Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thinking About GURPS Modifications

Well, I've spent the last few weeks looking at variations on the Action Cards system, trying to figure out a way to handle more combat crunch without making it too intrusive into what makes the system works. I can add more crunch to the existing system, but there comes a point when the level of detail-- armors, combat maneuvers, damage ratings, etc. get in the way. Action Cards works as a loose narrative system-- with description as the primary engine. If I need something that has a simulationist approach, as I want with the next Sunday Campaign, then I think I'm better off with an existing system, modified for simplicity, rather than ballooning Ac and eliminating what makes it work. I may-- some time in the future come back to this idea to see if I can find another approach, but for the moment I'm going to put it aside. In part this is about gauging relative levels of work necessary to get the system to run as I want it to.

So I think my approach will be better served by Gurps-- done down to a very light, light version, with an emphasis on simplicity. I like Gurps basic combat mechanics and a good deal of the rest of it. So here's my thinking

The list of available skills would get reduced down to around 25. They'd be larger category skills-- providing some range and flexibility. Note that the skills aren't broken down by a real world logic-- but more by what kinds of things actually get used during the course of play.

Gurps divides skills into Easy, Medium, Hard and Very Hard. Here I throw away that distinction. There's one cost line for Combat/Physical skills and one for Mental Skills. Edit: Actually, I may have a single cost line for these. Not sure yet.

Acrobatics, Athletics, Brawn, HTH, Melee, Ranged, Ride/Animal, Stealth

Acting, Craft, Diplomacy, Drive/Pilot, Expression, Human Perception, Investigation, Larceny, Leadership, Lore, Medicine, Merchant, Presence, Streetwise, Survival

To allow characters to differentiate between themselves, they may purchase specialties for any of these skills. A character may purchase up to +3 with any individual specialty. For example:

*Melee: Swords, Axes, Staves
*Lore: Languages, Theology, History, Region Lore
*Diplomacy: Oratory, Savior Faire, Negotiation
*Larceny: Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Poisons

Physical and Combat skill specialties would cost more than those for Mental skills (not sure about that).

Characters would begin with HT+3 hit points. Gaining extra HP would be relatively cheap, but would still be capped at something like twice your base HT.

List would be quickly reduced and simplified. I think I'm going to be using 4e (since I have the books for it) so I'll have to go through that.

These represent the ability of fighting characters to add “Elements” to their combat actions. I'm already going to modify combat in that everyone can take a half-move and still attack without penalty. Elements would be based on the Crouching Adjective, Hidden Noun system I've already developed. So an element might be something like +1 Damage, +2 with a Parry, +2 with a Feint, no penalty for drawing and shooting, and so on. I've got two ways to handle this:

A. There's a general list of Combat Elements. Characters can just cherry pick from the list. All the elements have the same cost. They then have to buy a Combat Style Advantage which allows them to stack more than one element on an attack or maneuver. There would be levels of this, allowing for stacking more elements (the first level would let you stack two).

B. Organize the Combat Elements into styles. Characters purchase a style which allows them access to those elements. If a character bought two styles with overlapping elements they could apply that effect twice. This echoes the original CA, HN system. As above, they would still have to buy a Combat Style Advantage which allowing them to stack more than one element on an attack or maneuver. There would be levels of this, allowing for stacking more elements (the first level would let you stack two).

Magic is purchased as Schools-- so a mage learns Fire, Darkness, Animal and so on as separate skills. Each school has some basic effects. These can be cast at the base skill. Characters may then modify the effect to create a different spell. They do this by adding modifiers like: Further, Larger, Damaging, Fast, and so on. Essentially this is simply a modification of the Spell system I'm using from Libri Vidicos, which in turn owes a debt to the Black Company RPG system. The actual casting roll needed to cast a spell is based on the number of modifiers applied to it. So a spell with two modifiers is rolled at skill -2. The maximum number of modifiers which can be applied is equal to the character's Magery advantage (no sure if it adds a skill bonus or not, I don't think so).

All non-ritual spells take one round to prep and one round to cast.

Specialties can be bought to eliminate the casting penalty for using certain modifiers. This will be pricey-- or at least there will be an escalating price based on the number of these modifiers the caster knows.

There's no mana to keep track of. If a caster makes a spell roll by more than three, there's no fatigue effect. If they succeed by three or less, they gain a fatigue level. If they miss by three or more, they also gain a fatigue level. Fatigue levels cause a -1 to further casting rolls until they can rest. This is cumulative. After a caster accumulates three fatigue levels, they need to make HT checks to stay conscious.

They game will have Drama Points. They can be recovered through good actions and stunting. These can be used for the following effects:
*Roll an additional die and choose the best ones
*Remove a Fatigue level
*Gain an extra half-move action
*Ignore a wound penalty for the round

Damage is still handled with d6's-- standard skill checks and resolution would be based on rolling 2d10. There's a smoother curve, which would allow Specialties to be useful and cost effective.

1 comment:

  1. It's killing me that a lot of the ideas you're talking about are part of Big Eyes Small Mouth 3rd Edition. Unfortunately, the publisher went out of business shortly after its release. I decided to buy a copy today but even used copies are unavailable at any price. No, wait, I found a copy for $494....

    The 2nd edition had some problems with game balance. The original creator allowed David Pulver (GURPS Basic Set, GURPS Transhuman Space) carte blanche to revise it. I tried it out at GenCon, and it seemed both elegant and balanced. I'm pretty sure he included changes he would've put into GURPS 4E if Steve Jackson had let him.

    I'm really kicking myself for not having bought a copy earlier. White Wolf briefly licensed it, but I hated the new cover art. A shallow reason not to have bought it, sigh.

    Doh, forget all my whining! It's on Drive Thru RPG for $20! Look for the red cover: