Steve Jackson Games GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System

Stupid Disadvantages

by the BBS Illuminati


A collection of really peculiar GURPS disadvantages, assembled by the users of this board. None of these are official . . . got that? Don't even ask. Well, probably not, anyway. Not ALL of them, anyway. Of course, there's got to be a Fourth Editiom sometime . . .

Seriously: Most of these would not work except in a silly campaign. On the other hand, for a silly campaign, they are pretty well balanced. We think. We've marked a few with a *, to indicate that they might actually creep into an official release someday. (Later note: A few of these HAVE made it into official releases, notably GURPS Cyberpunk . . . )

*Amnesia -60 points

You cannot remember any of your past life, including your name. Your physical skills are unaffected, but the GM makes all rolls for you, because you have no idea what you know until you try to do it. Likewise, the GM makes all mental skill rolls for you, but at -2. The player does not have any idea what advantages, disadvantages and skills the character had, because when the player chooses Amnesia as a disadvantage, the only other things he can choose are the things the character can see in the mirror. Everything else is assigned by the GM.

There's more, but I forgot what it is. (SJ)

Compulsive Handyman/Mechanic -10/-15

You may not have any Mechanic, Engineering, or other related skills; this disadvantage must be bought off before you may acquire those skills during play. You are a compulsive do-it-yourselfer. If anything breaks or wears out, you must try to repair it yourself. Only after a critical failure on the attempt may you try a Will roll to call in expert help. Additionally, whenever possible you must buy how-to manuals, Chilton books for your car, and whatever tools might be needed IN CASE something breaks. If you limit yourself to playing shade-tree mechanic with your car, this is a 10-point disadvantage; if it covers anything remotely mechanical, it is a 15-point disadvantage. (Sieri Negwenya)

(SJ note: This would play perfectly well as an Odious Personal Habit.)

Constant Soundtrack -10 points

Everywhere you go, you are accompanied by a soundtrack. You get heroic music when you walk into a room; you get romantic strings when you're trying to pitch some woo with a member of the opposite sex; you get portentious music when something is about to happen (which stops just before the Thing From Another Dimension appears and you have to make your Fright Check); you get driving music when you're tooling down the highway; you get the idea. Actually, the third of those might be an advantage, if you learn to use it properly. (Submitted by Mentor, from a Usenet post.)

Couch Potato -40 points

You are a TV addict. You will often remove your character from the game at random intervals to watch television. (When the villain springs the deathtrap, when the murderer is revealed, when Johnny's on.) You as a player must go home one hour early to catch up on your VCR, soaps, etc. This will cause you to miss most of the point-earning parts of the game, and will cause a -3 reaction from anyone with brain cells. (Wintermute)

Variant: You spend all your TV time watching PBS, A&E, etc. This drops your reaction penalty to a -1, but gives you a -1 from all "standard" couch potatoes. You may also use your TV time as a 1/4 value learning session. -20 points.

*Cursed -50 points

Like Unluckiness, but worse. Whenever anything goes wrong for your party, it happens to you, first and worst. If something goes right, it misses you. And any time the GM feels like hosing you, he can, and you have no gripe coming, because you are cursed. (All Paranoia characters seem to have this disadvantage.) (SJ)

Dead -200 points

You are dead. Finis. Kaput. Pushing up daisies. Gone to join the Choir Invisible. All attributes and skills are 0, except for HT, which is worse. You may take no actions without first making a successful skill roll (fat chance) &ndash otherwise, you just lie there and rot. Your Appearance goes down by 1 every month unless you have been mummified or frozen.

