logarithms

Alternate attributes and skills in GURPS

When GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes came out, I was thrilled. Right now, sitting here and typing out this blog post, I’m still thrilled about its existence. It’s everything someone like me could want! By “someone like me”, I mean someone who tinkers with tabletop RPGs past the point of frustration out of unnecessary perfectionism and perhaps a bit of masochism. I’ve been a follower of the Divine Order of Splitting Per and Will from IQ for a long time.

If you’re feeling particularly devilish, you can even apply this to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. I do, but I also tinker with every single thing I get my hands on.

Alternate attributes

On the forums, Kromm had also mentioned a whole set alternate attributes here and here in a discussion that came out of “The Fifth Attribute” from Pyramid #3/120: Alternate GURPS V, which was about adding an additional attribute to GURPS (called Quintessence) to cover supernatural stuff. Basically, the idea was to split Perception and Will from IQ to make them their own attributes. Then, split IQ into a social intelligence attribute as well as a general intelligence attribute, and split DX into a full-body coordination attribute as well as a manual dexterity attribute. So, you get four physical attributes and four mental attributes, and there’s room for supernatural attributes, but I later decided against them because I still feel that’s better covered by optional stuff like Talents and Energy Reserve. Of course, if one is going to boost Will to an attribute, it makes sense to give it an analogue to Fatigue, which is nicely covered in “Mad as Bones” from Pyramid #3/103: Setbacks. In the article, it’s called Stability, but I like calling it Anxiety. Furthermore, I also use “Conditional Injury” from Pyramid #3/120: Alternate GURPS V with “Knowing Your Own Strength” from from Pyramid #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV as I recently detailed in this post, so I use Vitality instead of HP.

Physical basic attributes:

  • Strength [ST]. ±10 points/level. Almost the same, but it’s logarithmic.
    • Vitality [VT]. ±2 points/level. Replaces HP for use with logarithmic ST.
    • Striking ST, Lifting ST, Arm ST, etc. are all in there, but I don’t really allow them to be bought up from where they are. If I did, Striking ST would probably be ±2 points/level with Lifting ST at ±6 points/level.
    • Basic Lift [BL] is covered too, obviously, but I usually just call it Lift.
  • Agility [AG]. ±10 points/level. Covers Agility and Flexibility from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
  • Dexterity [DX]. ±10 points/level. Covers Fine Motor Ability and hand-focused Coordination from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
  • Health [HT]. ±10 points/level. Almost the same. Covers Athleticism from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
    • Fatigue Points [FP]. ±3 points/level. Unchanged.

Mental basic attributes:

  • Charisma [CH]: ±10 points/level. Covers Creativity, Social Intelligence, and softer Naturalistic Intelligence from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
  • Intelligence [IQ]: ±10 points/level. Covers Knowledge, Logic, Practical Intelligence, Technical Ability, and harder Naturalistic Intelligence from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
  • Perception [PR]: ±10 points/level. Replaces the secondary characteristic. Covers Awareness and eye-focused Coordination from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41). I use PR-based aim rolls in a similar manner to “On Target” from Pyramid #3/77: Combat, and PR rolls work with “Dodge This” from Pyramid #3/57: Gunplay.
  • Will [WL]: ±10 points/level. Replaces the secondary characteristic. Covers Intrapersonal Intelligence from “Reassigning Skills” (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 41).
    • Anxiety Points [AP]: ±3 points/level. Analogue to FP.

It’s not perfect, and there are better names for these attributes, surely, but I wanted to stick with what was already familiar. Charisma [CH] could be something like Character [CH] (but that’s tricky since characters are called… characters) or Personality [PR] (but that would require me to rename Perception). Intelligence [IQ] could easily be Knowledge [KN], but I wanted to keep it the same.

