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.
These are the house rules and articles which were written specifically for GURPS Traveller. Traveller is the epitome of a "classic sci-fi" setting, with a rich history and a universe clearly tailored to gaming. It also happens to mesh perfectly with GURPS -- an example of a great system supporting a great setting.
1. Building Jump Drives with Warp.
Just a mental exercise that occupied me one night; I thought it might be of interest to others. Making Warp work like a Traveller-style Jump Drive is actually easy; the tricky part is ensuring that the jump distance makes a difference in play. (Also includes a tangent on easy rules for calculating move relative to the speed of light with Enhanced Move (Space).)
2. Updated Traveller Racial Templates
I was disappointed that GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars didn't feature the templates for any major race except the Droyne (and they were oversimplified.) So I took it upon myself to convert them -- not just converting over each trait, but rebuilding them with the tools of the new edition to (hopefully) truly capture their essence.
3. Psionics in Traveller
This is a breakdown of the power groups (and the abilities which they comprise) which are available to psis (and anti-psis) in my Traveller games. It includes suggested limits on power levels and rules for Unusual Backgrounds and developing psi. There are also notes on Droyne psi and Zhodani characters.
4. Using GURPS Spaceships in Traveller
The simple GURPS Spaceships rules are a natural fit for Traveller games, as they give the ship just enough detail to be useful, but not so much that flying the ship turns into a wargame. With the rules tweaks and judgment calls on this page, I think it's pretty close to a perfect fit. Update: Also includes my rules for the Ship Owner advantage in Traveller.
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