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Old 03-07-2018, 02:34 PM   #1
VonKatzen
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Default Maintaining ST

GURPS has optional rules for maintaining skills, but what about Strength? Extreme levels of Strength are simply not possible without an immense diet, solid sleeping, and constant resistance training of the sort that is not possible without specifically designed equipment and what amounts of a part-time job of lifting and eating. Realistically this should cut into the time available for training other skills (this is why one rarely sees powerlifter karate masters).

This is one of the most unrealistic features of many fictional heroes. While being very strong can be attributed to genetics and an active lifestyle, reaching the upper levels of human strength requires exhausting gymnasium work, exhausting 'see food' diets, and is usually accompanied by cocktails of performance enhancing drugs. Yet I have found no rules for 'maintaining ST', which is realistically just as hard (in terms of time investment and focus) as maintaining skills at chess. Of all the physical attributes a high ST is the hardest to justify without a nonstop diet-and-excercise routine. World class powerlifters, linebackers and bodybuilders are notorious for losing dozens of pounds of muscle mass and gaining large levels of fat in the off season and this is while they're still working out 5 days a week.

This is part of the reason that history gives us very few examples of people with powerlifter levels of ST. While many historical people were quite large, and strong, they simply did not have access to the food, equipment, money and steroids required to reach the upper levels. I seriously doubt whether even professional athletes in the ancient world could touch the sheer lifting power of today's top-competitors, and not for want of trying. Someone who possessed this level of strength from sheer genetic overbuild may be imaginable, but pretty much justifies an Unusual Background. And even such a person would have to lose strength and mass if he didn't eat constantly.

Genetics and activity can justify maintaining a higher-than-average ST while adventuring or practicing other skills (especially physical skills), but (in a realistic campaign) people with a 15-19 Lifting ST should absolutely have to spend as much time on their lifting routines as they do practicing karate and computer hacking, if not more.

It also takes a long time to build mass - even with careful training, diet and drugs one can only gradually increase strength. Top level lifters and builders are in their late 30s-40s, and this isn't because they were all drinking and playing Yahtzee in their 20s. Unfit people increase their physical strength rapidly, and rapidly plateau. Fit people increase their strength very slowly, by fighting catabolic forces in their body and adding tiny amounts of mass over time. This is why steroids are so effective - they counteract catabolic forces in the body. But even though many (maybe most) lifters and builders use steroids at least some of the time it still takes years - or decades - to achieve their levels of strength. Increasing ST at higher levels is even more demanding than at lower levels, and is an even larger time/resource sink.

The same may be true of DX or IQ, but these are much harder to quantify than ST. We have a plethora of real-world data on physical strength and mass gains, and though the exact routines of the world-class lifters, builders and super-heavyweight fighters vary in detail they are very similar in overall shape: lift, eat, sleep almost every single day for twenty years. Then - and only then - you may be able to compete with Ronnie Coleman. Note that these guys obviously have genetic advantages already - frame, size, muscle building efficiency - and that's why they're at the top. You need all these advantages combined with drugs to reach the top levels of human strength. A person who only has natural ability or drugs is going to be at a much lower level. A person who doesn't constantly excercise won't even be in the running, even with drugs and genetics behind him.

This all flies out the window at TL9+ when people start having muscles implanted and get their genomes spliced with lions. But for TL0-8 it's very sanguine.

Last edited by VonKatzen; 03-07-2018 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 03-07-2018, 02:54 PM   #2
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Maintaining ST

Realistically, maintenance is appropriate for just about everything that costs points, but it's a big hassle to track and not much fun for players.
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Old 03-07-2018, 03:18 PM   #3
mr beer
 
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Default Re: Maintaining ST

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Realistically, maintenance is appropriate for just about everything that costs points, but it's a big hassle to track and not much fun for players.
This

"Yeah your barbarian can have ST 15 but I want to see your weight training plan and you need to track your protein consumption - minimum 1 gram per pound of bodyweight - and your sleep plan and how you are going to cycle your Dire Walrus Gonad Potions in order to avoid testicular shrinkage" - sounds like a riot.

