Sunday, July 22, 2018

Super-Strength in GURPS - Part 1

Continuing my trend of weighing in on the GURPS topics that everyone has already discussed to death, we come to a favorite: Why doesn't GURPS handle super-powered characters with high Strength better?

OK, so what's the problem?
It can be summarized as "Bricks versus Blasters". To my mind, GURPS does a great job of describing characters with superpowers.  It's the point cost disparity between characters who seem like they should be roughly comparable that gets my goat (and I'm hardly alone). Supers point budgets can easily go into several hundred points. What does that get you if you're a "Blaster" (in other words an energy projector like Cyclops of the X-Men or DC's Firestorm)?  Well, 100 points of vanilla Innate Attack buys you a 20d ranged blast to annihilate your foes with. That averages 70 points of damage, enough to take an average person past -5xHP and into "you're just dead" territory instantly, no Death Checks need apply.

Now, our "Brick": 100 points of Strength buys you a mighty ST of ... 20.  Hmm, that's obviously going to be trouble -- let's buy just Striking ST instead for a purer comparison.

100 points of Striking ST gives an effective ST of 30 for fightin', with base thrust damage of 3d, and swing 5d+2 to base your hand-to-hand attacks off of.  There's no way to punch with Swing damage, so let's give our brick some help to maximize that Thrust damage: Blunt Claws for +1/die and a high Boxing skill for +2/die, netting us 3d+9, which is convertible to 5d+2.  Oh, and a punch is actually thr-1 damage, so that's really 5d+1, averaging 17.5 points of damage.  Compared to the Blaster's 70 points of damage (usable at range), 17.5 damage in Close Combat only doesn't seem like a good deal for those 100 points.

Maybe Innate Attack is too cheap.
Yeah, this is a reasonable critique of 4e GURPS.  My buddy Erik suggested just doubling the price of Innate Attack in Supers games as a first pass at reconciling the point disparity, which I whole-heartedly endorse.  By itself, it doesn't do enough though.

Didn't GURPS Supers solve this with Super-Effort?
Not well, to my mind.  I find the Super-Effort solution presented in GURPS Supers unsatisfactory, as it's unnecessarily complex and introduces some odd effects.  Effectively, it's a package of 1 normal ST and an exponential amount of Lifting ST or Striking ST resolved using the Speed/Range Table whenever you spend 1 FP for it, so 10 ST (Super-Effort +300%) [400] buys you +10 ST most of the time, or +100 ST when you spend 1 FP (because 100 is 10 steps up the Speed/Range Table).

This results in complex split-ST notation (ST 30/120), and since results are now exponential, the math curve means that, past a certain point, bricks will outperform all other damage-dealing methods.

So what would be a satisfactory solution?
There are a number of ways to try and tackle this problem.  I'll categorize them as
1) Solutions from Basic & Powers
2) New Advantages or Techniques
3) Repricing ST

These will be explored in future posts.  Didn't I warn you?  Discussed to death.

Super-Colleges for GURPS Magic

Super-Colleges for GURPS Magic

Many years ago, preparing for a GURPS 3e game set in the time of Alexander the Great, I was looking for a way to group GURPS Magic spells into fewer colleges than the book presented.  I liked the idea of wizards with talents focused more on some areas than others, but found the existing 20+ colleges too specific.

Aaron Kavli had done some work on a GURPS treatment of Harn's magic as "convocations", which I took as inspiration to group GURPS colleges into these super-colleges.  For the Alexander campaign, I actually forbade any generalized Magery and instead required all mages to purchase Magery by Convocation only.  This, obviously, is a campaign switch that should be adjusted to taste.

GURPS Thaumatology (p.42) suggests that reducing the number of colleges to 9 makes Single-College Magery a -30% disadvantage [7 pts/level], so we'll go with that here.  

If you're planning to forbid standard Magery, you might do what I did then and reduce it to a flat 5 pts per level as a campaign setting, both to sweeten the pot a little for players who are sad about standard Magery, and to preserve GURPS pentaphilia.

