Appendix to the Basic Set, Third Edition, Revised
After eight printings of the GURPS Basic Set, Third Edition, you'd think we had it just about right. Well, yes . . . and no.
As we went to press with what started as the ninth printing, we looked at the book and said "Wait a minute! This is 1994!"
Since GURPS first came out, a number of really (pardon the expression) generic rules have appeared . . . rules that should be in the Basic Set. Most are for character creation – advantages, disadvantages and skills that would fit into almost any genre.
So, not without regret, we dropped the "Caravan from Ein Arris" group adventure. It's a good adventure, but face it – almost everybody who buys GURPS already knows what an adventure looks like. That gave us 18 pages, and here they are.
It would have been nice to put each of these new entries exactly where it belongs in the book – alphabetically, in the right section. But that would have been a bad idea, because there are around a million GURPS books already out there, carefully cross-referenced to the page numbers in the existing Basic Set. Do we want to mess all that up? No, thank you.
So the new rules are all together, here in the Appendix, where they don't mess up the page numbering. The Index and Table of Contents have been updated; we hope you'll be able to find what you want.
What to Include?
Eighteen pages seemed like a lot when we started. But there's so much to choose from! The Mass Combat System would have been great, for instance – but it's 16 pages all by itself. There are a lot of interesting new advantages and disadvantages in GURPS Space, but most of them are only for outer-space campaigns. And so on. In the end, we tried to select those rules that were the most widely useful . . . the ones that everybody will end up playing with. These included a few advantages that may not be suitable for PCs in every genre, but make great special abilities for aliens, mutants, monsters or fantasy races.
All these have been gone over to check clarity, and edited where necessary to make them more generic and generally useful. These versions should be considered the definitive ones.
Significant changes were: First, the cost of the Contacts advantage was drastically lowered, thanks to feedback from many players.
The value of the worst version of Destiny was raised a great deal, to bring it into line with equivalent disadvantages like Terminally Ill.
Finally, Manic-Depressive had a new rule added; you can now switch phases because of an emergency.
And Yet More . . .
Late in 1994, we'll release the GURPS Compendium, which will be a whole big book of GURPS stuff. We want that book to include every advantage, disadvantage and skill that we've ever published (expect maybe a few that are so closely tied to specific licensed worldbooks that there would really be no point in it.) Plus, finally, once and for all, the Mass Combat System, and a lot of other things that GURPS players keep asking us to repeat. Then anything that's in the Compendium will not be repeated in later books, freeing up a lot more space for brand-new stuff.
Yes, the Compendium will also include everything from this Appendix. If you have an old Third Edition, and the new Compendium, you'll have it all. Our purpose in publishing this revised edition is not to make anybody buy it again. It's just to make every new printing of the Basic Set the best possible introduction to GURPS. If you like it, great! If you don't, let us know, and we'll make the next one better. And, either way, thanks for playing GURPS. – Steve Jackson
Ally Group Variable
You have a loyal group of followers. None of them has as high a point value as a normal PC, but together they are significant support for you. Noblemen, mercenary or bandit leaders, and similar characters are reasonable candidates to have Ally Groups.
Ally Groups are composed of NPCs, controlled by the GM. The point value of the Ally Group depends on its strength, modified by how frequently the group appears.
A small group (2 to 5 people) costs 10 points. Examples include an infantry squad or a small gang.
A medium-sized group (6 to 20 people) costs 20 points. Examples include a large gang, a small army of bodyguards, or a cavalry unit.
A large group (20 to 100 people) or a medium-sized group with some formidable individuals costs 30 points. Examples might include a whole barbarian army, or a small cadre of trained warriors with good equipment.
An entire government, a national army, or some similar group may be purchased as a Patron, but cannot be an Ally Group.
The individuals in allied groups normally are 75-point characters. They may be increased to 100-point allies by raising the base cost of the group by 10 points. Allies of more than 100 points must be bought individually.
Frequency of Appearance
In the Ally Group appears almost all the time (roll of 15 or less): triple the listed value.
If the Ally Group appears quite often (roll of 12 or less): double the listed value.
If the Ally Group appears fairly often (roll of 9 or less): use the listed value.
If the Ally Group appears quite rarely (roll of 6 or less): halve the listed value (round up).
The player may choose the Ally Group when the character is created. With the GM's approval, a character may also acquire an Ally Group later. Either way, the GM may fill in the details of the group, including the circumstances under which the Ally Group may be available. The GM may also require the Unusual Background advantage to explain the ties between the character and the Ally Group.
If members of the Ally Group are lost during an adventure, they will be replaced . . . though, perhaps, not immediately. The details are up to the GM, and may be based on the circumstances in which the leader "acquired" the group.
A PC should get not character points for any game session in which he betrays or attacks his Ally Group. Leading a group into danger is all right – as long as the PC is a responsible leader. Any prolonged or severe mistreatment of the group, though, will break the ties; the Ally Group and points are lost.
If a PC and his Ally Group part ways amicably, the PC should not be penalized. The point cost of the Ally Group may buy another Ally Group met during roleplaying, or individual members of the group may continue as Allies (see p. 23). At the GM's discretion, remaining points may be traded in for money (see sidebar, p. 16), reflecting parting gifts.
Alternate Identity 15 or 5 points per identity
You have an extra identity, which to all appearances is legally-established. Your fingerprints (and retina prints, if this is a common method of ID) are registered under two different names, you have two sets of licenses, passports, birth certificates, and so on. This can be extremely useful for anyone involved in illegal activities, or for anyone trying to conceal a super identity. This advantage may be purchased as many times as desired, giving another set of papers each time.
While the new identity may include credit cards and bank accounts, all money in these accounts must be supplied from the "real" character's bank account – it isn't included in the package.
If a law enforcement agency attempts to identify you from your prints, with no clues as to your name, there is an equal chance for each of your identities to come up. The search will stop at that point . . . unless they already have reason to believe you are a ringer. If the search continues, the second identity will, of course, surface, and you will be unmasked. At that point, once the agency determines who you really are, the alternate identity(s) are lost.
Alternate identities are illegal for ordinary people. If you are caught, you will face a stiff fine and possibly a jail sentence. An alternate identity can also be a "secret" identity, but it doesn't have to be!
Legal Alternate Identities: Certain PCs might have access to an Alternate Identity legally. An undercover FBI agent, for example, could have a complete set of papers, history, etc. in a fake name. Or a super-hero might have government help in creating a secret identity! A character must have at least 10 points of Legal Enforcement Powers (p. 21) to have a legal identity such as this – but the point cost of the Alternate Identity drops from 15 to 5 points. If a super has official permission to conceal his original name (to protect his family, etc.) and to hold property, etc., in his "super" name, that is a Legal Alternate Identity combined with a Secret Identity (his real name is hidden).
"Weak" Identities: In many countries, including the U.S., it is legal to use false names for privacy, as long as you do not attempt to defraud or interfere with "public records." You can usually rent an apartment as "Mr. Smith," paying cash, without problems. But you can't get a driver's license, etc., legally. This sort of weak identity is worth no points.
You have obtained a set of identity papers, and had the appropriate records altered, to set up an Alternate Identity. However, the quality of the work is poor. The new identity will eventually be noticed and eliminated (and the user sought after!). Therefore, a Temporary Identity is not considered an "advantage," and costs no points. It is a convenience to be bought with cash.
A standard Temporary Identity is guaranteed to be good for one week. At the end of that week, a roll is made. On an 8 or less, the false records have been discovered. Each week an additional roll is made at a cumulative +1 (e.g. the discrepancies are discovered at the end of week 2 on a 9 or less, and at the end of week 3 on a 10 or less.)
Cost of a temporary identity is negotiable, and depends entirely on the background. The cheaper the identity, the oftener the GM will roll; a really cheap one might be good only for a day, with rolls every day! More expensive identities, lasting longer or starting at a lower number, might also be available.
In a high-tech background, where a temporary identity is a matter of tampering with computer files, the netrunner who builds the identity can put a "daemon" in the file. This will automatically place a warning phone call when the identity is blown! This will often be as expensive as the Temporary Identity itself.
Someone who has been Zeroed (p. 237) can use a Temporary Identity.
You are in tune with some specific higher power. The simplest version of this advantage costs 10 points and grants the ability to use any one Divination spell at IQ level (see GURPS Magic, p. 55). The type of Divination should match the "flavor" of the deity. The Blessed person (often a cleric) also gains a +1 Reaction from any of the deity's followers who know him to be Blessed.
For 20 points, one can be Very Blessed, which confers a +5 bonus to Divination skill.
Any Blessed character must act in accordance with the rules or values associated with their deity, or the advantage will be lost.
A deity might also grant powers beyond Divination to especially Blessed characters. These powers must match the power or capability of the deity (a goddess of mercy and healing could grant healing gifts, for instance). These abilities come in many different forms, the exact cost of each depending on the ability granted. In addition, many of the standard Advantages can be explained as divine gifts, at the GM's discretion. Some examples.
Immunity: Your blessing involves an immunity to (or protection from) certain substances, usually those associated with the deity granting the blessing. A fire god might, for example, bless his clerics with an immunity to fire damage. When determining the cost, the GM should keep in mind that these are powerful blessings, and charge accordingly. Costs for immunities in GURPS Supers are a good guide.
Aptitude: Your blessing gives you an added bonus to a particular skill. For Physical skills, the point cost for a +1 aptitude is equivalent to the cost (see p. 44) to learn the skill at DX level. The cost for a 2-point aptitude is equal to the cost for DX+1, and so on. For Mental skills, the cost for a +1 aptitude is equal to the cost of learning the skill at IQ level. A 2-point aptitude costs the same as learning it at IQ+1 and so on. The bonus applies to default skill levels as well as to those you have training in.
Magical Knack: Your blessing gives you the innate ability to do a particular magical spell. The cost is 2% of the price of a magic item that would be able to cast the same spell. See GURPS Magic.
Heroic Feats: 10 points. Your blessing gives you the innate ability to perform a particular heroic feat. Once per playing session you may add 1d to either ST, DX, or HT (the attribute is specified at the time of the blessing) for up to 3d seconds. At the end of this time, you revert to your normal attribute and must suffer all penalties amassed during the heroic period. (For instance, if you take more than 5 times your normal HT in damage during a time of raised HT, then without some sort of healing you will immediately die when the effects wear off.)
