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Old 02-07-2016, 09:20 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2015
Default Percentage Based Disadvantages

First, I would like to introduce some basic characters and a disadvantage to illustrate my point clearly:
  1. Arthur is a fledgling DF knight, only a measly 75 points and looking to make his way in the world.
  2. Bartholomew is a powerful DF wizard, having vanquished litches and arch-demons, and now is a 600 point character.
  3. I will introduce a completely fictional disadvantage, Only Half The Time (OHTT), which requires you roll 10 or less any time you want to perform an action, and cost it at -100 points. This is analogous to a disadvantage such as curiosity, which sometimes takes control of your character, without the specific triggering conditions.
Arthur started the game with 75/-100 points, and took OHTT so he could take a higher level in his sword skill, buy more HT, and other critical adventuring stats. The disadvantage increased his available points by 133%, but costs him half his actions.

Bartholomew started at the same point value, and also took OHTT, but has come a long way since then. He is now a 600/-100 point character. OHTT increases his available points by 16%.

Both Arthur and Bartholomew are restricted to taking useful actions about half the time, but Arthur receives a much larger relative bonus! Arthurs available points (and thus rough combat effectiveness) more than double, making it a fair trade. Bartholomew's total points available barely increase at all, while his disadvantage limits him from using those points a significant amount of the time. The smartest thing for Bartholomew to do would be to buy off OHTT as soon as possible, it's dragging his character down for little benefit.

Some disadvantages like Curiosity and Duty effect the character in a severe way regardless of the characters total strength, and effectively deprive a character of a certain percentage of useful actions. In low point games, these advantages are good value for the game effect, but in high point games the flat disadvantage value doesn't make the extra points useful, and makes a character FAR worse than an unaffected character. The best gaming decision is to buy off those disadvantages as soon as they aren't useful, but that runs against the goals of playing interesting characters! Here is what I propose instead:

If a disadvantage has a solid, in game effect, such as Incompetence, Jealousy, or Invertebrate, use it normally. The value of the disadvantage comes from a numerical penalty, which will remain appropriately relevant at all point totals (A -3 at low points hurts a lot, but not at all when you have IQ 20 and a super computer to help).

If a disadvantage effects when your character can act, how they act, or how others react to them, divide the disadvantage value by 2 and treat it as a percentage modifier to your point value. For example, OHTT would become a -50% disadvantage, so Bartholomew would have 900 points, and Arthur would have 112.5. This also means characters with percentage modifiers receive more points than characters without. Both Arthur and Bartholomew would receive 1.5x the number of points as normal, because those points are so much harder to earn or use effectively.

Some disadvantage combined both types of effects. I would treat them as two separate disadvantages, one is a flat negative, the other a percentage modifier. I leave it up to any interested DM to decide how to split a disadvantage fairly.
I run a low fantasy GURPS game:
World details on Obsidian Portal: https://the-fall-of-brekhan.obsidian...ikis/main-page
VariousRen is offline   Reply With Quote

advantage, disadvantage, high points, house rule, low points

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