ConvocationGURPS Colleges
Earth SecretsEarth, Making & Breaking, Metal spells
Cool WaterWater, Cold, Darkness, Silence spells
Whispering WindAir, Movement, Sound (but not Silence)
Bright FlameFire (not Cold), Light (not Dark), Illusion (not Creation)
Ways of the MindComm. & Empathy, Knowledge, Mind Control
Nature's WaysAnimal, Plant, Food
Ways of the BodyBody Control, Healing
Wizard WaysEnchantment, Meta-Spell, Protection & Warning
Grey ArtsCreation, Gate, Necromancy

Richard Cochener from the GURPS forums had an interesting suggestion, to allow overlap between super-colleges so that some GURPS colleges appear in 2 different convocations.  He suggested the following alternate breakdown.  I didn't go with it, but these groups feel good as well.

ConvocationGURPS Colleges
Earth SecretsEarth, Making & Breaking, Metal, Plant spells
Cool WaterWater, Cold, Darkness, Silence spells
Whispering WindAir, Comm. & Empathy, Movement, Sound (but not Silence)
Bright FlameFire (not Cold), Light (not Dark), Illusion (not Creation), Knowledge
Ways of the MindComm. & Empathy, Illusion (not Creation), Knowledge, Mind Control
Nature's WaysAnimal, Earth, Plant, Food
Ways of the BodyBody Control, Healing, Necromancy
Wizard WaysEnchantment, Meta-Spell, Protection & Warning
Grey ArtsCreation, Gate, Mind Control, Necromancy

In conclusion, it's possible to give standard GURPS Magic a little different flavor just by grouping colleges together in ways that fit your campaign and your idea of how mages should work.  Even if you don't want to tweak Magery itself, groups of colleges can be a fun way to theme spellbooks found as treasure, or to use as limitations on Powerstones and Manastones, etc etc.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Out Of The Abyss (5e) - Introduction and Session 1

Started running a D&D 5e game back in August 2017, using the published hardcover Out Of The Abyss.  I'll post session summaries here. I won't post anything the players can't see, but if you're not playing the adventure, this will include spoilers, so read at your peril. 

PC Roster:
Airut Surma, a female half-drow bard
Dagon, a male bronze dragonborn barbarian
Endra Hammerpants, a female hill dwarf fighter
Jaeq Hael, a male human rogue, ahem, locksmith
Remi Embersight, a female halfling sorcerer

Out Of The Abyss takes the unusual position of starting the PCs in a Drow slaver cell, in the Underdark and without their equipment.  No less than ten NPCs are also present in the cell; if you're planning to run this game, I strongly recommend perusing the internet for key bits of GM assistance that are available.

Endra and Remi's players decided that they knew each other prior to being captured, with Remi serving as an accountant of sorts for Endra's clan.  The other PCs were captured separately by the drow.  For most of the captured, it has taken several weeks of underground travel to reach this place.

The PCs and ten NPCs are being held in a drow cave outpost called Velkynvelve, under the command of Ilvara Mizzrym, a priestess of Lolth.  The dark elves are assisted by a dozen or so quaggoths, shaggy savage creatures who act as guards and warriors for the drow.

The other prisoners are:
Buppido, a male derro
Prince Derendil, a male quaggoth (or polymorphed elf)
Eldeth Feldrun, a female shield dwarf
Jimjar, a male deep gnome
Ront, a male orc
Sarith Kzekarit, a male drow
Shu’ushar The Awakened, a male kuo-toa
Stool, a myconid sprout (renamed Shroom by the PCs)
Topsy, a young female deep gnome
Turvy, a young male deep gnome 

Endra, Buppido, and Sareth are allowed out as a work party, and gather information about the layout of the place.  Ront tries to bully Remi out of the mushroom slop they're being fed by the drow, and Dagon interposes, leading to a brawl that goes on for some time until the drow guards shoot poisoned bolts into the cell, poisoning Ront and critting Dagon.

Some friendly treatment of Shroom reveals that he can emit "rapport spores" that allow him and anyone within 30' to communicate telepathically for an hour.  This overcomes some of the language difficulties in the cell, and plans are laid for a breakout. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

"Rule of Three" for GURPS Magic

The "Rule of Three" is a houserule for magic that has been working quite well.  The original goal was to eliminate skill 15 as a breakpoint for reduced energy cost, and instead assess a skill penalty for casting magic "on the cheap".  It really took off when I realized how nice it is to have the same penalty (-3) for all sorts of things - no more looking up penalties!

Rule of Three for spellcasting: -3 to spell skill for each:
  • Halving of casting time (round up, minimum 1 second),
  • Reduction of energy required by 1,
  • Casting without chanting, or
  • Casting without arcane gestures.

