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Old 04-18-2015, 04:01 AM   #1
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Default GURPS Space GURPS Math

Not sure if it is GURPS Space but I remember flicking through one GURPS supplement to do with sc fi and it left me utterly baffled. I think it actually was rocket science the book got into in some parts. I understand GURPS tends to simulate our earthly physics (for the most part), but for the longest time it turned me off GURPS.

Do you sometimes labour under the number crunching that GURPS sometimes requires? I struggle with math, always have, so I was wondering if anyone else out there had the same math issues as myself and what they did to overcome that?

I've always thought a little pdf supplement showing what calculations GURPS requires in places (square roots, algebra, working out percentages/fractions etc) and how to perform those calculations would be very handy for those who struggle with number crunching. I know GURPS has examples, but if you just don't have any base from which to work from they don't help much if you have no idea what's going on from the get go.
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Old 04-18-2015, 04:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: GURPS Space GURPS Math

The most likely book to have caused these memories is Vehicles
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Old 04-18-2015, 04:21 AM   #3
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Default Re: GURPS Space GURPS Math

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warden View Post
Not sure if it is GURPS Space but I remember flicking through one GURPS supplement to do with sc fi and it left me utterly baffled. I think it actually was rocket science the book got into in some parts. I understand GURPS tends to simulate our earthly physics (for the most part), but for the longest time it turned me off GURPS.
The only thing I can think of that you may be referring to was the star system generation system in GURPS Space. I don't think it required any higher math - it was largely lookup tables. There may have been some exponentiation or logarithms, but honestly neither of those things should scare you because you should have access to those buttons on the calculator that comes with your computer and all you need to know about how to do them is how to push that button. Also, none of that was intended for use inside of a game session - it was all GM prepwork stuff.

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Do you sometimes labour under the number crunching that GURPS sometimes requires?
No, because GURPS does not require much in the way of number crunching. GURPS 4e provides lookup tables for every single occasion that it provides a math function that's more complicated than basic multiplication or division.

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I've always thought a little pdf supplement showing what calculations GURPS requires in places (square roots, algebra, working out percentages/fractions etc) and how to perform those calculations would be very handy for those who struggle with number crunching. I know GURPS has examples, but if you just don't have any base from which to work from they don't help much if you have no idea what's going on from the get go.
Every single piece of mathematics that GURPS actually requires is third grade level or less; it doesn't require algebra, square roots, powers, logarithms, or anything of the sort.

If you actually are struggling with that, then I'd recommend looking at some generic math tutorials - the Khan Academy apparently has some good ones. I can't see any point to GURPS producing a supplement about the math required in GURPS; all that will do is make people think that GURPS requires difficult math when it doesn't, and that's already a meme for some unknown reason.

However, I think what's scaring you is that GURPS provides math functions in addition to the tables sometimes - but that doesn't mean the math function is required, it only means that the authors are showing their work. Further, some (very) optional supplements do use advanced math functions extensively, but these are very much not required and not used by the vast majority of GURPS players - the main thing I can think of off the top of my head is the 'The Deadly Spring' article about designing realistic bows, which was featured in Pyramid and included a spreadsheet to do all the actual calculations for you so it didn't even need you to understand how the math works to make use of it. The Vehicle Design System (should it ever actually see the light of day) may also use some slightly more complicated math, as the similar GURPS Vehicles for 3e did.
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Old 04-18-2015, 04:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: GURPS Space GURPS Math

The only time square roots have shown up are in Space and only in a few cases in the world/system design stuff, calculator in windows will handle that fine
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Old 04-18-2015, 06:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: GURPS Space GURPS Math

Spaceships discusses delta-V a fair bit- that might not be so intuitive to a non-mathie.
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Old 04-18-2015, 06:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: GURPS Space GURPS Math

The Delta-V discussion should have been prefaced with - "Technical discussion - if you're not interested just skip it and wing it".
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Old 04-18-2015, 08:05 AM   #7
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Default Re: GURPS Space GURPS Math

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Spaceships discusses delta-V a fair bit- that might not be so intuitive to a non-mathie.
GURPS Spaceships has a simplified yet quite good abstraction of the "fuel mass fraction" calculation for reaction drives. I kept not wanting to bother with the complex formulae using logarithms and so forth in GURPS Vehicles and in various editions of GURPS Space, yet wanting something that is at least somewhat simulative. GURPS Spaceships delivers that.
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: GURPS Space GURPS Math

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The Delta-V discussion should have been prefaced with - "Technical discussion - if you're not interested just skip it and wing it".
Indeed. Perhaps the book could've been prefaced with a realism warning, and suggested that the reader/GM who just wants "whoosh pew pew" spaceships should first look at p31 before designing any, and turn on half of the cinematic switches.

I'm not bagging the book or the Spaceships line, I got a lot of enjoyment out of building the spaceships that showed up in our sci-fi/fantasy game, but I had to read and absorb the whole design system before the pieces fell together.
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:39 AM   #9
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Default Re: GURPS Space GURPS Math

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Originally Posted by Langy View Post
The only thing I can think of that you may be referring to was the star system generation system in GURPS Space. I don't think it required any higher math - it was largely lookup tables. There may have been some exponentiation or logarithms, but honestly neither of those things should scare you because you should have access to those buttons on the calculator that comes with your computer and all you need to know about how to do them is how to push that button. Also, none of that was intended for use inside of a game session - it was all GM prepwork stuff.

...

The Vehicle Design System (should it ever actually see the light of day) may also use some slightly more complicated math, as the similar GURPS Vehicles for 3e did.
Vehicles from 3e used cube roots as its most complicated math. Space has, if I remember right, square roots and fourth powers. I'd be surprised if any math in Vehicles Design is above that.
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Old 04-18-2015, 10:46 AM   #10
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Default Re: GURPS Space GURPS Math

I'm afraid I'm somewhere at the other end of the spectrum; for example, when I used Vehicles I would get out my calculator and find the exact cube roots instead of using the table, because it was faster and easier. Then there was the time when I'd mislaid my calculator and got out one of my slide rules (I keep two as ceremonial heirlooms) to approximate the cube roots. . . .

When I was working on Weird War II, though, I put in a table of multiples of exhaust velocity you could get as final velocity based on percentage of mass that was fuel/reaction mass, to spare people taking logarithms. If Spaceships has done the same thing I think that's a good idea.
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