Other blessings can be defined at the GM's discretion.
Note: The price of this advantage has been significantly reduced from that described in earlier books.
A Contact is an NPC, like an Ally or a Patron. However, the Contact only provides information. A Contact may be anything from a wino in the right gutter to the Chief of State of a country, depending on the character's background. The Contact has access to information, and he already knows the character and is likely to react favorably. Of course, offering a price, in cash or favors, is never a bad idea. The Contact is always played and controlled by the GM, and any price he asks will be set by the GM.
The GM may assume that a Contact is, in general, well-disposed toward the PC. However, the Contact is not an Ally or Patron, and is no more likely to give special help than any other generally friendly NPC!
A Contact doesn't have to be created when the PC is first developed. Contacts may be added later. When appropriate, the GM can turn an existing NPC into a Contact for one or more players, possibly in lieu of character points for the adventure in which the Contact was developed and encountered. For instance, the reward for an adventure in which the party helped solve a bank robbery might be a knowledgeable, reliable police contact, shared by the whole party. He's worth 18 points – more than any one character earned on the adventure, but a fair reward for the whole group.
Whatever the case, the Contact can provide information only about his own area of expertise. The technician at the forensics lab probably has no information about currency transfers, and the VP of the local bank probably can't do a ballistics comparison. The GM assigns a skill (Streetwise for a minor criminal, Forensics for a lab tech, etc.) to the Contact. All attempts to get information from him require a secret roll by the GM against the Contact's "effective" skill. Note that the effective skill is not necessarily the NPC's actual skill; the actual skill can be set by the GM if the NPC comes into regular play. For instance, the president of a local steel mill might actually have business-related skills of 16-18, but he has an effective skill of 21, making him worth 4 points, because he himself has good connections!
Point values for Contacts are based on the type of information and its effective skill, modified by the frequency with which they can provide information and the reliability of the information. Importance of information is relative and the list of possible Contacts is virtually endless; a few are listed below as a guide to help the GM determine value.
Type of Information
Street Contacts. These are minor criminals, derelicts, street thugs, gang members, small-time fences and other streetwise NPCs who provide information on illicit activities, local criminal gossip, upcoming crimes and so forth. Base cost is 1 point for "unconnected" Contacts (not part of the local criminal organization; Streetwise-12) and 2 points for "connected" Contacts (Streetwise-15). If the Contact is a major figure in a criminal organization (the Don, Clan Chief, or member of the "inner circle" of the family; Streetwise-21), the cost doubles to 4 points.
Business Contacts. Executives, business owners, secretaries – even the mail room flunky – can provide information on businesses and business dealings. Base cost depends on how much the contact can be expected to know: 1 point for a mail boy or typists (effective skill 12), 2 points for the president's secretary (effective skill 15), 3 points for an accountant (effective skill 18) or 4 points for the president or Chairman of the Board (effective skill 21).
Police Contacts. This includes anyone connected with law enforcement and criminal investigations: beat cops, corporate security, government agents, forensics specialists, coroners, etc. Cost depends on access to information or services. Beat cops and regular private security officers are 1 points (effective skill 12); detectives, federal agents, or record clerks are 2 points (effective skill 15); administrators (lieutenants, captains, Special Agents in Charge, Head of Departmental Security, etc.) are 3 points (effective skill of 18) and senior officers (sheriffs, chiefs of police, District Superintendents, Security Chiefs, etc.) are 4 points (effective skill 21).
Frequency of Assistance
Frequency refers to the chance that the Contact can be found when needed. When creating the character, the player must define the way the Contact is normally contacted! Regardless of the chosen frequency, a Contact cannot be reached if the PCs could not reasonably speak to him.
Available almost all of the time (roll of 15 or less): triple cost.
Available quite often (roll of 12 or less): double cost.
Available fairly often (roll of 9 or less): listed cost.
Available rarely (roll of 6 or less): half cost (round up; minimum cost is always 1).
During the adventure, if a PC wants to talk with his Contact, the GM rolls against the availability number for that Contact. A failed roll means the Contact is busy or cannot be located that day. If the Contact is available, then the GM must roll against the Contact's effective skill for each general piece of information the PC requests.
No Contact may be reached more than once per day, even if several PCs share the same Contact. If the PC has several questions to ask, he should have them all in mind when he first reaches his Contact. The Contact will answer the first question at his full effective skill, and each subsequent question at a cumulative -2. Don't overuse your Contacts!
A Contact can never supply information outside his particular area of knowledge. Use common sense. Likewise, the GM must not allow a Contact to give information that short-circuits the adventure or part of it!
If a PC gets a critical failure when trying to reach his Contact, that Contact can't be reached during that entire adventure.
Reliability of Information
Contacts are not guaranteed to know anything useful, and are not guaranteed to be truthful. Use the following modifiers (cumulative with frequency modifiers).
Completely reliable: Even on a critical failure, the worst response will be "I don't know." On an ordinary failure he can find information in 1d days. Triple cost.
Usually reliable: On a critical failure, the Contact will lie; on any other failure he "doesn't know now but check back in 1d days." Roll again at that time; a failure then means he can't find out at all. Double cost.
Somewhat reliable: On a failure, the Contact doesn't know and can't find out; on a critical failure he will lie; on a natural 18 he will let the opposition or authorities (whichever is appropriate) know who is asking questions. Listed cost.
Unreliable: Reduce effective skill by 2. On any failure he will lie; on a critical failure he will notify the enemy. Half cost (round up; minimum cost is always 1).
Bribery, whether cash or favors, motivates the Contact and increases his reliability level. Once reliability reaches "usually reliable," further levels of increase go to effective skill; bribery cannot make anyone totally reliable!
A cash bribe should be about equivalent to one day's income for a +1 bonus, one week's income for +2, one month's for +3 and one year's for +4. Favors should be of equivalent worth. The favor should always be something that the character actually performs in the game. The GM must maintain proper roleplaying – a diplomat might be insulted by a cash bribe, but welcome an introduction into the right social circle. A criminal may ask for cash, but settle for favors that will get the PCs in trouble. A police detective or wealthy executive might simply want the party to "owe him one" for later . . . which could set off a whole new adventure, somewhere down the road.
Dark Vision 25 points
This advantage is intended for nonhumans or supers; normal humans cannot have it without paying considerably more (GM's choice) for Unusual Background.
You can see in absolute darkness, using some means other than light, radar or sonar. The ability to detect colors in the darkness adds 5 points to the cost.
Destiny is an irresistible force that can pull a hero's life this way and that, bringing good and bad luck by turns as it carries him blindly to his pre-ordained fate. One's destiny can be discovered by magical divination, the interpretation of omens, and similar magical techniques, but the true meaning of an omen is often not discovered until after the prophecy it revealed is fulfilled. A character with a Destiny is likely to become the subject of songs and stories for generations.
Destiny can be taken as an advantage or as a disadvantage, at a value of 15 to -15 points. When the player decides to take a Destiny, he tells the GM the point value he wants. The GM then secretly determines the nature of the character's Destiny, according to its value and the dictates of the campaign. Of course, the GM can change his mind later, as the campaign develops!
When a player chooses Destiny, he is giving the GM absolute license to meddle with his character's life. The more subtle the GM is, the better, but the GM must make the destiny work out. The point value of the Destiny determines the kind of impact on the hero's life, while the precise details are determined by the GM and the flow of the campaign. A hero should never know the nature of his Destiny, except through ambiguous omens or a supernatural agency.
Destiny taken as an advantage will work to the character's good in the end – although this may not always be clear, and is likely to be inconvenient at times. Destiny taken as a disadvantage leads to something bad – but perhaps not immediately, and not without a chance to gain honor by dealing with it well. A fated, tragic death can be an end worthy of a hero.
Great Advantage: 15 points. The character is fated to achieve greatness in his lifetime – in the end, everyone will know his name and praise it! Sooner or later a fortunate event will fulfill the character's fate. Note that this does not guarantee the "success" of the character. If he chooses to jump in front of an assassin's knife during the very next game session, the GM might just decide the destiny is fulfilled . . . he died a hero!
Major Advantage: 10 points. As above, but a lesser success. Alternatively, the character may be doomed to die in a particular place, or in a particular fashion: at sea, by the hand of an Emperor, underground, or whatever. Although he can be grievously wounded elsewhere and by other means, he will not die; all damage is applied normally, but he does not die. If he avoids the circumstances which would fulfill his Destiny, knowingly or otherwise, he may find that Fate has a few surprises. The sea may flood his home while he sleeps, the general against whom he marches may be the future Emperor, or Mt. Vesuvius may bury him under tons of ash. The GM may need to use these twists if a PC discovers that he has a Destiny of this kind.
Minor Advantage: 5 points. The character is fated to play a small part in a larger story, but this part will reflect to his credit. In game terms, he is guaranteed one significant victory.
Minor disadvantage: -5 points. Again the character is fated to play a small part in a larger story, but this time he will not come off so well. He is guaranteed one tragic experience or one embarrassing failure. These things should not cause the fated character's death except in the most desperate and heroic of circumstances.
Major disadvantage: -10 points. The character is fated to play a key role in a sorry turn of events. For instance, he might be late with a message which could have saved the day . . . but he blew it. Or he might have executed the only competent general in a threatened province, causing its loss to barbarian invaders. Still, the character will survive.
Great Disadvantage: -15 points. Death stalks the character. Something out there has his name on it, and it knows where he is, and it's getting closer all the time. He will either die, or be ruined, and his fall will have terrible repercussions for others. This level of Destiny is not suitable for every campaign! The GM does not have to allow it, and if he does, he should plan on letting the campaign take a radical turn, or simply end, when destiny is fulfilled.
Working out a good Destiny – and making sure it comes to pass – requires considerable ingenuity on the part of the GM. Before you decide on a Destiny, be sure that it won't drag the campaign off the rails.
If someone fulfills his Destiny and still lives, it is over – although its repercussions might haunt him for years to come. A disadvantageous Destiny must be bought off as soon as it is fulfilled . . . although this may be automatic, if the working-out of the Destiny costs the character riches or allies worth equivalent points.
If the character does not have enough points to buy off his Destiny at the time it is fulfilled, he gains the Unluckiness disadvantage, regardless of the level of the Destiny disadvantage (or, the GM might assign a new bad Destiny to the PC). The Unluckiness can then be bought off in the normal way. No extra character points are earned for fulfilling an advantageous Destiny.
