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Old 10-21-2016, 02:22 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Detroit
Default Advice Needed: point value for PCs

So, I am running an old Boot Hill module Burned Bush Wells at a convention this winter. I'm torn between using Savage Worlds and GURPS. I'm feeling in a gritty, nuanced mood instead of a grainy, easy-peasy mood so I'm leaning towards GURPS.

(And Savage Worlds isn't all that easy-peasy for players unusued to cards for initiative, exploding die rolls, and very very swingy combat.)

The problem is I have not run GURPS in 10 years. Now, I get how to make it simple on myself (character generation is for players, not NPCs and only write down what you need) but I am stuck on point values for the pre-gens.

So, using GURPS Old West (is there an update or just used High Tech and 4E Players Book?), how would YOU translate this older-than-old-school game's PCs into GURPS?

I'm thinking 50 or 75 points, but Boot Hill 2nd Edition did give a 'kicker' to the die rolls during chargen for PCs - up to 20% if IIRC if you rolled really poorly.

Other than that, the genre and rules feel matches - both systems are lethal (amusingly enough GURPS is in this rare case less lethal) and the Old West book is a dream to read. Like many, I buy GURPS books because SJG insists on top-notch research and writing and is well worth every penny for a book. Heck, my buddy Tim wrote one of the original fantasy bestiaries for 3e back in 1990 or so when he had access to University of Michigan's medieval collection. (Ah, college days...)

So, what's your thinking? 50 or 75 or 100?
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Old 10-21-2016, 02:34 PM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2009
Default Re: Advice Needed: point value for PCs

Are you using 3e or 4e?
If 4e I'd go with 100, since 4e feels a little lower powered than 3e a bit
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Old 10-21-2016, 02:41 PM   #3
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: Advice Needed: point value for PCs

Originally Posted by chipjamieson View Post
So, what's your thinking? 50 or 75 or 100?
Probably 100, as it's 4e. You have time to do a few experiments: design a couple of sample characters and see how they come out.
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Old 10-21-2016, 02:41 PM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Default Re: Advice Needed: point value for PCs

Depends a lot, low attributes over base cost normally more in 4e than 3e, so if you have an idea for the level in 3e, increase it a bit.

Personally I would tend to give a bit more points but limit what the points can be used for.

So a 75+30 point old west game could limit as example:
Maximum 50 points on attributes with maximum 12 in any attribute.
Minimum of 10 points on social/hobby/similar skills.
Minimum of 10 points on survival/outdoor/horse skills.
Maximum total of 10 points on combat skills.

Or something similar according to your taste. The idea being to build slightly more broad characters while at same time limiting the absolute power.

As for the books to use. High tech is indeed kind of needed. High tech adventure guns gives more options for guns so that everyone does not carry same things...
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Old 10-21-2016, 03:14 PM   #5
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Denver, Colorado
Default Re: Advice Needed: point value for PCs

Originally Posted by Kalzazz View Post
Are you using 3e or 4e?
If 4e I'd go with 100, since 4e feels a little lower powered than 3e a bit
Back in 3e, most characters started at about 100 points. In 4e, 125 seems to work a bit better. However, that's for an ongoing campaign.

Generally, 25-50 points works pretty well for the average person on the street, who may be a bit overweight, or aged, or is nearsighted, or whatever. It gets you someone with stats of 9 or 10, a high school education and some job training.

He or she will have two or three skills with no more than 13 in each, which tell you what that person does for a living. Additionally, the character will have a scattering of skills of 11 or 12, which tells you about his or her other interests.

This would describe your typical cowboy (a semi-skilled agricultural laborer) or townie, in an Old West scenario.

At about 75, we found that you could create someone who is a bit more healthy (10s in three stats out of four, and an 11 in the last one), and who has either three years of military service or a college degree. Most standard street cops would fall into this area, as would a sheriff and deputies, in an Old West scenario.

Once you get up to 100 points, you've got someone who stands out significantly, at least locally. This is the bounty-killer who fought in the Civil War or against the Apaches, and now works as a sheriff. This is the local blacksmith with solid armory skills, who always volunteers to ride with the posse. Or the Indian tracker with the high perception, and skills of 14.