Note that spell resistance and chance of critical failure are based on adjusted spell skill!

Spell maintenance is normally at full energy cost, which requires no further rolls.  If reduced cost is desired, the mage can re-roll the spell skill at -3 per point of energy reduced.  This must be repeated for every maintenance cycle where reduced cost is desired.

Effects in play:  This has allowed for more varied character builds, since optimizing for skill-15 with 1 pt in the spell is no longer necessary.  Resisted spells are typically cast at full energy cost, while utility spells are almost always cast as cheaply as possible - this does make the rolls a little more interesting, since players like to drop skill low enough to save energy, but high enough that they'll probably make the roll and not waste 1 FP.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Partial DR for Low Tech Armor in GURPS

Hit locations in GURPS (face, chest, abdomen, hand, leg, etc) strike a nice balance between complexity and playability.  Back in high school, I played a lot of Aftermath, which used 30 hit locations and was overly detailed.  GURPS' 13 locations* is a lot more manageable.

Still, we sometimes want to model real-world armor that doesn't nicely fit the 13 hit locations.  For example, one might have greaves that cover the shin and knee, but not the thigh, or a Viking helmet with a nasal guard that is otherwise open-faced.

One way to do this is to randomly determine if the partial armor is in the way, which is the approach used by Low-Tech.  If you have partial armor, like cheekguards for the Face location, then there is an X in 6 chance to have the armor count against a particular hit. While this models the armor coverage well, it's also a bit cumbersome in play, and GURPS combat resolution is already slower than I would like.

A different approach, that I've used successfully in a TL3/4 campaign, is to assign fractional DR values to the partial coverage.  So, a DR 6 nasal on a helmet that would apply to Face DR 1/6 of the time just becomes DR 1 for the Face.  DR 2 leather bracers that only cover half the arm (the forearms) end up being DR 1 for the Arms as a whole.

This makes a lot of historical and fantasy armor much easier to use in play.  DR 2 tall boots that come up to the knee?  They give DR 2 to the Foot and DR 1 to the Leg.  A mail hauberk with enough length to cover the thighs?  Just apply half the mail's DR to the legs.

What about layering armor?  If the pieces don't actually overlap, it can be done with no penalty, so tall boots that cover the calf work well with a long hauberk that protects the thigh, each providing the Leg location some protection. 

If this approach seems a bit abstract, and not exacting enough, it's worth keeping in mind that armor values already represent an average for the location.  No armor is without variation over its area of coverage; there are always a few gaps, differences in thickness, and potential angles of weakness.  To my mind, one of the things a damage roll represents is "shot placement" - how well the attack lines up, not only to cause injury, but also to penetrate any barriers to injury.  With this in mind, a "partial DR" approach seems like a nice balance, allowing for interesting (and historical) armor choices while retaining fast resolution at the table.

A small sample of armors that provide partial DR, using Low-Tech armor values:

