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Old 11-19-2022, 08:49 AM   #41
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Re: Points per each Game Session? What is average or normal?

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I agree on "a little less than the ongoing characters", simply because a character designed with, say, 450 points, tends to be a bit more efficient than one designed on 250 with another 200 added in small increments.
Exactly. One thing I've done within the last 4-5 years is to start off with templates or buckets (my personal favorite) and then go from there with the remaining points being either free spends or evenly divided into what groupings I have for the setting.

I mostly agree with you, Sean, but I've been running online games since 2016. Not games just with my friends alone and because of that I have had to adapt. I need to be upfront about what gets you what and then stick to it because I don't know how people will react. I keep the good ones, I let the chaff go as it may, and I move on. This has netted me a good group of two dozenish players now and I've been able to experiment with rewards a bit more. For instance, in AEON I have "bonus goals" that are kind of metagame rewards like video game achievements. "Use a power stunt 10 times" or "Spend Impulse Points to save an NPC" everyone gets the points for them and everyone can contribute to them. It's been a lot of fun.
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Old 11-19-2022, 09:01 AM   #42
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Default Re: Points per each Game Session? What is average or normal?

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post

I agree on "a little less than the ongoing characters", simply because a character designed with, say, 450 points, tends to be a bit more efficient than one designed on 250 with another 200 added in small increments.
This is a valid reason for sure. It's an innate property – I wouldn't say "flaw" – of GURPS that despite being the same points with the same purchasing power, points spent at character creation can be invested in ways that pay off better than those earned in play going forward. It's a bit like comparing someone with a million dollars to someone who has earned $50,000 per annum for 20 years.

That said, I've often toyed with the idea of retroactively optimizing PCs, things like shaving off 30 points of IQ-based skills to raise IQ by 1, lowering point total by 10 points despite the increased efficiency. I often suspect that's the missing link that keeps starting and earned points from working the same way.
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Old 11-19-2022, 09:02 AM   #43
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Default Re: Points per each Game Session? What is average or normal?

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That said, I've often toyed with the idea of retroactively optimizing PCs, things like shaving out 30 points of IQ-based skills to raise IQ by 1 and lowering point total by 10 points despite the increased efficiency. I often suspect that's the missing link that keeps started and earned points from working the same way.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...
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Old 11-19-2022, 09:19 AM   #44
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Default Re: Points per each Game Session? What is average or normal?

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That said, I've often toyed with the idea of retroactively optimizing PCs, things like shaving off 30 points of IQ-based skills to raise IQ by 1, lowering point total by 10 points despite the increased efficiency. I often suspect that's the missing link that keeps starting and earned points from working the same way.
It is part of it, but not the whole thing.

My reason for this claim is experience: Social Engineering: Back to School, pp. 10-11 describes raising attributes by "point conversion" but I've used a more liberal version of this for years: characters can buy up attributes with a combination of unspent bonus points and points from lowering skills, but I don't require that all skills governed by that attribute are reduced, provided no skills go down.

This does not break anything, IME, and has allowed characters to remain reasonably efficiently designed on some very long-running campaigns: Infinite Cabal started at 300 points and ended at about 950, so about 215 sessions at 3 points each, while Irresponsible & Right started at 225 and ended at about 700.

Other things I allow are shuffling points within specialisations of a skill, provided nothing goes down, and buying Talents in play if the character already has and uses all the skills in the Talent. I also use the rule for buying Language Talent from Back to School, having originally invented it. I should probably write an article about this.

The remaining reason that characters designed with a high point total are more efficient is that buying large advantages is a lot easier if you have 450 points than 250.
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Old 11-19-2022, 09:24 AM   #45
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Default Re: Points per each Game Session? What is average or normal?

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... When life gets in the way, they miss out on the fun, but their character keeps up with the rest of the group.

This isn't about worrying about hurt feelings or point disparities. (At these point levels, a few dozen points either way still feels balanced.) It just simplifies the bookkeeping and keeps the focus on the fun stuff.
I agree, and while I've never had the problem of hurt feelings in games I've run, I've seen several games completely destroyed when one character gets singled out either way. But that's really more of a GM problem, so....