Secondary attributes:

  • Contacts: ±10 points/level. Works like Resources (below), but it covers social connections like the Contacts advantage. (I’m still ironing out how it works, but it should work similarly to the Contacts skill in the Fate Condensed system.)
  • Resources: ±10 points/level. Works like the Social Standing attribute (GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, p. 26).
  • Reflex [REF]: ±30 points/level. Covers Dodge, Block, and Parry. It is not formulated on any of the basic attributes like Basic Speed was.
  • Movement [MOV]: ±5 points/level. Replaces Move. It is not formulated on any of the basic attributes.
  • Size [SIZ]: ±20 points/level. Replaces Size Modifier. Negative points for a higher Size because it comes with so many inherent disadvantages like making you easier to hit, making you need to consume more, and making you spend more money on scaled equipment.

In the GURPS Basic Set, you need 70 points for a +1 to attributes, secondary characteristics, Basic Speed, etc. In the system I have outlined above, you need about 100 points. So, my system is about 50% more expensive; of course, a typical character only seems to have about 50% of their points tucked into their attributes, so this will end up being a +25% increase to template costs.

Alternate skills

I didn’t with attributes. For how I play GURPS, it has way too many skills. I like the condensed skills from Savage Worlds and Fate Condensed. Similarly, GURPS has Talents and wildcard skills, and the Wildcard Skills found in “Pointless Slaying and Looting” from Pyramid #3/72: Alternate Dungeons and “Pointless Monster Hunting” from Pyramid #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV are pretty great treatments of how to cover an entire genre’s worth of skills with wildcard skills. However, wildcard skills are prohibitively expensive—no, skills in general are too expensive! Even if I slightly overstuffed some Talents, it would cost about 225 points for a +1 to all (standard) skills—using wildcard skills would put it at about 228 points for that same +1. With my system, you could instead go for +1 AG [10], +1 DX [10], +1 HT [10], -1 FP [-3], +1 CH [10], +1 IQ [10], +1 PR [10], +1 WL [10], and -1 AP [-3] for 64 points, and that still gives you the benefits of claiming the boost to those attributes themselves. That tells me that skill costs should be half or even a third of what they are to stay somewhat competitive. I went for the drastic third, which would make a wildcard skill equivalent to just a VH skill, and that would make a 15-point Talent a 5-point Talent. (It’s worth it to re-evaluate other advantages like Daredevil and Higher Purpose too).

For a while, I just used the skills from Fate Condensed, but that wasn’t enough after seeing what other people posted in this thread. Someone mentioned “Niches” from GURPS Template Toolkit 1: Characters (p. 35), which is a really solid framework for creating wildcard skills (or just VH skills in my case) to cover every skill. The only changes I made were merging Animals and Plants into Nature while splitting Combat into Melee and Ranged. Oh, and I renamed several of them to fit what I wanted a bit more. In Malainka’s review of GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes, they talk about whittling down the skill list to about 13 of what it is, which, of course, seemed to fit nicely with my own vision. That’s also really great stuff, and, if I wanted more granularity than the broad niches, I would absolutely pick up the work they did.

Going back to the niches, there are 30 of them, but the above talk about 228 points of wildcard skills for a +1 to everything only points to 19 wildcard skills. The niches have plenty of overlap, and I allow them to be used very flexibly and in a complementary way, so I’m fine with there being 30 of them. If you wanted, you could raise it to an H skill instead of a VH skill to compensate. I also heavily use Talents. If niches/skills are vertical lines, then Talents are horizontal lines, and they intersect at the true specialty of a character, which I really like. A cowboy might have decent Melee, Nature, Outdoors, and Ranged niches, but it’s the Cowboy Talent that helps them excel specifically with bowie knives, cows and horses, working on a farm, shooting revolvers, etc. Really, wildcard skills and Talents follow almost the same cost progression, so I usually treat a 5-point Talent as a +2 to an extra ‘niche’ with a little bit of a reaction bonus tied in there. (If a 5-point Talent covers up to 6 skills, a 2.5-point Talent might cover up to 3 skills, which is about the same breadth as one of these niches; so, 5 points is enough for a +2 to something with the breadth of a niche. So, Cowboy Talent [5] gives +2 to doing cowboy stuff, and it helps with cowboy-related reaction rolls.)