Coifs and Helmets
Soldier's HelmSkull (3-4 only) and partial Face4 (Face 2)$1854 lbsStandard Byzantine infantry helmet; Cheap skullcap with nasal and hinged cheekguards
Northman HelmSkull (3-4 only) and partial Face6 (Face 1)$5254 lbsConical skullcap with nasal; Cheap version is $250, 5 lbs
Open helmet, LightSkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face4 (Face 2)$4303.5 lbsOpen bascinet with nasal and earless cheekguards; Cheap is $230, 4.5 lbs
Open helmet, Med.Skull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face8 (Face 4)$10058 lbsOpen bascinet with nasal and earless cheekguards; Cheap is $460, 9 lbs
Open helmet, HeavySkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face12 (Face 6)$158012.5 lbsOpen bascinet with nasal and earless cheekguards; Cheap is $690, 14 lbs
Barbute, LightSkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face5 (Face 3)$5754.5 lbsBascinet with rigid cheekguards and nasal; -4 Hearing; Cheap is $290, 6 lbs
Barbute, Med.Skull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face8 (Face 5)$10058 lbsBascinet with rigid cheekguards and nasal; -4 Hearing; Cheap is $460, 9 lbs
Barbute, HeavySkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face11 (Face 7)$144011.5 lbsBascinet with rigid cheekguards and nasal; -4 Hearing; Cheap is $635, 12.5 lbs
Barbute, X-HeavySkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face14 (Face 9)$187015 lbsBascinet with rigid cheekguards and nasal; -4 Hearing; Single-piece is $18,700, 11 lbs
Spectacle HelmSkull (3-4 & 5 rear), Eyes, and partial Face6 (Face 5)$7506 lbsBascinet with cheekguards, nasal, and eye protection; -4 Hearing; No Peripheral Vision
Spectacle Helm, HeavySkull (3-4 & 5 rear), Eyes, and partial Face10 (Face 8)$135011 lbsBascinet with full cheekguards, nasal, and eye protection; -4 Hearing; No Peripheral Vision
Dwarven HelmSkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face6 (Face 1)$25004 lbsOpen-faced with ear coverage; Hardened; -4 Hearing; Single-piece is $25K, 3 lbs
Dwarven Helm, HeavySkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face9 (Face 1)$43757 lbsOpen-faced with ear coverage; Hardened; -4 Hearing; Single-piece is $44K, 5 lbs
Dwarven Helm, X-HeavySkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face12 (Face 2)$625010 lbsOpen-faced with ear coverage; Hardened; -4 Hearing; Single-piece is $62,500, 7.5 lbs
Dwarven War MaskEyes and Face4$5000.8 lbsNo Peripheral Vision; Hardened; -1 add'l Fatigue after fights due to restricted breathing
w/heavier plate-per +1 up to 15+$250+0.4 lbs
Visored Bascinet w/Visor upSkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face6 (Face 1)$7806.5 lbsOpen-faced bascinet with ear coverage, with flip-up Visor; -4 Hearing; Single-piece is $7800, 4.5 lbs
w/Visor downSkull (3-4 & 5 rear), Eyes, and Face6--Ready action to flip up/down; No Peripheral Vision when down; -1 add'l Fatigue after fights due to restricted breathing
Visored Bascinet, Heavy, w/Visor upSkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face9 (Face 1)$125010 lbsOpen-faced bascinet with ear coverage, with flip-up Visor; -4 Hearing; Single-piece is $12,500, 7.5 lbs
w/Visor downSkull (3-4 & 5 rear), Eyes, and Face9--Ready action to flip up/down; No Peripheral Vision when down; -1 add'l Fatigue after fights due to restricted breathing
Visored Bascinet, X-Heavy, w/Visor upSkull (3-4 & 5 rear) and partial Face12 (Face 2)$172014 lbsOpen-faced bascinet with ear coverage, with flip-up Visor; -4 Hearing; Single-piece is $17,200, 10.5 lbs

Long hauberks (Full torso and groin coverage, plus sleeves and thigh coverage)
Bezainted long hauberkChest and Abdomen (9-11), Arms, partial Legs2 (3 vs cut)$30038 lbsLayered leather reinforced with iron discs; half DR on legs
Light mail long hauberkChest and Abdomen (9-11), Arms, partial Legs3 (1 vs cr)$100024 lbsConcealable (Holdout-1); half DR on legs; Dwarven option: Hardened, +1 DR, Cost x5
Fine mail long hauberkChest and Abdomen (9-11), Arms, partial Legs4 (2 vs cr)$180030 lbsHalf DR on legs; Dwarven option: Hardened, +1 DR, Cost x5
Heavy mail long hauberkChest and Abdomen (9-11), Arms, partial Legs5 (3 vs cr)$240036 lbsHalf DR on legs; Dwarven option: Hardened, +1 DR, Cost x5

Bracers (Partial arm coverage)
Sea Leather bracersPartial arms1$504 lbsAlchemically treated cuirbouilli, does not count towards swimming encumbrance
Light plate bracersPartial arms2$3753 lbsCheap is $200, 4 lbs
Medium plate bracersPartial arms3$6255 lbsCheap is $300, 6 lbs
Medium plate bracersPartial arms4$8757 lbsCheap is $400, 8 lbs
Heavy plate bracersPartial arms5$11259 lbsCheap is $500, 10 lbs
Extra-heavy bracersPartial arms6$137511 lbsCheap is $600, 12 lbs
Extra-heavy bracersPartial arms7$162513 lbs(no Cheap version)

