Thursday, April 7, 2016

Gamemaster's Guidepost: Super-ST Options

One thing that has come up in my Aeon campaign is Super-ST and how it does what it does. One of my (few) house rules is that Costs Fatigue is worth more - I just use PK's version because it works better. But the discussion of why Super-ST should be discounted more because of that houserule brought up another thought: why doesn't Super-ST not increase jumping distance passively? That made me think of other things Super-ST might be able to do...

Super-ST and Jumping Distance
The optional rules for ST and Jumping (p. B352) and Super-ST interact normally when you use FP, but why only then? There is precedence in allowing your Super-ST to be used passively for Knockback, why not for Jumping using this optional rule? It makes sense from a genre point of view - super strong characters can jump, leap, etc. For example, if you have ST 20/110 then if your body weight is 2,420 lbs. or less you'd calculate your jumping distance from either your Basic Move or 30 (120 / 4 = 30), whichever is better.

Super-ST and Slamming
Technically, Super-ST doesn't increase your Hit Points thus it doesn't really help with slams...which is...weird. Think about it, you can rip a vault door from its hinges, but you can't plow through it with a slam. Thus, for my campaigns I've been toying with the idea that you can spend 1 FP and instead of using your HP, you can use your enhanced ST level. Let's just look at what a difference this makes:

Basic Set rules: A super with ST 20/110 slams moving at Basic Move 7, he does (20 x 7) /100 or 2d-2 crushing damage.
Optional proposed rule: That same super does (110 x 7) / 110 or 8d crushing damage.

The latter seems a heckuva lot more appropriate to me.

Super-ST and Resisting ST-Based Effects
Yet another weird bit - if Super-ST can be used to resist Knockback. Why can't it be used to resist Neck Snap, Snap Blade, Wrench Limb, and other, similiar contests where you can resist with your ST for only a split second? Look at it this way - that same ST 20/110 (who really needs a name at this point - I'm just gonna call him Herc) can spend 1 FP and then roll against a skill or 107 to snap someone's neck at default - even if it is a clone of Herc (who gets to resist with his ST 20 or spend 1 FP). That feels weird to me. Since Super-Effort on ST is already so overpriced, I don't see a problem with allowing those with it to resist such attacks without spending FP - the same way you can resist knockback.

Picking Over the Bones
I'm not one for mucking about with the rules unless they really ping my wonkometer - the Super-Effort rules for ST are not entirely broken, but they could be revised to play nicer with the entirety of GURPS and not just parts of it. I've read on the forums that Super-Effort on ST is just a "stop gap," but I don't really believe that. It's a well conceived idea, but the execution is tricky because of the nature of the trait itself. That said, I'm not really sure how to make it supers play nicer with the basic system other than using an entirely different system for ST itself (such as the Knowing Your Own Strength rules) and I really don't want to do that.


  1. Not critiquing, your slam rule seems much more true to the supers cinematic legacy, but you're still only slamming with 200 +/- lbs. I'd think density increase would increase your slam. I guess if you conceive of a slam as a punch at speed, it would work, but I've always imagined it as a move-through. Eeek, my champions history popped out. I'd still use your rule in a cinematic game though.

  2. No, that's a great comparison. (And critique away - I'm not a wilting Charlotte.) My issue with Super-ST is it's TOO costly for what it does. A more sane cost might be 25 or 30 points a level, but I try not to rewrite the RAW completely. So when you can't take away you add. That's what this post is about - making RAW Super-ST more useful.

    1. Totally on board with Super-ST is too costly. I almost glossed over this article because I have mentally reached a point where "Super-ST = Useless; Avoid" but pleasantly surprised to see that it is some thoughts on fixing it up.

    2. It's a decent trait - but it had a patch job and I personally think it could have been playtested more than it was. I saw this purely as someone who is looking at the moment with a designer's eye - I wasn't present for the playtest. It's not slapdash, but it could have been worked through a bit more because there are holes. Super-ST tends to let you do a lot in comics and I feel that's something worthy to emulate. I'm forever hearing how "GURPS doesn't do supers" or "GURPS doesn't do high point totals" and I'm running a successful game where it not only works, but it works well.