GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System

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3. Basic Set

3.1 General

3.1.1 Why was the Power/Skill approach to Psionics dropped in Fourth Edition?

Chiefly because it created a two-tier system, wherein some superhuman abilities were just advantages that required attribute rolls, while others were "powers" that came with improvable skills. We decided that it was fairer – and meshed super-powers and psi powers better, since they're basically the same thing – to use a single mechanic for all superhuman abilities. The advantage/attribute roll model won out on the grounds of simplicity. Talent adds a "skill" component back in, and modifiers – like Reliable – can further modify things.

Note that GURPS Powers, and the more specialized GURPS Psionic Powers, provide ways to bring back the old flavor (with skills and power groups) in a more balanced way.

3.1.2 Why was PD dropped? And why do shields still provide defense bonuses similar to PD?

Why was PD dropped?

The problems most often pointed out with PD:

  1. Suppose that, in Third Edition, I have PD 4, Dodge 6 from whatever sources. If I don't try to defend, I roll PD (4): 1.9%. If I dodge naked, I roll Dodge (6): 9.3%. If I dodge in PD, I roll against the sum (10): 50%. The probabilities would logically stack to more like 11%. "Greater than the sum of the parts" is one thing; more than four times the sum of the parts is another! Thus, PD baffled people who did the math.
  2. Suppose that, in 3e, I have Dodge 6 naked. I stack on armor and shields, and get Heavy encumbrance – reducing my Dodge to 3 but picking up PD 7. Making myself half as mobile . . . I've increased by odds from 6 or less (9.3%) to 10 or less (50%). Again, no one disputes that the equipment should help some, or even a lot . . . but by a factor of five? Thus, PD baffled people who were trying to do heroic fiction where speed is effectively armor.
  3. As for the argument about blows "bouncing off" armor, see them as simply blows failing to get through DR. The whole "bites in vs. shatters" argument is a red herring; that's to do more with how much of an armor's "cover DR" is due to its material DR and how much is to do with its HP. The balsa has low DR, lots of HP; the glass has high DR, only 1-2 HP.

In that case, why the PD-like Defense Bonus to shields?

A shield is a movable barrier that a fighter positions between himself and his opponents as he dodges or parries, or uses expressly for the purpose of a block. Its DB represents deliberate, tactical use of this barrier, as evidenced by three facts:

  1. It only applies against attacks from the front or shield side; i.e., from facings where the fighter could believably position it.
  2. It only applies to attacks slow enough to react to; i.e., not firearms.
  3. It does not have any effect (like the old PD roll) when the fighter is caught completely flat-footed.

In the case of Dodge, DB exists for the same reason why diving for cover gives a bonus: you're moving behind an obstacle as you dodge, allowing a less-complete void to serve the purpose of more radical movement.

In the case of Parry, DB exists for the same reason that a staff gets +2 to Parry: coordinating shield movement with weapon movement gives you an unusually large effective parrying surface, which makes it easier to parry.

In the case of Block, DB exists because a bigger object to block with makes it easier to block.

In no case are we saying, "Shields give a DB because, just by sitting there, they cause blows to bounce off." That is what shields and armor both did in Third Edition, and it was wrong. It made no sense. "Bouncing off" is what DR represents. On the other hand, shields do have a clear defensive benefit if used actively, which is what DB represents, and why it's called "Defense Bonus" (implying a bonus to an action) and not "Passive Defense" (implying it just sits there). Armor cannot be used actively, and so receives no DB.

3.1.3 When I roll against a target number less than 3, when do a result of 3 or 4 still succeed?

Defense rolls may always be attempted, and a 3 or 4 is still a Critical Success. Same thing for Resistance rolls to magic or poison, most forced IQ and HT rolls, and any other resistance roll against a force directly targeting a living or sapient being.

Other rolls (such as skill rolls or physical feats) are impossible if the target number is below 3. However, the dice may still be rolled if the character does not realize the attempt is futile, and if you're rolling vs. a -7 or worse, even a roll of 3 will be a Critical Failure.

3.1.4 Why was the psionic system changed so much in Fourth Edition?

This section gives the justification behind the change in the psionic system in Fourth Edition. All answers are, of course, from Kromm. Be ready, this is a long one.

What is the logic behind the revamping of the Psionic system in Fourth Edition?

The 3e assumption that psis were reasonable as 100-point PCs, implying that psi wouldn't unbalance games, was wrong. Sensing danger, finding invisible clues, looking through walls, reading and controlling minds, etc. . . . all that stuff is hell on plots. And a "Swiss Army psi" with a good IQ, a few levels of ESP and Telepathy power, and a point in each of two-dozen psi skills could do it all on 100 points. With disads, he could still have 40-50 points to spare for other things. That wasn't a feature, but a bug. PCs without special abilities were outclassed ten ways from the starting line by those with psi.

One could argue that I'm assuming low power levels, but I would dismiss the relevance of that argument on the strength of how the game actually played out. Low power levels didn't limit psis in the investigative games where low-powered psis most often appeared, because the mundanes had to visit the crime scene in person, touch the suicide note to read it, and so on. The mundanes' abilities – vision, investigative skills, touch, etc. – were as short-ranged as psi, and less capable. And since most settings with psi were high-tech, psis didn't even have to pay a price in dangerous situations: a point or two in Guns skill plus a big gun and some body armor did that. Their "action hero" buddies bought ST, DX, Karate, etc. to fit their archetype . . . but most of the time, they just used Guns as well.

Such psi was also broken next to other superhuman abilities. All things being equal, a psi who needed to concentrate for just one second to do most things, pay little or no fatigue, and never worry about mana had a massive advantage next to a mage. Ritual magic, with its lengthy ritual preparations and ceremonies, was even less capable. And in 500-point-up supers games, the norming of psi down around 100 points made super-psis godlike next to all other supers. The single most common complaint and FAQ I had about psi in 3e was: "Why is it so powerful next to all other special abilities? How can I balance it?"

In 4e, psi starts out balanced against super-abilities, because it uses exactly the same advantages, just with a different power modifier (-10% for Super-Powers instead of -10% for Telepathy or what have you). For balance against magic, add lots of Costs Fatigue and Takes Extra Time. That will make it far cheaper. And you can get 3e-level costs if you impose real limitations – like having to touch the target's bare skin, meditate for an hour, or use your ability only a few times a day – as opposed to bogus ones, like slightly reduced range.

Doesn't it makes role-playing any psi prohibitive point-wise if one were to run, say, a Babylon 5 campaign?

Because they're far more powerful than everyone else in game terms, even if they don't dominate the show in dramatic terms. Unfortunately for gamers, even very cool novels, TV shows, and movies make terrible game settings. One of the main reasons for this is that the characters aren't free-willed, but in fact pawns of a few auteurs who have a long-term plan for everything in the setting. The heroes aren't equally powerful (built on the same points, as it were) – it's just that the powerful ones are kept in check, and the weak ones made prominent, by a constant series of dramatic devices.

It's what I call the "Spock effect." Spock was the original SF TV show psi. Being a strong, ultra-intelligent, long-lived alien with a secret hand-to-hand combat technique and telepathic powers was balanced by his alienness and placing him in tougher situations (and keeping him out of easy-win situations). In the show, he was just "one of the guys," on an equal footing with the other major players. As a PC in an RPG, he ought to be worth three times as many points as all his mates. His down sides are all "soft" limitations; his up sides are all "hard," easily abused game abilities. The GM can't rely on his player not to use his brains, strength, and special gifts all the time, in ways that don't suit the original concept of the character or "feel" of the TV show, so he must charge what those abilities are worth in the worst-case scenario where the character goes power-mad.

B5 psis are in the same boat. So are Jedi in Star Wars. And so is the "powered" caste in any SF&F setting. In their novel/show/movie, their abilities are carefully circumscribed, worked into the plot, and so on. But in a game, nothing says any of this will be true.

If the problem is only that psi abilities are too powerful, why not just increase the cost and keep the basic structure the same?

Mainly because if you read up on parapsychology (which I have – don't ask) or survey the literature, you discover that fixed limits on range and the like are very rare. POWERS will have limitations for setting all the limits you could want, but such things are artifacts of RPGs. In 4e, we made "simulating fictional abilities" a top priority. Aside from telekinesis, structured steps in range and so forth really aren't all that true to fiction.

Mostly, people hated the 3e psi rules. It wasn't just a few squeaky wheels at all. It was a lot of folks, some of whom were not vocal loudmouths. There were exceptions – every rule, however bad, has its fans – but not many.

3.1.5 What do attribute levels of zero mean? (ST 0, DX 0, IQ 0, HT 0)

What does ST 0, exactly, mean in game terms?

ST 0 means you have Basic Lift 0 and can pick up nothing. If you have any encumbrance at all, even a gum wrapper, you collapse under its weight. You also have 0 damage, and can't even shove a door open or push aside a cobweb. However, you can walk and act, as long as your walking and acting doesn't involve doing anything other than moving your own body weight from A to B. Thus, air and fire elementals (p. B262) can have ST 0 without being immobilized, but can also be kept out by any barrier they can't penetrate by seeping around or burning. Note that overcoming air resistance, under normal circumstances, is considered negligible for game balance purposes.

What does DX 0, exactly, mean in game terms?

DX 0 mostly means that you have no useful ability to do anything DX-based at which you're not a dyed-in-the-wool, committed-to-muscle-memory master. At DX 0, even the most routine tasks that require DX rolls at +10 are a coin toss – 10 or less – so things that the GM normally waives rolls for now require rolls and fail half the time. Thus, the implied shove attack vs. a door or grapple attack vs. a doorknob, at +10 for utter simplicity and normally ignored, is now a 10 or less roll. You have a 50/50 chance of missing the door and fumbling around for a turn! Hurling yourself at the broad side of a barn has a 50% chance of failure, too, with a miss meaning you probably fell down trying to do it.

Default skill use is doomed. Your default level – not penalty, but level! – is -4 (E), -5 (A), or -6 (H) with DX-based skills. Under stress, you fail. Even in perfect circumstances with a +10, you have 6, 5, or 4, fail most of the time, and critically fail on 16+, 15+, or 14+. (Remember, you only get to try to roll a 3 or 4 on a defense!) This has important implications for people using, say, Driving by default, or recreationally shooting at their Guns default.