Let’s get to the implications. Skills are typically a pretty small portion of a template; so, even though their cost is being divided by a third, it’s only about a -12.5% decrease to template costs.

Using them together

Overall, that means this will net a +12.5% increase to template costs. I should further explain that the increase is for total positive points—e.g., a 250-point template with -50 points in disadvantages is really worth 300 points. Using these systems, 300 points would become ~337 points. Then, of course, factor the disadvantages back in for 287 points.

You’re not going to come out with super clean numbers in most cases, unfortunately, and some templates in a genre have different pools of disadvantages. I’d eyeball it like this:

  • Templates in GURPS After the End go from 150 points to 175 points, which is a decently pentaphilic number, but I’d even go up to 200 points if feeling generous.
  • Templates in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy go from 250 points to 287 points, but I would just round that up to 300 points (or back down to 250 if you want weaker starting characters).
  • Templates in GURPS Monster Hunters go from 400 points to 506 points, which makes it pretty easy just to call that 500 points.

I’m throwing that out there because I would get so stuck on saying that the relative costs are set in stone by the gods of GURPS themselves, but they’re not. They’re based off of good estimates and pentaphilia—I mean 250 points obviously looks better than 287 points. However, if you’re handing out points at the end of the first session, that perfect number is going to break right away.

What about everything else? At this point, I’m pretty comfortable making stuff up on the fly, so I’m not terribly worried about converting monsters and whatnot before I use them. They don’t really have points anyway, right? Though, for logarithmic ST and VT, I obviously have to convert some of that stuff, and I tend to just convert GURPS damage wholesale into my system.

Revisiting using Knowing Your Own Strength with Conditional Injury in GURPS

All the way back in September 2019, I made a post on how to use “Knowing Your Own Strength” from Pyramid #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV with “Conditional Injury” from Pyramid #3/120: Alternate GURPS V in GURPS. For five months, I worked on it, but I just wasn’t figuring it out; so, back in March, I messaged dataweaver on the GURPS forums, and I asked for their help in moving forward with combining the systems.

  • ST = 20 × log(BS_ST) – 10.
    • ST = VT.
      • VT (Vitality) replaces HP at 2 points/level.
    • BL = 2 × 10(ST / 10).
    • For static damage (like firearms), ST = 20 × log(BS_damage / 0.5547) / log(10).
    • For DR, use the static damage formula and add 14. This is Armor Rating (AR).
    • For muscle-powered weapons, double the modifier, add 10, then log-subtract 9. This is the Weapon Rating (WR). Log-add WR to ST.
    • For damage bonuses (for punches, All-Out Attack, etc.), use them as a bonus to ST—use double the amount as a ST bonus if the damage bonus is per die.
  • Severity = 5d6D2 + ST – VT.
    • D2 means drop two, so drop the lowest two dice.
    • Log-subtract AR before subtracting VT.
    • 5d6D2 averages to 14. I usually just substitute 4d6.
  • Conditional Effects Table:
    • Negative Severity: Nothing.
    • 0 to 4: Scratch, Shock -0, HT+6.
    • 5 to 9: Scratch, Shock -1, HT+5.
    • 10 to 14: Minor Wound, Shock -2, HT+4.
    • 15 to 19: Minor Wound, Shock -3, HT+3.
    • 20 to 24: Major Wound, Shock -4, HT+2.
    • 25 to 29: Reeling, Shock -4, HT+1.
    • 30 to 34: Crippled, Shock -4, HT+0.
    • 35 to 39: Mortal Wound, Shock -4, HT-1.
    • 40 to 44: Mortal Wound, Shock -4, HT-2.
    • 45 to 49: Instantly Fatal Wound, HT-3.
    • 50 or more: Total Destruction.