This advantage may be bought off if you can figure out a way to earn any character points. An excellent acquired disadvantage for the GM to apply to a munchkin character. (Walter Milliken)

Dependent: Pee Wee Herman -24 points base

Pee Wee is a Weirdness Magnet (q.v). He also has Odious Personal Habits: High, Squeaky Voice (-5) and Annoying Laugh (-5). (Brett Slocum)

Dull -50 points

Nothing ever happens to you. No danger, no adventure, no romance, no nothing. Play it like Illiteracy: no adventure means no adventure. If you go to a war zone, peace breaks out. If you walk in on a bank robbery, the robbers leave quietly and the tellers hush it up so as to upset nobody. You may only spend your character points on skills you actually use &ndash work and gardening, mostly. Reputation and exciting skills are definitely out, and Status never gets you anything more than polite deference from waiters. Good for accountants and librarians. Bad for cops &ndash sure, you can quiet a riot by driving within a mile, but if you never make an arrest you never get promoted. (Spud Head)

*Easily Distracted -5/-10/-20 points

You have a hard time sticking to one subject, prefering to follow your mind as it wanders. You can be brilliant, and have a phenomenal IQ and even do useful work &ndash if it's useful work you can get done when you get around to getting back to it, or that can be done before you lose interest.

In its pure form, this is worth 20 points, where you have to make an IQ roll EVERY TIME SOMETHING INTERESTING COMES ALONG THAT ISN'T WHAT YOU'RE CURRENTLY DOING. This isn't necessarily that you'll choose the corridor the party didn't go down in your dungeon, but if (for instance) you're a bug collector and there's a particularly interesting bug at the edge of the torchlight in the off corridor, you have to make an IQ roll to not chase the bug.

There are lower point totals for lesser distractions. The -5 would be if something fairly rare triggers the distraction &ndash for instance, the monster in Young Frankenstein was only distracted by the playing of a single song. (Fearless)

Gamer -15 points

>A form of severe delusion. You believe you're a character in a role-playing game. You always refer to yourself in the third person. You also carry dice with you wherever you go and you can't make a choice without consulting them.

Example: "Can I help you?"
"Hmmm . . . ah . . . er . . . Hold on (shake, rattle, roll) Yeah! He'll have a Big Mac, fries, and . . . (roll again) . . . a large Coke".

When you *do* speak in first person, it's always very melodramatic.

Example: ". . . And verily I say unto you, foul miscreant! Get thee gone lest I smite thee soundly!"
"Shut up and gimme your lunch money, asshole!"

You also have a tendency to speak in "Game Terms" (A M/A Language, defaults to Hobby:Gaming-2)

Example: "Are you sure you know what you're doing with that Axe?"
"Sure! Two-Handed Axe/Mace defaults to Dex minus five, and I'll only crit miss on a seventeen or eighteen. Besides, the DeeArr of the leather jacket . . . ARRRRG! Hope . . . I . . . make . . . my . . . Health roll . . . "

Another form of Gamer is GameMaster, similar to thinking you're God.

Example: "But Officer, you *can't* give me a ticket! I rolled a good reaction from you!"

And, of course, the ultimate form of the disadvantage, Game Designer.

Example: "I'm sorry, but I don't want to go out with you."
"Hmmm. . . Maybe if I made Charisma worth 1 point per level. . . "

Everyone reacts to you at -3, and others with the same disadvantage react at -5. (They think they can "roleplay" better). This can also be considered an Odious Personal Habit. (BertG)

Hubris -300 points

You feels you are superior to whatever deities exist in the gaming world. You must act as thoroughly god-like as possible, boasting of your abilities within earshot of priests, churches, etc. You must compare yourself with at least one deity once per game hour, and the deity must come off second best.

Before the first play session is over, just as you are about to be successful in overcoming whatever stupendous odds the GM has put in your way, you will be struck dead by the deity in some creative way, your body hopelessly destroyed beyond resurrection, your soul utterly condemned to the uttermost hell, never to rise in another game again. You are allowed one last boast before this happens. (Steffan O'Sullivan)

God as an Enemy -200 point base (modified normally)

God can make things really tough, if he isn't on your side. (It can be tough even if he is.) Treat as Unluckiness, but much worse. Holy warriors will attack you, and even mild-mannered clerics will preach sermons against you and incite their followers against you. You will be plagued by locusts, frogs, darkness, and so on. Your firstborn is in big trouble, and your flocks and kine are uninsurable. If God is really mad, he'll send a couple of his angels around to rough you up. Treat as Demons. (Brett Slocum and SJ)