What does IQ 0, exactly, mean in game terms?

IQ 0 means you're a rutabaga. Per p. B15, at IQ 0, you're mindless and unable to act without somebody possessing you and operating you via remote control. You need at least IQ 1 to have a self and be able to perceive and act at all, which includes grunting and making gestures. You need at least IQ 6 to use tools and language – that is, to talk, wield weapons, etc. A human hit with -10 to IQ (making him IQ 0) is essentially a mindless clone body waiting to be possessed.

What does HT 0, exactly, mean in game terms?

What HT 0 means is that your HT roll is against 0. Almost all crippling injuries will be "lasting," and about half will be "permanent"; any major wound in combat is likely to knock you out (failing "0 or less" by five or more is about 98% likely); almost any lethal wound in combat will kill you (unless you roll 3-6, see the other FAQ entry); and afflictions, diseases, poisons, etc., will have their way with you. If you're at HT 0 for a long time, failed HT rolls to recover HP and resist the ravages of aging will kill you eventually. However, HT 0 doesn't mean instant death or even an instant coma . . . it just means inevitable infirmity, illness, decrepitude, and death unless you live in a bubble.

Also, mostly on machines: Numerous rules say, "Roll vs. HT or bust!" If a machine suffers enough damage to break down (p. B483) or fall apart (p. B484), is exposed to harsh conditions that could foul it (p. B485), is cinematically redlined (the "extra effort" option on p. 160 of Powers), is Fragile (esp. combustible, explosive, or flammable, p. B136) and exposed to damage that can trigger special injury effects, is Electrical and receives a dose of radiation (p. B436) or an electrical surge (p. 102 of Powers), is a vehicle that suffers a severe body hit that can cause power failure (p. B554), or needs to make a "structural integrity check" for any reason (to see if a rope snaps, a seal holds, etc.), then HT 0 means that, except by blind luck (a roll of 3-4), it is doomed to fail and come apart like a cheap toy.

3.1.6 Basic Set 1: Characters mentions penalties for acting underwater. What are they?

Currently, there are no unified rules for this in 4e. The 3e rules were bad – playtesters who had experience with scuba, including a guy trained in hand-to-hand combat by the Marines, warned us off reusing those in 4e. So I wouldn't use 'em. In 4e, I suppose it will be its own PDF someday. Until that day, apply the extra movement-point costs on p. B387 and the penalties for bad footing on pp. B547-549. Drag is a complicated question, as it depends on cross-sectional shape, so it's difficult to generalize about its effects on melee damage . . . really, each weapon will need its own new rating.

3.2 Advantages and Disadvantages

3.2.1 Why do you need to buy off Disadvantages?

Disadvantages taken at character creation time grant a player extra points to use to improve his character in other areas. A disadvantage imposes some restriction on the character. If he can get rid of a disadvantage without buying it off, it means he's getting something for nothing and "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

On the other hand, experienced GMs should feel free to relax this rule or even do away with it – not everyone wants to be a character point accountant. It is especially true if getting rid of the disadvantage is a logical consequence of what happens in the game; many GMs will simply remove the disadvantage as a reward.

Here are some examples of abuse that routinely occurs if this rule is removed without caution:

  1. Only the rich rule!
    1. Cyberpunk – Take any physical disad and then buy bionics to fix it.
    2. Fantasy – Poverty disad. If you know that your GM tends to run adventures where money can be easily acquired, this is free points.
  2. Run away!
    1. Enemy – If you take an Enemy and then go some place the Enemy can't follow, you no longer have an Enemy. The GM should give you an equivalent Enemy or make you pay off the disad. Otherwise, the GM needs to confine the adventure or just let you get off free.
    2. Dependents – If you go some place where your dependents will not come into play, the GM needs to either get creative and pull an occasional emergency at home, or in a few cases allow the disad to be bought off. I personally never allow Dependents to be bought off unless the Dependents are killed or otherwise permanently removed from the game.
  3. Live it up today for tomorrow we die. NOT!
    1. Take the Terminal Illness disadvantage. If you can locate a cure, you get up to 100 points for the disad. The quest for a cure to a terminal illness is a nice "hook" for the GM to fashion an adventure around. Most GMs grant the possibility of a solution rather than just saying "Hey – you chose the disad so your character dies no matter what!" (Of course this is OK for sadistic GMs and any GM running a cyberpunk campaign, where sadistic GMing is the default. :-).

3.2.2 Do you need to buy off disadvantages gained in game play?

No. You do not need to buy off disadvantages acquired during game play.

3.2.3 Should I pay for advantages gained during play?

That is up to the GM. Some GMs will assess a "point debt" equal to the cost of the new advantage – negative unspent points, in effect – and require you to put some or all of your earned points toward paying it off. Other GMs will just raise your point total and get on with the game. There is no "right" answer.

One rule easy to follow is that advantages consciously pursued by the players must be paid for in full. Others, who are the result of events happening during play, are free.

3.2.4 What bonus does the Fit advantage provide?

The Fit advantage provides a +1 to all HT rolls (including rolls to avoid stunning, unconsciousness, or death) and double-speed recovery of fatigue. It can not speed the recovery of fatigue spent casting spells or powering psionics; this includes the 1 point non-mage spectators can contribute to ceremonial magic (p. M15). It does not contribute to a character's Move or Dodge, and it does not provide any bonus to HT-based skills such as Singing, Running, or Sex Appeal. It also does not aid recovery time from stunners, paralysis guns, drugs, or other effects that measure time in the form of X-minus-HT.

3.2.5 How does Telekinesis work?

What happens if I pick something up with my TK and push it to my max TK Move, does it continue to move at this velocity or does it stop if I release the field?

It stops if you stop moving it. To set something in motion, use a shove or throw, not constant movement.

How do different relative speeds effect it? What if my max TK move for an object is 10 and I am traveling at Move 50, am I unable to use my TK or can I give an object Move 60 relative to a stationary observer?

You can impart Move 10. This means that in a vehicle where everything is moving at your speed, your TK works normally. If you're zipping past something, you cannot grab it and suddenly have it move at Move 60, but you can still cause it to move along at Move 10.

3.2.6 What is Arm DX good for?

Escape, Filch, Knot-Tying, Leatherworking, Pickpocket, Sewing, Sleight of Hand, many Sports, Typing, etc., as well as any DX-based roll to use the arms with another skill.

3.2.7 Is it possible to partially morph like in Third Edition?

Partial Morphing is no longer part of 4E. You need to buy another "partially-morphed" template to represent the intermediate state of morphing.

Another consideration is to use a Modular Ability pool which may only be used to gain traits possessed by one of the character's Alternate Forms, or the Improvised Forms enhancement from GURPS Powers, page 75.

3.2.8 I want to use an Affliction to grant bonus to my comrades. How do I go about that?

Reverse the HT roll for beneficial Afflictions; an Affliction that's HT-x to resist instead requires a HT+x to provide its benefits. Duration becomes margin of success instead of margin of failure. Use Based on (Other Attribute) if you'd prefer an IQ roll.

GURPS Powers makes this official.

GMs and players asking this question may also be interested in Auras of Power (Pyramid #3/19).

3.2.9 Is there any way of increasing your to-hit roll with a power other than buying up the underlying stat?

You can use Talent with the entire power, or you can extend the Reliable enhancement for Warp, at +5% per level (see p. B98) to all advantages that have activation rolls. Reliable, at +5% per level, is "safe" on basically every advantage (this is made official in Powers). For attacks, use Accurate instead.

3.2.10 In Low-Tech societies, do I have to pay points to be able to read and write?

No, you always get to read, write and speak your native language by default. We did this for a simple reason: it's consistent across all worlds and campaigns. No more "Oh, my PC changes in value by 10 points here!" or "Ah, Status gives free Literacy here but not here." It also addresses the painful matter of "assumed literacy," wherein newbie players were shocked to learn that if they wanted their TL3 warrior to be able to read, they should have paid 10 points for it at the outset. Most games just let you read as the default condition.

As explained on p. B24, not knowing how to read and write in your native language is now always a disadvantage worth -3 if your level of Literacy level is None, -2 if it is Broken.

3.2.11 Can an Innate Attack be parried or blocked?

Per Missile Weapon Attacks (p. B373), Innate Attacks are clearly missile weapons. Per Parrying (p. B376), you cannot normally parry missile weapons.

GURPS Powers introduces a -5% Blockable limitation that allows an Innate Attack to be blocked, raised to -10% if it can also be parried.

3.2.12 Is there a limit to the maximum size level I can affect with an Affliction?

I think a size limit makes sense, and we'll want to include one in Powers. I'm not sure exactly how I want to implement it . . . a bonus to resist based on SM is no good, because even at +43 for being planet Earth, you could roll an 18. I think a hard cutoff is probably wise, but I'm still mulling over how it should work.

3.2.13 How do you apply enhancements and limitations to a leveled trait?

You must always compute the total point value of your trait (by multiplying the cost per level by the number of levels you want to buy) before applying the enhancements and limitations cost modifications.

For example, say wizard A wants to buy 5 Extra Fatigues (at 3 points per level), with the limitation Spellcasting Only (a -10% limitation). The total price is 3 points/level * 5 levels = 15 points, – 1.5 for the limitation = 13.5 points rounded up to 14 points.

3.2.14 How do Talents interact with Defaults?

The golden rule is that Talent always adds after all defaults are worked out and any points are spent, and only affects skills listed as receiving its bonus, regardless of their default connections to other skills.

Do I add my Talent level when I use a covered skill by default?


When a skill defaults to another skill covered by the PC's talent, does the talent counts when computing the default level of the first skill?

Only if the Talent lists both skills as receiving its bonus. If the skill being used at default does not normally benefit from the Talent, the Talent has no effect.

Now, if I want to buy up a skill defaulting from another skill, and both are part of the same Talent, how does that work?

In this particular case, when spending points to improve a skill from default, subtract Talent off before doing the math, spend the points, and then add Talent back at the very end.

An example:

Say I have Perception 15, and a Talent +4 that covers Body Language and Detect Lies. I put 4 points in Body Language, for a total skill of 20, and now I want to raise my Detect Lies.

If I had spent 12 points, though, it would work like this:

3.2.15 How do I compute the cost of enhancements and limitations for Shapeshifting?

All enhancements and limitations only apply to the base cost of the Shapeshifting ability itself (either 15 points for Alternate Form or 100 points for Morph). They do not apply to the additional cost of a more powerful form.