Extra Fatigue 3/point
Your fatigue is higher than normal for your ST. You can run farther and fight longer than others, and you have more power available for powering magical spells. Extra fatigue goes into a separate pool that can be used to power super-powers, psionics, extra effort or magical spells. This pool recharges at the same rate as normal fatigue, but will only begin to regain points if regular fatigue (based on ST) has been completely regained first.
Extra Hit Points 5/point
You can take more damage than a normal human of your HT. Hit Points are initially equal to HT, so a character with HT 14 could buy his Hit Point total up to 20 for 30 points. This would be written as HT 14/20. All rolls versus HT, Contests of HT, resistances, calculation of unconsciousness and survival rolls, and anything else involving HT would still be made against his health of 14. Only damage is subtracted from 20.
If the Stun Damage Only optional rule from GURPS Supers is in effect, stun is based on hit points, not basic HT.
Example: If a character has HT 14/20, he would have to roll to stay alive at -14 HT (and every -5 thereafter) rather than at -20.
You saved someone's life, kept silent at the right time, or otherwise did someone a good turn. Now they owe you one.
Think of a favor as a one-shot version of the Ally, Patron, or Contact advantages. You have one of these for one time only, for each time you buy the advantage. Work out the point cost for Favor exactly as you would the parent advantage, and divide the cost by 5. Round up to the nearest full point. Any time that you wish to "collect" on the Favor, the GM rolls against the "frequency" of the advantage. If it is successful, you get what you want, within the limits of the advantage. Remove the advantage from your character sheet unless you rolled a critical success; on a critical success, your "friend" still feels indebted to you.
If the roll is failed, you couldn't reach them in time, or they couldn't comply. You still have your favor coming. You may try again in another adventure.
Favors gained in play are treated as all other advantages, and should be paid for, but the GM may also wish to include a favor as part of the general reward for a successful adventure, in addition to earned points.
Fearlessness 2 points/level
Fearlessness is a special case of Strong Will (p. 23) that only applies to Fright Checks and attempts to intimidate (see p. 246).
Example: A PC has an IQ of 13, plus 2 levels of Strong Will and 3 levels of Fearlessness. He would make regular Will rolls at 15 (13 plus 2), but his Fright Checks would be at 18 (13 plus 3 plus 2). Any attempt to intimidate him would be at a -3 – if the intimidation is handled as a Contest of Wills, both his Will and Fearlessness would help him.
Hard to Kill 5 points/level
This is a "cinematic" advantage, and the GM is free to forbid it in a realistic campaign. On the other hand, the life expectancy of an adventurer in a fully realistic campaign can be depressingly short . . .
You are incredibly difficult to kill. Each level of this advantage confers a +1 on all HT rolls made for survival. If you miss your normal HT roll, but make it with your Hard to Kill bonus added in, you appear dead (a successful Diagnosis roll will reveal signs of life), but will come to in the normal 1 hour per point of negative HT.
Example: Blackthorne has HT 12 and 4 levels of Hard to Kill. He is hit by an LAW rocket doing 30 points damage, reducing his HT to -18. This will require him to make two HT rolls to stay alive (one at -12, then one at -17).
He rolls an 11 for the first one – no problem, still alive. On the second roll, he gets a 14. This is above his regular HT (12), but below his modified HT (12 + 4 levels of Hard to Kill). He passes out, and is left for dead by his foes. Roughly a day later, he'll regain consciousness – still injured, but not dead!
Healing 25, 20 or 15 points
This advantage is intended for nonhumans or supers; normal humans cannot have it without paying considerably more (GM's choice) for Unusual Background.
You have the ability to heal others. You must be in physical contact with the subject. On a successful Healing roll, you can restore lost HT up to half your own health. Failure costs the healer 1d of Fatigue; critical failure also causes 1d damage. The Fatigue cost of successful healing is equal to twice the hits healed.
The healing roll is at -2 when the victim is unconscious, and -2 or worse to cure disease. It can't restore a lost limb. Freshly broken limbs should be carefully set before healing is attempted, or the healing will result in a crippled limb. Crippled limbs are restored at a -6, and each healer only gets one try at any one limb. Healing cannot bring back the dead.
A healing ability which can only be used on members of the same race costs only 15 points. If it can be used on only biologically similar races (for instance, or warm-blooded vertebrates) it costs 20 points.
Infravision 15 points
This advantage is intended for nonhumans or supers; normal humans cannot have it without paying considerably more (GM's choice) for Unusual Background.
Your vision extends into the infrared portion of the spectrum, allowing you to see varying degrees of heat. You can even see in absolute darkness if the temperature is above 70 degrees. No matter what the temperature, you suffer only a -1 when fighting at night, as long as your foe is someone or something that emits heat! You get +2 to see any living beings during daylight if you are scanning an area visually.
This advantage also allows you to follow a heat trail when tracking. Add +3 to any tracking rolls if the trail is no more than an hour old. A sudden flash of heat, such as an explosion, acts as a Flash spell (see p. 163) to anyone with Infravision.
Note: Infravision can be taken in conjunction with the Blindness disadvantage. Blind creatures with Infravision always operate as though at night. They can only track if the trail is less than one hour old.
Legal Immunity 5, 10, 15 or 20 points
You are a diplomat, a cleric, a privileged noble, or otherwise outside the traditional legal structures of your society. You cannot be arrested or charged with a crime by the "temporal authorities" – that is, by the normal government. Only your "own kind" – your own church, your own government, your own social class – can imprison or judge you.
Cost of this advantage depends on how sweeping the immunity is. For 5 points, the character is not subject to temporal authority, but the rules which govern his behavior are still strict, as determined by the GM. On the other hand, if the laws that apply to the character are less strict than the temporal ones, this is a 10-point advantage. And if the character can do pretty much what he pleases as long as he doesn't injure his own nation, church or organization, that is a 15-point advantage.
For an extra 5 points, you also have "diplomatic pouch" privileges. You can send or receive mail or objects that may not be stopped or examined by the temporal authorities.
20th-century diplomats have the full 20-point version of this advantage, as Diplomatic Immunity. Many medieval noblemen, and the very rich in some countries today, have this advantage at the 15-point level. Clerics will normally have this advantage only if their churches are so powerful that they have their own religious law outside the bounds of the state. The GM determines this when a religion is created, and may simply add the cost of this advantage to the value of the religion.
Multimillionaire 25 points/level
A character with the Filthy Rich advantage can buy additional levels of Wealth, at 25 character points per level. Each level of the Multimillionaire advantage increases total wealth by a factor of ten (the first level would increase total wealth to 1,000 times the average, two levels would increase this to 10,000 times the average, and so on). For every level of Multimillionaire, the character also gets a free level of Status, to a maximum bonus of +2 over the free level already given for high Wealth (see p. 18).
Perfect Balance 25 points
You have no problem keeping your footing, no matter how narrow the walking surface, under normal conditions. You can walk on tightropes, ledges, tree limbs or any other anchored surface without having to make a DX roll. If the surface is wet, slippery or otherwise unstable, you are at +6 on all rolls to keep your feet. In combat, you get +4 to DX on any rolls to keep your feet or avoid being knocked down. This advantage adds +1 to the Piloting, Flight and Acrobatics skills.
Unfazeable 15 points, or more by GM fiat
Nothing surprises you – 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 almost 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. You will have the normal reaction penalty toward anyone who does something rude or rowdy, but you will remain civil even if you are forced to violence. Intimidation (p. 246) just does not work on you.
This advantage is incompatible with all phobias. A character with this advantage is not emotionless – he just never displays strong feelings. The stereotypical Maine Yankee or English butler has this advantage. E.g., two fellows in rocking chairs on the porch of a general store:
Ed: "What'd that little feller with them orange tentacles on his head want?"
Burt: "Just another lost summer tourist. Took a wrong turn at Mars." (Looks up at the sky.) "Looks like it's gonna rain tomorra."
Ed: "Ayuh. Looks like."
This advantage must be roleplayed fully, or the GM can declare that it has been lost. In a campaign where Fright Checks are an hourly occurrence, the GM can charge 20 or more points, or disallow the advantage.
Zeroed 10 points
As computer information networks become more comprehensive, there are many times when it is an advantage to be an unknown. You are the sand in the gears, the wrench in the works. Whether through an accident of birth, a recordkeeping foulup, a computer crash, or something else, the authorities (and their computer systems) know nothing about you. You do not officially exist. No records of you exist in any paper or computer files at the time play begins. Thus, you are immune to most varieties of government (or corporate) enforcement or harassment.
To maintain this status, you must deal strictly in cash or commodities. Any credit or bank accounts must be blind (the account isn't keyed to an individual, but to whoever knows a certain passcode) or set up through a Temporary Identity (see p. 233).
If you are investigated by the authorities, they will at first assume that there is a computer malfunction when they can't find you. They will become increasingly concerned over the next few days as no information can be found about your life. They will then try to pick you up. If they can't find you, they're likely to shrug and give up.
But if they apprehend you, you will be in for a long, drawn-out questioning session, possibly involving truth drugs and/or torture. After all, a non-person has no civil rights! Unless you have taken the right precautions in advance, no one can prove that you are being held, as you don't officially exist!
It is possible to become Zeroed, but it's not easy; the national databanks are well-guarded and multiply redundant. Treat cost and difficulty as to gain an Alternate Identity (p. 233).
Destiny is described above, under Advantages, but can also be a disadvantage. See p. 235.
Duty (Involuntary) An extra -5 points; see p. 39
Some duties are enforced by threats, by threats to loved ones, or by exotic methods of mind control. Such a forced duty can result in difficult decisions or surprising insights for the affected character. An involuntary duty would not include military service by draft (although service by impressment, as practiced by the British navy of the 18th century, would qualify), nor would any other "normal" service. Only cases where life or sanity are directly at stake qualify.
For instance, if the Flying Avocado's brain was taken over by Dr. Zod's Orbital Mind Control Laser, and the hero is now being forced to rob banks, he would have an involuntary duty bonus. If a duty is involuntary, add an additional -5 points to its value.
A Secret is some aspect of your life (or your past) that you must keep hidden. Were it made public, the information could harm your reputation, ruin your career, wreck your friendships, and possibly even threaten your life!
