Tuesday, April 19, 2016

GURPS101: Somewhat More Super-ST

Guest Post by +Hal Batty

Bricks have a bit of problem in GURPS. They’re sometimes spending thousands of points on being able to hit, take a hit, and lift big things. At higher levels ST just doesn’t give enough for it’s cost when compared to getting other, more useful traits like Flight, Enhanced Move, increased DX, etc. So what can a budding Brick do to solve this problem?

Well, there’s Super-ST. That is to say, ST (Super-Effort, +300%) [40/level], this lets you spend 1 FP to gain access to a higher effective ST. The amount of ST gained increases exponentially as the level increases, so it gets better the more you get. So what’s the problem? Well there are a few; Super-ST isn’t worth buying at low levels, but it’s pretty crazy at higher levels, it costs FP which means you’re strong at the start of the fight, but not at the end, and of course that it’s a +300% enhancement, so any limitations added to it barely do anything to the cost. There are a few more, but I think that covers the major gripes people have.

For taking a hit, we’ve got Injury Tolerance (Damage Reduction), which… is actually pretty great. It’s effectiveness scales up the more points you sink into it, it’s not too bad at the low end, or too good at the high end, and it does it’s job well. If only we could do something similar for ST...

The Solution (Maybe)
Taking a closer look at Damage Reduction, we can see that what it’s really doing is increasing your effective HP. Since Damage Reduction 10 divides incoming injury by 10, you essentially have 10x the HP, this breaks down a little in that Damage Reduction has a minimum of one point of damage, but it’s close enough. HP makes up 1/5th of the cost of ST, so a trait that multiplies effective ST in the same way Damage Reduction does for HP should cost 5x as much, or 250 points for the first level, and 125 points for each additional level.

Another pricing scheme is with Enhanced Move. By adding the Second-Nature, +150% enhancement to Enhanced Move we can make it ignore acceleration time, handling penalties, etc. and just straight-up double Basic Move. The average man has Basic Move 5, it costs 25 points to double this to 10 by just raising it, or 50 points using Enhanced Move (Second-Nature, +150%). The average man also has ST 10, it costs 100 points to double it to 20, so using the relationship above a trait that doubles ST should cost 200 points. So with this scheme our trait costs 200 points for the first level, and 100 points for each additional one.

Out of those two costs I prefer the second, it’s a little neater, and easier to divide up into HP, Lifting ST, and Striking ST. It’s worth mentioning now that there’s no Damage Reduction 1.5 because, well, dividing by 1.5 wouldn’t be very nice, but when we’re multiplying ST by 1.5 that’s no longer a problem, so we can slot in an extra level and get a nice linear cost progression. Taking all that into account we’re left with:

Enhanced ST

100 points/level

Subtract two from your level of Enhanced ST and look up the value in the Size column of the Size and Speed/Range Table (p. B550), read across to the Linear Measurement column and multiply your ST by that number. For example the first level of Enhanced ST gives 1.5x ST, whilst the sixth gives 10x ST. Note that it only becomes point efficient to buy Enhanced ST once you’ve already bought ST up to 20, it doesn’t become inefficient to buy normal ST until you reach ST 40. Enhanced Striking ST costs 50 points/level, Enhanced Lifting ST costs 30 points/level, and Enhanced HP costs 20 points/level.

Example Character: Atlas
I thought I’d throw together a character using this system, to see how well it works. So here’s Atlas, a character based loosely on the Brick template in GURPS Supers:

Atlas [1,000 points]

ST: 300 (Size*, -10%) [90] HP: 3,000 [0]               Basic Speed: 7.00 [0]
DX: 12 [40]                         Will: 14 [20]                 Basic Move: 8* [0]
IQ: 10 [0]                            Per: 10 [0]
HT: 16 [60]                         FP: 16 [0]                     SM: +1*
*Gigantism increases SM and Basic Move by 1.
Thrust: 31d                         Swing: 33d                   Basic Lift: 18,000 lbs.
Dodge: 10                            Parry: 11 (Brawling)   DR: 20 (Tough Skin)

Punch (16): 31d+31 crushing. Reach C, 1.
Kick (14): 31d+32 crushing. Reach C, 1.

Advantages [30]
High Pain Threshold [10]; Rapid Healing [5]; Very Fit [15].

Metahuman Powers [756]
  • Brick: Damage Resistance 20 (Metahuman, -10%) [90] + Enhanced HP 150* (Metahuman, -10%; Size, -10%) [96]. 186 points.
  • Strongman: Enhanced ST 15 (Metahuman, -10%; Size, -10%) [570]. 570 points.
*Bought up from Enhanced ST 10.

Disadvantages [-20]
Bad Temper (15) [-5]; Code of Honor (Hero) [-10]; Gigantism [0]; Ham-Fisted 1 [-5].

Skills [24]
Brawling (E) DX +4 [12]-16; Lifting (A) HT +1 [4]-17; Wrestling (A) DX +2 [8]-14.

Picking Over the Bones
The intention of this post isn’t to rewrite the GURPS rules for ST, just to add an option that works with them. That said, those who use it may want to treat swing damage as thrust damage based on what ST would be with an additional level of Enhanced Striking ST, and perhaps do something similar for kicking. The above system is basically an advantage that scales up the owner, it might be possible to create equivalents for things like Innate Attack or Damage Resistance, or even have an advantage that simply scales up everything.


  1. Clever! I like it! Personally I never liked the flat cost of stat growth in 4E. It works fine when dealing with Human Levels, but at some point adding another point of strength just isn't really more than a perk!

    "I want 1999 instead of 1998 ST"! "Oh geeze, that's a major advantage!" Just my thoughts =)

  2. Bricks are best when thrown. Yes, I mean the dwarf, Elf boy.

  3. I like it. I'm now considering other places it might make sense: TK? DR? (although admittedly that covers much of the same territory as Damage Reduction).

    1. It is rather clean as approaches go, isn't it?

    2. Forgot people might respond here. I could see it working for TK and DR, the pricing is a little trickier since they both start at 0, but I'd probably just scale the cost based on the ratio between the cost of the advantage and ST. So TK and DR would be 50 points/level. And of course you should add any enhancements or limitations on the base advantage to the enhanced version.

      Honestly, introducing this system doesn't change the fact that DR serves a very different purpose to Damage Reduction. Damage Reduction DIVIDES incoming INJURY, Damage Reduction SUBTRACTS from incoming DAMAGE. That results in two very different effects, Damage Resistance is basically just armor, which this system simply makes more cost effective to buy, that's it.

      (Apologies for capitals, that's the only way I could find to give emphasis.)