For the Multiple Injuries rules, I use the above HT rolls for wound accumulation. Log-addition and log-subtraction use the table below. For log-adding two values, look up the difference between the two values in the Log-Addition column, then add the Modifier to the higher value. For log-subtracting two values, look up the difference between the two values in the Log-Subtraction column, then subtract the Modifier from the higher value.

Log-Addition Log-Subtraction Modifier
0 +6
1–2 +5
3–4 +4
5–7 +3
8–10 +2
11–18 +1
19–25+* 26+ +0
26–35 16–25 -1
36–38 13–15 -2
39–41 10–12 -3
42–43 8–9 -4
44 7 -5
45 6 -6
46 5 -7
47 4 -9
48 3 -11
49 2 -14
50 1 -19
51+ 0 -∞

*For WR, use the rest of the chart.

I still need to figure out how to adjust throwing, collisions/slams, and grappling. That shouldn’t be too hard, but I just haven’t given it thought. Additionally, Innate Attack and Damage Resistance need to be reformulated as well, which I think will be a bit trickier.

End of May report

Oops! It’s already June 1st. My GURPS/Fate game was pushed back from Saturday to Sunday this weekend, so I ended up forgetting to write this post yesterday.

Of course, there are other things going on right now. Like, a lot. And I’m tired of people acting like this is a political issue too. You know what I’m talking about. Justice for George Floyd. Police brutality, racism, and murder are not political issues. And, if they are for someone, then that person’s politics are tainted. I feel fairly confident in saying that. I’ve also seen some of what’s going in first-hand in Columbus. It’s been really strange for me, coming from a smaller town. Big city protests are so different. Anyway, here’s a reminder that these things are not binary: I support the protesters and their message 110%; I have seen continuing police brutality during these protests about police brutality; I understand the rioting because people are frustrated that their voices aren’t being heard, so this is how they yell; and I think most of the looters are opportunistic idiots. I feel that so much nuance is being lost in the way that the internet (and people parroting the internet) talk about things. It’s rather unfortunate. Also, on that last part of my stance, I’ve heard what I believe to be a false equivalency about ‘a few bad cops’ giving all cops a bad name and ‘a few bad rioters’ giving all protesters a bad name. It’s not equal in my eyes. Law enforcement is an institution, they are expected to uphold the law (and should be held to higher standards), and they are expected to keep each other in line. Protesters are a sea of individuals with a largely common message, but they are not an institution in themselves.

I don’t even know how to transition after saying all of that. As I said in my fourth life update, my arm is just about back to its old self, and I am in physical therapy for pelvic floor dysfunction. A lot of other small things have happened (like getting my keyboard), but the details are in that post, so I’ll move on to my progress over the month. Well, first, let me say that, even though May was such a weak month in terms of blog content, it’s not a bad thing right now. This time, it’s a good sign. In spite of the craziness going on in the world, I’ve been enjoying my life as much as I can, and I have finally found my GMing spirit. As the honeymoon phase starts to die down (and I settle into things again), I’ll be talking way more about what’s going on right here on my blog.

Conlang stuff report

I took a look at how I want to handle adverbs and prepositions. I only worked on my conlang for a couple days this month. Right now, I’m actually waiting for Globasa to firm up a little more, so I can steal borrow some more ideas. I am trying a more cautious approach rather than just jumping into things only to radically change things again a short while later. Right now, I’m happy with that approach, but we’ll see if the conlang bug bites again.

RPG stuff report

I’ve dumped using Fate Condensed on its own, and I have integrated the Fate framework into GURPS. Aspects are actually a really handy way to cover my ass for rules that I can’t remember or that would take too much time to look up. Really, it just helps me drive GURPS in a narrative manner, which is really nice because I love GURPS and its complexity, but it can bog me down a lot, which is a me thing. Some people can just gloss over rules or make things up on the fly, and I can too, but I always feel guilty for doing that, and I feel a lack of structure when I do things like that. My integrated system gives me the structure by using Fate‘s narrative framework—as I said. It’s not perfect, but I’ve cobbled together 6+ pages of rules, and I hope that I can eventually share them in some form without having to worry about infringing on any properties. (With the power of logarithms, I’ve even finally been able to incorporate “Knowing Your Own Strength” and “Conditional Injury”, but more on that later too!)