The point value of a Secret depends on the consequences if the Secret is revealed. The worse the results, the higher the value, as follows:
Serious Embarrassment. If this information gets around, you can forget about ever getting a promotion, getting elected, or marrying well. Alternatively, your Secret could be one that will simply attract unwelcome public attention if it is known. -5 points.
Utter Rejection. If your Secret is discovered, your whole life will be changed. Perhaps you would lose your job and be rejected by friends and loved ones. Perhaps you will merely be harassed by admirers, cultists, long-lost relatives, or the press. -10 points.
Imprisonment or Exile. If the authorities uncover your Secret, you'll have to flee, or be imprisoned for a long time (GM's discretion). -20 points.
Possible Death. Your Secret is so terrible that you might be executed by the authorities, lynched by a mob, or assassinated by the Mafia (or the CIA) if it were ever revealed – you would be a hunted man. -30 points.
If a Secret is made public, there will be an immediate negative effect, as described above, ranging from embarrassment to possible death. There is a lasting effect – you suddenly acquire new, permanent disadvantages whose point value equals twice that of the Secret itself! The points from these new disadvantages go first to buy off the Secret, and may then (at the GM's option only) be used to buy off other disadvantages or (rarely) to buy new advantages. Any unused points are lost, and the character's point value is reduced.
The new disadvantages acquired must be appropriate to the Secret and should be determined (with the GM's assistance) when the character is created. Most Secrets turn into Enemies, Bad Reputations and Social Stigmas. They might also reduce your Status or Wealth – going from Filthy Rich to merely Very Wealthy is effectively a -10 point disadvantage. Some Secrets could even turn into mental or physical disadvantages, though this would be rare.
Similarly, if the GM allows you to buy off old disadvantages with the new points, these too must be appropriate to the Secret. The most common disadvantages that could be bought off are Duties and Dependents.
In general, a Secret appears in a particular game session if the GM rolls a 6 or less on three dice before the adventure begins. However, as for all other disadvantages of this type, the GM need not feel constrained by the appearance roll – if he thinks the Secret should come into play, it does!
When a Secret appears in play, it is not automatically made public. The character must have the chance to prevent the Secret from being revealed. This may require him to cave in to blackmail or extortion, to steal the incriminating documents, or even to silence the person who knows the Secret. Regardless of the solution, however, it's only temporary – the Secret will appear again and again until it is finally bought off. Secrets may be bought off either automatically through exposure (see above) or with earned character points over the course of play.
Weirdness Magnet -15 points
Strange and bizarre things happen to you with alarming frequency. You are the one with whom demons will stop and chat. Magic items with disturbing properties will find their way to you. The only talking dog on 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 perhaps the entities on the other side will 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 (and that you are one) will react to you at -2. The exceptions will be parapsychologists and thrill-seekers, who will follow you around!
Terminally Ill -50/-75/-100 points
You are going to die . . . soon. This could be due to some sort of nasty disease, an unremovable explosive device embedded in the base of your skull, a potent curse, an unbreakable suicide pact, or anything else that will result in your death.
Point cost is determined by the length of time remaining. One month (or less) is worth 100 points (and you'd better work fast!). More than one month but less than one year is worth 75 points, and from one to two years is worth 50 points. More than two years is worth nothing – anyone might be hit by a truck in two years!
If the GM is running a one-shot adventure where the characters aren't going to be reused, he should disallow this disadvantage as meaningless. If, during the course of a campaign, the character acquires a "miracle cure," has himself cloned or cyborged, or anything else that extends his life past his termination date, he must buy off the disadvantage. If he doesn't have enough points to buy it off, all earned character points should go to this purpose until he does.
This disadvantage is straight out of the "existential despair" school of literature. It is best fitted either to a character whose player really intends to roleplay a doomed man, or to a character who will struggle nobly to beat his fate, right up to the last minute.
Amnesia -10/-25 points
You've lost your memory – you can't remember any of your past life, including your name. There are two levels to this disadvantage; Partial and Total.
If you have Partial Amnesia, you can see your character sheet, but the GM may reserve up to 30 points for use as he sees fit for disadvantages. Other than these secret disadvantages, you know that you can do certain things and use certain skills, but have no idea where you learned how to do them. You are likely to have enemies – and possibly friends – that you can't remember. If you turn yourself in to the police, they can perform their standard ID checks . . . but you might turn out to be a wanted criminal. Even if you're an honest citizen, finding out your name won't restore your memory! Partial Amnesia is a -10 point disadvantage.
Total Amnesia (-25 points) is much more serious. Your physical skills are unaffected, but the GM makes all rolls for you (because you have no idea what you can do until you try it!). Likewise, the GM makes all of your Mental skill rolls, but at a -2 penalty. You have no idea what advantages, disadvantages and skills you have. If a player chooses to play a character with this disadvantage, the only things he can choose when designing it are those things that can be seen in a mirror. Everything else is assigned by the GM (and the GM holds onto the original character sheet until his memory is restored)!
If you are playing a character with Total Amnesia, the GM knows what your quirks and mental disadvantages are . . . and you don't. So, from time to time, he will overrule your statements about what you are doing. For instance, you won't know you have the Berserk disadvantage until you go berserk.
This disadvantage can only be bought off if there is some rationale for the victim recovering his memory. Meeting an old friend, reliving some fateful event, or the ever-popular blow-to-the-head are all reasonable. In most cases, the cure will be related to the cause of the memory loss.
Compulsive Carousing -5 to -10 points
You cannot resist the urge to party! Tavern-owners know you by name; taxi drivers have helped you home so many times they can do it blindfolded. No offer of a social drink can be refused. This is not Alcoholism, though. You don't need to drink, really, as much as you need to be convivial. You must go in search of a social gathering at least once per day, and participate for at least an hour. The number of drinks you have is determined by economics – the more money you have, the more you'll spend. This disadvantage does not go well with Miserliness, demophobia or any introverted tendencies.
If a bar you enter is empty or nearly so, you'll seek out another. If the last tavern in town has only quiet folks present, you'll attempt to liven things up. If there's a party going that you should avoid for some reason, you must make an IQ roll to keep from joining in. Roll against IQ+2 if you would have to "crash" the party (a private party – you're not invited). Once you're in, though, you'll stay at least an hour – you may make an IQ roll every hour to be able to leave. If you keep failing the roll, you stay until forcibly evicted or the party drags to an end.
You get a +1 reaction (or more if you're very entertaining – see Carousing, p. 63) from like-minded extroverts, and a -1 or worse from sober-minded citizens. Puritans and other extreme Calvinists react at -4! This disadvantage is worth -10 points in campaigns set entirely in areas where such religions are in power. This includes England, 1650-1659, and the early Massachusetts colony. Otherwise, it is -5 points.
Compulsive Behavior (Generosity) -5 points
You are just too open-handed. If a beggar asks you for cash, you have to make a Will roll not to put your hand in your pocket; where others will give a copper, you'll give silver. You will always listen to larger requests for financial aid, if they are even remotely plausible, and you need a Will roll to avoid falling for a good hard-luck story. (If you are flat out of cash when you are asked, you will apologize profusely.) You aren't a complete sucker; you just feel guilty about being better off than others. In a society with a lot of beggars around – such as most medieval towns – your living expenses are increased by 10%.
Note that this disadvantage is incompatible with Miserliness, but may earn you a +1 Reputation with pious Buddhists, Muslims and many varieties of Christian. If you yourself are poor, the reaction bonus will be even higher.
Compulsive Behavior (Spendthrift) -5, -10, or -15 points
Cash just runs through your fingers! You enjoy being seen as a big spender, you like luxury too much, or you just find the experience of buying to be fun – or perhaps all three. You aren't necessarily inept at making money – you may, in fact, have become good at it from sheer necessity – but you don't keep it. Unlike Compulsive Generosity, you don't simply give your money to anyone who asks; you buy goods and services, usually for yourself. This advantage is not limited to rich characters in rich worlds . . . a poor farmer in a low-tech world can be a spendthrift, wasting all his money at the local excuse for a tavern.
The point value varies with the intensity of your problem. At the 5-point ("Mild") level, you are simply careless about expenses. Your living costs are 10% above the standard for your social level, and any time you haggle over a purchase, your Merchant roll is at -1 for impatience.
At the 10-point ("Serious") level, you are noticeably casual with cash; the local merchants probably love you. Your living expenses are increased by 40%, and your rolls to haggle over a purchase are at -2. Furthermore, any time anyone offers you some luxury for sale that matches any of your quirks or known interests, and the cash in your pocket is more than twice the asking price, you must make a Will roll not to buy.
The 15-point ("Wastrel") version of this disadvantage really makes you a menace to yourself. Your living expenses are higher by one Status level or 80% – whichever is more. You haggle at -5 to your Merchant roll, and you have to make a Will roll not to buy something you like and can find the cash for. You must roleplay all this to the hilt.
Note that this disadvantage is incompatible with Miserliness (in fact, it's the opposite), but can be combined with Greed. You grab cash with one hand and spray it around with the other!
Curious -5, -10 or -15 points
You are naturally very inquisitive. When you are presented with an interesting item or situation, you must roll vs. IQ (not Will) to avoid examining it, even if you know it will be dangerous. Good roleplayers won't try to make this roll very often . . .
This is not the curiosity that affects all PCs ("What's in that cave? Where did the flying saucer come from?"), but the real thing ("What happens if I push this button?").
You will push buttons, pull levers, open doors, unwrap presents, and generally do everything in your power to investigate any situation with which you aren't 100% familiar. And, when faced with a real mystery, you simply may not turn your back on it.
You will rationalize your curiosity to others who try to talk you out of it. Common Sense won't help – you know you are taking a risk, but you're curious anyway!
Extremely Curious: -10 points. All IQ rolls to avoid overinquisitiveness are made at -2.
Insatiably Curious: -15 points. All IQ rolls to avoid overinquisitiveness are made at -5.
Cursed -75 points
Like Unluckiness, but worse. When 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 complaint coming, because you are cursed. You can't buy this off just by spending points – you must determine what has cursed you and deal with it, and then spend the points.
In a stressful situation, you may experience a flashback. These are vivid hallucinations, full participation replays of memories, or any other similar phenomena. The player may choose, at the time of character creation, what type of flashback will be experienced, but the content of each episode is up to the GM. Point value is determined according to the severity of the flashback.
