Roleplayer
Roleplayer #1, February 1986

Disadvantages For GURPS

by Steve Jackson

In Man to Man, characters can spend character points for various "advantages." There are only a few advantages in MTM, but the full GURPS system will have dozens.

GURPS will also present disadvantages – flaws that a character can take in order to get extra character points. For an advance look, here are five disadvantages that work well in a combat campaign.

GMs: Unless you really want a silly or "freak show" campaign, limit your players to no more than 3 disadvantages, and no more than 40 bonus points from disadvantages.

Berserker . . . . . -15 points

You tend to lose control of yourself under stress, making frenzied attacks against whoever or whatever you see as the cause of the trouble.

Any time you take more than 3 hits in one turn, you must roll vs. IQ. A failed roll means you go berserk. Other conditions of extreme stress (GM's option) may also require an IQ roll to avoid berserking. A berserker may deliberately go berserk by taking the "Concentrate" maneuver and making a successful IQ roll.

While berserk, you must make All-Out Attacks each turn a foe is in range, and Move as close as possible each turn no foe is in range. While berserk, you cannot be stunned, and injuries cause no penalty to your Move score or attack rolls. When your HT falls below zero, make a HT roll each turn; you do not fall until your body is totally destroyed (-10 × HT) or a roll is failed. You then fall unconscious – or, if your HT is fully negative (-1 × HT), dead! If you snap out of the berserk state, all your wounds immediately affect you, but no further HT rolls are necessary; if your HT is below 0, you simply collapse.

If the enemy is so far away that only thrown or ranged weapons will work, a berserker may use them with the "Attack" maneuver. A berserker may NOT aim thrown or ranged weapons.

When a berserker downs his foe, he may (at the player's discretion) roll vs. IQ to snap out of the berserk state. If he fails the roll (or does not roll) he continues berserk and attacks the next foe. Any friend attempting to restrain the berserker will be treated as a foe! The berserker gets one IQ roll each time he downs a foe, and one extra roll when the last foe is downed. If he is still berserk, his friends have a problem.

High-tech berserk: If an experienced gunman goes berserk, he will fire as many shots as he can every turn, until his gun is empty. He will not reload unless he has a clip-type gun that can be reloaded "without thought." When his gun is empty, he will attack with another weapon. He still may never aim.

Cowardice . . . . . -10 points

You are extremely careful about your physical well-being. Any time you are called on to risk physical danger, you must roll against your IQ. If there is a risk of death (GM's decision), the roll is at a -5. If you fail the roll, you must refuse to endanger yourself – unless you are threatened with greater danger!

Greed . . . . . -15 points

You lust for wealth. Any time riches are offered – as payment for fair work, gains from adventure, or spoils of crime – you must roll vs. your IQ to avoid temptation. The GM may modify this roll if the money involved is small relative to your own wealth. Small amounts of money will not tempt a rich character (much), but a poor character will have to roll at -5 or even -10 if a rich prize is in the offing. If you are honest (see below), roll at +5 to resist a shady deal and +10 to resist an actual crime. However, almost any greedy character will eventually do something illegal.

Honesty . . . . . -10 points

You must obey the law, and do your best to get others to do so as well. You are compulsive about it. In an area with little or no law, you will not "go wild" – you will act as though the laws of your own home were in force. This is a disadvantage, because it will often limit your options! Faced with unreasonable laws, you must roll against IQ to see the "need" to break them, or to avoid turning yourself in afterwards! If you ever behave dishonestly, the GM may penalize you for bad roleplaying.

You may fight (or even start a fight, if you do it in a legal way). You may even kill in a legal duel, or in self-defense – but you may never murder. You may steal if there is great need, but only as a last resort, and you must attempt to pay your victims back later. If you are jailed for a crime you did not commit, but treated fairly and assured of a trial, you will not try to break jail.

You will always keep your word. (In a war, you may act "dishonestly" against the enemy, but you will not be happy about it!) You will also assume others are honest unless you know otherwise (make an IQ roll to realize someone may be dishonest before you see proof).

Honesty has its rewards, of course. If you stay alive and in one place long enough for your honesty to become known, GMs should allow you a +1 on any non-combat reaction roll, or a +3 if a question of trust or honor is actually involved.

Pacifism . . . . . (variable)

You are opposed to violence. This opposition can take three forms, each with its own point value.

Total non-violence is just that: you will not lift a hand against another intelligent creature, for any reason. You are free to defend yourself against attacks by animals, mosquitoes, etc. -30 points.

Self-defense only means that you will only fight to defend yourself, using only as much force as may be necessary (no pre-emptive strikes allowed!). -15 points.

Cannot kill means that you may fight freely, and even start a fight, but you may never do anything that seems likely to kill another. This includes abandoning a wounded foe to die "on his own," too! You do not have to physically stop your companions from killing, but you should do your best to discourage them. If you do kill someone (or feel yourself responsible for a death), you immediately suffer a nervous breakdown. Roll 3 dice and be totally morose and useless (roleplay it!) for that many days. During this time, you must make an IQ roll to offer any sort of violence toward anyone, for any reason. -15 points.

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