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Old 02-04-2018, 09:29 PM   #1
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

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If you're new to this series or just want to leave feedback about it, check out the Introduction Thread. If you need help finding something we've already discussed, johndallman is maintaining an index of which traits we've discussed. This is especially handy if the trait you are searching for happens to have been part of a multi-subject review.


Under RAW, every character has two arms; today we look at the Advantage that changes that. Extra Arms (p. B53), is a Physical, Exotic Advantage. If a limb can manipulate objects, it is considered an arm, even if it biology would classify it as a leg, tail, or something else. The cost for Extra Arms is variable, depending on how many extras you need and their capabilities. The bog standard Extra Arm costs 10 CP a piece, but its [Basic] entry includes multiple Modifiers specific to it. Said Modifiers may also be applied to a characters default arms, treating Enhancements as an Advantage and Limitations as a Disadvantage equal to a tenth of their percentage value expressed as points e.g. a 50% Enhancement becomes a 5 CP Advantage.

In combat, Extra Arms do not give you additional attacks or maneuvers; take Extra Attack (p. B53-54) for that and/or Enhanced Tracking (p. B53) if you want to focus on multiple subjects at once. However, whether you are in normal Combat, Close Combat, or being out of combat entirely, Extra Arms can give you more options. For example, where appropriate you may use all three (or more) arms to work on a single task or assign them to complimentary activities: for example, wielding a two-handed weapon in addition to a shield. Each Extra Arm does provide a +2 bonus to grappling (including breaking free); you also get a +3 bonus to pin or resist being pinned if you have more arms than your opponent. We'll cover the Modifiers, all of which are listed on p. B53. An arm can be "Extra Flexible" for +50%, allowing the arm to reach and work with any other arms. "Long" increases the Arm's size Modifier by 1 each time you take it. This includes +1 per die to Swing damage when wielding a weapon! Probably why it costs +100%.

As for Limitations, "Foot Manipulators" is a special instance of the "Temporary Disadvantage" Limitation, in this case, it represents being Legless while making use of Extra Arms that are actually legs capable of manipulation. "No Physical Attack" robs a limb of its capacity to punch, kick, or even use melee weapons (though it can still use things like firearms to attack). "Short" reduces the reach of that Arm to Range C, as well as denying it the use of swung weapons. Attempts to grapple are at -2 if all of your arms are Short. "Weak" allows your Extra Arm to have a lower Strength score than the rest of your body; halved for -25% or quartered for -50%. "Weapon Mount" creates a spot where you can - as the name suggests - mount a weapon.

Other Supplements
  • GURPS Powers gives multiple rules clarifications pertaining to Extra Arms, including some interesting Enhancements for which it may be applicable.
  • GURPS Powers: Enhanced Senses uses it to explain... um... something. I'm not sure how to mention this without giving the whole thing away. XP
  • GURPS Supers includes Extra Arms in one of the new Talents and one of the new Templates.
  • GURPS Update lets us know that Extra Arms had the same name and cost... sort of, as there is an "*" beside the entry, indicating there is more too it, which we'll address in the next section.

Past Editions

Under the Third Edition (Revised) rules, referenced from Compendium I, page 54-55, in the chapter on Super and Racial Advantages. While the base cost is the same as in Fourth Edition, this only applies to Extra Arms that otherwise correspond to the defaults for things like length and the capacity to attack. Short Arms, Long Arms, Arms with no physical attack all have separate base costs instead of being Modifiers that alter the price of Extra Arms. As far as I can tell, all the same rules mentioned in the Fourth Edition entry otherwise apply, save they use Fourth Edition terminology and the bonus for pinning is the same +2 for grappling.

Useful Links

Feel free to suggest any existing threads or other, appropriate links on this matter.

Discussion Starters

This is (usually) a generic list of questions for those who want to participate in the discussion but need a little help. If you already know what you want to say, feel free to skip these. ;)
  • Have you ever taken this trait for one of your PCs or NPCs? How did it work out?
  • Is there anything this trait does really well?
  • Is there anything you think this trait could or should do differently?
  • Any related traits you believe are necessary for full discussion? Go ahead and bring them up, but remember that this is a thread for Elastic Skin.
  • Any thoughts on how the 4e version of these traits compares to them in earlier editions?
My GURPS Fourth Edition library consists of Basic Set: Characters, Basic Set: Campaigns, Martial Arts, Powers, Powers: Enhanced Senses, Power-Ups 1: Imbuements, Power-Ups 2: Perks, Power-Ups 3: Talents, Power-Ups 4: Enhancements, Power-Ups 6: Quirks, Power-Ups 8: Limitations, Powers, Social Engineering, Supers, and one issue of Pyramid (3/83), most of which was provided through the generosity of others. Thanks! :)

Last edited by Otaku; 08-02-2018 at 08:01 PM. Reason: Finally noticed it still said "Next Thread: Pending"
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Old 02-05-2018, 02:37 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

In my Space Operators campaign, a minor party NPC has it (a borderline-sapient alien amphibious cephalopod). It has four Extra Arms, with Extra-Flexible on all of them. I think Extra-Flexible is overpriced for what it does (especially if one doesn't have MA which has a few extra says on what exactly the benefits are, but even with MA it seems dubious to me). Back in 3e, Extra-Flexible arms were made by buying a one-time advantage, not by enhancing each one of them.

