GURPS 101: Agility, Speed, and Reaction Time – What DX/Speed/Move Mean To My Players

“How high can I buy my DX/Basic Move/Basic Speed?” is one of the favorite questions of my players. If I had to rate those things among my players it would probably be DX, Basic Speed, and then Basic Move. With Basic Speed being a near tie for DX, as in all things, speed kills. If you can go first in combat you, the chances of you winning go up too. This is something my players know from experience.
            Let’s take a look at Dexterity and its derivatives:
  •  “Raw” Dexterity (sometimes abbreviated as DX!) is simply DX+1 [20] + Basic Speed -0.25 [-5] for 15 points. I personally don’t allow this after character creation without a reallygood reason. Normal humans cannot raise their DX higher than 20. I personally frown on anything above 16 without a really good reason.
  • Basic Speed is bought and sold in quarters, ±0.25 costs ±5 and allows for a fine-tuned combat sequence. Though one thing I do find odd here is that actually order in the Turn Sequence is at mosta perk and Basic Speed measures more how fast you can get out of the way of something or how fast you move (e.g., Basic Move and Dodge). Normal humans cannot raise their Basic Speed higher than +2.00.
  • Basic Move is how fast you can go, pure and simple. Each ±1 costs ±5 points and represents one yard of movement. Normal humans cannot raise their Basic Move higher than 3 points above their Basic Speed.
If you gave three different characters the same amount of points and told them they could only spend it on one of the three above, you’d get three fairly different characters, though they’ll still “feel” very similar.
     Most of my players opt for straight DX when they can spend points on it (I regulate character point expenditure) followed very closely by Basic Speed with Basic Move in the distance. It has come to my attention that when I run combat in GURPS my players may be a bit of a rara avis. They’re not afraid to spend multiple rounds using Evaluate, Feint, and other multi-turn actions. This fosters a environment where Basic Move, while important, isn’t a “gotta-have” like I’ve seen in other games. Another oddity I’ve found, for my games at least, is my players love putting points in skills. Getting a skill at Attribute +2 or better was often a goal in character design or when spending earned character points and has only become more popular (at least for grappling skills) since I introduced Doug Cole’s Technical Grappling to the combat system. While my players are still dipping their toes into Technical Grappling’s pool, we’ve opted to use the Quick and Dirty method for all players and the more detailed system for the two players who want to use it. Another thing I like to do for characters with lots of points in DX skills (or any attribute really, but DX especially) is to sell back points from DX-based skills to purchase a higher level of DX, though this is becoming less common for dump-grappling skills. Geee, thanks, Doug.
     Another thing my players like to do is purchase “DX” advantages like Combat Reflexes/Enhanced Time Sense, Enhanced Move, Super Jump, Super Climbing, and so on. Maybe it’s because I run games that actually use the climbing and jumping rules as a core part of combat or maybe my players are just weird, but those last two are bought fairly often.
Continuing with the analogy: DX represents how many apples you might be able to balance at a time or how good you are at throwing them. Basic Speed is a measure of how quickly you might react to a apple being thrown at you while Basic Move is a measure of how fast you can get to a apple.

Want more thoughts on the subject? See +Douglas Cole‘s post, +Peter V. Dell’Orto‘s post (which dissects the attribute as only someone who has run thousands of hours of GURPS combat can), and +Jason Packer‘s post (which has a awesome list of DX “tasks”)

Posted in GURPS 101.

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