Friday, January 9, 2015

Assembly Required: Outlining Step Four - Characters

You've got the history, the geography, and the things the PCs can interact with...what now? Why, a guide to building characters of course! One of the more important things that you as a GM can do is to give your players guidance when you cannot. In general, you can crack open any GURPS world or setting book and get a good idea of what you should be covering. For the most part it should be something like...
  • Character Point Values and what they mean in the campaign world (optional).
  • Existing Advantages
  • New Advantages
  • Existing Perks
  • New Perks
  • Existing Disadvantages
  • New Disadvantages
  • Existing Skills
  • New Skills
  • New Martial Arts or Magical Styles
  • Racial Templates
  • Occupational Templates

Now, that list looks intimidating - but's not all that bad. Consider that you probably already do this in your head. Most GMs do. You just need to get it down on paper or in a file so that you can access it and hand it off to your players when the need arises. It can be as detailed or as sparse as you like, but I always put in a ton of information or at the very list what I'm not allowed if I plan to expand it later. This is the one part of the outline that you are probably going to spend the most time with and you should because it will pay off later on. GURPS requires a lot of GM oversight for character creation and having a quick list you can give to your players will help a lot with that. You'll still need to check it out, of course. Below I've included a few notes from my finished Chapter section for my new campaign.

NOTE: Thanks to Fox Barrett for the awesome custom image for this series. You rule, Fox! Also, if you're not checking out his comic "Vagabond Starlight" - you're missing out.

The Worked Example: Something, Something Kill Monsters Urban Fantasy Secret Magic aka "The Chronicles of Ceteri"
One of the things I decided early on about the campaign was the importance of social traits and ties between player characters and the various factions of the setting. This was going to be one of my focal points so I started here first...

Claim to Hospitality
See p. B40
This is a common advantage amongst those “in the know.” Having someone you can rely when the occasion calls for it is a handy trick and many occult brotherhoods and fraternities include such “hospitality oaths” to those in their ranks. Use the list below for the determining the cost of groups within the setting:
  • Biyáázh Naayéé Neizghání: This Native American group is worth 5 points as a Claim to Hospitality, but only in North or South America.
  • The Conclave: The Conclave is everywhere and is thus worth 10 points.

Special Enhancement

Serendipitous Meetings: Increase your chance to meet someone at random in a small crowd from 6 or less to 9 or less. This costs +100%. If the GM allows, higher levels are possible (but hard to explain), a 12 or less results in +200% enhancement and 15 or less is a +300% enhancement.

p. B28
Due to the dual-nature of the campaign setting, Status is notated as a number with a slash and then another number. The first number is Status within the Mundane World, the second is your Status within the Supernatural World. Bonuses from Imputed Status from Rank count only towards one or the other, but not both. Imputed Status from Wealth counts towards both levels. Status is purchased normally, but you only pay 1/5 normal cost for your alternate Status as long as it’s equal to, or less than the other level. Negative Status is treated the same way and use the net value to determine if it’s a advantage or disadvantage. Disadvantageous Status is worth -1 point per level below 0. For example, in the mundane world a character might have a Status of 3, but could be the lackey of a Great House in the supernatural world – a mere Status of -1. This would be recorded as “Status 3/-1 [14]” and would be an advantage.


  1. Thanks Christopher. This is helpful. One comment, from at least my perspective.

    As you stated […that list looks intimidating]. It does indeed for a new-novice GM such as myself. I would think you could almost cut that list in half by removing any reference bullet that contains ‘new’.

    I have found that only through both repeated and varied game play do I only begin to appreciate the full breadth of existing ads, perks, disads and skills. To begin thinking or considering of new ones is a brain freeze at this point.

    1. Oh, definitely. Some games you just don't need them. Leave out the new stuff entirely and go after whatever you need for that game. For example, Supers pretty much makes itself and needs very little extra.

  2. Did you invent the dual status?

    Im not sure what it would mean in terms of cost of living and lifestyle.

    1. I did. As for CoL, it's your highest Status - that's it. I thought that was pretty implicit.