GURPS101: Simplified Improvement Through Study

I like to play around with the Basic Set rules – make the complicated stuff simple and the simple stuff complicated. I find you can learn a lot about a rules system by doing that and GURPS is no exception.

In my current campaign – The Chronicles of Ceteri – a lot of the external friction I’m setting up between the players and the campaign world involves a lot of split life scenarios “Yeah, you need silver bullets, but they are $50 a pop and you lost your job – how you gonna pay for them?” To do that you need rules for how to spend your time and rules for social upkeep. Add rules for maintaining skills (if you like those – and I do) and you’re golden. Today I’m going to talk about the first thing: how to spend your time.

Simplified Improvement Through Study
Somewhere between the “you do whatever, fine!” approach and the “I want to know how often you poop” method are rules for a “simplified” Improvement Through Study (p. B292). First, don’t use the standard Time Use Sheets, use the rules below. Second, the GM will need to decide if the player characters have jobs outside of “adventuring” or if adventuring is their job. This also becomes complicated if the GM is using the standard rules for Status upkeep (p. B265). For games where an organization or similar group pays for such expenses simply ignore it.

  • Sleep (56 hours/week): Human beings require 56 hours of sleep per week. This increases by ±7/week per level of Extra/Less Sleep. Those with Doesn’t Sleep can ignore this completely. They get an additional 56 hours per week to do with as they like.
  • Meals, Personal Hygiene, and Miscellaneous Upkeep (20 hours/week): Human beings need around 20 hours of week for eating, proper grooming, hygiene, and other “personal maintenance” tasks. Reduce this to 14 hours for those with Reduced Consumption 1, 7 hours with Reduced Consumption 2, 2 hours with Reduced Consumption 3, and effectively eliminate it with Reduced Consumption 4. Increase this to 40 hours a week for Increased Consumption 1, 80 hours a week for Increased Consumption 2, and so on.
  • Job (40 hours/week): Assume that most jobs take around 40 hours. Those without jobs ignore this (e.g., those with Wealth (Dead Broke)). Add an extra 10 hours for “OJT” (On the Job Training) to the final amount of hours available if spending points on job-related tasks.
  • Travel Time (7 hours/week): Typical travel time for most workers to get to their job is about 30 minutes one-way, this adds up to about 7 hours a week for those with a full-time job.
  • Recreation (25 hours/week): It’s estimated that most people spend between 20 to 30 hours on various forms of entertainment. These rules assume 25 hours are spent blowing off steam, relaxing, etc. Not relaxing has an impact on your sanity! Put another way – all work and no play makes Homor something something.
Thus, that leaves about 20 hours a week or 80 hours a month to do whatever you want with. It actually works quite well if you wish to treat learning as a job and then use these free hours as an internship or a side gig too. 
Picking Over the Bones
In general, I like the idea of advancement off the screen and by studying – it’s not something you find commonly in RPGs and it lets you emulate all sorts of stuff. But keeping track of the time can be a teetch annoying. This was one of the reasons why I decided to use a simplier route for Ceteri – we’ll see how it plays in game.
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