Enhancements and limitations are for the transformation process only, and do not apply once the shapeshifter is in the alternate shape. The transformation process is transient, not ongoing; once you are transformed, your ability is NOT considered in use anymore. If you want to put enhancements or limitations on the use of the alternate form itself, apply them to the alternate template or the individual traits it uses.

For example, say I'm a human who wants an Alternate Form whose racial template is worth 50 points. The unmodified cost is 15 + (50*0.9) = 60 points. Now, let's say I want the Cost Fatigue × 2 limitation, a -10% value, and Reduced Time × 4, a +80% value. The new cost of the advantage is ( 15 * (-10+80)% ) + ( 50*0.9 ) = (15*1.7) + 45 = 25.5 + 45 = 71 points.

For those wondering why the modifiers are only applied to the shapeshifting part of the process, consider the following:

  1. If you apply an enhancement to the complete cost of an Alternate Form, the advantages you bought for this form could end up costing you more than if you had bought them for your original form and had them available 100% of the time.
  2. Take a 500-point-template Alternate form, slap some Costs Fatigue and Takes Extra Time until you're at -80%, then spend all of your time in the more powerful form. The result is you'll be a 500 point creature for only 93 points. Talk about a point crock.

3.2.16 I can't find an advantage or disadvantage that's listed under a template.Where is it located?

This is commonly because the advantage or disadvantage is listed under a more general name but not indexed alone, or else refers to a meta-trait. Here are the most common "missed" modifiers:

Additionally, the following are meta-trait modifiers from F134, specifically designed for the Unmanifested Spirit meta-trait: Apparition, Difficult Speech, Magical Spirit, Materialization, Not Mute, Phantasm, and Poltergeist.

3.2.17 When buying Extra Fatigue, what is the value of the 'For Magic Only' limitation?

3.2.18 Why is an advantage and its corresponding disadvantage sometimes not worth the same cost?

In the case of traits that modify a small set of tasks, a penalty is not worth as much as a disadvantage as a bonus is as an advantage because the in-play situation isn't symmetrical. As a rule, a player with a bonus will exploit the living hell out of it by doing the things it benefits as often as possible, while a player with a penalty will do his best to avoid the affected tasks (and might never do them). For example, a bonus to Karate is really useful if I know Karate and plan to fight with it . . . but a penalty to Karate is just free points if I never learn Karate and do all my fighting with an assault rifle. This is why, for instance, Ham-Fisted is -5 points per -3 while High Manual Dexterity is 5 points per +1. Ham-Fisted would be crippling for a surgeon, but the way players are, no one playing a surgeon PC is going to take it. Mostly, you'll find it on a big thug whose role in the game is "OG HIT WITH STICK!", so it's priced accordingly.

3.2.19 Isn't the Electrical disadvantage and limitation worth too many points?

Electrical assumes that you're vulnerable to shorts, drains, and surges as well as all the usual stuff that affects meat-people – acceleration, bends, disease, poison, etc. If this isn't true, then take both Electrical [-20] and Immunity to Metabolic Hazards [30], for a net 10 points. It's not a 0-point special effect because, overall, the bad things that affect electrical systems are rarer than the bad things that affect meat. This is how the trait was priced.

As for its effects, it means that EMPs, power drains, and electrical interference that would affect gadgets also affect you. You're susceptible to attacks with modifiers such as "Only on Electrical" and Surge (including all electrolasers, blasters, and stun guns), subject to Technological Spells that would otherwise not affect you (this is in addition to Body Control, Mind Control, etc.!), and affected by any device in the upcoming Ultra-Tech that jams or disables electronics.

One thing that is missing from the Basic Set is that any Electronics that take over 1/3 HP from an attack with the Surge enhancement must make a HT roll to avoid shorting out. Failure disables the target for seconds equal to the margin of failure; critical failure disables it until repaired (see Repairs, p. B484).

3.2.20 With the new rules on languages, how do I deal with related languages and dialects?

Realistically, proficiency in a language should give a lower level in related languages. Close languages – e.g., Middle English and Old English, or Modern Arabic and Koranic Arabic – would have a one-level shift: Native gives Accented, Accented gives Broken, and Broken or worse gives nothing. More distantly related tongues – e.g., German and Dutch, or Spanish and Portuguese – would have a two-level shift: Native gives Broken, and Accented or below gives nothing. You can buy up a language from this "default" just as you would buy up a skill from default. If my German (Native) gives me Dutch (Broken), I can buy Dutch (Native) for 4 points instead of 6 points.

Dialects are beneath the resolution of the language rules in GURPS. In a game where they could matter, the simplest way to handle them would be to say that everyone gets his native dialect for free and can pick up new dialects for one point apiece, as perks. For instance, if I have French (Native) for French from France, and want Belgian, Swiss, or Québécois, I can pay a point for each and use it at Native level.

Cultural Familiarity isn't the right way to handle it, because cultures are too broad. France, Switzerland, Québec – and for that matter, England, Germany, and Ontario – are all part of the Western culture.

3.2.21 How do Immunity to Metabolic Hazards and Temperature Tolerance relate to each other when dealing with heat and cold?

When talking about heat and cold, there are three different effects to consider:

  1. "Doesn't suffer FP or HP loss due to hypothermia or hyperthermia, which are forms of system failure tied to having a metabolism."
  2. "Doesn't suffer from the negative effects of ambient heat and cold on the material structure; e.g., freezing solid, melting, and catching fire."
  3. "Doesn't suffer damage from directed heat and cold attacks."

Immunity to Metabolic Hazards provides (1). Temperature Tolerance gives a degree of protection against (2) and, if you have a metabolism, some protection against (1), too – that's why Temperature Tolerance states, "such as FP or HP loss," and not, "that is, FP or HP loss." Only Damage Resistance offers (3).

The problem is that the rules give few cases of (2). There's the fact that Temperature Tolerance sets a "burning threshold" under the intense heat rules (p. B434) and that's about it. There should be similar rules for freezing solid and for melting, and even for being vaporized, but there aren't. The point is, these things aren't metabolic effects or attacks.

The answer, then, is that to avoid melting, catching fire, or freezing solid, you need a lot of Temperature Tolerance. Without it, all these things can happen to you even if Immunity to Metabolic Hazards protects you completely from hypothermia or hyperthermia. Immunity to Metabolic Hazards only protects against the systemic effects of hypothermia or hyperthermia – not against your body's structure failing in extreme cold or heat. And neither trait protects against directed cold or heat attacks; those call for DR.

As for machines, they have "freezing up" and "overheating" thresholds related to materials properties – a variation on (2), above. Having Immunity to Metabolic Hazards means that they don't suffer hypothermia and hyperthermia, which are tied to metabolism. It doesn't mean that heat and cold have no effect at all. That's why machines might still have Temperature Tolerance.

3.2.22 If I am under the influence of a trait or spell that affects my subjective time, will it affects the diverse time-related limitations on my abilities?

For Takes Extra Time, the answer is yes. The limitation means that the user is doing something to prepare, and if he's sped up or slowed down, so is his preparation.

For Takes Recharge, Maximum Duration and Minimum Duration, the answer is no. The limitation means that the user is waiting for something outside his control to happen, so it cannot be sped up or slowed down.

3.2.23 Can you clarify how the Morph advantage works?

When I compute the cost of an Alternate Form for Morph, should I include the costs of social traits?

Yes, but only those that are part of the *racial* template. "Human" is a racial template; "Old Human" or "Barbarian" is not. So only the social racial traits of Humans should be applied to the cost.

And yes, racial social traits are, and should be, rare.

So what if I morph into a form for which non-racial social traits should apply, like being an old person, or a barbarian in a high-tech society?

The effects of all those social traits apply fully, even if you haven't paid for them. The reason is that they are highly dependent of the society in which the shapeshifter finds himself. In some countries, old people are venerated, while in others they are considered a waste of space; being a woman has different effects depending on if you're living in a patriarchal or matriarchal society; etc.

Simply put, if you look like a human woman, people will treat you like a human woman. Even if you are a Zolsxtron from the Hagvulbel galaxy.

How do we handle a morph to someone with a better-than-average appearance?

You can look like anyone, so if you're imitating a good-looking person, you can have that person's looks. You can't have your own, unique good looks through – not without paying points for them. If you can assume a unique form that's good-looking, then you should pay the usual cost for its appearance level as an unrelated ability. Assume that with a specific model, you can do a good job of imitating that person's good looks, but that unless you've paid for personal good looks, you haven't mastered the art of creating attractive appearances out of thin air. They all look like crude caricatures, blow-up sex dolls, or whatever.

In essence, you have to "steal" somebody's identity to look good if you're not natively good-looking. This limits you quite a bit, actually. If you haven't ever met a person with the Appearance level you want, you're out of luck! And even if you have, you're often going to be limited to being "Jane, the really hot 5'6" redhead" when what you need is "Ace, the handsome 6'1" quarterback." And you can't be "Me, the Handsome shapeshifter" unless you pay to be Handsome.

There are two ways to buy this improved Appearance:

  1. Those with full, unlimited Morph, can either buy Morph [100] + Appearance [X] and have a native form that has their chosen Appearance level, or they can take Morph [100+X] and be able to assume any number of forms – including completely made-up ones – that have any Appearance level up to what X points would buy. Obviously, the second option is a much better deal, but you still have to buy the Appearance level of your non-morphed character separately.
  2. For those with Morph (Cosmetic only) who wants to be good-looking without stealing somebody else's face, they need to purchase Appearance separately from Morph. Morph (Cosmetic) works differently from unlimited Morph partly because it has no point pool. It isn't a better deal – Cosmetic was priced at -50% instead of perhaps -75% on the basic assumption that it permitted "Appearance theft." If it didn't, then in many ways, Cosmetic would barely be better than Elastic Skin [20].

If I have Morph with the Cosmetic limitation, can I change my race?

Yes, but you are still limited to an individual with the same body mass as yours. Cosmetic includes Mass Conservation, but not Retain Shape. You can still Morph into a race which is racially bigger or smaller than you, but you will respectively be a really small or really big individual compared to the others; i.e. a big halfling or a small ogre. To look much smaller or much bigger than you are (without changing your mass), use the Glamour modifier instead (see p. 111 of Powers).