Imaginary Advantage (varies)

Actually, this is just a restatement of the Delusion rules, except that you have the delusion of an advantage (or disadvantage, for that matter &ndash this would include such things as Hypochondria). The character this is based on had the delusion that he had an Absolute Sense of Direction &ndash "Yeah! It's over there! I know it is!" Even if you break things down to the cardinal points of the compass, he had a 75% chance of being wrong any time he decided something was in a particular direction. (Fearless)

Incredibly Boring -20 points

This disadvantage is related to Dull, but differs in effect. You may have adventures, but either you never bother to tell anyone about them, preferring to show slides of your vacation tour of the Accountant's Hall of Fame, or you tell the stories in such an insipid fashion that nobody can stay awake to hear the end. People react to you at -3. They hold parties for the express purpose of not inviting you.

You're so dull that you have trouble with any sort of communication skill &ndash Fast-Talk, Diplomacy, and Streetwise are all at a -3 penalty. You can't use Sex Appeal or Carousing at all, even at default. Forget trying to use Acting or Performance. Merchant is not affected &ndash most merchants will cut short any bargaining, just to get rid of you.

This disadvantage is especially appropriate to accountants and lawyers. (Walter Milliken)

Incredibly Dense -30 points

You never learn. And we mean never. The main game effect of this disadvantage is that your character NEVER gets experience points for adventuring, or for any other reason. He can also never improve any IQ-based skill, although in theory he could luck into (say) improving his ST just by the brute force of having to hack his way out of the same trap, over and over and over again. (Dr. Memory)

IRS Agent -25 points

You are an agent of the Infernal Revenue Service. Anyone you reveal your job to reacts at -4, unless you are threatening them with a tax audit to coerce them in some way, in which case they react at +4 (but they still don't like you). Anyone who comes into contact with you in the course of your work must make a Fright Check at -3. Honest characters make this check at +1 &ndash they have less to fear.

Because you can harass people legally without due process, you automatically get the Legal Enforcement Powers advantage at the 10-point level, at no extra cost. (Walter Milliken)

*Jinxed -20, -40, -60 points

A Jinxed character is to bad luck as a plague-carrier is to disease. It does not affect him, but it gets everyone else around him. If you are Jinxed, anyone in your immediate vicinity suffers a -1 through -3 penalty (depending on the severity of the jinx &ndash 20 points per -1) on any roll that the GM makes for them. They have no penalty on rolls they make themselves. Thus, there is no way for the rest of the party to objectively determine that a jinx is present without keeping track of failed "sure-fire" attempts over a period of time.

A jinx gets everybody, friend or foe. Ulysses was a perfect example of a jinx. He was tough, clever and determined, and he survived everything thrown at him, but none of his shipmates made it through. Part of his own survival was due to the fact that things tended to go dramatically wrong for his foes as well, after Ulysses had been around a while &ndash Polyphemus, for example, missed some easy IQ rolls when dealing with Ulysses. (SJ)

Machines Hate You -5/-10/-15 points

Anything mechanical that you encounter refuses to work correctly. This could simply be mildly (-5) annoying &ndash fuses that blow, constant static on the telephone line, or a VCR that eats the tape your *very large* neighbor loaned you. It could be a bit more (-10) serious &ndash the electric sliding doors to the emergency room refuse to open for you, your car dies in the fast lane of a major freeway during rush hour, or you crash a world information network *every* time you log on. Or it could reach catastrophic (-15) proportions &ndash the entire city's phone bills are routed to your number, the IRS computer has messed your taxes up so often the local auditor now sends you birthday and Christmas cards, or you simply cause a two-square-block power outage wherever you go. (Lisa Smith)

Munchkin -100 points

No! I can't write it up! Somebody else do this, please! (Steffan O'Sullivan)

*No Sense of Humor -10 points

You never get any jokes, and think everyone is earnestly serious at all times. Likewise, you never joke, and you are *really* earnestly serious at all times. You think Gary Larson has a gate to an alternate dimension where strange things happen, and you are deathly afraid of being sucked into that universe. You dread April First as Sadist Day.

