GCA Tutorial - Part Two: Working with the Main Child Windows
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If you’ve already gone through Part One: Getting Started with GURPS Character Assistant, you’re familiar with one of the child windows in GCA: the Quick View window. There are a number of others: one for each type of trait in GURPS, including attributes, advantages, spells, and equipment. Each of these windows works the same way, except the Attributes window, so we’ll take a look at it first.

Working with the Attributes Window

You can get to the Attributes window by using the windows tabs near the bottom of the main GCA window. It looks like this:

At the very bottom of the window is the Points bar, which displays how many points you’ve spent on your character, broken down by category. Immediately above that are the character tabs, one for each character currently loaded. And immediately above that are the window tabs.

If you have more windows or characters open than room to display tabs for them, then “dog-ear” buttons will appear, allowing you to scroll side to side. See the red arrow below:

Find the Attributes tab (use the dog-ear if you have to), and click on it to get to the Attributes window (You can also get there by selecting Attributes from the list of windows in the Windows menu.)

The Attributes window looks like this:

The Attributes window is the only window that does not provide a list of available traits to choose from. All the available attributes are automatically added to your character when it is created.

The Normal View of the Attributes window is shown above. This view provides you with some summary data on the right side, and the main attributes and secondary characteristics on the left. You can also enter your character’s name here, as well as your own (which simplifies keeping track of who made what character when you share a computer).

Below the attributes listing, you can see an Edit button, with an up/down button next to it. The up/down button allows you to change the current score of a selected attribute. You can also change scores by clicking directly on them and entering the new value.

Try clicking on the ST score, in the Score column. You should see that area change into an edit field, with the current score highlighted and ready to be typed over. It should look like this:

If you type in 12 and then press Tab or Enter, GCA will make the change to ST and calculate the cost. The value under the Pts column will change, as will the value for Attributes in the Points bar at the bottom of the screen. (Encumbrance and Basic Damage may have changed as well. Most changes in GCA happen “live” and affect all aspects of your character immediately.)

Try clicking on the IQ stat, but not in the score column. The IQ row will highlight. Try adjusting the score using the up/down button. The IQ score goes up or down in response to the up or down arrow.

All that’s left to try is the Edit button. With IQ still selected, click on the Edit button. This will open the Edit Items (Simple) window for IQ. It should look like this:

If you’ve already gone through the Getting Started with GURPS Character Assistant tutorial, you already know how this window works. If you haven’t, please refer to that tutorial, above.

WARNING: You can use this screen to change the name and name extension of attributes. You should NOT do that, ever, unless the attribute is one of your own creation. GCA searches for attributes by name when getting their values for other calculations. Changing the names of attributes in GCA will result in GCA not being able to find them. For example, if you change the name of IQ to something else, you will no longer be able to get scores for Perception, Will, or any IQ-based skills, as GCA will think that the character’s IQ is 0.

When closing this window, the safest thing to do is to click on Cancel, just in case you changed something you didn’t want to change.

You should be back at the Attributes window. Take a look at the Table View by clicking on the Table View tab at the bottom of the window. It looks like this:

The idea behind this view is much like that in the Normal View, but it shows all the available attributes, in alphabetical order. It also shows their abbreviation. This is usually (but not always) a shorter alias for the attribute that can be used in various calculations that come up when building or playing a character. (For example, Medium Encumbrance is BL x 3; or a GM could rule that the chance of jumping a wide ravine is DX - 2.)

Other than having access to attributes that aren’t available in Normal View, you shouldn’t need to use the Table View very often.

Now take a look at one of the other child windows. Once you’ve used one of them, you should be able to use any of them.

Working with the Skills Window

To get to the Skills Window, you can either click on the Skills tab in the windows tabs, or select the Skills option from the Windows menu. The Skills Window looks like this:

If you’ve already gone through the Getting Started with GURPS Character Assistant tutorial, you know that it’s the same as the trait dialog windows discussed there. The only difference is these windows are “live”; they don’t have an OK button to close the window – you just go to work on a different window any time you want.

All the available skills are listed on the left, and your character’s skills will appear on the right. At the start, of course, the right side is blank. If you want to look at a smaller list of skills, use the drop-down list at the top of the left window to select limited categories of skills. This will limit both columns, so remember to set it back to “All Categories” to see everything your character has.

In the middle are buttons to let you add traits you’ve selected to your character, or to remove them and return them to the Available list.

Below the Character Skills list is a small group of buttons. The Edit button allows you to edit items added to the character. To the right of that is an up/down button, which allows you to increase or decrease the points spent on a selected skill. The button with the icon of a hammer and screwdriver is the Modifiers button. Clicking that will open the Modifiers window and adjust any enhancements or limitations that should be applied to the skill. (Usually, you won’t need the Modifiers button for skills, but it will come up frequently for other traits).

For a test, add the Acrobatics skill to your character. You can click on Acrobatics and then the Add button to add it to your character, or you can double-click on Acrobatics. You should see Acrobatics listed under Character Skills, with one point spent on it, and the resulting level. It should look like this:

Now that you have the Acrobatics skill, you can use the up/down button to put points into it, or to take points away. Try it a few times, then click the down button until there are zero points in the skill. When you reach zero points, a new icon appears next to the skill name – a blue “d”, which means the skill is using its default value. It looks like this:

Click the Edit button to go to the Simple Edit window. With Acrobatics still selected in the Character Skills list, click the Edit button, and you will see a window like this:

The Name field allows you to edit the name of the skill.

The field labeled Name Extension allows you to specify a name extension for just about every trait in the program. This name extension is what appears in parentheses after the main name of the trait in the listings. In this example, the field is blank. Name extensions cover a lot of different things, including specialties or special cases.

If you look down the list of fields along the left side of the window, you see that GCA has all the bonuses that might be applied to this skill, any necessary prerequisites (called “needs”), what bonuses the trait may grant to other traits (called “gives”), and even the current Modifiers being applied, if any.

Of interest right now is the Defaulted From field, which indicates that Acrobatics is currently defaulting from DX. Any time a blue “d” icon is on the Character Skills list, you can open the Edit window to see what that skill is defaulting from.

Many skills can default to other skills, even if points have been spent on them. The blue “d” icon may appear even with a few points in the trait, and sometimes the points spent don’t move in a progression that you expect. When buying up a skill from a default value, the points spent can look wrong at first, but remember that you may be getting some free points in the skill, courtesy of the default.

In the case of techniques, you will always see the blue “d” icon, because they’re always based on some default from the controlling skill.

Click OK to close the Edit window and return to the Skills window. (For more on what the Full Edit Window and Modifiers buttons do, see Part One: Getting Started with GURPS Character Assistant.)

This document last updated May 23, 2005. Copyright © 2005 by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated. All rights reserved.
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