If I have Morph with the Cosmetic limitation, can I generate new physical traits, like limbs or horns?

Yes, but they are simply cosmetic – i.e. they can't be used at all. If you're a biped and generate two new legs, you won't be able to use them to run quicker. Generating a tail won't allow you to use it as a Striker. Creating a hard tortoise shell around you won't give you additional DR.

Still, those traits are physically present. They will look and feel real to the touch, and can be moved around. Just not in a useful way.

If I have Morph with the Cosmetic limitation and I remove existing physical traits, can I still use them?

No. Cosmetic does not equal invisible traits. They are physically gone for the duration of the morph. If you want them to look as if they're not there, while still be able to use them, use Glamour instead of Cosmetic.

3.2.24 Unfazeable comes with a notice that you should roleplay it or lose it. Is it really compulsory, or can some characters have it without this built-in requirement?

Unfazeable comes with roleplaying advice because it's a wholly unrealistic mental trait and no gamer is likely to have a hope in hell of roleplaying it well. While fictional physical and social traits can be reduced to game mechanics, it's harder to do this with made-up mental traits in an RPG, where playing a role is at least part of the point . . . hence the advice. But you're free to ignore the advice and simply treat it as Immunity to Fear and Intimidation [15], sure.

3.2.25 How exactly does Telescopic Vision work? Are some effects cumulative?

There are three separate cases:

  1. Quick glance. Cancels -1/level in range penalties to Vision rolls only.
  2. Active spotting attempt using Aim maneuver. Cancels -2/level in range penalties to Vision rolls only.
  3. Aim weapon using Aim maneuver. Gives +1/level to Acc for ranged attack rolls only.

None of these three is ever in any way cumulative with the other two.

3.2.26 Hey, Telekinesis (TK) gives me +4 for fine motor actions. Isn't it better to take 1 level of TK instead of 4 levels of High Manual Dexterity?

Only in rare cases. While not described in the RAW (as of 3/21/2008), it is expected that a GM will allow the full (or even any!) bonus only if the TK level (TK 'strength') is high enough to be useful. So it's around TK1-2 for small locks, TK 4 to wield a scalpel, and easily TK8+ for some forms of major surgery. And don't forget the need of an IQ roll.

3.2.27 If I have Payload, do I need to put the cargo inside to benefit from extra carrying capacity?

No. Payload can be internal or external, unless you took Exposed as a Limitation, in which case you lose the option of putting it inside.

3.2.28 Can I teleport with Warp with no preparation?

Yes, but only by taking the 'roll at -10 for a free action' variant. That is, your teleportation roll is at -10, but you are free to choose whatever Manoeuvre you like immediately after that. Alternatives are: take a turn of Ready to get -5 to the roll instead; take multiple Ready actions to get from -4 to +10.

3.2.29 Body Sense says a successful roll allows one to act normally on the next turn after Warp . . . What about instant Warp (at -10)?

From Body Sense's PoV, the 'next' turn is the one that occurs after Warp. Since an instant Warp doesn't take an Action, your 'next' turn is the one you're entitled to take after the (free-action, at -10) Warp. Thus, you can instant-Warp and do whatever you want immediately after that, provided you make your Warp roll and your Body Sense roll.

(Duplicated in Skills – 3.3.7.)

3.2.30 If I have Compartmentalized Mind X, does it effectively give me another X instances of my (mental) abilities? Specifically, can I use Telekinesis (TK) at full lifting capacity once with my main mind, then X times (one per extra mind)?

Yes! Otherwise there's no point in buying CM at its current price. Compare it to Duplication. If the answer was 'no,' which would you buy, CM or Duplication, despite their prices?

3.2.31 What should I do if I want an Ally who can conjure/summon/create minions of some sort? NPCs don't pay points for Allies . . .

At this point, it becomes an important supernatural ability (esp. due to being summonable). So yeah, this is the exception when NPCs pay for their Allies.

3.2.32 How exactly does using a Binding power differ from grappling a target? What is similar? How does it interact with very-high-ST targets?

As written, unmodified Binding has two effects: it grapples and it roots in place. The first effect works just like any grapple: the target suffers a DX penalty. This DX penalty is not affected by relative ST. The rules are clear on where the ST exception applies: "If you grapple a foe of more than twice your ST, you do not prevent him from moving away." That says nothing about the DX penalty. Having a chihuahua hanging off your knee should certainly give -4 when kicking, for instance. So regardless of Binding level, the target is at -4 DX.

The second effect isn't grappling, but a Binding-specific limitation on the target's ability to use Move and Change Posture maneuvers. This just works; it doesn't matter what ST scores are involved. The main place where ST does matter here is in breaking free.

So yes, it is possible to make a ST 1,000 target waste a turn breaking free of a Binding with ST 1. He does, after all, get a chance to dodge the attack. He can certainly use the usual multiple-attacks options to break free and do something else, though. Also, if merely walking through a force field does thrust damage "for free" for the purpose of forcing one's way through something (Powers, p. 108), then the GM could fairly rule that this applies here as well, allowing strong targets to brush aside low-ST Bindings.

3.2.33 Ambidexterity is underpriced compared to Off-Hand Weapon Training! What gives?

True. Off-Hand Weapon Training is a basic way to get rid of off-hand weapon penalties. Martial Arts expands on the issue, and with the introduction of new trait – the Style Perks – one can buy a Perk which removes off-hand penalties for one weapon. Once a PC accumulates five OHWT Perks, s/he can convert those into true Ambidexterity.

3.2.34 Shouldn't ATR (Altered Time Rate) give a bonus to defense of some sort?

A character with ATR 1 gets two back-to-back turns whenever her number comes up in the combat sequence. She can therefore run half his Move while attacking twice with All-Out Attack (Double) – the attacks coming anywhere along her path – on his first turn, and then run half her Move again while getting all her normal defenses and +2 to Dodge by taking All-Out Defense (Increased Dodge) on her second turn. To external observers, she runs her full Move, attacks twice without sacrificing skill or defenses, and dodges at +2 when everybody else can only take a step, attack once, and dodge normally. That's how to game out the defensive effects of ATR.

Besides, you can convince your GM to let you use Abilities at Default (and substitute ATR for several levels of Enhanced Dodge). Yes, this will cost you some FP, but at high levels of ATR, the Dodge bonus will be really impressive.

3.2.35 Advantages limited with Only While Flying - when exactly can I use them?

"Flying" means you're using the Flight advantage to travel at Move 1+, not merely to hover or to be able to say, "Ooo, my feet aren't on the ground! I'm flying!" Simply having Flight turned on is like having Invisibility turned on, and perhaps worth -10%. To actually qualify as "flying," you have to be moving. If you can't move at least a yard, your ability won't work. A flying hero who is in a confined space (car, closet, jet-fighter cockpit, etc.), trying to stay still to do something (e.g., give first aid, operate vehicle controls, or hack a computer), or restrained (say, tied to a chair or handcuffed to a motor torpedo boat) can't "fly" for the purpose of this limitation. And given that many advantages take range penalties and/or require a touch, there's the additional complication that you might have to go to convoluted extents to make sure that your movement takes you within range of your subject.

"I'm going nowhere, touching the ground, and doing neurosurgery . . . but my Flight is on, so technically I'm flying!" is extreme munchkin quackery. If the GM is giving -30% breaks, he needs to be firm. If the GM honestly feels that this technicality qualifies as "flying," he should cut the limitation to -5% or -10%.

3.2.36 Gunslinger seems too weak for its price. Anything I'm missing?

Well, maybe. Like Trained by a Master, Gunslinger has some benefits not listed in the Basic Set. You can find them in High-Tech and Action. Be warned that these rules are normally meant to be used either in games where fiddly (negative) details matter too, or in outright over-the-top games (like Action). Here's an excerpt that can be used with Basic games:

3.2.37 Who actually builds Allies?

They're GM-created and -controlled characters. [ . . . ] Treating Allies as something like PCs sans players, or as PCs shared with the GM, is missing the point.

[A]n Ally designed and controlled by the player, and that always has a Good or better reaction and goes along with the PCs' plans, is surely worth a lot more points. I'd call that the equivalent of Cosmic, +100% on Ally, probably on top of the +50% for Minion.

3.3 Skills

3.3.1 How do the "Defaulting to Other Skills" and "Improving Skills with Defaults" rules work?

Basically, when you have two skills that default, you can treat your default level in the one you did not study (call it skill #2) as if it were a learned level when it comes time to improve that skill. However, if you improve the original skill (call it skill #1), this does not automatically increase skill #2 once you have improved skill #2 from default. You have to pay any outstanding point cost first. Finally, you may switch the direction of a default if that would be beneficial, as long as you pay any outstanding point differences.

EXAMPLE: I'm a character with DX 12 and Shortsword-14.

I've spent 8 points on Shortsword. This gives me a Broadsword default of 14 – 2 = 12, the same as if I had spent 2 points on Broadsword and learned it at 12. In other words, I have Shortsword-14 [8 points] and Broadsword-12 [0 points]. If I raise Shortsword to 15, Broadsword becomes 13 for free, et cetera.

I leave Shortsword at 14 for now and decide to raise Broadsword from its default level of 12 to level 13. Skill 13 would normally cost me 4 points, but since I already have a default at the 2-point level (skill 12), I only need to pay the difference. I do this and have Shortsword-14 [8 points] and Broadsword-13 [2 points]. Without the benefit of a default, that would be Shortsword-14 [8 points] and Broadsword-13 [4 points].

Now I decide to raise Shortsword to 15 for another 4 points. My Broadsword default becomes 13, the same as if I had spent 4 points on it. The 2 points I've spent are not enough to raise it to 14, because that would cost 4 points, so I am stuck with Broadsword-13 until I pay the two outstanding points. In other words, I have Shortsword-15 [12 points] and Broadsword-13 [2 points] until I spend another two points on Broadsword to get Shortsword-15 [12 points] and Broadsword-14 [4 points].