Others react at -3 to you in any situation where this disadvantage becomes evident.

(Margaret Dumont, the straight lady for the Marx Brothers, actually had this disadvantage. She used to say "Julius, why are they laughing?" to Groucho whenever the stagehands cracked up.) (Steffan O'Sullivan and SJ)

Pet -50 points

You are someone's/something's pet. You can only go where they let you go, or take you. You have to do stupid tricks to get the essentials of life, like food. No one is at all interested in anything you do or say, unless it's annoying or "cute." Your wants and needs are of no major consequence to anyone. You are automatically Dead Broke. You have the social status of not-very-valuable property. (Walter Milliken)

Plagiarist -5 points

You have no creativity at all. Everything you say must a repetition, or at best a rehash, of something heard someone else say, or something you read. The more trite the cliche, the more eagerly it will be used &ndash after all, if everyone says it, it must be great! (Steffan O'Sullivan)

Plagiarist -5 points

You are not creative at all. Everything you say must be a repetition or rehash of something you heard somebody else say, or something you read somewhere. The triter it is, the better you like it &ndash after all, if lots of people say it, it must be great! (BertG)

Plague Carrier -30 points

You carry a loathesome disease (player may choose, but the GM can always substitute typhoid if he doesn't like your idea). Anyone encountering you rolls as per Contagion (sidebar, p. B133) to see if they get it. If and when it becomes known that you are a carrier, you will acquire a Reputation disadvantage which decreases your character value. (SJ)

Poor Taste -20 points

You have no taste whatsoever. Your clothes clash, your choice of reading matter or TV programs is abominable, your companions are nose-pickers and munchkins, you don't even play GURPS. You can never use Savoire-Faire, even at default. Others who detect this problem (and it's easy to detect) react to you at -4. (Steffan O'Sullivan and SJ)

Spontaneous Human Combustion -30 points

At the beginning of each game session, the GM rolls vs. your HT. On a critical failure, the next time you are alone and sitting quietly, you will burst into flame, doing 1 hit per SECOND. You are powerless to help yourself, but if somebody comes into the room they can put you out by rolling you on the floor. If you roll 1 less than a crit (usually a 16), you just smolder a bit. (SJ, from a suggestion by Spud Head)

*Terminally Ill Variable

You're going to die. Soon. You will be healthy for a little while longer, but then you will start making HT rolls every week as per Aging. If your HT is above 13, you will roll as though it were only 13.

  • If you will be healthy for only a month: -40 points.
  • If you will be healthy for only 6 months: -30 points.
  • If you will be healthy for only a year: -25 points.
  • If you will be healthy for only two years: Don't bother me. We could all get run over by a truck tomorrow, and you want points for two years?

However, if the onset of your final illness will be shockingly sudden (HT rolls EVERY DAY), you can have an extra -5 points.

GMs who allow this disadvantage in one-shot scenarios deserve everything they get. (SJ)

Tourist -25 points (minimum)

You are a tourist, out to see the world, but not really experience it intimately. You suffer from the following delusions (all 5-point): 1) That nothing bad can happen to you because you are not involved. 2) That if you speak slowly and loudly enough, anyone can understand your language. 3) That you are not obviously from anywhere else.

You can never learn any languages other than your native tongue. At the start of play, you must be as far as possible from the land of your birth. If ever in the course of play you have the opportunity to go there, you must not take it, even to the extent of leaving your companions. Of your starting cash, you must spend at least one third of it on luggage, garishly colored clothes, and if the TL or level of magical development allows, two or more devices for capturing images of the sights around you.

