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Old 07-10-2010, 04:25 AM   #1
chrisjapow
 
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Default PC as an animal in GURPS

I wanted to model a human-intelligence animal as a PC to play in GURPS. I'm a newbie to this system (and to these boards) so if I say something silly please bear with me.

The idea was a creature that could communicate psychically to other PC's - in this case, a crow. I spent some time looking through the books and came up with a decent advantage/disadvantage list that would handle the character pretty well. Obvious disadvantages would include cannot speak, no fine manipulators, short lifespan, and because it's a bird it would have low strength and low basic move. advantages: flight (winged), piercing attack for a pecking attack, claws for scratching attack, night vision, plus some psychic powers and a high IQ for this particular character (he's smarter than most humans). I estimated a size modifier of -4.

While doing this I got to thinking about other aspects of such a character that may well be either advantages or disadvantages. For example - items and equipment. I decided my particular character was lightly kleptomaniac with a predilection for shiny objects (though not a full-blown klepto, I just took it as a quirk). Apart from that, an animal would have no use for items. I took dirt broke as a disadvantage but - what about food? A crow doesn't need "money" to sustain himself. He just goes out and finds food. He's never going to wield a laser cannon or use a sonic screwdriver but not being burdened by possessions is in many ways a good thing. He doesn't need to pay for shelter, he just makes a nest. And so on. I wondered how such a thing would be handled under GURPS. Is there a trait for "doesn't need possessions" and would that be an advantage or disadvantage, or a mix of both? A scavenger trait, for example? It's not a learnt "skill" like hunting, more of a different physiology. Able to consume carrion and insects, etc.

Another issue would be social status. Obviously a crow would have no "status" in society however this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Generally people have less respect for an animal's life than for a human and won't accord what is essentially a vermin species with great respect. However an animal with human intelligence could get away with a huge amount. Animals will never be tried for a crime and if no one suspects he's acting on behalf of the PC's he could, for example, steal things, attack people and watch people with no repurcussions whatsoever. as bart simpson said - no one suspects the butterfly! [or crow]

Sorry for the essay. What do people think!

Last edited by chrisjapow; 07-10-2010 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:37 AM   #2
Maz
 
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Default Re: PC as an animal in GURPS

Re. items.
A human doesn't need items either, they are just handy. A human could survive by scavenging and eating bugs and berries. A human could survive with no clothes and just a make-shift hut.

A human with Dead poor and no job and no income will in fact be in much the same situations as the raven.


The only things differentiating the two is that a Raven likely has some levels of temperature tolerance so they don't need clothes or as much shelter.
The raven is also much smaller (SM-4 in your suggestion) which means it's going to eat a lot less than a human. If you think a raven can survive on food a human couldn't survive on (rotten meat and so on) it should have reduced consumption (Cast Iron stomach).


In addition, just like a human, a bird still needs to be able to find food to survive if it's not getting it for free or paying for it.
The only way to do this is by skill (Survival). It doesn't matter if this is instincts or taught skill, in GURPS its still a skill that need to be bought with points.
The same with making a shelter (a nest is a work of craftsmanship after all).
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:47 AM   #3
chrisjapow
 
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Default Re: PC as an animal in GURPS

Ok, that all makes sense to me, thanks. I might note it at all down as being a meta-trait set.

So, being able to build a simple habitat would come under the "survival" skill - correct?

I suspect the issue of status is that the advantages and disadvantages will balance each other out. Obviously if a creature were to give people suspicion that it was doing illegal things on behalf of the PCs he could get them into trouble (perhaps making people think they'd trained the animal to steal things, etc...).

Also an interesting situation would arise if the animal was one that was particularly revered by a certain culture - for example cows in India. That would definitely be an advantage.

Last edited by chrisjapow; 07-10-2010 at 05:00 AM.
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: PC as an animal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisjapow View Post
Ok, that all makes sense to me, thanks. I might note it at all down as being a meta-trait set.

So, being able to build a simple habitat would come under the "survival" skill - correct?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisjapow View Post
I suspect the issue of status is that the advantages and disadvantages will balance each other out. Obviously if a creature were to give people suspicion that it was doing illegal things on behalf of the PCs he could get them into trouble (perhaps making people think they'd trained the animal to steal things, etc...).
Social Stigma (Valuable Property).

But remember to Dog who attack people, the owner might go to jail or just be fined, but the dog will also be put down... so be careful with that because it makes you in the eyes of society you're property not a person (though you 'owner' might think yo a person)t

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Also an interesting situation would arise if the animal was one that was particularly revered by a certain culture - for example cows in India. That would definitely be an advantage.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: PC as an animal in GURPS

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Originally Posted by Maz View Post
A human with Dead poor and no job and no income will in fact be in much the same situations as the raven.

The only things differentiating the two is that a Raven likely has some levels of temperature tolerance so they don't need clothes or as much shelter.
Another difference would be that a human is more likely than the raven to be harassed by the police if he builds himself a nest on some roof :)
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:42 AM   #6
Phaelen Bleux
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Default Re: PC as an animal in GURPS

Animal Templates in 3e often carried the disadvantages Dead Broke and Social Stigma: Valuable Property or "Barbarian" (for being an animal).

As opposed to being revered (as in India), the crow was reviled in Western Europe (as a witch's familiar or harbinger of ill).

Survival definitely covers all of the crow's basic needs not involving money.

I played a shoulder drake once as a familiar to another PC in the party (think Loiosh and Vlad Taltos). It was a blast! Don't forget to make your char able to communicate effectively, unless you want to do a lot of mute roleplaying.
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Old 07-10-2010, 07:20 AM   #7
chrisjapow
 
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Default Re: PC as an animal in GURPS

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Originally Posted by Phaelen Bleux View Post
Animal Templates in 3e often carried the disadvantages Dead Broke and Social Stigma: Valuable Property or "Barbarian" (for being an animal).
that makes sense.

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Originally Posted by Phaelen Bleux View Post
As opposed to being revered (as in India), the crow was reviled in Western Europe (as a witch's familiar or harbinger of ill).
indeed! although native americans revered them :) and they are protected animals at the tower of london!

i remember watching a documentary about a certain place in far east (i forget exactly where) where monkeys were revered as being protected animals because of religious beliefs and they were allowed to wander into shops or steal things from people and no one would do anything. haha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phaelen Bleux View Post
Survival definitely covers all of the crow's basic needs not involving money.

I played a shoulder drake once as a familiar to another PC in the party (think Loiosh and Vlad Taltos). It was a blast! Don't forget to make your char able to communicate effectively, unless you want to do a lot of mute roleplaying.
yeah, he's a psychic :) can read minds, and has a mindlink with another PC. at this point unable to telesend though i want him to have that as he grows.

Last edited by chrisjapow; 07-10-2010 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: PC as an animal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisjapow View Post
Obvious disadvantages would include cannot speak, no fine manipulators,
IIRC, Crows, like Ravens and Parrots, can speak. Stuttering or Disturbing Voice might be better.

And Crows can manipulate objects with their feet, albeit not very well, so NFM isn't quite right either. Buy No Arms and Foot Manipulators.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: PC as an animal in GURPS

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Originally Posted by aesir23
IIRC, Crows, like Ravens and Parrots, can speak. Stuttering or Disturbing Voice might be better.
Yeah, crows are one of the birds capable of imitating human speech, though they rarely learn more than a few words.
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:20 PM   #10
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Default Re: PC as an animal in GURPS

I don't know about a crow/raven, but I remember playing in a Horseclans campaign several years ago in which one of our female PCs was a Prairiecat.
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