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Old 06-08-2012, 09:42 AM   #1
Kromm
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Default GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

Joy cannot be held
Felt only in its passing
A time, not a thing
— Some hack
Another pause in e23's GURPS release schedule, and then . . . GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys. As its author, I must be modest: This one might not be for everyone. Why is that? Because it expands the notion of character points-as-currency from the traditional role of buying goods (attributes, advantages, skills, etc.) to the more "meta" role of buying services (or at least concessions) from the GM. For instance:
  • Changing the game world, from coming into a little extra money or stumbling across an unexpected ally, through setting the scene, to divine intervention – or just using your own godlike powers to reshape reality.
  • Improving the outcomes of rolls, whether this means boosting damage rolls, improving margins of success, manipulating rolls on tables, or just promoting critical failures to critical successes.
  • Pulling off the impossible, either by using one meta-concept (points) to alter another (campaign ground rules) temporarily, or by burning points as the ultimate extra effort.
  • Surviving the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – because real heroes don't get shot down by punks, and always survive the burning car wreck.
For those who don't like the idea of using the same points for building characters and messing with game play, have no fear – there are many other options here. For those who feel just the opposite, there's an option to do away with points as anything but a means of messing with game play. And whatever rules you end up using, there are guidelines for giving major villains their own sinister meta-game edge, for bidding and betting against Fate (that is, the GM), and for keeping it all in line with your campaign's genre assumptions.

As I said, it isn't for everyone. But if you like to tinker, or are intrigued by concepts like "player agency," or are fond of the idea of points being dynamic rather than static . . . well, this one's for you.
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

What a great idea! I must have this at once!
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

Got it; love it. A few observations:

1. There's no reason that I can see to charge double for buying an Extra Life retroactively. In order to do so, the character in question needs to have 25 unspent character points available to him; this is no different than the character who pre-spent them on Extra Life, with the sole exception that said points can't be used for Impulse Buys ‒ and even that's not true if the GM is willing to let the player Sacrifice the Extra Life in order to free up the points for other purposes. In effect, Extra Life isn't so much an Advantage as it is a Declaration of Intent.

2. A so-called "No-Growth" campaign can have growth in it, after a fashion: build young and inexperienced characters (like Luke Skywalker in "A New Hope") with most of their points "locked up" in Destiny (and allow a lot more than "just" three levels of it), while their more experienced companions have less Destiny and more established, dependable ability; then allow the inexperienced characters to mature by trading in levels of Destiny for additional permanent abilities, either at a rate determined by the Improvement Through Study rules or by invoking a Training Sequence as outlined in Martial Arts.
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataweaver View Post
Got it; love it. A few observations:

1. There's no reason that I can see to charge double for buying an Extra Life retroactively. In order to do so, the character in question needs to have 25 unspent character points available to him; this is no different than the character who pre-spent them on Extra Life, with the sole exception that said points can't be used for Impulse Buys ‒ and even that's not true if the GM is willing to let the player Sacrifice the Extra Life in order to free up the points for other purposes. In effect, Extra Life isn't so much an Advantage as it is a Declaration of Intent.
Ooh! Ooh! I know this one! :-)

The problem is that if you allow the rules for sacrificing abilities (p. 5), you don't even need to have 25 unspent points kicking around; the door's open for the hero to sacrifice his abilities for the points he'd use to buy Extra Life. In other words, in theory, every character becomes "ablative" in a campaign where death is a concern and Extra Life costs the same at character creation or bought on the fly. If you don't impose some kind of penalty, then no one would bother to "shop ahead" for Extra Life; you'd simply scrape the points you need from abilities on your character sheet (since "built on 225 points and still alive" is a better deal for most folks than "built on 250 points but dead").

This issue isn't eliminated entirely by doubling the cost of Extra Life, but it at least introduces a gulf between someone who plans ahead to die and those who scrape up the points at the "last minute."

This isn't to say you can't impose whatever rules you want in your campaign, but (IIRC from the review process) that's the rationale there.
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Old 06-09-2012, 04:37 AM   #5
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Default Re: GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Marsh View Post
The problem is that if you allow the rules for sacrificing abilities (p. 5), you don't even need to have 25 unspent points kicking around; the door's open for the hero to sacrifice his abilities for the points he'd use to buy Extra Life. ... This issue isn't eliminated entirely by doubling the cost of Extra Life, but it at least introduces a gulf between someone who plans ahead to die and those who scrape up the points at the "last minute."
That was pretty clear on my first pass through the book.