Hand in hand with finally having a solid system (for me, personally, of course), I am finally running a really solid setting: Deadlands. I absolutely love Weird West stuff. It’s one of my favorite genres right now, up there with New Old West. I have the third edition GURPS Classic: Deadlands book for a nice and easily convertible reference point, but there are so many great adventures for Deadlands Reloaded, and I have had a blast converting and running those. It has taken away a lot of the burden of being the (forever) GM, but, even more importantly, because it has done that, it’s given me a lot more space to actually be creative. If I don’t have to worry about setting up the quest, the location, and most of the characters, I can dedicate a bunch of my prep time to creating cool things on the side. Spoiler alert to my players, but, yes, I plan on having a Weird West version of Metroid’s own Samus Aran appear.

Have I forsaken Norðlond? Oh, no. No. Absolutely not. If the Native Americans in Deadlands are trying to get back to the Old Ways, then who says that’s not happening in other (perhaps colder) parts of the world? Norðlond is definitely up next after I take off my Deadlands training wheels. I’ve mentioned my own campaign world that I’ve called GURPS Project Sirocco, which was going to squeeze in Norðlond as part of that, but, as I said, it may just become part of Deadlands now. We’ll have to wait and see! Really, it would make sense either way as both approaches give Norðlond a (semi-)post-apocalyptic magic-comes-back kind of scenario.

Writing stuff report

I didn’t work on my story at all, unfortunately. All of the story-building parts of my brain have been hard at work on tabletop RPG stuff. Next month, however, is another Camp NaNo, and I plan on participating. I’ve got some ideas stewing in the back of my brain, though!

End of April report

COVID-19 is still here, but my new mechanical keyboard isn’t. What a way to start this report! Truly, I feel so grateful to be safe and healthy, but I have grown ever more frustrated and weary with the world, especially my country and the people within it. Don’t worry. I won’t get too political—well, not yet, at least. However, I think I can fairly argue that one person’s freedoms and rights end where another person’s freedoms and rights begin. My expectation to not get sick can be greater than another person’s freedom to not wear a mask. It’s not tyranny. My expectation of safety on the road is more important than another person’s freedom to go 20 over or another person’s freedom to drive while intoxicated. Furthermore, it goes beyond that too. A law requires a person to wear a seatbelt while driving, but that doesn’t affect other persons (very often, that is). Yet, that’s not tyranny either. A person has the right to be dumb and reckless. A person has the right to say racist things. However, actions also have consequences. I was so frustrated about protesters that I even made two whole tweets on an otherwise empty Twitter account.

I have good news too. My arms has been feeling much better after slowly starting to work it out at home more. My symptoms from my infection still come and go, though, which is a real bummer, but it’s never as bad as it used to be. I have another appointment in a couple of weeks to see what can be done. I finally started playing tabletop RPGs again, which is so nice. I’ve been keeping up with therapy, and I even get to virtually meet with my old Al-Anon group from Bloomington. I’ve also been writing a lot. Anyway, where’s my damn keyboard?

Conlang stuff report

Oops. I have barely half an entry in my project document for this month, which I wrote yesterday, and the previous entry is from March 9th. It’s actually been nice to take a break. My next step is to really focus on function words again. I want to make sure I have a robust set before I start adding a bunch of content words. I also think I need to renew my Language Creation Society membership, so there’s another oops. As I spend less energy on writing and gearing up to start playing tabletop RPGs again, I expect to have much more energy for conlanging. It’s really nice to be able to switch between a few really core hobbies.

