End of November writing report

I’ll admit that I used a time machine to send this post to actually be at the end of November because I didn’t want to see a month-long gap in posts on my blog. I’ll also admit that I did absolutely zero work on my conlang, which is why this is not a greyfolk language report—it’s a writing report.

For the entire month of November, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I won by writing 50,000 words of a shitty first draft in just 30 days! I had just started prepping only a few days before November, but I knew that it was something I really wanted to give effort and time. For a while now, I’ve had some ideas about a post-apocalyptic story in my head—but something that was (kind of) different from my greyfolk stories.

It was heavily inspired by Eidetic Memory: The Mercy Dolls by David L. Pulver in Pyramid #3/90: After the End with The Redeemers by Jason “PK” Levine in Pyramid #3/88: The End Is Nigh, and I don’t think that I could give either of them enough credit. It mostly follows a boy named Noa in a post-apocalyptic world where a virus wiped out most of humanity and mutated many of its survivors. Eventually, Noa leaves his home—a village called Digsby—to travel the barrens in search of a new life for himself where he encounters a ragtag crew that saves Noa’s life. Something, something, mutation holds a deep secret. I’m not great at figuring out what the tagline is, especially because I think the draft could be twice as long if not more before it’s finished.

You can read what I wrote here: Yandt Greyson NaNoWriMo 2019 Project.

That stressful month of writing is over, so, now, I plan to move forward with that draft at a more accommodating pace while I return to working on my conlang. It was nice to take a break from it—I feel refreshed.

Thoughts on decapitation in GURPS

To make execution and decapitation fit the rules better, there are a couple of worthy suggestions:

Kromm says:

If “triple damage” is possible on a lucky shot, then in a set-up situation where luck doesn’t come into it, it ought to be possible as well. So a strong man (but not a musclebound thug) with ST 11 starts at swing 1d+1, adds +1 for a sword, adds +1 for a fine blade, and adds +2 more for All-Out Attack (Strong). His damage roll is 1d+5, or 6-11. To the neck, that’s 12-22. Triple it for ideal circumstances with all the time in the world, nobody fighting back, and endless practice — let’s say that a Professional Skill (Executioner) roll allows this — for 36-66. Average is 51. That’s -4xHP for most people, -3xHP for some really big ones. Three or four HT rolls are needed to survive. If the guy doesn’t die (low damage, high HT), the rare second blow will mean an average of 102, which is automatically lethal even at 17 HP.

Those who want to postulate monstrous guys with 20 HP and HT 18 will be introduced to my bigger executioner with ST 13 and a very fine blade, who will do 2d+4 and average 66 points a chop.

PK says:

My suggestion: Steal from the Forced Entry skill as well.

Professional Skill (Execution): IQ/A

This is the knowledge of how to kill another person quickly and cleanly in a controlled situation. It is of no use if you do not have complete control of your target and access to appropriate equipment (i.e., an executioner’s sword as opposed to a normal combat-oriented sword, a chopping block, etc.) Add +1 per die to the damage done to the subject if you know this skill at IQ+1, or +2 per die if you know it at IQ+2 or better. Decapitation takes at least five minutes to set up (use standard rules for reducing or taking more time) and requires a roll against this skill as well as an attack roll against the subject’s neck (almost always an All-Out Attack after Evaluating, net modifier +2). If both rolls are successful, the damage is tripled (for a net x6)!

That’s fairly generous, but frankly, for executions that don’t involve supernatural targets, I’d usually just call it death by fiat anyways. Brings the range of damage from 36-66 up to 48-78 for a skilled executioner, the average of which is enough to easily auto-kill a HT 10 man. A poor damage roll or higher HT target allows for survival rolls, which might necessitate another chop.

Another suggestion is to add decapitation to the to the dismemberment rules. A limb requires HP injury, so it follows that the neck might require HP×4 injury (or HP×2 penetrating damage), which would require 20 damage for the average human. Then, I thought about the spine hit location in GURPS Martial Arts. Of course, this has been asked before, and Kromm said:

Cervical Vertebrae (-11): Crushing, cutting, impaling, piercing, and tight-beam burning attacks from behind can target the spine in the neck. The vertebrae provide an additional DR 3. Use the wounding modifiers for the neck, but any hit for enough injury to inflict a shock penalty requires a knockdown roll, at -5 if a major wound. Injury in excess of HP cripples the spine. This causes automatic knockdown and stunning, plus all the effects of Quadriplegic (p. B150). Roll after the fight to avoid gaining this disadvantage on a lasting or permanent basis! A miss by 1 hits the neck.

