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) and have the following properties:
- -1 to Acc.
- -1 to Malf. (If the GM is not using Malfunctions (p. B407), treat this as "16 is always a failure, and 17 is always a critical failure.")
- When 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.
This section is for resources for GURPS GMs or players that I've created or helped with. It's also where you'll find various worked examples of what can be done in GURPS, from sample characters to writeups of super-powers or other abilities.
1. Historical Folks Conversion for GURPS Fourth Edition.
A few years back, Brian C. Smithson released Historical Folks as a free (unofficial) supplement for GURPS Third Edition. MyGURPS is proud to host the Fourth Edition Conversion of this incredibly useful e-book.
2. Revised GM Control Sheet (MS Word).
I've always liked the overall layout of the official GM Control Sheet, but find that it could use space better. This version gives each character two lines of info, keeps all of the attributes together, has a spot to track both HP and FP, gives you two lines each for reaction bonuses and DR, and even has room left over for notes. The lower half of the sheet is basically unchanged. It's all done with tables, so you can fill it in on the computer and print it out. Click here for a snapshot of what the sheet looks like, or click on the title to download the MS Word file.
Update: The GM Control Sheet is now available in PDF format, thanks to Eduardo Alvarez. He has created two different versions -- a standard PDF and one with editable fields so you can still fill it in on the computer if you don't have MS Word.
3. Creating a "Super Archer".
Archers like Green Arrow and Hawkeye have been a part of the supers genre for some time. Using Alternative Attacks, it's remarkably simple to create all of their trick arrows and then some.
4. Diabetes as a Disadvantage.
A brief summary of the effects of Type I and Type II diabetes, followed by how to build each one in GURPS using existing disadvantages. Find out why Dependency (Insulin) is the wrong way to approach this condition.
5. Using "Either/Or" Limitations.
Have you ever needed to build a power that was affected by either one limitation or a different one, but not both at the same time (e.g., an attack that doesn't have its full range except in direct sunlight)? Though it isn't immediately obvious, the rules do officially support such a thing, and it's surprisingly easy to do.
6. Super-Effort for Striking ST.
GURPS Powers added a new Super-Effort enhancement so that bricks and telekinetics could make amazing lifts in high-powered games. Here's a similar enhancement for Striking ST that makes it a more reasonable purchase in games offering Innate Attacks.
7. Cosmic Power for "Super Gadgeteers".
A set of ground rules and a modifier for characters who use their Modular Abilities to build "super gadgets" (like "Density Nullification Rays" and "Teleportation Belts"). Boils everything down to one modifier, one roll, and a few simple rules.
8. Upgrading the Magic System.
A few simple adjustments and optional rules that I've added to the GURPS magic system. Balancing Ritual Magic is a minor tweak to prevent the point-crock abuse that seems to invariably occur when the ritual magic rules are used in a game. Modifying Spells is an easy answer to the question, "How can I make my fireball homing?" Long-Ranged Magic is a worked example of modifying spells, to allow for a world in which mages aren't limited to just a few yards of range.
9. Heavier Weapons for Stronger Characters.
Since every melee weapon has a minimum ST (and thus a maximum ST) rating, it can be useful to know how to raise this value for very strong characters. Here are some simple and fast guidelines. (Also includes a tangent on quickly calculating armor weights and such for humanoids with non-zero Size Modifiers.)
10. Infinity's Table of Organization for Infinite Worlds (PDF).
Infinite Worlds is easily one of my favorite settings, though trying to keep track of how all of the departments interact can be tricky, especially when it comes to remembering exactly where the United Nations fit in. So I've drafted up an "org chart" for Infinity Unlimited, including page references for every group listed. The second page is a brief summary of each group, intended to be printed on the back side -- this makes for an excellent player handout.
11. Absorption Revised.
The current rules for Damage Resistance (Absorption) produce some odd results, such as paying 4 character points for the privilege of being able to temporarily add 1 character point to a single ability when attacked. I've taken it apart and rebuilt it -- though not quite "from the ground up."
12. "Upon Death" Abilities.
I present some guidelines for building abilities which are linked to the death of the user, whether that means, "I can use it, but at the cost of my own life," or, "It triggers automatically when I die." There are a variety of approaches which can be taken, depending on exactly what the effect is, though fortunately they're all pretty straightforward.
13. New Techniques.
A repository of new techniques that I've created, both ex nihilo and using the system in GURPS Martial Arts. A bit sparse at the moment, but I will be adding to it every time I come up with something I feel is universally useful.
14. Veterans of the Weird West.
My conversion guide for playing Deadlands using GURPS Fourth Edition. This is based on a loose combination of original Deadlands, the newer Savage Worlds take on it, and some of my favorite things about how GURPS does things.
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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.