RPG stuff report

Well, I created a flexible powers/magic system for GURPS called Modular Powers that I ended up reworking into my Wildcard Power Pool system. I’m still having some internal conflict about game design, but that’s really only because I’m trying to bridge GURPS and…

Fate. Yes, I’ve jump-started my tabletop RPG hobby with Fate. It’s a generic and modular system like GURPS, but it puts the narrative first. It’s also not as exceptionally detailed. However, the positive way to put that is that it’s very streamlined. Of course, the first thing I did was hack in a logarithmic system for damage. It actually works very well. It’s not a crazy assumption to say that Fate could work on a +6 = ×10 scale. (I don’t know math. Please be gentle.) That allowed me to squeeze in some ideas from Knowing Your Own Strength and Conditional Injury, and, because it establishes that bridge, it allows me to convert between damage in GURPS to damage in my Fate system along with being able to say how many characters points a stunt or a skill level is worth in Fate (which seems to be ~16.67 points). It’s easier to start small again. It’s easier to take off the pressure of wanting to be perfect at GURPS because I love it so much.

Also, I virtually attended FnordCon. Here are my highlights:

  • Kromm said that coronavirus is not related to 5G, and I’m pretty sure he works for the Illuminati, so I think he would know. Conspiracy de-confirmed.
  • Kromm also said that he really likes Fate, so I feel like I have his indirect blessing.
  • They talked about doing a Space Opera line like DFRPG.
  • Douglas Cole mentioned doing some Secret Wars Mission X stuff after Norðlond. He mentioned it being inspired by X-Com games, so that’s interesting. Not my typical cup of tea, but I usually drink coffee anyway, so I’m happy to try new things and support his stuff.
  • In response to a question about what gives GURPS players the most grief, Kromm said something along the lines of when people ask a question on the forums only to receive 600 replies but zero actual answers. I can confirm.
  • Steve Jackson was asked about ways to make GURPS more narrative-first, but he said that GURPS isn’t really the best fit for that. He basically said that, if you want to play Powered by the Apocalypse, then play Powered by the Apocalypse. Though, Douglas Cole added that it is still very possible to sand off all the splinters (paraphrasing his actual words) to make GURPS a bit faster, lighter, and narrative-forward if not first.
  • I also was allowed to record Steve Jackson telling my best friend’s dad to clean up his house, which is the highlight of highlights.

Now that I really think about it, I guess I should’ve made a post-FnordCon post, but oh well! This is good enough for me.

Writing stuff report

I participated in the April Camp NaNo, I set my goal for 10,000 words in a month, and I hit my goal on April 20th. So, yeah, I’m pretty content with that. I worked on a continuation of the story I wrote last November, and it’s still coming along quite nicely. This is a small report for what was a good amount of story, but I think I’ll talk more about it when the first draft is actually finished.

End of January report

Infection or no infection, injury or no injury, I can type out a short update and I did make some progress before I injured my arm. Also, I moved away from specifying my reports as for the greyfolk language or writing or GURPS because I will hopefully be talking a bit more about each of them in each report.

It took me a long time to write out this update. I’ve been working on it for two days because it’s hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful to type for long periods of time. Between my injury and really focusing on maintaining better posture, it just takes a lot out of me. I’ll probably be like this for the next couple of weeks, but here’s to hoping! 🍻

Conlang stuff report

If I am remembering correctly (and I’m a bit too lazy to check), when I last talked about what was next for greyfolk language, I’m pretty sure that I mentioned disyllabic roots and words were next but also that I wanted to find a way to organize them so I got good efficiency out of my choices while avoiding roots that were within Hamming Distance of each other. For example, I don’t want «meta» and «peta» because the only difference is «m» and «p», which do not have enough Hamming Distance between them (in terms of how they sound). The Hamming Distance between «m» and «p» is 1 (they are both labial sounds, which is an HD of 0, but «m» is a nasal and «p» is a plosive, which is an HD of 1), but I need a Hamming Distance that’s greater than 1 for the sounds in each word to be far enough apart to contrast. So, «mena» and «peta» would work because «n» and «t» also have a Hamming Distance of 1 (they are both coronal sounds, which is an HD of 0, but «n» is a nasal and «t» is a plosive, which is an HD of 1). That brings the total Hamming Distance between those two words to 2, which means they are far enough apart in sound (according to my parameters, of course) that I can use both words.

