I’ll take GURPS for 300, Alex (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by Discordian and Forumite Kalzazz, who answered my challenge around high point total characters in GURPS, but doesn’t have a blog of his own.

—Gaming Ballistic

Possible?  The same way as any campaign, you get a group of people willing to give it a whirl!  Given the incredible diversity of RPGs, there is bound to be a market for them.

More seriously, GURPS markets itself as the be all, end all of RPGs, and as such it takes a fair shot at supporting a wide range of power levels.  For instance, the Monster Hunters series considers 400pts as base weight.

As a personal preference, I consider 300pts to be firmly stuck in the middleweight category . . . which is my usual favorite play range back from my pre GURPS days of DnD 3.0 and such when I usually gravitated around level 10 as preference.   Middleweight characters can have some cool tricks, and can do some cool stuff, and if they use the tried and true PC dogpile tactic they can take on some credible foes, but they aren’t so scary they can’t be dogpiled in turn by oodles of riff raffs.   To me, low weight characters can be much less fun, as you have a harder time coming up with challenges weaker than they are, so it closes off half your options as a DM.  Unless you are specifically aiming for fun such as ‘Watch the party get eaten by housecats!’  (which CAN be fun, my low weight campaign was specifically designed around such, and was definitely fun).   High point characters?  Much the same.  Its harder to properly throw heavier weight stuff at them (this is less a complaint in GURPS, in GURPS it is always easier to throw heavier weight stuff, because my lazy DM tendencies are thwarted by my lack of a stack of various monster books with easily marked CR ratings).

Another note is that in its desire to cover everything, some cool options simply do not become available on lower point totals.   Even realisticish ones.   Consider say a knight, who wants to ride into battle astride a fine charger, kitted out nicely with arms and armor, and with his manor to go home to.  He needs Status (he is a knight), Wealth (lots of Wealth, remember only 20% by default can be used for adventuring gear for a settled person), and say he wants to be a strong, healthy guy who is a good fighter and a good administrator of his manor.   And he isn’t a dysfunctional screwball.
Or not so realistically, with low points you will never get to play around much with neat advantages like Altered Time Rate or Extreme Regeneration, and to me, playing around with the tools in the toolkit can be part of the fun.

How it works with big numbers?   Four things to start.

  1. Enjoy the big numbers! You want a Wizard with 18 Int?  Sure, Wizards with 18 Int are definitely cool in a 3-18 scale system, so enjoy Mr. Wizard being able to make knowledge checks by default, and on the skills he has studied doing even better.    The player probably wants Mr. Wizard to be good at that sort of thing.   Same Agile Acrobats and such, its fun to be good at things.
  1. Penalties are everywhere. You don’t even need to go looking for them.   Even basic things such as trying to shoot an ork with a bow can accumulate penalties like nobodies business.  And thats before you deal with the ork may just go ahead and dodge you that knave, so maybe pile on some deceptive? Non combat skills are the same way, consider for instance Kung Fu.   Being sneaky enough to walk on rice paper, or strong and willful enough to heft a giant burning cauldron that scars you? It is cool when PC weight characters can pull off such stunts that riff raffs can’t.
  1. Excess skill is fun, and where the thinking can happen! I love fighters with high skill, and why do I love it?  Because it is fun to play with.   I can ponder between deceptive attacks, rapid strikes, called shots oh my.   Low skill fighters?  How boring, I just swing away and hope for the best, because I don’t have much skill to allocate between coolness points.
  1. The DM can muster bigger numbers. The DM is the DM, so it really isn’t much a problem.   Delving into Kal’s Lazy DM Cheatbook, a simple way is to just give badguys races or such.   Sure, your PC weight swordsman might carve human riff raff into kibble, but how does he fair against vampire riff raffs?

Anyway, having run GURPS from 62pt characters, 300pt, and well above 300pt, I can assure that to me, GURPS doesn’t break any more at higher point levels than it does at lower ones.   GURPS has its hair pulling foibles, but they are fairly well point weight independent.

One thing I specifically want to point out is that just because a character is higher point weight does not mean they necessarily need to feel like a level 20 deity.   For instance, consider the Int 18 Wizard.   Groovy.  In AD&D if the dice gods are with you, then you can be a level 1 wizard with 18 Int!  In GURPS, you can be an IQ 18 Wizard to, who fortune smiled upon but is not yet a hardened adventurer (and with starting wealth being what it is, unless you pony up the CP for a lot of it, you won’t be kitted out like a hardened adventurer either).   You can be a greener than green starting adventurer with 18 IQ, no one is stopping you.

That same 18 IQ can also be on a 1000 year old middling replacement level lich if you like.  Or have 21 ST on a level 1 half dragon, it is all good.
But basically, my points boil down to.

  1. As a DM and player, I like cool stuff.
  2. Being given points to play with expands the realm of cool stuff.

and most importantly . . .

  1. It really doesn’t matter, if you can get interested people to give it a whirl, a cool DM and players can make it work!

Leave a Reply

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