I never penalize players for real life. Occasionally it sucks, but it always comes first and the entire group agrees. So no one gets penalized.
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Old 11-19-2022, 09:34 AM   #46
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• For poor roleplaying, ignoring or violating the stated personality or objectives of the character: -1 to -5 points.
• For metagaming and/or ruleslawyering: -1 to -5 points to all points otherwise gained.
• For partial failure, or significant setbacks in a multi-session adventure due to PCs making bad decisions (bad die rolls don’t count!): -1 or -3 points.
• For disastrous failure of the mission: -4 or -5 points.
For the first they simply wouldn't receive the reward for good role-playing.
A warning is usually sufficient in my experience, unless you have some particularly obnoxious players.
As for the last two there are a number of reasons these outcomes could happen besides dice rolls. It might be salvageable it might not. But as long as they didn't set out to nerf your game why punish them?
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Old 11-19-2022, 09:43 AM   #47
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Default Re: Points per each Game Session? What is average or normal?

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For the first they simply wouldn't receive the reward for good role-playing.
A warning is usually sufficient in my experience, unless you have some particularly obnoxious players.
As for the last two there are a number of reasons these outcomes could happen besides dice rolls. It might be salvageable it might not. But as long as they didn't set out to nerf your game why punish them?
If it's not their fault, I don't. But if they're sabotaging the rest? And for some reason I haven't ejected them instantly? They get penalized.
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Old 11-19-2022, 11:16 AM   #48
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Default Re: Points per each Game Session? What is average or normal?

I usually give like 1 point if the session ends up being just about bookkeeping or some other uninteresting activity, about 2-3 points when the play is interesting and up to 5 points when the session feels amazing.

I also do tend to give quest rewards to incentivise the kind of play I expect from the campaign: for instance in a Traveller ISW campaign I ran I gave 1 point quest reward each session the players got into a new world and explored it a bit. In a DF Banestorm campaign there were many quest rewards stated out, like 1 point for finding this missing person, 2 points for stopping the raids on this trade route, or 5 points for uncovering the mystery of this castle.

I allow players to re-optimize their character sheets during downtime as long as they don't lose any major abilities portrayed in the game without an in-game explanation nor go past campaign ceilings on abilities. So reducing 10 4-point DX-based skills by 2 points each to increase DX by 1 level is good as long as it wouldn't raise your DX above the campaign limit.

Edit: On absentee players, so far I've given the bonus points only to the characters whose players have been in on that session, but quest rewards go to each character whose player was in for a significant part of that quest, whatever that means. Usually it's either at least 50% of the sessions, or one major significant contribution without which the quest could not have been finished.

If we had some major challenges with getting everyone at the table, I might rule that each session each PC gets at least 1 bonus point whether their player is present or not to give the absentee players some fun and added abilities when they are finally able to join the game again.

Replacement and new characters usually start a bit lower than the remaining characters, at the campaign start point total, or if all current characters have passed a threshold like 300 points for a DF game that started at 250, at that level.
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Old 11-19-2022, 12:00 PM   #49
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Default Re: Points per each Game Session? What is average or normal?

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On the other side, don't reduce points for plans that fail due to bad dice rolls or logical but faulty assumptions. If the players make reasonable attempts to gather intelligence, but those rolls fail or are subverted by the GM, don't dock points. Clever, logical, but faulty might even be good enough for an extra XP if the players' efforts impress the GM.

Players who insist on going through with a really bad plan, which isn't driven by roleplaying or bad dice rolls to do recon, and which ignores repeated GM warnings both in and out of game, should get docked points for failure.
Yeah, I am not going to penalize anyone for bad die rolls other than in game consequences. And those who do things because the character would at least qualify for good roleplauing awards.

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Separate from the above, I give awards for concluding storylines.

Finally, I avoid bonuses or penalties to specific players. I used to do that.
I like the term storylines more than adventure.
I prefer to keep them at similar power levels for the same reasons, it tends to be more fun for everyone. That said there are a lot of ways to "waste" points or at least build inefficiently in GURPS. In one game I am in myself and one other player tend to earn more than the others due to external awards - things that help the GM like making NPCs, logs, new spells, setting documents, etc. We both tend to be deliberately inefficient in spending some of those points and also to keep the various niches or roles in mind so everyone keeps their utility and specialness.


