Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Example Super “Sci-Fi” Abilities in GURPS 4e

It’s been a while since I tried tinkering with GURPS Powers.  Let’s see what we can cook up with just the Basic Set by itself.  Maybe if I can get a good dozen abilities worked up with that, then Powers will become more relevant and less daunting.  I’m also going to just “go shopping” here.  I’m not going to think of some weird idea and then try to build it; I’m just going to tinker with what’s already there by using a few simple enhancements and limitiations.  Let’s see what GURPS can do “out of the box.”


Psonar: Para-Radar (Penetrating, +50%; Temporary Disadvantage: Total Klutz, -15%; Nuisance Effect, -5%, Costs Fatigue, 1 FP per minute, -5%) [48 points]

Creature has the ability to sense objects in 360 degrees through walls and other obstructions.  Using the ability causes its eyes to light up with a green flame and it also makes a strange “sonar sweep” sound.  The ability is tiring and disorienting, so it costs fatigue and causes the user to temporaily become a total klutz.

[Note: Para Radar sounds too much like Daredevil’s sense powers and Superman’s x-ray vision, so I tried to use limitations to make it as different from those as possible.]


Hyper Absorption: Damage Resistance (Limited: Energy Attacks, -20%; Absorption, points enhance Basic Move only, +80%; Semi-Ablative -20%) [7 points/level]

The creature has an unusual psychic mechanism that allows it to transform beam weapons, electricity, fire, heat, cold, and sound energy, store it, and then use it to temporarily increase its speed.  DR ‘heals’ at the same rate as hit points.  The creature has a ‘battery’ of character points that is filled by damage absorbed by the DR.  The points can be spent to increase Basic Move, but they drain away at a rate of one point per second.  (Note that any increase to Basic Speed also increases Dodge.  For each 10 points of damage, drop DR by 1.)  This ability is more effective when combined with Enhanced Move.


Telepathic Snare: Binding (Unbreakable, +40%; Based on Will, +20%, Increased Range x2, +10%; Limited Use, 4/day, -20%) [3 points/level]

The creature can create an mental snare, freezing its victim in place.  The snare looks like a dimly glowing net that writhes like snakes.  The range of the attack is 200 yards.  The base to hit of the attack is equal to the creature’s dexterity attribute plus its Telepathy talent.  If hit, the victim cannot select the Move or Change posture maneuvers or change facing.  To break free, the victim make must a quick contest of his will vs. the level of the binding attack.  Each time he fails to break free, he looses 1 FP.

[Does it make sense that a mental attack would be based on dexterity and have a chance to miss?  I’m not sure, but I’ll keep it for now.  Maybe the mental powers create a physical manifestation that allows the creature to harness it’s will to keep the victim in place….]


Mind Fog: Affliction (Malediction, -1 per yard of distance, +100%; Attribute penalty, -4 to IQ, -3 to DX, +70%; Limite Use, 4/day -20%) [25 points/level]

The creature may use a Concentrate maneuver to make this mental attack.  If the target resists, roll a Quick Contest between the victim’s Will and the creature’s Will plus the creature’s Telepathy Talent plus the creatures Mind Fog level minus each yard of range between the two.  The victim’s DR does nothing to protect against the attack.  If the victim fails to win the contest, he suffers an attribute penalty of -4 to IQ and -3 to DX for one minute per point by which the victim loses the Quick Contest.


Well, that wasn’t too painful….  I’m not 100% sure about my interpretations of the rules in terms of how these things actually work, so I expect to review those and make corrections before I use these in play.  I definitely see that construction of a “campaign bible” containing distilations of key rules as being essential to any game: the rules for each of the above abilities are scattered across a half dozen pages in GURPS Characters and they aren’t the sort of thing you can just scan over quickly to refresh your memory.

On the plus side, I’ve got the start of a fairly unique list of abilities that can fit my campaign exactly the way I want.  One other nice thing is that characters with similar abilities can very easily have radically different specifics in regard to their overall style and mechanics.  GURPS in the 80’s was a breath of fresh air in that you could choose exactly how much you wanted to invest in fighting, thieving, and magic skills to get the perfect balance for your character.  With 4E GURPS, you can now have that same flexibility with all powers and abilities.


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