October 4, 2015

Orcpower quick summary - Barb thru Paladin

This one can't be quite as complete as the prior builds, but it will at least put all the characters on the same scale, using the Orc-o-Matic v2. 

This will either look at melee attacks or cantrip-based Orcpower, the basic "what can I do every round, forever, until they kill me?" question. We can look at spells uniquely, and other special abilities like Hunter's Mark, Colossus Slayer, and the Rogue's sneak attack with a bit of fiddling with the program. I'll round to an approximate number.

So, here we go. Consider these a base from which clever play and builds can start.

More critical hit goodness (courtesy of Peter Dell'Orto)

+Peter V. Dell'Orto did a nice post on critical hits yesterday.

One thing that came up a few times is that there are cases where if you only crit on a 3 and have a skill of 3, then you're either rolling an awesome crit, or you're screwed.

This can be avoided, though, by using margin of success. There are only four values that result in critical hits: 3 through 6, and 5 and 6 only come into play with a large skill.

When you look at the Critical Hit table, though, there are really only a few outcomes.

  • No Defense
  • Defender drops what he's holding
  • Extra Damage (max normal, double, or triple)
  • Major Wound no matter what damage
  • Half-DR
  • Extra shock

October 3, 2015

Getting the Size/Speed Range Table Right and Wrong

I love the Size and Speed/Range Table in GURPS. EABA has one too. I think both games get things right and wrong here, and since I have an idle moment, I want to say why.

What's Right?

Where do these kinds of charts succeed? While there's lots of small things, here are the big ones that occur to me:


Both charts (the SSR can be found on p. B550; "The Chart" is on p. 2.8 of EABA v2.01) cover the entire possible range of scaling and are logarithmic in nature. My personal experience is that this is nearly mandatory, since both gaming and real life happen on widely different scales. 

This need not be frost giants and mortals, either. An aircraft carrier might well be the target of a light antitank weapon. A man might stomp on a bug. An industrial press might have hundreds - or thousands - of times the applied force capability of a human. 

So something that accounts for scale is necessary.

October 2, 2015

Castle of Horrors: Neil Stevenson

This is my character for +Mark Langsdorf's Modern meets Dungeon Fantasy mashup, Castle of Horrors. Some thoughts on his generation and makeup are intermixed.

Neil Stevenson (200 points)

Neil finished high school and joined the Army, where he was a pretty good soldier, mostly light infantry. Ranger training. Probably saw a bit of combat. When he got out, he decided to become a police officer, where he was picked up as a SWAT guy. This didn't sit so well with him after he noticed a pattern of excessive force. After a spectacularly botched raid, he was set up to take the blame . . . but he happened to be out sick with salmonella that day. Ooops. But he left the force in disgust and went to college. He dabbled as a rep for Fabrique-Nationale USA for a bit, so he has a ridiculous thing for FN weapons - it's definitely not rational. Studied law, psychology, and became a fairly successful PI.

Full character build follows!

Gollum: Because it's my birthday, and I wants it

Today is my birthday. If you want to celebrate with me, go read something i wrote, post a review or a comment, and share it with your friends. Maybe it's Technical Grappling or Grappling Old School. Maybe it's The Last Gasp, On Target, Violent Resolution, or The Deadly Spring. Hell, maybe it's a post on the costumes I make for my daughter.

But if you want to wish me well as I start my 45th trip around the sun, tell me what you liked, what you'd do differently, and how you'd use something I've one in your games. And share it. We bloggers are only as pervasive as what is shared that we've done.

** *** **

+Jeffro Johnson says very nice things about me.

September 30, 2015

Play Report - Castle of Horrors 1

We got in our first game of Castle of Horrors, a GURPS mash-up with modern day characters that get transported to a Dungeon Fantasy world. 

There are lots of house rules and altered point costs and stuff. I won't go into that now - you can probably read all about them on +Mark Langsdorf's blog. The rules were arrived at more or less by consensus, in that Mark posted them, gave us time to offer objections or changes, and then locked 'em in. 

We were old friends from college, meeting on a big ranch in eastern Texas for a hunting weekend. In 2012, there was a Shadowrun-esque genetic expression event, so some of our party are non-humans/demi-humans. One troll-like creature, one dwarf, an Orc, I think. 

We started in the famous "you wake up from a night's sleep" ploy (usually associated with bait-and-switch, but in this case, we were all forewarned, so booyah), and found ourselves in between a castle wall and its keep.

Initial exploration led us down a hallway, and it was spooky enough that all of us brought out weapons - especially after looking at what seemed to be bloodstained crossbow bolts embedded in a door. And the bolts were very organic-looking. Chitinous heads, some sort of bone-like or tube-like shaft, and freaking dragonfly wings for fletching. Looked grown,not made. So weapons out.

September 29, 2015

Cubic ST for GURPS?

Over on the forums, Wavefunction threw down a concept: use the cube of ST for Basic Lift, and therefore power, instead of the square.

I'm sure there are lots of biomechanical reasons for not doing this. But he noted a few advantages right off the bat, most notably that ST is equal to HP, and HP go as the cube root of mass, so that scaling the two together means if you have a ST 50, HP 50 giant, he will have the lift required to move his weight just like a human. More or less. Close enough for RPG purposes.