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I regard a gaming group as a team. If it were a sports team, it isn't as if non-MVPs would be left out of the celebration of a championship win. If it were a project team promised a bonus for early delivery or a sales milestone, it isn't as if non-MVPs would be denied benefits if the team hit the goal.

Yes, Type A overachievers and self-promoters love to grouse about having to "carry" the team. I can ignore that because it isn't directed at me. Whereas I can't ignore than the gamer equivalent of lawyers showing up to demand why I, the employer, showed favoritism. ;)
One thing I do is award someone an extra point for a memorable moment. Something that made a session more fun for everyone at the table and was in character (so not a joke that distracted from the game or immersion).
If a player does something that everyone enjoyed and made the game more fun for everyone I have found no one objects, in fact usually everyone high fives or otherwise celebrates with the player.
I am less inclined to give an award for a player figuring something out, that's just penalizing the players who are less smart or at least less good at figuring my stuff out.
I want immersion and everyone to have a good time. Who took the winning shot, solved the mystery, etc. is less valuable to everyone's pleasure.
Along similar lines I may award an extra point for a player opting to fast forward through some things when doing something no one else is involved in or figures out a way to get them involved in a scene.


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I think MVP trophies have their place, but I handle that through opportunity, not payment: Those who play well get to spend their points on a wider range of stuff than those who do not, because they were implicated in more things that could justify interesting improvements.

Consider a military game. Everybody can improve Guns or Soldier, justify better ST or HT, or add Combat Reflexes or Fit if they lack it . . . I won't deny that to anyone. Only engaged players are likely to convince me that they should have more Rank, or Reputations that reflect decorations or honors. And that stuff will matter, because as GM, I have no problem enforcing, "I don't care that you're a good shot! The Captain is in charge, and you'll do what the Captain says or face military justice, and if you decide to use your shooting skills to avoid that, you'll meet the MPs and be dragged in front of the JAG."
Yep :)
GURPS has a lot of things that could qualify but social traits are among the easiest and best here. I especially like to hand out points towards Contacts or Patrons. Those traits often me the GM as much as the player in that they are plot tools that can be used to further things along or help players past a roadblock.
Also interesting NPCs help with immersion and getting everyone to feel they are in a story rather than a wargame. Just make sure the NPCs are color rather than main characters or take over the show.
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Old 11-19-2022, 12:12 PM   #50
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Default Re: Points per each Game Session? What is average or normal?

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Most complaints from GMs who claim they have that problem sound like, "My players are having hurting wrong fun because they don't roleplay the way I would."
This ^^^^.

I have orders of magnitude less GM experience than Kromm, but my takeaway as a player and GM is that roleplaying is primarily about the people at the gaming table, not the campaign, the characters or the power level.

Part of being a good GM, and also making your life easier is a GM, is to "go with the flow." If you have a roleplayer, a min-maxer, and a couple of social gamers in your group, you need to give them all a chance to shine.

Let the roleplayer roleplay when it's appropriate and reward them when their roleplaying makes things more fun, or at least more "interesting" for everyone.

Reward the min-maxer for problem solving and being even more competent due to clever tactics or rules-lawyering.* Also reward them for working around the limitations the roleplayer puts on the group.

Reward everyone for showing up and being engaged.

Hand out immediate rewards when it's appropriate to do so. If an unexpected encounter turns into a successful improv side quest, immediately give the characters a Favor from a grateful client (with the option to turn that person into a Contact or Patron in the future) or a point in an appropriate skill.

If the players are cool with it, give out Impulse Points to allow them to influence game play events and bend the laws of probability in their favor.

* GURPS has a lot of rules, even skilled players forget some of them sometimes. Having players who also know the game system and are experts on areas where you're weak as a GM is a godsend. Smart GMs use rules lawyers' powers for the greater good. Have them help inexperienced players create characters or guide them through their first few combats, or even let them act as an "adversary" or "auxiliary GM" and run NPCs during certain combats.

Obviously, whining and not respecting the GM's final authority are undesirable, but every player should have "right of appeal" if the GM is clearly making a mistake and the GM should be willing to take correction if the player is right. If that ends up hosing a GM's fiendish plans, so be it.

The same holds for roleplayers or other types of players who are clearly into the game setting. Use them to write up auxiliary material about the game world, detailed character histories that the GM can use as plot hooks, etc.
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