Greaves (shin and knee coverage, front only, can combine with thigh armor)
Sea Leather greavesPartial legs, front only+1$504 lbsAlchemically treated cuirbouilli, does not count towards swimming encumbrance
Light plate greavesPartial legs, front only+1.5$2502 lbsCheap is $150, 3 lbs
Light plate greavesPartial legs, front only+2$3753 lbsCheap is $200, 4 lbs
Light plate greavesPartial legs, front only+2.5$5004 lbsCheap is $250, 5 lbs
Medium plate greavesPartial legs, front only+3$6255 lbsCheap is $300, 6 lbs
Medium plate greavesPartial legs, front only+3.5$7506 lbsCheap is $350, 7 lbs
Medium plate greavesPartial legs, front only+4$8757 lbsCheap is $400, 8 lbs
Heavy plate greavesPartial legs, front only+4.5$10008 lbsCheap is $450, 9 lbs
Heavy plate greavesPartial legs, front only+5$11259 lbsCheap is $500, 10 lbs
Heavy plate greavesPartial legs, front only+5.5$125010 lbsCheap is $550, 11 lbs
Extra-heavy greavesPartial legs, front only+6$137511 lbsCheap is $600, 12 lbs
Extra-heavy greavesPartial legs, front only+6.5$150012 lbsCheap is $650, 13 lbs
Extra-heavy greavesPartial legs, front only+7$162513 lbs(no Cheap version)

High BootsFeet, partial Legs2$803 lbsHalf DR on Legs
Soft High BootsFeet, partial Legs1 vs cut only$602 lb+1 to Stealth, half DR on Legs

* 13 lines on the location chart, 11 entries in the random hit table, or 16 locations if you count the left and right eye/hand/foot separately.

Monday, August 21, 2017

GURPS DFRPG changes to Slam damage

So the PDFs for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game box dropped ahead of time, which is exciting.  My very, very superficial readthrough so far suggests it's mostly a consolidation of the Dungeon Fantasy line, with armor significantly tweaked, and the addition of a dedicated compendium for Spells, hand-picked and modified for DF usage.  I didn't see as much simplification from GURPS DF as I was (frankly) expecting.

It's early days yet, so the fans will be finding more changes, but one that jumps out is a new formula for Slam damage.  I've always found the base 4e formula unsatisfying due to its breakpoints, and some awkward phrasing that begged to be replaced by a little lookup table, so this is a very welcome change.  Let's see how the new formula adds up!

Old (B371): 
HP x Velocity = Damage
        01-25 = 1d-3
        26-50 = 1d-2
        51-99 = 1d-1
      100-149 = 1d
      150-249 = 2d
      250-349 = 3d, etc

New (DFRPG Exploits p.40):
thr-2, modified /per die/ by velocity off the Speed/Range table
     1 yard = -2 per die
     2 yards = flat
     3-4 yards = +1 per die
     5-6 yards = +2 per die
     7-9 yards = +3 per die, etc

All a bit abstract, you say?  Let's do some examples, and compare Old vs New.

ST 7 Goblin at 5 yards
   Old: 1d-2  /  New: 1d-3.  Pretty similar.

ST 7 Quickling at 15 yards
   Old: 1d  /  New: 1d.  OK, didn't expect those to equal out.

ST 10 Spearman at 5 yards
   Old: 1d-2  /  New: 1d-2.  No change.

ST 10 Wolf (B458) at 9 yards
   Old: 1d-1  /  New: 1d-1.  No change.

ST 12 Man At Arms at 4 yards
   Old: 1d-2  /  New: 1d-2.  Seriously?  Identical again?

ST 12 Super Speedster at 40 yards
   Old: 5d  /  New: 1d+4.  Wow, here's a big difference. Using the Speed/Range table means pure speed no longer multiplies your damage, because logarithms.

ST 15 Slow Brute at 3 yards
   Old: 1d-2  /  New: 1d.  Significant for DF purposes. A slow Slam by a big guy is more viable than before. 

ST 15 Fast Brute at 7 yards 
   Old: 1d  /  New: 1d+2.  Still holding true at faster speeds. Big, strong Slammers will have a stronger advantage than before, at fast or slow speeds.

ST 20 Minotaur at 6 yards
   Old: 1d  /  New: 2d+1.  Wow, average damage more than doubled.

ST 24 Heavy Warhorse (B460) at 8 yards (Medium encumbrance)
   Old: 2d  /  New: 2d+5.  Not as dramatic as the minotaur, but enough damage to reliably injure even a man in heavy plate. 

ST 45 Elephant (B460) at 8 yards
   Old: 4d  /  New: 5d+13.  Average damage more than doubles.

