Average Joes (and Janes)

25-point GURPS Characters

by Brandon Cope

Art by andi jones

Although an average person is considered to be 25 points, few PCs meet such low-point characters in the course of their adventures. Instead, it would seem that many worlds' "normal" people are at least 50- or 75-point characters.

Part of the problem is that many GMs don't feel that useful characters can be built on such a low point total, or that the amount of point tweaking required isn't worth it. In fact, this article came about after a GM challenged the author to create low-point characters that weren't one-dimensional.

Of course, for everyday use, the merchant or city guardsman the party is dealing with doesn't need much more that the basic attributes (or just IQ for the merchant) plus three or four skills and basic equipment/merchandise (see the GURPS Basic Set, p.85). However, recurring characters, or characters important to the current adventure, need to be described in more detail, and that is the niche the NPCs below are designed to fill.

The characters are presented in a format similar to that of Supporting Cast characters, but with less detailed information. Few specific adventure ideas for the characters are given, as most of the characters are designed to support adventures, not be the focus of them.

Creating More Average Characters

The only two major design philosophy changes from higher point (100+) character design are that attributes will be lower (normally 20-40 fewer character points) and the NPC will have fewer skills (10-20 fewer character points). Remember that attributes of 8 or 9 do not count against the 40-point Disadvantage limit, and the NPC can have a single Disadvantage of any point value (such as Jinxed or Terminally Ill, though a 25-point character who is Cursed probably won't live very long). On the other hand, several characters below have not reached the full 40-point Disadvantage limit.

Expanding on the Characters

The 25-point characters below can easily be upgraded to 50 points (for Ally Groups) or 75 points (for Allies). The easiest way is to spend 20-40 more points on attributes, or eliminate Disadvantages. Characters can also increase their skill levels.

Also, since 25-point characters are less detailed than higher-point NPCs, they are easier to recycle; just change the name, one or two advantages and/or disadvantages, most or all of the quirks and a few skills.

Finally, there is no reason why the characters can't be used as PCs for a one-shot adventure or a mini-campaign (for a modern example, see "Mock Horror Adventures" in Pyramid #9).



ST: 12 [20] Basic Damage Thrust: 1d-1 Swing: 1d+2
DX: 10 [0] Dodge: 3 Block: n/a Parry: 4 (hammer)
IQ: 11 [10] Basic Speed: 5.25 Move: 3
HT: 11 [10] Encumbrance: None

Advantages: Empathy [15].
Disadvantages: Compulsive carousing [-5]; Crippled leg [-15]; Gigantism [-10]; Sense of Duty (Friends) [-5]; Truthfulness [-5].
Quirks: Hates puns; Uncomfortable around goblins; Never admits errors; Wants to return to home village someday; Sings loudly while working.
Skills: Area Knowledge-11 [1]; Armoury-11 [2]; Axe/Mace-9 [1]; Blacksmith-13 [6]; Carousing-10 [1]; Gambling-11 [2]; Knife-10 [1]; Riding-9 [1].
Gear: Small knife (1d-1 cut/1d-2 imp); Smith's hammer (1d+4 cr); leather apron (PD 1, DR 1 over front torso).
Appearance: age 22, light golden skin, short brown hair, dark blue eyes, 7' 7", 300 lbs.

Shortly after turning 13, Lahar's village was raided by goblins who took him (as well as several others) captive. He was sold off to a slaver, then to a blacksmith in a large city to the north. Fortunately, the laws of the region allowed slaves to save money in order to buy their freedom, which Lahar managed to do by age 17. He then took his scant possessions and began traveling south, working as a blacksmith's assistant in various towns in an effort to return home.

Eventually, he wandered into a mountain range controlled by dwarves. Lahar refuses to discuss the years he spent there, but he doesn't hide his familiarity with dwarvish armoury techniques.

Despite his somewhat fearsome appearance, Lahar is very personable and easy to get along with (as long as one avoids puns or pointing out Lahar's mistakes).

Campaign Uses: Lahar could be from the same village as the party, or or the employee of a wealthy and/or high status PC. PCs might seek him out to forge a weapon for them.

Average Joes (and Janes)


Apprentice wizard

ST: 9 [-10] Basic Damage Thrust: 1d-3 Swing: 1d-1
DX: 10 [0] Dodge: 5 Block: n/a Parry: n/a
IQ: 13 [30] Basic Speed: 4.75 Move: 4
HT: 9 [-10] Encumbrance: None

Advantages: Literacy [10]; Magery [15].
Disadvantages: Addiction (Pipe Smoker) [-5]; Jealousy [-10]; Skinny [-5]; Unattractive [-5].
Quirks: Pantheist; Sensitive about weight; Doesn't drink alcohol; Attracted to dangerous men; Likes children.
Skills: Area Knowledge-13 [1]; Alchemy-12 [2]; Diplomacy-11 [1]; Heraldry-12 [1]; History-12 [2]; Occultism-13 [2]; Pottery-12 [1].
Grimoire: Bravery-13 [2]; Fear-13 [2]; Sense Foes-13 [2]; Sense Emotion-13 [2]; Truthsayer-13 [2].
Gear: no weapons; no armor; three 1-point powerstones; writing materials.
Appearance: 19 years old, pale white skin, shoulder-length blonde hair, blue eyes, 5' 6" tall, 90 lbs.

Born into a wealthy family, Almira's family's fortunes took a sudden downturn due to the intrigues of an old family enemy. Almost overnight, she went from living in an extravagant mansion to a drab cottage. A few months later, as she wandered too far from her new home, a small group of kobold bandits surprised Almira. Before they could do anything except frighten her, an old man appeared and drove them off.

After escorting her home, he introduced himself to her parents as Peadir, a local hedge wizard, and that he wished to take her as an apprentice. Realizing that Almira would have trouble in normal life due to her frail constitution and disgraced family, her parents agreed.

Almira's apprenticeship is nearly over, and she has picked up several of her mentor's habits (including his pipe smoking and religious beliefs). Also, her resentment of others of a higher social rank has grown.

Campaign Uses: The party could run into Almira while she is on a mission for Peadir, or perhaps the wizard hires the party for a job and sends her along. If one of the PCs is a wizard, perhaps she is his apprentice.

Bryce Red-Face

Infantry militia and farmer

ST: 11 [10] Basic Damage Thrust: 1d+1 Swing: 1d-1
DX: 12 [20] Dodge: 6 Block: 7 Parry: 7 (spear), 6 (knife)
IQ: 9 [-10] Basic Speed: 5.75 Move: 5
HT: 11 [10] Encumbrance: none

Advantages: Combat Reflexes [15].
Disadvantages: Duty to Lord (9 or less) [-5]; No Sense of Humor [-10]; Theophobia (priests/gods) [-10]; Truthfulness [-5].
Quirks: Hates his nickname; Respects mages; Dislikes bards; Always wears green pants; Won't talk to his father.
Skills: Agronomy-10 [4]; Animal Handling-8 [2]; First Aid-9 [1]; Gambling-8 [1]; Knife-12 [1]; Knife Throwing-12 [1]; Scrounging-8 [1]; Shield-12 [1]; Spear-12 [2]; Swimming-12 [1].
Gear: Spear (Dam 1d+1 imp); large knife (1d-1 imp/cut); light leather vest (PD/DR 1/1); leather cap (PD/DR 1/1); small shield (PD 2).
Appearance: 24 years old, light brown skin, wavy brown hair, hazel eyes, 5' 8" tall, 150 lbs.

The youngest son of a farmer, Bryce decided to make his mark as a soldier. This decision greatly angered his father, enough so that the two haven't spoken in eight years. However, so far he is still part of the local village militia, the result of his lord's cowardice.

The only significant fighting he has been involved in dealt with the purging of a previously-abandoned temple that had been taken over by an outlawed cult. Only the chance intervention of a traveling wizard saved the militia forces from the otherworldly creatures unleashed by the cult. As a result, Bryce has a deep respect for mages and a great fear of priests and gods of any kind.

Several years ago, when drunk, he fell face-first into a cherry pie. A minstrel passing through started calling him "Red-Face," and the name stuck. Bryce doesn't like the nickname or bards.

Campaign Uses: If the PCs are from the same town, Bryce could be a friend or rival of one or more of the PCs. Perhaps the evil in the temple is only dormant, and the party has been sent to deal with it permanently; in that case, Bryce may be ordered (or, less likely, hired) to serve as a guide to the PCs.


Goblin scholar

ST: 8 [0*] Basic Damage Thrust: 1d-3 Swing: 1d-2
DX: 11 [0*] Dodge: 5 Block: n/a Parry: 3 (brawling default)
IQ: 13 [20*] Basic Speed: 5 Move: 5
HT: 10 [0] Encumbrance: None (in the field, usually Light)

Advantages: Charisma +1 [5]; Contact (government, 12 or less, skill-15, usually reliable) [4]; Goblin [5]; Literacy [10]; Longevity [5]; Night Vision [*].
Disadvantages: Combat Paralysis [-15]; Greed [-15]; Impulsiveness [*]; Laziness [-10].
Quirks: Unconcerned with distinction between right and wrong; Extrovert; Looking for the "big find."
Skills: Administration-13 [2]; Anthropology-12 [2]; Archeology-12 [2]; Astrology-12 [2]; Crossbow-11 [1]; History-14 [6]; Research-14 [4].
Gear: notebook; ink and quills; crossbow (1d+1 imp; 1/2D 160) with 10 bolts and camping equipment (only when in the field).
Appearance: 45 years old, brown skin, graying brown hair, gray eyes, 5' 8", 145 lbs.

A scholar of questionable morals, Circaro searches for old humanoid ruins that may contain intact treasures. So far, his finds have barely managed to pay for themselves.

Until Circaro married Eaine, sister of the famous historian Neri, he was headed to a long and boring life as a scribe. He managed to become a close friend of Neri, who took him on as a pupil. It didn't take long, however, for him to become interested in the legends of lost cities and temples, and the unimagined wealth located therein.

After he had learned all he could from Neri, he abandoned him and Eaine and started looking for lost treasures. Unfortunately, his laziness often overcomes his greed, and what money he has found has been squandered on his many wives (currently he is on his fifth).

Campaign Use: Circaro could hire the party (or offer them a share of the loot) to accompany him on his latest venture. Or, he may use a more scholarly cover to dupe a more ethical party into grave-robbing. Finally, he and the party could independently be searching for the same lost treasure.

Special Note: Any point cost replaced by an asterisk is part of the Goblin racial package. If there is also a number (usually for attributes), then this is the cost after figuring the racial modifiers.


Idle rich

ST: 10 [0] Basic Damage Thrust: 1d-2 Swing: 1d
DX: 10 [0] Dodge: 5 Block: n/a Parry: 6 (fencing saber)
IQ: 10 [0] Basic Speed: 5 Move: 5
HT: 10 [0] Encumbrance: None

Advantages: Semi-Literate [5]; Status +3 [10]; Wealthy [20].
Disadvantages: Alcoholism [-15]; Compulsive Carousing [-5]; Lecherousness [-15]; Stubbornness [-5].
Quirks: Usually rude; Shows no respect to those of equal or lower status; Extremely organized.
Skills: Area Knowledge-12 [4]; Animal Handling-9 [2]; Carousing-12 [6]; Fencing-10 [2]; Gambling-11 [4]; Games (Chess)-11 [2]; Language (human foreign)-9 [1]; Merchant-10 [2]; Philosophy-10 [4]; Politics-10 [2]; Savoire-Faire-12 [4].
Gear: fencing saber (1d cut/1d-1 imp).
Appearance: 22 years old, white skin, dark brown hair, hazel eyes, 5' 9" tall, 150 lbs.

Herius came into the world under auspicious circumstances, all mirrors in the house shattering at his birth. So far, however, his life has proved to be unremarkable, no different from other rich, narcissistic young nobles.

During his teenage years, in an attempt to give his son more backbone, his father sent Herius to live with his brother, who operated a successful shipping business on a western island kingdom. Herius did learn some useful business skills, but his vices also grew in intensity.

Between binges of debauchery, Herius sometimes oversees trading missions for his uncle and diplomatic missions for his father. Unfortunately, Herius usually creates more problems than he solves.

Campaign Uses: The party could be sent with Herius on one of his trade or diplomatic missions. Or, the PCs could be hired by his father to keep Herius out of trouble.



ST: 11 [10] Basic Damage Thrust: 1d-1 Swing: 1d+1
DX: 11 [10] Dodge: 5 Block: 6 Parry: 6 (shortsword), 5 (knife)
IQ: 12 [20] Basic Speed: 5.25 Move: 4
HT: 10 [0] Encumbrance: Light

Advantages: Combat Reflexes [15]; Sun-Aspected Magery [8].
Disadvantages: Jinxed x3 [-60].
Quirks: Wants to be famous adventurer; Excessively punctual; Devout follower of god of thieves; Annoyed by gossipers; Overly emotional at times.
Skills: Cooking-12 [1]; Crossbow-12 [2]; Fast Talk-11 [1]; First Aid-12 [1]; Knife-11 [1]; Riding-11 [2]; Shield-11 [1]; Shortsword-11 [2]; Survival (Woodlands)-11 [1] ; Throwing Stick-11 [1].
Grimoire: Detect Magic-12 [2]; Ignite Fire-12 [2]; Light-12 [2]; Purify Air-11 [2]; Seek Earth-12 [2]; Seek Water-12 [2]; Sense Life-12 [2].
Gear: large knife (1d-1 cut/imp); crossbow (1d+3 imp, 1/2D 220); 10 bolts; heavy leather vest (PD/DR 2/2); leather helm (PD/DR 2/2); boots (PD/DR 2/2); small shield (PD 1).
Appearance: 25 years old, white skin, bald head with tattoos, hazel eyes, 5' 10", 145 lbs.

Kylos is a well-experienced adventurer who has, somehow, often been the only member of his party to survive their expeditions. Indeed, he has outlived almost everyone who he has spent significant time around him.

His lover died of the plague, his family home was destroyed by accidental fire, and his best friend died in a duel he seconded, among other tragedies. Kylos personally sees this as a test of the gods, but some are spreading rumors that he must be cursed.

Campaign Uses: Kylos is competent enough to sign on with most parties as an extra sword or spell-caster.


Barbarian animal handler

ST: 11 [10] Basic Damage Thrust: 1d-1 Swing: 1d+1
DX: 10 [0] Dodge: 5 Block: n/a Parry: 4 (knife), 5 (hatchet)
IQ: 11 [10] Basic Speed: 5.25 Move: 5
HT: 11 [10] Encumbrance: None

Advantages: Alertness +2 [10]; Animal Empathy [5].

Disadvantages: Generosity [-5]; Pacifism (self-defense only) [-15]; Social Stigma (Barbarian) [-15].
Quirks: Sports a long braided moustache; Acts stupid (IQ 8) around strangers; Talks about his clan whenever he has the chance.
Skills: Axe/Mace-10 [2]; Agronomy-11 [2]; Animal Handling-14 [2]; Area Knowledge-11 [1]; Cooking-11 [1]; First Aid-11 [1]; History (barbarian clan)-14 [1]; Fast Talk-11 [2]; Knife-10 [1]; Language (local "common")-11 [2]; Streetwise-10 [1]; Veterinary-14 [2].
Gear: large knife (1d-1 cut/imp) and hatchet (1d+1 cut) worn on belt; no armor.
Appearance: 34 years old, ruddy white skin, brown hair, hazel eyes, 5' 11", 155 lbs.

At an early age, Salgar realized that he wasn't cut out for the life of a barbarian. Not only did he not like to start fights, he'd rather not fight at all. Fortunately, his affinity for animals kept him from being badly ridiculed. In the end, he decided he had to go to more civilized lands.

Salgar left his village many years ago and sought work as an animal handler in the southern kingdoms. He has had many employers over the years, some good, most bad. He often longs for the simple life of his village, but always put off returning.

Campaign Uses: A highly-skilled animal handler is always in demand; he could work for a PC's Patron or employer, or perhaps even a party member.

