As a way to get back into the habit of writing I thought I would expound a bit on my preferred GURPS house rules. These are the modifications I make on every campaign I GM. Some are tried-and-true, some are experimental, and one I haven’t really used yet but intend to.
None of them are original creations, though. There’s so much stuff out there already that I don’t feel inclined to come up with my own stuff.
The Permanent Fixtures
These rules should be in effect in pretty much any game I GM.
If I have one complaint about GURPS is that it uses Imperial measurements for everything. I don’t! I use metric instead. By now I’m pretty used to applying simple conversions for lengths and weights.
Areas and volumes are more annoying, though I suspect this site would help me there. I don’t agree with everything on it (for example, I’m not rounding Basic Lift to the nearest whole kilogram, that’s not granular enough), but it does a good job overall.
Alternate Guns Specialties
These are from Pyramid #3/65. It greatly simplifies the existing Guns specialties, and I think it makes a lot of sense. I use it on any game that has guns at all.
These don’t always appear, but I like them nonetheless.
This rule originally appeared on GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2 and GURPS Action 2, and was restated on Pyramid #3/70. It encourages teamwork, and gives heroes a bit of an extra edge in general. It hasn’t appeared in all of my games because people rarely think to invoke this rule, but if anyone asks whether they can use it the answer is always “yes”.
Tactics For the Win
This originally appeared in GURPS Martial Arts. It allows the Tactics skill to grant rerolls when not using tactical maps, or to enable tricky positioning shenanigans when using them. It makes playing “warlord” characters mechanically viable, and the only reason it’s not a permanent fixture is that people don’t always make those types of character.
Another one from Action and Dungeon Fantasy. It simplifies group tests.
This is from GURPS Action. It’s a lot easier to use than the Size/Speed range table for combats without a map! In practice it mostly means giving nearly everyone a -3 penalty for ranged attacks and calling it a day, since combats in my games rarely happen further away 20m that even when everyone has guns.
Experiments, Tried and Untried
These are rules I want to use more often, but I still don’t feel I’m good enough at applying them to so in every game.
Technical Grappling, Simplified.
This is obviously from GURPS Technical Grappling. I like the basic idea of the Technical Grappling system, but as written it’s way too complex to use in any game that is not entirely about playing through an entire MMA tournament at a high level of detail.
I would like to keep the central mechanic where grapplers to “control damage” according to their skill and strength, and where this damage makes it increasingly harder for the opponent to move. Referred Control has to go, however, and I strongly dislike the idea of adjusting people’s ST mid-fight. I’m also not too keep on calculating multiple ST scores for every possible combination of limbs you’re using for a grapple.
Sometimes I’m strongly tempted to buy Douglas Cole’s Dungeon Grappling supplement for D&D-alikes and port it back to GURPS, since it seems to do lot of what I described above already. However, now that I’ve discovered that the official GURPS conversion of his Hall of Tyr adventure is real, I’ll probably wait for that instead. In the meantime I might work something out on my own.
Hybrid Ritual Path Magic
I’m a big fan of the Ritual Path Magic system as described in, well, GURPS Ritual Path Magic. I like the energy accumulation model and the flexibility it allows. That book is more geared towards settings where magic is rare and/or hidden, though, which means it tends to limit magic by what is “mundanely possible” in the setting in question. You can exceed those limits with Greater effects, but it’s expensive.
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 19: Incantation Magic describes a variant of this system meant to fit a D&D-like setting, where magic is known and common. The limits it imposes are a lot less fuzzy (you can do this much damage, or give this big a bonus). The exact amounts are dependent on Magery and there are no Greater effects that allow you to exceed them. That’s good for my purposes, but unfortunately the system is based on an “effect shaping” model where spells give you more skill penalties the more powerful they are.
What I want here is a hybrid system, one that’s based on energy but also geared towards obvious-magic settings. What I’d do here is basically use the system from RPM with the Magery-based limits from DF, and the removal of Greater effects. I haven’t tested this in actual play with real players, but I would like to.