Fourth Edition not only streamlined GURPS, it fixed a lot of rules and exceptions that were unbalanced or otherwise broken. Of course, even an unashamed fanatic like myself has to admit that a few things can still use some tweaking. All of my house rules here have been extensively playtested and have had a positive effect on the system. Click on the rule if you want to know the details, or the rationale behind it.
Many of these house rules are available in the GCA Files section below if you want to incorporate them into your own game.
1. Perception and Will are separate from IQ.
Both Per and Will are their own attributes. They start at 10, and can be raised or lowered for 5 points/level. IQ is unchanged, at 20 points/level.
2. Reducing the value of "flavor" traits.
The values of all age-related traits (Extended Lifespan, Longevity, Self-Destruct, Short Lifespan) are halved, except for Unaging, which costs 5 points. Terminally Ill no longer exists, except when granted via an Affliction.
3. Arm DX, Arm ST, and Regrowth are cheaper.
Arm DX costs 9 or 12 points for one or two arms. Arm ST costs 3, 4, or 6 points for one, two, or three arms. Regrowth costs 10 points.
4. Control can be used normally to provide DR.
Each level of Control can be used to give people in your area of effect DR 1 versus appropriate attacks. A successful, IQ-Based Power Block will double any defensive use of Control for one attack.
5. Costs Fatigue is worth -10%/level.
Costs Fatigue is worth -10% per level, to a maximum of -40%. If you have an advantage that would normally remain on indefinitely, you can take "Costs 1 FP per 10 seconds" for -20% or "Costs 1 FP per second" for -40%.
6. Armor Divisor (100) is available.
Armor Divisor (100) is available as a +300% enhancement. This is a fair price in comparison to Cosmic (Irresistable Attack), which is more effective but is also stopped by Cosmic DR. Hardened DR reduces both enhancements normally.
7. Various new modifiers for traits.
While building characters and helping others to do so, I've come up with several new "special modifiers" for various advantages, as well as a new advantage (Indefatigable). Unlike the other house rules, this will load as a separate page -- it's too long to do inline.
8. Enthrallment skills require an Unusual Background.
For balance purposes, an Unusual Background is required to learn and use the four Enthrallment skills. This costs 5 points, plus 5 points for each level of Charisma (maximum 30 points.)
9. Temporary Enchantment fixed.
When using the Temporary Enchantment spell (from GURPS Fantasy and Magic), multiply the energy cost of the enchantment by (Uses)/(Uses+6), rounding up. So a wand that can cast Fireball 30 times costs (30/36), or 84% of the normal energy cost to enchant.
10. Slams use ST when possible.
Replace "HP" with "ST" for living beings in the formula for calculating the damage from slams. Use HP for inanimate objects and all other collisions or falls. If the type of Strength matters, use Striking ST.
11. (Psi) Static comes in two levels.
Resistible is no longer a limitation. Instead, it is the first level of Static, with a cost of 15 points. The normal advantage, as written, is the second level.
12. Changes to Trading Points for Money and Signature Gear.
The starting cash you get by trading in points now scales up (using a similar progression to Wealth) and is based on your starting wealth, not the campaigns. This makes it a fair deal for wealthy characters while reducing abuse from poor ones. Signature Gear no longer provides funds; it simply adds plot protection to gear that you've already purchased. Because there's a table involved, this house rule is located on its own page.
13. Streamlined Languages for Modern Games.
In games set on modern Earth, 99% of the people will speak one of the following languages: Arabic, Bantu (Southern African), Berber (Northern African), Cantonese/Wu (Chinese), Dutch/Afrikaans, English, Farsi/Kurdish (Iranian), Finnish/Hungarian, French, Gaelic/Welsh, German/Yiddish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu (Indian/Pakistani), Indonesian/Malay, Italian/Romanian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Mandarin (Chinese), Navajo, Norwegian/Swedish/Danish, Polish/Czech, Russian/Ukranian, Spanish/Portugese, Thai/Burmese, Turkish/Mongol, or Vietnamese/Cambodian. A slash means that the languages are closely enough related that, for simplified game purposes, they count as a single language.
14. Combat, Combat Art, and Combat Sport Skills Are Techniques.
When you learn a Combat skill, Combat Art skill, or Combat Sport skill (see p. B184 for details), you may buy up the other two versions as an Average technique defaulting to your skill-3. For example, if you know Karate Art at DX+2, you know Karate at DX-1 and can buy it up to DX+2 level for 3 points.
15. Cheap Firearms.
Cheap guns are -60% to Cost (-0.6 CF). They have -1 Acc, -1 HT, and -1 Malf. If you aren't using Malfunctions (p. B407), treat this as "16 is always a failure, and 17 is always a critical failure."
