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Old 03-29-2021, 09:42 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2011
Default GURPS XCOM - how to run?

When I say XCOM I don't really mean the human covert ops units against aliens. I mostly mean the idea of small tactical units. The key idea would be about having a secondary unit as backup to the main characters, akin to something like regular FBI agents calling for backup from something like a SWAT team for specific situations.

Mass Combat handles a larger scale version of this, and with Pyramid supplements even covers law enforcement cases and battles with tactical movement, but this would be about only a few characters.

Would there be any issues running this with vanilla tactical combat? How should this be done in terms of potentially controlling multiple characters? Is there a practical upper limit on the number of characters that tactical combat can handle?
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Old 03-30-2021, 02:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: GURPS XCOM - how to run?

I have played XCOM under GURPS. I think the game will depend on your idea of XCOM, but here’s a summary of my experience:

I recall we did “small” tweaks such as featuring “survivable guns” and other “expanded combat” options from GURPS gun-fu and martial arts. GURPS powers and GURPS psi were mostly for NPC design; and IIRC we also included a few GURPS Action elements for persecution sequences.

We did not do mass combat. At least not IMO, besides including a “covert-ops” element, we had a group of 4-5 people fighting 8-10 enemies almost every 3-4 sessions.

The bottleneck in the first campaigns I played XCOM with GURPS, was with the assembly of the “XCOM operative” skills set, which came in two flavors:

(1) “Basic training”. I believe the GM must provide an “every XCOM operative” skill set for free, at least at SL 12. I recall some players simply invested 1 CP to fill the template, crippling the campaign in the long term; we had a lot of “you should have trained for this property” and “this should have been part of your basic training” situations.
(2) Job templates. We did have job templates but the skills did not have a minimum SL to keep characters functional under pressure. I also think the “job templates” should be wildcards that obviate the job. For example, Forensics! or Hacking! We had a “hacker” that could not deal properly with encoded data because he did not have cryptography (it was not part ot the template, BTW).

Sometimes we had to play with missing members or solve puzzles without key knowledge (i.e. key job templates), for said occasions the GM created a support NPC body with average skills to perform off-screen feats (such as hacking). That was useful.
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Old 03-30-2021, 03:41 AM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2008
Default Re: GURPS XCOM - how to run?

I don't think there's any particular threshold where adding more characters causes tactical combat to fail. It's just that total time to resolve everyone's turns is going to mostly scale proportionately to how many characters' turns there are...
I don't know any 3e, so there is no chance that I am talking about 3e rules by accident.
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Old 03-30-2021, 03:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: GURPS XCOM - how to run?

Partially OT but I was thinking of running an X-Com campaign, however one based on the "War of the Chosen" DLC for X-COM 2.

In my mind that should work more or less like a standard cyberpunk campaign with Advent in place of your evil Corp of choice. PC should be part of the resistance working with stealth and subterfuge to provide valuable info to the remnants of XCOM and to the other various resistance factions.
Even the basic Advent goon should be seen as nearly unbeatable and counter-propaganda and insurgency would be focus more than plain combat engagements.

I find the civilian angle much more refreshing and RPG rich, does anybody have tried that?
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Old 03-30-2021, 08:42 AM   #5
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: GURPS XCOM - how to run?

How exactly do you envision this? Is it something where each player has two characters (we'll call them Agent and Soldier), or each player has a main Agent character and a small squad of Soldier characters?

For the former, things should work out just fine. The team of Agents will do the investigation, apprehend persons of interest, and maybe get into some small skirmishes, but when stuff gets serious, they'll hunker down* and call for the squad of Soldiers. Once the Soldiers arrive, the Agents will take on a supporting role - the Soldiers will be the ones primarily engaging the enemy (thanks to superior combat training and better gear), but the Agents can still contribute by running interference, taking potshots at exposed enemies (or even flushing them out to be gunned down by the Soldiers), etc. That's if the Agents are even present - ideally, they'd identify where the Soldiers need to strike, and stay out of the way during the battle itself.

For the latter, you may want to treat each squad roughly as a single character. You could probably do this with Mass Combat, but for tactical combat it would also work - the characters would stay in close formations. I'd suggest building just the squadleader and having the others function as copies without any agency of their own, simply attacking the same enemy squad as the squadleader. Attacks would target a squad as a whole (maybe for a +1 or +2 to hit, but I'd probably just handle it as though everyone were attacking the squadleader) - on a hit, the player (or GM, if the hit was on a GM-controlled squad) decides who in the squad suffers Injury, with characters other than the squadleader being largely replaceable. I'd say don't roll separately for each squadmember - at best, you'd roll separately for the squadleader and the squad itself, with the latter simply having a higher RoF. Note this is based on suggestions I've read in the past for handling flights of fighter craft - the supporting NPC's get hit first.

*Given how rapidly (in-world) GURPS fights tend to be resolved, you may want to always have some defensible position anytime you're putting the characters up against a threat they are meant to call in support against. You'd use tactical combat to get the Agents into the defensible position before the enemy can overwhelm them, then wave your GM wand to let time pass for the Soldiers to show up.
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Old 03-30-2021, 09:10 AM   #6
Join Date: Sep 2004
Default Re: GURPS XCOM - how to run?

The XCOM game really breaks down into:
1) Tactical missions where you have a squad (4-7) soldiers stopping aliens.
2) Resource management where you choose what you'll build, what to research, and what to protect. This part is usually the 5 min before an hour long tactical mission.

XCOM seems best suited to run as a high tech (DnD) hack 'n slash. game where you mostly do missions as soldiers. Capturing aliens and equipment would allow for new abilities and new equipment. I'd add a few "unique" items that you get from beating specific foes. The campaign arc would involve choosing missions that either enhance equipment options (maintaining cash flow, getting resources to build stuff) or drive back the alien invasion. You could come up with a reward system for each mission that contributes to research, supply, intel, or stopping invasion milestones.
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Old 03-30-2021, 09:27 AM   #7
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: GURPS XCOM - how to run?

I bet you could use the new GURPS:Realms book to address the resource management screen.

Then, the management characters stay in the background or on base doing manager type things and dispatch the combat characters to take care of hot spots that pop up.
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Old 03-30-2021, 09:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: GURPS XCOM - how to run?

Isn't Boardroom and Curia more fitting for XCOM? It's an organization, not a nation.
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Old 03-30-2021, 12:42 PM   #9
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: GURPS XCOM - how to run?

I dunno, but whichever of those you use I think that split is useful for capturing the XCOM style.
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