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Old 01-03-2019, 11:05 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2004
Default GURPS Supers Alternatives

It's come up a few times that I've toyed around with various house rules. Here's what my last Supers game ran with, and it worked rather well. I'd actually suggest that it makes a good baseline for cinematic games that cover a wide range of scores (ST, damage, DR, etc).

First off, all scores 15+ are essentially treated as log values, rather than linear progressions. The basis for the progression is KYOS (alternate GURPS IV?) where I've applied similar conversions to existing equipment (example chart below). Normal scores of 16 (4d) or less use book values. Values higher than that are converted using the KYOS formula to convert the [old] to [ new log value ] as it was a ST value.

This has a number of effects that I find desirable:
- Heavy weapons, while still incredibly dangerous, don't turn people into red mist as easily. You really don't need the IT:DR crutch to aid survival, though it still fits some concepts.

- PCs can also match or exceed equipment without insane levels. ST and DR will usually be less than 50. Extremely powerful Innate Attacks are 20d, and most often don't exceed half that level.

- PCs tend to develop more complete power sets instead of having to focus on a few traits to get them to useful levels.

- ST is useful at most any level. HP always helps. Damage progresses at every level. Lift increases drastically as you scale up.

Log values tend to be a bit challenging at first, but here are a few guidelines which simply adding log values:
-For Equal Values: Value + 3. Example: DR 20 + DR 20 = DR 23
-If the level is one or two lower for one value: Value +2. Example: DR 20 + DR 18 = DR 22
-If the level is three to five lower: Value +1. Example: DR 20 + DR 16 = DR 21
-Further apart: no bonus.
-Adding 3 or more values: Start with the highest, apply as above, and repeat with new value. Example: DR 20 + DR 19 + DR 18 = Base 20 + 2 (19 within 1 or 20) + 1 (18 within 4 of the now DR 22) = DR 23.

New Limitation:
One ability only -20%. It's a general -20% for any trait that you can only use for one ability (ATR, CM, Extra Attack, Striking ST, etc). Specific abilities may have variants, but in general, this is has tested to to be fairly fair.

Other notes:
- Swing damage = thr +2
- per die skill bonuses get converted as follows: +1/die gives a flat +2 bonus. You an convert high bonus to dice as per normal.

- Fixed ST is the same as Lifting ST + Striking ST: 8/lvl.
- Lifting ST repriced to 6/lvl (Houserule).
- Striking ST repriced to 2/lvl (Houserule). 4 lvls of Striking ST converts to 1d of damage (rather than using dice conversion). Limitation change (house rule): One attack only -20%.

Other house rules:
- Afflictions changed to 10 + 5/lvl to encourage leveled afflictions rather than everyone using maledictions.

- Cosmic Gadget Pool: uses Rev's house rule for modular gadget pools.

- DR absorption: uses Rev's house rules for absorption. The Hulk can actually use DR with Absorption to get stronger as he gets madder very effectively.

- Flavor traits: uses Rev's house rules for age related traits.

- Perk: Crushing Fists. Those with (hard) DR3+, do not suffer a -2 damage for punching. I inconsistently call this other things, but it's all the same perk.

Examples and characters to follow. Note that one of the goals is to simplify as well. I've noticed that players don't mind a dozen or so commonly named traits to keep track of with similar modifiers on each, but when you get into special cases (split ST, IT:DR, etc) it starts alienating players. Each of the examples has much less than you have to typically need to keep track of in a Supers game but enough to cover all the primary abilities.

I put Lifting ST at 6 instead of 7/lvl and Striking ST at 2 instead of 1/lvl. That does keep Striking ST a but more expensive than an IA, but it also works with weapons, throwing, skill bonuses, and started off 1d-2 ahead of IA (since you get ST 10 for free). In practice 1/lvl was just a bit too cheap.