Flashbacks are very appropriate as results from a failed Fright Check; if you have this disadvantage, roll for a Flashback whenever you miss a Fright Check, or make the Fright roll exactly, regardless of other results. In any other situation which the GM feels is stressful, he may roll 3 dice; on a 6 or less, you get a flashback.
-5 points: The flashback lasts only 2d seconds; attendant hallucinations do not seriously impair skills (-2 on all skill rolls), and accompanying delusions are minor – the victim realizes that he's having a flashback.
-10 points: Duration is 1d minutes; hallucination seriously impair skills (-5 to all skills); the delusions seem real.
-20 points: Duration is 3d minutes; hallucinations are so severe that they preclude all skill use; the flashback seems completely, 100% real, and can be potentially fatal, as you are receiving no input from the real world.
Glory Hound -15 points
This is an advanced case of Overconfidence (p. 34); a character may not have both Glory Hound and Overconfidence. You will always take time to talk to the press, pose for photographs or sign an autograph. You insist on being in the limelight – you will always take the greatest risks, create complex plans that feature your abilities, lead the charge, etc.
You get a +1 reaction (at least publicly) from the press, small children, teenagers, etc. and a -1 reaction from co-workers, fellow heroes, etc. If the glory-hounding is successful, it can lead to an improved Reputation with the general public; buy this separately during character creation, or earn it free during the course of a campaign.
Incompetence -1 point
A character may be defined as incompetent in any one skill, for -1 character point. He cannot learn that skill, and any attempt at default use is at an extra -4.
An Incompetence is considered a mental disadvantage, even if the skill is physical. The character is simply inept, or has a mental block against learning this type of skill. You cannot be incompetent in a single specialization; if you are incompetent with Guns, for instance, you are incompetent with every type of gun.
No character should ever be allowed more than -5 points in Incompetences.
The GM may disallow any incompetence that seems silly or abusive in his particular campaign. Likewise, the GM can allow an incompetence or two to count as quirks, if a character is already at the maximum point value allowed for disadvantages.
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: -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 be sure 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. He was tough, clever and determined, and he survived everything thrown at him, but none of his shipmates made it. Part of his own survival was due to the fact that when he was around, things went wrong for his foes as well. Polyphemus, for example, missed some easy IQ rolls when dealing with Ulysses.
Manic-Depressive -20 points
Your moods are on a see-saw – you bounce back and forth between bubbling enthusiasm and morose withdrawal. At the beginning of each play session, roll one die. On a 1-3, you are in your manic phase; a 4-6 indicates depression. Every five hours of game-time thereafter, roll 3d. A 10 or less indicates that you begin a mood swing. Over the next hour, you will shift from your current phase into its opposite. You will remain in the new phase for at least five hours (after which you again roll 3d).
In the Manic phase, you suffer from Overconfidence (see p. 34). You will be friendly, outgoing and excited about whatever it is you're doing. In the Depressive phase, the Overconfidence is replaced with Absent-Mindedness (p. 30) and Laziness (p. 34). You will not be interested in doing anything other than lying in bed, sitting in a dark room and moping, or other equally exciting pastimes. If your companions force you to do something, you will be at a -5 on all skills.
A mood-swing may also be caused by an emergency; in that case, the switch is immediate. On a roll of 10 or less on 3d, you change phases. This can be good (an emergency jars you into action) or bad (a problem triggers depression and you become worthless).
No Sense of Humor -10 points
You never get any jokes – you think everyone is earnestly serious at all times. Likewise, you never joke, and you are earnestly serious at all times. Others react at -2 to you in any situation where this disadvantage becomes evident.
Obsession -5 to -15 points
Your will is fixed upon a single goal. Everything you do is intended to further this goal. This differs from Compulsive Behavior in that it is not a daily habit, but an overpowering fixation which motivates all your actions. It differs from Fanaticism in that it does not necessarily imply a single belief or system of beliefs.
To play an obsessed character, you must be able to rationalize all of his actions as an attempt to reach his goal. A Will roll is required any time the character is requested (or forced) to do something that does not further the goal.
The point cost depends on how short-term or long-term the goal is. Assassinating someone or successfully seducing a particular person would be -5 points, while larger goals like getting to a hard-to-reach place or becoming President would merit higher point values. Some obsessions may cause others to react badly; if so, an Odious Personal Habit or Delusion may also be required (the Obsession cost only covers the obsessive behavior).
If and when the goal is reached, the character must substitute a new goal or buy off the Obsession.
On the Edge -15 points
Sometimes you don't care whether you live or die. You are not actively suicidal, but you will take unreasonable risks in the face of mortal danger. When you face a life-threatening situation (piloting a burning vehicle, staring down an entire street gang while armed only with a toothbrush), you must make a successful IQ roll before you can retreat (attempt once per turn; 14 or higher fails automatically).
Each turn that you are in combat, make an IQ roll (again, 14+ fails) to avoid making an All-Out attack (or the near-insane, suicidal behavior of your choice). Most sensible people avoid you (-2 reaction from anyone who realizes that you're crazy). Primitives and low-lifes will mistake your disregard for your own life for bravery, giving +2 reactions.
Many heroes and villains, especially in cinematic campaigns, have a special symbol – a Trademark that they leave at the scene of action, as a way of "signing their work." Perhaps the classic fictional example is the carved initial Z of Zorro.
No character may have more than one Trademark. Multiple actions (e.g., binding your victims with purple phone wire, painting a frog on the wall and wrecking every computer in the building) simply makes your Trademark more distinctive – it is not multiple Trademarks.
-1 point: Your Trademark takes very little time to leave and cannot be used to trace your identity; it is essentially a Quirk. A typical example is something left at the scene – a playing card, a small stuffed animal, and so on – as long as it can't be traced and takes little time.
-5 points: Your Trademark is still simple, but you absolutely must leave it. You cannot leave the scene until you do, even if your enemies are breaking down the door.
-10 points: As above, but leaving your Trademark increases your chances of capture – initial carving, notes, traceable clues, and so on. Leaving this sort of Trademark takes a minimum of 30 seconds. Anyone searching the crime scene and examining your Trademark receives a +2 to their Criminology roll.
-15 points: Your Trademark is so elaborate – dousing the captured thugs with a certain cologne, painting the entire crime scene pink, writing a long poem to the police – that it virtually assures your eventual capture (with this disadvantage, the GM may give clues without a successful Criminology roll).
Remember that a Trademark is an action separate from capturing the crooks or committing a crime. It's the particular way that it is done. Destroying files on a computer is not a Trademark; trashing them by substituting a "7" for each "5," is.
Video Production (Mental/Average) Defaults to IQ-6 or any Performance skill -4
You are familiar with video production equipment, and can competently direct a show (TV, holovid, movie, etc.). This can be a very useful skill in a modern or post-modern campaign, letting you deal with a world of rock videos, politicians-as-performers and mass media. Note that if you're using the skill by default, technical problems with the equipment are almost a certainty, even if you roll well and know exactly what effect you want.
Body Sense (Physical/Hard) Defaults to DX-6 or Acrobatics-3
This is the ability to adjust quickly after teleporting or any similar sort of magical or psionic "instant movement." Roll at -2 if you are changing facing, -5 if you are going from vertical to horizontal or vice versa. Note that you cannot change physical position during a teleport – only orientation.
A successful roll allows you to act normally on your next turn. A failed roll means disorientation – no actions except defense are possible for 1 turn. A critical failure means you fall down, physically stunned.
Modifiers: +3 for Absolute Direction.
Flight (Physical/Average) Defaults to DX-4
This is the skill to use a non-technological Flight power well, for acrobatics, tight turns, and so on. It's the same skill, whether the flight is magical or psionic.
For a naturally winged creature, Flight skill defaults to DX rather than DX-4, but can still be improved as a normal P/A skill.
Boxing (Physical/Average) No default
Although not considered a martial art by the average Westerner, boxing is a scientific unarmed combat technique. Boxing falls somewhere between Brawling and Karate in terms of precision and finesse.
Boxing punches add 1/5 of the character's Boxing skill to damage. There is no similar bonus for kicks. In fact, the Boxing skill does not teach one how to kick; use DX-2 or Brawling-2 instead. Parries are 2/3 of the skill, at -3 against weapons other than thrusting attacks, and at -2 against kicks (boxing does not train to specifically defend against kicks).
Where Boxing does excel, however, is in teaching fighters how to dodge, by reading the foe's body language before a punch is thrown. Against bare-handed or thrusting attacks, a boxer gets a Dodge bonus equal to 1/8 his skill (rounding down). This Dodge bonus does not count against swinging or ranged attacks.
In a GURPS Martial Arts cinematic campaign, Boxers get the same extra attack bonuses as martial artists (see GURPS Martial Arts, p. 47). They cannot have the Trained by a Master advantage, however, so they cannot make Chambara attacks.
Note that some Asian styles have incorporated Western boxing or very similar techniques.
Cloak (Physical/Average) Defaults to DX-5, Buckler-4 or Shield-4
This is the skill of using a cloak or cape, both offensively and defensively. Treat a cloak in close combat as if it were a shield (see sidebar, p. 114).
There are two types of cloaks used in combat: a large, heavy, hooded full-length cloak, and the smaller, light-weight, torso-length dress cloak that most supers wear as a cape.
The heavy cloak is used as a shield; treat the defensive maneuver as a Block, figured at half cloak skill with PD 2.
The offensive maneuver with a heavy cloak is to attempt to envelop the opponent. The cloak is treated as a thrown weapon (SS 12, Acc 1, Max 2, no half damage). The maximum aiming bonus is +1. A thrown heavy cloak may be Dodged or Blocked, and Parried by a weapon of 2 lbs. or more. A heavy cloak weighs 5 lbs.
At a 1-yard range, the attacker may hold onto the heavy cloak while throwing it. If the throw misses or the defense is successful, one turn is needed to ready it again for offensive or defensive use. If the throw is successful, the attacker may attempt to pull his opponent off-balance. Roll a Quick Contest of ST; the attacker is at +2. If the defender loses the contest, he is at -2 DX the next turn. If he loses by 5 or more, he is pulled off his feet onto his knees. On a critical failure, the defender falls down. It takes a successful DX roll and 1 turn to remove the cloak. In the meantime, the cloak blinds the defender and prevents any attack or active defense.
The light cloak is more versatile. Although it only has PD 1 when used as a shield, it can be used more creatively as an attack weapon. A light cloak weighs 2 lbs. As a weapon, it can:
Be thrown over the opponent's head.
