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Old 03-03-2019, 12:10 PM   #1
martinl
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Default Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

This took me longer to realize than it should have. My gut feeling is that disads, on average, are fairly priced compared to advantages and stats, but this is clearly wrong, for the following reason:

Almost everyone buys disads up to the limit.

(And every exception I am aware of was built by someone unfamiliar with GURPS character creation. Combat Reflexes, IQ, and DX are obvious point crocks to GURPS veterans, but they are not bought as often as the disad limit is hit. )

Why is this though? My gut is clearly wrong. After some noodling around, I have thought of the following:

1. Focus - folks often assign disads to areas that are not the focus of their character, and use the points they gain to be better at that focus. The stereotypical combat munchkin with -8 to reactions is the canonical example, but this is just generally common in many PC concepts. It is also the reason disad limits are so common - without them that PC would have -25 reactions but be able to kill everyone who looked at her funny because of it.

1.a. Externalities - one of the worst variants of this is disads that hurt the group, not the PC. "Enemy, very powerful, all the time," is the 4e example now that Jinxed has been mercy killed. I generally try to prevent this from happening, since the other players usually find it obnoxious, but it may be hard to spot before it happens. Mr. -8 reactions often thinks it is his duty to do all the talking because he is the strongest fighter, for some reason.

2. Definition (Character) - Some character concepts call for stuff that is an obvious weakness. A one eyed pirate, an honorable knight, or a scatterbrained wizard are all fun stereotypes, and disadvantages give your PC a little game mechanical cookie for playing a PC with a weakness.

3. Definition (Campaign) - Disads are also a tool that can be used to enforce campaign themes or rules. Inter PC loyalty, or duty to a specific NPC, or even "You are all guttersnipes with Status -2, Youth, and Wealth -2" are all things that give an in game reward for following the game guidelines.

What are your folks' thoughts on the matter?
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:27 PM   #2
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

I've never created a character that hit the suggested disad limit unless it's for a very low powered campaign.

I tend to define my characters by their weakness at least as much as by their strengths. That tends to push me away from other spotlight stealing disads.
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:33 PM   #3
Agemegos
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

I am entirely in agreement. I has seemed plain to me since I first encountered Champions that disad caps are a concession that the rewards games pay for taking disadvantages are greater than the burden of the disadvantages. I suppose that the reason for it in Champions is that the designers wanted to make the PCs come out like comic-book superheroes. James Bond 007, which doesn't need to use disads to balance in features of characters who are very different from a healthy man of mainstream culture and military age, is much less generous with them.

My dissatisfaction with the Champions model of disads is one of the reasons that I was excited about F.A.T.E. when I met it disads don't give you advantages and strengths, rather, you get Fate Points when you are disadvantaged by your Aspects.
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:49 PM   #4
martinl
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
I've never created a character that hit the suggested disad limit unless it's for a very low powered campaign.

I tend to define my characters by their weakness at least as much as by their strengths.
Huh - when I'm going for "defined by disads" what usually happens is I go OVER the limit and then downgrade the overage to quirks or say "I'm taking this without compensation because it fits the character."
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:58 PM   #5
martinl
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
My dissatisfaction with the Champions model of disads is one of the reasons that I was excited about F.A.T.E. when I met it disads don't give you advantages and strengths, rather, you get Fate Points when you are disadvantaged by your Aspects.
I have had moderate success with "You get a bonus CP at the end of the session if your disads came up an a way that is interesting and inconvenient for your PC." I wish I could say it was a great success, but while it made play more interesting, and took the burden of remembering everyone's disads off the GM's shoulders, it also lead to a certain amount of resentment from players who thought it was the GM's duty to make sure they got a chance to display a disad each session, and a certain amount of disad grandstanding, where a player would try to shoehorn a disad into a scene when it was not really appropriate.
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Old 03-03-2019, 01:00 PM   #6
Celjabba
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Of late, in my games, I just add the disads limits to the cp budget, and ask that the players take disads with a total value "around" the suggested limit.

In my current campaign, the 5 characters started with 25 points in mandatory disads (duty and sense of duty), and from 17 to 41 cp in further disads.
But each got 50 cp "more" to spend. No more, no less.

