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steph

gurps and Hero

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Hi, Being on a hero system site, I guess for many of the world here it is their preferred system. But lately I reread my old gurps third edition and must admit that i found him unsuspected forces. My question being: there are some genres or flavor  that you would rather see gurps than hero?

 

Excuse my english not my first language.

Steph

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I think it is less a genre issue and more of a gritty realism issue.  I've heard others more familiar with GURPS mention that it handles gritty realism 'out of the box' very well.  HERO shows its roots in superheroes (Champions) in being on the other end of the spectrum and characters are fairly difficult to kill outright without turning on all the optional rules for more lethality.

 

HM

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GURPS is pretty gritty. I read that 4th Edition was made to be more cinematic than 3rd, but I don't have that edition except for the "Lite" version. Combat tends to be more lethal in GURPS than in HERO. I ran a basic scenario a few years back, and one of the PCs took down a villain with a single shot.

 

I can't decide which system to use for my hard SF game. GURPS would work for realism, but HERO would give the PCs a better chance of survival in combat.

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GURPS is pretty gritty. I read that 4th Edition was made to be more cinematic than 3rd, but I don't have that edition except for the "Lite" version. Combat tends to be more lethal in GURPS than in HERO. I ran a basic scenario a few years back, and one of the PCs took down a villain with a single shot.

 

I can't decide which system to use for my hard SF game. GURPS would work for realism, but HERO would give the PCs a better chance of survival in combat.

 

Enh that really just a matter of default settings.  If you're in a Hero game with nothing but killing attacks it's very lethal.  If you're in a Gurps game but have a "switch" that says "no need for HT rolls to avoid dying" then it's almost impossible to die.  

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GURPS 3rd does not scale up to superhero levels of power at all. And that's because all power scaling is linear in GURPS, whereas in the Hero System it is "stretched exponential".

 

There is also the philosophical difference in how to cost out abilities. In GURPS, abilities are priced according to how valuable they would be in the real world, whereas in HERO they are priced according to how useful they would be in crisis situations in a campaign. So, for instance, never aging costs quite a lot in GURPS (because everyone would love to never age in the real world), whereas it is worth 3 points in HERO because the fact that your character never ages is virtually never a factor in anything consequential during play. The Neursurgeory skill is expensive in GURPS because it is hard to learn in the real world, whereas it is just another PS in HERO because such a skill is only useful in certain situations, just like all Professional Skills and so doesn't deserve to be priced any higher than any other.

 

So you see, the design philosophy behind each drives very different character builds (due to how their points can be spent) and therefore the sort of campaign you'll experience.

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I think it is less a genre issue and more of a gritty realism issue.  I've heard others more familiar with GURPS mention that it handles gritty realism 'out of the box' very well.  HERO shows its roots in superheroes (Champions) in being on the other end of the spectrum and characters are fairly difficult to kill outright without turning on all the optional rules for more lethality.

 

HM

 

When I started playing Hero, there weren't "optional" rules.  If you were playing Danger International, Justice Inc., or Fantasy Hero, you were using a different book with its own subset of the rules.  They were as optional as any other rule in the system.  You used Hit Locations, Bleeding, and Impairing and Disabling in those games because they were the rules for those games.  Of course we had the entire universe of Hero Games rules to use, because it was the same core system and everything was compatible, and sometimes we would use those rules in a Champions game, along with guns and normal equipment for no points.  

 

I think it's better in 5-6e games to say these are the dials and switches we are using, rather than these are the optional rules. 

 

And DI, JI, FH, and so on, felt different from Champions because they were different games with different rules.  They did gritty, dangerous, normal level games quite nicely even before GURPS came along. 

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GURPS 3rd does not scale up to superhero levels of power at all. And that's because all power scaling is linear in GURPS, whereas in the Hero System it is "stretched exponential".

 

There is also the philosophical difference in how to cost out abilities. In GURPS, abilities are priced according to how valuable they would be in the real world, whereas in HERO they are priced according to how useful they would be in crisis situations in a campaign. So, for instance, never aging costs quite a lot in GURPS (because everyone would love to never age in the real world)

 

The biggest problem with doing supers in GURPS 3rd was the incompatibility between the psi rules and the superpower rules, even though psi is a superpower.  That was corrected in 4th as GURPS made a number of changes that caused it to converge to some extent mechanically with Hero.  GURPS 4th still doesn't scale up to very high superheroic levels as well as Hero does, but it can handle X-Men and Spider-Man type heroes well enough.   It would be more accurate to say that GURPS prices abilities based on how exotic they are rather than on utility...but within limits.  It is generally agreed now that Unaging was incorrectly priced even after the price was cut for the new edition, and should there be a 5th edition, Unaging will no longer exist as an Advantage.  Instead it will be bought as an Immunity, the same as the Immunity to Poison or Disease.  It will still be relatively more expensive than it's Hero equivalent, just as skills are relatively less expensive.

