Over on the forums, a poster asked another about a comment made that the writer used a simplified version of both Technical Grappling and The Last Gasp. The first poster noted that TLG was “complicated,” and asked for what simple rules were in place.
While I think I might take exception to the complicated thing, I did wonder what I’d do if I needed to completely and massively simplify The Last Gasp to put it within reach of anyone, easily.
Actually, some parts of it work really well.
There may be some changes buried inside this post; just roll with them.
Long-term fatigue, in GURPS and especially with The Last Gasp, is regular fatigue, tracked with Fatigue Points.
The Chips are Down
When you start play, you will need some tokens or poker chips. I will assume that you have them available in four colors: red, yellow, blue, and green.
Take red chips in an amount equal to your HT. Take yellow chips equal to half your HT, rounded up. You will get green chips equal to 1 plus any extra FP you bought. The remainder are blue, such that your yellow, blue, and green chips add up to your HT+FP.
Example: A warrior is HT 11 with 3 extra FP. He will take 11 red chips and 6 yellow ones. He will get 4 green chips (base 1, plus the 3 he bought with extra FP). That leaves 4 blue.
These represent your store of FP that you can spend. Each time you spend one, you move a chip to the “spent” pile, green first, blue second, yellow third, red last. When you recover FP, you recover green first, then blue, then yellow, and red last.
The Cost of Being Tired
For simplicity, spending green tokens costs you nothing.
The moment you spend a blue token you’re at -2 to DX, HT, and IQ, and -20% to ST.
Spend your first yellow token, and you’re at -4 to DX, HT, and IQ, and -40% to ST.
Spend in the red, and all your stats are halved (-5 to DX, HT, and IQ; -50% to ST), and every red chip also costs you 1 HP of injury.
I Got Better
Recovery takes longer. Your base recovery rate is 20 hours/Starting FP (including extra FP).
Blue and green chips recover at 1 chip recovered per 1x your base rate
Yellow chips recover at 1 FP regained per 4x your base rate
Red chips recover at 1 FP regained per 12x your base rate.
Example: With 14 FP to start, our hero will recover at a base rate of 1 FP each 1 hr 25 min, which is close enough to 1.5 hours that we shouldn’t care. So he’ll get back his green and blue chips at one per 1.5 hours, his yellow will take 6 hours each, and red are 18 hours each.
Willpower and Perseverance
There are pretty cool rules in the article for making Will rolls to continue doing stuff every time you spend a FP, representing your body shouting at you to Just Stop. Ignore them for the simple rules here.
Short-Term Fatigue (Action Points)
The entire point of The Last Gasp is to try and make lulls and flurries happen organically in combat. To make conditioning matter in the game, and to make the Rope-a-Dope (exhausting your foe) a valid strategy.
You start with black tokens equal to your HT. In this simplified treatment, you get no bonus AP for training, you can’t buy extra AP, or anything else.
Really Simple AP Accounting
Use these simplified AP costs.
- Attacks and defenses each cost 1 AP. So do Feints and the use of combat techniques.
- If you took All-Out Defense as your maneuver, your first defense is optionally no cost.
- Any use of a step or retreat also costs 1 AP. Yes, if you step and retreat in one turn, that’s 2AP. If you took All-Out Defense and also retreat, you still pay the retreat cost.
- Movement beyond the step costs a flat rate: 2 AP for up to a half-move, 4 AP for up to a full move. Once you have started sprinting, these costs drop to 1 AP per turn as long as you maintain the sprint.
- Getting injured costs you 1 AP for every HP/10 you take, drop fractions.
- Ready actions cost 1 AP. This includes drawing a bow. Might want to say that moving around anything more than BL/10 (so 2 lbs for ST 10) costs 1 AP. Drawing an arrow (0.1 to 0.25 lbs) or a pocket pistol (the Kahr 9 is 1.6 lbs loaded) would be 0 AP.
- Do Nothing: Roll HT+4, recover AP equal to Margin of Success (minimum 1), up to your max.
- Wait or Evaluate: If you pass the turn and don’t do anything that costs you AP, roll HT and recover AP equal to margin of success (minimum 1).
While I might have missed something, basically if it’s not exhausting like an attack, defense or move, nor really passive like an unused Wait, Evaluate, or Do Nothing, it neither costs nor returns AP.
Spells and Powers
By and large, powers and spells that cost FP and are supposed to be combat useful should probably be transitioned to AP at a rate approximating 8:1 to 10:1.
Burning FP for AP
If you have 0 AP you can’t take actions that cost AP. Period. If you must do something, you have to first burn a FP to recover some AP, and you do that by getting back AP equal to half your HT (not including any extra FP!), rounded up. If spending those FP impose penalties, they happen right away. You may not burn FP unless you’re at 0 AP currently, or the action you intend to take (mostly movement) will take you to 0 AP or below.
One option that occurs to me is to make the Will roll mentioned as ignorable under the long-term section above before you can spend the FP to get AP back. That’s quick, requires no bookkeeping, and is self-enforcing.
There’s a box on p. 13 of the article that gives a no-bookkeeping way to deal with a horde of NPCs and mooks using without driving the GM mad. Go read it there.
The article itself covers things in more detail, with more options, and finer shades of meaning. Regeneration, the effect of high skill on AP and FP use, lots of stuff that those that like details will say “yeah, but . . .” and I tried to cover it.
If you find yourself taking exception to the simplifications made here, you might find that it’s worth your time to go look at the full version.
The overall point of The Last Gasp is to drive an action economy. So that attack-attack-attack-attack-attack with defenses and movement in between in a few seconds of frantic combat isn’t the go-to model for all of GURPS.
That’s a pace of action thing. Clearly it’s possible to wail on a heavy bag for multiple punches per second for many seconds. But it’s freakin’ tiring. Imposing a cost for sustained action will tend to moderate the average pace of combat, which (perhaps counter-intuitively) will actually allow more teamwork and “I’m coming to your rescue!” actions.
The Last Gasp is a neat concept, and those that play with it have appreciated it. Using tokens to represent your expendable resources is a nice, tangible, and easily visualized way of managing these quantities without resorting to erasing holes in character sheets. Applying penalties for Long-Term Fatigue based only on the color of the chip you just spent is, again, a nod to minimal book-keeping, though it does make it less of an “every FP spent counts” event.