Alternatively, she's the madame of the local brothel who's got something on everybody in town, and has lots of favors to call in, or the local doctor who has real skills and a flair for the work, or the reasonably successful rancher or mine-owner. The point is, these are the guys you don't mess with, if you can avoid it.

At 125 points, the character is someone who appears in the pilot episode of an action-adventure TV show, or a traditional Western. While not superhuman, they're a cut or two above average physically, have either a master's degree or a distinguished (if not medal-winning) career in the military, as well as a job that's rather more exciting (or well-paid) than usual.

This is the guy with a talent for solving crimes, who spent six years in a military combat role. This is the veterinarian who volunteers for the SAR team in her spare time. This is the precocious college girl genius with the rich father, or the former NASA engineer, or the helicopter mechanic who worked in military birds, or the school teacher who moonlights as a low-level art thief, or the archaeologist who really wishes she were Indiana Jones.

These guys are Rick and T.C., from Magnum P.I. (Magnum, himself, started the series with close to 200 points and a nasty Enemy -- you just didn't know it); Agents Elizabeth Keene, Donald Ressler and Meera Malik from Blacklist (but not Raymond Reddington who is a well-connected, wealthy, genius badass criminal mastermind); or Mulder and Scully.

In the Old West, this describes most of John Wayne's characters, and Walt Longmire (an Old West sheriff in a modern-day setting) fits here, pretty well. Harmonica and the Man with No Name are both better than this, but Tuco and Angel-Eyes fit pretty well, as does Matt Dillon (at the start of Gunsmoke -- he levels up, later) and Festus, or the Cartwrights on the Ponderosa Ranch. James Garner's Bret Maverick (who also has the disadvantage, "Unluckiness") from the TV show fits, here, but Mel's version in the movie has more points (although he does keep the disad).

These are people who, if messed with, bring an unexpected amount of pain. However, they're not in any way superhuman, nor do they stick out too much if you pass them on the street. They'll have at least two stats of 12 (or one of 13), nothing below 10 in any other, three or four skills at 14, a dozen or so at 11 or 12, another dozen at 9 or 10, a real advantage or three, and can generally handle themselves better than most people, in most situations.
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Last edited by tshiggins; 10-21-2016 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 10-21-2016, 04:48 PM   #6
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Detroit
Default Re: Advice Needed: point value for PCs

OK - well thanks for the well-thought-out advice and explanations, pardners! Looks like I have an idea now.

I supposed I should pick up that Adventure Guns item to go with High Tech.

I already figured out a Boot Hill "Army Rifle" (single shot, slow, reloads in 1 turn) is probably NOT a musket but a breech-loader
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Old 10-21-2016, 05:52 PM   #7
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Default Re: Advice Needed: point value for PCs

Single shot, breechloading "Army Rifle" is probably a Springfield M1873 (HT110 or Adventure Guns p 30).

I don't know the Boot Hill time scale, but the other plausible candidates are the Sharp M1859 (Adventure Guns p 26) or the Springfield M1861 (HT108-109 or Adventure Guns p 27 but it's a muzzle-loader).
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Old 10-22-2016, 06:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: Advice Needed: point value for PCs

Don't confuse point totals with grit level:

Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Originally Posted by NineDaysDead View Post
Are you willing to use all the gritty rules? If you use all the bleeding/crippling/infection/fear etc rules from basic/bio-tech/high-tech/martial arts, you should get quite a gritty feel even at 500 points.
This is true. My campaign is at the 800- to 900-point level. I use all the rules for accumulated wounds, bleeding, crippling, extreme dismemberment, fatigue, hit-location effects, knockdown, shock, and stunning. I also check for disease in plague-ridden areas, and penalize PCs who miss water, sleep, or food. This results in a very gritty feel! And I don't even use the rules for infection, partial injuries, severe bleeding, or horrible wounds to the neck/skull/veins/vitals, nor do I require Fright Checks for anything less than supernatural fear. "Turning on" those rules would make things even grittier.

To the OP: Don't equate "high-powered" with "cinematic." You can have a gritty, dirty, nasty game at 1,000 points or a game where all the grit gets swept under the carpet at 50 points. Either "feel" is 95% due to campaign ground rules and perhaps only 5% due to character abilities. Choose point level solely on the strength of what abilities you want to see in the setting.
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