Semi-cinematic fantasy GURPS

    One frequent complaint about GURPS is that it is "too lethal". But while the "default" style of play in GURPS indeed tends towards the gritty side of things - especially if you use all the advanced combat rules - it doesn't have to be this way. Here are a couple of minor rules changes and suggestions that make the pace of the game more cinematic. They don't quite stretch the believability like D&D does - if that's what you are interested in, just play D&D in the first place. But they make the PCs harder to kill, and more "heroic" in the "wading through opponents" sense of the word...


Extra Fatigue, Extra Hit Points, Hard To Kill

    There is no limit to the number of levels of these advantages that can be purchased.

Designer's Notes: Any advantage that keeps the characters alive is good - as is anything the PCs can spend their points on.

Extra Block 10/level

    Each level of this advantage allows the character to make an additional Block defense each turn. Note that these Blocks must be used against different attacks.

Extra Parry 10/level

    Each level of this advantage allows the character to make an additional Parry defense each turn. Note that these Blocks must be used against different attacks.

Designer's Notes: More stuff for PCs to spend points on, plus these advantages can prevent a Weapon Master (see below) from just powering through skilled opponents with multiple attacks.

Speed-Load 5 points/level

    Each level of this advantage allows a character to reduce the number of turns he needs to ready ranged a weapon by one. If that time is reduced to zero, he can attack with this weapon once each round. If he purchases additional levels and has the Weapon Master advantage, he can make a number of additional attacks equal to his additional levels of Speed-Load.

Example: A longbow normally takes two turns to ready. A Weapon Master with four levels of Speed-Load can make up to three attacks with a longbow with a penalty of –6 to each shot – two levels of Speed-Load reduce the time to ready the bow to zero, and two further levels of Speed-Load allow two additional attacks.

    This advantage replaces the Speed-Load skill.

Designer's Notes: People with ranged weapons should have some cinematic advantages as well...

Weapon Master 20 points

    A character with this advantage has a high degree of training or unnerving talent with a wide range of weapons. He also knows where to strike the human body for the deadliest effect.

    A weapon master can choose to attack more than once with a melee weapon, but he suffers a –3 penalty per additional attack to all his attacks this turn. Note that defendants can use the Defense and Retreat maneuver to move away from the attacker – and thus possibly out of reach of the additional attacks!

    Multiple attacks are also possible with ranged weapons using the same modifier, but only if the attacker possesses the Speed-Load advantage at a sufficiently high level.

    A weapon master can also choose to add +1 or more to the base damage of his attacks, but at a penalty of –2 to his attack rolls for each additional point of damage.

Designer's Notes: In my humble opinion, the Weapon Master advantage as descibed on CI32 has some serious problems. Simply getting more attacks and more damage the higher your skill gets is boring, especially since anyone who does get multiple attacks pretty much hits automatically. This variant of Weapon Master isn't quite as powerful, but it allows for more choices for the attacker. Are you trying to overwhelm your foe with multiple attacks, put all your power in one blow, or play it safe with a highly skilled opponent and make sure you hit at all? With these rules, you can do all that.


    - Attack and Defense are treated as a Quick Contest of Skills, as in the Quicker Combat sidebar on B108.

Designer's Notes: What's the point of being a hero if a lowly orc grunt can block your way for precious combat rounds just because he continues to barely make his defense rolls? With this rule, combat moves much quicker - which is vital if you want to stage fights with many, many opponents...

    - The "hands" and "feet" hit locations are eliminated. Use the following table (roll 3d for the exact location) to resolve random hit locations:

3-4 5 6-8 9-11 12-16 17-18
Brain Head Arm
(1d: 1-3 left, 4-6 right)
Torso Leg
(1d: 1-3 left, 4-6 right)

Designer's Notes: It is hard to feel heroic when your sword hand gets crippled - and that happens all too easily. This rule still allows for the variety of different hit locations, and of putting someone out of action by crippling him instead of killing him - but it's not quite as easy to render someone defenseless with a lucky blow.

    - The "All-Out Charge" option from CI56 is allowed.

Designer's Notes: C'mon - what's the fun of playing a dwarfen Trollslayer if you can't charge your enemies, foaming at the mouth? There is a berserker in all of us...

Damaging Spells

    Spells that directly deal damage (Fireball, Lightning etc.) have a base casting time of one, which can be reduced normally through a high skill. The skill roll to succeed also counts as the roll to hit the target (with the size and range/speed penalites factored in afterwards – thus it is possible to succeed at casting the spell and still missing the target outright). Trying to hit the target does not take an extra turn – unless the caster takes extra time to aim.

Designer's Notes: This was done to recast the mage as the "mobile artillery" he is known in in other fantasy games. And having to wait several rounds to build a spell up, and then using an entirely different skill to aim it, really penalizes the mage when his fighter colleagues can attack as a Contest of Skill and buy advantages like Weapon Master...


    - Crippling Injuries go away automatically once the character recovers all hit points from all injuries.

Designer's Notes: Unrealistic? Helly, yes. But it is really fun to have a character who has to wear bracers for months, or even look for a wooden leg while the other characters are out there whacking orcs? While crippling injuries can still take a character down for the duration of a fight, and some time afterwards, they won't take him out of the action permanently.

    - Characters can make a roll for natural recovery after a good night's sleep. They can make another if they rest for an entire day.

Designer's Notes: Hers don't rest in bed day after day while waiting for their wounds to close. Heros charge after the bad guys while the trail is still warm. Speeding up natural healing encourages this attitude.

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