Entangle the opponent's weapon or arm.
Be snapped at the opponent's face.
Throwing the light cloak is similar to throwing the heavy cloak (same range modifiers), but it cannot be held onto, can be parried by any readied weapon, and requires no DX roll to remove. The opponent is blinded until he takes a turn to remove the cloak.
Entangling the opponent's weapon allows the cloak-wielder to retain his grip on the cloak. Roll a Quick Contest of the attacker's Cloak skill (minus any penalty to hit – see Striking at Weapons, pp. 110-111) and the defender's Weapon Skill (or DX if carrying a ranged weapon). If a melee weapon is entangled, the defender must win a Contest of weapon skills before he can use his weapon again. Each such attempt counts as an action. If the cloak-user wishes to attack with another weapon, he is at -2 (in addition to any off-hand penalties) if he retains his hold on the entangling cloak. The defender may fire an entangled gun, but the shot is at an addition -6 to hit, and no aim bonuses may be taken. A successful contest of DX vs. Cloak skill is required to free a missile weapon.
Entangling the arm is a Quick Contest of Cloak-2 (the -2 is for aiming at the arm) versus the defender's DX. If the defender is holding a melee weapon in either hand, he has the opportunity to Parry the cloak before the Quick Contest. The defender must win a Contest of ST to free an entangled arm. Weapon fire from an entangled arm is treated as above.
Snapping the light cloak in the opponent's face is done at Cloak-5. If the attack is successful, the attacker may be blinded for a turn. Any defense may be used against this attack. Critical success on the Cloak skill roll does one point of damage to one eye (roll randomly to determine which one), blinds the opponent for 1 second and mentally stuns him. If the attacker makes the attack roll by less than 5 and the defender fails the defense roll, the defender's DX is reduced by 1 for the next turn only.
Damage to cloaks is handled by the rules in the sidebar on p. 120. A cloak (heavy or light) has DR 1, and can only be destroyed by 5 points or more of cutting damage (3 points for a light cloak).
Forward Observer/TL (Mental/Avg.) Defaults to IQ-5
This is the skill of directing fire from artillery or aircraft onto the target. It includes the use of map, compass and terrain features to locate targets and the tactical skill of matching ordnance to target for best effect.
Modifiers to the roll are -1 if no binoculars are available, -3 if no map is available, -5 for neither map nor binoculars, and -1 for each 500 yards from the target (-3 per 500 yards without binoculars). Failures miss the desired target without harming the enemy; critical failures do something embarrassing or dangerous. The very worst critical failures (GM's choice) drop the fire on the observer's own position. An Air Force trained observer has +1 to skill when directing air strikes and -1 to skill when directing artillery fire.
A more detailed treatment of air and artillery observation is found in GURPS High-Tech, pp. 71-82.
No-Landing Extraction (Mental/Average) Defaults to IQ-6
This is the skill of getting things from the ground into or onto flying aircraft without requiring a landing. There are several systems; they all require considerable preparation and equipment by the ground element (GM's decision or 2d hours to get everything ready for the pickup). Failures result in no pickup, or damage to the cargo or passenger (GM's decision). A critical failure always causes cargo loss, or passenger death or critical injury.
Note that it is not necessary that the person to be picked up have the No-Landing Extraction skill . . . as long as someone in the ground element does have that skill.
Nuclear-Biological-Chemical Warfare/TL (Mental/Average) Defaults to IQ-5
This is the ability to operate in a nuclear, biological, or chemical warfare environment with appropriate protective gear. Without this skill, one runs a considerable risk of misusing the protective gear and exposing himself to contamination.
This skill requires access to the proper equipment; improvisations are possible (if the GM consents) but at -5 to -15. Note that even so, a person with good NBC skill is far more likely to improvise successfully; the difference between high skill and IQ-5, will probably be the difference between life and death. However, when an improvisation is rolled, use the highest skill in the whole party.
Throwing Stick (Physical/Easy) Defaults to DX-4
This is the ability to throw a carefully balanced and shaped throwing stick, such as a boomerang. This type of throwing stick does not return to the user.
A throwing stick has the following stats: swing+1 crushing damage, SS 11, Acc 2, ½ Damage range ST × 6, maximum range ST × 10, weight 1, minimum ST 7.
Wrestling (Physical/Average) Defaults to DX-5
This is a Western sport that can also be useful in combat. Wrestling teaches how to take down opponents, pin them and to apply some holds and locks. While not as effective as Judo, this skill gives its user an edge in Close Combat.
You can use your Wrestling skill to replace DX in Close Combat, just as for Judo. You also add 1/8 of your skill to your effective ST to attempt a Takedown or a Pin, to Grapple, to use an Arm Lock (see GURPS Martial Arts) or to Break Free (see p. 112). This bonus does not apply to defaults.
Games (Mental/Easy) Defaults to IQ-5
In a campaign where detailed roleplaying is important, a character may also be a gamer. The Vikings and Celts, for instance, were very fond of boardgames like hnefatafl, nine men's morris, and Fox and Geese, and there have been many archaeological finds of boards and pieces. Chess reached Europe from India via Arab traders, and chess-like games are common to many cultures. Ancient Africans played mankala, and variations of Go are found throughout Oriental history. Modern miniatures gaming dates to the 18th century, when toy soldiers were used both as a military training aid and as a social pastime.
Each game must be acquired as a separate skill. Most cultures regard an ability to play one or more games well as a worthwhile social accomplishment.
In the campaign, vast sums might be staked on a game, or a hero might be forced to game against a powerful monster or wizard, with the lives of his companions at stake. Sometimes a game might be played to settle a dispute, as a kind of bloodless duel.
Flight (Physical/Average) Defaults to DX-4
See p. 242 under Athletic Skills.
Spell Throwing (Physical/Easy) Defaults to DX-3, Throwing, or Spell Throwing (other spell)-2
This is the skill used to hit a target with a missile spell after it has been created (see p. 150). All normal ranged weapon rules and modifiers apply. Each missile spell uses a different skill, except for Fireball/Explosive Fireball, which are both thrown with the Fireball Throwing skill, and Stone Missile/Ice Sphere, which are the same. Note that "throwing" is not an entirely accurate name for this skill. The missile spells fly under their own power when released, regardless of the caster's ST; the Spell Throwing skill helps the caster direct the missile.
Hard-Hat Diving (Mental/Average) Defaults to Scuba-2
This is the skill of diving with helmet, weights and (usually) full diving dress. Most hard-hat diving is with lines and hoses attached to a surface air supply; hard-hat equipment can be used with a rebreather or from a submarine, but these are uncommon techniques. See GURPS High-Tech, Working Underwater, pp. 85-86.
Hiking (Physical/Average) No default
This skill is based on HT, not DX. It represents training for endurance walking, hiking, marching, etc. It also includes knowledge of how best to carry a pack, how to pace yourself, and so on. Roll vs. Hiking before each half-day's march; on a successful roll, increase distance traveled (see p. 187) by 20% before calculating terrain effects. If a party is traveling together, all must make the Hiking roll in order to get the increased distance.
The GM may allow bonuses for good maps and good walking shoes, but not for terrain; effects of terrain on distance are covered on pp. 187-188.
Orienteering (Mental/Average) Defaults to IQ-5
This is the ability to locate oneself with respect to terrain (the U.S. military calls this "land navigation"). Orienteering rolls are -1 to -10 (GM's discretion) for being in an unfamiliar area. It is much harder to locate oneself in the Arctic barrens than in downtown Cleveland!
Modifiers: Orienteering rolls are +1 for an accurate map, a compass or clear view of the sun or stars and at least one hour to make observations (these bonuses are not cumulative).
Nuclear-Biological-Chemical Warfare/TL (Mental/Average) Defaults to IQ-5
See p. 243 under Combat/Weapon Skills.
Video Production (Mental/Average) Defaults to IQ-6 or any Performance Skill -4
See p. 242 under Artistic Skills.
Mind Block (Mental/Average) Defaults to Will-4
Although listed under Psionic Skills for organizational purposes, this skill does not require psionic ability. Mind Block is the technique of creating a non-psionic mental block to prevent psis from listening in on thoughts or emotions with Telereceive or Emotion Sense skills (only).
An example of a mental block might be doing complicated mathematical calculations, or repeating poetry over and over again. Anyone can do this for a short time (roll vs. IQ or Will+4), but maintaining a deliberate mental block while doing something else, under stress, or for more than a minute, requires skill.
The GM may require a Mind Block roll whenever a question arises about whether someone is or is not thinking about something important. This procedure is useful even for those who don't have the skill – roll against the default value. A new roll may be required each minute that the person does nothing, or each turn in combat or stressful situations (e.g., when someone is trying hard not to think about something that concerns him a lot).
If this skill is used, roll a Contest of Skills between Mind Block and Telereceive, once per minute. This is separate from any other roll required to make the skill work or to get through a Mind Shield. If the subject wins, the peeper will get nothing but poetry or the multiplication tables. If he loses, he is not successfully blocking. A successful Telereceive will discover part or all of whatever he is thinking.
If the Mind Blocker rolls a critical failure, he thought about it – in detail – right there in the forefront of his mind!
If someone is doing nothing but concentrating on blocking, they get a +2. Someone who is mentally or physically stunned rolls at -3. Rolls to hide emotions rather than thoughts are harder, and should be made at -2 or more depending on how strong the GM rules they are. GMs may impose additional penalties for other circumstances, e.g., trying to mind block your emotions while sneaking up on your most hated enemy.
Flight (Physical/Average) Defaults to DX-4
See p. 242 under Athletic Skills.
Computer Hacking (Mental/Very Hard) Defaults to Computer Operation-8 or Computer Programming-4
This skill is used to "hack" into a computer system. No cyberdeck is needed – only a regular terminal with access to the system (whether directly or through a communications network). However, the skill can be used in conjunction with a cyberdeck, in campaigns where such equipment is available. See Chapter 4 of GURPS Cyberpunk for more details.
Cryptanalysis (Mental/Hard) Special default; see below
This skill allows one to invent and break codes. It may be used in wartime, in espionage, or simply in high-stakes business dealings. It can involve anything from state-of-the-art tactical encryption systems to unsophisticated ciphers.