I usually also have UBs, defined PMs, and setting level ranges. I've been a bit lax in putting them in this thread. An example of that would be:
Unusual Backgrounds:
Super Normal [0] (no attributes above 20, no exotic advantages)
Super Equipment [25] (you can only have powers via gadgets)
Alien [25] (your abilities aren't unique and you can only take traits appropriate for your race)
Meta [50] (any ability or gadget)

Super [-10%]. Specialized tech countermeasures plus specialized anti-power powers.
Mutant [-10%]. Able to be tracked and detected easily. More countermeasures.
Biological [-10%]. (1 fatigue/use, countermeasures)
Pact [-10%]. (Relies on at least a 10 point behavioral disad.)
Elemental [-10%]. (Relies on presence or can be stopped by an insulator)
Spirit [-25%]. (Fickle)

Sample Ranges:
Street (150-500 points):
Attacks average 5d. You can go higher with limited (GM approval) abilities / trade offs.
DR caps around 15 <or> around IT:DR/5
Other abilities: generally cap around 5 levels.

Cinematic (500-1000):
Attacks average 8d. You can go higher with limited (GM approval) abilities / trade offs.
DR caps around 25 <or> around IT:DR/10
Other abilities: generally cap around 10 levels.

Wild card skills give WP bonuses per session. You get 1 point (WP) per 12 points in each wildcard skill per (3 hour) game session. They may be used for:
- 1 WP to turn a (normal) failure into a success
- 1 WP to turn a critical failure into a (normal) failure
- 1 WP per +2 bonus for a WC skill roll
- 1 WP per +2 bonus for a contest using your WC skill

Last edited by naloth; 01-12-2019 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 01-03-2019, 11:12 AM   #2
Join Date: Sep 2004
Default Re: GURPS Supers Alternatives

From KYOS and using the baseline that everything expands at the same rate with a log progression such that:
ST 20 BL 200 lbs Thr 3d
ST 30 BL 2000 lbs Thr 5d+1 (~Spidey's ST)
ST 40 BL 10 ton Thr 8d (~Thing/Colossus ST)
ST 60 BL 1k ton Thr 13d (Superman recent movie)

Here's what a few basic book weapons look like (nothing below 4d is affected):
TL6 Concussion Grenade was 6d, now 4d+1
TL7 Concussion Grenade was 10d, now 6d
TL7 Frag Grenade was 8d[3d], now 5d+1[3d]

Assault Rifle was 5d, now 4d+1
Hunting Rifle was 7d, now 5d
Sniping Rifle was 9d+1, now 5d+2

ATGM was 60d(10d), now 10d+1(10)
SAM was 18d, now 7d+1
HMG .50 was 13d+1, now 6d+2

Bazooka was 6dx2(10), now 6d+1(10)
RPG was 6dx3(10), now 7d+1(10)
LAW was 6dx6(10), now 9d+1(10)

You can also rescale the animals, vehicles, and armor in other books either using KYOS rules or this:
Old ST/DR 20 now 16
Old ST/DR 30 now 20
Old ST/DR 40 now 22
Old ST/DR 60 now 26
Old ST/DR 80 now 28
Old ST/DR 100 now 30
Old ST/DR 150 now 33
Old ST/DR 250 now 38
Old ST/DR 500 now 44
Old ST/DR 1k now 50

You get a very cinematic, very playable 4 color world. It's basically what film, TV, and Supers play like.

For stacking (since these are log values):
Use highest and add +3 for equal values, +2 if they are within 1 or 2 lower, +1 with 3-5 levels, +0 otherwise.

DR 20 + 20 (layered/cover) = DR23 for protection.
DR 20 + 19 (layered/cover) = DR22
DR 20 + 16 (layered/cover) = DR21
DR 20 + 14- (layered/cover) = DR20 (no benefit).

It also helps explain why a character (dragon? Super?) with good DR won't bother with armor. There's marginal benefit and only if it's nearly as tough as the character.

Here's a bigger table of values:

    Log ST values (ST / base Thrust dmg / BL / Example)
ST  THR     BL                     Example
16  2d  	BL 80 lbs	        Comic Captain America (~800 lb max)
20  3d  	BL 200 lbs	        Movie Captain America (~1 ton max)
30  5d+2  	BL 1 ton	        Spider-Man (~10 ton max)
40  8d  	BL 10 tons	        Thing/Colossus (~100 ton max)
50  10d+2	BL 100 tons	
60  13d	BL 1k tons	
70  15d+2	BL 10k tons	Superman (Movie)?
80  18d	BL 100k tons	Superman (Modern Comic)?