OK, the results are in, and Velocity is dethroned as the king of Slam damage under these rules.  Now, it's all about muscle.  I'm quite surprised how little damage itself changes for ST 7-12 at normal speeds, but the increase for high ST is dramatic.  I'm especially happy to get rid of the old breakpoint where a small difference turned a 1d Slam into a 2d Slam.  Go GURPS!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Houserules for Apollo's Bones (GURPS)

A selection of GURPS houserules for the megadungeon campaign, with commentary following each entry. I fully expect to revisit these once the Dungeon Fantasy box set is released -- it sounds like that will include a lot of rules simplifications suitable for dungeon crawling.

All-Out Attack (ranged) - If performed at melee distance with a crossbow (quarrel pressed against the target), you may take the +4 for an All-Out Attack (Determined) instead of +1. Of course, the target can defend as against a melee attack too (but any Retreat must be a Sideslip or Slip (MA 124), or Dodge and Drop). This was originally a houserule for guns, but it's a nice option for crossbows.

Ambidexterity costs 10, not 5. I think reducing the cost of Ambidexterity in GURPS 4e to 5 pts was a mistake -- it made the Off-Hand Weapon Training technique senseless, and we ended up with single skill ambidexterity as a 1 pt perk, which doesn't fit my sensibilities at all.

Armed Interdiction - see here, basically allows a Parry-2 roll, out of turn, to perform a half-damage strike as an interrupt on someone running by. Uses up a Parry. What a great idea - this helps skilled combatants control the space around them better, which is often lost in the GURPS single second turn structure, with combatants who have a perfect tactical picture of their surroundings.

Armor uses the Edge Protection rules from Low-Tech p.102, making it more difficult for cutting damage to penetrate heavy armor. (Cutting damage must overcome 2x DR to get the cutting multiplier, otherwise damage is crushing only.) Swing damage needs to be nerfed a bit in fantasy games, or else a broadsword and ST 15 turns into a freakin' lightsaber.

Armor Layering - As per LT103, layering armor reduces DX by 1 for that location. This almost always affects combat skills. Houserule perk: Armor Layering (X & Y) allows you to pick two broad armor types (Ex: mail and plate, scale and cloth) and suffer no DX penalty for that combination. This is a Style perk (MA 49), requiring 20 pts in combat skills as a prerequisite. It's tough to get high DR values at TL3, this should help players who want to tank up while ensuring they're paying an opportunity cost for doing so.

Attacks targeting the Torso that succeed by 3 or more hit the Vitals instead. Impaling, piercing, and tight-beam burning attacks only. This has worked well in previous campaigns - it doesn't make sense that a well-aimed torso hit would never strike the vitals, and I disliked the extra roll and randomness of just making 1/6 of torso hits into vitals hits.

Characters may have a single skill at 0.5 point at any time. Skill level is -1 from the 1-pt level of the skill. I like the extra granularity of being able to give out half-points for experience, and this is a way to spend it.

Character death: New PCs' base points will be the average of 150 and the current lowest-value PC. Lower-point PCs will have faster advancement due to lower treasure thresholds for bonus XPs. We've found that brand new PCs built up to the same point level as the experienced PCs play and feel pretty different. The ability to focus those extra points on an attack technique or power set makes them a little unbalanced alongside a PC who has been putting a point here and there into utility skills.

Clerics will use the Divine Favor rules. I'll loan interested parties my hardcopy. I adore having completely different magic systems for priests versus mages, and Divine Favor really feels like it comes from an outside power source.

Combat Talents - The following combat-focused Talents are available:

  • Hitter [7/level] - all unarmed combat skills 
  • Man-At-Arms [10/level] - all armed melee combat skills 
  • Skirmisher [10/level] - all ranged combat skills (thrown, projectile, etc) 
These seem balanced between the cost of DX and the cost of skills. I think that the taboo against combat talents (already broken by Pickaxe Penchant) should mainly prevent player-designed and abusive custom Talents.

Crit results: 9-11 on the crit table treats damage just like All-Out-Attack (Strong): +1 damage per die, or a flat +2, whichever is better. It always felt disappointing to roll a crit and get nothing -- sure, your attack hits with no defense, but you knew that before you rolled the crit dice. This is just more fun.

