The Hurt Locker: Doodads and Gewgaws, Part I

No adventurer or hero can carry everything they need. GURPS allows you a extremely broad choice of gear thanks to its many catalogues and tech-books – but what if you really need a bunch of paperclips and you’re not near an office? Or you need to make a repair to an engine and you’ve got no toolkit?

Well GURPS has a solution for that: Gizmo and it’s less experienced and still useful, but must cheaper cousin Doodad. Today’s post is going to be about generalizing these advantages to other TLs, new modifiers, and a list of useful things you can get with Doodads (all at the low low price of a perk!).

It’s the Gizzle-Fo-Shizzle
Gizmos are pretty self-explanatory: You didn’t have something before and now you do. Why? There is no why. Only plot. More seriously. Gizmo could represent a character’s foresight to bring something useful to a situation or in preparation of an emergency that may happen. GURPs Action, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, and GURPS Monster Hunters (and probably a few I have forgotten) have all gone into more detail about what Gizmos can actually do. For the sake of this post I’m going to detail them briefly:

  • Option 1: Any item the character owns but didn’t say he was carrying that can “fit in a pocket.” (but see Genre Relaxation below).
  • Option 2: Any item that suits the character’s profession, job, class, etc. and that is consumable or one use of an item that is normally non-consumable piece of gear (e.g., a tool kit)
  • Option 3: Any minor (i.e., not costly) consumable item that anyone could have in the setting or one use of an item that is normally non-consumable piece of gear

Now, for those with gadgeteer there is a fourth option:

  • Option 4: An item that the character creates on the spot with things he has or can plausibly acquire on the scene.

Those are good descriptive guidelines, but what if the GM wants harder rules? There are a few things here and there, but here is a possible progression. Do note that at higher TLs the GM may wish to smooth the cost out since it does allow so much. Though it should be noted that all of this is consumable and one-use only so it’s probably balanced.

TL:             Option 2               Option 3
TL0             $13/$63                $3/$13
TL1             $25/$125              $5/$25
TL2             $38/$188              $8/$38
TL3             $50/$250              $10/$50
TL4             $100/$500            $20/$100
TL5             $250/$1,250         $50/$250
TL6             $500/$2,500         $100/$500
TL7             $750/$3,750         $150/$750
TL8             $1,000/$5,000      $200/$1,000
TL9             $1,500/$7,500      $300/$1,500
TL10           $2,500/$12,500    $500/$2,500
TL11           $3,750/$18,750    $750/$3,750

TL12           $5,000/$25,000    $1,000/$5,000

Option 1 allows an item you own up to your Basic Lift/10 to be revealed, while Option 4 is pretty much always -1 per $250.

Genre Relaxation
Depending on the mode of the campaign (whether it’s cinematic, gritty, or somewhere in between) and the genre (is it a shoot’em up? a political thriller?) the GM may wish to relax some of the rules. A few examples:

In free-wheeling dungeon-delving like Dungeon Fantasy the rule about being able to “fit in a pocket” for Option 1 may be reduced to allow larger items. In such cases, it still can’t be heavier than BL/10 lbs., but can be up to Reach 1 (if a melee weapon or similiar item) or Bulk -4 (if a ranged weapon). The GM could also rule this depends on the Size Modifier of the target. If so, use the Weapon and Armor Scaling Table from GURPS Low-Tech 2: Weapons and Warriors (p. 21) to figure the max size using the Reach column. For example, a SM +2 ogre with Gizmo 1 could use Option 1 to pull a Reach 2 melee weapon or a Bulk -7 ranged weapon.

The GM may want one-use weapons (it’s a kind of tool with a very specific purpose) to be available using Option 2 (use Option 3 for ammunition). If so treat them as a tool kit with shots equal to the 1/5 the weapons base number of shots with one clip or power cell. Use the guidelines listed above to determine maximum Reach or Bulk.

The GM may wish to allow a roll against an appropriate skill to have a better object or larger dollar amount. Treat the skill toolkits are for as the skill for this, otherwise use Machinist, Scrounging, or some other appropriate skill. Success gives a +1 to use the item or +20% to the maximum dollar value. Failure gives -1 or -20%, while critical failure means you got junk and wasted your Gizmo. Critical success gives +2 to rolls or +50% to the maximum dollar value.

New Modifiers for Gizmo
If the GM allows, the following modifiers to Gizmo can change its flavor and/or usefulness:

Accessibility (varies): Use the rules from GURPS Powers to find an appropriate value. Optionally, use rules for aspected High TL (Pyramid #3/8: Organizations, p. 6). Multiple other values can be found in GURPS Supers as well.
Based on IQ, Special (+20%): For Option 1, the character may substitute his IQ for his ST, if better. This allows the character to pull larger items than his ST would otherwise indicate.
Cosmic, Higher Improvisation Cap (+50%): Use the first Option 2 dollar amount (see above) per -1 penalty to cobble together an invention using Gadgeteer.
Game Time (+0%): Adding Game Time means you can use a Gizmo once a game week instead of once a session. Adding Selectivity (+10%) means you can use it once a game week or once a session – whichever is best.
Instant Improvisation (+5%/level): This allows gadgeteers to ignore -1 worth of penalties per level when using Option 4. The GM sets the max, but ignoring -10 worth of penalties is probably as high as most games should go.

Picking Over the Bones
Gizmos are one of those things that you want when you don’t have and when you do have it you just never have enough. Gizmos are usually restricted to 1 in most campaigns (or 3 in cinematic ones) unless you have Gadgeteer in which case you can have as many as you want. I think that even though the higher caps get crazy at higher TLs they are probably fair, but require some playtesting. I’m also wondering if you could do a “Social Gizmo” to let you have a one-off Contact, Ally, etc. – but that’s probably another post.

Stay tuned for Part II where I discuss Doodad and how it’s often overlooked, what useful items you can get at what TLs, and a few other bits to wrap up this topic.

Posted in The Hurt Locker and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Did you just make Gizmo go from Batman Utility Belt to MacGyver's Epic Scrounging? If so, YES! Because that's how I've always house ruled it. Option 4 was "Req: Scrounging & other applicable skill rolls", and we played out a MacGyver Montage.

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