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Old 07-04-2017, 01:45 PM   #1
dfinlay
 
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Default [House Rules] Technique System Overhaul

I wanted to share some house rules I've been using overhauling the way GURPS handles techniques. These have now been play-tested for more than 2 years in over a hundred sessions of around 8 different campaigns, though of course only games run by my gaming group.

Problems these rules set out to solve:
  • Having more than one technique in a skill is almost always suboptimal. Having more than three always is.
  • Many techniques feel either under- or over-priced due to being near the resolution limit of GURPS points.
  • I felt that overall, skills needed a buff relative to advantages, attributes and talents.
  • Characters with more techniques tend to be more interesting and they help to make two characters with the same skill distinct, but often they aren't worth taking except in a few cases of really powerful ones.
  • From a realism, a narrative and a gameplay perspective, masters of some skill (very high skill level) should have a distinct style with a bunch of specialties and/or signature moves, but a lot of the time, mastery is achieved just by pumping a whole bunch of points into a skill and calling it a day.

The rules:
  • Every point spent in a skill after the second gives 2 TP (technique points) for use with that skill.
  • Techniques can be purchased with TP. Each technique should have an initial penalty (or in some cases bonus) for untrained use, a maximum amount it can be raised and a number of TP per level to raise it.
  • The GM will have to work out the above stats, but as a rough rule of thumb, 3 TP is what you should charge for a technique that feels fair costing 1 CP per level, so balance with 12 TP = a full level of the skill in mind.
  • Prefer specific techniques over broad ones. In other words, no rapid strike, but combinations are fine; don't allow 'deceptive attack' but maybe allow buying off the deceptive penalty in certain specific situations, etc.
  • The point of the system is for characters to have a way to come up with things to be good at that are specific to their character, so making an officiall 'list of all techniques' defeats the point, but being able to recommend some ideas when your players are stuck is sometimes neccessary.

All in all, it's worked out pretty well. It definitely increases paperwork a bit, but not too much. It increases the amount of time it takes to spend points, but my players have said (and I have found) that it makes that time more fun. It also nearly doubled the nominal value of buying skills but seems not to have made advantage or attribute builds suboptimal. It has made characters with several skills at moderately high levels relative to their atttributes more viable, though.

Notes:
  • When I first made the system, it was 1 TP per point that doesn't raise a level (so one at 3,5,6,7,9,etc), but it turned out to be too few to have the effects I wanted.
  • It's important that the first two points don't give TP as when players are adding 1 or 2 point skills, they generally don't want to have to think up techniques.
  • Characters in my games generally have most skills with 1-4 points in them and a few skills with more, with rarely more than 20 points. If your group has players regularly spending 40 or more points on a skill, this might get to be a bit much (though one character using this system has 44 points in a skill, that was under the old, lower TP version and he still has 10 techniques down)
  • Techniques stacking together is usually fine in this variant. If you have a technique offseting shock penalties and a technique offseting darkness penalties, you can use both together when suffering from both variants. You can even have one technique be a subset of another so they always stack (though it should cost less TP). Just be careful of players using this to bypass restrictions on maximum levels of techniques to stack up huge bonuses.

Some example techniques from our games:
  • Tomato Sauce {off Cooking} (+0 to +4, 1 TP per level)
  • Compact {off Gardening} (2 TP per level, offsets penalties for using less space than ideal)
  • Extra Effort Strong {off 2H Axe/Mace} (+0 to +2, 3 TP per level, gives a skill bonus when using extra effort strong)
  • Navigating Under the Influence {off Navigation} (1 TP per level, offsets penalties for being drunk or on drugs while navigating)
  • Cautious {off Scrounge} (2 TP per level, offsets penalties you can give yourself to get bonuses to not set off traps or other hazards while scrounging)
  • Talk people out of doing stupid things {off Diplomacy} (4 TP per level, bonuses apply when trying to convince someone not to do something clearly against their own best interests)
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