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Hit Locations are more heavilly used in GURPS than in Hero System in my 28 years playing and Game Mastering these games.

 

 

Thus leading to a high lethality. GURPS is also easier to break than Hero System

 

IMOHO

 

QM

 

This was exactly my point.  I didn't really "get" how Hero was generally considered less lethal than GURPS.  When I started playing Hero, GURPS didn't exist yet.  The HERO System was the house system that Hero Games used for its RPGs, not its universal system, and its implementation was different in the different games.  Danger International, as run and played out of its 1985 original edition, was plenty lethal and gritty.  It also assumed that most attacks would be Killing Attacks, in much the same way as Champions assumed that most attacks would be Normal Damage.

 

To me, there's a difference between "heroic" and "superheroic" play using the HERO System.  Heroic means all the "optional" rules for lethality are switched on.  Hit Locations, Impairing and Disabling, Knockdown, because those were the defaults in the pre-4th edition standalone games.  They were "optional" in those games, in the same way that Knockback was "optional" in Champions, in the same way that rolling 3d6 for combat and Skill Rolls was "optional".  

 

It's not that I, nor my group at the time, couldn't conceive of mixing and matching.  We did that, often.  We called it "Killer Champions" when we used Hit Locations, and Impairing and Disabling wounds in Champions; we also let characters have normal weapons and armor for free.  It was pretty bloody and worked great for Watchmen or Wild Cards style games where more blood was expected.  

 

I'll agree that GURPS doesn't work as well for higher power levels because of its linearity, though the GURPS Supers books for GURPS 3e included optional rules for making it less lethal and more superheroic.  GURPS Supers also included the optional rule (quadratic ST) that became standard as of GURPS 4e for Strength and lifting. Which helps some, I guess, though I quit playing GURPS when 4e came out.

 

I would say that the vast majority of the heroic level games I've played in, from the first time until the most recent, have all used Hit Locations and Impairing and Disabling, and the vast majority of the Champions games I've played in have not. 

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I haven't played GURPS enough to compare but Hero can be plenty lethal, with the options dialed up.  People think in terms of Champions where you can fall out of orbit and get up in a few minutes, but a Fantasy Hero game can be instant death from a sword, particularly if you enforce encumbrance and money rules: people just don't stomp around in heavy plate all over the place.  A broadsword to the head can kill instantly with disabling rules.  And soon, with bleeding rules.

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My first exposure to the HERO system was the original Fantasy HERO. I remember reading a passage saying it was easier to knock someone out than to kill him, which seemed odd to my AD&D-entrenched mind. Who wanted to leave a bunch of orcs lying unconscious? They may wake up before we're finished looting, and we'd have to fight them again.

 

Likewise, my first exposure to Champions was 2nd Edition, which didn't have a lot of rules. Of course, this being a superhero game, nonlethal combat was assumed.

 

I think my PCs have killed only one minor villain (unintentionally); my PCs have used a lot of killing attacks, but I don't remember them ever taking a life after that unfortunate mook.

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The thing is, its true in real life that knocking someone out is a lot easier than killing.  In fact, you almost never instantly kill anyone -- even with decapitation the life is still there for a little while after.  You have to pretty much obliterate someone like a nuke to instakill.

 

So that orc you hacked down, he's alive, bleeding, and unconscious.  He'll almost certainly die unless someone gives him medical care in a hurry, but he's not dead yet.

 

Now, for genre purposes, I've always treated downed mooks as out of combat, so in Fantasy that's dead.  Nobody has to go around and "finish them off" unless you're in a really gritty game.

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Yeah, I remember games with an old friend.  Brilliant GM and storyteller, but at the time he had a habit of making sure every single opponent, including the mooks, always got their REC.  I ended up having to obliterate even street thugs to avoid them getting back up and shooting me.  This was a long time ago, though, and I think he no longer plays Champions and Hero, but even so I'd imagine he's beyond making sure every single mook gets their REC.

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My sole experience playing GURPS is several decades in the past.  However, I do recall talking to a game store employee who preferred GURPS to Hero mainly because, in his words, "it's much easier to kill player characters in GURPS than in Hero."

 

Since killing off PCs seemed like something he relished, whereas it was something I wanted to avoid (unless the player insists on his character doing something incredibly stupid and dangerous), that statement negatively colored my perception of GURPs. 

