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Old 11-18-2016, 01:06 PM   #1
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Sports

Sports is the DX/A category of skills for playing sports to a high standard. If an activity is IQ-based, it's a Games skill. Obviously, there are many Sports skills, and some of them have very little in common; defaults other than the general DX-5 depend on the sport. It's occasionally possible to use them in combat, for moves that are very much like a sport, such as making a slam with Sports (Rugby); the commonest case is catching an object thrown to you (B355). Detailed knowledge of the rules and history of a sport is a Games skill, and lets you referee a match, rather than play in one. The skill for fans is Current Affairs (Sports), or (particular sport). Sports skill appeared at GURPS 1e.

The basic GURPS contest of skill mechanics will work fine for one-on-one sports like billiards or singles tennis. Team sports with complicated strategy like American football or cricket are probably best handled with a variant of the Mass Combat system, with a contest of IQ-based Sports by the captains or coaches, modified by team strength, and team members having individual "sports strength", conveniently equal to their skill level, and maybe special classes of ability, if those make sense for the sport. That's most likely for games with well-defined positions or roles, like a baseball pitcher.

Sports shows up on a few published templates, usually as a hobby. Bio-Tech gives mechanics for using steroids to boost Sports performance, and its drawbacks. High-Tech has sports drinks and equipment for a few sports and Horror has golf clubs as weapons. The Hot Spots books for Florence and Constantinople cover the sports of the period, and Low-Tech tells us that surfing in pre-European-contact Hawaii was a sport of chiefs, comparable to jousting. Infinite Worlds applies cross-world familiarity penalties to the skills, and Martial Arts deals with the difference between Sports and Combat Sport skills. Power-Ups 3: Talents tells us that all Sports skills count as one for Talent purposes, and provides examples and an anti-talent; the Quirks and Wildcard Skills volumes have more examples. Powers provides a cinematic use for Sports (Surfing) if you can walk on water, and Social Engineering points out the applications of Sports in finding a game, and in judging the audience's mood. Supers has (Paragliding) and (Skateboard) and their equipment, and you can fight Zombies with bats at full (Baseball) or (Cricket) skill.

I have the odd character with a point in a Sports specialisation, but I have never used this skill in a game. Have you?
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Old 11-18-2016, 01:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Sports

I've often given players 10 free "Flavor" skills, and I see sports come up in these a lot.

I've always treated Sports as a kind of DX equivalent to Professional Skill. It covers a variety of oddball DX skills that are grouped together because they're part of a sport.

When characters have skills that would translate from sports on a regular basis, I encourage them to buy "Sumo" or "Throwing" at full price. (or whatever it is, but those two are most common).

I've never seen anyone try this, but its possible the skill could be used similarly to carousing. I've seen lots of film where the hero earns the trust of the guys playing streetball and is then able to get info he otherwise couldn't out of them.
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Old 11-18-2016, 01:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Sports

I knew a chap who was working on an American Football simulation. When I last heard about it, he was trying to decide whether he needed to model individual finger strength or whether grip strength per hand would be enough.

In an Infinite Worlds campaign, I had a character with Sports (Cricket) as a colour skill. Alas, I never worked up a situation to make it important in play: I had hoped either to have him turn up at a country house, Black Orchid-style, or arrange for him to be holding a long piece of wood when someone chucked a grenade or something at him. Ah well.
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Old 11-18-2016, 01:50 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Sports

When working up a character recently for a Magical Girl campaign, I did toy with the idea of using Sports (Softball) to launch magically created fragmentation grenades with a softball bat as an innate attack. Ultimately, though, I ended up going in completely different direction with the character. I can't think of any other time when I've considered using the Sports skill.
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Old 11-18-2016, 03:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Sports

Some Relevant Kromm Quotes:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Oh, I love this idea of treating Games and Sports skills as "the bits of several broadly general skills pertinent to one narrow activity, mashed together into one skill for people who want to learn just that activity"! That would make Games and Sports a lot like Soldier, or Expert Skills. The rules tying full-fledged skills into a game or sport would be just a perk at most . . . much as how Style Familiarity forges a bunch of skills into a martial-arts style. It makes sense that a hero who already has Running, Sumo Wrestling, and Throwing could play rugby if he dropped a point on Sport Familiarity (Rugby), rather than the current situation where those costly skills are completely useless and only Sports (Rugby) matters. It would also be kind of cool to see PCs vary in position and role within the activity due to different combinations of skill levels.

