Michael Casavant's GURPS Pages
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House Rules Rationales

This is where I try to explain my thinking on these rules.

Basic Attributes Rationales

The constraint on numbers and points expenditures is intended to encourage players to build reasonable characters and not ones with freakishly high attributes and freakishly low skills.

Strength (ST) Rationales

  • Extra Effort - I want to apply the more far-reaching optional rules [CII 171] because I like to allow characters a little more breathing space with their options, so I adopted them all.
  • Throwing distance and damage - They look good.
  • I like swapping Fatigue and Hit Point, with Fatigue based off of HT and hit points based off of ST because the mechanics of GURPS present ST as muscle power and mass, rather than endurance, which HT is usually used for.  There are many cases of people in RL that have high HT but low ST as well as people that have high ST and low HT. Consider these:
    • High ST and low HT - Probably just a big person or a mesomorph that puts on mass easily, but without regular exercise, gets fat.  It could also easily reflect someone that was a weightlifter/athlete "back in the day". They might have arms like tree trunks, but you could probably lose them easily in a foot race. With the standard GURPS approach, they would end up being easier to beat down (lower hit points) and have better endurance (higher Fatigue).
    • Low ST and High HT - Slim build, probably a runner, cyclist, swimmer, or competition ballroom dancer. With the standard GURPS approach, this person would be harder to kill (higher hit points) but have less enudrance.

Dexterity (DX) Rationales

  • Justify the concept: you had to do something to become dextrous.
  • I think it is absurd that a naturally gifted crafstman is also naturally predisposed to being a swordsman and acrobat.  Looking at the skills, there are some obvious categories to split DX into, Manipulation, Agility, Aim, and Reflexes.  Manipulation would refer to one's ability to do fine work, the precision and coordination of their hands and fingers.  Agility would cover moving one's body with grace.  Aim would cover ranged combat skills.  Finally, there's good old Reflexes, which should probably smack of IQ in some fashion.  Well, let's trudge through the list and see what I come up with [DX Breakdown Table].
  • To complicate matters further, there are skills that are not well delineated and include distinctly IQ-based aspects as well as distinctly DX-based aspects, e.g. some craft skills.
  • Well, having three or four attributes with appropriate points costs and then figuring skill ratings out based on this would be a real pain in the butt.  So, I need to figure out what it is I am really trying to prevent:
    • A mighty warrior is not necessarily a good craftsman
    • A marksman is not necessarily a good swordsman
    • A Unix guru that spars with wooden swords on the weekend does not necessarily have a high DX, although he may be hell on wheel with a rattan broadsword.
    • Dai Blackthorn, an example character in the main book, really bothers me.  He has spent a mere 14.5 points on a measly 5 DX-based skills and one of them is a 1/2 point skill, yet he has a stunning DX 15 (60 pts).
  • So, we come back to my notion of justifying one's concept and requiring minimum expenditures on skills.
    • Require a number of points spent on DX skills based on
      • the score itself, or
      • the points spent on DX.
    • Require a certain number of skills.
    • Require a certain number of skills at 1 point or more.
  • My first impulse is to just require as many points spent on DX-based skills as are spent on DX and similarly for IQ.
  • OK, let's get some data.  I have some faith in the templates from the books Warriors and Wizards.  Let's look at the points spent on DX, DX-based skills, IQ, and IQ-based skills [Point Breakdown Table].  Overall, the Warriors book reflected PCs with 58% as many points on DX-based skills as DX, and more points on IQ-based skills than IQ.

Intelligence (IQ) Rationales

  • Justify the concept: you had to do something to develop your mind.
  • See DX Rationales as well.
  • Sense rolls are not based on IQ, use a base 10 instead.  I have a big problem with Sense rolls being based on IQ.  If my time as a researcher has taught me anything, it's that the two are not related.  Let me be very clear.  Perception relates to detecting things with your senses.  It not only accounts for working sense but also the attentiveness to notice things.  What a character can do with what they notice is based on their skills.  A high Perception may tell you that a background hum has just changed in pitch, but only knowledge will tell you what it means.  I also have seen senses completely abused in other campaigns.  Hopefully this will not happen in mine.
  • Also see Will rationales.

Health (HT) Rationales (see Strength Rationales)

Will (WL) Rationales

  • Will is not based on IQ, use a base 10 instead.
  • Frequency of Submission - Because a strong-willed person can dramatically reduce the effect of disadvantage and I don't want to make up rules for the reduction in points cost.  Also, this allows for the possibility that a strong-willed person can have an Achilles heel.  One nice example is Clint Eastwood's character in Unforgiven.

Raising and Lowering Figured Quantities Rationales

I don't want figured quantities to exceed the realistic bounds of the their base attributes.  I do not want to have a lethargic fat ass with a high Speed, nor do I want a world-class decathlete with a low Speed.


Physical Appearance Rationales


Wealth and Status Rationales


Advantages Rationales

Acute Senses Rationales - I limited it to two levels to avoid abuse.  I added Touch because it seems logical.  Important things that would be noticed by touch would be subtle textures, heat/cold, soft flows of air, some nasty alien creature's anesthetic-oozing brain sucking proboscis, etc.  See Perception discussion under Intelligence (IQ) Rationales.
Alertness Rationale - See Perception discussion under Intelligence (IQ) Rationales.


Disadvantages Rationales

Poor Senses Rationales - see Acute Senses Rationales above.


Quirks Rationales


Skills Rationales


Equipment and Encumberance Rationales


Completing Your Character Rationales


Character Development Rationales


Random Characters Rationales

Disclaimer - The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games (SJG). This material is not official and is not endorsed by SJG. GURPS is a registered trademark of SJG, and the art above is copyrighted by SJG. All rights are reserved by SJG. This material is used here in accordance with the SJG online policy.