Saturday, 5 March 2016

Equipment Locker: Battlesuit Point Defence

One of the most annoying holes in GURPS Ultra-Tech is the comparison between armour-piercing or shaped charge warheads with both heavy battlesuits and tanks. The DR values given for either of these are woefully inadequate at stopping even the lightest shaped charge or HEMP round. I was reading through the entries for tanks, trying to find some justification for why the main battle tank doesn't have enough DR to stop being ripped to shreds by a shoulder-mounted HEMP round. Then I found it: the tank has a strike laser on the turret for point defence. This makes sense! If you can stop missiles and anti-tank weapons from even hitting you in the first place, you don't need to lug around armour heavy enough to stop the damage. Well, that's all well and good for tanks, but how does that help battlesuits?

As per usual, GURPS Ultra-Tech provides us with the tools to make what we want, it just doesn't put them together for us.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Utility Closet: Balance Calculations for Damage, Armour and Penetration

Balancing damage and armour in GURPS is complicated. GURPS Pyramid 3/77 gave us the Combat Effectiveness Rating, or CER, to help mitigate this with a system that mimics the way CR works in Dungeons & Dragons. It's imperfect, obviously, since a single number can't accurately encapsulate how much of a threat a monster or bad guy is, but it's a welcome addition for rule-of-thumb balance in a system where one of the common worries for new GMs was combat balance. While reading through GURPS Ultra-Tech over the few years I've been playing the system, I've put together a few easy formulae to help understand the interactions between damage, armour divisors, penetrating damage and injury that can help a gamemaster understand what kind of threats they're placing in their players' path, so I'm sharing them with you down below.

Warning! This blog is finally living up to its namesake. Under the break you'll find mathematics as complicated as a square root! This is because we need to calculate a standard deviation, although I've done all the hard work and these calculations require absolutely no understanding of statistics beyond knowing what a mean or average is. All of these can be done with the basic calculator on your phone or computer. Bear in mind also that I have dyscalculia – if I can do it, so can you!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Playbook: Zero-G Dodge

GURPS rarely reduces a character's active defences due to environmental factors. My guess is that this is more of a game balance choice than a realism one, since Dodge is typically already low for non-superpowered characters and dropping it down even a single point represents a huge decrease in survivability, especially against ranged weapons where Dodge is the only available defence. I've recently been planning for a sci-fi campaign in a setting with no artificial gravity and decided I wanted a set of rules for dodging attacks in free fall, to help drive home the feeling of a different environment. So I came up with three different mechanics, which you can pick at your leisure.