Higher Purpose is one of the more interesting player-definable traits in GURPS. Originally, it was meant to give a game-mechanical bonus to characters whose raison d’etre was something specific like “Guard the King’s Bloodline.” In supplements like GURPS Horror or GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers it was further expanded to give a bonus when fighting certain foes. “Ritual Specialists” from Pyramid #3/66: The Laws of Magic offered a tiered approach allowing for different priced Higher Purpose. For GMs who like the task bonus approach that Higher Purpose gives, here are new modifiers allowing smaller and larger categories:
Narrow Scope (-40%): The focus of your Higher Purpose is small, but still useful. Examples: “bonus to rolls for reloading a specific bow.”
Standard Scope (-0%): Per Basic Set. Examples: “bonus to rolls for a specific bow”
Broad Scope (+40%): The focus of your Higher Purpose has a wide-reaching scope. Examples: “bonus to rolls for any bow.”
Very Broad Scope (+80%): The focus of your Higher Purpose is very large. Examples: “Sneaky Combat”
Ubiquitous Scope (+160%): The focus of your Higher Purpose is useful enough to be used in most situations. Examples: “Fight the Supernatural,” “Protect Humanity,” “Serve my Nation,” or “Offensive Combat”
Universal (+320%): The focus of your Higher Purpose can be used in all but the rarest of circumstances. Examples: “Combat” or “Further my own goals”
Add “Cosmic, Ignore required conduct” (+50%) if you don’t need to adhere to a specific code of honor or otherwise have no needed prerequisite advantage or disadvantage. “Cosmic, Not limited to one level” (+50%) for games that normally only allow a non-leveled Higher Purpose.
Picking Over the Bones
Higher Purpose is kind of like Blessed (or Divine Curse) in that it’s a trait the GM can adapt to fit needed abilities that otherwise do not exist in GURPS proper. I’ve used the above in my campaigns before and they work fairly well on all accounts. Some groups may seem to be overpriced – for example, a Higher Purpose that covered combat would be 21/level – DX is 20 a level. All combat skills are based on DX. But what the Higher Purpose covers is ALL rolls: all rolls to hit, all rolls to parry, all rolls to damage. All rolls. In that regard, it’s quite the bargain.