A tourist will have two or more Odious Personal Habits: 1) In conjunction with delusion 2 above, you will always speak as slowly and loudly as possible with people who do not speak your tongue. You will do this in preference to talking through an interpreter. 2) If the TL or magical development level is high enough for image devices, you will be a compulsive shutterbug, having to make a Will roll at -3 to resist taking pictures of anything remotely unusual. 3) You will continually use words like "quaint", "ethnic", "picturesque", and "sublime" even when describing an orc encampment. 4) You wear clothing of unusual cut and color. This wouldn't normally be an OPH, save that the colors are usually loud and clashing. Each OPH taken is worth 5 points and adds a further -1 to your reaction penalty; thus, others always react at at least -5 to you!

Being a tourist is not all bad. You automatically have one level of wealth for free, with additional levels purchased as if you were starting from "Average" (c.f. elves and Magical Aptitude). You may carry all any starting cash not spent in initially equipping yourself. When you flash cash, the "natives" around you whose true reaction is Neutral or better will PRETEND to have a Very Good reaction, while you are there with them &ndash even if you don't know their language. (Bob Schroeck)

*Undistractable -10 points

Once you get involved in something, there is almost no way, short of a nuclear bomb going off in the same room, that you will remove your attention from whateveritis you are doing. However, you must actually be DOING something. You can't concentrate on merely WATCHING (or listening, or so on). Once you become involved in something, you are at a -8 to any sense roll, or even an IQ roll to realize that time is passing. (SJ, from a suggestion by Beth)

*Weirdness Magnet -15 points

You are a "weirdness magnet." Strange and bizarre things happen around you and to you with alarming frequency. You are the one for whom demons will stop and chat. Magic items with disturbing properties will find their way to you. The only talking dog in 20th century Earth will come to you with his problems. Dimensional gates sealed for centuries will crack open just so that you can be bathed in the energies released, or so that the denizens on the other side can invite you to tea. Nothing lethal will happen to you, at least not immediately, and occasionally some weirdness will be beneficial. But most of the time it will be terribly, terribly inconvenient. People who understand what a weirdness magnet is will react to you at -2. This is an excellent disadvantage for mages in a fantasy campaign, or for just about anyone in a horror campaign. It is probably best used in humorous contexts. (Bob Schroeck)

More Foolishness:

SPACE GAMER (#82) has an article (not approved by SJ Games) offering some new advantages and disadvantages. This material is not likely to become official in the near future :-) . . . it includes serious attempts to present the disadvantages of of Heart Condition, Narcolepsy, Masochism, and Homicidal Maniac, all of which would have fit very well in this discussion. There is also a discussion of the Stoicism advantage, with a reference to Detect Dies skill &ndash might be useful when yours roll under the couch.

And some orphan Weird Advantages . . .

God as a Patron 200 point base (modified by normal Patron rules)

When Frequency of Patron's Appearance is rolled, you receive some divine help, either in the form of divine intervention or an Angelic Host (d6 angels). (Brett Slocum)

Save Game 5 points

This advantage is not bought at character write-up, but rather any time LATER, during play. It has no effect until your character dies, at which point you can be brought back into play with the same stats, abilites, skills, advantagess, disadvantagess, equipment, spells, etc. that you had when they bought the advantage. You can buy this advantage any number of times, but only the last time you bought it will have any effect. (Richard Cunningham)

*Unfazeable 30 points

Nothing fazes you &ndash at least, nothing that's not obviously a threat. The world is full of strange things, and as long as they don't bother you, you don't bother them. You are exempt from Fright Checks, and no reaction modifiers affect you, either way. You treat strangers with distant courtesy, no matter HOW strange they are, as long as they're well-behaved.

This advantage is incompatible with all Phobias. A character with this advantage is not emotionless &ndash he just isn't subject to violent reactions. The stereotypical Maine Yankee has this advantage. E.g., two fellows in rocking chairs on the porch of a general store Down East:

Ed: "What'd that little green guy with all the orange tentacles on his head want?"
Burt: "Just another lost summer tourist &ndash he was looking for Jupiter and took a wrong turn at Mars." Looks up at the sky. "Looks like it's gonna rain tomorrow."
Ed: "Ayuh. Looks like.

(Walter Milliken)


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