40 points is a non-trivial budget expenditure, even for Dungeon Fantasy) and will make you “the guy who always stays up.”

HT 15-16: This is the middle of diminishing returns land, but there’s a huge jump beween 14 and 15 for the average number of turns you get to stay active when rolling for unconsciousness. It jumps to something like 20, which is effectively “will never fall down.” 20 rounds of combat is longer than most will ever take.

So, if you expect to see combat, hit up at least an extra point in HT. If you’re a front-line type, 12-13 is great. I’d think hard about HT 14 before you go there, and HT 15-16 is pretty freaky. For GMs, if you push your bad guys into this range, you’re telling the PCs “I’m a giant pile of hit points and will not stop, ever, until I’m a Frederickburger.”

Fatigue Points

I wrote an 8,000-word article about a different way to use fatigue in GURPS with stronger consequences for spending FP.  Some of that is because honestly, without that, the only thing I’ve seen FP represent is the pool of which you may spend just shy of 2/3 of in order to do really cool stuff with Extra Effort.

They do make a difference for spell casters, though. And some sort of energy reserve is usually a really good thing.

They recover fast, though, unless your GM harries you with wandering monsters or reasons to sprint from one encounter to the next.

The usual allotment of extra FP is 30% over your starting level, which is 3-4 more Heroic Charges or Feverish Defenses. That can be pretty life saving, and likely worth the points.

Parting Shot

Yeah, I’d pretty much slap down 9 points for +3 FP and another 20 for +2 HT as one of the first things I’d do when I say “Warrior type who’s allowed to spend Extra Effort.” If you want to go HT 13 and no FP for more or less the same price, that’s a better call if EE isn’t encouraged.

Ultimately, though, you will not regret spending points on HT if you have a physically-dominated character type who expects to hit and get hit a lot in the HT 11 through HT 13 regime, while HT 14+ is in the “this is characteristic of the kind of awesome I am” range.

Note that a lot of grappling attacks allow rolls vs. HT, and a very high HT can render you very, very resistant (nearly immune) to anyone but the strongest and most skilled. The percentages are extreme enough to make me almost want to waive the “spending Control Points can never drop your foe’s resistance roll lower than HT” that we introduced in Technical Grappling to prevent an epidemic of crippled limbs!

One thought on “GURPS 101: HT and Fatigue Points

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *