Steve Jackson Games GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System

GURPS Update – 2nd to 3rd Edition

by Walter Milliken
This is a list of all the changes I found between the 2nd and 3rd editions of the Basic Set. It was created to help SJ in preparing GURPS Update, but others may find it useful as a guide to the various changes. I've only omitted trivial rewording changes and the like.

Notations used: a lone "added" means the material is entirely new to the Basic Set (although it probably appeared elsewhere in worldbooks or Roleplayer). The symbol "=>" separates simple value or phrasing changes, with the 2nd edition value before, and the 3rd edition after, the change symbol.

Changes from GURPS Basic Set 2nd edition to 3rd edition

Wealth and Status
Dead Broke: -20 => -25 pts.

Clerical Investment: added
Combat Reflexes: 10 => 15 pts., gives new bonuses to Active Defenses,
  Fast-Draw, Fright Checks
Double-Jointed: bonus to Acrobatics removed
Eidetic Memory: first level: 20 => 30 pts.
Legal Enforcement Powers: added
Lightning Calculator: added (split off from old Mathematical Ability)
Longevity: added
Magical Resistance: added
Mathematical Ability: skill bonuses changed, computational ability moved
  to Lightning Calculator advantage
Military Rank: added
Musical Ability: now explicitly includes Singing in affected skills
Rapid Healing: 10 => 5 pts.
Toughness: "eyes" exception added
Voice: added bonus to Performance skill

Allies: added
Patrons: several minor clarifications

Limiting Disadvantages: 3-disadvantage limit removed, "required"
  disadvantage exception to -40 pt. limit added

Primitive: added
Social Stigma: the -20 pt example (slaves) removed

Dwarfism: added -1 penalty to Move, ST-4 for Jumping
Fat: added penalties for Disguise, Shadowing, ST+2 bonus for Slams
Lame: One Leg: Move 1 => 2
Low Pain Threshold: added

Mental Disadvantages: the "14 rule" clarified, uses new Will rolls

Absent-Mindedness: added
Berserk: IQ => Will roll, mechanics for negative HT changed to accomodate
  new consciousness rules
Bloodlust: added
Code of Honor: added
Combat Paralysis: added
Compulsive Behavior: added
Compulsive Lying: added
Delusions: names changed, -10 pt. version added
Gullibility: added
Intolerance: added
Phobias: mechanics changed to use new Fright Check rules, -3 penalty to
  IQ and DX for Severe forms;
  Fear of Crowds: modifiers added
  Fear of Sharp Things: added
  Squeamishness: added
  Fear of Weapons: added
Shyness: added
Split Personality: new mechanics for designing characters with this problem
Truthfulness: Detect Lies modifier added
Vow: added
Weak Will: added

Dependent: added 50-75 pt. NPCs as 0 pt. Allies; x1/2 modifier for
  employer/acquaintance added
Duties: frequency table changed slightly
Enemies: single 50 pt. enemy -6 => -5

changes to quirks allowed: added
"open" quirks: added

Prerequisites: added prohibition on using defaults for prereqs
Specializing: added -2 "outside specialty" penalty for having 2 specialties
Familiarities: sidebar added
Maximum Default: added effective attribute maximum of 20 for defaults
Point Costs for Skills: lower limit of cost now 1/2 pt. for all skills
Improving Skills with Defaults: sidebar added

Animal Skills
Falconry: added
Packing: added
Teamster: added
Veterinary: unfamiliar type penalty -5 => -2

Artistic Skills
Bard: Performance-2 default added, language penalties added
Writing: time modifiers -5/+5 => -3/+3

Athletic Skills (was Physical Skills)
Acrobatics: Double-Jointed bonus removed, added substitution for DX rolls,
  added Acrobatic Dodge
Breath Control: added
(Bicycling moved to Vehicle Skills)
Scuba: slight change in failure effects
Skiing: slight change in critical failure effects
Swimming: rules changed and moved to Success Rolls chapter

Combat/Weapon Skills
Blackjack: added
Blowpipe: added
Bolas: added
Brawling: "native punching ability" default mention removed
Broadsword: default to Force Sword-3 added
Buckler: added
Fast-Draw: added specialties (Blackjack, Magazine, Speedloader), added
  +1 bonus for Combat Reflexes
Force Shield: added
Force Sword: added
Gunner: +1/+2 bonuses for IQ 11-12/13 => 10-11/12
Lance: added
Lasso: added
Net: added
Shield: Block 1/3 => 1/2 Shield skill, added default Buckler-2
Shortsword: added default to Force Sword-3
Spear Thrower: added
Spear Throwing: added default to Spear Thrower-4
Speed-Load: added
Two-Handed Sword: added default to Force Sword-3
Whip: added

Craft Skills
(Architecture moved to Scientific Skills)
Armoury: TL5+ definition clarified, specialties added, added -5 penalty
  for no tools at TL9+
(Engineer moved to Scientific Skills)
Jeweler: default Blacksmith-3 => Blacksmith-4
Mechanic: (moved here from Vehicle Skills)

Language Skills
Levels of Language Skill: table changed substantially
Gesture: cultural penalties added
Telegraphy: added

Medical Skills
Diagnosis: default First Aid-4 => First Aid-8
Hypnotism: added
Physician: default First Aid-7 => First Aid-11
Surgery: default First Aid-8 => First Aid-12

Outdoor Skills
(Boating moved to Vehicle Skills)
Navigation: added -4 penalty for no equipment
Survival: added -2 penalty for unfamiliar continent/planet

Professional Skills
Accounting: (moved here from Scientific Skills)
Computer Operation: (moved here from Scientific Skills)
Electronics Operation: added (was Electronics in earlier worldbooks)
Heraldry: added
Law: (moved here from Social Skills)

Scientific Skills
added -2 penalty for two specialties
Architecture: (moved here from Craft Skills)
Electronics: added (replaces Engineer (Electronics))
Engineer: (moved here from Craft Skills), Electonics specialty => new skill
Genetics: added specialty Genetic Engineering at TL9+
Geology: added default Prospecting-4
Metallurgy: added default Jeweler--8
Meteorology: instrument bonus (TL-5) => (TL-4)
Prospecting: added

Social Skills
Acting: added default Performance-2
Administration: added skill 15+ requirement for +2 reaction bonus
Area Knowledge: added
Diplomacy: added stuff on influence skills
Performance: added
Savoir-Faire: added -6 penalty for alien culture
Strategy: now requires specialization, added default Strategy (other)-4

Thief/Spy Skills
Camouflage: added
Detect Lies: IQ difference effects removed, -4 penalty for opponent Acting
  or Fast-Talk skill removed, added -2 penalty for different species
Disguise: IQ difference effects removed
Holdout: added
Intelligence Analysis: added
Traps: added equivalance to Electronics (Security Systems) at TL7+
Underwater Demolition: added

Vehicle Skills
"starting" skill roll now only required if using skill at default
added 15+ skill critical failure aversion rule
Bicycling: (moved here from Physical Skills)
Boating: (moved here from Outdoor Skills)
Driving: unfamiliarity penalty -1 => -2, added ATV specialty
(Mechanic moved to Craft Skills)
Motorcycle: now requires specialization
Piloting: M/H based on IQ => P/A based on DX, added explanation of failure
  results, added penalties for simple and complex craft, added new
  specialties, space piloting prereqs of Free Fall and Vacc Suit eased
Powerboat: changes to required rolls for operation

Equipment and Encumbrance
Armor Types: added TL7+ armor types
Damage Types and Damage Bonus: bullets changed from crushing to special case
Your Move Score: added clarification of Running skill effects, Running
  effect on Speed => Move

Character Development
Disadvantages Gained During Play (sidebar): the "no cost" method of
  eliminating such gained disadvantages has been removed
Improvement Through Study (sidebar): study equivalent of
  1 pt. = 1000 hours => 200 hours
Age and Aging: modifier for aging HT rolls +TL => +(medical TL-3)

Random Characters
Advantages and Disadvantages (table): Disadvantage #4 Megalomania => Poor

I'm not bothering with the sample characters or the adventures.

Success Rolls
Default Rolls: max of 20 for attributes on default rolls added
Automatic Success: automatic success for effective skill 25+ removed

Running: Running skill bonus added (actually clarified)
Lifting and Moving Things: added "Shift Slightly" category, "Pull on Wheels"
  divisor 20/40 => 10/20
Digging: added
Swimming: HT loss => Fatigue loss, roll added 1 minute after success ending a failure series, added rules for combat in water
Holding Your Breath (sidebar): added
Lifesaving: failure -2 HT => -1 ST, -6 HT => -6 ST, critical failure no
  longer requires Swimming roll to recover

Vision: partial darkness modifiers -1 to -5 => -1 to -9, modifiers for Bad
  Sight added

Will Rolls: added
Fright Checks: added
Influence Rolls (sidebar): added
Long Tasks (sidebar): added
Fright Check Table: added

Basic Combat
Change Position: attack now allowed on kneeling<=>standing change
Aim: added new Snap Shot rule, Accuracy modifier
All-Out Attack: added +2 damage option
Reloading Time (sidebar): Fast-Draw (Arrow) removed
All-Out Defense: added clarification about parrying twice with weapons which become unready
Hit Penalties (sidebar): standing in water -4 => detailed rules under
Active Defense: added +1 bonus for Combat Reflexes
Dodging: added Acrobatic Dodge option
Blocking: 1/3 => 1/2 Shield skill
Parrying: special parrying rules moved here, added -1 to parries by Knife
Effects of Injury (sidebar): added weapon use after knockdown rules, change
  to unconsciousness at -HTs

Close Combat
Punching: Thrust => Thrust-2 damage, added Brawling and Karate skills as
  alternates to DX roll
Kicking: added Brawling-2 and Karate skill rolls as alternates for DX-2 roll,
  damage Thrust+2 (or +3) => Thrust (or Thrust+1), added skill roll as
  alternate to DX roll to avoid fall on failure
Parrying Bare-Handed: can now parry thrusting attacks without -3 modifier

Advanced Combat
Change Position: added "Step and  . . . " to kneeling<=>standing position change
Aim: added can move lesser of 2 or 1/2 Move, added Snap Shot/Accuracy rule
The Fast-Draw Skill (sidebar): added speedloaders and magazine to list
Wild Swing (sidebar): added Darkness penalty
All-Out Attack: added +2 damage option
Step and Feint: added Shield Feints
Step and Wait: change to simultaneous attack rule, replaces old Stop Thrust,
  moved opportunity fire here
Long Action: added time for full plate/ultra-tech combat armor
Move: added option of aiming/firing ranged weapons
Costs for Movement (sidebar): added water rules under Bad Footing
Active Defenses: added +1 for Combat Reflexes
Dodging: retreat now separate option, added Acrobatic Dodge
Blocking: 1/3 => 1/2 Shield skill
Retreating: expanded rules, now applies to any active defense, clarification
  – foe's reach unaffected, added limit of once/turn

Hit Locations
Deciding Where to Attack (sidebar): head => brain, added mention of massive damage in body entry
Hit Penalties for Different Body Parts: now in tables section, major changes,
  head "miss by 1" rule changed and also applied to vitals
(Backpack "armor" PD2/DR2 removed)
Massive Damage (sidebar): added
Advanced Injury Rules (sidebar): head hit rules moved to table section and
  changed: head damage bonuses x2/x3/x4 => x4/x4/x4 for brain hit
Knocking a Weapon Away (sidebar): substantially changed

Close Combat
Choke or Strangle: added suffocation damage
Break Free: added limitation to 1 try/10 secs if pinned
Weapons for Close Combat (sidebar): pistols: now have no modifier in CC,
  brass knuckles: added time to put on, -2 to weapons in that hand,
  blackjack entry changed slightly
Slams: added +2 for medium or large shield, changed effect of ST roll crit
Flying Tackle: added Dodge defense option and failure modifier, added
  automatic grapple on success by 4+
Trample: "to hit/Dodge" rolls => Contest of DX
(Snap Shots (sidebar): removed)
(Stop Thrusts (sidebar): removed)
Striking Into a Close Combat: miss "flat" 9 to hit others => at best 9 to hit

Ranged Weapons
Major revisions to stats: PB => SS, INC => ACC
Ranged Attacks on Human Targets (sidebar): added
Pop-Up Attacks (sidebar): can now pop-up with crossbow, Dodge&Retreat no
  longer allowed
Aiming (sidebar): added "Aiming on the Move"
Firing Upward and Downward: added exception for beam weapons
Firing on the Move: added
Firing Through an Occupied Hex: added -8 penalty for sonic weapons
Hitting the Wrong Target: removed critical failure can hit target on ground
Guns: added
Opportunity Fire (sidebar): modifier for one hex -4 => -2, added rule for
  "not automatic" attack
Damage to Shields (sidebar): metal shields available at TL3-4 => 2-4, added
  force shields
Explosions: added

Special Situations
Suffocation (sidebar): added
Partial Surprise: added modifiers for Combat Reflexes, Tactics skill
Shield Bashing: added parry at -2 for weapons over 2 lbs.
Torches and Flashlights (sidebar): added flashlights
Attack from Above: simple Vision roll => Contest of Skill (Stealth vs.
  Vision), added +2 bonus for looking up

Injuries, Illness and Fatigue
General Damage: rules for consciousness at negative HT changed
Shock: added IQ penalty for damage taken
Knockout: added
Effects of Crippling Injuries (sidebar): now lowers PC's point value
Medical Care:  table extended to TL15+, assistants rule removed
Recovering from Unconsciousness: added rule for recovering when HT>0
Starvation and Dehydration (sidebar): (moved here), IQ rolls => Survival or Naturalist skill rolls
Dying Actions (sidebar): added
Flame: substantially changed
Heat: added
Freezing: added effects of high-tech armor, temperatures in
  Centigrade => Fahrenheit
Bleeding (sidebar): added
Falling: armor DR effects changed
Fatigue: added prohibition on negative Fatigue, added extra Fatigue point
  gained from eating

Mounted and Vehicle Combat
almost all added
weapon skills at -2 => skill is minimum of Riding and weapon skill
added swung weapons at -2 skill, +2 damage
added active defenses for riders

all added

Biting Damage (sidebar): small changes to table, damage impaling => cutting
animal descriptions (sidebars): many minor changes
Animal Training: added daily session times
Encumbrance: added rules for load-pulling equipment, added +2 bonus for
  grain-fed horses
Fantasy Creatures (sidebar): added

all added

all added

Game Mastering
The Cinematic Campaign (sidebar): added
Avoiding Character Inflation: added

Game Worlds
Tech Levels: added TLs 11-16+
Travel: added mechanical transport rules
Weather (sidebar): added
Terrain and Travel: modifiers substantially changed
Social Level and Cost of Living: added Modern column to table
Jobs: rules substantially changed
Job Success Rolls: added
Defining New Jobs (sidebar): added

Writing Your Own Adventures
Features of a Good Adventure (sidebar): added
We're Professionals (sidebar): added

Charts & Tables
Ranged Weapon Attacks: size/speed/range modifiers totally revised
Firearm Critical Miss Table: added
Parts of the Body: substantially changed

NPC Reactions
Commercial Transactions: added "less favorable" rule, added 50% of fair
  price floor, Merchant-20+ bonus +3 => +2

Ancient/Medieval Hand Weapon Table
Blackjack: added
Broadsword: Force Sword-3 default added
Fencing: weapon names changed, saber $400 => $700
Lance: added
Shortsword: Force Sword-3 default added
Spear: 2-handed spear damage thr+2 => thr+3; pike entry removed
Two-Handed Axe/Mace: scythe entry added
Two-Handed Sword: Force Sword-3 default added, Whip: added

Ancient/Medieval Ranged Weapon Table
(all): PB and INC removed, SS and ACC added
Blowpipe: added
Bolas: added
Lasso: added
Net: added
Spear Thrower: added
Spear Throwing: added Spear Thrower-4 default

Modern and Ultra-Tech Weapons: added
Ancient/Medieval Armor: areas covered added, Backpack added to torso list,
  Chainmail without cloth under: PD 0 => PD 3
Modern and Ultra-Tech Armor: added
Fantasy/Medieval Equipment: $= silver farthing => copper farthing, brandy
  added, added -2 penalty to Surgery without doctor's bag,
  grapnel 3 lbs. => 2 lbs., hatchet added, whetstone added
Modern Equipment: added

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