Before anyone asks why I get upset over NPC point totals, I just find it distasteful that accurately representing a species concept makes it simultaneously point-inefficient (there are better ways of attaining grappling bonuses) and makes the template cost alone rival the total point value of some humanoid NPCs. (The template has other stuff, the utility of which varies.)
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

I haven't seen any actual Extra Arms (it's more a sci-fi trope than a fantasy one), but the Force Extension variant has been used in some spells and special abilities I've built.
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Old 02-05-2018, 07:36 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

I probably have at least one racial template in every game that I have run, that has nonhuman PCs at all, that has Extra Arms.
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Old 02-05-2018, 10:05 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

In my first Gurps game of the modern era (first as player and then as GM) we had a character with 4 arms.

He was a sort of Drow Jedi and kept his Extra Arms hidden under a long cloak. He even had Secret: Four Arms on his character sheet. We never actually got into any melee intense enough for him to need to reveal them.
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Old 02-05-2018, 11:09 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

Extra arms is one of my favorite advantages. I don't often get excuses to take it, but I'm about to start a new campaign with a mutated Minotaur with four arms (and Ambidexterity).
He'll be simultaneously wielding a kusarigama (of a sort), a shield, and either a harpoon or a hand free for grappling/wrangling the kusarigama, so definitely making use of them.

You can probably argue some kind of bonus to a few athletic activities (most notably Climbing skill) when you have all the arms being in play, but that's not an explicit benefit. In its absence, extra arms let you (e.g.) row a boat into arrow fire while hiding under a shield, or climb a rope with a weapon and shield ready.
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Old 02-05-2018, 11:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

I use Extra Arms (Weapon Mount) to represent implanted weapons in sci-fi settings. I have also considered using it to represent other innate attack powers that are approximately equal to what people can just buy in other settings.
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Old 02-05-2018, 12:55 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

From the most popular post of all time on my blog:

One of the most expensive builds known to gurps is the tentacle build. You know, building an octopus with 8 arms. It costs a whopping 100 points to by 6 arms and then upgrade all 8 to extra flexible! But is that really what an octupus should buy? With gurps its important to buy the effects rather than the name. What does extra arm actually buy you?

Well, it gets you a 'hand' and a +2 to grappling. 'Hands' are measured comparative to human hands. So ask yourself, can an octopus use all eight arms as effectively as an human with eight arms? can it play two key boards at once while pulling organ stops, turning the page, drinking coffee, and waving hello? No. And its not just the effects of ham fisted. Its the fact that humans have fingers and opposable thumbs. To some aliens, we have 10 'arms' very short ones on the end of a stump. a LOT of multi-limbed aliens can't use one limb for each hand -- to do what a human does, they need to double up or use some other leverage trick.

Its worth noting extra flexible is often paired with short. Realistic hydrostatic limbs don't have the leverage that a human arm does. Take an elephant for example. Yes, the trunk is huge and fairly long, but so is the animal, and the trunk is used fairly close to the body, especially when its full strength is used. It doesn't have much swinging strength either. Octopi are the same way.

So the 100 points we spent for 6 extra arms (flexible) and 2 flexible arms don't describe an octopus. They describe a grappling demon with intricate control and digits on the tentacles and immense arm strength. Our actual octopus as two extra arms (flexible, short) and two flexible, short arms for a total of 20 points. And that's just one way to do it. A case can be made for a single arm. Remember, you get what you pay for...
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Old 02-05-2018, 01:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

My Mystic Knight in Crakkerjakk's DF game had a magical third arm with force extension and weapon mount that he used to hold his shield. He'd start by fighting at range with bow and shield, fast-draw his sword when monsters got close and beat on them for a while, and then fast-sheath the sword and return to bow and shield when they started retreating. It was awesome. I was saving to get a fourth arm and grip mastery sword, so he could always have the sword out and change from a two-handed grip when he was in melee or a one-handed grip to hold the sword while he was using the bow.

Extra arm is a great advantage, even with only one extra arm and not many special powers.
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:50 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#51): Extra Arms

Extra arms is one of those advantages that really seems like it should have nonlinear cost. It might also work better if ST was split between your arms instead of being separate per arm (this would permit making any number of limbs quite cheap).
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