Suppose I stop improving Shortsword and start working on Broadsword until I am at Shortsword-15 [12 points] and Broadsword-18 [20 points]. If I wish, I can turn around, spend the extra points to buy Broadsword up from DX instead of Shortsword, default Shortsword from Broadsword and spend the points in Shortsword to improve it from default. This means I have to spend 4 points more on Broadsword to have it at 18 based on DX. This gives me a Shortsword default of 16, and the 12 points I have in Shortsword raise that to 19, giving me Broadsword-18 [24 points] and Shortsword-19 [12 points].

3.3.2 I have two skills that give a bonus to a single attribute check (for example, wrestling and sumo wrestling skills both give a bonus to my ST). Do they stack?

No. Bonuses from skills almost never accumulate. You use the best one only.

3.3.3 Why is the IQ bonus to Guns skills gone?

The IQ bonus is gone because it artificially inflated Guns skill. Every adventurer qualified for +1, if not +2, and Guns was already Easy. Given that guns have Acc, can be braced, and can take scopes, lasers, etc., we felt it was a bit excessive to toss in a further bonus.

3.3.4 How does Horse Archery affect skill limits based on Riding?

Horse Archery applies to riding penalties derived from shooting from horseback, most notably the -2 incurred from a dodging or attacking mount, and the penalties for a failed control roll (see B548). It is not intended to apply to trick shooting, though GURPS Fantasy has techniques which cover this.

Horse Archery effectively caps riding control penalties in the following way:

  1. Select the greater of [Bow skill minus penalties] and [Horse Archery], capped by your unmodified Bow skill, to find your effective shooting skill.
  2. Select the lower of your shooting skill and Riding to determine your effective Bow skill for this round.
  3. Apply speed/range and other environmental modifiers to your effective Bow skill to determine your final effective Bow skill.

3.3.5 When using a Technique that is specifically aimed at one body part, do I have to apply the Hit Location penalty?

No. When a technique can only be aimed at one particular Hit Location (Head Butt, Choke Hold, Neck Snap, Arm Lock, etc), its default already includes the Hit Location penalty, so you don't have to count it again.

3.3.6 What is the difference between Electronic Ops (Security), Lockpicking and Traps? How do I determine which one to use?

These three skills work as follows. Note the overlaps.

In addition, all three skills include the ability to spot and identify devices of all the types they cover.

Electronics Operation (Security) is a "broad, shallow" skill that involves knowledge of many specific devices and being up to date with current tech. It provides no theoretical understanding (that requires Engineer). Thus, it suffers from almost routine application of the -2 for unfamiliarity with devices you don't personally use on the job, plus the -1 to -10 for being away from your job for more than a short time; see p. B189. Lockpicking and Traps are "narrow, deep" skills that subsume an ability to adapt to new threats on the fly. They already assume that you're walking into terra incognita, and generally don't suffer the above penalties (which, as you'll note, aren't listed for either skill).

Finally, two other skills merit mention for commandos, spies, and thieves:

Both can "disarm" many locks and traps in the right circumstances, albeit not in a safe, silent, or reversible way. In that sense, they overlap with Lockpicking and Traps. And Explosives (Demolition) can also set a specific subclass of traps that Traps, strictly speaking, isn't good at.

3.3.7 Body Sense says a successful roll allows one to act normally on the next turn after Warp . . . What about instant Warp (at -10)?

From Body Sense's PoV, the 'next' turn is the one that occurs after Warp. Since an instant Warp doesn't take an Action, your 'next' turn is the one you're entitled to take after the (free-action, at -10) Warp. Thus, you can instant-Warp and do whatever you want immediately after that, provided you make your Warp roll and your Body Sense roll.

(Duplicated in Advantages – 3.2.29..)

3.3.8 Breath Control – the RAW is vague. How does it work? Is it overpowered?

Originally Posted by Kromm
Breath Control is pretty much custom-made to help people with cinematic martial-arts skills get back their FP. If you think those skills are "supernatural" – and I do – then the skill should also work for FP blown on magic, the Healing advantage, etc.

Yes, Breath Control indeed recovers almost any lost FP (lost as a cost for powering some ability, that is).

Originally Posted by Kromm
With Breath Control, you must sit still and do nothing but breathe, rolling vs. skill over and over. You will fail some of the time, and critically fail – and thus be at the GM's mercy, and perhaps pass out or inhale a fly that chokes you – on occasion.

Notice that this makes BC markedly less useful than Recover Energy for mages.

3.4 Combat

3.4.1 General How could I make an unarmed fighter effective against an armed one for melee combat?

Unarmed martial artists may be faster than armed and armored non-martial arts types, but they are at a disadvantage for the following reasons:

  1. Armed opponents usually strike first: Armed fighters usually have a longer reach than unarmed ones. Using the Step and Wait maneuver, the armed fighter will usually be able to strike first.
  2. Parries are dangerous! Unarmed combatants attempting to parry weapons run the risk of having the parrying limb seriously injured. On a failed parry, the attacker can choose to either have the attack count against the parrying limb or the original target (p. B101).
  3. Bare-handed attacks can be parried with weapons! An unarmed fighter attacking an armed foe with a weapon can have his attack parried with the weapon. If the armed opponent parries with the weapon and succeeds, he may roll vs. skill (or skill-4 vs. Judo and Karate) to hit the limb of the unarmed fighter.
  4. Punching armor is painful. Any time you strike an opponent with DR 3 or better with your hands or feet, you must roll vs. HT or take 1d-2 damage to the body part you are striking with (p. B51).

In order to be successful against an armed opponent, an unarmed martial artist needs to either disarm or knock the armed fighter to the ground. Since weapon reach normally will give the armed fighter first strike, a martial artist will need to make at least one defense roll before he can move into close combat. If the martial artist can't get or don't want to get in close combat, his/her best way to go would be to use a Feint. Specifically Defensive Feints might be needed sometimes.

A very attractive variant for exotic, cinematic and/or supernatural fighters is to purchase a Striker, since Strikers count as weapons for many purposes. Can I stack the effect of Extra Efforts with other combat maneuvers?

Can I combine the various forms of Extra Effort in combat, or with an AoA?

No. As per MA, you can only use one offensive and one defensive option, and they don't stack with other powerful combat bonuses. Specifically, you can't combine All-Out Attack and Mighty Blows, and you must pay 1 FP per attack you wish to improve!

In case you incorporate the simple concepts of Comitted Attack and Defensive Attack from MA, note that neither can use Mighty Blows.

However, if you are familiar with Martial Arts, read the Designer's Notes, which contain the Focused Fury perk – it might interest you.

Feverish Defense: can I combine this with All-Out-Defense (Increased Defense) to get +4 to one defense?


Flurry of Blows: is it stackable with Trained By A Master, Weapon Master and/or Fencing weapons?

Yes. Your penalty for Rapid Strike is reduced to -1.

Why is it you can't use Flurry of Blows and Mighty Blows together?

Game balance, mainly. We felt that letting people throw lots of bonus – damage attacks for a few FP would encourage people to build warriors with lots of FP and unimpressive ST and skill, which is far too cheap for what it would give you. We felt that warriors who need to rely on extra effort should have to settle for any two of fast, accurate, and powerful. All three is a bit generous.

On the other hand, if you have two attacks (either because of Extra Attack, All-Out-Attack(double) or Rapid Strike), you can use Flurry of Blows on one of them and Mighty Blow on the other. In combat, when does your turn end?

Your turn ends after you've chosen, executed, and ended a maneuver – Attack, Concentrate, etc. For the sole purpose of active defenses, your turn has consequences that extend past that period, until you choose your next maneuver. Thus, one could say your turn doesn't end until your next one begins. But everything that refers to turns in the Basic Set – with the sole exception of the active defense rules – hews to the more restricted usage above. What are the game impacts of rolling for spells at the end of the turn you finish concentrating? Why was it changed?

The rule refers to the active part of your turn. If you cast a one-second spell, you take a Concentrate maneuver and immediately roll the dice. Only those who are waiting – and persistent, ambient effects – can interrupt. Specifically, you do not wait until others have acted before you roll.

For a spell that takes more than one turn of concentration to cast, anyone can interrupt the spell normally at any time before the last second of concentration. Once the last second is reached, the rules in the preceding paragraph applies.

As for why we changed it, we feel that if you can't interrupt an Attack or Ready without a Wait, you shouldn't be able to interrupt a Concentrate. Concentrate is to mental actions what Ready is to physical ones – nothing more. We want Attack, Concentrate, and Ready to be equals: you Attack to use Innate Attack, Concentrate to use Mind Control, or Ready to turn on Invisibility, but each is one maneuver, its results happening the turn you choose it. If a character has an ability taking more than one second to activate, can he be interrupted?

If someone has a screwed-up ability like that, yeah – you can interrupt them normally. What happened with the Hit Location technique?

Many martial artists said it was not making real-world sense, so it was removed. Clarification: Suddenly being better at hitting all locations on a body – be it human or some Eldritch Abomination – while not being better at hitting targets in general, made no sense. Training to hit specific hit locations with specific attacks (e.g. kicks to the head only) is a technique fully described in GURPS Martial Arts. When wielding an unbalanced weapon, can I attack on the turn following a parry if I don't parry on this turn?

If a weapon is marked unbalanced (U in the parry column), it cannot be used to attack and then parry on the same turn, or vice versa. Does this mean that you can't attack on the turn following a parry? If not, how could an attack follow a parry on the same turn?

You may attack with an unbalanced (U) weapon on the turn following a parry, because it counts as a new turn. But if you choose the Wait Maneuver and parry with an unbalanced (U) weapon before converting your Wait into an Attack, you cannot attack with the weapon you just parried with because the attack would be on the same turn as the parry. If I have sufficient ST to use a two-handed weapon in one hand, which skill do I use?

Use the closest one-handed skill. This is almost always obvious: If my ST is halved because of FP loss, do I have to use the new value when computing the ratio of my ST over minimum ST of a weapon?

No. The entire point of that rule is to prevent needless complexity in combat. I think it would be bad if spending FP meant you had to pause the action to recalculate skill and damage. The only meaningful effect of ST reduction here is to reduce the number you roll against in Quick Contests. Could I have a clear description of what a turn is in GURPS?