Heh, and in a hurry, you could still reduce it to a generic Sports or Games skill roll: Just average the skills in the set and round up (people tend to play their strongest position, so be generous), and then give those who lack Sport Familiary or Game Familiarity the same -3 that separates combat skills, Combat Art skills, and Combat Sport skills. Thus, a professional rugby player with Sports (Rugby)-14 would roll vs. 14; a rugby-loving adventurer with Running-12, Sumo Wrestling-16, Throwing-13, and Sport Familiarity (Rugby) would roll vs. 14; and a random thug with Running-12, Sumo Wrestling-16, and Throwing-13 would roll vs. 11 if roped into a rugby game.
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
That would be interesting, with a caveat: Not all pastimes will be reducible. Most physical sports come down to various combinations of skills for hitting or throwing stuff, running or skating around, and roughhousing – and most mental games would be playable with people skills, strategic skills, and a bit of math – but a few activities will call for actual Games or Sports, no substitutes. We'll have to confine our list to the ones that aren't so specialized and obscure that adventurers with broad physical or mental skill sets couldn't "fake it" with a simple perk to add rules comprehension.
  • Rugby certainly involves running (Running), roughhousing (Sumo Wrestling seems to come closest), and throwing a ball (Throwing).

  • Baseball involves a lot of Throwing and Running, plus Two-Handed Axe/Mace for slugging a ball with a tip-heavy club.

  • Ice hockey is all about Skating, shoving people aside (Sumo Wrestling once again), and thwacking a puck with a long stick that can also be used illegally to hook people (Polearm?).

  • Chess has a lot of rules . . . I'd say that it's mainly Strategy, but with a bigger penalty unless you have Game Familiarity. There's a case for adding in Intelligence Analysis, though.

  • A lot of card games, not just poker, are reducible to Body Language and Gambling. A few might add Mathematics.
Remember that none of these skills are needed to play. All professionals and most amateurs just learn Sports or Games skills. These sets are for adventurers who would prefer leveraging existing skills with a cheap perk to learning yet another skill.

The interesting entries would be ones that use surprising skills. For instance, volleyball is mainly about jumping up in the air and slugging a ball, so Brawling and Jumping might well work.

And all of this suggests that Combat Sport skills are redundant if you have combat skills – just go learn a perk. Fencing on a strip might be Smallsword and Sport Familiarity (Foil), which is a lot cheaper than buying Smallsword Sport up from Smallsword.
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
There's only one speed in a slam: the closing speed of the two parties involved. You use that for both of them. It's physically impossible for one person to close with another at Move 5 while that other person's effective closing speed is 0.

So . . . since both parties are using the same speed, it comes down to "Who has more HP?", mostly. However, there are ways to cheat:
  • Do an All-Out Attack (Strong) for +2 damage or +1 per die, whichever is better.
  • Use Brawling to hit and add its +1 per die damage bonus.
  • Use Sumo Wrestling to hit and add its +1 or +2 per die damage bonus.
  • Make it a shield rush and add +DB to damage.
  • Make it a slam with a long weapon and add +Reach to damage.
And don't forget to make your linebackers ST 13-20 with the maximum additional HP for their ST. (I'd also let them use their Sports skill just like Sumo Wrestling, both to hit and for a damage bonus.)
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
FWIW, I always let people wield tools or sporting equipment as similar weapons with relevant noncombat skills when there's no chance of return aggression; e.g., to attack inanimate objects, for surprise attacks from behind, or to put the pain on a tied-up torture victim (didn't say these were nice uses). The classic example is Forced Entry, which only works on doors and windows, but which the GM could be nice and allow when making a surprise attack with a crowbar, say. Recently, I let somebody with Sports (Cricket) use that to hit with a bat from behind – once ("Sorry, Philip!"). And of course there's knives with Cooking or Surgery, golf clubs with Sports (Golf), oars with Boating, and so on.
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