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Old 05-31-2008, 03:38 PM   #39
joncarryer's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Default Re: Is GURPS Combat unrealitic deadly?

Hey there. I'm the GM friend that figleaf was talking about earlier. I agree that the combat system in GURPS is very much like life; the best way to avoid getting killed in combat is to not get hit. That said, the original point that figleaf mentioned me in answer to was that without some kind of game mechanism to control this behaviour, many players will tend to just go balls out and hack away indiscriminately, taking a blow every time it's their turn in the round. I am also of the opinion that a better approximation of the rhythm of an actual fight includes some breathing space; the GURPS rules mention the flurries and lulls thing, but the actual game mechanics of that is left rather vague, imposed by random dice rolls or by GM fiat.

What I wanted to do was put in a mechanic that would have players choose to take lulls because that was the best thing for them to do. All I did was take the idea already mentioned in the section on fatigue from loss of sleep (which takes hours or days to recover instead of minutes) and extended it in the other direction. To keep it at least somewhat intelligible, instead of calling them all fatigue points, I called them breath, fatigue, and exhaustion points. Breath points can be recovered by a second of rest, fatigue as per the rules in minutes, and exhaustion points require multiple hours of serious rest or sleep (I usually have the players make a HT roll for each night of sleep or day of full rest, with modifiers for the quality of the sleep and factors like if they spent the entire previous day hiking or fighting; for every 2-3 points they make the roll by, they get an exhaustion point back).

But back to breath points. You can modify the numbers depending on how tiring you believe combat to be, but the basic idea is that you spend 1-3 breath points for every tiring combat action taken, and get one back for every second of rest or non-tiring action. I started out with the idea figleaf mentioned, about getting back all but one each time you ran out, but found the idea of being refreshed by getting more tired created some cognitive dissonance. So, how it works now is that you start out with a pool of breath points equal to your FP. As long as you spend no more breath points than your FP, they will come back at one per second of rest. If you spend all of your breath points, then you have to start spending them as fatigue points, which will take minutes per point to recover and might involve negative roll modifiers (GM's option). If you fight so continuously that you turn all of your breath points into fatigue points, then you start spending them as exhaustion points, taking hours per point to recover and DEFINITELY involving negative roll modifiers. What I like to do is impose a -1 when you start spending fatigue, up to half your FP, then -2 up to full FP. I then impose a further -1 per 3 exhaustion points or part thereof and start rolling for passing out as per the negative FP rules.

This all got a little hard to keep track of, so I gave each player a number of Go stones equal to their FP and had them keep a sheet of paper with 4 boxes drawn on it next to their character sheets. Box 1 is available FP. As the player spends breath points, they move the stones into Box 2. As they take breaks for rest, they move them back into Box 1. At any time that all the stones are in Box 2, they have to start moving them into Box 3, as fatigue points. If they take a rest, any stones still in Box 2 can be moved back to Box 1, at one stone per second of rest. When they start fighting again, they go back to moving these from Box 1 to Box 2 as breath points, with each action taken. So, let's say a guy with 10 FP has been fighting a while, and has moved all 10 stones into Box 2, then 2 of them on into Box 3. If he rests for 8 seconds, all of the stones in Box 2 will go back to Box 1 and be available for use in further fighting again, but those last 2 stones will require 2 minutes of rest before he gets them back. Let's say he doesn't have 2 minutes to spare and goes back to fighting (at a -1 penalty for the 2 stones still sitting in Box 3), gradually moving the 8 stones back to Box 2. He's still hard pressed, so he goes on fighting, until 5 stones are in Box 3. He's now at a -2 penalty and getting seriously winded, but he keeps on fighting until all 10 stones are in Box 3. Now, even if he rests, it's going to be at least a minute before he starts getting his breath back. Unfortunately, he doesn't have that luxury; he has to continue fighting and starts moving stones into Box 4, which immediately moves him to a -3 penalty and makes him have to start rolling to stay conscious (in my games, depending on the situation, falling unconscious might also be interpreted as simply collapsing in exhaustion and still being awake but unable to make yourself move). And so on...

And that's my combat fatigue system.
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