Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What mechanics to use – Characters and stats

A quick impression of what I feel like right now:

I have been trying to fix my campaign, and I keep finding new problems that pop up all over the place. In this next short series of blog posts I will be discussing the mechanics that I plan to use for my campaign, the reasons why I use them, and where I am getting them from.
GURPs is a toolbox first of all. There are many rules and many options within the system to do different things, and I cannot imagine a campaign which will use everything. So it comes down to selecting the right tools for the job!

To make it easier to follow what tools I use where, I have split up my mechanics in different sections:
·        Characters
·        Skill rolls
·        Combat
·        Encounters and conspiracies
·        Magic
·        Environment

Often you will see that I end up selecting the default tools offered by GURPS for the job. This is because I have been relying on laziness on my side to make up for knowing the system through and through, so part of this series will be me finally delving into the system in depth.

In each section I will deal with the problems that I’ve discovered when investigating each aspect of my campaign. This post will specifically deal with the problems I have encountered in the character rules and ability scores that I’ve been using so far.

Character – You always need more of it

The characters that I’ve been using in my campaign so far are based on Monster Hunters 4 – Sidekicks. These hunters use the rules as written down on page 19, specifically the section on using Sidekicks as junior hunters.

I’ve chosen to use the template from MH4 because I felt that the 400 point power-houses offered as standard champions are too overpowered for the kind of campaign I wanted. The book itself notes that 200 point heroes are heroic and larger-than life. So perfect for a paramilitary organization with ex-spies, rainbow six agents and exotic monsters in its ranks.

I did give them an additional 50 point boost:
Combat Reflexes [15]
Patron (Sandman, Light Influence) [15]
Military Rank 1 [5]
And 15 points from the military lense from GURPS Action 1.

This package gives the players the basic abilities that I expect a military character to have at least.
Great! So characters seem to look fine almost right out of the box!

Abilities - A tiring matter
So next look at the stats on characters. First looking at the primary ability scores, I think that anything between 9 and 15 (on the high end) should be possible in this campaign:

ST - The HP it gives is of course great and my players tend to go hand-to-hand in combat once in a while. On top of that, thanks to one character with ST 15, they are starting to see the benefit of not being encumbered by all that military-grade gear they are carrying.
IQ – This is kind-of a given. A lot of the investigative and social skills go on this stat, and a high perception doesn’t hurt.
DX – Useful for shooting things and not getting grabbed by monsters. Good to load up on.
HT  – A bit harder to justify. It is nice against possible diseases, but the Operation will possess some high-tech medicine. Then again, it is important as a stat to not-die.

On the secondary point, once again, anything between 9 and 15 is fine:
HP – Sweet, sweet health. Nice for when you get shot, stabbed, mauled or maimed.
Speed and basic move work as intended. Nothing wrong with that.
Perception – Important as a stat with all the creepies and the crawlies which might be hiding.
Will – Great! The players will need a high will (12+) to withstand all the horrors that I will be throwing at them. It takes away some of the drama when players have high resistances to fear when facing monsters, but nothing that BAD cannot fix (More on that next time!)

And then we have Fatigue Points, which are a problem. Fatigue doesn’t matter in my campaign currently. GURPS Action 2 - Exploits suggests that fatigue is a rule to sparingly, but I like the idea of fatigue mattering, especially for characters in heavy military gear. So let’s take a look at what we can do with fatigue. Taking up the Core GURPS rules, we get some help:

First of all, GURPS basic gives us the penalties associated with losing fatigue. Things like running in full gear, working in extreme weather and using magical powers of course drain fatigue. 

The real meat and bones regarding this is of course starting on page 426 of GURPS Basic, which I should’ve used years ago!

The most obvious uses in my military campaign are of course after fighting combat (Military gear will easily set you back 2 FP after each combat), but also elements like the weather as an international campaign like mine will have.

But now we come to the real reason to expend FP! Extra Effort (Basic: p. 357). I always forget this little gem. Extra Effort lets you spend fatigue points to increase an ability score (-1 per 5% increase. e.g., to add 10% to ST, roll at -2). This is awesome! Exactly what my monster hunting heroes need to be better at their job.

GURPS Monster Hunters 2 offers some additional options to spend FP on. Most of these are very cinematic. Certainly apt for the default 400 point monster hunters, but I want my campaign to be a bit less cinematic than that, so I am going to nix all of them, except for one: Feverish Defense I will allow. I plan to face the players off against big threats, and something in me likes the idea of players freaking out and so much that it costs them fatigue points to stave off werewolves, aliens and vampires.

So to recap, I need to make fatigue points matter by:
  • Applying penalties for fatigue
  • Making the players pay fatigue for going into combat often
  • Using more monsters that cause fatigue damage
  • Using Feverish defense
  • Allow players to use Extra Effort
If anyone has any other cool uses for FP in a supernatural monster hunting campaign, feel free to leave a comment!

Next time, we take a look the skills we use in my campaign, also diving into BAD. 

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