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Old 03-01-2017, 05:42 AM   #8
Mailanka's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#34): Destiny

The best way I think to handle Destiny in GURPS isn't as a promise that something will happen (because it often doesn't, whether the campaign ends too early or it shifts in a different direction, and then you're left with a stewing player who wanted his cool moment that never came). It's too inflexible.

Rather, I think you're better off treating them as Bonds from Nobilis: statements about your character are always true. For example, instead of having "Destiny: Become the World's Greatest Swordsman," you get "Destiny: Win every sword fight." Then if you get into a swordfight, you have to "win," whatever that means.

Nobilis handles this by giving you a bonus and some level of miraculous power, but Nobilis is a game dictated by fiat, so it handles this very well. In GURPS, I find it harder to execute this sort of thing. Impulse Buy puts it in the hands of the player by saying "Okay, you're destined to win every swordfight? Here's 3 impulse buy points you can spend to win swordfights." That's why I like that approach: it plays well with the die system and it puts the system directly in the hands of the player.

Another, perhaps better, example of how to use this is "You will die of a heart attack on October 21st, 2070," which means you can't actually die any other way. It becomes a little more easy to fiat that sort of thing away, and I think it's the intent behind the "Precognition as Detect Destiny" rules from GURPS Supers, where you see something, and then the people involved gain that Destiny ("I saw a future where... you betrayed us!" becomes Destiny "Betrays the Group"), but that can be awfully difficult to work into a campaign, and disallows for player choice. Like, what happens if the heart attack PC makes a heroic self-sacrifice that isn't all that self-sacrificial since he knows he cannot die, or does things like plays Russian roulette with a fully loaded revolver and just grins as the gun keeps clicking? I think some games and groups can handle that sort of thing (I'd totally allow it), but I can see why a lot of GMs are leery of it. I mean, how do you even price some of these things?
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