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Old 05-01-2016, 06:58 PM   #1
starslayer
 
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Default GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

I have been giving this some thought, trying to distill down the 'essence' of pen and paper role playing. I know this has been attempted in books like Action, role 1 and 2 below are basically what the threat value from pyramid are built to quantify, but I'd like to stay away from that level of quantification.

Thus, I present the RPG character 'role' list (I have listed sub roles, but only the top level role is really important, the sub roles are just different ways to express that):
  1. Murder- the ability to kill stuff
    1. Ranged murder - sniping, shooting, rocket launching
      1. Direct engagement (They can shoot back)
      2. Indirect engagement (they can't shoot back)
    2. Close up murder
      1. Direct engagement (Sword+board, sword, spear, etc.) From Minuteman37
      2. High mobility
      3. Area denial (IE- large area attacks, area of effects, toxic ground, emanations, etc).
  2. 2. Survival- The ability to not be killed
    1. Durability- You can take the hits
    2. Avoidance - You don't get hit in the first place
    3. Blocking - You put things in the way of getting hit (Walls, etc)
  3. Support- Healing, fixing, buffing, etc
    1. Aggro- If your a tank or otherwise able to take the hits being able to force foes to target you is excellent support.
    2. Fixing - You can repair/build THINGS
    3. Healing- You can repair PEOPLE (or PCs if they are themselves machines)
    4. Buffing/debuffing - you can boost the party or bestow penalties on the opposition
  4. Problem solve- The ability to track down problems, follow clues, build stuff, and find a solution
    1. Mundane- you have great detective skills.
    2. Build/use - you can either build neat things, or have access to high tech gear and can use it to get information/solve problems
    3. Mystical - You have access to problem solving magic- seeker and analyze type spells, or things like psycometry
    4. Mental - You have mental dominance that can solve problems (mind reading, mind probe)
  5. 5. Social interaction - The ability to win friends and influence people.
    1. Wealth- a little grease goes a long way to convincing people to do things
    2. Status- You have the power of your station which can move people
    3. Swaying - You can convince people about things/to do things

These roles have a tendency to pull your points in different directions. Notably there are MANY ways to achieve compotency in a given role. A psi with reliable easy to use mind control achieves the murder role, and the social and problem solving roles (sometimes everything IS a nail when you have a hammer). Notably being a standard or RPM mage makes you competent in all 5 categories, depending on how you spend your spells.

Now if you HAVE 5 players this is pretty easy; someone fills each role as a primary, another roll as a secondary, and can ignore the rest, perhaps one 'can do everything but with fatigue/location limitations' like a mage. However as the number of players decreases the requirement for each PC to reliably fill multiple roles increases.

My standard game is a grand total of 2 PCs and 1 GM (rotating GM with the PCs choosing a 'guest NPC' from the GM's list who they will generally direct in action). Thus it seems almost required that PCs be capable at ~4/5 above.

So thoughts:
What other sub roles do I need?

Have I missed any of the 'core' roles?

Why am I posting this:
I have been speaking a lot with co GM/player Kal about role playing in general and the rock-paper-scissors approach to PC opposition/challenges, and I am hoping to build, for myself and him, a better understanding of the ultimate 'distilled' abilities that makes up a PC.

Last edited by starslayer; 05-01-2016 at 07:55 PM. Reason: suggestions from thread.
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Old 05-01-2016, 07:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

Well what about Murders who engage in melee combat, but aren't especially mobile or capable of area of effect? Like a spear welding fighter? His shtick would be turning goons into kabobs, though with only normal human level strength and skill he'd be doing this one at a time.
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Old 05-01-2016, 07:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minuteman37 View Post
Well what about Murders who engage in melee combat, but aren't especially mobile or capable of area of effect? Like a spear welding fighter? His shtick would be turning goons into kabobs, though with only normal human level strength and skill he'd be doing this one at a time.
Point taken, I suppose a 'standard' variant of the close range murderer should be up there. I will add it to the OP and credit you.
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Old 05-01-2016, 08:29 PM   #4
evileeyore
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Default Re: GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

Hmmm. Considering that Area Denial and High Mobility can also be done from ranged, as well as Indirect Engagement (Spirit Bane weapons against spirits that can't directly engage, Insubstantial with Can Attack Substantial, etc) being able to be Melee... You might want to make the Categories of Murder those three with Ranged and Melee simply flavors of it.