So, this is getting crazy! I’ll say that decapitation can only come from targeting the cervical vertebrae (which only makes me think of my fun time with cervical radiculopathy). That -11 penalty will be hard to soak along with that DR 3. I’d be willing to say then, at that point, HP×2 injury is enough to decapitate, which is going to require 13 damage.

A true longsword (i.e., the GURPS bastard sword—they’re essentially flipped in name) wielded in one hand by a ST 10 individual can do a maximum of 7 damage, or, wielded in two hands, can do a maximum of 8 damage. A greatsword wielded by a ST 12 individual can do a maximum of 11 damage or 12 damage if it’s a falchion (rule from GURPS Low-Tech Companion 2: Weapons and Warriors). An All-Out Attack (Strong) can gives +2 damage to each of these examples, which lets the greatsword do it regularly, and, honestly, that doesn’t feel right.

By the time I had finished writing that paragraph, I started considering HP×3 injury, which would require 18 damage, and that number is much closer to the original 20 damage. It’s -2 to damage but also -6 to skill. So, I think the 20 damage to the neck (-5) works cinematically and that 18 damage to the cervical vertebrae (-11) is probably a bit more realistic. One would need ST 16 and a falchion greatsword doing an All-Out Attack (Strong) to even have a change of doing this in combat—that’s 2d+6 damage for maximum of 18 damage. Maybe Hafþór can try. Of course, if the ST 16 individual has Weapon Master and the falchion greatsword is very fine, that raises it to 2d+10 damage for an average of 17 damage, which is just shy of the 18 damage required.

Where does Professional Skill (Execution) fit into all of this? Well, let’s say that the more realistic executioner is that ST 12 individual wielding a falchion greatsword for a minimum of 7 damage, an average of 9.5 damage, and a maximum of 12 damage. Being able to triple minimum damage to 21 ensures a clean cut every time. I’d probably base it off of Power Blow a bit more, so one can either get ×2 damage or ×3 damage, depending on skill and time, which may allow for some combat use.

Anyway, thinking about damage/wounding multipliers got me in a tizzy! Multipliers don’t make much sense for logarithmic damage (which might be important if I’m using Knowing Your Own Strength, though I’m still not sure if KYOS damage is “logarithmic” or not). But changing cutting to +2 injury and impaling to +3 injury doesn’t scale either—because HP are still quadratic. Well, scaling back HP actually makes it worse in some cases unless I used some kind of system for logarithmic injury—e.g., 7 injury plus 7 injury isn’t 14 injury, it’s 10 injury (because doubling the value is a +3 under logarithmic ST). But do you have to do 10 more injury to get to 13 injury or is another 7 injury wound enough? How far down does the rabbit hole go?

And I never figured it out for sure. Of course, this will work with standard damage. It gets messy with Knowing Your Own Strength. And throw Conditional Injury in there? Then, it’s back to the drawing board.

But, if you want it to work with CI or both KYOS and CI, then I’d say that decapitation requires a Severity 3 wound, which feels like a nice little bonus for a huge -11 to hit. Normally, it takes Severity 4 for an instantly fatal wound, but Severity 3 can do it if you’re cutting at the cervical vertebrae. Sounds fair enough to me! If you can do 6 more damage to the neck, though, you’re better off not trying to soak up an additional -6 to hit.

Knowing Your Own Strength with Conditional Injury in GURPS

So that’s what he’s been doing.

You caught me fair and square. This month, I’ve spent over a week trying to figure out how to best merge Knowing Your Own Strength (KYOS) with Conditional Injury (CI). The funniest part of the story is that this came from me trying to fit some new decapitation rules into GURPS because I don’t like the idea of, if you get killed by a blow to the neck, that’s decapitation. Then, I got to thinking that using damage multipliers with Knowing Your Own Strength is a tad weird because it’s based on logarithmic ST (though, maybe not logarithmic damage), so I was wondering if damage multipliers should just be damage bonuses.

Then, I found Anthony’s Logarithmic Damage. One way or another, that pointed me toward Conditional Injury. So, then, I wanted to marry KYOS with CI.

So, I started a thread about it. So far, I’m left with this:

Ultimately, what I want is a system to use Knowing Your Own Strength (KYOS) from Pyramid #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV and Conditional Injury (CI) from Pyramid #3/120: Alternate GURPS V. Ideally, it would be realistic, easy-to-use, and work directly with KYOS and CI as opposed to creating a parallel system. There has been a lot of great work so far, and I’m extremely grateful to each of the contributors.