It's pretty clear that at least some confusion comes from the perception that there's a universal "turn" and that everyone acts during this "turn" in order of some "initiative number." Basically, that's wrong. Combat is a series of turns taken in order of Basic Speed, and each person's turn is unique to him. When a person gets his next turn . . . it simply means that a second has passed since he last acted. Effects that started on one of his previous turns mark another second, but there's no "universal turn clock" to which such things answer. If he did an All-Out Attack on his turn, then he's defenseless until his next turn, not until the slowest guy has his turn and the sequence starts over again with the fastest guy. If he casts a spell that lasts 10 seconds on another guy, it ends ten turns down the road for for him, the caster – not ten seconds from now on some "turn clock."

Turns flow in a continuous cycle: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, . . . The time from 1 to 1, from 2 to 2, from 3 to 3, or from 4 to 4 is always one second. All other pairs – from 1 to 2, from 1 to 3, etc. – have indeterminate lengths less than one second. Nothing special happens between 4 and 1, either; {1, 2, 3, 4} is no more or less important than {2, 3, 4, 1}, {3, 4, 1, 2}, or {4, 1, 2, 3}.

When people do assume that there's a universal turn during which each person acts, and that each cycle {1, 2, 3, 4} has a definite beginning and end for everyone, all at the same time, misconceptions arise. One misconception is that it's possible to reorder actions within the sequence. It isn't. If you decide via some house rule that next turn, {1, 2, 3, 4} will become {4, 2, 3, 1}, then you'll end up with 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 2, 3, 1, and fighter 4 will get two actions without interruption while poor fighter 1 has to wait for all of his enemies pound on him twice before he can do a darn thing. Maneuvers such as All-Out Attack assume that all of your foes will get a turn during which they may attack you; defenses are set up so that foes won't get two turns in which to saturate your defenses before you can act again. Reordering is also unwise because it plays hob with effect durations. To use my reordering example, the time from 1 to 1 clearly isn't the same as the time from 4 to 4. In short, things break – badly.

Another misconception is that because there's a universal turn, fighters are required to declare their actions before it begins, and then perform their actions in some order. Then a new turn begins. This, too, is broken. Fighter 2 is acting a little bit after 1, and responding to him; 3 is acting a little bit after 2, and responding to 1 and 2; and so on. Fighters can't declare because they're in mid-action until their next turn. Only fighter 1 has fully resolved his action and started a new one when 1 comes up again. Fighter 2 is still doing something else. How does the Cloak Skill work? How does a cloak work in combat? Etc.

A cloak is used like a shield – as implied by both the Cloak skill write-up and the cloak's listing under Shields (p. B287). It gives DB only when partly wrapped around one arm or held in one hand, and then used to brush incoming weapons aside (either on its own or by padding the hand enough to allow it to assist) and to partly obscure the body from frontal attackers. Worn on the back, it doesn't do much at all. Well, a heavy cloak might add +1 to DR from the rear, but there's no DB.

In any event, you can only benefit from one source of handheld DB, whether it comes from a shield per se, a buckler, or a cloak. These things never "stack." Magical DB does, but that's not handheld. It's magic!

Now, a tossed cloak is a pretty sad entangling weapon, as it lacks weights and the user isn't holding on to apply tension. Since the melee effect is "counts as a grapple," the thrown effect is "counts as a grapple," too – but once it's out of the thrower's hand, its ST is 0, so breaking free is automatic if attempted (unless it's some form of sentient Ally). What is the effect of Critical Success and Failure in Quick Contests?

As the rules state, the winner of a Quick Contest is the contestant with the greatest margin of success or smallest margin of failure. The rules don't mention critical results because they're not relevant to the calculation of a margin. Some rules do specifically note what critical success and failure do in a Quick Contest if you win or if you lose. However, actual victory and defeat depend on the margins. How are Strikers treated for purposes of Weapon Breakage (and other stuff)?

A Striker, by default, is considered a Weapon with a weight equal to the character's ST/10. This weight affects the ability to parry or be parried (as per normal rules). However, unlike normal weapons, Strikers do not have a breakage chance due to parrying a heavy weapon, although they do invoke breakage chance in lighter weapons . . . unless those weapons are also Strikers.

Remember that as a Weapon, Strikers are immune to Hurting Yourself when attacking a hard target (i.e. with DR). Overall, strikers are a good way to make a (technically) unarmed mêlée character as good as armed.

3.4.2 Attacks How does feinting work?

Does the target of a successful feint lose his active defense?

No. A successful feint does something to lower or draw the defender's guard, but the defender does not necessarily execute an active defense in response. Not all feints are fakes (and not all fakes are Feint; see Deceptive Attacks, p. B369). One can fake an attack, but one can also use rhythm ("left-right, left-right, left-left"), stance (a kick after shifting one's weight as if to punch), deception (look left, strike right) and aggression (beat the foe's weapon aside) to reduce a foe's chance of defending. GURPS abstracts all of the above into a "feint roll," so it would not be altogether realistic to have a feint "use up" a defense.

But now the target's player knows the feint worked, and can react to it.

In reality, the target of a feint isn't going to know he's been feinted; if he did, he wouldn't have fallen for it. However, the player will know he's lost the contest, and may decide (for example) to run away.

The best way to play feints is for the GM to roll all combat rolls for NPCs secretly. When an NPC feints, roll dice, ignore them and simply tell the target "He swings at you and misses." Roll the Quick Contest that would have taken place immediately (according to the rules as written) on the NPC's next turn, just before his attack, and apply the results of the feint normally.

How do you handle feints in player vs. player combat?

Have both players make all of their combat rolls in secret for the course of the duel, but make sure that the GM sees the die rolls of both players. What's ideal is to seat the two players (or groups of players) on either side of an upright screen that hides each side's die rolls from the other, and let the GM and other disinterested parties watch both players from the sides.

You can also use the solutions for NPCs – the player attempting the feint tells the GM what he's trying, but tells his opponent that he swung and missed. (He has to tell the GM in advance to prevent cheating.) The Quick Contest doesn't get rolled until his next turn, just before the real attack.

Does the feinter know his feint succeeded or not?

No. Keeping both feint rolls secret will ensure this. It is important to realize that combat is a mind game. A fighter is never sure if his foe really is off guard, or only appears to be good because he has practiced a few moves to perfection, until he's observed him for some time.

If I successfully feint on my current round, can I feint again on my next round to further lower my opponent's defense?

No. The benefit of a feint applies no later than the immediately following turn. If you wait for more than a turn, then you lose the benefit of the feint.

What attack maneuvers can I replace with a Feint?

You can trade any attack off for a feint. What are the rules for fighting with two weapons?

A character who attacks with two weapons is at -4 on both attacks when doing so, unless he has Extra Attack. He has an additional -4 on the attack made with the weapon in his off hand (for a total of -8 and -4, or -4 and 0 with Extra Attack). To buy off the -4 for attacking with two weapons, use the Dual Weapon Attack technique; to buy off the -4 for using the off hand, use the Off-Hand Weapon Training maneuver (or buy the Ambidexterity advantage). When do I need to roll on the Random Hit Location table?

When you cannot decide where to attack and want to leave it up to chance, or any time an attack is truly random: a trap, a stray bullet at long range, etc. How do the misfire rules work exactly?

It works like this:

Note that in Fourth Edition, Malf is an optional statistic. See p. B279 on how to assign a Malf value to firearms.

Example 1: I have skill 16 and a weapon with Malf. 16. If I roll a 17, it's a normal miss but a malfunction. An 18 is both a critical miss and a malfunction – so I just have the malfunction (it takes priority).

Example 2: I have skill 5 and a weapon with Malf. 16. If I roll a 15, it's a critical miss but not a malfunction. A 16+ is both a critical miss and a malfunction – so I just have the malfunction. Can I substitute a DX or ST roll for judo when attempting a grapple, shove, slam or takedown?

As Unarmed Combat (p. B370) says, you can use your best grappling skill – any of Judo, Sumo Wrestling, or Wrestling – for a grab, grapple, or takedown. Judo has no effect on ST. Slams are the specific territory of Brawling and Sumo Wrestling, and only Sumo Wrestling helps with a shove.

If you rely on ST in close combat, you might also want to look at the Power Grappling perk (see GURPS Martial Arts or Power Ups 2: Perks). While using sumo wrestling and wrestling, can I use the skills instead of ST or DX for the listed maneuvers?

Generally, you can only use skill in place of DX. The skills give a bonus to your ST, but cannot replace ST. Specific exceptions are noted in Basic Set: Campaigns. As with the question above, you might benefit from the Power Grappling perk. Can I replace more than one attack in a same turn with a combination of Rapid Strike and Dual Weapon Attack?

No, you can only replace one attack with Rapid Strike or Dual Weapon Attack. Do the penalty reduction for Rapid Strike from Trained By a Master and Weapon Master stack?

No they don't. Can I stack the bonus from the Evaluate, Feint, All-Out-Attack and Deceptive Attack maneuvers?

Yes. Theoretically, you could Evaluate, then use the bonus on your Feint, then make a Deceptive Attack. Your opponent would roll against his normal defense, minus the level by which you won the Feint, minus half the penalty you took for your Deceptive Attack.

If using All-Out-Attack, you could Feint and Deceptive Attack on the same turn, or you could take the +4 on your Feint, or could take an additional -4 to your Deceptive Attack (for a further -2 to Defense), or use the +4 to hit a more interesting hit location (like the neck at -5). I know I can use Evaluate and Feint with a grappling, but can I also use Deceptive Attack and Rapid Strike?

Both are fine. Evaluate and Feint are maneuvers, while Deceptive Attack and Rapid Strike are combat options. If a combat option is legal with a maneuver, then it's legal with all uses of that maneuver. Since you can use Attack to grapple, and Deceptive Attack with Attack, you can use Deceptive Attack to grapple When aiming at multiple targets, against which do I get the aiming bonus?

Against the first target. Is the stacking of laser autofire still present in Fourth Edition?

No. On the other hand, lasers do a lot more damage per shot and have an armor divisor of (2). Against heavily armored opponents, the result is approximately the same as before, but against unarmored ones, it does 5d burning as opposed to instant-disintegration level impaling damage. That seems more realistic in general. Why does the Wait maneuver not allow you to take the "move and attack" or "move" maneuvers?

Because if you spend some or most of a turn waiting, you're not using that time to move. Even allowing a step (for an Attack) or half-move (for an All-Out Attack) is optimistic. We felt that allowing a full move would be wrong. GURPS is an abstraction, but it simply makes no sense to let someone who can move, say, 5 yards in 1 second wait for 0.75 second and then cover 5 yards in 0.25 second. That would mean he's moving at Move 20, not Move 5. How do I factor in Lifting ST and Striking ST when computing the distance at which I can throw a thrown weapon?