For example:
1. Murder- the ability to kill stuff, whether at range or close.

Though admittedly, Indirect is more likely to be a Ranged thing... so...



Otherwise, I think you've covered the bases.
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Old 05-01-2016, 08:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

Where does resource control fit in? There are characters who can draw on resources outside the PC group through a whole bunch of different mechanisms: scrounging, leadership, reputation, patron, ally, charisma, military rank, social status, wealth etc.

And what about the rogue archetype? And the protector? Or comic relief?
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Old 05-01-2016, 09:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

A lot of these are redundant or just ways of murdering things. Murder is just a way of solving a problem. Social interaction also falls under problem solving, and what doesn't obviously fall immediately under the umbrella of problem-solving in survival are generally aids to murder. Support is another category that is mostly aids to murder.
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Old 05-01-2016, 09:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

The traditional GURPS roles are:
  • DX monster
  • IQ monster
  • Reaction monster
  • Combat monster
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Old 05-01-2016, 10:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

Quote:
Originally Posted by starslayer View Post
I have been giving this some thought, trying to distill down the 'essence' of pen and paper role playing. I know this has been attempted in books like Action, role 1 and 2 below are basically what the threat value from pyramid are built to quantify, but I'd like to stay away from that level of quantification.
I think you're looking at it the wrong way. I see this sort of thing, but even worse with the typical D&Der, sort of a "Fish don't know what water is" thing.

You're not discussing the roles of RPGs, but the roles of GURPS (and mostly Action). GURPS, by default, focuses on what I like to call "Agent" play. The abilities with the highest costs and the most mechanical focus tend to be abilities that agents would use, face-to-face, to get a particular job done. For example, GURPS has four different Influence skills, allowing four different core Influence strategies... but it only has one Politics skill, only one Strategy skill. Other games have different emphasis, different roles (though it's not always obvious, because many games copy one another: If you played nothing but D&D and its many knock-offs, you'd be forgiven for thinking that "Healer" was just a standard role in all games)

Imagine, for a moment, you were playing an entirely political game, a game about roman senators and generals trying to outmaneuver one another in an effort to gain empire. Each character has a different focus. Some specialize in demagougery, some focus on hob-nobbing with the aristocracy, some focus more on the military. You have different roles within that political/strategic structure, but none of the "I'm a combat role!" Being able to punch another senator in the face is not particularly useful.

GURPS does understand this. That's one of the big points behind the GURPS Template design books: You need to choose the roles/niches appropriate for your campaign. Often, the agent-style of play is what people are looking for and what they want, but not always. The typical GURPS Cabal campaign, in my experience, does not turn on how well you can punch someone in the face, but how well you can subvert organizations and uncover ancient secrets. It's the sort of game where players complain that Archaeology is OP. On the other hand, the combat-oriented roles of GURPS DF is different from the combat-oriented roles of GURPS Monster Hunters or Action. Action, for example, has no "I'm good at dealing with supernatural problems" niche, while DF has several, and Monster Hunters also doesn't... because every character should be good at dealing with the supernatural.

Thus, campaign design is game design, and game design is organic. Each game is unique and different. You can move and slot predefined roles into a campaign if you want, but it'll feel like other predefined campaigns. Better to understand how roles work, holistically, and design your niches as appropriate for the intent of your campaign.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:52 PM   #9
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Default Re: GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

The sneaky one, he who takes stuff.
Possibly a subset of the murderer, i.e. murder from the shadows. Also could be a problem solver as in the locked door kind of problem.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:59 PM   #10
starslayer
 
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Default Re: GURPS PC 'roles'- a thought on pen and paper role playing in general

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boomerang View Post
Where does resource control fit in? There are characters who can draw on resources outside the PC group through a whole bunch of different mechanisms: scrounging, leadership, reputation, patron, ally, charisma, military rank, social status, wealth etc.

And what about the rogue archetype? And the protector? Or comic relief?
??

I don't want to seem hostile, but did you read the list- Resource control specifically referencing almost every one of the items you listed are item 5 under Social interaction?

As for the archetypes, again I'm not sure I follow- these are intended to be the roles that PCs/players fill, not the sole definer of what they do- I even mentioned that most PCs will be in multiple roles, so;

Rogue- Murder (Sneak attacks), survival (stealth), support (Mundane skills like traps)

Protector- Survival(taking hits), Support(pulling agro)

Comic Relief- Social, Survival, Support (debuffs through things like Rapier wit)
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