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Old 03-16-2008, 08:35 PM   #1
Kelly Pedersen
 
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Default [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

The Problem

GURPS has rules for enhancing mundane weapons - see Powers, p. 146, "Modifying ST-Based Damage", and Supers p. 81. Basically, you calculate the cost of an Innate Attack that does the appropriate type and number of dice as the attack you're enhancing, figure the cost of the enhancement as applied to that attack, and then pay just the cost of the enhancement. For example, if you do 1d cutting damage with your claws, but you want to add an armor divisor of 2, you calculate the cost of a 1d cutting attack (7 points), then add +50% for armor divisor 2 (11 points total). Then subtract the base cost, and you end up with what you have to actually pay (4 points).

This works fine if all you want to enhance is a single weapon, be it claws, your firsts, your longsword, or your Thompson submachine gun. However, where the system begins to struggle is when you start wanting to apply a particular enhancement to several different types of weapons. What if you want to be able to add an armor divisor to any sharp weapon you pick up, for example?

The system also has problems modeling improvements to weapons that are not already modeled with enhancements and limitations. For example, what if the priest of a smith god automatically makes any metal item they pick up Fine, or Very Fine quality? There's no "Very Fine" enhancement, and no point costs for the base item nessecarily anyway, so it's hard to price.

Finally, the system doesn't handle enchantment very well - you might be able to Afflict someone with the ability to give a sword an armor divisor, but how do you set it up so that the sword gives that ability to anyone who picks it up?
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:07 PM   #2
Kelly Pedersen
 
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Default Re: [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

My proposed solutions to these issues:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen
where the system begins to struggle is when you start wanting to apply a particular enhancement to several different types of weapons.
This one is probably the simplest one - it's essentially a Modular Ability (thanks to Bruno for first pointing that out to me - before that, I was trying to get more complicated with my solutions to this issue). Some people have suggested simply using an appropriately-modified Cosmic Modular Ability pool, but I think this is a case where using the rules in Powers for a new type of Modular Ability is appropriate. I'd price Modular Ability: Item Enhancement at 5 points per slot, and 5 points per point. I priced it that way because I'd say "enhancements allowable on items" is a reasonably lengthy list but not "nearly everying", while I assumed that rearranging a "slot" was simply a matter of picking up a new item, justifying the expensive per-point cost. You can use trait limitations to limit the number of enhancements that can be applied to the items you pick up. For example, "only Armor Divisor (2)" is probably worth at least -50%. In fact, I'd say that you could probably justify another level of the Trait-Limited limitation, putting "Only a single, non-flexible advantage or enhancement" at -60%. Limiting the category of items the Modular Ability can be applied to would be a separate limitation. "Only weapons" sounds like -5%, "Only ranged weapons" like -10%, "Only guns" -20%, "Only submachine guns" -30%, and "Only Tommy guns" -40%.

So, for example, if you wanted to make every gun you picked up have +1 Acc, and gain an armor divisor of 2, you'd calculate what the highest damage gun in your setting was (for this case, we'll assume 4d+4 pi++), and calculate the cost of putting Armor Divisor 2 and Accurate +1 on it (24 points, in this case). The base cost for the Modular Ability will therefore be 125 points (5 points for 1 slot, plus 120 points for 24 points in the slot). However, the limitations mentioned above apply: -50% for a fairly limited trait list, and -20% for only applying to guns. The limitations total -70%, for a final value of 38 points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen
The system also has problems modeling improvements to weapons that are not already modeled with enhancements and limitations.
This one's tougher. My best thought is to use the "Trading Points for Money" rules, on Basic p. 26, and combine it with the above Modular Ability suggestion. Basically, buy enough "money" with points to pay the increased cost of the most expensive item you want to enhance, put that into the Modular Ability, and then limit it appropriately. For example, if you determine that making the most expensive item you want to enhance into Very Fine would happen to cost an amount equal to the campaign starting wealth, you'd pay 55 points for one slot of the modular ability (5 points for one slot, plus 10 points in the slot), then limit it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen
Finally, the system doesn't handle enchantment very well - you might be able to Afflict someone with the ability to give a sword an armor divisor, but how do you set it up so that the sword gives that ability to anyone who picks it up?
This one is also somewhat complicated. My best thought here is that you'll have to build an Affliction that gives the item to be enchanted an Affliction that it uses to give anyone who picks it up the enhanced damage.
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Old 03-16-2008, 10:24 PM   #3
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Re: [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

I don't know if this would help, but a while back I fooled around with the idea of enhanced ranged weapons (my idea revolved around guns specifically, but others could be done easily) like one would enhance natural weapons as found in Powers. I based this off of the idea of benchmarking attacks that you can find in in a sidebar of Powers. I never tested to see if it worked or put it on my computer (I was leery I guess) but I still have the notebook it was in if you would like me to post it.