The fairest resolution is to use ST + Lifting ST (if you have it) to work out BL and find your throwing multiple, and to then apply this multiple to ST + Striking ST (if you have it) to find range. If I have an Extra Attack, do I really have to use my second hand to do it?

Yes, unless you use the Multi-strike enhancement presented in GURPS Powers. Note that a human can also kick . . . Can I opt to spend the Flurry of Blows option on only one attack in a Rapid Strike, for 1 FP?

Yes. You can even use Flurry of Blows on one of the attacks and Mighty Blows on the other, if you choose – just not both options on a single attack roll. What is the penalty reduction if you use Flurry of Blows AND have Weapon Master or Trained By A Master?

The penalty is reduced from -3 to -1. What maneuvers can I use on a Move-and-Attack or All-Out Attack?

Can I Mighty Blow on a Move and Attack or an All-Out Attack?

No. Mighty Blows is only allowed during a basic Attack Maneuver, though other combat options and effects like Rapid Strike and Extra Attacks may be combined with it.

Can I Dual-Weapon Attack on a Move and Attack or an All-Out Attack?

Yes. Dual-Weapon Attack is allowed during any Maneuver in which a Rapid Strike is not used and multiple attacks are not otherwise disallowed (such as during a Whirlwind Attack). How does Feint work with multiple physical Maneuvers in the same turn (Great Haste, Altered Time Rate, etc)?

You may not choose to Feint at all unless you limit yourself to one physical Maneuver during a given turn. You may still use any Extra Attacks, as these do not count as additional Maneuver selections. You may still Feint as many times as you like within the same Maneuver, but only the most recent Feint applies to an attack. If attacks are made during the same turn following a Feint, the Feint applies only to those attacks. Otherwise, the Feint applies to attacks made on the following turn.

The reasoning here is that if you're moving fast enough to warp time, you're moving too fast for someone else to see you and be faked out. To get the benefits of being really fast, just use your first maneuver to, say, All-Out Attack (Double) to soak up defenses, and your second to Attack with a Deceptive Attack to blast through what's left. Does Extra Attacks stack with Whirlwind Attack?

No. You must forfeit all Extra Attacks to perform a Whirlwind Attack. However, extra Maneuvers (such as from Altered Time Rate) may still be performed on the same turn as a Whirlwind Attack. Can I use Dual-Weapon-Attack with two different weapons? If yes, how does it work?

Yes, it is possible.

When making a Dual-Weapon Attack, roll against your DWA technique with each weapon. If you haven't improved the DWA technique for one of your weapons, you roll at -4 with that weapon. For instance:

In all cases:

  1. Lacking a needed DWA technique means striking at weapon skill-4.
  2. The off-hand attack is at an extra -4, unless the wielder has Off-Hand Weapon Training with the weapon in the off hand or is Ambidexterous.

Thus, a fighter who customarily fights with a broadsword in the master hand and an axe in the off hand would probably have DWA (Broadsword), DWA (Axe/Mace), *and* either Ambidexterity or OHWT (Axe/Mace). Is weapon reach important when Waiting?

Is weapon reach considered when resolving a Wait maneuver?

In 4th Edition, weapon reach has practically no role to play in the Wait maneuver. The rule is simple: if you are Waiting to attack, and someone gets in reach, you can interrupt him/her, even if he has a longer weapon than you, even if he running straight at you. This is actually much fairer than in 3rd Edition because you *could* have taken your action earlier than you did without suffering any adverse situation; you just decided not to do so.

Case in point: A has Basic Speed 7.00 and a sword (reach 1). B has Basic Speed 6.00 and a spear (reach 2). A could, before B could do anything, run up and attack him; he has the initiative! By waiting, A is letting B commit himself while A has the initiative. Sure, B has a long weapon, but A's ready for it; that's part of what Wait is about. This doesn't change if A has Basic Speed 5.00, Waits after B with Basic Speed 6.00 acts, and react to his next move. A still has the initiative, since he could have acted before he is acting now.

Also, do not take into account weapon grip when dealing with Wait. Using the same situation as above, when B is two hexes away from A, A steps forward (reducing the distance between them to one hex) and attacks. Then, even if B has a two hex grip, he still gets his attack because his weight and momentum carries it through. On the next turn, B will either have to step back or change his grip, but on this turn, he's fine.

How can I protect myself against a Wait maneuver?

Simple; don't get near your opponent. Wait yourself, or take time to Evaluate him, or attack someone or something else.

There is actually one thing you can do if you have a longer weapon and are quite good at it: attack your foe's weapon. For example, if you have a reach 2 weapon, and he has a reach 1 weapon, you can stay three hexes away from him (thus out of reach of his step-and-attack, unless he all-out-attacks) and attack his weapon, which is only two hexes away (with the -4 penalty, of course).

Why was it changed?

In 3rd Edition, the longer weapon always went first. This made it impossible for the fighter with the shorter weapon to strike at the long weapon as it came in, or to fleche or lunge directly into his attacker's attack with All-Out Attack. Both are realistic; the latter is dangerous (no defense!) but hardly impossible. It was unrealistic not to allow these tactics.

Also, when weapons were of equal length, high skill could totally negate a Wait. When a skill-14 warrior with a one-yard shortsword chose to Wait, a skill-18 fighter with an identical sword could step up and ignore the Wait. This was simply unfair. How do I apply Size Modifiers in melee combat? Is a large SM anything other but trouble?

Normally, the size modifier of your opponent is applied to your attack roll, whatever yours is. The problem is in some cases, it causes a big problem; for example, two ants (SM -10) have practically no chance of hitting each other unless they have Brawling-20+. To correct this, a new optional rule has been introduced:

When two opponents face each other in melee combat, apply the difference in size modifiers as a bonus to the smallest attacker and as a penalty to the biggest. However, the bonus to a small opponent is limited to +4; attacking a wall ten times as big as you is no easier than hitting a wall four times as big – your reach limits where you can hit.

Note: This is an addendum to the rule in the Basic Set, not an erratum.

Very optional rule: even though being closer than 2 yards normally gives no bonus to ranged attacks, a GM may declare that being closer than 2yds gives bonuses only to offset the size penalty. That way two characters will have the same chance to hit if their proportions (size/distance between) are the same. Warning: I couldn't find a Krommquote for this one, but it solves some problems.

And before you think that big SM is always bad in combat, consider: What are the details of targeting eyes on an armored face? Does Face DR protect the eyes? What about slits/chinks?

Okay, here's a very terse version of Kromm's ruling:

Normally, Face DR does include eyes (when hit at a -9 penalty). However, normally, people target Slits, which are basically Chinks in Armor on the eyes (-10). Helmets which include the eye hit location specifically are not subject to the Chinks vulnerability over the eyes, and protect at the listed Eye DR instead.

3.4.3 Defenses While dodging multiple attacks, my leg gets crippled. Can I still dodge the attacks left?

Yes, but since your leg is crippled, you're on the ground and dodging at -3 against all the attacks still left (and another -4 for being stunned). Being knocked to the ground with a crippling wound does mean that those who strike after you fall are more likely to hit. Is there a defense against Arm Lock?

Arm or Wrist Locks can be defeated at several points. The locker may miss his parry or grapple, or his opponent can defend against it. If the grapple is successfull, the victim can try to break free in following turns with Quick Contests of ST or Judo versus Arm Lock+4 or ST – but don't forget the defender is at -4 DX! How can you block a shield rush with your own shield?

A successfuly block attempt means you brace, receive the shield rush on your own shield, and turn to cause the attacker to slide off to one side. Failure means you catch it square and get slammed anyhow.

For added realism, you can say that a failed shield block vs. a rush results in slam damage to the arm behind the shield. That's not in the Basic Set, but it seems fair. How do I compute the penalties for multiple parries when I use more than one limb (armed or unarmed) to defend myself?

Penalties accrue separately per limb. You pay 10 points for an Extra Arm, you get to parry one extra time before you start running into penalties. So you could parry at full Parry with your right AND left arm, then at Parry-4 for the next two parries, etc. For dodging purposes, how do you define "being aware" of an attack?

The rule is simple. Do you know if you are being attacked? Do you know from where? If both answers are yes, you are aware that you're being attacked, and get a chance to dodge (of course, if you don't actively SEE your opponent, you will incur penalties). If one or both answers are no, you are effectively blind to the attack and cannot dodge.

In situations that are not clear cut, don't hesitate to use Vision rolls to resolve it. Examples include scanning ahead to spot snipers that are about to shoot you, or looking at someone who is so far away you can't readily see if he is pointing a range weapon at you.

People unaware of any specific attack but who know they are in a dangerous zone can still use a shield to protect themselves. But since they cannot block or dodge, treat it as Partial Cover (-2 to attack skill). How can I defend myself against someone stepping in close-combat with me?

On a turn when someone enters close combat and tries to attack or grapple you, you can defend normally as if you were not in Close Combat, with either a block, dodge, or parry. You can even retreat if you want. But once you're in close combat, you can only dodge, or parry with a reach C weapon.

Note that if someone successfully grapples you, you end up in the same hex as him/her, even if you retreated. This represents the fact that you tried to retreat, but your enemy was quick enough to stop you.

3.4.5 Damage and Injuries Do damage bonuses affect a weapon's maximum damage?

All-out-attacks and weapon quality do not increase a weapon's maximum damage. Maximum damage represents the largest wound the weapon can inflict; multiply the ST of a weapon by 3 to find the maximum ST you can apply for damage purpose. A sharper blade (read "fine", "very fine" or "super fine" weapon) or all-out-attack merely allows you to do this using less ST. Damage bonuses given by "cinematic" abilities like Weapon Master and Throwing Art are applied after the limit is.

For example, say a broadsword is wielded by a ST 40 ogre with broadsword at DX+2 and Weapon Master. The ST listed for Broadsword is 10, so the maximum ST that can be applied is 30. Swing damage for ST 30 is 5d+2, and broadsword damage is sw+1 cut, for a total of 5d+3. Being a Weapon Master, he gets a bonus of +10 damage. Total damage is thus 5d+13 (or 8d+2 if you use the optional Dice+Add rule of p. 269) cutting. What rolls are affected by Shock due to injuries? When do the penalty take effect?