Of course, that means, if I want to have a lot of disyllabic roots and words, I have to be efficient like I was for the monosyllabic roots and words. Each extra syllable, however, seems to add that much more work. I talked to a friend of mine about creating a program to help me, but it seems that would be more trouble than it’s worth, but I think I found a way to do what I need in Microsoft Excel. I’ll hopefully come back to that sooner rather than later after my arm has healed and after I fully figure that system out.

Also, because Globasa does it (and I just went over how much I like Globasa in my previous post), I’ve been considering allowing «s» at the end of syllables. I need to be careful not to over-complicate my conlang, so I might just put syllable-final «s» in one of the dialects.

GURPS stuff report

As I looked back through my notes, I realized that most of my work in January (as well as December) was done on GURPS. After NaNoWriMo 2019, I was really inspired to work on GURPS again, and it was going quite well! I have a better way to merge Conditional Injury and Knowing Your Own Strength than I did before. I was still figuring out how to do weapons and armor in the least complicated way, and I was getting pretty close to something that I felt was acceptable. Instead of having a damage modifier, a weapon would have a ST modifier. That modifier would be added to the wielder’s Basic Lift, and the total Basic Lift would be the new ST of using that weapon. DR would work similarly with a tricky caveat. Yes, this requires table look-ups, but… Well, I don’t think it’s frequent enough to be awful. I’ve struggled so long with balancing realism, fairness, and ease of play.

Continuing down the path of combat while trying to balance realism, fairness, and easy of play, I have been trying to figure out how to speed up combat for a long time. There are many approaches, and I tried to define each approach by its complexity and its (level of) abstraction. One could resolve an entire combat with nothing more than a Quick Contest—that would be Complexity 1 but Abstraction 10. However, that curve is not smooth. Some methods are only a small step up on the scale of complexity while being a larger step down on the scale of abstraction, which is pretty ideal. For example, I’ve been getting really into Mass Combat and Tactical Mass Combat because the combat isn’t very complex and there are some neat ways to deal with the abstraction. However, the big problem is that PCs remain quite abstract unless you use Heroes on the Mass Scale, but that breaks down really quick for any unit that’s anything less than heroic in scale. So, I could try to rework the entirety of Heroes on the Mass Scale or just assign Troop Strength, Classes, etc. as best as possible to PCs (and any other unit, really). That idea got pretty close to one of my original ideas, which was to run combat like a D&D Skill Challenge where the PCs need x skill successes before getting y skill failures. That’s quite abstract in that it doesn’t take into account the power of the enemies! So, using Mass Combat with guesstimated stats (based on existing units, of course) seems rather balanced between complexity and abstraction, especially by allowing PCs (and enemy bosses) to perform significant actions, which is like a Skill-Challenge-esque factor in Mass Combat. Then, when I want to get a bit more tactical, there’s Tactical Mass Combat. For non-mass-scale scenarios, I’ve been working on a way to modify each for the 1:10 scale so each ‘unit’ is just a character, which is a bit trickier (but oh so satisfying) to do for Tactical Mass Combat.

Last but not least, I worked on some worldbuilding for my very own Project Sirocco, which is really going to end up extremely similar to or part of the setting from my NaNoWriMo 2019 story. I really took a dive into religion and mythology to start working on some cultures for that world. That led to a discussion about how ‘barbarians’ are the same Tech Level with different beliefs and ‘savages’ are lower Tech Level with different beliefs. I learned a lot about comparative theology and the Bronze Age and the Iron Age and Sub-Saharan African history. I spent a good amount of time trying to find places on Earth with very varied climatic zones, and I think I landed on Tierra del Fuego and the Big Island of Hawaii. There are a few places in the (contiguous) United States with very diverse climatic zones in a small area too.