Lady Sileas of Cothas

Doomed noblewoman

ST: 10 [0] Basic Damage Thrust: 1d-2 Swing: 1d
DX: 11 [10] Dodge: 5 Block: 5 Parry: 5 (shortsword)
IQ: 13 [30] Basic Speed: 5.25 Move: 5
HT: 10 [0] Encumbrance: None

Advantages: Charisma +1 [5], Favor (Knight, 200 pt. character, 12 or less) [6]; Status +4 [15]; Wealth (wealthy) [20].
Disadvantages: Terminally Ill (6 months left) [-75}.
Quirks: Has advisors but won't listen to them; Avid card player; Proud of her ancestry.
Skills: Diplomacy-12 [2]; History-13 [2]; Hobby (Cardgames)-13 [1]; Literature-13 [2]; Merchant-14 [2]; Riding (Horse)-11 [2]; Shield-11 [1]; Shortsword-10 [1]; Strategy-12 [2]; Tactics-12 [2].
Gear: finely crafted shortsword (1d+1 cut/1d-1 imp).
Appearance: 42 years old, white skin, braided light brown hair, green eyes, 5' 6", 150 lbs.

Like her husband before her, Lady Sileas is dying from a disease caused by a magical curse. Lord Drusus, a military man, had made it a point to make sure his wife could run their walled estate while he was gone, in times of war or peace. She received combat training more extensive than that of other noblewomen.

A neighboring baron, responsible for the curse, is making plans to invade Lady Sileas' lands after her death, when her inept, teenage son will have the duty of defending the realm. Sileas is aware of this, and intends to start and end a war against the baron before this can happen.

Unfortunately, her son, appalled by a woman (his mother!) waging war, has used his influence with her advisors to delay any action until he can take over and run the campaign himself.

Campaign Uses: Lady Sileas may hire the PC's to aid her in the upcoming war. Or, the party may be serving a Patron who decides to give her aid. Characters who aren't combat oriented may be sent to find a way to remove her curse.

Marisa of Three Pines

Professional magician

ST: 9 [-10] Basic Damage Thrust: 1d-3 Swing: 1d-1
DX: 12 [20] Dodge: 5 Block: n/a Parry: 6 (Staff)
IQ: 13 [30] Speed: 5.25 Move: 3
HT: 9 [-10] Encumbrance: Medium (35 lbs from Fat disadvantage)

Advantages: Absolute Timing [5]; Charisma +1 [5]; Magic Resistance +2 [4].
Disadvantages: Cowardice [-10]; Fat [-10]; Intolerance (Mages) [-5]; Overconfidence [-10]; Poverty (Struggling) [-5]; Reputation -2 (Mages, on 10 or less) [-1].
Quirks: Loves carameled apples; Likes wine; Uncomfortable in enclosed places.
Skills: Acting-14 [2]; Area Knowledge-13 [1]; Astrology-12 [1]; Bard-14 [4]; Cooking-13 [1]; Disguise-12 [1]; Fast-Talk-13 [2]; Hypnotism-13 [2]; Occultism-13 [2]; Sleight of Hand-12 [4]; Staff-10 [1]; Ventriloquism-13 [4].
Gear: staff (cr 1d+1).
Appearance: 26 years old, frizzy shoulder-length auburn hair, brown eyes, fair complexion, 5' 5", 175 lbs.

As a child Marisa longed to be a wizard and even convinced her parents to try to get her apprenticed to a mage, but the attempt backfired: not only did Marisa have no talent for magic, but she had a definite resistance to it.

Rather than accept this failure, Marisa chose to do with mundane skills what mages did with their inborn talent. She became well-versed in many areas of trickery, as well as becoming a very persuasive person, which aids her "spells" greatly.

Unfortunately, Marisa's habit of passing herself off as a gaudy wizard has not made her popular with true mages, who feel that she is tarnishing their image. Her shows are what one would expect at a cheap circus, not from a professional wizard, and she uses as many props as possible.

Campaign Uses: A PC mage may well take a dislike to her (or be contacted by fellow guild members who do). Most likely, she will simply be a entertainer passing through, who seems to turn up in every other town the PCs travel to.

Article publication date: October 1, 1999

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