Shock lowers DX and IQ, -1 each per point of damage taken (for a maximum of -4). This reduction lasts until the end of the victim's next turn. He can still act during that turn, but at the given penalty.

Shock does not affect:

Shock does affect:

You take shock penalties the moment you get hurt, and suffer them until the end of your next turn. If you were interrupted during your action by someone Waiting, and get hurt, you do suffer penalties on your current action. Shock penalties do not affect "defensive reactions". Since Blocking spells are used for defense, do they suffer those penalties?

Blocking spells are still spells, and subject to the Distraction and Injury rules on p. B236. They might "count as" a block, dodge, or parry, but that's not the same as saying they give you a Block, Dodge, or Parry score. What happened to the Neck hit location?

The rules are the same as for Third Edition, except that there is no automatic or resisted decapitation anymore. It can only happen as a special effect of an ordinary killing blow to the neck.

The reason why is that decapitating freestanding foes with a hand weapon is simply not realistic. It's fantasy-novel and action-movie "realism," sure, but nothing to do with real-world fights. There's a reason executioners used great, huge, heavy swords on stationary targets with their necks on blocks . . . I noticed in the overpenetration rules that the damage done to the torso by piercing, impaling or tight-beam damage is not limited by HT anymore. Why?

In real life, anything that does enough damage to come out the other side leaves such a gaping crater that you're probably going to die. We wanted one-hit kills to be possible – if unlikely – from rifles and spears. The Third Edition rules made it impossible; the Fourth Editions rules don't.

In GURPS High-Tech, there is an optional wounding rule on p. HT162 for GMs who want detailed, delayed deaths with a clear distinction between a big hole and a blood loss as two primary causes of death. I have multiple skills that gives a damage bonus to unarmed attacks. Do the bonus stack?

No. Use only the damage bonus of the specified skill you're using. Are the Move and Dodge penalties for being at 1/3 HP and 1/3 FP cumulative or not?

They are. With the new rules on dying, isn't it really hard for a high HT/high HP to be killed in one shot?

People dying in one second from a weapon blow is very unlikely. GURPS assumes that severe wounds cause death later on either because of Bleeding (p. B420) or failure to recover from a coma, per Recovery from Unconsciousness (p. B423). People have to remember that GURPS combat is second-by-second, not minute-by-minute, and that the effects considered are only those that matter now – not the ones that might happen afterward. A mortal blow can still leave the fighter able to fight; he just dies later. Do the hit location penalties for Knockdown (-5 to groin/vitals/face, -10 to skull/eye) apply to other Stun rolls as well?

No. The penalties above only apply to wounds that both target sensitive areas AND are major wounds. For minor wounds to these sensitive areas, roll for Knockdown at no penalty. Follow-up ignores DR if the carrier penetrates it. Is it automatically stopped if the carrier fails to penetrate?

No!Example: If a grenade hits you for 1d crushing in the head (with skull DR 2 stopping it completely on a roll of 1), it still explodes for 3d cr ex. Now, poisons are another matter: Toxic and Fatigue attacks on realistic weapons frequently have Blood Agent. In this case, the follow-up will indeed be stopped if the carrier fails to penetrate. However, there is no discount (limitation value) on the follow-up attack for this, as a strong carrier negates the limitation, and basing limitation value on carrier damage is too un-generic.

3.5 Equipment

3.5.1 Why is crossbow damage based on ST?

The damage done by a crossbow is based on the ST of the crossbow, not of the firer. A PC may fire a crossbow stronger than his/her ST without penalty, but cocking the crossbow will take longer (p. B410).

3.5.2 What is the difference between an unbalanced and an unreadied weapon? Can I make an unbalanced weapon balanced by having enough ST?

There are several similar terms in use here, not all of them with precise meaning.

An Unready weapon is one that you cannot currently use to attack or defend. It is a state, not a property of the item. It takes a Ready action and/or some rolls (depending on circumstances) to make it Ready. Some weapons become Unready after use – those marked with a Double Dagger (‡), or marked with a Dagger (†) when used in one hand (see p. B270 for all the possibilities).

Weapons that become Unready after every attack are sometimes informally referred to as unready weapons.

On the other hand, a weapon marked with a U in the Parry column is inherently unbalanced, and you can only either attack or parry with it in a turn. Not because of its weight or unwieldiness (which could be overcome with high ST), but because it is physically held differently for attack and defense. For instance, if you're swinging an axe at full force or lashing with a whip, the weapon isn't in a guard position. If you're holding the axe across your body or using the whip's handle to parry like a stick, it isn't in an offensive position. It has nothing to do with how "unready" attacking or parrying makes the weapon – it has to do with how the weapon is gripped.

3.5.3 Why is mail suddenly much better at stopping impaling attacks in Fourth Edition?

We felt that Third Edition mail's vulnerability to impaling weapons didn't pass a reality check. The weapons fine enough to pierce the rings of TL2-3 mail didn't come along until TL4, by which time the mail was fine enough to avoid most of the consequences.

3.5.4 Isn't the rate of fire of a bow unrealistic? Using Fast-Draw, an archer can actually fire 30 arrows per minute. Isn't that high?

You have to be careful with this, because GURPS isn't claiming that one can fast-draw and shoot at a sustained rate of 30 arrows/minute. GURPS assumes that in a 10-, maybe 15- second small-scale battle in close quarters, where every second means life or death, an archer with Fast-Draw (Arrow) can ready a bow in one second, thereby shooting every other second. He probably couldn't sustain that for long.

I'd say that the top sustained rate of fire involves taking the full two seconds to ready normally and a second to shoot, which gives 20 arrows/minute. The realistic sustained rate of fire involves taking two seconds to ready, a second to aim at a general area, and a second to loose the arrow, which is 15 arrows/minute.

3.5.5 Seems guns accuracy bonuses have been greatly reduced in Fourth Edition. What is the logic behind this?

The old Acc values were whacked. They let almost-unskilled shooters with just enough skill to add full Acc do silly things by aiming and bracing, like make fairly reliable headshots at 200 feet. It was a sacrifice to cut the available Acc range in half, but in the end, we felt it resulted in a more balanced game.

We felt it best to say that:

Note that shotguns always have a fantastic bonus to hit with some shots – somewhere between +2 and +5 – thanks to effective RoF!

3.5.6 What are the details and game effects of torches and flashlights?

The beam (for a flashlight) or light radius (for a burning torch) is enough to reduce penalties to -3 in the beam path or area. Assume a 15' (5-hex) radius for most ordinary torches.

3.5.7 Since Snap Shot is now eliminated, what would I gain from aiming a weapon with ACC 0?

Without Snap Shot, you don't need to Aim with the kinds of short-ranged weapons that have Acc 0. Just shoot right away. If you must aim, the first second of aiming lets you brace for +1, even if you have Acc 0. But when we wrote the rules, we assumed that most people wouldn't bother to aim Acc 0 weapons, and that these weapons got relatively little out of aiming.

Note: The intent of the rules is merely that you can't add more to Acc with fancy geegaws than the intrinsic Acc of the weapon. For instance, if your weapon's iron sights give Acc 2, you can't just slap on a scope for +3 Acc and some superscience, jacked-in cyber-sight for +3 Acc more, total +6, for Acc 8. All that junk just adds +2 Acc, for Acc 4. It isn't meant to prevent the +1 or +2 for the second and third Aim, +1 for bracing, or +1 for All-Out Attack (Determined).

3.5.8 How do the rules for high ST and double-dagger (‡) wielding work?

A weapon marked with a double-dagger (‡), by default, requires two hands and becomes unready if used to attack. Which penalty is eliminated then the character has 1.5× ST: the two-handed penalty, or the readiness penalty?

The readiness penalty is eliminated, but the two-handed penalty remains; at 3× ST, both penalties are removed.

3.5.9 What are the reasons to have a Shortsword instead of a big knife? Their thr damage is the same!

A shortsword is still plenty superior to a large knife for your money:

It has +2 cutting damage.

It can stab at reach 1. (Long reach is many times the advantage of close-combat utility, in part because it lets you avoid close combat!)

It isn't at -1 on all parries.

It risks breakage on a parry vs. a 6-lb. weapon instead of vs. a 3-lb. one.

3.5.10 Shotguns have Rcl 1! Are they really recoilless?

No. Rcl 1 is used to represent the fact that all pellets leave the barrel at the same time, thus they have a spread pattern quite small compared to rifles in full-auto mode. IOW, it's a number required to make shotguns behave the same way as IRL (more or less), not an indicator of true recoil. As you can see, most shotguns will have a 'sum' of 7-9 total Rcl (depending on the number of pellets) per shot (be careful with taking this sentence too literally, it's an aid to understanding, not a textbook on game mechanics).

I'm confused. How do I assess damage from a shotgun hits based on its stats?

You roll to hit. You enjoy a bonus to hit depending on RoF (representing a larger number of pellets and their dispersion pattern). Note your Margin of Success (MoS), and remember that it can be reduced by a Dodge. You hit with one pellet, plus one pellet per each Rcl worth of your MoS; in case of firing shot, Rcl is 1, so you hit with MoS+1 pellets. Each pellet does the listed damage (separately), which is reduced by DR and affected by Wounding Multipliers just like any other Piercing damage.

What about Shotguns firing slugs?

Slugs do around 4d pi+ to 5d pi+, with Rcl 4 to 7. Check High-Tech for exact cases.

3.5.11 Where's the difference between a Shortsword and a Large Knife? Where one becomes another?

The transition is slow, and Basic doesn't handle it. Martial Arts has an entry on Long Knives, which are the middle ground between the two.

3.5.12 Can I exceed the normal RoF of a weapon using Extra Attack?

Provided you took Multi-Strike +20%, possibly:

The GM may rule no or yes depending on the mechanical limits of the weapon. If a weapon has a fixed maximum rate, which no amount of trigger-pulling can raise, the answer is no. However, some semi-automatic weapons (usually RoF 3) can probably be fired more frequently if one can manage six (or more!) trigger-pulls per second. Automatic weapons limited to semi-auto can probably do this too, depending on the mechanism. In fact, some humans do this with revolvers! Check out High-Tech for a Technique that allows one to do it without buying Extra Attack.

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