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Old 03-17-2008, 06:27 AM   #4
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Default Re: [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

Quote:
Finally, the system doesn't handle enchantment very well - you might be able to Afflict someone with the ability to give a sword an armor divisor, but how do you set it up so that the sword gives that ability to anyone who picks it up?
That one's easy - it's a Gadget that works for anybody. Pretty expensive in character points, but then so would be the time that would go into doing a GURPS Magic enchantment.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

Quote:
Originally Posted by vitruvian
That one's easy - it's a Gadget that works for anybody. Pretty expensive in character points, but then so would be the time that would go into doing a GURPS Magic enchantment.
Gadgets, however, are not supposed to be items that are easily acquired on the open market. Gadget works alright if there are only a tiny number of enchanters in the world, but if there's anything like the large number that GURPS Magic, or D&D, tends to assume, then magical items will be available for sale, and thus not eligible for Gadget limitations.
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

Quote:
Gadget works alright if there are only a tiny number of enchanters in the world, but if there's anything like the large number that GURPS Magic, or D&D, tends to assume, then magical items will be available for sale, and thus not eligible for Gadget limitations.
If they're for sale, there'll be a price in GURPS $, so you can do it as Signature Gear.

If you're looking for a system to price out enchantments created using an Advantage-based magic system, just price them out in CP *as though* they were Gadgets, then make the cost equal to that many CPs' worth of Signature Gear. That way, it costs a character the same whether it's a Gadget or SG, and everybody's happy.
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Old 03-18-2008, 05:50 PM   #7
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Default Re: [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

Quote:
Originally Posted by vitruvian
If you're looking for a system to price out enchantments created using an Advantage-based magic system, just price them out in CP *as though* they were Gadgets, then make the cost equal to that many CPs' worth of Signature Gear.
However, that doesn't work for temporary enchantments. How do I create a character who can cast Flaming Weapon on a sword, hand it over to the tank of the party, and then let it wear off when we don't need it anymore?
Also, Signature Gear provides plot protection, which is really just baggage when this sort of thing is concerned. Some enchanted items would qualify as Signature Gear, sure. But not all of it will, and players will probably reasonably ask for some kind of point discount on gear they don't care about losing.
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

Quote:
However, that doesn't work for temporary enchantments. How do I create a character who can cast Flaming Weapon on a sword, hand it over to the tank of the party, and then let it wear off when we don't need it anymore?
Those, as already stated above, are probably best done using Follow-Up or Link. In the uFAQ, Kromm has suggested a +50% Cosmic sufficient to allow use of a Follow-Up with all weapons, and from +10% to +40% sufficient for smaller categories of weapons. Seems like a reasonable pricing to me.

What I was posting about was specifically the case of a specific weapon that works for anybody. If you want to put the Follow-Up on a weapon temporarily and hand it over to another party, we might be looking at an Affliction (of the Follow-Up attack) again.

Quote:
Also, Signature Gear provides plot protection, which is really just baggage when this sort of thing is concerned. Some enchanted items would qualify as Signature Gear, sure. But not all of it will, and players will probably reasonably ask for some kind of point discount on gear they don't care about losing.
Ah, but once you put a $ figure on it, somebody who's Wealthy enough can simply buy it and forgo the protection...
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:38 PM   #9
Kelly Pedersen
 
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Default Re: [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

Quote:
Originally Posted by vitruvian
What I was posting about was specifically the case of a specific weapon that works for anybody. If you want to put the Follow-Up on a weapon temporarily and hand it over to another party, we might be looking at an Affliction (of the Follow-Up attack) again.
That, however, then leads to the question of "why not just use Affliction with Permanent to create permanent items then"? It seems odd to have one system to create temporary enchantment, but a completely different method for permanent enchantment.
Also, the Gadget method doesn't seem very susceptible to adjustment based on the enchantment process. In fact, there doesn't seem to be any clear rules at all for how long enchantment would take with the Gadget scheme - does one just pay the points, and *bang*, an item appears? How would one model an enchantment that takes several weeks of dedicated work to create? With the Affliction model, the player or the GM can use appropriate enhancements and limitations to model the creation process.
Also, the Gadget/Sig Gear method produces one cost for a given item, varying only by TL, no matter how much process the GM thinks enchantment should require in their world. An item that takes a second and an effort of will costs the same as one that requires a mountain of gold, a skilled team of artificers, and years of back-breaking work. That seems odd.
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Old 03-18-2008, 10:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: [GURPS Challenges] Enhancing Mundane Items

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen
Gadgets, however, are not supposed to be items that are easily acquired on the open market. Gadget works alright if there are only a tiny number of enchanters in the world, but if there's anything like the large number that GURPS Magic, or D&D, tends to assume, then magical items will be available for sale, and thus not eligible for Gadget limitations.
I'm having trouble understanding this objection... Could you explain why it matters if other, similar items are for sale?
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