THE +30 = ×10 SYSTEM

This is what Anthony’s Know Your Own Damage is based on, and Anthony has listed the advantages of this system here. It is complete, but it doesn’t satisfy the idea of directly working with KYOS and CI because there isn’t enough information on how the systems interact.

THE +24 = ×10 SYSTEM

This assumes that BL in KYOS is converted to be +10 = ×12. It’d be a bit of extra work. Plus, dataweaver mentioned that it “gives you easy squares and cubes”. Anthony argues that it gives “nasty numbers”, and dataweaver argues that it’s “less of a concern […] since we’re actually more interested in ranges of values than exact values”. Earlier in the thread, dataweaver detailed these values here.

THE +20 = ×10 SYSTEM

The +20 = ×10 system feels the best to me. It seems like it would take the least effort to get working directly with KYOS, especially because BL in KYOS is based off of +10 = ×10. KYOS also converts BS ST into KYOS strength this way since KYOS ST is based on 20 times the log of BS ST. dataweaver details a conversion from BS HP/damage to the +20 = ×10 system here. RyanW’s System is described by RyanW as being based on +20 = ×10 here.

RyanW’s System

  • RyanW’s original thread can be found here.
  • RT = (ST – 10) / 3 + 4.
  • WP = (ST – 10) / 3. Roll 1d6—on 1 or 2, give -1 WP; on 3 or 4, give +0 WP; on 5 or 6, give +1 WP.
  • Swing = +1 WP (or +3 ST).
  • BS ST-based weapon damage is divided by 2 and rounded away from 0, then applied to WP.
  • BS DR is converted to DR the same way BS HP is converted to RT.
  • When WP exceeds DR by 3 or less, the WP is reduced:
    • By 1: -3 WP
    • By 2: -2 WP
    • By 3: -1 WP
    • By 4+: -0 WP
    • Where multiple sources of DR apply, apply the reduction for each in turn and check the remaining against the next source of DR (which might be cumbersome in games where layered armor is common).
  • Apply the rules from CI normally starting at Injury and Severity.
  • ST [5/level], RT/WP [10/level], but you must stay in your allowable range.

My Suggestion

In order to keep the regular ST [10/level], I suggest multiplying everything before Severity by 3 and then dividing it by 3 for Severity, which also helps with the resolution.

  • RT = ST + 2.
  • WP = ST – 10. Roll 1d6–3, then apply result to WP.
  • Swing = +3 WP.
  • BS ST-based weapon damage is multiplied by 1.5 and rounded away from 0, then applied to WP.
  • When WP exceeds DR by 25 or less, the WP is reduced:
    • By 1: -19 WP
    • By 2: -14 WP
    • By 3: -11 WP
    • By 4: -9 WP
    • By 5: -7 WP
    • By 6: -6 WP
    • By 7: -5 WP
    • By 8–9: -4 WP
    • By 10–12: -3 WP
    • By 13–15: -2 WP
    • By 16–25: -1 WP
    • By 26+: -0 WP
    • Where multiple sources of DR apply, apply the reduction for each in turn and check the remaining against the next source of DR.
  • Severity = (WP – RT) / 3.

What I Don’t Know

  • Where RyanW’s system falls on the scale of realism.

dataweaver’s +20 = ×10 System

  • HP is based on +20 = ×10 (the big difference from Anthony).
  • RT = HP + 10 or 20 × log(BS HP).
  • WP = damage + 10.
  • BS DR is converted the same way that BS HP is, so BS DR 1 → DR 0 and BS DR 10 → DR 20 (and BS DR 0 → DR -∞).
  • To apply DR, use WP – DR to find out by how much to reduce WP.
    • ≤0: no damage
    • 1: -21 WP
    • 2: -13 WP
    • 3: -10 WP
    • 4: -8 WP
    • 5: -7 WP
    • 6: -6 WP
    • 7: -5 WP
    • 8: -4 WP
    • 9–10: -3 WP
    • 11–13: -2 WP
    • 14–19: -1 WP
    • ≥20: -0 WP
  • For damage, roll 5d, add the highest three dice to WP, then subtract 14 from the result to get the final WP.
  • The Conditional Effect Table for CI is rescaled so that the Severity column is divided by 3 and multiplied by 10. So, ±6 becomes ±20, ±5 becomes ±16, ±4 becomes ±13, ±3 becomes ±10, ±2 becomes ±6, and ±1 becomes ±3. All of the Severity modifiers need to be rescaled in the same way—e.g., impaling damage goes from +2 to +6.

What I Don’t Know

  • How to calculate HP (from ST, from weight).
  • How to add or subtract ST-based weapon damage.

