Thursday is GURPS-Day, and this one might be the shortest content-containing GURPS-Day post ever.

+Christopher R. Rice and I were chatting about character templates for a project that we’re involved in. I was musing that we should maybe, instead of a set template, allow something like “50 points in ST and HT, 60 points in DX and IQ.”

Immediately after, I thought – wow, while ST 15, HT 10 would be fine, ST 10, HT 15 gets into “I laugh at death and unconsciousness checks in the face of quadruple dismemberment.”

That irked me, in general, because I like the full range of stats (say, 6-20) to have meaning. ST has meaning through its entire range. DX and IQ get somewhat twitchy due to high defaults (not going to touch that one here), and well, HT can get pretty valuable.

Then I thought: hey, why not treat death checks and consciousness rolls like active defenses, and base rolls off of 3+HT/2?

That would give the following example values:

  • HT 6 maps to a roll of 6 as well.
    HT 10 maps to only a roll of 8
    HT 14 is now only 10
    HT 20 is now 13

You’d need to perhaps tone down (or maybe not) some penalties for making certain checks, but by and large, doing it this way brings my table from the previous post:

if you divided the “total” by 2, all of a sudden you’re within a few points of where you need to be given a 10/level cost.

Hmm, I say. Hmm. The value of having higher HT-based skills is still there. You’re climbing up the steep part of the bell curve from a roll of 8 to 13, so the value is there, even if you have to spend 20 points for each +1 to your roll. GURPS has lots of things like that.

Parting Shot

I’ll admit, I like the concept of making an Active Defense vs. unconsciousness or death. Hard to Kill and Hard to Subdue would add to HT, then be divided by 2, making them only 4 points per +1 to the roll, which is still a good value, but not quite so crazy good.

I think it would tame the excesses I feel are present in HT values of 14+, but still make each point valuable, especially if rolls vs HT-based skills are called for. Using The Last Gasp, high HT would still give high FP and AP, which are by themselves still worth it. I’m sure I’m missing something, but this seems like a house rule worth trying.

8 thoughts on “Defend vs. DEATH!

  1. Let's game out ST 15/HT10 vs ST10/HT15. We'll assume both combatants are using broadswords, kite shields, and wearing cheap mail-and-plates (DR 4). Load is I think 74 lb, which is Light for the ST 15 character, Medium for the ST 10 character; both characters have essentially the same dodge, and losing fatigue in chunks of 3 vs 2 will make up for the difference in fatigue. If the ST15 character hits the HT15 character, 2d+2 cut vs DR 4 averages 7 points of injury and will occasionally cause major wounds, which mostly don't matter because of the high HT of the target. In the opposite direction, 1d+1 cut vs DR 4 averages 1.33 points of injury and cannot cause a major wound.

    It takes 11 hits, on average, to drop the ST15 character to 0 HP. Since skill is equal, in the same time the HT15 character will be reduced to -67HP, which will kill him automatically.

    Yes, high HT is pretty cinematic, but it doesn't need to be made less cost-effective.

  2. Neat idea, borrowing an existing mechanic. To bring Stat=10 back to average you could adjust the formula to 5+HT/2 (a bit like wielding a quarterstaff).
    Hmmm… what other Health checks exist?

    1. There are the HT rolls for fatigue, which are often maligned for producing super-human results (endurance running, hiking, etc) with stats of 16+. Using an "Active Defense" approach would go a long way toward toning that down.

  3. I don't think Death and Unconsciousness rolls are the most important aspects of HT. Being able to shrug off nerve gas (HT-6), anthrax (HT-4), or ebola (HT-3 to HT-5); corrosive (up to HT-4) or toxic atmospheres (up to HT-6); exposure to cold (HT-5 in light or no clothing, plus an extra -1 per 10º below 0º); and high acceleration (HT-4 at 10G): these make HT worth every CP.

    I would seriously consider HT 15 (plus Fit or Very Fit, if I have the points) for a cinematic space exploration campaign, so I can be the guy who can survive on the poisonous ice planet without a suit, at least for a little while.

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