 

As to which system works better for which genres, I'd think it might depend upon how much support info you want up front.  I'll freely admit that GURPS has a lot of sourcebooks available, and that I have sought out specific GURPS books for reference in my Hero system games.

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If you use an average person in both games they're both doing down in a single hit when shot by a heavy handgun.

 

In hero that's a 2d6 killing attack against your 10 body and 20 stun.  You might be bleeding out in a hit if you get unlucky.  You are probably stunned (if not knocked out).  Either way you're in no shape to continue a fight.

 

In Gurps an average person will have 10 HP and a similar calibre pistol will do 3d6 to 4d6.  

 

Your HP are *probably* flat out gone.  You are now making health rolls to stop from dying. You will fail this roll - (anecdotally - especially if you've taken a bunch of advantages and bought your Health up to make it a 16- roll.)

 

In either game a called shot to the head will just flat out kill you (or eye, vitals, skull, or... yeah, GURPS loves shooting people in the face and gives you several options to do so).

 

Both can get silly in a hurry, though -  You can spend 160 points on strength and health in GURPs and keep fighting until -100 HP as a base level character if you get lucky with the health rolls (or be dead at 21 damage with a bad roll). Mind you, that's basically all your character is good for in an average point game (so hope the first shot doesn't kill the character you designed to be Marv from Sin City). 

 

HERO scales faster: you are 'bulletproof', body wise, to the weapons referenced in my first example at 12 RPD - which costs you 24 points (far less if it's a focus)  - which is NOT your entire character budget in ANY power level game.  You'll take stun but you'll be fine unless they deliberately kill you once you're down.  In that regard HERO has no choice but to make characters more survivable against a 'mook' - without GM defensive hard caps, etc.

 

I haven't played GURPS supers so I'm not going to compare that aspect of things - just a casual street level Dark Champions style game in each ruleset. 

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If you use an average person in both games they're both doing down in a single hit when shot by a heavy handgun.

 

In hero that's a 2d6 killing attack against your 10 body and 20 stun.  You might be bleeding out in a hit if you get unlucky.  You are probably stunned (if not knocked out).  Either way you're in no shape to continue a fight.

 

In Gurps an average person will have 10 HP and a similar calibre pistol will do 3d6 to 4d6.  

 

Your HP are *probably* flat out gone.  You are now making health rolls to stop from dying. \

 

 

 

No, I'm not.  If I get shot for 14 points then I'm at -4.  At that level I'm rolling every second to stay conscious but I'm not rolling to stay alive yet.  You've got get down below -10 (for a character with 10 HP) before you make your first death save.  

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That... sounds correct, actually.  Guess that's what I get for posting without looking at the rulebook for a refresher (it's been more than a few years since I've played).

 

Well, the rest stands - you become equipment guide weapon proof far faster in HERO for far less of your overall character / resource point total than in GURPs ... where Chinese Knockoff Iron Man (TL9 powered armor) is immune to small arms fire but goes down to a TL7 bazooka hit.  Why were you hit by a bazooka? Because you're wearing a tank, its the only thing that can hurt you, and rockets are a lot cheaper than power armor suits.

 

That's also a part of GURPS reputation for lethality, in my opinion - all things being equal (tech levels) Weapons Win. It's realistic(tanks do get taken out by rockets that cost a fraction of what they cost)  but it means that nobody is safe and combat is something to be avoided as much as possible. So, realism.

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Well that and the optional rules for Hero for gritty settings make a gunshot much more dangerous as I noted above.  let's take your example with hit locations, disabling, and bleed rules.

 

In hero that's a 2d6 killing attack against your 10 body and 20 stun.  You might be bleeding out in a hit if you get unlucky.  You are probably stunned (if not knocked out).  Either way you're in no shape to continue a fight.

 

Average roll of 7 against your no resistant defenses on the center mass = 7 body, 21 stun.  You're likely still (barely) conscious in 6th edition because you get your PD against the stun of the attack, and are stunned.  However, you just suffered 7 Body at once from a single attack, which Impairs you.  You can no longer take post-12 recoveries for the duration of the impairment, and are bleeding badly (2d6 bleeding per turn).

 

However, if that hits your vitals or head, you suffer 14 body from an average attack and 24 from a maximum roll.  The former Disables you (You will lose points of a stat for the duration of the impairment from ½d6 Recovery and Body to 2d6 END).  You also are bleeding rapidly (3d6 per turn), and will die soon without medical assistance, plus you're recovering every 5 minutes because you took 56 stun (or 70 and are in GM discretion zone).  The latter is an outright instant death.

