Roleplayer #20, June 1990

Give Me A Hand

Updated Rules for Extra and Enhanced Limbs

by Steve Jackson and Loyd Blankenship

Since the release of GURPS Supers, and later GURPS Aliens, there has been a great deal of discussion, and even controversy, about the appropriate point costs for extra limbs and enhancements to limbs. After discussion and playtesting, the rules that appeared in the new Fantasy Folk were modified somewhat. For those who have the earlier books, these revised rules should now be considered official; they are reprinted here in full.

Fantastic fiction is full of multi-limbed creatures – monsters, aliens and run-of-the-mill mutants. Extra limbs, or limbs with unusual abilities, are treated as advantages.


If a limb can be used to manipulate, it's an arm, regardless of where it grows or what it looks like. Any normal arm can be used to strike a blow which does thrust-2 damage based on ST. To do extra damage with an arm, see Claws, below. Characters have two arms at no cost. Extra arms have a base cost of 10 points each.


Extra arms allow extra actions. A three-handed creature could perform a two-handed task (e.g., firing a crossbow) and a one-handed task (e.g., swinging a sword) at the same time. He could not aim two weapons unless he has Independently Focusable Eyes.

A creature with multiple arms can use all of them in concert during normal situations (to repair a watch, for example), or during instinctive actions such as grappling in close combat or catching a thrown object. The ability to make multiple combat actions of other kinds is paid for separately, however (see the Full Coordination advantage).

Modified Strength

Any race may "buy" extra strength (relative to normal body strength) for some or all of its arms. This ST must be bought normally, not as the Increased ST advantage. This ST applies only to efforts to lift, throw, punch, or use weapons. Arm ST is bought up (or down) as follows:

For one arm: 30% of cost for overall body strength.
For a set of two arms: 50% of cost for overall body strength.

This is additive. Example: All Huks have four arms (20 points). Purple Huks have two arms with 2 points of extra ST; this costs them 50% of the normal cost for +2 ST, or 50% of 20 points, or an extra 10 points. Blue Huks have three strong arms; this costs them 80% of 20, or 16 points. Green Huks have four strong arms; this costs them 100% of 20, or 20 points.

Modified Dexterity

A race may purchase extra DX (relative to normal DX) for some or all of its arms. This DX applies to anything done with that arm or hand. If a task requires more than one hand, and they don't have the same DX, use the lower DX. Arm DX is bought up (or down) as follows:

For one arm: 60% of cost for overall body DX.
For a set of two arms: 80% of cost for overall body DX.

If a race is to have more than two arms, all with high DX, the race must buy the appropriate high DX for the whole creature.

Extra Flexibility

Arms may be designed for great flexibility, compared to human arms. They may be tentacles, or they may just be multi-jointed. Such arms are not necessarily strong or weak; they are not necessarily either dexterous or clumsy. Those abilities and disabilities are bought separately.

The effect of this is simply that any arms that can reach each other can work together, regardless of body positioning, general layout, or "right" and "left."

Cost is 10 points (for the whole creature), or 5 points (for a single limb, for example an elephant's trunk).

Constriction Attacks

A race with Extra Flexibility may also take a constriction attack for 15 points. In order to make a constriction attack the individual must first successfully grapple its opponent. Then roll a quick contest of ST. If the constrictor wins, the victim takes as much damage as he lost by. If the victim wins, he takes no damage.

To constrict successfully, the constricting limb must be twice as long in hexes as the victim's size in hexes. So to constrict a human (size 1 hex) the constricting limb must be at least 2 hexes long.

Longer or Shorter Arms

Arms may be made longer or shorter, relative to human arms. For game purposes, human arms have a reach of 1. When ancient/medieval weapons are used, subtract 1 from any weapon's reach if it is held by short arms, and add 1 or more to the reach of a weapon held by longer arms.

Shorter arms cost only 5 points per additional arm. These arms have reach 0 (close combat only), and don't have the leverage to use any weapon which must be swung. If all of a race's arms are short, it is -2 on any attempt to grapple. If a two-armed race has two short arms, they are a -10 point disadvantage instead of costing points!

Longer arms cost +10 per arm for each extra hex of reach. Each extra hex of reach also adds +1 to the creature's normal swing damage, and +2 to any attempt to grapple. Note that long arms can be attacked in other hexes, as though they were long weapons (see p. B 110).

Close Combat with Extra Arms

Extra arms give a huge advantage in close combat. You cannot punch with more than one arm at a time unless you have Full Coordination. But you may grapple with all at once. Every extra arm (of regular length or longer), over and above the generic set of two, gives a +2 on any attempt to grapple or pin, or to break free from a grapple or pin. Other limbs do not help.

No Physical Attack

If the arm can manipulate but cannot attack physically (due to structure or lack of ST in that limb) each such arm only costs 5 points. Generally that limb can be used to wield a firearm or similar ranged attack, but cannot attack physically. An example of such a limb might be a monkey's prehensile tail. If these arms are also short (see above), the cost is only 2 points per arm.


If a limb cannot manipulate, but can be walked on, it is a leg. The "default" number of legs is two. A leg is assumed to be able to kick with a range of 1, doing thrust/crushing damage. Each additional hex of range costs 10 points. Extra damage is purchased per Strikers, below. If the legs can't kick for damage, reduce the total leg cost by 5 points.

Three or four legs cost 5 points; if the individual loses a leg, it can continue to move at half speed (round down). Loss of a second leg causes it to fall.

Cost to have five or six legs is 10 points. Each leg lost reduces speed by 2 until only three legs are left. At that point, speed is only 2. Loss of 1 more leg causes the individual to fall.

Cost to have seven or more legs is 15 points. Each leg lost reduces speed by 1 until only three legs are left. At that point, speed is only 2. Loss of one more leg causes the individual to fall.


For 15 points, the race has claws which do an extra +2 damage on any hand-to-hand attack (including Karate).

For 40 points, the claws are 6 to 12 inches long, and do both thrust/impaling and swing/cutting damage.

For 55 points, the claws do thrust+2/impaling and swing +2/cutting damage. See Strikers, below.

Feet Manipulators

Any limb which can manipulate should be purchased as an arm – the fact that the creature walks on it is merely a special effect.


If a limb can strike an aimed blow (rolling vs. DX) but cannot manipulate or be used for walking (a tail, for example), it is a "striker." Strikers cost 5 points apiece. Unmodified strikers do thrust/crushing damage, in close combat only (e.g. horns). Increased range costs 5 points per striker per hex.

Increasing Damage

To increase the damage done by a striker, arm, or leg, the Claws advantage (see above) may be added. This may also represent fangs, pincers, horns, etc. For +15 points, the limb does an extra +2 damage: punch+2 for arms, kick +2 for legs, and thrust+2 for strikers. For +40 points, talons let the limb do both swing/cutting and thrust/impaling damage. For +55 points, long talons do swing +2/cutting or thrust +2 impaling. Note that this advantage only has to be purchased once – no matter how many limbs it modifies! If a race has eight arms, 15 points will buy +2 damage for all the arms (of course, Full Coordination is needed to attack with more than one).

Aiming Strikers

Some strikers (e.g., tails) cannot be aimed well. If a striker attacks at a penalty to DX, subtract a point from its cost for every -1 to DX.

(Back to Roleplayer #20 Table of Contents)

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