This avoid the quest for the last n points of disads to get exactly to the limit, and allow the player to have the character they want to play, while keeping a limit in place to avoid unbalanced abuse.
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Old 03-03-2019, 01:05 PM   #7
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
I am entirely in agreement. I has seemed plain to me since I first encountered Champions that disad caps are a concession that the rewards games pay for taking disadvantages are greater than the burden of the disadvantages. I suppose that the reason for it in Champions is that the designers wanted to make the PCs come out like comic-book superheroes. James Bond 007, which doesn't need to use disads to balance in features of characters who are very different from a healthy man of mainstream culture and military age, is much less generous with them.
Back in the day, I accepted a friend's offer to run a Champions campaign. He specified 100 point base and up to 150 points in disads. I built characters for myself and C, both of which were around 100 points in disads. He had a terrible time running games for us, and I think he was totally flummoxed that we hadn't gone all the way to the limit. But really, neither of us could think of disads past the first 100 points that fit our character concepts.
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Old 03-03-2019, 01:17 PM   #8
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by martinl View Post
Almost everyone buys disads up to the limit.
Or at least, close to it. Another contributing factor is that it's easy to start out meaning to have less disadvantages, and then feel tempted to take more so as to fit something into the character.

For me, designing a character's personality involves some dialogue with the disadvantage system, trying to describe the character without crippling them in play. I try to take "disadvantages I can live with" which doesn't merely mean ones that won't come up often, although I do try to avoid ones that will come up all the time. That's spotlight stealing and annoying for other players. It also includes an element of "No, I can't/won't do that, but why would I want to?/I'm happy enough about that."

For the character I most recently started playing, I can remember some of the thinking. He's a boatman in an urban fantasy noir version of 1930s New York, and the campaign started with a heist, which he ended up planning, being the only character with any leadership training, from a period in the Navy. He has:
  • Greed (12 or less) [-15]. This is why he gets involved with crime.
  • Social Stigma (Criminal Record) [-5] . . . with unfortunate results. He's not a face-man, he does transport and organisation.
  • Sense of Duty (Partners in crime) (Small Group) [-5] to give him some motive to stick with the party, and behave reasonably towards them.
  • Code of Honor (Pirate's) [-5] Likewise, but don't expect it to extend too far. That got his personality straight, but I needed some more points:
  • Addiction (Pipe-smoker) (Cheap) (Highly addictive; Legal) [-5] Very thirties, fairly acceptable in the society, but a problem if we get cut off from it, by being dumped into the land of the Fae, or something like that.
  • Skinny [-5] Characterisation, a problem if we get into fist-fights, but we do have a specialist for that.
  • Hidebound [-5] Doesn't like totally new ideas, and doesn't come up with them. A small-c conservative, in a trade that doesn't change much. The plans he makes are simple, but that's a good idea when PCs are executing them.
  • Hard of Hearing [-10] Too much time around big guns in the Navy, and didn't like wearing hearing protection.
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Old 03-03-2019, 01:17 PM   #9
edk926
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Honestly, I'd rather have the least amount of disadvantages a character concept could possibly get away with.
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Old 03-03-2019, 01:29 PM   #10
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Back in the day, I accepted a friend's offer to run a Champions campaign. He specified 100 point base and up to 150 points in disads. I built characters for myself and C, both of which were around 100 points in disads. He had a terrible time running games for us, and I think he was totally flummoxed that we hadn't gone all the way to the limit. But really, neither of us could think of disads past the first 100 points that fit our character concepts.
What I noticed back in that time period was that most disads made more work for the GM and that was almsot always me because people who were actually good at making vharacters in a mechanical sense were quite rare.

I seem to remember that the way i ended up doing things was to mandate characters built on 200 pts with a mavimum 50 pts in Disads just to cut down on the number of "limping wonders" ass I called them.

Limping wonders are still a potential problem in Gurps. When I can get people to listen to me I tell them to choose Disads first based on how they see their characters. That gets you an initial budget. Then you move on to major expenses which are usually major Attribute levels and/or Ads.

Then you finish up spending the remaning CP 1 or 2 pts at a time and don't hit those last minute brainstorms that make your players think they need to go back and amputate some part of their character's body to afford something else.

A lot of times people don't listen to me. They get dazzled by the huge lists of things to look at and believe that they have to look at everything on every list.

Soem GMs respond to this with Templates but Templates are themselves multiple lists of mandatory choices that have to be looked at.
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