   Log Weapons:
Weapon	                        Old	        New
Black Powder Grenade	3d	        3d
TL6 Concussion Grenade	6d	        4d+2
Frag Grenade	                4d[2d]	4d[2d]
TL7 Concussion Grenade	10d	        6d
TL7 Frag Grenade	        8d[3d]	5d+1
Rifle	        5d	        4d+1
Rifle	        7d	        5d 
Sniper	9d+1	5d+2
ATGM	60d (10)	10d+1
SAM	        18d	        7d+1
HMG .50	13d+1	6d+2
Under-barrel Grenade	 (no change)
Bazooka	12d(10)	6d+1(10)
RPG	        18d(10)	7d+1(10)
LAW	        36d(10)	9d+1(10)

  DR / Dmg quick conversion chart
ST/DR/Dmg 	(above 10)
Old	                New
10 (3d-1)	        10 (3d-1)
13-14	        13 (4d-1)
15 (4d+1)	        14 (4d)
16-17 (4d+2)	15 (4d+1)
18-20 (5d)	16 (4d+2)
25 (7d)	        18 (5d)
35 (10d)	        21 (6d)
50 (14d+1)	23 (6d+2)
100 (29d)	        30 (8d+2)
200 (57d)	        37 (10d+2)
500 (142d)	44 (12d+2)
1000	                50
1200	                52
1500	                53
10k	                70
100k	                90
I tried to convert this to a better looking table, but std table BB codes aren't working. Suggestions?

Anyway, you can see this is much different progression that makes Spidey punch 2.5x harder than a human in peak condition (ST16 being around peak), and putting the Thing over 50% more damage than Spidey before you consider his rocky exterior (perk for hand strikers). Superman would do well over double the damage the Thing as well. As for taking damage, Spidey, the Thing, and Superman all have HP values that are compatible with the damage they do (mirror match up) and, percentage wise, they also take damage in proportion. If you look up my thread on Archetype vs Archtype in Supers, you'll see the difference. These characters won't run out of fatigue (SuperST) swinging and don't need to rely on IT:DR to avoid being misted by insane damage ratios. They will also compare favorably against the military (soldiers, tanks) without having scores in the hundreds or thousands.

Supers example tank: Tank: Loaded weight 50 tons; 185 HP; DR 1,200 (front and turret), 100 (other surfaces)
Converted to log values: Tank, 50 tons, HP 58 (by weight as per KYOS), DR 52 (front/turret), 30 (other surfaces). Spidey can't really hurt or lift it under normal circumstances. Thing/Colossus can punch through the lighter armor or lifting/throwing/flipping before attacking the weaker points (which tracks well with comic versions of that matchup) . Superman could punch through the front armor if necessary, though it will take a few blows to cripple it that way. He can easily rip into the sides. Alternatively, they could also take advantages of the rules Supers to rip off chunks (ST vs DR contest for damage).

For the equipment comparison, you'll see that Spidey strikes harder than most rifles now. I figure if you can lift and throw a car, you'll probably punch hard enough to do that sort of damage.

Last edited by naloth; 01-11-2019 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 01-03-2019, 02:47 PM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2004
Default Re: GURPS Supers Alternatives

Quick and dirty Hulk like example:

ST 40 (Thr 8d; BL 10 tons) [300]
DX 11 [20]
IQ 10 [0] (The hulk probably deserves Will 15+ for being hard to control)
HT 13 [30]

Alternate Form* (Human/Scientist, built on 150 points) [15]
DR 20 (Absorption "Fixed ST" i.e. no HP x10 +50%; Tough Skin -40%) [100]
Doesn't Breathe (Breath Holding x50, -40%) [12]
High Pain Threshold [10]
Regeneration (Instant) [100]
Resistant to Metabolic Hazards (+8) [15]
Super Jumping 7 (w/Move 6) [70]
Very Fit [15]

Brawling-13 (DX+2, punch 8d-1) [4]

Total 761 before disads and other abilities. Easy to round out for ~750 points.


First off, this closer to the (stoppable) movie version than the normal or even world breaker hulk normally presented in the comics. It wouldn't be hard to scale him up to being able to take on an entire team, but as presented he would be a balanced as the brick for a team of a 750ish point characters with the flavor of the hulk.

His punch damage is Thr-2, plus 1 for Brawling for 8d-1 cr. Lift starts 10 tons with a starting max around 100 tons. See absorption below for how this grows with damage.