EDIT

Could work in a low point 'gritty' type campaign for various things I guess as a way to deter players from exceeding a determined realistic cap, around say Olympic level.
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Old 03-07-2018, 03:49 PM   #4
Sam Baughn
 
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Default Re: Maintaining ST

Is that level of training time actually realistic? I was under the impression that serious exercise for more than about 30-40 minutes a day probably doesn't help develop power at all and you can easily take 48 hour breaks in your routine with no real loss.
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Old 03-07-2018, 04:03 PM   #5
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Maintaining ST

Most strength regiments are only 30 minutes every other day. It is definition (the cut build of bodybuilders) that requires two or more hours a day every day. Steroids tend to help more with definition than they do with strength (though more muscle does give some more strength). Bulking up is not really necessary for most strength building regimes, as you can double your lift and only increase your muscle mass by forty percent (overall weight increases by forty percent as you condition your bones and connective tissue). Remember, you are conditioning your bones and connective tissue to increase your capacity to store energy as well as your ability to create energy through strengthening muscle (otherwise your muscles destroy your bones and connective tissue).
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Old 03-07-2018, 04:11 PM   #6
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Maintaining ST

There's also the rarely considered issue that building muscle takes time, but one's body's ability to "red-line" is inversely proportional to age.
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Old 03-07-2018, 04:37 PM   #7
VonKatzen
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Default Re: Maintaining ST

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Realistically, maintenance is appropriate for just about everything that costs points, but it's a big hassle to track and not much fun for players.
I do it for skills, so why not? Almost all of the optional rules in GURPS could be considered 'a big hassle to track', but people don't seem to mind having 25 different MA techniques on their sheet instead of just 'kick'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Baughn View Post
Is that level of training time actually realistic?
For the upper levels, yes it is. You need to eat a ton, you need to do extreme strength training, and you need to sleep a lot. Miss out on any of these and you'll start going catabolic and/or stop gaining.

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Most strength regiments are only 30 minutes every other day.
I'm not talking about 'most strength regiments'. I'm talking about top-level human lifters, who work much harder at it than people doing military-style exercises or fitness regimes. Simply being strong can be justified with a much simpler, shorter, and less demanding routine as well as natural physical build. Having a 17-21 Lifting ST cannot (for a human).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
There's also the rarely considered issue that building muscle takes time, but one's body's ability to "red-line" is inversely proportional to age.
Yes, and that's exactly why top competitors are around the 30s-40s in lifting. After that their performance falls off, even if they can maintain mass (they usually can't).

Note that the strongest people in the world aren't necessarily great athletes in general - because training for extreme levels in any sport or combat is often at cross purposes with others. You cannot be an olympic powerlifter and an olympic gymnast (though powerlifters have an easier time doing pull ups and gymnasts are stronger than most people of their weight). Not only the time and training involved are different and contradictory, but the kinesthetics of build don't match up. Someone like Captain America would either require superhuman strength or superhuman reflexes to be both.
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Old 03-07-2018, 04:52 PM   #8
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Maintaining ST

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Originally Posted by VonKatzen View Post
I do it for skills, so why not?
Okay, the simple way of going about this is to eliminate special rules for specific classes of things, and just apply a general rule to everything. I recommend something like 1 hour per week per 10 character points of whatever.
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Old 03-07-2018, 05:39 PM   #9
VonKatzen
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Default Re: Maintaining ST

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Okay, the simple way of going about this is to eliminate special rules for specific classes of things, and just apply a general rule to everything. I recommend something like 1 hour per week per 10 character points of whatever.
Treating it akin to a Skill that costs 10 points per level is a suggestion I've seen elsewhere, so that seems reasonable.

A low level of Increased Consumption would probably also be tied to the highest levels of ST.

Last edited by VonKatzen; 03-07-2018 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 03-07-2018, 05:48 PM   #10
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Maintaining ST

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Originally Posted by VonKatzen View Post
Treating it akin to a Skill that costs 10 points per level is a suggestion I've seen elsewhere, so that seems reasonable.
Eh, I'd do something much simpler: you lose 2% of your total character point value per year, which can come from any skills or advantages you possess; you may use the 'improvement through study' rules to negate this, even if the advantages are ones that would not normally be learnable. Thus, a 250 point PC loses 5 character points per year, which can be offset by spending 1,000 hours per year in study (say, a full-time job of 2,000 hours per year granting 500 hours of study, and another 1,000 hours per year of free time in self-study). Yes, this means PCs will typically not do much better than break even when using the improvement through study rules, but I don't have a problem with that.
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