Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Purchasing Autodueling Equipment in GURPS 4e

Figuring out how to purchase a car in GURPS 4e can be a little confusing.  There more than one way to do it!  What the best way to do it?  It depends….

First off, you need to set an average starting wealth for the campaign.  Jeffro suggests you go with about $5,000.  It’s a rough setting… and though the citizens have the right to bear vehicular arms, they’re still recovering from civil war and the food riots.

If your character is poor, he gets $1,000 to buy stuff.  That’s plenty of cash for a M.O.N.D.O.!  A struggling character can afford to pick up a cycle or a really cheap car with $2,500.  A comfortable duelist can spend $10,000 on low end car while a wealthy one can easily try his luck in division 20 events with $25,000.  Keep in mind that this money goes not just for his car, but it has to buy the rest of his equipment and pay for repairs and expenses, too!

If you’d like some additional spending money to start your character off with, you can spend points for cash: 1 point gets you $500.  Even though a punk player can take “Poor” with $7,500 at no cost in character points, it will generally be better for you to just spend your points on actual levels of wealth.  On the other hand, that punk player may have a valid character concept if he’s modeling a rough cylclist with a bad reputation and few job prospects.

I think signature gear should only be used in extraordinary cases.  The only example of it that I can think of from ten years of ADQ would be the Foxbat’s super-duper car.  The vehicle is central to his character concept and background… and cinematically speaking it should always be with him; if it’s stolen or anything the character should get a chance to get it back somehow.  Each point here gets $2,500 worth of gear, but I would avoid this as the Signature Gear concept doesn’t generally fit with the Autoduel setting: people generally change cars, upgrade & modify them too much for any of them to ever become “signature.”  Also, the cinematic nature of Signature Gear is rarely implemented given the “roll playing” nature of Autoduel rpg’s.

The last way to pick up equipment is via a Patron.  In this case, the player does not necessarily get to design his stuff; he’s stuck with the “standard issue” of his organization.  He can’t always use the stuff for his personal side adventuring jobs, either.  He might be required to useonly for special missions and assignments for the patron.  On the plus side, the player might get to use totally different gear in each game session and he won’t have to bother with doing bookkeeping on his maintenance costs. 

GM’s can use rank to put a cap on the overall value of the equipment an organization will provide to a character if they feel the Patron’s point cost does not cover the value of the equipment.  For instance, a Rank 0 policement might just get Body Armor and an SMG while riding in the back of the riot van.  At Rank 1, a cop might get use a patrol bike.  At Rank 2 he will get a decent squad car… and at higher ranks he’ll be assigned a hot-rod interceptor or souped-up helicopter. 

Note that in other GURPS genres, equipment and vehicles are sometimes modeled as allies.  This is an unnecessary exercise in an Autoduel campaign: the various costs relating to vehicles are well known and have been worked out since 1981.  There’s no need to introduce a complicated variant for accounting for vehicles in a more character oriented manner.  Now if you were going do something like design all your space ships and battle ‘mechs as characters for your campaign, that’d be a different story.  Otherwise, Jeffro suggests you avoid it unless you’ve got a weird situation where the car, like Knight Rider’s “Kitt”, really is an ally.

Hopefully this will help you choose the right way to get gear for your character.  It’s somewhat complex, but there’s definitely an option there no matter what kind of character you want to play.  And it all works more or less out of the box….  Wealth levels, extra cash, patrons, and rank give you all the flexibility you need to capture the essence of your character’s vehicle assets.  And with the case of the patron approach, you can even a eliminate a lot of the accounting associated with managing vehicles in a campaign. 

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