Designer’s Notes: What’s In a Lair?


I haven’t exactly kept it a secret that I dislike the current rules for bases in GURPS Supers. The concept overall is sound – which is why I kept some elements of it – I dislike the idea of paying points for gear generally, but I especially dislike it in this instance because in just about 8 years of GMing since the book came out I’ve had one personally willingly take it after the rules were explained to them. That person was incredibly unhappy with the points he spent. This isn’t a dig at any of the playtesters or author – it’s just how the rules were met in my games. So I do what I always do in that situation: I make up my own rules to patch the perceived hole. Because of this, the rules for “What’s In a Lair” are old. The bare bones are at least 7 years old or so and come from my (still going) urban fantasy campaign. They’ve seen many iterations and I really couldn’t solve some of the issues they had until Matt Riggsby wrote his wonderful GURPS Boardrooms and Curia. I’d finally had the last peices of the puzzle and soon after I had playtested Matt’s book I finished writing the first version of “What’s In a Lair?” I shoved it into the Vault until I had a decent volume to put it in. That issue was “Organizations” and I’m overjoyed that I also got the cover article. Ignoring any time I spent writing it for my own uses, “What’s In a Lair?” took over 50 hours to write and 12 hours of research (yes, that’s a new category because you can’t just go to Wikipedia for some of the information you need on architecture and buildings and you can’t really make it up). Revisions and Editing took substantially longer – this always happens when I work from older material – clocking it at over 70 hours to edit and 40 to revise. Total time in was 192 hours (or 24 man-days). This one ate up so much of my time I actually fell behind my writing schedule (which I’m trying to make up now). Overall, I really enjoyed writing this and I hope others enjoy it as well.

Oh, one more thing before I get to the outtakes: Alan “Tyneras” Cullers proved to be exceptionally useful reviewer with this article. The only reason he’s not mentioned is due to the draft I sent in lacked his name. So thanks, Alan! I appreciate all the hard work and input you offered. 🙂

Unused Concepts
A few ideas I had, but just didn’t have the room for:

  • Bases that have similiar layouts and functions could be bought at a cost. This was meant to simulate things like S.H.I.E.L.D. bases.
  • Several other fixtures like self-destruct systems, farms, and other less immediately “player useful” things.
  • Rules for concealed doors, passageways, and secret levels.
  • More details rules on bases in exotic environments.

Volume instead of Cost of Living
One of the things that Alan came up with (too late unfortunately) was to ditch Cost of Living for Size in favor of raw volume. See here for his excellent chart. Otherwise, this would have been the alternate Size formula:

Volume to Size: Square Root(Volume/5000) -1
Size to Volume: (Size +1) Squared x 5000
Size to Rooms: (Size +1) Squared x 1 to 3

Alternate Maintenance
One of the rules I chucked because it was too complex was to increase the required maintenance intervals for larger structures instead of the static “man-hours per square footage I have now. In the outtake, Size alone was the determining factor for how often a given base had to be taken.

Base Size          Maintenance Interval
2 or less                     Monthly
     3                          Bi-weekly
     4                            Weekly
     5                      Every other day
     6                            Daily
     8                        Twice daily
     9                   Three to five times daily
 10 or more             Constant

Location, Location, Location

Bases don’t just exist in a vacuum. They have to be built somewhere. These rules assume that a location’s cost is subsumed into the base’s cost to be made. If that’s not the case (e.g., the land it’s built on is someone else’s property), reduce the final cost by 25%. If the property the base is built on is leased or mortgaged, rented, or otherwise not outright owned by the base’s operators.

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