There is no default when dealing with modern high-tech encryption, but pre-20th-century ciphers were much simpler. Even in present-day and future campaigns, simple ciphers can be encountered. Terrorists seldom have access to good encoding equipment. And professional spies often lack the equipment and training of modern cryptanalysis. Therefore, agents may encounter the same symbol codes, substitution ciphers and other basic deceptions used throughout history. When using these simple codes, characters may attempt Default rolls, to Mathematics -3 or IQ -5. Alternatively, the GM can actually hand out coded messages and let the players try to solve them.
Cryptanalysts may also attempt to devise codes and ciphers of their own. When they create a hasty cipher, note the amount by which they succeed on their Cryptanalysis roll. This equals the penalty applied to rolls by enemy cryptanalysts trying to read the message. By rolling at a -2 penalty to Cryptanalysis, one can try to devise a code that appears to be innocent conversation, thereby avoiding attention from eavesdroppers.
Those with access to a computer gain a bonus of from +1 to +5 when using cryptology. A home computer confers +1, a mini-computer confers +2, a mainframe confers +3 or +4 and a supercomputer offers a +5. One must have a trained programmer or a Computer Operations skill of 15+ to effectively use a computer in cryptanalysis. Appropriate software is also required.
When decoding, a sample of the code (with translation) gives a +5. If the message to be decoded is shorter than 25 words, roll at -5. Anyone with a Mathematical Ability advantage may apply it to Cryptanalysis rolls.
Cryptanalytical training requires a Top Secret/Special Compartmentalized Intelligence Clearance in the U.S., and similar clearance in other armies. Therefore, those whose disadvantages pose a security risk may not learn this skill through normal channels. Furthermore, agents with this skill become targets for enemy spies. Superiors may be quite reluctant to let a trained cryptanalyst go on risky missions. But spies and criminals may find their way around the restrictions. A spy agency with powerful connections might arrange to have some of its members trained through unofficial channels. Foreign cryptographers may find themselves forced into spying by defection.
Planetology (Mental/Avg.) Defaults to IQ-5, Geology-4, Meteorology-4, other Planetology-3
This Scientific skill is the overall study of planetary makeup and conditions – geological, meteorological, climatic, atmospheric, hydrographic and ecologic – of one general planetary type. Pick one skill:
Rock/Ice Worlds: Mercury, Pluto types (also most moons, asteroids and other small, airless planets).
Earthlike: Essentially, all habitable worlds.
Hostile Terrestrial: Titan types.
Gas Giants: Jupiter, Uranus types.
Planetology can be used in place of several other skills. Geology and Meteorology default to it at -3; Botany, Ecology, and Zoology at -4; Survival in that world's major terrain(s) at -5. For detailed information about a world, consult an expert in the pertinent scientific skill – Geology, Meteorology and so on. GM may assess penalties for worlds that differ greatly from the norm for their type.
Philosophy (Mental/Hard) Defaults to IQ-6
This is the study of a body of beliefs similar to Theology (p. 62). Each different philosophy is a specialization. A student of philosophy does not necessarily believe in the principles he studies, or, if he believes, does not necessarily think they are divinely ordained. The beliefs of Philosophy are not necessarily related to a religious or supernatural concept.
This skill is particularly appropriate for a martial-arts campaign in which the character knows combat skills with different (and even antagonistic) spiritual teachings; by adopting both schools' philosophical teachings, they may be combined without conflict (note that in Asia many people combine opposing religions matter-of-factly, despite blatant contradictions between them).
If, during an adventure, a philosophical PC is dubious about the rightness of a course of action, the GM should let him roll against his Theology or Philosophy (Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism) or other specialized religion). On a successful roll, and depending on how good the roll was, the GM can "enlighten" the PC, if possible with a clever phrase or even a parable. The GM should not tell the player what to do, but should instead indicate to him how a person with the character's background would feel.
A successful Philosophy roll can also be used to predict the behavior of other characters who are ruled by that philosophy.
Xenobiology (Mental/Average) No default
This is the overall study of life of all kinds, native to any one general planetary type. Pick one skill:
Terrestrial: Earthlike planets.
Hostile Terrestrial: Titan types.
Gas Giants: Jupiter, Uranus types.
Xenobiology can be used in place of several other skills. Zoology, Ecology and Botany default to it at -3; Genetics, Biochemistry and Physiology at -4. For detailed information about a life form, consult an expert in the pertinent biological skill. GM may assess penalties for worlds that differ greatly from the norm for their type.
Xenology (Mental/Hard) Defaults to IQ-6
This is an overall knowledge of the major alien races in the known universe, their cultures, lifestyles, mores, societies and psychology. It identifies an alien's race, and gives information about its culture, physical makeup, attributes and possible behavior patterns once identified; it provides very basic information about aliens of new races. It would also be useful in a fantasy campaign in which the world is largely unknown and contains dozens of different races.
A successful Xenology roll is required before use of Diplomacy with aliens; for very alien races, even Merchant, Tactics, etc., will be different and will require a Xenology roll first. If the Xenology roll fails, the actual skill being attempted is at a -4.
Modifiers: +1 or more for familiar races; -1 to -6 for "very alien" races. Difficult questions should carry an appropriate penalty. Prolonged observation should give a bonus, especially for new races. A xenologist may specialize in a particular alien race, getting a +5 on rolls for that race and a -1 on all others.
"Depth" of a xenologist's knowledge will also depend on the number of races known to science: -1 for 5-10 races, -2 for 11-50, -3 for 51-100, -4 for more than 100. This applies only to remembering facts about an already-known race. When contacting new races, experience with a wide variety of aliens is an advantage: +1 if 11-50 races are already known, +2 if more than 50 are known.
Intimidation (Mental/Average) Defaults to ST-5 or Acting-3
This is the skill of hostile persuasion. The essence of intimidation is to convince the subject that you are able and willing, and perhaps eager, to do something awful to him.
Intimidation may be substituted for a reaction roll in any situation, though it is at a -3 penalty when used in a request for aid. A successful Intimidation roll gives a Good (though usually not friendly) reaction. A failed roll gives a Bad reaction. On a critical success, the subject must make a Fright Check at -10!
The exact result of a successful roll depends on the target. An honest citizen will probably cooperate, sullenly or with false cheer. A low-life may lick your boots (even becoming genuinely loyal). A really tough sort may not be frightened, but may react well anyway: "You're my kind of scum!" The GM decides, and roleplays it.
When Intimidation is used against a PC (or, at the GM's option, against a NPC), this can also be rolled as a contest of Intimidation vs. Will. See Influence Rolls, sidebar, p. 93.
Modifiers: Up to +2 for displays of strength or bloodthirstiness, or +3 for superhuman strength or inhuman bloodthirstiness. The GM may give a further +1 bonus for witty or frightening dialogue, but should apply a penalty if the attempt is clumsy or inappropriate. The GM may apply any level of penalty if the PCs are attempting to intimidate somebody who, in his opinion, just can't be intimidated. This includes anyone with the Unfazeable advantage (p. 237).
Specious intimidation: If the PC can make both a Fast-Talk and an Intimidation roll, and roleplays it well, he can appear to be intimidating even when he can't back it up. This is the only way to intimidate some people (martial arts masters, world leaders, bellicose drunks). Success on both rolls gives a Very Good reaction. Success on one and failure on the other gives a Poor reaction. Failure on both gives a Very Bad reaction.
Note that Interrogation skill can default to Intimidation-3. It will not help you tell a good answer from a bad one, but it can get people to talk.
Computer Hacking (Mental/Very Hard) Defaults to Computer Operation-8
See p. 245 under Scientific Skills.
Cryptanalysis (Mental/Hard) No default
See p. 245 under Scientific Skills.
Intimidation (Mental/Average) Defaults to ST-5 or Acting-3
See p. 246 under Social Skills.
No-Landing Extraction (Mental/Average) Defaults to IQ-6
See p. 243 under Combat/Weapon Skills.
Exoskeleton (Physical/Avg.) Defaults to IQ-6, DX-6 or Battlesuit-2
This is the ability to use powered exoskeletons, from the personal, nonaugmenting walkers that enable humans to move in very high gravity (see GURPS Space) to the large cargo exoskeletons that take the place of forklifts in high-tech societies. Unfamiliar units are operated at a penalty, as per Driving skill (p. 68).
For any ordinary DX roll, an exo wearer rolls on the lower of Exoskeleton skill or DX. For DX-based skills, he rolls on the lower of (skill-1) or (Exoskeleton-1). The GM may assess penalties for actions that should be especially difficult in a suit, such as Acrobatics. However, most exoskeletons (or "exosuits") have removable gauntlets so the wearer can do delicate work.
Power CellsAt Tech Level 8 and above, most equipment runs on standardized power cells. Their technology is up to the GM. The costs and times given below assume that power cells use plutonium, antimatter, or something equally esoteric, can't be recharged, and can't be discharged quickly enough to explode. Assume that a cell will store indefinitely if not in use, and is good for two years of continuous use unless otherwise specified.
Cells might also be simple high-capacity storage batteries. In that case, they last only half as long, but can be recharged at any power plant, including that of a spaceship, in about a day. And they might explode if short-circuited . . .
Power cells are heavy for their size. The consequences of breaking a cell depend on what is in it; the more destructive the contents, the harder they are to break. Antimatter or plutonium cells will not be fragile.
Types of Cells
There are six sizes of power cells, designated by letter from AA (the smallest) to E (the largest). Power cells increase in power exponentially. An A cell is ten times as powerful as an AA cell, a B cell has ten times the power of an A cell, and so on.
AA cell: This cell is a disk the size of a pinhead, 1/16" in diameter and 1/32" thick. AA cells are used in brain implants, calculators, etc. They cost $2; 500 AA cells weigh 1 ounce.
A cell: An A cell is a cylinder ¼" in diameter and 1/8" tall. They are used to power small radios and similar devices. An A cell costs $10; 25 weigh 1 ounce.
B cell: B cells are cylinders ½" in diameter and ½" tall. They are used to power various sorts of hand-held equipment, including small weapons. B cells cost $30; 20 weigh 1 pound.
C cell: This is a 1" diameter by 2" tall cylinder. C cells are the most common power source for personal weapons, tools and equipment. C cells cost $100 and weigh ½ pound.
D cell: A D cell is a cylinder 2" in diameter and 4" tall. D cells power military weapons and heavy equipment. Each D cell costs $500 and weighs 5 pounds.
