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Old 04-29-2005, 09:17 AM   #1
Wundt
 
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Default How balanced is GURPS?

I have been playing 4ed for a few months and have been considering trying GURPS as a GM. However, I really don't have a good sense of how balanced GURPS is in terms of combat opponents. I know from experience what and how many opponents to throw at a party when I GM other games (you cannot rely on CR in DnD, its pretty variable), but I don't have that sense for GURPS.
  • In GURPS, if I put a 100pt monster/opponent up against a 100pt character, will it be a fair fight?
  • How likely is a 100 point character going to beat a 50pt monster/opponent? 75pt? 90pt? (all other things being equal).
  • What sort of point differential between the characters and their opponents is best to walk that line between challenging and sure death?
  • Do multiple opponents add linearly? E.g. will a 100pt character defeat three 30pt monsters?

I know that there are other factors that come into play, for example, monsters and opponents can be 'designed' just for combat or to capitalize on characters' weaknesses. Assume the monsters/opponents are 'rounded', with non-combat skills, advantages, and disadvantages.

Last edited by Wundt; 04-29-2005 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 04-29-2005, 09:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: How balanced is GURPS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wundt
I have been playing 4ed for a few months and have been considering trying GURPS as a GM. However, I really don't have a good sense of how balanced GURPS is in terms of combat opponents. I know from experience what and how many opponents to throw at a party when I GM other games (you cannot rely on CR in DnD, its pretty variable), but I don't have that sense for GURPS.
  • In GURPS, if I put a 100pt monster/opponent up against a 100pt character, will it be a fair fight?
  • How likely is a 100 point character going to beat a 50pt monster/opponent? 75pt? 90pt? (all other things being equal).
  • What sort of point differential between the characters and their opponents is best to walk that line between challenging and sure death?
  • Do multiple opponents add linearly? E.g. will a 100pt character defeat three 30pt monsters?
Disclaimer: This is from 3e experience.

The answers to pretty much all of your questions is "highly variable." It all depends less on overall point total than skilll levels with the weapons to be used, damage of the weapons to be used, DR of the armor worn and HT of the combatants.

Oh, I'll add that three 30 point opponents are more dangerous than one 90 point opponent (in general).

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Old 04-29-2005, 09:36 AM   #3
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Default Re: How balanced is GURPS?

point value isn't a very good measure of combat-effectiveness in GURPS, especially with the copious non-combat options available to spend points on.

I find a better way to scale encounters is to look at your characters defences and offensive skills and design enemies with a fair chance of beating them, but not too hard, paying scant attention to point value. For instance if there is a heavily armoured fighter have at least one enemy capable of doing him harm, it is however up to the fighter to stop this enemy from getting to the wizard dressed only in his silk robe and skivvies!
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Old 04-29-2005, 10:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: How balanced is GURPS?

My experience is that it is balanced as you want to make it. There is enough flexiblity as a GM you can do what ever you wish to provide flexibility
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Old 04-29-2005, 11:01 AM   #5
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Default Re: How balanced is GURPS?

One thing to do would be to run mock combats of the pcs vs whatever as part of your preparation so you could roughly gauge how they could fare. Of course you won't think of everything the players do, and they won't try everything you do, so you need to allow for some variation.
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Old 04-29-2005, 11:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: How balanced is GURPS?

Everyone's answer is about what I expected. Like I said, I pretty much have ingored things like "Challenge Rating" in the past because of how variable things can be. It sounds like a simple 'rule', or even general guideline, doesn't exist in GURPS either.

I thought I would just ask because I was designing a monster and it was coming in points-wise at twice what I am giving my characters. It was meant to be a tough monster, but the point differencial was surprising.
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Old 04-29-2005, 12:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: How balanced is GURPS?

Most of the time, there's no need to assign point-values to enemies at all. In 90% of adventures I've been in, the enemies simply have the basic stats assigned and equipment chosen, and the essential combat stats calculated beforehand. A 25-point NPC guard with a shield and decent armor can be much better in combat than a 150-point PC who has no combat focus and especially if he has no protection.

What you probably should do is start with low challenges, and add incrementally. For example, if the PCs easily defeat 5 guards, the 7 reinforcements might arrive immediately. Or, perhaps one of the guards is more skilled than the others, with 3 higher skill with his weapon and shield, and perhaps even 1 DR better armor. You can wing these things even in mid-combat (except for the armor part) if your story and situation needs a tougher challenge.

Nothing spoils the mood of a climactic battle at the end of a multi-session adventure than an easy fight, so feel free to fudge - the end justifies the means, at least in this case. ^_^
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Old 04-29-2005, 12:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: How balanced is GURPS?

I'm curious...Can you post your monster's sheet?
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Old 04-29-2005, 12:09 PM   #9
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Default Re: How balanced is GURPS?

I've meantioned this before in other threads, but I think it is worth repeating. The combat worth of an NPC in relation to the player characters will not be universal, given equal character points amongst players-- even if you only count the points relevant to combat. That is, rock-paper-scissors applies in the abstract as a concept. Examples? Sure. (Assume TL 3)

Let us say that you have a high DX character who specializes in light weapons for speed. That character will wear down a lot of well-rounded combat characters, or at least, that has been my experience. However, pit him against a strong and heavily armored opponent, even one with relatively low DX, and you'll see the high DX character get himself into serious trouble. Penetrating armor will be problematic for him, and the high ST character may only need one hit to win. Anyway, that's just one example for you GMs.
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Old 04-29-2005, 01:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: How balanced is GURPS?

Bah, I wrote a big post and the server horked it into the ether . . .

Anyhow, as one of the designers, I largely agree with what has been said already. In essence, points measure all kinds of things -- up to and including how good an accountant you are, how attractive you are, and how big your bank account is. Only compare points to points when comparing pure warriors to pure warriors. Otherwise, forget it.

As for balancing combat, remember that victory comes from superior local concentration of force, not superior total force. High Move and missile weapons can let a force that's inferior in numbers and absolute strength string out their opponents and pick them off. High defenses and a narrow doorway can let a few, lower-powered heroes hold off a horde. If the PCs focus on being fast or good at defense, then they can survive bad on-paper odds. On the other hand, no number of 250-point accountants with pens are going to stand a chance against a few 25-point orcs with axes . . . and if the PCs focus on dealing damage up close instead of avoiding it, they can get surrounded and taken down by 0-point zombies with no weapons at all!

The key to successful threat-matching in GURPS is to know the particular group -- its numbers, strengths, weaknesses, and tactics -- and create foes to match. One monster who plays to weaknesses is a lot scarier than 10 who play to strengths . . . hordes of anything are generally scary if they can surround the heroes . . . and bad tactics can seriously hose the PCs. Just this week, the PCs in my game almost got wasted because they split up against a foe who had the advantage of numbers instead of ganging up on one foe and creating a local numerical advantage. The PCs knew the baddies' weakness (it was a pretty big weakness, too), but their tactics were developed to fight battles as a series of one-on-one or line-on-line engagements, and these tactics let the enemy use reach and mobility to stay out of danger. Oops!
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