Enchantments to be priced differently, probably no Quick & Dirty, but enchanters can invest Magery power pts per day. Enchantment is sooo slow, this is an attempt to make it more viable for talented enchanters. Even if they're NPCs.

Evaluate in addition to the standard +1 per turn to skill on your next attack, you also get +1 to defend against that opponent (max +1, not cumulative) and an Observation roll to notice something interesting about him/her/it. Spicing up Evaluate a little, to make it more attractive and encourage combat lulls, especially in duels.

Extra Attack: Multistrike not permitted - I want to encourage a more freewheeling, swashbuckly feel with secondary attacks (butt/pommel strikes, kicks, etc). This has worked well to encourage melee fighters to develop secondary attacks and not just spam the Broadsword attack.

Extra Effort: Heroic Charge still eliminates the skill cap of 9, but retains the normal skill penalty of -4. Just toning this one down a little, it's still a game changer in a fight.

Grappling will use a stripped down version of Technical Grappling, details TBD. The core idea of Technical Grappling is fantastic, but the developed version is far too complex for my tastes - needs a Lite version.

Heroic Archer, Trained By A Master, and Weapon Master provide some special benefits:

  • They open up certain esoteric skills and techniques. 
  • Only characters with at least one of these advantages may use Extra Effort in combat or Deceptive Attack with ranged weapons. 
Extra Effort is a huge advantage in combat, and I don't want any old goblin from using it - this creates a barrier for entry and makes these character builds that much more impressive.

Knockdown and Stunning: Failing this roll only stuns you. Failing by 3 or more also knocks you down. It seems like it should be possible to be stunned by an injury without falling down. It seemed odd for hand injuries in particular (my players aim for the hands a lot).

Language Talent halves the cost of languages (half-points may be spent in this case). The version in Basic always played a little funny (no languages at Broken, ever?). Also, another use for half-points!

Luck: Occasional Luck [10] usable once per session. It's OK to buy Luck several times, perhaps with different modifiers. The entry level version of Luck, still worth it.

Parrying Unarmed Attacks As (B376) but damage to the unarmed limb/extremity is just the unarmed attack's own damage, modified to imp/cut/cr as appropriate. We houseruled this as half normal weapon damage for a while, which worked well enough. This is an experiment to see how animal/monster attacks fare with the critter's ST and mass taken more into account.

Shield: Strapped and buckler shields use the same skill, there is no -2 familiarity penalty between them. This always seemed a bit nitpicky, let's just have one Shield skill please. Ditto for shotguns, rifles, and muskets, but I digress...

Shortswords: In Close Combat, shortswords are at -2 instead of -4, but only for thrusting attacks. Speaking of nitpicky, I always felt like shortswords should be handier in Close Combat - it seems like the gladius et al were designed to be useful in a clinch. This gives them a little love.

Skill Assistance: When applicable (not always), two characters may assist each other on a skill roll. The character who succeeds best has their result modified as follows:

  • Helper critically fails: Critical failure affects both characters. 
  • Helper fails: Margin reduced by 1. 
  • Helper succeeds by 0 to 4: Margin improved by 1. 
  • Helper succeeds by 5 to 9: Margin improved by 2. 
  • Helper succeeds by 10+ or critically: Margin improved by 3. 
These are rather more generous than the assistance rules in various GURPS publications. I'm of the theory that an extra roll which only grants a +1 advantage to the main roll isn't worth the table time.

Slam Momentum: When starting from a standstill, Slam velocity can be no more than 2x distance moved this turn. This is still "committed velocity" and you may be required to move the velocity amount on an opponent's Dodge, as normal. Momentum on the one second tactical scale is tricky to model.

Strength Damage will use the modified progression here, which reduces swing damage at higher ST levels for both PCs and monsters, with the intent of making mundane armor useful at high levels of human-capable strength.

Telegraphic Attack is allowed (+4 to skill in exchange for +2 for the defender to defend), but those who have made an All-Out Attack may try to defend at -4! Telegraphic Attack just seemed too automatic against the All-Out Attackers. I think I got this idea from the forums.

Weapon Defaults: Instead of defaulting a melee weapon skill from DX, you may default it from your best melee skill at the same penalty as DX. I feel like some fundamentals of footwork and body mechanics probably bleed over between melee weapon skills, in a way that isn't reflected by pure DX. In other words, I wouldn't feel comfortable handing a hatchet to a broadsword master and saying his training is totally inapplicable to wielding it effectively.