The interesting thing about Impulse Buys is that it (optionally) changes a feature of GURPS that has been pretty fundamental to date. It's always been a game where you needed to consider consequences fairly carefully, to be "realistic" in accessing your chances when doing dangerous things. Luck, Daredevil and the like gave you better odds ... but it was still a matter of odds.

The tricky thing for a GM who lifts those limits with Impulse Buys is going to be setting the budgets to keep his players from going utterly wild.Their problem is going to be budgeting their rule-escapes. A few disasters are inevitable.
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Old 06-09-2012, 09:14 AM   #6
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Default Re: GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

"Impulse Buys" is a good name for it. So far I am resisting the impulse to buy it before I catch up on all my other reading I have to do. Eventually, but it won't be impulsive.

Hooray, I made my Will roll.
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
That was pretty clear on my first pass through the book.

The interesting thing about Impulse Buys is that it (optionally) changes a feature of GURPS that has been pretty fundamental to date. It's always been a game where you needed to consider consequences fairly carefully, to be "realistic" in accessing your chances when doing dangerous things. Luck, Daredevil and the like gave you better odds ... but it was still a matter of odds.

The tricky thing for a GM who lifts those limits with Impulse Buys is going to be setting the budgets to keep his players from going utterly wild.Their problem is going to be budgeting their rule-escapes. A few disasters are inevitable.
I haven't picked up the book yet, but I have plans to. My guess is that the next game that I GM, I'm going to give out points at the beginning of the session with the expectation that some or all of them will be used for Impulse Buys. To paraphrase from above, a 232 point character who's alive because s/he spent some points on converting to successes when necessary is better than a 250 point dead one.
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:42 PM   #8
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Default Re: GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

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Originally Posted by thulben View Post
I haven't picked up the book yet, but I have plans to. My guess is that the next game that I GM, I'm going to give out points at the beginning of the session with the expectation that some or all of them will be used for Impulse Buys. To paraphrase from above, a 232 point character who's alive because s/he spent some points on converting to successes when necessary is better than a 250 point dead one.
This what I do currently. I like the effect it has had on my games. I do four per session, and already have a few "impulse buy" type options available.

I'll pick up the supplement soon and mine it for some more ideas.
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Old 06-09-2012, 09:25 PM   #9
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Default Re: GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

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Originally Posted by demonsbane
The section "Changing the World" (pages 13-15) addresses spending character and/or impulse points (CP or IP) for making permanent effects of those that usually would cease after a certain time, and the text claims that this is useful for making very powerful wizards (p. 14). The "lack" that I think I'm seeing here is that the options detailed in this section only cover advantages (like the ones we use for building powers), leaving out of its scope the effects of spells and other magic systems not built with the "magic as powers" approach.
In terms of "impulse buys" and magic, I find myself thinking of the various iterations of Meditative Magic, all of which are essentially applications of the "trading points for energy" option — that is, it rephrases the various "earning character points" mechanics in terms of generating spellcasting energy instead of character points, and in terms of acts of religious devotion instead of study activities. And as such, spells that are fueled by character points could reference the Meditative Magic rules "in reverse" as it were, generating one spellcasting-specific character point for every 25 energy that would normally be generated.

As well, the Enchantment College is a natural fit for converting things over to character point expenditures: just divide the energy cost to make a magic item by 25, and you have a "Changing the World"-style point cost that could be paid, in full or in part, to speed up the enchantments.

Last edited by dataweaver; 06-10-2012 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:11 PM   #10
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Default Re: GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys

Thanks dataweaver for your comments; I'll think about them.

At the same time, my apologies for making you to answer to a post mine that I deleted because I wanted to re-check its points before re-posting it. If that deletion is a cause of confusion, I can post it again.

Another thing that I see is that, contrary to what the "Changing the World" section in PU 5 allows for certain advantages, isn't possible to change the duration of a magical effect to permanent by means of other PU 5 options, like spending CP/IP for adjusting spell' effects according to Thaumatology, p. 39, since that is expressly forbidden:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GURPS Thaumatology, p. 39
Extended Duration, (. . .) are completely prohibited – always use the standard magic rules to adjust duration, energy cost, and casting time.
(bolding mine)
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