Anthony’s +20 = ×10 System

  • HP is based on +30 = ×10 (the big difference from dataweaver).
  • RT = ST × 0.2 + 2.
  • ST = Mass × 2/3 – 2. However, if HP is based on Mass and damage is based on ST, the two values don’t align. To resolve this, add in weapon weight. Damage scales with ST + (weapon Mass/3).
  • Mass = (ST required to lift an object as 1 × BL).
  • RT = (Mass × 2/3 + 2) × 2/3 – 2.
  • 0.2 RT [2/level].

What I Don’t Know

  • How to add or subtract ST-based weapon damage. This seems to do with “Damage scales with ST + (weapon Mass/3)”.
  • How to calculate WP (from damage). This seems to do with “Damage scales with ST + (weapon Mass/3)”.
  • How to calculate DR.
  • How to apply DR.
  • How to rescale Severity and Severity modifiers.
  • In BS, a 125,000 lb creature is assigned BL 2,000. With KYOS, a 125,000 lb creature would be assigned BL 20,000. Why? Yes, KYOS gives ST = 10 × log(weight in lb/6). How realistic is each number?

A MESSY SOLUTION

Everything is calculated per BS except for ST, which is the default assumption of KYOS. However, for this, damage is reverted to how it was before for calculating reasonable WP.

  • ST 10 [0] = BL 20 = 1d-2/1d damage = HP 10 [0] = 125 lb.
  • ST 16 [60] = BL 80 = 2d-1/3d+2 damage = HP 20 [8] = 1000 lb.
  • ST 20 [100] = BL 200 = 3d+1/6d-1 damage = HP 32 [24] = 4096 lb.
  • All of this is input in CI as normal.

The only thing that doesn’t work is KYOS ST = 10 × log(weight in lb/6) with -4 for humans. That would give ST 9, ST 18, and ST 24, respectively. It just doesn’t seem to line up with BS HP = 2 × (weight in lb)^(1/3), assuming ST = HP, then converting BS ST to KYOS ST.

And it is messy. It requires buying extra HP, and damage will always be looked up from a table because the progression is awkward. Plus, this relies on the large HP and damage bands in CI.

Though, I don’t like the damage progression in BS. So, I use tbone’s New Damage for ST. If you don’t mind everything being a bit deadlier, use it as is with “medium” damage and “large” damage on the New Damage Table (or you can use it in conjunction with tbone’s Toughness). Otherwise, per tbone’s suggestion, you can use “small” damage and “medium” damage on the Expanded New Damage Table (and it’s suggested to give big weapons a damage boost). Personally, I think there’s a nice middle ground in using the New Damage Table and shifting the table to ST 7 is ST 10, so ST 10 is 1d-2/1d damage.

That leaves me with the following:

  • ST 10 [0] = BL 20 = 1d-2/1d damage = HP 10 [0] = 125 lb.
  • ST 16 [60] = BL 80 = 2d/3d damage = HP 20 [8] = 1000 lb.
  • ST 20 [100] = BL 200 = 3d/5d-1 damage = HP 32 [24] = 4096 lb.

Alternatively, you could throw out KYOS altogether and use tbone’s A Better Cost for ST and HP. Compared to KYOS, 300 points for tbone’s BS ST 100 (BL 2000, 10d/15d damage) is still more expensive than 200 points for KYOS ST 30 (BL 2000, 5d+2/6d damage), but it’s not horrible.

  • ST 10 [0] = BL 20 = 1d-2/1d damage = HP 10 [0] = 125 lb.
  • ST 20 [100] = BL 80 = 2d/3d damage = HP 20 [0] = 1000 lb.
  • ST 32 [155] = BL 205 = 3d/5d-1 damage = HP 32 [0] = 4096 lb.

Current Thoughts

It really is a toss-up between a few options right now.

Lots of (Powered by) GURPS Kickstarters

On the off-chance that someone sees this and then on the further off-chance someone thinks, “Wow, wait, I love GURPS too”, I have some news. There are currently two active Kickstarters where you can show your support for GURPS as I have done so: SJ Games’ Dungeon Fantasy RPG Monsters 2 as well as Douglas Cole’s 3rd party (though it doesn’t make it any less better—perhaps, it makes it even more betterer to see high-quality 3rd party support, but now I’m rambling in this parenthetical) The Citadel at Norðvorn.

Maybe I’ll come back around and do a review for the DFRPG box set as well as Douglas Cole’s previous supplement—Hall of Judgment. Before I do something like that, however, I need to add some more language stuff and also work on my own personal GURPS campaign—Project Sirocco.