Steve Jackson Games GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System

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8. Science Fiction

8.1 Where are battlesuits (power armor) described?

They are discussed in great detail in GURPS Mecha. Battlesuits and powered armor are also described in GURPS Vehicles, 2nd Edition (p. 80) and GURPS Robots(p. 52, with an example on p. 113). All three books are by David Pulver, and use compatible systems, although the focus is different in each of the three books.

Note: The Battlesuit skill has changed. It is now a P/A Vehicle skill, just like Driving or Piloting, and covers only "driving" the suit. To operate the suit's weapons and electronics, use the appropriate Beam Weapons, Electronics Operation, Guns and Gunner skills.

Other Sources:

Challenge Magazine #50 (published by GDW). There is an article entitled "Wearing the Steel: Powered Armor in GURPS," by David Pulver, on p. 78. Everything is described in the standard GURPS format, and is consistent with other ultra-tech armor described in GURPS Ultra-Tech.

Another description of power armor is given in GURPS Supers, 2nd Edition and the GURPS IST sourcebook. Supers, 2nd Edition has a sidebar on p. 71 describing a battlesuit suitable for use in a Supers campaign. On p. 98, there is an example of the IST powered infantryman. The IST supplement describes the IST Battlesuit on p. 50. This is basically the same suit as on p. 98 of GURPS Supers, but blasters replace the forearm-mounted Uzi, and the description is more detailed.

8.2 Is there a GURPS-compatible miniatures/boardgame starship system?

There is a reasonably detailed set of space combat rules in GURPS Traveller on pages 163-174. It involves individual ships and a hex map, and could easily be played with whatever starship miniatures you have handy.

8.3 Are robots covered in any GURPS book?

Yes. Robots are covered in GURPS Robots, which contains extensive rules for building and roleplaying robots, cyborgs, battlesuits and gengineered androids, as well as some rules on nanotechnology and microbots.

Other sources:

Source: David Pulver

David Pulver wrote an article on androids for Cyberpunk campaigns in Roleplayer #29 called The Next Best Thing to Human. This is essentially a reprint of the rules found in Cyberpunk Adventures' "Medusa Sanction". These rules appear in GURPS Robots (along with many more rules for androids).

Source: Jeff Gaines

Organic is for Wimps! by JC Connors, in Roleplayer #28 (April 1992), has rules for robots in GURPS Supers. The editor of Roleplayer notes: "This article has nothing to do with the GURPS Vehicles or GURPS Robots books now in the pipeline . . . but it looks like fun. Consider it optional and enjoy it!"

8.4 Just how many programs can a computer run? A robot?

A normal computer can run two programs of its own complexity, or 20 of its-complexity-minus-one, or 200 of its-complexity-minus-two, etc (p. CII12).

A robot can only run half as many (one of its complexity level, 10 of complexity-minus-one, etc.). The remaining space is taken up by its "Robot Operating System" - the system that controls balance, movement, and handles real-time input from the sensors; and (at TL 8+) the language system, which allows more-or-less fluent speech and literacy (p. RO56).

Any computer built with the "Robot Brain" option (p. CII14, p. VE61), or using the rules in GURPS Robots is assumed to be a "Robot Brain" with a "Robot OS" and limited program capacity (only one program of its own complexity). All other computers have the full program capacity (two programs of its own complexity).

Source: Kevin J. Chase

8.5 How do the beam weapon rules work?

Beam weapons are usually treated like any other ranged attack: the attacker rolls to hit, the defender rolls to dodge and - if the attack hits - damage is rolled and applied normally. Automatic fire, misses and scatter are handled in exactly the same way as for any other gun (exception: lasers; see below). It's a simplification to treat beams as if they were arrows or bullets, but a playable one.

Note that beam weapons do double the usual amount of damage before they "blow through" (see the question on blow-through, and pp. B109 and CI62), and that many have armor divisors of (2), (5), (10) or even (100) that divide DR before damage is applied. Many beam weapons also have special effects (impaling attacks that do triple damage instead of double, attacks that melt armor, et cetera) - see GURPS Ultra-Tech for these.

Laser Autofire:

The most commonly-confused rule for beam weapons is the so-called "laser autofire rule" found under "Damage from a Burst" on p. B120. It works like this: Once you've determined the number of hits in a burst of automatic laser fire using the usual rules on p. B120, and after all the target's dodges have been resolved, the listed damage from the gun is multiplied by the number of actual hits before being applied to DR. This is an attempt to simulate armor being burned away.

For the technical-minded, the mechanic of laser autofire is that you divide a one-second pulse from a single beam into a number of segments, each lasting 1/RoF of a second. You group these into 4/RoF time slices and roll for each of them. The quality of the roll determines the percentage of that time slice the beam was kept on target. Once you've rolled for all time slices, you add up the percentage of time on-target and percentage of time off-target - discretized as "shots" that hit and "shots" that miss. What the mechanic represents is a beam being held on-target for (total time on-target). The fact that you roll dice multiple times in succession and get results of varying quality does not represent a beam wandering onto and off of the target, nor does it represent multiple pulses sailing around, some hitting, some not.

Try not to confuse the mechanic for what it represents. This is like making a large number of Dodge rolls in a turn: it does not represent a large number of discrete actions that occur in a particular order, but simply the entire outcome of a turn, the results of which are best viewed as the state of affairs at the end of the turn, not as a time series of events. The mechanic of rolling dice multiple times for "groups" is just that - a mechanic. It is a balanced way of determining how long the beam is held on-target for using the existing rules for automatic weapons fire and RoF.

EXAMPLE: Take a laser with a RoF of 10. It fires a 10-"shot" burst in 3 groups: 4 + 4 + 2 "shots." What this really means is that it fires a continuous beam for a full second - not 10 Star Wars-style "bolts" - and you roll three times to see how long you held that beam on-target.

If you roll for each of the 3 groups and 3 + 2 + 1 shots hit, then you held the beam on-target for (3 + 2 + 1)/(4 + 4 + 2) = 0.6 seconds. This is not viewed as "0.3 seconds on-target, 0.1 off, 0.2 on, 0.2 off, 0.1 on, 0.1 off," or even as "0.3 seconds on-target, 0.2 off, 0.2 on, 0.2 off, 0.1 on," but always as "0.6 on-target and 0.4 off." All "hits" are considered to be contiguous, as are all "misses."

The "shots" that missed went off to the left, off to the right, into the ground . . . or perhaps you wasted "beam time" walking the beam onto the target, pulled the trigger too late, released the trigger too early, or waved the beam back and forth over the target too quickly to do damage.

8.6 What is the DR of 1 point of DF in GURPS Space and how many dice damage does one point of FP translate into?

Detailed rules for converting between DR and DF, and between GURPS weapon stats and FP, are given in Compendium II (pp. 100-101) and Vehicles, Second Edition (p. 138 for DF, p. 99 for FP).

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