It also compresses the ST scale like +Sean Punch's recent article about log ST does. 

A quick table in the PC-centric range of ST 6 through ST 20.

So what this does is compress PC lifting strengths into the range of 9-16 instead of 8-20. Each point of ST means more than it used to, but at least within the realm of human-centric PCs, it's not crazy-town. 

The implications on carrying capacity go way up for equivalent points in the PC range of 10+. So at CubeST 14, you're getting maybe 7-8 points of Lifting ST as a bonus. That won't break anything. 

Damage Scaling

The implications of this on damage scaling? Still interesting. At human ST scales, ST 16 is darn strong - equivalent to QuadST 20 - but now punches for 1d (thr-1) instead of 2d-1, and the off-the-damage-table swing base is 2d+2 instead of 3d+2.
Alternate damage scaling? Sure. If you decide that swing should be about 1.5x thrust, that pulls ST 16 down to 2d-1 swing, or about DR 6. 

If you wanted thrust damage to be related to basic lift and be quadratic in intensity, so that it scales with firearms, you could do something like "points of damage is sqrt (BL) * Constant." If you adjust so that damage at ST 16 is 2d and ST 10 is 1d, you can see that works out OK, with CubeST 20 being something like 3d-1 swing . . . and that's for someone that can lift nearly 3/4 of a ton, and clearly non-human.

Inclusive of Body Weight?

HP are now matched directly with mass - and that has its own value. To the point where you might be able to start doing interesting things with ST-to-HP ratio and log scores and all sorts of fun things.

A reminder based on the HP-->Mass conversion is that the assumed HP of a complex, Unliving object is 4 x cube root of weight in pounds, or 2x cube root of weight for complex, living objects. Like PCs. Turning that around, and treating HP as mass only you get Mass = 1/8 x (HP cubed).


HP Lower Upper
5 11 21
6 21 34
7 34 53
8 53 77
9 77 107
10 107 145
11 145 190
12 190 244
13 244 308
14 308 381
15 381 465
16 465 562

I'd have to play more, but it seems that one could look at figures like "maximum physical capacity" as the ability to move yourself plus the ability to move stuff. That is, some multiple of basic lift plus you assumed mass for HP equal to ST. So ST 10 might have a total lift capacity of 125 lbs (the expected midpoint for HP 10 for mass) plus 15xBL (the max you can carry on your back without lifting it there yourself) for a total lift capacity of 425lbs. That includes the person.

That probably motivates some funky breakpoint behavior, so I won't charge down that road. But it would allow some very interesting calculations based on Strength-to-Weight ratio directly. Jumping vertically would be the equivalent of throwing yourself, and ST to mass-based HP ratios could be used to determine lots of physical feat results.

Of course, you wouldn't do math like that at the table. You'd look ST and HP up on the Size and Speed Range table (which is a logarithmic basis), and use the difference between the two to determine results - because log subtraction is division, so you're doing easy ratios.

Parting Shot

I think the proposed rescale bears serious consideration for game balance and normalization purposes. You get more "bang" in lift terms from lower ST values, and if the GM is willing to fairly rigorously enforce ST and HP bounds (your ST should be within 2 points of your mass-based HP would be a decent rule of thumb for human normals) it should work.

Someone wants to buy ST 20 as a human normal? Lift 3/4 ton? Sure. You're 18 HP, which means you weigh between 670-790 lbs. Oh. Too heavy? How about you clock in at a fit 325, Mr. Conan, for 14 HP and ST 16. 

September 28, 2015

Invocation-based Disadvantages for GURPS

One of the issues I've got with making characters in GURPS is the bonus points you get for Disads.

Now, don't get me wrong. For a point-based game, getting more points for being more limited than other characters is a fine design decision. In the point-based currency of character generation, you're accepting more power when you can apply it for the cost of being able to apply it less frequently, or less effectively when you do apply it.

Or, it simply makes you more badass at the "cost" of behaving in a way you'd behave anyway. Or at least your character would.

Take Sense of Duty: Companions. This is basically the "don't be an ass-hat" disadvantage. Apparently it's needed for some groups. I'm not playing or running games to stab my co-conspirators in the back (if I wanted that, I'd play Munchkin or something). So SoD: Companions is kind of a requirement.

Now, it doesn't have to be that way. +Tim Shorts had a couple fairly legendary characters in the Monday night game in +Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands campaign who, in the final analysis, didn't fit in well with the party. They wind up leaving the campaign, which was darn grown-up of Tim. Tim, of course, did not leave the campaign, but he instantly saw that the game was going in a direction he couldn't see his character participating in.

In any case, back to GURPS and Disads. I like the concept, but the number and quantity of them that are often plunked down on the character sheet - many just to meet the disad  limit total - can get hard to manage. And if the player isn't constantly on top of his own disad pool, then either he's walking away with free points (though even a 15-point disad is basically +4 to a skill, or getting 1 or 2 minor Advantages, or +1 to ST and Perception - it's not a ridiculously decisive boost) or the GM gets to keep his or her brain wrapped around 30 different choice-limiting aspects of the party in front of him.

I use aspect deliberately here.