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Coincidentally, the author of How to be a GURPS GM put up a good post yesterday about the subject of bullet damage (focusing on the effect of using the optional hit location rule, but the discussion also includes the default "torso" location). It's worth a read for anyone wanting to compare and contrast with Hero who isn't a GURPS expert:

 

http://www.themook.net/gamegeekery/location-location-location/

 

(For those wondering, "2d+2 pi damage" means to roll 2d+2 for damage, just as you'd expect, but GURPS specifies the type of damage an attack causes: in this case, piercing (pi) damage (as opposed to cutting damage, or burning damage, or...). Different forms of damage have wounding modifiers, but pi is a baseline form of damage and so has no wounding modifier.)

 

(Also, HP = Hit Points, and HT = Health. GURPS uses 3d6 resolution just like Hero does, so rolls against HT are done on 3d6.)

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That... sounds correct, actually.  Guess that's what I get for posting without looking at the rulebook for a refresher (it's been more than a few years since I've played).

 

Well, the rest stands - you become equipment guide weapon proof far faster in HERO for far less of your overall character / resource point total than in GURPs ... where Chinese Knockoff Iron Man (TL9 powered armor) is immune to small arms fire but goes down to a TL7 bazooka hit.  Why were you hit by a bazooka? Because you're wearing a tank, its the only thing that can hurt you, and rockets are a lot cheaper than power armor suits.

 

 

It's the only TL 7 thing that can hurt you.  TL 9 power armour doesn't make you immune to TL 9 military small arms of course.  You're not wearing a tank.  TL 9 HAS tanks.  

 

Of course one thing that really makes a difference is that by default GURPS allows shooting at hit locations and mechanically it's much easier to pull off a headshot in GURPS because it doesn't do the OCV versus DCV. thing.  "He's aiming at my head" doesn't make it easier for me to make my dodge roll.  

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It's the only TL 7 thing that can hurt you.  TL 9 power armour doesn't make you immune to TL 9 military small arms of course.  You're not wearing a tank.  TL 9 HAS tanks.  

 

Of course one thing that really makes a difference is that by default GURPS allows shooting at hit locations and mechanically it's much easier to pull off a headshot in GURPS because it doesn't do the OCV versus DCV. thing.  "He's aiming at my head" doesn't make it easier for me to make my dodge roll.

Been so long since I've played GURPS I've forgotten a great deal.

 

But are you saying that if I want to take a called shot all I have to do is say "I'm going for the head" and there is no penalty to that?

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary threatens to penalize me if I try to shoot either head

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Been so long since I've played GURPS I've forgotten a great deal.

 

But are you saying that if I want to take a called shot all I have to do is say "I'm going for the head" and there is no penalty to that?

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary threatens to penalize me if I try to shoot either head

 

 

There's a penalty, sure, but it's to the roll to hit.  A really good marksman can virtually guarantee a shot to the brain as soon the target misses a dodge roll.  To be fair as of 4th edition, they've added the ability to reduce your effective skill in order to reduce your target's dodge, so I suppose they do now have something that approximates OCV versus DCV.  You now have to choose which penalty to take if the target actually has a really high dodge.  But in earlier editions when that reputation was built, that option didn't exist.  

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Hero's OCV vs. DCV makes hitting a function of the difference in combat abilities. GURPS' attack roll followed by defense roll makes hitting a function of the product of the attack/defend probabilities.

 

Ex: in Hero, a 6 OCV (3 OCV + 3 CSLs in broadsword) attacking a 6 DCV (3 DCV + 3 for Dodging) has a 55% chance to score a hit because the difference of 0 yields a 11- (55%) to-hit probability.

 

Ex: in GURPS, a 14 broadsword skill (90.74% chance to succeed) attacking a 14 Dodge (9.26% chance to fail) has an 8.4% chance to score a hit because 90.74% of 9.26% yields a 8.4% to-hit probability.

 

So the Hero System is basically postulating that between two combatants of equal skill, the chances to hit should be 55%, no matter what the actual skill level is in question. GURPS, on the other hand, is postulating that hitting and dodging are independent and unconnected phenomena, each with their own dice rolls and probabilities, and that they only become connected (probabilistically) through multiplication. Which philosophy you agree with more probably depends on which kind of combat you prefer. The kind where success remains level (i.e., closer to a 50/50 proposition) the closer in ability the two combatants are, or the kind where success diminishes the higher the defender's ability gets, almost irrespective of the attacker's ability.

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You're making a good point, but I wouldn't call those GURPS characters equals. A weapon skill of 14- wouldn't be unusual in most campaigns, but a 14 Dodge would be pretty unusual in most campaigns. I see mostly Dodge scores of 10, with some 11s.

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