E cell: Each E cell is a cylinder 4" in diameter and 6" tall. E cells power vehicles, support weapons and other power-intensive systems. An E cell costs $2,000 and weighs 20 pounds. Large vehicles, etc., may use banks of dozens of E cells.
Replacing Power Cells
It takes three seconds to replace an A, B, C or D cell with a new one, or six seconds to replace a tiny AA or large E cell. Speed-Load (Power Cell) skill (see p. B52) applies to B and C cells being reloaded into weapons. Successful use of this skill reduces the time to one second. Life-support systems, and other items that cannot afford power interruptions, have two or more cells, so that if one is drained another takes over immediately. They are also usually equipped with a warning system to notify the user that one cell has been expended.. This allows a vehicle's cell to be changed in flight, or a robot to change its own cells.
In an emergency, wrong-sized cells can be used. This requires an Electronics-2 roll and 3d+10 minutes of work; a failure means the gadget doesn't work, and a critical failure damages the gadget. A larger cell can be substituted for a smaller, lasting no more than twice as long. A set of 10 smaller cells can be substituted for the next larger size, usually lasting only a short time (details are up to the GM, depending on the Electronics skill of the tinkerer; on a good roll, the GM warns the technician what to expect from his jury-rig).
The GM may also rule that different star systems or nations use different voltages or sizes for their power cells. This means an Electronics roll, of difficulty set by the GM, will be required to use your own power cells in strange equipment or vice versa.
Vital OrgansThese are optional rules for players who want more detail in combat. Certain parts of the body are more susceptible to damage than others. Below are the effects of successful attacks on them, in addition to normal damage effects.
The groin is area 11 on the Parts of the Body Table on p. 203 and 211. It has a -3 penalty to hit; a miss by 1 hits the body or the leg (roll a die). On human males, this is excruciatingly painful; on a hit, the target must make a HT roll, at -1 for every point of damage, or be physically stunned. If an unmodified HT roll is missed, the victim falls unconscious (see p. 127). High Pain Threshold gives a +5 to the roll. Low Pain Threshold doubles the penalties.
The jaw is at -5 to hit; if the attack misses by 1, the face is hit. The victim must roll against HT-2 or HT minus damage taken (whichever is less) or be physically stunned.
The kidneys can only be targeted on an attack to the victim's back. They are at -4 to hit (Hit Location-1); a miss by 1 indicates a hit to the body. Crushing attacks do 1.5 × damage; other types do damage like an ordinary hit to the vitals (see p. 203).
The nose is targeted at Skill-6; missing by 1 hits the face. Movies and pulp novels to the contrary, it is almost impossible to kill a person by driving nose splinters into the brain. A blow to the nose is extremely painful, however. The victim must make a HT-1 roll (HT+4 if he has High Pain Threshold, -1 per point of damage if he has Low Pain Threshold) or be physically stunned.
Attacks on the neck can be lethal. The throat is at -5 to hit; a miss by 1 hits the body. Crushing attacks do 1.5 × damage; cutting and impaling attacks both do double damage. The victim is stunned if he takes total hits over 1/3 HT to the neck. If the neck takes full hit point damage from an edged weapon, a successful HT roll is necessary to avoid decapitation!
Super-StrengthEven outside the Supers genre, some characters – and a lot of monsters! – have superhuman strength.
This table shows the basic damage done by strengths above 20.
ST Thrust Swing ST Thrust Swing 21 2d 4d-1 39 4d+1 7d-1 22 2d 4d 40 4d+1 7d-1 23 2d+1 4d+1 45 5d 7d+1 24 2d+1 4d+2 50 5d+2 8d-1 25 2d+2 5d-1 55 6d 8d+1 26 2d+2 5d 60 7d-1 9d 27 3d-1 5d+1 65 7d+1 9d+2 28 3d-1 5d+1 70 8d 10d 29 3d 5d+2 75 8d+2 10d+2 30 3d 5d+2 80 9d 11d 31 3d+1 6d-1 85 9d+2 11d+2 32 3d+1 6d-1 90 10d 12d 33 3d+2 6d 95 10d+2 12d+2 34 3d+2 6d 100 11d 13d 35 4d-1 6d+1 110 12d 14d 36 4d-1 6d+1 120 13d 15d 37 4d 6d+2 and so on: +1d for each full 38 4d 6d+2 10 points of added ST.
Throwing Distance Table
Distance Distance Ratio Modifier Ratio Modifier .100 3.5 × 2.000 0.6 × .125 3.0 × 2.500 0.5 × .200 2.5 × 3.000 0.4 × .300 1.9 × 4.000 0.3 × .400 1.5 × 5.000 0.25 × .500 1.2 × 6.000 0.2 × .750 1.0 × 8.000 0.15 × 1.000 0.8 × 10.000 0.1 × 1.500 0.7 × 20.000+ 0.05 ×
Example 1: You have ST 14 and need to throw a 120-lb. body over a 6' pit. Divide 120/14 = 8.571. Looking at the Ratio column, this rounds up to 10.000. The Distance Modifier is .1 × .
.1 × 14 = 1.4 yards. Oooops. The body just hit the bottom of the pit.
Example 2: You have ST 80 and want to throw a 50-lb. bag of cement at a foe. 50/80 = .625 which rounds up to .750. The multiplier is 1.0 × , so you could throw the bag 1.0 × 80 = 80 yards. Thunk.
Throwing Damage Table
Object Weight Damage Less than 2 lbs. Thrust-2 per die 2 lbs. to 5 lbs. Thrust-1 per die 5 lbs. to ST lbs. Thrust ST to 3 × ST lbs. Thrust+1 per die 3 × ST to 7 × ST lbs. Thrust 7 × ST to 11 × ST lbs. Thrust-½ per die Over 11 × ST lbs. Thrust-1 per die
Example 1: You hit your foe with that 50-lb. bag of cement thrown with your ST 80. It is between 5 lbs. and (your ST) lbs. As shown on the table above, it does straight Thrust damage. Now check the table in the column to the left (or refer to your character sheet!). Thrust damage for ST 80 is 9d damage, so you do 9 dice with the cement bag.
Example 2: You throw a 750-lb. motorcycle with your ST 80. On the table above, 750 lbs. is between 7 and 11 times your ST, so it does (Thrust-½ per die) damage. You would do 9d minus 4.5 damage with it, which rounds to 9d-4. The motorcycle actually does less damage than the bag of cement; it's too heavy for you to throw with your maximum effectiveness.
Society Control RatingsThe Control Rating (CR) is a general measure of the control which a government exercises. The lower the CR, the more freedom the people have and the less restrictive the government is. Government type does not absolutely determine CR; it is possible (and interesting) to have a very free monarchy, or an Athenian democracy where the voters have saddled themselves with thousands of strict rules. The GM can assign the CR as he pleases, or just roll one die.
CR also affects what weapons can be carried (see below), but especially violent or nonviolent societies will have a separate, modified CR for weapon laws.
If any question of legality arises, or to determine how severely the government will check and harass newcomers, roll one die. If the result is lower than the CR, the act is illegal or the PCs are harassed, delayed or even arrested. If it is higher, they escape trouble, either because the act is legal or the authorities overlook it. If the CR is rolled exactly, the situation could go either way; play out an encounter or make a reaction roll.
Control Ratings are as follows:
0. Anarchy. There are no laws or taxes.
1. Very free. Nothing is illegal except (perhaps) use of force or intimidation against other citizens. Ownership of all but military weapons is unrestricted. Taxes are light or voluntary.
2. Free. Some laws exist; most benefit the individual. Hunting weaponry is legal. Taxes are light.
3. Moderate. There are many laws, but most benefit the individual. Hunting weaponry is allowed by registration. Taxes are moderate and fair.
4. Controlled. Many laws exist; most are for the convenience of the state. Only light weaponry may be owned, and licenses are required. Broadcast communications are regulated; private broadcasts (like CB) and printing may be restricted. Taxation is often heavy and sometimes unfair.
5. Repressive. There are many laws and regulations, strictly enforced. Taxation is heavy and often unfair. What civilian weapons are allowed are strictly controlled and licensed and may not be carried in public. There is strict regulation of home computers, photocopiers, broadcasters and other means of information distribution and access.
6. Total control. Laws are numerous and complex. Taxation is crushing, taking most of an ordinary citizen's income. Censorship is common. The individual exists to serve the state. Private ownership of weaponry, broadcasting or duplication equipment is prohibited. The death penalty is common for offenses, and trials – if conducted at all – are a mockery.
Each weapon has a Legality rating. In general, the more lethal the weapon, the lower the Legality.
Class 6: Wholly nonlethal items, like short-range stunners.
Class 5: More powerful nonlethal weapons, like stun rifles, and low-tech armor.
Class 4: Hunting weapons, like single-shot laser rifles. Knives and other low-tech weapons.
Class 3: Light concealable weapons, like most pistols, and light body armor.
Class 2: Medium weapons, such as single-shot elephant guns or disruptors.
Class 1: Military hand weapons like automatic rifles.
Class 0: Heavy personal weapons like hand grenades, and squad-level military weapons.
The class of weapons and armor that will be legal in any given locale will generally depend on the local government's Control Rating (see above). However, effective Control Rating for weaponry may be reduced in some societies (e.g., 20th-century USA) where the citizens insist on the right to bear arms. It may be increased in others (e.g., 20th-century England, where the cop on the beat isn't allowed a gun). The effective CR determines who will be allowed to have what kind of weapon. A very violent society may have a negative CR with respect to weapons!
Note also that airline or starship passengers aren't likely to be permitted any weapons at all.
Legality = CR+2 or more: Any citizen may carry the item.
Legality = CR+1: May be carried by anyone except a convicted criminal or the equivalent. Registration is required, but there is no permit fee.
Legality = CR: A license is required to own or carry the item. To get a license, one must show a legitimate need. Generally, a license costs 1d × 10% of the price of the item itself.
Legality = CR-1: Prohibited except to government agents, police, and bonded security troops.
Legality = CR-2: Prohibited except to police SWAT teams, military units, and perhaps secret intelligence agencies.
Legality = CR-3 or worse: Only permitted to the military.
So, for instance, in a futuristic society with Control Rating 4, anybody could carry a stun pistol (Legality 6); registration would be required for a stun rifle (Legality 5); permits would be required for hunting weapons (Legality 4); and ordinary citizens could own nothing heavier.