Writing stuff report

I did more work in December than I did in January, but I was working on some background worldbuilding as well as figuring out how I want the story to end to myself me a clear(er) goal.

Late to 2020: Reviewing 2019

I’m not terribly proud of myself for falling behind in December, but I also worked much less on my writing and my conlang. For the first time in a long while, I had a huge boost in motivation to work on GURPS stuff. So, that’s what I did, but I didn’t post about anything because progress in GURPS is always really slow. As I was a few months ago, I spent most of the month working on mixing Knowing Your Own Strength with Conditional Injury, and I made some really good headway. That’s to say I feel a little bit more confident about understanding the underlying math. After not playing GURPS at all in 2019, I’m really trying to make this the year that I get it going again. So, even if I don’t finish all of the stuff I’m working on, I have to let myself be content with running vanilla GURPS/DRFPG (or, at least, more vanilla than I want to).

March

Looking back at March, I was diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy. Though I still sleep with a loose cervical collar, I sometimes forget about that whole ordeal and how I was taking steroids for a few weeks there. I was just starting this site and trying to get it all set up, so I didn’t make much progress in my conlang.

April

I started working on my first custom font. Looking back at those old posts, I realize now that the old font is broken in most of the earlier cases. Oops! I was also obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack at the time, and I gave a presentation on conlanging to an introductory linguistics class. That was fun!

May

I worked on syntax and phrase structure rules for my conlang. I also made my first visit to Ohio with my girlfriend! While I know I’ve only been living here for about half a year, it still feels like that stuff happened such a long time ago.

June

I created the new alphabet for my conlang and had a lot of fun designing a glyph specifically for «h». While I didn’t write about it, I think that means I also saw Flor de Toloache that month too (because I was working on the «h» glyph up until the show started if I’m remembering correctly). If that’s the case, that means I also discovered that I can do a mean grito for a white person.

July

I published my paper on Laiholh psycho-collocations. That was this last year too? I’m proud that I got a fair amount done. I worked on the new new alphabet for my conlang, which I called the 7HR alphabet.

August

I settled into my new home in Ohio. For my conlang, I started working on the first words. I also changed the word class vowels to be head-initial—great idea, past me!

September

That was apparently another month in which I focused almost entirely on GURPS! Looking back, it’s weird to think that decapitation was a topic for one of my blog posts. If prospective employers ever see that, they might be a bit worried.

October

I finalized (mostly) the monosyllabic words and the numerals in my conlang, and I also made a new font for my new alphabet, complete with (some) punctuation! That particular font might just be my conlang highlight of the year.

November

I beat NaNoWriMo! Enough said!

My 2020 Vision

Hey, look! I used the same joke as everyone else! This year, I hope to nail down my powerlifting squat form so my knee stops bothering me so much. While I never talk about working out here, that’s really a huge priority for me.

For my conlang, I want to start working on more words. I’m considering allow «s» at the end of syllables too because there’s a new worldlang called Globasa that I really like that makes the case for allowing /s/ at the end of syllables. Of course, that would mean a few big things like having more options for monosyllabic words and having to redo my font to include those options for all syllables. Though, I am considering removing «n» or «m» as a syllable-final option and throwing in «s» as the replacement.

For my writing, I really want to finish the first draft of my story that I started working on with NaNoWriMo. I’m really excited to continue exploring the concepts in that story. Plus, it’s that story that really rekindled my drive to work on GURPS.

Speaking of GURPS, like I said, I plan to try to play some this year. At the very least, I’d like to prepare and run a one-shot just to get back into it. At the very-very least, I’d like to run a rules lite game like FATE or Powered by the Apocalypse or something.

That’s all for now! I’ll try to post more regularly this month.

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.