DR 20 allows him to absorb up to 20 points per attack and funnel that into ST for a maximum bonus of +10 when he's absorbed 100 points. That leaks away at 1 point per turn. +10 ST gives him a max ST 50 with a BL100 tons and a max lift around 1k tons. His damage would go up to 10d+1.

Regeneration scales with HP, so with x4 HP, he gets back 4 HP per second. Bullets do blunt trauma, but not very fast. He'll likely pick up a car to block a squad of troops unloading with automatic weapons (which is actually what he did in the movie).

Super Jump with a move of 6 works out to (10 ft x 128 = 427 yds per jump and a Jump Move of 85).

*I have allowed a house rule version for Alternate Form. Effectively you can have another character sheet worth 1/5 the value of your current character to transform into. It's often easier than building a template and taking 10% off it since you'll likely be spending more game time using your expensive form. By canon, you'd actually take all the advantages the super form has and make them an add on to your "normal character" to come up with the final total.

Last edited by naloth; 01-03-2019 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 01-03-2019, 03:29 PM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2004
Default Re: GURPS Supers Alternatives

Spider-Man (very young / movie type version)

ST 30 [200] HP 15 [-30] (BL 1 ton, max lift ~10 tons; Thrust 5d+2)
DX 15 [100]
IQ 14 [80]
HT 13 [30]
-Speed 8 [0]; Broad Jump (x32) 138 yds, Jump/Swing Move 27
-Dodge (cosmic, see below) 15

Webshooters (Gadget: Unreliable 14 -5%; Machine -5%; DR 5 HP 4 -15%; SM -10 0%. Total -25%)
-Binding 36 (Nuisance: Dissolves to residue in 1 hour -5%; Webshooters -25%) [54]
-Gizmo 2 (Web Constructs; Webshooters -25%) [8]

Clinging [20]
Combat Reflexes [15]
Cosmic Dodge 3 (Move 8 * 7.5; Cosmic +50%) [60 for base move] [+68 additional levels]
Danger Sense [15]
Luck [15]
Regeneration (Hourly) [25]
Perfect Balance [15]
Perk: Climbing Line [1]
Perk: Swinging [1]
Super Jumping 5 [50]
Very Fit [15]

Acrobatics DX+0 (+1 Perfect Balance) [4], Innate Attack (Webshooters) DX+1 [2], Science! IQ-2 [6], Scrounging Per+0 [1], Stealth DX+1 [4].

Total 755 points (before disads and other customization, easy to round out to 750 points).

This character is a pretty amazing dodger (cosmic allows him to dodge things he's not aware of) that really only has to worry about area attacks and accurate rapid fire. Luck helps here to make sure he can make a roll when he needs it.

He doesn't have a lot of HP (for a semi-realistic weight) and he punches for a default 5d cr (at DX 15, so not too shabby). Due to low HP, he can be taken out fairly easily, but he's a survivor (luck?) that recovers pretty quickly (regeneration).

His IQ and DX are conservatively low. This is both to keep the character in the affordable range (targeting around 750 points) and because he's supposed to be young, inexperienced, and developing. Even so, he's can still do most anything DX or IQ based from default fairly well and can back that by Luck if necessary.

Web Constructs are a bending of the gizmo rule. It allows up him to create something out of webbing with the trade off being it can't be anything that isn't appropriate to being made out of webbing (no moving parts, nothing that requires fuel), but it can be much larger than a normal gizmo. For example, can't produce a flashlight or even a sharp knife, but he can make a hang glider or raft.

Last edited by naloth; 01-03-2019 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 01-03-2019, 04:38 PM   #5
Join Date: Sep 2004
Default Re: GURPS Supers Alternatives

Susan Storm
[0] ST 10
[20] DX 11
[40] IQ 12
[20] HT 12
[5] Move 6

[4] Attractive
[8] Hard to Kill +4
[20] Talent: Force Fields 4

[24] Detect Invisible (Occasional; Precise +100%; Reflexive +40%)

[405] DR 20 (Affects Others +50%; Area 4 yds +100%; Fatigue 2/min -10%; Force Field +20%; Hardened 5 +100%; Ranged +40%; Requires Concentrate -15%; Selective +20%)
[33] Affliction 11 (Choking +100%; No Defense +300%; Respiratory +50%; Requires Concentrate -15%; AA: DR x1/5)
[30] Invisibility (Affects Others +50%; Med Enc +50%; Ranged +40%; Switchable +10%; AA: DR x1/5)
[34] Neutralize (All Sources +300%; Fatigue 2/use -10%; Ranged +40%;Requires Concentrate -15%; Only invisibility -80%)
[20] TK 20 (AA: DR x1/5)
[12] Walk on Air (Affects Others +50%; Area 2 +100%; Ranged +40%; AA: DR x1/5)