Alternatively, if you don't mind extra detail, the firearm's HT is unchanged. However, whenever it would normally get a bonus to a HT roll -- like the HT+4 roll to resist Slime, Sand, and Equipment Failure (p. B485) -- it rolls against straight HT, no bonus.
Note for My Players: I also have a minor house rule about Dependents and Enemies. They may be only taken with a Frequency of "6 or less" or "9 or less" without special GM permission.
Retired House Rules
Several of my house rules have been retired due either to them being incorporated as official rules or to new rules which solve the same problem in an acceptable way. I'm glad that this section exists! It means that the system is being constantly improved as it grows. Retired house rules include those for Gunslinger, Magery 0, and Off-Hand Weapon Training.
Here is where my thoughts, ramblings, and pontifications on GURPS end up. Many are of a rules-related nature, but don't really count as house rules, either because they're only guidelines or they focus on examining a rule rather than changing it. Others are just opinions or experiences that I felt were worth sharing. In all cases, I hope you find them useful.
1. Yes, Virginia, You CAN Afflict Yourself.
In an attempt to put an end to the confusion about using Affliction to give yourself an advantage, I got to the bottom of how it's really supposed to work. Read why you can zap yourself with your own shrink ray, but why you may not want to.
2. Innate Attacks, Wuxia, and You.
My thoughts on Martial Arts and allowing Innate Attacks in a cinematic wuxia game, along with some guidelines and limits that work well for preventing such things from harming the flavor of the campaign.
3. Just Say No to Mass Combat Systems.
Mass combat systems have their place -- specifically, when the PCs initiate a huge battle with another sizeable force. But not when the PCs are just soldiers in a larger war. Read on to see why the question of "who wins" is a meaningless one -- and why the battle itself should never take center stage.
4. Nipping Problem Allies in the Bud.
While few people actively set out to abuse the Ally advantage, certain designs can prove quite problematic if the GM isn't prepared for it ahead of time. After sparking a discussion about this with several veteran gamers, I've tried to condense the key issues (and solutions) down to a single article.
5. Preserving the Polarity of Weirdness Magnet.
One of my pet peeves is the persistent meme that Weirdness Magnet is hardly a disadvantage. Both players and GMs often seem to treat it like anything from a minor inconvenience to an actual advantage. For those gamers, this part-rant, part-article attempts to present Weirdness Magnet in a new light.
6. Gun! Versus Pistol.
A short article, based on a playtest email, which addresses the utility of Wildcard skills. Some gamers see each Wildcard skill as restricted to a fixed list, instead of as a cinematic "uber-skill." This is especially prevalent with the Gun! skill, which I address specifically here.
The good Dr. Kromm created the Dungeon Fantasy series to show that GURPS can truly handle any genre -- even the classic dungeon crawl. The combination of a new-school system with old-school gaming worked surprisingly well. I'm honored to have contributed to the series officially, and I'd like to continue contributing in this small section of MyGURPS.
Much of the following is now available in a handy PDF format, along with other rulings and additions posted to the forums. Basically, this is the file that I print out for my own games. Each section is labeled with the Dungeon Fantasy book for which it acts as an addendum.
1. Splitting IQ from Per/Will in Dungeon Fantasy.
One of my most popular house rules (above) is the one separating Will and Per from IQ. It's rather self-explanatory, except when you're trying to use premade templates . . . which is what Dungeon Fantasy is all about. So here are some guidelines for tweaking the templates to preserve point balance while fixing the IQ issue.
2. Alchemy (and Alchemists) in Dungeon Fantasy.
Here I expand the rules for alchemy in Dungeon Fantasy, creating a middle road between "NPCs make real elixirs in town" and "PCs use Gizmo for a potion that must be used immediately." In doing so, it makes a new character type possible: The Alchemist (a lens for the Artificer template).
3. New Template: Seventh Son.
You are the seventh son of a seventh son (or daughter -- the "son" part is just tradition), a blessed wanderer, or a peasant adventurer. You don't have the specialized training that any of the other templates have, but you're quick and clever and the fates are definitely watching out for you. This template is good for those looking to play an "underdog" without actually sacrificing survivability.
This template was created by aesir23, not me. I offered suggestions and feedback and made a few tweaks.
4. Splitting IQ from Per/Will in Action.
Okay, this doesn't exactly belong here, but I know that gamers associate the Action line with the Dungeon Fantasy line closely, due to the very similar design and approach of the two. So here is the Action breakdown of how to split Per and Will from IQ for each template.
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The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games. GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games, and the art here is copyrighted by Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by Steve Jackson Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJGames online policy.