Innate Attack (Affliction)-18 (including +4 from Talent) [4]

Total: 667 (lots of room left for customization up to 750 points)

This version of Susan has quite a few potent abilities, but she's very limited in how she can apply them. On any given turn she can switch to:
- Create a fairly sizable DR 20 force field on herself or up to 10 yards away. She can shape this field selectively as long as it fits in a 4 yard radius.
- Alternatively, she can put a choking bubble around one target for as long as she concentrates on it. It's HT-10 to resist, no active defense, and DR doesn't help either. She just has to hit with her IA roll and maintain concentration on it.
- Alternatively she can be invisible and also make one willing subject she's touching invisible.
- Alternatively she can make one willing subject within 10 yards invisible, though she won't be since she's not touching it. (the latter is a house option for Affect others, since it comes out about the same as creating an AA beneficial affliction).
- Alternatively, she can force an invisible subject to be visible for as long as she concentrates, provided she can beat the target in a quick contest.
- Alternatively, she can use her force fields to manipulate/throw/push things as though she has a TK 20.
- Alternatively, she and group within her area can be propelled at her walking speed on a force field.
- Alternatively, she can offer a field for others within 10 yards to ride on.

She also has the ability to passively detect if someone invisible gets "close" to her (sense checks, +4 for Talent).

She can Power Block at double DR (IQ12 + 4 = 16, divided by 2, add 3) at an 11. Of course, she might as well do an AoD for +2 as well, since she won't have any offensive abilities to use at while defending.

The DR force field fits in rather nicely with the log values. It will stop Spidey, crack under pressure from the Thing unless reinforced with a Power Block, and defend pretty well against anything that isn't heavy ordinance.

She has a fair amount of utility stuff - invisibility to share, air movement to share, and taking care of enemies relying on invisibility. She can also deal with hard targets on her own via the Affliction, though she's extremely vulnerable using that.

Her attributes are intentionally conservative allowing her to be developed in multiple ways to hit 750 points. Option A would be to allow her to use more powers at once. Option B would allow her higher statistics to complement her invisibility (invisible stealthy attacker). Option C would be to add new dimension (make her a scientist like in the recent, not so great movie).
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Old 01-05-2019, 03:57 AM   #6
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: GURPS Supers Alternatives

Naloth, this is excellent. GURPS is perhaps my favorite rule set and 4th it's best incarnation but if there is something I would have hoped it would have done better is scaling of ST/HP/DR/dmg.

KYOS brings, I believe, the right progression but it only covers part of the issues and to be honest, every times I thought about expanding it to offer a complete solution to provide a Super lens to the rules, it ended up being to much work and I just used HERO who would do it out of the box. FRom what you wrote, it seems to have done a lot of the work, including selecting house rules that are appropriate for the genre. Here are a few other questions:

1) Part of the work is to rewrite equipment and vehicle within the KYOS framework. Have you redone the weapon tables or are you translating on the fly?

2) Superheroes are often super competent in a broad range of topics. Do you use a mix of normal skills and wildcard skills or have you reduce the skill list so hyper competent heroes would end up with a number of skills that is more manageable?

3) Regarding Slams, do you use the Dungeon Fantasy variant? If so, I suspect you would use the +damage modifier only once instead of per die.

4) Do you use IT:DR at all or is it banned?

5) Regarding Spider-Man, I believe Climbing Line and Swinging should be part of the webshooters (but that's debatable). Have you tested the character against himself? It looks likes it is going to be a dodge fest until one connects and then it's over (ok, maybe not, at 5d+2 and HP 15 it will likely send him into negative and stun him but he probably won't be knocked out with HT 13 and Very Fit). I suppose this is the effect you are going for?

6) I see Susan has Hard to Kill, how to you deal with death? Do you use the normal rules or something else?

7) Regarding Absorption, do you feel that 1 point fading each turn leads to a bit too much bookkeeping?

By the way, keep the characters coming, this is great!
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